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Any new prime minister is doomed if they don’t fix Britain’s democracy
Presented with Brexit, a political system apparently breaking apart and the central importance of online networks to just about everything, it is tempting to ignore the past and focus on what seems to be a very modern picture. It is always difficult to zoom out from the daily hurly-burly and understand the true nature of a crisis. But what is happening actually reflects a rule that dates back many centuries: that if an economic slump and its aftermath combine with deep social and economic disruption, people will usually start to loudly question the way they are governed – chiefly because insecurity and uncertainty always focus our minds on questions of control.
by:JohnHarris  from:CommentIsFree  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  democracy  VoteReform  Brexit  Conservatives 
25 minutes ago by owenblacker
You saw me covered in blood on a bus. But do you get outraged about all homophobia?
A refrain I’ve heard ad nauseum is “I can’t believe this happened – it’s 2019”. I disagree. This attack and the ensuing media circus are par for the course in 2019. In both my native United States and here in the United Kingdom, it always has been and still is open season on the bodies of (in no specific order) people of colour, indigenous people, transgender people, disabled people, queer people, poor people, women and migrants. I have evaded much of the violence and oppression imposed on so many others by our capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal system because of the privileges I enjoy by dint of my race, health, education, and conventional gender presentation. That has nothing to do with the merit of my character.

The press coverage, and timely law enforcement response, was not coincidental to our complexions. Neither was the disproportionate online reaction over the victimisation of a pretty brunette and blonde. The commodification and exploitation of my face came at the expense of other victims whose constant persecution apparently does not warrant similar moral outrage.
from:CommentIsFree  homophobia  assault  reference  privilege  LGBTQ  geo:London  geo:UnitedKingdom 
2 days ago by owenblacker
Why Labour needs more MPs like Kate Hoey
I single out Snell because it was Snell who today told MPs that he now realises that it was a “mistake” to vote against Theresa May’s deal and as a result would be abstaining on Corbyn’s motion to prevent no deal. In other words, having voted consistently against leaving the burning building he has now decided to vote to lock the doors and windows.

Why has Snell, who before he was an MP described Brexit as a “massive pile of shit”, become one of the Labour MPs voting against a second referendum and against measures to prevent no deal? The answer is that he is worried about what the third of Labour voters in Stoke on Trent Central to vote to leave the EU will do to him if he doesn’t. So why didn’t he take any of the three opportunities to vote for the deal? Because he’s worried about what Labour members in his constituency party will do to him if he does.

Snell’s preferred outcome is that the whole of the Labour party should pursue a Brexit policy that would obviously be destructive to it in order to avoid any difficult conversations with either the people of Stoke on Trent Central or the activists of Stoke on Trent Central CLP.
by:StephenBush  from:NewStatesman  Brexit  GarethSnell  politics  labour  geo:UnitedKingdom 
3 days ago by owenblacker
Here's What Westminster Insiders Are Saying About Theresa May's Legacy
Of course fundamentally the problem is the dearth of talent on the Tory benches atm. I don'think any of these comments are unnecessarily harsh, though.

⟨⟨ “When she became PM I was worried because she seemed to be competent but wrong – wrong about immigration, wrong about things like energy price caps and union representatives on boards, and wrong about the supposed need for state-directed industrial policy. Three years later I'm relieved – she's proved to be wrong and incompetent. Her record is dust and we should all be thankful.”

“She is, hands-down, the worst prime minister of the post-war era. In thrall both to her batshit-crazy advisors and her own worst instincts, she blew any chance she might have had to pull the country together after Brexit and, in so doing, she also blew any chance she might have had to actually achieve our departure from the EU in good order. And the prolonged agony which resulted from that initial failure meant she achieved zilch, zip, nada on any other front either. I hate to speak ill of the politically dead, but I honestly can't think of a single good word to say about her – and I can't imagine the proverbial 'future historians' will either. She's a void and I'm relieved she's finally agreed to step into it.” ⟩⟩
by:MarieLeConte  from:Vice  TheresaMay  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom 
9 days ago by owenblacker
Britain is horribly divided – but that’s also the fault of remainers
I think this piece oversimplifies with its suggestion that we Remainers don't understand that the harms wrought by Thatcher and not suitably addressed by Blair were a driving force for Brexit and need fixing no matter our relationship with the EU.

