Crosby and Falkirk: a tale of two scandals

July 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm (corruption, David Cameron, Jim D, labour party, media, Tory scum, unions, Unite the union)

lynton crosby

Above: Crosby who works for the Tories and big tobacco

So let’s get this straight: Unite members are accused of signing up a couple of people to the Labour Party in a pub in Falkirk: that’s a major political scandal?

The government shelves plans for plain packaging of cigarettes and it turns out that the Tories’ election ‘strategist’ Lynton Crosby also works for the cigarette firms Philip Morris and British American tobacco: that, it seems, isn’t a scandal - or not much of one, judging by the meagre press coverage (with the honourable exception of The Observer)?

The other noticeable difference is that whereas Miliband called in the cops and rushed out proposals to weaken the union link in response to the Falkirk ‘revelations’, Cameron has so far done fuck all about Crosby and appears confident of riding out whatever minor storm there may be.

And you wonder why decent people seem to be increasingly cynical about mainstream politics?

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Victoria Brittain: an idiot who may or may not be useful

July 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, Guardian, islamism, jerk, Jim D, media, middle class, Middle East, misogyny, Racism, relativism, religion, Respect, stalinism)

Above: Victoria shares a ‘Counterfire’ platform with fellow apologist and Guardianista, Shameless

The pro-Islamist Grauniad has carried some shameful and idiotic articles over the years, from the like of ‘Mad’ Maddie Bunting, Shameless Milne and Jonathan Stalinist. At one point the Graun even employed a member of Hizb ut- Tahrir as a trainee journalist, and published his filthy opinions without noticing anything wrong, until his politics were exposed.

But today’s article by Victoria Brittain, defending the racist homophobe and misogynist Abu Qatada (aka Omar Othman), must take the biscuit. Oh, but Mr Othman is an intellectual who wrote books in prison (Hitler did the same as I recall):

Our security services and politicians turned this man into an Islamic counter-terrorism myth. If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books. His children have excelled at school, with help and encouragement from his daily phone calls from prison.

Victoria Brittain is certainly an idiot. Whether she’s a useful one is very much a matter of opinion.

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Falkirk, Unite and Labour democracy

July 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm (democracy, Jim D, labour party, media, scotland, socialism, Tony Blair, unions, Unite the union, workers)

Above: how today’s Telegraph portrays McCluskey

Unite and its general secretary Len McCluskey make no secret of their wish to increase the number of working class people in Parliament and to extend union influence within the Labour Party. It’s spelled out in Unite’s Political Strategy document produced in January 2012, which is widely available within Unite and not difficult for anyone to get hold of.

Unite’s strategy for the Labour Party is entirely compatible with Party rules and amounts to little more than what other pressure groups (such as the Blairite ‘Progress’ faction) are doing. Except for one crucial consideration: the trade unions founded the Labour Party and are not just a faction but an organic element within the Party.

Now, it may be that Unite has made some mistakes in Falkirk in their efforts to secure the selection of Karie Murphy. Paying for union members’ first year of Party subs is not against Labour’s rules, but if (and I stress the “if”) it’s true that some of these people didn’t even know they’d been signed up, and/or that their membership was “back-dated” to allow them to participate in the selection process, that would indefensible and it may be that Unite will have to beat a temporary, tactical retreat. But even so, that should not deter Unite’s perfectly legitimate campaign to get members and supporters selected as candidates wherever possible.

And Unite should take no lectures on Party democracy from Blairite scum like Mandelson. Kim Howells and Jim Murphy: remember how in the nineties the Blairites undermined Party democracy, gutted the annual conference of any real power and imposed candidates against the wishes of Party members? These are the last people who should be sounding off about democracy, to Len McCluskey or anyone else.

Unite may have made some relatively minor errors in Falkirk. But their campaign to increase union influence within the Party is absolutely correct and entirely within Labour’s rules.

