Et tu, Britain?

Over the past week, I have seen many aspects of the political sprectrum at its worst. The deception, the propaganda, the outright lies. A population torn, a cabinet destroyed, a currency devalued and a future undecided. 

Neither campaign particularly covered themselves in glory, using all too familiar tactics to persuade, scare and grovel (I’m pretty sick of battle buses). The Leave campaign predicably appealed to the lowest common denominator, so why the Remain camp tried to apply the same strategy, rather than promulgating empirical evidence, is beyond me. Instead, it was down to local press and independent social media channels to divulge information about the European Regional Development Fund, regeneration investments and of course, ‘what has the EU done for us?’

We – as a society – should not have allowed the Vote Leave contingent to brush their false promises under the rug, but the deceit already seems like old news. With the nation’s media attention firmly fixed on Labour infighting, no confidence votes and disintegration, it is exactly the kind of distraction they would have desired (help of course by an atrocious English footballing display and another ISIS attack). In the same week that the ASA cracked down on Aldi for their spurious pricing activity, where is the accountability for orchestrators of a malicious campaign, whose misinformation was enough to tip the scales and change the political landscape of this country forever?

Many feel that Corbyn needs to go. His party has failed to buy into his ‘radical’ notions, and he in turn has failed to represent those who backed him. In his short and uneventful tenure, he has refrained to act as a buttress for the party, categorising MPs by levels of loyalty rather than looking for consolidation and unity, and allowing personal agendas to overshadow party policy. What a shame. What a damn shame that the situation has come to this. Give the man a soapbox and have him front a takeover from the streets, because it is not going to happen via parliament. He is too honest and does not carry the distinguishing characteristics of your common politician. As a result, the Labour Party is about to lose its leftist stance to a faction who are tired of being marginalised.

The referendum has exposed the true face of Britain; a nation with growing inequality, immigration anxiety and a general confusion of what is causing these issues. The young are becoming more disillusioned (reflected in another relatively low turnout), while the old hold tight to a skewed sense of sovreignity. The empoverished turn their anger towards Brussels, citing propagation by central government, while the rich continue to push for the long-standing pursuit of libertarianism.

Where does that leave those who do not fall into the above? Despite everything that has happened, I am still upbeat and continue to have an open mind. It is our responsibility as civilians to encourage debate, embrace integration and challenge fascism. This is now the start of a new way of thinking, and a fresh approach to our virtues.

He was only a hobo, but one more is gone [Part 1]

Amidst the ongoing economic resurgence of Manchester, something lurking in the city’s underbelly is beginning to ruin Osborne and Wharton’s tea party.

Ali explained the concept of ‘Swan Upping’ to me this weekend – the annual census of the swan population. It’s a majestic and well regulated tradition, dating back to the twelfth century, when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans throughout parts of the River Thames.

Similarly in Manchester, the council undertake the less glamorous task of documenting rough sleepers in the city centre. It’s a process of which published data from the recording is both lauded and ridiculed, depending on the motives of the recipients. Where councillors will declare that there has been a reduction of homeless people of Manchester’s streets, others will be quick to point out that the figures have been somewhat skewed to create a false sense of achievement. This may include ambiguous terminology relating to the status of a homeless person, or offering rough sleepers accommodation on the evening of the census taking to downplay the issue.

For Manchester residents however, no degree of data manipulation can hide what is visible to them every day, and it is the citizenry rather than the powers of influence which have risen to the challenge of tackling this sociological problem.

To continue the ongoing observations into Manchester’s city centre homeless crisis, here is a list of some of the organisations, individuals and the like I have had contact with over the past couple of years:

The Booth Centre (@BoothCentre)
The Booth Centre provides activities, advice and support to people who are homeless in Manchester.
BoothCentre.org.uk

Mustard Tree (@MustardTreeMCR)
Combatting homelessness and disadvantage.
mustardtree.org.uk

No Place Like (@NoPlaceLike_)
Perspectives on homelessness/the housing crisis in and around Manchester. Currently on the lookout for creative work to share via zine/blog.

Jed Austin (The Urban Poet) & Brogan Fox (@BroganProduction)
Currently working directly with Manchester homeless community to instil change and encourage debate. Also creators of recent #OutsideTheBox exhibition.
‘The Urban Poet’ YouTube channel
broganstudiosmanchester.co.uk

#ManchesterHomeless

The King of Spin

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While the public still await the outcome of the ‘Chilcot Inquiry’ into our country’s last illegitimate conflict, and before we have even established the official name of our enemy (is it ISIS, ISL, I.S, Daesh?), the UK have already began their next pursuit into uncharted territory with a fresh bombing campaign in Syria.

You have to applaud Cameron – his powers of persuasion are second to none. Though somewhat taking a passive position behind Philip Hammond and Hilary Benn during the Commons debate last night, you would be forgiven for assuming that the puppet master already had the motions in place for certain success, with key MP’s duly groomed and prepped for the inevitable ‘Yes’ vote.

The significant difference between the two main opposing parties is that the Tory contingent – with the obvious exception of Basildon MP John Baron – appear to be more galvanised during recent debates. They have less rebels to worry about than the Labour Party, and the whips take care of the easily influenced swing-voters.

The 10 hour debate – which largely exists to create the false illusion that a democratic process has taken place – has ended up being centred around the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s impassioned speech endorsing the airstrikes. I can only imagine what his Father would have thought of this, who delivered a dichotomous speech about bombing Iraq over a decade ago.

Although the words received applause from both sides of the house, Benn then had to take up his seat next to a less than impressed Jeremy Corbyn, who many say was upstaged by his counterpart and recent adversary.

It was the kind of mortification Corbyn didn’t need, and one that the Tories were always going to draw attention to. The vote may not have hinged on the participation of a number of disassociated Labour Party members, but it did enforce the case for change within its walls.

Perhaps Cameron’s injudicious comment about none-backers being ‘terrorist sympathisers’ was more geared towards the electorate, but this type of malicious rhetoric is all too common in today’s debates. A pacifist is now a virtual jihadist, a demonstrator is a hooligan and anyone who leans slightly to the left or is concerned for workers’ rights is a staunch Communist.

So quickly we have forgotten about the cause and effect of entering a war without rationale, arming another rebel insurgency, attempting to install an artificial democracy and leaving it to defend for itself against the ‘next big threat to the world’.