He’s good, that Stewart Lee off BBC 2

March 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm (comedy, Jim D)

At last, a good comedy show on the BBC. He makes me laugh, that Stewart Lee off  the BBC 2 (Mondays, 10.00 pm). He makes me laugh, he does. Last night I nearly befouled myself. I did, nearly.


And Brooker’s Newswipe starts on the BBC 4 on Wednesday. He’s good as well.

Permalink 6 Comments

Comment is Foreclosed, if you want to criticise Milne

March 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm (Guardian, Jim D, stalinism)

Here we go again: the Graun’s  ‘Comment is Free’  spotty Pabloite moderators once more engage in political censorship: funnily enough, public school Stalinist Seamas Milne’s best friend, Andrew Murray, has himself  been accused of personally attacking and misrepresenting people:


It seems that the Stalinists can give it out, but have to be protected from taking it. They’re protected by the decadent, degenerate liberals of the Graun:
Here’s my correspondence with the spotty Pabloites of CIF, to date:
Dear J Denham,

Your comments have now been viewed by three moderators, who are all in agreement that it was correct to remove them.



Community Moderator

—– Forwarded by Adam Boult/Unlimited/GNL on 20/3/09 13:18:54 —–


  Jim Denham <jimcftu@yahoo.com>20/03/09 12:19
Please respond to jimcftu@yahoo.com
        To:        comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk
        Subject:        Re: Comments on “To free Iraq, resistance must bridge the sectarian divide”

Dear Luke,
I do not accept either of your points regarding my comments. I stated that Milne supports the so-called "resistance". He does. I stated that the so-called "resistance" are sectarian killers. They are. If these two straight factual points cannot be made, then I regard that as political censorship.

At no point did I refer to Mr Milne as "crazy" and would be interested to know where you got the idea that I did?

I wish to take this matter further. Please advise how to pursue a complaint.


J. Denham

--- On Fri, 20/3/09, comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk <comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk> wrote:

> From: comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk <comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk>
> Subject: Comments on "To free Iraq, resistance must bridge the sectarian divide"
> To: jimcftu@yahoo.com
> Date: Friday, 20 March, 2009, 3:03 AM
> Dear Jim Denham,
> I'm writing to you with reference to a comment you
> submitted on Seumas
> Milne's article:
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/19/iraq-occupation
> ---
> What happened to the comment I submitted earlier this
> evening?
> My comment was not abusive or libellous. Merely highly
> critical of Mr
> Mine's stance on Iraq (though, like him I opposed th
> war). I can only
> conclude (also looking at other deleted commenmts) that
> CIF's "moderation"
> is, in fact politcal censorship and/or a desire to protect
> Mr Milne from
> criticism that he can't handle.
> ---
> Your two comments on this thread both contained personal
> attacks and
> misrepresentation of another person. We moderate comments
> based on our talk
> policy: http://www.guardian.co.uk/talkpolicy
> In your first comment in this thread yesterday you claimed
> Milne is in
> favour of murder, suicide bombing, etc.
> In the second comment you suggested that Milne is
> "crazy".
> Such comments are in breach of point 1, and potentially
> point 5, of the
> policies linked to above:
> "1. We welcome debate and dissent, but the key to
> maintaining
> guardian.co.uk as an inviting space is to stick to the
> passionate
> discussion of issues. We actively discourage obscenity and
> mindless abuse.
> Personal attacks on other users or authors have no place in
> an intelligent
> discussion. Similarly, we welcome criticism of the articles
> we publish, but
> will not tolerate persistent misrepresentation of the
> Guardian and the
> journalists published on the website. For the sake of
> robust debate, we
> will distinguish between constructive, focused argument and
> smear
> tactics.""5. We will remove any content that may
> put us in legal jeopardy,
> such as potentially libellous or defamatory
> postings..."
> You were put into premoderation status after a series of
> personal attacks
> on Seumas Milne. Further attacks will not be acceptable,
> and may lead to
> your posting rights being suspended.
> By all means attack the opinions expressed in Cif articles.
> But please
> refrain from abusing invididuals.
> Additionally, please direct any queries about moderation to
> this email
> address rather than posting them as comments. Any such
> comment will be
> removed as off topic.
> Regards
> Luke
> Moderator
> Guardian.co.uk
> Guardian News & Media has moved. Our new address is:
> Kings Place
> 90 York Way
> London N1 9GU
> Tel:  020-3353 2000
> Guardian Professional and Ad Services are based at 3-7
> Herbal Hill, London EC1R 5EJ.
> Our Manchester office is based at 1 Scott Place, Manchester
> M3 3GG. Tel: 0161 908 3830 (Guardian Commercial) or 0161 211
> 2654 (Finance)

