Okayokayokay… Defend David T

March 21, 2010 at 10:50 am (blogging, blogosphere, Free Speech, Galloway, Harry's Place, voltairespriest)

Thought I’d add my two-penneth following on from Rosie’s excellent post. Long-term readers of this blog will know that I’m not politically a fan of Harry’s Place. I find much of the coverage boorish and anti-left, and frankly I find many of their posters’ and commenters’ obsession with organised Islamist groups in the UK to be disturbing. That having been said, they do sometimes carry material that is of interest, and do have some posters whose material can be both valuable and informative. However, in general I am a long, long way from that site’s political wavelength.

My opinions of that site cease to matter, though, when it comes to the legal demand that HP supremo David T has received from George Galloway and Kevin Ovenden. Although I obviously have not had sight of it, apparently it demands financial settlement to the tune of £50,000. Presumably if that demand is not me then a libel action will follow. This furore has arisen because of a comment made by David T… on Respect member Andy Newman’s blog, Socialist Unity.

This raises a number of issues for me.

Firstly, if Galloway and Ovenden feel so slighted, then why not simply have Newman delete the comment?

Secondly, given that it is Newman’s site, and last I heard the comment was still up, why are they not threatening Newman with similar action if he does not remove the comment?

Thirdly, what’s the real motive here? It’s risible to think that David T’s comment would have caused material damage to either Galloway’s or Ovenden’s reputation. Not only do relatively few people read hard-left blogs such as Socialist Unity (or this one), the percentage of those who do, that would look at a comment like David T’s and have their views swung by it, is surely microscopic.

It has been said by people from many different political backgrounds in recent months that the growing culture of libel litigation in this country is a danger to people’s right to express a controversial opinion – unless, of course, they have a large bank balance. It is also pathetic in the extreme for people on the “left” to make use of laws like the UK’s current libel legislation, which enshrine nothing more or less than the right of the privileged and the obsessed to shut up those who speak out against them.

So yes, defend David T, whether you like him and his site or not.

And sign up for the Libel Reform Campaign here.

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Sue me for saying you look like an arse

March 20, 2010 at 11:50 am (Free Speech, Galloway, Rosie B, thuggery, truth, wankers)

I got this message from the Libel Reform Campaign:-

We need you to come to the Houses of Parliament next Tuesday, 23 March, for a mass meeting with MPs to convince them to commit to libel reform.

The Libel Reform Campaign has booked Committee Room 15 at Parliament, and MPs know that we’re coming. Please, if you can, come and join us. Simon Singh will be joining us to tell MPs about the real effect of our libel laws.

The political parties are on the verge of signing up to once in a generation reform of our libel laws. But we don’t have them signed up yet. This is our last chance to lobby parliamentarians before the general election.

So here’s the plan:

Mass lobby of Parliament

2 – 3pm

We’re trying to get as many campaign champions, press and MPs along as possible for a meeting 2-3 pm in Committee Room 15. You can come to this even if you don’t have an MP appointment. If you can, let us know you are coming by emailing us: news@libelreform.org

3 – 4pm

You can email your MP and ask them to meet you between 3 – 4 pm in Central Lobby. Even if your MP has signed the EDM on libel reform it is still worth doing this.

I don’t know much about the libel laws except that they can operate to silence reasoned debate, as the British Chiropractic Association is trying to do in the case of Simon Singh. The libel laws used as loppers against the pointing fingers of criticism and ridicule have been active again in the last couple of days, this time from the man with a constant itch for litigation, Mr George Galloway, who is in the process of suing David T of Harry’s Place for a facetious remark David T made on the Socialist Unity blog. (background here).

This differs from the action that Johanna Kaschke brought  against Dave Osler for something someone said about her in the comments on Dave Osler’s blog. By the same logic, it should be Andy Newman, the presiding MC over at Socialist Unity who should be sued, not David T, who doesn’t even mention Galloway by name. Anyway, we can all agree that if we were to be sued for abuse, jokes, smears, slurs and the general knockabout that happens on blogs we would all be poor, cowed and silent.

In the seventeenth century if a gentleman of standing like Mr Galloway thought that some scribbler had offended him with a squib, a lampoon or satire he would hire thugs to beat him up. These days honourable MPs go to libel lawyers in order to stifle remarks which bring them into disrepute.

