Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Parliament tonight

Apologies to Marsha Jane for not posting something on 6-degrees of Trotskyism tonight, which I know she was looking forward to. But instead I was freezing my bollocks off (figuratively speaking) protesting outside Parliament 'cos of the debate and vote tonight about Iraq. I was there from 5.30pm until a little after 7.30pm. It was a low turnout of around 100-150 people. Loads of Students, few SWPers, smattering of indie lefties, 2 WRPers and I really wanna say "and a partridge in a pear tree!"(and I recognised some of them).

Anyway, it was kinda lacklustre and uninspiring but I was gonna wait damnit until the vote was announced. Highlights of the evening includes seeing a large lorry carrying caravans (oh my, Margaret Beckett, which one will you choose) stopping at a red light and a ministerial car with a police escort driving into Parliament (well, I hope the next escort Blair gets is one driving him to Belmarsh prison). There was lots of the Filth lurking around and when the vote was coming through more Filth appeared out of nowhere (well it is Halloween) probably to keep an eye on people as there was lots of anger due to the MPs who voted against. I left then and others did as well but there were still a core of protesters.

I dunno but I did think it may have been a good time to have burnt the flag of the Butchers Apron along with the Stars and Stripes before they turn it into a specific criminal offence.

Overall it was disappointing but even worse was the MPs who voted with New Labour! As the crowd collectively shouted, "Shame on you!"

Btw: pic was taken from my mobile phone.

Emergency debate on Iraq

Well, it is Halloween so instead of seeing SAW III at a multiplex near me, I am off to the emergency protest in front of Parliament because of the debate on Iraq tonight. We shall what happens......

Maybe see some of you blogger types there. Should wear a very BIG badge saying Stroppyblogger. Or maybe not. Will report back later about how it went.

Monday, October 30, 2006

An apology

Crikey comrades, we at Stroppyblog would like to apologise for writing so many chuckle free posts lately. I mean, we could, you know, be soon described as a serious political blog but we don’t want that ‘cos it would severely damage our reputation.

So…. comrades don’t despair, the usual classy posts on random subjects such as fisting, fucking and fishnets (whether in that order is something we haven’t quite decided on as yet) will resume….. soon!

Get Carter.....

No, not the classic film staring Michael Caine or the piss-poor remake with Sylvester Stallone but Lord Carter aided and abetted by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). Lord Carter's review has recently been published Legal aid: a sustainable future.

The overall thrust of this review is basically cutting legal aid, carving up advice agencies and squeezing legal advice overall. Everyone should be entitled to equal justice but under this review the poor will receive rough justice. These proposals are very bad.

A good response to these proposals is from the Access to Justice Alliance.

Nadine Dorries and her anti-choice Ten Minute Rule Bill

From Abortion Rights:

Ask your MP to vote against cynical anti-choice Ten Minute Rule Bill
Tuesday 31st October, from 2.30pm

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has launched a parliamentary campaign to drive back women’s abortion rights. Dorries has tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill calling both for a reduction in the time limit for abortion and the introduction of a mandatory delay in service provision. This is in the context of a concerted campaign by the anti-choice lobby to confuse opinion over a woman’s right to make her own abortion decisions and to build support for successive restrictions in abortion rights.

Please email or phone your MPs office and ask them to be in the Chamber on Tuesday 31st October, from 2.30, to vote against this attack on women’s crucial reproductive rights. MP's email addresses follow the following pattern: Their office can also be contacted via the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000.
Please let us know what responses you get.

Ten Minute Rule Bill: TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY, Mrs Nadine Dorries
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to reduce the time limit for legal termination of pregnancy from 24 to 21 weeks; to introduce a cooling off period after the first point of contact with a medical practitioner about a termination; to enable the time period from the end of the cooling off period and the date of termination to be reduced; and for connected purposes.

Update: Nadine Dorries lost the vote as MPs voted against this bill.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cleaners fighting for a living wage

Yet more from the greedy exploitative world of capitalist bastards…..

Having worked as a cleaner a couple of times in my life, it was good to read that my union the T&G has set up a campaign called “Justice for Cleaners”. One of the places I worked for the union had been smashed therefore pay and conditions were appalling and so was health and safety. Working as a cleaner I was treated like I was invisible as people looked straight through me like I didn’t exist. So, it is refreshing to read about Abiola Arowolo a cleaner at City investment bank Goldman Sachs, who along with other cleaners is fighting for a living wage. While one of the senior bankers there is estimated to be worth £150m, she earns £6.20 an hour. She works from 10pm to 6am and after finishing she goes off to another cleaning job. Co-worker Kwasi Agyemang-Prempeh also has to cram in a second job to make ends meet.

She rightly argues that, “Money is involved, but we also deserve respect.” The average full-time staff member working in the Square Mile received a 21% pay rise which translated means the average male salary is something around £100,000. But cleaners like Abiola saw her pay go up by……. 4.5%.

100 cleaners, whose jobs are outsourced to contractor Mitie, work for Goldman Sachs. Mitie, who incidentally had a turn over for the year 2005 of £818.6 million. Profits were £35.9 million before tax and £21.6 million. The cleaners are paid £6.20 an hour. Well, translated, that means the rich get even richer whilst cleaners like Kwasi and Abiola get shafted.

Good luck to the campaign and to the activists involved….

Labour Left Briefing AGM

In my ultra-left yoof I used to describe Labour Briefing as Labour Boring (and I used to sell it as part of the trot group I belonged to). Anyway, 20 odd-years on I found myself purposefully attending the Labour Left Briefing AGM yesterday. After all these years I still subscribe to it (along with International Viewpoint) as it is an institution though I kinda respect the mag and people actively involved. It has been a permanent fixture on the left, which is a good thing. The main reason for attending I wanted to hear John McDonnell and he had to say about the campaign.

Unlike Jon Rogers (who sprinted all the way from the National Shop Stewards Network meeting to attend the afternoon session…) I was able to attend the whole day.
First up to speak was Tony Benn who spoke about John McDonnell needing enough nominations to get on the ballot form. It is also about democracy as ordinary members will have a say who the next leader of the LP will be. This alternative will have a considerable impact on the expected outcome being the so-called smooth transition from Bliar to Brown. Benn spoke about people being disillusioned with the whole parliamentary process. And how the McDonnell campaign will be a chance to challenge the status quo.

John McDonnell spoke about how the campaign is a collective campaign against New Labour. It is about democracy and representing LP members as at the moment there is no collective voice, structure or accountability. With the campaign hotting up members are turning up and talking about politics. It is about reclaiming the LP. He spoke about the Trade Union Freedom Bill, Campaign for Tax Justice and the campaign against privatisation. There will be cut backs in the NHS and the civil service. Issues around pensions in Local Government and pay overall as well. The PCS have said they will be involved in continuous industrial action against these cuts. McDonnell called it the “spring of discontent” revolving around jobs, cuts and privatisation. Therefore the McDonnell campaign is vital as socialist policies are the objective. If we don’t do anything then Labour will sleep walk into the loss of the next election and will probably be in oblivion for the next 15-20 years. McDonnell spoke about the media “blackout” and how there has been hardly any reporting in the papers. This needs to be challenged.

The discussion was thrown open and people spoke of disaffected and disillusioned LP and ex-LP members and that we shouldn’t underestimate the problems. One comrade spoke of just because you are a LP member doesn’t mean you endorse New Labour and that you are a dissident you in your party. On practical issues it is important to get John to speak at LP and TU meetings.

Harriet Yeo (member of TSSA and the Labour NEC) spoke about 7 million trade union members which represents more than LP members (140 trade union members for every LP member). She pointed out that General Secretaries are re-elected every 5 years while LP leaders aren’t! One aspect of her speech I found interesting was about pensions where she said that under British Rail is was one pension. Now since privatisation each train company has their own pension fund and they are pretty lousy...

