The new political assassination list of Labour MPs under the pretext that they’re being antisemitic, include:
Ed Miliband, the former Labour party leader;
Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP For Barking;
Nia Griffith, the Shadow Welsh Secretary;
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow;
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North; and
Keir Starmer, the current Labour party leader.
Although some of the accused Labour MPs might have condemned Israel’s breach of human rights in the past, they’ve all demanded the end of tax-avoiding practices in the UK!
Rebecca Long-Bailey’s view on tax-avoidance
As Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Long-Bailey, in 2016, opposed the Finance Bill in Parliament, saying: “I think honourable members of all sides of this house have come to agree that tax avoidance is something that should be fought.”
Labour party MP, Margaret Hodge, in 2017, argued that the Paradise Papers showed there is one rule for the super-rich and another for everyone else when it comes to paying tax and that these practices should come to an end, claiming: “I was quite taken aback by that story [of the Queen’s tax arrangements] because what it demonstrated was that the advisors… feel that it’s such an accepted practice to hide your wealth and avoid legitimate taxes that they didn’t think twice about doing it. It never occurred to them that it would tarnish the Queen’s reputation. That demonstrates the extent to which it is in the DNA of the establishment really, and that’s what we’ve got to change.”
Nia Griffith’s view on tax-avoidance
Labour party MP, Nia Griffiths, in 2015, called for the same standards tax should apply to all, concluding that: “Nobody likes paying tax, but we all want our services, such as the NHS, to be there when we need them. Above all, we want fairness. We have an expectation that we should all pay our taxes, whoever we are. We want the same standards to be applied to all. It is damaging for honest businesses to face competition from corporations that are not paying the tax that they owe. Horrifying revelations about HSBC accounts in Switzerland have been made this week. Instead of its clients being encouraged to pay the tax that they owed, they were being issued with credit cards to enable them to spend the money without it being identified. That is utterly shameful behaviour on the part of the individuals and the banks, and how many more are there like them? Even more shocking is the fact that the Government were told about HSBC back in 2010, but nearly five years later only one of the 1,100 people involved in the tax irregularities has been prosecuted. That is disgraceful. Cheating the Inland Revenue is never acceptable, but it is particularly galling when councillors up and down the country are agonising over how to manage their severely reduced budgets, and having to decide whether to cut help for special needs children or care for the elderly.”
Stella Creasy’s view on tax-avoidance
Labour party MP, Stella Creasy, in 2017, tabled legislation to try to tackle tax avoidance in the UK, stating that: “We have another opportunity this coming week to finish what Osborne started. Parliament can act by supporting my amendment to the finance bill at its report stage on Tuesday 31 October. With cross-party support already building for it, this Halloween it’s time to give those overseas companies not paying their taxes a real nightmare.”
Wes Streeting’s view on tax-avoidance
Labour party MP, Wes Streeting, in 2016, called for a serious shift the focus onto radical tax reform that would end tax avoidance, stating that: “Those who believe that public anger is motivated by envy fundamentally misunderstand the mood of the nation. British people have a basic belief in fair play. It’s not high earnings that people resent, it is that too many high earners and corporations get to effectively determine their marginal tax rate when the majority of us do not. It’s time to grapple with the complexity of our tax system to build confidence that we’re all paying our fair share.”
Keir Starmer’s view on tax-avoidance
Leader of the Labour party, Keir Starmer, five months ago, promised to clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations, tweeting: “Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations. No stepping back from our core principles.”
Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations. No stepping back from our core principles. pic.twitter.com/lb02NcvyvO
It appears that the British tax-dodging elite is keen to end the political career of Labour MPs who frequently criticised the Tory government for not clamping down on tax-avoiding practices or threatened to end them by accusing them of antisemitism.
Britain has the worst COVID-19 recovery rate in the world
Back in March, Rory Stewart criticized Boris Johnson for making the wrong decisions in his ‘herd immunity’ response to the coronavirus.
