Brian Richardson

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.”

Royals remain out of touch

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The rich man at his castle,/ The poor man at his gate;/ God made them high or lowly./ And ordered their estate.

That was one of the verses of a popular hymn we used to sing when I was a child.

Exactly one mile away from my primary school is a real castle and it was here that Henry Charles Albert David Windsor married Meghan Markle on 19 May.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History

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“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s running so we all can fly.” Rap mogul Jay Z’s words reflected not just the “Yes we can!” optimism of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, but also the orthodox view of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

Most commentaries present us with a series of episodes which are celebrated as part of the glorious history of the United States.

How institutional racism survives

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A quarter of a century has passed since the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence led to greater recognition of institutional racism. But how much has really changed since, asks Brian Richardson.

"What, what nigger?” Those were probably the very last words that 18 year old black student Stephen Lawrence heard as he waited for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks in Well Hall Road, Eltham, on 22 April 1993. Seconds later he was attacked by a knife wielding gang of racists. He tried to escape and managed to run some distance before collapsing in a pool of his own blood.

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