Thursday, August 31, 2006

Obesity and class

As I was waiting for the train this evening I was watching the news on a big screen in the station and there was an item on obesity in the UK. The highest risk of obesity than average is in Easington, near Newcastle while the lowest risk was found in the City of London and Kensington and Chelsea. Well, after getting home and quaffing some Claret (I attend the gym a couple a times a week unlike a manual worker who is less likely to go probably due to being unable to afford being stiffed by a private gym).

Corby, an old steel town, is 21% higher than the national average and the borough I grew up in, Sandwell, is 5th in the pecking order. Kensington and Chelsea has one of the lowest risks and no surprise there it is one of the richest boroughs in London (and poverty is hidden as well). The choice of shops there are Harrods and Waitrose. You are hard pressed to find a Sainsburys or anything else as the Nobs will probably organise a demonstration and petition for lowering the tone of the neighbourhood (I worked around there for over 7 years and it is no joke!).

Interestingly, Bliar's constituency, Sedgefield is 4th in the pecking for higher than national average. Will he give a toss? Probably send one of his minions up there with the message that his voters have to hang on until the next election and afterwards they can conk out due to heart failure.
But what about this survey? Emily Sparks, a health consultant at Experian (they're the lot who look into your dodgy credit details) argues: "Through better health mapping, we can now provide timely and relevant information to enable the more effective targeting of communications and the delivery of preventative care to social groups and neighbourhoods most at risk of obesity".

How that's gonna happen? Are they sending the health guru Gillian MacKeith (that annoying woman on Channel 4 who tells what you can and can't eat) to places with high risk of obesity to moralise and lecture people into eating their greens and foods high in fibre? The lowest risks of obesity were London boroughs and they are clustered together. The affluent crescent of London.

Does prevention include eradicating pay inequalities? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that mortality rates between social classes is increasing. A woman working in a manual occupation is more likely to experience raised blood pressure and hypertension than a middle class woman.

Class disparity is reflected in sporting activities such as swimming as more middle class people participate than working class people. How many council-run swimming pools left which charge a pittance? Most are part of expensive gym complexes. How are people expected to afford the charges?

Obesity is about bad diet but equally it is surely about demoralisation, alienation and stress. Working long hours and not eating properly. Food which is packed full of salt, sugar and saturated fats. Cigarettes and booze iron out the depressing creases in life but screw up your health as well (well, if you gonna die sometime I hope to be quaffing Claret and smoking a spliff).

Instead of targeting (moralising) specific groups what about improving the quality of life for people?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Channel 5 and the "happy hookers".....

Channel 5 the home of crap telly but in the best possible taste. They rarely do “home grown” dramas or sitcoms except for Family Affairs, which was unfairly axed in my opinion (it was on a par with Hollyoaks).

Anyway, Channel 5 has created a new sitcom called “Respectable” about a 4 women who work as prostitutes in a brothel. There is Maureen the “Madame” who comes out with top-notch lines like, “less gabble, more gobble”… Ho! Ho! Ho! I cannot wait. But hey, it gets better. One of the women is addicted to….. shoes (Ed over at International Rooksbyism should take note). The other one is paying off her student debt and last but not least… the stereotypical prostitute from Eastern Europe called Yelena.

The first episode is tonight and I can’t wait, as this looks tacky beyond belief. There has been an online petition demanding the programme be withdrawn, organised by the Lilith Project, which has appeared on many feminist blogs. What disturbs me is this line, “This sitcom should be withdrawn immediately from schedules and shelved, never to be shown.”

The sitcom has not been shown yet and only a rather sketchy portrayal of characters given. But does it merit instant withdrawal? No, I don’t think it does because who will be next on the agenda to censor?

If you don’t want to see it don’t watch it (I mean, who can tell with Channel 5 as I am sure only a handful watch it, including myself). Again, the people who argue in favour of pulling the sitcom depict women who work as prostitutes as “victims”. While the creators of “Respectable” seem to be showing prostitutes as “happy hookers”. Both camps are pandering to stereotypes, which organisations such as IUSW are fighting against. Ana Lopes spoke of her frustration about being regarded as either the “happy hooker” or the “powerless victim”. They are not grounded in reality.

Yes, this is a sitcom and it sounds like sloppy and lazy script writing (did they contact the IUSW?). But pull it? No. I think you argue your politics and not resort to censorship. Censorship is the politics of defeatism. The "gut reaction" politics of seeing images and ideas we don't like blinds us into pushing for the very thing, which is potentially harmful and dangerous, and that is censorship.

I will watch it and see……

Btw: the programme before Respectable is called Swinging - new series of the comedy sketch show, revealing what happens when a man accompanies his daughter to a job interview at an adult film company.

It just sounds so 1970s. So Carry On.... So crap telly. I won't be staring at a blank wall tonight instead I'll be watching this.

To say the sitcom was.... well, how shall I describe politely ..... shite ... that would be an understatement. Stereotypical "hookers", frigid wives and timid Johns all written by 2 blokes. Did it offend me as a woman? No. It offended my sense of humour and that's no joke either. If I had to choose between having my teeth extracted without anaesthetic or watching the next episode. The dentist looks desirable. Nil point, Channel 5.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Darnation: I aint no lady...

You Are 12% Lady

You're a pretty crass, and even a bit crude on occasion.Manners don't matter to you, but they sure matter to those around you. ...... Yes and I am feminist as well!

Crass? Moi? Yes. And yes.

Well, I can tell dirty jokes but don’t expect me to tell any ‘cos I don’t know any good ones (give me a couple of hours though) Thankfully, I don’t blush or go over all faint like a Victorian lady with a too tight corset. Manners? Bit bourgeois for me.

But there are times, in the words of the Great Dorothy Parker,that I too wish, alas, I could drink like a lady. "I can take one or two at the most / Three and I'm under the table / Four and I'm under the host.”

Frankly I am a cross between a chick and a broad.

Thanks to Belledame222 who, incidentially, scored 16%. As Tom Jones warbled, "She's a lady"!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The book thingy

Will tagged me for this. Must admit I have done it in a hurry and not given much thought. I am sure I could have made up, I mean come up, with more witty and clever answers and books. Anyway here goes...

1. One book that changed your life.

My life has been changed by people and events. Books then explain, make sense, and make me question and look at the world differently. Many books have done that, both fiction and non-fiction.

2. One book that you've read more than once .

Am re-reading Eve was Framed:Women and British Justice by Helena Kennedy as it has been updated and want to see what is new in there.

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island .

Can I cheat a bit and have the 6 Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin. It is really one big book!! Ok, so not some heavy political work, but if I am stuck on a desert island then I would want some escapism and to be able to retreat into my fantasy world. I would like to imagine I was living in the house on Barbary Lane in 1970s San Francisco (this will mean sod all to most straight male lefties I should think) rather than alone on an island.

4. One book that made you laugh .

Mark Steel ‘Reasons to be cheerful’
Not that I was ever in the SWP but it reminds me of when I first became involved in politics. It brings it all back.

5. One book that made you cry?

Don’t think a book has made me cry, unless its in a ‘please make it stop sort of way’.

6. One book you wish you had written

There are loads, can’t pick one out. It is something I wish I could do, have lots of ideas in my head but can never get them down.

7. One book you wish had never been written

Of course I criticise people who say certain books should be banned but who have never actually read them.
I am now going to be hypocritical and list some books that I have never read but do seem a waste of space …any biog/auto biog by a sportperson, any biog/auto biog by a ‘celebrity’ under the age of 25 ,anything by Jeffery Archer or Barbara Cartland.
Oh and hippy twaddle new age books about crystals and chakras.

