Posts Tagged ‘Riots’

Mitch Benn ‘What Shall We Do With the British Sailors?’

May 5, 2022

This little piece of musical satire comes from Mitch Benn and his channel on YouTube. It’s an attack on P & O’s sacking of their British maritime staff and replacement with foreign workers on lower wages. Benn states it was too conceal their corporate failures, but points out that it’s a consequence of Brexit. A consequence that the Remainers foresaw, but were ignored. Because people were driven insane by the idea that our passports were the EU’s rather than our own. Now the jobs have fled overseas and Brits can’t get jobs abroad. But ‘this is the Brexit that you voted for’, the song concludes.

You might expect it to be sung to the tune of ‘What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor’, but it’s not. The tune is Benn’s own, strummed on a guitar. But it’s right, and although it’s rather old news now, it’s still worth remembering as the right and the Brexiteers try to make our departure from the EU look like some kind of resounding success. Or simply hope that we’ll ignore and forget its spectacular failure.

P&O’s sacking and rehiring of its sailors also worried me because it reminded me of the origins of the anti-Chinese riots that broke out in the first decade or so of the last century. Firms across England had sacked their English staff and replaced them with Chinese workers, resulting in race riots. Nothing like that happened when P&O sacked their British people and replaced them with cheap foreign labour. I am worried, however, that with increased racial tensions over woke ideology and its attack on ‘Whiteness’, coupled with the Tories’ determination to roll back our human rights protections, something similar may break out again the future.

Bristol’s Left Certainly Does Care About All Slavery, Not Just Historic Black

April 7, 2022

As a proud Bristolian, I felt I had to post something about this. A day or so ago History Debunked posted a short video arguing that the left in Bristol had no knowledge of the slavery in the city before or after the transatlantic slave trade. Instead, they were solely concerned with historic Black slavery. They were not aware that Anglo-Saxon Bristol exported enslaved children and seemed unconcerned with the conviction a few days previously of two Slovakians for holding smuggled migrants in effective slavery. Such exploitation isn’t called slavery, but ‘people trafficking’. The thumbnail to his video shows the toppling of the statue to Edward Colston by the BLM mob last year.

Now I have put up some of Simon Webb’s material when it has been about fake history presented as factual Black history. But he does have some deeply troubling opinions. He seems to believe the Bell Curve nonsense, that Asians are more intelligent than Whites who in turn are brighter than Blacks. He feels Enoch Powell has been smeared and misrepresented and put up a video about 1968 as the year everyone was talking about repatriation. This is apart from videos attacking what he describes as ‘the disability scam’. He’s also made some mistakes when talking about African history. He’s said before now that when Europeans reached Africa, they found its people in the Bronze Age. Not so: iron working in West Africa began about a thousand years before it emerged in Europe because of the presence of easily worked bloom near the surface. I can only assume he believes they were in the Bronze Age because of the Benin bronzes, the bronze sculptures made as shrines to the king’s lifeforce. I got the distinct impression that all of Africa’s peoples were using iron before European contact, with the possibly exception of one of the Khoi-San hunter-gatherer peoples in South Africa. So, like many YouTubers across the political spectrum, it’s worth checking his content for yourself.

He’s right about Bristol being a centre of the slave trade in the Anglo-Saxon period. In the 11th century the Anglo-Saxon cleric, Bishop Wulfstan, preached a sermon in the city against it that put an end to it. This is established historical fact, and is included with the display of Colston’s statue at the M Shed museum in the City. In the city continued to be a centre of the slave trade into the 12th century, when a part of visiting clergy hoping to raise money for one of the French cathedrals were warned not to have dinner aboard the Irish ships then in dock. These had a habit of luring the unwary aboard and then slipping off to sale them in the Emerald Isle. David Harris Sacks in his book, The Widening Gate: Bristol and the Atlantic Economy 1450-1700 (Berkeley: University of California Press 1991) also notes that in the 17th century White children in Bristol were also kidnapped by ‘spirits’ for sale as indentured servants in the Caribbean colonies. I got my copy of the book when I visited the ‘Respectable Trade Exhibition’ then on display at the City Museum about the city’s historic involvement in the slave trade.

As for the contemporary enslavement of Whites, the local news for the city and the surrounding region has called it what it is: slavery. A few years ago a farmer in Gloucestershire was found guilty of enslaving migrant workers, and there have been other instances of this, including cases where the victims have been people with learning difficulties. In all those cases they’ve been rightly described, at least on the news reports, as slavery.

What is now called ‘people trafficking’, at least as it involved forcing migrant European women into prostitution, was referred to as ‘White slavery’ in the late 19th and early 20th century. Looking through the government reports held in the archives of the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, I found one government document from the first years of the 20th on an international police conference held in London about the issue. It was interesting because it contains many parallels to contemporary people smuggling and sex slavery. Many of the young women smuggled into Britain and then forced to work in brothels today are from eastern Europe. Back in 1904 or thereabouts, the parliamentary report noted that the victims were ‘German’ girls – really Slav women from the territories then ruled by Germany and Austria. There were differences with today as well. These women were mostly smuggled to service migrants to the Latin American nations, which were then experiencing an economic boom. Today Britain seems to be the destination of the women trafficked here, rather than further afield. Also it would be incorrect to describe all of today’s enslaved women as White, as many seem to come from outside Europe, such as Asia.

As far as I am aware, the mainstream left haven’t ignored the plight of such enslaved women. I can’t remember the details, but I have the strong impression that many of the female MPs in the Labour party were very much concerned with the sexual exploitation of smuggled women, at least when it became a national issue a few years ago.

Black Lives Matter, it is true, has an exclusive focus on historic Black slavery. This is because the organisation, along with many anti-racists,, believes that the modern poverty, poor educational performance, marginalisation and racism experienced by western Blacks is due to the transatlantic slave trade. Hence the call for reparations. How far this is true is open to question. The Black American Conservative Thomas Sowell has argued that slavery did not result in the breakdown of the Black family. Indeed, according to him, marriage rates among Blacks following emancipation were slightly above those of Whites as families separated by the slavery masters sought to find each other and solemnise their relationships through the formal marriage. Other Black conservatives have cited statistics to argue that, despite segregation and Jim Crow, the years from emancipation to the 1960s were a time of professional and economic expansion for Black America. They were moving into more jobs, establishing businesses and were catching up on Whites in the years spent in school. Of course, this is part of an ideological assault on affirmative action and state aid, which they believe has acted instead to reverse these gains. The point, however, is that BLM are not interested in slavery as an issue in itself, but only as far as it is responsible for the current problems of western Blacks.

