Radio: I Discuss Boris Johnson’s Alarming Election Victory – and Guantánamo – with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

Boris Johnson promising to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and Donald Trump and Guantánamo.

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On Thursday, I was delighted to be interviewed by Chris Cook, in Victoria, Canada, about the parlous state of British politics, and the ongoing and outrageous injustice of Guantánamo, on his weekly show, Gorilla Radio, which is “dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.”

The show is here (and here as an MP3), and I’m also pleased to be able to embed it below. My interview is in the first half of the one-hour show:

Here’s how Chris introduced the show on his website, accurately capturing the madness of the UK right now:

Last week, Britain followed America’s lead in electing an ultra-conservative, faux populist based on the single premise of, if not making Britain Great again, at least carrying through with the years-old promise to take the country out of the European Union. The great mystery to those looking from outside the country is why?

Why, following the divisive and ill-defined scheme dreamt up by the David Cameron Tories of yore, did the people of that green and pleasant land, rather than punishing the authors, and bungling executors of the disastrous Brexit debacle, decide instead to reward them with massive electoral success? And for Britons, the greater question now is, what’s going to happen next?

I’m honoured that Chris has had me on his show numerous times over the last ten years — almost always to discuss Guantánamo, but occasionally to discuss other topics — and it was a pleasure on Thursday to be able to provide some analysis of the disaster area that is Britain today, following last week’s General Election.

Read the rest of this entry »

Boris Johnson’s Election Victory: A Truly Depressing Day for Britain, But Now He ‘Owns’ the Toxic Brexit Nightmare

Boris Johnson in a bike helmet during his eight useless years as London’s Mayor. Now, absurdly, promoted to Prime Minister of the UK, he is intent on turning the British economy into a car crash via his enthusiasm for a no deal Brexit.

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The only positive message that can be taken from the otherwise almost insanely depressing outcome of Thursday’s General Election — in which the Tories, under Boris Johnson, a lying and thoroughly untrustworthy philandering narcissist, secured an outright majority — is that Johnson now ‘owns’ Brexit, the toxic destroyer of the UK, and both he — and the fawning mainstream media that was so shockingly biased in his favour throughout the election campaign — will be unable to blame Britain’s slow, agonising and inevitable collapse on anyone other than themselves.

Elsewhere, there is no other good news to report about this election. The Tories won largely because traditional Labour strongholds in the north of England and in Wales swung their way, often for the first time in their history (although the results didn’t come out of nowhere). An additional factor that should be noted is the number of EU-supporting Tory voters who stayed faithful to the party brand, even though, under Johnson, the party has become unrecognisable, and is clearly fixated with inflicting a hugely damaging no deal Brexit on the country.  

And those swings occurred fundamentally not because of how credible or not Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s policies were, but because Johnson took one simple stupid message — ‘Get Brexit Done’ — and hammered it home relentlessly and successfully. While I and others groaned at its constant repetition, it did exactly what it was intended to do: to confirm to those who voted Leave in the EU referendum that all the faffing about was over, and that a strong leader would now deliver what they voted for. Further analysis will also show, I’m sure, that many who voted ‘Remain’ in 2016, also voted for Johnson and his sledgehammer message, because they too thought that it was long overdue that the “will of the people” needed to be respected.

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After Nine Years of Austerity, and to Save the NHS, Please, Please, Please Vote the Tories Out!

The photo of four-year old Jack Williment-Barr, with suspected pneumonia, sleeping on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary, which has focused attention on Tory cuts to the NHS. The photo was featured in a Yorkshire Evening Post article, and was then included in a front-page article in the Daily Mirror.

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I haven’t, to date, waded into the fray regarding tomorrow’s General Election in the UK, in large part because I am so profoundly dismayed that we still have such an antiquated voting system — first past the post — that massively favours the Tories, and, to a lesser extent, Labour, at the expense of all the other parties, and in part because, in the echo chamber world created by the tech companies’ cynical and divisive algorithms, I’m bound to be preaching to the converted.

However, I don’t want tomorrow’s polling to take place without throwing a few thoughts your way, so here’s my gambit: if you live in a constituency where the race is tight, please vote wisely to get the Tories out. This means that, whoever is the closest challenger to the Tories should get your vote, whether that is Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

If our opposition politicians were truly grown-up, they would have stood aside for each other in closely-contested constituencies where a divided vote will do nothing except return the Tories to power, and they would have spelled out to voters how the main drive of this election needs to be to make sure that the Tories, led by the execrable Boris Johnson, are removed from power. However, a pact hasn’t materialised, because politicians tend to be idiotically tribal, and because far too many of them have been so conditioned by the inadequate first past the post system that they’d rather come third and allow a Tory to win than demonstrate the kind of responsibility that we, as a country, so desperately need at this perilous time.

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Celebrating 900 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted on the Facebook page for Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

Check out all the photos to date here!

