Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Michael Meacher : 'You ask the questions', The Independent

Well it seemed he chickened out of a debate with John McDonnell on Saturday, but will be taking questions over at The Independent newspaper:

You Ask The Questions

... for Michael Meacher MP, challenger to Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party and former environment minister. The questions are for an article as part of our You Ask The Questions series. Send your query to with his name in the subject line.

Probably need to refine my question a bit from my initial thought:

' Michael , why are you being such a deluded tosser ?'

I'm sure some of the leftie bloggers can come up with some good ones to send in. Lets see if he evades the questions like Hain .

Where is Paxman when he is needed .

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy endorse John McDonnell

On Saturday I headed off, with Dave, to the Stop the war demo .
We wandered around and could not find the John4leader group. Dave then tried to see if he could find any groups calling for the restoration of the Shah that he could march behind .
After a while we decided to head over to the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy AGM (CLPD) that was meant to have both Micheal Meacher and John McDonnell speaking.
Interestingly enough Meacher did not turn up. John as always was there ready to have a debate and face grass roots activists. That of course is one of the key differences of their campaigns. John's campaign has been firmly rooted in getting out and meeting and debating with grassroots party members, trade unionists and students. Meacher has dithered about , preferring the confines of Westminster and horse trading for votes amongst MPS. Its a shame he did not see it as important to come along ,explain his actions and debate with John.

John gave a brief report on his campaign and then was asked his view on Micheal putting his name forward. He made the point that his campaign was about policies and that he had hoped Michael would have joined it and added his work on the environment.
After he left there was a debate about whether CPLD should endorse John.

Some felt that they needed to be pragmatic and look at who had the best chance of attracting the centre left ground. The trouble with that is the reality is no left or centre left candidate is likely to beat Brown. It seems that Meacher does not have any credibility either on the left or centre left amongst MPS and is highly unlikely to prove any sort of challenge. I also think any other centre left candidate is unlikely to step forward . Any serious contender is going to wait until Brown steps down rather than risk career suicide.

I also think this argument missed the point of Johns' campaign. Those who argued for backing John did so not out of idealism . They spoke about how John has brought in new members and encouraged people to rejoin . I would add to that people staying in the Party (as I am) because of the campaign. It is also re energising the left . A centre left candidate would not do that. John is campaigning in a way that the CPLD should fully support, encouraging participation at grass roots level and taking the debate out of parliament and back to its members.

Someone made the point that John is also getting his message across to young people.This is at a time when most see the labour Party as irrelevant. I think given the age range in that room full of CPLD members (majority over 50 ) they should welcome this aspect of the campaign.The vote went in favour of John. Given his campaign and the aims of CPLD I would argue that was not idealistic but realistic and pragmatic.

The reality is John , even if Michael stands down, will not become leader. Sorry, but we all know that in our hearts, not just cynical disillusioned lefties like myself. The best case scenario is that he gets enough nominations to go on the ballot paper . This would result in a campaign where the arguments about policy will be debated ,not just amongst members, but will get a hearing in the media. Socialist principles will be debated. It is the only way that will happen given the MPs who have put their names forward for Deputy. No one is coming from a socialist perspective even if Blears bizarrely uses that description .

It does seem that Meacher seems driven by ego and is willing to sabotage what has been a campaign around socialist principles in the Labour Party. He is not a left candidate and has no credibility either with the centre ground. Even with my cynical disillusioned outlook I do believe that John is genuine and is not driven by ego. I have seen him speak now a number of times and spoken to him at the TUC conference. His whole platform is based around policies and engaging people . Its not based around horse trading at Westminster but debate amongst members.

If Meacher succeeds in sabotaging the campaign , thus allowing Brown a clear run , he will deal a blow to the left. I suspect many of the enthusiastic younger new members may just walk away. The left in the Party will be shown as unable to unite and support a principled hard working candidate.

The words piss up and brewery come to mind.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meacher set to declare

Seems Meacher is about to enter the Labour Party leadership race .

Hardly a credible left candidate but it could take some much needed names that McDonnell needs to get on the ballot.

For what purpose ?

I do try to avoid swearing (yes really !) but the word that springs to mind is fuckwit.

Father Ted festival

Weekend plans included going on the anti war demo on saturday (which according to Mr Duff is actually a John4'Deputy' demo !)

That was until I came across what looks like an event that could match some elements of the demo for surrealism . Yep I'm talking about the Father Ted festival .

Rather than being held in some dull corporate conference centre it is on the 'real' craggy island. Well I say 'real' but that is disputed with a neighbouring island .

I must say it sounds fun and in keeping with the surreal nature of the TV series which I loved.

It includes :

So in wintry Inis Mor, off the coast of Galway, fans will gather for an itinerary that includes a Priests versus Nuns Football Tournament, a Guided Fancy Dress Walk around the island, the Father Jack Cocktail Evening, and - in the style of the show itself - a Lovely Girls contest.

I must say I'm sorely tempted ;-)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cameron wants to bring back hunting

Hidden away in the news I found this report :

...the Conservative leadership pledged to introduce a one-line Bill to repeal the Hunting Act if the party wins the next general election.
The commitment was set out in a letter to all Tory MPs and candidates on behalf of David Cameron.