8. One book you're currently reading .

Well I was about to read Hitchens book on Mother Theresa but this morning it fell out my window (I left it on the window ledge and somehow It managed to fall through the blinds). Went to get it and someone had already taken it! Will have to borrow Dave's copy.
Others I am reading, or about to read … Eve was Framed by Helena Kennedy, Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami and A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K Dick( I have read lots of PKD books but not this one, saw the film and have dug out my copy . Its one that was on my 'to read list' and never got round to it. )

9. One book you have been meaning to read

Like Louise, loads. Babylon and Beyond by Derek Wall is one.
I started reading it then lost it. I have just found it again. Yep books fall out of windows and disappear in my flat, that and keys, watches , socks etc etc. Sometimes wonder how I ever get out in the mornings…

10. Five people to tag -

Well would have said Osler but he refused on principle, that being he can’t be arsed.
So Volty, Paddy the Puritan (ok, he hasn’t a blog but he can add to the comments), Jim Jam (I think he will like doing this), Adele and Red Aspie.

Books of consequence.....

Will from General Theory of Rubbish tagged both of the "lasses from Stroppyblog" re: books which have influenced you and blah, blah, blah, and so on. Here goes.........

1. Book(s) that changed your life: The Revolution Betrayed by Trotsky (I just had to include Him) and Is the Future Female by Lynne Segal (big influence on my socialist feminism).

2. Book(s) you have read more tham once: Not in Our Genes by Steven Rose et al. and Six Men of Dorset - a play in three-parts about the Tolpuddle martyrs by Miles Malleson.

The reason I have included this play is that it was given to me by an eighty-six year old socialist who I interviewed for my 'O' level History project on the '26 General Strike in 1985/1986. He told me about being active in the Strike, kicking Oswald Mosley and his fascist goons out of Smethwick (he was proud to be one of the organisers) and having a crush on Sylvia Pankhurst after he met her at an election campaign. A fascinating man and he gave me the book as he was pleased that, "young people are taking an interest in politics". I treasure the play a great deal.

3. Book I would take on a desert island: Nan Goldin - the ballad of sexual dependency by Nan Goldin and summat by Kollontai such as a re-read of A Great Love and/or Love of the Worker Bees or the excellent biography on her by Cathy Porter.

4. Book which made you laugh: Sex, Class and Socialism by Lindsey German....(well, wasn't it meant to be a comedy..? Pure theory-lite entertainment!)

5. Book which made you cry: Look, I am depressed enough already!

6. Book(s) you wish you had written: Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame. They both describe alienation, isolation and break down in teenage years so honestly and realistically which I could relate to.

7. Book(s) which you wish had never been written: Bible and other god squad stuff.

8. Book which you are currently reading: When we Touched the Sky by David Renton

9. Book you are meaning to read: Loads as I am sooooo lazy! OK....
The 21st Century Brain by Steven Rose; Down and Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind and Collective Works of Lenin (well, the weather has been bad lately)

Tag: Andrew, Jon, Marshajane, Winter and Kit

Friday, August 25, 2006

Plan B: morning-after pill

Good news for pro-choice supporters as on Channel 4 news tonight it was reported that Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. won U.S. approval to sell the "morning-after pill" Plan B (Levonorgestrel) over the counter without a prescription. Pro-choice organisations such as Planned Parenthood welcome the move.Before that it was only available on prescription. It was originally approved by the F.D.A in July 1999. It will be available to women 18 years and over. Under 17 year olds will have to get it by prescription only. In the UK, Levonelle ("morning-after pill") has been available over the counter since 2000 to women 16 years and over.

Even anti-union reactionary ratbags Wal-Mart have decided to sell it (they originally opposed it) but have stated that pharmacists have a right to refuse to sell it and are keeping their "conscientious objection" policy in place. Oh c'mon, when you work as a pharmacist surely it should occur to you that your job will include administering contraceptives and that includes the "morning-after" pill. I kinda want to say, "get a life" but they're probably already a member.

What I do find utterly objectionable is that women have to pay for emergency contraception. In the UK it is free on prescription but if it is a weekend or holidays etc. and you can't get to the doctors, then you have to fork out £25.

It should be free and easily accessible.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

30 years since the Grunwick strike - commemoration 17th September 2006

An event to commemorate 30 years since the Grunwick Strike (1976-1978) will take place on Sunday 17th September 2006 at the Tricycle Theatre, organised by Brent Trades Union Council.

11am-5pm, Tricycle Theatre, 269 High Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7JR

Tickets must be bought in advance: £7

Speakers include: Jack Dromey (T&GWU), Arthur Scargill, Jayaben Desai (leading Grunwick striker), Amrit Wilson (writer on Asian women in Britain), Derek Walsh (London organiser of the Postal Workers Union during the strike)

Films: 'Stand Together' and 'Look back at Grunwick' by the Newsreel Collective.

More information on website.
I am hoping to go and maybe see some of you "virtual" people there. I am really interested in listening to Amrit Wilson speak as she wrote the outstanding book, "Finding a Voice" and also Jayaben Desai.

Big Brother wants all of your personal data..!

According to a report in today's Guardian, the government is preparing to overturn a fundamental principle of data protection. Scheduled for the week beginning September 11th, ministers will announce that public bodies can assume they are free to share citizens' personal data with other arms of the state, so long as it is in the "public interest". Ministers claim that when someone moves house, for example, all they would need to do is register the change online once with their local authority's "one stop shop". It changes its own records, central government, electoral register, DVLA and Inland Revenue.

Presently, public bodies have to find a legal justification each time they want to share data about individuals.

As Simon Davies from Privacy International argues: "Functional separation between departments is an important principle of justice and accountability".

Under the Data Protection Act: "personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes". And this new policy contravenes this basic principle of the Data Protection Act. But it is all in the so-called "public interest".....

Who views the data? Who defines "public interest"? What if the information they hold on you is false and inaccurate is then passed on to another department? Where is the accountability? What about consent?
Ministers have stayed rather silent when confronted with these kind of questions.

As John Wadham from Liberty (2002) argued regarding data sharing: "It's a basic principle of data protection that personal information that we give for one purpose should not then be used for another purpose without our consent. This is particularly important since we often have no choice about giving government the information in the first place - on tax returns, to receive benefits, to drive, or to obtain a passport."

New Labour: continuing erosion of civil liberties....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The times are a-changed....

If Bob Dylan is being “curmudgeonly” then so am I. He’s complaining about modern recording technologies and that his new album sounds better in the studio than on CD. And he argues that no one should complain about people downloading “atrocious” music for free.

“We all like records played on record players, but let’s face it, those days are gone”.

I buy CDs but I miss having a record player and buying vinyl. You know, taking great care of removing the record out of its sleeve (checking for scratches) and placing it delicately on the record player. Placing the needle on the groove and voila …music. You don’t get the same buzz flipping on a CD and pressing play. Well, I don’t.

When I left home I couldn’t take my record player with me though I never replaced it and went with the herd and bought CD players instead. Vinyl collections may clog up your space but they have history and memories (lyrics either inside the sleeve or on the back and different colour vinyl) which are better than those square artless plastic cases for your CDs, which for me have a habit of breaking. And contrary to belief CDs get scratched and knackered pretty quickly.

And more importantly, is the quality better on CD or vinyl? I always thought vinyl but I am sure there are differences of opinions out there.

