Thanks to ex-blogger Yvonne, aka “Stroppy Bird”, for a fabulous party on her 50th:
I had a great time and was hugely entertained by Rosie Kane’s stand-up act. I also met Comrade Coatesy, in person, for the first time (and it’s not true that we had a ‘punch-up': in fact, we got on very well).
Madame Stroppy’s partner, the ex-blogger Dave Osler, and I, performed (and I sang and played comb-and-paper on) a 12-bar blues:
Rosie, and others, asked me about the comb-and-paper, and I freely admitted that my inspiration on this ‘instrument’ comes from the 1920’s comb-and-paper master, Red McKenzie:
So I hope, Madame Stroppy, that the spirit of Red McKenzie contributed to a great evening in your honour!
Guest post by Pink Prosecco
Adam Deen, of the Deen Institute, has been coming in for a bit of flack from (some) Muslims over his ‘modernising’ approach to Islam. In particular he has spoken out against the marginalization of women in university ISOCs, the way they have been excluded from full participation. Now he is at the centre of another controversy, this time sparked by the Happy Muslims video, which you can see at the Pharrell – HAPPY BRITISH MUSLIMS! site here. Deen appears with other Muslims, including his wife Myriam Francois Cerrah, dancing and singing to the Pharrell Williams hit ‘Happy’.
Several different objections have been raised to this project. The most predictable focus on the supposed impropriety of the video:
“We’ve basically lost all meaning for what the word hijab means. I can’t even be bothered to explain this issue again, the fact that hijab is a state, not just a piece of cloth on the head. Anyway, whatever. This isn’t about the women anyway, this is about the mindset of *all* who support such things.”
Others complain that it is pandering to non-Muslim prejudices to put on a display of happiness and normalcy in order to counter stereotypes. A few just find it a bit cringey, and some feel happiness is rather misplaced when there is so much suffering in the world.
Here is an extract from one of the more aggressive responses, a post by Uthman Badar.
“What we have here is an attempt by Muslims to been seen as ‘normal’ by the mainstream non-Muslim white majority in response to overbearing stereotypes and allegations to the contrary. In the words of the producers,
‘We Brits have a bad rep for being a bit stiff, but this video proves otherwise. We are HAPPY. We are eclectic. We are cosmopolitan. Diverse. Creative. Fun. Outgoing. And everything you can think of.
This video is to show the world despite the negative press, stereotypes and discrimination we are burdened with we should respond with smiles and joy, not anger.’
There is so much wrong with this approach, I don’t know where to begin!
It has Muslims coming in to bat for ‘Brits’ and their bad rep. Reward for the excellent treatment received by Muslims in Britain and by Britain abroad? House-Muslim mentality?”
The quotation from the video’s publicity material, that Badar objects to above, in fact demonstrates that the participants are not complacent about anti-Muslim bigotry, yet still unequivocally identify as British, and want to reach out to non-Muslims with a positive message.
It’s a cheerful video – but I do wonder what it is for exactly. I don’t think EDL supporters will see the error of their ways after watching it – they’ll probably think the performers are practicing taqqiya. Those with more nuanced concerns may quite like the video – but wouldn’t have seen people like Julie Siddiqui as a problem in the first place.
I think Uthman Badar (and others like him) have got this all wrong. My hunch is that this video was never intended to influence non-Muslims, but rather to enable Deen and co. to position themselves in opposition to more conservative, or orthodox, Muslim voices. Participants such as Salma Yaqoob have sometimes seemed keener on differentiating themselves from Quilliam types than from Muslim ‘puritans’ (to use Deen’s term). It’s positive that the battle against real hardliners, usually waged by ultra-liberal Muslims and non-Muslims, is being joined by those who are only moderately moderate.
This has appeared at the so-called “Socialist Unity” site:
The triumph of irony
Posted by John Wight on 4 November, 2013
This freak has the cheek to describe the veil worn by some Muslim women as “peculiar”.
JD comments: two rather obvious points appear to have eluded the author of that post:
1/ Mr Clarke is not appearing as the defendant in a court of law (though perhaps he should – an entirely different matter)
2/ You can see his face (ridiculous garb notwithstanding).
Reblogged from A Very Public Sociologist:
It’s the list no one has been waiting for. And, sadly, it’s proven to be something of a damp squib. Cast your mind back to last month when this blog excitedly solicited votes for the 2013 poll of the UK’s worst political blogs. Unfortunately, the votes didn’t pile in and the mini-viral from last time I tried this didn’t take off. I have some super serious theories why, but that can wait for a proper blog about blogging.
