Ash Sarkar

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Ash Sarkar
Ash Sarkar cropped.jpg Ash Sarkar cropped.jpg
Sarkar at The World Transformed in 2017
BornAshna Sarkar[1]
London, UK
🏳️ NationalityBritish
🎓 Alma materUniversity College London
💼 Occupation
Journalist, academic, activist
👪 RelativesPritilata Waddedar (great–great–aunt)

Ashna Sarkar is a British journalist and libertarian communist political activist. She is a senior editor at Novara Media[2] and teaches at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.[2] In 2017, she taught global politics at Anglia Ruskin University as an associate lecturer.[3] Sarkar is a contributor to The Guardian[2] and The Independent.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Sarkar's great-great-aunt, Pritilata Waddedar, was a Bengali nationalist who participated in armed struggle against the British Empire in 1930s Bengal.[5] Her grandmother is a hospital carer.[3] Her mother is a social worker[3] who was an anti-racist and trade union activist in the 1970s and 1980s,[5][6] helping to organise marches after the racially motivated murder of Altab Ali.[6] Sarkar says that, as a child, her mother briefly met Mao Zedong while in Beijing.[7]

She attended Enfield County School, an all-girls comprehensive school before moving to the Latymer School, a selective grammar school for sixth form education.[3] She gained undergraduate and master's degrees in English literature from University College London.[7]

Career[edit]

Sarkar is a senior editor at Novara Media and teaches at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.[8] In 2017, she taught global politics at Anglia Ruskin University as an associate lecturer.[3]

She is a contributor to The Guardian[2] and The Independent.[3]

Sarkar appeared in the 2019 BBC documentary series Rise of the Nazis to "illuminate the context and perspective of Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) from 1925 to 1933, who died in a concentration camp in 1944".[9]

On 16 March 2021, Sunday Telegraph columnist Julie Burchill was ordered to pay 'substantial damages' to Sarkar after writing posts alleging that Sarkar sympathised with fundamentalist Islam and that she worshipped a paedophile in the prophet Muhammad. Burchill also wrote a sexual poem about Sarkar, 'liked' Facebook posts saying that Sarkar should kill herself and suggested that she was a victim of female genital mutilation.[10][11] Sarkar wrote in The Guardian that the abuse had affected her mental health and that she had been prescribed anti-anxiety drugs for the first time in her life. [12] Sarkar said she had no part in the decision by the publishers Little, Brown to cancel Birchill's book contract. She also wrote: "The media's reporting of the issue ignored the defamation, racism and harassment in favour of framing me as part of the woke mob—and Burchill as its victim."[12] An apology published by Burchill included, "I should not have sent these tweets, some of which included racist and misogynist comments regarding Ms Sarkar's appearance and her sex life" and acknowledged that it was her publisher, not Sarkar, who was responsible for the cancellation of her book deal.[13]

Political views[edit]

Ash Sarkar
Sarkar in December 2019

In her writings and commentary, Sarkar has expressed anti-imperialist,[5] feminist,[14] anti-fascist,[6] and libertarian communist[7] views. She has taken part in anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-Trump protests[15] and in 2018 joined a hunger strike to protest against the detention of asylum seekers at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.[16] She supported the Stansted 15's actions against deportation flights.[17]

After a clip of her telling Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain that she was "literally a communist!" went viral, Sarkar clarified her views as libertarian communist, a "long termist" who supports the former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity policies.[7][18][19] Sarkar has described her view on communism as being "about the desire to see the coercive structures of state dismantled, while also having fun. It's not about driving everybody down to the same level of abjection, but making aesthetic pleasures and luxuries available to all."[7]

Sarkar's writing and broadcasting makes liberal use of humour and London slang, and she has written that politics "should be joyful and exuberant".[7]

Although she only became a Labour Party member during the UK general election campaign in late 2019,[20] Sarkar (and Novara Media more generally) has become closely associated in media commentary with Corbyn's democratic socialist project:[21] The Times has described her as "Britain's loudest Corbynista".[3] Shortly before Labour's loss in the 2019 United Kingdom general election, Sarkar argued in The Guardian that young people in precarious employment would turn out for Corbyn's party.[22]

In November 2017, Sarkar spoke at a World Transformed festival. One of her fellow speakers, Paolo Gerbaudo, said that "the hatred in society was taken out on the wrong people" and that he wanted to "make the left hate again", pointing to Philip May, husband of the then–Prime Minister, as a legitimate target because he worked for a large investment manager. In response, Sarkar said "I'm on Team Hate".[23]