The move was intended to secure Tory support in rural areas and some marginal seats where the ban remains a high priority among voters.

The letter was written by David Maclean, MP for Penrith and the Border, who has been working closely with the hunting community to identify constituencies where hunting will be a relevant issue at the general election.

However, senior Tory figures told The Times that there was no wish to waste hours of parliamentary time, and it was agreed therefore that a short repeal Bill would be put before Parliament in the early weeks of any Conservative administration.

Rural areas have more important needs than the repeal of hunting . There is much poverty in the countryside but what does Cameron do, ensure the blood thirsty can watch foxes ripped apart for entertainment. Perhaps he could bring back dog fights and bear baiting while he is at it.

Dave is trying to be all things to all people. The urban Notting Hill bike riding new man who empathises with the struggles of ordinary families .May have dabbled a bit in the old weed as a kid , hey what a rascal. Talks tough with business.
But doesn't forget his roots and what the old guard want. Bit of hunting, shooting and fishing.

Scratch the surface and he is still a privileged nasty little Tory .

New blogger and you tube

I changed over to the new blogger because it made me.

All well and good until I tried to upload from you tube.

I changed my blog to the new blog (as the old one was not valid).
I used the username and password that I use to get into blogger to try to register (as it asks for these).

You tube keeps telling me its invalid.

Anyone else had this problem?

Bloody blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any ideas ?

Monday, February 19, 2007

John McDonnell - No Trident, Troops out Of Iraq demo

I know, another John McDonnell post.
Don't worry I'll be back doing decadent degenerate posts on fucking and fishnets. But for now boys and girls, an announcement about the demo on Saturday.
Below is information from the John4Leader Campaign :

Join the John4Leader campaign on 24th February!

The John4Leader campaign will be marching alongside Stop the War and CND to protest against the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and call for Trident to be scrapped. John McDonnell MP is standing for leadership of the Labour Party and is campaigning for a new foreign policy based on peace and justice, including:

Withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan

A full independent inquiry into the Iraq war

Support for a free and independent Palestine

No £25bn renewal of Trident

Creation of a Ministry for Peace

A British foreign policy based on peace and conflict resolution

Look out for the campaign stall & banner in Hyde Park at 11am & march with us for peace.

John4Leader campaign
07913 620 581

Hopefully no singing of oh ah hezbollah :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Alan Simpson standing down

Alan Simpson will stand down as an MP at the next election.
His reasons :

In a letter to his constituency party members, the MP said a Gordon Brown-led premiership would be even worse.

Mr Simpson, 58 and first elected for Nottingham South in 1992 said there were "not enough" good Labour MPs.

He said he would be more effective campaigning for radical environmental change outside parliament, rather than remaining on the back benches.

Mr Simpson said in a letter to party members: "There are good people in the Parliamentary Labour Party but not enough of them. At times, I feel that colleagues would vote for the slaughter of the first born if asked to."

He added that another factor behind his decision is the birth last year of a baby daughter from his third marriage.

Interesting to see what impact this has on the his support for Meacher to stand for Labour leader, thus splitting a left vote for McDonnell.
Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence for a Meacher campaign.

It also follows on from the announcement by Lynne Jones that she will stand down next election.

Given the limited number of left MPs this is not good news.

Guest Post -Why I am Leaving Socialist Resistance and Joining the Labour Party

Tami, from Unknown Conscience, has posted this on her blog and is happy for it to be a guest post on Stroppyblog.

Tami is going to get involved with the Feminists4John group , so I look forward to working with her on the campaign.

Over to Tami ...

Yesterday I joined a number of others at a stall in Camden campaigning for John and had an inspiring and interesting time. I recognised that this is what I now wanted to be doing politically and hope to join the contingent at next weekend's anti-war demo. This was sent to members of Socialist Resistance this morning.

I suspect this may come as a surprise to some and perhaps no surprise to others but I have now decided to quit my affiliation with Socialist Resistance to join the Labour Party and work with the John McDonnell campaign.

My decision to resign from SR and its editorial board comes after many months of weighing the options and finding myself increasingly distanced from majority positions that the supporters of the Socialist Resistance have aligned themselves with. Some of you may be aware that I resigned from the steering committee last year because of lack of time, but also because of major differences that I had with nearly every member of the body on our orientation towards and participation in Respect and it is this issue which has provided the decisive breaking point.

My opposition to Respect has been ongoing since early 2006 and has only increased with time. Members of SR have at various times defended the behaviour of George Galloway, refused to oppose his support for Blair to be blown up by suicide bomb and most recently, refused to recognise the absolutely corrupt nature of the organisation following the candidate selection meetings in Birmingham. Every time evidence presents itself as clearly as possible that Respect is going nowhere, SR comrades simply try to explain it away and claim that more work needs to be done to improve Respect.

Further, I have become convinced that Respect is not a socialist organisation. It is not based in the working class and gears its ideas and propaganda towards the anti-war movement alone. Many of the recent half-hearted attempts by Respect to get trade unionists involved, such as the November trade union conference, come too little and too late. Given the unpopularity of Blair, any decent alternative to New Labour should be recruiting people by the handful – but this simply has not occurred.

