Category Archives: News

Should Pride be a party or a protest?

Just weeks before the London Pride march, organisers of Sheffield Pride have come under fire after describing their event as a “march of celebration, not protest”.

In an email to participants, then widely circulated across social media, organisers said that banners and placards would have to be viewed by the Parade Manager prior to the event, and ‘offensive’ signs would not be allowed on the march. 

It’s the vague sentiment of ‘offensive’ followed by a note that the event is “a march of celebration not protest” that has angered many, who believe the event should continue from its inherently political roots.

Luke Renwick, the president of Sheffield Hallam Student Union, noted on social media the organisers had also banned political groups from joining the march – although this has now been removed from their website. 

Organisers initially defended their policy, with event manager Darren Hopkinson telling BBC Sheffield: “We understand there is a protest element but the main priority for our event is to celebrate”. 

Later, they released a statement saying that “we got it wrong”, and they were acting on “criticism we received after last years’ parade and event”.

But ahead of a summer of Pride events it has rekindled a debate about whether Pride has lost its purpose. 

Pride in London, the organisers of the event in the capital, have repeatedly fended off criticism of associations with big corporations. They argue that it’s a necessary measure to fund the event that has to pay increasing costs to the council and police. 

Last year, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote for The Guardian that “Pride has been dumbed down. For many people, it is now mostly a gigantic street party. Big corporations see it as a PR opportunity to fete LGBT consumers. The ideals of LGBT equality are barely visible.”

This attitude has led to a string of fringe events growing, most notably UK Black Pride, where politics and social change remains at the forefront. In February, Stonewall announced they’d be pulling out of London’s biggest event to instead divert their resources to UK Black Pride instead.

Despite the criticism, more than 25,000 people will attend London’s Pride march on July 7, and it remains the biggest event of its kind.

But questions remain about whether the LGBT+ community expect better from London – be it the Mayor’s office, Westminster Council or Pride in London – when hate crime has increased by 78% in the last five years (via Stonewall).

 

The most bizarre thing Kanye West has said so far

The opinionated and controversial American-born singer has shocked us once again.
On Tuesday, during an interview for entertainment website TMZ, Mr. West hinted that enslavement of African American over centuries might have been a “choice”.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said during the talk hosted by Mr. Lathan

“We’re mentally imprisoned,” the star added.

It is not the first time Kanye West makes the headlines for his bold statements, but this time around, the audience including TMZ host thought the singer had gone past the limit.
Black people were forced to move from Africa to the US during 17th, 18th and 19th century and later sold as slaves, but Kanye commented that:

“Right now we’re choosing to be enslaved”.

The interview has sparked a backlash on Twitter, which did not stop even after the singer tried to explain himself in a series of tweet that, if anything, made the reactions even more sour.

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The consequences to the interview have been severe. Adidas’ CEO, one of the biggest sportswear company on the market Mr. West has collaborated with, decided to delay the drop of the latest collection designed by the singer.

Sexual assault scandals in the #MeToo era

Sexual assault scandals have been invading the headlines, even more since the Harvey Weinstein case was brought to light by the New York Times and The New Yorker last October.

This case inspired the #MeToo movement where sexual assault victims from all over the world have come forward with their experiences, thus uncovering more cases, specially related to institutions with a high reputation, just like Weinstein’s film production company. The list below illustrates some of the ones that have faced consequences, ranging from all aspects of public life.

1. The Weinstein Company

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Harvey Weinstein, Chairman, The Weinstein Company. Image: Thomas Hawk on Flickr

The company filed for bankruptcy on 19 March following dozens of allegations against Harvey Weinstein accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and rape. He is currently under investigation in both the US and the UK.

2. Oxfam

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An Oxfam member of staff helps to carry one family’s newly received non-food items home in UN House, Juba. Credit: Anita Kattakuzhy/Oxfam (from Wikimedia Commons)

The British charity is assumed to have hidden sexual abuse allegations against staff from victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The scandal highlighted the fact that big charities are increasingly more worried about branding and earnings than their actual mission.

3. Swedish Academy/Nobel Foundation

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Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius announces the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Swedish Academy will not be awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, who has close ties with the Academy. It is the first time since World War II that the price is being withheld.

4. US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 

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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, along with Mr. Weinstein (last year). Cosby was convicted of sexual assault last month and Polanski has admitted statutory rape of a 13-year old girl in 1977.

5. Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival

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Seconds before the beginning of the San Fermín Festival in Pamplona (Spain). Town hall Square. Everybody holds his red handkerchief above his head until a firework is exploded at 12 pm; they then put it around the neck. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A Spanish court cleared five men, known as the ‘wolf pack’, of the gang rape of a teenager at the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. They were convicted on 26 April of sexual abuse, a much lesser crime. Protests have taken over the country following the decision.

