Darcus Howe: A Political Biography book promotion@LeftCentral

Darcus Howe: A Political Biography

Darcus Howe: a Political Biography examines the struggle for racial justice in Britain through the lens of one of Britain’s most prominent and controversial black journalists and campaigners.

Born in Trinidad during the dying days of British colonialism, Howe has become an uncompromising champion of racial justice. The book examines how Howe’s unique political outlook was inspired by the example of his friend and mentor C.L.R. James, and forged in the heat of the American civil rights movement, as well as Trinidad’s Black Power Revolution. Read more of this post

Bread and Roses Book Award 2014

LeftCentral Political Book Club 

Image © The Bread and Roses Heritage Comm

The Bread and Roses book award shortlist has been announced the winner to be named in May 2014.  The seven titles are: `Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police` by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Faber and Faber, 2013), `Soldier Box: Why I Won`t Return to the War on Terror` by Joe Glenton (Verso, 2013), `Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973` by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, (Bloomsbury), `Who Needs the Cuts?: Myths of the Economic Crisis` by Barry Kushner and Saville Kushner (Hesperus Press, 2013), `No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers by Katherine Quarmby (Oneworld, 2013), `Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity` by Andrew Simms (Little, Brown, 2013) and Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain by Imogen Tyler (Zed Books, 2013).  The winning title must meet the following criteria:

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‘Truth’, immigration and the BBC

Image © Felix-felix

Robin Richardson

The Truth about Immigration was broadcast by the BBC on Tuesday 7 January, having been trailed in advance both widely and deeply. Viewers were promised it would be full of new clarity and insight, based on new and powerful facts and figures. Further, it would be imbued with unusual honesty from politicians and senior civil servants, and – even – from the BBC itself. In the event the programme was a shoddy and shameful shambles. Visually, technically, conceptually, ethically, politically and emotionally, it was the very worst kind of tabloid TV, an hour of bias against understanding, totally unworthy to be described as public service broadcasting. Read more of this post

Miliband, the Mail and antisemitism, some points arising

Robin Richardson

Image © CC-BY

Antisemitism, it has often been said, is a light sleeper. Sometimes, though, and in certain places and circumstances, it slumbers for quite a long time, and is not immediately or widely recognisable when it wakes up. For whilst dormant it was taking on new tones and colourings, was acquiring a new repertoire of signals and cues, new nods and winks, it was fashioning new dog whistles. Those who give voice to it when it wakes after a longish sleep may not be consciously aware of what they are doing, or of the effect their words, references and imagery have on others. Read more of this post

Confronting the Government on Inequalities –pre-conference memorandum to the opposition

Subject:      Labour Party Conference – put equalities back on the agenda

To:               Kate Green MP, shadow minister for women and equalities

Cc:              Stephen Twigg MP, shadow secretary of state for education

Date:          17 September 2013

From:          Thousands of concerned citizens

 

EXTREMELY URGENT

1)   Thank you, Kate, for your fiercely forthright response on 12 September to the government’s review of the public sector equality duty (PSED) ‘This,’ you said, ‘was an unnecessary and wasteful exercise in PR by a government which is turning the clock back on equalities.’

2)   Referring to the committee that produced the report on the PSED you noted it ‘seems to have endorsed a “do as little as possible” approach to promoting equality, at a time when disabled people, women, black and ethnic minority groups are being hit especially hard by this government. At a time when many people are worried about paying their next bill, the government should be concentrating on tackling the inequalities and discrimination that continue to hold people back rather than seeking to water down existing equalities laws.’ What, Kate, are you going to do to follow this up? Read more of this post

‘Let’s Cut Out Equality’ The independent steering group’s report of the public sector equality duty (PSED) review, September 2013

Robin Richardson 

Image © Evan-amos

On Friday 6 September a new report crept out from the government equalities office (GEO). It emerged without the company of an official press release and the only media coverage on that day was in the Telegraph and the Mail. Both these papers had apparently been influenced by a private, off-the-record briefing about how the authors of the report (or, anyway, some of them) wished equalities legislation to be trivialised, ridiculed and dismissed. ‘How many lesbians have you disciplined?’ asked the headline about the report in the Mail. The headline was followed by a summary of the report which it purported to be describing: ‘Pointless red tape condemned in new report into how public bodies have become obsessed by equality’.

