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.

Continue reading “Grenfell Tower, mobs, and Justice”

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”

Stoke Central: Labour vs not-Labour

The Stoke Central by-election is a conflict between Labour and Gareth Snell on one hand, and not-Labour and Brexit on the other.

paul-nuttall-by-euro-realist-newsletter-2009-09-04The specifics of UKIP and Paul Nuttall will drag down the latter – being a pathological liar and a party of clowns will not be attractive qualities anywhere in the world. Nuttall seems to be aware of this, not having attended either of the last two hustings for what is probably the biggest contest in the party’s history, and taken down his website for ‘routine maintenance’ just a week before voting.

Despite these specifics, Nuttall still has a chance of winning. In Stoke Central, 69.4% voted for Leave in the European Referendum, and there is the feeling among a lot of working class voters that neither Tory nor Labour can be trusted to make Brexit happen. This is part of a broader sense that parties don’t listen to voters.

It’s easy to laugh at Nuttall and UKIP. But as Donald Trump proves, just because a politician is ludicrous, we shouldn’t underestimate their ability to take advantage of a sense of abandonment.

 

The post-truth nature of Arron Banks’ Hillsborough response

A major story in the run-up to the Stoke by-election has been UKIP leader and committed fantasist Paul Nuttall pretending to have lost a friend at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Major donor Arron Banks seems to have decided that this hole wasn’t deep enough so dug deeper by attacking victims. He’s argued that the preventable disaster and cover-up of police failures which took 27 years to overturn have been treated as “some sort of cultural happening“.

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Goldsmith’s Folly

This post first appeared on our Facebook page.

Zac Goldsmith has resigned as Tory MP with the intent of making the by-election a referendum on the unpopular Heathrow expansion. Although such a ‘referendum’ would be informal and abstract, it’s unlikely to be the major factor when locals decide where they will cast their vote.

The Tory Party will not stand a candidate, and it appears that UKIP will not either. This leave’s Goldsmith’s main opponents as Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, all of whom share Goldsmith’s opposition to Heathrow. If there is no pro-expansion option on the ballot, how can the by-election possibly be a referendum on the Tory Party’s policy of Heathrow expansion?

The Errors and Xenophobia of Theresa May

Here at 224 we try to be politically open-minded. Though we are very definitely lefties, we consider it important to be patient and understanding when in discussion with those we disagree with. But right now, we are very, very, very angry. It’s been a rough time for Britain’s reputation as a tolerant, intelligent, outward looking nation. Two recent pieces of Tory policy stand out as being particularly horrific.

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Newspaper headlines, October 5th, 2016

Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced plans to publish the proportion of foreign workers a company employs, in order to shame them into employing more British workers. But if the government plans to encourage a sense of shame at employing foreigners, then they will create an environment where managers strongly consider hiring less qualified British workers over their more qualified immigrant rivals. The solution to underemployed British workers is not to rig the hiring process in their favour, but to invest in opportunities for British talent to be trained, to be able to compete with foreign workers on an even basis. The problem needs to be addressed at the root. That takes patience, intelligence, and money.

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Why Is Everybody Awful Except Me?

Last week Stephen Woolfe, UKIP MEP and favourite to be their next leader, was punched and hospitalised by a fellow UKIP MEP. The responses to the story weren’t pretty. One BBC report, published as the story was breaking, included these comments:

It was SHOCK!! the first time he’d done a morning work for 12 years ! And the first time he’d been in the chambers !! Poor sod, should’ve stuck to the usual UKIP lunch of 4 bottles of expensive wine and missed the morning meeting !!

Continue reading “Why Is Everybody Awful Except Me?”