Stewart Copeland Transcends Darkness to Light up the Orchestra

Rating: *****
Southbank Centre
London SE1
Performers
London Concert Orchestra
Troy Miller – conductor
Stewart Copeland – percussion, drums
Review date: 30th March 2019

This sounded interesting. A culture clash of drumming and classical music, featuring the drummer and founder of “that band” as Stewart Copeland un-cryptically referred to his former band The Police and the London Concert Orchestra. Would it be a culture clash and riotous clash of styles though or would the two forms seque-way harmoniously and symphonically?

The first couple of numbers were traditional classical pieces and Stewart Copeland’s drumming fitted in seamlessly, as indeed did the full, enormous 50 piece London Concert Orchestra playing all manner of instruments – from violins, trombones, flutes, saxophones, guitars and double bass to name but a small selection of the instruments being played. It all sounded so beautiful. The highlights of the show for me were Don’t Stand So Close to Me, Darkness and Miss Gradenko, the former being one of The Police’s biggest hits. The latter were two of the less well known, but still much loved album songs. It was great to hear them all again re-worked in such a classical style.

Stewart Copeland

It was a joy to hear Copeland’s humourous and informative anecdotes and introductions to each song. It was effectively, for those who’d not been paying attention at the back, a real update on what he’d had been up to since his Police days. As this show indicated he’s been busy learning the craft of composing musical scores for films, TV shows and video games. He’s the man behind the music composed for Rumblefish, Wall Street, The Equaliser and Spyro the Dragon platform game (me neither)! Copeland acknowledged that those in the audience over 36 probably would have no idea about that one.

The audience loved the moment when Copeland and the Conductor Troy Miller Wall swapped roles. Miller actually drummed very well and Copeland gleefully conducted energetically and overly theatrically in his exuberant, American way. He was loving his moment running the show and you could see he was thoroughly enjoying himself on stage. It was a joy to behold.

London Concert Orchestra

His drumming, it goes without saying, was superb, if a tad restrained by his usual high energy, frenetic standards, but that was to be expected considering this was an orchestral night. Copeland was so restrained he didn’t even let loose and deliver solo drum passages!

This mix of cultures was not such a crazy idea after all. Drumming and orchestral manoeuvres worked a treat. I love the way both he and the man he described as the “greatest living songwriter alive” Sting have both done tours with Orchestra’s and let their post The Police creative juices flow in this and so many other unexpected directions over the years.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Repertoire

Stewart Copeland: Poltroons in Paradise from Tyrant’s Crush; Darkness; Pirate’s Attack from Ben Hur; Wall Street; Coco from Rhythmatist
Gordon Sumner: Don’t stand so close to me arranged by Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland: West Tulsa Story from Rumblefish; Theme from The Equalizer; Klentong from Gamelan D’Drum; Rain Tiger; Seventeen from Spyro the Dragon; Miss Gredenko.

Further information on Stewart Copeland and forthcoming tour dates

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No Brexit, No Matter: Brexit Free Comedy at the Comedy Bunker

Rating: ****
The Comedy Bunker
West Ruislip
Middlesex HA4
Comedians: Jonathan Elston (Compere); Prince Abdi, Sarah Callaghan and Tom Ward
Review date: 29th March 2019

I say I say I-SA, what do you get when you hold a comedy night on so called ‘Brexit day’? The answer is a wonderfully bonkers, politics free, mash up of a show the covers everything from Prince and Cher, relationships and ISA’s, Usain Bolt and the Grand Canyon.

This was billed as a mystery night so I literally had no idea whatsoever who was to appear on stage. Trying his best to make sense of all this was the easy going host Jonathan Elston. From seemingly mining dead end conversations with the front row – comprising a fork lift digger, a “sometime” PE Teacher and a Prison Officer he somehow managed to segue way in links between them all and others in the audience in a highly entertaining way. This allowed him to demonstrate his quick wittedness in combining the curious comment from one of the men about “sometimes doing a little bit of PE teaching” for a living, to a reposte about him one way or another going to end up on a register! Very good.

Jonathan Elston

Prince Abdi was on great form with a lot of silly, observational jokes and material playing on racial stereotypes in a very light hearted, unthreatening way. I loved the stories re his brother being kicked out of the home and his attempts at chirpsing young women.

