EU Referendum

At school we’re going to have our own EU Referendum vote on 23rd June.

Do you know if you’re going to vote to remain in the EU or leave it?

If you’re undecided, here are some easy links to help you understand all the pros and cons:

  • Newsround is often a good place to start if trying to get your head round a difficult topic. It has a few useful pages to help you understand the topic.
  • Most news websites have special sections dedicated to the EU referendum. When you’re reading be aware of possible bias as most newspapers have an opinion of whether Britain should stay or go. The Guardian tries to shine a light on some of the claims made by Brexit or Remain groups. The Independent has plenty of articles about the division currently faced by the people of Britain. The Daily Mail has numerous articles too, though it’s less easy to find them all in one place, you’ll have to search for them. The Daily Mirror is my last link for you, with a plethora of articles and even a quiz for you to fill in so you can find out whether you should vote remain or leave.

Efforts to protect conscientious objectors’ graffiti from WWI

Richmond Castle in Yorkshire was the ‘prison’ where conscientious objectors in WWI were sent and where they left their mark. They included Quakers, Methodists who wrote hymns on the wall, Socialists who added the words and music of The Red Flag, and a lace maker who contributed a delicate pattern for a flowery border. There are drawings of mothers, girlfriends and familiar landscapes their creators must have wondered whether they would ever see again. Well now English Heritage is doing everything it can to preserve and record these protests for generations to come.

Pacifism – The view that war is morally unacceptable and never justified (such as a conscientious objector). The term is sometimes applied to the belief that international disputes should be settled peacefully.

war objector

Graffiti 2


What does the UN do?


Well today in the news we have an answer: they do everything in their power to promote world peace. Senior UN officials are reporting that a Syrian government plane has bombed a refugee camp near the Turkish border killing at least 28 people. This is how the UN has responded:

  1. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said he was outraged by the incident and called for those responsible to be held accountable”. Ban urged the security council to refer the situation in Syria to the international criminal court.
  2. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights said Thursday’s attacks were almost certainly a deliberate war crime.  Al Hussein said: “Given these tent settlements have been in these locations for several weeks, and can be clearly viewed from the air, it is extremely unlikely that these murderous attacks were an accident.” He too urged members of the UN security council to refer Syria to the ICC so that there would be “a clear path to punishment for those who commit crimes like these”.
  3. Other countries have felt confident enough to make comments too with France describing them as a “revolting and unacceptable act that could amount to a war crime or crime against humanity”.
  4. UN-organised peace talks in Geneva are however deadlocked after an opposition walkout and the government delegation’s refusal to discuss a political transition that would see Assad eased out of power.

Some people see the United Nations as a world government. This might be seen as good to promote world peace and human rights everywhere or dangerous if it isn’t your own national government making important decisions…


If you can’t remember the basics about the United Nations you might look at the CBBC page which gives this as a summary:

The UN works for world peace and development in many different ways.
a) It organises peace-keeping forces in trouble spots around the world.                                    b) It is also linked with organisations which help people around the world. These include:
– UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
– UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
– UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)
– FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation)
– WHO (World Health Organisation)

Lots of people know about the UN because it sends peacekeeping troops to areas of conflict:


Or watch some YouTube clips:

  1. How does the UN work?
  2. How effective in the UN?
  3. Craziest moment of the General Assembly at the UN
  4. Emma Watson actress speaking at the HeForSheCampaign at the UN 2014
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio actor speaking as a UN Messenger of Peace at a Climate Summit 2014


Above you can see in the photograph how in 1942 the name “United Nations” was first coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was  used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.

1984 Battle of Orgreave

GCSE History is so useful when trying to understand the world today. History is never just something in the past, to study and be interested in, it bubbling with facts, events and influences that help make sense of the world in the news right now.

So here we go, the Battle of Orgreave, which all GCSE History students know was part of the Miner’s Strikes of the 1980s and when thousands of miners and police clashed in South Yorkshire, is in the news today 2016.

You might already have put 2 and 2 together to work out why its in the news today… well the same police who were found so flawed in the recent Hillsborough enquiry were the same ones on duty at the Battle of Orgreave. So some politicians think that if Hillsborough finally criticised the police and uncovered official wrongdoings, well maybe the same can happen for the miner’s strike.

If you can’t remember what the Battle of Orgreave was then check out these documentaries: The Battle for Orgreave and Orgreave/ Hillsborough.

What are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?

Things went badly wrong for the Labour Party this week when an MP called Naz Shah was made to resign for her comments on social media about Israel which were said to be anti-Semitic.


Then Ken Livingstone, the once Mayor of London, got himself into hot water for verbally supporting Ms Shah and seemingly supporting Adolf Hitler. He was later suspended from the Labour Party.


So what have they all been saying exactly and what do words like anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism mean?

The BBC website has a clearly explained page all about this:

  1. Anti-Semitism being prejudice against Jewish people
  2. Anti-Zionism is hatred towards the Jewish idea of Zionism that Israel is their rightful homeland and should be taken back from others who have settled there, such as Palestinians.

California has 743 prisoners on Death Row

A slightly disorganised article on the Independent at least clearly lets us know that about 743 prisoners in the state of California (USA) are on Death Row but that California has only used the death penalty on 13 prisoners since 1978. Keeping all these prisoners on Death Row, they’ve been handed the death penalty in court but haven’t been executed yet, costs the American taxpayer $4 billion which is £2,820,377,320!

A useful fact within the article is that death row inmates are waiting longer and longer to actually get the death penalty because DNA is repeatedly proving that people deemed guilty in the past were actually innocent. Last year alone, six death row inmates were cleared of wrongdoing. It’s anyone’s guess how many more wrongly convicted murderers are still there.


Innocent 60 year old freed after 30 years in prison

A man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime in 1982 has just walked his first steps outside prison for 30 years. He had been found guilty of murder and rape mostly based on one eye witness’ evidence and teeth marks, but newly acquired DNA evidence shows another man, who has already died in prison for a different offence, was the perpetrator.

Perhaps this is a good case study to use in arguments against the death penalty?