Having returned from Japan just over a month ago I have become more aware of the differences between modern life in the West and the hyper-reality of modern Japan that seems to pride itself on imitating American and European culture. Since the implementation of the Marshall Plan, Japan has grown from a victim of nuclear war into an economic powerhouse characterised by rapid technological advancement. This technological advancement, fuelled by a plentiful supply of nuclear-generated electricity, has had many benefits for the Japanese people, but this development has often been at the expense of progress elsewhere in society.
Living in Britain all my life has made me acutely aware of the continued existence of royalty. I am in a minority when it comes to be critical of the monarchy of the Royal Family or the actual concept of venerating vacuous rich people based on the vagina through which they entered the world. However in many countries the sentence you just read would have gotten me into trouble with the police due to the existence of laws that prohibit criticism of the state or a royal leader. These crimes, known as lèse-majesté, should be seen as hangovers from previous centuries and should be abolished in the name of free speech, especially as the following article, if read aloud in public, could have the person fined or put in prison in at least ten countries.
The Tories want to make it harder for trade unionists to go out on strike and this week we have a prime example of why such attacks on union rights would be harmful. After two 24-hour Tube strikes in July and August over staff rotas and working conditions London Underground has delayed the introduction of the Night Tube.
Without this vital union action London Underground would have forced staff to work obscenely long hours with rotas that would have destroyed employee’s work-life balance. It is this success of trade unions that the government want to quash which perfectly illustrates who this government is fighting for: big business and management.
Election turnout has been consistently lower than in previous decades with the trend particularly true in local elections and as a consequence a key part of the modern zeitgeist has been political apathy with politicians often making cosmetic changes rather than actually doing anything substantive. Obviously the electoral system is a key reason why people don’t come out to vote in Britain, alongside a perception of a lack of ideological choice between candidates, but this article isn’t about either of them. This article will focus on three things that a government could pass legislation to institute which would boost turnout and create a more informed electorate.
In 1970 Harold Wilson’s Labour government passed the Equal Pay Act which prohibited men from being given more favourable pay and conditions of employment in comparison to a woman doing the same job. The Act, which came into force in 1975, is often cited as one of the crowning achievements of the Second Wave feminist movement in Britain; despite this legal prohibition since 1975, the sexist mindset is still prevalent in the private sector and is preventing women actually achieving pay equity. This manifestation of patriarchal oppression unfortunately doesn’t stop at a salary gap as there are other issues that women face on a daily basis that often go unreported.
The Labour Party of old is gone, the political dynamics have changed and the Left needs to unite behind a movement based on ideas rather than the rosettes worn by MPs on election day. The UK, in its current form, will not last the next twenty years so it is best for Labour to work with other progressive forces, especially at Westminster, to bring about better societies in Scotland, Wales and England. By establishing electoral pacts with other parties a left-wing government will be much easier to elect, but it is up to Labour to make such a move.
The increased acceptance of the LGBT community around the world is the major civil rights movement of our time and although more and more countries are legalising same-sex marriage the battle is far from being won. Despite these gains the transgender community still suffers from discrimination as a result of ignorance, bigotry and deliberate misinformation from some right-wing groups. What I would like to discuss is the concept of a ‘transgender ally’ and how, in spite of my support for the growing acceptance of the transgender community, I am not a transgender ally, at least not yet.