Sarah Callaghan was amusing in her mock aggressive/angry young woman way. The anecdote about her date being 5 minutes late and how that so annoyed her was a joy to hear and in a very funny way, she actually gets across a serious point about the value and importance of time and punctuality, even “just 5 minutes.”

Callaghan’s ironic take on the #MeToo movement too went down well too. As the only female on the line up, that was perhaps not surprisingly, the only act reference to the movement. I guess the men thought better of “going there” on such a delicate topic.

Headliner Tom Ward with his Lego/Beatles haircut was highly original and amusing with his utilisation of music, particularly Prince and Cher. He was brilliant at getting laughs from the different “sexy” voices of Prince and the unintelligible warbling of Cher on her hit single ‘I Believe.’

On this ‘Mystery Night’ show we had a couple of familiar faces in Prince Abdi and Sarah Callaghan, plus two new ones (to me anyway) in Jonathan Elston and Tom Ward. Neither I or the audience were disappointed. I love that about Comedy Bunker and so do the attendees they know they will always enjoy a good and varied night of entertainment.

It’s ironic that this night of stand-up comedy took place at, of all places. the Comedy Bunker, for there was no problems getting the laughs out on the night. The Comedy Bunker delivered on their promise, unlike certain politician’s. In fact the only thing stuck in the bunker at the moment seems to be the Government’s attempts to Brexit the European Union.

Sarah Callaghan

Aside from the acts on stage the undoubted audience star of the night was local guy Sam who happened to know the 3 guys on the front row and wisecracked his way through the night in entertaining banter with the Compere. Best of all was when Elston noticed after the final interval that Sam’s girlfriend Summer hadn’t returned. That created a bit of tension in the room and you half-expected her to walk in and take up her seat, but she didn’t. #Awkward. Sarah Callaghan would not have liked that one bit!

Elston was offered and sardonically declined Sam’s offer of a glass of Prosecco. During a momentary silence to interrupt Elston’s flow of concern for his situation, Sam exclaims, I think by way of saying all is not lost, “We’ve got an ISA.” That brings the house down and Elston proceeds to joke about whether the value of the ISA is sufficient to hold this relationship together. Unlike, I hope, their ISA, that was absolutely unexpectedly, left  of field, priceless. Shortly afterwards, Sam, looking a little worse for wear it has to be said, Brexited out into the night to look for Summer, never to be seen again.

We can but hope that Sam and Summer re-united, but as we enter Spring today, 31st March 2019, maybe the reality is that Sam will have to get through this brand new season all on his own before re-uniting with his girlfriend Summer in … you’ve guessed it … Summer!

If you’re reading this Sam and Summer let us all know how things are going. Maybe you will re-unite at the next night of entertainment at The Comedy Bunker. We shall see.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

The next show at The Comedy Bunker sees the return of one of the country’s most popular Comedian’s – A Night With Jim Davidson on Friday 26th April 2019.

Brexit: A Solution to Break the Deadlock – 11th March 2019

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Amazing: The George Michael Collection

Amazing: The George Michael Collection
Rating: *****
Christie’s
London SW1
Review date: Sunday 10th March 2019

Sunday morning brunch in the West End of London. Sounds good. That in itself would have been a novelty, but I attended novelty to beat all novelties as I headed into town last Sunday 10th March 2019 to view The George Michael Collection. As big a fan as I am I didn’t even know there was such a thing until last week-end. Speaking to other super fans of the late star at the viewing, it seems this has come as quite a surprise too them and many fans as it transpires that George Michael was quite a prolific art connoisseur and collector who went on to amass one of the world’s largest personal art collections.

He took a particular interest in modern British art by Young British Artists. His interest was originally piqued by Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. One of the chief curator’s and appropriately named Christie’s Director, Mr Cristian Albu, told an amusing story of how George Michael’s interest was first knocked back. He paid a visit to Tracey Emin hoping to meet with her to discuss her art. He knocked on her door and she said she’s not open for visitors. He replied, “But I’m George Michael!” She retorted, “I don’t care. We’re closed!!” I can’t imagine many people would have declined a personal visit from George Michael. Not even the “don’t you know who I am line” worked on Tracy Emin, regardless of the fact your name is George Michael!!

