Some of Jeremy’s supporters may accuse me of betrayal and of aligning myself with his right-wing critics. Not so. My criticisms are rooted in a leftist, human rights politics that is democratic, secular and internationalist – Peter Tatchell
From International Business Times
Like many others, I face a real dilemma. I’ve known Jeremy Corbyn for more than 30 years and love nearly everything he stands for. Yet there are a few important issues on which I profoundly disagree with him. Does this mean he should no longer have my support?
Jeremy is not a saint. He’s never claimed to be. Even the best, most admirable politicians usually get some things wrong. Jeremy is no exception. On a majority of UK and foreign policy issues he’s spot on, with real vision and an inspiring alternative. On a small number of issues he has made lamentable misjudgements. Despite these shortcomings, I’m backing his bid for the Labour leadership. Here’s why.
I look at the big picture and judge politicians on their overall record. What are their ideals, motives and aims? What kind of society are they striving for? How would their policies impact upon the average person? On all these assessment criteria, Jeremy is on the right side and is the most progressive candidate on nearly every issue.
He has strong, unique policies for social justice and equality – to secure a kinder, gentler, fairer and more inclusive, harmonious Britain. I am with him in opposing austerity. So is much of the country – including the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru, with whom I hope Jeremy and Labour will make common cause in a quadruple alliance.
Jeremy’s plan to invest in infrastructure to reboot the economy is backed by 41 economists, including a former adviser to the Bank of England. His strategy echoes FDR’s New Deal and proposals from the International Monetary Fund.
A Corbyn premiership would reverse damaging, cruel welfare cuts and the privatisation of vital public services. He’d tackle climate destruction, rocketing rents and house prices. Trident renewal, foreign wars and the sinister Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership would be nixed. His administration would bring rail and energy companies back into decentralised public ownership. All sensible, compassionate policies. Good for him.
In my book, he is head and shoulders above all the other Labour leadership candidates, both in terms of his past political record and his political agenda for the future. But the single most important over-arching reason for supporting Jeremy is that Britain needs to turn away from the flawed and failed policies of business as usual. He is shaking up the establishment and breaking with the cosy political consensus that has been shared by Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP. The mainstream, middle-of-the-road policies of the last decade are not the answer. All they offer is more of the same, which is what got us into the current mess.
Jeremy is thinking beyond what is. He’s imagining what could be. It’s a much needed political rethink, which leaves his rivals lagging far behind. Now that he has a serious chance of winning the Labour leadership, Jeremy has faced a barrage of accusations over his contacts with anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and Islamist extremists. This puts me in a very difficult position, given my advocacy for human rights. At what point do links with bad people put a politician beyond the pale? How many flawed judgements does it take to cancel out all the good that a MP might have done and espoused?
Read the rest of this entry »
Guest post by Pink Prosecco
Peter Tatchell is an admirable man who has campaigned bravely on LGBT rights and many other issues. However I cannot agree with the thrust of this post, recently published in Gay London. To summarise, he regrets the way in which the LGBT community has retreated from ‘radical idealism to cautious conformism’. He wishes instead that LGBT campaigners questioned the institution of the family and were generally less bourgeois, and complains that more timid types only jumped on the LGBT bandwagon when it was safe to do so.
But this can be turned round I think. One might conjecture that the handful of LBGT men and women who were prepared to campaign and be visible forty years ago were unusually independent and tough minded. They were perhaps thus also more inclined to be non-conformist and politically radical in ways that went beyond sexual orientation.
I should note at this point that the ‘pink’ in ‘pink prosecco’ only references my slightly sub-shirazian shade of politics. However personally I don’t see why LGBT people should be expected to be any more or less radical than anyone else. It’s a sign of progress not regression that people who are dull, or disagreeably right wing, are as happy to identify as LGBT as creative, radical, edgy types. Peter concludes:
“The unwritten social contract at the heart of the recent campaigns for LGBT law reform is that gay people should behave respectably. No more cruising, orgies or bondage. In return, the ‘good gays’ will be rewarded with equal treatment. The ‘bad gays’, who fail to conform to conventional morality will, of course, remain sexual outlaws. Is that what we want? A prescriptive moralism that penalises non-conformists within our own community?”