Increasingly, an emphasis has been placed on “getting elected” and members of SR have fallen into this trap no matter how rubbish the positions of the candidates. Most recently with the fiasco in Birmingham, one need only read the interview with the Respect candidate there to see that he has no class consciousness and may or may not have a political consciousness at all. A friend of Salma Yaqoob’s brother and son of a local businessman, he believes he can get elected because he is “respected” in the community. This has nothing to do with being an alternative to New Labour. In my view, it is precisely because Respect pays only lip service to left principles but has no basis in the working class that this type of behaviour can flourish.

Respect has had a very bad record on being honest and open about defending LGBT rights and a woman’s right to choose (abortion, not the hijab). Their upcoming women’s conference is supposed to be addressing these issues and things like the problem with “raunch culture” while their members have handed out leaflets outside mosques advocating the shutting down of strip clubs on a moral basis and Galloway called for those using the clubs to be publicly “named and shamed”.

While the view of Respect has changed to being marginally more critical among the majority of the supporters of SR since I have been involved, it remains the case that this is a fundamental and essential campaign of the organisation and will continue to be for some time to come.

I should clarify that I have a great deal of respect and affection towards a number of the comrades I have worked with in SR. Their aims are genuine and they do believe in making a better future however much I politically disagree with them.

So – why Labour?

Well, there are numerous reasons for this move but first and foremost it is to work with the campaign for John McDonnell to be Labour Party leader. I am not a trade union member at present so the only way I can seriously contribute to the campaign is to join the Labour Party.

So what if John doesn’t get nominated at all? I am not sure I think that the LP can ever be reformed, but I do think that whatever comes next for the British left must be based in or around and not outside of the trade union movement. Until the LP decisively breaks the trade union link and until much more of the working class stops thinking of it as their party, I believe it is where socialists should be – not simply practicing “entryism” but participating fully in the party and supporting left MPs and campaigns of the left and fervently opposing Blairism and Brownism.

Further, I have been studying quite a bit in my British History course about the origins and history of the Labour Party and despite the New Labour leadership which is like a cancerous growth feeding off of the good will of the working class, it is evident to me that this is still the party of our class. Perhaps it is because I come from the United States where we have never had a mass party of labour, but I am loathe to give up on something which many workers still identify as their party and which despite Blair’s rubbish leadership, still has a number of MPs who are excellent social activists and fighters who are opposed to the war and racism and for social justice. This is in stark contrast to the Democratic Party in the States who have virtually no such representatives and have never been based in the class, despite what the trade union bureaucracy there chooses to believe.

Additionally, the Labour left contains those I most closely agree with. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and others hold political views much closer to my own and have a much clearer record of defending women’s rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights and immigrant rights than any current Respect politician I can think of.

I remain strongly committed to left unity, which is one of the most important things that I believe must happen in the future if progress is to be made. Sectarianism has had its day. I look forward to working with SR supporters and will always consider them comrades, however much we may disagree and hope that we may all work in one organisation once again in the future. In the end, we are all committed to a better world.

Liam has written a post debating the issues raised by Tami.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

John McDonnell - Rally

A date for the diary :

31st March – National John4Leader Rally in Central London w/speakers, live music & entertainment
Shaw Theatre (nr Kings Cross & Euston stations)

12:30 – 4pm

This is the big national rally to drive forward the campaign. Speakers already confirmed include John McDonnell, Tony Benn, Matt Wrack, Alice Mahon, Jeremy Dear and Doug Nicholls, and music will include Dave Rogers and Jago with much, much more to be confirmed.

I'll put up more details when I have them.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Madonna , the new Gandhi ??

I used to quite like Madonna back in the 80's and early nineties.

Now she is becoming even more of a preachy self absorbed earth mother if her latest comments are anything to go by :

Pop star Madonna has said she "wants to be like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and John Lennon".
The 48-year-old made the statement on US radio station Sirius - but added she wanted to "stay alive".

For me, the best thing in the world is to see something or hear something and go: 'Damn, I wish I did that. That's inspiring,'" she added.

The Material Girl also defended her controversial crucifixion scene in last year's Confessions tour.
"We all need to be Jesus," she said.
The show featured video messages of Aids orphans in Africa.
"Jesus's message was to love your neighbour as yourself and these are people in need," she added, claiming it had not been her intention to be controversial.
"I tried to take a powerful image and use it to draw attention to a situation that needs attention," she said.

"I'd like to think I am taking people on a journey... I am not just entertaining people, but giving them something to think about when they leave."

Does anyone around her have the nerve to tell her she is a self important pain in the arse ?

Train journey from hell!

Just returned tonight from being oop north for work.

What should have taken five hours by train took 10 hours . Apparently overhead power cables had collapsed. So spent an two hours stopped at one station, another half hour at another then an hour and a half on a bus (preceded by queueing for half an hour waiting for buses to turn up) to pick up another train.
A fellow traveller said the same thing had happened the other week.

I had been tempted to fly but resisted , trying to be green. Must admit part of me wished I had done.

