Sunday, July 30, 2006

My top 16 books on mental health/psychiatry

Mainly due to Kit from Kit Notes (and I have finally given you a link as well, Kit) who asked me about information on women and mental health, I have compiled this quick off-the-cuff reading list regarding mental health and psychiatry. Unfortunately, I would have compiled it quicker only to find myself re-reading texts and forgetting that I had bought some of the books I have (I ask myself, why some many Laing and Wilhelm Reich? Well, more to do with my radical cutting edge youth..ha!)

Anyway, my top 16 of books/articles which I recommend.. and in absolutely no order whatsoever (drum roll please)

1. Self-Harm: from a personal perspective - Louise Pembroke
2. Eating Distress - Louise Pembroke
3. Mad Pride - a celebration of mad culture
4. Hearing voices workbook - Ron Coleman and Mike Smith
5. Pure madness - Jeremy Laurance (patronising journalist who pissed off the people who took part in interviews, which is the only good thing about the book)
6. Voices of reason, Voice of insanity - Phil Thomas et al
7. Madness or misogyny - Jane Ussher
8. Female Malady - Elaine Showalter
9. Schizophrenia - a scientific delusion? Mary Boyle
10. Madness and Civilisation - Foucault
11. Sanity, madness and the family - Laing et al
12. Sex-pol - Wilheim Reich
13. Asylums - Goffman
14. From homebreakers to jailbreakers: Southall Black Sisters - Rahila Gupta ed (touches on mental health and racism)
15. Not in our genes - Steven Rose et al (good chapter on psychiatry and biological determinism)
16. Psychology and society - Ian Parker ed (a very fascinating article on the "The revolutionary psychology of Lev Davidovich Bronstein")

Links: MIND
Hearing Voices Network
Bristol Crisis Service for Women
Kiss It (they have organised an event between 7-10 August called Back to Bedlam.)

I have more books hidden away and need to find them. Hope this is of some help to you Kit or anyone else who may be interested.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Welfare Reform Bill: Clause 17

Kit commented on the young people and mental health post and I was going to reply but thought I would post instead about the Welfare Reform Bill and the pernicious Clause 17 as it corresponds with what Kit says. The Welfare Reform Bill has had its second reading and that it could be law by this time next year. The clause below provides the power to the Secretary of State to make regulations and to write the law how they see fit. Clause 17 is ambiguous and unclear. Some civil servant low down the pecking order will intrepret the below in however the rules turn out to be. They won't have the insight or inclination to understand mental health issues instead they will make ill informed and snap decisions.

And they won't give a toss about the untold misery and distress this will have on people.

Who can tell what is meant by "own misconduct". One interpretation of not following medical advice could mean not taking your medication. Not turning up for your weekly pain-in-the-arse depot injection or maybe you're just finding the weekly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) session too unhelpful or just not working. The clauses could mean... well anything.

And what the hell does "he fails without good cause to observe any prescribed rules ofbehaviour" actually means?

Clause 17 is vague and unclear but the worrying problem is that the regulations will be based on this clause. Who will make these powerful decisions? Doctors? Civil servants? Other agents of the state? Who knows...

The whole of the Bill revolves around conditionality which means in order to get benefits you have to comply and that includes taking your meds and/or seeing your shrink etc. These people will have control over your life such as reducing your money or pushing you into the job market when you may not feel ready. This Bill attacks powerless and vulnerable people but New Labour wants to make sure "shirkers" are roundly punished for taking money from the state.

I have trying to find out whether there is going to be any ongoing campaign by various organisations. The mental health charity, MIND have come out with their usual polite, twee and respectable guff. But I have contacted other mental health user organisations to see what more of a dynamic and impolite fuck-you response we can give the goverment....

If there are any events etc. organised I will keep people informed.

Btw: Thanx for the link Kit. Much appreciated!

Welfare Reform Bill

17 Disqualification

(1) Regulations may provide for a person to be disqualified for receiving an employment and support allowance, or treated for such purposes as the regulations may provide as not having limited capability for work, if—

(a) he has become someone who has limited capability for work through his own misconduct,

(b) he remains someone who has limited capability for work through his failure without good cause to follow medical advice, or

(c) he fails without good cause to observe any prescribed rules of behaviour.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) shall provide for any such disqualification, or treatment, to be for such period not exceeding 6 weeks as may be determined in accordance with Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Social Security Act 1998 (c. 14).

(3) Regulations may prescribe for the purposes of this section—

(a) matters which are, or are not, to be taken into account in determining whether a person has good cause for any act or omission;

(b) circumstances in which a person is, or is not, to be regarded as having good cause for any act or omission.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Up the chastity belt

I feel the need, the urge, the desire to post about my favourite bugbear …. morality. Or to be more precise, sexual morality. Sitting on the train this morning I was reading a piece in the Guardian called Chastity is chic.

Wendy Shalit, the guru of Modesty has just written a book about the benefits of chastity and even better, she's involved in a blog called Modestly Yours.

“An informal community for young women who don’t have a voice in the mainstream media… whether you are a virgin waiting until marriage, or just against casual sex more generally, you can find a safe harbour here to share your ideas, interests and goals for the future”.

It has got me reaching for the chastity belt already!

This ongoing modesty campaign has created a cottage industry of products such as swimwear called WholesomeWear (it is a layered garment made of spandex and nylon….soooo sexy!) and other “appropriate clothing”…..

Another book in the process of being written is Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste: finding fulfilment while keeping your clothes on (it reminded me of that song way back in the 80s by Germaine Stewart, We don’t have to take our clothes off for a good time. Yeah Germaine, but it helps).

Eden argues: "When you become chaste, you'll notice for the first time that women who have sex outside marriage don't really appreciate men".

Really Dawn, where's your evidence?

Casual sex and sex before marriage is eroding the sanctity of marriage and the heterosexual nuclear family. Lesbians should be on the margins of society, they argue, as they transgress from the norms of society and feminism has got rid of chivalry. Hiss boo to feminism.

These people are scarily loathesome and I wonder about how much of an impact these homophobic nasty little puritans are having on women and also men.

The ideology behind these groups is a concerted effort to push women back years and that includes all the gains we have fought for. Dressing modestly and behaving modestly is keeping women under control and under the thumb. The chastity lot preach choice but what it really is about is returning to traditional patriarchal gender roles. Women belong in the home chained to the kitchen sink barefoot and pregnant with the words kinder, kueche and kirche ringing in their ears. That choice? Well, maybe it is for them. They also perceive women are “naturally” modest, “naturally” maternal and anything which goes against this is obviously dangerous = unnatural.

What is so wrong with sex? People fuck and it can be fun, pleasuable and enjoyable. To these people sex is dirty, sex is wrong. Women have the right to express their sexuality without being constrained and lectured by these people.

The added pressures these people and society as a whole put on women whether it be committing yourself or pledging yourself to be a virgin until your wedding night, no to casual sex, one-night stands and anything else which goes against these puritanical norms, it is all about control and denying women to make their own choices and be to make their own decisions about sex not puritanical moralists who have their own ideological axe to grind.

I am tempted to set up a campaign called "Stroppybloggers for immodesty and casual sex"....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Margaret Beckett: the art of caravanning

I am trying to imagine Margaret “proportionate” Beckett in her caravan mindlessly rampaging around the countryside with double heart bypass hubbie at her side. Never let it be said that a little bit of conflict in the Middle East comes between a Blairite and her caravan….

Hypocrite Bliar: responsiblity and health

Don’t cha love it when someone in power starts lecturing everyone else on the importance of responsibility? Tony Bliar has stated that people need to take more responsibility for their health to relieve pressure on the NHS. He warned that the service could be crippled by the cost of treating those “affected by obesity, alcohol and smoking..”

Dunno about you readers but it makes me just wanna buy a 20 pack of Benson and Hedges and blow the fine nicotine smoke into the war mongerer’s face (and I don’t smoke). Bliar has also maintained that he wants to encourage healthier lifestyles and to consider banning advertising of junk food to children but will give the industry a “chance to self-regulate”. Oh so once they regulate themselves the food industry will stop shoving their advertising down our throats and stuffing food with too much salt, sugar and saturated fats (telling us in tiny letters on the tin)? Does this mean affordable and nutritious food as well...?

