Nigel Farage is used to getting an easy ride. Most of the British press fawn over him and even political opponents (including Labour) have evidently decided to avoid direct attacks and criticism.
So the heckling and minor jostling he and his supporters received on Thursday in an Edinburgh pub, and some mildly critical remarks from a BBC Radio Scotland interviewer, seemed to come as a terrible shock: the saloon bar loudmouth suddenly turned into a priggish prima donna and left Scotland in a frightful huff.
I don’t know who the people who organised the Edinburgh protest are. They have been described as “left wing nationalists” so I suspect I for one wouldn’t agree with them on Scottish independence. But their representative on last night’s Newsnight came over as quite reasonable, and another organiser, Liam O’Hare is quoted in today’s Graun saying: “The people who demonstrated were internationalist. We opposed Nigel Farage coming as we believe in a society that welcomes immigrants, that welcomes people from all walks of life, wherever they come from, but doesn’t welcome racists like Nigel Farage.”
Farage and Ukip are not (quite) fascists. But they are thoroughgoing racists and general-purpose ultra-reactionaries. The nearest recent UK precedent would be Enoch Powell and the semi-official movement he built round himself in the late sixties and early seventies. The left didn’t pussy-foot about when it came to Powell: so why are most of us so polite when it comes to Farage and Ukip?
P.S: Check out Mr Galloway’s craven comments, here.
As the white smoke rises from the Sistine Chapel and Pope Francis emerges into the public gaze, now seems a good time to draw readers’ attention to David Lodge’s How Far Can You Go?, one of the wittiest and most intelligent novels ever written about Catholics and Catholicism. Although published in 1981, it’s set in the 1960′s, when the Church was riven by a simmering dispute between traditionalists and modernisers, with the question of sex at the heart of the crisis. For a while the modernisers seemed to in the ascendant, only to have their hopes dashed. Sounds familiar?
Here’s an excerpt:
In the early nineteen-sixties, however, [the modernisers'] main hope was that the official Church would change its mind on birth control; that they would wake up one morning and read in the papers that the Pope had said it was all right for them to use contraceptives after all. What a rush there would have been to the chemists’ and barbers’ shops, and the Family Planning Clinics! In hindsight it is claer that this was a fairly preposterous expectation, for such a reversal of traditional teaching would have dealt a blow to the credibility of papal authority so shattering that no Pope, not even Pope John, could reasonably have been expected to perpetrate it. Miriam [one of the group of young Catholic friends in the novel] was right: instead of waiting for the Pope to contradict his predecessors, they should have made up their own minds. This in fact they did, in due course, but it took a lot of misery and stress to screw them up to the point of disobedience. In the early nineteen-sixties they were still hoping for a change of heart at the top, at least in favour of the Pill, to which, some progressive theologians claimed, the traditional natural law arguments against artificial contraception did not apply.
In other respects the Church undoubtably was changing. Ope John, against all expectations (CARETAKER PONTIFF ELECTED, Angela and Dennis had read on newspaper placards when they returned from their honeymoon) had electrified the Catholic world by the radical style of his pontificate. “We are going,” he declared, “to shake of the dust that has collected on the throne of St Peter since the time of Constatine and let in some fresh air.” The Second Vatican Council which he convened brought out into the the light a thousand unsuspected shoots of innovation and experiment, in theology, liturgy and pastoral practice, that had been buried for decades out of timidity or misplaced loyalty. In 1962, Pope John actually set up a Pontifical Commission to study problems connected with the Family, Population and Birth Control. This was encouraging news in one sense, since it seemed to admit the possibility of change, but disappointing in that it effectively removed the issue from debate at the Vatican Council, which began its deliberations in the same year. Pope John died in 1963, to be succeeded by Pope Paul VI, who enlarged the Commission and instructed its members specifically to examine the Church’s traditional teaching with particular reference to the progesterone pill. Catholics, especially young married ones, waited impatiently for the result of this inquiry.
