Tag: Britain (Page 1 of 2)

The curious world of Owen Jones and British socialism

Owen Jones is one of the most successful writers in Britain yet he does not actually like writing. “I never wanted to be a writer,” he has written, “I don’t particularly enjoy writing, in lots of ways I’m not a very good writer.” The honesty is endearing. Still, how grim to see one of our most renowned columnists admit that writing is “a means to an end”. Where is the love of language that inspired such commentators as Mencken, Waugh, Hitchens and Cockburn? What does it say about the reading public that a man for whom writing is a mere propaganda tool has reached such heights?

Jones appeared almost from nowhere, with a slim, fresh-faced appearance and cheerful, down-to-Earth style that earned him a following above that of wordier, angrier leftist commentators. His books Chavs and The Establishment became bestsellers and he is one of if not the biggest attraction of The Guardian with his videos and columns.

The honesty that I mentioned is real and admirable. The problem is that it exposes weaknesses that – well – are not.

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Upon a Windswept Shore: The Falklands War 35 Years On

It was 35 years ago. Margaret Thatcher was in power, but only precariously so. The country was fractious, and the economy was still struggling to emerge from the subterranean depths it had plunged to in the 1970’s. A war on the far side of the world was fought and won, against all the odds, and showed the world that Britain would not sit idly by as its sovereign territory was invaded by a belligerent dictatorship.

The first signs of trouble came on March 31, 1982, when news came of Argentinian naval vessels fast approaching the few rocky and windblown islands at the bottom of the world, 8,000 miles away from the UK. The islands were home at the time to around 1,500 people who considered themselves British.

This move by the Argentines came at a bad time. Britain was still weak after the disaster of the 1970’s when even the USSR didn’t want to buy our goods because they were so poorly made. As a result of this, the armed forces, and particularly the navy, had faced budget cuts and were untested since the 1950’s. A victory was not inevitable or even looked possible. The task before Thatcher’s government and the armed forces, in purely logistical terms, let alone in military capability, was immense.

Thatcher had to wage a two-front campaign, both within her own cabinet in order to determine Britain’s response, and also against America, whose interests in the region ran counter to Britain’s. If she had made a mess of either situation, the consequences would have been extremely severe. However, the way Thatcher managed the crisis mirrors the performance of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought; they rose to the task, drew a line in the sand and refused to accede to the thuggish behaviour of a dictatorial totalitarian regime.

The cabinet and members of the Foreign Office were already resigned to defeat, showing the prevailing idea from the 70’s of Britain being a nation in decline and that they were just there to manage it. Admiral and First Sea Lord Henry Leach forced his way into the meeting in the House of Commons in full uniform, showing that at times like this symbols of authority such as this are needed to galvanise people into action. He was emphatic: “I can put together a task force of destroyers, landing craft, support vessels… It can be ready to leave in 48 hours.”

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UKGE2017: Tory night of fiasco

Britain went to the polls on Thursday, June 8, 2017, and received a hung Parliament in return. Prime Minister Theresa May had called the snap election back in April, in order to shore up what she saw as her lack of legitimacy due to her having slipped into the role of Prime Minister almost de facto following the six-way shootout after the Brexit decision in 2016, which led to then PM David Cameron resigning.

Initially, the polls showed that the Tories had an astonishing 20-24 point lead over the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories were seen as the party that would deliver Brexit in a ‘strong and stable’ manner, and May seemed like a safe pair of hands with which she would lead the country through the undoubtedly turbulent years ahead. Meanwhile, the Labour Party was led by a man who’d never held a senior ministerial position before and had had a nasty habit of being overly friendly with terrorists, theocratic regimes and Marxist revolutionary governments, all of which ought to have sunk his electoral hopes without much of a trace.

Indeed, this was what looked like the most likely outcome. And then came the disaster of the Tory manifesto release, with its messy roll-out, uncosted nature, vague promises and various pledges to remove provisions for elderly people through what became known as the ‘Dementia tax’. The so-called Dementia tax was an effort to address the spiralling costs of social care in modern Britain and mandated that older people with assets of £100,000 or over, for example in property, could use those to pay for their care. The downside was that many people would then be unable to leave anything in an inheritance to their descendants.