I miss vinyl and record players. And I remember buying my stylus as it was always packaged in a quaint little glass box. You just don’t see that now or do you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One for the easily shocked....

Louise quoted Mae West a while back ..."Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often. "

So to help with this here's a link that my virtual mate Will sent me. Now he is out of a job he seems to have too much time on his hands. Thanks for the link .

Its a little film produced in 1965 by the 'Citizens for decent literature' entitled

'Perversion for profit '.

Now of course that's wrong, it should be a non profit activity.

There are some great lines in the film. Trouble is I expect there are many who still hold some of the views expressed.

Its probably not work safe as there is nudity in it, depends on where you work !!

Oh I'll finish off with some more Mae West quotes ....

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it

It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.

and my favourite ...When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better.

A woman after my own heart ....

The Prince of Wales and 'work'.

Just notice a headline on the BBC news page ...

Prince promotes workplace skills

Apparently the Prince's Trust is

... setting up its own qualification for the estimated 30,000 young people who leave school each year with no GCSEs.
The Certificate in Personal, Teamwork and Community Skills will be awarded to 16 to 25-year-olds who complete a 12-week course.
The trust said it would "significantly increase" employability.

Perhaps they could make an age exception to include a man in his 50s who has never had to do a days work in his life . Never to late to learn is it and perhaps he should consider his own 'employability'.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Albania ...

Now I am sure most people reading this , if faced with a choice of a long weekend in Venice or Tirana , would go for Venice. It was put to me as Venice romantic, Tirana grim but fun (ok, perhaps its a different definition of fun to most peoples)

So I picked Tirana !!

Now the reason I am wittering on about this is I wondered if anyone reading this blog has been there and can tell me a bit about it. Any recommendations about where to stay or what to do ? Any readers of the blog who live there (not sure what the internet is like there and not seen any hits from there on the stats).

And of course feel free to say, WTF woman , go to Venice :-)

Something vapid to fill the Big Brother void....

Over at Daily(maybe) the Stroppy One asked Jim how he was going to fill those empty hours now Big Brother has finished and he replied... "I know I know - I'll have to find something equally vapid to fill my time, sigh".

Now as a watcher of "god-damn awful" telly (really, I watch some dross and should really win a prize!), I can really, really emphathise with you Jim.

All I will say is The X Factor (can't be arsed with the link just go to ITV) has returned to a Saturday night and it is repeated on a Sunday (I just finished watching it as I have a cold..... that's my excuse, alrighty!!).

It is dross, vapid, tacky, shallow and callow shite telly at its best (therefore I'll be rooted to the spot). I can't sing a note and probably would break glass at any distance and I'd have an ASBO slapped on me by the neighbours but I don't pretend I can sing. So maybe it is a case of schadenfreude as I do snigger (sorry... I admit it) when some poor sod, who thinks they are the next Will Young or the Shayne What's-His-Name... Ward who won the last one, warbles some Justin Timberlake hit in an out-of tune-style but who thinks they rock at singing 'cos they have been told they can sing by their gran. Then one of the judges puts the boot in with the usual humiliation and put-downs. Oh the hubris, Oh the humanity and oh my poor ears.

Maybe I am boardering on the Evil Bastard territory but why do they bother to go on except for a Warholian 15-mins. worth of fame? And then the presenter, Kate "not as good as Ant and Dec" Thornton will commiserate and counsel them with the "take no notice of Nasty Simon Cowell" speech (Bad Cop while Good Cop Sharon Osbourne will give them a cuddle and go all mumsy and Louis Walsh is, well both Good and Bad Cop though please note he is the Bastard who brought us Boyzone....) and that they should persevere with their dream or some other load of bollocks.

No, good advice would be..... take singing lessons!!! Yep, I'm boardering on the Evil Bastard. I blame this cold....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Breastfeeding mums detained away from babies

This made me very angry reading this report about breastfeeding mothers who are "failed asylum seekers"being separated from their babies. In March 2006 a Vietnamese woman was seized by immigration officials from her home in Birmingham and taken to the utterly grim and reprehensible Yarl's Wood without her six-month old baby. She had no contact with her baby for 4 days.

Eventually she was allowed to see her baby after a reprieve allowing her to stay in the country to challenge the decision. Liam Byrne (immigration minister) suggested it was an isolated case but yet another case has emerged of a Turkish woman who has since been granted asylum was separated from her baby after she was told she had no legal right to stay in the UK. She was taken to Yarl's Wood and separated from her baby for 2 nights.

"I have had terrible experiences in Turkey, but this was worse. I thought constantly of my son. I cried all the time. It has taken my son some time to settle down after my return. His sleep pattern was disturbed and his behaviour deteriorated".

Annette Elder, the solicitor for both women, argued the women been involved in criminal proceedings proper childcare arrangments would have been made before being separated from their mothers.

Patti Rundall, from Baby Milk Action, argued that both cases go against UN resolutions and conventions such as the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding .

Anne Owens, Chief Inspector of Prisons has recently written a report condemning Yarl's Wood for child detention. There have been hunger strikes by families detained there as well. The place is wretched and should be shut-down along with the vile Campsfield House. The way these women have been treated further exposes the racist and sexist attacks by the British State towards asylum seekers. The absolute contempt shown towards these women by immigration officials and that fact that New Labour is only to happy to bang up asylum seekers and their families beggars belief.

What about transforming these vile places into detention centres for Bliarite racist scum-bags? Just a thought......

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Remakes and Hollywood

Is there nothing sacred in La-La Land? Do Hollywood producers sit down and consciously decide which film to seriously screw-up in a remake? There has been a glut of seriously shite remakes such as The Italian Job, Get Carter, Alfie and so on. The originals were so much better!

The latest film to get the "makeover" is The Wicker Man. I saw the advertisement on a side of a bus as I walking to the train station and I despaired. I had heard about the remake originally they were going to cast Brad Pitt in the Edward Woodward part as Sergeant Howie (C'mon, Brad Pitt acting as a virgin copper just does not work).

Instead they plumped for Nicolas Cage, he of the wide eyed twitchy rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights actor (and who says nepotism doesn't work!) who gets to play the Sheriff (story shifted to the States) who investigates the disappearance of a girl in a mysterious neo-pagan community. There is no Lord Summerisle originally played by Christopher Lee. Instead the Summerisle character is played by a woman. I wonder if there'll be a busty barmaid played in best Britt Ekland tradition (voice dubbed and body double for the naked scenes... Poor Britt still feels annoyed to this day!).

I watched the trailer today on the Internet Movie Database and well it didn't offer up much. It just doesn't have the same chilling and scary feel that the original had. I am sure Anthony Shaffer would be turning in grave if he saw what they have done to his original script! I just can't see Cage topping the excellent performance by Edward Woodward as the sexually repressed copper. And why has the Summerisle character been transformed into a woman?

The original nearly never saw the light of day as the producers weren't sure what to do with it as they didn't like it (the uncut version was "lost" in some vaults) and the King of B-Movie Horror, Roger Corman saw it's potential rescued it and got it shown in cinemas in the States where it got a cult following. Somehow the remake aint gonna get cult status!

The film is directed and also scripted by Neil LaBute. He is one uneven director as he has made excellent films like In the Company of Men, which explored the connection between misogyny and corporate capitalism, to unfortunately some lame stuff. And I am not hopeful that Wicker Man is gonna win plaudits for him.

Why oh why do they do this? Will the climax have the same powerful impact as the original? I am doubtful. Why don't they show the original uncut version (Channel 4 televised it a couple years ago and I spent my New Years Eve watching it.....drinking tea) in the cinemas instead of remaking a substandard version?

