Britain

Song of Gulzarina
By Tariq Mehmood
Daraja Press
November 2016

Sing to the Western wind the song it understands.

Song of Gulzarina, by British-Pakistani filmmaker and author Tariq Mehmood, stands out as a unique piece of literature that intertwines personal issues such as migration, identity crisis and romance, with the impact of racism, Islamophobia and Western imperialism in the Middle East.

After winning 30 extra seats in the general elections three weeks ago and leading in polls, the socialist leader of Britain's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has received a rapturous welcome at Europe's largest greenfield music festival in the southwest of England.

The Labour party's Jeremy Corbyn took to the main Pyramid stage on the second day of the event to address the largely young crowds. Tens of thousands of people turned up to see the 68 year old, making him one of Glastonbury's most anticipated headliners this year along with Radiohead and the Foo Fighters.

Theresa May is now Britain’s prime minister in name only. Leading a government that may collapse within days, propped up (she hopes) by the homophobes of the Democratic Unionist Party, it is clear her time is nearly up.

So while May is in office but not in power, who has stepped into the vacuum of leadership she has left? Jeremy Corbyn.

“How does it aid the revolution, you trying to be funny?” The left-wing Liverpudlian Alexei Sayle, future star of the BBC’s comically demented The Young Ones, was flummoxed by this question posed to him by an exiled Arab revolutionary in Sayle’s London flat in 1971, in which the General Congress of the deadly serious Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab Gulf was being held.

Sayle, the son of working-class communists, was a “practising communist” himself. But he also loved clowning around, he writes in Thatcher Sole My Trousers, his follow-up memoir to his childhood reminiscences in Stalin Ate My Homework.

It is too early yet to write about the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14 without being overcome by a mixture of sorrow and anger. This not just could, but should have been avoided.

The residents, including through the Grenfell Action Group, have been raising concerns about the safety of the block and the refurbishment for several years. In October, the London Fire Brigade wrote to Kensington and Chelsea Council expressing concerns about the insulation used at Grenfell. They were all ignored.

The recent British general election delivered very different results in Scotland than those of England and Wales.

While the question of Scottish independence was still a major issue for voters, tactical errors by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and a muted Jeremy Corbyn-effect in Scottish Labour’s favour led to some unforeseen outcomes.

Hundreds of angry residents stormed council offices on June 16 as they demanded support, housing and answers over the Grenfell Tower disaster amid accusations of “mass murder.” They gathered outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea civic centre and entered the building to stage a sit-down protest. Council leaders refused to meet them.

Residents held placards demanding “Justice for Grenfell” and chanted “come downstairs” as they presented a list of immediate demands to the council.

In the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the 120 apartments of the Grenfell Tower in London, with at least 17 fatalities, a heartbroken Grenfell Tower Action Group pointed to the repeated, detailed warnings it provided to authorities that the building was a disaster waiting to happen.

In the aftermath of Britain’s June 8 elections, in which Labour defied expectations to make major gains while the Conservative government of Theresa May lost its majority, the surge of support for Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity platform has grown.

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