And so, of necessity, this is the top 50 (plus one) worst blogs in reverse order as voted by the internets. Feel free to compare them with 2010’s results.
51. Blue Blairite
49. Rusty’s Skewed News
48. Caron’s Musings
47. Liberal Conspiracy
46. The Staggers
45. Jonathan Freedland
44. Nannying Tyrants
43. Obo the Clown
42. Political Scrapbook
41. Eoin Clarke
40. John’s Labour Blog
39. LibDem Voice
38. Nick Cohen
36. SCOT goes POP!
35. Simon Clark
34. The Jewish Chronicle Online
33. Tony Greenstein
31. Labour Uncut
29. The Centre Left
28. Shiraz Socialist
27. Tim Worstall
26. A Very Public Sociologist
25. Juan Cole
24. Lenin’s Tomb
23. James Delingpole
22. Left Futures
21. Hopi Sen
20. The Libertarian Alliance
19. Millennium Dome, Elephant
17. Old Holborn
16. Wings Over Scotland
15. Glen Greenwald
14. Conservative Home
13. David Lindsay
12. Islamophobia Watch
11. Douglas Murray
9. Underdogs Bite Upwards
8. The Commentator
7. Frank Davis
6. Velvet Glove, Iron Fist
5. Comment is Free
4. Dick Puddlecote
3. Harry’s Place
And the political blog voted the UK’s worst for 2013?
Second embarrassment. It’s this:
That’s right, a blog I’m a regular contributor at has toppled Guido and assumed the cacky crown itself.
Interestingly those voting for Socialist Unity overwhelmingly hailed from the left. Fratricide does it again!
Well, who’d of thunk it, eh?
What a banal, pompous, pretentious, self-important mediocrity and shower of shite.
I suppose this means his career as a “commentator” in the Guardian will now be unencumbered by old-fashioned “revolutionary” baggage.
Lenin’s rolling over in his Tomb.
They’ve been out of action for three (or is it four?) days, now…
sabotage, or what?
(Video from the late Will Rubbish)
Above: readers are invited to suggest captions
The following statement is reblogged without permission, from that increasingly bizarre and unpleasant “cesspit of the left,” the Socialist Unity blog. The comments that followed (not published here) are good for a laugh as well, with ‘moderator’ Collins threatening to delete anyone who criticises Galloway. It should go without saying that we publish this statement for the information of readers, not because we agree with much (or any) of it. No link because SU prevent us linking:
ON LEAVING RESPECT 8 October 2012
This is a guest post from Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson. Having joined and become active in Respect as a result of George Galloway’s recent election win, they’ve found themselves being in the position of being forced to leave the organisation without any explanation why.
We joined Respect two days after George Galloway’s outstanding victory in Bradford, in March 2012. In our estimate, this by-election victory indicated both the support for a clear anti-cuts politics to the left of Labour, and the viability of Respect as a political party which could inhabit that political space. Respect’s election result, across all wards in Bradford, indicated the resonance of the party’s politics across the city’s diverse communities, transcending the wrongly perceived limits of Respect’s political appeal and re-establishing the party on the political map.
Having recently returned from a solidarity delegation to Greece, where Syriza was gaining political ground with a similar politics, we were convinced of the need to advance a left political and economic alternative at a time when social democratic parties have abandoned their redistributive credentials and continue to opt for the failed policies of neo-liberalism. We remain convinced of that need but find that we are no longer able to fight for that alternative through the Respect party.
The Manchester candidacy
In July, Kate accepted nomination as Respect Party parliamentary candidate for the Manchester Central by-election in November 2012. Campaigning in Manchester over the subsequent weeks, it became clear that there was strong local support for a Respect candidacy based on opposing austerity, backing investment, fighting racism and working to end poverty in some of the most deprived wards in Britain. As a safe Labour seat, but with the lowest turnout of any constituency in the country, Manchester Central was a very clear example of how Labour no longer stands for the interests of the working class. Most people saw no point in voting at all. But the support on the doorstep for the Respect campaign demonstrated more clearly than any amount of theorising, that ordinary people want an alternative, that Respect’s political and economic platform provided a popular basis from which to build an electoral alternative. The campaign also demonstrated how political support from outside Respect could also be built for an anti-cuts candidacy and support for Kate’s campaign came from across a range of parties and political organisations which shared the values fought for within the campaign.
