From Facebook flags to TTIP and tampons, these were our most-read comment articles of 2015

From TTIP to tampons, and Facebook flags to Corbyn and Cameron, here's what you've been reading in the last year

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Monday 28 December 2015 15:10
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Cuts will continue to fall heavily on local councils and public services like the police, fire and prison services, which are already stretched dangerously thin. But that’s okay because we can hand over large parts of their responsibility to private companies like the security firm G4S, which will be nice. And at least we won’t have to pay more taxes… probably.

We’ll get a referendum on Europe so we can continue to pull up the drawbridge on the rest of the world and also free ourselves of all that ridiculous EU meddling – like the Human Rights Act, which the Tories want to scrap. Won’t it be good to be free of all that tedious bureaucracy? Although we might keep the good bits, like TTIP, which will hand over swathes of our national sovereignty to multi-national corporations. But that’s okay because foreigners are alright as long as they’re big businesses; it’s only the poor ones we don’t like.

David Cameron and his wife Samantha return to 10 Downing Street after his victory

“Hey, those people fleeing war in Syria aren’t poor at all! Look, they all have smartphones!” is one increasingly tedious complaint that has been bubbling away on social media recently. Owning a mobile phone, it seems, should render one ineligible for help when trying to stop themselves and their families from dying in a war.

Refugees at Budapest Railway station check their phones

Euro-centrism - a worldview which centres and places overemphasised importance on the West - reinforces its supremacy through actions like these. And there’s no ignoring the fact that this stems from European colonisation. How deeply ironic, considering that the colonisation of the Middle East and wars carried out in Muslim lands put down the roots for extremist groups such as Isis.


What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you

 

Since before TTIP negotiations began last February, the process has been secretive and undemocratic. This secrecy is on-going, with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests.

But worryingly, the covert nature of the talks may well be the least of our problems.


There's nothing luxurious about my periods, so why is the Government taxing them as though there is?

 

Brushing over the fact that many people also use sanitary towels at the same time as tampons, five per cent of this cost is tax. Both are taxed as luxury, non-essential items – you are, quite literally, being tolled for having a uterus.

petition to have this tax removed has so far attracted over 135,000 signatures. The campaign points to a host of items which are tax exempt including “edible sugar flowers”, “alcoholic jellies” and “exotic meats including crocodile and kangaroo”.

 

Some remote communities believe they will suffer bad luck such as natural disasters, abrupt death of animals, and illnesses if women are not banished to huts or cowsheds when they menstruate

‘I ask him for the sixth time,’ will be the quote that finally silences the critics of Jeremy Corbyn’s PMQs performances. Because this week, Corbyn temporarily abandoned the process of asking a different question each time, instead choosing to focus on one serious issue. And he may have asked six times, but he certainly wasn’t answered six times.

Jeremy Corbyn is announced as the new leader of the Labour Party at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on September 12, 2015

Two things have been clear for years: a) Katie Hopkins has cleverly built a popular, personal brand on provocative views that tend to to demonise people she doesn’t like, and get a rise out of people who don’t like her; b) the best way to respond is not to respond at all.

That’s fine - Hopkins has children to feed and dress - and we can unfollow her, and avoid what she writes and says. Free country, free speech. Just look the other way.

But when a national newspaper, which gives this brand an audience of two million people, happily prints language that might give Hitler pause, is that still OK? Or is it worth responding this time, even if she’ll love every minute?

Hopkins argued the British government would not have the 'stomach' or the 'political will' to implement “internment camps” but nevertheless argued it was imperative for them to do so

Let's demand all Muslims denounce the gunmen who wreaked havoc at Charlie Hebdo. It’s true that every Muslim leader in Britain has denounced them several times, but that’s hardly sufficient. They might denounce them at five past three, and then again at twenty past three, but what are they doing in between? For all we know they’re blowing themselves up at bus garages.

So to truly distance themselves from the shooting, every Muslim should have to draw their own satirical cartoon involving Muhammad trampolining on a pig, so we know we can trust them.

The satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo is to publish a special anniversary edition to commemorate lost colleagues and those who died at a kosher supermarket last year

For many, particularly students like myself, it is still seen as taboo to support the Conservative Party. F**k Tories signs dotted across university, student unions dominated by the far left - who worry more about solidarity with Peruvian revolutionaries than they do about issues for students on campus - and being called a murderer for expressing right wing opinions – all combine to make it feel as if the Left has a monopoly on university life.

Nonetheless, nowhere is being a shy Tory more encouraged than on social media, specifically Facebook, where any movement away from the “progressive line” is treated as treason. Tories are seen as inherently bad.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, campaigning in Hamilton, Scotland in the run up to the UK general election last May

Those who support fiscal sensibility are painted as devious or tricksters who have pulled the wool over an electorate made out to be naturally left wing. On an event created to “Stop the Tory Coup” one user claimed the election was “a fix” - and started to organise a protest against the democratic outcome.

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