Friday, February 29, 2008

Climate change ...all the fault of the queers

First the Bishop of Carlisle felt last summer's floods were God's punishment for gay sex and generally decadent behaviour (sex outside of straight marriage for the purpose of fun basically).

Now its earthquakes in Israel:

An outspoken member of Israel's parliament has said recent earthquakes that have hit the country are a consequence of gay rights laws.

Shlomo Benizri, who is a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was speaking in a Knesset (parliament) debate on earthquake preparedness.

After reading passages from the Old Testament, he said that in his view one cause of earthquakes is that "the Knesset gives legitimacy to sodomy.

"A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes."

Pink News also mentions :

In November 2005 a councillor for the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland tried to blame the gay community for Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans.

Maurice Mills said it was a judgement from God:

"The media failed to report that the hurricane occurred just two days prior to the annual homosexual event called the Southern Decadence Festival, which the previous year had attracted an estimated 125,000 people."

Of course if all this were in any way logical , then wouldn't god just zap the pervs and leave the good pure people alone?

So while we are in the land of god bothers obsessed by what people do in bed , I'm sure someone somewhere has blamed LBGT people and general decadent sex for climate change.

The solution to the havoc being wrecked on our environment is much simpler. No need to worry about carbon footprints, bottled water and carrier bags . Nope, we all need to just get married (straight of course), have sex to breed and if you are gay become a catholic priest . Climate change sorted.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

'real life'

Pinched from Darren who pinched it from Marx and Coca-Cola blog.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Government U Turn on Clause 124

I was so pleased to see the governments u turn on Clause 124 today this would have been a huge step backwards and is a victory for the safety first campaign and all those who have been campaigning in the last few months so well done all!
Stroppyblog has had many posts on issues surrounding prostitution I couldnt possibly link to them all so for previous stuff click on the prostitution label :)

John McDonnell released this press release earlier this evening.
Labour MP welcomes Government’s u-turn on punitive prostitution plans

The announcement that the government is dropping plans to introduce compulsory rehabilitation for prostitutes and the threat of imprisonment is a great victory for the vibrant lobby led by the Safety First Coalition opposing these draconian measures, demanding that women’s safety is put first.

Clause 124 would have introduced compulsory rehabilitation for prostitute women, requiring anyone arrested for loitering or soliciting to attend a series of three meetings with a supervisor approved by the court. Failure to comply would have resulted in a summons back to court and a possible 72-hours imprisonment.

This decision will mean that thousands of women have escaped potential imprisonment.

John McDonnell MP says:

‘I welcome the government’s announcement today and hope that it signals a future approach towards prostitution underlined by welfare measures rather than criminalisation, putting the needs and safety of prostitutes above the desire for moral condemnation.’


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Striking Against Lone Working

Today, detrainment staff at three Bakerloo line stations took their seventh day of strike action against management threats to make them work alone. (That's their seventh one-day strike, not the seventh day of an ongoing strike.)

The work they do is 'tipping out' trains, telling people that they have to get off because the train is going into a sidings or depot. It is a very vulnerable situation to be in, as quite a number of people get naffed off about being turfed off a train, and while most of them deal with their disappointment philosophically, some of the arseholes amongst them take it out on the detrainment staff with verbal abuse, threats or even violence. So it is not a job that London Underground should expect anyone to do alone, without any other staff on the station to assist them should the sh*t hit the fan.

There has been zero scabbing so far, but the strikers are quite isolated. Please send them messages of support by e-mailing me.

(You can read a lot more about the strike and how it has developed here.)

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Save Southall Black Sisters

Southall Black sisters faces closure as Ealing Council pulls the plug on its funding. I've copied below the full text of the appeal letter from SBS, which gives good detail and argument about the work and political background of this pioneering, effective and essential group.

It is outrageous that Ealing Council is talking about 'streamlining' its service provision and funding on the issue of domestic violence. Has violence against women 'streamlined' without us noticing?! Think not.

SBS is an important organisation because of the services it provides to women in west London. It is also significant politically, as it spoke out about issues such as forced marriages and honour killings when others were loathe to do so.

We should all rally to defend SBS. I plan to keep posting updates on the campaign.

From Southall Black Sisters
21 Avenue Road
Tel: 020 8571 9595
Fax: 020 8574 6781

8 February 2008

Dear Friends

Southall Black Sisters is under threat of closure

We are writing to you to request support for our organisation. We are currently facing threat of closure as a result of our local authority's (Ealing) decision to withdraw our funding as of April 2008.

