Monthly Archives: December 2015

It’s going to bite

I really love this winding down before the end of the year. On the one hand, no different to any other day except for the significance we’ve accorded it in our calendar. On the other, an enforced period of reflection that does a world of good.

So, what of next year? Many good things to come, no doubt but also: it’s going to hurt as cuts start to really bite.

A few things to bear in mind as we traverse 2016 and people (including Tory voters, the odd minister and a lot of the media) act at turns surprised and occasionally angry.

  1. Local government cuts are savage and will start (continue) to hit basic services. Apparently we all agree we shouldn’t really pay taxes, and government shouldn’t really do anything, but we also really like bin collections and councils ensuring that we have enough services when we need them. Well, grab your popcorn.
  2. Women’s support services are hard-presssed and BAME women’s support services have issued an emergency call – a report by Imkaan reveals that a number will be forced to close unless something is done. And while we’re all pleased (read: confused and conflicted) to use our periods to pay for women’s services with the tampon tax (because women’s problems are women’s problems), the fact remains that it’s not enough. If we take the welfare of women seriously then the government needs to put money behind these vital lifesaving services. Or…men need to get periods too.
  3. Inequality is a problem. And it’s only getting worse. Even John Major said so – and look at the nifty charts that back up his assertion)
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The 1.5 per cent

No, not the richest among us.

That would be the 1.5% of UK television made by a Black director. I’m just going to leave that here.

This is actually a stat from research  published last month by Directors UK (yes, still working that bookmark flex)

“We found that BAME directors are not only critically under-represented and under-employed in UK television as a whole, but that they are being given a far smaller proportion of directing opportunities in many key programming genres. Some of the most popular drama, comedy and entertainment shows had never been directed by a director who is of black, Asian or minority ethnic background – including all programmes within our sample from the following genres: period drama, chat show, game show, performance, reality, panel show, sketch comedy, and children’s comedy and entertainment.”- Directors UK

This matters. A lot. The entertainment industry is powerful; it’s where we tell our stories and have them told back to us, where issues are explored, mores challenged, issues aired. It’s not the only place, but it’s one of the most influential.

Our storytellers matter.

The report has recommendations too. It’s so easy to focus on on-screen talent, because it’s the most visible, but what goes on in the backroom is just as, if not more important because it shapes how these stories are told. It’s also a much less transparent process, merely by dint of the fact that these creatives are rarely seen.

 

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Marginal Church

So, this is new. I don’t often write about faith or church and it’s mainly because I’ve been searching for the language. But I think I’ll be writing a bit more on this theme in 2016.

A few days ago Vicky Beeching, the theologian and LGBT activist, posted this:

We (the church) need to stop doing this. In one tweet, Vicky poignantly showed how it feels to be marginalised and dehumanised by your community.

The world at large is still not a safe place for the LGBTQI community – the Home Office’s own figures showed a rise in homphobic hate crimes last year. The church should be a welcome haven that affirms the humanity of every individual, not fuelling homophobia.

As a starting point.

It’s not just about welcome; it’s about feeling at home.

As Dianna E Anderson writes, if your church is not for the marginalised, operating on the margins, then you’re doing something, but it’s not church; “If your church is not of the marginalised, then you are not of the church”.

Addressing the complaint that from some quarters that the church is becoming marginalised in popular culture she writes:

Here’s the thing: I believe that the church is the haven of the marginalized. It is not the powerful seeking to maintain power. It is the world of those outcast by society, the poor, the hungry, the destitute, the spurned. Jesus himself decried political and statist power within the church, and focused on the margins, calling women, working class men, tax collectors, lepers, and the disabled. Church is – or should be – the home of the marginalized.

Although her post if focused on the American Church, I believe there is a lot that’s relevant to the debate here.

 

 

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The Weight of Evidence

I took to the time to read Cameron’s memorandum on the proposed Syria air strikes after the Guardian published it in full.

I don’t have a pat answer.

Pushing memories of 2003 in Iraq to one side, the stated objectives of the strike, as outlined in this document are (commentary in italics my own):

  • Protect the UK from terrorism (in an as-yet-undefined-way that the War on Terror thus far has not)
  • Generate negotiations on a political settlement (by dropping bombs?)
  • Thus delivering a government that can credibly represent the Syrian people (see above)
  • degrade and defeat Daesh (ISIL) (OK, maybe..but it’s worth noting that bombing Iraq didn’t get rid of Saddam’s cronies – in fact many of them are in Daesh and given the regional instability/weak states there is a strong likelihood that they’ll just move to Libya or something. Hey, didn’t we bomb Libya…?)
  • continue our “leading role in humanitarian support” and stem migration flows (by restricting legal migration routes even further and then….bombing people? Fish. barrel.Rock. hard place. )*
  • support stabilisation in Iraq and plan for post-conflict Syria (details yet to be provided but again…bombing will hasten this how again?)
  • work with allies to combat extremism in the Middle East and elsewhere (OK, I guess that’s true. It’s just…we haven’t really made any dents in that master plan yet and I don’t see how UK adding to the bombing, which I might add is already underway by other countries, will in any way make a tangible difference – for the better. The worse is the bit that really worries me)

Having read the document in full (these points are expanded on) I’m just not sure bombing is a good idea and that the post-bomb plans have been developed.

Tonight they debate. Tonight they vote.

The media coverage has been predictably anti-Corbyn as they contrive to make this Corbyn’s bombing rather than Cameron’s. He was dictatorial to consider making Labour MPs vote by the Whip and is apparently weak to have allowed them a free vote. There has been more reporting of politics as a game (which Labour is losing) rather than the real issues at stake in this momentous decision. I suspect the vote will be for the bombing. And I suspect that Labour will be punished for it, if there is any punishment coming from an unwilling public, rather than the Tories.

Tomorrow, instead of a sober analysis of what this all means, I expect, from the right wing press, a  focus on Labour divisions; and from the Guardian I expect more hysterical articles about “moderates” flouncing out of the party “Why I’m leaving Labour” and how they felt pressured by constituents (who will be rebranded as deranged Corbynistas) to vote against the war and how this is not the new, gentler politics blah blah.

Wrestling with an issue is not weakness. I respect MPs of all political persuasions who have weighed up the issue and voted with their conscience. It’s a shame that the press is keen to leap on any uncertainty as weakness and any wavering as an indictment of either Cameron or Corbyn’s leadership. It’s bigger than politics; it’s bigger than them.

People (innocent and otherwise) are going to die.

*and major side eye for this alleged “leading humanitarian role” we supposedly have going on in the humanitarian refugee crisis. In word and in deed, we aren’t doing nearly enough.

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