Category Archives: Op-eds

Chosen trauma and memories of the war

One of the doorstep comments staying with me from the referendum campaign is: “I’m voting Out: we haven’t beaten the Germans in two world wars to give in now”.

The psychoanalyst Vamik Volkan talks of “chosen traumas” and “chosen glories”, as stories from the past get retold and shape collective identity.

The trouble is that how the events are remembered changes. The stories seem to be about the past, but also have a present-day purpose. At the celebrations of the bicentenary of the French Revolution, Margaret Thatcher pointed out that we had had a revolution a century earlier: she was quoting history, …

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WATCH Michelle Obama endorse Hillary: “A leader worthy of all our kids’ promise”

At the end of the primary season 8 years ago, relations between the Clinton and the winning Obama camps were not the warmest.

Thankfully, both were grown-up enough to sort it out and move forward. Bridges were built quickly and Hillary ended up as Secretary of State in Obama’s first term.

In 2008, it was hard to imagine that Michelle Obama would give a speech warmly endorsing Hillary as her husband’s successor, as she did last night.

It was a very well crafted speech. It had lots of positives about Hillary – but also it put the boot into Trump in a very classy way. She didn’t mention him by name, but she talked of the importance of reasoned, measured, calm judgement. “When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips, and the military at your command, you can’t make snap decisions.”

There was also a bit of an indirect plea to Sanders supporters. “We can’t afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical,” she said as she implored everyone to get out there knocking on doors to recreate what the Obama campaign had done in 2008.

The bit that made me cry was when she talked of waking up in a house built by slaves every day and seeing her daughters playing with their dog on the White House lawn. She paid tribute to all those who had fought for civil rights and to break down the barriers, too.

It was an extremely well-crafted and classy speech.

Watch it in full here:

The text is below:

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The cultural loss from Brexit

As a 20 year old, I stood up in a French classroom, to teach children two years younger than me, it was literally life changing. I have gone on to live abroad three more times, speak two other languages, marry someone from another continent and work in multinational companies where I get to travel the world. I want these opportunities for my children, but fear that due to the selfishness of the older generation, that things will never be the same after Brexit.

Living overseas gives you a fresh perspective, it helps you to learn how to deal with other cultures …

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Identity in post-Brexit Northern Ireland

 

In the run up to the EU referendum, former Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair visited Derry. With their deep understanding and appreciation for the nuances and sensitivities of Northern Irish conflict honed by their engagement with the topic for substantial periods of their respective premierships, they were both united in their bleak portrayal of a post-Brexit Northern Ireland.

During their trip, Major and Blair posed for photos on Derry’s Peace Bridge. Opened in Summer 2011, the Peace Bridge stands as an iconic focal point for the city’s cultural and artistic centre. Both a literal and symbolic bridge between the two communities (who have traditionally lived separately on either side of the River Foyle), the Peace Bridge stands as a testament to the ongoing success of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Funded by approximately €20m of the overall €1.3 billion of funds invested in Northern Ireland by the EU since the early 90s, the project is one of many in the province which has benefited from EU funding. The objective of this programme (known as ‘PEACE’) is to provide financing for projects which aim to improve cohesion between communities involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, with a specific focus on providing shared facilities for young people. A further PEACE programme was announced in early 2016 with a promise of continued EU assistance and financing of up to €230m. Following the results of the EU referendum, this programme and the related financing for projects in Northern Ireland is clearly now at risk.

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Financialization – the reason why the vote was for Brexit

The referendum result came as a surprise to most people who naturally assumed that the electorate would seek to avoid the risks of change.

However, as the Prime Minister has been reported as saying “Leave supporters were not just voting against Europe but were delivering a cry of frustration about a range of problems afflicting British Society … Top among these concerns was the widening gap between working class voters who saw their wages stagnate…”

The loss of millions of well-paid jobs in manufacturing has been caused by the extreme financialization of the UK economy that has occurred over the last 35 years.

Financialization is the process whereby financial markets, and financial elites, gain greater influence not only over other sectors of the economy, but also over the economic policy of the country.

The financial sector has successfully resisted any attempts to restrict the UK’s takeover system. This has decimated the manufacturing sector while earning huge revenues for London and its financial sector. It is no coincidence that London voted Remain, while the former manufacturing regions voted Leave.

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The Establishment

In a couple of previous posts I have looked at the effects of Brexit and possibilities for LibDem positioning and policy that may emerge. In many ways the EU is a distraction from the key political battles we face. The most pressing problem we have is inequality in its many manifestations and an economic and social system that works very hard to maintain and increase inequality while we try to redress the balance. That is the case whether we are in the EU or out of it. This is an opportunity to consider some key parameters of our policies without having to look at everything through the prism of the EU debate.

One constant in the debate is the thing called the establishment, a word as much misused as used. I cannot think of anyone more “establishment” than Nigel Farage, who has managed to make a career out of selling the lie that he is anti-establishment. Like many insurgent politicians he has no intention of changing the way the system works. He just wants to change the personnel at the top.

The nature and function of the establishment remains the same though its form has changed in recent decades. Whatever it is, it needs to be a focus of LibDem policy making so we need to consider clearly what it is, what it does and how to deal with it.

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How will the Liberal Democrats prepare the UK for emergent technologies?

 

Let’s take a brief look at the list of things that are on my Letter to Santa:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Quantum computing
  • In-vitro meat and vertical farming
  • Mass-commercialised 3D printing
  • Transparent solar panels
  • Li-Fi and 5G
  • Male contraception
  • Autonomous cars and electric cars
  • And so, so much more…

Yeah, I’m a nightmare to buy presents for.

Some of these are already causing stirs in the legal world.

Just the other week there were reports of telecoms companies promising 5G sooner if the EU crippled net neutrality. That’s a fairly clear statement of their desire that we need to be prepared to stand up to. The Lib Dem stance on that should be obvious: we can wait if it means maintaining net neutrality.

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  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 27th Jul - 9:38am
    'the impression that we defeated the Germans on our own, grossly underestimating the contribution of our allies.' We only 'stood alone' from June 1940 to...
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