"I do not have a life anymore"

September 20, 2006 at 3:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Anyone who thinks Britain’s treatment of asylum seekers is acceptable should read this . Further comment from me is, I think, superfluous.

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A richly deserved kicking

September 20, 2006 at 10:10 am (Uncategorized)

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to read the Guardian: it infuriates me to the point that I seriously worry about my blood pressure. It’s the columnists, in particular, that get to me. The smug reactionary Simon Jenkins, the friend of dictators Jonathan Steele, the Buntingesue god-botherer Karen Armstrong…and their Stalinist ringmaster Seamas Milne: what a fucking shower! Actually, by comparison Johnathan Freedland is usually only mildly irritating and occasionally even shows signs of rational thought. But his offering today (“the Pope should know than to endorse the idea of a war of faiths”) is miserable, craven, relativist drivel. Freedland even claims that “religious groups begin to look like ethnic ones. Which means that a slur on religion is experienced much like a racist insult”.

The best thing about the Guardian is it’s “Comment is Free” readers’ blog. And today the readers have rallied round to give Freedland a richly deserved kicking. It has warmed the cockles and you should take a look here.

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Dumb-ass protest of the week

September 19, 2006 at 6:39 am (Uncategorized)

OK, so can anyone tell me how a general strike in Kashmir called by the Hurriyat, Daktar-e-Millat and others, is an effective protest over the Pope quoting Manuel Palaeologus in a speech? I guess it works like this:

“What? Quoting 14th-century Emperors is he? I’ll show the bastard – honey, we’re closing for the day! If he thinks he’s gonna get a plane from the Vatican, come here and buy any household goods today, then he’s got another thing coming!”

I think for the benefit of their future dignity, someone maybe should tell the Hurriyat that the point of a strike is to exercise traction (often economic, always political) over the body being protested against. And that shop owners in Kashmir don’t have any traction over the Vatican.

This is a not dissimilar argument, by the way, to the one that says burning effigies in the street is not a good way to protest accusations that your faith was spread by the sword.

And yes, I know lots of Muslim leaders have come out and accepted the Vatican’s apology, condemned violence, etcetera, before anyone decides to cite the obvious. And, just as obviously, that the majority of Muslims would be horrified by violence in the name of protest. Nevertheless, it seems to me that such protests as there have been range from from the bizarre to the vile.

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September 17, 2006 at 11:59 pm (Uncategorized)

How the hell can anyone take Clare Short seriously? This preposterous figure, who shed her “left-wing” pretentions just as soon as Blair gained the leadership of the Labour Party in 1993, and who sat mute in Blair’s cabinet for six years, now cliams that she is “ashamed of the government” and wants to see a hung parliament – ie; Labour MP’s in marginal seats losing to Tories or Lib Dems.

Blair came out as a Thatcherite long before he offered you a seat in the cabinet, Clare! And I note that, in the “Independent” of 14th September 2006, you refer to “the New Labour C0up” – the kind of language that a lot of us on the left were using at the time when you were backing Blair’s attacks and witch-hunts against the left.

The fact that you have now – belatedly and in reaction to the Blair spin-machine’s personal attacks upon you – come out against Blair and his government (in particular, his foreign policy), is not to your credit. Nor is the fact that you are now calling for the defaet of Labour at the next election: it just makes you look pathetic and stupid. Just as your appearances on platforms organised by the SWP and the “Stop the War Coalition” calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq reveal you -as a supporter of the declaration of war – as someone who cares not a jot for the well-being of the Iraqi people, but merely as a craven opportunist who seeks to use the Iraq war for domestic advantage. Short, you are now so eactionary, nationalist and debased that I wouldn’t even rule out your supporting “Respect” at the next general election. After all, you already appear on the “Stop the War Coalition” platform, which is -in effect- a “Respect” platform. If they can tolerate you (as an ex-war monger) and you can tolerate them (as friends of misogynistic fascists in Iraq, Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan)…then you people are obviously made for each other: as anti-working class scum.

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Darfur: a coming genocide?

September 17, 2006 at 10:21 pm (Uncategorized)

I understand that today was ‘Darfur Awareness Day’, with a demo outside the Sudanese embassy and a march on Downing Street (which Blair said he welcomed). There was also a concert and other events, supported by the Aegis Trust, the Darfur Union, Amnesty International, Service for peace, and a number of other organisations. I hope the day went well and will succeed, at least, in its aim of focusing attention upon what is going on there. Already, 300,000 people have died and 2 million are homeless.