As Jon Lansman points out at Left Futures, The Labour Party rules on all selections for public office (Chapter 5 Clause 1) are quite clear:

persons wishing to stand as a Labour candidate … where not otherwise prevented… shall also be a member of a trade union affiliated to the TUC or considered by the NEC as a bona fide trade union and contribute to the political fund of that union. Any exceptions to these conditions must be approved by the NEC.

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Limited Edition T-shirts

June 2, 2013 at 11:04 am (blogging, media, Rosie B, solidarity)

“I note that the Socialist Unity blog has just carried a piece denouncing Britain’s “blood soaked” role in Syria. Strangely enough, the article did not use a similar adjective to describe the Russian role. I pointed out this double standard in a comment which is currently “awaiting moderation”. It will be interesting to see whether it is printed.”

From commenter Paul Fauvet

In the unlikely event that such a neoliberal piece of pro-imperialist pleading is allowed on Socialist Unity, Paul should purchase this T-shirt:-

SOCUNITY

 

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Enemy intelligence: ban the word “community”

May 27, 2013 at 8:51 am (Anti-Racism, communalism, London, media, multiculturalism, politics, populism, reblogged, secularism, terror)

Intelligent comment from behind enemy lines.

We occasionally publish worthwhile comment from unlikely sources. It should go without saying that this does not mean that we endorse the overall politics of the author, or indeed, everything in the article itself…

By Iain Martin (Daily Telegraph 24 May)

Above: can’t we go back to ‘Team GB’?

Tune into any BBC London programme at the moment and one word dominates. That word is community. Even on a normal day on the capital’s airwaves you will hear it a great deal, but in the aftermath of the Woolwich terror attack its use has gone into overdrive. On the BBC London news last night it – or the frequently used variant communities – was averaging 11 mentions per minute.

When did this word get such a grip that even passers-by vox-popped by a TV crew will deploy it a couple of times in a sentence when they are asked to asses the impact of a particular event? I wonder whether it really is widely used in everyday discourse or whether it is just what people feel they ought to say when tensions are high and a microphone is put under their nose. Having said that, yesterday I did overhear youngsters at a bus-stop discussing their horror at the Woolwich murder, and both used the word community, as in the perpetrators were a “disgrace to their community” (in the words of one). So perhaps it really has seeped into everyday speech through constant repetition in schools and on television.

The word took hold after the riots of the early 1980s, when there was a breakdown of trust, in certain inner cities, in the police and traditional institutions. After various inquiries, public policy was reconfigured to ensure that “communities” must be consulted on policing and much else besides. The traditional approach – in which people clustered together in a particular place voted for councillors and MPs who would then represent their interests – was out. With it went the widely held understanding that to live alongside each other none of us can get everything that we want.

From that point, other techniques were developed to make “excluded” people feel included. To facilitate this there suddenly emerged the “community leader”, someone unelected and usually possessing the gift of the gab. If they were smart they might get a well-paid gig with local government, or even national government, advising on “community relations”. Inevitably, under successive governments over three decades which all wanted to avoid tensions, this hardened into an orthodoxy, underwritten by third-rate academics in new disciplines. “Community” was the key word, used over and over again.

Of course, like many linguistic devices pushed by ultraliberals it actually has ended up with the opposite meaning from the one many people seem to intend when they use it. Rather than suggesting togetherness the term is actually highly divisive. Rather than emphasising common endeavour it sets one person’s alleged “community” against that of his neighbour.

I actively dislike the term and would refuse to be described as, say, a member of the claret-drinking community. Indeed, the traditional approach is still favoured by many, many millions of us in Britain of all creeds and colours. We think of life in terms of family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, perhaps religion, charity, hobbies such as sport or music and then the nation. Sometimes the various groups and circles involved are distinct and sometimes they overlap. We also accept common institutions as a bulwark of liberty, of course. And it is all wrapped up, ultimately, in that word that I used at the end of the list: the nation. How wonderful it was for a few weeks during the Olympics. The dreaded word “communities” disappeared. We heard instead of Team GB. Can’t we go back to that?