Referring to successful COVID-19 strategies adopted in China, South Korea and Denmark, the former Tory leadership candidate accused the British PM of irresponsibly blaming the scientific judgment for the appalling way the British government handled the pandemic crisis: “Personally, I think it is irresponsible of politicians to keep suggesting that this is a question of science. It gives them a bit of cover, puts the blame on the scientists, but the judgement is ultimately a political judgement,”
There’s something utterly upsetting about the way the current Tory government under Boris Johnson has dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Insofar, with an estimated 41,783 COVID-19 deaths, the UK has the third-highest death toll in the world behind the US and Brazil.
However, the British government and mainstream media declines to discuss UK’s COVID-19 recovery rate.
The sad truth is about the lethal incompetence of the Tory party in dealing with the COVID-19 lies in the fact that insofar, this government managed to recover only 1,283 people out of the 297,342 infected, whereas 41,783 have died.
To comprehend this gross incompetence in the way that Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson handled the COVID-19 outbreak, one needs to compare UK figures of other countries with similar numbers of people infected.
At the time of writing this piece, the John Hopkins University, which monitors the number of people infected, recovered and died in each country, indicates the UK has the worst recovery rate in the world.
Here’s the current state of affairs of handling the COVID-19 per each country, listing the most infected ones:
Out of the top 7 infected countries in the world, at only 0.43% recovered out of the 297,342 infected, the UK managed has the lowest percentage of the people recovered from COVID-19:
UK – 0.43% recovered out of the 297,342 infected;
USA – 26.83% recovered out of the 2,094,069 infected
India – 51.08% recovered out of the 332,424 infected;
Russia – 52.92% recovered out of the 528,267 infected;
Brazil 54.07% recovered out of the 867,624 infected;
Spain 61.65% recovered out of the 243,928 infected;
Italy 74.42% recovered out of the 236,989 infected;
A very important aspect is the ratio of deaths compared to the number of people recovered, whereby UK is leading the pack with only 1 recovered per 300 who have died, whereby Italy managed to recover 17 per 1 person who has died from COVID-19:
UK – 0.03 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
USA – 4.85 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
Italy – 5.14 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
Spain – 5.54 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
Brazil – 10.83 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
India – 17.84 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
Russia – 40.29 recovery ratio compared to deaths;
Of course, this is still at the early stage of the virus outbreak to determine the Tory performance in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, however, if one compares it to other countries, the UK is the only country in the world, whereby the number of deaths surpasses the number of people recovered.
Democracy is great because one reaps what one sows, including the pointless death of family relatives whom the Tory government have let down in the past and now when faced with such a fatal pandemic.
The virus appeared almost four months ago in China, but the incompetent Tories didn’t bother to either secure protective gear for all NHS staff or enough ventilators for British people and prepare for this pandemic, which is why we are only the country in the world with the highest number of deaths compared to the number of people recovered from COVID-19.
In the past, a lot has been done to review the impact of memorials in various societies, because they represent victory or defeat, the end of a war or of injustice, or glorification or honouring of the sacrifice of life.
Often it is only the speeches at an annual commemoration at a memorial site that recalls the victim’s sacrifice – whereas it should be the memorial itself that recalls and pays tribute to the sacrifice. Memorials convey diverse messages to society.
The impact may be clear, unclear, or inconsistent due to the lack of understanding of the desired reality it aims to represent.
In the introduction to the book Monuments and Memory, Made and Unmade, writers Robert S. Nelson and Margaret Olin give a definition of the purpose monuments tend to satisfy: ‘… the desire to commemorate, to mark a place, to represent the past to the present and future, to emphasize one narrative of the past at the expense of others, or simply to make the past, past.’ (Nelson & Olin 2003: 2)
Nelson and Olin see memorials as serving the purpose of commemorating, determining, representing, repaying or making the past, a past. The abovementioned approaches represent valuable perspectives towards defining a memorial’s role, as it may relate to all of the victims, both combatant and civilian.
