Waiting for the Barbarian

Anyone familiar with horror films will recognize the following scenario: a group of people are being terrorised by a monster/serial killer/alien.  They find a hiding place and fortify it. All their attention is focused on keeping the intruder out. Not until it’s too late do they discover that the monster is already inside the building.

There is something of this trope in the response of the UK public to the political horror film starring the orange-haired beast known as Donald J. Trump.

Last week a poll revealed that 1 in 10 people would be willing to protest against a putative ‘working visit’ from Donald Trump next year on a date that has yet to be determined. It is still not certain that this visit is even going to take place. Yet already the community networks that helped organise last February’s Stop Trump/Stand Up to Trump protests are bracing themselves for the occasion and putting dates into their diaries.

On one level this response is admirable. It’s a healthy sign that so many people are willing to disregard the grovelling decision by May and her hapless cronies to invite Trump anywhere near these shores. But we should not allow the beast in the White House to distract us from our own political monsters already in our midst. Because like Godot, Trump may not come. And as far as migrants in the UK are concerned, Trump is by no means the most pressing threat that this country faces right now.

My piece for Ceasefire Magazine.  You can read the rest here:

You can also check out the new 1 Day Without Us campaign video, which we have just launched this week.

 

 

The Big Short

Broadly speaking, there are three types of political or socially-engaged cinema within Hollywood. The first category belongs to movies in which the politics are implicit rather than overt, but can nevertheless be detected or interpreted in the underlying ideological, cultural or racial assumptions and priorities that determine plot structures and storylines, or the way that certain characters or groups of people are represented. Within this category you could place most Westerns featuring Native Americans, not to mention a whole range of science fiction films such as Independence Day, Starship Troopers andAvatar.

In the second place – and this category can sometimes overlap with the first – there are films whose overall intention is entertainment, but which nevertheless incorporate ongoing political debates or social issues into their plotlines, and make more overt political statements or messages without departing from the conventions of their particular genre. Here you can find a vast list of films such asMagnum Force, The Green Berets, The Deer Hunter, Top Gun, Apocalypse Now, State of Siege orDjango

My review of The Big Short for Ceasefire magazine.  You can read the rest here:

‘ No one is listening to us’: Britain’s Migrant Rebellion

On Friday May 2, 150 detainees at Harmondsworth Removal Centre went on hunger strike. The GEO private security firm that runs Harmondsworth quickly responded with repression, breaking up meetings and placing ringleaders in solitary confinement, in an attempt to snuff them out quickly.

By the following week the strike had spread to four wings – more than half the centre, as the detainees presented the authorities with an 8-point list of issues which they wanted resolved.  These included an end to the ‘Fast Track’ asylum processing system which keeps migrants in detention while their cases are being heard; the lack of legal assistance in preparing their cases; an improvement in health conditions and the quality of food.

My latest piece for Ceasefire magazine.  You can read the rest here:

Goodbye to Uncle Sam?

The US bombardment-that-never-was in Syria has provoked an array of negative responses amongst those who wanted such an outcome, which spans a wide political spectrum. Republican hard-rightists and liberal interventionists alike have expressed alarm at the hesitancy and incompetence of the Obama administration and the war-weary ‘isolationist’ mood of the American public.

Some have described Obama’s decision not to bomb as an abandonment of the Syrian people. Others have described the Russian diplomatic démarche as a dangerous symptom of the waning of US global power – a prospect that they regard as a disaster not only for Syria but for the whole Middle East and beyond….

My new piece for Ceasefire magazine.  You can read the rest here