Volume 2, Issue 2, April 2011
Tom Brake MP - Man or Monster? Politician. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Liar, cheat, evil genius? Over the past few months, I have been working with Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, and it has changed my view of politicians for good.
the NUS, who share strong links with the Labour Party (most of their presidents go on to become Labour MPs), who proposed a graduate tax. This graduate tax would mean that you started to pay back when you earned £6 475 (so those on minimum wage would have to pay) and Recently it has been a hectic and troubling would have to pay 2% extra tax for the time for our local MP (particularly because rest of your life (meaning that you would he is a Liberal Democrat, a word many end up paying far more over your life now consider interchangeable with than the current system proposes). "traitor"). However, throughout these Aaron Porter, President of the NUS, who troubled times Tom has managed to came to speak to Wilson’s students keep calm, and to the disappointment of about the fees, has recently been forced a large number of local residents, carry to stand down after calling the new on. With Tom coming to visit Wilson's on system "progressive". Tom said that this 25th April 2011, because his last trip was was proof that the new system is procancelled due to the snow, I believe gressive. writing an article about our local MP is long overdue and highly appropriate. Also he stated that ultimately the Liberal Democrats have a fifth of the seats of For this article I asked Tom a series of the Tories in Parliament and therefore it questions. Firstly, I asked why the Lib would be wrong to oppose the majority Dems formed a coalition with the Tories. party when the Lib Dems have already His response was short and sweet: there got so much (the AV referendum, pupil was no choice. With Labour the Lib Dems premium, not paying tax on your first would not have enough seats to form a £10 000, the green deal, etc). The Lib government. The other option, the Dems’ current proposal is to get rid of Tories governing on their own, would fees completely, without a graduate tax, be disastrous in tough economic times; but they cannot implement it until they they would not have enough seats to push have both a majority government and a any proper legislation through Parliament. smaller government deficit. Secondly, I asked why Tom voted for the increase in tuition fees, one of his most controversial decisions, breaking the NUS pledge he had signed. Tom started off by telling me what the pledge actually said. He stated that the first half said to not vote for a rise in fees, but the second half said to make the system fairer. Tom said that if he were to not vote for the rise, he would have broken the second half of the pledge. Under this system, students do not have to start paying back their loan until they earn above £21 000, whereas previously it was £15 000. Also, support is now provided for students from low income families.
Lastly, I asked Tom why people hate politicians so much. To this he replied that most people do not hate their local politician, but instead the breed of politicians that go on to govern the country, because of the expenses scandal. He said that he loves chatting with local people and even getting "berated by students on the bus" about tuition fees. In order to change the perception he believes that it is important to reform the political system so that there are less safe political seats, so MPs don’t become lazy and as a result damage the reputation of all local MPs.
Tom encourages people to write to him Tom said it is important to remember with their questions, so that they can that the student protests were not about understand his decisions. He is one of the getting rid of all fees; they were run by few MPs who reads every single letter he
receives and ensures that all of them are answered. I recommend to anyone wondering about the government’s actions or politics in general to either visit his office in Carshalton or to send him a letter outlining your question. Ultimately what you have to remember, although it can be easy to forget, is that Tom is a person as well as a politician. When people call him a liar or an idiot, it hurts. But he chooses to carry on and fulfil what he sees as his responsibility, as an elected MP. Now, I am sure you may disagree with some of his policy or the way he has voted, but instead of just complaining about it, ask him why he has voted the way he has chosen to do so. What you must remember is that he is a politician, not because he wants power or money (if he truly wanted either of these he could quit as local MP and become a high earning professional), but because, as cheesy as it sounds, he genuinely wants to help his local residents. Trust me when I say that he doesn’t get a sick pleasure through voting for unpopular reforms; the only thing he gains is a higher chance of loosing his job at the next election. So, if you feel angry with what the government are doing, ask someone employed to tell you why they are doing what they are doing. Don’t just sit there, wallowing in your own political disgust; ask why that is and more importantly demand an explanation - that is your democratic right, one that many countries are still fighting for! And just remember, millions saw the apple fall, but only Newton asked why. Great men question the world around them. Smaller men just grumble about it. Kes Daood
Sixth Form Mercury, March 2011
Words from the editors Out of all the interesting news circulating around Wilson’s over the past fortnight, we decided to include a variety of articles, ranging from an opinion column on Tom Brake to recent debating news, and also the regular sport and music columns. We were also blessed with a deeply controversial article on student rights, by a pupil who wishes to remain unnamed. Mercury will return after the Easter break; again, we strongly encourage any students interested in writing articles to contact us either in person or via email.
