Geordie Finishing School For Girls: A perverse showcase of the UK’s social divides

Angel of the (quaint) North? (c) blacque_jacques

Georgia Lewis

First, Geordie Shore reinforced the stereotype that every woman in Newcastle is orange with fake tan and never leaves the house without nine sets of false eyelashes on and every man is a comically inflated gym junkie with all the wit of an unwashed sock. Then BBC3 picked up where MTV left off with Geordie Finishing School For Girls. The breathtakingly insulting premise is that  four posh young women from the south of England will spend time with four Geordie women and somehow they will understand how disadvantaged people live. Never mind that they could have gained the same understanding of disadvantage in Britain by taking a bus to Tower Hamlets or Elephant & Castle – instead, a trip to Newcastle was apparently required. Read more of this post

Northumbria University – Students’ Union of the Year 2011

(c) NUS UK

Jo Rhodes is President of Northumbria Students’ Union

Last Thursday night, Northumbria Students’ Union was awarded the title of HE Students’ Union of the Year 2011. This award highlights the hard work that has been put in by our officers, staff and volunteers alike over many years. Having our hard work recognised at a national level is a phenomenal achievement which means a great deal to all of us.

The judges were impressed by our consistent increase in election turnout, the fact that we got 90 per cent approval in the referendum for the strategic plan and also the amount of support we had for the Hidden Fees campaign in which more than 2,000 of our students took part. Read more of this post

Ed’s matured, but still has lots of ground to cover

(c) Department for Energy and Climate Change

Tom Bailey

Ed Miliband’s response to the developments of the News International saga over the last several weeks has rightly drawn praise. He has, in the words of Andrew Rawnsley, ‘thrown off his L-plates’. Certainly there is a broad consensus that he had a far better crisis than David Cameron who has been attacked for both his links to News Corp and his handling of the crisis.

Despite the inevitable complaints from certain sections of the right about the liberal bias from the media, or ‘hysteria’ as Rupert Murdoch termed it, the News of the World (NoW) has appalled commentators of all political perspectives and is of News Corp’s making. Read more of this post

Opinion: Cameron’s Africa visit should focus on Zuma and Mugabe

(c) World Economic Forum

Georgia Lewis

For the last five-and-a-half years, I’ve lived the expat life. First as an Australian in the UAE and then, 15-odd years after most of my fellow countrymen do the working holiday in London, I am now living in the UK. In this time, I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all over the world and in my experiences, the expats who feel the strongest call to go home are South African.

Having visited South Africa, I can see why – it is a gloriously beautiful country, the weather is good, the beer is cheap and, if you’re lucky, you can have a wonderfully relaxed lifestyle.

The other thing that unites my South African friends is a deep love and respect for Nelson Mandela, who is celebrating his 93rd birthday this week. It is indeed a miracle of modern times that he is still alive and it is definitely a good thing that he is still a hero, a role model, a symbol of the ideals that motivated the end of apartheid. Read more of this post

Rebekah Brooks quits News International

LeftCentral has just found out that Rebekah Brooks has resigned as chief executive of News International. The move follows numerous campaigns and a growing public sentiment that her position had become untenable with the phone-hacking scandal.

Read the full story here courtesy of The Independent. We’re interested in hearing your views on this – do you think it was bound to happen, or are you shocked by her resignation? Feel free to comment below.

Opinion: Policing shouldn’t be tested by trial and error

(c) kenjonbro

Katy Owen

There is a bill currently making its way through the House of Lords  (albeit without a fight) titled ‘Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill’ which, among other things, aims to abolish police authorities and replace them with elected police commissioners. These commissioners would be selected based on proposed policing priorities for different areas which constables would then be expected to address and prioritise.

Home secretary Theresa May has argued that these changes would increase the connection between the public and the police and improve democracy while putting police decisions in the hands of local communities rather than Whitehall. So far, so populist. One imagines that this change is part of this government’s attempt to be associated with the positive notion of reform as well as the negative one of cuts. Read more of this post

Opinion: Take that, Murdoch

(c) dfarber

Georgia Lewis

Nick Ferrari, a former News of the World journalist, has been ranting on Sky News about how wonderful Murdoch is, how he has provided employment for thousands of media professionals and how the blocking of his attempt to take over BSkyB is just unfair.

True enough, Murdoch has created jobs galore for journalists. It’s just a shame that it seems that among these journalists were those who saw fit to break the law to get stories or just run stories that cannot be upheld with the public interest defence such as Steve Coogan’s personal life or Gordon Brown‘s seriously ill child. Read more of this post

News Corp withdraws bid for BSkyB

LeftCentral has just learned that News Corporation’s controversial takeover bid of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) has been withdrawn. The move comes after a momentous motion in Parliament delivered a damning verdict on Rupert Murdoch’s proposals that would result in his domination of British media.

Read the full story here courtesy of The Scotsman, the first online article we could get our hands on. What do you think are the repercussions of this result? Post your views in the comment box below, and join the debate!

The Wednesday Essay: Lord Ashcroft’s ‘pretty desperate’ tactics attempt to mask PM’s bungled hire

(c) Edú

Ben Rowan

Lord Ashcroft, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, is to publish scathing details of Ed Miliband’s advisor Tom Baldwin. Ashcroft claims that back in 1999 his bank account was hacked by a private investigator hired by Baldwin, in an attempt to gain information about Ashcroft’s links with the Conservative party and his rather excessive funding of it.

Currently the news is dominated with the hacking scandal and has already closed down the News of the World (NoW). Evidence of hacking and pay-offs have dirtied the waters of theUK establishment in the past week and the public are quite rightly outraged. The thought of dead servicemen’s phones being accessed has created a stink in Fleet Street, far more so than when news that celebrities’ phones and emails had be accessed. Read more of this post

Opinion: Lies and invasions of privacy are not justified by the ‘public interest’

(c) Downing Street

Katy Owen – @KatyOwen4

The phone-hacking scandal has escalated enormously over the past week with each day bringing ever more serious allegations so that by Friday news about a News International plot to take over the world probably wouldn’t surprise many.

The latest revelation – broken yesterday by the Guardian – is that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown not only had his phone hacked but that someone pretending to be him accessed his bank account, that another tricked his lawyers into handing over his legal file, and that his son’s private medical records were potentially illegally accessed, all by people from or working in the name of News International newspapers. Read more of this post