Gillian Martin MSP published an article on her personal blog eleven years ago that has returned, as these things often do, to bite her on the bum. She described transgender students – people over whom she was in a position of power – in the most disgusting way imaginable. She reduced some of the most personal and treasured truths of their beings to worthlessness and shame. Since then she has deleted this horrible post and two years ago she made a full and unreserved apology for what she had written.
Israel’s goal is the total destruction or at least the absolute subjugation of Palestine to make way for the completion of the Zionist project, the creation of a hegemonic colonial-settler Jewish ethno-state. Criticism of this genocidal programme and the provisional Apartheid state it has constructed has been muted by the shadow of the Holocaust. Apparently the nations of the world are somehow guilty of a crime so monstrous against Israel that they are simply now no longer able to point out the moral enormities of Israel.
After decades of British government instigated sectarian conflict in the north of Ireland, the British media simply cannot plead ignorance on the subject of flags in the contentious politics of the nations of the United Kingdom. In fact it is safe to say the British establishment media knows better than most the power the deployment of a flags dispute has in the disrupting of otherwise civil political conversations.
Those of us critical of the cynical use of the poppy as a recruitment tool and a means of ramping up militaristic British nationalist sentiment have found ourselves under serious fire for daring to question the neutrality of the symbol. With the obvious exception of elected right-wing unionists, people are expected to meekly accept the unassailable truth of the poppy as an emblem of remembrance for everyone who has died in all wars.
According to Europe the departure of the UK from the EU will put a hard border between the two parts of Ireland. This will have a profound and devastating effect on the economy of the island, but more pressing than this is the uncomfortable reality that republicans and nationalists in the North will find themselves locked into the British state once again, where Britain has the monopoly on violence – the exact conditions that played a significant part in the ignition of the conflict.
The truth is that Spain has narrowly avoided an armed conflict in Catalunya, and no country has done more to provoke a war in Europe in recent decades than has Spain in Catalunya. Thanks mainly, we can be sure, to the misguided trust of the Catalan leadership in the honest brokerage of the EU and the European states this has not happened. Yet, now having learned this lesson, we cannot be certain that any similar event will end so “peacefully.”
Once upon a time “poppy day” was an annual event most of us slept through, marked by an irrelevant old woman putting down a wreath at a pointless monument to violence in London. A box of cheap red paper poppies would appear in our classrooms at the start of the month and the teacher would tell us some patriotic lies about brave soldiers and we could “remember them” at the cost of just 5p a poppy. It’s all different now.
Our problem with such violent political policing is not the violence per se. We are used to violence. Western civilisation was built on violence, and is perhaps the greatest purveyor and consumer of warfare and state sponsored violence in the history of the human race. Rather, our problem with this sacrilege is that it shatters our illusions pertaining to the nature and power of democracy. It reminds us that democracy is a pacifier; a ritual that sedates people with the tranquiliser of the mere impression of control while the state qua the ruling establishment is free to get on with the business of power.