Boris Johnson is ending his despicable campaign with a “blitz” through Labour seats from Grimsby to Wrexham. Listen with fear to his message: he has distilled it down to pure Faragism, reprising the spirit of Vote Leave’s “breaking point” poster and “70m Turks”. His party’s veins flow with Brexit party poison. In erstwhile Labour-land, Brexit is the tin-opener that gives Conservatives a chance, not with dog-whistle but foghorn. That old populist template casting honest working people as being deceived by “the elite” echoes down the centuries from the far right. Already hard-pressed seats suffer from 10 years of lost public jobs, investment and services, yet Johnson urges them to blame not entitled Etonians but Jeremy Corbyn’s “great betrayal orchestrated from Islington by politicians who sneer at your values and ignore your votes”. This old script worked for Mussolini as for Brazil’s Bolsonaro. It … [Read more...] about Be very afraid. Boris Johnson will take revenge on all who stood up to him
Last week’s announcement from government that it will close the route opened for some of the most vulnerable refugee children to Britain by Lord Dubs falls far short of our better selves and the example set by those before us. The route was opened by Lord Dubs to enable a safe passage to Britain for the most vulnerable refugee children. His amendment last year drew exceptionally wide cross-party and public support. Lord Dubs was himself a survivor of the Kindertransport efforts to save Jewish children fleeing the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War. Those efforts typified something of the best in us. A steadfast and quiet determination to protect children and the most vulnerable and to do so in time when the threat is urgent. Sir Nicholas Winton always insisted that, when he cancelled his holiday plans to spend two weeks in Czechoslovakia to see the plight of refugees for himself, it was no great act of heroism. Nor did he think that his … [Read more...] about It remains Britain’s moral duty to help refugee children
Only someone who has themselves fled tyranny can truly grasp the significance of what the government has just done. The Home Office suggestion that refugees could have their permanent residency reviewed, and possibly revoked, after five years will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who has lived under dictatorship. I remember all too well the enormous sense of relief I felt when I landed at Heathrow back in 1977. I had left South Africa after being active in the student movement following the Soweto uprising, and working to relaunch the non-racial trade union movement. Walking through Hyde Park with the grass beneath my feet and the wind in my face, an enormous weight had suddenly been lifted from me. The arrest and banning of my friends, the bugging of my phone, the notes on my car, the imminent threat of detention – all were suddenly gone. And like so many before me, I used my time to study, build a life and find a home. There is nothing special about my story. I … [Read more...] about Is this the end of Britain as a place of sanctuary for refugees?
The developers of Hudson Yards, a multi-towered mega-project sprouting upward from the far west side of Manhattan, would like us to believe that its phase-one opening on Friday will be a milestone in New York City history. Many supportive city planners would agree. Perhaps they are right, but not for reasons worth celebrating. Developers call Hudson Yards“the largest private development in the history of the United States”, and boast that it includes the city’s most expensive office building as well as 14 other high-rises. Calling Hudson Yards a private development, however, is a half-truth. Hudson Yards is being built by two firms, Related and Oxford Property Group; while Related is a standard developer, Oxford is the real estate arm of the Ontario municipal workers’ pension fund. The developers say the project costs $15bn, but that doesn’t seem to take into account the $5.6bn in public expenditures already spent or committed to the project. It is … [Read more...] about Forget ‘machine for living in’ – Hudson Yards is a machine for investing in
“We love it here because we love you here,” read the enormous ad covering the side of a red double-decker New York City tour bus, touting H&M’s new Hudson Yards location. The slogan is a lie. Hudson Yards does not love you. We do not love Hudson Yards. And we especially do not love it here, in a city that is desperately trying to maintain the illusion that we are all something more than props in a metropolis-sized variety show put on for the benefit of bored hedge fund employees. Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in US history, may be slightly less offensive to the memory of Jane Jacobs than a freeway running through Greenwich Village, but not by much. As urban planning visions go, it is a familiar one: an ultracapitalist equivalent of the Forbidden City, a Chichen Itza with a better mall and slightly better-concealed human sacrifice. The development has been dubbed a “billionaire’s fantasy city”, but it is something more … [Read more...] about New York’s Hudson Yards is an ultra-capitalist Forbidden City