George Michael

Nonetheless, George Michael wasn’t to be deterred for too long and he returned again, during opening hours (lesson learned) and struck up and developed an enduring long term relationship with Tracey forged on his love of art. She introduced him to the art of the Goldsmith College set and from then on it was buy, buy, buy, as he snapped up a great deal of art over the next 2 decades.

The George Michael Collection is an educational, visual, written and aural masterpiece of showmanship, featuring an amaxing array of art and iconic memorabilia that I’m certain the man himself would have been immensely proud of. It felt more like being in an art gallery, not an auction house preparing for a major auction. As stated on one of the display’s, George Michael was ever the perfectionist. This was best exemplified in one of his career highlights, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Show at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1992. One written profile stated that in contrast to many stars who spent just a single afternoon preparing for their set, George Michael spent a good 5 days perfecting his three Queen tribute numbers to such a brilliant extent that his impassioned rendition of ‘Somebody to Love’ was the stand out, show stealing performance of the day.

This viewing, not unexpectedly seeing as it was held at Christie’s, had world class stamped all over it; from the ornate staircase that greeted you as you walk in, resplendent with the image of hundreds of people screened onto it. Fans will recognise the images being the artwork for the 1990 album ‘Listen without Prejudice Volume 1’, George Michael’s second solo album.

The walls of Christie’s were literally wall to wall with fantastic art. Additionally, one of the areas I loved most of all was right at the top of the entrance staircase where one of the more literary spaces in the exhibition tracked his journey from schoolboy to popstar with Wham! to solo star, right through to the later years of his pop career that culminated in the prestigious 2012 Symphonica show at the Palais Garnier in Paris.

The collection was filled with lots of lovely, detailed nuggets of information as well as witty and insightful quotes from George Michael such as “I don’t need the approval or people who don’t approve of me.

Accompanying all of this was of course a background soundtrack of George Michael and Wham! That was a fitting and terrific accompaniment to the collection, which effectively was a great, extensive and detailed journey through some of the most iconic images and stages of his long career, including the outlandish black and red costumes worn in the Freeek! (2002) video and the famous black “speaker” chair from fast love (1996). The chair was set on a simple, tiny podium in small room all on its own, with George Michael videos playing in the background.

Black chair from Fast Love video

It was quite eerie and extremely poignant to view this. To think that George Michael used to sit on that chair. Now resolutely empty with just his music playing in the background. At different junctures of The Collection you would get that sense as you viewed the clothes and other famous artefacts that appeared in videos over the years.

The prices of the artwork were breathtaking, with many pieces well into the high £1,000’s right up to £1.5 list estimate for Damien Hurst’s ‘The Incomplete Truth’ (2006) featuring a dove hovering in formaldehyde.

This is going to be an historic, once in a lifetime auction. Good luck to all bidding for items on Thursday 14th March 2019. There is also an online auction, for not only the main artwork, but also many lower valued artwork too.

George Michael Freeek! video outfit

When he passed away a number of George Michael’s secret and vast acts of philanthropy came to light. Many loved the fact he had quietly and secretly used his vast wealth to help others far less fortunate than him. It was lovely to hear another new fact in Cristian Albu’s talk that George Michael had decided that royalties from the song ‘Jesus to a Child’ would, in perpetuity, be granted to Childline.

It was also wonderful to hear him announce that the proceeds from the auction will go to, as yet un-named, worthy causes. So effectively he didn’t just buy this art for art’s sake or as a “personal” investment, he did it to benefit others once he departed this earth.

In a quote from the exhibition he is remembered as saying: “Most of us want to leave something. I want to leave songs.” George Michael on Top of the Pops, 1982. He would have been a mere teenager of 19 at that time. Well he undoubtedly achieved that goal and a whole lot more too as The George Michael Collection demonstrably showcased.

