Showing posts with label Brexit Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brexit Related. Show all posts

11 February 2019

The Kid Who Would Be King: Why King Arthur Films Are The Perfect Antidote To Epic Brexit Posturing

The Kid Who Would Be King
The Kid Who Would Be King  (20th Century Fox)
King Arthur probably never existed, but from a cinematic point of view, he may as well have done. Few figures, mythical or historical, have reappeared as frequently on the big screen. This winter, less than two years after Guy Ritchie’s 2017 King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, comes a new take on the tales: The Kid Who Would Be King. But what is the appeal of this particular tale? And above all, why now?

The Kid Who Would Be King, like Ritchie’s film, is another take on a familiar trope. Like any legend, the Arthur myth is a cinematic template on which storytellers can impose their own ideas – and these variations can tell us a lot about the times and places that produced them. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), for instance, with its medieval plagues and Marxist peasants, reflects parodically on the construction of national mythologies. Notably, this was at a time when Britain’s imperial and economic influence had dwindled.

The contexts of Brexit, inevitably, provide a backdrop to the more recent films. The Legend of the Sword is a popular retelling in every sense. Ritchie transposes his familiar London “low-life” milieu to the world of the Round Table, with his muscular Arthur a brothel-raised orphan, backed up by a multicultural array of petty thieves and streetfighters. The war here, with his usurping uncle, Vortigern, is more a people’s rebellion. Yet the film still ends with the newly crowned king demanding fealty from the Vikings, while rejecting their demands for British slaves.

Ritchie’s film was greeted in some quarters as a film about Brexit, but it could just as easily be an allegory about the Corbynite “revolution”, if you wanted it to. Yet it does draw on some of the Arthurian fables’ more nationalistic elements. The more dewy aspects of the legends – the Sword and the Stone, the Lady of the lake, Avalon – were recounted by Thomas Malory in 1485 and form the basis of all the most popular Arthurian retellings. Yet these largely obscure the King’s earlier, more militaristic depictions.

The circa 1400 anonymous poem Morte Arthure, for instance, focuses on Arthur’s resistance to paying Roman taxes and his campaign to reassert British dominion in Europe. The poem commemorates national Empire-building, as much as it mocks and scorns “continental” manners and morality. Transposed to our populist era of “hard men” politicians, Ritchie’s brawny Arthur comes with interesting connotations, inadvertently or otherwise.

A very British epic

More to the point, Arthurian films tell us about the cinematic contexts that produced them. Monty Python’s muddy take on the story may take its cues from realist European films such as 1973’s Lancelot du lac – but its cut-price epic style is born of the group having no money to spend: a common issue with British films of the impoverished 1970s. The Holy Grail’s contrast to Hollywood’s widescreen spectacles, such as Knights of the Round Table (1953) or Camelot (1967), is part of its comic point.

Similarly, The Legend of the Sword’s debt is less to contemporary politics and more to the recent traditions of epic film. The film inherits much of its style and narrative tropes from Ridley’s Scott’s Gladiator (2000), the epic that revived the genre, and demonstrated the international appeal of ancient stories.

Made at huge expense by Warner Bros at its Leavesden studios – and with the creative input of Harry Potter producer Lionel Wigram – Ritchie’s movie was itself seen as another global franchise in the making – until it flopped at the box-office. Ironically, then, this fiercely British film is “British” only in a limited sense. Like the Harry Potter films, it exemplifies the globalised nature of cinema: a “local” story financed by multinational capital, shot in a Hollywood-owned British studio and made for worldwide distribution.

Rejuvenating Arthur

By contrast, The Kid Who Would Be King offers a twist to this model. Here, the global genre of the epic is localised and brought down to earth – in this case, by transferring the legend to a modern secondary school, with a cast barely into their teens.

Other recent films have trodden the same ground. Edgar Wright’s 2013 The World’s End (another Working Title production) was a jokey modern take on Arthurian myth, its 12-pint pub crawl – led by fallen leader Gary King – its own legendary Grail quest. It’s also familiar territory for Kid Who Would Be King director Joe Cornish, whose 2011 debut, Attack the Block, banded inner-city youths against an alien invasion, as well as the Metropolitan Police.

