Camerons Austerity

So the reality of the conservatives budget and new policies has finally sunk in, disabled screwed, young screwed ,large families screwed, public workers screwed, foreign workers screwed, scots screwed, welsh screwed and on and on and on. The enormity of these cuts and new policies are beyond belief how can they (the Government) honestly sleep at night, well soundly seems to be the answer. David Cameron stands tall like a modern day Dracula brandishing a large stake knife happy to cut,cut,cut millions of families will suffer child poverty will rise and make no mistake people will become homeless and even worse I fear some may die.

Now that may seem abit harsh but I don’t think so already with that wee disgusting man Ian Duncan Smith practically orgasm when Osbourne’s budget was announced in the House of Commons. Duncan Smith latest idea is to get workers to pay in to savers accounts to cover their own sick pay and Cameron’s up for the idea, should we be surprised? The Budget had the Tories doing cartwheels with the rest of the country crying in our empty pint pots and labour well they don’t seem to give a damn to busy trying to make sure left sided leader candidate Jeromy Corbyn doesn’t win cause the press say Labour can never win an election with a left-wing leader the tragedy .

The pensioners who the media seem to think have done all right out of the budget seem to forget the government have been tighten up on their pensions and let’s not forget the crumbling NHS which our older generation rely on just as much if not more and with the doctors soon being able to charge for missed appointments if government whispers are to be believed you are going to have a lot of miffed oaps and who knows how long their winter fuel allowance’s will be safe.

So how do we tackle the austerity plan Cameron is happily forcing on us all as the rich get richer well I’m not sure to be honest. It seems like most people will be too busy trying just survive to have the will power to fight back and that maybe the point we are missing. As more and more people feel the pinch or should I say the punch of these cuts the Government will try to slip through new bills scrapping of the human rights bills, fracking, workers’ rights, TTIP, privatisation of NHS and we will be too hungry, too poor and too weak to fight back and no doubt the media will be there lapping it up blaming the spongers, foreigners and the SNP and anyone else the media don’t like.

It seems rather than moving forward as a society we are going backwards its upstairs downstairs time again, the rich will dictate and the workers and unemployed will do as we are told and if the government needs extra cash then we will contribute so the rich don’t have too . NHS goes down the swanny so be it the rich can afford to go private, the pensioners freeze and starve well if they were rich enough they would have a big house paid for and 7 pensions the next generation won’t get help of the state and can stay at home putting more pressure on their parents cause if the parents are rich enough what’s the problem. Society under this Government can go up in smoke communities can crumble spirit can die and all under the name of Austerity and the media big business and the Government don’t give a damn and that’s unfortunately a fact.

featured image provided by Brian Falconer you can follow him on twitter at @falconerbrian

Turning Oppression into Opportunity

Last Thursday night was not your typical Thursday night for me as I was attending the second of two discussion events titled “This is Glasgow: Turning oppression into opportunity for refugees.” The first of these events took place on Monday 15th June at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art. Thursday’s talk not only allowed me to take part in such an interesting and important talk, but also gave me the opportunity to make my first visit to Woodside Library, the largest Carnegie library in the city.

The talk takes place during the Refugee Festival Scotland and was set up by Fuad Alakbarov and Davy Irvin. If you’re thinking “shouldn’t that be Refugee Week?” you’d almost be right as there are now so many events, that they couldn’t all be squeezed into a single week. The Festival now runs between 3rd – 21st June, and this year includes the Scottish Refugee Council’s 30th anniversary.

The theme for this year’s Festival was ‘celebrate’; not only intended as a celebration of the contribution that refugees make to our cultural life and local communities, but also that Scotland is a place that offers protection to those people who come here to rebuild their lives away from persecution and conflict.

The celebration is more poignant this year as the Scottish Refugee Council continues to call on the UK government to do more to help save the lives of migrants trying to enter Europe via the Mediterranean. As it was recently reported, Germany is resettling 30,000 Syrian refugees, Norway 8,000 and Canada 10,000. The UK scheme will not exceed 1,000.

In addition, the recent deportation and subsequent disappearance – presumed death – of Majid Ali, a student at City of Glasgow College, has highlighted the change in Home Office policies. Mr Ali had applied for asylum in the UK in 2011 after accusing the Pakistani authorities of raiding his family home in Balochistan, and killing his uncle and cousin because of their political beliefs. His case was turned down, after which he was moved to Dungavel. After his appeals had failed, Majid was transported back to Pakistan on a non-commercial flight. As yet, his friends and lecturers have been unable to contact him.

This meeting’s attendance was smaller than the previous one, but had the advantage of being live streamed, by the now ubiquitous Independence Live. A link to the discussion can be found at the end of this article. I have to say, it was lovely to finally meet Ali Hendrick and her very able stand-in camerawoman Linda Anderson.

The talk itself started with Amal Azzudin, the human rights activist, who came to prominence as a part of the “Glasgow Girls”. She outlined her own story and that of the Glasgow Girls and how they and their local community worked together to support asylum seekers and refugees. Personally, I was shocked to find that since Nick Clegg’s announcement in 2010 that children would no longer be held in detention centres, such as Dungavel, that 664 children still have been. However, the reintroduction of Home Office dawn raids was not a surprise, as both David Cameron & Teresa May have both seem to take pleasure in taking part in a photo ops that took place after one such raid.