 Oh, by the way, here’s Milne’s article.

Permalink 24 Comments

Let Galloway Into Canada!

March 22, 2009 at 1:41 am (Galloway, voltairespriest, wankers)

Get ready, SWP and Respect Renwal-ers! All together now, “We-are-all! Gall-o-way!”

Ok, not really. But seriously though, I do think he should be allowed to go and speak in Canada. When this comes down to brass tacks, it’s about freedom of movement across borders. It’s hardly worth repeating that I don’t like Galloway or his politics, and neither does anyone else writing on this blog as far as I’m aware. However he does have the moral right to go where he likes and say what he likes, and certainly in my view also the right to propagate his political views just as others have the right to argue against him, It seems to me that this is only proper and in the interests of open political discussion. Really, even in the rarefied atmosphere of the left, it’s only the way certain sections of people get worked up about Galloway in the way that most get wound up about world poverty, which makes it look like this is even a live debate.

For the same reason I’d happily (well maybe not “happily” per se) let Geert Wilders, Louis Farrakhan, Avigdor Lieberman or Ismail Haniyeh into the UK to hold meetings – and also support demonstrations against their views. I always thought this sort of thing was pretty much ABC in left politics – you don’t rely on the capitalist state to deal with people whose views you don’t like. Furthermore where possible (and it certainly is with Galloway’s sycophants), it’s better to beat people in dialogue than with a fist.

I’m almost tempted to end with “like duuuh?”, but that wouldn’t be politically correct.

Permalink 19 Comments

Doing the Bogle

March 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm (africa, politics, religion, religious right, voltairespriest)

The prize for last week’s most cringemakingly awful TV interview must surely go to Catholic conservative blogger Joanna Bogle, for an appearance on Channel 4 News where she debated Dr Rachel Baggeley, head of Christian Aid’s HIV prevention programme.

As you can see when watching it, Bogle cuts a totally preposterous figure as she conducts a hysterical and irate defence of the Pope’s recent atavistic remarks about the use of condoms in Africa. My personal favourite part is where she states quite clearly that 22 million people are dying “because of” the use of condoms. And her prescription for the actual cure? Ho-Hum it’s that old hoary favourite of blue-rinsers and the religious right alike, “abstinence only programmes”. I won’t even bother going into why this is the overseas development equivalent of creationism in schools or divining the future using chicken entrails, because I’m sure that anyone in the audience who doesn’t understand why people will tend to have sex regardless of what the local priest says, can have no concept of human nature whatsoever.

Anyhow, it really is well worth a view: it shows in the raw just how angry and ugly in a moralistic way the political-religious lobbies behind the anti-abortion movement in the UK really are. Unfortunately I’m having a mental block about how to embed the darn thing (it’s on Brightcove, which dear old WordPress seems not be fathoming in the same way as YouTube or Vimeo), but here’s a link to it. Enjoy.

Permalink 1 Comment

Caroline’s got a new blog!

March 21, 2009 at 9:57 am (blogging, voltairespriest)

Our compadre Caroline has started a new blog, which she says will be “better” than her old one. Therefore, given that the old one was fantastic, we have no hesitation in recommending that you take a look at Uncooler than Thou. Bookmark it, link to it, and help her get it out there!

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Barclays links

March 20, 2009 at 3:28 pm (capitalist crisis, Free Speech, Guardian, Max Dunbar, media, plutocrats, publications)

You may have heard on the grown-up news that Barclays Bank has obtained a court order preventing the Guardian from publishing documents, leaked by a whistleblower, showing how the bank avoided hundreds of millions of pounds in tax – you know, money that should have gone towards schools, hospitals, education, welfare, police, defence, stuff like that.

