zero is a magic number – homelessness in Devon

In a lockdown environment, much like any other domestic crisis, it is the unrepresented that bear the residue of whatever action the government takes.  In this case it is the homeless population of Exeter.

Since the lockdown an encampment of rough sleepers have congregated outside the high street town hall with tents to shelter them whilst public charity and soup runs dry up to make their situation even more distressing.

Police as a response say, ‘there is little they can do’ even when breaking social distancing standards because ‘the street is technically their home’.

So whilst the police do nothing to sate the situations of the most vulnerable the city council states they are working around the clock finding accommodation for rough sleepers in hotels and hostels for the next 12 weeks to avoid contracting or spreading Covid-19.  But while the encampment exists the vulnerable see little sign of their conditions being sated anytime soon.

The councils are needing to act hurriedly and police engage more to protect the most vulnerable, but many are sceptical what happens once the pandemic has waned.  What liberal minded society would accept hearing a government say, ‘we have the homeless figures to an acceptable level’ when the numbers aren’t reduced to zero?

Politics, Uncategorized

Between Ireland and France, there is more to life than Brexit.


Over the weekend just passed two events that have un-organically taken place have bouldered me into a headspace that I can no longer ignore.  On the 18th of April Irish Journalist ‘Lyra Mckee’ was heinously gunned down by a member of the nostalgically named ‘New IRA’ on the streets of Derry who were fighting against the British police carrying out a raid on dissident Republicans who were searching for guns and ammunition.  Violent activity had risen since the anniversary of the 1916 easter rising when the Republicans carried out a rebellion to end the British rule In Ireland.  Lyra was a deeply committed journalist who sought for nothing but truth in everything she researched and wrote about, such as the suppression of gay and lesbian rights in Ireland and also her still deeply eagered book ‘The Lost Boys’ detailing the plight that followed the many children and young men who’d disappeared in the alcoves of ‘the troubles’.

But the most devastating to me was the chronic rebellion of the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) protests in France fighting against Macron’s destructive Labour reforms which are designed to give employers more autonomy to hire and fire at will with little concerns for a workers rights, as well as a massive hike in fuel taxation.  The response to this economic melting pot has led up to bloody violence and arrests on the streets of Paris this weekend.  This coupled with the bloody murder of Lyra I feel existential responses are vital to be carried out now, no more pussy footing at the base of this political reality any longer, get involved.  After witnessing a new level of protests in France after the people realised the 1% had shown more compassion toward the burning of Norte Dame than the 9 million who live below the poverty line they knew they were only going to have their voices heard by force, and so force them they did.  Scenes which could have easily been attributed to images of war in Syria were erupting all across France with protestors of the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ movement causing outbreaks of fire and violence against the now evident police state who were mobilised at the behest of President Macron to maintain his vision of a French Republic.  Plutocratic by nature, much like the symbolism nurtured by Norte Dame.

Millions for Norte Dame, but nothing for us ”


The people of Paris on the weekend spoke like lions after just under 1 billion euros were donated to the architectural symbol of the French revolution that should be an image of solidarity for the most poverty stricken but instead stands as a  insult from the Catholic Church, who aren’t short of a euro or two to cover their own expenses.

The French power structure of course is doing no different to what other controlling systems carry out when rebellion occurs, maintaining control of the information, mostly by violent means.  Demands for an explanation have been called after two journalists were arrested over the 23rd weekend of protest with little reason for their charge.  News freelancer Gaspard Glanz was carried away by police after simply raising a middle finger in response to being manhandled by a member of the Gendarme.  A middle finger, nothing more.  Video footage shows multiple officers pounce on an unarmed journalist who was simply exercising his right to freedom of speech, a liberty we would expect to be able to extend in a developed society.  But of course as it has been shown since the protests began in November 2018 Macron has had other ideas to maintain his idea of peace.

Last year the students celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the ‘Mai 68’ revolts when the working class in the Latin quarter of Paris held assemblies in protest against the corruption and capitalism of a De Gaullist state.  Now, half a century later the scenery hasn’t changed, merely the face of the presidency, nothing more.  Corruption still continues, working people are still being oppressed with a sneer of the supposedly socialist leader, and the individuals who feel there is more that can be done are still out on the streets fighting for their future.  If the protests were to cool down I have no doubt that President Macron, (Mini Napoleon as his critics moniker him) would issue in a fully automated police state in order to suppress any opportunity of revolt occurring again.  This is why the movement needs to up their protests and have no notion that Macron might give in willingly.  Keep on, press on, it’s only your future at steak.