Now, key to this maintaining a healthy lifestyle, is “taking responsibility as individuals for our healthcare”.

There has been an increase in diabetes, obesity, booze related illnesses and illnesses related to smoking but moralising and lecturing people will not help.

Ok, increasing fitness, for instance. Loads of gyms and sports halls out there but how many are actually affordable? The one I attend is privately owed as most gyms. Council owned gyms and sports centres are disappearing fast. Same with swimming pools and I remember a campaign which was trying save pools being closed in Hackney a couple of years ago. Another thing is schools are selling off their sport grounds so where are kids expected to congregate or play sport?

The issue conveniently left out is why there has been an increase in these illnesses and the fact that there is this kind of guilt tripping where people are accused of draining the NHS dry with their illnesses due to self-neglect.

The fact there is so much isolation and alienation in this society probably makes people resort to the “quick fixes” of booze, fags and saturated fats. Stress-related problems are on the increase, working longer hours, manual workers are more likely to drop off the perch quicker than non-manual workers (and they are likely to smoke more), the widening gap between the rich and poor and so on. These are at the heart of the matter but this government chooses to blame everyone else for unhealthy lifestyles.

But as Professor Danny Dorling from the University of Sheffield, argues:

“If you have a society that tells increasing numbers of people that they have less and less worth, while others are allowed to become richer and richer, it is very hard to get people’s self worth up”.

Now, as a poorly paid stressed public sector worker I will go home and pour myself a glass of white wine (organic naturally and from Waitrose) guzzle the contents along with some Green and Blacks chocolate. Flip on a CD and smoke a spliff.

Cheers to responsibility or should that be irresponsibility?!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The end of the traditional election night ...

I read with dismay that the traditional election night may come to an end. I love elections. Sometimes I have spent all election day at polling stations, getting people out to vote vote, running committee rooms. The day normally starts at 6 in the morning and ends at the count in the early hours of the next day, exhausted but still buzzing as the votes are counted and results declared. Everyone is tired from the day but keeping going on sheer adrenalin. I have been to counts where it ends in disappointment, elation or sometimes a fight even (not me, honest !). When not at a count I have spent the night either at the labour Club or in front of the TV until the early hours, and just at that point where tiredness kicks in there may be the excitement of a 'Portillo' moment ! I love the drama. I love working out what the results mean.

So I am saddened by news that the traditional count may be a thing of the past. I know its probably sensible , the need for checks on postal votes and officials very tired, but its not as much fun. Everyone goes off and comes back. Not the same buzz. But then I am an anorak and find elections fascinating . Hey its my idea of entertainment. Hmmm, perhaps shouldn't admit to that !

I think I need one of Louise's red anoraks...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Miami Vice: where's the kitsch..?

I am disappointed, nay utterly disappointed. I saw the trailer for the new Michael Mann film the other day, Miami Vice. It certainly not what I expected and surely, it is an offence under trade description legislation…?

What, no kitsch?! No Armani suits? Mullets? White socks? Loafers? Shoulder pads? And no soundtrack by Jan Hammer. Michael Mann, has committed a heinous crime by updating Miami Vice for 2006. Nooo waaay!

How can you have an updated version of Miami Vice? It was so stuck in the 80s and that’s for sure. And especially so as Mann helped devise and write for the original. It is kinda unrecognisable. It stars Colin Farrell (shaggy greasy hairstyle…not sexy Col) and Jamie Foxx as the undercover cops, Crocket and Tubbs. It has this mean, edgy and moody look about it, there’s that monochrome feel coupled with heighten chiaroscuro. Not the original Miami Vice by any stretch of the imagination.

I like Michael Mann and in his previous work he has a tendency to convey urban sprawl realistically (repeating it for the updated version of Miami Vice). Collateral is the only film I have really liked which featured grinning Cheshire cat, Tom Cruise. Mann does remake his films such as L.A. Takedown, which became Heat (though I prefer the former myself, Heat did have Al Pacino and Robert de Niro) and I believe that Manhunter is better than Silence of the Lambs (Brian Cox gives an understated and credible performance as Hannibal Lector as opposed to the later theatrics by Anthony Hopkins). And The Insider is the only film I have liked which stared Russell Crowe (well... yeah and LA Confidential, I suppose). Though Mann's characterisation and development of women in his films frankly...suck!

But I don’t know, in saying that, I will probably watch the damn movie and sit there, arms folded, muttering, “Where’s Philip Michael Thomas and Don Johnson’s cameo roles then”? I’ll end up liking it, I know I will….

Update: Finally able to upload pic of the original though Blogger (has better taste than me) was resisting attempts to do so.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Unison activist on the blogsphere....

Just discovered that Unison leftie Jon Rogers has set up a blog. I used to be involved in Unison United Left (before I got another a job and became a member of the T&GWU instead) for a bit and knew Jon because of it. He is also on Unison NEC and stood against Dave Prentis over a year and half ago as General Secretary (my old Unison branch backed Jon's candidature). He is also a Labour Party activist and there is an interesting and informative post he's written on the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) annual meeting last weekend overwhelmingly backing John McDonnell as leader of the LP when Bliar steps down.

And people familiar with Adele Reynolds who pops up now and again on leftie blogs has been debating Jon on Dave Prentis.....

Btw: Jon, being comradely and all but if you are reading this, gizza us a link....!

Young people and mental health

A leaked government document from the Department of Health to senior NHS officials is showing that thousands of young people with mental health problems are being failed. They include:

No emergency (24/7) help for young people going through a crisis for one-quarter of the country.

Children with learning disabilities are also being denied access to support.

And 16-17 year-olds are not getting appropriate care. Many end up in an adult psychiatric ward.

Cumbria, Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Cornwall are the worst areas according to the report and especially in rural areas.

According to the document’s author, Richard Gleave (D of H senior performance management official) states, “performance is variable”. While bizarrely, Rosie Winterton (Health minister) said that there was “no evidence” that mental health services were being badly affected by the £512 million NHS deficit.

The charity Young Minds says that there are around one million children who experience mental health problems in Britain. Yet mental health trusts are facing cutbacks.

Another recent report from the BMA has warned that children, especially from poorer backgrounds, children in care, asylum-seeker children, children witnessing domestic violence are likely to develop mental health problems but access to overstretched services will be impossible. They estimate that 1% of children and 3% of teenagers experience depression in any one year.

Self-harm is on the increase with 11.2% of girls and 3.2% boys.

The BMA has urged the government to address problems with funding. Their recommendations include:

Implement measures to cut child deprivation.

New innovative and flexible services designed for the young

Media to stop using derogatory terms for mental illness

Boast mental health professional numbers

In the meantime, the European Medicines Agency have said it is safe to prescribe Prozac to kids as young as 8 even though there have been concerns about doing this. Kids blitzed on medication but hey, it is the cheap option and the drugs industry makes a massive profit!!

My interest with this subject goes way back to when I was prescribed the “evil” chemical cosh, Amitriptyline when I was 8-years old plus sleeping tablets as well (I was on the same “evil” drug when I was 18 but had discovered mixing it with booze was a great way of being smashed out your skull … not advisable though). That part of my childhood is hazy to say the least. I also saw a shrink (very good man) but only once and the rest of the time they relied on medication. And good services coupled with enlightened attitudes towards mental distress in children weren’t around in the sad old bad 1970s.

There may be a significant improvement but again resources are limited and over stretched but what I also find lacking is child advocacy services. When I worked for a health authority in the mid-1990s as a “User Involvement Worker” (spectacular title but sod all power… certainly wasn’t “all power to the mental health user” but that is another sad story ….) some of us pushed for advocacy services for kids but nobody in the health authority or council were interested so it became a non-starter.

I used to receive countless letters from distressed teenagers when I worked for a mental health survivor’s organisation. Many of them felt isolated, alienated, scared and powerless. Some were self-harming, some had eating distresses, some were on medication, some were in hospital, some felt suicidal and some just felt misunderstood. All had nobody they could talk to who would listen and that included their parents. I could relate to these teenagers especially the feeling of powerlessness and isolation. But where could they go? Who could they talk to? Many as well were stuck in rural areas.