Sunny Hundal is trying to get loads of blogs to link to the full papers – after all, we haven’t had injunctions taken out to prevent us from doing so. The documents are here. 

This quote, attributed to a Financial Times commentator, says it all.

I was lucky enough to read through the first of the Barclays documents…

Until now I have been a supporter of the finance industry – I work with people there regularly and respect many of them, and greatly enjoy the Financial Times and other financial papers. However this has shone a light on something for me, and made me certain that these people belong in jail, and companies like Barclays deserve to be bankrupt. They have robbed everyone of us, every single person who pays tax or who will ever pay tax in this country (and other countries!), through both the bailouts and schemes such as this.

I will say it was absolutely breathtaking, extraordinary. The depth of deceit, connivance and deliberate, artificial avoidance stunned me. The intricacy and artificiality of the scheme deeply was absolutely evident, as was the fact that they knew exactly what they were doing and why: to get money from one point in London to another without paying tax, via about 10 offshore companies. Simple, deliberate outcome, clearly stated, with the exact names of who was doing this, and no other purpose.


Permalink 1 Comment

The pope: criminally irresponsible

March 19, 2009 at 9:41 pm (africa, Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, religion)

Can someone please explain to me how the words, “The scourge cannot be resolved with the distribution of of prophylactics; on the contrary, the risk is of increasing the problem”, are any better – in the context of talking about HIV/aids in Africa – than the words, “(Aids) cannot be overcome with the disribution of of condoms which, on the contrary, increase the problem“?

The vatican apparently bowdlerised Pope Bendict’s words, spoken at the start of his visit to Cameroon and Angola, in a version posted on the Holy See’s website, following an outcry from Aids campaigners, the UNAids agency and the governments of France, Germany and Belgium.

Even some Catholics were unhappy with the pope’s words, but managed to convince themselves that the Vatican’s version represented some sort of progress… 

I fail to see what difference the Vatican’s semantics make. The pope continues to condemn millions of Africans to death and his despicable church remains the single most reactionary, irresponsible and downright criminal organisation extant in the world today. Even the fascist scum of al-Qaida cannot compete with the left-footers when it comes to bringing unnecessary death, suffering and misery into this world.

Permalink 42 Comments

Oh, To Be a Catholic Cushionmaker…

March 17, 2009 at 9:39 am (blogosphere, Catholicism, comedy, voltairespriest)

I never knew the manufacturers of cushions were so deep! This isn’t something that’s generally known but it would seem they can see the evidence of Jesus all around us, judging by this story from the Queensland Courier-Mail. I don’t know about you lot, but I’m examining the contents of my plate of bacon and eggs for signs of the Divine as we speak…

THOUSANDS of people have flocked to a Roman Catholic church on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion after believers said they saw the “face of Christ” in the pleats of a church cushion.

Church officials limited access to the Jesus-Misericordieux church in eastern Saint-Andre’s Cambuston district to a few minutes per visitor as traffic in the area ground to a halt.

Believers and curious onlookers pulled out cameras to take pictures of the cushion attached to the priest’s chair.

Antoinette, an 82-year-old parishioner, said the face was a “divine phenomenon” as tears welled up her eyes.

“This church is a holy site,” added Lise-May, another worshipper.

Saint-Andre authorities put up four tents outside the church on Saturday afternoon so the faithful could follow mass.

A group of about 30 parishioners who had joined a Christian ceremony ahead of the Easter holiday had been the first to notice the particular setting of the cushion.

“This is not a miracle, it’s a sign of God,” said parish priest Daniel Gavard.

So there you go kids, be careful what you’re ironing next time!

(h/t – The Lonesome Mongoose)

Permalink 9 Comments

Marching through Bilston with the CWU

March 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm (class, Jim D, labour party, unions, workers)

The Priest and I attended the CWU’s march against the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail on Saturday. It was the best – and most enjoyable – labour movement event I’ve attended for a long while.

