“Education, education, education.” New Labour’s old mantra rings hollow to English teacher Robert Anderson. This venerable warhorse stalks his classroom with the kind of “Dark sarcasm” that forced Roger Waters to write “The Wall.”
Ritual humiliation has served the craggy faced practitioner well his entire career – and if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. That is until Anderson’s luck runs out. Giving a pain in the arse student an F is one thing, rubbing their nose in it is another, so when the head butt comes his way, the teacher’s world falls apart. Continue reading →
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Billed as one of the television events of the year, “This Is England ’86” feels more like a chance meeting with the school sex bomb twenty years later when she serves you at the minimart, disappointing but somewhat inevitable. Continue reading →
1990. Football was as dead as Dillinger in England. Heysel, Hillsborough, Bradford – each appalling tragedy was another stake though the heart of the national game and a pin in the voodoo doll of the working class.
The Conservative party like New Labour today was in its death throes, wounded by the Poll tax riots, recession and bitter infighting that would lead the Iron Lady waving a tearful farewell to Downing Street whilst plucking the daggers out of her back. Thatcher and her poodle Colin Moynihan had a deadly axe to grind with football and by the time the Italia 90 came round they had the Italian government so rattled at the thought of dealing with the “English Disease” they even drafted in their special forces. Who were they expecting-Montgomery and the Eighth Army all over again?
What exactly is a “home grown terrorist?” Young Muslims cloned in specially controlled vats hidden in secret greenhouses under guard day and night from elite seven-foot tall Al Qaeda warriors? Deep in his super cave, between watching Arsenal get beat and planning the downfall of “The Great Satan,” does Bin Laden activate his newly matured creations and let them loose on Western society?
Or are they men like Omar in controversial satirist Chris Morris’ new film “Four Lions?” Omar’s married to the beautiful Sophia, has a gorgeous son, owns his house and has an understanding boss who lets him go to Pakistan at short notice for an “emergency wedding.” So why does he want to martyr himself and, in reality, go to a terrorist training camp with the blessing of his wife and child? Continue reading →
Within forty-eight hours we might have a picture of what the next five years will look like in the UK. Might. It could well be that we don’t even know how the UK electoral map has finally turned out. But in terms of the next Parliamentary session we have next to no idea what will happen now.
The background to tonight’s election result is phenomenal; Athens is burning under reaction to newly approved austerity measures while the DOW went into freefall, after what Paul Mason has described as ‘fat finger trading’. Meanwhile voter turnout has rebounded after historic lows, possibly due to the televised debates, and those voters have found themselves locked out and turned away throughout the country, their votes having little effect.
For me tonight began innocently enough, with reflection on the campaign to date. On Gillian Duffy the room drew inevitable parallels to The Thick Of It, trading jokes that would later be mirrored in Channel 4’s election coverage; on the debates each of us mimicked Brown’s “winning” “smile”; we critiqued the newspaper cartoonists; we drew up catchphrase bingo cards.
Reading’s Cemetery Junction is a notorious bottleneck for rush hour traffic, a place where time can literally come to a halt if you don’t plan your journey with due care or attention. This is exactly the same problem facing three working class lads in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s new movie. Continue reading →
“There’s this thing, it’s called Government, and it’s got a hell of a lot of resources and it’s got a lot of people making very important decisions… but those people and those decisions seem cut off of the people they make those decisions on behalf of. I think there’s a space to move into that bridges the gap between grass roots democracy and actual democracy.” – Tamsin Omond
A coach to Sunderland, racing along Finchley Road. It’s a sunny day, and I’m lapping up the unseasonably warm weather just a few days after my last visit to this part of London. I turn, looking out of the window, and see a blur of orange; the office of The Commons, a new political party formed with the aim of getting Tamsin Omond elected as MP. Continue reading →
This week the British public will see a theatrical spectacle that most other democratic countries have ‘enjoyed’ for decade: a pre-election leaders’ debate.
As Britain heads for the first general election since 1997 that might actually see a change of government, Labour’s reign potentially coming to an end, the stakes appear to be high – but they’re not. Continue reading →
And so I find myself alone. Hours of luxurious solitude stretch ahead… and it takes about thirty seconds for dirty thoughts to materialize. I draw the curtains, loosen my clothes, light a candle in makeshift holder (long drunk JD, not mine) and pour a Glenlivet.
I start looking up the names that usually elicit scowls, the girls I never got to know over whiskey and coke; some all sugar fizz and gut-pop, stopping you on dancefloors for whispers, eyelashes licking your cheek when you brush a fraction closer; others all soul and colour, spectacles and books, hearts and lungs thumping while they stare you down in the poetry aisle. Continue reading →
The recent death of Michael Foot, former leader of Britain’s Labour Party, inflicted upon us, or the shrinking section of the public that still pays attention to news at least, a litany of glowing eulogies for a man most people had completely forgotten about.
Foot was a ‘genuine British radical’ according to broadcaster ITN. The BBC said: “Michael Foot was one of the great political orators, for more than half his life a political rebel and a thorn in the flesh of the establishment” – an interesting choice of words from the voice of the British establishment. Continue reading →