Bring out your time machines – We’re talking about coal mining.

Cumbria County Council’s ‘Climate Catastrophe’.

In an age when we’re so aware of the threat that climate change poses to our very existence, we continue to make self-defeating decisions regarding our future. Take, for example, Cumbria’s county council unanimously approving the construction of a new deep coal mine. Blinking twice, I realised this wasn’t a dream; this wasn’t a headline from notable satirists such as the Onion. Indeed, I hadn’t hopped through a time vortex to the mid-2050s on my way home. This proposal is an all too real headline, in an era when we are supposed to be reducing our emissions.

The county council, headed by the chair of the meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Geoffrey Cook, concluded that a short term boost to jobs in the area held greater importance than the adverse effects that this may have on the climate. That’s right, a short-term gain that, ultimately, the long-term loss our planet faces.

But sure. No big deal. It’s not as if the literal fate of our planet hangs in the balance. Why not open more coal mines. Hack down every tree in Cumbria to sell for timber while you’re at it! As long as it doesn’t affect those in power, why bother trying to kerb the processes which are harming the environment?

Why have they approved the plan and what should they have done?

On a serious note, this is an extremely disappointing development. As a Cumbrian myself, I’m disenchanted but not surprised to see the council approve this.

While there is no doubt that Copeland and the surrounding area are in dire need of extra jobs, there are surely more environmentally friendly methods than coal mining? While it is, arguably, positive that the coal generated in the mines won’t be going to burn in factories – rather fund the UK’s dying embers of the steel industry – there is no denying that the council could have considered a more progressive, greener alternative. Indeed, it was calculated by Living Witness that the mine would generate 1.24Mt Co2e, an unholy amount of pollution.

A wind farm, for example, could generate green energy for the surrounding area whilst also generating employment for the local economy. Seeing as how badly Cumbria has been recently plagued by natural disasters (namely floods) you’d think the council would have seen sense and voted against a mine that will undoubtedly exacerbate the issue. But asking a politician to actually put the interests of the people and the environment on which they depend seems a tall order.

What can be done to prevent other such proposals going ahead?

The infuriating blindness of politicians has fuelled the Youth Strikes for Climate and explains why they are gaining momentum. Our world leaders are acting like children, while our world’s children are acting like leaders.

The next “strike” falls in the Easter holidays, so more a protest than a strike, but an important message none the less. Indeed, the actions of Extinction Rebellion reaffirm the urgency required by our leaders to address the climate crisis.

Climate change won’t just, as defence minister Gavin Williamson once remarked about Russia “shut up and go away”, it is a very real threat, and we most definitely have the great minds and the technology to fight back, but, most of all, we just need the right people in power to help us achieve this.

US Speaker of the House warns “no chance” of US-UK trade deal if Brexit damages Good Friday Agreement.

Democrat politician and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has warned the UK that there will be no beneficial trade relationship formed with the United States should the final Brexit deal, or possible lack of a deal, harm Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement.

The widely influential politician spoke at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s “In-Conversation” series, where the University invites powerful contenders in world politics to speak to a public audience.

Representative Pelosi, who spoke to Professor Peter Trubowitz, stated that the tenuous peace agreements made in Northern Ireland can not be “bargained away” during conversations with the European Union, mentioning concerns over the possible creation of a customs “back-stop” in Northern Ireland, should a hard-border not be formed between the Republic of Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was a political policy formed in the 1990s, which saw an end to several decades of intense fighting and unrest in the Northern Irish and Irish border between dissidents, and UK Government forces, culminating in a number of terrorist attacks committed by the Irish Republican Army, a long with several atrocities committed by UK troops and Government-allied paramilitary groups.

Tensions in the region have recently heated up once again as a direct result of Brexit, as it is thought a new iteration of Republican armed groups have begun threatening UK infrastructure and citizens with acts of terror.