Now I doubt that Black Lives Matter and movements like them are aware of the broader history of the slave trade outside of the enslavement of Black Africans. They’re also not concerned when it’s done by Black Africans to other Africans. Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter, condemned the new slave markets opened in Libya. But she did so as part of a general attack on the new western imperialism,, and didn’t mention the other slave markets that have opened in Uganda. The impression I have is that BLM is strongly based on Critical Race and Postcolonial Theory, which are solely concerned with White racism and ignore it and as well as other oppressive practices in non-western societies.

Black Lives Matter does enjoy widespread support among parts of the left, although I think its popularity is waning as time wears on. It’s been hit in America by a series of scandals, must notably surrounding the disappearance of donated money to the tune of millions and the use of some of it by its former president to buy herself five upmarket homes. Several of the protests were in fact riots, in which Black-owned businesses were also attacked and looted.

Black Lives Matter, although highly visible now, is only part of the broad left. And while I believe its members and supporters should be far more aware of slavery as an issue, and that it also involved the enslavement of Whites, BLM does not represent the whole of the left.

I believe very strongly that many on the left in Bristol are aware of its history as centre of the slave trade before it moved into transatlantic, Black slavery, and are definitely still active campaigning against contemporary forms of enslavement, such as people trafficking. Even if it is no longer called ‘White slavery’.

Paulette Hamilton and her Comments about a Malcolm X-Style Popular Uprising

March 5, 2022

I can’t say I’ve any enthusiasm for the victory of Paulette Hamilton in the Erdington by-election. Yes, she beat the Tories and is an NHS nurse, which ought to count in her favour. But the turnout was low and despite Starmer’s attempt to talk this up as a some kind of amazing victory and turnaround for the party after the disasters of the Corbyn years, it has been no such thing. It seems to show, if anything, that Erdington’s voters are reacting to Starmer’s reheated Blairism the way Brits reacted to it the first time when Blair was in government. They couldn’t tell the difference between the two main parties and despised Blair’s spin and managerialism. They felt ignored, alienated and dissatisfied. I suspect that was the case on Thursday when so many simply stayed away from the polling stations rather than vote but a pair of parties that simply doesn’t represent them.

Hamilton herself was also in the right-wing press for another reason. In 2015 she was at conference celebrating Malcolm X set up by the Organisation of Black Unity, entitled ‘Ballot or Bomb?’ Hamilton was one of the speakers, and said that although she’d prefer people to use their vote, there might need to be an uprising to deal with racism. A spokesperson for the Labour party then tried to explain her comments away by saying that she was referring to the unrest that broke out in 1981/2 with the anti-racist rioting in Bristol, Toxteth, Brixton and elsewhere.

If that’s what she did mean, then I’m still not impressed. I was at school during the riots, and although they were followed by a national debate about racism and the introduction of positive discrimination, I don’t see anything admirable in the riots themselves. A Black friend of mine at college denied, as many others have also done, that they were about race. Other commentators have said that they were ‘insurrections against the police’. My friend was particularly upset about the number of small children he knew, who told him they were joining the rioting. He was a big, sporty bloke, but said he felt like crying. As for the violence, firebombs were thrown at police cars along with other violence and destruction. And there were White radicals about Bristol trying to get other schoolchildren to join in. I remember leaving school one evening during the rioting. Standing on a raised platform containing one of the trees lining the pavement out of the school was a White guy with a long beard like Karl Marx, shouting down a megaphone. ‘Do you hate the teachers?’ he screamed. ‘Do they make you wear school uniform?’ And then he told the kids to go down and join the rioting in St. Paul’s. The headmaster in assembly the next day told us that if anybody did, they’d be expelled. I don’t think there were many interested in joining in anyway.

Hamilton’s speech was seven years ago, and people can change. It may be that she’s no longer a radical firebrand willing to contemplate violence and rioting to improve conditions for British Blacks. But I’m still not impressed. Rioting and violent militancy may seem all very well from a distance, but they’re frightening when you’re in the middle of them. I’ve relatives, who were forced to move out of their flat to somewhere safer during unrelated rioting in another part of Bristol. And rioting harms Black as well as White and Asian businessmen. A Black friend of mine had to close his business after it was trashed and looted during the 2012 riots.

Hamilton may feel that the terrible conditions in Black British communities may require rioting and an uprising to tackle them, but it was an irresponsible attitude. I find myself wondering with the Tories whether someone who holds such views is suitable as an MP.

I hope I’m wrong and that’s she grown out of them in the intervening years. And that she’ll serve her constituents well. All of them, whether they’re Black, White or Brown.

Academic Article on ‘Brown’ Third World Racism against Blacks

January 29, 2022

I’ve said several times that I believe that there should be more research and awareness that racism simply isn’t a matter of Whites hating and oppressing Blacks. Prejudice knows no racial or religious boundaries and there are various forms of indigenous, traditional racism against different ethnicities all over the world. But research and action in this area is largely absent or actively discouraged from fears of activists like the Labour MP, Diane Abbott, that action against prejudice and conflict among BAME groups will be used by ‘them’ to ‘divide and rule’. Googling the subject yesterday, I was able to find one academic article on the ‘Brown’ racism of the lighter-skinned Asian countries against people of African descent. The article is ‘Brown Racism and the Formation of a World System of Racial Stratification’, by Robert E. Washington, published in the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, vol. 4, no. 2., 1990. The article’s on JSTOR, the academic internet archive and network. Unless you have membership through your university or library, you have to pay. And it’s not cheap, so I’ve been able to do no more than read and copy the first page of the article.

This reads

‘Probably no problem of race relations in the contemporary world has been more mysteriously insulated – and thus, in as strange sense, free – from critical scrutiny than the phenomenon I term brown racism. I use the term “brown” here not in the literal but in the figurative sense, as a reference to the neither white white nor black but colored peoples of the third world (the Chinese, East Indians, Filipinos, Mestizos, etc.). These people occupy an intermediate position along the black-white spectrum of color classification. By brown racism, I refer to the prevalence of prejudice among these fair complexioned colored groups and societies towards blacks, especially those groups or individuals of African ancestry.

‘Studies of racism have tended to focus on only one patter, white racism towards nonwhites. This emphasis is understandable-given the major historical impact of white racism throughout the world; nevertheless, the virtual silence about brown racism is not only curious; it is also harmful. That is because it conduces to the persistence of both brown and white racism. In what follows I hope to draw long overdue attention to the problem of brown racism, to explain the condition effecting its development, and to indicate its ramifications in the modern world.

‘Brown racism is commonplace throughout the third world, though only its most dramatic manifestations are like to gain the notice of the media. Several years ago, in Egypt, for instance, a scheduled telecast of an American movie dramatization of Anwar Sadat’s life was cancelled because a public outcry arose when itwas learned that the slain Egyptian leader would be portrayed by a black American actor (Newsweek, 1984: 37). In China, the government….’

