Caborn, Fifa bribery and the self-righteousness of the sports lobby

November 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm (BBC, Jim D, labour party, sport, twat)

The BBC’s Panorama documentary presented what appeared to be pretty damning evidence of corruption within Fifa, the world football governing body.

According to Panorama, Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira accepted bribes from a marketing firm, International Sport and Leisure (ISL) between 1989 and 1999. The company went bust in 2001.

Panorma‘s evidence would appear to be pretty conclusive.

What struck me was the reaction of most of the British sports “establishment” and some politicians (including Cameron): bleating about the “timing” of Panorama’s revalations (damaging to Britain’s World Cup bid), and complaining that this is “old news” (“old” in the sense that Fifa is so corrupt that it’s been known about for years and nothing has been done).

For Chrissakes! Even politicians have to answer to charges of corruption! The idea that sports people are somehow above such investigation, or (worse) that Britain’s  hosting of the 2018 tournament is more important than the exposure of corruption in Fifa, is truly appalling. Who do these self-righteous, self-important sports bosses and gravy-train-jumpers think they are? Above the law? Above the normal rules that apply to the rest of us – including, even, politicians?

Sports Minister Richard Caborn
Caborn is siding with the corrupt Fifa 

One of the worst of these sports-dissemblers is Labours Richard Caborn, a truly wretched apologist who keeps turning up on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme denouncing Panorama‘s exposure of Fifa corruption. I have no idea why the miserable right-wing Labourite Caborn feels so upset by the exposure of corruption, and continually appears in the media defending Fifa and denouncing Panorama. But Ed Miliband really aught to think about reining in a senior Labour figure who regularly appears in the media excusing corruption.

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Deadpan forever

November 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm (Rosie B, TV)

Leslie Neilsen has died.  The master of deadpan, who always managed to look patrician and gentlemanly no matter what pratfalls he was taking or what slapstick he was engaged in.

I  loved the closing credits of Police Squad.  Incredibly silly, but they broke me up every time.

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FBU rep challenges Socialist Worker’s coverage of fire strikes – denounces Seymour

November 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm (Champagne Charlie, Guardian, SWP, unions, workers)

Fom Socialist Worker, 27th November. 

In order to encourage debate and aid the struggle, Socialist Worker has opened its pages to Ben Sprung, the FBU Camden borough rep and FBU regional organiser, London. He replies to our recent analysis of the end of the strikes

In defence of the FBU

Your coverage of the London firefighters’ dispute has angered FBU activists.


Your reports of the first strike on 23 October were outlandish. You wrote (SW 23 October) that “the rank-and-file pickets were so militant that Wrack and the other union officials struggled to keep control of the situation.” [1] It might fit your preconceived schema to paint Wrack as a typical trade union bureaucrat, but those of us actually present saw the union’s general secretary fully supporting the picketing.

No doubt fantasising that you were witnessing the French revolution, you then posted a video which was then carried by the BBC and other news outlets and used to discredit the union. You should realise that in a real struggle, it pays to think about the tone and content of reporting.

Bonfire night

Your reports on the bonfire night strikes show you neither understand the decision taken by the FBU’s London committee nor have an alternative strategy for FBU members. The strikes were cancelled because management moved on the key issue in the dispute – the threat to sack 5,500 firefighters by 18 November. Management agreed not to impose new contracts as they had planned, but to postpone that decision until late January. That movement, together with their offer of 11-13 without strings was sufficient to suspend the strike action.

Your report (SW 4 November) registered that management had made “concessions”, but nevertheless stated that the decision was a mistake because the union had “missed a key opportunity to stretch the private AssetCo scabbing operation beyond breaking point”. [2] What do you mean by this? Have some people die on bonfire night to ‘prove’ the scabs are rubbish? We didn’t believe the public would thank us for making AssetCo the new objective of the action, when we had significant movement on the main issues.

