Corby Bi-Election: Nowhere is home to me.

Nora Connolly 

Image © knowhimonline

Corby, the Scottish enclave on the M1, is currently the centre of UK political activity after the announcement by Conservative MP, Louise Mensch to resign her seat with a majority of 1,951. A poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft in August suggests that Labour are currently in a commanding position with 52% of the vote, the Conservatives on 37% and the Lib/Dems flat lining on 7%.

The actual result in 2010 is illuminating, particularly as the BNP collected 2,525 votes. Labour lost on a 69% turnout. Given that the November by-election may depend on the resilience of the BNP vote if it holds then it could be close.

The anticipated decline of the Lib Dem vote alters the framework; disgruntled Lib Dems are hardly about to vote Tory, so at least 7,834 votes are going begging. But there is a racial dynamic to this by-election due to demographic changes in Corby which have been stoked up by the tabloid press.

Corby, the main urban area in the constituency nestles in countryside reminiscent of the Cotswolds. A former centre for steel production which dominated the local landscape, in the 1930s many thousands of Scottish migrants came to the town to work in the steel industry and to set up home – a sleepy hamlet morphed into `Little Scotland`. Corby has profound cultural and emotional links to Scotland such as the local dialect, a testament to this heritage.

Among the Scottish migrants was an immigrant population from the Irish Republic, many laboured in the steel works and in the 1950s they dominated the construction industry building the council houses which now populate the town. Some of those Irish immigrants remained among a strongly identifiably working class Scottish/Irish Celtic community that was often stereotyped and belittled in the locale. Perpetrating myths linked to ethnicity and class, a subtle form of racism.  Read more of this post

The Far-Right Rise!

Kaiesha Page

Image © David Hayward

Last year thousands watched across the world with a mix of uneasiness and anticipation as the face of the monster behind the Norwegian mass-murder was revealed. The revelation of the attack in what is normally a peaceful and quiet country was greeted with a gasp of shock by the world. How someone could do such a terrible thing? However, this shock was to be outweighed by the shock that was expressed when his face was to finally grace our screens sometime later. The man behind killing of many innocent teenagers looked so ordinary, so human. Perhaps, in many ways, Breivik is the perfect image to represent the far-right movement: a normal looking person who has radical and dangerous beliefs. The biggest threat of the far-right’s is how far they are willing to go and how unnoticeable they often are.

Although his actions were unprecedented and his murders unique, his beliefs are far from new and are part of a growing movement that’s arms are spreading far and wide. Breivik is the epitome of this growing movement, a warning of exactly what radical hatred can cause a person to do. Across Europe over recent months we have witnessed the far-right parties exceeding expectations and polling a significant number of votes. In Greece, the Golden Dawn Party (discussed in detail later) received almost 7% of the vote, securing themselves 21 seats in the parliament. Just two years previous in the 2010 election they achieved just over 5%. In the recent French presidential election the National Front party achieved a staggering 18.5% of the vote. Why are these parties on the rise?

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A nationalism like no other…

Image

Image © Kieran Lynam

Andrew McKay – former Labour Party Member

As the independence referendum draws nearer, I am enjoying following the campaign from an independent perspective. I left the Labour Party a few months ago – not long after I embraced Scottish independence.

Having met other supporters of Scottish independence I have found that my erstwhile coldness towards nationalism was misguided.

I still don’t accept the label of a nationalist – as it is a matter of chance that I was born in Scotland, which leaves me with little reason to be proud of the fact.

I always associated nationalism with right wing drivel – the British National Party, the National Front, or National Socialism. but have found that fellow supporters of Scottish independence are open minded, intelligent and generally very accepting.

By now, we are used to the unionist scare stories that arise most weeks. Such stories usually focus on the economics of independence – that we can’t manage on our own or that we would have much weaker armed forces.

However, one scare story struck me as particularly dangerous and untrue. One blog by a Liberal Democrat suggests that the attitudes of Scottish nationalists are bitter towards others on the basis of nationality or race.

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The Uniform-Dating Effect

Nikhil Venkatesh

Image © Metropolitan Police

I recently saw an interesting advert on the television: it was for the internet dating service, ‘uniformdating.com‘. The advert asks for people to join the site ‘if you work in uniform’ (a bit strange to differentiate this group for romantic purposes, isn’t it?) or, even more sinister, ‘if you just fancy those who do’. I have no problem with the idea of internet dating, and if people in a uniformed occupation (or with a strange attraction to this diverse group) wish to use the service, then good luck to them. But, to most people, doesn’t this seem just a bit… well, weird?

My theory is that the main aim of the owners of this site, the NSI group, is not to encourage people to join this particular site. Through their ‘Really Fab Dating’ software, NSI have an interest in the fortunes of many different site within the internet dating industry. Through spending lots of money on TV adverts for uniformdating.com, the company probably hopes to help the industry as a whole. This is how: 1) There is still a stigma about internet dating; some people think it’s ‘a bit weird’. 2) These people will see uniformdating.com as ‘very weird’. 3) Suddenly, in comparison, mainstream dating sites such as match.com (from comparing the fonts, I assume NSI have something to do with that one too) seem far more normal. Thus, through creating an intentionally off-beat site, the internet dating industry will improve its image, and grow.
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Racist but not entirely wrong

Frederick Cowell

Image © Alkan de Beaumont Chaglar

The first reaction to Diane Abbott’s twitterati missive should be, as several commentators have already and wisely said; why are we getting so angry? The desire for mass outrage as the only appropriate response to every supposed outrage committed by a public figure is positively North Korean; whereas they prostrate themselves with grief, we are expected to coalesce our anger. Abbott’s statement was profoundly stupid but has also been taken profoundly out of context and the reason to keep talking about it is that the shadow of race over politics is lengthening. The London riots were racialised pre-emptively by the political classes, a phenomenon exacerbated by the crass remarks of David Starkey projecting a distinctly racial dimension onto the riots.

The tweet should be split in three to achieve an adequate response. Firstly ‘white people love.’ This is foolish and what Abbott should apologise for. The idea that pigmentation can involuntarily form political identity is as dangerous as it is disgusting. The crude picaninny plantation working blacks, loyal Indian servants, and placidly ferocious oriental warriors: all racist caricatures are based on politically collectivising individuals on the basis of immutable characteristics. All of her anti- Racism activism should have taught her this and for the sake of those she has fought for, and not the imaginary ruffled feathers of the unnamed offended, she should apologise. Read more of this post

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