London is a city of contrasts. The “society” parties pictured in the Evening Standard are a world away from the clubs in Croydon where the police introduced bans on bashment.
Gentrification is transforming neighbourhoods all over the city, often accompanied by eye-watering rises in house prices and new residents – including hipsters. Alongside a studied application of tattoos, beards and your grandfather’s wardrobe, they often bring business ideas. Some are great. Like games for adults to explore the city and its landmarks. St Paul’s. Soho. A council estate?
Last week the Metro reported that the Residents of Queen Caroline estate in West London were left bewildered when their homes were included as checkpoints for City Dash, a cross between a scavenger hunt and hide and seek. This involved participants running around the estate chased by people in high-visibility vets with “Security” emblazoned on them. Fun for some; potentially disorienting and frightening for others.
When some kids from the estate tried to join in, they were told they could join in “next time”. At £20 a pop, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to, so, as one member of the resident’s association told the newspaper, “they are having to watch an activity they can’t join.”
There’s something tone deaf at best, and exploitative at worst about a commercial outfit taking 20 quid a pop to show people how the other half of London lives and turning people’s homes into an urban playground. The residents never had a chance to give their consent because it wasn’t sought.
They weren’t considered at all. Queen Caroline estate was viewed for the purposes of the game as a piece of London architecture like a statue or pillar, not a neighbourhood of homes where people live and work.
A local councillor said: “We work really hard to do things with residents – not to them. And we have not had the opportunity to ask Queen Caroline residents if they were happy for the event to take place on their estate, as it may have caused alarm.” In London’s tale of two cities, some pay and others try not to be consumed.
BeLEAVE they’ll be OK – us, not so much
As the EU Referendum approaches, the campaigning gets more intense, culminating yesterday in a bizarre battle of the boats on the Thames. The two messages that the Leave camp is pushing are to reject “Project Fear” and “Take Back Control”, which sound like song titles from a 90s dance mixtape.
Without a doubt, Remain is indulging in fear tactics, but Leave has resorted to ringing the Immigration bell for all it’s worth. At one point, the campaign produced a poster capitalising on the shooting in Orlando to suggest that a vote for Remain means we could have a similar incident here.
Meanwhile, the Sun has backed the campaign (“BeLEAVE in Britain and vote to quit the EU on 23 June”) “, claiming that “The Remain campaign, made up of the corporate establishment, arrogant europhiles and foreign banks, have set out to terrify us all about life outside the EU.”
The establishment is definitely involved – on both sides. Farage’s response to a possible Brexit scenario in which living costs soar was “So what?” He also took the time to double down on previous scaremongering comments he’s made about banning HIV-positive migrants. Project Fear?
Every Leave argument and promise has been systematically dismantled, most amusingly by scientist Brian Cox, who pointed out that the money we’re supposed to save from EU contributions is promised to scientists…and the NHS, schools, railways….the list goes on. Basically, Vote Leave have made over £100 billion in spending commitments when the amount we’re supposed to save is closer to £10 billion.
And then there is the issue of taking back control. The EU is flawed and in need of reform, but the question remains, Brexit on whose terms? Once we’ve monstered EU migrants, who is next on the list? Ah, but we could have a left-wing exit, you say- the Lexit dream.
Leaving the EU now is basically flinging ourselves into the most right-wing Tory embrace. If Labour couldn’t win an election after the coalition omnishambles and despite parroting a right-wing immigration line, how would they reverse the right-wing Brexit tide?
What about large parts of the countryside that benefit from EU subsidies? What about the state of our union – Scotland, Ireland?
We could discuss these serious ramifications of Brexit or we could josh about in boats on the Thames. Yesterday, they did the latter.
The Brexiters will be OK. Us? Not so much.
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White Men Dancing is a weekly column. Kiri Kankhwende and Maurice Mcleod keep an eye on Westminster. Politics is too important to leave to politicians.
Kiri Kankhwende is a Malawian journalist and blogger specialising in immigration and politics. She has a background in French and Chinese language studies and holds an MSc in International Political Communications, Politics and Human Rights Advocacy. An accomplished public speaker, she has also written for the Guardian and the Independent, and has been a contributor to BBC TV and radio, Al-Jazeera and Fox News. Find her on Twitter @madomasi
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