We live in a representative democracy, right? Our MPs are elected as representatives of a geographical constituency on a simple majority, correct? There is nothing proportional about First-Past-The-Post. Agreed? So it is therefore a false defence to suggest that this change is about making results somehow more proportional or representative. The point of representative democracy is that minority voices may be heard and all interests represented, rather than a tyranny-of-the-majority approach in other systems. It is, thus, not the priority of our system that boundaries are determined by numbers alone but by geographical changes that mean differing characteristics and interests in each constituency. Constituencies such as the Isle Of Wight, albeit large, make sense as one singular constituency as there is a definitive geographical barrier that mean the interests of constituents are likely to be similar- the very interests that MPs are meant to, but seldom, stand up for in Parliament. Furthermore, dropping the number of MPs to 600 is surely, mathematically, a reduction in public representation in the Commons. If they wanted actual proportional representation for the public, constituency boundaries would be the fine print in any reform.
‘In The Name of the Father’, if you haven’t seen it, is a 1993 film about the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven miscarriage of justice cases. The paranoia (and indeed, commonplace racist beliefs) surrounding the Irish of the time, with unrest in Northern Ireland and frequent IRA bombings in England, created a widespread, prejudice fear that lead to an Irish family and their acquaintances to be used as scapegoats and imprisoned for 15 years for a crime they had no involvement in (which was known by many of the people in authority who made the case against them), purely based on the fact that they were Irish and in the area at the time. Even when actual IRA members came forward to admit to the bombing, the British Establishment refused to even consider their release (despite knowing the real bombers were never those they had arrested from the start).
The key point is that, as of Muslims now, ‘The Irish’ were criminalised and automatically guilty in the eyes of the Establishment and many of the public. In prison, guns were put to their head; glass in their food; they were beaten for confessions and threatened with the killing of their families. The similarities between the atmosphere, tension, hysteria and anger towards the Irish at the time; and the situation in the Middle East alongside the demonisation of Muslims and immigrants in the West, albeit with an exacerbated exodus and greater humanitarian crises, are striking:
Britain (or its establishment) – maintaining its imperialistic approach to International Relations- interferes with the fabric of nation, fails to see that it would be better for all concerned to withdraw from conflict, destabilises the region, inevitably breeding hatred and an exodus of natives (often to the UK); but appears astounded when attacks occur on British streets which whips up emotion throughout the country, causing mass hysteria and paranoia. The fear, in the form of hate, is then poured onto the very people we’ve invaded for our further control, making prejudice accusations and racist finger-pointing commonplace. The result: a divided society, both in the invaded (yes, I think we should have given up NI) nation and in Britain; miscarriages of justice driven by fear and the media; and terrorism. Terrorism is a direct result of our interference and the hatred our mistakes have bred. Not to combat it would be wrong, but to carry on with the same methods as before is a terrifying prospect.
After his release, Gerry Conlon (the key figure of the Guildford 4) made the link between his imprisonment as a political scapegoat and those at Guantanamo Bay and supported their cause. It’s quite a straight-forward, explicit, link to make…. Yet, as a society, we’re making the same mistakes as we did before, allowing ourselves to be fooled by the fear mongering of our Establishment, to fear the very people who are the most vulnerable. Muslims are constantly depicted as a radical threat in the media. The Government’s “prevent” strategy in schools is carried out on the premise that the Islamic community is a threat on its own. David Cameron, our Prime Minister, said that we faced the threat of terrorism in people coming from Syria. Nobody came from Da’esh, across miles of dangerous environments and territory, because they supported the fundamentalists they left behind…. but if we continue to marginalise and imply guilt upon the Muslims of Britain, our media- and those of us who drool at it- may find ourselves pushing some of our own into the very grasp of Da’esh. At the very least, as with the Guildford 4, we’ll gladly turn a blind eye and allow injustice to be ignored- nobody stood up enough to Guantanamo Bay, a camp of political scapegoats, and I fear that may just be the start of the injustice in this episode.
