Tag Archives: Politics & Protest

Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Conservatives in power, vicious cuts applied to the welfare state while regressive taxes increase, police violence perpetrated against the poor against a background of declining legitimacy. Yes, the parallels between 2011 and 1981 are irresistibly suggestive of a political explanation for the British summer riots.

Continue reading Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

Today’s protests will be mainly read as anger at the hike in student fees resulting from the government’s massive withdrawal of funding from higher education. Very important issues, to be sure. But the issue at stake is broader, even, than the debate over whether higher education is a public good. Refusal to pay for higher education is just one part of an ongoing, broad-ranging assualt on future generations by those currently in positions of power. Continue reading Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

The Beeb and Gaza

There’s now a very public fuss about the BBC’s unfathomable decision not to air an appeal requested by the Disaster’s Emergency Committee because of reasons of  impartiality. So, I wrote the following:

Dear sir/madam,

RE: BBC decision not to air DEC Gaza appeal

I was surprised and frustrated to learn that the BBC have refused the request by the Disasters Emergency Committee to air an appeal for funds to help those in desperate need in Gaza.

The BBC response was that your concerns were about the delivery of aid to a volatile situation and about impartiality.[1] The first issue appears to be one on which the DEC is better qualified to make a decision than the BBC. If the aid agencies involved believe it is possible to deliver aid then they should be supported – especially because it is often in volatile and dangerous situations that aid is most urgently required. The second issue is clearly within the BBC’s remit. However, the DEC insists it is an apolitical organisation working on humanitarian grounds.[2] The simple fact is that thousands of people are newly impoverished and homeless, with urgent need for access to clean water, food and medical supplies. Regardless of the political situation I strongly believe that the BBC should take the small step of airing an appeal – along with all other broadcasters – to help relieve the suffering of these people. This action would fit very well with the BBC’s privileged position as a license-funded, public service organisation.

Thank you for your attention in reading this letter. I would be very grateful if you would reply with answers to the following questions:

1. Why does the BBC feel it is in a better position than DEC to decide on the dangers of delivery of aid?

2. How exactly would airing this appeal damage the BBC’s credentials for impartiality?

3. Will the BBC reconsider this decision?

Yours sincerely,

Dr Kevin Gillan

[1]BBC, ‘BBC defends Gaza appeal decision’ at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7846150.stm

[2] Guardian, ‘BBC refuses airtime to Gaza aid appeal’ at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jan/23/bbc-refuses-gaza-appeal

Oil and Political Terror

It might not be the biggest surprise to learn that the presence of oil in a country has an effect on that country’s political character, but its rare to see the ‘resource curse’ described as clearly as in the graph below.

Source: Bennie, Lynn, Patrick Bernhagen, and Neil J. Mitchell. 2007. “The Logic of Transnational Action: the Good Corporation and the Global Compact.” Political Studies 55(4):733-753.

N.B. The political terror scale, originally developed by Freedom House, is based on data from Amnesty International and the US Department of State’s country reports. 1 stands for respect for human rights, 5 indicates widespread government killing, torture, political imprisonment and disappearances.