Jeremy Corbyn spoke from an international perspective. He informed the meeting that there will be a debate in Parliament next Tuesday about the legality of war in Iraq, which will start at 7pm. He discussed Blair’s subservient role to the USA. Margaret Beckett… how shall I put it, a piss-poor Foreign Secretary…? And the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was looked at with NATO running the place in Afghanistan and the devastation of Iraq. He made the links between the uncritical support given to Israel by the west and the continued occupation of Palestine. He made reference to the bombardment of Lebanon and how New Labour was incapable of uttering the word, “ceasefire”. He further remarked about how important he saw the role of the World Social Movement (WSF) and touched briefly on Chavez and Venezuela. Prioritisation should be given to continuing to oppose war in Iraq and support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Jon Rogers (Unison) and Gary Heather (CWU) spoke about the continuing attack on public services and privatisation, single status in local government (there was more but I have lost most of my notes for this session……!). Jon advertised the Lobby of Parliament to defend the NHS on Wednesday 1st November.

There was the election of the LLB editorial board and I got elected, which surprised me as I only went along to hear speakers and didn’t intend to stand for anything. Anyway, it gives me something to do and not constantly watch crap telly…... Thanks comrades for persuading me!

My overall assessment of the meeting was the importance of building the McDonnell campaign. Is this the last best hope for the left? I dunno. It was solid and dependable speeches all around by everyone but… but… but… I just can’t help being a depressing pessimist. Though this doesn’t stop from me building the campaign, far from it, but I think we have to be realistic and not underestimate the problems we will encounter. But we also have to show commitment and support the McDonnell campaign ‘cos not to would be one big missed opportunity. So, if you are LP member, get John to speak, support his candidature, nominate him from your union and so on.

It does feel like the end of something but the process can still be used to spread ideas and mobilise people. So something new can come out of this, which is what happens when you do spread ideas. The potential to build new campaigns and alliances are out there.

Afterwards some of us went for a swift half. Jon, I hope your blog is working ok now (looks like it is), Mike come over and say hi and to Simon D. do get blogging.....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

SSP: post-Sheridan

I attended a meeting organised by Socialist Resistance on the SSP and Tommy Sheridan. Yes, it may seem like, “not another post on Sheridan” but I believe it is important and needs to be debated as it throws up some many issues especially around women. Firstly, I will put my cards on the table and say that I support the Socialist Resistance statement regarding Sheridan. Secondly, I attended the meeting out of curiosity as I wanted to hear what Frances Curran had to say.

I just want to give a broad brushstroke of the meeting as on Liam’s blog you get a fancy recording of Frances Curran’s speech. She gave a chronological account of the events which led up to the court case. What put Sheridan on the political radar for me was the open letter and the “gender obsessed” comments. This was brought up in the meeting as the letter was seen as factional and misogynistic. It is also apparent where Sheridan sees women’s liberation and lesbian and gay rights in the old pecking order. In order to be a “class fighter” women’s liberation and lesbian and gay rights are integral to the struggle and not something you can chuck out when it suits you. Or indeed, whether fighting oppression was taken seriously in the first place. What also appalled me was that women and feminism were being shafted.

I found it an interesting meeting as there were some very good discussions about gender and the position of women on the left, “male ego politics” (shades of Derek Hatton, Daniel Ortega and others were compared to Sheridan) and importantly, how do you defend the integrity of the party? What mistakes, if any, were made and so on by the SSP.? And how can the left learn from this experience.

The Sheridan case has thrown up issues around democracy, accountability and transparency. There was also a discussion about the current state of the SSP and the fact that Frances said she believed this has strengthened the party and that the SSP is doing well in the polls. I went along primarily to get some understanding of the situation and how the SSP plans to go forward. There was around 300+ at the conference and there was a good turn out for the unity demo to defend asylum seekers the same weekend. As a Labour Party member I have much respect and admiration for the SSP has done and probably if I lived in Scotland I would be a member. They also have a lot of strong and vibrant women in their ranks as well.

It was announced at the start of the meeting that Rosie Kane had been sent to prison for 2 weeks for refusing to pay a fine when she was arrested over an anti-Trident demo.

Update: Details to send letters of support to Rosie
Rosie Kane, 99451, Bruce House, HMP Cornton Vale, Cornton Rd, Stirling, FK9 5NU

Friday, October 27, 2006

Benn going for deputy leadership....

No, you haven't entered a time warp and been transported back to 1981 'cos it's not that Benn but Benn junior!! You know, Hilary Benn.

He appears to be going for "2 shags" Prescott's job and rumour has it, well, from his parlimentary private secretary that is, "prospects are looking good". Way hey!

Dunno about you people, but Hilary Benn just seems a bit of a non-entity.

And Jack Straw is supposed to be throwing his hat in the ring as well. He's probably pleased he ditched the specs for contact lenses then.

Continued attacks on a woman's right to choose

Another blow for a woman's right to choose as Nicaragua has voted for a total ban on abortion. Daniel Ortega, by the way, voted for the ban.
Critics describe Ortega as having betrayed the movement's tradition of feminism....

In today's Guardian there is good piece by Zoe Williams supporting a woman's right to choose including 9 interviews with women who have had abortions .

Thursday, October 26, 2006

All trade unionists are commies....

More from the greedy world of capitalist bastards….

266 GMB members at JJB Sports warehouse in Wigan will hold two days of strike action 31st October and 2nd November. Talks between the GMB and David Whelan, who happens to be the group’s biggest shareholder, broke down after he said the pay system the GMB were going for was the equivalent of communism! You can just imagine him spluttering that, can't you. Suffering from a dose of apoplexy as well, no doubt (probably needs a holiday to recover).

Mon Dieu! A workers wage? Well, not on old Whelan’s watch. Tom Knight, the group’s Chief Executive was originally in negotiations with the GMB but Whelan stepped in and said no to the proposals, which would have increased the basic wage, and given all workers access to a bonus scheme.

David Whelan is currently out of the country on holiday in Barbados (see I was right, he did need a holiday) for 3 weeks so talks cannot continue. This is the man who is worth £290 million (according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2005). Hey Dave, you could easily afford to send the 266 workers on holiday to Barbados. Or even, perish the thought, a living wage....!!
I mean, how many of them can afford a proper holiday on the miniscule wages they are on at the moment?

Viva la Communism!

Ryan be fair

I try and avoid travelling by union busting scumbags Ryanair (think I travelled once on Ryanair and also think I repressed the memory). The so-called budget airline, which screws the workers by pressurising them not to join a union. Well, drum-roll please maestro, Ryanair c’mon on down, as you have been voted least favourite airline……

And what a week for management as Ryanair workers in Italy and Spain have been on strike for union recognition. Can it get any worse for Michael O’Leary et al? I really, really DO hope so!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dr Who spin-off Torchwood

I know, I know, but I do need my Dr Who fix and can't go completely "cold turkey". So...Oh Joy, the lovely Captain Jack Harkness, the only bisexual time traveller in town is leading the spin-off from Dr Who, Torchwood. Watched some of it and got bored. Actually, I fell asleep even the adorable Captain Jack couldn't keep me awake. It didn't have the same wit or humour as Dr Who nor a slick script. Damn shame really. I have sleep walked over to the 'puter to write this review. Well, some of it as I didn't catch the ending. Well, to be honest I think I caught the first 30 minutes before my snoring woke me up.

If anyone out there did see the ending, what exactly happened..? Did the script improve? Was there more action/adventure? Oh and did Captain Jack keep his clothes on this time...??

