Category Archives: Young people

Labour civil war: now the suits are trying to undermine Young Labour

Even the most jaded and despairing old socialist must take some joy from Young Labour’s decision to support Jeremy Corbyn against Keir Starmer’s continuing abuse.

The organisation within the party has published a Twitter thread as follows:

Excellent points.

What a shame that people who should know better are desperately (very desperately, as you’ll see) trying to undermine these bright folk who represent the future of the party. Take a look:

Whataboutery – and evidenceless – from somebody who is clearly too old to be a member of Young Labour.

What would that reason be, then? That JLM is a primarily right-wing movement and its members were urged to support the right-wing candidate? And that this candidate then had to withdraw after she was found to have praised the “physical attractiveness of young Nazis”?

At least the next comment comes from someone who may at least claim an interest as a young Labour member…

… but what a shame that it ignores the conditions under which Young Labour representatives are elected. They are not required to seek the opinions of anyone else because they are elected to put forward the policies on which they campaigned for election.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of genuine support, published in good conscience:

Of course young Labour members have seen what’s been going on – and they weren’t happy about it:

The distinction is clear:

If you’re opposing Young Labour’s decision to stand by Corbyn, you have to fabricate claims to justify your position.

If you’re supporting Young Labour, you have the facts on your side.

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If Eton isn’t reopening until at least September, why the hurry to bring back state schools?

Closed: and apparently Eton won’t be open to pupils until at least September.

Don’t you think it’s a bit strange?

I mean, if it was safe to reopen schools at the beginning of June, you’d think the recipients of the most expensive education in the United Kingdom would be desperate to get their noses back to the grindstone. Wouldn’t you?

And their parents – many of whom are, I’m sure, inhabiting chairs in Boris Johnson’s cabinet – would be lining up to send them.

But it seems there’s no chance of Eton (for example) reopening its doors until September at the earliest.

We know that there’s no scientific support for schools opening so soon.

We know that teachers and teaching unions are absolutely opposed to it – along with the British Medical Association:

We know that the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland won’t be allowing it – along with some English cities whose leaders are thinking for themselves:

And protest against the Tory plan to force our children back into school, without having shown any interest in making them safe, is mounting:

So why are the Tories so hasty about getting your kids back to school where they’ll almost certainly catch Covid-19 and give it to you?

Here’s a thought:

Perhaps it’s because, as long as children are out of school, parents are divided between staying home to look after them and going to work. With the kids in school, the parents have no reason to stay away and the economy can get moving again, making money for the Tories’ billionaire donors.

It’s a stupid, stupid rationale, I know. If the kids catch Covid-19 in schools (because there won’t be any social distancing there – try telling four, five and six-year-olds they have to stay at least two metres away from anyone else), and transmit it to their parents, then the adults will be busy trying not to die, rather than working.

But then: what’s rational about the Tory response to coronavirus?

The Conservative conference has been a disaster – for Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: Don’t you think he looks tired?

Cards on the table: I couldn’t be bothered to cover the Tory conference this year.

I figured it would be days of the unbearable addressing the unspeakable – and the following clips suggest I was right.

Biggest loser is clearly Boris Johnson. Consider this:

If you think that’s bad, look at this:

Well, we already knew he’s a racist.

And he has lost the confidence, even of young Conservatives:

Okay, two of the above were by the Tories’ political opponents, but they’re not wrong!

Don’t pay attention to the opinion polls. If the Tories get near a general election with BoJob as leader, they’ll be buried.

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The false arguments against Greta Thunberg – and why you should ignore them

Emotion: Greta Thunberg was fighting back tears when she spoke at the UN Climate Change summit – because she knew many people would try to undermine her simple, common sense message?

Who would have thought a teenager who isn’t in showbusiness could have such an impact on the world?

This is a really strong speech:

Admittedly, Greta Thunberg has yet to persuade financiers and business leaders to stop the climate change-related harm they are doing to our environment, but this is probably because she has hit such resistance from the false-equivalence brigade.

For example:

Who are these people? I, for one, face no such contradiction in my thinking as I said Ms Begum did know what she was doing when she ran off to join IS at the age of 15. I argued that she should be treated as an adult now because she is an adult now.