Criticism within the labour movement is fine. But using the bourgeois press to attack a union is quite another. Yet Richard Seymour, a well-known SWP member used the Guardian’s Comment is Free website (5 November) to slate the FBU. He wrote: “Suspending the strike now will give the fire bosses time to regroup, get better organised and perhaps return to its previous belligerent form with a stronger hand.” [3] We don’t know whether Seymour is a trade unionist, but he certainly never bothered to speak to the FBU before launching his attack.

Rank and file

Then Bro. Yusuf Timms (SW 13 November) claimed that the “key lesson” was that “a rank and file organisation of even limited numbers could have played a huge role in developing a different strategy and winning”. [4]

Nowhere does Socialist Worker outline an alternative strategy. But worse, you disparage the democratic structures of the FBU. The FBU London regional committee is a lay representative body, with reps from all London boroughs. It voted 19-3 to call off the strikes. The decision was endorsed by a meeting of reps from all London FBU workplaces.

You may wish to present the decision as the bureaucracy versus the rank and file. The reality is that the union decided its strategy democratically and has the overwhelming support of its members. You should make those facts clear when you claim to support our dispute.

For main Socialist Worker articles go to:

Fire union leaders call off fire strikes – as growing mass pickets turn back scabs and

London firefighters’ strike called off

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A valuable contribution to debate…

November 28, 2010 at 12:42 am (blogging, Jim D, mental health, stalinism, surrealism)

…over at Dave’s, from one David Ellis:
on November 27th, 2010 at 12:38

No Jim I’m not a joke but you are you Shachtmanite shit. Go and sell your zionist anti-semitism in Tel Aviv clown. Of course you and Shitgamna have been telling lies about Trotsky for a long time now preying on vulnerable young people. Makes my flesh crawl. WHy don’t you kill yourself?

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The Finkler verdict…and other books of the year

November 28, 2010 at 12:12 am (Jim D, literature)


Click to view larger image

Howard Jacobson’s  Man Booker-winning novel ‘The Finkler Question’ is a great book. It’s a comedy of sorts – but a comedy of  seriousness and sadness. It deals with relationships, identity, anti-semitism (especially “left” Guardianista anti-semitism), love, friendship and loss. What follows is an old widower’s thoughts about the death of his wife:

The worst of times, Libor remembered, were the mornings. For her and for him, but it was her he was thinking about.

There was never any peace with it: neither had what could be called religious faith, both rejected false consolation, but there would be an hour there when the lights were dim and he would lie by her side, stroking her hair or holding her hand, not knowing if she was awake or asleep – but he was thinking about her, not him – an hour when, awake or asleep, she appeared to have accepted what she had no choice but to accept, and the idea of returning to earth, or even to nothing, caught the quiet of assent.

She could smile at him in the night when the pain was eased. She could look deep into his eyes, beckon him to her and whisper what he thought would be a fond memory into his ear, but which turned out to be a raucous allusion, an obscenity even. She wanted him to laugh, because they had laughed so often together. He had made her laugh at the beginning. Laughter had been his most precious gift to her. His ability to make her laugh was the reason – one of the reasons – she had chosen him above Horowitz. Laughter had never been at war with the softer emotions in her. She could roar and be gentle in the same breath. And now she wanted laughter to be her final gift to him.

In the stealthy alternations of rudery and sweetness, somewhere between waking and sleep, light and darkness, they found – she found, she found -a modus mortis.

It was bearable, then. Not a peace or a resignation, but an engagement of the fact of death with the fact of life.  Though she was mdying they were still living, together. He would turn the lights out and return to her side and listen to her going off and know thatn she was living with dying.

But in the morning the horror of it returned. Not only the horror of the pain and what she knew she must have looked like, but the horror of the knowledge.

If Libor could only have spared her that knowledge! He would have died for her to spare her that knowledge, only that would have been to burden her with another, and she assured him, greater loss. He could not bear, when morning broke, her waking up to what she had perhaps forgotten all about while she slept. He imagined the finest division of time, the millioneth of a millioneth of a second of pure mental excruciation in which the terrible incontrovertibility  of mher finished life returned to her. No laughter or consoling obscenities in the first minutes of the morning. No companiable sorrowing together either. She lay there on her own, not wanting to hear from him, unavailable to him, staring up at the ceiling -as though that was the route out she would finally take -seeing the ice-cold certainty of her soon becoming nothing.