Tom Brake MP - Man or Monster?
Words from the editors
The UN Debate
First they came for our bags...
Dragon Age II Review
Darren Mindham and Will Roberts
An inch feels like a mile The UN Debate Wilson's recently competed against Wallington Boys in the quarterfinals of the UN Debate. Wilson's entered two boys from the debating team, Kes Daood and myself, to propose the motion "This house believes that the number of MPs should be reduced". Kes delivered two speeches, an eight minute opening speech and a five minute summary, with my own eight minute speech sandwiched in-between. There was no audience present, only the three judges, Ms Androlia and an RS teacher from Wallington Boys; naturally this resulted in an uncomfortable silence when the chairman invited questions from the floor. Luckily the Wallington Boys teacher did manage to conjure up some questions for me and Kes but, strangely, couldn't think of anything to ask his own team. After the closing speeches, the judges withdrew and privately arrived at a decision. When they returned to the boardroom, they announced Wallington's
score first. "Wallington Boys - 75 points", I remember the chief judge saying. I immediately thought, "We must have won! Judges always announce the lowest score first!" Alas, I was unfortunately mistaken. The judge continued, "Wilson's - 74 points". So the scores were excruciatingly close, which in many ways is worse than a crushing defeat: perhaps if I had allocated just a few more minutes of my time to practising, then Kes and I might have beaten our opponents. Still, the judges praised both teams for their excellent speeches; they also affirmed repeatedly that it had been an unbearably difficult decision for all involved. However, I do have severe reservations about the closeness of the scores. The UN judges will often tweak the figures slightly, in order to avoid a massive disparity between schools. For instance, the scores were suspiciously close in the previous round of the debate, despite John Fisher's diabolical performance.
Thus I am inclined to think that the judges were merely softening the blow by declaring such similar scores between Wilson's and Wallington Boys. Nevertheless, the debate could have gone far worse: Wallington's original plan was to enter Josh Heath, an indomitable rhetoric demigod who has slaughtered Wilson's in every competitive debate, but he was forced to withdraw at short notice. So although the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, especially considering the fierce rivalry that exists between Wilson's and Wallington, the debate still provided us with valuable experience. Finally, we would like to thank Ms Androlia, along with any other staff involved with the debate, for all the time they spent planning and coordinating the event. We do genuinely appreciate it, despite our griping and moaning. Darren Mindham
First they came for our bags, then they came for our freedom Since 28th March, teachers have been clamping down on the rule about bags being taken around school and into lessons. The concern from staff is that allowing sixth formers to traipse through the corridors with a hefty bag slung over one shoulder will inevitably lead to us injuring students further down the school. On first hearing the news, a collective groan of misery and dissatisfaction echoed around the lecture theatre, and understandably so. Student privileges have been systematically stripped from sixth formers since the beginning of the autumn term, in a similar fashion to a wild beast tearing the flesh off its prey.
Sixth formers were denied use of the old sixth form canteen at the start of the year, since the needs of the Year 7s are clearly much greater than our own; there has been a constant struggle regarding period one and morning registration; period three used to start at 11.05 but was recently changed back to 11.00; students of all ages (including seventeen and eighteen year-olds in the Upper Sixth) are mandated to queue at the bus stops at the end of the school day, a degrading and embarrassing requirement; finally, we had to fight bitterly to earn the right to eat inside the common room and get the old television back.
Moreover, the Sixth Form Council is simply a democratic illusion in an otherwise tyrannical institution. Staff occasionally adjust rules and regulations, but only to maintain the façade of democracy; ultimately the system is dictatorial. There isn't even Appletiser in the canteen anymore - which is perfectly understandable, since fizzy drinks can cause side-effects like freedom and happiness. And remember, no coats are allowed at Founders Day after all, you might accidentally smother a Year 7. Anonymous
Sixth Form Mercury, March 2011
Dragon Age II Review If you don’t like Lord of the Rings, you can look away now.