But he's right that progressive parties need to make it clear how we intend to address those issues — not least to show up how Farage and his ilk have no suggestions on that regard beyond "take control".

"""
Clearly, Brexit and its ongoing furies are only symptomatic of much deeper divisions, and a country that desperately needs to become re-acquainted with itself. We all know what has driven our fragmentation: winner-takes-all economics, the stalling of social mobility, an online discourse that has no room for restraint and compromise, and tends to introduce us to people exactly like ourselves. What is often overlooked is simple ignorance, and failures – of our education system, mainly – that result in even supposedly knowledgeable people understanding little about the country they call home.

It is often said that Brexit is the act of a country too fixated on its history. The truth, it seems to me, is that we are not nearly fixated enough. The kind of free-market capitalism this country was forced to embrace 30-odd years ago always sweeps the past away; now, of all the countries of Europe, we are surely the most weightless. In the absence of any instinctive popular understanding of our national past, the Brexiteers can tell their absurd tales of splendid isolation, the glories of the second world war and the wonders of empire, as well as averting their eyes from the island of Ireland. But history-blindness is there on the remain side as well, in the continuing denial of the great mess of stuff that sat behind the Brexit vote, and how tin-eared many pro-Europeans seem when they sound off.
"""
by:JohnHarris  from:CommentIsFree  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  Brexit  inequality 
12 days ago by owenblacker
Both right and left should fear the justified rage of Remainers
For much of Westminster and the media, the only identity that matters is the identity of the working-class Leave voter. He is usually male and always white – for the ethnic minority working class has been forgotten. His authentic disgust will make the nation tremble if we do not bow to his wishes and give him the hardest Brexit imaginable.

Forget that most of the Tory shires voted Leave or that young, working-class voters supported Remain or that the greatest predictor of attitudes to the EU is education, not class, or that the only solid promise the Leave campaign made was to keep us in the European free trade zone. The story of the angry white working class is set and everyone is sticking to it.

¶¶
Has ever a national myth been as thoroughly destroyed as the British belief that we are a commonsensical people who reject wild ideologies? The honoured idiots of some at the BBC, the fascistic contempt of the Tory press for the independence of the judiciary, civil service and parliament and the assurance of the Brexit party and the right of the Conservative party that a no-deal Brexit will hardly hurt at all show that whatever Britain may once have been, it is another country now.

The reaction against the extremism on the right is cosmopolitanism, mobile and young. It can be intolerant, for no movement is without prejudices, and if it does not win in the end its members will feel a scaring alienation from their country; not as scaring as the insecurity of millions of Europeans in Britain and Britons on the continent, who have their sense of belonging torn up, but comparable nevertheless.

¶¶
The extremism on the right has produced a reaction among pro-Europeans. Hardly anyone was arguing to overturn the referendum in the summer of 2016. The People’s Vote campaign wasn’t even founded until April 2018. If rightists had moderated their demands, Britain would be out of the EU by now. As it was, they talked as if half the country were traitors and rushed to the fanatical fringe. So great has been the backlash that, without any politician organising them, six million signed a petition calling for article 50 to be revoked.
by:NickCohen  from:TheGuardian  Brexit  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  jeremyCorbyn  Labour  Conservatives 
13 days ago by owenblacker
Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention
This is not some new virus; it’s a susceptibility to a chronic illness that has crippled us for years. Ethnic and racial plurality and migration as a lived experience are older than any nation state, but equality is a relatively new idea, and some don’t like it. People forget how recently African Americans couldn’t vote, and that Winston Churchill told his cabinet “Keep England White” was a good campaign slogan.

¶¶
Racism was the wedge the enemies of cosmopolitanism and plurality used to prise open a broader cleavage that is dividing us all.

It’s not clear this lesson has been learned. Most, but by no means all, remain devotees I have encountered are far more fluent in the language of race accusation (pointing out the bigotry of the Brexiters) than in the anti-racist activism that would put a racially diverse and plural Britain at the heart of their worldview. Some would be happy if we went back to the way we were before we voted to leave. But that would mean returning to a place where two-thirds of ethnic minority people faced racial abuse. No wonder these second referendum marches are so white.

These rivers run deep – winding through empire, imperialism, caste, settlement, colonialism, white supremacy and beyond. That’s not all these countries are. Wherever there is bigotry you will find an impressive tradition opposing it and a potential audience willing to be weaned off it.