This focus on the young in The Kid Who Would Be King is both cinematically welcome and topical in light of the generational schisms and social divisions highlighted and brought about by Brexit – a point highlighted by Cornish himself. By putting Excalibur in the hands of a gawky schoolkid, Cornish’s film offers a lighter-hearted alternative both to epic cinematic follies and delusions of national grandeur.

Joking it may partly be, yet with its allegiances to Britain’s future generation, the film becomes another politically charged return to this most potent national myth.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Neil Archer, Lecturer in Film Studies, Keele University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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26 November 2018

MPs: Reject Theresa May's Rotten Brexit Deal! [Petition]

Theresa May (image via Avaaz)
Dear friends across Britain,

Theresa May just admitted that Brexit can be stopped -- IF MPs reject her rotten Brexit deal.

It all comes down to that one vote -- and May is doing everything in her power to pressure MPs to support her. Many are resisting, but if they crumble, Brexit is a done deal.

We can't let that happen!

May’s just written an open letter to the country begging for support -- let’s reply with our own open letter -- and make it history's loudest and most powerful call on MPs to reject May's rotten deal! When it’s huge, we’ll deliver it to every single MP -- Sign with one click and share with everyone!

"Dear MPs,

Theresa May’s Brexit deal is a disaster for Britain. 

As British citizens, we reject any Brexit that will make us poorer. We reject any Brexit that reduces our influence in the world. And we reject any Brexit based on lies, division and foreign influence in our politics.

As our MPs, we call on you to reject the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, and give us, the people, the final say on Brexit in a fair public vote."

Whether we voted 'leave' or 'remain', no one voted for this disastrous deal: job losses, a ruinous divorce bill, and EU rules we can't control -- with possibly no end in sight! It's the absolute worst of both worlds.

That's why ministers are in open revolt, which opens the door for citizens to have the final say on Brexit -- but only if MPs first reject May's rotten deal.

So it all comes down to this one vote in Parliament, and we have to make sure MPs know that there's no public support for this Brexit deal at all. That'll take a massive public push -- but there are Avaazers in every last constituency, and only our movement can make this big enough, fast enough! 

Sign with one click and share with everyone you can! 

Avaaz has led the charge against Brexit. We helped make sure Parliament could reject any deal, took May on at the ballot box to strip her of her majority, and helped turn out hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. It all comes down to this moment -- so let’s make it count, and stop Brexit completely!

With hope and determination,

Loup Dargent
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15 November 2018

MPs: Give Us The Final Say On Brexit! [Petition]


Brexit chaos: let us decide!
Brexit chaos: let us decide! (Image via Avaaz)
Dear friends across Britain,

With Parliament logjammed and ministers resigning, Theresa May’s Brexit plan is in deep trouble. 

She’s admitted that Brexit could now be stopped, giving us the best chance we’ll get to win a final say that can get us out of this mess. 

The more people who sign our open letter calling for the British people to decide whether we want May’s deeply damaging Brexit, the more weight it will have with MPs -- add your name with, then send it far and wide. 

To all MPs:

As you read this, 30% of Britain’s children are living in poverty. The number of rough sleepers in England is at a record high. And Brexit will make this even worse, threatening jobs, the economy and the NHS. 

The promises of prosperity made by the Brexiteers have evaporated. There are no good Brexit options left. Instead of allowing public money to be wasted and our economy harmed, we call on you to protect the most vulnerable and support the British public having a democratic final say on Brexit, with an option to stay part of the EU.

Yours sincerely


The Prime Minister is desperate to put a positive spin on the shambles of her Brexit deal -- but she’s fooling no-one. Even the man she put in charge of Brexit negotiations, Dominic Raab, is so fed up he resigned today. 

All over the country, support for a public vote on Brexit is growing. With the government in open civil war and parliament deadlocked, the only legitimate way to choose the way forward is asking the people to decide. 