That is an argument about Ms Begum, rather than Ms Thunberg. It also ties in with this:

There is a huge difference between these two subjects, of course: Epstein was alleged to be exploiting teenagers – Ms Thunberg is expressing her own opinions.

And haven’t we been encouraging our young people to develop opinions on such subjects?

This Writer can remember television programmes going back to the 80s, at least, in which young people were canvassed for their views on political matters – and young viewers were encouraged to think about them.

And what about William Hague?

He was the poster boy of the Conservative conference in 1979 when he made a speech… at the ripe old age of 16.

Had he been exploited? Or was he perfectly capable of forming his own opinion? If the latter, then serious questions will have to be asked about political parties that have any kind of youth wing at all.

And that should not happen, because they are perfectly capable of thinking and acting properly at the age from which they may become members of such organisations.

The matter of sex is different because younger people are not always equipped to deal with the consequences of it. Legally, they are not considered capable of consenting to sex. Practically, they may be unable to access contraception, meaning pregnancy is more possible – with financial and social consequences. There is the huge issue of sexual exploitation. And not everybody is the same; some are mature enough to behave responsibly about such matters, and some are not.

Consider this: If a young teenager were to become pregnant, would she (and her partner, of course) have the maturity to understand that they are bringing a person into the world, with needs just like their own?

Answer: Some would, and some wouldn’t. The law is there to minimise tragic consequences, as much as it is there to prevent unwanted demands on medical and social services.

Turning to Ms Thunberg’s arguments: It is incredible that people are trying to marginalise them by saying she isn’t mature enough, or that she is being groomed, when they are the same arguments being used by adults across the world.

Look at Harrison Ford:

He used the same “house on fire” metaphor as Ms Thunberg. Are her critics suggesting that he has been groomed?

The fact is that this young lady has come to a mature conclusion about the consequences of business decisions across the world and has struck a chord with young people around the world – as well as adults.

People attacking her are in fact revealing their own inadequacies.

And who are these people?

None of them ever seem to be named.

I want to know who’s messing up the future for us all – don’t you?

Who are the businesspeople whose decisions are clagging up our air with carbon dioxide?

Who are the financiers who are funding them?

Who are the government ministers – worldwide, not just in the UK – who are helping them to vandalise our environment?

If they are named, they can be watched, criticised… ultimately prosecuted.

If not, they will get away with murder – billions of times over. And Ms Thunberg’s critics are their cynical little helpers.

EXTRA – October 15: I’ve just received this tweet:

Do you think that’s true?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Idris Elba could do more to fight knife crime with one campaign than Theresa May could ever manage

Haul: There have been knife amnesties before. Thes weapons were handed in to Derbyshire police in 2016. But there are always more weapons reaching the streets.

While Theresa May has been mouthing platitudes and cutting support for police, one of our best-known actors has been helping a genuine initiative to cut knife crime.

Idris Elba took to the streets to support mobile project Faz Amnesty, that travels the length of the country collecting weapons.

The project offers youngsters High Street vouchers in exchange for knives. Once collected, the project hands them over to the police.

Here’s Mr Elba, explaining it:

Meanwhile, Theresa May has been trying to palm off responsibility for knife crime among young people – onto teachers.

She wants teachers to have a “public health duty” to identify warning signs that a young person could be in danger, such as worrying behaviour at school, issues at home, or “presenting at A&E with a suspicious injury”. For real?

There is an existing duty requiring teachers and police to work together to safeguard children. As a former Home Secretary, Theresa May should know that.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the teachers’ union the NASUWT, delivered the reality check to Mrs May when he said: “All professionals involved with children and young people are well aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding their health and welfare.

“Violent crime involving young people, of course, needs to be taken seriously and appropriate strategies considered. However, this is a complex issue which will not be resolved by putting additional pressures and responsibilities on teachers and head teachers or indeed others.”

Yet Mrs May is still trying to convince us that she is taking this issue seriously.

Ludicrous. As Peter Stefanovic pointed out: “This is a joke, right? Your “support for Police Officers” has consisted of cutting 21,000 of them, slashing Police budgets, stretching resources to breaking point, asking them to work harder with what they’ve got, sitting back whilst crime soars & accusing them of ‘crying wolf!'”

That’s right. Mrs May sat back, forcing Mr Elba to take up the slack.


