The days leading up to the final were worrisome. If we lost, would everyone lose the plot? If we won, would everyone lose the plot? The BBC shared footage of a bus en route to Bellingham being mobbed in celebration of Jude Bellingham. Keir Starmer hinted at a bank holiday if England won. The Coldstream Guards played ‘Three Lions’ at Buckingham Palace. The king encouraged the players ‘to secure victory before the need for any last minute wonder-goals or another penalties drama’.

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12 July 2024

Ireland’s Far Right

Daniel Finn

With parties of the radical right coming first or second in a series of Western EU states in last month’s European elections, Ireland might seem an exception. It’s true that no politician in the mould of Giorgia Meloni, Geert Wilders or Marine Le Pen is banging at the doors of power. Ten years after UKIP became the largest group representing Britain in the European Parliament, Nigel Farage’s former press officer Hermann Kelly sought his own path to Europe from the other side of the Irish Sea. Still flying high in British politics, Farage speaks with considerable affection of Kelly – ‘dear old Hermann … a big strong strapping Paddy’ – but his erstwhile protégé managed to get only 2 per cent of the vote in the Midlands North-West constituency. Yet Ireland’s local and European elections, held simultaneously on 7 June, saw far-right groups win a foothold in the political mainstream for the first time.

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11 July 2024

The Coup That Wasn’t

Forrest Hylton

Bolivia is known for having experienced frequent coups throughout most of its history, and some have been brief and/or bizarre, but last month’s may have set a new record. On Wednesday, 26 June, General Juan José Zúñiga, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Bolivian Army, drove up to Plaza Murillo in La Paz with six tanks. He smashed his way into the Palacio Quemado (the former seat of government) through a metal door, made phone calls to the political opposition and the military, and demanded the release of Jeanine Áñez and Luis Fernando Camacho, both currently imprisoned for plotting the coup of 2019.

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9 July 2024

Soften Up Hard Lad

Natasha Chahal

‘Soften up hard lad’ by Corbin Shaw

Corbin Shaw’s work draws on the history of flag-waving and textiles in football. Now based in East London, he was born and grew up in a South Yorkshire ex-mining town. He began making flags after the death by suicide of his father’s longtime friend and companion on the terraces. The first one was a parody of a Sheffield United banner that instead of ‘we hate Wednesday’ said ‘we should talk about our feelings.’ He’s made versions of the St George’s Cross with slogans like ‘I’m never going to be one of the lads,’ ‘God save the queers’ and ‘Soften up hard lad.’ Shaw collaborated with Women’s Aid during the 2022 World Cup to highlight the rise of domestic abuse during football tournaments.

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8 July 2024

The barrage holds

Jeremy Harding

Relief, renewed anxiety, several surprises. These are the mixed feelings of a country that voted down the Rassemblement National on Sunday. As the blog’s unreliable narrator on France, I’ve presented readers with poll predictions in earlier posts that turned out to be wide of the mark. That Marine Le Pen’s party would come in third, as it has, behind the Nouveau Front Populaire and Macron’s Ensemble alliance, was a long shot. Turnout in both rounds of voting was about 66 per cent, the highest since President Chirac dissolved the National Assembly in 1997. High turnouts were said by some pollsters to favour the RN, but it wasn’t the case.

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8 July 2024

Hope from Nothing

Selma Dabbagh

One of the pieces in the recent retrospective of Barbara Kruger’s work at the Serpentine Gallery is an image of a woman’s divided face, with the slogan ‘your body is a battleground’ taped across it in red. Since October, women’s bodies have been blasted across the killing fields of Gaza and trapped under its rubble.

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3 July 2024

Famine in Sudan

Alex de Waal

Adré food distribution centre in West Darfur, 29 February 2024. Photo © MAXPPP / Alamy 

Sudan’s humanitarian crisis is, by numbers, the biggest in the world. Sudan’s population is 48 million, of whom more than 25 million are facing ‘high levels of acute food insecurity’.

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