Thursday, December 20, 2007

British racist politician to marry ballerina with mixed-race kid

I just had a double-take moment, browsing the BBC website.

A local politician for the extreme-right British National Party (BNP) has got engaged to a ballerina from the English National Ballet.

Richard Barnbrook, who is a councillor in east London for the BNP and one of its darlings for future political advancement, is said to have wooed "BNP ballerina" Simone Clarke with flowers after one of her shows.

Why does this strike me as strange? Well, not Barnbrook's love of the arts, because I've met him several times and heard him speak of his own background as an artist, teacher and film-maker.

More because he made a film with significant homoerotic content, yet belongs to a racist, hardline anti-gay political party; he drinks constantly, or at least did during the periods when I met him; has had TB; Clarke has a mixed-race child from a Cuban-Chinese partner (race 'mixing' is not something which sits well with many of the party faithful); and despite his brains, just seems a slightly .... odd figure, if you spend enough time around him.

Granted, journalists may make people nervous, but even so ...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Teacher freed, what next for Sudan

Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher arrested for insulting Islam (see story below) but the vexed question remains over Sudan and its future.

A fragile peace holds between north and south, with the south wanting independence and controlling 80% of the oil revenues. Thousands of southern refugees live in Khartoum in the north; the BBC reports of catastrophic violence if the south secedes in four year's time when the referendum arrives.

Throw into the mix Darfur, the African Union, the UN and the trading links the country is developing with China etc, and it's a febrile and volatile mix. Religion can easily be abused in the name of power politics, as seems to have happened with Mrs Gibbons.