The demands placed on the government regarding more funding, better specialised and adequate services for children and teenagers are all well and good but to me the most important demand is that children and teenagers are given a voice and that their needs are heard. It sure would have helped me as a kid and as a teenager.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yo Blair Go Blair...!

It was a humid, sticky, airless and icky day in London and not the best for demonstrating. I got to the Embankment just after midday and there was a bottleneck of demonstrators forming outside the tube. I saw a variety of placards from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Respect (with the humourous catchy little slogan, "Yo Blair Go Blair"), MAB, SWP and home made ones. One bloke wearing a tee-shirt which said, "Bush, you disgusting warmongering bastard", really caught my eye and if he had not been too far away I would've asked him where he got it from.

I reckon there was around two thousand people (I'm crap with figuring out the numbers though the telly will undoutedly underestimate attendance. The police will say 700 while Lindsay German will say 5,000 and do a bit of subtraction which gives you around 2,000) but it grew a bit during the hour as kick off was 1pm. What I noticed by their absence was the lack of trade union banners (actually banners overall as I only saw placards). I saw a PCS banner and a Unison banner and that was it. I know this was literally organised within a week but still, where was the trade unions?!!

It was papersellers galore and the SWP was out in force, same with my old trot group (Socialist Outlook), Socialist Party (headline: Stop the Carnage), Weekly Worker (their ludicrous headline: 2 secular states), Workers Power, and some really obscure ones.

It was a good humoured demo and while walking through Piccadilly the rain finally came and brought some desperately needed breeze. We marched to Grosvenor Square to the American Embassy where loud collective booing was heard as we drew close. The Embassy had been barricaded off and was surrounded by Her Majesty's Finest so we couldn't get that close. Once we moved on we saw more of Her Majesty's Finest clad in riot gear (I have some great photos of that) all blokes with one woman (Very Equal Opps).

We marched to Hyde Park and unfortunately we weren't allowed in the park. The speeches were held outside in the road! Andrew Murray started the proceedings and announced that there would be 20 speakers...!! I listened to about 3 speakers. One speaker compared the situation in Palestine to apartheid South Africa, by asking whether 2 states would have been an acceptable solution there. The answer "No" was shouted by the crowd. He said 2 states for Palestine would mean a Bantustan for Palestinians (Yes, I agreed). He finished saying that the only solution is one state and Hezbollah will liberate the people of Lebanon.

That last sentence frankly worried me. So any old one state then? Unfortunately, "secular" being the operative word he omitted. Hezbollah has the politics of desperation and religious fundmentalism. They will not liberate the Lebanese. Yes, it is wrong for the Israeli State to not recognise the elected Hamas government. Palestinians look towards Hamas as a way of taking on the occupying force of Israel. But have they the political strategy to liberate the Palestinians?

With that note I left disenchanted and worried about the way forward for the anti-war movement. I am a Marxist who supports self-determination and a single secular state but surely this can only be achieved through socialist and secular solutions...?

Friday, July 21, 2006

So farewell to Ted Grant.....

Well, the old trot in me just wanted to say adios to Ted Grant who died yesterday. He was 93. Anyway, it is pretty sad going as well, because, who is left of that generation? Tony Cliff, Ernest Mandel, Gerry Healy (good fucking riddance to him...) and now Ted Grant have all fallen off the perch.

And they are all blokes as well (rather a reflection of the revolutionary left as a whole). I can't think of a woman equivalent of the above and please don't say Lindsay German. Any ideas?

Doctors could be forced to teach abstinence

To all you Puritans out there this little number is for you….

MISH sounds like something vaguely from an Austin Power’s movie where he’s fighting the evils of this secret organisation.

Well, my fantasy wouldn’t be too far off the mark. MISH stands for Medical Institute for Sexual Health. Sounds rather impressive but hey, don’t be fooled. This little outfit is pushing …… abstinence under the so-called banner of science.

In April this year, MISH received $200,000 grant to establish a sexual health curriculum for medical students. Sexual experts affiliated to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are shocked. MISH was set up by Dr. Joe McIlhaney an evangelical obstetrician, who founded MISH in well, you guessed it, Texas in 1992. He got backing from James Leininger a “sugar daddy” of the far-right in Texas. They rely on, like any abstinence organisation, scare tactics.

MISH has now offices in El Paso, Austin and Washington. It is distributing materials in more than 40 countries. Scary!

MISH tries to back away from the “abstinence- only” phrase because it promotes bad science. But with choice quotes like below, how else can you describe the organisation?

“Science clearly shows that the behavior choices necessary for optimal health are sexual abstinence for unmarried individuals and faithfulness within marriage. We are a key player committed to the reversal of the STD and nonmarital pregnancy epidemics.”

McIlhaney has been accused by the Texas Department of Health of bias and intellectual dishonesty. He had shown “proof” that condoms didn’t work. December 2001 Bush appointed McIlhaney to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. This too was heavily criticised.

On the MISH board there are other abstinence-only cronies such as Elaine Bennett of the Best Friends Foundation, Thomas Lickona of the Center for the Fourth and Fifth Rs and Dr Patricia Sulak of the Worth the Wait abstinence programme. You really couldn’t make this up….

And this one is my own favourite, Dr. W. David Hager author of As Jesus Cared for Women and Stress and Women’s Body, which “recommends particular scripture readings as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome.” Obviously he would shudder at Dr Feminista's chocolate, sex and a good bottle of Shiraz to "cure" those PMT blues!

MISH has received more than $1.5. million in federal funding and has government contracts with the CDC, Maternal Child Health Bureau and the Texas Department of Health. And now MISH has received this $200,000 grant and Hager has already has put the panel together.

“It remains to be seen what the curriculum will entail, but all logic points to the probability that it will teach a dangerous abstinence –only message to a generation of future doctors”.

The focus on abstinence-only education aka ignorance-only education is worrying. There has to be a comprehensive sex education programme which explores issues around sexuality, contraception and reproductive health. I had 2 experiences of sex education; my mum gave me a book when I was 12, which could have been written by various religious and moralistic bods (full of sexist double-standards). The overall message was that “good girls wait until they get married and bad girls get thrown on the scrap heap” (scrap heap beckons for me I thought).

And when I was 16 and still at school was shown a piss-poor video of a blue rinse woman with a BBC/Celia Johnson accent mechanically and abstractically explaining that “this is a sheath”, “this is a dutch cap” and so on. Not explaining what the hell you do with them! I still had to get permission from my mum to see this video.

Sex can be a real head-fuck when you are teenager (well, not just when you are a teenager) because you are surrounded by ignorance and confusion and the ideological push for abstinence will only worsen matters. And abstinence-only education does not work. Screw abstinence! Open and honest sex education is the way forward…..

Thanks to the F Word Blog.

Oh and I have been looking for an excuse to use a Nan Goldin photo.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel out of Lebanon

Margaret Beckett should really look the words "proportionate" and "provocation" up in the dictionary. Israel’s way of acting in a proportionate way means state terrorism whereby deploying gunboats, marauding F16s and threats from an Israeli army chief that "nothing is safe in Lebanon". Proportionate? I don't think so!

Around 306 people have died in Lebanon, 29 in Israel and 500,000 displaced Lebanese. And now Israeli state wants to drag in Syria and Iran. It is one rule for Israel and one for Lebanon.

In Gaza, Palestinians have no fuel, raw sewage, rubbish is piling up and there is a shortage of electricity due to air strikes and there have been hardly any wages paid. All this for one Israeli soldier…..

It is not as if the Israeli state has not been kidnapping Palestinians and “detaining” them without trial. Why has the there been a disproportionate response just now? The cynic might say that it is the US government that has given the nod to the Israeli state to go and do some damage. Battering Hezbollah to bits is a shot across the bows of Iran which holds some trump cards in Iraq through its influence among the Shia militias and Shia religious leaders. If these groups were to join the Sunni uprising the US/UK occupation would be defeated quickly. Is the cynic right? Well, when has the cynic been wrong about the real role of the west and of the US Government particularly in the oil rich parts of the World?