Bloody trains.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is there a right to die ?

Yesterday I watched the news about a young woman who wanted to die, as she did not want to live any longer with the terminal illness she has. I then went on to watch a programme about children whose fathers committed suicide.

I wondered whether to post on this. My concerns where that I don’t have any answers only questions and that is after thinking about these issues for most of my adult life. In addition, it is very close to home and it is not possible to discuss these issues without reference to my own experiences. This is also a blog post and not a paper, so I am aware I cannot do any real justice to such a complex topic in this form. I decided though to write something. It won't be objective but it might shine some light on the realities behind a heated but often theoretical debate .

So ok, do I think someone has the right to die? Well yes and no. It depends. People choose to die for many reasons. There is the young woman who is terminally ill and wants to die. I would argue that society should provide the best care possible and support for her family. However, if given all that she still wants to die it is her choice. That is fine though if she can get hold of some tablets and take them. However, what happens if the carer sees this. Should they stop them? What happens if he or she needs assistance in order to die or is asking others to do it?

I think its one thing to do yourself, another to ask a loved one to stand by or doctor or loved one to help you. If it was possible to ensure there was no abuse whatsoever and the person was making a free choice and had capacity then there is an argument that a loved one could assist or at least not stop them. Trouble is how to put safeguards in place. Should doctors assist? There role is to save life not end it.

Concerns highlighted by those opposing assisting someone are that doctors will decide who lives or dies the worth of a life. Other risks are that relatives may decide that it is not the person choosing. Alternatively, that it is convenient in an age of limited resources to help people to die.

Is it possible to have safeguards and to meet these concerns?

Moreover, what about the reality for those caring for the person. I faced this with my mother. She probably would have lived a while longer but she refused treatment and hardly ate during many months in and out of hospital. Doctors and nurses tried to convince her. Psychiatrists assessed her and found she had capacity to make those decisions. They accepted that whether they agreed or not decision it was hers to make and she understood the implications. I tried to persuade her to live. However, consistently over six months she said she had had enough. It was not a lack of resources as she had a place with lots of support where she could live.

Did I think she was perhaps confused, would change her mind given that the physical problems were not enough to kill her if she accepted treatment, there was nothing terminal. I looked at what she was saying and what she had always said to me. Over the last few years her mobility was poor and she could do less and less. She had support but she did not want a life where she needed people to help her do the things we take for granted. She did not want the intrusion into her life. She was in pain and she gave up. However, give up, that implies weakness. She never gave up in her life, when many others would have. However, she had always said to me she did not want to be ‘poked and pushed around’ and if she were ill, she would rather go. To many it would not make sense. To her a life where she was in more pain, struggled to get around and needed help was not one she wanted. However much the care and support was adapted to try to make it better she was determined to die. I do not believe that was giving up though.

However, that is the point. We all have different bars for what we consider a quality of life. Some may be able to live dependent on others and face great pain and disability, others not. We all may have different points when we feel, that is enough, no more. Others of course may want to live whatever pain or illness they have and still find pleasure in life, right to the end fighting to stay alive.

That is why this is so difficult. It is different for all of us. My mum was determined and stood her ground against doctors, and me, trying to persuade her otherwise.

I had to try to change her mind, but I also accepted her strong views and her rights.

And that brings me on to the TV programme about children. One person’s decision to die has an impact on those they love. The children in the programme had all lost a father to suicide. Many said they felt guilt or responsibility, another phrase was if he loved me how could he do it. This was painful to hear as my father killed himself when I was 16 and those were my thoughts then. Now 27 years later I can rationalise that of course, it was not my fault and yes he loved me but he was ill. Those thoughts though never go away. He thought I would be better off without him. Wrong of course.

So does someone with not a physical but a mental and emotional pain have a right to die? Again, I would argue that everything should be done to help the person. Much of the pain is caused by our society. However, let us deal with what we have and not how we want the world to be. So given the world as it is then, as much help as there is should be given.

Sadly however much someone is loved and however much help they are given its not always enough. I do though think that if someone is trying to commit suicide there is a responsibility to try to stop them. I suppose I believe this more strongly when it is mental pain and anguish because that can change. Mental states can fluctuate and if someone can be helped through the worst, they might stay alive.

Of course, the difficulty is reaching someone when they are that depressed or determined to die. I have since talked to people who are suicidal, through my work, and they are not able to see they will be missed or are of any worth. I also believe that if someone is determined they will do it and the term a ‘cry for help’ makes me angry. Yes it may be but that does not mean the person is not really intending to die. My father made numerous attempts before he succeeded.

His right, as those of the fathers remembered in the Channel Four programme, conflicted with the hurt to the children and loved ones left behind. At times I feel angry at what he did, not hanging around to watch me as an adult. The mindset of the person cannot see past the act, they cannot allow themselves to think about the consequences.

I was pleased to see some support for the children. When I was a child there was none and there was a stigma associated with it. I also chose who to tell about his depression and death. It certainly can cut a conversation dead when asked about my father to tell the truth, yep my father killed himself .

