Fresh Cycle, Old Politics

London Mayoral Frontrunner, Sadiq Khan asserted his wish to make ‘London a byword for Cycling’ at a Times Hustings.

A week from now, Londoners will determine who should lead the most cosmopolitan city on Earth, where unique challenges regarding inequality, the environment and transport are primary concerns for voters. Today, the Times and London Cycling Campaign came together for a Hustings chaired by the intrepid Emma Tucker of the Times, who posed the necessary questions regarding transport and cycling stances of the budding Mayors. With only a narrow window to showcase their policies to a still undecided public, the alternative candidates were bold and visionary with their ideas, though their electoral success seems unlikely.

The issues raised included prospective policies for reducing heavy traffic in London, tackling the growth of private hire vehicles, enabling safer cycling journeys and using mayoral powers of appointment and budgeting for a sustainable London. Often, the candidates, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Green’s Sian Berry, UKIP’s Peter Whyttle, Liberal Democrats’ Caroline Pidgeon, Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith and Women Equality Parties’ Sophie Walker, were in agreement over the giant problem of London’s dreadful air quality, expensive public transport and the hundreds of people, fatally or grievously injured cycling in the city. However, ideological disagreement was profound over the nature of tackling ‘dirty old banger’s otherwise known as older vehicles, as Whyttle argued, a ‘social cleansing’ of the poorest would occur if Sian and Sadiq’s scheme to ban the use ‘dirty diesel’ in the capital was successful.

The technocratic position of Zac and Sadiq was pressed repeatedly by apt questioning by both Tucker and an engaged audience, as neither would commit to funding above the current 1% on cycling. ‘Sadiq’s austerity program for Tfl’ was highlighted by Sian, who argued passionately for new £1.5 billion expenditure over 10 years for to fund new cycling superhighway and a London wide low emission zone. His rehearsed positions and policy knowledge came slightly unstuck when both Zac and Caroline pressed on the apparent ‘£1.9 billion hole’ in Sadiq’s fiscal plans came under fire as he repeated his claim that ‘half of the budget’ could be saved via efficiency savings on the underground.

Unexpectedly, of all the candidates, Caroline Pidgeon came across as the woman of the hour, articulately arguing her own case for London and attracting much applause on her ‘pledges’ to create an ‘electric charging network’ within London, electrifying single-decker buses, and drastically increasing investment in cycling infrastructure. It was a strong showing for the alternatives but fundamentally this race was Zac versus Sadiq who despite being on the defensive, took Sam Coates question, about his own thoughts on Ken Livingstone and Anti-Semitism within the Labour party,  proclaimed he will be a ‘mayor for all londoners’.

All Londoners will have their say next week, as is the cycle of British politics.

 

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The New Politics is Digital

A Digital Utopia

My generation has never questioned the presence of the internet; the digitalization of the youth has been so profound and so far-reaching, that it is mere madness to suggest otherwise. Indeed, the internet may be described as the focal point for our existence, defining our interactions with one another, enshrined in our visions of the future and arguably, central to the development of man as a ‘political animal’. With the incredible accessibility that the internet provides, to humour, to knowledge, to development and sense of global consciousness that it fosters, it is a cause for concern that this resource which is used so fervently by an astounding 37.4% of the global population is so under-used as a method of political engagement. This exponential growth in technological and digital advancement has provided innumerable opportunities for social progress, but it would be naïve, if not dangerous to ignore the threats posed to democracy, human rights and international peace and security.

First, we must define progress. Is progress tangible or intangible, is it foolish to reconcile the idea that humanity is progressing as time goes by, when the threat of war has haunted every era of history; can we even goes as far as to say the internet has benefited society, when it was only really established in 1991 , surely its too soon to tell?