The current Speaker of the House also remarked that regardless of whether Northern Ireland’s peace was jeopardised by the Brexit process, successfully putting a trade deal through Congress is still “no given anyway”, but the Good Friday Agreement was something the United States wouldn’t want to be “something that can be bargained away in some other agreement” as the creation of the agreement as a “model to the world”.

The Speaker also stated how Brexit has become such an integral issue to world politics, it overshadows most other economic transatlantic talks between other countries and the United States. Pelosi mentioned her discontent with any political trip to the UK simply involving “Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, Brexit”.

Farage, Mogg and Johnson: The Phoney Defenders of the Working Class

“If politicians think they can walk all over us, then we’re going to march back and tell them they can’t”. These were the invigorating words of Nigel Farage, delivered to the participants of the ‘Brexit Betrayal March’ in which 50 emboldened Leave voters marched 280 miles through wind and rain to protest against our politician’s failure to deliver Brexit. However, in what could be perceived as a much greater betrayal, Farage went on to reveal that he would not actually be joining the march himself; much to the amusement of many on social media.

The image of those 50 protesters labouring on without any recognised leader was a fitting metaphor for one of the greatest lies at the heart of the Brexit process: the belief that Farage, Johnson and Mogg are natural defenders of the working-class.

In supporting a No Deal departure from the EU, they claim to have the best interests of the working class at heart, promising greater sovereignty and economic prosperity; appealing to the patriotic undertones of the British people “going it alone” and delivering the Brexit the people had apparently voted for in the first place.

However, they no doubt have ulterior motives in supporting a No Deal Brexit. For those on the right – ardent supporters of big business and global capitalism – a No Deal Brexit creates the opportunity to convert the UK into a low tax haven in what Paul Butters calls a “bargain basement for business”. It is for this reason they are licking their lips at the possibility of a No Deal; with the prospect of lower corporation tax and less government regulation.

No politician who supports crashing out of the EU can seriously consider themselves a protector of the lower classes when so much evidence has shown a No Deal Brexit will hit the poorest in society hardest. While the likes of Johnson and Farage will evidently be cushioned from increased prices and shortages, the same cannot be said for the millions they claim to be representing. 

Just a quick glance at the voting record of these charlatans tells us all we need to know about their relationship with the working-class. Boris Johnson, an ardent support of grammar schools of which he and many other right-wing politicians were privileged enough to attend, has voted for the bedroom tax, to cut universal credit benefits for people in paid work and has constantly voted to reduce corporation tax for his business chums. As supporters of austerity politics; these politicians have inflicted years of damage on working class communities and fuelled ugly, hate-filled populism.

Having continually voted for policies detrimental to the poorest in society, the fact that Johnson and co. believe they have the moral authority to claim to represent the “ordinary” citizen is absurd. They are very much a part of the establishment they claim to detest:  the image of an embarrassed Farage admitting he did not know how much his private jet to France cost sticks in the mind.

These charlatans know no shame. They will side with the working class so long as it suits their elitist agenda. Brexit has granted them a golden opportunity to appeal to voters who their economic policies would have otherwise alienated. They’ve seen a chance and they’ve taken it. However, it is only a matter of time before there is yet another “betrayal of the people”; as their plot begins to unravel and the gap between the rich and the poor grows ever wider.

These are just some of the ways a no-deal Brexit could affect you

The fate of UK citizens is currently hanging by a thread, as MPs fail to agree upon one singular exit deal. At the reluctance of some EU states, the UK has been granted several Brexit extensions. But even so, there is no clear resolution upon the horizon

On Thursday 21st March, there was a crucial vote that allowed Britain to request a fruther Brexit delay in order to negotiate a fresh deal. The UK was granted the extension of article 50 by the EU to formulate a new deal, but currently, the UK has no tangible plan for going forward.

There has now been a further extension until 31st October with the caveat that if the government can agree upon a deal, then the UK can leave the European Union much sooner. But this has done little to quell the nation’s sense uncertainty as various options continue to be exhausted in parliamentary debates.