I remember reading an Observer report on an anti-Black riot in China, and since then there have been numerous instances of anti-Black prejudice there. The Chinese movie poster for the Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, was altered to remove or play down the Finn character, who was Black. The Covid pandemic has also led to some Chinese restaurants refusing to serve, or behaving with exaggerated cleanliness, towards Blacks because they are somehow seen as more likely to spread the disease. And this is apart from the genocide of the Uyghurs. Back in Britain, there have been riots in Birmingham and elsewhere, not between Whites and Blacks, but between Blacks and Asians. As the Asian fellow who asked Abbott what she was going to do about racism between ethnic minorities shows, this problem hasn’t gone away.

But appallingly, because of these political pressures, I don’t see there being the necessary research into it and attempts to combat it.

To see the JSTOR article, go to https://www.jstor.org/stable/20006991.

Far Right Hindus Swear Nazi Oaths against Muslims in India

January 13, 2022

This is a very chilling video from ‘Sultan and Khan’s Sunday Scoop’ channel over on YouTube. The two hosts, Harris Sultan and Nuriyeh Khan, are ex-Muslim atheists, who critique and attack their former religion. I’m not an atheist, and while I’m not a Muslim, this is not the kind of material I’d usually put up on my channel. I feel it’s far more important to attack the government and various political movements that I believe are wrong and dangerous, than attack other people’s religions. But Sultan and Khan are also worried about the rise of religious fanaticism and intolerance, not just in the Muslim world and Pakistan, but also in India. They have posted several videos reporting and commenting on the lynching and malicious prosecution of people for blasphemy by Muslims in Pakistan, as well as murderous rants and attacks on Muslims and Christians by Hindu mobs and rabble-rousing demagogues in India. They have also covered two incidents in which Sikhs also have lynched people for blasphemy. In this video they talk about further instances of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate spread by the Hindu far right.

The first case they comment on is the arrest of a fourth man by India’s finest for ‘Bulli Bhai’. Bulli is an insulting term for Muslims used by the Hindu fascists. Last week the Indian cops arrested a young woman for putting up the images of 100 Muslim women on the internet, announcing that they were for auction. It was deliberately done to humiliate these ladies. Now a fourth person, a man, has been arrested for it.

But what will chill western viewers is the footage of a mass gathering in a village somewhere in India, in which the villagers swear a Nazi style oath not to do business with, sell land to or work with Muslims. Sultan and Khan describe it themselves as Nazi, and they are absolutely correct. It is almost exactly like the Nazi oath to boycott Jewish businesses, which culminated in the smashing of Jewish storefronts in Krystallnacht. And the parallel is even closer when you see that the wretched people swearing the oath do so with right arm outstretched in what really does look like the Fascist and Nazi salute. The oath ends with them shouting ‘Hail Mother India! Hail Lord Ram’. Sultan and Khan are naturally disgusted at this. They state that while there is a problem with Muslim fanaticism, only 5 to 10 per cent of Muslims are like that. And it is up to the vast majority of ordinary Muslims, who aren’t like that, to take care of them. Most Muslims, says Sultan, are Muslim in name only. They are just ordinary people trying to put food on the table.

The Hindu far right, like the BJP and the paramilitary RSSS, are considered Fascist movements by political scientists and historians of Fascism. One modern text book on Fascism includes a BJP prayer as an example of Fascist mysticism, a phenomenon that isn’t confined to Hinduism but permeates all Fascism, Hindu, Christian or whatever. Hindu fanaticism has been a growing problem since mobs rioted, and attacked historic mosques and ordinary Muslims while the authorities turned a blind eye in the 1980s. Indeed, several leading members of the BJP have connections to far right organisations or else made very sure that the mobs responsible for the attacks were allowed to go unchecked.

Most of us have an image of Hinduism as a gentle religion, largely, I think, thanks to Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of ahimsa, non-violence. The Hindu far right exploit this peaceful image, denying that such bigotry and violence exists in their religion while at the same time copying it from the religions they hate and persecute. And as well as hating Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, they also hate ordinary, democratic, moderate Hindus and secular Indians as well as Gandhi himself for their ideal of India as a democratic, pluralist nation. As this video shows, these fanatics wish to turn India into a nation where Hinduism is the only permitted religion.

Sultan and Khan have greater faith in the power of modern India’s democratic, pluralist traditions. They state that this will not happen, and India will never become a world power by persecuting 200 million of its citizens. This is presumably the Muslim population in India. The persecution isn’t stopping with Muslims and other religious minorities. The fanatics are also attacking and trying to close down and arrest Indian activists and journalists opposed to this wave of intolerance.

I have said that Fascism knows no colour or religion. Violent contempt for democracy, extreme nationalism and religious or racial hatred can arise everywhere, in any race, religion or culture. And it has to be fought everywhere it appears.

I therefore wish Indian anti-fascists and liberals every success in combating this bigotry regardless of their personal religious views, just as we in the West need to combat the rising Fascism in Europe and America.

Indian Newsreader Ponders the Coming Collapse of American Democracy

January 6, 2022

I found this grimly fascinating video on the YouTube channel for Gravitas, which I think is the news programme of the Indian WION – World Is One – network. The anchor woman considers the prediction by a Canadian academic that American democracy is in crisis and that the country will have a right-wing dictator by 2030. This will follow a period of civil disturbances in 2025. America is becoming more polarised. 64 per cent of Americans believe democracy is in crisis, according to polls, and 66 per cent of Republicans that the last election was rigged. 70 per cent of Americans also believe that democracy is failing. And 66 per cent believe that violence against the government is justified. These views explains the attack on Congress by Trump’s supporters last year, and there’s a prediction that the Orange Buffoon will return in 2024. At the same time, White nationalism is on the rise. She states that democracies dies through a deeply polarised society and distrust of government. She also claims that White supremacy is rising in the US army, aided by legislation that does not forbid squaddies from joining Fascist organisations like the Klan. She is careful to say, however, that she is not claiming soldiers are joining these organisations.

She also notes that last year America was put on a list of different nations as a ‘backsliding democracy’. If the attempted invasion of congress that occurred precisely a year ago, on 6th January 2021, had happened in west Asia (the Middle East) or Latin America, the US would, she claims, have sent in the CIA and a couple of thousand marines ‘to restore democracy’. She goes on to say that for decades, democracy has been whatever America says it is. There are many examples of this American arrogance. One report says that the US tried to topple Latin American regimes 41 times in the 20th century. The US funded juntas and plotted assassinations,. Another example is the CIA-funded overthrow of the last democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, in 1953, backing the Shah. No-one asked them to do it, certainly not the Iranian people, ‘but that’s what America is for you’. America interferes because it can. It overthrew the Taliban in 2001, which was great, but their next step was to impose their presidential system on a country with more than a hundred ethnicities taking no account of tribal loyalties. The problem is the attitude that the American system suits all peoples ‘but democracy doesn’t work that way’. She concludes ‘So this prophecy of American collapse is karma, plain and simple.’