Since the mid eighties our 'core' funding has been provided by Ealing. Over the years we have on average received £100,000 per annum from the local authority and this is utilised to provide advice, advocacy, counselling and support services to black and minority women in the borough who experience violence and abuse. The experience and insights gained through this work has led us to become a strategically important service, providing advice on policy and legal developments to government, and international, national and local organisations and professionals. The Ealing grant has, of course, had to be supplemented by funds raised elsewhere.

The local authority's decision is based on the view that there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women and that services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. This view fails to take account of the unequal social, economic and cultural context which makes it difficult, if not
impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights. In effect the council proposes to take away essential life saving services provided by SBS. Ealing council suggests that we either extend our service to cover the needs of all women in the borough or that we set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money. The amount of funds available to the voluntary sector in Ealing has shrunk year in, year out, but the withdrawal of funds to SBS will have a number of far reaching consequences:

* The attempt to compel us to meet the needs of all women will mean that we will have to reduce our services to black and minority women across London and the country. Abused black and minority women, who already face considerable racism, discrimination and cultural pressures, will no longer have access to a specialist service. We have never denied our services to any woman who contacts SBS but our focus has out of necessity, and in recognition of the demographic composition of the area, been on meeting the needs of black and minority women who continue to be one of the most disempowered sections of our society. The suicide rates of Asian women for example, are already three times the national average and homicides - where abusive men and families kill their wives, daughters or daughters-in-law - are also high within some black and minority communities. In all likelihood, any reduction in our services will see a rise in suicide and homicide rates amongst black and minority women.

* We will no longer have the same national impact in terms of our input in policy and legal development in relation to black and minority women, which has been highly effective over the years. Our campaigns in such critical areas of work as forced marriage, honour killings, suicides and self harm, religious fundamentalism and immigration difficulties, especially the 'no recourse to public funds' issue, will have to be drastically cut back .

* A unique, specialist and experienced organisation (members of the staff and management committee have a combined experience of over 50 years) will lose its identity - an identity that has become synonymous with high quality service provision. We are seen as a 'flagship' organisation. Indeed Harriet Harman, the deputy prime minister in her speech at the House of Commons on 18 July 2007, made specific reference to SBS as exactly the kind of group that the State should support.

.we will work on the issue of empowering women in black and Asian communities. Women play a crucial role working together in their communities, whether they are working to reduce crime in their area, like Mothers Against Guns., or whether they are Asian women, like Southall Black Sisters, working to support other Asian women. We want to do more to support and empower those women as they tackle problems within, and build bridges between, communities

This statement was made in the context of debates on cohesion in which she specifically identified groups like ours as key to building cohesion between and within communities. It is therefore of grave concern that at a time when all local authorities have a duty to promote cohesion, Ealing Council has chosen to undermine a group that has historically and effectively worked across religious and ethnic lines within black and minority communities precisely to bridge differences and build a sense of citizenship. Ironically, the Council is seeking to set up Muslim women only groups under its 'cohesion' strategy - the demand for which does not exist!

We also need to address the new challenges posed by immigration and asylum difficulties, growing racism and religious intolerance. But without adequate funding, SBS is now in danger of closing down.

Current Position
Following legal action, we have compelled Ealing Council to carry out a race equality impact assessment. This had not been undertaken prior to making a decision to withdraw our funding.

Although the Council has now undertaken such an assessment, it is only in relation to the new domestic violence policy. In other words it only assesses whether or not all women 'may' be able to access the new service. The Council maintains that withdrawing funding from SBS will have no adverse consequences for black and minority women! The assessment is also flawed since it does not consider the consequences for black and minority women if SBS services are cut or closed. We have submitted detailed representations pointing out the flaws in their assessment procedure with a view to taking further legal action if necessary, Over 50 users of our services have also written to the Council protesting at their high handed decision.

Your Support
The issues raised by the Council's actions have wider ramifications for all black and minority women's organisations. It is imperative that we act now. We ask you to write to the leader of Ealing Council, Jason Stacey whose details are to be found on the model letter that follows.

We would be grateful for any support that you can give us. If you do not have time to draft a letter, please find enclosed a model letter which you may amend as you see fit. Please also let us have a copy of your letter and any reply that you receive.

If you are able to support us in any other way please contact us. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Pragna Patel
Chair of Southall Black Sisters


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Carnival of Socialism ..and about bloody time!

Better late than never…I hope. Here is the Carnival, the second of the relaunch.I have tried to capture a number of themes and posts that have caught my eye, and a few sent me. I would have liked to have had more from beyond the usual suspects, but time has been a bit short this week.

Here goes…

Last week there was the annual Green Party conference and so there are a few posts from there .

Greenman has some links to updates from the conference.

