Keeping up to date with developments in global politics and headlines can be time consuming and overwhelming. But yet, in our increasingly fast-paced world, knowing what’s happening is crucial. Of course, it is impossible to discuss every headline to come out of the last month, but summarising the main stories seems to be within the realms of possibility. In the first of a new feature, The Yorker will take you through the major stories to happen over the past month, in an attempt to help more people feel more informed about the world.
Labour antisemitism row
Accusations of antisemitism in the left are, sadly, nothing new. This time the row was sparked by a dossier published in March of this year, revealing details of a Facebook group involving Jeremy Corbyn and other members of the Labour Party, where anti-Semitic remarks had been made. Corbyn himself left the group in 2015 but had commented on a picture in the years before regarding the removal of a mural that was condemned as antisemitic. Corbyn was later criticised for attending a Passover event hosted by the group Jewdas. This particular incident sparked the latest row in a party that has, in recent years, been dogged by accusations of antisemitism.
At the beginning of April, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died. Despite being a figure of contention regarding her actions during her fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela’s passing prompted praise for her life and work from world leaders.
London violence crisis
April saw reports about the increasing level of violent crime seen on London’s streets in 2018. In both February and March, London saw more murders than New York City, prompting a discussion about the growing levels of violence in the capital. The Home Office also came under fire after a leaked report revealed that police cuts likely contributed to this significant rise in violence.
Gender pay gap
By midnight on 4th April, all companies in Britain with more than 250 employees were required to submit their gender pay gap reports to the Government Equalities Office. The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. Many companies failed to meet the deadline, but those that did revealed that 80% of companies have a gender pay gap. How this data will be used is not yet evident, but it does point to widespread structural inequality in many British workplaces.
At the beginning of March, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were poised with the nerve agent novichok in Salisbury. Since then, they have received treatment in hospital and are making a recovery. Theresa May then revealed to the House of Commons that the nerve agent was of Russian origin and that the government has concluded that it is likely that Russia is responsible for the attack. The UK then expelled Russian diplomats. Controversy has been caused by the fact that leading government figures seemed to point the blame directly at Moscow before Porton Down had established whether the nerve agent was produced in Russia.
At the end of March, whistle-blowers revealed that Facebook had exposed the data of roughly 87 million Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica. The company, with Steven Bannon as its vice president, then used this data to produce targeted advertising that could well have contributed to Trump’s victory. This revelation also led to whistle-blowers from the VoteLeave campaign to come forward about possible violation of spending rules during the EU referendum campaign.
Chemical Attacks in Douma
On 7th April, a suspected government instigated chemical attack took place in rebel-held Douma, in Syria. Both the Syrian government and Russia deny the allegations. At least 42 people are known to have died, and many more were affected. On 14th April, the US, UK, and France carried about missile strikes on sites that they said were associated with Syria’s chemical weapons production.
This month, the plight of the ‘Windrush’ generation in Britain has come to the fore. Named after the ship that brought Caribbean workers to England to help with post-war labour shortages, many have been threatened with deportation, had access to healthcare and other services denied, and been refused entry to the UK. Travelling mainly in the 1950s, from countries that were British colonies at the time, the Windrush generation came over as British citizens. However, the Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain, and, in 2010 destroyed landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants. This means that it is nearly impossible for such people to prove that they are in this country legally. Now, they are facing problems with their immigration status, due to the introduction of tighter immigration laws, and are being asked to prove their legal residence in the country, despite living here for over 50 years. On 16th April, Amber Rudd delivered an apology to all Windrush citizens, stating that cases would be resolved within two weeks. The stories of those affected by the Windrush scandal have continued to break, whilst Amber Rudd admitted that the Home Office had set targets for deportations, after earlier stating that this was not the case. The handling of this scandal by the Home Office and the subsequent outcry caused Amber Rudd to resign. She has been replaced as Home Secretary by Sajid Javid.
North and South Korean Summit
In a historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea at the end of April, both countries committed to bringing peace and denuclearisation to the peninsula. After decades of hostility, this agreement represents a landmark in both Korean and global history.
Although these are by no means the only stories to come out of the last month, they are some of the most significant, and many of them have national and global consequences. Stay tuned as we follow up on these stories, and summarise more breaking news, in May’s summary.