Sign the open letter to MPs now, and when it's massive we’ll deliver it in constituencies across Britain before the key Brexit vote in Parliament, with Avaazers everywhere delivering our call for a final say!

With hope and determination,

Loup Dargent
"Prime Minister announces she has very little confidence in herself either" - The Brexit Comic
"Prime Minister announces she has very little confidence in herself either" - The Brexit Comic
"Brexit Chess" - The Brexit Comic
"Brexit Chess" - The Brexit Comic
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5 November 2018

Arron Banks Criminal Investigation: Could Evidence Against Him Make Brexit Void?

Banks needs to account for Brexit spending
Banks needs to account for Brexit spending. (PA/Stefan Rousseau)
The National Crime Agency is to open a criminal investigation into Brexit campaign backer Arron Banks after the Electoral Commission revealed that it had reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was “not the source” of millions of pounds in loans to the organisation Leave.EU. Banks has denied that there was any funding from Russia in the £8 million he donated to the Brexit campaign.

There have also been fines for overspending on Brexit campaigns and questions about how voter data was used.

All these events have led to a new legal case being listed for an oral hearing in the High Court on December 7. This will argue that Brexit must be declared void and that the notification of Article 50 must be nullified. It is being led by two Queens’ Counsel against the prime minister. So, if the investigation against Banks confirms wrongdoing, can Brexit be declared void in court?

There is no doubt that potentially criminal overspending, data-harvesting and Russian interference delegitimise the Brexit poll in the public’s eye. But it also matters because at common law, votes can be void when they break the law. The common law principle applies to all votes: both elections and referendums.

The constitutional principle was applied in a case called Morgan v Simpson. In 1975, a group of citizens in Croydon argued that a Greater London Council candidate’s election was invalid because 44 votes had not been counted. First, the Court of Appeal held if an “election was conducted so badly that it was not substantially in accordance with the law as to elections, the election is vitiated, irrespective of whether the result was affected or not”. It also said that where there is an irregularity – even one that isn’t major – that “did affect the result”, a vote must also be declared void.

This is part of the general legal principle that “fraud unravels everything”. “Fraud” in law is an objective concept. It would implicate any potentially fraudulent funding of Brexit.

It means that the people’s “order” that the prime minister trigger article 50 and negotiate to leave the European Union could be unravelled.

It could include the fraudulent appropriation of Facebook data. If official campaign Vote Leave knowingly overspent, that might be have implications too, as would potentially fraudulent funding of Brexit by Russia through Arron Banks. It means that the people’s “order” that the prime minister trigger Article 50 and negotiate to leave the European Union could be unravelled.

The case that argues Brexit is void, which gets its first hearing on December 7, is called Wilson v Prime Minister. The barristers’ argument is well worth reading in full, but the opening sentence is gives the gist: it asks whether a “free and fair vote is one of the constitutional requirements of the United Kingdom”. Wilson and the other claimants submit that it is.

Now, it’s a big thing to litigate the very validity of Brexit. But if Russian athletes win Olympic medals when they are taking drugs, their victories are not valid. The same is true of a corrupt vote.

What’s clear is that the UK is in a terrible situation. There is a very real risk of ending a 210-year union between Britain and Northern Ireland, and the 311-year union between England, Wales and Scotland.

For Russia, the power to disable two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in two years is an earth-shaking geopolitical victory. It didn’t work with Marine Le Pen in France, and it can’t touch China. But if it gave the UK Brexit, and the US Trump, British parliamentarians need to look impartially and dispassionately at what has been unfolding, and act.

