Corbyn invites Labour members to provide questions for PMQs

The Jeremy Corbyn team sent out an email yesterday inviting members to submit questions for the new labour leader to ask David Cameron in Wednesday’s PMQs.

corbyn invite

This was my contribution:

Wouldn’t PMQs be more constructive, and politicians more respected, if questions and answers were conducted in a chamber without grotesque playground jeers and unnecessary scorn? I have never, and would never, expect to engage in any serious, productive debate where my opponents are so openly mocking and unwilling to listen. It serves to undermine parliamentary discourse, discourages public interest in politics and consequently damages the very values of democracy.

If you want to submit your own question, fill in the form here

Why we shouldn’t condemn those taking selfies at Sydney Siege

Whilst millions sit glued to twitter feeds and live streams of events unfolding from the so-called Sydney Siege, there has been an enormous outcry on social media against onlookers outside the cafe in Martin Place apparently revelling in the action by taking selfies.

On the surface, this certainly seems like inappropriate, maybe even detestable behaviour. Of course, for the hostages, their loved-ones, and those involved in resolving the situation, the whole affair is a terrifying experience that they have been forced to endure, and sadly will no doubt continue to endure for a long time to come. This is a tragedy, and I say that in no uncertain terms. But I ask you, if we pause in our recriminations for a moment and reflect truthfully, are we not all revelling in the action? Objectively consider our own circumstances and our own interest in the event, and we might be inclined to reevaluate that quick condemnation of selfie-snapping onlookers.

First of all, this is indubitably one of the worst hostage situations in Australian history, and potentially one of the most prominent ‘terrorist’ assaults on the nation, certainly in recent memory. Horrifying though it is, it is now an indelible moment in history and will be recorded as such. This is evident at first glance. News outlets the world over have been gleeful in their speculation, and live video and chat feeds have been watched and commented upon by millions of spectators internationally. Even in the face of explicit instruction to the contrary, and against police warnings of actively endangering lives of hostages, in their eagerness to be first past the post, some members of the press have proclaimed all manner of inflammatory hearsay.

Secondly, ask yourself why you, personally, are wrapped up in the whole affair? Is it empathy? An estranged sense of solidarity? Morbid curiosity? Or, dare I say it, ‘entertainment’? For those of us following closely, it has certainly been an extraordinarily tense and gripping 15 hours. We may not have been there in person, but by Jove we have lived it vicariously.

With this in mind, how many of us, honestly, had we been present in Martin Place today, would have left our phones untouched, burning a hole in our pockets? It is entirely natural that onlookers leapt at the chance to record images or video of the incident as it developed, whether to share with friends, post online or simply retain for posterity. People do this to lay claim to an event, to attest to their presence, to record their own first hand testimony. It is tantamount to saying, “I was there. I witnessed it.” Is that such a terrible thing?

Liam Neeson’s ‘Non-Stop’ demonstrates the Rise of the Ageing Action Hero

Tomorrow sees Liam Neeson’s return as yet another antique action hero in Non-Stop [1], the story of an air marshall whose passenger flight is held hostage to the tune of $150m. Since 2008 hit Taken reminded audiences that the older gent can still kick ass and hold his own at the box office, Neeson, 61, has starred in a spate of action flicks including The A-Team, Unknown and Taken 2, and is showing no signs of slowing, with Taken 3 already announced [2] and lead roles in upcoming action thrillers A Walk Among The Tombstones (fall 2014) and Run All Night (2015). Whilst Neeson initially dismissed the possibility of reprising his character, Bryan Mills, in a third Taken movie, joking, “that’s just bad parenting,” he was reportedly enticed back to the role with a handsome $20 million cheque [3]. Nice work if you can get it, but the real question is: why can he get it? Why is Hollywood paying out sums of that scale for action stars in their twilight years? One thing is clear, Neeson is far from the only oldie picking up the gun; there are plenty of other stars clamouring to put the silver back in silverscreen…

Arnold Schwarzenegger, or affectionately, “Arnie”, 66, exploded back in to cinemas after his political hiatus in action ensemble blow-ups, The Expendables and The Expendables 2. He subsequently manned the minigun in The Last Stand and then again reunited with Sylvester Stallone, 67, for more high-octane action in last year’s Escape Plan. Not to be left out, The Expendables 3 will see Harrison Ford, 71, joining the current posse alongside Mel Gibson, 58, who, despite leading the excellent and criminally underrated prison thiller, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a few years ago, isn’t exactly bankable these days. (In fact, given his chequered and controversial past, for many it’s a mystery his career has even survived this long. I, for one, thought The Beaver was his death knell.)

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How to be one of the highest grossing actors in Hollywood

So you’ve seen the highest grossing actors list, dollar signs have fluttered like birds around your punch-drunk noggin, and you’ve realised that with your unique acting chops, winning charisma and burning lust for fame, you too could become a bona-fide Forbes listed gold magnet in Hollywood’s perpetually booming movie machine. Your parents always told you that anything was possible, and they were right, but here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you’re aiming to shoot for the stars:

Start out sporty and don’t ever give up on your six pack. Without a doubt, action heroes are the biggest money-makers, and revealing your innards like Thor doesn’t happen over night. Aside from vigorously hitting the gym, finding an exhilarating passion is probably a good idea: Chris Hemsworth has a lifetime love of surfing [1], Dwayne Johnson wrestled since childhood, rising to fame as WWE nutcase ‘The Rock’, and the late Paul Walker started every morning with a few hours of Brazilian jiu jitsu [2]. Even the oldies have athletic backgrounds; John Goodman won a football scholarship to university, Billy Crystal obsessed over baseball and Steve Carrell has always had a knack for ice hockey.

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