Brian Richardson

An inquiry will not tackle the roots of racism

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The disproportionate number of BAME death rates during the coronavirus pandemic need to be investigated, but Brian Richardson argues, only if we tackle the racism that underpines them

There is a widespread consensus that when Britain finally emerges from lockdown there will be what the Observer’s chief political commentator Andrew Rawnsley characterises as “the mother of all public inquiries”. Socialists could be forgiven for rolling their eyes in contempt at such a prospect.

Many people would agree with Guardian journalists Paul Lewis’s and Rob Evans’s suggestion that inquiries are usually initiated in order to “silence critics with one fell swoop and kick a controversy into the field of long grass where (those in power) hope it will be forgotten”.

Tories’ Betrayal of Windrush

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Brian Richardson pays tribute to the contribution BAME health workers made to the NHS, and the terrible price they are now paying.

Medical and support staff are making an extraordinary contribution to our survival and recovery at great risk to themselves. But a disproportionate number of those that have paid the ultimate price are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. At the time of writing, the first 10 doctors and three of the first six nurses to die were from BAME. Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has been built and sustained by people from all around the world.

Heavy is the Head

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When word dropped that Stormzy’s new album Heavy Is The Head would be released on 13 December there were, to my mind, three possible scenarios. Firstly, it would be the perfect toast to a stunning Labour election victory. Alternatively, it would offer consolation in the wake of a devastating defeat. Finally, the “Fuck the government and fuck Boris” refrain of Vossi Bop would be the defiant slogan of the continuing struggle.

Kiwanuka

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Home Again and Love & Hate, Michael Kiwanuka’s first two albums, were both nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Little wonder then that his eponymously titled third release was eagerly anticipated.

Born in Muswell Hill, north London, to parents who fled Idi Amin’s Uganda, Kiwanuka’s music similarly has a multicultural inheritance.

Grenfell report fails survivors

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The First Phase Report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (GTI) was finally published on 30 October. When this date was originally announced, the bereaved, survivors and families (BSFs) were concerned that this was a ruse to bury it in the fanfare of what was expected to be “Brexit Day”. As it happens, the report was prematurely leaked to the Daily Telegraph and captured considerable attention in the media.

Johnson's bluster on crime

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The prime minister, like many before him, has advocated greater police numbers and increased stop and search powers. This approach won’t tackle the issues fuelling violent crime, writes Brian Richardson.

“Entitlement, aggression, amorality, lack of concern for others.” That was how one woman described a particularly notorious member of the Bullingdon Club during her time as a student at Oxford University in the 1980s. She recalls “with extreme regret and embarrassment” her role acting as a scout for an organisation which was characterised by a culture of vandalism and intimidation. Women were routinely belittled at its lavish dinners while others were recruited to perform sex acts.

Dispensable human rights

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The decision to revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship shows the government’s contempt for human rights. Brian Richardson slams a decision that makes no concession to the impulsive nature of young people.

Home secretary Sajid Javid’s response to the discovery of 19-year-old Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp last month was swift, predictable and utterly reprehensible.

At the first available opportunity he rushed into the House of Commons and declared in characteristically pompous tones that:

Drill music and social exclusion

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If you type the words “Incognito blessed” into your preferred internet search engine it will bring up a very poignant three-minute drill music video set in and around the Brandon Estate in south London. One of its six tower blocks, Molesworth House, is prominently featured in the film but the area is not just a grey and grim concrete jungle. The estate is just south of the lush green expanse of Kennington Park. I know the area well. On sunny days like those we enjoyed for much of 2018, these spaces are full of people relaxing and having fun.

Intervening in the national immigration conversation

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A number of recent reports and surveys have contradicted the assumption that Brexit Britain is overwhelmingly racist and anti-migrant. However, writes Brian Richardson, there is still a long way to go to counter the racist ideas pumped out from above and enacted on the streets.

Mainstream politicians and pundits frequently lament the lack of a supposedly “grown up debate” about the impact of immigration in Britain. Such claims are usually followed by the suggestion that the reason for this is because the media is dominated by a cosmopolitan elite who are worried about causing offence to “ethnic minorities” and whose comfortable lifestyles protect them from any negative effects.

Glasgow model is no panacea for violence

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“Sadiq Khan’s Crime U-Turn” screamed the front page of the London Evening Standard on 19 September. The article’s subtitle added, “Mayor finally backs new public health approach we demanded”.

This followed the announcement by London’s mayor of a “new approach” to tackling violent crime in the capital.

The paper’s boastfulness continued in an editorial which indicated, “We welcome the zeal of the Mayor’s conversion even if he didn’t manage to find time to credit us.”

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