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Charles Ramsey: star, hero…or racial stereotype?

May 11, 2013 at 11:02 am (celebrity, class, crime, culture, funny, Guardian, Jim D, language, media, Racism, strange situations)

Aisha Harris, writing at Slate, is worried by the media coverage of Charles Ramsey:

“Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a ‘colorful’ style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class…

“…It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the ‘ghetto, socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Gary Younge at the Guardian takes the opposite view:

Millions in America talk like him. But rarely do we hear them unless they are on Maury, Jerry Springer or America’s Most Wanted, the butt of some internet joke or testifying to a shooting in their neighbourhoods. Working-class African Americans are generally wheeled on as exemplars of collective dysfunction. So when Ramsey emerges as heroic, humane, empathetic, funny, compelling, generous and smart, there is a moment of cognitive dissonance on a grand scale. Here is a man with a criminal past and a crime-fighting present…

“…Unvarnished and un-selfconscious, charming and compelling, he reminds me of none so much as Muhammad Ali in his prime, who said: I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky.

“I’m looking forward to getting used to Charles Ramsey.”

If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t yet seen the film of Mr Ramsey in full flow, you can judge for yourself:

P.S: now there’s a song as well.

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Measles: single jab quackery

April 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm (children, conspiracy theories, Daily Mail, health service, Jim D, media, parasites, profiteers, science, Tory scum, truth, youth)

It is now universally accepted by competent health professionals that the MMR triple vaccination jab is the safest protection presently possible against measles, mumps and rubella. The present outbreak of measles in South Wales is entirely attributable to the discredited (and probably fraudulent) “research” of Andrew Wakefield in 1998, falsely linking the MMR jab with autism. Wakefield’s dodgy “research” was widely promoted by the Daily Mail and other media (including the South Wales Evening Post) from the moment it first appeared until well into the 2000′s, even after Wakefield’s “research” was officially discredited and the man himself struck off.  As a direct result teenagers who did not receive the two MMR jabs that are required, as infants, are now the main group suffering from infection.

But still opportunist quacks are (literally) cashing in on the fears of gullible parents: The Children’s Immunisation Centre (see below) ran a clinic last weekend in Swansea supplying the less effective single measles vaccination privately for £110 for each jab plus a £50 registration fee. MMR is available on the NHS free of charge.

The Children’s Immunisation Centre website gives telephone numbers for private clinics offering single measles jabs in England and in Swansea and also links to old newspaper articles suggesting an autism link to the MMR vaccine.

It also claimed that the single vaccines are “the only safe option” to immunise against measles – but that demonstrably false claim has now been removed from their website.

Why has no government minister spoken out against these quacks? In particular, why has health minister Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say? It surely can’t be because the government rather approves of both “parental choice” and private medicine for profit – or that Hunt himself is on record as being sympathetic towards quackery?

H/t: BBC Wales

The profiteers’ fraudulent publicity, below:

The Children’s Immunisation Centre Ltd operates The Immunisation and Medical Centres. Our centres operate Nationally London, Manchester, Kent, Dartford, Birmingham, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon), has been specialising for ten years  on all types of vaccinations but particularly  in single vaccinations against  Measles, Mumps, Rubella: MMR single vaccinations; baby jabs and other childhood and new vaccinations to protect adults and children in the UK, and for all your travel vaccinations such as Yellow Fever ,Typhoid rabies and Cholera to name but a few.

We are particularly proud of our 100 per cent safety record and have over 18,000 registered patients and we are one of the UKs largest and friendliest injectables company.

Our group was established in 2002, and for the last 10 years has brought PEACE OF MIND to thousands of patients for affordable private single baby jabs of single Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR single jab vaccinations) -currently no mumps vaccine available in the UK.

