Ash Sarkar Profile picture
Contributing Editor @novaramedia. Literature bore. Anarcho-fabulous. Muslim. THFC. Kebab aficionado. Luxury communism now!
প্রদীপ্ত মৈত্র (Pradipto Moitra) Profile picture bleft Profile picture Carole Profile picture Schadenfreude oder Revolution? 🧽 6 Profile picture William Hite Profile picture 12 added to My Authors
19 Nov
And I'm saying that if we're applying the same standard, you too are a rank hypocrite for decrying bigotry from Rafiq when - like him - you've had to apologise for past comments.
The facts are that Azeem Rafiq was subject to racist bullying over a period of years, which nearly broke him as a man. When that bullying was uncovered by investigators, the YCCC board chose to excuse it as 'banter' in order to cover up the wider cultural problem under its watch.
Azeem Rafiq's allegations - including those against Michael Vaughan, which he denies - are corroborated and credible. The response from YCCC as an organisation shows this to be an *institutional* problem, and not one simply between individuals.
Read 6 tweets
12 Oct
Is it because the country's most senior journalists bent over backwards to justify the government's herd immunity response, only to backtrack and push the absurd claim "the science has changed" when it was only, in fact, the political positioning that had done so?
Responsibility for the dreadful coronavirus response ultimately lies with the government. But some of the most handsomely-paid journalists in the UK, in the early days of the pandemic, clearly thought their job was to defend, rather than scrutinise, the decision makers at No. 10.
Turns out, what we needed was a lot more "hipster analysis", asking why the government was wasting the head start we had on Italy/Iran/China, and why the UK's response was so out of step with those of other countries.
Read 4 tweets
1 Oct
I'm sick of the amount of brainspace "Don't get raped and murdered!" takes up in my head. I'm sick of thinking it at 8.30pm, wondering if that's too late to take the cut-through to my house. I'm sick of knowing that it's not actually within my power to not get raped and murdered.
Here's the thing about stranger murders, like the ones which took the lives of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard. They're incredibly rare - but we, as women, think about them all the time. We adjust our behaviour and movement to mitigate against them all the time.
And these adjustments are both rational and irrational. They're rational because who *wouldn't* do everything they could to feel safer in public space? And they're irrational because we're not actually the ones making the decision about whether or not something bad happens to us.
Read 10 tweets
1 Oct
But Wayne Couzens had a warrant card that would have identified him as a legitimate police officer, and arrested Sarah Everard under the guise of coronavirus powers.

There's nothing new in here which could have stopped him abusing his powers as a cop.
He wasn't in disguise as a police officer, he *was* a police officer. Which gives him a very unique set of coercive powers that other citizens don't have.

The question for the police is how to stop those powers being abused, not how to stop someone claiming to be police.
This is the problem of framing police abuse of power as something that happens *only* to the innocent and blameless. Sarah Everard did nothing criminal. But what if a woman is a sex worker, or has drugs on them, or has mental health issues?
Read 5 tweets
24 Sep
I say this a lot, but we've got 97% of women saying they've experienced harassment and 100% of men saying "it wasn't me."

Something doesn't add up.
There are more legal protections for women against male violence now than there have been at any other point in history. But it keeps happening - both in the home, and on the streets. We've got to ask what we're doing as a society to pass the problem on down the generations.
There's a social consensus that violence against women is wrong - again, probably a stronger one than at any other point in our history. But that consensus is limited in its ability to change people's behaviour, to prevent violence by addressing the source of it.
Read 6 tweets
10 Sep
Yes, I do. Firstly (on an individual level) my race means that racists (often, incidentally, transphobic women) refuse to even acknowledge that I'm a woman. I get called he and it on literally a daily basis.

Then there's the ways race, gender, and class interact with each other.
It's not like for women of colour there's a neat box marked 'gender oppression'. It interacts with all the other stuff too. An indigenous woman in the US, for instance, doesn't go "here's violence against woman in my community, completely unrelated to centuries of dispossession".
Talking about the 'burden' of motherhood in a context where Black mothers in the United States are leading the fight against the police murder of their children again shows the danger of applying one experience of gendered oppression and applying it everywhere without nuance.
Read 7 tweets
9 Sep
There's a lot in liberal id pol that makes me nauseous, but one of the worst is how 'lived experience' (important, but not the only kind of knowledge) gets turned into a stamp of moral authority, in which no one can contest the facts of what's happening.
This isn't a subtweet, and nothing in particular has kicked this off, but it's just a growing sense that treating people as fonts of wisdom *solely* on the basis of their minority status is not only dehumanising, but also opens up the space for bad faith actors and grifters...
... who cynically wield the moral authority conferred by being a woman, or a person of colour, or whatever, in order to deny the existence of oppression or discrimination along identity lines.

