From the outset, 2015 shouldn’t have been a momentous year. “Yet for many and varied reasons, most of them unpleasant”, writes Martin Hannan in The Scotsman, “it will be remembered for decades to come”.
Looking through the TLE archives from 2015 the breaking news stories are a reminder of the testing times we face as ideological warfare simmers and boils to the point of eruption. Attacks on Charlie Hebdo at the start of the year were followed by the heartbreaking terrorist attacks in Paris last month, both acts of terror subsequently caught up in confused knee-jerk reactions of the far right as notable figureheads drive misguided rhetoric in the US, France and at home in the UK.
The war on terrorism has entered a new chapter. A political vacuum in Syria and continued turbulence across the Middle Eastern Belt has allowed ISIS, or Daesh, to make significant territorial gains and lead a more organised front as a state-like organisation. Russia, seeking geo-political gains after being isolated from the international community, has led a significant offensive following a suspected terrorist attack on a commercial aircraft in Egypt. Britain has also entered the mire after the Commons effectively overturned an earlier vote against military action to approve airstrikes which could ultimately see global powers support the repressive Assad regime in a desperate plea for stability at any costs.
The refugee crisis created by oppressive regimes not only in Syria but across the Middle East and Africa has created the biggest humanitarian crisis the European community has ever faced. Families trapped by war are willing to risk everything to secure a safer future, an unnerving determination painfully showcased by the number of lives lost at sea. Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message is a poignant reminder that in times of crisis, the moat privileged should be the most considerate.
Looking back on how we reported these events one doesn’t see dark clouds of despair, but a renewed sense of optimism in humanity. We were on the streets of Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attack where vendors were struggling to meet demand for the Survivors’ Issue. The “upsurge of solidarity and unanimity” was echoed in the French capital in November, where the world united in support of a progressive response.
Of the various regressive leaders championing Islamaphobic and quite frankly bigoted political agendas, what support they have found in the media has seldom being reflected in the polls. “The world according to Donald Trump”, writes Darragh Roche, is “a conservative dreamland where the ghosts of Jefferson and Reagan fight off a liberal-Islamic-Marxist axis led by an imperial and white-hating president who is probably an illegal immigrant”. Like Trump, Le Pen, Farage and the other right-of-right loonies have no place in modern political discourse.
In their place, a left wing resurgence has taken hold in which liberal and educated parts of the population have found a voice in the mainstream political arena. Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory – the largest mandate ever won by a party leader – offers Labour the best chance of a General Election victory based on the current political climate. “Under Miliband”, Callum Towler writes, “Labour were a lost battalion playing catch up than real opposition”. With a reenergised political base and a general movement against austerity and capitalism, Labour have found a voice and are starting to resonate with the everyday voter.
In no place is this more evidenced than on the terraces of Clapton FC and Dulwich Hamlet, where left-wing Ultra supporters have injected a new lease on life into the London non-league football scene. TLE Sports Editor David de Winter featured in The Mirror alongside Joe Mellor earlier this year, picking up on the social activism and vexation of football fans “priced out of supporting bigger football clubs” and “tired of the sterility of all-seater stadiums, strange kick-off times and over-zealous policing”.
This shift away from the mainstream is also evident in the arts. Our film pages are filled with independent film reviews rather than the remakes, reboots and sequels coming out of Hollywood. As is the case with TLE Music. Presented with a new home audio music streaming device at a swanky London PR event Music Editor Grant Bailey went on to critique the futile and excessive functionality in an article entitled ‘Musical Dildo for Family-Loving Luddites’. Presented with the new Coldplay album, Declan Roberts grabs ‘The Best Line of the Year’ award with: “A Head Full of Dreams will give them an ear-full of shit”.
In Food, Editor Jon Hatchman has kept his ear to the ground in London’s vibrant bar and restaurant scene, bringing the latest and greatest from across the capital as openings surge and new trends emerge. Despite most modern trends being embraced wholeheartedly, his critique of the modern ‘plateless’ craze was really quite wonderful! In his words, while “it looks like we’re going to have to adapt to eating from tiles, blocks of wood and even brick every now and again, eating chips from Wellington Boots and sandwiches from Tennis Rackets will never be acceptable.”
Our Travel pages have been bustling with reviews of new and exotic destinations, and TLE Property Editor Bea Patel has helped Londoners navigate through the mire that is the London property market. Steve McNeil continues to bring us his adventures in gameland, and our new satire pages are proving to be tremendously popular in a time when real news headlines are filled with a conveyor belt of melancholy.
And finally from me, a massive thank you to all those who have contributed and worked on The London Economic this year. The news agenda has been less than pleasant, but the reaction of people, and our eagerness to communicate it, is what sets us apart as people.