It’s a blistering attack on post-Trump division and the emerging far right in America, as well as American imperialism from the perspective of the Developing World. And she is absolutely correct. The late, long-term critic of American imperialism, William Blum, lists all the countries, whose governments the US has overthrown and in whose elections they have interfered in his books. The list and its brief descriptions of American meddling, take up two whole chapters each. America, and also Britain, did overthrow Iran’s prime minister, Mossedeq in the 1953 because he nationalised the oil industry. This was then owned and controlled by foreign companies, like BP, which employed Iranian workers on much lower wages and with poorer conditions than westerners. As for Afghanistan, the country, like others in the region, is a mosaic of different tribal and ethnic groups. It has no tradition of western-style democracy, and the president the Americans and the west back, Hamid Karzai, was massively corrupt. And the corruption reached all the way down through his regime and the new state to exploit and alienate ordinary Afghans. The result was the rapid collapse of Karzai’s government and the seizure of power by the Taliban almost as soon as American troops departed. In Iraq too George W. Bush and the other Neo-Cons had absolutely no idea about the society they had invaded and were trying to remodel. They believed the lies of Ahmed Chalabi, that he led a massive resistance movement against Hussein and that he and the American troops would be welcomed with flowers as liberators. Worse, the Neo-Cons actively resented and removed officials and senior military leaders, who attempted to tell them they were wrong. General Zilli, the head of the Middle East section of the Pentagon, was given the boot because he dared to do so.

As for the type of democracy the Americans wanted to introduce into Iraq, this was a very narrow version governed by Neo-Con doctrine. The government was to be democratic, but it was to be constitutionally prevented from interfering in business or private industry. It was democracy, but only as far as big business and American corporate interests allowed it.

As for the assertion that the collapse of American democracy and the emergence of a right-wing dictator is karma, I think left-wing political commenters like Noam Chomsky and the peeps at the radical magazine and website, Counterpunch, have said that America is suffering from imperial blowback. The tactics it has used to destabilise foreign regimes are now coming back to be used against America’s own citizens. And because of the powerful corporate influence on American politics, Harvard University several years ago described America, not as a democracy, but as an oligarchy.

There are deep divisions in current American politics between Trump’s supporters on the right, who include White supremacists, and the radical left, as shown in the rise of Black Lives Matter. Some of the BLM protests and demonstrations have degenerated into destruction and rioting, and in the most extreme example an anarchist community rejecting the American state emerged, only to collapse into violent anarchy in the pejorative sense and be retaken by local law enforcement. This has created a sense of crisis on the American right, while the invasion of congress looks very much like an attempted coup, comparable to Mussolini’s March on Rome. I am not surprised that many Americans feel their democracy is failing.

I don’t want American democracy to collapse. I believe that Fascism and dictatorship has to be fought everywhere in the world, and an America dominated by a dictator would be horrific, not just for the country but also for the rest of the world. American democracy needs to be supported.

It just shouldn’t impose dictatorships or its very contrived version of democracy on everyone else.

History Debunked on the Comparative Lack of Interest in British Asian History

December 17, 2021

This is a related video to the one I put up from Simon Webb’s History Debunked this afternoon, which discussed how the Beeb had race-swapped the characters in their adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. Phileas Fogg’s servant, Passepartout, is now Black, but the leading lady, who is Indian in the book, is now White. ‘Cause you can’t have two non-White leads apparently. Or Blacks must be given preference over Asians when it comes to casting non-White roles. In this video Webb discusses the case of Hsien Fan Sun, a Chinese gent who worked as a librarian at the court of James II. If Sun had been Black, then knowledge of him would have been promoted as it has been about Mary Seacole and John Blank, the Black trumpeter at the Tudor court. But he isn’t, because he’s Chinese. It’s another example of how, to Webb, diversity means primarily Black people. Which left me wondering why this should be so.

Racism to and Enslavement of Asian Indentured Workers

Asians have suffered their share of western racism and enslavement. During the infamous ‘coolie trade’, Asian workers from India and China were recruited as indentured labourers to work on plantations in the Caribbean, Fiji and elsewhere to replace the Black slaves, who had been emancipated. They worked in horrendous conditions, which in many cases were worse than those endured by the Black slaves. The system was widely denounced by Indian nationalists and humanitarians, including the Anglican Church and leading politicos, as ‘A New System of Slavery’. Which is the title of an excellent book on it by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses. There were riots against the coolie trade in India and China, and the British authorities were also keen to stamp out the enslavement of Asians. The Indian police raided warehouses where Indians were being forcibly confined after they had been kidnapped, or tricked into signing indenture papers. It was such a scandal that the government issued a series of regulations demanding that Asian labourers should have access to an interpreter and understand the terms and conditions of the contract, that there should be a minimum level of acceptable living conditions aboard ships, children should be with women rather than left with the men, and a minimum number of women should emigrate with the male workers. There should also be opportunities for correspondence home and the remittance of money. I think the Britiish government first discussed the recruitment of the Chinese in particular in 1816 or so. They wanted replacements for the Black slaves, and the Chinese were decided upon because they were hardworking and less likely to complain or rebel. The prejudice against Chinese workers continued into the 20th century, when the early Labour party at one meeting denounced the government’s ‘Chinese slavery’ and put up a picture of a Chinese man. There were anti-Chinese riots in 1909, although this was caused by British firms sacking their White employees and replacing them with Chinese during an industrial dispute.

The Asian Presence in British and European History

There isn’t a total lack of interest in the Asian presence in British history. The book Under the Imperial Carpet, whose editors were Asian, also discussed Asian British history. Before the present set of ethnic minority MPs were elected in the ’70s and ’80s, Britain had BAME MPs. Webb put up a video about an Indian rajah, who became a Conservative MP in the 19th century. Other Asians became Liberal and even Communist MPs later in the early 20th. I’m not entirely surprised by the presence of Sun at James II’s court. This was the age when Europe was expanding, not just across the Atlantic, but also into Asia. The Jesuits were establishing missions in China, and scientific and technical knowledge flowed back and forth. I think the Chinese were impressed by European clockmaking, while Europeans were impressed by the Chinese skill at making automatons. By the following century upper class Europeans were consuming tea, Chinese porcelain, decorating their homes with wallpaper and furniture with Chinese art and motifs. Chinese literature was also being translated into European languages. The great religious sceptic, David Hume, read at least one Chinese novel. What impressed him was not how different it was, but how it was comprehensible, given the difference between Chinese and European culture.

