Only a few weeks after being diagnosed with a late-stage liver cancer in late May 2017, the world learned that China’s most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, died at 61 in a hospital in the north-east region of China, where he was born. As the poetess Tang Danhong wrote, he departed as “an innocent prisoner into the eternal light” (无罪的囚徒，融入永恒的光芒). What a tragedy for a man who fought most of his life for freedom to live out his last days in a hospital bed under lock and key.
There has scarcely been a time in the BBC’s 95-year history when it hasn’t faced accusations of political bias. But it has been decades since the criticisms emanated so strongly from the left. This is a consequence of the collapse of a centre ground which had long been the BBC’s political fulcrum. As the Labour Party shifted leftwards, attracting an unprecedented influx of new members, its MPs and party bureaucracy fought back. And since the BBC is deeply embedded in Westminster, and routinely defers to the consensus there in setting the parameters of political debate, its political reporting has been skewed against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Continue reading
Responding effectively to ever-increasing diversity (or superdiversity) is an important challenge facing the modern Church of England, particularly in urban centres. This response may take the form of attempts at meaningful engagement with other faith communities – for instance, the Church’s nationwide Presence and Engagement programme, which “focus[es] on the importance of the Church both remaining present in multi religious areas and engaging positively with communities of other faiths”1, and is complemented by a network of Inter-Faith Relations Advisors working at the Diocesan level. However, as well as this engagement across faiths, the Church must also respond (and arguably adapt) to significant diversity within Christianity, and even within Anglicanism. Continue reading
When an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber killed 88 people and wounded hundreds more at a Sufi shrine in Sehwan on February 16, it did not deter the devotees of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the 13th-century Sufi mystic, who draws millions to his tomb in Pakistan’s Sindh privince.
The attack followed a bombing in November 2016 at another Sufi shrine in the remote Baluchistan region which killed at least 52 people.
Tom Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and former Co-Editor of New Left Project, has just published his first book, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service. Using archival research, original interviews, autobiographies and secondary sources Mills examines the politics of the BBC, arguably the most influential and trusted news organisation in the UK.
I asked Mills about the popular image of the BBC as independent and impartial, its Iraq War coverage and what changes he would like to see made at the Corporation.
Ian Sinclair: In an interview with the Press Gazette after she was recently named Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s Political Editor, said ‘Among the many jewels and gifts that the BBC has is our editorial independence’. She went on to argue ‘I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC. That’s what we do.’ Is the BBC independent and impartial?
As US president Donald Trump presses on with his personal crusade against us Mexicans, he’s finding out at last that the realities of government are quite different from the realities of life on the campaign trail.
Trump has now made his plan for a wall on the Mexican border official by way of an executive order but, in a democratic system, formulating a “policy” (if this one deserves the name) is completely different to implementing it. Building a concrete wall in the middle of the desert isn’t just a huge practical challenge; it’s a multi-billion-dollar vanity project – and one that would do little to stop illegal immigration or drug trafficking.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a period of intense social and political change in the former Soviet Union as well as in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, not least in relation to the re-construction of borders separating re-emergent nation-states. These re-constructed borders imposed separation on a formerly united space, while at the same time the region was opening up to transnational processes associated with globalisation. How, in this context, have people caught up in the shifting dimensions of nationalism and transnationalism negotiated their sense of identity and ‘home’?
While the taboo on discussing the Israel lobby was broken decisively by Mearsheimer and Walt in their ground-breaking 2007 study, there has been relatively little discussion of the lobby in the UK and the rest of Europe. In this article, we examine the history and current organisation of the UK’s pro-Israel lobby. This is important for a number of reasons. Not least because the lobby is a significant player in UK politics, helping to blunt campaigns for Palestinian human rights, shore up support for Israel, attack and marginalise critics (including Jewish critics) of Israel and insulate political elites from pressure to act against Israel’s misdeeds. Continue reading
The idea the corporation is a paragon of public service values is a myth that does it no favours. The left should be more critical
While sections of the left object in principle to any platform being given to the far right, much of the criticism of the BBC’s decision to screen an interview with Marine Le Pen focused on good taste as much as political judgment, the interview with the French far-right leader falling on Remembrance Sunday of all days. Continue reading