The British constitution is not codified, but it is written in the case law and the statute books. The law tells us every vote must be free and fair. If Brexit was not, as more and more evidence appears to show, it’s time to bury it.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:
Ewan McGaughey, Senior Lecturer in Private Law, King's College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Bonus Related Images:
(Via The Brexit Comic - Facebook Page)
Is this your collar I can feel Mr Banks?
"Is this your collar I can feel Mr Banks?" - The Brexit Comic
Three Wise Mays
"Three Wise Mays" - The Brexit Comic
*BREAKING*  Johnson & Gove admit Vote Leave was wrong to stoke fears about immigration ... oh and breaking electoral law ...
"*BREAKING* Johnson & Gove admit Vote Leave was wrong to stoke fears about immigration ... oh and breaking electoral law ..." The Brexit Comic

11 October 2018

We Asked The British Public What Kind Of #Brexit They Want – And The Norway Model Is The Clear Winner

Brexit: A local shop, for local people?
Brexit: A local shop, for local people? (Image via
It is now more than two years since Britons voted to leave the EU. But what has been learned in that time about what British people want for their future relationship with the EU? Those on the hard right argue that Britons voted to sever existing treaties with the EU. Others argue that leaving the single market was never part of the plan. The referendum outcome tells us very little about what people actually wanted.

But our study of what people value about the EU does tell us. And we find that their priorities map most squarely onto a Norway-style model for future relations with the EU.

People place a high value on having access to the EU markets for trade in goods and services. They like the option for the UK to be able to make its own trade deals. They also value that the UK is able to make its own laws, but not as much as access to the single market or the ability to make trade deals. They worry about freedom of movement, but mostly because of concerns about demand for public services. They strongly dislike the idea of having to get a visa to travel for their holidays.

Netting out positives and negatives, we found that Britons place the most value on a Norway-like deal. In fact, support for this kind of deal – which is based on membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) – has increased in the past year, up from 38% in 2017 to 43% in 2018. Norway is part of the EEA but is not a member of the customs union and can therefore make its own trade deals. We found people value the Norway model more than the current relationship with the EU, in part because Norway is free to make trade deals with non-EU countries. And while a “no-deal” is less popular than remaining, it is considered preferable to a customs union arrangement.

These findings have their roots in a 2017 study we undertook to better understand what people thought about Britain’s relationship with the EU. The study incorporated a survey with nearly 1,000 respondents using a “stated preference discrete choice experiment”. The idea is that it is better to ascertain people’s preferences by examining the choices they make rather than asking them to try to estimate the value that they attach to things directly, because people are much better at making choices – something they probably do every day – than providing abstract valuations. Also, using choices forces people to make trade-offs, which helps identify what is most important to them.

Respondents were asked to make choices between options that described the UK’s relationship with the EU. These options included freedom of movement for holidays and working, access to the single market, ability to make free trade deals, contribution to the EU and sovereignty.
Theresa May claims to be enacting the will of the people.
Theresa May claims to be enacting the will of the people. (PA)
Now, more than a year on and as negotiations continue between the UK government and the EU, we decided to revisit this study to see whether people’s priorities have changed. We approached the same people that we surveyed in February 2017 to repeat the experiments, managing to repeat the survey with more than 80% of them. We also added new respondents so we again had a sample of nearly 1,000 respondents. Our study revealed that people’s priorities had changed little over the past year, which is somewhat surprising given the rhetoric about Brexit during that time.

Other options 
The status quo, or remaining in the EU, was the second preferred option – further evidence that people valued access to the single market and were willing to trade restraints on freedom of movement and sovereignty for this access.

The third preferred outcome was a “no-deal” Brexit, relying on World Trade Organisation rules. This was valued less positively than remaining in the EU because of the need for visas for holiday travel and lack of access to the single market, although there are some positive aspects in terms of being able to make free trade deals with countries outside of the EU, increased sovereignty and savings made by ending EU contributions.

Of all the relationships we examined, participating in the customs union was valued the least. It was considered worse than not getting a deal because of restrictions on making free trade deals, even though the costs that businesses would face to participate in the single market for trading of goods are not as high as for the “no deal” situation. It was considered worse than remaining in the EU because of the need for visas (and health insurance) for travel and loss of access to the EU market for services and increased costs for goods. These aspects were not outweighed by the positive benefits of constraining freedom of movement for working and living (requiring work permits for people working in the UK), increased sovereignty and savings.

Will of the people? 
It’s very difficult to quantify the value of what the UK government is proposing as its Brexit model in the Chequers plan because it is relatively ambiguous. We have therefore calculated values for the most optimistic and pessimistic interpretations.