More on the Welfare Reform Bill

The draft regulations and the Welfare Reform Bill is now being debated by Standing Committee A. It has been adjourned until tomorrow (they stopped at Clause 10 so the vile Clause 17 will be discussed sometime tomorrow). The Disability Benefits Consortium has put together amendments to this bill.

But it does seem likely that claimants will be subjected to the work-related activity undertakings. This means that the DWP - Department of Work and Pensions (a junior civil servant as opposed to say, your GP) will decide what kind of therapeutic regime is suitable and if you disagree you risk benefit sanctions for non-compliance. The conditionality aspect has been shown to be unhelpful in building a constructive relationship with a claimant and that comes from the DWP’s own research.....!!!!!

Sickness rates are down by 64,000, to its lowest over a decade. Therefore, why oh why does New Labour see fit to bring in a nasty draconian piece of legislation which bullies people into finding work? A harsh regime based on conditionality and sanctions. New Labour will save billions and keep the tabloids on board by showing their tough stance on work-shy scroungers.

Billions that can be spent on funding war in Iraq.....

'Nuf said.

NB: There are also proposals for sanctions for Housing Benefit claimants who have been evicted for "anti-social behaviour" and fail to co-operate with the "efforts of local authorities to rehabilitate them". It is proposed that the provisions to be piloted in about 10 local authorities in England for a period of 2 years. Frank Field brought in a private members bill on a similar issue in 2002, which was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the proposals are back....

As CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) argue: "These proposals are likely to cause hardship and homelessness and unlikely to have any deterrent effect".

Coalition Against the Welfare Reform Bill (CAWRB)
And these are the members of Standing Committee A. Might include your MP.

Lobby of Parliament organised by Abortion Rights/NUS Women's Campaign

Lobby of Parliament 22 Novermber
11am — 4pm Briefings in Room S Portcullis House

On 23rd October MPs will enter a ballot to determine which twenty can propose a Private Members Bill on a subject of their choosing. We know that anti-choice MPs are already planning to propose legislation to restrict women’s abortion rights if they get the opportunity.
Abortion Rights and the NUS Women’s Campaign have organised this lobby of parliament to give pro-choice supporters the opportunity to talk face to face with their MPs ahead of the Ballot.

It is important that MPs hear why later abortion is crucial to the few women who need it; to expose the anti-choice myths that are dominating the debate; and to let MPs know that, contrary to the anti-choice lobby’s assertion, there is no consensus on reducing the time limit for abortion.

People are encouraged to write to their MP in advance to request a meeting on the 22nd.
Briefings, advice and information will be on hand in room S of Portcullis House opposite the Palace of Westminster, to help prepare you for your meeting.

Please email us at to let us know if you can attend.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just a quick plug for this months carnival of socialism . Its over at Johns site and there is a theme of religion .

We get a mention as well !!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bloggies unmasked ...

Sorry for the delay in writing about drinks and bloggies after the McDonnell meeting. The last week has been a whirl of socialising with all those weird lefties who pop over to Stroppyblog. This will now be my 'Heat' style post on who I met this week.

Starting with the McDonnell meeting. I thought there might be some bloggies at the meeting , so I peered about to see if I could guess who they were . We really should have little name tags saying who were are and our blog. John Angliss came up to us as he recognised Osler from his media tarting on TV. John looks very different from his blog pic as he has a big bushy beard. As well as hating ponytails on men I also hate beards and was planning to add them to the people we would shoot come the revolution. I think though we will spare John as he is quite a sweetie.

I had a chat with David Broder. As people may remember I have linked to some of his posts here as he talks sense about women,LGBT issues and the left. I learnt from David that Volty, and the 'delectable' Jim D , had met their heroine Yvonne Ridley. Wonder why they kept that quiet. I explained to David that Volty has a shrine to her, complete with life size cardboard cut out.

Good to say hello to Janine, sorry I didn't get a chance to talk more. Happy belated 40th birthday for Saturday. Its not that bad being over 40 :-)
I did feel old though when I gave a 'history' lesson to John on the Bermondsey by-election and realised he hadn't yet been born .

The 'highlight' of the night was getting drunk with the puritanical one, Paddy. He seemed to be under the impression that Stroppy was a made up personality. Dave put him straight there, that I am the same in real life. Paddy asked me not to be horrible. I did my best and only called him a fuckwit once.
If I had known Paddy was there I would have been more immodest and worn my ripped fishnets and DMs...
Louise and I have an open invitation to go for a walk in a cemetery with him. Hmmm, think I'll pass on that, unless Lenny comes along.

Thursday night and more bloggies in pubs. Dave, Louise and I met up with Paul 'catsuits' Anderson and some of his mates (Padraig from New Humanist, Declan , Kevin and Lady M.)
What I worked out from that night, surrounded by journos, was that men go into that line of work in order to gossip. As lady M put it

I learned more about who works where, who knows whom and who's shagged whom than I ever expected - or indeed wanted - to know.

I know we have a reputation for lowering the tone, but this time we were trumped by Osler, but best not go there. Suffice to say many left the pub that night a little traumatised .

Not all were not such anoraks when it came to blogs and did wonder why we would want to post and comment at all times of the day and night. It is addictive. It can also ruin reputations. Paul had some explaining to do when one of his students came across the post and comments on his blog where he offered to be our houseboy and clean our showers if we dressed up in catsuits. As Padraig put it, you do realise the blogs are a public forum. So apologies to Paul . He is a serious political journalist and was lead astray by the stroppybloggers.

Saturday the plan was for Louise and I to go to a bit of the Feminist Fightback conference and then pop over to the Women against Fundamentalism meeting. Best laid plans and all that. We met Volty for coffee first. He was a very bad influence. We ended up there for three hours . Every now and then we said perhaps we should go. But it was nice in the sun, then it rained so we had to stay and then we were hungry. Eventually we got to the WAF meeting. Louise is going to report on that.

This left us with time to catch the end of FF but instead Volty made us go to a pub. We did make the last 20 mins of FF, walking in like naughty schoolkids who had been bunking off. But it did give me the opportunity to say hi to Mike (described to me as a sort of lefty Stephen Fry type) and Kit. Didn't get a chance to talk much and sorry for forgetting to bring along the fishnets for you to wear.

The biggest disappointment was not seeing Jim D. For a while myself and Louise became 'unmanageable'. Volty did his best to cheer us with tales of Denham, including his infamous phone call to Radio Galloway. If anyone has gorgeous George's mobile please let us know. It will be safe in the hands of Jim:-)
I have this image of Jim as a sort of Father Jack character, sitting there with his drink shouting Galloway...Ridley...SWP... and swearing and throwing things at the computer.
But the sweet thing is the names JimD has given his poodles. The two he breeds from are called Yvonne Ridley and George Galloway. At least thats what Volty told me :-)

Look forward to the drinks in January ...

I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed (J'ai vu tuer Ben Barka)

Go see this film! Unfortunately, it is only on 2 cinemas in London (and expensive ones at that and maybe that deserves a post in itself about how cinemas are a rip-off!)

I went to see the film I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed, Friday night at the Curzon in Soho. Mehdi Ben Barka was an active opponent of the Hasan II regime in Morocco and a respected leader of anti-colonialism who “disappeared” in Paris in ’65 and was last seen getting into a car with two French cops.

The film opens with a main character, Georges Figon lying on the floor in a pool of his blood after an apparent suicide. The voiceover is provided by a “dead” Georges (rather reminiscent of the opening scene from Sunset Boulevard) who gives an overview of the political situation in the Third World and the anti-colonial struggles.

