Categories
LRC

Remembering HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh

The United Kingdom was rocked by the news that His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, sadly passed away at the age of 99 on the morning of 9th April.

Touching tributes have poured in from across the globe for a man who served Queen and country for his entire life.

LeftRight to Centre commemorates Prince Phillip’s life by remembering three primary parts of his life: his military years, royal service and sheer devotion to his wife, Queen Elizabeth II.

Military Years

For much of his earlier life, Prince Phillip served for many years in the British Armed Forces. After training with the Royal Navy in the 1930s, he served in the British forces throughout World War Two, while two of his brothers-in-law fought on the opposing German side.

On 1st February 1941, Philip was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth, earning the top grade in four out of five sections of the qualifying examination; shortly afterwards, he was involved in the Battle of Crete, earning himself the ‘Greek War Cross’.

In October of 1942, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, and at 21 years old, he was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily (July 1943), he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. 

Royal Service

In terms royal service, what Prince Phillip will perhaps be most remembered for is his role in founding the infamous ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ award, which he set up in 1956 to give young people ‘a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities’.

Phillip’s time in the Royal Family came not without controversy, however, especially in relation to the Prince Charles and Lady Diana love affair, as well as the Diana’s sad death in 1997.

Mohamed Fayed, whose son was also killed in the crash, claimed that Prince Philip had ordered the death of Diana and that the accident was staged. According to an inquest, however, there was “not a shred of evidence” that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Princess Diana’s death or that it was organised by MI6.

In fact, it came to light how supportive the Duke of Edinburgh had been throughout Charles’ marriage with Diana, and after her untimely death. It has since been documented how Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his concern at both Charles’ and Diana’s extra-marital affairs, whilst acting as a mediator to salvage what was left of their marriage.

At Diana’s funeral, Philip told her son, Prince William, “If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?” On the day of the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles, and Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer walked through London behind her bier.

The Duke also partook in the formation of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961 and later served as its President, leaving a tangible legacy on the wildlife conservation movement.

Marriage to Queen Elizabeth II

Despite Prince Phillip’s devotion to his country, his family and issues across the world, he will no doubt be remembered most for his sheer devotion to his beloved wife, Queen Elizabeth II.

After falling in love with the Elizabeth upon a visit to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth; by March 1947, Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family, and became a naturalised British subject. His engagement to the Queen was announced to the public on 10th July, 1947.

It was the day prior to his wedding that King George VI bestowed the style of Royal Highness on Philip and on the morning of the wedding, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh.

Phillip and Elizabeth were married at Westminster Abbey, a ceremony that was broadcast across the world to over 200m people.

The two were married for 74 years, a royal marriage which he saw not only personally, but as an act of public service. Speaking of republicanism in 1969, he noted: “It is a complete misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn’t. It exists in the interests of the people. If at any time any nation decides that the system is unacceptable, then it is up to them to change it”.

The Duke retired from public service in 2017, making a visit to the Royal Marines his final act, aged 96.

The news broke about HRH’s passing yesterday morning, just two months before his 100th birthday. He might have been happy about that, though, since he was not particularly enthused about living an extremely long life. In 2000, he remarked in an interview (when he was 79) that he could not “imagine anything worse” and had “no desire whatsoever” to become a centenarian, stating “bits of me are falling off already”.

May he rest in peace.

Categories
LRC Opinion

UK Traveller Community Facing Sustained Discrimination

In an era of multiculturalism and diversity in the UK, underscored by the recent government commissioned race report, and celebrated by Black History month in October and LGBT history month in February, one ethnic group has been sidelined and marginalized in society in recent decades.

The traveller community have faced persistent discrimination and predujice, measured in a range of factors. This has been further highlighted in the news cycle by two particular stories – Labour MP’s Charlotte Nichols recent party leaflet, and the implications of the new police powers bill.

But first, some background. It is estimated roughly 300,000 travellers live in the UK, including significant communities in the London boroughs of Harrow and Brent, some dating back to the 1850s. Under the Equality Act of 2010, travellers are considered a “protected characteristic”, forbidding discrimination based on ethnic origin, among other factors. 

Despite this, prejudice against travellers is commonplace in modern day Britain. A 2017 YouGov poll, published by advocacy group The Traveller Movement, exposed various negative and discriminatory societal views held against the community. Only a third (34%) of respondents (the wider public) consider travellers to be an ‘ethnic group’.

Only 41% would be happy for their child having a “playdate” at the home of a traveller friend, whilst 42% would be unhappy with a close-relative having a long-term relationship with a traveller.  Shockingly, 13% believe pubs should ban travellers from entry.

The same report, titled “The Last Acceptable Form of Racism?”, also summarized that 70% of travellers faced discrimination regarding education, 49% regarding employment, and 30% regarding healthcare. 55% had been refused services due to their ethnicity, whilst 77% had experienced hate speech or a hate crime. 76% had hid their ethnicity at some point to avoid further discrimination. 