The George Michael Collection is open to the general public at Christie’s London until Friday 15th March 2019, with the auction taking place on the evening of 14th March 2019.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. George Michael Honoured with Blue Plaque at Former High School – 8th June 2018
  2. Tribute poem read at Bushey Meads High School plaque unveiling – Steve Stunt – 15th April 2018
  3. Faith: The George Michael Legacy Lives on by Wayne Dilks  – 19th October 2017
  4. Fans Flock to George Michael Memorial Service – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 1st May 2017
  5. Symphonica concert review – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 19th October 2012

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Brexit: A Solution to Break the Deadlock

Dear Reader,

There is a 3rd option and a way through to break the seemingly un-ending drama that is Brexit. It’s rarely talked about at all but I think it’s high time the Government stopped their endless prevaricating over Brexit and took decisive action to bring this interminable saga to a conclusion. It’s in their power to do so but they seem to be avoiding it like the plague. This departure is taking so long it even appears to be affecting the seasons. You’ll recall that only last month we were experiencing Summer weather in February! Maybe that’s one of the pleasant upsides to Brexit no-one told us about.

Prime Minister Theresa May

To me, ever since it became clear that our government had failed to reach a deal acceptable to parliament or the nation,  Brexiteers or Remainers, the only real solution left opened up right in front of our eyes.

It’s one that will avoid the need for a delay to the 29th March 2019 deadline and fulfills parliament’s legal and democratic obligations, for it places this momentous decision firmly in the hands of our elected representatives.

Gina Miller, Businesswoman and Activist

 

This after all is precisely what Businesswoman and Activist Gina Miller fought for and was rightfully applauded for when she successfully won her Supreme Court case (24th January 2017) against the  British government. I urge the Prime Minister Theresa May to stop negotiating with the EU and break the log jam herself by using her authority to give MP’s an additional meaningful, decisive and free vote on Brexit with the following three clear options:

1. Brexit based on the current GB-EU approved deal.
2. Leave with a no deal Brexit.
3. Remain i.e. revoke article 50.

Unfortunately option 3 isn’t one of the 3 voting options set to be put to MP’s this week, but surely it ought to be. It should be within the PM’s gift to be able push this through this week.

For the first time I can recall she even hinted that Brexit might never happen, when delivering a speech in leave territory Grimsby (70% voted leave in 2016), last Friday 8th March 2019.  I call on her to do the right thing and bring this complex and deeply divisive episode in our proud nation’s history to a conclusion by offering MP’s an additional vote on whether to revoke Article 50 and remain in the European Union.

Michael Peters, Editor, Tiemo Talk of the Town

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India vs Pakistan Comedy Clash

Your Plan Entertainment
Rating: ****
Harrow Arts Centre
Hatch End
Harrow HA5
Review date: 8th March 2019

Comedy and spirituality became unlikely companions  at the India vs Pakistan stand up comedy clash. Not that the show was focused on matters of faith or religion, but more as a by product of  the uncanny resemblance of jovial host Jay Handley to Jesus Christ. He played this for light-hearted laughs which went down very well with the audience. 

Curiously Jay, from Birmingham, was the only non-Asian on the line up and whilst segments of the show went right over his head, mine too – since a good 25% of the show was delivered in Punjabi and Urdu, he was an excellent host who kept things ticking along nicely especially with his good natured, sometimes quite acerbic and arguably a tad aggressive, picking on the ‘Mayfair set’ of gentlemen in the front row. Perhaps he saw them as fair games … they were Estate Agents after all!

Sukh Ojhla

Talking of ticking along, there was a small degree of light hearted joshing around Asian stereotypes throughout the show – vis a vis housing, boarding airplanes and travelling on the London Underground, as well as poking fun at the well known commercial nous of many in the Asian community when it comes to retail.

In an unusual and brave move the promoter and leader of Team Pakistan, Salman Malik, pulled off a show mixing 3 Comedian’s of Indian origins and 3 of Pakistani origins.  Anyone with a passing knowledge of Asian politics will be aware the two countries don’t exactly get along politically and neither are we lead to believe do its citizens, so it was a bold and brave move to put on this event.