My guess is that the Hamas groupie, dictator dick-sucker and eager hireling of the propaganda arm of a repressive regime has been rattled by Harry’s Place and hurt in his most sensitive place, i.e. his vanity. The impression Mr Galloway gives is of a man with a rich fantasy life – the revolutionary hero, the modern Saladin adored by 1.2 billion Muslims, the brave speaker of truth to power. However recently in his guise as the fearless agitator who faces down the tyrannical police state he was made to look like a complete arse.

He was addressing a meeting to denounce police tactics at the Gaza demonstrations. A couple of Iranians began heckling, so he called the police to eject them. A video and pictures of the event was put up with a lot of glee at Harry’s Place.

Now, you can argue that the police have been heavy-handed at demos and that it’s reasonable to get some kind of security to shut up those who prevent a public meeting from carrying on. But even if Galloway had right on his side in this instance he still looks like a complete arse, the straight man in an inspired bit of situationalist comedy. Harry’s Place has evidently got under his skin, and so suing David T is one way of getting at it. (This is speculation on my part. I haven’t got actual entry into Galloway’s mind. There are some places you definitely don’t want to go).

If you want to know more about the libel laws, go and read what the knowledgeable say eg Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science:-

Libel laws are not just a Fleet Street issue. We have heard from scientists, campaigners, writers, academics and patients that their discussions and publications are being shut down by the threat of libel action. Critical and open debates are vital in medicine and the public are badly missing out without them.

Reform the libel laws! Piss George Galloway off!

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Stand United with BA cabin crew!

March 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm (Jim D, unions, workers)

BA: United we stand campaign


United we stand (picture credit: Newsquest)
News and updates
Background information

Fighting back at British Airways – airline warned Walsh’s slash and burn strategy could destroy the company

Unite cabin crew members at British Airways recognise the pressures facing the company in the midst of the current economic crisis. Negotiations have been going on for over a year, but despite cabin crew being asked to make the heftiest sacrifices of all, British Airways continues to provoke cabin crew by imposing changes and refusing to negotiate openly and fairly.

LATEST NEWS – Check out the latest news updates and read the Truth about the BA dispute.


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Michael Gove: unleash the meerkat!

March 19, 2010 at 12:06 am (Champagne Charlie, comedy, Conseravative Party, David Cameron, mccarthyism, red-baiting, Tory scum, unions)

Michael Gove (Meerkat)

Even the Murdoch press finds Gove preposterous:


…and they should know: he used to work for them.


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Unite Left discusses the Tory anti-union offensive and the BA strike

March 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm (Champagne Charlie, Conseravative Party, red-baiting, Tory scum, unions, workers)

Topic:  The Tory dossier on Unite

    The most interesting thing about the Tory angle on our union’s politics is
    that they cannot comprehend that our lay members not Whelan could have any
    political will or could exercise any control.
    Only ruling class renegades can be left wing; workers must be dupes because
    they are inferior.
    It’s a bit like the Victorians’ inability to believe, regardless of the
    evidence, that the Benin bronzes were made by black people and not visiting
    Romans (or in the for later imperialists, extra terrestials).
    It is quite sad that many on “the left” share that belief.

 Topic:  Solidarity with British Airways workers
    As you will see from below, the ITF is actively seeking solidariy from
    airport and airline workers across the globe to assist UNITE’s strike with
    BA. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is probably the
    strongest and most effective global trade union federation. I have no doubt
    that BA flights manned by strike breakers will have difficulty landing at a
    number of airports across the world.
    Click here if you have trouble viewing this email.
    To ITF Civil Aviation affiliates
    Circular No.: 053/CA. 7/2010
    Dear brothers and sisters
    Solidarity with British Airways workers
    The ITF-affiliated Unite union (UK), which represents British Airways (BA)
    cabin crew workers, has informed us that their strike action will take place
    on 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 and 30 March, with possible further action on 14
    April should the dispute still not be resolved. The workers are taking issue
    with company impositions, changes to working practices and reductions in
    crew numbers.
    In addition they have informed that flights departing from the UK during the
    following dates are likely to be crewed by strike breakers:
    From 00.01 hrs 20th March until 23.59 22nd March inclusive
    From 00.01 hrs 27th march until 23.59 30th March inclusive
    The ITF is calling on aviation unions worldwide to provide effective
    solidarity with those on the picket line.
    We are calling on aviation affiliates to organise every possible lawful
    action against the “contaminated work” in these flights crewed by strike
    breakers in support of our brothers and sisters in Unite.
    Click here for further information on the dispute
    (http://www.itfglobal.org/solidarity/bacrew.cfm” target=”_blank)
    Please send us information about your solidarity actions
    (aviation@itf.org.uk (mailto:aviation@itf.org.uk” target=”_blank) ).
    The success of Unite will be the success of stronger ITF aviation unions.
    In solidarity,
    Gabriel Mocho
    Secretary, Civil Aviation Section

