The presidential election is undoubtedly more important than the elections to the French Parliament, but that doesn’t mean that Senators and Deputies are totally powerless. For lefties like myself, the idea of a neoliberal like Emmanuel Macron, a right-wing Thatcherite like François Fillon, or a neo-fascist like Marine Le Pen is not something that we are desperate to see. This being the case, the Left needs to capture a significant proportion of the vote in the parliamentary elections. The limited powers not in the purview of the Executive can be used to guard against the ideological excesses that will follow the election of any of these individuals to the Presidency.
Last week I covered a news story about how Britain had recently passed a law that would retroactively pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men who had been prosecuted for ‘indecent acts’, also known as homosexual sex. At the time of writing I said: “work on this issue still needs to be done”. Admittedly I was referring to Northern Ireland and Scotland, but the same is true around the world; men convicted of the crime of having sex with other men should have those convictions overturned. For a number of years activists in New Zealand had been lobbying the government to get exactly that, and on Thursday the government agreed.
A few days ago former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders went on Morning Joe on MSNBC to explain why he believes people should be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. He has received criticism from those on the Left who believe he’s ‘sold out’ and Clinton loyalists who bemoan his lack of sycophantic fawning. Sanders claims that the current Democratic platform is “the most progressive in the history of the Democratic Party”, and even said this line in his speech at the DNC. Normally I let this go because you could argue that FDR’s policy programme was much more progressive in many areas, but the Democratic Party was a different animal back then and many Democrats still supported segregation. But this blog post isn’t about Bernie Sanders, its about how ideology is a powerful tool that can be used to shape how people think about certain issues.
The new Japanese Defence Minister has garnered headlines in the last few days because of her history making controversial statements about the history of Japan. Tomomi Inada was appointed by Shinzo Abe just over two weeks ago and is being tipped to replace Abe as Prime Minister in the near future. This should be worrying not only for anyone who values Japan’s post-war constitution, but for anyone who values a true recollection of history.
Due to the rise of Islamic extremism in the last few decades, the position of Islam in US culture and society is often a topic of conversation. Indeed the Right talk about Islam as if its existence in the US was a particularly new phenomenon. Much like an article I had written about socialism in the United States, this piece will be looking back at history and culture to show how Islam is not only present in American culture, but US history is filled with examples of Islam’s ideas influencing American icons.
Following the 2010 General Election the Conservatives reinvigorated the Right to Buy scheme which had originally been instituted by Margaret Thatcher. The issue of Right to Buy has always been a contentious issue, not so much the principle of council residents buying their own homes but what would happen to the money raised from these sales. In the 1980s critics of the scheme said that the money generated from the sale of council houses wasn’t reinvested in building new council homes. Now the 21st Century incarnation of this policy is accurately receiving the same criticisms.
Imperialism is an oppressive and exploitative form of government that seeks to enrich a select few at the expense of millions of others. Whether it is the example of Britain in India, the US in the Philippines, or Belgium in the Congo, colonial ‘adventures’ have been rightly characterised by violence against the native population by the occupying power and the ravaging of the host country’s natural resources for the benefit of the colonising nation.Yet despite these historical realities a recent YouGov poll showed that 44% of British people were “proud” of their nation’s colonial history whereas 21% regretted it took place and 23% were agnostic on the issue. The same poll also showed that 43% of British people’s view of the British Empire was positive whereas 19% viewed it negatively and 25% held no view. Not only is this attitude dangerous, as one of the key reasons people study history is not to repeat its mistakes, but these views have implications on modern policy.