Oh and finally, Edward Woodward was offered a cameo role unfortunately he declined the offer though said he was "impressed by the quality of the script".

Btw: it is up for release on the 31 August 2006.

Oh for the good old days of pervy old professors !!!!!

Thanks to Will for e-mailing this link .


A PROFESSOR has said that she yearns for the days when male dons spiced up tutorials with their "groping" of students.
Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, stunned fellow academics with her fond recollections of female students putting up with the fumblings from older professors to get inspirational teaching.

Trouble is I expect it does still happen, though less.

Yep, those were the days. Men who had power over women's academic future groping women young enough to be their daughters . Students afraid to complain in case their grades were affected or they were told it was just a bit of fun. And what exactly is the link between inspirational teaching and non consensual groping ?

What next, nostalgia for the days when it was seen as acceptable (sadly still is for some men) to slap the wife about a bit and beat the kids with belts.

Young people these days don't know what they are missing.....

Sloppy journalism...

I have posted here before about the misrepresentation of autism and aspergers in the media . So it was with interest I read about a new film ,' Snow cake', which is covering this issue and features a woman who is on the autistic spectrum. I was then dismayed to see the Independent state :

Dustin Hoffman's memorable performance in Rain Man 18 years ago has long been seen as the definitive film representation of autism. To those who knew nothing of the learning disability, it was a revelation to discover that some sufferers, like Hoffman's character, Raymond, could demonstrate the most astonishing feats of memory

Sloppy journalism. A little research would have shown it is not a learning disability . It is a 'developmental disorder'. Now I would also argue against it being a disorder at all, but in terms of 'diagnosis' that's what the official term is. I would argue for the concept of neurodiversity (see my original post on this). It is a spectrum and many are highly intelligent. Also the bloody word 'sufferers' !! Arghhh.

Sorry but when much of the population is pretty ignorant on these issues I find this sort of journalism annoying . I could also rant about how mental health is portrayed, another misrepresentation,but I would be here all day on that !

I will be interested to see the film and see how the character is portrayed. It would be good to see the positives for a change, because there are lots with aspies :-)


Now as people who pop over here regularly will know I quite like my 'virtual mate' Will . He has, shall we say, quite a way with words. One of the first things he said to me was that I was a prissy moralising Victorian fuckwit! So it was with interest I read an article in The Independent saying that

A council has instructed its staff to think carefully before using colloquial words such as "pet" and "hinny" to refer to women, in case they cause offence.
Bosses at Newcastle City Council have told workers to reflect before using the words, for fear they may be interpreted as sexist language. Such traditional Geordie terms are widely used as terms of endearment in the region, sometimes towards men too in the case of "pet".

Now sexism is a serious issue but this does not help . I have been to Newcastle a number of times and been called Pet by men and women. I am the first to tell someone where to go if I think they are being patronising or sexist to me . I did not feel that. It seemed a friendly term and not in anyway sexist, especially when said by middle aged women to men. Mind you if I had been called a fuckwit I might have responded differently :-)

This just gives the Daily Mail and its ilk ammunition to say political correctness gone mad. Sexism, and other prejudices and discrimination, needs to be tackled seriously and its not done by telling geordies not to say pet !!

I wonder how they would have coped with Will in that equality and diversity training course....

Prescott says it like it is....

Can't say I disagree with you on this Prezza , a report in the Independent states that Prescott said Bush was 'crap' .

Oh and

Mr Cohen added: "We also had a laugh when he said old Bush is just a cowboy with his Stetson on. But then he said, 'I can hardly talk about that can I?'

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Getting locked in the park....

Well, got myself locked in the park this evening. Obviously I got out or I wouldn't be writing this, unless I stole someone's red anorak and laptop and am really still in the park! Hey! hey! ...not really.

It usually closes at 9pm and tonight for some apparent reason shut at 7:45pm. So along with other gym bunnies, who also looked worried, we tried to find a way of the place by jogging around the park. Eventually I was directed to an exit by one of the park rangers. Thankfully I was able to get out and not scramble over a 7ft spiky iron gate (and not being 6ft tall... bit of a problem) like I used to have do in another park, which I used to live by. Or sometimes you'd get some kindly soul who would have a Uri Geller moment and bend the iron bars so you could squeeze yourself out. In those situations either a good pair of boots, or trainers and a long leather coat were very helpful.

As I jogging around the park muttering obscenties trying to find a exit. I was kinda struck by the fact that Bromley Council (scum-bag Tories) and London Development Agency are selling off pockets of land in this gorgeous park to fund regeneration. Between 140-170 "luxury villas" will be built costing a mere... £1m each! Affordable housing it aint. And it has also been green lighted by, what's his name, you know, who once had lefty political principles and ran the GLC in the 80s.... oh yeah, Ken Livingston. I moved here around a year ago and got involved in the campaign to stop development as it just appalling to build flats (sorry... villas) on green spaces and where will people go? It will destroy the environment, the geography and the scenery. Parks serve a useful social function and this park is rich with history. Public spaces are so precious in London.

Crystal Palace Park was developed by Joseph Paxton and it still has remnants of the old Crystal Palace. The famous dinosaurs sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins in 1854 are fantastic to look at scattered around the pond and need constant preservation. It will be a tragedy if any of this goes in favour Yuppie villas.

So, if I get trapped in the park near the yuppie villas, will the bourgeois fuckers set the dogs on me?

The spoils of war .

First Iraq, now the Lebanon , the Middle East is one big expanding business opportunity.....

"... there are those who expect the reconstruction efforts to spiral into a commercial bonanza - for some, at least.
Paying for post-war reconstruction tends to involve pulling money out of one bag and stuffing it into another, and the stock markets provide a good indicator of who stands to gain.
Shares in cement and steel companies have shot up as investors predict that demand for their products will soar. "

An apology....

I feel the need to make a public statement re one of Stroppyblogs favourite bloggers, Voltaires_Priest.

Over the last month I may have said certain things which may have given a slightly strange impression of VP.

So to put that right I am stating that :

VP is not Jim Denham's girlfriend. ( btw I did not think this one up)

VP is not a 50 year old woman with a blue rinse who keeps poodle's. (while I am at it I better state that neither is Will).

VP does not have a shrine to Yvonne Ridley in his home. Nor does he have a life size cardboard cut out of her . He is not obsessed with her at all.

VP is a he not a she.

I admit it, I have a very disturbed overactive imagination and need to get out more :-)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Right those who want to discuss who did what, when , and in what trot group in the 1990s in Southampton please comment here and not in the bloody post on religion and schools !!

It will help me when I want to get off to sleep later.

There are some real sad old trots out there . Its not just Louise who sits at her laptop wearing one of her red trotty anoraks.....

More rough justice from New Labour......

Picture the scene if you will, a young ruffian up to no good is caught by PC Plod is given a right clip ‘round the ear with the caution, “Be off with you, you little scamp and get home to your mum”!

As the ruffian runs away from Plod, he turns and shouts while waving his fist, “Ere, copper, you’ll never catch me!” PC Plod shakes his head then says, while fondling his baton, “Youngsters of today, they need discipline”!

Oh those respectable days of 1950s Dixon Of Dock Green where the Morally Superior would be proud, where ruffians were ruffians and coppers were coppers. Lots of rough justice, shoving the evil blighters into the stocks, branding them, and birching them…Oh and hanging is well, just too good for them!