 Topic:  Unite and Teamsters
    UK union in talks with Teamsters over BA strike
    By RAPHAEL G. SATTER (Associated Press)
    LONDON – Britain’s Unite union said Tuesday that it was in talks with the U.S. International Brotherhood of Teamsters regarding the seven days of strikes it plans against British Airways.
    Unite’s 12,000 cabin crew members are locked in a battle with BA’s management over a pay freeze and changes to working conditions. The group has promised a three-day strike beginning Saturday followed later by a four-day walk out. The strike is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of travelers – and Unite has appealed for international help to pressure BA.
    Spokesman Andrew Murray said a union official was in Washington to brief officials from the Teamsters on Wednesday, but gave few details.
    Murray said the official was “explaining the background to the dispute at the request of American trade unionists.” He declined to identify the official, saying the union was “not wanting to draw huge attention to all this at the moment.”
    It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of help the Teamsters, who represent 40,000 workers in the aviation industry, would provide, if any. In a statement, they said: “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite who are fighting for a fair contract at British Airways” and declined further comment.
    BA condemned Unite’s talks, saying it was “seeking backing from trade unions overseas to support its unjustified strikes.” Britain’s right-leaning Conservative Party also chimed in, accusing Unite of “pulling out all the stops to frustrate the efforts BA is making to keep their passengers flying.”
    The planned strike, which comes in the run-up to the busy Easter holidays, has already made its effect felt, albeit in a small way. BA said Tuesday it had axed its only weekly flight from the Caribbean Turks and Caicos islands this weekend.
    The airline has promised to keep 60 percent of its passengers moving during the early stage of the strike, although that plan could be frustrated if foreign unions join Unite in its campaign.
    Associated Press Writer Sam Hananel in Washington contributed to this report.
    Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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The End of Migration

March 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm (anonymous, Europe, immigration, Max Dunbar)

Liberal Conspiracy carries an interesting piece by Jennifer O’Mahony on a continental campaign that encourages immigrants into one-day strikes. The idea is to make people realise the dependence of successful economies on migrant labour.

From the article:

Peggy Derder, Nadir Dendoune and Nadia Lamarkbi, three French professionals in their thirties, hit upon the idea of la journée sans immigrés, or the day without immigrants, after years of endless police checks and discrimination. The trio were encouraging anyone who is an immigrant, of immigrant origin, or who feels solidarity with immigrants and wanted to contest their treatment to take these three simple measures for just one day. In a political system where there are no black or Arab representatives, despite the fact that these minorities make up 10% of the population, people of immigrant origin wanted to make their invisibility and silence symbolically evident in workplaces around France.

Their aim was to make their compatriots see how different their country would look and sound if France’s minorities did not exist. The demonstration also sought to highlight the economic contribution that minorities make, and the range of industries they operate within France. Demonstrators were hoping to empty offices, stop public transport and close stores. The idea quickly spread and similar demonstrations were seen in Spain, Italy, and Greece.

The journée sans immigrés allowed French people to see how integral immigrants have become to their nation, and what would be lost if they, and their French born descendants, were not a part of France’s ethnic landscape.

Mme Kecheroud expressed her hope to build on the success of the first demonstration in the run up to a repeat next year:

‘We are now taking stock after the success of our first ‘Day Without Immigrants.’ We are now intending to go further with our new perspective, in particular through the forthcoming creation of a vigilance committee. But we will be sure to do our best again to continue this great event next year. Immigration is badly considered and not seen as it really is: an asset. A large proportion of France, and of Europe relies on it.’

What would a UK migrant strike look like? Possibly we can get an idea from a recent reality TV show that did a similar experiment for the BBC. Lucy Mangan watched the results:

The Day the Immigrants Left, presented by Evan Davies (BBC1), went to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, a town with thousands of eastern European workers and 2,000 local people on the dole. The producers arranged for 12 of the latter to replace 12 of the former for two days to see if they were as ready, willing and able to work at anything as a) they claimed and b) their immigrant counterparts were.

Half turned up late or not at all. ‘I won’t do a job I don’t find very interesting,’ said 26-year-old Lewis, who has been unemployed for five years and was supposed to go to a potato factory. ‘I do feel a little bit pressurised to get a job, but it’s not to the point that I can just take any job that comes.’ Those that did eventually arrive were a woeful sight. Paul and Terry insisted that the potato-sorting machines had been set deliberately fast (they had actually been slowed down to accommodate the two trainees), one of many examples from the British workers of a persistent and fatally crippling sense of grievance and entitlement.

