The Arab Spring, one year on, and the Islamic counter-revolution
In this week’s New Statesman, in the lead-up to the first anniversary of the revolution in Egypt, Olivier Roy, professor of social and political theory at the European University Institute in Florence, asks whether the rise of Islamist parties will prevent democracy from establishing itself in the Arab world:
The major conflict that is taking shape is not a clash between the Muslim world and the west. Rather, it is the one that pits the conservative Sunni Arab world against the “Shia crescent” around Iran, with Saudi Arabia’s “unholy alliance” with Israel in the background. The [Muslim] Brotherhood will struggle to carve out a distinct role for itself in this context, and it knows it.
Elsewhere in this package, the NS interviews Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian cyber-activist and key figure in the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations. In a special event on Monday 30 January, the “spokesman for a revolution” will be speaking to the NS senior editor Mehdi Hasan about the Egyptian revolution, what comes next, and how the power of the internet and social media is being harnessed as a tool for democratic change around the world. The conversation between Ghonim and Hasan takes place at the Mosaic Rooms in London, and tickets are still available for purchase here.
BMA leader, Hamish Meldrum: There’s a “perfect storm” heading straight for the NHS
In an interview with the NS editor, Jason Cowley, the chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Hamish Meldrum, warns that a “perfect storm” is heading for the National Health Service:
The “perfect storm”, as he outlines it, is this – “impossible efficiency savings being forced on the service”, the biggest reorganisation in the NHS’s history, “rising medical unemployment“, “pay cuts for doctors“, “increased waiting lists” and the fear that the strain on the service will lead to more disasters such as the one at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Meldrum is referring to the 2009 scandal in which it was revealed that between 400 and 1,200 more patients from Stafford Hospital had died in the three preceding years than would be expected for the size and type of hospital.
The BMA leader argues:
“The Lansley reforms are a folly in terms of health-care issues but politically they are a huge folly as well . . . Leaving aside the reforms, because of the present economic and budgetary pressures, there’s no doubt by the time of the next election, if not before, there will be increased waiting lists, [for which] everybody will blame the reforms.”
The NHS is facing “varying degrees of impossibility”, Meldrum says.
“The health-care system is being asked to make £20bn of efficiency savings . . . In real terms that’s savings of 4 per cent year on year, which has never been done in one year before, far less four years in a row. And you’ve now added into the mix a major structural reorganisation, with lots of people either losing or changing their jobs; or their minds being focused on the reorganisation rather than on making the savings. We are facing various levels of impossibility.”
Richard Evans on Michael Gove’s “quack remedy” for schools
In the NS Critic at Large article, Richard J Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, attacks Michael Gove’s approach to the way history should be taught in Britain’s schools. Responding to the Education Secretary’s suggestion that the curriculum be focused more narrowly on British kings and queens, Evans argues:
Our culture and our national identity would be impoverished. A quack remedy for a misdiagnosed complaint, it would only make things worse. The real threat to history teaching in our schools doesn’t come from the curriculum . . . it comes from the academies, Michael Gove’s flagship secondary schools, which are free from local authority control and don’t have to follow the National Curriculum.
Elsewhere in the New Statesman
All this plus Mehdi Hasan on how Labour has become fixated on the Tory government agenda of “cuts and credibility”; the former NS guest editor Richard Dawkins is not convinced by jury justice and the boundaries of guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”, as he explains in his article “O J Simpson wouldn’t be so lucky again”; Laurie Penny describes the Occupy movement’s changing struggles; Thomas Frank on the paranoid gripping the US right, and reviews from Dominic Sandbrook, Amanda Foreman, Richard Overy and others in an NS Critics’ History Special.