The morning was always waiting for her. No matter where they had got to the night before, no matter what quiet almost bearable illusion of living with her dying he believed her to have attained, the morning always dashed it.

So the morning was always waiting for Libor too. The morning waiting for her to wake. And now the morning waiting for himself to wake.

He wished he’d been a believer. He wished they both had, though one of them might have taken the other along. But belief had its underbelly of doubting too. How could it be otherwise? You would see the meaning in the night, see God’s face even, if you were lucky – the shechina: he had always loved that concept, or the sound of it at least, God’s refulgence – but the next day, or the next, it would be gone. Faith wasn’t a mystery to him; the mystery to him was holding on to faith.

He kissed her eyes at night and tried to fall asleep himself in hope. But things didn’t get better; they got worse, precisely because every careful crafting of feeling better, of assent, submission, accomodation – he didn’t have the word – survived no more than a single night. Nothing was ever settled. Nothing ever sealed. The day began again as though the horror had that very moment been borne in on her for the first time.

And on him.

 Other books of the year:

* Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro

* Ill Fares The Land by Tony Judt

* Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens

* Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

* Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica ed: Anthony Thwaite

* The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Jonothan Schneer

* Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

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AWL delegation to Israel/Palestine

November 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm (AWL, israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine)

Updates from delegation in Israel/Palestine

Israel/Palestine..For updates see our blog at


(The picture is our solidarity message to the 24 November student Day of Action in Britain.)

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Nil Significat Nisi Pulsatur

November 25, 2010 at 11:51 pm (jazz, Jim D, modernism, music, United States)

Only a brief blog tonight because I’ve been at a rehearsal of ‘Kinda Dukish’, a West Midlands-based fifteen-piece band that plays  Messrs. Ellington and Strayhorn’s original arrangements (ie, not just their compositions): what a thrill! I pretend to be Sonny Greer and/or Sam Woodyard. We’ve even got a motto: “Nil Significt Nisi Pulsatur.”

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UKIP: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer”

November 25, 2010 at 12:58 am (Europe, fascism, Jim D, mental health, populism, strange situations, twat, wankers)

UKIP MEP suspended from chamber after ‘Nazi’ jibe

The European Parliament voted to eject UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom following comments he made against German social democrat Martin Schultz.


It’s a well-known bogging characteristic that sooner or later any heated political debate will end up with accusations of fascism:  Godwin’s Law.

I’ve been accused of bandying about (and thus devaluing) the term “fascist.” However, my usual use of that term is in relation to ‘Political Islamism’ (not Islam itself). I would also argue that the term “fascist” is reasonable for all practicable purposes in describing  Enoch Powell’s supporters in late-sixties Britain, Franco’s supporters in Spain, Saddam Hussain’s regime in Iraq, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Griffin-led BNP -none of which conform precisely to the classic definition of  Twentieth Century European fascism.

But for a member of  the (non-fascist but far-right) UKIP to suggest that a German Social Democrat is a Nazi because Social Democrats support the (thoroughly progessive) call for a united Europe, is simply a racist, anti-German disgrace. UKIP are reactionary, racist scum and should be disciplined as a party within the European Parliament. Of course they won’t be, because the European Parliament is too polite towards scum like UKIP and other racists and bigots- mainly parties  from Eastern Europe allied to nice Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party. The danger at the moment is that “respectable” bourgeois and workers’ parties are being sucked in to the UKIP/far right’s anti-immigrant agenda. Similarly the “left” because of their irrational anti-Europeanism.

UKIP are not actually fascists: but if I wanted to bait them I could make a case that they are. Pity that most of the so-called “Left” agree with them about Europe.

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Morning Star’s Dallas turns on Pete Seeger

November 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm (anti-semitism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, israel, Middle East, music, palestine, stalinism)

The Stalinist Morning Star newspaper’s  tame folkie and Christian anti-“Zionism” zealot Karl Dallas, has written a heartfelt open letter to his hero Pete Seeger. What has  former hero of the Stalinist left Seeger done to upset his old admirer?