But what is that I see in 2006? The police are pressing for new powers to dispense “instant justice” (so stocks in the town centre then?) which includes the exclusion of “yobs” from town centres at night and bans on street gang members associating with each other. Senior members of The Filth argue that this would be a “modern version of a clip around the ear from the local Bobby”. They want, no demand, modern policing which has “bite” and meets with public approval.

Me thinks it is more of the Ye Olde Moral Panic. Playing on the fears of the public where the general perception of crime is blown out of proportion (statistically crime overall has been falling but paradoxically a high proportion of the public think it is on the increase). There is an emphasis on street crime while other forms of crime go pretty much unheard. ASBOs are skyrocketing and with these new proposals they will not diminish.

One of the proposals, which stand out, is tackling knife crime where police will be enabled to stop and search on the grounds of “reasonable suspicion”.

This sounds to me like the cops are desperate to bring back the dreaded racist Sus laws criminalizing mainly Black men. I agree with Shami Chakrabarti’s (Liberty) comments about these proposals.

Mark Rowley (Surrey’s Assistant Chief Constable) told Acpo’s Police Professional magazine:

“It is time to debate whether constables should be given substantial additional, discretionary summary powers to meet these challenges … Such powers would effectively bring existing criminal justice system powers to the street”.

More powers then to PC Plod and the continuing erosion of civil liberties. Welcome to “Tough on crime” Britain!

Oh and I wonder when these new proposals will be extended to demonstrators.....?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Religion and faith schools

The following article on faith schools has been reprinted from the current edition of Workers Action (it's not on their website at the moment and needs updating!) with the agreement of the author, Andrew Berry. Andrew has been active as an Unison activist in campaigning for secular education. I think this article is useful in furthering the debate on religion in schools and the fight for secularism. By the way, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about reprinting this article from Workers Action I have written for them in the past on feminism and women's liberation and they an OK bunch of Trots!

Faith Schools
One of the cornerstones of socialism is that an education system should be comprehensive, mixed and secular. We are surely against an education system divided on lines of class, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation or disability. There is nothing more important than fighting racism and other discrimination in society than through the education system.

While it is understandable that some Muslims, suffering racism generally and Islamophobia in particular, might want dedicated Muslim schools, if we allow the education system to become segregated by religious and ultimately ethnic grounds it would be a massive step backwards in our defence of a cohesive multicultural society and ultimately a step back from a socialist society. Accepting the ghetto – self-imposing it, in such a case – is a giving up of the anti-racist fight.

The current policies of Tony Blair are deliberately to create a market in education first through academy schools and now through trust schools. There are organisations waiting to take over the running of schools if we let them. One of the main thrusts of Blair’s policies is an increase in faith schools and this should be opposed while secular education supported

The false debate
When this view was raised in UNISON and in UNISON United Left, the SWP denounced it as anti-Muslim and Islamaphobic. Because of this the issue was not debated at UNISON national conference because the UNISON Left fought shy of prioritising a good motion in order to avoid debating an amendment about faith school expansion. Similar issues arose at the NUT conference. These tactics come about from current political accommodations made by the SWP due to their involvement in Respect, and so they are intentionally ignoring a major danger in order to attempt to make an immediate tactical gain.

In fact, the tactic of supporting faith schools won’t work anyway. The consequence of the Blair vision is that we will see organisations competing against each other to run schools and gain influence and profit. As in any market system there will be winners and losers and the winners will tend to be those who have the biggest backing and financial resources. In the world of education those will be the likes of the City Of London or Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) who are international financers, but it will also be the Church of England – under the guise of its front organisation United Learning Trust – or the Roman Catholic church. It is unlikely Muslim organisations would stand any chance of competing against them, and as a result while the absolute number of Muslim schools may increase, the percentage of Muslim schools against those of other faiths would decrease.

The new education bill will widen the current class divide in schools. The interplay between parental choice and schools’ ability to select means that those schools perceived as even slightly better will attract and select children with more developed academic abilities and more parental push – ie, the children of the middle class – while other schools, taking less developed children, will “fail”. Faith schools in the bill are given a far more blatant right to decide which children they will not take, but again the existence of a selection mechanism means these schools end up being the schools where the so- called middle class children go. Failing to deal with the issue of faith schools head on will mean trying to fight the bill with not just one hand but an entire arm and leg tied behind your back!

By campaigning for secular schools, does the SWP understand we are not trying to make schools atheist? Or even anti religious; we are simply opposing running schools on a religious ethos. In faith schools it is not just the children who have to follow the rules of that religion but also often the staff. There have been instances where schools have not wanted to recruit gay or lesbian staff – indeed, church organisations are currently lobbying the government for church schools to be exempted from legislation that would ban discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Union officials are also aware of situations where staff have been asked to leave faith schools because they are doing something the religion frowns upon – such as having a sexual relationship with someone currently married to someone else.

In conclusion
Socialists must campaign for a comprehensive state education system that is fully inclusive and we must ensure in doing so, we campaign against any organisation bidding to take over schools what ever their motives. But we most also campaign for all schools to become secular without this we could rightly be called hypocritical as we would be defending the current dominance of Christianity in British education. But moving further in the wrong direction is not a solution and we must campaign against the new faith schools whenever they are proposed and whatever religion they are.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Our Bodies, Our Business: Ana Lopes at the Communist University

"Prostitution is only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer, and since it is a relationship in which falls not the prostitute alone, but also the one who prostitutes – and the latter’s abomination is still greater – the capitalist".
(Karl Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts).

I got to the conference hall in leafy Brockley, South East London and was early. I started chatting to this woman about various things. She asked me what I was attending and I said I wanted to hear Ana Lopes speak from the IUSW/GMB. The woman looked me up and down and politely asked, "Are you a sex worker, dear"? I replied that no I wasn't but as a socialist feminist and an active trade unionist I believe in supporting and showing solidarity with sex workers. The woman who was going to go home decided to stay after listening to my spiell!

Then when I coughed up the cash to attend the meeting, Peter Manson (CPGB/Weekly Worker ed.) heard my name grabbed my hand and shook it furiously and exclaimed, "Oh Louise, it is great to meet you at last and to put a name to a face"! He then proceeded to tell me that he expected me to be really tall, like 6ft! Nah Peter, I am 5ft 4ins though in my motorcycle boots I am 5ft 6ins. Sorry... if I didn't live up to your tall expectation!

So, I am a virtual 6ft tall sex worker!

Anyway... less about my virtual life. There were about 60 odd people at this meeting (maybe more or less).

Ana spoke about being drawn into sex work because of her studies in anthropology. She deconstructed the sex industry by looking at the parts that make it up such as having various sectors, global, enormous profits, all gender, clandestine and hidden, status has changed over time, shut down? (attacks on sex work).

She wanted to improve the rights for sex workers (and she has worked in all areas of the sex industry) so she interviewed a section of them. They didn't have a problem with their work but had severe problems with the way society distorts the view of sex work. You are either a rich high class hooker or a victim. There was no collective voice. So, in early 2000 the International Union of Sex Workers came into force with the slogan, "Sex Workers of the World Unite"

What I found a bit sad was the IUSW magazine Respect has stopped due to lack of funding (why aren't the GMB funding it..?), which is a pity because it was precisely for sex workers to air their ideas/views/experiences.

They have an internet forum which acts as a supportive network for sex workers globally. When someone may be moving to another country they will post to the forum to ask advice, for example, legislation regarding sex work.

In the early days of the IUSW they organised demos, parties for fundraisers, and education.