Georges Figon, had been in out of prison and had set himself up as a film producer. He’s always on the edge financially and desperate for cash. The film acts as a fusion of fact and fiction. Nobody really knows what happened to Ben Barka and is subject to conjecture. Though the CIA, and French state hold vast files on his “disappearance” but are unwilling to release all of them and have resisted attempts to do so. Therefore the script is based on records of the time, interviews with witnesses and so on which, has constructed the foundation of the story.

Georges Figon (who did exist) knew people involved in organised crime and had their own connections in politics. One of them being General Mohamed Oufkir, right hand man to King Hassan II of Morocco. Oufkir had been clamping down on political dissent and organising repressive measures to do this. Barka was a target even though he was now living in exile (he had been sentenced to death in absentia) in Cairo; his anti-colonialism and meetings with Che Guevara and Malcolm X was raising the hackles of the USA and France.

Figon was asked by an intermediary to organise a meeting with Barka to discuss making a film for the Tricontinential conference organised for January 1966. Figon roped in director Georges Franju and scriptwriter Marguerite Duras to help him (neither knew his real reasons for doing this). Figon, along with a journalist friend met with Barka in Cairo. It is obvious Figon knows nothing about anti-colonialism and is awkward being in Barka’s company.

The camera pans around the courtyard and we see secret service men from the States, Morocco and France watching Figon and Barka. There is a powerfully telling scene where the Moroccan secret service man, Chtouki and a member of the CIA, talk about murdering Barka in Cairo but they can’t as he is heavily protected. Chtouki says to the CIA man while pointing at the sky, “C’est vous!” I took that to mean that he is telling the American that they are in charge of the world.

Barka comes to Paris to meet Figon (and he knows what is going to happen) with the director Franju and his journalist friend. Barka is intercepted along the way by 2 French cops and bundled into a car and never seen a again.

The rest of film is devoted to Figon spiralling down into his own fear and paranoia. His mind is disintegrating. When it becomes open knowledge that Figon was connected to Barka’s disappearance, Duras accuses him of being, “scum”! Even his girlfriend turns on him. Figon did it for the money but he is now out of his depth and is being followed by men looking like secret service types. It all becomes like a film noir. People with guns, chase scenes and palpable fear. Figon tells his girlfriend what kind of gun he owns and that if he is ever found dead it won’t be through suicide.

As Figon lies on the floor dead, his voice over explains, “But luring Ben Barka, the Moroccan opposition leader, into a trap was mainly an opportunity for me to become a great movie producer. Nothing political about it. Just the big money.” He also admits,“What I didn't know is that I had hired the Grim Reaper as the Nemesis...”

There is an enquiry into Figon’s death and connections are made with Barka’s disappearance. Figon (in real life) maintained he saw Oufkir stab Barka to death. In the film we see Figon in the house where Barka was taken to in Fontenay-le-Vicomte that belonged to the gangster Georges Boucheseiche. Oufkir arrives and is informed that the package has “arrived”. Figon leaves the house.

There is old footage of de Gaulle saying that he didn’t know what had happened to Barka. But he would say that, wouldn’t he as the French establishment were “up to their neck in it”..

During the enquiry, other state sanctioned murders are brought up such as the murder of Patrice Lumumba (elected leader of the Congo) in 1961 with the complicity of the Belgium state.
The film ends with Figon casting his eye over the rest of the characters and their fate. Oufkir was shot in 1971.

The film exposes the shameful role the States and France played in abducting Barka. It also shows Figon’s own world against a backdrop of anti-colonial struggles and how these two worlds collide. A world he doesn’t really get but when the spotlight goes directly on him he uses it for his own financial gain yet at the same time it unnerves him. Towards the end it becomes apparent to Figon that he has no control over his life, he's been used and at what cost? I thought the guy who played Georges Figon gave a twitchy, nervous but believable portrayal of someone out of his depth.

It is another film which has been released in the past couple years specifically about colonialism and the sordid murderous secrets being thrown open to public scrutiny, others include Cache, Nuit noire - 17 Octobre 1961, Lumumba: La mort du prophete and Issac Julien’s film about Frantz Fanon.
Unfortunately, Ben Barka’s family are still fighting for the right to see the files which France and the USA have declined to release and to know what happened to him.

The release of these films will serve as a way of breaking free of the suppression and censorship which shrouds the shameful history of colonialism. It also serves as a powerful reminder of what happened in the past as the history of the oppressed and the champions of the oppressed always seem to be forgotten.

Oh and it has a funky jazz soundtrack as well.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Conferences on Venezuela

Venezuela: Democracy and Social Progress

Speakers: Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, GMB, Unison and many more

Venue: City Hall, London

Time: 10.30 - 5.30

Date: 28 October 2006

Tickets are: £8 waged, £5 unwaged.

Email: to register

One of the themes of the conference will be women's revolution in Venezuela that is of interest to me.


Hands Off Venezuela 2nd National Conference

Venue: UCU National Headquarters, London

Date: 4/11/06

Time: 10-5

Speakers include: Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fewer people entering higher education

This article is stating the bleeding obvious and it isn’t that surprising. I mean, what do New Labour expect if they introduce so many blinking obstacles for people entering higher education? It is estimated that 15,000 fewer students have started university this year. Frankly, who can blame them? And funnily enough, it is reckoned that the £3,000 fee has deterred people.

“However, ministers said the 15,000 drop, to 389,505, did not represent a collapse but a "strong performance"".

Well, that ingenuous bit of spin has confused me. Wow, only New Labour can turn a negative into a positive! But it aint clever or smart just makes them look pretty stupid. Nil point and an "F" for failing working class people from entering higher education.

Here are some figures for you statistically minded people

Average student debt increased from £2,212 in 1992 to £13,501 in 2005 and is predicted to reach £20,000 for entrants in 2006.

In 1992 only a third of students owed money. Now 90% are in debt. (Barclay’s Student Survey 2003/ Universities UK, ‘HE Students’ Attitudes to Debt and Term-Time Working’, November 2005)

83% of students who work do so to cover the cost of basic essentials. (Universities UK, ‘HE Students’ Attitudes to Debt and Term-Time Working’, November 2005)

By the way, anyone thinking of becoming a student in 2023 ‘cos it’s always good to plan ahead, it is estimated that graduate debt will be around £44,000.

Mmmm. I wonder if my pension will still exist? I wonder if any public services will exist in 2023? I wonder if Eastenders will still be on telly...?

Anyway, just why would anyone contemplate higher education?

John McDonnell - Hackney Meeting

Last night John McDonnell spoke at a meeting in Hackney. See pic, courtesy of paddy the puritan.
I'm going to do two posts on this. One on the actual meeting and the other on going to the pub afterwards . Well this is stroppyblog and our reports on events always seem to involve alcohol.

I support this campaign and am helping to organise a meeting in Brighton. I do though have serious doubts about remaining in the party and the future of the left . I have expressed this in a few posts.

I want to believe that the left can fight back in the party and that the damage done by Blair can be undone.That hope though is tempered by the reality that New Labour is not a one man band. Blair has transformed the party . He has neutered the conference, NEC and his own cabinet, let alone backbench MPs. The policies now differ only from the Tories in degrees.
Thatcher put the boot into the left and the unions. Blair has carried on her legacy.

John articulated the anger of those of us who fought the Tories in the hope of something better, Not revolutionary but left reformism. Hey we were not asking for much.
He talked of how a landslide majority and a public wanting a change was squandered.
Trouble is I am not convinced the left in the party can really undo the damage.Membership is down to 190,000 from 400,000 in 1997. I would guess that many who tore up their party cards were on the left. Those who remain are either disillusioned and thinking of leaving or have come round to the view that Blairism (or a softer version) is the only game in town. John urged people to join or rejoin whilst 'holding their noses'. Perhaps I will be proved wrong and the ranks of the left will swell.