To say this did not go down well was an understatement. 

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UKGE2017: Corbyn provides hope for the future

“For the many, not the few”.  A motto that almost half the country clang onto, some of which are people living in destitute, encased in the vicious circle of poverty which the Conservative party has contrived. The hope that Jeremy Corbyn had beamed from his manifesto benefited British people who were most in need, and a way out to break the cycle and an opportunity to get themselves back on their feet.

Under the 90’s Tory government, with John Major at the helm, I was a kid living on the tenth floor flat in one of East London’s many council estates, which were constantly featured on the 6 O’clock news for whatever crime had been committed. I was raised by a lone parent, my miracle mother, whom not only managed to survive on such a small amount of money, (we had £15 a week for food) but had to endure the constant abuse and degradation from MPs and the tabloids for being a single parent (obviously a choice she freely made…. Oh wait…) and we were all engulfed in the same vicious circle that the Tories had created; punished for not working, but no help or opportunity available to get out there at work. Childcare was a fortune, adult education was limited and the lack of working rights made working mothers life impossible to balance.

Then in 1997 Labour was voted in, and despite the questionable decisions Tony Blair made in regards to the wars we were plunged into, that government did a lot for my family and my childhood. My mother wasn’t siting in our 2 bedroom flat in Leyton enjoying being on benefits, scrimping and saving and struggling everyday while enduring hatred. When the opportunity arose thanks to changes Labour made, she went out and studied law. Then when Cameron was voted in, it again affected my adult life. Shockingly diagnosed with multiply lifelong conditions, which cause pain, fatigue and mobility issues at a mere 24 years old, I was unable to work, and was left to fend for myself. The austerity cuts killed people with disability, the stress made me want to kill myself. The stress that the cuts caused was unbearable, more unbearable then the constant pain I was in. I didn’t ask for this. As a person who had worked since she was 16 years old and studied, I did not see my life trapped in another Tory snag,

Like my mother I got myself out of that circle, but with no help from the people who serve us.

Today, after years of unnecessary austerity, the top earners paying less tax than me, disastrous campaigns from May and Corbyn taking the polls by storm, we still have the conservatives leading by vote. Me and every other labour voter are asking ourselves, why? 

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No, British National Anthem is not promoting any far-right ideology

Back in October, a Student Union leader of King’s College London wrote a Facebook post, saying he thought the National Anthem should be banned because it promoted far-right ideology, white supremacy and xenophobia. He also said that nation states are a really bad idea.

First, why does this trivial issue occupy someone in a position like the vice president for welfare and community at the KCL SU? Surely this post requires a lot of time? Doesn’t he also have some studying to do?

Anyway, I disagree entirely with Mr Abdullahi’s premise and argument. As such, in response to his use of his right to free speech to criticise what he sees as an out-dated institution, I’ll use my right to free speech to rebut him.

His entire position seems to revolve around the fact that he finds the anthem racist and a remnant of the British Empire. It also apparently empowers far-right nationalists who glory in the old and timeworn idea of the nation state.

First of all, if Mr Abdullahi had actually looked into the history of the national anthem, he might find that it was written during the Jacobite rebellion in the 1740’s. If anything it is an anti-Scottish anthem more than anything else, as it was penned in reaction to Bonnie Prince Charlie storming south to retake the English throne for the Stuart dynasty.

Incidentally, if he wants to see examples of national anthems with less than savoury lyrics maybe he should look at the Chinese, the Mexican, the Algerian, the Turkish and the Vietnamese national anthems. These have some blood curdling lyrics that make Britain’s look meek in comparison.

The second issue with Mr Abdullahi’s misguided comments concern his “f*** the nation state” statement. By this comment, I guess Mr Abdullahi is against all forms of national sovereignty and identity. In other words, he seems to want to live in the world of John Lennon where there are no countries and we are all just one big happyfamily.

I’ve got bad news for him: the nation state is arguably the single biggest protection against external and inter-tribal violence in the history of humanity.

