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As I see it

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I AM INTRIGUED by recent political developments around the world. The Trump ‘theatre of the absurd’ continues to play itself out in a truly astounding way. I was surprised by the blow delivered to an arrogant Theresa May, who wanted to shore up her support for a ‘hard’ Brexit deal, in an unscheduled election.  May sounded to me like the ‘Iron Lady’ of old, Margaret Thatcher – she had never been one of my favourite persons. Then came the political resurrection of Jeremy Corbyn, whom the media was willing to throw into the political dustbin. Diane Abbott survived in style an assault by the right-wing press that seized on an interview where she seemed to have gotten her figures confused over the cost of the Labour Party’s pledge to recruit 10,000 extra police officers. It is now understood that she was seriously affected by her type 2 diabetes that had gotten out of hand.  Despite the vicious attacks against her and her having to bow out of the campaign for medical reasons, she secured an astounding 12. 2 per cent increase in votes, moving from 31,357 to 42, 265. Her friend and party leader Corbyn was resurrected, bringing Labour back from the dead, outperforming the Conservatives among all groups, except retirees, but getting a significant push from students and young people.   

The French people rejected Marie Le Pen and her ultra-right, anti-immigration, and racist sentiments and elected the centre-left Emmanuel Macron, who seems to be carrying the fight to Trump and Putin. Most fascinating was that on Monday tens of thousands risked arrest and imprisonment in Moscow and St Petersburg, by protesting the policies of a corrupt Putin administration. I am moved by the story of 18-year-old musician Armando Canzales, violinist in the celebrated Venezuelan El Sistema Youth Orchestra. Not known for any political activism, he decided to join the protests that had been overwhelming his country and went out, as described, “with arms outstretched, palms facing up”. He was killed by a bullet! This brought out other members of the Orchestra, with the director declaring, “I raise my voice against violence, I raise my voice against oppression.”  Then, of course, more recent developments in the Gulf States, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, joined by Egypt, implementing a blockade of Qatar.

Then I look inward and all is miraculously quiet on the national front, apart from the protests of the frontline at the electoral office. We exist in a global community and all of this affects us. Some of these developments have the capacity to further affect the economic climate, particularly in Britain and the US, from where remittances that keep us afloat originate. Caribbean links with Qatar are strong, with many Caribbean people working there. We even support Qatar’s candidate to be the new Director General of UNESCO.

Some of the issues that arise should be of interest to us: austerity, growing inequality, poverty, and anti-immigration, although its focus in Britain now is on EU nationals. Labour’s resurrection was based

on the youth and student vote and that of the marginalized, trumpeted by the optimism of its leader.

I am reminded of what was, perhaps, the most creative and optimistic period of the 20th century (except for the 1930s), the 1960s and ’70s, when we were motivated by the anti-Vietnam movement and the Civil Rights struggle, with its driving force for us being ‘black is beautiful’. We re-examined ourselves, discarding centuries of colonial assault on our blackness and began searching for new paths to our own development. Has independence smashed our initiative and enslaved us on new plantations? 

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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