The decision to stand down as candidate was not one taken lightly. But it was one which became impossible to avoid, after the deeply regrettable comments by George Galloway about the nature of rape, in the context of the attempts to extradite Assange. There is no doubt in our minds that there are attempts to extradite Assange to Sweden, outside of that country’s normal legal procedures, to facilitate his extradition to the US to face charges over Wikileaks. But opposing such practices does not require extemporisation by Respect’s MP on the nature of rape which at the very least exposed his lack of understanding with regard to the legal definition of that crime.
The condemnation of George Galloway’s comments by party leader Salma Yaqoob are well-known and went some way to redeeming the honour of Respect and we wholeheartedly supported them and welcomed Salma’s principled stance. However, the failure of George Galloway to retract his remarks on rape and apologise for them ultimately made it impossible for Kate to continue to stand for Respect in Manchester Central. As she stated at the time, “To continue as Respect Party candidate in this situation, no matter how much I object to and oppose his statements personally, would be in effect to condone what he has said. That is something I am not prepared to do.”
The identification of George Galloway with the Respect party is such that many perceive them to be synonymous. This meant that unless the party itself was prepared to state that it did not support George’s position on rape, and to ask him to retract his statements, it could reasonably be assumed by non-members that the party tolerated George’s position. Apart from Salma’s statement, and Kate’s public support for that, we are not aware of any condemnation by the party of George’s position. Indeed, Salma’s statement was not published on the party website, in spite of the fact that she was leader of the party, and Kate was initially asked by the National Secretary to remove Salma’s statement from her Manchester campaign Facebook page, which she refused to do.
Staying in Respect
Nevertheless, taking into account that we consider the politics of Respect to be essential in the struggle for a left alternative, and that we were aware of strong opposition to George’s position within Respect – even though it was not given expression by the party apparatus and media – we decided not to leave Respect. As Kate put it in her statement on standing down, “I will continue to work within the Respect Party to ensure that our values and principles with regard to women’s rights match up to the Party’s – and George Galloway’s – outstanding record in these other areas.”
Resignations from Respect
In the wake of the Galloway comments and his refusal to apologise, Salma Yaqoob decided to stand down as party leader and resigned from Respect. At the National Council in September, it was announced that a number of long-standing senior party figures had also resigned, including a majority of its national officers. However, we decided to stay in the party and its leadership to work for a party with a life of its own, properly expressing the policies so urgently needed.
Unfortunately, to continue to work politically within Respect is no longer possible. Last week we discovered that we have both been removed from Respect’s National Council. We received no official notification of this, rather, we discovered this when Andrew attempted to post a request for a Respect delegate to the Coalition of Resistance Europe against Austerity Conference on the NC google group. The message bounced back. On enquiring of the Respect National Secretary, Andrew was informed that he had been removed from the NC because he had missed two consecutive meetings of the NC and under the constitution this meant that he would be removed and replaced by a co-opted member. In fact, no such provision exists in the copy of the constitution that we received at this year’s Respect party conference. We have not been supplied, despite Andrew’s repeated requests, with a copy that includes that provision. Subsequently Kate attempted to post on the NC google group and again it bounced back. Her enquiry to the National Secretary about her NC status has received no reply, and she has had to assume that she has also been removed from that body.
There are numerous other National Council members who have missed two meetings and have not been removed from the NC. It is clear that we have been purged from the party leadership for political reasons: because we publicly condemned George’s rape comments and backed the position of our party leader, and because we refused to be silenced over the fall-out from the issue within the party. This is in spite of the fact that we have been amongst the party’s most active members over the last six months: we participated in the party’s annual conference in Bradford where we were elected as NC members, we organized a successful London Respect meeting in July involving representatives from Syriza and Front de Gauche, we revived the North London branch and helped to convene a meeting of the London Respect Committee – as well as committing to the Manchester Central candidacy.
Speaking out in Respect
As we have been excluded from the NC by the National Secretary, we have no way of knowing if other comrades are raising these issues too, or share our concerns about the lack of an independent political life on the part of the Respect party, as distinct from that of its MP. We have informed others of our concerns where we have contact details. The silence in the face of our struggle has been disconcerting. We hope that other comrades recognize that speaking out on matters of political principle must be a basic democratic right within any political party.
At the moment there is no place for us in the Respect party. Those that control the party and its apparatus have seen fit to remove us from any possibility of active work because our political principles led us to speak out against a wrong position and wrong practice. We continue to support the political and economic alternative which the Respect party espouses but we will look for a framework within which to fight for it elsewhere.
The peoples of Europe – and beyond – are facing an unprecedented social, political and economic crisis. Here in Britain, our government is implementing the most savage spending cuts designed to destroy all the social gains of the postwar period. They are damaging the lives of millions.
