Ken Loach is helping to found new political party Left Unity in answer to the political vacuum that has existed in Britain for decades. Left Unity has attracted a lot of support over the last year... however a common criticism of Left Unity comes from people who agree with its principles, but argue that the most urgent task is kicking the Tories out and that it is unwise to split the left vote.
In the last fortnight a number of media commentators accused Russell Brand of naivete and political ignorance for his criticisms of the democratic system and the limitations of the right to vote. This week, however, the British public were presented with further evidence of how hollowed-out the democratic process has become, when the Chilcot Inquiry revealed that it was being denied access to 25 notes sent by Tony Blair to George Bush, and 130 documents relating to conversations between the two architects of the Iraq War, in addition to dozens of records of cabinet meetings.
The worthy practice of donating first-hand, with its inherent 'nothing in return' aspect, has been replaced with the more morally ambiguous purchasing of an mp3. When you put pennies in the Chelsea Pensioner's box and collect your poppy, you are forced, however momentarily, to individually reflect on the meaning of the paper token you've acquired.
Whether physically in power or not, Labour's reckless spending and their promises for the future tell me many things. One of these is that somewhere between the election in 2010 and present day 2013, the last person in their policy department forgot to turn out the lights before leaving and locking the door behind them.
The debate about bombing Syria is, in part, about the shock-and-awe policy of politics: most of us remember the shock-and-awe blitzkrieg unleashed over Baghdad as a curtain raiser to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Shock-and-awe, known in military parlance as Rapid Dominance, is a doctrine developed at The National Defense University of the United States in1996.
At no point in the last two-and-a-half years has the spectre of Iraq been more sharply evident than in the events surrounding Secretary of State John Kerry's statement of the United States' intelligence and national-security case for limited military intervention in Syria following the apparent use of chemical weapons in attacks on Damascus...
On the one hand, the British public, clearly sceptical of intervention in Syria, had their voices heard. Last night was, however, also a profoundly bitter moment because of what it says to the world about the morality of the British people. Is it not ironic and tragic to be celebrating the triumph of democracy and freedom of speech through ignoring the cries of the Syrian people for exactly the same rights?
The media's role in the Iraq 'road to war' was to be relentlessly critical of weapons' inspectors, particularly whenever they came up with the 'wrong' findings as far as the pro-war-Iraq-has-WMD- lobby were concerned. Weapons' inspectors are back in the headlines, following allegations of use of chemical agents in Syria - are they going to get caught in the cross-fire again?
We are all angry and upset at the terrible pictures of the atrocity in Syria. Poison gas is a cowardly and inhumane weapon. Its use against civilians is especially despicable. Instinctively we all want to punish the perpetrators and ensure there will be no repeat of this mass slaughter. That's the emotional reaction. The rational one is to measure the consequences of our using force in the Syrian Civil War.
Last time Britain and USA went to war without a UN mandate it created a human catastrophe that cost hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of dollars and badly damaged the West's credibility at home and abroad. 10 years later it's Russia and China that are likely to veto any UN Security Council resolution authorising military action, and this time it's Cameron and Hague arguing that intervention could be legal without UN approval...
We need an open discussion on foreign policy where no one should be silenced for disagreeing or agreeing with mainstream political views. Will Afghans be better off when the troops withdraw? Was going into Iraq a mistake? Who is being held accountable for the killing of civilians? The majority of Muslims want answers to these questions.