But why should bondage and a rejection of conventional morality be seen as LGBT specific issues?
This statement from Peter Tatchell first appeared at Harry’s Place, a site we don’t usually have much in common with. But in this case, it’s impossible to disagree:
The BNP & EDL claim to oppose Islamist extremist bigotry but in reality they generalise and abuse all Muslims. Many of their protests are menacing, even violent.
Islam is not the main problem. Islamist fundamentalism and violent jihad are what we should focus on opposing. It is important to make a clear distinction between Muslims and Islamist extremists. Don’t confuse the two. Unite to isolate the main threats: the Islamist far right and its BNP and EDL equivalents.
I support today’s Unite Against Fascism (UAF) counter-protest against the BNP. But UAF is not consistent. UAF commendably opposes the BNP and EDL but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims.
This silence and inaction by the UAF is a shocking betrayal of Muslim people – abandoning them to the Islamist far right.
Islamist fascists want to overthrow democracy, establish a clerical dictatorship, suppress human rights and kill Muslims who don’t conform to their hard-line interpretation of Islam.
It is time the UAF campaigned against the Islamist far right, as well as against the EDL and BNP far right.
Above: O’Brien coming out?
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has reacted to the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic, who has been accused of inappropriate behaviour with male priests.
Earlier on Monday, Cardinal O’Brien apologised to those he had offended for “failures” during his ministry and announced in a statement that he was standing down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.
He will not take part in electing a new pope, leaving Britain unrepresented.
In a statement, Peter Tatchell said:
Cardinal O’Brien condemned homosexuality as a grave sin and was a long-time opponent of gay equality.
He supported homophobic discrimination in law, including the current ban on same-sex marriage.
In the light of these allegations, his stance looks hypocritical.
He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private.
Several other prominent opponents of equal marriage are guilty of double standards and vulnerable to similar exposure. They include anti-gay clergy and politicians.
It is estimated that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay, which makes the church’s opposition to gay equality so two-faced and absurd.
Nearly half of all Cardinals worldwide are thought to be gay.
Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of a gay mafia within the Vatican, including senior Cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their participation in gay bars, clubs, saunas, chat rooms and escort services.
The Vatican is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting a hotbed of secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality.
“Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently” – Rosa Luxemburg
An unpleasant-sounding character called Barry Thew wore the t-shirt shown below, in the Manchester area, on the day that two women police officers were murdered there. He has now been given a four month jail sentence for the crime of giving “insult” under Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act.
This follows hard on the heels of the student jailed for tweeting something vile and racist
about Fabrice Muamba, a boy jailed for putting something sick and disgusting
on Facebook about April Jones and Madeleine MacCann, and a young man
sentenced to community service for posting something on Facebook celebrating the deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan.
In none of these cases was it claimed by the prosecution that the offending comments amounted to incitement to violence or any other criminal act other than giving offence and/or insult. The tweet about Muamba was, conceivably, an act of racial discrimination but that was not the prosecution’s case. The boy who posted vile stuff about April Jones and Madeleine McCann was possibly guilty of the crime of harassment (against their parents), but again, that was not the charge; it was brought under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003
, which outlaws “send
[ing] by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive
or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” (my emphasis -JD).
The religious lobby (spearheaded by the Muslim leadership, happily followed by Christians and all other mainstream religions) has succeeded in establishing the giving of “offence” against religion as a crime. The Blair government, in desperate need of Muslim support following Iraq, brought in the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, 2003
which make it an offense to “discriminate” against anyone on grounds on their religion – unless the ‘discriminator’ is itself a religious organisation! This sort of nonsense has been further perpetuated by the rise of identity politics and relativism on the so-called “left.”
Those of us who support free speech and insist that it is a fundamental component of the great progressive heritage
of the Enlightenment (of which Marxism is a product) are, these days, constantly having to rebut
those who seem to think that free speech doesn’t
include the right to give offence or to be stupid and wrong (in which case, what DOES it mean?) or who muddy the waters by suggesting that expressing offensive opinions is the same thing as an act of violence or discrimination. Some of the people who seem unable to comprehend these fairly simple distinctions do seem to be a bit thick
, and generally fall into the “liberal”/relativist catagory.
