At the beginning of the twentieth century I would have been a mongrel, in the middle I would have been half-caste. Now I’m mixed-race; and it is not a coincidence that there has never been a better time to be mixed-race in Britain than today. Language, George Orwell once wrote, “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish”. Foolish language, though, makes it all the easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
“This is our party – and we are going nowhere.” Len McCluskey’s half-right at least; the Labour Party is the child of the trade unions, and it always will be. A glorious past, though, doesn’t always guarantee a successful future. More than a third of trade union members are over 50, and fewer than one in ten are under 25. Meanwhile, the organisation that McCluskey’s Unite most closely resembles is Lehman Brothers – rising liabilities and declining revenues obscured by constant merger – and we all know what happened to them.
The Mark Duggan verdict divides people. It divides me. Part of me wants to say: if the jurors accepted, eight votes to two, that he had thrown his gun away, that he had no weapon, that he had got out of the car, how can they decide by the same margin that his killing was lawful?
A little over a year ago, anti-American protests rippled across the Middle East. From Baghdad to Karachi, tens of thousands of people took to the streets. In Libya, the protests provided the perfect opportunity for a terrorist group to strike, attacking the US Embassy and murdering four people, including the ambassador.
In the United States, an election already defined by the American right’s increasingly ludicrous attacks on the forces of reality took a turn for the worse this week, as the rightwing press and the conservative blogosphere levelled their ire against Nate Silver, the polling expert whose great sin is to predict that Barack Obama is still the overwhelming favourite in the election next week. Continue reading