¶¶
Attempts to triangulate with weasel words about the “legitimate concerns” of “traditional voters” are dishonest. Concerns about high class sizes and over-stretched welfare services are obviously legitimate; blaming ethnic minorities for them is obviously not. Facilitating a conflation of the two and hoping no one will notice is spineless. It also doesn’t work. Those who dedicate their lives to racism are better at it, and will never be satisfied. Pandering does not steal their thunder – it gives them legitimacy.

There is precious little value in pointing out, once every four or five years, that racism is a problem if you are not advocating an agenda in the intervening time that posits anti-racism as a solution. In the words of the great white hope of Conservative electoral strategy, Australian Lynton Crosby: “You can’t fatten the pig on market day.” You can’t go around producing anti-immigration mugs, pathologising Muslims and demonising asylum seekers for a decade and then expect a warm a reception for open borders in the few months before a referendum.
by:GaryYounge  from:CommentIsFree  Brexit  NigelFarage  BorisJohnson  DonaldTrump  Narendra  Modi  immigration  racism  nationalism  geo:UnitedKingdom  geo:UnitedStates  geo:Europe  geo:India  LyntonCrosby  islamophobia  xenophobia  fascism 
17 days ago by owenblacker
Corbynism is now in crisis: the only way forward is to oppose Brexit
It needs to tell voters honestly: it’s time to scrap Brexit and rebuild Britain instead.

Those of us who want that strategy must acknowledge the challenge it will pose in former industrial areas. The doorstep in places affected by hopelessness and dollar-fuelled fascist propaganda is brutal. Nobody in their right mind wants to tear their local society apart again over Brexit, if it can be avoided. But the rise of the Brexit party demands we fight now about values, not simply policies.

Corbyn’s mistake was not simply triangulation between the values of leave and remain voters. It was an attempt at triangulation between two wings of Corbynism: between the demands of an economic nationalist current from the old left, and the internationalist and progressive politics embedded in Labour’s new urban heartlands. I understand his loyalty to the former group, they stuck with him through every attack. But their politics are a throwback, and the voters rejected them last night.

Being seen to deliver Brexit loses votes from progressive voters and wins none back from more socially conservative ones. That’s exactly what a leaked internal poll by Hope Not Hate and the TSSA union told Corbyn back in February. It was ignored.
by:PaulMason  from:CommentIsFree  Brexit  Labour  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  JeremyCorbyn 
20 days ago by owenblacker
Boris Johnson for Prime Minister, and Other Ways that the Brexit Mess Could Get Even Worse
Johnson … is seen as a serious contender, which, considering his record, is remarkable. Johnson’s braying denunciations of the European Union as a nest of risible foreigners who want to enslave the noble British and burden them with immigrants played a significant role in the success of the Brexit referendum, in 2016. After the Leave side won that vote, … Johnson became the foreign secretary and treated that job as a mandate for diplomatic sabotage both abroad … and at home …. He quit as foreign secretary in 2018, blaming May’s handling of Brexit; one of his next moves was to write a column for the Telegraph saying that women wearing burqas resembled “letter boxes.”
by:AmyDavidsonSorkin  from:TheNewYorker  BorisJohnson  Conservatives  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom 
21 days ago by owenblacker
The Tories have abandoned thought in favour of believing their own lies
The right has nothing to say about tariffs destroying the car and steel industries and wiping out agricultural exports. Nothing about the service sector, which comprises 80% of our economy, and will find leaving the single market hard enough, let alone a fall into the fire.