But others are clearly engaged in a superficially coherent, thoroughly reactionary and (usually) religiously-based attack upon freedom of speech, using the fundamentally dishonest ‘argument’ that supporters of free speech are positively in favour of some (imaginary) “duty to be offensive.”
A further argument (usually implied, rather than openly stated) is that freedom of speech is the product of a particular form of liberal politics, very often derided as “bourgeois,” “European”, or “Western”.
Mehdi Hasan, a smooth operator and practiced dissembler, came out with the following (below)
reactionary and intellectually bankrupt excercise in obscurantism at a recent debate
Mehdi Hasan, political director of The Huffington Post UK, called for a crackdown on the culture of Islamophobia and argued freedom of speech was not an “absolute right” during a debate on Thursday.
Speaking opposite Times columnist David Aaronovitch at a HuffPost/Polis debate, on the right to offend, Mr Hasan argued free speech was being “fetishized” and claimed many free-speech campaigners in the west were guilty of “brazen hypocrisy.”
“We have a civic duty not to offend others,” he told the a packed audience at the London School of Economics.
“How can you construct a civilised, cohesive society if we go round encouraging everyone to insult each other willy nilly?
“Yes we do have a right to offend but it’s not the same as having a duty to be offensive. You have a responsibility not to go out of your way to piss people off.
“I have the right to fart in a lift, but I don’t do it because it is offensive.
“Some people want the right to be offensive but then get cross when people are offended.”
[NB: Peter Tatchell on the Barry Thew case and “the right to be offensive” here]
From the Peter Tatchell Foundation
Bahrain protesters urge cancellation at Formula One HQ
Date: Saturday 21 April 2012
Time: 12.30 -1.30 pm
Address: Formula One HQ, 6 Princess Gate, London SW7 1QJ
Bahrain exiles and their British supporters will gather outside the London headquarters of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone tomorrow (Saturday) at 12.30 pm.
They are calling for this Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled, citing “the violent suppression of pro-democracy protesters” by the King of Bahrain. They have condemned Bernie Ecclestone’s decision to “put profit before human rights.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will join the protest. He said:
“There should be no sport as usual, while the Bahraini regime is killing and torturing its own citizens. Holding the Grand Prix in Bahrain is collusion with tyranny. It gives the regime respectibility. I urge British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button to take a stand against dictatorship by withdrawing from Sunday’s race. It will be a tainted competition, steeped in shame and blood. There is a high risk that democracy protesters will be killed by the Bahraini security forces.”
Founder of the Justice for Bahrain movement, Mohammed Sadiq, added:
“Hosting the Grand Prix is part of the King’s bid to convince the world that the repression is over and the situation in Bahrain has returned to normal. It hasn’t. There are daily human rights abuses perpetrated on peaceful protesters. It is a shocking, callous misjudgement by Bernie Ecclestone to proceed with the race at a time when pro-democracy campaigners are being arrested, beaten, jailed, tortured and killed. Holding the Grand Prix is a slap in the face to the victims of repression. Formula One bosses should be siding with Bahrain’s democrats, not with the dictatorship.”
Mr Tatchell added:
“If the duty to protect civilians applies in Syria, why not in Bahrain?
“Britain should be working with the rest of the international community to impose sanctions on the Bahrain regime.
“Those sanctions should include a halt to arms sales and military cooperation, a travel ban and assets-freeze on top regime officials and a prohibition on the export to Bahrain of luxury items for the rich ruling elite.
“Bahrain’s leaders should be referred to the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council on charges of torture and crimes aginst humanity,” he said.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has condemned the brutal tactics of the Bahraini regime as “shocking and illegal conduct.”
According to a November 2011 report by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, 45 pro-democracy campaigners have been killed by the regime, 1,500 arrested, nearly 1,900 have suffered torture and ill-treatment. The arrested and abused include doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters.
Read the report in full here.
Even before the current wave of repression, Bahrain had a poor human rights record; having been previously criticised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Peter Tatchell – 0207 403 1790
Mohammed Sadiq, Justice for Bahrain – 07766 500 524
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