The prime minister’s deal has consistently failed to muster enough support to be ratified by the Commons, however, May remains confident in her attempts to push forward. The remaining options are major renegotiation, another referendum and, of course, the potential of a no deal Brexit.

Despite the uncertainity, one thing remains clear: a hard-Brexit could have tremendous implications for the UK, from trade to employment- many citizens could be affected by this decision. As a member of the public, it can often feel as though you have no voice or say in matters as they unfold. But educating yourself on the possible outcomes can help you to be more prepared and more aware of how this could affect you. Below are just some of the ways a no-deal Brexit could affect you.

You May Need to Renew Your Passport Early

At present, the UK can enter ‘Schengen area’ countries with a valid passport that has 1 day remaining before expiration. However, in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, this will no longer be applicable. Instead, if you have 6 months or less remaining on your passport, you may be prohibited from entering another country.

EU Citizens Will Have Fewer Rights To Remain in the UK

Currently, there are more than 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Despite Brexit, EU citizens can apply to remain in the UK by registering for “settled status” with the government.

However, in the case of a no-deal Brexit, immigration laws will become much stricter, as this will only be applied before 29th March. Ultimately, UK Immigration Law will now be based on a skill-based level and free-movement between the UK and the EU will be halted.

Supermarkets Could Run Out of Food

UK supermarkets are currently stockpiling food in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This is because of the growing concern that trading deals could be severed between the EU and the UK if no deal is agreed upon.

In December, it was revealed that there could be a disruption in the supply chain in the event of a hard Brexit. Because of this, local supermarkets and fast-food chains such as KFC could be disrupted for up to a month, some reports suggest.

Lorries Could Take Over the Motorways

It’s been warned that in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, the motorways (such as the M20) could be backed up with lorries leaving from the Port of Dover. Operation Brock was initiated during the lead up to Christmas, to simulate deliveries in the event of a no deal Brexit. The delays would be caused by delays at the border.

The Dover Harbour Board chief has warned that there could be lorries stretching for over 17 miles, should May fail to secure a deal before the UK leaves the EU. This would also mean that one side of the motorway would be solely for lorries.

Perfumes and Everyday Medicines Will Cost More

At present, ingredients in everyday medicine can be traded within the EU without needing a license. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK will need to acquire a license, which will result in added expense to the consumer.

Without an exit deal, firms who want to trade these popular chemicals with the EU will have to register with the Home Office, which will come with the added expense of £109-£3,655. In addition to this, firms will also need an import and export license which will cost £24. Experts believe that this added cost will be reflected in an increased retail price.

Cheap Coach Holidays Could Face Cancellation

UK coach drivers could be restricted from entering the EU, which could put a stop to cheap coach holidays. At present, the EU is part of an “Interbus Agreement”, which allows coach drivers to frequently enter the various countries in the EU with holiday makers.

The UK government is currently planning to rejoin this agreement as a third party user, in order to reduce any delays or cancellations that this could cause.

Local Hospitals Could Run Out of Medicine

It’s been revealed that NHS chiefs fear local hospitals could run out of medicine in the event of a no Deal Brexit. If ports are gridlocked, patients could be deprived of life-saving drugs and medical equipment. However, the Cabinet minister has stated that officials are currently working to reduce this.

Civil Unrest Could Take Over

In an unlikely scenario, social unrest could erupt and take over the streets after Britain has left the EU. The government has hired crisis professionals in the event that this becomes a reality.

You Could Notice More Troops in the Streets

It’s been revealed that over 3,000 troops are being held at readiness in case there is a disastrous no-deal Brexit. This will be a combination of reserves and full time employed army people.

In the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will be classed as being high risk, so the government has put measures in place to minimise any damage or social unrest that occurs during this instance.

Your Job Could be at Risk

Many international businesses that have UK offices have announced that they are planning to move from the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Instead, many jobs will either be outsourced to non-UK citizens. For example, Airbus, which employs 14,000 people in the UK has threatened to move elsewhere.