In January 2018, during a debate with Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, Sarkar jokingly said that "God Save the Queen" is "not the catchiest of national anthems. I would much prefer 'Wearing My Rolex'… a grime banger". According to Vice News, this made Piers Morgan "apoplectic with rage".[24]

In September 2018, Sarkar defended anti-Zionist activist Ewa Jasiewicz, who, together with Yonatan Shapira, had once painted "Free Gaza and Palestine, liberate all ghettos" onto a wall of the Warsaw Ghetto. Jasiewicz was scheduled to speak at a Momentum conference that was running alongside the official Labour conference. Sarkar wrote on Twitter that Jasiewicz and Shapira's words were anti-racist, not anti-semitic. In 2019, Sarkar said that, on reflection, she should have "drawn a line between defending Ewa, criticising the coverage and being more critical of the action itself which I don’t think was well thought out".[25][26]

In a 2018 interview with Teen Vogue, Sarkar described herself as being a "fierce critic" of the prison industrial complex, military industrial complex, the expanded use of drone warfare and the expansion of deportation under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She said the loss of jobs due to automation could give rise to fascism as a way of controlling the "surplus disposable population". Alternatively, the extra time created by automation could liberate people to "imagine different ways of living" and "pursu[ing] your passions".[27]

Personal life[edit]

Sarkar lives in North London[28] and is a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. She is a Muslim.[7][29]

References[edit]

  1. "Ashna Sarkar". Pen Pusher. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Ash Sarkar". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Fisher, Lucy (4 June 2018). "Meet Ash Sarkar, Britain's loudest Corbynista". The Times. ProQuest 2049477240. Retrieved 26 August 2018. (subscription required)
  4. "Ash Sarkar". The Independent. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Sarkar, Ash (5 February 2018). "My great-great-aunt was a terrorist: women's politics went beyond the vote". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 July 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Sarkar, Ash (21 August 2018). "This isn't just a culture war – we need a radical anti-fascist movement right now". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Hogan, Michael (22 July 2018). "'That's when I lost my temper': Ash Sarkar on her clash with Piers Morgan". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  8. "Shadow Channel". sandberg.nl. Sandberg Institute. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  9. Welch, Ben (3 September 2019). "Anger at BBC decision to include commentator in new Rise of the Nazis documentary who defended Warsaw Ghetto wall graffiti". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  10. Bland, Archie (16 March 2021). "Julie Burchill agrees to pay Ash Sarkar 'substantial damages' in libel case". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  11. Sommerlad, Joe (16 March 2021). "Julie Burchill agrees to pay 'substantial damages' to Ash Sarkar over social media posts". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Sarkar, Ash (16 March 2021). "Julie Burchill abused me for being Muslim – yet she was cast as the victim". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  13. Sillito, David (March 16, 2021). "Julie Burchill makes 'full' apology for racist abuse of fellow writer". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  14. Sarkar, Ash (8 March 2018). "Let's put the politics back into International Women's Day". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  15. "Piers Morgan clashes with anti-Trump protester who calls him an 'idiot'". The Irish News. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  16. Sarkar, Ash (28 February 2018). "By demeaning refugees, Tories have caused the Yarl's Wood hunger strike". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  17. "Ash Sarkar Meets the Stansted 15". Novara Media. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  18. McTernan, John (16 May 2019). "What does the rise of Corbynism mean for the future of Britain?". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  19. Steerpike (17 July 2018). "'I'm literally a communist' T-shirt – literally free market economics". The Spectator. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  20. "Thangam Debbonaire MP, Stanley Johnson, Johnny Mercer MP, Ash Sarkar". Any Questions?. 10 January 2020. Event occurs at 31:04. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  21. Chakelian, Anoosh (25 September 2017). ""Luxury communism now!" The rise of the pro-Corbyn media". New Statesman. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  22. Ditum, Sarah (2019-12-13). "How Left-wing journalism failed". UnHerd. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  23. Shipman, Tim (26 November 2017). "Left aimed hate at Philip May". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  24. "The UK National Anthem Probably Should Be a "Grime Banger"". Vice. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  25. Rifkind, Hugo (11 September 2018). "The shameful silence of Labour's top team". The Times. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  26. "Journalist backtracks over defence of Warsaw ghetto graffiti". Jewish News. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  27. Diavolo, Lucy. "Meet the Communist Who Destroyed Piers Morgan on TV". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  28. Cafolla, Anna; Alemoru, Kemi (4 July 2018). "Meet the voices resetting the political agenda in the UK". Dazed. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  29. Sarkar, Ash (27 May 2016). "Take it from me as a young British Muslim: Islamophobia is alive and kicking". Huck. Retrieved 18 November 2020.

External links[edit]


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