Britain

Earlier this year, a poll found the British public were generally proud of their country’s role in colonialism and the British Empire. The YouGov poll from January found 44% were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism, while only 21% regretted it. The same poll also asked about whether the British Empire was a good thing or a bad thing: 43% said it was good, while only 19% said it was bad. 

As the year draws to a close, Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing British Labour Party leader, might give a short sigh of relief. After one of the stormiest year in British politics for generations, he is one of the few who will enter 2017 in a stronger position.

This interview by John Pilger with Jullian Assange was filmed in the Embassy of Ecuador in London – where Assange is a political refugee –  and broadcast on November 5.

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John Pilger:

What’s the significance of the FBI's intervention in these last days of the U.S. election campaign, in the case against Hillary Clinton?

Julian Assange:

In July 1915, three brothers presented themselves at Glencorse Barracks on the outskirts of Edinburgh to enlist in the Royal Scots. The First World War was almost a year old, but despite the mounting casualty lists and a growing realisation that it would not be over anytime soon, my grandfather and his two brothers joined up.

FIFA, the world’s ruling body of football (soccer), has banned wearing poppies to mark the death of British soldiers in war, which has provoked a confected outrage by British media and politicians.

The football associations of England and Scotland intend to defy the ban in the two national teams’ match on Armistice Day on November 11. In the editorial below, British left-wing daily The Morning Star responds to the hypocrisy of those opposing FIFA’s ruling.

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Thousands of people demonstrated in London on November 6 in the latest protest against the mass arrests of pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey. On November 4, the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued arrest warrants for all 59 MPs from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing largely Kurdish-led party.

French authorities announced their operation to demolish “the Jungle”, the makeshift refugee settlement in the northern French port of Calais, was completed on October 26, with refugees bussed to government-controlled centres dispersed throughout France.

But this claim was contradicted by chaotic scenes of the camp in flames and more than 1600 unaccompanied minors being excluded from the transfer to other camps. All the while, British and French politicians bickered over whose responsibility they were.

I, Daniel Blake
Written by Paul Laverty & directed by Ken Loach
Starring Dave Johns & Hayley Squires
In cinemas

To be in need of government welfare in this neoliberal world is to enter one of the circles of hell. Government services have been constructed so that people receive as much hassle as they get help – to preserve them from becoming “welfare dependent”.

Veteran socialist filmmaker Ken Loach’s new film I, Daniel Blake, tells the story of two people trying to survive under Britain’s increasingly cruel welfare system.

Many conservatives have claimed the film presents a “romanticised” view of the poor and that the harsh realities it depict are exaggerated — despite a large number of real-life examples similar to those features in Loach’s film. Below, comedian Mark Steel responds to Daily Mail columnist Toby Young, who said the film “didn’t ring true”. It first appeared at The Independent.

Although fit and healthy until near the end of his life, Stan Hilton, the 98-year old veteran of the Spanish Civil War as one of the almost 60,000 International Brigade members who travelled from around the world to join the fight against fascism who passed away on October 21, could no longer recall his four-month adventure in Spain in 1937 and 1938. Thankfully, his son, Gordon, and grandson, Adam, still keep alive the stories and recollections he told them over many years.

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