All our thousands of patients are healthy, with no autism, no hospitalizations or fits (anaphylaxis shock) no febrile convulsions. We have a 100% Safety Record and have given over 70,000 vaccinations.(over 18,000 patients)

Our Measles, Mumps, Rubella single jab (MMR single jabs) immunisation clinic was the first private health clinic to obtain its Care Quality Commission. We have been independently audited and checked by  Care Quality Commission Assessors;

FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND

FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND.

Our clinics are in Birmingham, London Harley Street, Manchester,  Kent-Dartford, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon). All our clinics are open on Saturdays so that parents can conveniently bring their children for their single MMR jabs (single immunisations). It is essential children and adults keep up with all their immunisations and check booster requirements.

Apart from MMR single jabs, we also protect against the following diseases, especially for travelling children. No NHS referral necessary.

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The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions

April 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm (Guardian, internationalism, islamism, Jim D, John Rees, Lindsey German, media, murder, Racism, solidarity, Stop The War, SWP, terror)

 
Boston bombing v Afghanistan

“As usual, the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear all instantly emerge”

The title of the present post, and the opening quote both come directly from a piece written by one Glenn Greenwald that appeared on the Guardian‘s website on Tuesday 16 April. That’s just one day after the bombings.

Now, I don’t know anything about Mr Greenwald beyond the fact that he’s billed as “a columnist for Guardian US” and seems to be a fairly typical Guardianista: invertebrate- liberal, knee-jerk anti-American, routinely anti-Israeli, generally ignorant and probably quite well-meaning at a personal level. Sort of a Gary Younge without the intelligence and/or a Seumas Milne without the rank hypocrisy.

For a start, Greenwald’s claim that there was a “rush to blame Muslims” after the bombings (in a post he wrote just hours after the attacks!) is simply incorrect. Certainly the Obama administration didn’t do that: they warned against “jumping to conclusions” and didn’t even use the word “terrorism” in their initial reactions. There were suggestions in the media, largely as a result of premature and irresponsible social media speculation, that a Saudi national was involved. This man turned out to have been an innocent victim, but speculation about his possible involvement (mainly in the New York Times) hardly amounts to what Greenwald describes as “The rush, one might say eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim [which was] palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence.”

Greenwald is on somewhat stronger ground with his point about “selective empathy”:

“The widespread compassion for yesterday’s victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers.”

Of course it is true that the western media gives far more coverage to killings that take place ‘at home’ than they do to comparable outrages elsewhere. Greenwald seems to suggest that this is the result of simple hypocrisy and possibly (though he doesn’t use the word), racism. At a certain level, it’s hard to disagree: an innocent victim (especially when it’s a child) should count the same whether he or she’s died as a result of a terrorist outrage in America or a US airstrike in Afghanistan.

But Greenwald fatally undermines his own case (insofar as he has a coherent case) by pointing out something that is undeniably and self-evidently true:

“There’s nothing wrong per se with paying more attention to tragedy and violence that happens relatively nearby and in familiar places. Whether wrong or not, it’s probably human nature, or at least human instinct, to do that, and it happens all over the world. I’m not criticising that. But one wishes that the empathy for victims and outrage over the ending of innocent life that instantly arises when the US is targeted by this sort of violence would at least translate into similar concern when the US is perpetuating it, as it so often does (far, far more often than it is targeted by such violence).”

So what point is Greenwald trying to make? If it’s simply an appeal to all those outraged by what happened in Boston to also consider the innocent victims of US military adventures abroad, then fair enough: no-one here at ‘Shiraz’ would argue with that. But I can’t help thinking that Greenwald really wants to go further than that, and what he’s really trying to say is something put much more bluntly by Lindsey German of ‘Stop The War’ and ‘Counterfire’:

 “[I]t is not hard to conclude that western lives are valued much more highly than those of people in Afghanistan or the Middle East, and that bombs in the middle of  major US cities are regarded as more newsworthy than those in the Afghan countryside or in Baghdad…Whatever the truth about this latest bombing, the continued refusal to acknowledge the widespread grievances against the US and its allies caused by the wars and US policies in the Middle East will lead to turmoil until solutions are found.”