I am not sure those who are younger would be enticed to join Labour. When I was 18 the Tories were hated. Now its labour. As one student pointed out to me they have never known anything but but this government.Those who do join seem to be depressingly soft left and happy with demanding some crumbs.

Dave Osler sounded a note of realism , much along the lines of recent posts.
John responded in an upbeat way that you don't start a campaign believing you will lose. Fair enough, but its the elephant in the room and Dave drew attention to it. The left is much weaker than during the Benn for deputy campaign. What does it do, both inside and out, when we all wake up with Blair mk11 in office.
John is a genuine man and I support his campaign but it is the last gasp of the left in the party.
I believe many will give up the fight . I can't see myself hanging around.

To paraphase that famous Sun headline, will the last lefty please turn out the lights as they leave...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Don't mention the tax cuts....

So trendy "new man" David Cameron, who stated at Tory Party conference last month that tax cuts were "pie in the sky" and "not what we stand for", has a few embarrassing questions to answer regarding this report due to be published tomorrow advising the Tories to cut taxes worth £21billion.

Other proposals include:

  • Reducing the basic income tax rate from 22% to 20%
  • Earnings threshold, below which people do noy pay income tax, would increase from £5,035 to £7,185
  • Abolishing stamp duty on shares and cutting business taxes
  • Abolishing inheritance tax and replacing it with a "capital gains tax on death"

The report concludes that "the total cost" to the exchequer of implementing almost all of these proposals is around £21 billion.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "The commission has given us a menu of options that merit serious consideration." And "We will, however rebalance our tax system. Green taxes on pollution will rise to pay for reductions in family taxes".

The uninteresting and boring Brownite Ed Balls argues: "The problem is there is no indication here at all how it will be paid for". You don't say!

On Channel 4 news tonight Robert Chote from the Institute for Fiscal Studies explained that there would ultimately be cuts in public spending to make up the £21 billion. The obvious winners will be people at the top while the obvious losers will be, well, the ones at the bottom. There was no mention of what the Tories intend to do with benefits and tax credits (but I can sure hazard a guess!).

Green taxes may not work if they are too successful in altering behaviour. For example if there was a green tax on petrol that did lead to people walking/pushbiking and buying smaller cars. Although the amount of duty on each gallon of fuel would be more there would be less gallons sold so less revenue. Taxation will remain a political question: how are the goodies produced by the economy (i.e. by working class people!) going to be shared out!

The happy shiny Tory mask is slipping to reveal greedy grasping Tories of old. They never went away instead got good PR and a makeover of sorts.

Jon Cruddas going for deputy leader

Jon Cruddas launches is bid for deputy leader today with an attack on Blair’s foreign policy.

“We have to admit openly that our foreign policy over the last few years has reinforced a sense of insecurity, fear and isolation within some of our own communities”…

Fighting words Jon but are you any cop? Or am I just being too cynical??

Talk amongst yourselves as I am writing a letter of complaint to the Inland Revenue.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tracey Emin's favourite hostelry

Went to Tracey Emin's local last Friday for a kinda leaving do, which is opposite Spitalfields market. It was a very surreal experience both sober and drunk. Unfortunately, Ms Emin wasn't propping up the bar but plenty of her installation art was. But the icing on the conceptual cake was the bar staff.

I asked for a pint of Broadside (supposed to be nice ale... aint got a clue so can't comment) and 2 pints of Guinness. So far so good. The barman tutted at me and said, "The ale is finished and we haven't had a delivery. Think the brewery don't like us"! And he tutted again telling me that, "Guinness? Don't you know how long that takes to pour?" He kept standing there pulling pints and tutting and muttering to me about Guinness. Sorry mate!

You spend a duration at the bar waiting to be served. One bloke waited for 20 minutes before I joked he may be collecting his pension before he got his pint. It had that "three pints of lager and a packet crisps, please" feel to it. The jukebox plays kitsch music and I nearly fell off my bar stool laughing at it kept playing The Carpenters. It actually isn't pretentious (seriously, it surprises me, but it aint) but it gets crowded kinda early.

So if you fancy paying an exorbitant amount for a beer, criticised for your taste in booze by the staff and having to listen to The Carpenters, then go to Spitalfields and visit this pub. Character, ambience, weirdness, Gilbert & George and Tracey Emin (and in that order). The place is warming on me, rather like the beer, and could easily become my local.

You may see me propping up the bar waiting patiently to be served and humming away absent mindedly to The Carpenters (maybe I shouldn't admit to that part).


The Class Club

I was emailed this by an old work colleague inviting me to this event. She has bought tickets for the 23rd of December (incidentially, that day is my birthday. Not like I am hinting or anything..!!). It sounds like a laugh, though I have no idea what type of tickets she has bought. Probably being a class warrior she has gone for the lower class ones. Personally, I would have gone petit-bourgeois.

Well, as it is my birthday I may still "upgrade myself" and go all ruling class for the evening. I will wave at her while she's sitting at the lower tables supping on watery soup. While I will be dining on food reminiscent of Mrs Beaton, bubbly, game pie (do they have a veggie option?) and figgy pudding (whaaat?).

Oh I say, what a spiffing good idea and what rollicking good fun. Oh yeah, you have to dress like your chosen social class. Now, where did I put that monocle? And whom did I lend my best peach taffeta dress to along with pearls...? Must get it back. Goes great with the monocle.

Tut! Tut! ! I know, bloody 'ell, am coming over all false class consciousness for the evening. Bite me!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sheridan: class, feminism and bourgeois morality

These are some initial thoughts on the Sheridan case and I am mindful that there has been much written about it therefore I don’t want to be accused of Sheridan overload. Also as a socialist feminist I have been rather disturbed at the treatment of women and wider implications this has on sexual politics.

It worries me that issues around women are being subordinated and dismissed. This became more apparent when Sheridan accused the SSP in his open letter, of being a “gender obsessed discussion group” and “our socialist principles and class identity define us first, not our gender or sexual orientation”. This exposes the incorrect accusation that there is a dichotomy between class and feminism. I think there is indeed a real problem of unequal power relationships between men and women in left politics .

In conducting his legal case, rubbishing women in a particularly sexist way, Sheridan “interrogated” women witnesses with utmost contempt. Words such as, “fantasist”, “gold digger”, “promiscuous”, “mentally ill” and “witches” come to mind. And these women came out badly from the court case.

Sheridan has moved from being someone who stands up against oppression to being an oppressor himself. And why feminism and the so-called “Puritanism” of the SSP are being blamed is beyond me.

Why did Sheridan feel the need to uphold the “family man” image? He could have told the Screws initially to go forth and multiply but chose not to; instead he has dragged the SSP to the brink. I thought as a socialist he would have the courage of his political convictions to argue against these ideals which exist in a capitalist society. Ideals were people are straight jacketed and pigeon holed. But in this society, you really can’t have it both ways as it will create tensions and contradictions with a backdrop of bourgeois morality. Swinger or monogamous family man?

I don’t care whether Sheridan screws for Scotland but what does concern me is twofold. One was his desperate need to uphold a bourgeois ideal (at what cost?) and secondly, the way feminism has been attacked. It really shows Sheridan’s own lumpen morality, hypocrisy and dishonesty. And what has been said in other places and I will reiterate it, he ultimately lied to the class.

This whole episode, yet to finally finish, raises a whole series of questions about radical politics and how people involved in struggles behave in their political lives. There are issues of machismo and misogynistic bullying. We need to decide if left wing politics is to revolve around alpha males who treat the movements that we spend precious time, money and energy into building as their own personal playthings.

Debbie Harry: uber cool and still going strong...