It’s feared that investors will be hesitant to invest in the UK, meaning that future generations will also be affected.

Your Divorce Could Be Halted

In the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will cease to be part of the EU family courts, which means that midway through divorce or child custody cases involving another EU country, could be left in limbo.

Smokers Will Have to Pay More and Cigarette Packets Will Become More Graphic

Currently, the images that are used in the cigarette packages are copyright owned by the Europeans Commission. So in the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK will be replaced with the Australian version of packets, which are notoriously more gruesome in their nature.

You Could Lose Your Consumer Rights

Currently, all of your consumer rights are protected under EU law, which will be revoked in the event of a hard Brexit. The UK court is not recognised as an arbiter for consumer rights, so Brits could be potentially stripped of their current consumer rights too. Therefore, if a product is faulty or dangerous from outside the UK, it will be much harder to take any legal action or to make a complaint.

You Could Be Stranded On Your Package Holiday

Flights to the UK could be grounded and holiday makers could be left without any legal representation or protection if the firm they booked with goes bankrupt. Under current UK law, Brits currently have insolvency protection, however this will cease to be the case if no deal is agreed upon.

Your Data Roaming Charges Will Spike

Almost 2 years ago, major UK mobile providers slashes data roaming charges, meaning that Brits could use their phone without any additional charges inside the EU.

Mobile companies, including EE, O2 and Vodafone have expressed that they have made no plans to increase data roaming charges after Brexit.  

Blackouts Could Be Experienced

The UK could experience blackouts, especially in Northern Ireland. No Deal Brexit could scupper the ‘All-Island’ electricity, which is shared between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This could mean that there is no legal basis. In this event, Ireland must rely on fall-back arrangements for electricity.

Hiring A Car in the EU Will Be Much Harder

At present, renting a car in the EU is a simple process, however, this could become more complicated. Instead of being able to use your UK driving license, you would instead have to get an International Driving Permit. Experts predict that these sales will increase into the millions should this policy be enforced.

Using Popular Sites Abroad Such As Netflix and Spotify Could Be Stopped

While travelling to EU states, UK citizens may be banned from using Spotify and Netflix. This is because the “portability regulation” will be stripped from Britons who are travelling to EU states. This means that these content providers will not be required to offer cross-border access to their services.

Airport Security Will Become Much Tighter

UK citizens may have to undergo two security screenings, being checked in the UK and then again in the EU state before getting on a connecting flight. Currently, the UK aviation security system is recognised by the EU as a credible source, however the EU could refuse to recognise the UK as a credible security source after Brexit.

Your Holiday Flight Could Be Grounded

There is a possibility that airlines and travel companies go bust in the event of a hard Brext, which means that thousands of Brits could be left stranded on holiday, or in the UK.

The government has also admitted that the UK would have to win permission from every individual country in the EU to be allowed to fly there from the UK. However, the UK drums up a large proportion of tourism in popular countries such as Spain, Greece and Italy, so it’s unlikely that this will be the case.

House Prices Could Fall

If the stock market crashes, then the value of properties could plummet in the UK. This means that anybody who is looking to sell their house could be faced with massive financial losses. House prices have already plummeted since the referendum in 2016 and property experts are urging first-time buyers to hold off on securing a fixed rate mortgage, as prices are likely to drop.

Your EHIC May No Longer Be Valid

After Brexit, UK citizens will no longer be allowed to renew their EHIC card and if the UK leaves without a deal, then the existing cards will no longer be valid. The UK currently has 27 million EHIC cards issued, which cover pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care within the EU.

The government has instructed that in the event of a hard Brexit, UK holiday makers should purchase holiday insurance just as you would in ant non-EU country. Currently, the UK government is not known to have made many agreements in terms of healthcare at present.

Your Travel Insurance May Not Cover You

The general consensus is that prices for European travel insurance will eventually rise. Several insurance companies have claimed that they could not guarantee cover for disruption caused if we crash out of the bloc.