6. Vatican

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Catechesis at the Palacio De Deportes with The Mass given by Cardinal George Pell Archbishop of Sydney for English speaking pilgrims.
 © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk on Flickr

Cardinal George Pell is facing sexual assault charges in Australia. This is part of the long-established sex abuse scandal in the church, making Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged.

 

Local Election 2018: A country divided

“The country remains to be as divided as its ever been” says Peter Catterall, professor of History and Policy and political expert.

After the 2018 local elections left many people wondering who was the clear winner, Peter Catterall puts the lacklustre attitude down to political parties who “failed to capture people’s imagination or attention.”

All parties have seemingly got something to celebrate, and equally to be disappointed in, with this election’s results.

Here’s what he shared with WNOL about the election:

It seems the election can be defined in one sentence from the political expert: “there’s a sense of disengagement that is palpable.”

Did the Windrush scandal affect voters choice?

Newly-appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed on Wednesday that a dedicated taskforce has received more than 7,000 calls, of which 3,000 have been identified as potential Windrush cases.

Javid told MPs, these numbers are “increasing by the day.” So far more than 700 appointments have been scheduled and more than 100 people have had their case processed and now have been issued the documents they need.

While, work is now being done to help those affected tensions have risen.

Labour had tried to use parliamentary procedure, known as “motion to return” to force the government to release documentation, which they said would reveal how much ministers knew about the problems facing the Windrush generation.

However,  it was announced on Wednesday that the Conservatives have blocked all attempts that compel the government to release the Windrush papers.

Many have turned to social media to raise their concerns and disappointment in the Government and their choices.

MP John McDonnell shared his thoughts on Theresa May’s and the parties decision to vote against the release of the Windrush documents:

So, has the scandal affected voters choice? While parties have failed to make decisive gains. One thing is clear. There’s a proportion of Labour voters who made their choice based on the fact that they didn’t  agree with the Tories position in the Windrush scandal.

Featured image by Ian Berry/Magnum Photos.

Did you vote?

Every election young people are encouraged to vote, as historically the turnout for the age group 18-24 has always been low. To tackle this problem, the University of Westminster held a ‘Register to Vote’ campaign on all four campuses.

The campaign was aimed to encourage students to register, so they could vote in Thursday’s election. But how could the university entice its students to do this? With FREE ice-cream, of course.

Each student was given a flyer explaining where to register and how. They were offered to register on the spot on the laptop provided at the booth. Once they registered, they could help themselves to a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream.

The atmosphere on the Harrow Arts and Design campus buzzed with chatter about becoming more politically involved. I returned to the Harrow campus today and spoke to some students to find out if they voted.

So you’ve got a new council, but what do they do now?

Whether your council has changed party or not, there’ll be new councillors across London today preparing to step into office for the first time. Here’s what powers they’ll have.

Bins, not Brussels

Despite the talk of national issues swinging the vote, Councillors have little say on the major issues and work independently of the MP elected in a General Election.

Those voted in on Thursday will be focused on the local issues in their city or borough, rather than policymaking.

What kind of councils are there, and what are their roles?

Not all councils are created equally, mostly down to the size of the area and population.

County councils have the most power, with the ability to make decisions about education, transport, planning, fire services and social care.

For Londoners (and similarly in other metropolitan areas), each borough elects a council who can make decisions on roads, social housing, waste collection, education and social services.

Uniquely for London, as the city also elect a London assembly some of the bigger decisions for the city, are decided through City Hall and by working with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

How is the council made up?

Each London council is divided into 21 wards, and there are three councillors elected for each one. The party with the largest share of seats and councillors will be able to appoint a leader, who oversee the process.

Who gets a mayor?

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Following the push for Scottish independence there has been a new focus on the devolution across the UK. This has lead to Mayors being appointed in larger regions for the first, such as South Yorkshire and Manchester. Dan Jarvis today won the first election in the region but, unlike Andy Burnham in Manchester and Khan in London, he will be able to carry on as a Member of Parliament.

In London there are also Mayors for four boroughs (Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets). This is instead of picking a council leader from the largest party in the council.

An elected mayor has more individual responsibility and are able to appoint a cross-party cabinet. While only four out of 32 boroughs opt for elected mayors, supporters of the system believe that it makes the council more accountable.

How much do councillors get paid?

As it’s not a full-time role, most councillors do not get a salary, but are offered compensation for their time and any expenses. The costs of each councillors vary, some will claim a couple of thousand of pounds, while others have been compensated over £20,000 according to the BBC.

You can find more specific details about London councillors on their government website.  

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