16 Things we know about Trump and Russia

The ongoing and developing links between Russia and the Trump campaign team seems to be evolving on a daily basis. We’ve tried to write a concise summary of what we (the public) can currently be sure has happened.

2017-07-07 Trump and Russia

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Donald Trump Should Be Pitied

 A version of this post first appeared on our Facebook page on July 5th.

Donald Trump is pitiful. Given the hatred he generates both for himself and his opponents, it’s easy to overlook how small and pathetic the man is.

A video on July 4th saw him step off Air Force One and wander off in an apparently random direction, before being directed to the car right in front of the plane (emblazoned with the presidential seal and with American flags on the front). Did he not understand that the car was there for him? If not, how little comprehension does he have of the world around him?

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Chuka Umunna’s Brexit Amendment

The Tory position on Brexit and Single Market access is terrible, the vagueness of their understanding of the EU terrifying. That shouldn’t disguise the fact that the Labour position is also terrible. Labour aren’t proposing to cut workers’ rights, and Keir Starmer seems like he’d be much better prepared than David ‘100 pages of notes’ Davis. Still, that’s a low bar, Labour shouldn’t be excused on Brexit just because they’re less terrible than the Tories.

John McDonnell has spoken about “tariff-free access to the Single Market”. The best way to be sure of achieving that is by being in the Single Market. An alternative could take months to negotiate, and given the UK’s weak negotiating position, would probably mean having to give up something in return. Even the best possible option would be a step down from where we are at the moment – Norway has access to the Single Market, but have to abide by EU regulations, which they have no say in shaping.

Continue reading “Chuka Umunna’s Brexit Amendment”

Grenfell Tower, mobs, and Justice

At least 30 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire. That is the highest number of deaths in a single incident in the UK since the 7/7 attacks (55), a number it seems likely to surpass over the coming days. That would leave only Hillsborough (96), the Aberfan Disaster (144), and the Lockerbie bombing (270) as higher totals in the last half century.

The Daily Express has asked if EU regulations resulted in the choice of cladding which encouraged the spread of the fire. The answer is no – the cladding is banned in Germany. A little bit of investigation would have told the Express reporters the idea they were suggesting was untrue.
The Daily Mail has printed a story drawing attention to the individual whose fridge apparently started the fire.
The premise of the Daily Mail’s article overlooks the fact that the fire would have remained small in scale had there not been more systemic issues, and risked turning residents’ anger towards an ordinary man who will probably be suffering with extraordinary trauma.The story will have had to pass through a number of editorial and legal staff, there is no way that none of them know how a fusebox works.

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The Despicable DUP

As we write, it seems certain that the Tory Party will enter into some sort of power-sharing deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, to take them over the 326-MP mark they need to have a Parliamentary majority. Their leader, Arlene Foster, has said that a deal would “cost them a lot”. So who are the DUP?

They opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion in Northern Ireland. Jim Wells, until 2015 the Health Minister, has claimed that children raised by gay parents are “far more likely to be abused or neglected”. In November 2015 they vetoed a Northern Ireland Assembly decision to legalise gay marriage. They’ve been involved in corruption scandals around the misuse of subsidies for housing and renewable energy.
According to Roger Stanyard of the British Centre for Science Education “a core of, maybe, around half a dozen very senior politicians within the DUP” have been using their positions to promote Young Earth religious-based pseudoscience. Continue reading “The Despicable DUP”

A Rational Approach to Fighting Terrorism

 A version of this post first appeared on our Facebook page the day after the Westminster attack.

Victims of Terrorist Attacks in Western EuropeWhen it comes to terrorism, the UK is currently the safest that it’s been for decades.

People have been sharing a video of EDL organiser Tommy Robinson demanding that ‘people realise we’re at war’. If the UK and the west are at war with Islamic terrorism, we’re also at war with white nationalist terrorism. Last year Thomas Mair killed Jo Cox because she works with immigrants. The Canadian Alexandre Bissonette killed six Muslims at a mosque. Two years ago Dylann Roof killed nine people at a black church, in what he admitted was an attempt to ignite a race war. In 2011 Anders Breivik killed 77 Norwegians – in his manifesto he attacked Islam, feminism, and Cultural Marxism (which is literally Nazi propaganda – they called it Cultural Bolshevikism).

 

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A Quick Thought on Culture

A common argument made by right-wingers – supporters of Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders and many others – is that western society is under attack like never before. Whiteness is often conflated with westernness in this argument. But what is ‘our’ culture?

To focus more specifically on Britain, a lot of what’s considered fundamentally British are relatively recent adaptations. The first Indian curry house was opened in Britain in 1809, curries dipped in popularity in the early 20th century, only rising towards their current level of popularity in the 1970s. Christmas trees didn’t become popular in the UK until the 1840s, when the German-born Prince Albert imported the tradition. It was the middle of the 17th century before tea became common in the UK. Potatoes, tobacco and chocolate didn’t come to the UK until the latter half of the 16th century.

Imagine you found yourself thrust back in time into your nation’s past, along with another time traveler. Your fellow time traveler tries to prevent a melding of cultures which resulted in the culture you know being formed. Would you assist them? If not, why would you do the same today?

If you think ‘they’ are diluting ‘our’ culture, what exactly is it that you want to protect? Which version of your nation’s culture is the pure version that you’re trying to uphold? If you object to parts of ‘their’ culture, do you object equally as strongly to similar practices in ‘our’ culture? If you object to halal slaughter of animals, do you object as strongly to abattoirs? If you’re outraged by Muslim paedophiles, are you as strongly outraged by the Catholic church’s systematic cover-up of abuse?

The argument is less clear-cut for for more abstract cultural changes, but essentially the same. There is, and never can be, a pure, undiluted version of a society. Change, one way or another, is inevitable. Obviously that’s scary while the process is ongoing, but change enriches us, makes our culture stronger.