When reflecting upon martyrdom, it is also essential to take into account the reasoning that pushes a person or a number of people to sacrifice themselves.
Said simply: what was the inspiration behind the sacrifice we are commemorating?
Why does a person sacrifice oneself, if not for overcoming a serious social situation, in order to create an opportunity for a new future, stripped from the past?
The sacrifice of oneself is done in order to terminate a certain way of life during a certain period, in order to start a new sequence of events.
If we bear in mind that a fighter fights to bring about change, then we understand the purpose of a memorial and what Nelson and Olin speak of when they call for letting the past be past and for embracing the change, now, in order to be able to live with new circumstances.
This claim is especially valid if we take into account the phenomenon that eventually accompanies the construction of a memorial: its removal.
This happened in Kumrovec, where, on 27 December 1994, Tito’s statue was destroyed; then in Baghdad on 9 April 2003, Saddam Hussein’s statue was brought down; and more recently, in Gori, Georgia, a Stalin statue was removed in 2010, on 28 June.
Although statues are very authoritative and can commemorate a certain person or a group, their removal or destruction aims at diminishing people’s belief in what they represent and the inspiration they were supposed to give to society, in order to make way for new social beliefs – whether benign or destructive.
Even though the memorial dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg2 and fellow revolutionary, Karl Liebknecht, built in 1926 by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was not based on their physical attributes, it was still toppled by the Nazis in 1933. (Werner 2000: 20)
Instead of choosing to represent the physical attributes of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, Mies created a memorial consisting of many boxes, which symbolised the coffins of the dead.
The boxes were made from used bricks that were reminiscent of the wall in front of which the couple was executed. (Sudjic 2005: 25)
Therefore, knowing that this memorial was impartial in its design, but based on the beliefs of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, its commemorative nature and subject was an obstacle to the Nazi regime that followed and the future they envisaged for Europe and the entire world.
Ultimately, memorials in their double-faceted existence (construction/destruction), instead of serving to bring the past closer to us, also are there to alert or inspire society on the changes associated with building the future of that society.
This way, memorials largely represent a tool of social beliefs, serving the political goals of certain parties for acceptance by the public in a certain period.
In terms of the degree of closeness between the family members and the memorials, there is a clear gap between them – a gap not experienced by others, since a memorial alienates family members, turning them into products of mass consumption or branding because family members do not experience the same feeling as they do when visiting their loved ones at the family gravesites.
In different societies, the presence of memorials perhaps represents a vision that incorporates both remembrance and renewal, focusing on the past and the sacrifice that was needed is necessary, which was the case with the competition to rebuild New York’s Ground Zero after the Twin Towers’ destruction from September 11 terrorist attacks.
Despite the participation of renowned world architects such as Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier, Rem Koolhaas, New Yorkers did not like the suggestions for Ground Zero.
This tough blow to the competition organisers and participants happened afterwards; before a hall full of residents and relevant authorities, one of the evaluation committee members raised the following questions, ‘What should be the goal here? … Is it to erase the memory of what has happened? That everything will be the same as it was before? … One needs a more profound indication of memory.’ (Libeskind 2005: 30, 31)
These were the words of the Berlin Jewish Museum architect, Daniel Libeskind, who, as an evaluator, put doubts in the minds of those present that day about the purpose of the Ground Zero’s development concepts. It was August 2002 when the first plans to rebuild Ground Zero were made public, and when Libeskind raised the issue of remembrance. He then added that it was necessary, ‘a dramatic, unexpected, spiritual insight into vulnerability, tragedy, and our loss. And we need something that is hopeful.’ (Libeskind: 31)
Due to popular demand, the competitors were asked to resubmit their proposals; at the same time, the Libeskind Studio was asked to compete with its own proposal for Ground Zero. Since the proposal from Libeskind Studio was genuinely linked with the past and the tragedy of 9/11 it was the preferred submission by the selection committee and New Yorkers.