Asian Stars on British Television

There are and have been Asian actors and presenters on British TV. I’ve mentioned Anita Rani, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Adil Ray in my previous post. But before them there was David Yip way back in the ’70s, who starred as The Chinese Detective. Dino Shafeek and Andy Ho appeared as the Indian and Burmese staff in the comedy It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum. The classical Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar gained widespread popularity among the Hippy crowd through his friendship with Beatle George Harrison. He’s said since that this wasn’t altogether beneficial, as you should approach classical Indian music with the same attitude you approach western classical music, rather than listen to it like pop. And were any number of western groups taking over oriental instruments, like sitars, and rhythms. This in turn led to the rise of World Music, a genre that encompasses music and its performers from across continents, and which includes both traditional and more modern forms.

And there is an interest in recovering an Asian, as well as Black British past. The Black rights and history organisation with whom I briefly corresponded when I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was the Black and Asian Studies Association. Researchers on Islam in Britain, when I was studying the religion at College in the 1980s, were particularly interested in the discovery of tombs with inscription in Arabic dating from the 17th century in Yorkshire. A more recent programme on the Barbary Pirates on Radio 4 in the early part of this century suggested instead that they may have been the graves of indigenous White Brits, who had been captured by the north African pirates and forcibly converted to Islam before either escaping or being ransomed. And a year or so ago there was a programme on Radio 3 about the Muslim servant of one of the ministers responsible for carrying through the Reformation over here. There have also been history books written about ‘The Muslim Discovery of Europe’. With the rise of capitalism, the stock exchange and the nascent consumer culture in the 18th century came popular ballads celebrating how people of all races and creeds, Jew, Christian and Turk, were all united in the peaceful work of making money. I don’t think there’s any shortage of material. My great-grandfather was a docker, and I can remember my grandmother telling me about the lascar and Chinese sailors that came into Bristol docks. But in general Webb is right: as a rule diversity means Blacks rather than Asians. Why is this?

Blacks More Determined than Asians to Be A Part of Mainstream British Culture?

I think some of it may be that Blacks have a greater determination to be a conspicuous part of western culture than Asians. Blacks have certainly formed a large part of the British and American entertainment industries since White youth started tuning into Jazz in the 1920s. There were Black screen actors, although quite often the roles they were given were demeaning before Sidney Poitier revolutionised the portrayal of Blacks on screen, paving the way for contemporary Black leading men. But then, so did Bruce Lee and stars of Chinese martial arts cinema like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. And some of us still remember the TV adaptations of the Chinese classics The Water Margin and Monkey, the latter based on Wu Cheng-en’s epic novel.

I wonder if some of it may be that some Asian cultures are more inward looking, and likely to look more toward their homelands and its culture for their roots and identity than Britain. Please note: I am certainly not suggesting that they are somehow less British than the rest of us. But I can remember coming across an academic, ethnographic study British Asians entitled The Myth of Return. This probably took its title from the initial conviction among many Asian immigrants that they were coming here only to make enough money so that they could afford to retire back to their home countries in comfort. This aspiration certainly wasn’t confined to them. Many Black West Indians also shared it, as did the Irish correspondent to the Groan whose letter began, ‘Sir, I am an Irishman, who came to Britain to make enough money to go back to Ireland again.’ In the ’70s there was a difference in integration between Muslim and Christian Pakistanis. Both groups were equally Pakistani in their culture at home, but the Christians were far more integrated into wider British culture. For example, their children mixed at school with the White children. By contrast ethnographers found that the Muslims took their children straight to school and straight back, and really didn’t allow them to share the same afterschool activities as their White classmates. This might explain why there were Islamist segregationists, who wanted there to be self-governing Muslim enclaves in Britain and Belgium, with Arabic as the official language, governed by shariah law. I hasten to add that things are rather different now. There was a Big Iftar around the country, a giant feast marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated by the Muslim community, who also invited their non-Muslim neighbours to partake. And polls have shown that only five percent of British Muslims want shariah law. But I think the Asian community may be more likely to get their entertainment from their ancestral countries through the Internet, satellite TV and video and DVD.

Asians More Culturally Confident?

I also wonder if part of the answer is that Asians, and specifically Indians and Chinese, may be more culturally confident than western Blacks. India and China were highly advanced, literate civilisations with histories going back millennia. A glance through books on the history of inventions and mathematics shows any number of works and innovations by Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese scholars. The first instance of plastic surgery, for example, comes from 8-9th century India, when one of the leading surgeons repaired the nose of a Indian princes. Muslim mathematicians and scientists studied astronomy, alchemy, medicine. And the Chinese had printing – though not with movable type, that was definitely Gutenberg’s invention – gunpowder, rockets, paper money and toilet paper, to name but a few. Sometimes this cultural confidence has formed the basis for humour. One of the characters on Goodness, Gracious Me – or was it the Kumars at No. 42? was a father, who was excessively proud of his home country’s achievements. He shouted out ‘India!’ every time various inventions were mentioned. I also remember one episode of Lovejoy in which the dodgy antique dealer was in negotiations with a Hong Kong businessman. This man was also conscious of how his country had led the world in science and invention for centuries, to the point where he believed the Chinese had more or less invented everything. At one point this is too much for his interpreter, who says to him, ‘Oh no, Mr -, I don’t think we invented motorcycles’.

Black African Cultures Less Well-Known and Admired

This is in contrast to Africa, whose great civilisations and monuments are less appreciated. Ancient Egypt has been claimed as Black civilisation by the Afro-Centrists, but this is controversial and they could well be wrong. Nubia and Meroe in what is now the Sudan died out centuries ago. Christian Nubia was conquered by the Muslims. It’s predecessors in the Sudan unfortunately spoke languages that are now extinct. The Nubians took over the culture and alphabet of the Ancient Egyptians. Frustratingly, we can read their inscriptions but have no idea what they mean until the appearance of a Rosetta Stone that will give us the key to translating them. Abyssinia was a literate, Christian empire while the Kiswahili were also an advanced Islamic civilisation. As was Mali and other states in northwest Africa. But I think these have been seen as the exceptions rather than the rule. Although many of the civilisations of north and Saharan Africa were capable of building large structures, like house and mosques from mud brick, I suspect the popular image of Africa remains that of mud huts. And until the introduction of Islam and Christianity on the continent, many of these peoples were illiterate. The result has been that the attitude of many western scholars towards African civilisation was wholly negative. The book Colour and Colour Prejudice, by the last British governor of Ghana, has page after page of quotes from various western scholars, almost all of whom declare that African culture is worthless and that the continent’s people have discovered nothing. Obvious this has been and is being challenged by Black activists and scholars.