When someone chooses to die people judge those around them. If they are physically ill they perhaps wonder if the loved ones just wanted an easy life and to get rid of them. Did they actually choose or did the relative ‘help’ them. If it is a physically well person then people wonder what went on in that family? Oh it must have been the wife, did not support him or ‘drove’ him to it. As a child, you feel all eyes on you as people wonder.

These are my thoughts.
No easy answers and lots of questions and conflicts of interest.

Monday, February 12, 2007

John McDonnell Campaign : Feminists4John

A little while back I mentioned I was going along to a meeting of feminists involved in the John McDonnell campaign. Well here is a bit of a belated update .

The meeting discussed building a feminist branch of the John4Leader Campaign. It was agreed that there was a need for John’s campaign to have a strong feminist manifesto and argue for better women’s representation.

The group will be producing a Women’s Manifesto to be released on International Women’s Day (8th March 2007) and a leaflet to be handed out at events .It is hoped to have a presence at both John4Leader and other left/feminist events .And of course all good groups need a blog these days , so pop over and check out Feminists4John .
Any women want to get involved in the organising group drop me an e-mail.
And yes the organising group is made up women, just like the Pensioners group is made up of Pensioners and the Trade Union group made up of Trade Unionists!

Fear not though feminist friendly men, we will want to work with you and you can get involved in events and support us :-)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Peter Hain appealing to the left ?

Peter Hain , who has thrown his hat in the ring for Deputy , now sounds like he is trying to appeal to the left in the Labour Party.

As an aside, if he is trying to revive left credentials (he had a few with his anti apartheid campaigning ) , and Cruddas is trying to gain some, does that mean there are a few of us still in the Party ?

Anyway back to the point of this post:

City firms should donate two-thirds of their bonus pots to charity rather than giving employees six-figure bonuses, cabinet minister Peter Hain says. Massive bonuses - which totalled £8.8bn this Christmas - were fuelling envy and social discontent, the Northern Ireland Secretary told the Sunday Telegraph.
"There's a real problem of people on average incomes feeling there's a sort of super-rich class right at the top," he told the newspaper.

Well Peter its more than a feeling, its a reality that won't disappear by donations to charity .

The report outlines his concerns :

Four thousand City workers receiving more than £1m each in bonuses. People don't feel that's proportionate. We've lost a sense of moral corporate responsibility here.
"That sort of thing creates a society where you start getting envy being promoted and a sense of real antagonism and that breeds all sorts of socially undesirable behaviour."
Mr Hain, who is a candidate for Labour's vice-leadership, suggested two-thirds of the £8.8bn should be given to charity or inner-city regeneration projects.

And what is "all sorts of socially undesirable behaviour" ? People questioning why city boys and girls get rewarded so well? People questioning whether the Labour Party any longer represents ordinary working people or is happier cosying up to big business .

It will take more than shaking down the city boys for their small change to address the real inequalities in society.

The great debate !

Pootle about on the blogs on a Sunday and all is arsinesss.

'False accusations', 'denunciations', being 'provocative' and the odd bit of name calling .
And most of it not Will :-)

And what is it that is exercising the great minds of the left blogosphere and causing such hissy fits ?

Yep, its what should be the theme for the Carnival of Socialism !

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The next Carnival of Socialism

One of my favourite bloggers, Volty, is hosting the next carnival .

After some of the griping at the last one ,that I hosted , he has chosen the theme "Why is the left obsessed with the Middle East?".

I must admit my head is starting to hurt just at the thought of all those posts heading their way over on that subject:-)
It should though make for a good debate and its good to see the carnival continue.
The deadline is the 24th February get posting .

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Hoohaa Monologues !!!!

Now what am I going on about you may well ask.
Well it seems the word vagina has caused some offence :

Stage play The Vagina Monologues has been renamed at a theatre in Florida after a complaint about the title.
It will be known as The Hoohaa Monologues - a child slang word for the female organ - after a woman in Atlantic Beach complained.
Bryce Pfanenstiel from The Atlantic Theatre told local TV station Channel 4 the woman said she was "offended" when her niece asked her what a vagina was.

One complaint and they make a change that frankly sounds ridiculous.The play deals with serious topics such as sex, rape, birth and mutilation yet its called the 'hoohaa monologues', childhood slang for vagina!! Whats the message , that a vagina is dirty or something to be embarrassed about ?
Perhaps they can also talk about poo poos .

And why is that woman so embarrassed she cannot explain to her young niece what a vagina is( I'm assuming she is a little girl, but hey given the repressed attitudes perhaps she is in her 50's and still needs to ask !).
No one is asking her to drop her knickers and show hers, but it can't be that difficult to explain to her niece .
What a fucked up attitude to be passing on to a little girl. The message being its dirty and mustn't be mentioned.

Of course now that the play has a childhood slang name then all the kids will know exactly what it means !

Are we are police state for muslims ?

I thought I would experiment with a sort of open thread but with a question. So here goes ...

