New politics

Beware of forming or holding your own opinions, which run counter to the groundswell of euphoria generated by the disciples of the new politics. At best you will be accused of swallowing establishment propaganda whole, at worst of outright heresy. Don’t think for yourself in these times. Don’t be a traitor to the revolution. Beware!

Safeguarding our children

People are constantly petitioning me to object to government proposals to introduce Ofsted inspections for out-of-school educational groups. I’m not sure what the issue is.

Ofsted is tasked with regulating and safeguarding services which care for children and young people. They already inspect childcare, adoption and fostering agencies, as well as schools and colleges.

As a parent, I want to feel confident that if I send our children to study classes after school, religious or otherwise, they will find a safe, caring environment which nurtures them and does not expose them to harm.

I understand that some are concerned about a politicised inspectorate which will police moral and ethical matters, wherein religious communities might find themselves out of sync with recent legal and societal norms.

A legitimate concern, perhaps, but then so too are safeguarding issues, which have been neglected by too many voluntary education providers for far too long. We are all familiar with the horror stories. Where do we strike the balance?

There are some really excellent examples of out-of-school educational groups providing top-class guidance and care, producing compassionate, tolerant and successful young adults.

But there are also some really atrocious examples, promoting sectarianism, discrimination and intolerance, set in unsafe environments which damage children.

Some kind of inspection, regulation and oversight is required. If not by Ofsted, then by who?

War on Political Correctness

We’re going to wage war on Political Correctness are we?

Great idea. It’s about time we tackled the dreadful scourge of fairness, decency and good manners.

It has to be said that those who insist on not marginalising or insulting socially disadvantaged people are a threat to us all.

Thank goodness we have politicians prepared to stand up and say enough is enough, to put priorities in the right order and recognise that discrimination is our birthright.

Let’s make Britain great again!

This is the time, once more

And so, once more, the sheikhs and their followers are invoking apocalyptic traditions; the events of the day, they tell us, are the certain fulfillment of prophesy.

And so it seems, unless we put our cultural amnesia aside to recall the history of these sacred precincts.

So it seems if we forget that a group of militants who believed the Mahdi to be amongst them seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks in 1979 during Hajj, leading to the deaths of 250 people.

So it seems if we forget that the Kingdom of Hejaz in alliance with the British Empire laid siege to Medina, then held by the Ottoman Empire between 1916 and 1919, causing heavy loss to life.

So it seems if we forget that Medina was occupied and laid waste by the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab in 1806.

Indeed, so it seems if we overlook a millennia of history all the way back to Yazid’s siege of Medina and destruction of Mecca not even seventy years after Hijra.

But we are not supposed to familiarise ourselves with the past, to ask questions or seek context.

We are not meant to ponder on the long list of supposed saviours who came and went over a thousand years, each one the prophesized Mahdi to their followers.

We have been here before, over and over, but the sheikhs in their circles know better than last time. This is the time, they tell us. This is the time.

And the madness enfolds as prophesized.

Hope and fear

With regards to the EU Referendum, I am not heavily invested in either camp, whether Leave or Remain. In truth I resent being forced to make a decision, simply to resolve an internal dispute within a political party; I’d rather I hadn’t been asked to take a stance on an issue so far beyond my pay grade. In the end, my decision was informed not by great arguments about the failure or success of neo-liberalism, but by the personalities of those leading the Leave campaign. Continue reading Hope and fear

Crises

Over the past month we have leapt from one crisis to another, the last one to occupy us so easily forgotten. Life is unpredictable. Our reaction to the unfolding events alone remain under our control. Navigating the chaos and confusion is an art form.

From Hull to Hampstead

In the analysis of what happened in the EU Referendum a few days ago, there have been a few articles now contrasting Hull with Hampstead — or whichever metropolitan centre that can lazily be caricatured as the realm of latte-sipping, Waitrose customers and Guardian readers.

For in journalism Hull is always the land that time forgot. Journalism does not acknowledge that Hull has its Hampstead within. It does not witness the confident enthusiasm for its culture, the overbrimming excitement for next year’s City of Culture festival. It does not recognise that Hull has its own nouveau riche, in its western suburbs and leafy avenues. Continue reading From Hull to Hampstead

Are you sure?

I am being interrogated by a child at the mosque. Are you English? Why are you here? How can you be Muslim if you’re English, it doesn’t make sense? I think you’re a Patan. Are you a Patan? What does English Muslim even mean? You mean a Muslim who speaks English? Are you sure you’re Muslim? You don’t have black hair. Are you sure you’re English?

I laugh it off, but sometimes I ask myself those questions too.

Frenemies

If you need proof what a dirty realm politics is, just check out the way Cameron’s friends and allies are talking about him today. Murdoch has turned on him. His advisers are twisting the knife in radio phone ins. With friends like these, who needs enemies?