July 13, 2020

On both sides of the Atlantic, last week marked a step backwards in trans rights. The Trump administration has moved to allow healthcare providers the choice to deny certain medical procedures to transgender people. Meanwhile, in the UK, a series of provisions allowing transgender people to more easily legally change their gender have been dropped in favour of additional rhetoric defending ‘safe spaces’ for ciswomen. 

In the US, this represents a continuing attempt by the administration to use trans rights as the latest battlefield in a culture war. From healthcare to the military, Trump is intervening against trans people in industries and institutions that conservatives are already likely to have strong feelings about. It represents, in my view, an attempt to help bring supporters of the milit...

July 7, 2020

I went to see the statue of Haile Selassie (the last emperor of Abyssinia/Ethiopia) in Cannizaro Park just a couple of weeks ago to honour the Ethiopians as the first victims of fascist aggression in the world. I didn't imagine that I wouldn't be able to again due to its being destroyed by a group of around a hundred people who took it upon themselves to remove it from a public space. Regardless of the undeniably strong case of the statue to be removed, the manner in which this was accomplished is a stark warning of how willing we are as a population to forgo the rule of law if it validates our moral and political sensibilities. 

What was the case for taking down the statue though? According to BBC News, the group in question were primarily composed of people of Oromo descent, that is people fro...

July 6, 2020

How can socialists build a political movement that has genuine mainstream appeal while remaining faithful to their principles? After reading Against the Web: A Cosmopolitan Answer to the New Right, it is clear that Michael Brooks, the book’s author and a key figure in the emerging ecosystem of left-wing Youtube commentary, has dedicated much energy toward constructing a solution to this quandary. In lieu of the defeats recently suffered by Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, torchbearers of the progressive left in their respective countries, one could argue that the matter at hand has never been so pertinent.

Brooks dedicates much of Against the Web to a critique of the "Intellectual Dark Web" (IDW), a self-styled group of renegade intellectuals who claim to be resisting what they perceive to be t...

Theatres are in a state of crisis. The Creative Industries Federation estimates that there will be a combined revenue drop of £74 billion in 2020 for creative industries with an estimated 400,000 jobs at risk of redundancy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, as the CIF points out, the country faces a "cultural catastrophe." Yet so far the government has done very little, if anything, to help, with no promise of an emergency bail out fund. Whilst the culture secretary Oliver Dowden has allowed theatres to re-open but without live performances, it rings hollow in an industry built around live performances. This has prompted widespread outcry from leading theatre professionals who put together an open letter demanding governmental support for the arts. Prominent signatories include Ph...

June 28, 2020

On the 4th of June, the world remembered an infamous day in Chinese history, known universally as the Tiananmen Square Protests. This day is also celebrated in China, yet is  known as “internet maintenance day in China” when significant amounts of China’s internet are either suspended for “maintenance” or words such as “Tiananmen”, “4th June”, “tank man” on search engines return with the message “search does not comply with laws, regulations, and policies”, as well as numerous Western web services being shut down.

On the 4th of June 1989, the movement, mainly composed of student protestors concerned with the future of China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were violently crushed by Chinese soldiers armed with rifles and tanks. The image of the “tank man” is still an enduring image, of a man...

June 26, 2020

‘Ruling Britannia’ is perfect for understanding why political reform is necessary.

Andrew Marr has been an astute, dominant political commentator for decades. Formerly Political Editor at the BBC, he has hosted the flagship ‘Andrew Marr Show’ every Sunday for 15 years, where an array of politicians and media commentators assemble for interrogation on the latest political developments. Alongside this, he has written a number of books on history and politics. One of his earlier works, ‘Ruling Britannia: The Failure and Future of British Democracy’, is a sterling, incisive read. That the book was published in 1995 makes the words within no less relevant or important.

Within the book, Marr, then chief political commentator at the Independent, takes readers by the hand and explores the murky, obtuse a...

June 18, 2020

As the United States enters its fourth week of protests against the heartless killing of George Floyd, the UK has responded in solidarity of Black Americans, performing their own rallies and protests all over the country calling for an end to systemic racism. Certain commentators question the comparison and relation between the two nations, arguing that the police brutality and history of slavery is far more severe in the US than it is in the UK. Emily Maitlis, for instance, questioned George the Poet on BBC Newsnight with the phrase ‘it’s not the same is it?’. These last few weeks have pried open a Pandora’s Box of British racial injustice stemming from the country’s imperialist past. The difficulty remains in how to solve the disheartening and abhorrent reality of a society destined to neglec...

June 17, 2020

Whilst the #BlackLivesMatter movement has existed for about seven years since the shooting of Trayvon Martin, its presence as a household term has peaked and waned throughout that time. The last few weeks following the death of George Floyd have brought the Black Lives Matter movement to its most recognised and established point during those seven years. However, there are concerns that this support will fade over the coming weeks and months, that as BLM fades from Instagram’s algorithm, it too will fade from people’s minds. Posting a black square is a well-meaning show of support, but it can often be performative. #BlackoutTuesday had more than double the posts than the George Floyd petition had signatures.

The very fact that it has taken seven years for the Black Lives Matter movement to reach...

June 5, 2020

We now know what a counterfeit $20 bill gets you, and it sure as hell isn’t justice.

Such was the case of George Floyd who was alleged to have purchased cigarettes from a shop with a forged $20 bill. Minutes after returning from the shop, Floyd, assumed by staff to be intoxicated, was the target of two police officers, one of them Thomas Lane. Pulling a gun on Floyd, Lane hauls him to the wall of an adjacent restaurant. Currently, officers are responding to a ‘drunk and disorderly’ situation in which Floyd is described as “not in control of himself”. After subsequently being escorted to Lane’s police car, Floyd stumbles and falls. At this moment officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao arrive. The car door opens and Floyd is pushed into the back seat. However, Chauvin and Tao, for no discernible reas...

Matthew Oulton argues in favour of resignation 

Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. Number 10 was unequivocal in its messaging during the early weeks of the lockdown. What they didn’t mention in the slogan above, apparently, was that the rules don’t apply if you’re the chief adviser to the Prime Minister. Reading from a prepared statement on Monday, Dominic Cummings tried desperately to explain to an irate public why he had gone against the lockdown he helped to implement, and also that it wasn’t technically illegal. Whilst he has so far been backed by Number 10 and the government, it’s time for him to resign.

Firstly, it’s worth addressing the purpose of lockdown in the first place. Before lockdown was instituted, the government was already advising people not to go out, but people mostly di...

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