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The Dilemma of the Left

In Politics on July 10, 2017 at 08:00

This weekend will go down in history. The G20 summit in Hamburg was accompanied by wide spread protests, many held in good faith and non-violent. Yet, the images that will stick in the collective memory for years to come will be those of rioting and looting in Hamburg.

Let’s be clear: I condemn violence. Protest and demonstrations should be peaceful. The lasting impression from this weekend however, will be that the Left is stuck in a cycle of violence. This way there will never be a left or leftist Renaissance.

The Left or anyone considering him- or herself to be on the left hand side of the political spectrum should really consider what is at stake. If riots and looting are all the Left has to offer, then it is condemned to its little corner.

If the Left however, manages to offer a viable alternative, one that offers safety and well being for all, one that has sustainability and the human at its centre, then will there be a chance. If this alternative is moreover inclusive unlike the current incumbent form of capitalism, chances may be even higher that it will succeed.

The G20 is the forum where the 20 most influential countries meet to discuss financial matters. In that alone it excludes the majority of countries. Why can’t there be a G180 or however many countries are left out of this summit to offer a counter image? An image of inclusiveness and open mindedness that would be in contrast to what the G20 have to offer.

Herein lies the chance of the Left. It’s up to them to take it.

photo credit: tama66 via pixabay under CC0 Public Domain

The EU tells UK: it’s not enough

In Brexit on June 28, 2017 at 13:30

The UK’s government has presented a policy paper outlining how the rights of EU citizens will be handled during and after the Brexit negotiations. It seems each move by the UK is met with more demands by the EU to amend the British policies to fit them with the EU’s positions. May has almost no options to navigate.

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Rule, Britannia

In Britain on June 19, 2017 at 06:00

Britannia rule the waves…

Most people are familiar with this song and the lyrics. It is a poem written by James Thomson in 1740 and set to music by Thomas Arne. Even though the British Empire was not yet as large and Britain was not yet ruling the waves, the song nonetheless stands for the British Empire like few other songs and depicts the idea of Britain as a nation of seaman and traders.

With the Brexit negotiations scheduled to begin on June 19, Britain will find itself at sea, mastering waves it has no experience of sailing. Instead the country will find itself lost at sea.

The ship is captained by a woman who doesn’t want to be there in the first place, her crew is waiting for a chance to get rid of her and the passengers have a gut feeling that this journey might end with their ship running aground.

England win the World Cup

In Stereotypes on June 14, 2017 at 09:15

An England team has achieved the unthinkable: winning the world cup.

We have to expect a parade in an open top bus where the team will be greeted by millions of people lining the streets in a wave of euphoria.

The prime minister will join the team in their celebration in a central London hotel to enjoy the sun in the shadow of this team. She will draw strength from this success for her upcoming​ challenge to the continent.

The England manager will postulate that his team will be unbeatable for decades to come and he as well as the team captain will be on the New Year’s honours list.

In the following decades England teams will be measured against this lot of youngsters and most of them will come up short in comparison. English self esteem is naturally on a high as England have proven that the Anglo-Saxon way to play is more successful than the fanciful display of the Southern Europeans and Americans. No trickery, just powerful surges forward have carried the Three Lions to the title.

There will be special editions of newspapers to mark every anniversary of this success. The retro industry will have a field day. Academics will publish books and articles placing the occasion into the wider socio-cultural background of Britain in 2017.

Across the globe England will be revered and English swagger will be dominating the terraces once again.

The Wobbly Lady: what the German papers think about the Election 2017

In Britain on June 10, 2017 at 16:12

The people have voted and have given the outgoing and continuing British government a vote of no confidence. That much is clear. Theresa May has gambled on extending her majority in parliament in order to strengthen her hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. That gamble has backfired spectacularly. The Tories lost their majority and Labour came within a couple of yards of getting into Downing Street. Why the campaign of May went off the rails and whether Corbyn would be a better Prime Minister, should not be the aim of this piece. Rather, a press review of the German press is aimed to be presented here. After Brexit Germany is most likely the most powerful country in the EU27. Therefore it is of particular importance how the political commentators regard the general election of 2017.

In a video comment in Der Spiegel, Kevin Hagen has analysed the campaign of the Conservative Party and Theresa May and concluded that she lost her focus during the weeks leading up to the polls. Her main topic, Brexit, played no role ever since the manifesto was published. That was due to the ‘dementia tax’ and her performance in the public. May did not exist outside a carefully preserved and caressed bubble.

Die Welt sees the result as problematic for the Brexit negotiations. A weak British government could lead the EU to soften their position which in return could be beneficial for the UK. However, the report states that the planned schedule is at risk. There is just under a year and a half left for the talks to be finished. With an unstable government that cannot rely on a majority this is likely to fail from the writers point of view.

Der Tagesspiegel puts the result in line with the previous election of 2015 and the referendum 2016. There is no clear idea how the Conservative Party wants to proceed from here. Nor has it been clearer after the shock result from last year. David Cameron is partly to blame for this message as he promised this referendum only to walk away whistling once he saw he would not get away with his lax attitude towards Europe. Like Cameron, May gambled and lost. Now her and her party look like a besotted poodle.