Politics, Uncategorized

Don’t forget about the Bard

I can honestly say that I haven’t seen a more nightmarish scene being played out since New Labour chose the song by D:Ream ‘Things can only get better’ and implying the exact opposite throughout their 13 year tenure as the UK government.  Once again last night the now Conservative government helmed by Theresa May was voted down by a succession of ministers in Parliament holding the unanimous opinion that May’s Brexit deal is unfit for flight with the EU.  It could be said that Jeremy Corbyn was being lax on his ability to hold the government to account, but then he always was a stone laced in moss in these moments of political crises.

But Corbyn’s weaknesses aside throughout these constant debates that’ve been held in our Bipartisan Parliament a serious concern that’s being sorely underdressed here is the Irish back stop and the Good Friday agreement that could be at risk if things continue the way they are.  EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said early on Wednesday that the Irish backstop is “part and parcel” of the UK’s Brexit deal and is non-negotiable, something May needs to accept rather than stay stubborn with her approach and run the possibility of a hard border in Ireland, which is completely unacceptable if peace in Ireland is to still have a beating heart.

For me the relationship with the Good Friday agreement is more important than our connections with the European Union, but the front bench of the Conservatives seemed to have it 180 degrees where they care more about Barnier and Juncker who’re now refusing to negotiate any further and let our establishment squabble within itself.  We need to criticise the EU more, leave this corrupt institution and then let our European neighbours hold their own referendums, Italy would be next in my eyes.

The bard of Ireland ‘W B Yeats’ in one of his last penned poems, (and one of his most under-rated metres of romantic verse) named ‘Politics’ holds the lines

Yet here’s a travelled man that knows, what he talks about

And there’s a politician that has both read and thought

I think we can all be clear in thought that politicians spend more of their tax payers time reading than seeing.  Well it’s time they actually took their negotiating team to Brussels and saw the EU for what it really is, rather than just thinking what it might be because it suits our elite better for the benefit of future trade with the UK.






BDS: What say you UK?

Yesterday Ireland set out a second of its landmark making decisions by rule of the Dail, (Lower house of Parliament) which could potentially set political waves across the Irish sea and awashing our establishment to act ; a bill was passed that boycotts the sale of goods from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.  Under international laws and Palestinian rights advocates the West Bank settlements are considered illegal and the BDS movement, (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) which has been hailed as a new form of activism is being taken up by parliamentary standards as before it was primarily supported by academia and various party and union institutions.

The vote was passed receiving a 78 – 45 majority in favour of taking action against the illegal acts of the Israeli government that chronically and violently oppress the people of Palestine.  It has several more motions before it can be ruled into Irish Law but it’s expected by opposition parties that support this moral precedent to be without hindrance due to their largely broadened backing.  The BDS activism of past has been not without its criticism though, the author Norman Finkelstein in 2012 took to alienating his left wing readership when he spoke publicly that he believed the movement was inconsistent with international law.  The kind of language he used though was literal inflammatory hatred of BDS.  “I loathe the disingenuousness” he wrote venomously, “they don’t want Israel to exist, It’s a cult”.  The irony Finkelstein failed to pin here is this is the same caustic expression some Israeli settlers have about their Palestinian neighbours and simply dis-acknowledge their right to exist.

But whether you support those who condemn the Israeli government and support BDS or the people who publicly condone a two state solution with both sides able to co-exist in begrudging harmony, (as cultural sectarianism isn’t simply washed away by political progress) the problem with BDS is that it is the Israeli people who suffer the most as it mostly dampens their economy without cracking the authoritarian nature of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu,  whose universal goal is the wiping out of Palestine and its people.  For now though BDS appears the only language in activism that criticises openly the government of Israel and the 2000+ Palestinians killed, (and that’s just from 2000 to 2018).

And in the role of international cooperation this move by Irish parliament has the potential to apply pressure on all the right muscles within other democracies.  Hopefully the UK can sit up putting a cup to the Irish sea and hear more than just the waves, also the need for political acknowledgment at the bloodshed carried out on the Gaza strip.