Education, rather than exposure to immigrants, is emerging as the clearest nationwide indicator of the likelihood of Dutch voters supporting Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Party for Freedom, according to an extensive Financial Times survey of demographic and voting data from the most recent general election.
Mr Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) looks on course to win the most seats in the upcoming election on March 15, but is likely to be blocked from power after most parties indicated that they would refuse to join it in a coalition.
The PVV’s resurgence is part of a wave of populism that has swept Europe, capitalising on fears over immigration, growing Euroscepticism and anti-establishment sentiment.
The blond-haired populist paints an idyllic picture of his supporters, labelling them Henk and Ingrid.
In Mr Wilders’ words, they are the “backbone” of Dutch society: “Mr and Mrs Average with their own houses, one nice holiday a year and an active social life.”
In the eyes of Frits Bolkestein, a former mentor turned critic of Mr Wilders, they are something else: “People with a grudge. They’re unemployed, their daughter’s on drugs and their son has run away.” The reality is more complicated.
It is a wet winter Saturday on a muddy playing field in an unprepossessing part of south Manchester. The river Mersey slides past behind a row of trees planted to provide shelter from the wind, chill gusts cutting through the gaps where saplings were torn out by local kids to sell on elsewhere.
On the pitches, children of every size are playing football: four- and five-year-olds being taught the game, three teams of under-nines, the same again of under-10s. Dogs are being walked, and dogs are being allowed to do what dogs naturally do. By the changing rooms, a woman collects subs of £2 a child, less if they have brothers or sisters playing and the extra cost would mean one of them missing out.
Old Trafford lies four miles and several worlds away, across the flat suburban streets of Stretford to the north-west. The Etihad Stadium is six miles to the north-east, beyond Rusholme and Ardwick, new oil-money-bright in an old coal town. And yet these council fields are the new front line in the battle for supremacy between United and City, and these kids – shivering, laughing, falling over and pushing past – are the trophies both clubs are fighting for.
The reasons are not hard to find. Inside the squat changing room, away from the damp patch on the ceiling where the flat roof leaks, a trophy cabinet spills its silverware on to shelves and filing cabinets either side. On the opposite wall are photos of the young-boys-made-good who won them.
Marcus Rashford, striker for United and England. Danny Welbeck, United, Arsenal and England. Wes Brown, Jesse Lingard. Ravel Morrison – made good, made bad, as innocent here aged eight as he would ever be.
[…] Now let’s ask the real questions. What are the big problems people face? What is the Labour leadership’s analysis and programme? Why is Labour apparently unpopular? Who is responsible for the party’s divisions?
The problems are well rehearsed but rarely related to the leadership question. A vulnerable working class that knows job insecurity, low wages, bogus “self-employment”, poverty for many including those in work, whole regions left to rot: these are the consequences of both Tory and New Labour’s free market economics. Employers’ “flexibility” is workers’ exploitation. Public services are being dismembered, outsourced, closed down, the source of profit for a few and an impoverished society for the many. The central fact is blindingly obvious: the Blair, Brown and Peter Mandelson years were central to this degeneration. That is why Labour members voted for Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, make a different analysis, and are proposing different policies. The market will never provide a secure, dignified life for the vast majority. If there is a need but no profit, the need goes unanswered. Collectively we can plan a secure future, use new technology to benefit everyone, ensure that all regions are regenerated with real industries, and rebuild our public services and the quality of our civic life. It is a vision of a world transformed and a rejection of the bitter, divided and impoverished society we see around us.
It’s almost 11 a.m., with three minutes to go before his program goes on the air. It’s a chilly 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the air-conditioned studio, but Alex Jones is sweating. He wipes his forehead and goes through the day’s schedule.
His employees have found a number of magnificent outrages, says Jones, scandals that should have been exposed long ago. They include the alleged “secret plans” of major Internet companies to block conservative websites, and the “truth” about the radioactive contamination at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. “Jesus,” Jones says with a groan, “where should we start?”
The screens light up behind him. A small red light starts to blink. Three, two, one, cameras on, filming. “We are live,” Jones says into his microphone. “It is Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, and the Democrats are melting away like a bunch of mentally ill children.”
No, Jones is not an ordinary radio host. The founder of the Infowars website has been living in his own world for the last 20 years. It’s a world of clear friends and clear foes, filled with intrigues and scandals, cover-ups and conspiracies. Jones is convinced that the global elites have formed an alliance against the United States to destroy the country. He disseminates this message five days a week on the Alex Jones Show, broadcast from Austin, Texas. His show is aired on more than 100 radio stations, and his website reaches millions of Americans.
The New Yorker is aggressively touting its 13,000-word cover story on Russia and Trump that was bylined by three writers, including the magazine’s editor-in-chief, David Remnick. Beginning with its cover image menacingly featuring Putin, Trump, and the magazine’s title in Cyrillic letters, along with its lead cartoon dystopically depicting a UFO-like Red Square hovering over and phallically invading the White House, the article is largely devoted to what has now become standard — and very profitable — fare among East Coast newsmagazines: feeding Democrats the often xenophobic, hysterical Russophobia for which they have a seemingly insatiable craving. Democratic media outlets have thus predictably cheered this opus for exposing “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence on the presidential election.”
But featured within the article are several interesting, uncomfortable, and often-overlooked facts about Putin, Trump, and Democrats. Given that these points are made here by a liberal media organ that is vehemently anti-Trump, within an article dispensing what has become the conventional Democratic wisdom on Russia, it is well worth highlighting them.
The British government has refused to back a joint United Nations statement criticising Bahrain over its deteriorating human rights record, Middle East Eye can reveal.
The Gulf kingdom has been on the receiving end of fierce international criticism after it resumed executions earlier this year, amid warnings the country was on the brink of a “human rights crisis”.
Human rights groups have described prisoners being burned with cigarettes, given electric shock and burned with irons, among other forms of torture, but to the dismay of campaigners, officials from the UK Mission to the UN in Geneva have refused to back a planned statement condemning the country’s actions.
Britain signed the last joint-resolution on Bahrain in 2015, but a foreign office source told MEE that it would refuse to back a new joint motion on the country being proposed by the Swiss government this week.