Now that, I think you’ll agree, spells things out rather more plainly than Greenwald managed, or perhaps, dared: German is, essentially, saying ‘the US had it coming and deserves it.’

If you think that’s a bit unfair on Ms German, then remember: she and her partner, Mr John Rees, were effectively running the SWP at the time of the 9/11 attacks, when Socialist Worker‘s headline was “Horror in the United States: Bitter fruit of US policy”, and the de facto SWP ‘line’ (I know this from first-hand observation at Birmingham Trades Council, the Socialist Alliance and elsewhere) was to celebrate and gloat.

Look, comrades, it aught to be obvious: the lives of innocent American civilians are not worth more than anyone else’s: but neither are they worth any less.

************************************************************************************************

NB: Greenwald has a new piece in today’s Graun objecting to the use of the word “terrorism” as anti-Muslim. It seems to me to be incoherent gibberish, but if anyone can explain it to me I’d be grateful. I may return to this latest piece shortly.

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When the ‘Mail’ sneered at a dead politician…

April 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm (Daily Mail, gloating, history, Jim D, labour party, media, red-baiting, Thatcher, Tory scum, truth)

The Thatcher fan club (led by the Daily Mail) howls with rage at those who dare ‘disrespect’ her memory.

Remember when harmless, decent, old Michael Foot died?

From the Daily Mail (two days after his death):

NB:  Wikipedia states that  “at the outbreak of the Second World War, Foot volunteered for military service, but was rejected because of his chronic asthma. It has been suggested (2011) that he became a member of the secret Auxiliary Units.

“In 1940, under the pen-name “Cato” he and two other Beaverbrook journalists (Frank Owen, editor of the Standard, and Peter Howard of the Daily Express) published Guilty Men, a Left Book Club book attacking the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government, which became a run-away best-seller.”-JD

H/t Sunny at Liberal Conspiracy

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Privatise the funeral!

April 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm (Jim D, media, privatisation, strange situations, Thatcher, Tory scum)

Today’s Mirror:

Kevin Maguire writes:
Privatising next Wednesday’s funeral would be a fitting tribute to Margaret  Thatcher.The former Prime Minister worshipped profits, distrusted public services and  flogged off the family silver at knock-down prices.So bankers and yuppies who harvested fortunes during the Tory leader’s reign  should pick up the £10million tab instead of taxpayers.G4S security guards, not troops, could line the route of the cortege.

And rather than St Paul’s, the service could be held in the offices of a  Mayfair hedge fund.

None of that is likely to happen, of course, and the country’s first and only  woman PM will receive a grand send-off from the British state.

The Queen’s royal seal of approval by attending may take the sting out of the  disapproval of a gun carriage farewell.

Yet I’ll admit my own surprise at the depth of public criticism of Thatcher  since she died.

I knew she created a lot of enemies, and entire communities suffered under  her stilettos.

She relished confrontation and Thatcher supporters can hardly complain.

But I, who despised her in the 80s, still feel uncomfortable at the sight of  people celebrating her death.

Conor Burns, a Tory MP, was making the best of a bad job in claiming she  would view the protests as a tribute. They are not.

Divisive in death as in life, Thatcher exposed deep fissures which she  deliberately widened.

The nation she wrongly claimed trade unions had rendered ungovernable in 1979  is terrorised in 2013 by the financial forces she unleashed.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, a diehard foe of Thatcher, showed restraint in  Northern Ireland.

“Resist celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher,” he tweeted.

“She was NOT a Peacemaker but it is a mistake to allow her death to poison  our minds.”

Discipline, comrades, show ­discipline.

***************************************************************************************

Privatise Thatcher’s Funeral: it’s what she would have wanted! Sign here

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