You know, the people who make a living by being every racist's brown best friend.
Read 4 tweets
31 Aug
That Spectator piece by Lionel Shriver is one of the most intellectually dishonest pieces I've ever had the misfortune of reading.

The sleight-of-hand from talking about nationality to race, proposing that the nation is a container for racial homogeneity, is the logic of Nazism.
What are we talking about when we're talking about the parts of London where 80% of babies are born to foreign born mothers?

We're talking about people meeting, falling in love and having children together in a global society. It's not a threat, or a war. It's life happening.
But, of course, nationality - being 'foreign born' - isn't a racial status. But very quickly that's where Lionel Shriver goes, proposing that the UK (which is 81% white) is being swamped by black and brown people (who, she doesn't name as such, but then again doesn't have to).
Read 8 tweets
14 Aug
One of the things about incel culture that I find so weird is that it;s predicated on an idea of how women think which is just totally unrealistic and outlandish.

For instance, this idea that women rank men into some kind of imagined hierarchy of high status, or below average...
as if we've got an Excel spreadsheet in our heads and we're categorising every man we meet by comparing them with everyone else.

It just smacks of having learned everything you know about women from men who want you to feel shit about yourself.
The fact is that we all know women (and many of us have been women!) in relationships with guys who don't bring much to the table in terms of personality, kindness, looks, or money, and it's totally baffling to people on the outside why they're putting up with a load of crap.
Read 6 tweets
4 Aug
True, but neither are you. Nobody is every woman apart from Chaka Khan.
Personally, I don't think minority rights should be contingent on majority opinion. But it's the case that the majority of cisgender women *do* accept that transgender women are women, and transgender men are men.
The polling becomes more complicated when breaking it down by issues like self identification, gender confirmation surgery, and single sex spaces, and varies a lot by age. Like I said, I don't think minority rights should be contingent on majority opinion.
Read 4 tweets
18 Jul
Sure, I don’t think there as many people in Labour HQ who take us seriously as there were 2015-2019.

But Novara Media experienced our best growth period after Corbyn. Why? Because the pandemic made clear the need for quality analysis which was sceptical of the Tory line.
When establishment journos were claiming “the science has changed” and backing herd immunity, @michaeljswalker was going through the data and excoriating government complacency. I’m proud of the leadership he’s shown over the pandemic - both politically, and for the organisation.
I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that Jess Phillips doesn't like what we do. She's not our target audience lol.

But what I think the sneering speaks to is a sense that many Labour politicians don't think young people are a legitimate political constituency.
Read 4 tweets
20 Jun
Aquaman is the stupidest movie ever made, I’m losing it.
All this budget, and yet Amber Heard has to make do with a synthetic wig and shoes from the Aldo.
Obviously, the woman's superhero outfit - designed for underwater combat (!!!) - still has a concealed wedge heel.
Read 5 tweets
14 Jun
I'm not going to share that Beverley Turner video, but it seems to me that an awful lot of celeb anti-vaxxer and anti-lockdown stuff is driven by a completely boneheaded denial that, in a pandemic, your actions have implications for people who aren't just you.
Sure, it's 'your choice' as an adult to decide whether or not you want to have a vaccine. But not having one has an impact on everyone else, from those who you could potentially infect to a population who'd really like to fully unlock as soon as safely possible.
It's not just about whether you're personally ok with the idea of getting coronavirus (though even that is often shaped by a kind of callous naivety). It's about how seriously you take the effect on other people - not just getting them sick, but the hoopla of self-isolation.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jun
This is a really thoughtful article, and I think it has implications for journalism outside of sports as well - in particular, lobby journalists.…
Many journalists still hold to an idea that their job is solely to convey information between places where things happen, and the public; that criticism or analysis on their part would undermine their role in being a neutral means of transmitting information to ordinary people.
But that's not true any more: media has expanded exponentially, reporters are no longer the lone ferryman carrying news across the waters. Anyone with a smartphone has a direct line to the public sphere - and that has huge implications for the newsgathering role of journalists.
Read 8 tweets
1 Jun
I've never been sure where the line falls between what Piers Morgan really believes, and what he's just saying for attention. But it's instructive to look at how he behaved towards Lady Gaga back in 2016...
... spitting bile on Twitter when she first opened up about her PTSD, then turning contrite after she agreed to an interview with him (the interview ended up not happening).…
The only way I can make sense of this pattern of behaviour is that Piers himself doesn't want to be a total outsider, railing at woke celeb culture from the other side of the bubble. The flipside of the aggression is a latent promise to play nice *if* you grant him access.
Read 4 tweets
31 May
Norms around mental health are changing, beyond the platitudes of "it's ok not to be ok".