UK citizens are being advised to check with their individual insurance companies when travelling abroad after Brexit. UK nationals could also face additional questioning at passport checkpoints, which could cause huge delays in the meantime.

There is still a huge amount of uncertainty as to what is going to happen after Britain leaves the EU. However, it’s important as a UK citizen, to prepare for any scenario that may arise.

About the Author

Alice Porter is an avid writer who works closely with the Immigration Solicitors in order to help prepare everyone for the outcomes of Brexit.

May urges MPs to ‘reflect’ as she insists UK can exit EU by next month

Amid the anger from Tory MPs over the extension of article 50, Theresa May has used her statement to the House of Commons to encourage MPs to use the upcoming Easter recess to “reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return”.

The prime minister emphasised the importance of cross-party talks that have been taking place between ministers in the government and the Labour Party and remarked that she hoped that an agreement could be brokered within the next few days.

Her statement comes after returning from the EU27 summit in Brussels in which European leaders attempted to agree to an extension of article 50 until the end of October.

Mrs May used her statement to apportion blame to Tory Brexiteers’ failure to vote for her deal for the decision to ask for a further delay to article 50. Indeed, she suggested that if MPs could pass another withdrawal deal before 22 May, Britain could avoid participating in European elections and then leave the EU at the end of that month.

“However challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the house is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both frontbenches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.”

Theresa May

Nonetheless, members of the European Research Group lashed out against May’s further delay, with Conservative MP Bill Cash quoting May’s statement as an “abject surrender” and inquired whether she would resign.

In response to the prime minister, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blamed the failure to “seek consensus” for the inability of any proposed Brexit deal to command a majority in Parliament.

May acknowledged that she had not wanted to ask for a second extension and cited the public’s increasing disenchantment with the impasse currently engulfing Parliament as a reason to reach an agreement by the end of the month

“…let us use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.”

Theresa May

Analysis by Oliver Murphy – Editor

Yesterday’s statement from the prime minister has opened a Pandora’s Box in terms of the political ramifications of another Brexit delay. Today, as a seemingly spent Mrs May took to the despatch box, you’d be forgiven for believing that this was yet another desperate attempt from the PM to try and salvage her dwindling authority.

But for the time being Theresa May has succeeded in at least quelling the once unwavering sense of dread at the potential of a no deal Brexit. Yet, the question ultimately remains: what now?

Labour is willing to continue negotiations with the PM to try and seek compromise, but two factors threaten this prospect: the prime minister’s lack of authority and whether Labour feels it is within their interests to ‘make a deal with the devil.’

Today’s six-month extension to article 50 complicates matters further. With the urgency to avoid a no-deal scenario gone, those on the Labour benches who had thought of voting for May’s deal out of desperation are less likely to do so. As if this wasn’t enough, supporters of a second referendum will be feeling a renewed vigour to push Labour towards backing any legislation to allow a fresh poll during the period of extension.

Yet, perhaps the most pressing task facing the prime minister is facing off the majority of MPs within her own party who wish to see her gone. Indeed, even the most moderate Tories believe that May’s authority has reached its end. But even those within the cabinet concede that there is nothing that can be technically done to remove the PM before December when the party can try again to bring a no-confidence vote.

The sense of delirium within the Conservative party is overwhelming. With no apparent cliff edges on the horizon, many Tory MPs will relish the prospect of an Easter recess. But recent months suggests that a parliamentary break does not always result in cool heads. Indeed, this was the flawed calculation that Mrs May made when she cancelled the first Brexit vote before the Christmas recess, only to find that MPs were even more determined to vote her deal down.

Amid the uncertainty that continues to engulf Parliament, one prospect remains clear: Labour could capitalise on the general dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party in the upcoming local – and maybe even the EU elections.

Above all else, for the prime minister, this latest Brexit extension marks the beginning of the biggest fight for her political career.