The West is not responsible for individual acts of terrorism, decisions of our politicians cannot be called to account for the delusion under which extremists of all faiths operate; the ultimate blame for violence is always at the feet of the perpetrator. However, for the hatred, for the paranoia, for the fear generated amongst millions, for the miscarriages of justice, for the prejudice we live in, the West’s establishment can, and must, be held to full account. It’s happened before, and it took 30 years for there to be any apology. Imagine how it might escalate when the war is, this time, ‘against’ a people who don’t speak our tongue, don’t worship from the same book and come from further afield. Imagine how long this could take to be resolved if fear sets in. Imagine how much hatred could be bred before the wounds even start to heal. Can you even see what the situation might look like at the end? Do we even know what situation we want for the world at the end?
When I was around 10, I read a book written by a girl who had lived in Baghdad in 2003, during our invasion. I remember her description of her life prior to our onslaught: education, family, friends, a life. I remember the description of the terror she and her family felt as bombing raid after bombing raid turned Baghdad into turmoil. And I also remember it taking me a long time to come to terms with the facts that these were “our” bombs, our planes, our terror.
It is clear that Da’esh needs combatting but, whilst we have been told not to allow the spectre of the 2003 Iraq invasion affect our decision, the parallels are unavoidable. The speeches claiming an unprecedented threat, the oratory compelling us into a defence of our existence, the statistics concocted by intelligence and banded about by politicians to propel public support for a war that will apparently solve all our security issues and defeat existential threats for all time. We’re being told that this time, this time, the threat is real and, this time, it can truly only be defeated with force. Well, it’s been a long 45 minutes Mr Blair, sorry, Mr Cameron.
Did the 129 victims of the Paris attacks suffer, the millions who have mourned them and the thousands who have publically shown solidarity across the world do so in the name of more bombs and more destruction? We’ve all shown our determination (if determination can be measured by temporarily changing your profile picture, which it cannot) to stand up against Daesh (IS) and their barbaric terror; but with the same speed as the keyboard-warrior-social-justice-moral-highground types all repeated “I am France” it seems we’ve also forgotten those who have suffered most from the mess that is Middle Eastern relations: the growing mass of refugees flooding from the region. Muslims and specifically Muslims native to the areas of Da’esh stranglehold are the first to suffer from their brutality, yet the vast emphasis placed upon protecting our people and our borders from their ideology and their terrorists shows a serious neglect for the creation of this extremist cult.
The disenfranchisement from Sunni muslims is still to be understood. Their choice due to the political landscape left from the 2003 invasion was: Da’esh which, however despicable, stood up for their interests, or Shia militias who wanted to impose the same brutality upon them as Saddam Hussein had done to Shias during minority-Sunni rule. It is not sympathising with terrorist to try and tackle the root cause and create a broad, encompassing solution to a problem. Until we drop this narrative of them and us, which creates divisiveness and encourages support for our glorious troops in defence of our values (which is nothing other than a less extreme Western version of Jihad), and invoke a serious policy to undermine Da’esh’s existence rather than just damage it, our efforts will merely be a gesture, and a dangerous one for the region, creating more refugees, more hatred and more death.
Obviously (sarcasm), from the hysteric reaction of our (Murdoch’s) media and now “Donald J Trump”(fuck I hate the way and the people who run that country), those refugees fleeing from Daesh are all actually huge fans of that terror mongering manifestation we call an “Islamic State” hence why they’ve risked their lives, their families’ lives and everything they previously had to escape from “Islamic State.” **Round of applause to western media and America’s Grand Old Party**
In reality, these people are fleeing from the region largely as a result of our intervention which, whether directly or indirectly, contributed to the creation of Daesh. Having destabilised Iraq in a wholly illegal, aimless war, we thought that supporting the destruction of the state in Syria next door would merely help them on the road to democracy. It’s farcical. We essentially gave Al Qaeda and their affiliates a playground in a decaying Syria in which to learn, grow and develop after they’d failed to grasp a foothold in Iraq. Have we not learnt that knee-jerk reactions and a compelling duty to our allies only leads to blind destruction?