Abu Bakr, who was arrested, questioned and then released without charge over an alleged kidnap plot this week stated that :

"It's a police state for Muslims.
"It's not a police state for everybody else because these terror laws are designed specifically for Muslims and that's quite an open fact."
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said it was normal that some people would be arrested and released without charge in large and complex criminal investigations.
Mr Bakr, who is studying for a PhD in Political Islam, said he became aware of the police forcing their way into his house early on Wednesday last week by his wife screaming.
'Hard to readjust'
He added that he had been released by police a week later and told to "go back to things how they were".
"But they don't realise that, after seven days of virtual torture for my family, it's going to be hard to readjust," Mr Bakr said.
"This is going to affect me for the rest of my life."

So comments please, are we living in a police state for Muslims ?


Yep, sometimes I can be an old romantic . I thought this was quite touching:

Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed two skeletons thought to be 5,000 to 6,000 years old, locked in an embrace. (pictured above)
"It's an extraordinary case," said Ms Menotti. "There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging - and they really are hugging," she told Reuters news agency.

Right that's enough drippy stuff.
Back to being arsey and stroppy ;-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

celebrity cleaners

The Terrence Higgins Trust are having a celebrity auction to raise funds. This includes the chance to bid for Tracey Emin to clean your home .

I quite like Trace but I must admit I would rather bid for someone I disliked and have them do really grotty jobs. Names that spring to mind include James Blunt , Jeremy Clarkson or Tony Blair cleaning out the cat litter. Pretty much along the lines of the who I would like to shoot .

Any suggestions for unpleasant tasks you would like a famous person to do ?


Couldn't happen to a nicer corporation :

The biggest sex discrimination lawsuit in US history has taken a big step forward with the ruling by a federal appeals court allowing a complaint brought by six women in 2001 against Wal-Mart to proceed as a class-action case. The decision means that over one million past and present female staff may seek compensation from the world's largest retailer which could ultimately run into the billions of dollars.

Walmart have been fighting the decision to allow a class action which was originally filed by 6 women in 2001.

The decision means that :

over one million past and present female staff may seek compensation from the world's largest retailer which could ultimately run into the billions of dollars.

How much this will dent Walmart is debatable and they will probably settle out of court. Regardless its good to see a company not known for union friendly policies being held to account .

As an aside, when googling for women and Walmart for this post I happened upon a way some women staff have been topping up their wages. Good to see all sexual tastes are catered for by Playboy :-)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Corporate Manslaughter and the Lords

Depressingly its often the Lords that seem to be defending civil liberties, calling for safeguards and standing up to attacks on anti discrimination laws .

The latest example is this

Peers have voted to extend the planned corporate manslaughter law to include deaths in prisons and police cells - defeating the government.
The new offence would apply when a person's death is caused by company negligence. The government wants to exclude prisons and police

The ex-chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham had argued for no exemption.

Lord Ramsbotham had highlighted several cases where people had died in custody, saying that managers at all levels would have taken greater care over their responsibilities if they knew they could face a charge of corporate manslaughter.

Even the Tories, who have also come out against ID cards, are in favour of an extension:

Speaking after the Lords vote on Monday, Conservative Lord Hunt, who voted to extend the bill, said Tory MPs will also seek to defeat the government.
"The essential question is whether or not the prison service, and other public bodies detaining individuals in custody, owe a clearly defined, legally enforceable, corporate duty of care to those individuals.
"Of course they do; they must."

There are reasons why this law may be needed even more in a prison or police cell. We lock up some of the most vulnerable in society , yet the government does not want to afford them the limited protection of the law.I would argue many should not be there and should be receiving treatment and support rather than incaceration. The reality is that they are in our police cells and prisons and they need this law to apply to them.

Some figures around vulnerability and risks to people in prison are produced by Inquest who campaign around death in prison and custody .Their work highlights the need for accountability . This needs to include lack of care and support that results in people taking their own lives, including children.

Government figures show that :

  • between 2003-2004 there were 93 suicides in prison.
  • 72% of men and 70% of women sentenced prisoners have two or more 'mental health disorders' (terminology used by the report and syrvey).
  • 95% of young prisoners aged 15-21 have one 'mental health disorder'

Inquest have released a press statement calling for no exemptions . It states that between 1996-2006 there were 560 deaths in police custody and 1644 deaths in police cells. see the websiote for more details on figures. Where neglience is a factor then the authorities should be accountable and face criminal charges where appropriate. Many on prison and police cells have not been to trial and will not be guilty.

The government wants to build more prisons and increasingly involve the private sector. Without an extension to cover these services this leaves many vulnerable, and not so vulnerable people, without the limited safeguards of the Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

I am highlighting the vulnerable but all prisoners should be covered by this. What excuse can there be for negliegence for any group, however unpopular with middle England .

Of course the real issue is whether prison is the right place for some of these vulnerable people and does it help them . In that over used phrase , is it fit for purpose and what exactly is the purpose ?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Guest post from Tami - Feminists and Respect

Another guest post , this time Tami from Unknown Conscience and Shiraz Socialist.
Tami gives her views on the upcoming Respect Women's Conference and why it does not hold out much for feminists.
Guest posts are a chance to widen the debates on this blog , rather than just my views. Be good to hear what others here make of her opinions . I am expecting the usual from Paddy :-)

Over to Tami ...