Meanwhile, other changes proceeded at a dizzying pace. The mass was revised and translated into the vernacular. The priest now faced the congregation across a plain table-style altar, which made the origins of the Mass in the Last Supper more comprehensible, and allowed more of the laity to see for the first time what the celebrant actually did. All masses were now dialogue masses, the whole congregation joining in the responses. The Eucharistic fast was reduced to a ngligible one hour, before which any kind of food and drink might be consumed, and the laity were urged to receive communion a every mass — a practice previously deemed appropriate only to people of great personal holiness and entailing frequent confession. Typical devotions of Counter-Reformation Catholicism such as Benediction and the Stations of the Cross dwindled in popularity. Rosaries gathered dust at the backs of drawers. The liturgy of Holy Week, previously of a length and tedium only to be bourne by the most devout, was streamlined, reconstructed, vernacularized, and offensive references to the “perfidious Jews” were removed from the prayers on Good Friday. Ecumenism, the active pursuit of Christian Unity through “dialogue” with other Churches, became a recommended activity. The change of posture from the days when the Catholic Church had seen itself as essentially in competition with other, upstart Christian denominations, and set their total sumission to its own authority as the price of unity, was astomishingly swift. Adrian,looking through his combative apologetics textbooks from Catholic Evidence Guild days, before sending them off to a parish jumble sale, could hardly believe how swift it has been. And from the Continent, from Latin America, through the religious press, came rumours of still more startling innovations being mooted — married priests, even women priests, Communion in the hand and under both kinds, inter-communion with other denominations. “Liberation Theology”, and “Catholic Marxism”. A group of young intellectuals of the latter persuasion, based in Cambridge, founded a journal called Slant in which they provocatively identified the Kingdom of God heralded in the New Testament with the Revolution, and charcterized the service of Benediction as a capitalist-imperialist liturgical perversion which turned the shared bread of the authentic Eucharist into a reified commodity.
These developments were not, of course, universally welcomed.
The present horsemeat scandal presents Miliband and Labour with what should be a simple, unanswerable case against the Tories: more - not less - regulation is the only answer to this and other basic issues of human health, safety and general wellbeing. As with the banking crisis, the politics, morality and efficiency of the unregulated free market has been shown to be grievously wanting.
The case for increased regulation been presented to Labour on a plate.
The Food Standards Agency has had its staff cut by nearly half and its powers of inspection and enforcement delegated to the local authorities, who themselves have suffered massive cuts (their food sampling budgets have been slashed by 70%) and simply cannot carry out these responsibilities.
This fiasco is the direct result of the present government’s attempts to deregulate the food industry. And the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson just happens to be a leading “scorched earth” deregulator. As The Observer‘s not-terribly-left-wing Will Hutton commented:
“That everything Paterson believes in is so wrong is not just a crisis for him – it is a crisis for his party and for Britain’s centre-right media whose prejudices makes thinking straight in the Tory party impossible. A great country cannot be governed by politicians whose instincts and policies are at such odds with reality, so betraying the people, economy and society they govern. The horsemeat crisis is not confined to our food chain. It reveals the existential crisis in contemporary Conservatism.”
So why is it that (according to the polls), the public are not blaming the government, and seem to be accepting the ‘line’ being peddled by Cameron and Patterson: that it’s all the fault of the supermarkets and/or Johnny Foreigner?
We can only conclude that despite some effective interventions by the shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh, Miliband just doesn’t have his eye on the ball. Perhaps he’s too distracted by the useless “Blue Labour” vapourising of Jon Cruddas to seize the main chance when it’s staring him in the face.
And while we’re on the subject of the anti-EU poseur Cruddas, another issue arises as a result of the horse-crisis: as Hutton notes, “Geography means that Britain is inevitably part of the European supply chain. Our efforts at better regulation – and of catching wrongdoers – have to be matched by others for everyone’s sake, exactly what the EU was set up to do and is now doing.”
Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday reported:
It emerged yesterday that ministers are planning to abandon plans to opt out of new European Union regulations requiring producers and retailers to state exactly what is in their mincemeat.The Government had planned to request a derogation from labelling rules on “loose meat”, claiming that the move would limit regulation and cut costs for businesses. But ministers have laid plans for a u-turn after a parliamentary report on the horsemeat crisis said: ‘This is not the time for the Government to be proposing reducing the labelling standards applied to British food.”
An assessment of the opt-out plan, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), revealed that much of Britain’s mincemeat has too much “filler”, including fat and connective tissue. It warned that “a significant proportion of minced meat sold in the UK contains a greater proportion of collagen [connective tissue] than would be permitted” under the new rules.
“There are very sound reasons for proposing this derogation and we are consulting for views on it,” a senior source at Defra said last night. “However, we take the point that it would not be sensible to be talking about giving less information when the public are so concerned over what they don’t know about what might be in their food. I think this ‘preferred option’ will be redrawn, or even shelved, long before the consultation process is over.”
Time for Miliband to dump that posturing buffoon Cruddas, drop any suggestion of Euro-scepticism … and demonstrate some social democratic horse-sense.
This seems to be some kind of spoof, but I’ve no idea of what…
Billy Delta on the run
Redfriars School was founded in 1877 by its eccentric benefactor Anthony Cliff, as a special fee-paying school for Trotskyists, so that they could enjoy the benefits of a public school education, far from prying eyes.