There's a generation of people in the public eye are making it clear that misery shouldn't be the price they pay for fame or success - and the old media guard can't stand it.
It's just quite interesting to see mental health get pulled through a culture war framing - it's presented as simultaneously weak and ruthlessly exploitative, virtue signalling through trauma.
I think something is changing in culture, that vulnerability can be seen as asserting a form of moral authority - and sure, occasionally that'll be wielded cynically. But the antiwoke, antisnowflake backlash is infinitely more hysterical than those they purport to disdain.
Read 4 tweets
29 Mar
Look, I might be an obnoxious Londoner, but I think the Northern Independence Party presents some real challenges for Labour. There's been a lot of talk about the impact of 'splitting the vote', but I think there's more to it than that...
The gamble made by Starmer is that alienating his party's left will be at least cost neutral.

The assumption is that they have no pull with, or indeed actively put off, the bit of the electorate the leadership is focused on winning back (older voters in the North/Midlands).
The present Labour leadership have been pursuing a 'persuade' rather than 'mobilise' model. Again, there's an embedded assumption that the electorate doesn't really like politics that much, and an engaged membership is actually detrimental to winning people over.
Read 10 tweets
27 Mar
After this week's events in Bristol, journalists have some serious questions to grapple with.

Our work was the primary means through which debunked police claims about broken bones and serious injury were amplified.
The correction, despite the best efforts of some in the media to make noise about it, was nowhere near as loud as the falsehood.

This isn't the first time this has happened.
From Hillsborough to Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes 'jumping the barrier' to false claims of a shootout when Mark Duggan was killed, there's a pattern of police feeding journalists misleading information when they're facing criticism for operational decisions. ImageImageImageImage
Read 9 tweets
16 Mar
In December Julie Burchill accused me of worshipping a paedophile and called me an Islamist.

After legal action, she has apologised in full for these falsehoods, for playing into “Islamophobic tropes” and making “racist and misogynist” comments about my appearance and sex life.
Women of colour in public life are subject to harassment, abuse and threats. Diane Abbott alone accounted for half of all abuse sent to female MPs in 2017.

Unfortunately, this isn't just the work of online trolls. It's facilitated and tacitly encouraged by some in the press.
Back in December, Julie Burchill encouraged people to “wade in” on social media, and referred to me as an Islamist and a nonce. For weeks after, Julie Burchill continued to publish posts on social media about me.
Read 5 tweets
14 Mar
It's Mother's Day, and feelings of love for my mum are mixed up with a deep sense of grief following Sarah Everard and what happened at the vigil last night.

How can my generation still be fighting the same fight as hers? Why are mums still having to mourn their lost daughters?
Sarah Everard just wanted to go home. And so many women just want to be safe at home. Trans women want to be able to live in peace, sex workers want to have their basic rights respected, women of colour want respite from the every day violence of structural racism.
We can't even mourn without facing male violence - last night, from the colleagues of the man who may have killed one of us.

How many mothers were caught up in the violence last night, or were watching the footage worried sick about whether their daughters would come back safe?
Read 4 tweets
2 Mar
Re: *that* Politics Live panel, the trouble with saying that it wouldn't happen to any other minority is that it does happen to other minorities.

There's a fundamental problem in news and current affairs media when it comes to demonstrating basic racial literacy.
At one level, it's a problem of panel structure and representation. Having a Jewish person come in for 5 minutes to discuss "are Jews ethnic minorities?" with a panel of non-Jewish people is obviously an awful way to address a serious and historically nuanced question.
You see it with discussions around BLM and Islamophobia all the time: a voice of colour gets parachuted in to talk race with an otherwise white panel. Structurally that's just bare iffy, and inadequate for addressing the issue with the thoughtfulness it deserves.
Read 7 tweets