In the most optimistic view, a certain number of “ifs” would value the Chequers plan as highly as the EEA (Norway) option. This would be the case if it allows a reciprocal deal for truly visa-free travel for tourists, including continued reciprocal health insurance arrangements; if the UK is able to make trade deals with countries outside the EU on its own terms and is not constrained by the “common rule book”; and if the UK is able to sell goods with no additional costs. However, at the other extreme, if these conditions are not met then Chequers is valued much more negatively than a customs union arrangement.

Politicians who were keen to follow the “will of the people” have been curiously silent on what is the most popular option among the British population – the Norway-type deal. More attention could be given to accessing the single market, rather than focusing on stemming the freedom of movement of people and increasing sovereignty.The Conversation

About Today's Contributors:
Charlene Rohr, Senior Research Fellow, King's College London; David Howarth, Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Cambridge, and Jonathan Grant, Vice President/Vice Principal (Service), King's College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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16 April 2018

The Economist Announces "Open Future" Initiative; Remakes The Case For The Newspaper's Founding Principles Amid Populism And Growing Authoritarianism

Still from the "What is The Economist's Open Future project?" video
Still from the "What is The Economist's Open Future project?" video
The Economist, a leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs, today announced "Open Future", an editorially driven initiative ( which aims to remake the case for The Economist's founding principles of classical British liberalism which are being challenged from all sides in the current political climate of populism and authoritarianism.
"Although the world has changed dramatically since James Wilson founded The Economist to fight against the Corn Laws, the liberalism we have championed since 1843 is as important and relevant as ever," said Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief, The Economist.  "Yet the core tenets of that liberalism—faith in free markets and open societies—face greater resistance today than they have for many years. From globalisation to free speech, basic elements of the liberal credo are assailed from right and left."
"The Trump Era" (still from the "What is The Economist's Open Future project?" video)
"The Trump Era" (still from the "What is The Economist's Open Future project?" video)
Content for Open Future will be developed and organised around five themes: 
  • Open Society (diversity, and individual rights versus group rights) 
  • Open Borders (migration); Open Markets (trade, markets, taxes and welfare reform) 
  • Open Ideas (free speech); and Open Progress (the impact and regulation of technology) 
In addition to content from The Economist editorial staff, the Open Future hub will feature commentary from outside contributors, including from those with dissenting points of view.
"The Economist - Open Future" Logo
"The Economist - Open Future" Logo
The initiative launches with a debate between Larry Summers and Evan Smith about no-platforming and free speech at universities. Mr Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. He served as Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and as the Director of the National Economic Council for President Barack ObamaEvan Smith is a Research Fellow in history at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia and is writing a book on the history of no-platforming.
A special report on the future of liberalism written by editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes will appear in the newspaper's 175th anniversary edition dated September 15th. And on that Saturday, the newspaper will host the Open Future Festival, to be held simultaneously in Hong KongLondon and New York. There will also be an Open Future essay contest for young people; surveys and other data visualisations; podcasts; social-media programmes and new video from Economist Films.

About The Economist:
With a growing global audience and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read current affairs publications in the world. In addition to the weekly print and digital editions and website, The Economist publishes Espresso, a daily news app, Global Business Review, a bilingual English-Chinese product and a Economist VR, a virtual-reality app. Economist Radio produces several podcasts a week, and Economist Films produces short- and long-form video. The Economist maintains robust social communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, LINE, Medium and other social networks. A recipient of many editorial and marketing awards, The Economist was recently named the most trusted news source in the 2017 Trusting News Project Report.

SOURCE: The Economist

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28 November 2017

'Trust Us, We're Lying': Eurozine And Cultural Journals From Across Europe Take A Closer Look At The Power Of 'Post-Truth' In A New Series Of Online Articles And Debates

Vladimir Putin's War on Information
Vladimir Putin's War on Information (Image via
In a new series of online articles launched by the Eurozine network of cultural journals, 13 cultural journalists and academics from across Europe, plus U.S. writers, examine in-depth the phenomena of fake news, post-truth and disinformation.
Eurozine's focal point 'Disinformation and Democracy' combines empirical studies at national levels with theoretical discussion of the politics of post-truth; analyses of contemporary developments with intellectual and conceptual histories; and investigations of the political fringes, asking: what now constitutes democratic 'normality'?