That may be true, and whilst the internet has proved to be unpredictable, it has been at the forefront of the formation of a global consciousness. Who can say, that without the emergence of the internet and Youtube and Google and Twitter and Facebook and Reddit and Wordpress and every possible website, forum, app – you can think of, that humanity would be so interconnected? Chances are, you’ve heard of ‘Gangnam Style’ the viral music video from South Korea that had the nations of the world galloping. ‘K-pop’ or Korean Pop has dominated digitally, the band ‘Girls Generation’ has topped 60 million views worldwide and the Korean World Festival attracted thousands of contestants from over 16 countries. The digital colossuses of Google, Youtube and the assorted social media networks, have become engrained in the history of the 21st century; through facilitating cultural exchange through global shared access to knowledge, music, data, tools.

A digital renaissance has dawned and  has meant that people are now more educated, literate and most importantly, politically aware than they have ever been. Of course, this has led to arguments over cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation but fundamentally the very nature of ignorance has been transformed from passive to an active ignorance. One must reject the internet and reject the modernity of multi-culturalism, tolerance and social equality to be ignorant in the modern world. Through social media, one has instantaneous access to information and can form social groups online. Those inclined towards introversion can find their own niche community on the web. The traditional boundaries of space and time once impeded social progress, but now we look online and are made immediately aware of international injustice and capable of shared struggle. The ready availability of whatsapp and social media has provided a new avenue for political participitation for the masses, bottom-up and lacking the heirachy of the past. Fringe interests and political viewpoints find their home in the digital world, and it is from there that the next global perspectives are formed.  Social media welcomes nerds, fetishists, hobbyists and all kinds of people.

Just Thinking Out Loud.

 

The Perfect Storm

Growing up in my household was a confusing political experience. My mother, an African immigrant, has always been 100% adamantly supportive of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher uplifted this country. Thatcher fought against political correctness. Thatcher was a proud and powerful woman with no time for fragile male pride. Thatcher this, Thatcher that, you would think she was a dedicated Tory. But she isn’t. And why would she be considering the racist, anti-immigrant xenophobia of the party, and its dedication to serving the rich and powerful. It is for that reason, she loves Corbyn and what he represents for British politics. Radical change from housing crisis and poverty that is killing Britain and London especially.

It’s a contradiction.

But, it taught me a very important lesson about people’s mentality. Almost no one thinks, in terms, of ideology. The avowed socialists, liberals and conservatives of the class war 20th century have vanished from sight. Instead, it is issues of economic opportunity and personal justice that define one’s perspective. We saw that in 2015, where the left manifest in the Greens, and Miliband had the most popular positions on Transport, Health, Education, Taxation and Defence. The Politics of Policy was dominated by a genuine popular interest in a compassionate, rational and frankly speaking radical departure from the Free market consensus. Despite this leftward tinge, popular opinion remains furiously against immigration and in favour of a punitive approach to welfare reform. There is little ideological orthodoxy for Us, and none but the privileged academic few have conventional left or right political views.

I’m entranced by the new politics. Never before has civilised high society witnessed the complete overhaul of conventional affairs. And us, the masses finally have a voice beyond that of technocratic platitudes espoused by centrist, peace-making politicians. The emergence of the perfect storm has caused Conservative fortune to vanish like a Gambler’s lucky streak. It is precisely the moment for a democratic, populist movement-party to overhaul a Government besieged by friendly fire and its own utter incompetence. On Taxes, Steel, Europe and the horrific impact of Austerity, the ruthlessness of political opinion is firmly against the Tories.

It was incomprehensible that a radical left alliance of communists, ecologists and feminists could take power in a modern European nation. However, Greece’s Syriza is testament broke that rule.

Months after elections in the 14th largest economy, 4th in Europe; but Spain is an ungovernable electoral mess of left-wing populists, insurgent liberals, nationalists of all stripes and a dying establishment political force.

In France, the social democratic consensus is under siege but none other than the National Front who polls higher and higher in light of terrorist atrocity.

Iceland’s anti-establishment left polls upwards of 50% juxtaposed with government of the corrupt, incompetent and capricious.