This report is not wholly groundbreaking and instead reinforces long-held research evidencing pervasive attitudes of an anti-traveller culture. Nine out of ten children have suffered racial abuse. A 2004 report found the group were castigated as “unsightly, dirty, or unhygienic”. After 15-year-old traveller Jonny Delaney was attacked and killed in 2003, the judge refused to rule the killing as “racially motivated”.

In March, a whistleblower at holiday firm Pontins revealed a company “blacklist” of “undesirable guests” with mainly Irish surnames, investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Such practices were part of the company policy.

As mentioned, this discrimination has entered the news cycle in both a sharp and developing sense. Primarily, this occurred after a slip-up by Labour’s Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North since 2019. Last week, Nichols was pictured with an official party leaflet in her constituency, detailing various policy aims. 

One of the bullet points listed “dealing with traveller incursions”. Incursions is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “an invasion or attack, especially a sudden or brief one”. This language is clearly problematic and ostracizes travellers as a threatening and harmful group.

Nichols was criticized on social media, including by Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley as “vile and obviously racist”, demanding an  “apology and appropriate disciplinary action”. Nichols quickly offered an “unreserved apology” whilst Labour, typically portrayed as the party for diversity, promised to destroy the leaflets. Nichols said she was unaware of the “problematic definition” of the language used, but anyhow, it was a shocking PR move and a total blunder. 

Compounded to this, the various socioeconomic implications of the new police powers bill, a ’mammoth’ piece of legislation already embroiled in controversy and outrage, have damning effects for travellers. The bill includes a clause giving the police powers to seize vehicles, which could potentially encompass homes, and issue £2,500 fines, or 3 months imprisonment, for the offence of trespass. 

Trespass has traditionally been a civil offence in the UK, so this legal change has severe impacts for travellers across the country. A report by Friends, Families and Travellers concluded the bill “compounds inequalities”, “disproportionately affects minority ethnic groups”, and blamed a lack of space for travellers originally, slashed by the Conservatives, for the issues in the first place. 

Spokesperson Abbie Kirkby said “the cruelty is unfathomable, nobody should be imprisoned for the crime of having nowhere to go”.

In a society supposedly intent on rightfully celebrating and embracing multi-ethnicity and diversity, this is a serious shortfall. Two things would have to occur to swell this tide of discrimination.

Firstly, political parties must be better educated and regulated on party material containing language that is directly discriminatory to a group protected under the Equalities Act.

Secondly, provisions of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill must be revised to protect the traveller community as an ethnic group, with greater consultation and dialogue. In this current culture and environment, whether either of these is feasible or attainable is another question entirely. 

Categories
LRC

LeftRight to Centre: an introduction

This is LeftRight to Centre, a political blog determined to ensure beliefs of all political persuasions are given an equal platform.

Social media can be great at times. I would not even be able to start and share this blog without it. From long-lost lovers to long-lost brothers, it connects people around the globe like nothing else.

But it has a dark side. It can also divide people like nothing else. Much of said division can be attributed to algorithms used by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These algorithms prey upon your internet usage to determine what may or may not be of interest to you, when and in what context.

Users are essentially pigeon-holed into their own unique, endless echo chambers, leaving them confused and conflicted when they happen upon people with different perspectives.

This is an especially difficult issue when it comes to politics, which is no doubt more divided than ever. Some students get to university campuses and are shocked to see their fellow students do not have Jeremy Corbyn cardboard cutouts in their bedroom. Others are shocked to hear that daddy is not paying for their tuition fees up front.

These kind of divisions are nothing new and their existence is not solely down to social media, though it clearly serves to amplify and reinforce them.

The key is start investigating the divisions, rather than solidifying them – engaging with the other side, rather than rejecting it.

So where do we start?

We need to read more opinions that we disagree with; we need to start challenging ourselves as individuals so we do not become too passive, too accepting. It is crucial we do not believe everything we read and that we question everything.

This is where LRC comes in. We are a political blog with no one specific political allegiance and are open to all beliefs. One minute you might be reading something on abolishing billionaires, the next on rejecting ‘woke’ culture.

It aims to encapsulate the variety of views on the left, on the right and anywhere in between, as well as the chaotic and fragmented state of politics.

But does this not just make us another algorithm?

Maybe, but we will not tailor your reading experience insofar as prioritising what you read and in what order. Instead, LRC will strive to represent as many views as possible, giving all an equal platform to thrive.

Anything of quality submitted to us, so long as it does not incite violence, hatred, oppression or discrimination, will be given a platform.

We aim to show that different political beliefs, and the people that hold them, can meaningfully co-exist with one another.

As for the reader – well, how much and what you read is up to you. LRC simply hopes to provide you with a variety of different perspectives, so that you can make up your own mind.

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading on LeftRight to Centre and see where you land!