Since Cliff passed away, Acting Headmaster Algernon Stallinicos has struggled manfully to maintain the school’s traditions, with the help of the Chair of the Governors, Sir Charlie, the Seventh Baronet Kimber.
Billy Delta is the Creep of the Remove. Billy is well-known for being able to peel an orange in his pocket. His appetites are vast. He is always on the prowl, and usually loses his trousers. Billy is waiting for a ten-bob postal order.
The whole thing here
Perhaps covering up for child abuse, promoting anti-gay bigotry, spreading AIDS throughout the world, and explaining away his organisation’s hatred of 50% of the human race finally wore him out?
“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
― Denis Diderot
Thoroughly well-deserved (and I’m not joking):
The Euro may be washed up, but…
…the Nobel peace prize has been awarded to the European Union at a ceremony in Oslo. The EU’s three presidents Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz collected the prize.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande were given a spontaneous round of applause as they were honoured in a speech. The Nobel committee pointed to the reconciliation between Germany and France after the second world war as the beginning of 60 years of European peace.
None of which means we shouldn’t fight back against austerity!
Below, a splendid musical tribute to European unity (well worth viewing – it’ll brighten up your day, I promise!):
H/t (for the Beethoven): Griff Thomas
From People Management, (magazine of the The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development):
HR’s new best friend
I’m bloody glad I don’t live in the USofA.
Because the more I see of, and hear from, this asshole…
…the more I just know that were I a US citizen right now, I’d be chucking overboard the traditional Trotskyist position and voting for Obama.
“It is noteworthy that four of the best decisions that Obama made during his presidency ran against the advice of much of his own administration. Numerous Democrats in Congress and the White House urged him to throw in the towel on health-care reform, but he was one of very few voices in his administration determined to see it through. Many of his own advisers, both economists steeped in free-market models and advisers anxious about a bailout-weary public, argued against his decision to extend credit to, and restructure, the auto industry. On Libya, Obama’s staff presented him with options either to posture ineffectually or do nothing; he alone forced them to draw up an option that would prevent a massacre. And Obama overruled some cautious advisers and decided to kill Osama bin Laden.”
(or: The Strange Case Of The Sleeping Policeman)
Pure comedy gold from Georgie Galloway and his Respect posse:
- The Guardian, Thursday 18 October 2012 22.10 BST
From today’s Graun:
By Helen Pidd
Even given his own talent for hyperbole, the claim George Galloway made on Sunday night was extraordinary: that he had discovered his secretary was working as an “agent” for a Metropolitan police counterterrorism officer who was running a “dirty tricks” campaign against him.
It was a serious allegation. “A direct attack on not just me but on democracy,” the MP said. He complained to the police, who promised an investigation, voluntarily referring the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. And he wrote to Theresa May, the home secretary, demanding an inquiry, saying he had “incontrovertible evidence” that the duo had set up fake email addresses to spread “rumour, disinformation and downright lies”.
But Galloway’s now former secretary, Aisha Ali-Khan, is fighting back. She says she is married to Afiz Khan, whom Galloway correctly identified as a detective inspector in the Met’s counter-terrorism unit, SO15.
She says the two wed in a Muslim ceremony in 2009 and have had an on-off, hush-hush relationship ever since. She is furious that their relationship is being presented as somehow illicit.
“Not only have I lost my job and my credibility but I’ve been branded this tart sleeping with random police officers.”
Suspended on full pay but not expecting her job back, Ali-Khan has filed a complaint with the Met, accusing Galloway of either hacking into her private emails or ordering someone else to do so. She believes there can be no other explanation for how he was able to quote verbatim, in his letter to May, from emails she and her husband had written to each other. Galloway says he was given the emails by his lawyer.
Ali-Khan believes she has been “thrown to the wolves” because she was disliked by certain male figures in Bradford’s Respect party who wanted her out, and because Galloway wanted to deflect attention from a story about his personal life which he believed was about to hit the papers…
Read the rest of this wonderful story, here
I am still far from convinced that US socialists should vote for Obama, but I have to admit that the more we see and hear that ignorant, dangerous jerk Romney, the more difficult it becomes to resist the lure of lesser-evilism.
However, I offer the film below not to in order to endorse Obama, but because it’s such an extraordinary production. It certainly puts the typical Brit “party election broadcast” to shame. Enjoy…
And on the subject of Obama-cool, here are a few pseudo-Blue Note album covers that I just stumbled across:
H/t (album covers): Bruce R