Throughout Europe people are fighting back. Every day we hear of strikes, mass mobilizations and protest as people fight to defend their societies and reject the barbarism of austerity. The urgent need is for unity of the left, within Britain, and across Europe, to meet these challenges together, to maximize our forces and build a common solidarity that will enable the victory of ordinary people over the brutality of a failed economic system.
That is what we are committed to.
Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson 8 October 2012
Many readers will be aware that the so-called Socialist Unity blog (which we are prevented from linking to) has recently published two posts and discussion threads defending George Galloway’s views on rape, in the light of the Assange case. The contents of these posts, and also the comments that followed, have horrified even previous contributors to Socialist Unity, one of whom described it as “one of the most appalling things I’ve read.” One of the people who commented, objecting to the rape-denial/apologism, misogyny and extreme sexism on display was Mhairi McAlpine, who has since commented at her own blog, Second Council House of Virgo. We don’t necessarily agree with all that Mhairi has to say there, and in particular we don’t agree with her bald statement that “Assange is a rapist“: we believe Assange has the right to a presumption of innocence and to due process. Nevertheless, this is a powerful indictment of the depths of misogyny to which people like Galloway and his apologists at the singularly ill-named Socialist Unity blog have sunk:
Those familiar with the state of the UK left will be familiar with the Socialist Unity blog, the cesspit which has taken over from the UKLN email list as the place for old white men to put the world to rights. It must be the most misnamed blog in the blogsphere. There has never been any unity, and the socialism proposed is paperthin. Their defence of George Galloway and his creepy, creepy remarks on rape, together with a tonne of commentators piling in to defend the right of men to penetrate sleeping women make me despair of the English Left.
In Scotland, we had Sheridan. Left wing politics cannot ever be the same again. The English Left never really groked the Sheridan situation. There were pockets of support, but they were isolated. Mixed in with the vitriol that accompanied our decision to prioritise women over the left wing saviour and master of charisma was a seeming confusion that we could ever have considered doing anything else. The witches backed by the prudes had enabled the sluts to bring the Anti-Poll Tax hero down. And down Tommy fell, from winning an award from the Scottish Politican of the Year in 2001, to being lambasted at the Edinburgh Festival for the comedic figure from a sea-side postcard in 2012. And in that decade, Scottish radical politics changed. Where there are no gods, no masters and precious few heroes, a new type of organising must be found, one which respects the voices of all.
Which brings me back nicely to Socialist Unity.
I was warned not to venture in there. I was warned. But that warning only served as lefty feminist equivalent of “don’t go into the cellar” in horror movies. You know it is a really bad idea, but some evil force out there compels you to do it anyway. That big sign saying “here be monsters” gets ignored and on you charge into the deep dark ugliness.
It started off with this thread: In Defence of George Galloway, by John Wight – the one who usually trundles out to defend the indefensible. So far, so on form. But then there were the comments. Oh the comments! We had Galloway sychophants, rape apologism, rape minimisation, “genuine rape” arguments, “conviction or it didn’t happen” arguments in spades. And then one poor innocent poster piped up with “Are some of us blokes missing something”?
Erm….yeah. There are some pretty big elephants in the room here. Namely that Assange is a rapist, and Galloway thinks that he is not a rapist because Galloway thinks that rape is acceptable behaviour, if a little bad mannered. But it is easier for an elephant to pass under the eyes of socialist unity commentators than it is for old, straight, cissexual, white Western men to contemplate that other old straight cissexual white Western men might be slightly off on their gender politics. And so the enquirant was put straight.
A very large proportion of women have at one time or another found themselves in situations where they were having sex that they preferred not to have. It is something that lots of women, not surprisingly feel very strongly about. It is a very sensitive question that a male politician in the public eye needs to handle with the utmost delicacy.
And so on we go…now into the territory of accusations of imperialism and islamophobia attracting such “black propaganda” for Galloway. One poster went so far as to say that like Galloway, he did not see rape in what Assange was accused of. When pointed out that this was a creepy statement implying that it was behaviour in which he himself might indulge, responded with the classic rapist/bush/knife scenario, but described the rape of “brazen groupies” as less serious than fishing without a permit. When pointed out that this statement marked him out as a potential rapist – someone who thought that raping someone was acceptable behaviour, he responded with an even creepier statement of
You couldn’t possibly know this, and if you think that you can know that then you are dangerous.
