Tag Archives: Europe

London Bridge

Why would anyone attack London?

London – without a doubt the most inclusive, diverse, welcoming, international, politically informed and intellectually engaged place I have ever lived – and I’ve called a fair few places home.

London – where voices can be heard, and arguments can find both informed support and intelligent dissent.

Why would anyone attack the very people that would willingly hear them out? Listen to their opinions without prejudice? Help them – or help them see another way?

Why would they have their children attack our children?

Religion can be a source of great love and community. I have seen this particularly in Europe and in South America – whole communities coming together, regardless of background or ethnicity or sexual orientation, to celebrate one another and support each other. The religion of these communities is not orthodox or radical or extreme. They do not hold up an ancient text written by different people living in a different community at a different time as the literal word of god. They take the tenets of that text – whatever the creed, it is some form of ‘be good to one another’ – and they live by them every day.

Religion can also be repulsive. I have seen this too – in other parts of Europe, in the United States, in Indonesia and in the Arab world. Communities divided by fear and misunderstanding. People persecuted for things that are beyond their control – who they love; their gender; the religion of their parents; abuses at the hands of others. Their religious communities take those ancient tenets and twist them to fit a modern context of their own invention. Their texts are not proclamations of universal love, but bitter rules about who to hate.

When people feel persecuted, they retaliate. But who had persecuted the terrorists who attacked London last night? They did not lash out at politicians, the military, religious leaders, members of their own communities they felt had abandoned them. They lashed out at regular people, civilians, the young. This was the third attack in three months. And like their fellow extremists, these three men had no arguments, no thoughts, no ideas. They had only weapons and a worthless desire to die.

You do not destroy us with your hateful acts of violence. You bring us together, in all our astonishing diversity. You do not make us hate you. You make us question what has made you hate yourselves so much.

We feel sorry for you. You feel alone, persecuted and desperate.

Your acts are upsetting to us primarily because they are pointless. Six civilians dead? In a city like London, probably not even all British? You gave up your lives for that?

For what?

A bit of back channel applause on Twitter?

Killing a handful of people in this glorious city does nothing for you or your cause. If you want to effect real change, you should stop attacking us – and try talking to us.

I defy anyone – whatever their history – not to find an open ear in London.

The Nigel

Ah, Nigel Farage. Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t think of his smug gurning face without uttering the word “cunt”.

What’s he up to now? He’s only offered to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the EU, that’s what. Given he’s probably at the very top of the list of people the EU has no desire to see or speak to ever again, if The Donald did offer him the job it would be a rather spectacular own goal.

He must realise he’s literally the world’s worst candidate for that role.

So what’s he playing at? Having divided Britain and decimated the British government with his hatemongering referendum campaign, and then promptly scarpered and left a shocked and shattered land to pick up the pieces… is he now hoping to destroy America and the US presidency?

I wouldn’t put it past the vile megalomaniac. It would certainly be one way to grab Donald Trump by his proverbial pussy.

The Nigel has form. You have been warned.

On yer Boris bike

It’s hard for many Londoners to understand why Brexit happened. Maybe its because we live in a one of the world’s most truly international cities, the hub of so many European and global businesses, and we see the benefits of an international outlook and pan-cultural cooperation every day at work and in our communities. Maybe its because we live in the shadow of Westminster and are familiar with a wider spectrum of political thinking than other regions. Maybe it’s because we’ve already had Boris as a leader and Christ on one of his bikes, did the rest of you think you were missing out??? I don’t think its because the rest of England is stupid, or racist – though this is an actual conversation I had in the northeast:

Them: We were forced to leave the club because some darkies showed up.

Me: Wait – what??

Them: Yeah, it was a shame.

Me: You seriously can’t use the word ‘darkies’.

Them: What are you supposed to call them then – coloureds?

But then things get reported in the papers like “Cornwall votes for Brexit then pleads to keep EU funding;” and we put our faces in our hands and think what part of leaving the EU wasn’t clear? And Nigel Farage says, “The side of my bus said let’s keep the £350 million a week we give the EU and fund the NHS instead – it didn’t say we’d give them the whole £350 million;” and we put our faces in our hands and think of course it didn’t say that, did anyone actually think it did? And the pound drops to its lowest level since 1985 and people are shocked; and we put our faces in our hands and think but literally every single economist in this country and outside of this country said the pound would drop, how has this come as a surprise?

Advocates for remaining a part of Europe included the country’s brightest politicians, economists, scientists, business leaders, manufacturers and artists. Advocates for leaving included UKIP, the BNP, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. That’s why we Londoners thought this was a no brainer.

Is Europe going to stop trading with the UK? Of course not, we’re countries not 10 year olds – but losing guaranteed access to Europe as a marketplace and having to negotiate deals is not necessarily going to work in our favour. Are big job creating tax paying businesses going to pull out of the UK? Why wouldn’t they, if the UK is a European hub – because a European hub should be in Europe, duh. Will the UK be stronger? Well we’ll be the only fish in a tiny pond, so kind of – but as opposed to a big fish in a glorious pond, which is much better in my mind. It would be a bit like if Texas left the United States, which is what’s being proposed on Twitter today. The rest of the world is still going to view the other 49 states as the powerhouse, and Texas will be reduced to being just Texas. But maybe Texans would think of themselves as better off through independence. I don’t know, are Texans as stupid as the British?

Narrow minds, and national identity over our place in the world as a whole, are not things that factor into day to day London life. It’s a city where diversity is celebrated; where people are curious of other cultures, not afraid; where politics are important and present. Where we see in practice every single day how being a part of Europe makes us stronger as a nation. Are there problems in the EU? Huge ones – but they could be overcome. Is the EU going to succeed? Possibly not as it is – but it’s not doomed to certain failure. The London I live in doesn’t run away from problems, it comes together and tries to fix them – look at the way the city unites in the wake of tragedy like 7/7 or Orlando, for Pride, or to protest injustice. The UK I’ve just witnessed leave the EU saw a problem and bailed. It’s not even a selfish move – it’s a shot-ourselves-in-the-foot selfish move.

In so many ways, London is not the UK. Today, 24 hours after Brexit, there are calls for London to secede, and today I wish that was a thing that could plausibly happen. But only if we could relocate the House of Commons, mind – maybe to Cornwall.

Because we Londoners know Boris. He’s less the saviour who will surely lead us to greatness, and more the buffoon who will almost certainly lead us to global insignificance.

Good luck everyone.

AS 25-06-16