The media has been predominantly pro-Israel and it’s reporting of the situation in Lebanon biased. But what has also been lacking is reporting the demonstrations in Tel Aviv, where 2,000 people marched to demand prisoner exchange negotiations. The crowds where a mixed crowd of Jewish and Arab demonstrators organised by several Israeli anti-war groups. Surely it is important to show solidarity with these people as well?

There is a demonstration on Saturday marching to demand that the Israeli State gets out of Lebanon, Palestine and not to attack Iran and Syria. I will be attending.

The Israeli State as an occupying force is pounding Gaza and Lebanon in to the ground.

I think Tariq Ali is correct in today’s Guardian when he says:
“Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq’s occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A “UN” force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion”.

For a resolution of the conflict to happen the West/US will need to give up its long practised tactic of divide and rule.

Update: 21/7/06
Israel tightens grip on Lebanon

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Yo, Blair!

'Lenin' , What is to be done ?

Now those of you with nothing better to do will recall I had a few disagreements with one Paddy the puritan on Osler's blog.

In the process another side to 'Lenin' emerged. Louise and I argued in favour of decadence for all under socialism and 'Lenin' joined in. He went up in my estimation as he defended fishnets and lippy and later tried to flirt with and offer to seduce Paddy.

I am impressed at his dedication to corrupting puritanical lefties. Any suggestions as to where he can next focus his talents in the comments box please.

So here is 'Lenin' in his own words ....

I want no part of Paddy's revolution if I have to give up my fishnets and lippy. That's all I'm saying.

Immodest trollops - but that's what all bloggers are, especially yours truly.

stroppybird - I believe I could corrupt young Paddy's morals given five minutes and a tube of Astroglide. I'd have him converted before he even got his coat off.

Now imagine me in drag. Interested, Paddy? *raises eyebrow* You know you are.


Sorry to be a killjoy but I hate this heat.

I find sunbathing boring, plus I don't want skin cancer and I am quite pale naturally.
Why people suddenly strip off , minus sun cream, and then wonder why they resemble a lobster is beyond me. Do they never learn.

Trying to do anything in this heat is impossible.
I can't be arsed to post anything that requires any thought as my brain is melting.

Oh and in this country all vestiges of style seem to go out the window with the sun.

Rant, rant, rant.....

Monday, July 17, 2006

Public sector stressed workers: constantly pulling sickies....

Here we go again, dreaded public sector workers not only greedy but pulling sickies faster than you can say hangover from Fiday night...

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have published a report which states that public sector absence is 25% higher than the private sector. Yet those damn public sector employers are less likely to discipline or dismiss employees due to absence from work. That is probably to do with trade union activity within the public sector fighting for workers rights. And there are better negotiated sickness policies in the public sector though in saying that, some employers are desperately trying to push through draconian sickness policies (Tower Hamlets). I am sure employers are just itching to sack employees without having to go through procedure and representation.

Public sector absence has fallen from 10.3 days per employee to 9.9 days. But work-related stress has increased by 2% from 2002 to 2005. Three in every five employees are stressed. The reasons range from: working longer hours, staff cuts and bullying.
Though the author of this report isn't interested in stress in the workplace or the reasons why people get sick. He states:

"Nonetheless, there does seem to be a cultural difference between how this issue is managed in the private and public sectors", says Ben Willmott.

I take that to mean, be more like the private sector where there is more bullying, sackings and ..... probably more stress. While the public sector have various policies negotiated with union involvement. How dare they, cries mister Willmott.

So, we pull sickies, get stressed, screw up our health and now we have to work until we drop! Oh super, the continuation of the daily capitalist grind. Working for the rat race/you know you're wasting your time... and stressing yourself out and getting to that grave a bit quicker every day.

Stropps takes over a blog :-)

Stroppyblog has a fine tradition of invading male leftie blogs . So egged on by Lenin , I have declared that one of Osler's posts is now an open thread !!

So while Osler is away, we can all play on his blog. Blame me when he returns :-)

We can rampage gleefully , shrieking even !

This can be the Stroppy 'naughty room' .

All are welcome ...

So Lenin can plug his blog and argue the finer points of Marxist politics.

Paddy the puritan can lecture us on the virtues of Yvonne Ridley and how immodest trollops will be the downfall of left men (but we are more fun).

Stroppybloggers, being immodest trollops, can defend decadence and talk about their underwear.

Sensible Adele, the saffy of the left, can leave the world of Nols(where Kinnock is a hero !) and listen to the ravings of young and old trots.
Update, been corrected by Adele. Kinnock is her personal hero. Off now to bang my head against a wall in utter despair :-)

Andy can try to engage Lenin on a debate on dialectics and shake his head at young lefties quoting Kinnock(thats not Lenin btw !).

Jim Jam can bring his kettle and chocolate hob nobs (where are you Jim, you have gone very quiet ).

Ed can pop over and try to be reasonable, whilst getting some splinters sitting on the fence .

Will can swear at us and call us fuckwits.

New bloggies Shiraz Socialist can pop in.

Apologies to those I have missed .

Osler will return and think WTF has stropps done to my blog . Think I might have some explaining to do ;-) Still I have posted a pic of another badly behaved women , Courtney, to make up for it !

So open thread it is.
oh but do still come here .

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No cops to face charges over Menezes

No cops will face charges over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Instead the CPS is expected to announce on Monday that the Metropolitan police as an organisation will face charges of breaching health and safety at work. If found guilty of breaches the Met could be fined an unlimited sum. Harriet Wistrich, Menezes family lawyer said, "They would like to see officers held to account on a personal level, for somebody to be charged with a homicide offence".

Even if the police force are found guilty of a criminal offence all they get is an unlimited fine. And what's the prediction they could get the fine reduced? No justice for the Menezes family, that's for sure.

The only cops I have heard of being prosecuted are Melvin and Dingle, who stitched up Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite (The Tottenham 3) for the killing of PC Blakelock. They were charged with fabricating evidence in 1994 but surprise, surprise, they were aquitted.
From miscarriages of justice, deaths in custody to shooting down innocent people, the cops just carry on getting away with it. No accountability or justice for the people involved.

I ask the question, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Translation: Who guards the guards...??

Update: 17/7/06

No cops will be prosecuted but there will be charges under health and safety. A spokesperson from the Police Federation said: "whilst the just, fair and difficult decision reached by the CPS today is welcomed by the police service. We must never forget the hurt and devastation caused to the de Menezes family by this tragic and fatal shooting of Jean Charles last year".

Yes, but who indeed caused the devastation and hurt for the de Menezes family? Who pumped 7 bullets into the man's head?

Pathetic, cowardly and meaningless words by the cops who are pleased that the shoot to kill policy (Operation Kratos) won't end up in the public domain. The de Menezes family are considering suing the Met and have Michael Mansfield on side.

Arsey old trots

Dave Osler, my favourite arsey old trot, can be spotted on the Panorama programme on Lord Levy tomorrow night. Its also viewable via the internet .

Even though he is extremely vain he did not manage to get his hair cut in time, but apparently his clothes are co-co-ordinated !

For those who want the background , not only on Levy but the history of how the labour Party moved to a party of business I recommend Osler's book on this subject.

Update : Got that wrong, it was a one off programme last night.

Honour thy family...

"Crimes of honour are about the control of women. Honour is an excuse" (Hannana Siddiqui - Southall Black Sisters)

Samaira Nazir was stangled and stabbed by her brother and cousin because they were against her Afghan boyfriend. Her brother was jailed yesterday for at least 20 years. Samaira argued for the right to choose her boyfriend rather than her family. This cost her her life.

Samaira's boyfriend spoke in court about how, "we couldn't tell her family because Samaira said her father was a very strict man who would not allow any female in his family to marry outside of his caste or tribe".

Samaira's "crime" was liking the wrong man. Reading the case made me angry beyond belief and horrified me that this woman's life was curtailed because she wouldn't give into her family's demands.

According to official record there are an estimated 12 honour killings a year. Honour killings do not just happen in muslim families. The truth is that they happen in all societies.

Hannana Siddiqui from Southall Black Sisters argues that honour killings are seen as a predominantly "asian problem" and this stereoptype causes so much racist reaction. She also believes that honour killings should be relocated to the mainstream of law and policy on gender violence and into wider issues of human rights.