Blacks and Affirmative Action

Much of the promotion of Blacks as a specific group has come from concern at the poor conditions of the Black community in America and Britain. Other groups have also suffered racism. I can remember one of my uncles telling me with disgust about the horrible ‘jokes’ the other White workers played on an Indian comrade. As a rule, I think Blacks are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy when it comes to academic performance and employment. Above them, but still disadvantaged, are Muslims. Indians are about the same level as Whites, or just below, while Chinese actually outperform us. Black history as a specific subject in schools is being promoted as the solution to the problems of the Black community. If Black people were aware of their achievements and presence in American and British history, then they would develop the self-respect and confidence to perform better at school, and challenge the racism that still sees them as outsiders and foreigners. Unfortunately, this has led to Black activists claiming the credit for Blacks for scientific achievements that came from others. I think the entertainment industry is part of this drive for Black empowerment too. I have a feeling that some of roles created for Black performers are intended to provide positive images of Blacks as just as urbane and middle class as everyone else. Or proper, respectable working class. I’ve no doubt its done to challenge the negative racist stereotypes Whites may hold, while at the same time hold up positive role models to the Black community. To show that Black people also live in families with fathers, where the parents are respectable, upstanding citizens who work to support their children and give them the best life they can. I’m not aware that family breakdown is the same issue in Asian communities as it is amongst Blacks and the White poor, so some of the issues that have led to a specific emphasis on Blacks in diversity may simply not be as pressing. It thus seems to me that, in general, Asians may be so much more confident in their culture that they don’t see the same urgency in establishing and insisting on their historic presence in Europe.

Blacks More Vociferous and Forceful in Attacking Racism

I also think it may also come from Blacks complaining the most forcefully about racism. One of the key events in the introduction of positive discrimination in Britain were the 1980s/81 race riots, where Black communities in Bristol, Brixton in London and Toxteth erupted in rioting. It led to various official reports, which recommended affirmative action programmes to give greater opportunities to Blacks, as was being done at the same time in America. There have been protests in the Asian community, and interethnic violence between Asians and Whites, along with Asian anti-racist activism. But I don’t recall the Asians rioting in the same way Black Brits did. And the protests held by Britain’s Muslims seem to be about specifically Islamic issues, like the publication of the Satanic Verses, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and general Islamophobia, rather than issues like employment or education although those have also been present. As a result, I think it’s probably true that Asians are less represented than Blacks in moves for ethnic diversity, although it should be stressed that they aren’t completely absent.

But these are just my ideas based on my own impressions. I may be wrong, and there may be other factors involved. I’d be interested to know what others think about it.

As an example of a TV series with an Asian leading man, here’s the titles to the Chinese Detective, starring David Yip, which I found on Robert Telfer’s channel on YouTube. Since then we’ve had Luther, starring the awesome Idris Elba as a Black detective. I like Elba – I think he’s a great actor, who could easily play Bond. I haven’t watched Luther, however, as the crimes he investigates all seem too grim and ‘orrible, like the serial killers tracked by Linda La Plante’s heroines. But perhaps it might be time once again for an Asian detective.

The Lotus Eaters Eviscerate Critical Race Theorist Defending Right of Black Mothers to Become Addicted

October 18, 2021

Long time readers of this blog will know very well how I feel about Sargon and the Lotus Eaters. They’re terrible right-wingers who idealise capitalism and stand four-square behind privatisation. They idealise the extreme laissez-faire, Manchester school economics that created massive poverty and deprivation in the 19th century. But there are also issues on which they have an excellent point. The madness of the transgender ideology is one, and Critical Race Theory is another. And in this video, they look at one of the very worst suggestions by one of the Theory’s advocates and ideologues. It’s from Dorothy E. Roberts, a woman of colour and professor of law, sociology and Africana at Pennsylvania University. It looks like Sargon has taken it from the seminal collection of papers by the Critical Race Theorists, which I think is simply called ‘Critical Race Theory’. And he’s deliberately chosen it because it is one of the worst, to show how terrible it all is. I’m no fan of CRT and am aware that there are plenty of people on the extreme anti-racist left who disagree with me. But I would hope we could all agree that Roberts’ paper is genuinely terrible. Because she seems to believe it should be acceptable for Black women to become addicted to drugs like heroin and cocaine while pregnant, and give birth to babies addicted to those substances. Because it’s racist and an infringement on the autonomy of Black women to do whatever they want with their bodies for the state to try to stop them.

Presumably is comes from a deeply defensive attitude towards the problem among the American Black poor. It looks like part of the argument is taken from pro-choice activists – that women should be able to do whatever they like with their bodies without government interference. It also seems to me that she may have started out simply resenting the right constantly criticising poor Blacks for such problems and then moved on to her currently extreme position.

But whatever she thinks, or wants to think, it’s a deeply immoral one. And one that runs against much previous Black activism.

Black activists of all persuasions have been extremely concerned with tackling the problem of drug addiction in their communities. Many activist groups take direct action against it. Way back in the 1990s there was a piece on TV which showed a Black crowd driving a drug dealer out of town. They marched on his house chanting, ‘Black man, respect yourself!’ And the dealer ran out of his house from an upstairs window. I got the impression that the Nation of Islam, despite being an anti-White racist space cult, are very effective at keeping drugs out of their communities. And some Black radicals saw drugs as as part of the degeneracy of White culture, a strong argument for racial separatism to benefit Blacks. I can remember reading a piece by one such Black activist in which he contemned the White man for drugs, prostitution and other forms of immorality. On this side of the Atlantic, in Christmas 1990/91 the Beeb screened a drama, Alive and Kicking, starring Lenny Henry and Robbie Coltrane, about the problem of drugs and gang culture in the Black community. This also dealt with Black women, who were addicts in pregnancy and who had consequently given birth to addicted babies. It was grim stuff, too grim for me, and I think we turned it off after five minutes.

This is a real, terrible issue. Mike when he was journalist in Bristol regularly went to talk to KWADS – Knowle West Against Drugs. Knowle West is a council estate in south Bristol which has more than its fair share of problems. It’s racially mixed, mostly White but with some Blacks and Asians. KWADS was formed by a group of mothers who decided they weren’t going to stand for the harm done to their loved ones and community by drugs any longer. And there are no doubt very many other groups like them, comprising people of every race and creed. I’ve heard terrible stories myself from people about the effects of heroin on people and families. Young men literally selling the clothes off their backs to pay for the habit, toddlers out of control because both parents are on the terrible stuff.

You bet the state has the right to try to stop people, whatever their colour, from taking addictive drugs and getting their unborn kids addicted to it.