The headline ‘Mayday’ as it was used in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung probably best described the situation. Going from a position of strength to one where May relies upon a small and ultra conservative party is a sign that Britain has gone from strong and stable to weak and wobbly over the course of two years. The writer concludes that it is possibly better with May at the helm for the time being simply in order to provide some stability.

There is no Schadenfreude to be found in the papers looked at. Rather, there are questions as to how the British have come to this point. The slogan of a ‘strong and stable’ government wasn’t even valid going into this election, therefore May’s logic was proven wrong. That she continues as Prime Minister is possibly the only sign of stability the papers reviewed here largely agree. That her situation nonetheless resembles a shambles, most papers agree upon.

Isn’t it Ironic?

In History on March 30, 2017 at 16:30

In the 1990s Alanis Morrissette had one of her biggest successes with her song ironic in which she asks if it isn’t ironic to win the lottery and die the next day.

Alanis Morissette – Ironic Music Video from Tricia Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Isn’t ironic that 60 years after the Treaty of Rome paved the way for the European Union, that this very union is now experiencing Brexit? As Britain submitted the so-called letter of divorce, one cannot but think that this will leave Britain worse off than it is now. It comes at a difficult time for the European Union where several crises have led many people to question this union and turn towards nationalists and isolationists. Britain went a step further and decided to leave the EU. It will alter the country irrecognisably.

When England meet Germany

In Football on March 22, 2017 at 15:30

When England and Germany play each other, most people in either country would almost immediately come up with the World Cup Final of 1966. English football supporters would remember fondly England’s day on top of the football world, while the Germans would argue about the injustice suffered at the hands of the referee and his assistant. This is of course justified but limits this football rivalry to just one game when in fact there have been more than 30 matches over the course of more than a hundred years. The current tally stands at 14 victories for Germany and 13 for England highlighting the long history of these two footballing nations. Germany may have had the upper hand by winning the important matches after 1966 especially those in 1970, 1972, 1990 and 1996 or most recently the knock-out match during the 2010 World Cup. Each of these games provide enough space to fill book chapters and magazine articles.

León, 1970

An England team that many described as better than the 1966 World Cup winning blend, the team in Mexico inexplicably squandered a 2-0 lead only to lose 3-2 after extra-time. Largely described as revenge for 1966, the Germans were not on the pitch for the better part of the 90 minutes. Only after an hour or so of play, did they get back into the game. Was it Ramsey’s fault to substitute Bobby Charlton? Or was ot just a bad day at the office for Peter Bonnetti in goal? We’ll never know for sure. What is clear is that this turnaround has now become part of the Anglo-German football folklore.

Wembley, 1972

The game that would haunt England for 30 years not because of the final score of 3-1 but because for the way they saw how far behind they were left technically in contrast to the Germans. It was the beginning of the end for Sir Alf Ramsey; a year later he was gone and replaced by Don Revie. It was the start to a bleak decade for the English national team.

Turin, 1990

Almost 20 years later England and Germany would meet again in a competitive match. The World Cup semi-final of 1990 was an instant classic. It had everything: two teams going for it, there was drama, there were tears and possibly a very lucky German team.

Wembley, 1996

Gareth Southgate, the current England manager has shown his England team the penalty shoot-out. It is an indicator how strong this game still reverberates with him. Copy/Paste everything there was written for Turin and it gives a good description of the match. This time though the press got nasty.

Munich, 2001

England nonetheless have provided the odd shock result, most importantly in 2001 in the Olympic Stadium of Munich when the German national team was outplayed and beaten 5-1 in Munich. “5-1 and even Heskey scored” sang the England fans in the years following until Germany beat England again at the new Wembley in 2007. The period between 2000 and 2001 must be considered the worst in German football history as they finished bottom of their group at Euro 2000, behind England! That was the first time England finished ahead of Germany since 1968!

Tradition and Continuity

It seems to be tradition that England beat Germany often at home as they have done last year in Berlin. Moreover, England have always beaten Germany after the latter have won the World Cup. So it was in 1954 in 1975 in 1991 and 2016. With the exception of 1956 when England really were playing in a different class, the second match between these two always went Germany’s way. So it was in 1978 and in 1993. With England arriving without a number of strikers the chances are higher for Germany to win the match, however there is always Jamie Vardy who stunned Germany, England and possibly himself last year with a superb flick of the heel only four minutes after coming on as a substitute. At the end England had overcome Germany in dramatic fashion which gave hope to England and was a warning shot for the Germans. It came at the right time. For England it was once more a false dawn. With no tournament around the bend, tonight’s game will be one among many between England and Germany, though nothing could take the history away from this fixture.

Policing Acid House Parties in 1989: What the new Thatcher Government papers reveal

In History on January 6, 2017 at 09:00

The latest round of papers from the Prime Minister’s Office have been released, relating to the final years of Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1989-90. While files on several topics have been ope…

Source: Policing Acid House Parties in 1989: What the new Thatcher Government papers reveal

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