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The Day After The Referendum

There is still a somewhat stunned silence around in relation to the referendum results. I have the pleasure of working in an environment where everyone was very vocal about their hatred of the European Union and have not spared their words on the topics of immigration and governance. Yet yesterday, when the results were confirmed and the markets started plummeting, there was a distinct silence around. The resounding feeling quietly expressed was ‘what have we done’. This juxtaposed with the roar on social media from those of us who are linked with academia, raging about lost opportunities, fearing for funding, and like myself, wondering how long it is before us ‘unwanted drains of the society’, the EU migrants, were marched out of the country by Farage and his team. All this was mixed with the Brexit campaigners glee of a victory many did not believe would not happen.

There is so much that could – and will – be said about the campaign and the politics behind it. The discourses on immigration were especially interesting as they dominated the campaign, leaving economic concerns behind. However, for the politically and legally minded, the situation now gets very interesting. The next official step in the process is the activation of Article 50, which in itself poses one rather interesting question in regards to departure of Britain from the EU. David Cameron has stated that the Article should only be activated once the Conservative Party gets a new leader, which is likely to happen in October this year. the EU leaders, however, want Britain out as soon as possible.

What is it that is so interesting about the Article 50?  The Lisbon Treaty states as follows:

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

During the process the country withdrawing is not allowed to be present in the negotiations. Those countries that remain decide among their own group the kind of an offer they will put on a table.  Although the discourses that can be read across different EU states are concentrating on keeping a close alliance between Britain and the EU even after the split, the question does remain: will Britain be made as an warning, the example of what happens if you leave?

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6 things to read to understand #Brexit before the vote

The Brexit vote is almost here! Brits vote on June 23 on the decidedly less sexy-sounding issue of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, aka #Brexit (it needs a hashtag). Over the past half year, we at Bombs and Dollars have written a lot about Brexit, EU politics, and Euroscepticism in general. Here are six must-read articles to understand the issues at hand in the vote.

Why B+D reluctantly supports “remain”


“The EU is a vile organisation, and I loathe a superstate, which throws its weight around, has blatant disregard for nation and borders and national interests, and is a Byzantine unelected technocracy, and I despise it as a Realist, a democrat and as a free market proponent. But the question that plagued me for so long is what after? I will be stable in my position, as an educated urban metropolitan elite. But do I want to live in a country ruled by the likes of Nigel Farage and Jayda Fransen? Where “expert” is a reviled word? Do I want break up of a union which has guaranteed the longest peace of our times?

The answer is No.”
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Brexit and the art of deception


Brexit campaigners make a strong case for why Britain would be better off on its own. The problem is their claims are not accurate.

As Daniela Zordova writes, EU countries and their citizens still have a big say in what the EU does. Major treaties need to be approved by countries, and integration proceeds at the behest of the countries.

“The European Union is not a state. It might become one in the distant future but the recent developments suggest that even if the Union is heading that direction, it will take longer than predicted and desired by its Founding Fathers. The European Union does not have the powers of the state. Its Member States voluntarily conferred competences to the Union through the medium of the treaties. The power the Union enjoys has thus been delegated to it by means of the legal process, in contrast to unwritten social contract governing the relations between the state and citizens. Member States retain their sovereignty and the Union can only exercise its feeble enforcement power in case of non-compliance with laws in areas under its competence.”

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Barry crashes the Brexit party!


Foreign leaders from around the Western world are trying to convince Britain to stay. From the embarrassing, like foreign legislatures reading poems, to the irrelevant, like Dutch newspapers carrying anti-Brexit covers, it is questionable how much of an impact many of those actions will have.

U.S. President Barack Obama decided to get into the act, too, urging Britain to stay. While Maitra said Obama had made some good points, at the end of the day, it might not be taken kindly by many Brits; “it is unbelievable to think any country, or even the British PM urging Americans to sign and ratify UNCLOS, or form a borderless union with Mexico and Canada, or join AIIB led by China. Not going to happen. Ever.”
Read full article.