Supported a peace initiative, it would seem.

But it’s peace between an irredeemably evil people and their victims. What Mr Dallas wants is simply the defeat of the irredeemably bad people, not peace or reconciliation. Things have gone too far for that.

And don’t be taken in by the irredeemably evil people masquerading in environmentalist colours.

The ever-accelerating degeneration of the Morning Star into “absolute anti-Zionism” is well documented here.

Below: Pete Seeger, Which Side Are You On? Now Stalinists ask him that question.

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Matgamna on the SWP and Islam

November 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm (AWL, islamism, Jim D, Marxism, populism, religion, socialism, stalinism, strange situations, SWP, terror, thuggery, trotskyism, truth)

More classic Marxist analysis from Sean; btw the last two sentences are meant as criticism, not approval:

The “Never On A Sunday” left

The SWP’s attitude to Islam is possible only because they themselves have a quasi-religious outlook which they mistakenly think is Marxist and “dialectical”.

They live in a hazy mental world where everything is essentially in flux; where “Revolution” is imminent; where things are therefore never just what they are; where everything solid dissolves into air. Political Islam is only a transient form of something else, the unfolding “Revolution”. Islamic reaction does not matter because the socialist world revolution will soon clear everything up. It is not “really” reactionary because “objectively” it is part of something progressive, namely “revolutionary” opposition to “US and British imperialism”. It is not a threat to anyone because it cannot last long.

“After Hitler, our turn”, was how the complaisant Communist Party of Germany expressed a similar outlook over 70 years ago. “After the Islamists, our turn”?

History is a revolutionary roller-coaster. Realities dissolve into a pseudo-dialectical flurry.

All sorts of accommodations are licensed, because the thing accommodated to is not fully real. Thus their “revolutionary” socialist politics dissolve into a pseudo-historical mysticism which is very much like a religious belief in a godlike spirit of History which will “take care” of everything for us.

But in fact Islam is real – an immensely oppressive reality for many people in Muslim societies and communities, and especially for those of them who disagree to one degree or another. It is worth recalling that most of the left supported, for its “anti-imperialism”, the comprehensively reactionary Islamic regime installed in Iran by the priest-led revolution – it was a revolution, and a profound one – of 1979. The priests are still in power 23 years later.

In Never on a Sunday, a once-famous movie made by an American refugee from McCarthyism, Jules Dassin, the heroine is Ilia, an earthy, primitive, whimsical, ignorant, wonderful creature, who makes a living fucking sailors in the Athens port of Piraeus. She loves the ancient Greek tragedies. The hero of the film sits with her in the amphitheatre as Medea, the wronged wife, slaughters her own children for revenge against their father, Jason. Ilia laughs her head off at the tragic events unfolding before her.

Why is she laughing, he asks? She knows it isn’t real. It isn’t really happening, she tells him. The children aren’t really dead. When the play is over they will “all go to the seaside”.

Such a way of looking at contemporary history, with an uncomprehending numb indifference rooted in the belief that horrors are not real horrors, is to rational socialism what the religious belief that nothing matters because everything will be made right in the afterlife is to a this-world, humanity-centred philosophy of life. It was at the heart of much 20th century socialist experience, for example of the attitude which people who should have known better took to Stalinism, and not only to Stalinism.

For Marxist socialists in Britain who have to combine defence of Muslim people from racists and scapegoaters with implacable hostility to Islam, the old Catholic tag offers guidance: love the sinner, hate the sin!

Defend Muslim people, fight Islam! Understand that political Islam is the enemy of everything that socialists stand for! Don’t try to relate to the “Muslim community”, but to the Muslim working class and to the “Muslim” secularists. Work to split the “Muslim community”; help organise the ex-Muslims, the insurgent women and the socialists within the “Muslim community”!

For Marxists there is no such thing as agitation that does not enlighten and educate the working class about the system as a whole. But if “building the party” is the goal, then almost any agitation that attracts interest can make sense. “Action” becomes all-important, irrespective of the conditions, and almost irrespective of what action.

Read the rest here

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