Although going into this show I was a little apprehensive that many of the jokes might go over my head, that wasn’t the case in the main. Around 70% of the time the jokes (those in English that is) struck a chord with me. It was when the acts seamlessly segue-wayed into Punjabi or Urdu, for instance, that I was lost but it was great to hear the laughter at the punch lines, although it certainly was unusual to be in a situation where you were un-intentionally excluded from the jokes. I’m thinking about contacting the promoter, Plan Your Entertainment, to see if I can get a 25% refund based on the percentage of non-English speaking jokes I couldn’t understand …  

Jay Handley

It was all fine though really and I recognised and accepted that for the many Asians in the packed Harrow Arts Centre, this might well have been a rarity to hear so much live stand up comedy delivered in their language of origin as opposed to English.

As a reviewer not so familiar with Asian culture I found the night to be extremely enjoyable and as I said, in the main accessible, but in a funny sort of way, pleasingly non-accessible at times too.

I especially enjoyed the inter-generational jokes from acts such as Hyde Panaser and Sukh Ojhla, the only female act on the line up. The line up also included the superb Eshaan Akbar, Mani Liaqat and Aatif Nawaz. 

Hyde Panaser

All performers did exceptionally well and I’d certainly go and see them again. However, considering it was International Women’s Day, something that was periodically highlighted during the night, it was a bit of a missed opportunity not to have more than one woman on the bill.

The bravery of the organisers in putting on such a show paid off. With an event that aimed to “break barriers with love and laughter” it most certainly achieved that by bringing together different communities that might not ordinarily mix.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Photo’s courtesy of IMG Photography

The charity partner for the night was Forgotten Women and it was nice of the promoter to allow representatives to talk on stage for a few minutes to show the video below and inform the audience of their work in supporting female victims of rape in war torn countries, plus raising awareness of the horrific murders and life changing maiming of innocent men and children.

Courtesy of IMG Photography

Forthcoming shows at Harrow Arts Centre include The Music of BOB MARLEY LEGEND on Saturday 30th March 2019 and Courtney Pine featuring Omar on Saturday 13th April 2019.

 

 

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What the African said in Hayes

Daliso Chaponda
Star rating: ****
Beck Theatre
Hayes
Review date: 12th October 2018

Appearing for the first time at Hayes Beck Theatre, Daliso Chaponda appeared very much at ease on the big stage. Maybe that should come as no surprise, for though he’s been performing as a stand up since 2001, he really shot to national prominence as result of his short, stand out, stand up performances on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent (BGT)2017, where he finished in a very creditable 3rd place.

Daliso Chaponda

I’ve no doubt this contributed to a near full house. They particularly loved one of his early BGT jokes about how finishing third was, in some circumstances, really the equivalent of placing first. Daliso is extremely amusing and I enjoyed his refreshing stance on many topics, doubtless shaped by his Malawian-Canadian-UK upbringing. We heard his humorous, but pointed, take on a wide range of subjects spanning family, race, politics, language and the faux outrage we see so much of these days. He has a very pragmatic stance on matters of race, language and offense, highlighting through his comedy, how all too often, many people and the mass media twist opinions out of all perspective to actual real life tragic events.

He’s seems to be have been through some challenging experiences himself, though curiously I’m not sure he’d not include being an adopted child (he wasn’t) as one of those, for he said of adopted children, “at least you know you were planned and wanted!”

Daliso was well supported by Mancunian Tony Vino, who had an engaging, likable and friendly stage presence, a little reminiscent of Patrick Monahan. Despite mistakenly getting the date wrong – “good to be in Hayes on Saturday night” (when it was Friday) and saying he’d been in Birmingham the previous night when in fact he was at  Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms he proved to be a super opening act! The jokes re Somalians and the Lion King were superb and had the place rocking away with laughter.

Never mind Britain’s Got Talent, Malawi’s Got Talent. Daliso Chaponda is a very funny man, with a wide range of witty jokes with unexpected punchlines liberally peppering his show. He is touring until the end of the year and if you go and see him it, will be time well spent listening to what the African has got to say.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

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Should Youngsters be leading The War on Gun Control in America and the Brexit Battle in the UK?