Honour killings are about controlling women in a patriarchal family unit with the man at the top. It is a way of keeping women under the thumb. It is an expression of violence in patriarchy...
if the woman doesn't obey she is condemned and sometimes subjected to violence and/or killed. That's why honour killings should be treated as violence against women overall.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Extreme cinema" and sexual violence

I like the director Alex Cox (Repo Man and Sid and Nancy). He used to introduce Moviedrome in the late 80s and early 90s. I remember him introducing Oliver Stone's Salvador and giving a 10 minute excellent potted history of American imperialism. Didn't get when film critic Mark Kermode took over....
Anyway, Alex Cox has written a piece in today's Guardian regarding a study which aims to investigate audience responses to sexual violence in films. This research has been commissoned by the British Board of Film Classification and is being conducted by Aberystwyth University. It is questionnaire based research and they are also advertising on the Internet Movie Database for people who have watched the following films.

The films the researchers are interested in are the films which have given the most headaches to the BBFC such as:

A Ma Soeur
Baise Moi
House on the edge of the park

The above have been either banned outright such as House on the edge of the park which was refused a certification in the UK when presented in 1981. Eventually received one in 2002 after 11 minutes worth of cuts. Or heavily cut such as Baise-Moi, Koroshiya, Irreversible and A Ma Soeur (all cut on UK release)

The researchers ask how does sexual violence affect peoples' understanding of and feelings about the movie? What difference does the version of the film you get to see make the way you respond to it (cut/uncut). The BBFC have funded the study but the researchers maintain independence and have total control over it.

Alex Cox makes interesting observations regarding sexual violence in "extreme film" where he asks are filmmakers, festivals and distributors creating an audience for increasing levels of sexual violence? He doesn't have the answer but he waits with anticipation for the results from this study. He also writes about his own experience of being asked by the Film Council to "make the rape scene more violent and explicit" (Revengers Tragedy - 2001). Cox refused because "when we do these things, film directors essentially become pimps - persuading usually reluctant women to do what the clients expect them to".

He further asks what do Tarantino's fans think about violence against women? Why does Hollywood action cinema demean women and minorities? Is this a political agenda, and if so who sets it? Why is "extreme cinema" so focused on sexual violence and rape?

I think Cox raises some important points and I agree with him on some aspects. Though contradictory I liked Tarantino's film Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2. The documentary film maker Nick Broomfield criticised the film when it was released by arguing it was a deeply sexist film. Yes, it was, but I enjoyed watching it. I think there are indeed complex and contradictory issues which are thrown up about screen violence and what people make of it. What impact (if any) does it have on the viewer? Does it alter (consciously/unconsciously) their understanding of sexual violence? Does it affect views on women?

I will be very interested to see the findings from this research as well because I wonder what the actual objectives of BBFC are. Are they looking to cut more films on release and may use the findings as the basic for doing it? I know I am pre-empting the findings but I am cynical when it comes to the BBFC. I hope the pertinent questions Cox asks are answered in some way without any preconceptions at least but I get a feeling that's not what's on the BBFC agenda.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

'theatrical', well at least no one shot you!

The line is the police are being 'theatrical '.

First Blunkett and now Levy are coming out with this. Expect the clones to follow suit .

Of course this is the same labour leadership and cronies who supported the police when they shot an innocent man in Stockwell and dragged people from their beds in Forest Gate .

Funny how they now seem to have developed some sort of critical viewpoint on the police .

Wasn't there before, was it .

The BBC reports :

"Lord Levy has said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision to arrest him as part of an investigation into allegations of "cash for peerages".
In a statement, Tony Blair's fundraiser said the arrest was unnecessary and "entirely theatrical", as he had been willing to co-operate with police. "

I bet he was disappointed. After all he is pals with Tony and can afford the best lawyers.


At least he was not shot dead mistakenly or had 250 armed police raid his home, and shoot him, in the early hours of the morning.

Funny how the Labour Party defends the powerful against the police but backs them to the hilt at other times.

Message from PC Plod: Women! Have a bikini wax….

“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often” Mae West

You know when your mum used to tell you to wear clean knickers when you go out just in case you get run over by a bus and A&E staff don’t wanna see your once white pants now gone a grey colour. … yeah? No? Oh ok, mine did. Well, the latest “good advice” comes from Her Majesty’s Finest.

The utterly surreal advice from the police in Suffolk is published in a new mag, which tells ladies to cut down on boozing, be safe (?) when they go out clubbing and even better have a bikini wax as nobody, just nobody wants to see an impersonation of a Brazilian rainforest.

Fashion editor WK Dee stipulates that women who are intent on getting “ratted” and end up falling over into the gutter perhaps, should bear in mind their knickers may show and it is important to wear nice and clean pants! Remember that ladies...put it in your diaries!

Ch Insp David McDonnell said the magazine would be useful in the fight against anti-social behaviour.

Does that mean if your knickers are a greyer shade of white you will have an ASBO slapped on you? Or even a double-whammy if you just haven’t had time for that all-important wax.

We at Stroppyblog will fight against these impositions as women have the right to wear saggy off-grey pants if they want (I do as I am lazy), wax or not to wax, club till ya drop and the booze issue annoys me. I could get all analytical about booze culture but won’t. Women have so much crap thrown at them day in and day out by society on how we should behave or not behave.

I am all for immodesty, misbehaving, degeneracy, general debauchery and showing your off-grey knickers. Most importantly, and I am sure Alexandra Kollontai would have agreed and joined in with this socialist feminist, is flipping the V sign to morality! By the way, Alex, if you get to the bar before me mines a double vodka and can you tell Clara to stop flashing her stockings? Cheers..

Decadent degenerate badly behaved women in fishnets....

Louise and I have been rampaging gleefully all over Osler's blog and caused some offence in the more puritanical sections of the left.

Honest, we did not start the debate about the corrupting , decadent and degenerate pleasures of the West such as fishnets stockings. Apparently we need to be aware that in a few years time there will be a moral backlash against such bourgeois behaviour as 'ladies' showing their ankles and having a sweet sherry . The way forward for the left is modesty . Sounds boring to me !

Generally the view in some quarters is that we are decadent tarts who are provincial and stupid and cannot be taken seriously because we dress immodestly and thus cause offence. We are roaming unchaperoned through the blogs , let free from our padded cells and shrieking.

What about the offence to me? Telling me how to behave, dress and judging me. It just makes me want to shock even more.

As I have said before socialism does not have to be hairshirt and dreary.
I do not fit in with a certain rosey view of the working class (and that is my background).
I am not a dutiful wife, homemaker, I don't have babies dangling on my arms, I can't cook, cleaning bores me . I am not always responsible or sensible. I like to behave badly and have fun. Oh and that might include fishnet stockings, champagne and decadent hotel rooms ( in my socialist world cheaply available to all !!). I do still consider myself a socialist and a feminist!

Decadence for all !

Link from Will in response to this debate

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Levy arrested .

Not going to say much about this at present, will wait to see what develops.

I suggest people pop over to Osler's site to follow this issue, this is his area of expertise .
And another plug for the smart arse old trot ...he is on the BBC1 at 10.00.

Being different .....

Today's Independent covers a report given by Professor Fitzgerald to the conference of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Glasgow yesterday. The headline is "Keith Joseph, the father of Thatcherism, 'was autistic' claims Professor "

Professor Fitzgerald states that Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell probably had aspergers syndrome (autism is a spectrum, aspergers is on that spectrum).

So here is a chance for the media to discuss this subject in a positive, or at least more balanced light, and what do they do. They highlight two reactionary unpleasant rightwingers !
Aspies have enough hassle without being branded rightwing ! The article seems to imply that the two go hand in hand, they don't.

They mention less unpleasant characters only briefly (Orwell , Newton) . Obviously more newsworthy to highlight Powell and Joseph.

The media tends to cover this issue in terms of sympathy for parents and as an 'affliction'. Aspies do not fit neatly into the norms of society and so the talk is of how sad it is, justifying parents who kill their children when they cannot cope . The debates on MMR all focused on whether it 'caused' autism , but did not address the realities of autism and aspergers, or take the chance to educate people.

The article goes on to say :

"The university professor of computer science with the brilliant mind, few friends and an obsessive interest in model trains is the classic sufferer."