The desire to plunge into the flames is sweeping the country. Farage won the European election campaign without facing a coherent challenge from the Conservative party he destroyed.
¶¶
Today’s right is a movement of cowards; an organised deceit that cannot tell the truth to itself, let alone anyone else. An honest supporter of Brexit would acknowledge that it will hurt, and the harder the Brexit the greater the pain. Brexit is the work of a decade, its proponents would continue, the most bewildering task Britain has contemplated in peacetime.
¶¶
We’ve reached the point where you cannot be honest and be on the right. Tory MPs who know the dangers the country faces keep quiet for fear of their constituency associations. In what the Conservative historian Tim Bale calls the “Tory party in the media”, you cannot find one commentator arguing against Brexit in the Express, Mail, Sun or Telegraph. As soon as you make your opposition clear, you are expelled. Tribalism is all, and to call the modern right anti-intellectual is to understate the case. It is anti-thought.
by:NickCohen  from:CommentIsFree  Brexit  Conservatives  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom 
21 days ago by owenblacker
David Hills on Twitter: "1/ A thread about the Government's response to the petition asking for a Public Inquiry into illegality in the #Brexit referendum, because this sort of self-serving and bilious dismissal of the public needs calling out sometimes.
1/ A thread about the Government's response to the petition asking for a Public Inquiry into illegality in the #Brexit referendum, because this sort of self-serving and bilious dismissal of the public needs calling out sometimes. And I'm cross.
by:DavidHills  from:Twitter  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  TheresaMay  Brexit 
21 days ago by owenblacker
Dan Kaszeta on Twitter: "OK. Regarding this milkshake stuff. Some context on where and how I'm qualified to comment. I spent 6 years in the US Secret Service as one of its senior CBRN specialists."
But here's the thing. Underlying this whole effort was the planning assumption, borne out by considerable technical and legal discussions, that 99% of these scenarios were protest, not violence.

Nearly all of the time an egg is an egg, and a milkshake is a milkshake. We, in the USSS, on President Bush, in the post 9/11 era didn't consider that stuff to be "political violence" in the absence of evidence of intent to cause actual harm.

We had eggs thrown. We had powder thrown. We had drinks thrown. I had a frappucino thrown at us in a motorcade. Mostly, this stuff never made the press George Bush had a valet with a spare suit and a good attitude.

FFS, Nigel, Carl, Stephen. You got a whole posse of handlers and factotums. Keep a change of clothes handy and man up.
by:DanKaszeta  from:Twitter  fascism  antifascism  protest  geo:UnitedKingdom  NigelFarage 
26 days ago by owenblacker
‘This report will change your life’: what zero emissions means for UK
By 2050, petrol and diesel cars should be a distant memory, ideally banned from sale in favour of electric vehicles two decades earlier. “2030 would be my ideal switchover date, but we have said 2035 at the latest to be cautious,” said Chris Stark, the chief executive of the CCC. The current date is 2040, but switching sooner will save people money, he said, as electric cars are cheaper in the long run.

The cars will need a lot of electricity, meaning clean power generation must quadruple by 2050, the CCC said. That certainly means more offshore windfarms, but the cheapest option – onshore windfarms – are effectively banned in England. Big storage will also be needed, but battery costs are plummeting.

Homes heated by natural gas will also be long gone, with the CCC saying no new home should be connected to the gas grid after 2025. Electrified heating will be more common, but hydrogen could be an alternative to natural gas, if it can be produced cleanly at scale.
¶¶
The UK landscape will also significantly change by 2050, if emissions are stopped. A fifth of all farmland – 15% of land – will have been converted to tree planting and growing biofuel crops.

This is essential because some activities, like cattle rearing and aviation, will still emit greenhouses gases in 2050. The CCC target is for “net zero”, with these residual emissions cancelled out by taking carbon out of the air.

New trees are the simplest solution but tree planting must triple from today’s rate, the CCC said, meaning more than 107 hectares (267 acres) a day of new forests from now until 2050. That would be 1.5bn trees, according to Beccy Speight, the chief executive of the Woodland Trust, who said new woods would also help reverse huge losses of wildlife in the UK: “There is a potential win-win here.” Guy Smith, at the National Farmers Union, said it was working towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2040.
by:DamianCarrington  from:TheGuardian  environment  ClimateChange  geo:UnitedKingdom  police 
6 weeks ago by owenblacker
Sajid Javid urged to act in immigration scandal 'bigger than Windrush'
The American company that administered the test, Educational Testing Service (ETS), told the Home Office that it had conducted a voice analysis of recordings of all 58,458 tests taken in 96 test centres in the UK between 2011 and 2014 and concluded that 33,725 people cheated, and a further 22,694 people had “questionable results”. Only about 2,000 were found not to have cheated.

Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, is sceptical about these findings. “It think it’s nonsense. There is no way that 90% of those who sat the test were cheating. Do they really believe they were presiding over a system in which over 90% were cheating? It doesn’t make sense. It’s completely implausible.
¶¶
Hundreds of court hearings have subsequently questioned the reliability of the evidence provided by ETS and the Home Office. Some students have been accused of sitting a test in one centre but have clear proof that they sat it in another. At least one of those accused never sat the Toeic test but has nevertheless had his visa cancelled with no opportunity to appeal.
by:AmeliaGentleman  from:TheGuardian  SajidJavid  immigration  race  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  HomeOffice  education  EducationTestingServices 
7 weeks ago by owenblacker
'Nature-based' greenhouse gas removal to limit UK climate change
Planting millions of acres of trees and energy crops as well as restoring wetlands and coastal habitats could help the UK become carbon neutral by 2050.