Battle of Ideas 2018
Counter Cultural Concerns
Garden Room, Barbican Centre
London EC2
Saturday 13th October 2018

The extraordinary turnout, reportedly up to 700,000 in Central London for the pro-remain #NeverAgain anti-Brexit ‘People’s March’ on 20th October 2018 made it the second largest march in the country this century. It was a symbolic, clear demonstration of the depth of anti-Brexit feeling amongst many people in the country. What was also self-evident were the unusually large number of young people protesting, particularly for a non-student specific issue. This is explained by the fact that the march was part organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) who mobilised so many young people to attend. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, 21st October 2018, the President of the NUS, Shakira Martin, said that the march was organised and led by students and requested that the Prime Minister Theresa May take note of the 1,000’s of young voices amongst the 700,000 who marched as a demonstration of intent to have a second vote on Brexit.

Aside from the on-going debate about whether or not there should be a second referendum, which as one for another article altogether, this protest shone a spotlight on youth participation in the political process. Under 18’s, too young to vote had no say in the EU referendum vote yet by the time of the next big march, 29th March 2019, aka Brexit Day, many more who just two years ago were too young to vote would now be eligible. Can children change the future? Many would argue a decision had been made with long-term ramifications affecting the youths of today and tomorrow that they have had no say in and that they should have a say in.

Across the pond there is an issue that has far more serious consequences, one that is literally a matter life and death. I refer to the battle for gun control that has touched far too many American youths and encouraged more and more young people to become more politicised and active in raising their voices and profiles for the cause.
We are sadly all too familiar with mass shootings at US schools and elsewhere. Clearly the problem hasn’t been solved by the grown up’s, the elected politicians tasked with making America safer for students and wider American society, so young people directly affected are getting involved.

Following the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were shot dead, a group of students from the school met and formed the #NeverAgainMSD #EnoughIsEnough movement to try and bring an end to these horrific massacres of innocent school children. Their appeal for stricter gun control was passionate, energetic, personal and above all youth inspired. Student David Hogg became one of the group’s most high profile spokespeople following his March for our Lives speech at a Washington DC rally on 24th March 2018 where he said “Adult politics is not helping us. Ideas without action remain ideas and children die.”

I feel there are pros and cons for more active youth participation in the political process aimed at finding a solution to this and any other long standing political and societal problems. Youths argue that they have personal “skin in the game” so to speak as there are a disproportionate number of mass school shootings in America compared to anywhere else in the world. Many involved are well educated, articulate and have mobilised their fellow pupils to action, arguably in a way adults would struggle to. Karin Robinson, of Democrats Abroad, former Vice–Chair of Democrats Abroad UK, has recent experience of the capability of young people. Speaking at the recent Battle of Ideas 2018 Festival she recalled how she tried to help a group of young Londoners with a campaign they were working on, thinking that her experience as an older person would help. Little did she know that they were doing fine all by themselves and therefore she was pleasantly surprised to find that they didn’t need her support. “They were more than capable. There view was that, ‘our parents don’t know how to handle a democracy so let us do it.’ ”

Some would argue that there are limits to how far young people can develop a campaign. Nancy McDermott, Writer and adviser to Park Slope Parents, does not believe that children were capable of organising rallies in some schools that they were said to have done, saying that, “whilst they mean well, it was inconceivable that they could organise a bus trip for hundreds of students to far away cities. Such trips were organised and promoted by schools not the students.”

James Delingpole

Journalist and podcaster James Delingpole, 53, caused uproar amongst the students in the audience by saying that “We shouldn’t listen to youths. There frontal lobes aren’t developed until they’re at least 25 years old. By definition, as young people, they are not wise. There is a danger in weaponising the youths.” This drew a very witty riposte that brought the house down at the Barbican Centre from an 18 year old female who said, “My frontal lobes may not be fully developed but can I tell you that by the age of 30 your frontal lobe is deteriorating.” That amusing put down drew laughter and a huge round of applause from the packed audience.

Dr Kevin Yuill, Senior Lecturer in American history at Southampton University, considered that “mass shootings are a massive cry for help.” To me, this speaks to the on-going mental health crisis that underpins many of these shootings. Many massacres are quite simply senseless and often turn out to be the actions of someone without a sound and rational mind. He felt that “there was something noble about kids becoming activists. It opens up a dialogue and opportunity for them to learn about the business of changing the world.” That on the face of it is entirely logical, especially when you consider that he said that young Americans biggest fear is gun crime. He said there is a 1:11,125 chance of dying from a gun versus, for instance, a 1:471 chance of dying in a car crash. It’s understandable but almost illogical to be more afraid of something that’s 24 less likely to happen than being involved in a car crash. I guess its fear of the one being out of your control and likely to be fatal and one where you feel you can manage the risks and possibly have a greater chance of surviving.