Yes, lets throw around some stereotypes that would not be acceptable if written about other groups who suffer discrimination. Oh and of course the classic , aspie as 'sufferer'. Most 'suffering' is caused by other people's ignorance and fear of anyone who does not fit in . Its caused by a society that does not recognise and accept difference and by offensive remarks such as Professor Fitzgeralds.

The Aspies for Freedom site has a rather more balanced list . It includes Darwin, Einstein, Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, Patricia Highsmith, James Joyce, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kant, Bertrand Russell, Bill Gates, Beethoven, Courtney Love, Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick......

So not all the stereotype 'geeks' or right wing politicians then.

Some links for those who are interested in understanding a bit more :

And to see the world from another perspective :

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why I will vote Walter .

It seems the Blairites may be getting a bit twitchy as they can see the likelihood of an 'orderly' transition ( democracy, debate, don't be silly this is New labour) slipping away.

First I read about Jacqui Smith and the yellow card . Dave Osler points out :

"Presumably, a suspended MP would be ineligible to stand in leadership and deputy leadership contests. Message to comrades McDonnell and Simpson. Watch your backs."

I then read in The Independent that MPs are writing to their constituency members urging them not to vote for Walter Wolfgang :

"On-message backbench MPs have been instructed to sign a "dummy" letter to Labour activists in their constituency, urging them to vote against Wolfgang in this month's election.
......Sources close to Wolfgang say the letter has already been signed, sealed, and delivered by a number of MPs.
"It's not fair, and could seriously damage Walters chances," I'm told. "Pathetic though it seems, No 10 is wetting its pants at the idea of Walter saying hello to Tony at a monthly NEC meeting."

I have looked at the list of candidates for the NEC . I accept there are arguments against voting for him being put forward and reservations being expressed.

But I will be voting for Wolfgang.

Dave says :

"Sure, I have got reservations about his politics. Deep reservations. But symbolism is important, and it would be sending the right message to Blair and Co if he topped the poll."

It would send the right message but it would also annoy and piss off Blair big time, and who could pass by that opportunity.

The filth stays in the picture....

Directors and studios bosses were celebrating last week as Hollywood won an ongoing battle against companies, which sanitise versions of its films on DVD when a US judge ordered those firms to turn over all existing copies to studio lawyers for destruction within five days of his ruling.

Judge Richard Matsch of Colorado ruled that editing movies to delete objectionable language, sex and violence was an “illegitimate business” that hurt Hollywood studios and directors who owned the movie rights.

The order affects the likes of Utah-based CleanFicks, CleanFilms and Play It Clean Video, Arizona Family Flix USA and another CleanFicks based in Colorado. The fight has been ongoing since August 2002 when CleanFicks of Utah filed a suit against the Directors of Guild of America and 16 leading directors, seeking a court ruling clarifying its right to market the videos on First Amendment grounds. The DGA and directors countersued and by December 2002 eight major studios filed suit.

Utah’s CleanFicks, which is the largest distributor, has declared they will continue the fight against the studios and their right to produce edit ed movies.

I had a look at CleanFlicks and what first grabs your attention is the happy shiny glossy photo of the uber white heterosexual nuclear family at the top of the website. And they sure need protecting from those “evil” directors and studios. They also explain what they remove from films, includes profanity (oh my!), nudity (full frontal and from behind), graphic violence (decapitation, impalement, dismemberment, excessive blood… well based on that diddly squat would have remained of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol.2 )
The same with any David Lynch film, for that matter.

They also remove references to sexual language and anything which refers to the sexual act itself (oh my! I can feel a fainting spell coming on… quick fetch me the smelling salts). And anything, which is “insulting to the deity” (So no taking the lord’s name in vain by screaming, “Oh My God” while fucking thank-you-very-much)

But my favourite has to be FamilyFlix who has “decided to close their doors after 5 years”. This lot regularly hack to pieces films, which show “homosexuality”, “perversion” and “cohabitation”. God (oopps sorry) knows what they did to Brokeback Mountain.

These creepy homophobic sexist God squaders piss the hell out of me. Who are they to decide what people can and can’t watch? They can take their brand of nasty reactionary finger-wagging morality and go shove it somewhere. You can choose whether to watch or not watch a film, it’s up to you. But no way do you impose your own religious morality on everyone else.

Monday, July 10, 2006

In defence of the threesome .....

Here at Stroppyblog we defend the right to for people to do what they damm well please in the bedroom, as long as its between consenting adults. So it is with interest that I note the Sheridan court case against the News of the World. Today there are discussions about a stag night and threesomes :

"Earlier the trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh heard an account of an alleged three-in-a-bed session involving Mr Sheridan, a footballer and a prostitute from Birmingham"

Other accounts have talked of spanking, red pvc gloves and champagne.

If we were to nose around in the sex lives of those on the left I expect they would not all be of the vanilla or mundane variety. Many I am sure have got up to, and still do, all sorts. And that should not be a problem. Life is to short to worry about being 'good'.

When there was all the fuss about Oaten I did not care what he paid a rent boy to do. What bearing does that have on his ability to be an MP.

What I do have a problem with is hypocrisy . Oaten paraded his wife and children and played the family card whilst leading a secret life. Simon Hughes gained from the homophobia directed at Tatchell to gain his seat as an MP. It seems Sheridan is guilty of playing the happy family man card as well. If the stories are true then that makes him a hypocrite.

Why does engaging in certain sexual practices become a liability in politics. Its only that if we continue to hold up the heterosexual family as the ideal that MPs must aspire to. I don't want a world where people snigger at what someone does in bed or people live double lives, often hurting partners in the process. Shouldn't socialism embrace a more libertarian attitude to sexuality. Perhaps then people would be more honest and less deceitful.

I am much more concerned with someone's politics when it comes to women/LGBT and equality issues. That is what I would judge Sheridan and any other politician on.

As an aside I expect the champagne drinking upset as much as the sexual goings on in some quarters of the left. Personally under socialism I would be happy to see affordable champagne, in decadent hotel rooms , available for all.

No need for feminism ?

The issue of women's rights seem to keep slipping down the agenda on the left. In the mainstream media there are many articles discussing how young women do not relate to feminism, seeing liberation in Jimmy Choo shoes , porn star t-shirts or lap dancing lessons .

A report just published shows that far from it not being relevant, it is now more than ever.
The Crime and Society Foundation, at King's College, London, says ministers should focus on tackling root causes of crime, such as poverty and sexism.

"There was also a great need to tackle some men's attitude to women, it said.
It quoted one survey from 2000 which suggested 40% of men believed it would be acceptable to hit their partner for sleeping with another man and 20% for neglecting their children.
"Much violence suffered by some of the most vulnerable in our society will not begin to be addressed until the systemic misogyny and sexism of British society is confronted," the report said. "

Women's Aid have the following figures :

"Domestic violence is very common with 1 in 4 women experiencing it in their lifetime and between 1 in 8 to 1 in 10 women experiencing it annually. Though less than half of all incidents are ever reported the Police, the Police still receive one call about domestic violence for every minute in the UK. "

They also state that 2 women a week are killed in domestic violence. Much like the hysteria about abuse of children and the focus on the stranger, the media and govt ignore the real hidden abuse in the home, reluctant to look at the realities of the family as an institution.

I am not downplaying that it also happens to men, but in far fewer numbers :

"British Crime Survey found that there were an estimated 12.9 million incidents of domestic violence acts (that constituted non-sexual threats or force) against women and 2.5 million against men in England and Wales in the year preceding interview (Walby & Allen, 2004). "

And the left is not immune from "systemic misogyny and sexism". Men on the left also need to look at their behaviour and attitudes to women and who they choose to defend and support. Sorry , but the personal is political.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Au revoir Rose Tyler

I can trace back the first ever time I heard the word feminist and that was in an episode of Dr Who. And it was uttered by Sarah Jane Smith, one of the doctor's companions, resident journalist and feminist. This must have been around 1975 and I was around 5. It just kinda stuck in my head. I remembered this last night watching the final episode in the series of Dr Who and the demise of Rose Tyler. Rose, ably battling Cybermen and Daleks in alternate universes but finishing up in another time and place but without the Dr.

