The place: Worcester, the West Midlands
This week: the UK’s economy registered a slight return to growth (0.3%); Britain fumed at the continued failure to deport murder-inciting radical Islamist Abu Qatada; and Tory Education overlord Michael Gove continued his scholastic party-pooping by calling for longer school days and shorter school holidays. Continue reading
The reason this blog’s cod-philosophical standpoint is called ‘Left-Wing Least-Worstism’ is because of a very un-leftish pessimism. The situation we’re in is abjectly bad.
That might sound extreme – the consensus seems to be that things might be tentatively improving on the political front. Certainly, Occupy and the boisterous anti-cuts movement have provided some much-needed reasons to be almost cheerful. But we need to be brutally realistic – they come after a quarter-century of decline. More tellingly, they had little to do with the ‘established’ Left, instead riding on the free-thinking and initiative of passionate individuals largely operating outside official groups. Continue reading
Ken Livingstone’s GLC, reminding Thatcher of the people whose lives she was ruining
Ken Livingstone is very far from perfect, but, the Bemolution believes, a kind, principled, decent human being miles apart from Westminster’s current line in nest-feathering sociopaths and soulless drones. He also stands out as one of distressingly few British left-wingers to have actually got something done in power. In the ‘80s, he turned London’s Greater London Council from a gentleman’s club for civic dignitaries into a socialist beacon, weathering tsunami-grade backlash from an insidiously right-wing press, Mrs Thatcher’s government and a gentrified GLC old guard who hated him for opening up their private canteen to the public and letting groups meet for free in County Hall committee rooms. As GLC leader, he was pioneering in his approach to race, gender and sexual orientation, battling to get public recognition for marginalised groups and fight racism, sexism and homophobia. What’s more, his administration strove to protect the poorest, trying to cap rent and cut public transport fares. He must’ve been doing something right, because Thatcher had the Council abolished in 1986, part of a broader move to crush local democracy and make Britain the most centralised country in Europe. Continue reading
A district of Khalidiya devastated by pro-Assad forces
This month, we turn to the protracted humanitarian horror show in Syria, worsening by the day as the ‘reformist’ al-Assad regime throws everything gun-shaped and deadly it has into wiping out a ramshackle insurgency and half the country along with it.
Since April 2011, the Syrian government has been at war with a significant portion of the people it claims to represent. For over two years, Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus-based dictatorship has used all the force at its disposal to try and put down a rag-tag popular rebellion – a rebellion that sprouted from its own brutal handling of peaceful anti-government protests. Continue reading