The complex and messy politics of this is well summed up by Dr Richard Johnson, Lecturer in US politics at Lancaster University, who explained that “First of all, legislatively it is very, very difficult to change due to how the senate is comprised e.g. the 39 million citizens of California have the same 2 votes i.e. 2 elected representatives as a state of 750 people! This effectively means that the states, like California, most in favour of gun control have little say commensurate with their size.”

There ought to be boundary reviews just as we do in the UK to more accurately reflect populations. Dr Johnson further argued that “Secondly, it’s not a matter of moving public opinion, it’s the structure. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that gun control bans are unconstitutional.”

Nancy McDermott, said “Canada is armed to the teeth with guns but there is no gun control problem. It’s very much a cultural issue. The Police have a problem with African-Americans resulting in escalating problems. We need to address the culture wars here. We don’t talk to one another. Instead we talk past one another. That’s why children are being weaponised in this debate.”

Delingpole said “Let youths enjoy life. Enjoy their academic subjects. We don’t need young people being politicised, becoming Activists.” McDermott responded that “the problem is not the youths. It’s the adult’s not providing appropriate leadership.”

Dr Richard Johnson, Lecturer in US Politics

The Australian Model

When considering solutions Dr Johnson quoted the Australian model that resulted in taking strong action against guns. There was a successful 3 point solution:

1. People needed to be licensed to own a gun.
2. People needed to prove they had a specific reason for owning a gun e.g. for sport.
3. Review of licenses issued every 3 years.

The hugely positive result of this was a massive 77% decline in gun assisted suicides.

Putting this into perspective he added that self-inflicted gun deaths add up to the vast majority of gun deaths in the USA.

Youth Engagement

Despite his strong position on the subject, James Delingpole believes there is a place for youth engagement and that is by voting and encouraging their peers to vote. He sees that young people can be quick to show their anger but in his view real change comes from the ballot box not verbal displays of anger. He said that the problem isn’t the adults, “but the youths who don’t vote, don’t protest and don’t stand up.” One youth said, “Young people don’t vote because the political discourse on campus is very toxic.” Trying to bring calm to a debate he helped inflame, Delingpole said, “There is a need to focus on arguments not identity. Otherwise it becomes polarised into the young versus old, black versus white and men versus women etc…

Soweto Uprising in 1976

The Soweto, South Africa, youth uprising against apartheid in June 2016 is a strong example of the effectiveness of youth engagement in politics. This was a very significant moment that sped up the demise of apartheid. It was a great starting point but not the end of the struggle. It was an example of young people acting out of great courage. We need to unite this courage with effective politics.

I think the solution to this is not a binary one. The major problems of today, be they gun control, knife crime, Brexit or climate change, require all of us, young and older, black or white, male or female to work together to find solutions. No one group necessarily has the monopoly on the best ideas. Even within the UK there are solutions to be found within the different nations.

For example, for some years now London has had a serious knife crime problem. Just north of the border they had an awful problem with this too, but the city of Glasgow in Scotland turned it around and appears to have won the battle by adopting a public health approach to the problem. That strategy worked so successfully there were no knife related murders in the city between 2006-2011.

I would say that that youths can’t do it alone and the experience of the older generation who are arguably more politically attuned, needs tapping into in order to effect change via the existing political and governmental machinery, both local and national.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Politicians Should Have Dealt with School Shootings Centuries Ago – Free Beacon  23rd October 2018
  2. Shakira Martin, President National Union of Students – Andrew Marr Show, BBC1  – 21st October 2018
  3. Five Days to go until the People’s Vote March – Shakira Martin, President, National Union of Students NUS article – 15th October 2018
  4. March for our Lives: Are Young People Leading America’s War on Guns? – Battle of Ideas -13th October 2018
  5. How Scotland Reduced Knife Deaths Among Young People – The Guardian – 3rd December 2017
  6. The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education – Battle of Ideas 2018 Tiemo Review – 28th October 2018
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