In some ways I actually started to like Rose Tyler with her wit, strength and logic. The fact she was never intimidated by the Dr and that she was able to hold her own. I think both Billie Piper and Russell T. Davies should be applauded for the way Rose has convincingly evolved over the two series and the continued development of this strong woman. Like I said, I wasn't a big fan originally (I found her annoying and supposed in some ways I wanted her to mirror Buffy by kicking tin ass) but Rose grew on me with her feisty, practical and tough attitude and that she wore low-heeled shoes or trainers. Her clothes were practical and ordinary for space travel.

Unlike many of the previous assistants who wore high heels (I'm sorry, but trying to run away from some baddie in 3-inch killer heels is not clever as you are bound to get caught or topple over and break your ankle!) and they screamed a lot...... and that was it really. I remember these assistants when I watched Dr Who during the late 70s until the mid-80s usually Saturday tea-time after Grandstand. It was probably a way to draw in blokes hence the hot female totty wearing heels, skimpy shorts and a low cut corset (Ah yes, Tegan). It just irritated along with the constant screaming.

I suppose there was Ace with her anarcho style lobbing bricks at Cybermen and whacking Daleks with base ball bats. But didn't generally watch it then as thought Sylvester McColl bland and lame (in my opinion went downhill after Peter Davison left..)

But I have to say I didn't miss an episode of these 2 series (yep, says a lot about me..) as it was well written, imaginative, creative, current and yes, Russell T. Davies has admitted to raiding ideas from various American films and telly programmes (Matrix to Independence Day to Buffy to Angel and so on). So, farewell Rose and I do hope we get to see you again in a cameo once in a while.

Note to Russell T. Davies: keep creating good, positive and strong women. And no screaming....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tessa Jowell's hubby facing fraud trial...

I like the word schadenfreude. While surfing the web this sunny afternoon I came across this article which made me choke my on decaf tea due to laughing too much. Ha! David Mills is facing a fraud trial. The poor beleagured dumped hubby of Ms Jowell will face trial with 14 other people. He's alleged to have set up offshore firms that helped Berlusconi's media company avoid tax liability on TV rights. He will stand trial on charges of embezzlement and tax fraud. Berlusconi is also accused of paying Mills £350,000 for not revealing details of his media empire in two court cases.

But of what of his ex-other half, Tessa Jowell? Well, she seems to be keeping schtum. I mean, this is the woman who argued that her hubbie dealt with the family finances and being the "little lady" money issues obviously put too much strain on her delicate female brain that she knew little about them. And that she co-signed the mortgage in good faith.

Wouldn't ya wanna know where the cash came from which paid the mortgage off? But Tessa has cut him loose because her career is far more important and you don't want to be associated with someone with a court case hanging over them, do you now?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Speak Out: Fight for a woman's right to choose

I'd forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to get into Parliament. Being man or should I say woman handled by The Filth and in the corner of my eye, I could see one or two of them holding the standard issue Heckler and Koch (hope the safety catch was on...).

But it was worth it as Abortion Rights in conjunction with Marie Claire and Marie Stopes had organised a meeting called "Break the silence on abortion". First up was Anne Quesney from Abortion Rights who spoke about the reasons this meeting was happening. She rightly said that the pro-choice had been complacent and that it was time to organise. The anti-abortionists were watching the events in the States and following similar tactics. And now there is this exclusive emphasis on the foetus with women being sidelined. This constant chipping away of choice.

And Geraldine Smith's Early day Motion (EDM) was debated on Monday.

Below is the EDM:

Review of abortion legislation - Geraldine Smith MP
"That this House endorses Recommendation 77 of the Report of the Science and Technology Committee, Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law; and calls on the Government to set up a joint committee of both Houses to consider the scientific, medical and social changes in relation to abortion that have taken place since 1967, with a view to presenting options for new legislation."

Laura Moffatt MP for Crawley said that only 60 MPs backed this EDM out of 650 but we still shouldn't be complacent. And what exactly are these "changes" since 1967 regarding the scientific, medical and social changes? Nothing has changed for women. This EDM smacks of a way of reducing the time limits.
She quoted one Tory from the debate who said, "You can't have sex education as it gives them ideas"!!! So, ignorance is bliss...

Liz Davis from Marie Stopes spoke of the stereotypes of women who have had abortions.That they are perceived as “selfish” “uncaring” and should be riddled with “angst” and “regret”.

Journalist Suzanna Moore spoke about the need to change the stereotypes and that abortion is a reality and women shouldn’t be stigmatised for having one. Choice has to be normalised and that it is seen in a real context. And abortion isn’t seen as shameful or as a big dirty secret. Men too need to show solidarity with women. There has to be support for the medical profession as the BMA, RCN and RCGN are opposed to reducing the time limits. She also spoke of abortion as a class issue and that wealthier women could always afford an abortion while poorer women are penalised.

We then saw the film Speak Out: I have had an abortion, which showed 2 women talking about their experiences of abortion. Both are extremely powerful and moving narratives. In the States 1.3million women have an abortion but for many of these women they still can’t talk about it.

Marie O’Riordan editor of Marie Claire spoke of the unequivocal support for a woman’s right to choose. In the latest edition there is an interview with 12 women who speak of their reasons for having an abortion. Again, she spoke of the taboo and stigmatisation attached to abortion and how we must fight against this.

The floor was open to contributions from women who spoke of their experiences of abortion. Many of these women’s stories exposed the way they were controlled, moralised, guilt tripped and lectured. One woman was made to wait 13 weeks for an abortion. One woman was told she was a “burden on the NHS and a burden on the tax payer”. One woman was told she had to pay £500 which she could ill afford but was desperate enough to find the money. Many women felt “guilty” that they didn’t feel “guilty” for having an abortion except feeling relief. Some still can't tell their families.

An Irish woman spoke of "abortion tourism"and that women have to pay around £650 (before 14 weeks) or £700+ (after 16 weeks) and include the travel in that as well. So if you haven't the money you are scuppered. And the fact the 1967 Abortion Act does not cover the North but hey, it brings together Paisley and the Catholic Church condemning choice, free legal abortion and keeping women well and truly under the thumb!

Listening to the stories made me angry. Angry that as women we have no real fundamental control over our bodies. As one woman said, “Aren’t we, women, the best judges of what is best for us and for our bodies”! Quite!

Overall it was a good meeting with nearly 100 people (around 85 women and 15 blokes). There were a number of young women which I found positive and refreshing. Abortion Rights are organising events in the autumn.

Stroppyblog is a pro-choice blog and we will support the continued fight for a woman’s right to choose and ultimate control over our reproductive rights. We will keep you informed of events.

Some things you can do:

Join Abortion Rights

Send the Abortion Rights postcard ("would you turn the clock back on her rights?") to your MP (it will also be available in electronic form from Monday)

Marie Stopes has published research of women undergoing late abortions between 19 and 24 weeks. It's called Late Abortion and very good it is.

Find out what position your trade union has on a woman’s right to choose. Incidentally, Sue Bond from the PCS spoke of last year’s conference which supported a woman’s right to choose. She also spoke of her mum having a backstreet abortion in the 1950s.

Pass resolutions at trade union branches

Next year it is 40 years of the 1967 Act.

Laughing at others misfortune

I am an athesist but a recent news item made me think perhaps there is a god. Nah. He is a just a sexist racist little fuckwit shit that got his come uppance. What I am talking about is the news that Jim Davidson has been declared bankrupt.

Not going to put his pic up though. Odious man who should be added to the Stroppyblog 'to be shot list' . Think I will put up the cat that looks like Hitler.

Have I entered a parallell universe?

Last week Boris Johnson made sense to me , today Cameron gets all anti nuclear .

Expect next to see a Labour leader cosy up to one of the most reactionary unpleasant stupid US Presidents ever ....oh that is the real world.

Not about to rush off and join the Tories, if that happens please add me to the 'to be shot' list.

Didn't have time to search for a pic, so went with another Boris one. Well it was that or another cat that looked like Hitler.

Right, work to do......

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Enron saga continues .

Kenneth Lay has died of a heart attack. I am curious at to what his obit will be, how will Bush refer to 'kenny boy'. Probably with more concern than that expressed for those who are killed daily in Iraq, the 'publicity seeking' suicides in Guantanamo Bay or for the many who die daily through poverty and lack of access to decent healthcare and living conditions around the world. After all they were once pals.