Thus, it was awarded the right to plan the development of New York’s Memorial Museum Site.
However, though the Libeskind Studio proposal was based on the past, the aim was not to rebuild buildings similar to the Twin Towers.
On the contrary, the proposal uses the footprint of the original Twin Towers to create waterfalls surrounded by trees and a green area that, instead of rekindling the bitter memories of thousands of deaths during that fateful September, represents a source of life.
The trauma that New Yorkers went through resurfaces every 9/11 anniversary. Libeskind’s proposal transforms the area into a spot where the past is always present; however, the Ground Zero area is embraced by signs and sources of life, sending a message that society will not return to the past, but rather will rejoice in the future with this location – instead of reflecting the horror – representing life and peace.
The American architect Lebbeus Woods, during his research and preparation of pro-posals for post-war Sarajevo, suggests moving away from rebuilding and bringing the war-damaged buildings back to their original state.
He states that, ‘Wherever the restoration of war-devastated urban fabric has occurred in the form of replacing what has been damaged or destroyed, it ends as parody, worthy only of the admiration of tourists.’ (Woods 1993: 10)
Woods calls for embracing of past occurrences through his distinct approach, focusing on ways to patch up the material damages in the war-damaged buildings.
Instead of complete reconstruction and restoration of damages, Woods proposes covering them with construction materials different to the ones used to originally construct the building. Woods calls these wounds, scars or cuts. (Woods: 19)
Buildings can withstand war wounds because they don’t have feelings. On the other hand, in a society where war wounds are still fresh, dealing with the past is much harder than dealing with the future.
However, there is a local perception that the, ‘human being is stronger than stone’ and it refers to the ability or inability of these two elements to return to their previous state. When a stone cracks or breaks it can never return to its initial state, whereas a person, on the other hand, has a self-healing power enabling him to repair the wounds of body or soul, created by inhumane actions during war.
But if stone or the building, in the case of Sarajevo, doesn’t have a natural self-healing power and cannot return to its previous state, then why do people continuously try to implement what is not in the building’s nature?
In different parts of the world, post-war societies continuously deny the past that the buildings tell about, restoring them to the state they were before the war.
Covering war-wounded buildings accentuates the remembrance of war, so that in a way, for example, the people of Sarajevo, themselves, do not have to carry the war wounds.
For the first time a new approach towards post-war architecture has been taken, for Woods has offered a new way of dealing with the past where the past is not rewound (reconstructed), but instead marked (partially supplemented).
“Hello boss!” Sekretaresha barged in without knocking, placing a takeaway cup and a brown bag on Isa’s desk. “What’s this nasty smell?”
“It’s silicone!” Isa replied.
“Which one had her boops done?” Sekretaresha asked. “Jenny or Liz?”
“None of them! Over the weekend, we had some workers applying new silicone sealant to our windows.” Isa replied. “Besides, I don’t think that neither Lucy nor Jenny is dumb enough to have one.”
“Are you sure about that?” Sekretaresha asked in an overly confident tone. “Last week, I bumped into Jenny and Liz having a chat in the kitchen, doing their usual meaningless conversation complemented by their meaningless gesticulation. Jenny was ranting on about her diet. Then Jenny asked Liz if she could see that she lost 5kg, and guess what was Liz’s reply?”
After Isa indicated that he had no idea by shrugging his shoulders, Sekretaresha mimicked Liz’s reply, “Oh dear, how am I supposed to see something, if it’s no longer there!”
Isa laughed hysterically, before replying, “Plastic surgery is a waste of time for insecure people who thrive on pleasing and improving others eyesight instead of their own!”
“Aha! But you keep forgetting something!” Sekretaresha replied enthusiastically. Plastic surgery is the only investment that no one can take away from you, even after you die.”
“Meaning what?” Alexander replied perplexed, lifting up his head.