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New play explores what makes us ‘Switch’ against those who exploit us

The cast of Switch. No, that is not Llandrindod Wells behind them.

Drama has huge power to prompt social change and it is astonishing that the outrages heaped on the people of the UK by the Conservatives since 2010 have not led to an enormous upsurge of social comment in the theatre.

Today I saw a new play that takes a step towards rectifying that omission.

Switch takes its title from a slang term referring to people who turn on others after suffering severe provocation. They “switch”, usually from passive tolerance to extreme violence.

The play examines how people were provoked into such violence in two historical cases: The Rebecca Riots in rural Mid Wales during the 1830s and 40s, and the Hackney riot of summer 2011.

I had to look up the Rebecca Riots. They were prompted because farmers who were suffering extreme poverty because of poor harvests were being subjected to high rents, rates, tithes and tolls, which were increased to an extorionate degree by the trusts running them – which had been created to maintain the roads but allowed them to go to ruin instead, diverting the money to other uses.

The 2011 riots are still fresh in my memory. The spark that triggered the violence was the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in London, but the city had become a tinderbox because of the grotesquely repressive decisions of the Coalition (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) government. Perhaps it is because this play is a collaboration between two youth theatre groups (Mid Powys Youth Theatre and Immediate Theatre, of Hackney) that the emphasis was placed on the closure of youth centres, cuts to EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) and rises in university tuition fees, along with the introduction of the Bedroom Tax that threatened to pitch poor families out of their homes, and unemployment following the international financial crisis of 2008 that meant people were finding it impossible to make ends meet.

One scene plays out the frustrations of young people whose youth centre had been closed without warning and who, left on the street with nowhere to go, were preyed on by police looking for easy arrests.

In both cases, the players argue, it was desperation – the sheer impossibility of a situation forced on them by an uncaring elite – that led the impoverished to violence.

And in both cases it was put down harshly. In the 1840s, the troops moved in and rioters were faced with the threat of transportation to Australia, among other harsh penalties. Seven years ago, more than 1,000 arrests were made and courts dealt out harsh punishments – one person was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing a single ice cream.

Did the riots lead to social change for the better? That is debatable. After Rebecca, some rent reductions were achieved and toll rates improved, but that was about it. Hackney had no discernible effect on the decisions of the government. EMA was never restored; tuition fees are still high; youth centres are still closed. The Tories would argue that employment has improved, but we all know that in-work poverty has skyrocketed because the new jobs pay starvation wages.

Rebecca is better-known as the inspiration for later Welsh protests, which raises an important question about Hackney. Are we all sitting on a time-bomb that is waiting to blow – an explosion that is only being delayed by the anaesthetic pronouncements of a complicit right-wing press that keeps telling us, in the face of the facts, that we’ve never had it so good?

Of course, the riots weren’t just about frustration with oppressive social conditions. Some people took advantage of them for their own gain and Switch does not skirt over this uncomfortable fact. The Rebecca riots petered out because groups had started masquerading as Rebecca to carry out criminal acts. And Hackney saw its fair share of looters. Switch stages a TV interview with rioters who boast about the items they lifted – even though, in real terms, the money they expect to make from them is negligible.

But the causes of a riot should not be downplayed because of opportunist criminals. They simply took their chance under cover of a genuine expression of anguish by a downtrodden peasantry who rose up – leaderless – against their oppressors.

The lack of a leader is the reason such expressions fail to yield results, in my opinion. If I had been involved in 2011, I would have wanted to cut off the ability of the police and the armed forces to react, and then I would have targeted the mechanisms of government and the headquarters of those who either supported the government in its activities or benefited from its decisions (let us not forget that the UK’s richest have seen their income multiply massively while the rest of us have suffered.

But I suppose that would mark the difference between a riot and a revolution.

Switch isn’t perfect. It doesn’t really address the difference between those with a genuine grievance and those who took advantage, and it doesn’t make a strong enough point of the fact that nothing got better after 2011.

But it is a muscular piece from a committed group of young performers, that raises serious questions and asks the audience to find their own answers.

As attempts to revive social and political commentary in drama go, it’s a good start.

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Here’s a better advocate for young people in politics than Ben Bradley will ever be

But is the “better advocate” Jeremy Corbyn, or 12-year-old Joel?

You decide.


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