Breaking News – May faces second resignation in no-deal protest

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris has resigned in protest over May’s refusal to embrace no-deal.

Heaton-Harris, a devout Brexiter resigned after a day of speculation that he might follow Nigel Adams, who resigned as a junior minister earlier today due to his belief that Theresa May was making a “grave error” in trying to reach out to Jeremy Corbyn.

He outlined in his resignation letter that he though the UK should have left the EU on 29 March, as planned, and that he cannot support any further extension.

One of his main responsibilities as a Brexit minister was no-deal planning. In his resignation letter, Chris Heaton-Harris, says he does not believe that the prime minister is aware of how much has been done within government to prepare the UK for a no-deal scenario

Analysis from Oliver Murphy – Editor

Today marks the thirty-sixth ministerial resignation since Theresa May took office in 2016, and most crucially the dwindling of the prime minister’s political authority.

But of course, charting a course for Brexit has never been a clear-cut exercise. Whether it be a no-deal or soft Brexit, each option risks potentially splitting the cabinet in two.

This latest resignation reaffirms the unrest currently striking the Conservative Party, and the tenuous position May holds as the Prime Minister, as well as further damaging the number of MP’s votes she can rely on to see her planned Brexit deal through Parliament for what could potentially be a fourth time in the coming weeks. Indeed, the warnings of the government chief whip resonates today, as the convention of collective responsibility is tested to its limit.

Brexit has cost UK economy an average of £600 million a week, top investment firm warns

The investment firm Goldman Sachs has warned its clients that Brexit has impacted the investment finance industry worldwide, and the resulting uncertainty has cost the UK economy £600 million a week on average since 2016.

In a letter sent out to the organisation’s many clients today, the U.S. based firm warned that the current political turmoil caused by Brexit has “had real costs for the UK economy” and that the recent uncertainty around Brexit in Westminster has created a “renewed intensification of Brexit uncertainty.”

The investment firm industry works through directing flows of capital into organisations and industries through the use of investment firms, and the likelihood of investments returning reliable profits influences a large proportion of the industry’s decision-making.

This likelihood of investments providing profits can be inferred by analysts from information relating to the economy, including political, statistical, and world-economic indicators which factor heavily into the decisions made by firms when providing funding for companies.

Brexit and the resulting political turmoil has seen one of the biggest periods of uncertainty in UK economic history, leading many international investment firms to avoid funding business in not only the UK itself, but also other European countries as the full scale of the impact of Brexit on the European financial landscape has not yet been fully realised.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict a 15% chance of UK GDP falling by 5.5%, and the blow to confidence in UK markets would see the Great British Pound fall by up to 17%.

The economic uncertainty hasn’t just impacted the economy of the UK, as data released today has also shown that a no-deal Brexit would see the German economy, the flagship financial centre of the European Union, growing half a percentage point slower in the immediate year following a no-deal Brexit due to uncertainty in European markets.

Goldman Sachs’s top analysts also predicted that European countries could see a loss of around 1% in GDP following a no-deal Brexit due to the fallout of a sudden exit.

While still impacting the growth of the UK economy, a Brexit transition deal would lower the financial impacts of Brexit, seeing a 6% rise to the Pound and UK GDP growth increasing by 1.75% in the years following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

While this scenario would see UK GDP and the Pound increasing in value, the rate of growth would be far less than the growth experienced by a pre-Brexit UK.

The option with the lowest economic impact on UK, and world markets, would be the United Kingdom remaining the the European Union. Should the UK stay in the European Union, the investment firm predicts that the UK would see it’s economy return to the growth experienced before the 2016 vote, and would also potentially see the pound’s value increase by 10%.

The bank also alleviated concerns from other European economies around a transitional Brexit, as the bank believes that only a no-deal scenario would create implications for markets outside of the UK.