Additionally, many Blacks in America and Britain believe that there is covert campaign of genocide against them. It’s because of the high mortality rate from crime and deprivation in poor Black communities. And drugs are seen as part of this. It’s believed that the government is deliberately smuggling drugs in order to get Blacks addicted and wipe them out. Like all conspiracy theories of that type, it’s nonsense but you can see how it can arise and gain credibility. Especially as the American intelligence agencies did make deals with foreign paramilitaries to ship drugs into America. The CIA did it with the Hmong hill tribes during the Vietnam War, smuggling the heroin they produced into America to finance their war with the Americans against the Communists. Then there was Iran-Contra under Reagan in the 1980s. As part of that nefarious conspiracy, the American intelligence agencies shipped cocaine produced by the Contras to help them finance their guerrilla war against the Sandinistas.

This was revealed by an American journo, who never worked again. And the news obviously caused massive upset in the Black community. There were public meetings and protests, if not riots about it in downtown Los Angeles for very obvious reasons.

And now it seems that some of the Critical Race Theorists don’t want the government to tackle the terrible problem drugs amongst Black Americans because it’s racist. Despite the considerable Black activism against drugs and suspicion that it’s being pushed by the same White supremacist state Roberts and co. despise.

Madness. Utter madness. It bears out the old saying that some ideas are so stupid only an academic would believe them.

I don’t know what else Roberts has written. She may have written some very good stuff that has genuinely benefited her community. But assuming Sargon hasn’t misrepresented it, this paper is vile, pernicious rubbish. It should have been thrown in the bin, rather than published, academic freedom or no.

Gove’s Old Speeches Show His Real Views of Racism, the North and Homosexuality

September 15, 2021

The Independent dug up a few of Michael Gove’s old speeches in which he expressed opinions that really should cause him considerable embarrassment. Should, but probably won’t, as this government seems to be impervious to any kind of shame or guilt. One came from a speech he made as president-elect of Oxford University’s debating society in 1987. Speaking for the motion ‘This house believes the British Empire was lost on the playing fields of Eton’, Gove used the term ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ for Black people. This caused a member of the audience to shout ‘Shame!’ I know it was a different time then, and racist jokes and material were more acceptable then than they are now, but times were changing. Racist language like that wasn’t acceptable.

He also had similarly grotty views on the north, celebrating Thatcher’s humiliation of the region and its people:

 “We are at last experiencing a new empire, an empire where the happy south stamps over the cruel, dirty, toothless face of the northerner. At last Mrs Thatcher is saying I don’t give a fig for what half the population is saying, because the richer half will keep me in power. This may be amoral. This may be immoral. But it’s politics and it’s pragmatism”.

The happy south? I live in Bristol, and I don’t recall this bit of the south being at all happy under Maggie Thatcher. Not when there was rising unemployment, St Paul’s exploded into riots along with Brixton in London and Toxteth in Liverpool, cuts to unemployment benefit, the ending of student grants, the introduction of privatisation into the NHS, cuts to education budgets so that many schools didn’t have the funding to repair decaying premises and so on. Presumably by ‘happy south’ Gove is talking about those rich areas inhabited by himself and his extremely wealthy and complacently happy chums.

He also made a number of, er, forthright comments about homosexuality. He said that gays thrive on short-term relationships and praised Thatcher’s policies as “rigorously, vigorously, virulently, virilely heterosexual”. To be fair, the Observer, writing about the rise of AIDS amongst American gays, stated that most relationships between gay men were short-term and rarely lasted a year, in contrast with the much longer-lasting connections between lesbians. I’m not sure whether this is still true. As for Thatcher’s policies being ‘heterosexual’, there’s nothing heterosexual or otherwise about privatising everything that wasn’t nailed down and looking forward to selling off the NHS and ending the welfare state, because the poor should look after themselves. On the other hand, Thatcher did try to stop the promotion of homosexuality in schools with the notorious Clause 28. This resulted in massive protests by gays and straight people, who feared it would be the start of real persecution, including incarceration. He also claimed that John Maynard Keynes was also a ‘homosexualist’. I’ve heard those rumours too, and to be fair, I think some of them come from gay rights campaigners. Keynes did have close relationships with men, but he was also happily married for 20 years to the ballerina Lydia Lopokova. Of course, it could have been a ‘lavender marriage’ designed to hide his real sexuality, but it’s doubtful. And in any case, what Keynes did in private with consenting adults was his own business. What matters is his ground-breaking economic theory, which has lasted a dam’ sight better than Thatcher’s wretched Monetarism. Gove’s allegations of homosexuality looks a bit like an attempt to discredit the theory by making insinuations about the man.

But it seems Gove’s own sexuality may also be open to question. According to Zelo Street, there was a recent piece in the Spectacularly Boring in which Mary Wakefield, Dominic Cumming’s wife, says that David Cameron was worried that Gove and Cummings were having an affair. Now there would be a ‘gruesome twosome’. She dismisses the idea, stating that it’s all rubbish but the rumour mill goes on. The Street, however, is not so sure, and convinced that at least one of the newspaper groups knows the truth. He urges them to come forward with it, as we’re now in the 21st century. Except for the Tories, of course.

Ah yes, the Tories and homosexuality. I remember how, under Thatcher and Major, it seemed that every week a Tory MP or cabinet minister would have to resign due to extra-marital shenanigans. Gay rights activists took particular delight in outing vociferously anti-gay Tories, who were then caught with their male lovers or rent boys. This reached the point under Major that Private Eye joked that when he talked about going ‘back to basics’, what he really meant was ‘back to gay sex’. And if it wasn’t homosexuality, it was old-fashioned heterosexual adultery with mistresses and prostitutes.

The remark about ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ is the kind of racist comment that has caused Tories to resign in the past. I doubt it will do that to Gove because of how long ago it was made. Gove’s comments about homosexuality also seem to be par for the course in a certain section of the Tory party. Despite David Cameron promoting openly gay Tory MPs, Boris Johnson himself managed to upset the gay community by calling them ‘tank-top wearing bum-boys’. Well, I remember back in the 1970s it seemed everyone was wearing tank-tops, so it wasn’t only gays who were fashion victims.

I suspect if any of his comments does any damage, it should be that about the north. Because that shows the real hatred and contempt metropolitan Tories had for Britain’s former industrial heartland.