But what was missing was official unionisation. In 2002 the GMB accepted the IUSW as a full section. Not all was plain sailing as some trade unionists ripped up their cards in disgust at sex workers being allowed into the union (I find that utterly appalling and shameful). Once the IUSW were accepted they attended the May Day 2002 demo in London as now they were part of the labour movement. The benefits of being a union member was legal representation, support, training, organised voices at consultation, union recognised in table dancing clubs.

Ana spoke about sex workers not being judged, about their well being and the obvious stigmatisation they face. Becoming part of a union has triggered unionisation in other countries and with a network of unions there is going to be an international meeting in India next year. The overall vision is for sex workers gain total control over their industry, all workers gain control over all industries and a distinction between "respectable women" and whores abolished.
After the Ana's introduction, the debate was thrown open to the floor and it was a very good discussion (though I wish some people would be less on the abstract). I won't go into too much detail but will give brief brush strokes of the ideas raised. Ana had spoken of her dissatification with feminism and it's moralism towards sex workers though she considers herself a feminist.

There was a debate on feminism with the CPGB giving the line about how obstructive and reactionary feminism is. But what was also argued was that capitalism is intertwined with patriarchy and to deny patriarchy exists is foolhardy. One male speaker said, "why do you lot dismiss feminism"? One CPGBer replied, "Kollontai dismissed feminism". So what, comrade!!

I felt the need, nay, the desire to defend the battered view of feminism and gave my tuppence worth. I argued that as a socialist feminist and a trade unionist I supported decriminalisation of prostitution and unionisation of sex workers. But for me capitalism feeds off patriarchal norms which leads to the commodification of sex (not much was said on commodification under capitalism). My other argument was how wrong the "Reclaim the Night" demos are especially as they hone in on places like Spearmint Rhino. What do these demos say to the people who work in the sex industry? Feminists should be working in solidarity with sex workers not alienating them. Ana agreed.

There was also debate about pornography and how workers in the porn industry aren't well represented in the IUSW/GMB. There are around 300 sex workers involved in the London Region of the IUSW/GMB. They know they have a lot of work to do as there are thousands of people working in all aspects of sex work.

Brief discussion on whether sex work would exist under socialism, same with porn. How appalling the Swedish model is (criminalise the punter while legalising the sex worker... Absolutely stupid! So do the cops stand around waiting for the punter to finish and then arrest them?).
The issue of power relationships between men and women. That even with an empowered workforce the contradictions are still apparent as women will be the ones who will experience oppression and exploitation. What really summed up sex work under patriarchal capitalism is when Ana spoke of her days as a stripper. She felt confidence in her body and taking off her clothes but felt humiliated and degraded when she had to go around to the punters after her strip with a glass jar asking them for money ("like a busker"). Why couldn't she have a wage, she argued? Asking for money only reinforced the power relationships between sex worker and punters.

Therefore, as I said in an earlier post on prostitution and sex work as workers aren't we all on our backs being screwed by capitalism?

Btw: Ana Lopes has a book coming out next year on the unionisation of sex work.

Friday, August 11, 2006

MLBs and the politics of oppression.

I am so fed up with arguing with male leftie bloggers about the following :

- the way that the oppression of women and LGBT people are not seen as important issues, hence sections of the left ignoring the repressive views of some of the so-called 'resistance' in Iraq and Lebanon. This also includes the killing of trade unionists, surely an issue at the heart of left politics.

- the support for theocratic groups who would not want a secular state that allows all to choose how to live their lives and whether to believe and practice a religion. Sorry, we are not all Hezbollah !! But hey, I'm just a CIA whore mouthpiece for Bush !!

-being told that the rights of women , LGBT people and other groups can be sorted afterwards , but fighting Bush is more important. Well sorry, but replacing one repressive regime with another is not my idea of socialism. Afterwards is just to late and by then the left will move on to its next issue.

Anyway, just wanted to highlight some recent posts from MLBs that seem to take on board these issues and also , rare at the moment for the left, have some critical thinking behind them.
Oh and not forgetting Tatchell's site and Iraqi LGBT for consistently highlighting the issues and being a thorn in the side of the left on this.

I am not getting sectarian here and supporting any particular groups or blogs, I am saying these individual posts are good for questioning the issues. I will criticise or praise where I see fit, whatever group that may be and I reserve most of my criticism, as regulars know, for my own Party.

Oh but saying that, special thanks to Voltaires_Priest , from Shiraz Socialists, who has declared in his post :

I therefore proclaim myself, Stroppy and Dave Osler as the "true leaders" of Papua New Guinea. Congratulations, folks.

But just want to add they will be my assistants !
Oh and I have won the 'prize' of a night out in a brummie real ale pub with VP and Jim Denham. I have demanded JD though, urghhh real ale ! Does that mean they have beards and wear corduroy ? Not that I am one to stereotype :-) And, Osler take note, I have been promised as regards JD:

You may drink what you like, regardless of the edicts of the tyrannical Osler :D (Voltaires_Priest)

Anyway, come on MLBs, tell me as a woman that I have missed the point, how great the left is , that I am a diversion from the class struggle ....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

East Enders: Sex Shocker!

I am an inveterate soap follower. Feel better I got that off my chest so now I can attend Soap Followers Anonymous with my head held high. I haven’t been watching East Enders for a couple of weeks now and the last I saw was when Sonia ditched Martin for Naomi (who needs real life…?). But the lesbian relationship has kinda fizzled out (very disappointed) and Sonia is back on the straight and narrow. And where has Naomi gone? They coulda made more of that story but for some reason decided not to.

Anyway, what bothered me was just who were the 129 people complaining to the Beeb over Jake Moon and Carly what’s-her-name shagging against the wall in that club (the one which was owned by Den Watts… Look, pay attention at the back)? And oooo errrrr missus, they strip off! I can just hear the blood pressure sky rocketing in the Home Counties and the exclamations of, “Disgusting”!

The Beeb say that the scene was acceptable and suitable to be shown before the watershed. I watched it last Sunday, the omnibus edition. It is rather coy as you don’t see them actually getting down and dirty except for Jake fumbling for a condom. The rest is left to your imagination. Maybe that’s what Disgusted from Tonbridge Wells or Livid from Leatherhead were so against. You saw a condom and the camera zooms in on the image. Or maybe they haven’t got any imagination. Scary…..

There were also complaints (around 128) about the domestic violence storyline between Denise and Owen. Again, that was shown on the omnibus edition and it seemed like a part of a scene had been cut. Maybe to do with the violent nature, I really don’t know. People complained that they found the scenes “disturbing” and “distressing” (Owen punches Denise so hard she loses a tooth). Well, that’s what precisely domestic violence is, disturbing and distressing. Welcome to the Real World of Domestic Violence!

I found the scenes realistic, well scripted, good dialogue and extremely well acted. So, round of applause to the actors Lee Ross and Diane Parish. I did find it shocking and upsetting to watch but that’s due entirely to the fact it was realistic and powerful. The dynamics between Denise and Owen were better acted than say between Little Mo and Trevor. That storyline irritated the hell out of me. The actor who played Trevor (similar with the Trevor “under the patio” Jordache in Brookside) widened his eyes and came over all over-blown theatrics. A cardboard cut out monster with no substance. I also found Denise much more of a rounded character than say Little Mo, the constant victim. The only let down is that Denise is “rescued” by Phil “Quadrophenia” Daniels (diamond geezer nonetheless and I like his acting style).

8million people watched the episodes originally so the complainers are really only a drop in the ocean.

Interview with Anne Quesney (Abortion Rights) in today's Guardian

Interesting interview with the director, Anne Quesney of Abortion Rights in the Guardian today.