A new report says that these and other, newer technologies will be needed, even with stringent CO2 emissions cuts.
by:MattMcGrath  from:BBC  environment  ClimateChange  rewilding  geo:UnitedKingdom 
7 weeks ago by owenblacker
Sexism in advertising: ‘They talk about diversity, but they don’t want to change’
In 2017, Victoria Brooks, the vice-president of Bloom, a network for women in advertising and communications, had an idea. Aware that there were some subjects its members found difficult to discuss even among supportive peers, she decided to set up what would come to be known as the Booth of Truth at the organisation’s inaugural day-long conference in Clerkenwell, London. Inside this enclosed space, women would be able to write down their experiences of such things as discrimination and sexual harassment, safe in the knowledge that they would be anonymous. These anecdotes would then be used at the end of the day as fodder for a panel discussion and advice session that she and the president of Bloom, Stephanie Matthews, would call Confessions Live.

The first booth (there have since been others) was inflatable, and resembled an igloo. It contained a sofa, a selection of coloured pens, and a box into which the confession cards could be posted. But if this sounds light-hearted the result was precisely the opposite. “It was an outpouring,” says Brooks, whose day job is as an independent strategy consultant to the advertising industry.
by:RachelCooke  from:TheGuardian  sexism  SexualAssault  advertising  geo:UnitedKingdom 
8 weeks ago by owenblacker
Smooth, angry, cool, powerful: how we talk about blackness
Teacher and writer Jeffrey Boakye has encountered endless labels – all of which have informed his experience of being black and British today. Here, he unpicks their meanings. Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored by Jeffrey Boakye is published by Dialogue (£18.99).
by:JeffreyBoakye  from:TheGuardian  race  interesting  geo:UnitedKingdom 
8 weeks ago by owenblacker
Can you get round a porn block?
Do you know how to get round a porn block? If your immediate thought here involved something like a VPN or Tor, then congratulations: it sounds like should your government implement a porn block you’ll have a reasonable idea how to circumvent it. However, can I ask that you please please please stop telling me on Twitter that you how to get around a porn block? Allow me to explain why.
by:GirlOnTheNet  from:GirlOnTheNet  sex  censorship  pornography  geo:UnitedKingdom  AgeVerification  circumvention 
8 weeks ago by owenblacker
Facebook's role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy
This is not democracy: spreading lies in darkness, paid for with illegal cash from God knows where. It's subversion, and you are accessories to it.
¶¶
And what you don't seem to understand is that this is bigger than you — and it's bigger than any of us. And it is not about Left or Right or Leave or Remain or Trump or not.

It's about whether it's actually possible to have a free and fair election ever again. Because as it stands, I don't think it is.

And so my question to you is, is this what you want? Is this how you want history to remember you: as the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise all across the world?

Because you set out to connect people. And you are refusing to acknowledge that the same technology is now driving us apart.
by:CaroleCadwalladr  from:TedTalks  Facebook  Brexit  democracy  undemocratic  geo:UnitedKingdom  video 
8 weeks ago by owenblacker
Facebook bans far-right groups including BNP, EDL and Britain First
Twelve individuals and accounts have been banned by the site: the BNP and its former chairman Nick Griffin; Britain First, its leader, Paul Golding, and former deputy leader Jayda Fransen; the EDL and Paul Ray, a founder member of the group; Knights Templar International and the far-right activist Jim Dowson; the National Front and its leader, Tony Martin; and the far-right activist Jack Renshaw, a former spokesperson for the proscribed terrorist organisation National Action.

In a statement, Facebook said: “Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook. Under our dangerous individuals and organisations policy, we ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence.

“The individuals and organisations we have banned today violate this policy, and they will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram. Posts and other content which expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned. Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our community standards.”
by:AlexHern  from:TheGuardian  HateSpeech  censorship  Facebook  geo:UnitedKingdom  BritainFirst 
8 weeks ago by owenblacker

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