Blondie played a gig this weekend at the punk venue CGGB which is closing. The club launched bands like the Ramones, Talking Heads and Patti Smith. It is also a good excuse for me to post something about Debbie Harry. She was more New Wave than punk and I remember that period better than punk. Blondie was one my favourite bands while I was growing up.

I still think she looks so uber cool on the front of the classic Parallel Lines (my vinyl copy has long since been pinched…. Remember; don’t trust lefties with your record collection!). And being a watcher of the old Top of the Pops, she had those sexy pouty lips, gorgeous kohl eyes, bed head look, and punky, stylish dress sense. Oh yeah, fantastic voice as well. The overall image was that there was something sexy but dirty about Ms Harry. But she had brains as well and therefore no dumb broad.

I am getting all reminiscent as I am flipping through my 1987 Spare Rib Diary (oh those were days), which was devoted to women in the music industry, there’s a fab pic of Debbie Harry at the height of Blondie with Poly Styrene from X-ray Specs (Oh bondage, up yours) on the back. There was definitely something sparky, strong and sexy about women back then.

Think I will listen to my greatest hits CD (not been pinched as yet!) just to listen my favourites Hanging on the Telephone, Sunday Girl, Heart of Glass and Picture This.

They just don’t make ‘em like they used do!

Ruth Kelly just carries on digging....

Ruth Kelly is doing it again. The Opus Dei One is blocking plans over lesbian and gay rights legislation much to "No. 10 wannabe" Alan Johnson’s chagrin. He wrote to Kelly stating that the new rights should not be watered down. She is doing this following protests from religious organisations. The sticking point is proposals to stop schools, companies and other agencies refusing services to people purely because of their sexuality.

Bliar is anxious about the impact on faith schools and faith-based adoption agencies, which are demanding to be exempt from the law. The proposals originally came from Johnson’s department when he was Trade and Industry Secretary but due to reorganisation got transferred to Kelly’s department. And now these regulations are being delayed until next April because, “there are some difficult issues". Yeah, like what?

As Ben Summerskill argues: “It be playing into the offensive and completely dishonest stereotype that somehow gay people are not safe with children, and the impact that would certainly have on the wider gay and lesbian public is [feeling] that the government is stigmatising gay people for no reason”.

“It would be an enormous mistake to provide exemptions for faith-based organisations”. (Chris Bryant Labour MP).

It seems that Ruth Kelly is doing her damned hardest to alienate and isolate lesbians and gay men. I asked this question before on a previous post on Kelly when I asked, who exactly is she is accountable to. I ask it again because it is becoming more apparent that she isn’t opposed to discrimination and oppression. Instead she seems to be pushing her own religious ideology.

Interestingly, Johnson is standing up to her because the proposals came from his department but also his background is in the trade union movement (yeah, he was a bureaucrat) where at least there is an understanding and awareness of equality issues though this exposes his own contradictions as a Blairite.

I don’t care that Kelly is religious but what does increasingly worry me is that she seems to be letting her own “private” views slip into her political life. Her accountability rests with the Labour Party and not Opus Dei. At least be honest about your views, Kelly, and not hide behind bland and ambiguous statements. Which side are you?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

So long Gillo Pontecorvo....

Gillo Pontecorvo the director of The Battle of Algiers has died. It is one of most powerful political films I have ever seen. Also the film heavily influenced political cinema and inspired future film directors. It's a sad loss.


Plug for a meeting in London :

18th October 7.30pm Hackney TUC - Challenging for Labour's Future at Marie Lloyd Hospitality Room, Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street - other speakers include Matt Wrack (FBU), Maria Exall (CWU) and Gill George (AMICUS)

And for those in the Brighton area there will be a meeting on 8th November. Details to follow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stroppyblog !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Notice anything different?

Will has been let loose on Stroppyblog.

The process has involved much swearing and 'shouting' by e-mail. He even had the cheek to call me difficult. Will, of all people.

Anyway we love what he has done. And underneath that arsiness he really is a sweetie:-)

Thanks Will!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Coming soon to Stroppyblog: Friday 13th

Ok, tomorrow is Friday the 13th so don't worry as I am not advertising the latest slashy trashy horror movie (though if there were any good 'uns I probably would). Anyway, less about my tacky taste in films but more about Stroppyblog or should that read less about Stroppyblog. Anyway, won't say anymore as I am such a tease.

Hope I can tempt you all to come over tomorrow afternoon and have a 'ickle look and bring ya popcorn.That's all folks until tomorrow...!!

Guantanamo Bay and Margaret Beckett....

Where has Margaret Beckett been hiding for the past couple of years? Been abducted by aliens?
Has she only realised that Guantanamo Bay is a dire place, which abuses human rights? Locking people up without trial, systematic abuse and torture.

Like most gutless politicians, she suffers from that well known classic disorder, "Head in the Sand Syndrome", soon to be added to the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Or maybe it is just a factional and cynical manoeuvre where Beckett is taking a pop at the Blairites. Who knows what is going on in the mind of the opportunistic inveterate caravaner. But frankly Margaret, you just don't give a damn do you?

"The continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights".

And, "We believe the camp should close". Not shit, Margaret!

But Margaret got back on track by questioning the report from the Lancet about the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the war began in 2003.

"No-one disputes that there have been many deaths in Iraq and all those deaths are regrettable and tragically many have been deaths of civilians".

Regrettable? It is regrettable when your train doesn't turn up on time not when you are describing the deaths of thousands of people. This clinical and cold language, which minimises the utter devastation experienced by the Iraqi people. But she showed which side she was on when it came to describing Israel pounding the crap out of Lebanon as "proportionate".

Even better she tries to explain away the imperialist intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan by arguing that the abuses of human rights were not an indictment of Bliar's foreign policy.

Sorry Margaret, beg to differ!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pick of the posts...

Last week it was Thursday, this week Wednesday, next week I probably can't be arsed.

Anyway , some posts or blogs that caught my eye this week.

First off some good posts on the whole 'Veil' debate . Scribbles at DSTFW looks at the issue from a feminist perspective rather than the nonsense talked by the likes of Galloway. Disrobing, hmmm. Exaggeration, don't think Straw said get your tits out love or please disrobe and I'll pretend to be a cat ...

Other good posts on the subject include Janine , David Broder and the Shiraz Socialists , including the 'delectable' ( or so I have been told) Jim Denham. Jim4Leader...

Talking of Jims, the modest taffeta'ed one has been explaining the differences between, and uses of as an insult, the words wanker and tosser. Almost choked on my tea and digestives.

Kit is organising drinkies for lefty bloggies . Sounds good.

Check out Sappho . Life in the US as seen by a lefty feminist stroppy chick ! Always welcome in the comments here.

Last but not least, check out Dave's post on the state of the left. One of the few on the left who hasn't lost the plot.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Women Against Fundamentalism Meeting - 21/10/06

Women Against Fundamentalism have organised a meeting, which unfortunately clashes with the Feminist Fightback conference. It is good news to see them resurrected as I remember when they had their launch meeting way back in 1989 and I became a supporter then.
Women, the 'War on Terror' and Fundamentalism
Saturday 21st October , 2pm - 5pm
Upper Hall, University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY

A meeting organised by Women Against Fundamentalism.
Please join us to discuss the threat to progressive movements – in the mainstream as well as in Black, migrant and refugee communities – by both the state's 'War on Terror' and by the collusion of elements on the Left with fundamentalist religious leaders who are attempting to undermine rights and freedoms.

Speakers: Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
Nadje Al-Ali, Act Together: Women's Action for Iraq
Mai Ghoussoub, writer, artist and founder of Saqi Books
ChairJulia Bard, Jewish Socialists' Group

Entrance £5/£2

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Prescott and the Veil

Old shagga Prescott has added his voice to the veil debate :

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has defended the right of Muslim women to wear veils which cover their faces.
Mr Prescott told the BBC he would not ask a woman to remove her veil, adding: "If a woman wants to wear a veil, why shouldn't she? It's her choice."