May will allegedly quit if ERG vote for her third meaningful vote

A “reliable” source has told ITV Political correspondent Robert Peston that Theresa May has assured the European Research Group, and a number of other Politicians, that she will quit her post as Prime Minister if they vote for her third meaningful vote, which is theorised to be put forward to Parliament on Tuesday with revisions.

A source has told ITV that Theresa May has contacted Boris Johnson, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Steve Baker, Jacob Rees Mogg, and the Chequers that she will resign as Prime Minister if they vote for her deal, including the controversial backstop arrangement.

The promise allegedly came in a meeting with the Chequers today, following an emergency cabinet meeting this morning.

Theresa May’s Brexit Deal is due to be pushed through Parliament for a third time this week, after the deal was set back by John Bercow last week for being too similar to her second deal, citing a law from 1604 that stopped the same policy being voted on by Parliament in the same sitting.

It is believed that even if the ploy manages to attracted the loyalty of the ERP, the full support of the DUP and even most, if not all, of her own Party’s MPs, the deal will still not pass through parliament.

It is also believed that May will seek to hold a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday in a final attempt to have her deal passed through Parliament before the withdrawal deadline on the 28th of March.

Exposed: The extremist sub-forums that contributed to the radicalisation of the New Zealand Shooter

The terrorist attack in New Zealand has been marked as one of the worst tragedies in the Western World in recent years, however the details of this attack are a damning similarity to other ethno-nationalist and far-right attacks in the past, all revolving around one internet enclave operating out of two hugely popular and extremely controversial internet forums.

The forums in question are known as 4Chan and 8Chan, and the characteristics that have garnered a cultural following among internet-users of almost all walks of life, hobbies, and views are also among their most controversial- complete anonymity for its users.

4Chan and 8Chan do not require users to create an account and identity to converse on their forums, and instead anyone is allowed to freely post information on its various sub-forums, with each post simply being labelled as having been posted by “anonymous”. This has led many to see these websites as a “libertarian utopia” free from biases, both from the government and between individuals. The reality, however, if far from the truth.

While 4Chan is generally known to be the less extreme website of the two, far-right views can still easily be found on the board’s /pol/ sub forum, also known as the “politically incorrect” section of the website. The general pretext for this sub forum is that the majority of posts are in-jokes or intentionally shocking for audiences not affiliated with the general 4Chan community, also known as “shitposting”. However, there is a considerable number of posts, from both anonymous and registered users, that connote that 4Chan’s /pol/ board is significantly less self-aware than it would appear.

One post, sent several days after the Christ-Church Shooting, alludes to a conspiracy theory developed since the attack that the shooting was in some way staged by the now widely defunct Islamic State.

One user, under an account named “Turkishguy” spreads an image which appears to allege that the New Zealand shooter was a member of the so-called Islamic State.

Another post, written on Saturday by an anonymous user, citicizes the New Zealand Shooter for not “eliminating” the right people, instead referring to an anti-Semitic right-wing conspiracy theory that governments are being influenced by “subversive zionists”. Another anonymous user responding to the post refers to right-wing terrorists as “heroes” and asks whether the actions of them were “in the best interest of the white race”.


Two anonymous users, with one being traced to a US-based IP address, discuss right-wing conspiracy theories. Profanity has been censored.

4Chan and 8Chan is not a difficult website to access. These images were not taken from a closed off internet fringe website, or collected from somewhere within the dark-web, they were collected from a public website which can be accessed from most search engines and from a sub-forum that can be accessed by anyone, regardless of age.

4Chan is one of the largest internet forums in the world, with approximately 1.8 billion posts since it’s creation in 2004, and roughly 1 million posts made each day, with an average monthly view count of 703 million. The /pol/ sub-forum is placed prominently on the website’s front page.

The more recent image board of the two, 8Chan, is generally known for it’s more extreme views within its political sub-forums, and 8Chan is the forum that the New Zealand shooter was known to frequent, and also the website where he first announced his attack while approaching the Christ Church Mosque.