Why feminists should ask tough questions about the Respect Women’s Conference

On the 3rd of March, Respect will be holding its first ever “Women’s Conference”. Supporters of Socialist Resistance and other groups are being encouraged to attend. However a quick look at the agenda, and recent Respect activity, makes one wonder why any left-wing feminist would participate in this conference.
-Why women are under-represented in politics.
-Raunch culture and sexual exploitation
-Muslim women and politics-Women at work
-Should we defend a woman's right to choose?
-'Having it all'
-Young people - does apathy rule?
-Is fat a feminist issue?
-Women in politics - the future

A few of these points are no doubt interesting and important for the left to discuss, but a number of them are much more worrying given Respect’s recent history. On the second point “Raunch culture and sexual exploitation” as reported by Liam on his blog. Respect has participated in campaigns against stripclubs on a moral basis, in Tower Hamlets going so far as to hand out leaflets at mosques with photos of Labour Party councilors implying a “guilty” verdict regarding their not voting against “SEX & STRIPCLUBS”and implying their support for immorality.

Further, the question of “raunch culture” is brought up time and again when members of Respect try to claim that the use of the veil is understandable – ie “Well it’s no surprise given the prevalence of ‘raunch culture’”. It is in this context that the issue of “raunch culture” is being raised by Respect at this conference.

The most problematic point above for the agenda isthis “Should we defend a woman’s right to choose?”Firstly it is problematic because this means one thing to leftists and another thing to Muslim women. During the debate about the veil, the slogan was used by Respect and others and completely taken out of contextof its original meaning. Therefore one is left to wonder if this refers to abortion or to the veil. I suspect it was left ambiguous to draw as many numbers as possible, but the fact that one has no idea whether the discussion is going to be on abortion rights or the veil is telling.

Further, if the discussion is indeed on abortion rights – why is the question being asked? This was again of the feminist movement years ago. One could think of numerous titles to discuss reproductive rights without questioning whether we should have them at all. This should be a given for an organisation that claims to be of the left.

The remainder of the problem with the agenda is the subjects that are glaring because of their absence. First is prostitution. This is a massive discussion on the left right now and in society as a whole, particularly in the wake of the Ipswich murders. The absence of a serious discussion about how one looks at prostitution and the issues surrounding it –legalisation v. criminalisation – is vital for the left to discuss. In fact the debate has been going on for some time as was evidenced by the recent (in my view incorrect) position taken by the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP).

Finally, the most glaring absence is that there is nothing on sexuality or LGBT issues. Given that Respect has had a dodgy record in the past of removing clauses (and re-inserting them when they were caught) on LGBT rights from the constitution and being ambiguous on positions regarding sexuality, this is hardly surprising. Even ostensibly middle class organisations in the states like National Organizationfor Women (NOW) wouldn’t dream of having a conference without numerous workshops on issues of sexuality.

So what does this lead one to conclude? For me its clear that this is a “Women’s Conference” which is geared towards and designed for Muslim women and not socialists or feminists. I’m absolutely fine with there being a Respect sponsored “Muslim Women’s Conference”, but they should be clear that is what they are aiming for and not pretend to be gearing it towards the left. The agenda items are meant to be non-offensive to religious sensitivities and in doing so Respect forgets that fighters for abortion rights and the LGBT community should be an important part of any women’s conference.

If you are a leftist feminist, unless you have a particular interest in issues that Muslim women have in modern Britain – and you may very well have such an interest – this is not really the conference for you.

18 Doughty Street

Just a quick plug for John Angliss who is on 18 Doughty Street tonight at 10pm.
John of course is one of Stroppy's favourite bloggers and 'adopted son' apparently.

Oh and as I am plugging other bloggers I better be a supportive partner and mention Dave was on there last night. Ok a bit late, but never fear if you did not catch it as it is still available for 7 days ! Its the 'Journalist Bloggers' programme hosted by Iain Dale ( a favourite Tory with some lefties ).

Now someone get Mr Denham on there quick !

Monday, February 05, 2007

Guest post - Socialism and the Labour Party

John Angliss has written a guest post for Stroppyblog on why he is joining the Labour Party.
The purpose of guest posts is to create debate and discussion . They are the opinion and views of the poster and I may or may not agree with them.

So comments please and no table thumping Mr Denham ! Be nice.
For more of his posts pop over to 'You see it is simply a very young boy's record' (aka The Dave Osler appreciation society).

Over to John ...

Socialism and the Labour Party

Let me start off by saying what an honour it is to be posting on one of the foremost Jim Denham themed blogs in the country. Long may it continue!

The Labour Party - why join? It isn't in a good state. "New" Labour is about restricting liberties, war, sensationalism and privatisation. Old Labour collapsed under the weight of economic crisis and Thatcherite spin. New Labour took over due to economic crisis, scandal and Blairite spin. It has been widely predicted that it will shortly be lost to waves of scandal and Cameronite spin. Since the parties have become tweedlered and tweedlegreen, what reason is there to take sides?
First, the Labour Party may well be salvageable, but the discourse about its future must begin now. There must be a new set of ideas ready to take over when the electorate rejects these ones. They must be informed by current events - a rejection both of the latter-day Old Labour which purveyed unthinking statism and New Labour which uses that flaw as a base for war and repression (more on this later).