Thatcher: tramp the dirt down...

So Bliar wants to give his political hero a state funeral (though denied, of course!). Unfortunately.... the Bastard isn't dead as yet and we are informed she is in "good health" (dammit!!!).

She of the Iron Lady fame. She who famously quoted Francis Assisi on the steps of 10 Downing Street where she brought more discord, lies, despair and collective trauma. A bloody warmongerer with blood dripping from her hands and no wonder Blair worships her.

The Labour MP Rosie Cooper raised the issue about the state funeral. She argues: "Thatcher's policies had a dramatic impact on life in the North. She is not revered in the areas which suffered most during her tenure".

You can sure say that again, Rosie!

At least with a State Funeral we'll know where the Bastard is buried.

"Well I hope you live long now, I pray the Lord your soul to keep.
I think I'll be going before we fold our arms and start to weep.
I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap. '
Cos when they finally put you in the ground.
They'll stand there laughing and tramp the dirt down"

Elvis Costello - Tramp the Dirt Down

Women in South Africa, the struggle continues...

Just to remind some of the leftie men out there of the role of women in struggles around the world, I am linking to an article about the anniversary of a protest by women at a law which forced non-white people to carry passbooks with them at all times.

"On 9 August 1956 thousands of women assembled in Pretoria despite a ban on unauthorised gatherings, eventually coalescing in a 20,000-strong protest outside the Union Buildings, the seat of the South African government.

Many were arrested and prosecuted, but activists say it was the moment which brought women into the anti-apartheid struggle.

"Twenty-thousand women suddenly emerging in Pretoria - the heartland of what was then the National Party domain - was a tremendously exciting, inspirational thing," former speaker of the South African parliament Frene Ginwala, told the BBC. "

Women in South Africa are going to re-enact this protest, but this time to protest at the high level of domestic violence against women in South Africa. The report states :

"According to one study, a South African woman dies at the hands of her partner every six hours, while rape and physical and mental abuse are said to be rampant. "

Women's rights are not the flavour of the moment in many sections of the left, but they bloody well should be .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WTF ....

I was on a bus in Brighton today. Now I love Brighton but there are far to many people who have very woolly views and talk crap. I am sorry but crystals won't cure cancer or solve the middle east crisis. Nor will eating muesli or doing hot yoga.

Anyway , back to the bus. Most of the children in Brighton seem to be called Jack, Tom or Chloe . Now if I saw certain names were popular every year I wouldn't damm well name my child it. I do sometimes feel tempted to shout Jack and see how many kids turn around.

The other options are hippie dippy names.

Anyway, what was the point of this post. Yep, the bus. These woolly headed liberal crystal owning muesli eating fuckwits, on the bus, had called their child 'chakra'. Arghhh. I thought I misheard until they said it again.

Oh I suppose it could have been worse. 'yes darling, shall we call the little one Hezbollah ...'

I really wanted to slap them.

Oh for those who don't know what a Chakra is, and you are not missing anything, see here .

How to catch your voter...

Many people who voted Labour feel let down by Blair and his Government. The local elections produced a poor result and opinion polls show falling support. Even the Party sent a message to him in voting on Walter Wolfgang to the NEC.

So what does Blair do. Go ? Question whether he needs to listen to the electorate and his own Party? Consider for an instant that the Iraq war and his cosying up to Bush is unpopular? Question policies that need the support of Tories to be passed?

Nope he goes brown nosing over to the States to Murdoch. He states left and right are no longer relevant and takes of open and closed . Blair never concedes he could be wrong. We just don't understand him . The message needs to be retuned so realise we are wrong and he is right.

The Independent today reports on the Party's latest way to reach voters. Nope it does not entail actually looking at policy but putting them into categories so they can be targeted. Ok, not that new. But it does show how the emphasis is still very much on spin . Oh and I love the categories :

Burdened Optimists - swing voters, high turnout; lower managerial jobs; often living in modern housing on the edge of large cities or towns. They focus on career and home, and are raising young families. Contact via internet, e-mail or text messages.
Asian Enterprise - strong for Labour, high turnout; well qualified, many from Asia; white collar, professionals, directors of small businesses. Issues: education, employment, equality, interest rates. Contact via internet, e-mail, text messages.
Coronation Street - strong for Labour, low turnout, own or rent small terraced houses and have low incomes with low-skilled jobs. Major beneficiaries of family benefits. Issues: child benefit and child trust funds. Contact via doorstep.
Industrial Grit - strong for Labour; own and live in older, large but unpretentious houses in industrial or former industrial/mining areas; blue collar occupations. School age children. Issues: low interest rates, tax credits. Contact via leaflets and direct mail shots.
Metro-multiculture - Labour supporters but low turnout; renters rather than buyers; low income; high percentage from black and minority ethnic communities. Issues: equality, community facilitie. Contact via leaflets.
Towerblock - low incomes; renters rather than buyers; often young parents with infants; use community facilities. Issues: financial help, child benefit and child trust funds. Contact through text messaging and newsletters left in community centres.
Low Horizons - young families living in social housing on the outskirts of big cities. Issues: financial help, regeneration, and community facilities. Contact via doorstep or local newspapers.
Rustbelt Resilience - live in established communities. Issues: crime and local environment, benefits for elderly and carers. Contact on the doorstep.
New Town Materialists - larger families, many with school-age children; live in ex-local authority housing. Aspirational with a strong emphasis on the family. Issues: stable interest rates, the economy, education, tax credits and childcare provision. Contact through e-mails and doorstep campaigning.

Interesting categories, very heterosexual and family orientated. I don't feel I fit in to any of them, but am quite happy with that :-)

Of course there has always been targeting and categories such as Mondeo Man . Of course there is a need to target and know your voters, but this reflects that their energy is still on presentation and not a rethink of policy. When there is very little between the policies of the two Parties it seems the tactics will be on style and spin.

Trouble is the public are more cynical than in 1997 about New Labour. None of this will be any good whilst the public see the Party as one of sleaze and policies continue business as usual.Its just more spin and presentation. Business as usual. Blair with his fingers in his ears ignoring the noises of discontent.
None of this will help if New Labour does not look at its policies and conduct in Government.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Being there...

Inspired by a comment by Andy Newman on Dave Osler's blog about being in places at interesting or historic times.
Dave is in Cuba whilst Castro has handed over the reins of power for the first time on 47 years.

So has anyone reading this blog been somewhere at a historical moment ?

Add your stories to the comments box.

I'll go first. I was in New York 9/11.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Brighton Pride

The Stroppy One and moi went to Brighton Pride yesterday. We watched the floats go by and with this years theme being, "Carry On".. there were a lots of busty Barbara Windsors (including the Real One on the Terrence Higgins Trust float) and people dressed in various guises from Carry On films (I was rather disappointed there were no Charles Hawtrey or Fenella Fielding lookalikes!) . I heard one bloke explaining to a group of people why he thought Carry on Screaming was high camp and the best of the bunch (and I couldn't help but turn around uttering the famous words from Kenneth Williams: "Frying tonight"!). I agree, Carry On Screaming is my favourite as well.

Organisations who were on the demo included: Amicus, GMB, RMT, Unison, Brighton Labour Party, Terrence Higgins, Green Party, FBU, mental health charity MIND and a variety of other groups representing on a local or a national scale.