The Telegraph headline was marginally less sensationalist: ’Red tape “overkill” leaves public bodies counting number of lesbians disciplined’. The heading continued: ‘Equalities rules have sent public bodies into a pointless “red-tape overkill”, a landmark report commissioned by David Cameron will warn today [6 September]’.  Incidentally, there is no reference in the report itself to lesbians, nor does the word overkill appear, nor is there any claim in the report that it was commissioned by the prime minister. It seems clear that the coverage in the Telegraph and Mail was based essentially on an unofficial briefing, not on a reading of the actual report. Read more of this post

Review of new pamphlet from the Socialist Education Association

Robin Richardson

Image© Keith Edkins

‘We hold,’ say the Tories and Lib Dems with their actions, though not with their exact words unless behind closed doors, ‘this truth to be self-evident, that human beings are born unequal.’  They continue – again with deeds rather than with explicit policy discourse – along lines such as the following: ‘It is urgent that we should return the education system to the essential role which it always played in the past, which is to prepare children and their parents for inequality, and to accept and appreciate inequality. Those who deserve to prosper will do so, for our desire is simply to set people  free from state intervention and control. Those who do not deserve to prosper, due to their lack of intelligence, energy or aspirations, will be treated with compassion, in so far as resources permit. But basically we say to them, tough, that’s life. In these various ways we are making the world safe for capitalism in its neoliberal variety. Everyone will benefit, of course, even if some do not yet realise this.’ Read more of this post

Justice and equality in a great city: Book Review `Dear Birmingham` by Karamat Iqbal

Robin Richardson 

Image©JimmyGuano

‘Dear Birmingham,’ writes Karamat Iqbal, ‘thank you for being my home for the past forty plus years. Thank you also for welcoming my father and others in our family and community during the fifties. You as a city welcomed them, us, because you needed their labour and they came willingly because they needed jobs. As we have learnt, it has benefited the city in many ways. It has certainly benefited our community, both here and back in Pakistan. I grew up in a brick house, the first in our village, thanks to the money earned in Birmingham.’

Iqbal’s book is an extended thank-you letter, almost an extended love letter. It is not, however, just one long outpouring of gratitude and affection. The city which he holds dear can be disappointing and deplorable, a hell-hole as well as a haven, a place of negligence and neglect as well as a nest, woeful as well as wonderful. Iqbal loves his fellow citizens of all backgrounds. But also he wants change, and wants it radically, deeply, urgently. He wants and seeks justice and equality, and wants them for all communities in Birmingham – not only the newer communities which have settled there in the last sixty years but also those whose ancestors settledin the city rather earlier. Read more of this post

Dreaming of One Nation – Labour, multiculturalism and race

Image © Alexander Kachkaev

Robin Richardson

Review of The British Dream: successes and failures of post-war immigration by David Goodhart, Atlantic Books 2013, 381 pp, £20

David Goodhart hopes there will be a Labour government, or a Labour-led coalition, from 2015 onwards. He himself belongs, he says, to the ‘political tribe of north London liberals’ and is ‘a journalist of leftish sympathies’. His subject-matter in this book is immigration policy, and the extent to which Britain can be a multicultural One Nation. It is possible to imagine Britain, he mentions, ‘little by little becoming a less civil, ever more unequal and ethnically divided country – as harsh and violent as the United States’. In such a Britain the welfare state will have largely withered away, for white British people will be increasingly unwilling to pay taxes to support people who belong to (one of Goodhart’s favourite (phrases) ‘visible minorities’. He sees his book as a wake-up call to prevent such a dystopia. Read more of this post

Storyville: The Road, a story of life and death

Nora Connolly 

Image©Ewan Munro

You see how people treat their dog, their cats and you wish you were a dog. At least someone gives you some kindness, some friendship…People ignore you and no-one accepts you… Storyville

This quote encapsulates what Robin Richardson has called the unkindness of strangers, the comment above uttered by a migrant worker and participant in this outstanding film, made by Marc Isaacs. The documentary tells the story of a diverse group of immigrants living on the A5 – one of Britain`s longest and oldest roads – focussing on the inhabitants of London. The individual quoted (country of origin not specified), is speaking while waiting on the streets of London, in the hope that he might be selected by a contractor for a day`s work. A scenario familiar to Irish workers from the 1950s, the documentary peppered with archive film of Irish men waiting for employment, just as these new migrants wait today.   Read more of this post

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