If it is out of a pure sense of duty, where was Britain at the height of the refugee crisis, which is still ongoing but ignored by mainstream media? We were told that our cash-strapped, deficit riddled nation (which also happens to be the 4th richest in the world) couldn’t possibly take any more refugees. I mean, if we can’t even provide basic accommodation for those on London’s streets, how could we possibly take any refugees, right? But at £800,000 a “low collateral value” Brilliant Brimstone Missile, we’re sure to save the day and bring the world’s population on side and destroy…………(enter this year’s Middle Eastern enemy here).
In the end, what will bombing achieve? The arguments for Daesh posing a threat that needs to be quashed are unquestionable, but is more bombing the answer? Will more death provide anything other than a feeling of satisfied vengeance? Will it not alienate those in and from Syria further when civilians are dying in Raqqa, Palmyra, Aleppo- the very people we’re now looking to for support? The last thing the civil war needs is another side in this already multi-faceted battle. The last thing Syria needs (see image above) is more bombs, bullets, soldiers, tanks and weapons. In a destabilising area, another side will only throw it into absolute chaos. Bombs will only feed the captivating ideology of Islamic insurgency.
Well, our brave boys won’t be fighting in my name and, unlike others who also oppose our intervention, neither do they have my support. Who do we think we are to oppose their “death cult” when we’ve refused to stop killing each other for centuries. Let’s not just change the badges on the killing machines on the ground; let us first change the narrative, change the point of the battle and take the moral initiative away from Da’esh. Show the world a better way, show the world a better light, and not the light of a Tornado jet screaming over another Eastern country in pursuit of Western power. It is dangerous to do nothing, it’s even more dangerous to take action of which the consequence is unpredictable and in a conflict we do not understand.
Remembrance Day. Ever since those poppies flourished in Flanders’ Fields after the Great War, the question has been: how do we remember and respect those that died adequately enough, when the loss is so great and our regret even greater? My answer is not to avoid the need for remembrance at all, but to halt the mass patriotic and nationalist commemoration of WWI, and all war since, that develops year on year. Instead, we should focus sharply on the deep regret that we allowed ourselves to be pushed into a war of empires by the upper echelons of our society, by those that ruled us, by the establishment. At a time when our nuclear programme and excessive defensive spending has finally come into common question, remembrance was yet again used to play on people’s sympathies and upset, as the UK’s defence chief announced his fear at any power Corbyn may hold in future, which may involve NOT pushing a button that destroys a substantial proportion of humanity. (Imagine?!) Fear at getting rid of the most fearsome weapon ever created on British soil?
Wake up. Those at the top are still using this most solemn of days to excuse our military campaigns and create deference for the actions of our armed forces. Don’t jump up and claim the moral high ground of deference and respect whilst the established powers in our country are misusing the emblem in order to justify today’s wars. This is highlighted no better than in today’s papers which chose to criticise Corbyn for “not bowing low enough” and, more revealingly, being criticised for regretting the deaths of soldiers from other nations as well as “our own”. This shows the nationalism and pride element that surrounds modern remembrance day, which have largely become a commemorative, brash show of pride in military.
It seems to me that the mantra of “never again” of Remembrance Sunday has long been forgotten. Huge commemorative ceremonies now take place, people who kill others are treated as heroes and nationalism has again taken over. It is used as a tool to remind the people that one day, their “duty” may be called upon to fight for “their country”. In order to achieve “never again” we need tell that to our military and our governments- and for me, a White Poppy demonstrates this belief and protests the military dominance of Remembrance ceremonies. Instead of merely mourning for those that died, as we should, we should challenge and question the wars on terror that have had no desirable affect and achieved precisely nothing.
