Palestinians have lost a wonderful friend in Jeremy Hardy
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The entire team at Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) were immensely saddened to hear of the death of Jeremy Hardy last week.
Jeremy made jokes about his height, but as one of our trustees declared when they heard the news, Jeremy was a moral giant. Always ready to challenge injustice with a perfect combination of compassion and mischievous wit, his support for the rights of Palestinians was unflagging. He revelled in the implausible extent of Palestinian hospitality, and could joke about the daily grind of the occupation without belittling the immense impact of its routine indignities.
In the past few days, we’ve heard from people who chose to support MAP, and the Palestinian cause more widely, because of his work. He set a great example of how celebrity status can be used to shine a light on injustice.
We’ve lost a wonderful friend. Our thoughts are will his wife, Katie, his daughter Betty, his family, and his many friends.
CEO, Medical Aid for Palestinians
Lessons from Neeson
I do not have an insight into Liam Neeson’s personal experience but, when he said, “We need to talk about these things ... We all pretend we’re politically correct ... You sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there”, I understood.
We have long discussed, in our family, and way before the divisive Brexit, how thin the veneer of civilisation is and how, in another universe, we could so easily all have been singing “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”.
A cause, an anthem, a charismatic leader is all it takes for us to choose to ignore what really matters. Liam Neeson has, bravely, made a point that we should all heed rather than condemn.
Let’s turn the yellow vests movement into a general strike
With no pre-existing organisation, thousands of French workers and students have battled Macron’s government of the rich for 12 straight weeks. They have repelled a regressive fuel tax, and their hi-vis jackets have been adopted as a symbol of resistance from Belgium to Burkina Faso.
The gilets jaunes have been called far-right thugs, Russian stooges, a privileged “white riot”. But research suggests they are simply ordinary working-class people, resentful at years of being squeezed by austerity and soaring living costs.
Ironically, given his criticisms of Maduro’s “hated dictatorship” in Venezuela, Macron’s own approval has plummeted, and he has sanctioned repression worthy of any despot. Thousands have been injured by the CRS riot police. An elderly woman was killed by a gas canister in Marseille. Children have been maimed by sting-ball grenades. New police tactics have effectively suspended the right to demonstrate legally in the centre of Paris, and there have been many “preventative arrests” of “suspected troublemakers”.
The yellow vests are inspirational, but Macron can survive a thousand days of protest. The coup de grace must come from a rolling general strike that will paralyse France, as in 1968. Jean-Luc Melenchon is well-placed to make such a call, having consistently supported the gilets jaunes and seen his popularity climb as a result.
Given the impasse over Brexit, Corbyn should also take note. If Labour mobilised its 500,000 members to “protest like the French”, with the demand of a general election, we could finally finish off our own zombified government.
Liam Fox has a long record of government service. Some successes too perhaps but also several failures, including as a failed Brexit negotiator.
One success must be for becoming the highest expenses repayer in the shadow cabinet. He was also found to have given a lobbyist friend inappropriate access to the defence ministry when defence secretary. A failure, perhaps?
Now secretary of state for international trade – is this really a role to which he is best suited at this most crucial time in our trading? His approach to tariffs looks dicey, to say the least.
Why on earth has he been given this role? Is it because he has befriended a prime minister whose business experience is nil?
So, tobacco companies are paying a “pitiful” amount of corporation tax. Aside from my firmly held belief that no corporation or company should somehow manage to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, I consider there to be something particularly sinister and alarming about a corporation that ruins lives with its disease-afflicting drugs utilitising such loopholes.
As far as I’m concerned, smoking needs to be massively reduced. The tobacco industry should, therefore, be taxed a greater sum than other corporations, and certainly not less. Cigarettes themselves should be taxed more to reduce the urge of smokers to purchase. Finally, the UK should emulate Sweden, and ban smoking in public places. Cigarettes are perilously dangerous; all justifiable actions should be used to curb their usage. Hit the disgraceful tobacco industry where it hurts.
The whole package