Talking Politics
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    By Sian Norris

    Today, Bill Cosby will finally face questions regarding the dozens of accusations made against him of rape and sexual assault. So far, more than 50 women have accused him of sexual misconduct. Many of these women first spoke out about their experiences 30, even 40 years ago. And yet, it has taken until 2015 before their accusations have started to be heard, and taken seriously.

    The Cosby case is symptomatic of a wider societal problem around our attitudes to allegations of rape, sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women and girls. That for all those years so many women came forward and were not heard is representative of a culture of disbelief that surrounds accusations of male violence against women and girls. Over and over again, we see the same story. A woman or girl accuses a powerful man of sexual assault. She is disbelieved. She is called a liar. She disappears, silenced. The man goes on to attack other women. When he is finally brought to justice,

    Read More »from The Cosby case shows how hard it is for rape victims to be heard
  • By Natalie Bloomer


    As the rain lashed down over Bedfordshire on Saturday, hundreds of people traipsed through muddy fields to protest against Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Refugees, women’s groups, elderly people with walking sticks, young activists, and mothers pushing prams joined the demonstration to call for the centre to be closed.

    Emotions were running high. Some of those protesting had experienced detention themselves or knew people who had. Many were kicking the metal fences that surround the building, as they chanted ‘no human is illegal’ over and over again. Two people threw chain ladders over the fence and climbed up to hang a large banner across the top. There was a lot of anger and upset but never any real sense there would be trouble.

    This isn’t the first protest at Yarl’s Wood. In fact there have been several this year alone. The now notorious detention centre has been the focus of damning reports and shocking claims from whistleblowers and detainees. But despite the

    Read More »from Don't let the media fool you - protest still matters
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    It’s got to the stage now where Jeremy Corbyn can literally do no right. Yesterday the Labour leader appeared at the Cenotaph to pay his respects to the fallen victims of war. Dressed appropriately, with a red poppy on, Corbyn bowed his head and left a wreath.

    Job done you might think. You would be wrong.

    Following his totally unremarkable appearance, the Sun today splashed with a front page claiming Corbyn had “refused” to bow in a “snub on Poppy Day.”

    This is quite simply false. Corbyn did bow his head as footage from the event quite clearly shows. To claim otherwise is to deliberately mislead people. In fact let’s not mince our words. To claim otherwise is a straightforward lie.

    Even those papers which admitted that Corbyn did bow claimed he did not bow quite enough. According to the Telegraph: “The Labour leader came under fire for only slightly moving his head after laying a traditional wreath of poppies.”

    It’s hard to know exactly how far the Labour leader was meant to bend his neck

    Read More »from Jeremy Corbyn attacked for showing too much respect to the dead
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    By Alex Feis-Bryce

    After years of moralistic ideology prevailing over evidence, and policy being formed about, but not with, sex workers, the landmark decision by Amnesty International to support decriminalisation has brought a new sense of hope to the sex worker rights movement. This was on full display at the English Collective of Prostitutes’ (ECP) event in the House of Commons this week which saw sex workers and their allies, including politicians from all of the main parties, presenting compelling evidence in favour of decriminalising sex work. Also this week, the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) are holding four days of conferences, workshops, parties and even a sex worker film festival. Next week MSP Jean Urquhart’s Bill to decriminalise sex work in Scotland will be launched in the Scottish Parliament.

    At last the voice of sex workers is being heard. Until recently, rather than being in a position to lead the debate, it felt like sex workers and allies were forced to focus their

    Read More »from The debate over sex workers' rights is finally being won
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    By Robert Ledger

    This summer’s Labour leadership contest demonstrated an apparently yawning ideological chasm between the four candidates. Jeremy Corbyn was accused of being a candidate of the far-left, Liz Kendall was urged by some to “go and join the Tories”, while Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham were judged to be somewhere in between. However there was one theme that all four candidates drew upon: the invoking of Germany as a justification for potential policies.

    Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham were both keen on the German model of trade union bargaining, while Yvette Cooper said Britain should look with envy at how Germany invests three per cent of GDP in science, technology and innovation. Meanwhile Liz Kendall thought Britain should emulate Germany’s research and development spending, employee representation on company boards and the local banking sector. Using Germany as a role model has clear benefits, it links candidates’ policies with the perception that our German cousins have

    Read More »from Why is Labour still so obsessed with the German model?
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    The visit of president al-Sisi to Britain this week makes a mockery of David Cameron’s claims to uphold democracy.