We cannot allow them to again enlist our young into defending their interests for fighting their battles to support their objectives. So what I’m saying is: remember and mourn for war, yes, #(or a war on our own species is the worst thing we could do) but do not, in any way, allow it to become a commemorative and emotive exercise that fuels nationalist desires. A white poppy, instead of remembering the men in terms of their sacrifice (because really, they did die for nothing), remembers the original post-WWI consensus: that what happened was wrong and we should never allow ourselves to be pushed into needlessly destroying one another again. Continue reading “Why I Wear a White Poppy”
How does the Post WWII world solve the problem of protecting and apologising to a race, hurt beyond imagination and riding on a growing sympathy for Zionism?
Another Post-British-Rule-Partition in which communities are torn up, new boundaries drawn out as if they lines in the sand, and the beginning of what has essentially been a 70 year civil-war – with divisiveness, hatred and grievance becoming everlasting traits now bred into the region.
Israel. To many Jews since the covenant with Abraham first referenced a “promised land”, it is a symbol of their destiny, their messianic hope that their quest to reach and populate their homeland be fulfilled (striking dark similarities with America’s “Manifest Destiny” approach to dominating almost an entire continent, culminating in the demolition of an ancient culture in an understatedly violent fashion during the 19th Century, but that’s for another day); to many post-war European diplomats and politicians in 1945, it (Israel) was a chance to give the Jewish people a long-awaited, and arguably long overdue, Jewish State in which they could be protected after 2,000 years of anti-Semitism as well as to relieve the guilt after the true horrors of the holocaust became apparent.
However to me, and a vastly growing number of commentators and activists outside of “Israel”, it is becoming a symbol of a sinister, belligerent regime. A regime in which the majority of its citizens maintain complete and undying belief (as if its government’s actions were somehow divine and unquestionable- not abnormal for a state based on a captivating ideology) whilst from the outside its actions appear increasingly abhorrent and repressive towards those on its borders, following a clear and unapologetic expansionist policy, unfairly bulldozing through all diplomatic obstacles with calls of “Anti-Semitism”. That is how the Jewish State is coming across to most it seems, except policy-makers, those in government and the upper echelons of western society, fearful of disrupting certain international or “establishment” relations. These people are unwilling, it would seem, to challenge a status quo consisting of an expanding Jewish State creating cross-border tensions, fully supported by America and her allies.
The most recent developments, for example, follow a similar pattern to those of the past when it comes to Israeli political tactics. Israel introduces what it fully knows to be a provocative policy- involving bans on entering parts of Jerusalem for Palestinians, a clear attempt at the annexation of the international city- and then ensues on a policy of collective punishment against Palestinians, one which is condemned by human rights groups, when a single member of the Arab community reacts. Much like the demolition of Gaza in summer 2014 in which over 2,000 (civilian) Palestinians were killed, Israel takes any violent response as a green light to invoke oppressive and harsh measures against the whole Palestinian community. The demolition of houses of the relatives of Palestinian rebels earlier this month and the use of weapons to prevent anyone in Gaza having the right to protest at the fences put up in Palestinian territory are clear indications of the provoke and repress agenda of Netanyahu’s government. When they succeed in provoking a response, they take the international community’s support with them on a wave of western media depicting resistance as terrorism, a striking similarity with apartheid South Africa’s view of Nelson Mandela and the ANC in the 1960s-1980s.
As was the case with treating black people as second class citizens, there is an institutionalised disregard for Palestinian life amongst Zionists- they believe it is their right to be an occupying force in the West Bank and Gaza- and this serves to convince Israelis that any Palestinian’s rights to Protest, self-determination and defence of territory are essentially void.