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Yesterday marked 900 days since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook — with accompanying essays — taken from the daily photographic journeys by bike around London’s 120 postcodes that I started five years before — on May 11, 2012, an ongoing photo-journalistic project that I call ‘The State of London.’ For anyone obsessed with stats, I think this means that I’ve been out in all weathers photographing the capital for 2,726 days; or seven years, five months and 16 days. 

Before I create the inadvertent illusion that I’m the Bear Grylls of urban cycling, I should point out that, nine days out of ten, I haven’t strayed far beyond the radius of postcodes emanating from my home, in Brockley, London SE4; that is to say, Deptford (SE8), Greenwich (SE10), Lewisham (SE13), New Cross (SE14), Peckham and Nunhead (SE15), Rotherhithe and South Bermondsey (SE16), and the whole of the sprawling SE1 postcode.

However, I have been to each of the 120 postcodes that make up the ‘London postal area’ at least once (a milestone I reached in September 2014), and I have also got to know, extremely well, almost the whole of south east London, most of east London (which I generally access via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, the Regent’s Canal and the Limehouse Cut), much of south west London, the whole of the City and the West End, and the central components of the N, NW and W postcodes, and I feel that I now “know” the city — and, intellectually, “own” it — in a way that was unimaginable to me seven years ago, and that its streets and its shape and much of its history is now embedded in me like an organic GPS system.

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Murderous Intent and Breathtakingly Cynical Opportunism: The Contours of the Brexit-Fuelled New English Civil War

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

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The last few days have been a particularly dispiriting time to be living in Britain, as anger over the failure of the UK to leave the EU — anger deliberately provoked by our disgraceful Prime Minister Boris Johnson — has begun manifesting itself in threats of, and incitements to violence by prominent Brexiteers.

Boris Johnson, elected by just 92,153 Tory Party members, and with no majority in Parliament, is largely leading this thrust towards violent, and even murderous intent. Last week, Johnson, who is aggressively pushing for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, was compelled to recall Parliament, after the Supreme Court ruled that his decision to prorogue (suspend) it was unlawful, but when he appeared before MPs, he not only failed to apologise, but suggested that the court’s ruling was wrong.

Since then, he has begun suggesting that the justices should be approved by Parliament, which is alarming in and of itself, but the biggest immediate problem with his rhetoric is that it adds fuel to Brexiteers’ notion of judges as “the enemy”, and as “traitors”, which began when, after the referendum, the High Court supported a lawsuit brought by the businesswoman Gina Miller, establishing that Parliament had the right to be consulted before Article 50 (triggering the UK’s departure from the EU) was invoked by the then-Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Brexit, Boris the Narcissist Clown and “Career Psychopath” Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, in an image produced for the Daily Telegraph.

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It’s now two weeks since 92,153 members of the Conservative Party voted for Boris Johnson to be the new Party leader — and Britain’s new Prime Minister. 

Johnson, in case you’ve just landed on earth from outer space, is an Etonian who pretends to play the buffoon (although behind it lurks a vile temper), and who, for eight dreadful years, was London’s Mayor, when he showed little or no interest in the actual requirements of the job, indulged in countless expensive vanity projects, and pandered shamefully to foreign investors with money. 

Johnson’s elevation to the leadership of the UK was greeted by his former editor at the Daily Telegraph, Max Hastings, with the most extraordinary put-down of his unsuitability to be PM in an article for the Guardian entitled, ‘I was Boris Johnson’s boss: he is utterly unfit to be prime minister.’

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The Bitter Legacy of 9/11, on its 17th Anniversary: Endless War, Guantánamo, Brexit, Trump and the Paranoid Security State

The Statue of Liberty and the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.




 

17 years ago today, on September 11, 2001, the world changed forever. In the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, a US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan, decimating al-Qaeda and toppling the Taliban, but staying on to lose hearts and minds in an apparently unending occupation in which we are still mired.

Within three months, Tony Blair was imprisoning foreign-born “terror suspects” without charge or trial in the UK, and exactly four months after the attacks, the Bush administration opened Guantánamo, its showcase prison for what happens when a vengeful nation led by belligerent ideologues historically fixated with the exercise of unfettered executive power and disdain for domestic and international laws and treaties rounds people up without competent battlefield reviews, instigates torture and embraces indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial on an industrial scale.

Two and a half years after 9/11, the Bush administration’s ideological “crazies,” aided and abetted by Tony Blair, compounded the Afghan quagmire by invading Iraq on the basis of lies, endorsing regime change over the rights of sovereign nations not to be invaded without good reason, and confirming 9/11 as the conduit for endless war — a dream for the military-industrial complex’s bureaucrats and arms manufacturers, and the growing mercenary armies of the west, but a disaster for everyone else. Read the rest of this entry »

Brexit: Inspiring New Polling Analysis Shows Majority of Constituencies Now Support Remaining in the EU

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There was some rare good news in the Observer on Sunday, when, two years and two months since 37.47% of the eligible electorate voted to leave the EU (17.4m people, compared to the 16.1m who voted to remain), the impossibility of this proposal, and the realisation that the government tasked with implementing it is spectacularly, almost inconceivably incompetent, has finally led to a situation in which support has swung back significantly for staying in the EU. 