I find it very difficult to know what to say about Darfur: the population there face a full-scale assault from the Janjaweed and also from the Sudanese regulars, once the African Union’s 7,000 peacekeepers pull out in two weeks’ time. It looks like being a terrible massacre -or even a genocide.

The best solution would be for a UN force to move in: but Sudan’s leader, President Omar al Bashir, is refusing to accept the 20,000 replacement force mandated by the UN. He is backed in this by Russia and China (with the argument that “national sovereignty” must takes precedence over peoples’ lives).

I generally oppose unilateral Western intervention – even when it’s billed as “humanitarian”. But I’m more concerned about preventing genocide, than about “anti-imperialist” posturing. If ever there was a case for unilateral humanitarian intervention, it’s Darfur now. But it won’t happen. And why not? Eustonites and other supporters of the war in Iraq (and the war in Afghanistan – though that’s not as clear cut), may like to consider the words of Mary Riddell, writing in today’s Observer:

“Blair wants, commendably, to be the custodian of hope. As plan A, he will urge world leaders to force Bashirto step back from the brink of genocide. Any Plan B got shredded and cast to the winds somewhere between Baghdad and Helmand province. What bitter irony it would be if the consequence of Bush and Blair’s adventurism was an inability to mount a wholly legitimate war on terror”.

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Decline and fall

September 17, 2006 at 7:07 pm (beer, good people, insanity, jazz, Jim D, whisky, wild man)

George Melly, in his seminal work ‘Owning Up’ (I have a rare unsigned edition) describes a colleague from the trad jazz scene of the 1950’s, trombonist Frank Parr: “He passed through the classic stages of drunkenness in record time, wild humour, self-pity, and unconsciousness, all well-seasoned with the famous Parr grimaces. His actual fall had a monumental simplicity. One moment he was perpendicular, the next horizonal. The only warning we had of his collapse was that, just before it happened, Frank announced that he was ‘only fit for the human scrap heap’ and this allowed us time to move any glasses, tables, chairs or instruments out of the way”.

Now, that account may be accurate with regard to Mr Parr. But I have long suspected that it is a gross over-simplification with regard to myself and most of the people I know. The trouble is that it is extraordinarily difficult to keep a detailed record under what might be called ‘field conditions’. But last Thursday myself, the Priest and ‘Wonderslore’ (who is supposed to contribute to this blog but rarely does) met up for what I shall euphamistically call a wine-tasting. As a result of that particular event, I can confidently state that the classic stages of Shiraz drunkenness are as follows:
1/ Amiable good humour.
2/ Manic laughter and anecdote-telling.
3/ Self-righteous denunciation of enemies, opponents and fools – real and imagined.
4/ Maudlin self-pity.
5/ Collapse.

I do not think I am giving away any secrets when I reveal that I observed both my colleagues passing through all five of these stages last Thursday night. Which accounts for the brief but regrettable hiatus that has occurred here between Thursday and tonight.

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Those unfortunate Papal remarks – the responsible approach

September 17, 2006 at 5:43 pm (Uncategorized)

I find it extraordinary that the liberal press and media in Britain have published the full details of the Pope’s remarks about Islam, inluding the words that gave such offence (“evil and inhuman” ), and the original source of those words: Manual II Palaeologus (1350-1425). Going into such detail and – indeed – repeating the offensive words themselves can, surley, only inflame the situation and add to the hurt and distress that these crude and provocative words have already caused.

Surely the correct approach would be something like the following:

“We defend free speech in principle. But that does not mean that we defend the right to cause gratuitous offence. In that sense the Pope’s words were an abuse of free speech and we will not, therefore, be publishing what he said. But we can assure our readers that it was highly offensive, and should not have been said. While we condemn some of the excessive, and possibly even cynically orchestrated reaction to these words, the fact remains that they were provative and irresponsible words. And not even very well-delivered or learned. Tou will have to take our word for that, of course, but we can assure you that we have read and it is much too offensive for you to read it and make up your own minds. So just trust us, the fearless liberal media of Britain.”

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You know you’re a wanker when… (an ode to the Euston crew)

September 14, 2006 at 10:45 pm (Uncategorized)

First off, much applause to David T from Harry’s, for this post. Dave, you are truly a decent “decent”. But my God, some of your pals, mentioning no names (*cough* *Brownie and Mike C* *cough*) are fucking fools.