⏩ It's impossible to ignore Russia's role in these phenomena. 

  • Markus Wehner gives an overview of the strategy and techniques of Russian 'infowar
  • Anton Shekhovtsov traces how far-right groups across Europe and the U.S. use Russian web-hosting to spread anti-western propaganda 
  • Daniel Leisegang assesses the effectiveness of Germany's new law on online hate speech and fake news, given the virtual migration to the Runet. Shifting the focus to eastern Europe 
  • Milena Iakimova and Dimitar Vatsov explore how, in Bulgaria, Russian propaganda has co-opted western grassroots criticism of liberalism and globalization since 2013. They note: 'We were ... amazed when we started hearing the talking points identified by our study now coming from the mouth of the new U.S. President, Donald Trump.' 

  • From dialectical materialism to neoliberalism, any politics that lays claims to the truth is both illusory and dangerous, argues Jean-Claude Monod 
  • Political scientist Joseph Uscinski explores the relationship between conspiracy theorizing and partisanship in the U.S., pointing out: 'If one wants to challenge mainstream wisdom, conspiracy theories are an excellent rhetorical device for doing so.' 
  • Providing historical perspective, Marci Shore compares western intellectuals' response to the disappointment of 'real-existing communism' with that of the dissidents who lived under it: can a radical concept of truth counter the threat of 'post-modern dictatorships'? 
  • Valentin Groebner traces a thread of fakery in 'news' right back to the Middle Ages.
Fake News Invasion
Fake News Invasion (image via
⏩All the focal point texts are available in English in Eurozine.

⏩This editorial collaboration within the Eurozine network continued via a series of panel discussions at the 28th European Meeting of Cultural Journals in Tartu, Estonia in October 2017.

The discussions can be viewed  below:


SOURCE: Eurozine

21 November 2017

UK: Let's Stop that Heartless Animal Vote!

A lamb
A Lamb (image via
Dear friends across Britain,

MPs just voted that animals can't feel emotions or pain. It's our government at its most cruel and heartless -- but a massive outcry from the public can overturn this outrage.

EU law protects animal welfare, but as we fumble towards Brexit Britain, MPs just voted to remove this vital safeguard, reducing animals to deaf and dumb creatures that exist purely for our benefit.

The vote narrowly passed in parliament and will go to the Lords -- that’s our chance. If we can create a massive outcry from right across the country, we can give the Lords the backing they need to reject this heartless amendment. 
Add your name, with one click, and tell everyone: 

To the House of Lords:

"As citizens across Britain, we are horrified by the parliamentary vote that animals aren’t sentient beings. The vote strips animals of the rights they had under EU law -- and so we urge you to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill when it comes to the House of Lords." 

Wagging tails, excited little lambs, cats that nuzzle your arm -- it’s obvious to everyone that animals have feelings and are aware of their surroundings. It’s been proven in over 2,500 scientific studies.

There can only be one reason to deny animal sentience, and that’s to exploit them. Strip away that recognition and there’s no reason to worry about animal testing, barbaric hunting games, and gruesome slaughterhouses. But we won’t have it.

When this bill arrives at the Lords, let’s make sure they have the backing they need to overturn this outrage -- we need to make it massive! Let’s show our government want compassion and humanity looks like -- sign now with one click!
There are many beliefs that unite our community across the world, but surely one of the most beautiful is the understanding that we don’t own or rule the planet -- we share it with every other being. It’s why time and again we’ve risen to the challenge of defending animals around the world. Let’s make sure this time isn’t any different.

With hope and determination

Loup Dargent
On behalf of Mike, Alex, Antonia, Bert and the whole team at Avaaz

One cute baby fox
One cute baby fox (image via

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