8Chan is where the most extreme white-supremacist views can be found, including numerous posts portraying the New Zealand attack as a “heroic sacrifice” and listing ways to “honor” the Christ-Church Shooter.

Profanity has been censored, as have terms or links distributing right-wing material.

The data analytics website SimilarWeb has estimated 8Chan’s monthly traffic to be around 14-16 million views, with around half of the site’s views coming from America. The third highest country in terms of proportional viewer count is the UK, with around 5% of the site’s traffic taken up by UK registered computers. All images included in this article have been taken from the front pages of both political sub-forums at the time of writing.

Would these messages have been posted if 4Chan and 8Chan required its members to attach an account and identity? Probably not, many social media websites, such as twitter and facebook allow its users to hide behind fake account names, including the social media accounts of the New Zealand Shooter himself, who’s accounts were under a pseudonym, and the phenomenon of twitter and facebook “trolling” has been widely publicised in recent years.

Numerous media outlets have reported on the toxicity and potential for extremist content of both 4Chan and 8Chan, such as Vice back in 2016, however legislation on these forums has been sparse, and many countries are yet to enact any meaningful legislation against 4Chan and 8Chan and its use by citizens.

The Independent Group: What a Stupid Idea.

It’s safe to say not much has happened since the formation of The Independent Group.

Just what have they done? Well, I’m going to give my opinion on each stage of their formation and what they have done since. Let’s begin, shall we?

 

Leaving the Labour Party:

As we all know, The Independent Group (TIG) formed after 7 Labour MP’s split from the party, citing Antisemitism and institutional racism as their reasons for leaving the party. There are some fundamental issues with this, first of them being that by leaving the Labour Party, they ensure an extended period of Tory rule. Let’s have some backstory.

The English media are some of the worst in the world. Antisemitism against the Labour Party, in particular, has taken over headlines across the country. This is problematic, and not for the reason you think. While it is true, the Labour Party do have an issue with antisemitism, the media continue to focus on it entirely. What you don’t hear about anymore, is Islamophobia.

Islamophobia and Antisemitism should bring about an equal concern, especially amongst the media, however, it doesn’t.  Muslims are repetitively and routinely harassed. As are Jews, but we never hear about it. Especially considering the party TIG are supporting, the Conservatives, could be argued as institutionally racist against Muslims.

Leaving the Labour Party was henceforth: STUPID

 

Forming an ‘Independent’ Group.

Look, we all know Chuka Umunna’s insane levels of narcissism will lead to him founding an official party of some kind, but the formation of an Independent Group truly is strange.

The hilarious part is, they’ve given each other roles. They’re literally pretending to be the opposition. It’s like when you’re on a mad one with your mates, and you’re so drunk you start pretending to run the country. It is truly amusing.

Chuka’s face when Gavin Shuker was announced as the group leader; priceless.

Luciana and Chuka could have just formed their own party, instead of creating an Independent Group and giving up the leadership and direction when they’re so hell-bent on having it. That really was: STUPID

 

Submitting their Second Referendum amendment.

Well, this one’s hilarious.

It takes an incredible amount of skill and talent to have Peoples Vote advise against voting for your own People’s Vote Amendment.

There’s not really much more to be said. The very organisation you’re pretending to represent just shot you down. Where do you go from there? Well, the answer is clear. Obscurity.

It’s so blatantly obvious that the only service TIG provides is to better it’s own MP’s political careers, oh, and to gain some clout in the process. STUPID.

 

TIG really are going to descend into a pit of nothingness.

 

Oh, and by the way, their Nando’s meal was great, it was a bit like the last supper, except everyone thought they were Jesus.

Editor & Writer: Samuel J. Booker

Samuel J. Booker is the Director of Social Media and Marketing at TPN. He edits and writes alongside his other duties, posts he has held since the beginning of 2019. At just 16 years of age, he has already founded a political youth movement and has high hopes for a future political career. He hopes to have a positive impact on the world through international communication and cooperation.