We followed the demo after we watched the floats go past and London Road was taken over by the demonstrators. People cheering and clapping, the atmophere was extremly vibrant and upbeat. I remember going on one the first Pride demos in Brighton in the early 90s and it much more of a protest demo with people chanting slogans (the vile homophobic Section 28 was still fresh in minds) and there weren't as many demonstrators then. I remember spotting the po-faced angry homophobes from the sidelines as we marched past.

Some people argue that Pride has lost its meaning and has become commercialised (like the London one) and the politics have been lost. I don't know if that's the case as it still attracts thousands of people and the sponsors include some (not all, mind you!) of the trade unions.

The stalls were at Preston Park and it was utterly packed. There were zillions of stalls to browse. In keeping with tradition, I perused the trade union stalls (noticed my own union, T&G missing.....) and had look at the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights (LCLGR).

There were masses of women milling around (go ladies, go!) stalls such as Sh (sex shop for women based in Shoreditch in London) and Tickled (Brighton based sex shop), which were selling sex toys to strap-ons dildos. I liked the leather stall but didn't too much of a chance to check it out as it was thronging with people...

The Stroppy One, bless her fishnet stockings, bought me a Dr Who wallet with a scary Dalek on the front (and I bought her a bottle of Jack Daniels ....! Can I have a bottle of Russian vodka next time... please?!) and she bought herself a kinky leather style cap with a chain (you know, similar to the one Marlon Brando wears in the "Wild One"..). I also bought myself a pink cowgirl hat though was disappointed they didn't sell holsters or guns... kinda like that image!

I gonna wear the hat to the Communist University sans holster with gun..

Comments and spam.

A little while back one of Stroppyblogs 'virtual mates', Jim Jam, asked us to turn off the word verification on the comments box. Jim assured me it would not mean spam would get through. I agreed and turned it off. I find the word verification a pain so was happy to do this.

We have now started to get some spam. Not much, but some. The same one advertising links. Our comments does not allow us to ban (if this is inaccurate and anyone knows how to let us know).

So I am asking the question of those who comment here, how do you feel about the word verification being reinstated ? Would you rather not have it and risk some spam ?

Comments please....

Update: I am going to delete the spam comments. Just so you all know its not censorship, but spam removal !

Friday, August 04, 2006

Forever Changes....

Back in 2002 I saw two artists play their classic albums live on stage. Brian Wilson played 'Pet Sounds' for the first time on stage in many years. Brian was the genius behind the Beach Boys but hated touring and spent many years as a recluse. It was great to see him play live, and enjoy it. He is a perfectionist and played Pet Sounds as though he was in the studio.

A few months later I saw Arthur Lee at the Concorde 2 in Brighton. He had recently got out of prison and was mainly playing the tracks from 'Forever Changes', another classic. It was a small venue and the difference between him and Brian was illustrated in their performances. Where Brian was concerned at replicating the sound of the album , note perfect, Arthur was passionate and reinterpreted his album. Both troubled individuals, yet Arthur was freerer and full of energy. It was one of the best gigs I have been to.

Today Arthur died at the age of 61. I am glad I had the chance to see him play live.

Check out the albums by Love. Better than bloody Dido and James Blunt.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ana Lopes at the Communist University

I don't normally advertise events organised by revolutionary left organisations because we are non-aligned lefties but before anyone gets their frilly lacy knickers in a twist and accuse me of bias, Ana Lopes from the GMB/IUSW who will be speaking at the Communist University (CPGB jamboree).

She is down to speak on the 12 August, 4-45pm-7pm, on Sex and the Class Struggle.

I will be interested and fascinated to hear what she has to say about the subject....

Well done Walter....

Walter Wolfgang has been elected onto the Labour Party's National Executive Committee (NEC). One in the eye for Bliar and co...

Update: 4 from the Grassroots Alliance were elected*.

Constituencies: NEC Division III (CLPs) - the following were elected to the NEC:

Ann Black *
Ellie Reeves
Christine Shawcroft *
Peter Wheeler
Peter Willsman *
Walter Wolfgang*

Lily Allen and the art of rhyme

Lily Allen.... heard of her and of her music but other than that not a lot (oh, her dad is the actor Keith Allen). I was reading an interview with her this morning (no link) and she kinda appealled to my rather juvenile sense of humour.

She was asked her opinion on James Blunt. Her reply: "It rhymes with his surname"...

Rock and roll, Lily!

Bliar: Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…

So Tony “no mates” Bliar has been really, really, did I say really, working for a ceasefire in Lebanon? His position is that he wants a ceasefire but the qualification is that Hizbullah has to disarm. But poor old misunderstood Bliar has incurred the wrath of his own backbenchers and even "flaky but proportionate" Beckett is getting a bit hot under the collar. I mean, it must be bad as Ann Clwyd said feelings were running high over Lebanon. And even old Jack "wet" Straw has entered the fray. Oh but this certainly won’t impinge upon Bliar's summer holiday where he can relax in the knowledge that “2 shags” Prescott will be in charge.

In the press conference today Blair argued: "The only people who are engaged in a war, voluntarily, are those people that committed the atrocities of 7/7 here, September 11 of 11/3 in Madrid and in countless other Arab and Muslim countries."

What about people who start a war on no "evdence" to do with weapons of mass destruction?What about imperialism? What about colonalism? What about Zionism?

Funny how Blair is letting the Israeli state off the hook as all the emphasis is put on Hizbollah to stop the attacks and on the BBC news the other night, Bliar mentioned Islam but failed to utter any condemnation of Zionism. Disproportionate? You bet! But maybe one of the reasons Bliar isn’t swift in his condemnation maybe something to do with New Labour approving the sale of arms to the Israeli state. The goodies include, “thumb cuffs” and “wall cuff” used in torture. New Labour approved of £22.5m worth of arms-related exports to Israel, almost twice the amount in 2004, this includes display units for US F-16s, which are bombing the crap out of Lebanon and Gaza.

Guidelines say export licences would not be agreed if there was a “clear risk” they might be used for internal repression or would “provoke or prolong armed conflict”. So New Labour is in breach of its own guidelines...!

As Roger Berry argues in reference to Israel: “if the guidelines do not apply in those circumstances where do they apply”?

And Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, has written to Margaret Beckett threatening legal action unless she bans the supply of British military equipment to Israel. And now with the fact the US have been using British airfields to carry bombs to Israel has also caused potential legal action.

The bombardment of Lebanon is still ongoing with early morning strikes on Beirut and Gaza killing countless people. Does Bliar feel a true sense of pride that the display units for US F-16s will read Made in Britain?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Should I stay or should I go ....

I have posted a few times here on how pissed off I am with New labour . I have been faffing about for the last few years as to whether to leave. I have hung around mainly because there does not seem to be anywhere else to go. My politics are closer to the far left than both New and Old labour, but I can't be arsed with the sectarianism. I also feel very uncomfortable with the direction and strategies of many of the groups and who they make alliances with.

So I have watched with interest the NEC elections and the emergence of John McDonnell as a challenger to Brown. Perhaps there is some spirit left in the Party to fight back. New labour does seem troubled by the challenges, else why bother to smear and play its usual control freakery games. I am interested to see whether this will energize what remains of the left in the Party.

So I have decided to get involved with John's campaign and to wait around a bit longer. I expect this will be seen as naive . My view on whether I stay or go will be determined by that campaign and the results of the NEC elections. I am not naive enough to think John could win, what I am interested in is the support he receives and whether this can kick start a platform for the left.

I don't think I am alone in wanting to be involved and find a political home but being unimpressed by both Labour and the far left alternatives. At the moment the odd demo and rant on the blog is the extent of what I do and that is not enough.