At which point a mod stepped in. Good you might think. Probably about time, given that someone on their site is basically stating that rape is acceptable behaviour, and that when someone has called someone out on stating that rape is acceptable behaviour they are considered “dangerous”. Presumably the same kind of “dangerous” as the “brazen groupies” that got raped by Assange and didnt keep their mouths shut about it. But no – the mod’s primary concern was that readers might not have confidence in the poster who noted that someone’s views made them very vulnerable to being a rapist. Laying down the law
Right, listen…please tone it down. I don’t want this thread turned into a hunt for potential rapists. Please end that line of argument, thank you.
And on the discussion went, on and on. About Islamophobes, zionists and pro-imperialists, about the ins and outs of international law, about possible motivations for Yaquoob and Hutson withdrawing support from Galloway, cleverly dodging the rapidly growing elephant of his creepy rape apologism.
Over on the other channel, the hilariously titled Time for the Left to Stand Up for Galloway, things were no better. As rape apologism piled on rape apologism, with comments aimed at those challenging becoming more and more offensive. But eventually an elephant this big, and this well fed couldn’t just be ignored, it really couldn’t.
Eventually Andy Newman cracked, speaking publically about some dirty open secrets of the left. The editor of Socialist Worker who couldn’t be trusted around young female comrades, the forceful silencing of women sexually assaulted by senior comrades, and the unconsensual incest that a leading industrial militant indulged in. Stories told in small gatherings, or shared personally but publically swept under the carpet, just like the rapes committed by full timers in the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Socialist Workers Party.
So when I pointed out that the reasons that these things happened over, and over AND OVER again – because women who raised sexual assaults, and the narratives that sustained them were silenced, I was banned from the site. I was banned from the site because I stated that someone who thought that rape was acceptable behaviour was a potential rapist. I was shut off from the site because it “shut him down”. I wasn’t allowed to contribute because it made a potential rapist feel like he “couldn’t contribute”.
I don’t know how I feel about getting banned from the cesspit of the left. There is a bit of me that is quite happy to let them roll around in their own stinking shite, but on the other hand, I’m well aware of the pollution that it generates well beyond its boundaries. Pollution that generally ends up infecting the bodies of female comrades.
Just one last thing.
Marko, if you read this blogpost, please read this one too. Although 98.8% of rapists get away with it, you might one day find yourself in the unlucky 1.2% who don’t. Because with the crap that you spouted on that thread, if you are not already a rapist, there is a really high probability of you becoming one. You need to learn what is and what is not rape now and definately before you have any more sexual encounters. And that goes for quite a number of commentators on those posts. Galloway could do with reading this too.
For just like another commentator, one of the very few women who contributed stated.
I realise the reason you lot want to believe George Galloway isn’t a rape apologist is that you all believe the same ignorant shitty rape apology beliefs. I can’t help wonder how close many of you have come to that line and who has crossed over it because you think it isn’t there.
As we publicised Prof Norm‘s poll on the greatest Hitchcock films, I thought you might like to know the results. The Prof reports:
It seems that the normblog poll has some life in it yet. There has been a more than respectable entry this time, for my poll to discover which of Alfred Hitchcock’s films are most favoured by his fans. There were 93 entries in all, and the votes were distributed across 31 of Hitch’s movies. Where people ranked their choices, I assigned 5 points for a first-place vote, 4 for a second-place vote, and so on down to 1. Unranked choices earned the same total of 15 points, but shared evenly 3 points per film. A clear top 12 emerges as follows (the number in brackets indicating points gained).
1: (244) – North By Northwest; 2: (230) – Vertigo; 3: (168) – Rear Window; 4: (120) – Psycho; 5: (79) – The Birds; 6: (70) – Strangers on a Train; 7: (65) – The 39 Steps; 8: (64) – Shadow of a Doubt; 9: (57) – Notorious ; 10: (53) – The Lady Vanishes; 11: (36) – Rebecca; 12: (31) – Dial M for Murder
No other Hitchcock film scored 20 points or more. Here are the others that won some support: To Catch A Thief (18), Frenzy (17), Rope (17), Suspicion (16), Marnie (13), Lifeboat (12), The Trouble with Harry (12), Spellbound (9), Foreign Correspondent (8), The Lodger (7), The Wrong Man (6), The Man Who Knew Too Much  (5), I Confess (2), Jamaica Inn (2), The Man Who Knew Too Much  (2), Torn Curtain (2), Family Plot (1), Sabotage (1), Saboteur (1).
What would Hitchcock have made of these results?
Thanks again to everyone who sent in an entry – Norm