Glad to hear he is not asking women to disrobe.
Personally I would wear the full Burqa if I had to go anywhere near him...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Feminism and me

Belledame222 from Fetch me my axe has tagged us at Team Stroppyblog regarding 5 things feminism has done for us and taught us. Well, I was having a think about that while in the bath (after writing the previously long post… exhausting ya know).

These are my 5.........

1. That because of feminism I have met some wonderful and strong women who are still good friends.

2. How the women’s liberation movement heightened awareness about women’s oppression and politicised me as a young woman. And the demands made by feminists in the 1970s are still important and relevant to women’s lives today.

3. That some of my fondest memories of campaign work was working alongside and organising with women in fighting the Alton bill during 1987. Active as well in Labour Party Women’s Section as a teenager which also influenced my socialist feminism.

4. Sex! Sex! And Sex… To enjoy it on our own terms…

5. Feminism and socialism are compatible. To think otherwise is nonsense.

I tag Sophie from Volsunga and Sappho as well.

What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding: World Mental Health Day - 10/10/06

A Saturday afternoon long(ish) rant and apologies, if because of the medication prescribed to you by your over-zealous shrink you end up nodding off in the middle of this post......

"Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world" (RD Laing)

World Mental Health Day is happening next Tuesday the 10th October. A day to build awareness about mental distress and this year's event is around mental illness and suicide. As a former mental health user who has had a collection of psychiatric "labels"and had the displeasure to experience the "loony bin trip" I wanna ask, is society more aware and understanding about mental distress?

Statistically 1 in 4 people experience mental distress in their life time but I know having worked in mental health advocacy there are so many people out there who are scared to talk about their mental distress because of the reaction they will get and the impact this will have on their life. I don't tend to tell people (non-users) about my experiences only when I have built up trust but even then you can't be quite sure how people will react. Ignorance, lack of insight and understanding is what anyone with mental distress comes up against.

The mental health charity MIND reported the findings from one of their countless surveys that when there's whipped-up sensationalist news items about "Mad, Bad and Dangerous Nutters in the Community", a high proportion of people with mental health issues are scared to go out the front door as they feel they are being targeted.

The psychiatric system is still pretty much uninformed, rigid, and unenlightened. Blinded by its own arrogance, oppressive assumptions and right-wing thinking. And they wonder why users are angry with the system.

One woman I knew was sectioned because of her sexuality. In the words of the shrink, "The reasons you have mental health problems is because you are bent"! She spent 3 months in a psychiatric hospital. The same shrink tried to section me by explaining to me that it was my feminism which was screwing my head up. And there I was "blaming" capitalism and it was the damn feminism all along messing my head up...

You will be pleased to know he was eventually (yeah, eventually) struck off as even that hotbed of radicalism the Royal College of Psychiatrists couldn't stomach his misogyny and homophobia.
And mental health professionals wonder why users don't trust the system!

Another area which screws up the head of your average mental health user is employment.I along with countless other people, have been turned down for jobs 'cos of mental health history as they don't see the person just the label. I mean, if you're successful in getting the job you still have other hurdles to jump such as the intrusive interviews with Occupational Health and Human Resources departments. And the government wonders why many mental health users are put off applying for jobs and employment overall.

So instead of understanding there's the Welfare Reform Bill to look forward to with attacks on Incapacity benefit and the nasty non-compliance clause. Changes to the Mental Health Act will mean more coercion and containment therefore safeguarding the rights of the user isn't paramount in the minds of the architects of this Bill.

And I am sure New Labour still has the idea up its sleeves to bang-up people with "severe personality disorder" in true "Minority Report" fashion 'cos, well, you never know what they might do.....

Psychiatry is rather like a magician's card trick. Pick a label, any old label. Pick a diagnosis, any old diagnosis. They may be wrong initially but hey, they have so many to choose from and it can be a case of pick and mix! I have run the gauntlet of personality disorder to schizophrenia. One being "untreatable" the other "treatable". These labels were given to me in a space of 6 weeks! Confused? I certainly was!

I usually see the glass pretty much half empty with dragons lurking in there but things seem to be changing gradually in terms of mental distress though it is usually contradictory and uneven. Twenty years ago when I first came in contact with the psychiatric system advocacy was in its infancy and so was the user movment. The user movement has challenged and fought against the stereotypes, ignorance and the stigma about "madness" and has influenced the mental health system. Reclaimed words which have been used against us. That we are not "mad, bad and dangerous to know"!

There are pockets of good practice within the mental health profession but having stayed with people active in the mental user movement during the past week, I heard the usual despair and criticisms from them feeling like they are constantly hitting a brick wall.

An good example is that the general position of the Royal College of Psychiatry on hearing voices is to treat it with medication 'cos it is all biochemical (who knows!) but they resist any attempts by other shrinks along with the Hearing Voices Network to look at other alternatives. Unfortunately, there is an empty void where vibrant and dynamic user-led organisations like Mad Pride and Survivors Speak Out were once active (though Asylum still exists).

There are individual groups but there isn't anything to draw groups together. The mental health user-movement had a tendency to work outside and in isolation from the Left because we saw ourselves as "outsiders" but I always argued (and still do) that we must fight alongside and work in solidarity with the Left as we are not seeing the whole picture of oppression.

I suppose my ideal for good mental health is that people are can be open and honest about their experiences and not to be pathologised and stigmatised. Not to be labelled. Where diagnostic and statistical manuals can be chucked out the window along with ECT machines and ending the over-subscribing of pharmaceuticals which produces zonked-out chemically coshed zombies. Instead of a psychiatric system there are real democratically run asylums where people can go where they won't be fucked-up but understood, supported, listened to and on their terms (I have never ever met a person who has had a positive experience of psychiatry). Where people are not reduced to their biochemicals or a series of symptoms where behaviour will be determined. The whole person gets lost in the diagnosis. Oh yeah and while we are at it, smash capitalism as well.

At the moment, under this society, people are punished for being distressed. And more so with the changes in the Mental Health Act where the attacks on mental health users will have an ideological basis. And a medical model with its Cartesian origins, which psychiatry clings onto for dear life. Something has to change. Living in a fucked-up society creates fucked-up people.

Activities in your area regarding WMHD

Friday, October 06, 2006


The spirit of Mary Whitehouse lives on with Paddy.
His latest gripe is that we post soft porn pics:

Not only Courtney, but Kylie and your latest pix too. Rather revealing arent they?So you support Jack Straw in his islamophobic rants do you?Just let it all hang out, never mind cultural sensitivities.

The original Courtney pic was hardly soft porn, an outfit of fishnets and a short dress.

So Paddy, you think we are immodest over here at Stroppyblog. Ok then. This pic of Courtney is dedicated to our puritanical commentator. Bit more than ankles showing...

200 posts !

We have now reached 200 posts on Stroppyblog. Not bad going as we started in May this year.

I think that calls for stollie bollie and chocolate cake. Up for that Louise ?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Conspiracy theories.

People often gripe that they have been banned or deleted on the blogs.

Well Osler has gone one better. He has been banned from his own blog. My first reaction was to laugh (yep, I'm a really sympathetic partner). Anyway I asked him how that could happen. Apparently robots have banned him. I believe they are robots controlled by Grayham at Harry's Place. Its all a plot to discredit Will. Stroppyblog may be next as we are the official Will fan club.

Anyway that is why there have not been any posts on his site today. Its the robots.

Random Thursday pick of the posts .

Hmmm, it is quiet on the blogs. A few posts though have caught my eye.