And that hatred and contempt is still there, despite the Tories having somehow convinced the northern working class to vote for them.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/michael-gove-and-homosexuailty.html

Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees on What His Party Has Done for the City

August 3, 2021

As a member of the local Labour party, I got this general email from Bristol’s elected mayor, Marvin Rees, explaining what his administration has done to improve conditions in Bristol. I’ve mixed feelings about Rees. He can be stubborn and obstinate, insisting on what he wants against the wishes of local people. He did this in the case of the housing development now being built in Hengrove park. His plans for the development were opposed by local people, who wanted fewer houses and more amenities, like shops, to be built on the site. But despite the fact that Rees’ own plans for the area were also criticised by the planning authorities for exactly the same reasons, Rees overruled the suggestions of the locals and went ahead with his own plans. There has also been a similar controversy over his scheme for a new arena for the city. Common sense would say that it should be built nearer to the city’s centre, where communications are excellent and visitors from outside the city could easily get to it via the motorway. However, for some reason best known to himself, Mayor Marv has decided instead that he wants it built in Filton, a suburb some distance away from the centre in the north of the city. Which is far more difficult to get to.

On the other hand, I was very impressed by his handling of the pulling down of Colston’s statue by Black Lives Matter. There have been demands from Bristol’s Black community for the statue to be taken down for decades, and so the assault on it probably shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, it followed similar attacks on Confederate statues across the Pond in America. Despite loud criticism from people of the right, like Alex Belfield, I think Bristol’s police did exactly the right thing in not trying to defend it when it was attacked. It was the only monument affected. The other statues nearby, such as one to Bristol’s sailors, and of the 18th century politician, Edmund Burke, and Queen Victoria (Gawd bless ‘er) weren’t touched. Neither were the surrounding shops and offices. But I think there would have been a full scale riot if the cops had tried to defend it. And I think it’s extremely likely that some in the mob that attacked the statue were hoping for a chance to fight the police as symbols of racist authority. The police didn’t give them the opportunity, and saved the people and property in the area from harm. As for Marvin himself, while he has made it very plain that, as a man of colour, he personally loathes the statue, he has been extremely diplomatic and careful in his handling of the controversy.

Here’s what he says in his email:

“Dear member,

I am writing to you to thank you for your support in the recent elections and to let you know how your Labour administration is repaying your trust in us. 

I want to start by reiterating how grateful I am; for everyone that voted for me and for the activists who knocked on doors, called voters, and spread our message of hope on social media. It’s been an enormously difficult year – which makes me even more appreciative for the support – but we still managed to adapt to the circumstances and get Labour’s message out to the voters. Our activists are the cornerstone of our movement – we wouldn’t have won the mayoral elections if it weren’t for the strength of our members. 

However, despite winning the Mayoralty and gaining a Labour Metromayor in the West of England Combined Authority, we lost a number of excellent councillors and had hard-working, dedicated candidates miss out on their seats. I know how talented our candidates were and how much they cared about their communities, so these results were hard to take. 

Despite the disappointment, we’ve regrouped and have been working to put Labour values into action and to continue delivering on your priorities. I want the next three years to be defined by inclusivity, sustainability, and delivery – everything we do will be defined by those three principles. 

At the first Full Council since the election, we put forward a motion that forbids the Council or its partners from following Home Office guidance that uses rough sleeping as a reason to cancel someone’s leave to remain, resulting in their eventual deportation from the UK. It should go without saying that we found this guidance deplorable – it shows how out-of-step Priti Patel and the Home Office is with Bristol’s collective conscience. Read more on Cllr Tom Renhard’s Blog. 

This announcement follows a recent further £4m investment to help tackle rough sleeping and the setting up of Bristol Street Outreach, a new service to support rough sleepers. Since 2019, we’ve reduced the levels of people rough-sleeping by 80% – this new service will focus on on-street engagements, particularly with those who have been sleeping rough for a long time, to help enable them to move off the streets and live independently.

As well as this we’ve:

Won Gold Food Sustainable City Status – only the second city in the UK to do so – for excellence in tackling food waste, urban food growing, and action to address food inequality. Awarded by the independent, Sustainable Food Places Board, the accolade recognises the work of Bristol’s good food movement and the city’s work to tackle the impacts of food on public health, nature, and climate change. More information here. 

• Offered residency to a number of Afghan interpreters who worked with the British Army, as they were at risk of persecution by the Taliban. 

• Moved forward building a 17,000 seater arena and its surrounding district – which now includes a 15 acre public park, £3.1m for transport infrastructure, 2,600 news homes, employment space, up to three new schools, a health centre and retail and leisure facilities – with it now set to open by the end of 2023.

• Allocated £34m in funding to help businesses in the city centre upgrade to cleaner vehicles, so they can avoid fines when the Clean Air Zone is implemented.  Despite pushing back the implementation date for the Clean Air Zone, by giving people and businesses time to adapt we will still have cleaner air by 2023 – the same time as we would if it had been implemented this October. 

• Painted a trans-inclusive rainbow crossing on Wine Street to as part of our celebrations for Pride Month. As well as this, we passed a motion that will strengthen mental health provision for LGBT+ people within the Council, and to work with our partners to improve services across the city.

Built the largest water-source heat pump in the UK, bringing zero-carbon energy to 5,000 homes in central Bristol. This comes after we built the largest land wind turbine in the country in Avonmouth. We’re also pushing ahead with finding a partner for the City Leap Programme, which will see us invest £1bn in decarbonising Bristol’s energy systems. 

• Started work to transform the Bear Pit into a haven for bees and butterflies. We declared an ecological emergency last year and are working to turn make our built environment more ecology-friendly – We’re investing in green structures and bright native flowers in the bearpit to attract pollinators and make it a thoroughfare the city can be proud of. 

• Invested £4.7m to rejuvenate our high streets, including Bristol city centre, East Street, Church Road, Shirehampton, Filwood Broadway, Stapleton Road, Brislington Hill, Filton Avenue, Two Mile Hill and Stockwood. The funding will help develop a support programme for existing and new high street businesses, while funding improvements to the streets in a bid to boost footfall through them. Financial support will also be offered to new or expanding businesses, such as pop-up stores or galleries, to reduce the number of vacant premises on the streets.

This is just a small selection of the work we’ve been doing for you. As this next term is only three years rather than four, we wanted to hit the ground running, but we have much, much more in the pipeline that will be ready for announcement in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about the work we’ve been doing, have questions over specific policy, or just want a general chat, then please feel free to ask your constituency executive to invite myself or a Cabinet member to one of your party meetings. 

I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer – I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Best wishes, 

Marvin Rees”

The various green projects Labour has introduced shows the administration is taking ecological issues seriously and shows that the Labour party in the city would be behind the Green New Deal proposed by the left, which would not only help the planet, but also create jobs and new industries. I’m also particularly impressed by the investment in local high streets and their businesses, and the offer of residency to the Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army. With the Taliban now advancing in Afghanistan, these people’s lives would very much be at risk if they remained there, and they undoubtedly deserve to be given sanctuary here in the UK, no matter what Priti Patel may think.

Despite my strong criticisms of some of Rees’ policies, I think overall he has been good for the city, and hope his administration will continue to do its best for Bristol and its great people.