At yesterdays important and HUGE anti-Trump demo in London I spoke to anti-fascist leaders and veterans. They warned me that, as great as the turnout was, the Left in London was living in a bubble and didn't acknowledge or understand what was happening up and down the country.
That's nothing new. 8 years ago when I used to cover EDL demos, many would ask why I'm bothering, they're not worth a thought, not worth the oxygen, nothing more than something to be laughed at. Tommy Robinson is a joke. When I disagreed there were many heated debates and arguments.
We tried to warn then, what complacency would bring about. Not enough people listened. They mocked and disenfranchised those who were being fed by the mainstream press and politicians (including the Labour party) about Islamophobia and immigration - a handy scapegoat for all the billions spent on war and bailing out the banks post-2007.
Nobody has given a sh*t about the working class up and down this country, including an elitist Left that, by and large, is too snobby to do anything other than name, mock and demean.
We warned Brexit could happen and so could Trump. But for too many in the big cities, in their bubbles, their brain's simply couldn't register that it could.
In the meantime, facilitated by mainstream political and media hate, the nasty corners of our Establishment were buoyed. They wanted to push the rhetoric in to full blown and open transparency. And they did. They didn't create something new, they used what had already been placed there.
I want to take a brief moment today to tell you about just 5 Muslim women, from the earliest years of Islam and what they teach us about our worth and our potential.
These are, of course lessons, for all women and men. But I think it’s particularly important for people – especially non-Muslims – to understand what Muslim women are really taught and who their role models really are.
The Prophet’s wife, Khadija -proposed to him, was older than him and was the most prominent entrepreneur of her time. She was a rich and successful businesswoman (far richer and more prominent than him). Their monogamous marriage was filled with love and respect. It was Khadijah – a woman - who was the first person to confirm Muhammad’s prophet hood. Yes, the first Muslim was a woman.
The lineage of the Prophet is also through a woman; His daughter, Fatimah. Fittingly for international women’s day it is also her birthday today.
Muslim women fought on the front lines. Like Nusayba who fought in the battle of Uhud, alongside the Prophet.
The first martyr of Islam was also a woman. When the Prophet Muhammad first began to preach publicly, there was quickly an active persecution of the small Muslim community Summayah and her family were targeted. She was tied up, beaten and stabbed to death when she refused to recant her faith.
Women took leading roles in standing up against tyranny – even when the other side were Muslims themselves. Just five decades after the Prophet’s death and Muslim leadership had fallen in to corrupt hands.
It can be hard to understand Iran. And even harder to explain it. Especially at a time like this.
There are 80 million Iranians, whose views and news have almost always been packaged, described and analysed in the most reductive way; both inside and outside of the country.
It has often seemed the more reality on the ground has required shades of grey, the more black and white it has been explained away.
Of course, at some point, the oversimplification of these explanations start folding in on themselves, and that certainly feels like the crossroads that Iran – or at least our analysis of it - stands at now.
The sudden protests of the last week could be seen as a sort of perfect storm. But in many ways it is always hurricane season in Iran.
Reading that, your mind might automatically find itself thinking of the dictatorship of the Islamic regime, or the brave protesters fighting for their freedom on the streets.
The truth is, that is just part of the story, from one perspective.
One of the difficulties of exploring the Iranian landscape is to try and understand the whole tapestry without dismissing one of the many fabrics that make it up.
It isn’t made easy by the fact that Iranians are mostly very passionate and often easily offended, especially when it comes to politics. Trying to understand a view is often seen as endorsing it.