Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Inter-cultural conflict”

Laziness and Populism

There is a strand in British politics – probably much approved of by the Pub Landlord – that says that by resorting to simplistic slogans, that have just a germ of truth to them, you can attract much approval and support.

Our Prime Minster seems to be especially good at this; I hope it is a character flaw rather than as a result of his expensive education.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on language was “about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there’s genuine opportunity for people”.

He also said that while he accepted there was no “causal connection” between poor English and extremism, a better grasp would make communities “more resilient” to threats of radicalisation from so-called Islamic State – or Daesh.

“If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh,” he said.

Lady Warsi – who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister – welcomed the new money for language teaching, but said: “This lazy and misguided linking, and what I saw once again as stereotyping of British Muslim communities, I felt took away from what was a positive announcement.”
BBC News Website, 18 January 2016 : David Cameron’s Muslim women policy ‘lazy and misguided’

We need to be more (academically) critical of some of these pronouncements. Read more…

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Donald J Trump is unhinged

Republican presidential rival Lindsey Graham, said: “What has been in the past absurd and hateful has turned dangerous. .. Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level.” …

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump’s proposed ban [on Muslims entering the US] would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. Another Trump staffer confirmed that the ban would also apply to American Muslims who were currently overseas – presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service.
The Guardian 8 December 2015 : Donald Trump: ban all Muslims entering US

What has provoked this – as if this “man” works on reason? Read more…

Paris: reacting to reactions

How to respond to the outrages in Paris (Friday 13 November 2015)? I found myself overloaded after about half an hour of BBC “Breaking News” coverage late Friday night.

Of course it is an outrage and it is impossible to adequately express that outrage (as so much coverage seems to prove). Are there lessons to be drawn from the reaction? Possibly it is still too early – three days on the BBC was still flagging coverage as “Breaking News” and excluding almost all other news from its TV coverage.

Should we be dominated (in all senses) by these events? Or should we stand back and think about how we are reacting and the consequences of those reactions? Read more…

Do the Police “look like us”?

I have blogged previously about society’s preoccupation with ensuring that Parliament “looks like us” – when I would prefer parliament to represent the diversity of opinion within the country. Perhaps I am “male pale and stale”, but does that mean that Nigel Farage would represent me better than Diane Abbott?

Now we have statistics about whether the police “look like us”.

The case is slightly different to Parliament. Pictures of say, white policemen quelling a riot in a predominantly black area always looks bad – but even if racial diversity at “constabulary population level” was properly represented in the “force” quelling the riot, there would only be a few non-white faces and the pictures would look just as bad – and the non-white policemen may not welcome the attention.

But we have to be careful with statistics! Mrs May might find she has unnecessarily stirred a hornet’s nest. Read more…

Force of Numbers

Are we about to see an example of governments’ hands being forced by pure force of numbers?

Hungarian riot police have fired tear gas [into Serbia] and water cannon to force migrants back from the Serbia-Hungary border.

Hundreds of people have massed at a closed crossing point near the Serbian town of Horgos, and are involved in a tense stand-off with police on the other side of the border.

Some migrants threw missiles, including stones and water bottles.
BBC News Website, 16 September 2015 : Migrant crisis: Clashes at Hungary-Serbia border

We have seen tear gas and water cannon used, but these migrants (the type of migration and reason for migration is immaterial) have committed a lot of time and money to get this far, have endured numerous deprivations and believe that within the EU there lies a better life. They may also have a different attitude to the sanctity of borders – seeing them as artificial constructs imposed by others rather than our view of a border defining our land.

What happens when say a thousand Syrians rush a Serbian-Hungarian border post?

Are we prepared to see the use of bullets? Read more…

Mindsets: Borders

Everyone seems to be talking about “the migrant crisis” with consecutive “special” programmes tonight on BBC1 (Desperate Journeys: Europe’s Migrant Crisis) and on ITV1 (Breaking into Britain: Tonight). A picture of a dead Syrian child being recovered from the beaches of Turkey seem to have brought about a reverse of Cameron policy (not sure if Osborne has U-turned as well).

We seem to lack a coherent approach to a number of mixed issues;

Globally:

  • the crises in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and people fleeing for their lives;
  • poverty in parts of the world leading people to migrate for a better life;
  • people smugglers;

Parochially:

  • a chaotic approach to planning public services in the UK;
  • a toxic relationship between the current British Government and Europe;
  • (very parochially) fear of UKIP undermining Conservative support.

One of the issue is that in respect of “borders” there are multiple mindsets. Read more…

Politicians and Jesus

A few decades ago “being a Christian” might have been viewed as essential for anyone hoping to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate in the UK.

The fact that it is now “an issue” says something about how much we have changed – and something about modern politics. Read more…

Conservatives: Strike 2

Yesterday the Conservatives moved one step closer to their objective of neutering the Trade Unions, proposing to:

impose a minimum 50% turnout – and public sector strikes would need the backing of at least 40% of those eligible to vote. …

force unions to give employers 14 days notice of strike action and allow them to bring in agency staff to cover for striking workers. …

cut the amount of money unions have to mount campaigns – or donate to parties such as Labour – with members actively having to “opt in” to pay the so-called political levy, which is currently automatic unless members opt-out. …

have a named individual supervising a picket line.
BBC News Website 15 July 2015 : Trade Union Bill: Ministers deny ‘attack on workers’ rights’

At first sight each of these proposals may seem “reasonable” – particularly if you have been inconvenienced by say a recent tube strike, but at second sight and viewed as a package they appear much more partial and unreasonable.

Why? Read more…

Podium ponderings

Sometimes the reporting of a story leaves you wondering:

Organisers of the Lotto Cycling Cup have apologised after the winners of a women’s race in Belgium were flanked by models wearing bikinis. … [image]

Dutch racing cyclist and journalist Marijn de Vries  described the scene as “an utter disgrace”.
BBC Sport Website 16 June 2015 : Lotto Cycling Cup organisers apologise for bikini models

What exactly caused the offence? Read more…

What about the Elephants?

This (2015 UK) General Election seems to consist of lots of minor and pretty irrelevant skirmishes. The major issues seem to be un-addressed in the election.

So what are these elephants in the room? Read more…

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