THIS…is what majoritarian ultra-nationalism looks like


Sumantra Maitra says, following the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox, “Never since the early 1980s, had it been so toxic.”

And: “For far too long, British white nationalists has been regarded as stupid idiots who can’t spell or construct a single English sentence, but not anymore. They are a threat, just as much as ultra nationalism across Europe and US, and they need to be identified and dealt with firmly, with extreme prejudice, if necessary.”

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Exclusive: Greek far-right organising violent anti-refugee rallies


neonazis
The controversy over huge numbers of refugees and migrants in Europe has fueled the right-wing. Across Europe,

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“I’m European, and the Leave campaign is wrong about EU”

Brexit and the art of deception : Why Jacob Rees-Mogg is wrong


 

The chances of the Great Britain leaving the European Union have never been as high as in the aftermath of the decision to hold a referendum. Preceding the involvement of public opinion in the issue, had been the great political power game of threatening the EU with the aim of extracting concessions on questions of British concern.

reesmogg_2781411bWith the D-day just behind the corner, campaigning activity is apparently gaining momentum. Particularly striking is Jacob Rees-Mogg´s speech on Brexit; much less for the theatrical glimpse of pain on his face when he speaks about the catastrophe of common policies and 1973 tragedy of British membership, than for the way the knowledge of procedures and overall functioning of the Union can be precisely twisted and manipulated to serve specific ends. People deserve to have a say in politics producing outputs with a direct impact on population, however, their decision should be well-informed and grounded on facts. The European Union is a complex entity characterized by even more composite structures and procedures; thus complicating the full understanding by citizens. Speeches should help fill in the knowledge gaps, however, deceptive and misleading quotes as the one delivered by Rt Hon Rees-Mogg only enhance masses´ misunderstanding about the Union. The repercussions for the final decision might be severe. Here’s why. 

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Why we reluctantly support “Remain”

I have agonised over this issue, and waited till the last instance to decide on the Bombs and Dollars endorsement.

I have also written extensively, on Obama’s Brexit intervention, on Nationalism and the Euro 2016 riots, and most recently on why EU in its current form is an abomination of what was intended and is indefensible.

Raging debates are online, and I have nothing to add than what have already been said. Major publications like Spectator, Telegraph, and Times are for Brexit; FT, Economist and predictably Guardian are for Remain. The British isles have never been split before, both emotionally and intellectually like this since I started covering politics.

An MP was murdered.

Photo from google, by Tony Margiocchi / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Tony Margiocchi / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The EU is a vile organisation, and I loathe a superstate, which throws its weight around, has blatant disregard for nation and borders and national interests, and is a Byzantine unelected technocracy, and I despise it as a Realist, a democrat and as a free market proponent. But the question that plagued me for so long is what after? I will be stable in my position, as an educated urban metropolitan elite. But do I want to live in a country ruled by the likes of Nigel Farage and Jayda Fransen? Where “expert” is a reviled word? Do I want break up of a union which has guaranteed the longest peace of our times? 

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THIS…is what majoritarian ultra-nationalism looks like

355B09E700000578-3644847-Batley_and_Spen_MP_Jo_Cox_has_been_shot_in_Birstall_near_Leeds_a-m-138_1466087548363Labour MP Jo Cox, was shot, and stabbed by a white nationalist shouting “Britain First”, and is in critical condition under care as she was hospitalised in emergency.

Ms Cox, who supports Britain to stay in EU, has been campaigning with her husband and two little kids and has been a strong supporter for intervention in Syria as well, as well as campaigned for Britain to take in more refugees.

Britain, as a nation desensitized by violence, has a reputation to keep calm and show fortitude, as compared to the cousins across the pond.  British politics is good humoured, debated in Parliament in PMQs, and chases in boats across the Thames. Never since the early 1980s, had it been so toxic. 

For far too long, British white nationalists has been regarded as stupid idiots who can’t spell or construct a single English sentence, but not anymore. They are a threat, just as much as ultra nationalism across Europe and US, and they need to be identified and dealt with firmly, with extreme prejudice, if necessary.

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