Faud Alakbarov , Liam O'Hare, Ali Hendrick and Amal Azzudin
Faud Alakbarov , Liam O’Hare, Ali Hendrick and Amal Azzudin

The positive side of Amal’s talk was how she said that many people, especially young people, have been engaged by the Glasgow Girls musical and documentary. She believes that by stepping up campaigning strategies and increasing awareness with the public, pressure groups can help devise more humane policies.

The second speaker was Ali Hendrick, artist and human rights activist, on “Art and migration”. She aims to create spaces through which refugees and asylum seekers can tell their stories, and also become aware of their human rights. She is another who became politically active during the referendum last year, and was even in George Square on 19th September with Hope over Fear posters.

Linda Anderson and Ali Hendrick from Independance Live
Linda Anderson and Ali Hendrick from Independance Live

As “The 45 Storm” Ali has set up a “tweetstorm” every week for different campaigns. She said “When one person speaks out, it encourages others to do so”. (I have real life friends on Twitter, who do not tweet much but are quite happy to join in the tweetstorm each week.)

She has a great deal of enthusiasm for the new media and its ability for individuals and groups to forge links and support one another, in addition to its ability to educate and activate engagement.

The CommonSpace journalist, Liam O’Hare, spoke on “Refugees from perspective of the media”. He was the only journalist to cover the hunger strikes taking place in Dungavel, and regularly reports on the conditions there. He said his drive comes from anger at the lack of coverage from the mainstream media, who accept Home Office statements rather than investigating the situation themselves. He added that, as the Home Office has a policy of not commenting on individual cases – and that every case is individual – they have a get out for never commenting.

He had praise for the SNP’s rhetoric on asylum and hoped that the increased number of MPs would be able to apply pressure on the UK government. Fuad Alakbarov, human rights activist and talk organiser, raised the “Impact of refugees in Scotland”. I found his very first comment was striking “migration is not a crime”, in that it is something that humanity has been undertaking throughout its history. He then explained his own story of how he came to Scotland, and the changes that have happened within Azerbaijan since 1993, resulting in 1 million refugees.

Despite all the negativity and the growth of anti-semitism, islamophobia and sectarianism, Fuad still voices a positive message of unity, and that we should “be more tolerant, that all lives matter”.

Scotland, as a nation, needs more immigration, going against the general UK media narrative. Many of the post-industrial countries, with their ageing demographics, require more young people and families to rebalance their populations. Asylum seekers face a varied number of psychological pressures; from the fear of being deported, racism in their day-to-day lives, to frustration with the system, sometimes to such a degree that they end up requesting to go home despite the risks there.

Scotland may not be the perfect welcoming place that we would like it to be, but the vast majority of refugees have integrated into Scottish society and have added a rich diversity to our communities, culture and food.

I for one hopes it continues.



Link to Independence Live video of discussion

Amal Azzudin: @AmalAzzudin

Ali Hendrick: @The45Storm

Liam O’Hare: @Liam_O_Hare

Fuad Alakbarov: @Alakbarov_

you can also follow Simone Charlesworth on twitter at @cee4cat

Simone Charlesworth
Simone Charlesworth

Migration and Loss

A father from Afghanistan wanted to reunite his son with the rest of his family living in Scotland. But the British government denied him a family reunification visa. Under the Home Office’s new laws, to be granted indefinite leave to remain, dependent relatives must now prove they need long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks like dressing and feeding themselves.

Imagine the boy’s ordeal.

Imagine the father’s desperation.

It is situations like these, multiplied by the millions that are playing out all over the world, in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere. Driven by war and poverty, millions of people are on the move, risking their lives to escape desperate circumstances. Unfortunately, the response from elites is to trap them, by putting them in jail or criminalising traffickers and militarising sea routes.

We need to expose the tragic losses that have resulted from unfair immigration laws
We need to expose the tragic losses that have resulted from unfair immigration laws

Thus, notably in recent years, the anti-immigrant movement has successfully been able to dominate the immigration debate by pushing out messages about migrants that are racist, inhumane, xenophobic and hateful. But those of us who fight for migrant rights are not only fighting back, we want to reframe the way migrants are portrayed, politicians especially. We need to expose the tragic losses that have resulted from unfair immigration laws, and we want to inspire and challenge people to reimagine migration as something beautiful and natural – something we all do.

Migration involves loss. Even when you’re privileged, and move of your own free will, you feel it. Migrants, almost by definition, move with the future in mind. But their journeys undoubtedly involve excising part of their past. And whenever they move they leave part of themselves behind. Efforts to reclaim that which has been lost result in something more than nostalgia but, if you’re lucky, less than exile. And the losses keep coming. Weddings, graduations and funerals missed – milestones you couldn’t make because your life is elsewhere.

2015 - 1Poverty, war, violence and repression are all too common for millions of people the world over, thanks in large part to the neoliberal economic wars and neo-colonial military wars of the Western and Eastern worlds. If our response to the human desire for escape is to add to repression and violence, then we are very much part of the problem


Posters provided by Fuad Alakbarov