I notice also that Blair is going to try to assist the NatWest executives David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, who have have lost their court battles to stop their extradition. They are due to be flown to the US to face charges relating to Enron's collapse.

Funnily enough I don't see Blair normally rushing to the defence of people accused of crimes. What with that and Prescott's dubious acquaintances I think it shows where the loyalty and allegiances of New Labour lie. The move towards big business of course is not new and is well documented in Dave Osler's book and his blog.

Hatfield crash: Unbelievably Balfour Beatty win a reduction in fine!!

Words fail me. Judges have agreed to cut £2.5m from the record fine handed to the engineering firm Balfour Beatty for safety failures, which led to the Hatfield rail disaster. They will be fined an amount equivalent to 5% of last year’s pre tax profits over the 2000 disaster. And the reduced fine represents around 2% of the £368 million that Balfour Beatty made from its seven-year rail contract with Railtrack.

“We consider that there is scope for a reduction in the interest of proportionality which will still do justice principles and in particular to the victims of the Hatfield disaster”, Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice ruled.

Four people died and 102 were injured in the crash. Still no sign any Corporate Manslaughter legislation.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thames Water: the realities of privatisation

I have no water. Thanks to Thames Water. Nobody in my road has water. Thanks to Thames Water. It is one of the hottest days of the year and there is no drinking water. Thanks to Thames Water.

Thames Water loses 894 million litres of water each day and has promised an investment plan which would improve the 'security of supply of drinking water' and stem the leaks. But also bear in mind that Thames increased prices by 24% while failing to deliver improvementts. Thames also racked up £346.5 million in profit. This amounts to a 31.5% increase from last year.

Well, I am sure the share holders get nice bottled water and lots of bubbly when they attend their meetings. Unlike me and others living in the road who may get access to a bottle of very warm mineral water and lots of excuses thrown in for good measure (I was told by a customer service adviser that the water may be back by 11pm....!).

And now we have drought conditions along with leaking water supplies. I can't wait to have a shower.....

New male leftie blog !!

Since doing this blog I have found out that the blogosphere operates in much the way the left does generally. There are little groups and spats all over the place .
Like the left in the 'real' world we also spend as much time fighting others on the left as those on the right. As well as spats we also have our 'virtual mates'. Here at Stroppyblog we like the Socialist Unity site.

I noticed today that one of them has ventured into the big bad world of blogs all by himself and set up his own site. So to start him off , here is some publicity and a link to Daily(maybe) , Jim Jays site !! He has a rather nice pic of a cat that looks like Hitler. Wonder if this could be a trend, cats that look like historical or current political figures .

Jim, sorry for pinching the cat pic, didn't know what else to put up to illustrate the post :-)

Big mouths come from Birmingham

I like the Metro (freebie paper you get in London) as you get weird and wacky articles. Where do they get them from? Anyway, the latest piece of intrepid and analytical journalism concerns the fact that people from the West Midlands have the biggest……mouths!

The average gob of a Brummie is 20.9cm in circumference and Mancunians have the smallest gob at 18.5cm (Noel Gallagher will be miffed). Coming from the West Midlands (land of the irritating accent) myself I was half tempted to measure my own mouth with a ruler but thought this too tragic.

Now where this rigorous scientific investigation took place isn’t recorded but hey, I believe it. Who needs science when you have Metro?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Student Loans? Nah Mate, Living Grants...

Monday morning blues. The weather is hot, humid and sticky and my office has no air conditioning and my head is throbbing already (I have left my Neurofen at home). But what is this I see? Student loans service simplified....?
It seems that A-level students in England will be able to apply for a student loan and grants at the same place as applying for a place at university. This is planned for 2009-10. So while you are deciding which uni you want to go to you can also decide how much debt you want to be in. Magic!

The review, which was published in January of this year, states: the need for "greater efficiency, meeting taxpayers' expectations that value for money was being achieved".

Ahh yes! taxpayers and "value for money". Rather than "Education, education..." ad nauseam. It is "Debt, debt and debt"!

I mean, they couldn't just say, "oh sod it, let's give them a living grant and better access". Instead it is, "lets create lots of misery by forcing people into debt.."

Once students graduate and are earning above £15,000, employers should start making repayment deductions immediately and from this September annual tuition fees in English universities - presently a flat rate of £1,175- will be varied from nothing up to a maximum of £3,000.

NUS is leading a campaign with the teaching unions, Coalition 2010. The Coalition is arguing that any removal of the cap would deter poorer students from attending universities.
UCAS figures released in early 2006 shows a decline by 3.7% in university applications. A decline for the first time in eight years. Rather contradictory, as the government plans to get 50% of 18-30 year olds into Higher Education by 2010. How is that exactly possible...?

Oh and of course Education Minister, Alan Johnson (who he?) thinks this all hunky dory. Well he would, wouldn't he. And here are some trivial facts about this Stepford Wife:

1. He attended the Brit Awards with his missus this year as guests of the Phonographic Performance Ltd

2. My fave this one: Has used three-word alliterative phrases 379 times in debates. He is the 30th out of 646 MPs to do so. Wow....

But ya know Alan, majority of your cabinet colleagues had access to free education and living grants and you are denying this basic right to everyone else. Since the elimination of grants, student debt has increased by a staggering 544% and now totals £5 billion. And now 90% of students are in debt and poorer students owe 15% more on graduation.

Whether any of this sinks into Alan Johnson's skull is debatable as he is probably thinking about his next trip to the Brits and another allietrative phrase to stun parliament with.

I can't be bothered to think alliteratively as the heat as addled my brain. But what does come to mind Alan is stupid servile stooge. Ring any bells...?

National Union of Students

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Backing for an inquiry into the death of Joseph Scholes

Sixteen year old Joseph Scholes was a depressed, vulnerable and frightened young man. He had been sexually abused and ended up in a children's home. He went out with some other lads and robbed some people on a train. Scholes was on the periphery and took no real part in the crime. Yet he was found guilty and jailed because no alternative secure accomodation was available. He killed himself nine days into his sentance in 2002.

Martin Narey (former Prison Service director) will this week back a campaign (along with Inquest, Scholes's mother, Yvonne and David Ramsbotham) to force the Home Office to allow an official enquiry. David Ramsbotham (ex-prison inspector) states: "The cases of Scholes and others who died in custody demonstrated the urgent need for John Reid to take action".

And only during the past week the inquiry into the racist murder of Zahid Mubarek, 19, by his cellmate at Feltham was published.

Sarah Campbell was also a frightened, vulnerable and depressed young woman who had an addiction to heroin. She was convicted of manslaughter and within days of her conviction she killed herself by taking 120 anti-depressants in January 2003. Six women committed suicide between August 2002 - August 2003 in Styal and sorry to be blunt but the best way of describing that prison is that it is an utter oppressive shit-hole (and that's from ex-women prisoners).

Wesley McGoldrick was caught shoplifting and concealing a knife. He was remanded in custody at Brixton Prison. Less than a day later he had hanged himself. He was 24.

Half of people who commit suicide are on remand, awaiting trial or sentencing. Sarah Campbell was never risk assessed and it was known she was a suicide risk.

Judges and magistrates are driven by a populist agenda to make sure people are locked up as letting them out would only increase the ire of the tabloids. And well... they just might commit a crime and it is "better to be safe than sorry" This unelightened, blinkered and reactionary stance only increases the prison population, increases distress, overcrowding and so on. The female prison population has risen 146% in 10 years. In the first half of 2003, 7,700 inmates tried to injure themselves. At the moment the current prison population in England and Wales stands at 91,886. Just what is to be gained by this?

How many more young vulnerable and depressed people have to needlessly die before the government acts?

Locking people up who are depressed and frightened is no bloody solution. As Women In Prison argue: "Prison does not work. The best way to cut offending is to deal with its root causes."

But an enlightened attitude like that does not connect with the "Law and Order" policies of New Labour. Instead Blair and co will follow the old mantra: "Understand a little less, condemn a little more"....

No More Prisons (set up by the mum of Sarah Campbell, Pauline)


Women in Prisons