    The Egyptian uprising in 2011 was one of the most inspiring political events anywhere in the world for a generation. A mass movement that braved the batons, the guns and the prisons of the Egyptian deep state, and gained enough popular support to bring down the hated, Western-backed dictatorship of President Mubarak.

    Not only did this magnificent revolution bring democracy to Egypt, it challenged the grip of Western powers on the whole region. Following the Tunisian events of the previous months, it raised the possibility of effective mass opposition of a Middle East settlement which has caused such suffering across the region.

    But just 11 months after the first Egyptian election - which saw 70% of the Egyptian people vote in a free and transparent process - the democratic experiment was crushed by the security state that the movement failed to dismember.

    It was General

    Read More »from Cameron's welcome to the butcher of Egypt is a disgrace
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    Jeremy Corbyn won PMQs again, just like he did last week and the week before. That’s a pretty strong winning streak. If he keeps this up, he’ll be considered the default winner of PMQs and it’ll be a shock when David Cameron comes out on top.

    The key seems to be his intelligence and Cameron’s relative weakness in debate. Corbyn started, really quite satisfyingly it has to be said, by again asking the same question he tried six times last week: could Cameron guarantee no-one facing tax credit cuts would be worse off? The prime minister was prepared this time. He cited income tax benchmarks and the so-called living wage, but his real response was effectively a game of chicken. He accepted the Lords vote, said he and Osborne were reformulating their plans for three weeks’ time and told Corbyn he could ask the question another five times if he liked, but he’d get the same answer.

    In the end, Corbyn only asked it another two times. Once he cited a Cameron ally and invited him to at least

    Read More »from Another Corbyn victory: Is Cameron now the underdog at PMQs?
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    Where has Boris Johnson gathered his reputation for being ‘plain speaking’ from? I only ask because I have just sat through his latest “Ask Boris” session on LBC, and to my ears he has some claim to being labelled the most evasive and deceptive politician in the country.

    The London mayor was asked questions on everything from the war in Syria, to civil liberties, to 24-hour travel on the Tube and he didn’t give a straight answer to a single query.

    Asked whether he supported Theresa May’s plans for blanket surveillance of UK internet use, he replied that he had “become really fairly tough on this” and wanted the police to know “where people are going on their mobile phones”. However he added that he didn’t want “relatively junior police officers randomly trawling through people’s emails” as a “means of oppression.”

    This is a classic Boris tactic. In a few short sentences he appeared to be actively against government intrusions on individual’s privacy while at the same time entirely

    Read More »from Boris Johnson's 'plain-speaking' reputation hides a slippery politician
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    As with all intrusions into British people’s privacy, the surveillance powers being proposed by Theresa May today are justified on the grounds of defeating terrorism. Occasionally paedophilia makes an appearance as well, but generally it’s a terror argument.

    So it’s worth considering for a moment how profoundly ineffective these measures are when dealing with terrorism. If media reports are accurate – the full proposal will finally be unveiled this afternoon in the Commons after extensive briefings over the last two weeks - the government has dropped plans to ban encryption technology. There’s good reason for that. Doing so would mean that either companies like Amazon and Apple, which use encryption, would have to drop it because David Cameron said so. Or, more likely, they would stop operating in the UK.

    It was, of course, tosh. Cameron blurted out some authoritarian rubbish about how important it was that the state could see people’s communications and only bothered to check whether it

    Read More »from Terrorists are the only people who won't be affected by May's surveillance plans
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    By Laura Gozzi

    Oddly - almost absurdly - Aodhan O’Riordain, the Irish justice minster, came to London yesterday to deliver an oration that amounts to a ‘red letter day’ for drugs reform in his country. His call for decriminalisation of the possession of small quantities of drugs stands in startling contrast to the illiberal ambivalence of mainstream political parties in the UK.

    The Republic of Ireland and the UK operate within a similar political culture. Yet the Irish and the British debates on drugs reform have taken very different paths.

    O'Riordain’s announcement that drug users will be able to use medically supervised injection rooms as of next year, signals a move towards a more inclusive system. The minister discussed the new policies - which he said amount to a “radical cultural shift” in the approach to drug addiction - at the London School of Economics’ IDEAS International Drug Policy Project workshop.

    Other speakers at the event included Open Society Foundations fellow Liz Evans,

    Read More »from The rest of the world is leaving Britain behind on drug reform


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