Joker option just to get the funniest dialogue, but this does make your character seem really harsh for going up I know we all have a little indignation to someone whose daughter has just when it comes to magic, a case of both been killed and wisecracking about how wishing we could have it and hating sure he is that she’s dead. Surprisingly those who do. It’s the same with money, few people call you out on this, even the and like those with money we like to plentiful insane wizards take it in their demonise it. However, it seems that no stride as you make jokes about just how one likes to make a villain out of the crazy they are. wizards more than Bioware, as in their new Dragon Age game I don’t think I It doesn’t help that no matter what you have found a single magic-wielding say, half the time it won’t impact on how character that wasn’t evil or insane, and the story progresses anyway. It is in the that’s my character included. It’s nice to dialogue that Bioware generally shines, know in a fantasy world where all the though, if not the writing of the story races seem to be at each other’s throats itself. The story doesn’t even seem to be that we can all get together and hate the going anywhere this time; at least you fireball throwing population. had an overarching goal other than what is most important to the game right now The world is your standard fantasy fare in the original Dragon Age: Origins. At no that is go for absolutely anything claiming point during gameplay did I connect with to be "high-fantasy", meaning that it my character, and it was about half way emulates Tolkien so well it might as well through that I suddenly realised I did not have just been set in Middle Earth anyway, care about Hawke, or what was happening what with elves, dwarves and humans in the story. I was going through the motions (amongst other things) within its population. and hoping that the game would lead The choice as to what race you’re going somewhere eventually, but even at the to be existed in the last game, but it end it was unresolved, deciding instead to seems to be the first thing to go in be the middle game in a trilogy. Dragon Age II, as you’re given a choice of male or female human, and your game- Dragon Age II doesn’t even have much in play choices of warrior (hit it with a the way of hooks other than the potential sword until it dies), rogue (hit it with two of gameplay or narrative either. It’s not swords until it dies) and mage (burn particularly outstanding visually, what things) before being thrown into the with the majority of the game taking game. The gameplay is far improved on place in a rather visually samey city the previous game, as it feels much more (particularly so when they copy and dynamic, much more fluid and generally paste areas about a thousand times much more fun. The abilities have been during the side missions), which is a real simplified quite a bit, but this just makes it much more accessible, although it does remove some much-loved depth. Armour only needs to be considered for your main character, and you only have to deal with weapons for everyone else. You are launched into combat as Hawke, a human who can take on whatever kind of personality you want thanks to Bioware’s patented Wheel of Dialogue, lifted straight from Mass Effect with one or two minor differences. Whereas before the general dialogue options were Good, Bad and Neutral, the choices are now Passive, Aggressive and "Joker". Naturally, most people will go for the
shame considering that a number of moments in Mass Effect 2 (Bioware’s previous outing) were stunning. Throughout my gameplay there were bugs aplenty with the graphics, pulling any possible immersion out of many of the dramatic scenes. If you aren’t into fantasy in any way, then you’ve probably not even read to this point in the review, and if you are then you need to realise you only have two major things to consider for this game – the gameplay and the writing. The gameplay is fun, although after a while it will get a bit samey and is just frustrating at times, and while the story is only adequate the script does have the advantage of being funny and wonderfully written. You can come into the series from this game, but you’re going to miss a lot of the references. Not like I particularly cared, because even when I understood the references, returning characters or throwbacks didn’t bring me into the world of the game one bit. Verdict: Certainly not Bioware’s best. You’ll enjoy the combat and the dialogue, but the story and graphics leave something to be desired. And this is not the kind of game that can hold up on combat alone – it’s too cutscene-happy to be able to do that and still be great. Maybe give it a try once the price is down, but until then go for Dragon Age: Origins if you’re really interested. (7/10) Martyn Long
Sixth Form Mercury, March 2011
Sheepish Thoughts Last week we talked about the joys of tech metal. Ghetto. Well this time around we’re on to something equally as ground breaking albeit with a bit of a twist. It's deathstep; big, bad and with more distortion than you can shake a stick at, it has begun a small underground movement that’s recently culminated in the conception of an EP by the lads of newcomers Commissioner.