Before the Jewish State embarked on a process of ethnic cleansing ( i.e. the Nakba) and then annexed much of the Arab State in and after 1967, Israel-Palestine was first partitioned in 1947 on the principle of economic union; today’s Zionists clearly interpret this as economic domination. Not only does the Jewish State create apartheid and socially hinder any progression towards integration but it also deprives and restricts any possibility of economic prosperity in the Gaza strip. Was it not for Israeli aggression, a world bank report has estimated that GDP growth in Gaza would be four times higher, stating that “The status quo in Gaza is unsustainable”. Their blockade not only makes growth an economic impossibility, it makes living as unpleasant as possible whilst encouraging the creeping line of Israeli settlers, illegally sliding over Palestinian land, pushing back borders and expanding the Jewish state. The Two State Solution, in which one is insisting on oppressing and eventually exterminating the other, creating what is now millions of displaced Palestinian refugees worldwide is clearly no longer a viable option to ensure long-term peace and stability.
Despite its tensions, provocations and potential ramifications for future international relations, the Palestinian question is simple: do we again allow (what were) European settlers to dominate, destroy and rule over a land and its previous inhabitants- but this time with vast consequences on the delicate and not so delicate state of affairs throughout the region- or do we decide, as Prime Minister Rudd of Australia did in 2008, that the right to live in a land which your ancestors had lived for generations should no longer be infringed due to an archaic religious belief that one race supersedes all others in their claim to live in a certain area.
Do we, the international community, condone an apartheid nation’s fascist policies whilst labelling any resistance movement as “terrorist” or “anti-Semitic”; or do we stand up, threaten the status quo, defy laws which prevent protest against a racist ideology*, and protect a people whose statehood, freedom and right to self-determination have all been ignored? I hope, and I think, you know the answer and the Jewish Community- more than most- should be acutely aware of the consequences when fascism rears its ugly head. One state, with equal rights and equal opportunity is the only long-term solution. This is not a battle between two nation states, as it is often perceived, but between a colonialist occupier and a native indigenous people and, quite simply, separate IS NOT equal.
*In EU law, protesting against the principles of Zionism is akin to anti-Semitism. Here, I would draw the comparison of protesting against ISIS making you islamophobic. It doesn’t, because in each case the doctrine of the extreme group (Zionism and ISIS) is not at all similar to the beliefs of many others who follow the same religion.
A second global economic “downturn” in 7 years, with the clear warnings and echoing patterns from 2008’s disastrous year in Capitalism’s history, is looking likely but still no real questions are being asked. Business leaders and professors have popped up from everywhere,, including on the screens of organisations as disestablishment as Al Jazeera, preaching that this is “the way it works” and that business cycles just work in 7-8 year patterns and a downturn that seriously punishes all people without the significant “capital” to ride the storm is inevitable in these regular intervals. Paradoxically to the clear failing of capitalism to produce sustainable growth in which a majority can prosper, there is still no alternative or established movement creating or pushing any other system into public debate.
Russell Brand’s “Revolution” is hardly the new Communist Manifesto, a self-proclaimed joke, and one which perhaps highlights the downfall of Socialism in a generation: from the mass, albeit unharnessed, hype surrounding Che Guevara, to watching youtube clips of Russell Brand in which he, instead of committing to worldwide revolution, pleads for public disengagement. Please. That is a blank cheque to the Establishment to fulfil its pacify and rule agenda. An agenda in which the working classes are suppressed and, through the neoliberal art of global consumerism addiction, told that they are free. Free to live in their world, where we are still run by the same political and social classes as ever just without an effective challenge which appeared to be mounting at different points throughout the 20th Century. Since Thatcher, in my country at least, it has seemed the Right’s third way has won out. The Overton window has shifted, and narrowed, drastically under our noses and few challengers are left. Turning a challenge into a joke, whilst appealing to the masses and probably earning him some decent money- which of course he is entitled to in our market-ruling, individualised, neoliberal society- is most likely counter-productive. Almost, almost as counter-productive as mass disengagement.
As the title suggests my writing will largely be on the prospect of a growing left wing movement across Europe that’s posing a genuine alternative to neoliberalism and the established elite in media and politics. I also hope to link up with others who share or challenge my views as well as looking into solving the many interlinked crisis developing in the Middle East