“Meaning that you could buy your dream car and enjoy it for several months, before you die from a heart attack. You can’t bring along your car to your grave, now can you?”
“No, I guess you can’t.”
“But, if you have your nose, boops or bottocks done, you can take them to your grave and this is why plastic surgery is the best investment you could ever have!” Sekretaresha replied with a cheeky smile on her plump lips, before dashing off to her desk.
By the time the sun reached its lunchtime position, Isa’s boss, Mr Kryprokurori, the Chief Prosecutor knocked and walked inside Isa’s office with a brand new yellow file case tucked under his arm. As he entered the office, Kryprokurori’s face frowned as he swung his right hand in front of his nose, as one does to move an annoying fly buzzing around one’s head, “Would you mind, if open the window?” Kryeprokuri asked, and pointed his index finger towards Isa’s dish.“I have to dash off to an important meeting and I don’t want my clothes smelling whatever that is!”
“It’s chicken curry, sir,” Isa replied before looking up at his boss opening the window, “Would you like some, sir?”
“Thank Isa! I’m good,” Kryprokuri replied, shaking his bald head glistening under the sunset. “You just go ahead. I’m sorry, didn’t realise it’s lunchtime.”
Isa shrugged happily and resumed finishing his lunch, whilst his boss observed him silently. Despite his bald head, Kryeprokurori looked under fifty. Due to his immaculate white teeth whenever he smiled he looked younger than Isa. Kryeprokurori could not keep his eyes from Isa’s plate.
“It’s fifteen minutes past lunchtime, but I wasn’t able to return earlier. Today’s court proceeding consumed most of my lunchtime and-”
“Yes, I know! Your assistant told me that you were running late. It’s the beach knife attack case, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is!” Isa replied.
“So! Who is it coming along?”
“It looks like the defendant will accept the deal for five years imprisonment , with a possibility of parole after three years!”
“Very good!” Kryeprokurori sighed, his black eyes skittishly darting around Isa’s office while Isa was tidying up his desk.
Isa’s office grew tiny due the packed with additional cabinets and trunks lined up against every single wall. A tidy row of cardboard boxes of files were stacked beneath the window sills. The large desk with a large computer screen and pile of yellow file holders, and two chairs occupied the central area, reducing a significant amount of free space. All in perfect order, everything was neatly arranged and despite it being claustrophobic, Isa’s office was free of clutter.
As Isa lifted the last remains of his plate with his plastic spoon, Kryprokurori asked, “Finished?”
Isa nodded, still chewing on his last bite placing the aluminium dish inside the shiny metallic bin.
Krye Prokurori, turned from the window of the office thinking, tapping the index finger against his pouting lips. Behind him, above the softly tinted glass that took up the entire external wall of Isa’s office, you could notice a stretch of rusted idle cranes. When Isa finished straightening a pile of papers on his desk, Kryeprokurori walked towards Isa, threw the file folder on his desk, before sitting down opposite him. He lifted his shiny brown shoes and landed them over the edge of Isa’s tiny desk, swinging them sideways.
“They have assigned you to that case. It’s a very sad and a solid case, which,” Kryeprokurori paused, and shot up his hand and scratched his gray immaculate head. “Never mind! Just read it and I would be grateful if you could prepare a brief report by Friday. You think you could do this for me?”
“Which case is that?”
“The one that was assigned to you this week. The drunken driver killing the nurse on Rruga Street.”
“I’m familiar with the case,” Isa replied excitedly. “I’ve already started on it, so you shall get the report tomorrow morning.”
“Great, thanks!” Kryprokurori said and left.
With a long, grunting sigh Isa pulled out a blue file from the wooden shelve, with his fist holding a pen ready to make his own annotations, working on it until 11 pm when he printed five pages and slipped them into a white envelope. He hummed to himself as he locked his office. He dropped the envelope on the desk of Kryeprokurori’s assistant, before hopping in the elevator and the the empty streets to reach his home.