Second, the British system of first-past-the-post means that realistically no fourth party is going to get a look in: if you want to make a difference, you have to join one of the big three. The AWL, SWP, SSP etc. are more campaigning institutions rather than genuine threats to power in Britain. Where they stand against left-wing Labour MPs in some constituencies, they can actually bugger both parties chances of getting in. These parties have moreover always had to be broad churches, with room for some large differences of opinion. Whether one would say that about some of these fringe parties is questionable.

Third, the option of apathy is no way out. Being holier-than-thou outside the system is fun, but doesn't achieve much. Theorists often spend their lives criticising people who are actually doing things. The difference is that however despondent the latter become in the face of criticism, the critics are the ones who cannot hope to achieve anything progressive. End of.

Fourth, the Labour Party has a long tradition of being the left party. We must not forget that the entryists are Blair's cronies rather than our own. Here are a few reminders that once, leftists were in charge:

"The Peace which Labour demands is a Peace of International Co-operation."- 1918 manifesto ( )

"The Labour Party stands for the destruction of all war-time measures in restraint of civil or industrial liberty, the repeal of the Defence of the Realm Act, the complete abolition of Conscription, and the release of all political prisoners. It stands for free citizenship, a Free Parliament, for Free Speech, and against the domination of the Press by sinister political influences."- 1918 manifesto.

"The Labour Party is the Women's Party".- 1918 manifesto.

"[We are for] an International Conference (including Germany on terms of equality) to deal with the Revision of the Versailles Treaty, especially Reparations and Debts; and the resumption of free economic and diplomatic relations with Russia. This will pave the way for Disarmament, the only security for the nations."- 1923 manifesto.

"It urges them to refuse to make this General Election squabbleed partisan squablle about mean and huckstering policies."- 1923 manifesto .

Unfortunately, we can't kid ourselves that in the event that a left-winger like McDonnell takes charge, they will have any more support from the electorate. Old Labourism is dead. Long live socialism! We must trump the Tories in their populist stand for sovereignty from Europe by pursuing sovereignty from both Europe and America, in order to allow Britain to be closer to the whole world.We must cultivate senses of identity both for those who are descended from Celts and for those who have just arrived: but they shouldn't be nationalistic, racist and bland, and they needn't be identical throughout Britain.We must fuse a return to social liberalism with healthy respect for religion and culture. And we must found a health and education policy upon these objectives - reversing the trend of money flowing out into the private sector, regulating professionals only where regulation is necessary, smashing the binding bureaucratic structures and returning to a situation where there is no discrimination between rich and poor.

The Labour Party is malleable - it's only composed of humans. There was a coup, but the counter-coup is just beginning. If you're in the party, you can help change Britain's direction. That's an opportunity an individual voter rarely gets. If you really want things to change in Britain, the best way is not to join a party which talks a lot and does little - it's to join a left party in power and make it better. So comrades, come rally?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Carnival of Denham

Egged on by Volty and TWP (see comments on post below)I am going to do a Carnival of Denham. Send in your favourite Denham posts, comments and even 'quotes'. 'Real world' and blogs included.

Update: Can people either e-mail or add to the comments any posts/comments/quotes/stories by the 17th February for the very first Carnival of Denham.
I have no excuses for this, am sober and not partaken of any substances. I need to get a hobby...

Bits and bobs

Been a bit busy lately but will be posting more soon and not more cat pics!

I have been reviewing the blog now it is just me on my lonesome . One idea I would like to pursue is guest posts.
First up is John Angliss . I noticed he mentioned on Dave's site that he is planning to join the Labour Party and I was curious as to his reasons . I joined at a similar age but am not sure I would do so today. I may write a companion piece as to why then and not now.

Kit has also agreed to occasionally guest post , so look out for that.

Now some may say that is favouritism as both Kit and John have apparently been 'adopted' by me and Dave. So anyone else interested drop me an e-mail or add a comment here. I don't have to agree with your views, debate is good. Could even have a post in defence of Blairism from Sham:-)

A plug now for the Carnival of Socialism. I got a bit carried away when I did it , but it was interesting and fun (sad I know) . It can be a theme or just posts that caught your interest in the last month or so. If you want to volunteer pop over to the carnival site and send John an e-mail. It would be good to keep this going .

What about the Shiraz lot, how about a Carnival of Denham:-)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Self indulgent cat post .

I come back to my blog to find Osler saying my cats are not as good looking as the one below! Dave may be a smart arse but not when it comes to cats. At xmas he became quite attached to a 'mechanical' cat that he bought one of his daughters. Hmmm.

My cats are much better. Both are rescue cats . Bob was hit by a car and lost his knee joint. He is gay and has a good sense of style. He is very vain (something he shares with Dave) and likes being admired . He like glittery things and show tunes (made the last bit up).

Beryl is a strange feral cat who was dumped at the PDSA. Some delightful farmer was catching ferals and flogging them. They are more aloof than most cats and you have to gain their trust and let them come to you. She is very attached to Bob and follows him around all the time.

Pictures - Beryl is the black cat and Bob the fluffy one.