Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Social media transmits news and fixes mass opinion at an unprecedented rate. Richard Dawkins’s memes – self-replicating ideas – evolved into cat pictures with captions, and those pictures were spread around millions of people. The blogsphere/twitterati/instafam soon hits on a trend and runs with it until new ones emerge and the old ones are forgotten. Our ‘hive mind’ quickly selects phrases, jokes and attitudes; tags people with labels of hero and villain; and chooses trends, news and fashion which then pass into what might be termed ‘common sense’.
This year it became the fashion to bemoan the year itself. 2016’s favourite enemy was 2016. The calendar year became to modern people what the various devils, dibbuks, duppies, djinns, incubi, faeries and etc. had been to people of pre-Enlightenment civilisations. “Oh 2016, why have you taken from us yet another most precious member of our tribe?” wailed the tweeters and posters from their sackcloth toilet seats, virtually tearing their hair and beating their breasts in mourning. Read the rest of this entry »
Just ten days before Dalian Atkinson was murdered in Telford, Black Lives Matter movement announced itself in the UK with a series of coordinated actions in a number of British cities, causing major disruption that embarrassed the state, the police and corporations.
Their demands are bold and well presented. Like Occupy, another US import with its inspirations in ‘third-world’ struggles, the model has been copied and made relevant for a British context. Read the rest of this entry »
Reading Claudia Jones’s broadside against 1962’s Commonwealth Immigration Act as reproduced in the latest Race & Class, a few things struck me. This first immigration act, passed by a Tory government in the year following Jones’s opinion piece in the West Indian Gazette, significantly changed British views on immigration. The targets she rages against should make us reflect on some of the assumptions we have so naturalised that we no longer recognise them as assumptions at all.
An astonishing moment in British politics and the attempted coup is underway. David Cameron is gone and the knives are out and sharp for Jeremy Corbyn. Now, more than ever, do we need that man to stay as Labour leader, hoping that he can forge a coalition with SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens and that we have a progressive, decent government after the next election. With a whole load of vacant jobs in the shadow cabinet and a vote of no confidence underway, there is potential either for our last hope to be crushed or for something to be reborn that could re-ignite progressive movements in the UK. The vote of no confidence was set in motion by an MP who is blaming Corbyn for not “getting a clear message” to Labour voters on the EU referendum. This is Margaret Hodge, MP for Labour-run Barking, where 63% voted to leave EU – as opposed to a YouGov survey results that suggested a national trend of 69% of Labour voters voting to remain. How much more could Corbyn or any other Labour really have done? Read the rest of this entry »
“To all those who have seen these awful things, I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless.” said Francois Hollande after the murders in Paris on November 13th. It sounded dramatic and the impression we were given by sensational headlines and news reports was (to misappropriate Naomi Klein) ‘this changes everything’. Angela Merkel, Queen Elizabeth II, David Cameron, the Dutch foreign minister and the NATO secretary general were all among those who said they were ‘shocked’ by the murders. Yet, if we look at what Cameron said three days later at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet [insert joke about pigs, snouts and troughs], we see something more real to the facts: “The more we learn about what happened in Paris the more it justifies the approach that we are taking in Britain.” We see that the PM does not see UK’s response as a change in direction but a ‘redoubling’ of efforts for an ‘approach’ Britain was already perusing. Read the rest of this entry »
“#CSIClapton due to events on Lower Clapton Road this evening, we will unfortunately have to close #WelcomeToHackney”, so tweeted the newly opened Bonneville (bar? pub? restaurant?) on Saturday 14th June 2014. They followed this up with an explanation of what these ‘events’ were: “Some kid got stabbed over the road and decided to run into ours. Great look for our first week.”
The subsequent angry response on Twitter forced the newly opened bistro-cocktail bar to issue an apology: the victim had been “very aggressive” towards the staff trying to help him, and “more interested in calling his friends to gain retribution for his injury.”
This half-apology, half-excuse did not appease everyone and resulted in Twitter and actual protests against ‘gentrificleansing’ with some people demanding that the business leaves Hackney. Read the rest of this entry »
I have just come back from a few days in the 8th district of Budapest. Though I was not there specifically to check out or get in involved with the migrant situation, there were things that I saw and people that I met, and those scenes were incredible. The major train stations in Hungary’s capital have become transit zones and in these and in parks, people have set up camp. The state has, belatedly, provided some running water and toilets – finally deciding to open a toilet that was there but long closed at Keleti station only after raging about the dirty habits of the people who have arrived. Volunteers abound, providing food, clothes and legal advice: some seemingly to mitigate the state’s lack of welcome by directing migrants to the internment camps or informing them that they are not allowed to travel on the trains; some trying to challenge state policy, recording stories of abuse, directing migrants to accommodation. Occasional far-right visitors come down to scream hysterically about the rape and murder that the refugees will bring. The UK, despite talk of swarms and floods, has made sure that numbers of arrivals are limited and refugees kept out of sight in detention centres and camps off the border such as those in Calais. In Budapest, the new arrivals are extremely visible.