I ‘ve been pondering why I found this march such an uplifting event in comparison with most of the marches and lobbies I’ve attended in recent years, and come up with the following:

1/ It was about a relatively straightforward class issue, instinctively understood not just by the workers who will be immediately effected, but by the vast majority of working class people;

2/ it was organised and attended by the workers themselves and their union, the CWU. Us paper-sellers were there (quite rightly), but we didn’t predominate.

3/ it was good-humoured, inclusive (led, for instance, by Sikh drummers) and – unlike most of the anti-war and pro-Palestinian events – there were no dodgy race-hate slogans that made you wonder what the hell you were doing there;

4/ 1,000 people marching through Bilston (an outpost, so to speak, of Wolverhampton, chosen because it’s in ‘Postal Affairs Minister’ Pat McFadden’s constituency) gives the impression of being a bloody big event;

5/ “Mandy, Mandy Mandy – Out Out Out!” is a pretty good follow-up slogan to an earlier old favourite;

6/ we bumped into Maria and a lot of other old friends and comrades we hadn’t seen for a long while: still fighting, optimistic and very much part of the struggle;

7/ comrade Clive of the Socialist Party tipped us off about the “White Hart”, which (I’m ashamed to admit) meant that we missed what was, I’m told, an inspiring rally at the end…

Support the campaign, and stay in touch, here


Permalink 14 Comments

May you live in interesting times

March 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm (capitalist crisis, labour party, Max Dunbar, Obama, parasites, plutocrats, poverty, welfare, workers)

I know I’m a naive optimist but aren’t the general public getting pissed off with inequality? The spectacle of incompetent businessmen walking off with pensions equal to the GDP of a developing nation while hardworking families are forced into the black market at sub minimum wage is so glaring an injustice that it is making an inroad into the UK’s normally servile working class.

I used to rant about executive pay during the boom years and people would tell me, ‘Well, maybe he’s worked hard for that money’. You can’t imagine that defence being used now. The boom years carried a deferential faith in the wisdom and benevolence of the aristocracy of wealth that has, like the bubble, burst.

Studies are showing that unregulated freemarket capitalism is perhaps not the best way to run societies: moreover, people tend to be happier and more successful in societies run along egalitarian lines.

Gaze across the pond and you realise what we’re missing and what a chronicle of wasted time the last decade has been. Barack Obama has repealed several of Bush’s anti-labour laws plus the religious conscience law, he has legalised stem cell research, he has ordered the closure of Guantanamo and the secret CIA prisons, he has ended rendition, he has lifted Bush’s restrictions on funding for family planning NGOs, he has expanded state health insurance, he has made it legal for women to sue for equal pay, he has capped executive pay, he has scrapped Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy… and the guy was only elected in, like, January. Radical journalist Greg Palast looked on in astonishment:

Then came Obama’s money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education – yes!), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

Look, don’t get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new President’s … a Democrat!

It’s been argued on Shiraz Socialist that Obama has achieved more ‘in the course of the past few weeks than the free-market lackeys of our so-called ‘Labour Party’ have managed in nearly twelve years’.

All this is registering. As Will Hutton says:

[W]hile a clear majority do not like current levels of inequality, support for doing anything about it is falling, at least through the tax and benefit system. Rather than doing as we would be done by, the British have a keener-than-ever awareness of being cheated by benefit frauds and unjust claimants and are not minded to pay up for more redistribution.

This isn’t ‘troubling’. It’s common sense. The Great Crunch has shown us that the tax burden falls overwhelmingly on the middle and working classes. Why should they pay to sort out the mess that the rich have got us into? People hate benefit fraudsters but also, now, billionaire tax dodgers. Labour’s best chance of winning the next election is to assume that it will lose and to go down fighting on a honourable programme of redistribution of wealth.

Of course my optimism could be misplaced – as David Toube pointed out, hard times make for ugly politics and ‘there is every reason to believe that the defining themes of the present economic downturn will be xenophobic, anti-immigrant and racist’. We have to be ready to challenge and fight this when it appears but, overall, I think there’s scope for hope as well as hate.socialism-rich

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