I never thought I would see any person on HP defend an act of political manipulation by a Prime Minister as though it were his simple right, because of his job title. But people manage it on that thread. Jeeeeeeeez.

Right: So you think it’s ok to be a Blairite school headteacher, who invites the leader of the Labour Party (that is the crucial title here) along so that he can make a partisan announcement about his leadership in front of an audience of applauding 11 year olds (as against, ya know, questioning journalists). Whereas being a classroom assistant who organises a protest against that should be a sacking offence, huh?

And you’re on the left, are you? And they looked from man to wanker…

Robin Sivapalan Rocks!!!

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The racism of the anti-EU campaign exposed

September 13, 2006 at 9:54 pm (Europe, immigration, Jim D, stalinism, unions, workers)

The ‘Morning Star’ is the daily publication of the British Stalinist ‘left’. Prior to the collapse of the USSR and the Stalinist empire in 1989/90, it was subsidised by ‘Moscow gold’. Since then it’s been subsidised by the dues of rank-and-file union members, most of whom are completely unaware that their hard-earned wages are being used to finance the last gasp of Stalinism in Britain.

Today’s ‘Star’ (September 13th 2006) carries an article on the subject of the European Union and migrant workers, entitled “Don’t be fooled by the EU Trojan horse“, written by one Doug Nicholls, “secretary of Trade Unionists Against the European Constitution and general secretary of the CYWU (Community and Youth Workers’ Union – JD).

Mr Nichols, a Maoid Stalinist himself, espouses some interesting opinions on the question of immigration, in the course of his anti- European Union (EU) tirade:

“…the EU itself has already shown on a mass scale that it considers it legal for migrant labour to create skills gaps in the country of origin and lower wages and worse conditions in the countries of destination.

“There has also been a a huge influx of other migrant labour which is sharply undercutting wages in many areas and putting new strains on public services, to a point where local government is having to consider high local taxes.

“The government has lost count of legal and illegal immigrants. recent research has indicated the full scale of the problem and capitalist spokespersons have revelled at the resulting suppression of wage levels”.

This racist outburst from a so-called “left-winger” (and, I should point out in fairness to the ‘Morning Star’, not necessarily a reflection of their ‘line’), contrasts with the article from the right-wing, class-collaborationist general secreatry of the TUC, Brendan Barber, in the previous day’s (September 12th) Guardian, under the heading “Stop blaming migrants – exploitation is the problem”; the article began:

“The past few weeks have seen a most unedifying spectacle-liberal people trying desperately to justify illiberal attitudes…Employers have bemoaned the pressures on public services, which they more often advocate cutting and privatising. Economic liberals who insist that there must be no barriers to free trade have argued that free movement of workers is globalisation gone mad. And social liberals have argued that they are acting selflessly on behalf of ‘white van man’ in calling for restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers when their countries join the EU”.

It comes to something, doesn’t it, when the General Secretary of the TUC has a more internationalist – and less racist – view of the working class, tan a so-called “left-winger2, published in the ‘Morning Star’?

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Support Robin Sivapalan

September 12, 2006 at 8:16 am (Uncategorized)

Got this via email yesterday. Some of you will be aware of Tony Blair’s school visit the other day, on which he happened to make the non-announcement about his departure as premier. There were some people protesting there that day as well, and the guy that organised it is facing disciplinary action for encouraging people to express their views to the Prime Minister. Below is the text of a petition in his defence. If you’d like to sign it, let me know and I’ll pass your details on to the campaign.

Support Robin Sivapalan – defend workers’ right to protest

On 7 September, Tony Blair and Education Secretary Alan Johnson visited Quintin Kynaston school in north London to announce the first wave of 28 “trust schools” run by business, charitable and religious organisations – of which QK will be one of two in London. They were met by a demonstration, supported by Unison and NUT locally and School Students Against the War, and composed mainly of students from the school, expressing opposition to government policy on trust schools, privatisation and the wars in Iraq and Lebanon. The initiator of this demonstration, QK classroom assistant Robin Sivapalan, has now been suspended from his job for “insubordination” and “breaching confidentiality” by informing people of Blairs visit.The attempt to victimise Robin is an attack on freedom of speech and the right to protest. We are not prepared to see public service trade unionists silenced when they dare to express opposition to government policy.

We the undersigned call on the management of Quintin Kynaston to immediately reinstate Robin Sivapalan and drop all disciplinary charges against him.

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