Jim 'Chuckles' Denham has found a limerick that he said brought Will to mind.
Will, seems you may have another friend.

Lenny , instead of his usual long essays has posted pics on his blog of London (minus demonstrators !).

Limericks, photos and of course Will and his cookery , where is the serious political and philosophical debate ? Ah for that we have Comrade Newman and his long running spat with Lenny . The origins of this go back a few months , but no trace remains as haloscan ate the comments on Osler's site.
Talking of Dave, there is an interesting debate in the comments box on his Respect post.

I notice Jim Jam has reached (and passed) his 100th post. I like his blog, but for some reason I always think I should be sitting down with a nice cup of tea and digestive while I read it.

David Broder has made some good points re Jack Straw and his comments about the veil.

Update : Pic of Courtney in ripped fishnets to cheer up Osler and to make up for laughing at his misfortune(see post above).

Another update : Thought Janine did a good post on the veil debate .

Peace and quiet.

Kit mentions on his blog that we are quiet over here.

Louise is away visiting friends and is under strict orders from me to leave the blogs alone.

Real life is getting in the way of posting for me at the moment. Hopefully I'll be back ranting soon...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Same old Tories...

Cameron started off the conference with his usual spin and no substance...

"let sunshine win the day".

Pass the sick bag !

Then the Tories touchy feely mask slipped to show their prejudice and general nastiness.
Of course New Labour isn't immune to this either .

At a fringe meeting the little toe rag that is George Osborne is reported as saying :

He said Mr Brown lacked personal skills and, in a light hearted exchange, seemed to suggest his rival could be faintly autistic.
The comments came as Mr Osborne was talking about his own childhood, saying his brothers had nicknamed him "Knowledge" because he knew so many facts.
The journalist interviewing him at the event organised by the Policy Exchange and IPPR think tanks interjected that he might have been "faintly autistic".
Mr Osborne quipped: "We're not getting onto Gordon Brown yet."

Mr Osborne later denied suggesting Mr Brown was autistic when interviewed by Sky News.
The Tatton MP said: "I didn't say that actually." He added: "I was asked if I was slightly autistic." He said he had been "merely" moving the conversation on.

I suspect Brown will be undermined by both Blairites and the Tories on the grounds of his 'psychologically flawed' personality. Autism and aspergers are not 'flaws' . If Brown is an aspie its telling of this society that he has to hide it. So what, its not a bad thing. Why can't leadership contenders be aspies, be gay , be single parents, have had drink problems,not be cosy family men and women (though of course none are women). I don't like his politics , but as I have said before, give me a dour aspie Scotsman any day over Cameron and his lightweight PR friendly personality .

more spam

Just in case people think we are censoring, we are not. We keep getting spam in the comments and I am deleting it.

So thats what all the deletes are.

Re pic of spam, don't worry , we at Stroppyblog are not going to start posting pics of our breakfast, baking or post recipes !!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

WebCameron...he's just like us really .

Couldn't resist, sneaked a look. Watched two clips where he seemed to say the same thing ... hello to his site and then talk about clean politics. The clips had him in his kitchen. In one he was washing up ('clean' politics, washing up, its not subtle !). At one point one of his kids kept screeching in the background, probably being poked with a stick to cry, to give that authentic 'family' ambiance. They ran in, on cue, and he did his 'dad' bit.

In the other clip his wife is sitting at a table and they seem to be eating. Again he potters around clearing plates, talking to the kids and extolling his vision of 'clean' politics.

Its pretty nauseating. Hey look I'm just like you. A nice upper class white family man in a big house in Notting Hill. It may be an updated version of Tory family values but Tory family values it still is. Nice heterosexual family. Sharing caring dad getting in touch with the kids. An air of informality , hey I'm new to this blogging lark.
Its perhaps not as clumsy as Brown declaring he liked the Arctic Monkeys or Hague with his back to front baseball cap, but still as false and full of spin.

Although I do not like his politics, its still New Labour, personality wise I would much rather the awkward dour and 'psychologically flawed' Brown over the flash spin of Cameron.

Oh for Spitting Image .

Deconstructing Kylie: I should be so lucky!

We at Team Stroppyblog know that Kit is a bit of Kylie fan. But only for musical and lyrical purposes, mind you, and nothing else... So to help Kit out, I have attempted to give an overview of the lyrics of "I Should be So Lucky, Lucky, Lucky". In order to deconstruct these lyrics I am using a marxist and feminist analysis.

Kylie expresses how alienated she is from her real existence when she sings, "In my imagination/There is no complication/I dream about you all time". She desperately needs this patriarchal figure to liberate her but this throws up so many contradictions for her as she opines, "It's a crazy situation/You always keep me waiting/Because its only make believe/And I would come a-running". This leads to tension and conflict which also exposes the underlying power relationships within this patriarchal capitalist society as on a micro level it reflects her own powerlessness. Her final lament includes, "The fantasy that you'll be mine/I'm dreaming/That you're in love with me/Like I'm in love with you/But dreaming's all I do/If only they'd come true".

Ms Feminista's "agony aunt" advice: Kylie, go tell him to take a running jump!

There is also the point that Stock, Aitken and Waterman were able to liberate people from their hard earned cash to make this pap a money spinner and of course there is the missing verse which includes a penetrating analysis of dialetical materialism and the class struggle, which SAW censored as it might give the proles ideas.

So, there you go Kit, hope this helps. Oh BTW: I do actually like Confide in Me and have been known to dance to it. Well, the blogs are quiet and it is amazing what what you can confess to and nobody will really notice or care.

Yeah and Kylie has a great arse as well!

The Sheridan soap opera continues...

It seems that Sheridan may have been caught out 'confessing' on a tape that is now in the hands of the News of the World.

On this tape, if it is genuine , he admits he visited 'Cupids'. There is some discussion as to whether he should have come clean when faced with the allegations by the NOTW. His response :

So I say to Alan and Keith that, as far as I’m concerned, what I want to do is to face it down. I think they’ve got f *** all on me. I think if they had anything on me they’d have used it long before now because they’re worried about the photographs, they’re worried about the video tapes.

I ask, eh, I ask Alan and Keith to give me the opportunity to see it down and I say to them "I guarantee you if I am presented with incontrovertible evidence - video tapes, CCTV, something of that character, I’ll put my hand up and say I’m sorry, sorry to the party, sorry to my wife, sorry to my family and I’ll walk away. I’ll walk away. But I’m no’ prepared to give in to f ***** g bullying because that’s what the News of the World, in my opinion, is doing right now - f ***** g bullying. They have been told it’s me but they can’t prove it

They (SSP Comrades) said to me we think you should just own up here and now. I said well fine I appreciate that’s what you think and that’s great. Some of you might deal with that in your personal lives, I’m dealing with it differently. I have the right to deal with it differently and I’m no’ going to impose on you how to deal with things in your personal life either. Fine.

A while back I posted on this issue and my views are the same .

There have been many blog discussions on Sheridan and the SSP . People have taken sides and there has been the usual sectarianism and point scoring. My view is that Tommy should have said to the News of the World "its my business not yours." The Party should have backed him. If there were people who wanted rid of him as leader then it should have been open and based on his politics, not what he does in bed and with whom.

An argument may have been made that Sheridan would have damaged the Party through scandal. I think more damage has been done through denial than facing it down (if true) would have. It has made the left in Scotland look like a soap opera, compounded by follow up daytime TV appearances by the Sheridans.

The victory against the News of the World was cheered. No socialist would want them to win, but its a pretty hollow victory if it all turns out to be based on lies.
The left then looks like liars and hypocrites . A successful left movement is split and the establishment have the last laugh. Cue more in fighting.

Update: Tommy says the tape is a fake.