Not Alice’s Adventures In Dismaland

dismaland main

This week I went to Dismaland. Dismaland mushroomed on the site of the derelict Tropicana lido in Weston-Super-Mare about a month ago, bamboozling almost everyone. No-one knew it was coming, no-one knew what it was.

It turned out to be a ghoulish ‘Bemusement Park’ conceived and executed by elusive street artist Banksy. Part art installation, part fun fair, part indictment of empathy-crushing consumer-capitalism – ‘a festival of art, amusements, and entry-level anarchism’, as the PR spiel puts it, bringing together the work of 58 artists from around the globe – it became one of the world’s most talked-about visitor attractions overnight.

Usually I’ve got no interest in art, but it was on my doorstop and only cost £3 to get in, so I decided to go. Probably unsurprisingly, given that I’m a bleak-humoured anti-capitalist who thinks Western societies have been lobotomised by consumer culture and tragically insulated from the suffering of their fellow human beings, I quite liked it. Continue reading

The ‘Corbyn is sexist’ thing

UK Labour Party Leader ship Hustings

Today, I’m going to quickly talk about something I don’t usually talk about – women, and their scandalous lack of representation in public life.

We live in a grim society where, for thousands of years, being a man had been treated as the default setting. Men were naturally assumed to be superior, more suited to leading and dealing with big responsibilities, and women were thought to be naturally predisposed towards domestic chores.

Eventually, after a painfully long wait, a good chunk of the population woke up to the fact that was utter bollocks. But unfortunately, that hasn’t proved enough to shift us from a situation that’s still fundamentally skewed in favour of penis owners.

50% of the population is female. Thus, 50% of practically every profession should be female. To help achieve that, we need all sorts of positive discrimination – society acknowledging the historical disadvantages women have faced, and giving them a leg-up to real equality. Continue reading

Corbyn Wins

corbyn wins

Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership election. He won by a landslide – a 59.5% knockout in the first round. Andy Burnham got 19%. Yvette Cooper got 17%. And she seems like a decent human being. She’s definitely not deserved the personal abuse she’s received throughout the contest, much of it from our side. But Liz Kendall got 4.5%. I’ll leave it at that.

I was entirely unprepared for the Corbyn phenomenon. I’ve known about and been a fan of Corbyn for ten years, give or take, and he’s someone who I hold in the highest esteem – he’s unerringly principled, utterly committed to the causes he believes in, and has dedicated his life to helping the poorest and most vulnerable, which to my mind is the best thing you can say about anyone.

And despite all that, if you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader back in May, just after Ed Miliband stood down, I would’ve said ‘less than 1%’. If you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn or anyone vaguely left-wing even getting on the ballot paper, I probably would’ve said the same. In the run-up to the general election, I wrote a blog post specifically designed just to remind people the parliamentary Labour Left still existed – praising Corbyn, McDonnell, Skinner and co but generally lamenting its current weakness and poor prospects for the future. Continue reading