Carpenter Dean reacted with fury to his Lithuanian supervisor’s instructions to use screws rather than a nail gun, which would take longer but make his plasterboard work stand firm. Ashley quit his restaurant job halfway through his first lunchtime on his first day and then sat down happily to eat the meal offered by his saintly employer Ali.

You looked in vain for a glimmer of shame or embarrassment in any of them, but came up emptyhanded. You could try to tell yourself that their attitudes masked the insecurities that come with unemployment, and at times Davies bent over backwards to put a better gloss on their behaviour: at one point, he tried to suggest to the farm owner that availability of foreign labour had made employers lazy when it came to ‘coaxing and motivating’ local workers. But it was hard not to suspect, as you watched the infuriating dozen, stunned by the prospect of physical labour, resentful of any advice, childish and utterly unmotivated by the presence of a television crew or the knowledge that even their greatest perceived sufferings would be over within 48 hours, that the natives might just be revolting.

(Image via Guardian)

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Musical optimism from Irving Berlin

March 15, 2010 at 12:54 am (capitalist crisis, jazz, Jim D)

The wonderful Michael Steinman, over at Jazz Lives, has posted this:

I  love this song — from 1932 by Irving Berlin — with its innate optimism, and I am very fond of this heartfelt performance by the Jazz Tuber Trio (yes, you read that right): Jimmy Mazzy (banjo, vocals); Eli Newberger (tuba), Ted Casher (clarinet) — posted on that cornucopia of delights, YouTube:

And, yes, everything will be better by the time you finish the coffee and pie.  Of course, a French press, good coffee, and real pie are essentials.  I’m not sure that McDonald’s apple pie and coffee in styrofoam will have the same salutary effect, but maybe it’s the spirit of the thing rather than the actual substance.   And, yes, Alan Greenspan is no longer in charge of things — but he did start out loosely connected to jazz, so perhaps he deserves mention here.

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That Mitchum man

March 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm (cinema, Jim D, United States)

I only found out, at my Dad’s funeral, that he’d been a big fan of Robert Mitchum. My Mum told me that Dad even tried to walk like his hero. He loved this picture:

…sadly, Dad looked more like William Bendix. Also featuring the incredibly sexy Jane Greer.

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“Total Politics”: a boycott that makes sense

March 14, 2010 at 1:13 am (anti-fascism, blogging, Jim D, trivia)

. Shiraz Socialist has received the following – and signed up:

If you’ve come here because you’ve seen an incoming link on your blog, then you’ve probably come to the right place.

Yesterday, we made an initial call to Labour and leftie bloggers to consider a boycott of this year’s ‘Total Politics Blog Awards ’, in the event that this magazine chooses to publish as planned an extended interview with Nick Griffin, the racist leader of the BNP.

The initial call was greeted favourably by some bloggers who saw it, and we are therefore seeking to extend the call by the simple expedient of copying blog links for all those who came in the top 100 Left of Centre or Labour categories in 2009.  Obviously there’s a fair bit of duplication between the lists, and the previous judgment on what is a ‘left of centre’ blog has also been open to doubt. 

If you are convinced by the arguments we set forth in our main post (and see comments also), then please do consider announcing your proposed boycott of the 2010 awards (if the interview is published) on your own blog.  

If you’re not, then we’re sorry to have disturbed you.

If you do want to join the boycott in the event that the interview is pulished, simply email Total Politics when the competition is announced and say you do not want your blog to appear in any of the listings.

Finally, if we’ve missed a blog link that you think we should have, please let us know or simply pass this call on to that blog.  This list is far from complete and currently omits many local blogs that may wish to join the boycott, though we will be trying to fill those gaps.

From: ‘Though Cowards Flinch.’

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Eagleton: afraid of debate and exposure as a charlatan

March 14, 2010 at 12:04 am (Catholicism, Jim D, religion)

Ex-“Marxist”, now apologist for religion:

Terry Eagleton

The turncoat and liar Eagleton interviewed by Jonothan Derbyshire in the latest New Statesman:

JD: One of the leftist Oxford students from the earlier period whom you mention by name in the book is Christopher Hitchens. What do you make of his political trajectory?

TE: I just turned down the offer of a public debate with him in the States. I’ve said what I want to say, and we wouldn’t have got anywhere – it would only have been a sort of bloodsport.


(NB: see also Rosie’s comments)

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