And astoundingly,across the Atlantic in the Capital of the Free World, they face an political orthodoxy on Military interventionism, Free Trade, Immigration, Austerity and basic Civil Liberties being torn apart by Trump, Sanders and an American electorate fundamentally enraged by Capitalism in Crisis.

It’s breaking, tearing apart, and in this new world, Capitalism as we know cannot thrive any longer. But such perfect moments last only a second, if Labour is derailed by yet another internal coup that may provide the perfect avenue for Tory escape into unchallenged recovery from polls showing them neck and neck with Labour, with Cameron’s personal favourability below the Corbyn. Let’s take a page from Blair, and become a Legion of the progressive left unified on Austerity economics. I think he should abandon any qualms about Trident, it’s unnecessary right now, stick to the renewal line until there’s an opportunity to challenge it via referendum under a Labour Government. This meaningless squabbles do nothing but undermine public faith in the opposition, while even a unified anti-trident labour would lack the necessary votes to overturn it.

The Labour Right hate Momentum but come Election time, who could provide that winning edge by mobilising the young people, non-voters and minorities for Labour? Momentum. Given the electoral disenfranchisement the Tories plot to steal the vote from the young, a democratic mass movement is the only way to counteract this. I think other party activists should be permitted as part of a wider progressive campaign.

I’m heartened to see Corbyn and Mcdonnell perform better and better as time passes, hard to believe but we’ve been gaffe-free for a while now and far from losing my Corbynism I’m actually able to conceptualise hard-hitting Labour force. Though, it’s important to note the Labour vehicle is almost irreversibly geared toward establishment economics and conventional social democratic reformism. There’s a spark in Corbyn’s eye that makes me feel that his inner radical is just waiting for Power.

And I’ll be cheering him on.

Dreams that border Nothingness

Ain’t No Rules To This Life Darling

‘A Boy Cries for his Mother’

Mama, Losing My Faith. Let me Outrun My Demons Don’t Watch Me Cry. Can’t Use Logic in this Twisted Puzzle. Who’s going Crazy when Madness is Universal? There’s nothing better than Pity, so Pray for Me Like you Pray for the Devil. Or Bless the Weak, the Meek Who you Seek. Us Wingless Angels are victims of hypocrisy. You Won’t hold my Hand? Is that the Truth of Humanity? Wish I could Die, Damn Am I afraid to Live? I Never Knew the Definition of Faith, Wish I Understood. Lord Could You Please Save Me for Her? Mama, Losing my Faith x

‘Catch Me, Sincerely Gingerbread Man’

I Got You Forever Don’t Be Fooled By My Youth, Reach through the Summertime into Your Heart, I Open it There’s Stars and Hidden Art. God Knows Your Priceless, He Knows I’m Lifeless. Aquarius I Confess, I’m Not Like You. Bizarrely I’m neither Mortal Man nor Make-Belief. Yet I Love You Beyond Belief. Blinded by Emotional Frenzy, but Too Intelligent to Succumb to My Beast. Tragic to Be Lonely, It’s a Grieving Liar who can be an Island. Stand Close to Me, Rain or Shine, The Pain is Fine, One More Drop of Wine? Blurry Visions Again, Violent This Time. It’s Tragic but I Love you So.

‘Brutal Kisses’

Silently Beg for Peace, For Love, Someone New. Been Away Too Long And Can’t Come Through. Shouldn’t Look Any Longer but Entranced By Beautiful Nothing. Not the Hero of This. Damn. Help Me x. Told Me To Give Up with Her Emerald Eyes, But I Love The Chase, Addicted to Highs. Hi My Name is “____” Broken as A Promise. Can A Man Touch Heaven and Die in Anguish? It’s Too Sweet to Stare, oh Forbidden Fruit of Lust and Fear. Mortality Is Unexciting, She Lies in My Heart, I, X Ray Visionary Reveal Her Spirit. Now I Lie. Awake. Dreaming of Murder For the Sake of Love. He Who Glimpses Heaven Will Fly A Solitary Dove. Have a Nice Life My Love x

Here Comes The Fun.

Fin.