Alan Gibson

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate

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“I am convinced that climate change represents an historic opportunity to advance policies that dramatically improve people’s lives, close the gap between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up.” So says Naomi Klein is her latest book, This Changes Everything.

In a call to arms, Klein outlines what’s at stake. The non-binding agreement to keep the increase in global warming at 2°C that all the major powers signed at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 is fast becoming a “utopian dream”.

Immigration: a hostile act

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The government's new bill aims to create a "hostile environment" for illegal migrants. Alan Gibson looks at the measures in the proposed law and how it will target all migrants and serve to stoke up racism.


What is the declared aim of the bill?

To create a "hostile environment for illegal migrants". This will be done by forcing landlords, NHS staff and public servants, and bank staff, to check the immigration status of migrants who are potential tenants, users of NHS services, appliers for a driving licence or a bank account. Other proposed measures include a drastic reduction in rights of appeal and bail, and a denial of the right of appeal prior to deportation.

What will the residential measures mean?

Whipping up hatred

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Alan Gibson looks at the wave of anti-immigrant racism that has been marked by the "Go Home" vans and UK Border Agency raids at London tube stations.

The demand by judge Peter Murphy in August that a Muslim woman transgress her religious beliefs and reveal her face to a packed courtroom is just the latest in a series of Islamophobic outrages - all conditioned by a deepening anti-immigrant onslaught.

Priestley's Wars

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Neil Hanson, Great Northern Books, £18.99

Neil Hanson's book is a useful introduction to novelist and broadcaster JB Priestley - a man who made a major contribution to the shape of post-war Britain, and who became one of the founding members of CND in 1958.

It is fitting that the book is published in the same year as the 90th anniversary of the First World War, for it was in this war that Priestley, who volunteered aged 19 just days after its outbreak, developed his utter contempt for bureaucrats and authority.

Can We Trust the BBC?

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Robin Aitken, Continuum, £9.99

If you have just spent several minutes shouting at the television - perhaps this time over the racist filth being broadcast care of the BBC's White Season - it's difficult to comprehend how anyone could possibly claim it is biased against the right. Yet this is the basis of Robin Aitken's book, Can We Trust the BBC?

Passport to our Past

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Review of 'Bloody Foreigners', Robert Winder, Little Brown £20

This is a rich book about an extraordinarily rich subject - immigration. Robert Winder brings to life three basic points - that Britain is a land of immigrants, that every wave of immigration has been met with a combination of varying degrees of racism and generosity, and that immigrants have made colossal contributions to the country's culture and language and created institutions which are now part of its social fabric.

War and Witchunts

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I have a quibble with Chris Harman's otherwise excellent article, 'Left Pole of Attraction' (March SR).

He concludes by saying that we need to build the 'biggest possible anti-war movement--and then argue within it for an anti-capitalist agenda that confronts the system as a whole'. Given the hysteria over asylum seekers, it strikes me that we have to begin doing both at the same time.

As Chris acknowledges, and as Julie Waterson's following piece ('Beating the Bigots') shows, the BNP are homing in on the issue in the run-up to the May council elections. Unless we get behind a campaign of exposing the lies and myths they feed on, the Nazis are poised to make significant gains.

Beyond the Border

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Review of 'From Immigration Controls to Welfare Controls', eds. Steve Cohen, Beth Humphries and Ed Mynott, Routledge £17.99

The plight of asylum seekers and refugees is normally associated with immigration controls, border police, home office procedures, deportation snatch squads and detention centres. Yet behind these vicious measures is another equally brutal system of internal controls that ensures asylum seekers continue to suffer even when they have managed to enter the country. As Ed Mynott says in the opening chapter, 'There is more to the process of tightening controls than closing borders.

When the Rhythm is Right

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Review of exhibition 'Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation' at the Hayward Gallery, London

It is a joy to step in from a grey London to the warm North African colours and playful lines of Swiss artist Paul Klee. Klee (1879-1940) spent most of his adult life in Germany, where his career culminated in 1921 when he became master of arts at the famous Bauhaus school. From the beginning, the Bauhaus was an institution based on radical views of art and its role in society. Klee left shortly before the Nazis closed it down.

Asylum: Europe's Number One Fortress

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David Blunkett's white paper on asylum and immigration, 'Secure Borders, Safe Haven', published last month, will lead to further persecution of asylum seekers.

Under the proposals, asylum seekers are to be systematically segregated--they will either be forced to stay in accommodation centres or locked up in detention camps. New arrivals will be sent immediately to 'induction centres', modelled on the controversial Oakington centre near Cambridge, where their claims will be processed. Here already frightened, desperate people will be confronted with an array of immigration officials. They will be obliged to sign a document saying they understand the asylum seeker system.

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