Keir Hardie or the King's Road. Icon of the Labour movement or heartbeat of the swinging sixties. For Alan Johnson, postman turned union leader turned cabinet minister, an unknown thief may have played a decisive role. Back in the sixties the teenage Johnson was besotted with what was happening along Chelsea's best-known street. Even today, he occasionally culls the music lexicon for his political vocabulary - describing, for instance, the 1970s as the union movement's glam-rock era. When he left Sloane Grammar School, Chelsea, at 15 - "neither of us shed any tears" - his ambitions focused on pop stardom. It is a time he remembers fondly. He helped form and played with groups such as the Vampires, the Area and the Inbetweens. Venues included Aylesbury College and a pub opposite Wormwood Scrubs. There was even a demo disc, though unkind critics might suggest that I Am a Stickleback would never have rivalled Lennon and McCartney. Fate, however, had a crueller trick. Johnson's beloved … [Read more...] about Post moderniser
Un working group on business and human rights
They are cynical about human rights. They don’t like immigrants or the European Union. They want the state to be strong and “defence”, generally, to mean attack. They are, basically, the racist grandad who is going to spoil your Christmas. These are the people pollsters have labelled “authoritarian populists” and according to YouGov there’s a lot of them. Forty eight per cent of Brits surveyed exhibit some or all of these traits, according to evidence presented by the YouGov Centre Cambridge last week. As a framing device for what’s happening – with Trump, Brexit and Le Pen in France – the idea is seductive. When Reagan and Thatcher came to power, “authoritarian populism” was a term academics used to describe their politics. Now it’s a phenomenon, growing rapidly, cutting across old definitions of left and right, goes the argument. But it’s not so simple and the phenomenon is not new. The term … [Read more...] about How do we fight the loudmouth politics of authoritarian populism?
What is the UK government going to do in the face of mounting evidence that the Saudi Arabian-led air attacks on Yemen appear to be in breach of international law? In the year since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has sold £3.3bn in arms to Saudi Arabia. That is a huge boost for UK exports – the deal is for fighter planes and components, as well as bombs and missiles – and a guarantee of jobs at a time of economic uncertainty. Against that backdrop, the chances of the UK suspending arms sales are extremely slim. And yet there have been few international issues since the 2003 invasion of Iraq that have created such a sense of unease in the UK as the scale of civilian casualties in Yemen. What makes the issue even more controversial is that UK military advisers are based at the Saudi command and control headquarters where the air campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen is being conducted. The Ministry of Defence has been coy about precisely what their role is, … [Read more...] about What’s good news for British arms companies is bad news for Yemenis
This project was produced by Dawning, an organization devoted to investigative journalism. It is an independent effort, self-funded, non-partisan and non-ideological, in the tradition of journalism in the public interest. Forty years ago, Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo hid together in safe houses around Costa Rica’s capital while waiting for the imminent fall of the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Today, thousands of their exiled compatriots hide in the same city, San José, awaiting the fall of the presidential couple. Food and secondhand clothing from the US are distributed to Nicaraguan refugees at this refugee center in San José. Nicaraguan exiles come from every walk of life. All of them have one thing in common: if they returned home, they say they would be arrested, tortured or killed. They are some of Ortega’s most wanted. Nicaraguans wait to apply for asylum. As of March 2019, almost 30,000 have formally filed asylum applications. … [Read more...] about Daniel Ortega’s most wanted: Nicaragua’s exiles in Costa Rica
Tomás Borge Martínez, the last surviving founder of the Sandinista guerrilla movement that overthrew Nicaragua's US-backed rightwing dictatorship in 1979, died on Monday night. He was 81. Rosario Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, announced the death in a simultaneous broadcast on several radio stations. Murillo, who also serves as a government spokeswoman, did not give a cause of death, but the military had said previously that Borge was being treated for pneumonia and other ailments. Borge joined Carlos Fonseca Amador and others in 1961 to found the National Sandinista Liberation Front. It was named after Augusto Cesar Sandino, who fought against US military intervention in Nicaragua in the 1930s. Ortega joined the front later and became its leader. "Like Carlos Fonseca, he [Borge] is one of the dead who never die," Murillo said in the emotional announcement, her voice appearing to break at times. "He will always be with us in the Sandinista Front." She said … [Read more...] about Tomas Borge, Sandinistas’ last surviving founder, dies aged 81