another crack. Time for another quick explanation? Okay, well there are two main views: firstly, deathcore is deathmetal without everything that made deathmetal a monolith in the music scene. It’s manufactured for the masses, lacks character, and its fans are all 14 year-old girls. Oh, and it has a stylist. Conversely it’s been cited as an evolution in a genre that has an otherwise male dominated fan base and has become A bit of elaboration? Sure. Commissioner more accessible for fans of lighter genres is a side project between death metal so that they can reach in and grab a vocalist Mitch Lucker (Suicide Silence) chunk. And so what if it likes the occasional and underground dubstep god, Big haircut? Nail varnish is macho too. Chocolate, in an attempt to recombine synth and guitar to go back to the roots Whatever you think, deathstep is a beast of metal whilst simultaneously upping to be reckoned with. It follows a few of the ante. Once long ago, in a little time the standard requirements of any metal period we call the seventies, classic rock based genre: it sounds evil enough to get was no stranger to the wail of synth, the community support groups trembling, keyboard and electronic effects. Unfortunately lyrics are, shall we say, dubious and any the two friends hit a serious pothole and all vocals are practically indecipherable. sometime round the eighties and they’ve Throw in some harshly lit black and white since found themselves going head-toshots of the band for album artwork and head in a 30-odd year long face off we’re golden. As for Commissioner, well, between hardline electronic and purist without being too crass I can safely say metal. they’re darker than a dead baby joke, and with about as much subtlety. If However since the 2000s, of one metal’s screamo is what gets you going, then most controversial sons, deathcore, Lucker’s vocals are some of the finest decided to bury the hatchet and have you’ll ever hear, and I’ve honestly not
the words to give an accurate picture of the complexities of the accompanying instrumental courtesy of Big Chocolate. So to fully comprehend the musical event that is this Commisioner, you’re going to have to go buy the EP titled What Is. Go on, stop gawking, off you go. Alternatively, for the terminally light of pocket, go hit them up on ye olde YouTube. And then buy the EP. My personal favourite has got to be Click Click Flash. Have a gander. However, first a quick warning. To those of you who feel metal should be for "real men" with long hair and corny fantasy artwork, forget you read this. Continue to drink mead, wear greasy biker leathers and play Dungeons and Dragons. This is not for you. Next time round I’ll be having a head to head comparison of some of the upcoming summer music festivals. And no indie fanboys; I refuse to look at Reading. Anywhere that can name My Chemical Romance as a headliner and still have the audacity to consider itself a serious festival should get its priorities sorted. End of. Alex Nash
Riman’s Roundup We often hear football fans complain about the money in the modern game, but is this really a bad thing? After all, it is only due to the billions of pounds in world football that we are able to see great teams such as the current Barcelona squad play together. Granted, many of the players were produced by Barcelona themselves, but millions of pounds were invested in the development facilities for these players so it would be wrong to think that they were free.
through the years in order to play professional football and continue to do so as they spend large amounts of time away from their family as they travel to away games or play in foreign countries. Not only this, but excluding a select few numpties (Ashley Cole, El Hadji Diouf), footballers set a good example for the youth of today. The professionalism and humility of players such as Scott Parker and Paul Scholes give something positive for young players to aspire to.
toddlers, who are now struggling to afford to go to a single match, let alone buy a season ticket.
The problem is not restricted to the dizzy heights of Premier League football; my less than regular attendance at Bromley FC’s games has now come completely to a stop as it now costs £10 to go and watch a bunch of part-time plumbers and vegetable salesmen play a poor game of football. There was a time when that kind of money could get you a good The most common complaint we hear So how does the mass amount of money seat at the FA Cup final! from the regular man on the street is affect us? The answer: ticket prices. The that modern day footballers get paid too amount of money football clubs demand Something obviously needs to be done much. With Wayne Rooney on a rumoured for tickets these days is quite frankly an to allow more people the opportunity to £250 000 per week, it could be said that embarrassment to the sport. With Premier see the best teams in the world live. it is getting out of hand. But does their League tickets reaching £50 and England There is no feeling quite like the collective pay cheque really matter? These men international tickets reaching £60, the roar of 50 000 fans on a Saturday afternoon, push their bodies to the limit not only game seems to be forgetting about the and everyone deserves to experience every weekend, but every day in training lifelong working class fans that have this at least once in their lives. as well. They have sacrificed a lot been attending matches since they were Harley Riman
Sixth Form Mercury Wilson’s School’s newest student-run publication