Just to be clear before I proceed with explaining why this is good news, I’m no enthusiast for the EU’s neo-liberal tendencies, or for the way the Euro project was used to strangle Greece, but pragmatically we are tied to the EU through 43 years of laws and treaties, and our economic health depends on our involvement in the single market and the customs union, which allow the frictionless trade with the EU that makes up by far and away our biggest trading market. In addition, the free movement of people across the EU is, in general, a positive development, and not the righteous target of the misplaced fears of those with a tendency to insularity, racism and xenophobia. We are all nations of immigrants, and immigrants have an overwhelming tendency to assimilate.  

Focaldata's analysis of the constituency shift from Leave to Remain since the EU referendum in June 2016 (via the Observer).The Observer’s headline that encouraged a surge of optimism on my part, and on the part of so many other Remain voters, was “More than 100 seats that backed Brexit now want to remain in EU”, and its tagline explained, “Major new analysis shows most constituencies now have majority who want to Remain.” Further spelling out the change, the text of the article confirmed the study’s conclusion that “most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.”

The research was undertaken by the Focaldata, a consumer analytics company, which “compiled the breakdown by modelling two YouGov polls of more than 15,000 people in total, conducted before and after Theresa May published her proposed Brexit deal on 6 July”, itself an unworkable “soft Brexit” proposal, which nevertheless enraged the evangelical Brexiteers on the right of the Tory Party, whose arrogance and capacity for self-delusion apparently knows no bounds. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain’s Broken Democracy: Tories Become UKIP, Media Ignores Labour Gains, Labour Continues Estate Demolitions

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What a generally dispiriting occasion Thursday’s council elections were. On housing, which is the most pressing issue in the lives of over half the population, there was almost no acknowledgement, from either of the main parties, that we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis of affordability and of security of tenure. Labour councils, even those that are actively engaged in demolishing council estates and replacing them with new developments with private developers, from which local people will largely be excluded, were largely undamaged at the polls, while the Tory heartlands generally held firm. 

Pundits observed that UKIP were almost wiped out, with establishment commentators suggesting that this was some sort of triumph of common sense in merrie olde England, whereas the truth is that the post-Brexit Conservative Party under Theresa May has actually become UKIP, and, as a result, the truth is considerably more alarming than lazy pundits suggest. As for Labour, the mainstream media furiously tried to portray their modest gains, and their considerable overall majority of councils and councillors, as some sort of sign of failure, which it very obviously isn’t. Some independent analysts suggested, plausibly, that Remain voters sent a powerful message to the Tories, and to Labour under the hazy, instinctively Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn, that the EU was significant battleground in the elections, but in general the elections played out as a showdown between the two big dogs of English politics, Labour and the Tories, in which overall, there was little change, because, overall, little change is actually possible. In our wretched, complacent first-past-the-post system, very little is actually to play for, and while the damage this inflicts on a broad platform of viewpoints is always apparent in a general election, local elections somehow get far less scrutiny, even though their outcomes are often even more damaging for democracy.

In Lewisham, where I live, for example, 60% of those who voted cast their votes for the Labour Party, but Labour walked off with 100% of the council seats. 

How is that supposed to be fair? Read the rest of this entry »

Social Cleansing and the Destruction of Council Estates Exposed at Screening of ‘Dispossession’ by Endangered New Cross Residents

The Achilles fanzine, put together by resident Lilah Francis, from the area threatened with demolition by Lewisham Council, and some campaign badges (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.





 

On Saturday, I went to the New Cross Learning Centre — a community-run former library in New Cross — for a screening of ‘Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle’, a new documentary about Britain’s housing crisis directed by Paul Sng, who is from New Cross (and is the director of ‘Sleaford Mods: Invisible Britain’). The screening was organised by the residents of the Achilles Street area, whose homes are threatened by Lewisham Council, which wants to knock them all down, and build shiny new replacements. The area affected runs between New Cross Road and Fordham Park (from south to north), and between Clifton Rise and Pagnell Street (from west to east), and there are 87 homes (with 33 leaseholders), and around 20 businesses (along New Cross Road and down Clifton Rise).

Lewisham Council claims, in its most recent consultation document, from February this year, that “[a]ll current council tenants who wish to stay in the new development will be able to do so with the same rent levels and tenancy conditions that they have today,” and that “[a]ny resident leaseholder who wishes to will be able to remain in home ownership on the new development.”

This sounds reassuring, but the recent history of regeneration projects — both in London and elsewhere in the country — is that councils and developers lie to tenants and leaseholders, to get them to agree to regeneration under terms that are not then honoured. Instead, tenants are evicted and their homes demolished, and they never get to return, and leaseholders are offered derisory amounts for the homes that, ironically, they bought under Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy policy, which is insufficient for them to buy a replacement property in the area, leading to their exodus in addition to that of the former tenants. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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