There is also a temporary blog , set up by that very busy Jim Jay , who introduces it :

What is Caucus? Well, it is what it is really. No more, no less. It’s a one off journal, primarily for the Green Party Reading conference that discusses ideas, raises issues and is a modest contribution to progressive politics.
Caucus is not a Green Party publication, and indeed half the contributors are not Green Party members. Nor is Caucus part of any group inside or outside of the Greens. Where it has an agenda it’s there for all to see.
The contributors share one thing in common, a desire to raise the level of political debate on the left, and they want to do that by talking to people with whom they do not always agree.

There are a number of posts on there, check out one on trade unions and a green society by Peter Tatchell and a post on ethical tourism by Jim.

As an aside, and sort of linked to travel, check out the rumblings over Max and his Guardian (who daddy works for)travel blog.

Let Max introduce himself :

Hello. I'm Max Gogarty. I'm 19 and live on top of a hill in north London.

At the minute, I'm working in a restaurant with a bunch of lovely, funny people; writing a play; writing bits for Skins; spending any sort of money I earn on food and skinny jeans, and drinking my way to a financially blighted two-month trip to India and Thailand. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason.

Basically nepotism+wanky gap year+skinny jeans = some arsey comments on the Guardian site having a pop at young Max and his skinny jeans. Who would have thought that of the Guardianistas !

Of course a few leftie blogs joined in including DSTFW and Ian Bone.

Will, Hakmao and some others are on form and highlight the arrogant and obnoxious behaviour of many gap year kids 'finding' themselves as they use places like Thailand and India as their own, cheap, playground.

Hakmao tells of one bit of revenge :

They are considered to be scum in South East Asia. One always does one’s bit…
A young travel agent and I once entered into a spontaneous and unspoken agreement to fuck up the week of some gapistas. It was in Mersing, waiting for the boat to Pulau Tioman, they were giving it large about what a shithole they thought Malaysia was, and said worse about Thailand. The travel agent lad offered to cash traveller’s cheques for them, but they sneered that they would get a better rate ‘on the island’. He agreed that they were undoubtedly right and I kept my trap shut. There were no currency exchange facilities on Tioman

Anyway, where were we , yep Greens.
Here goes, a few more Greenie posts from the conference .Two posts in particular are of interest to lefties both pissed off with the left and its behaviour and wondering whether there is an alternative to what we have . So check out 'Is the Green party anti-capitalist' .

In another Jim ponders(that word sort of suits Jim :-) )on the nature of the conference and reflects on it from his past leftie experiences:

What has always impressed me about the Green Party is its unflinching openness of process allowing members access to every bureacratic decision and influence over how their conferences are run. When deciding what motions get heard first its the members who decide, not some closed committee; When Standing Orders Committee report it is thoroughly discussed in workshops and voted on on conference floor so any controversial or inept decisions are laid open for the members to see; Members decide what fringes occur at conference and they decide
whether they can be bothered to go to them too.

Coming from a more traditional left background this was a real culture shock to me at first - it just seemed crazy to allow members direct possession over their own conference, even when they are a bit silly. But crazy in a lovely, lovely way.
So that means when there is a fringe meeting on policing you get lots of really interesting people attending who feel it's their meeting - even if the person who called it is not *entirely* suited to chair the discussion. When we have a fringe on prostitution we get blazing rows, I mean heated debate, because the person who called the fringe opposes Green Party policy (which is for total decriminalisation) and favours the Swedish Model.

Staying on a green theme, but away from the Green Party conference , check out Phil’s post on carbon credits .

Right, thats enough of the Greens.

Economics and banking now. Yep, this is a serious political blog ...sometimes.
Check out dave's site for an anaylsis of the Northern Rock nationalisation.
Pop over to a guest post by Ed over at Jim's on the credit crunch.

Crime and young people has cropped up a bit and been covered from different angles. Its an area that the left doesn’t really grasp well,how to balance the brutalising effects on kids of poverty and capitalism with the reality that juvenile crime hits the working class hardest. Dave starts a debate and check out our old mate Mr Puritan (he is Paddy Garcia there) for his tough no nonsense send them to Iraq, that will get them running crying back to their 'junkie mummies' approach in the comments.

Meanwhile Natalie Bennett highlioghts the reality for many kids in this society , reporting on a debate on children in detention, children in care and unaccompanied children asylum-seekers.

On a related note Leftwing Criminlogist outlines draft Principles of a Marxist Approach to criminology. Go on Paddy, join in there :-)

The 15th February was the 5th anniversary of the big anti war demo. A number of bloggers have reflected back on that day and its after effects on the left.
Check out Complex System of Pipes, Jim D and Andy for a mixed bag of anaysis.

On the wider issue of antiwar activity, Ian Bone criticises the ‘passive-ism’ of the STwC and the failures of the StWC :

It’s a failure of us all………………but………..with the implosion of the SWP and the widely perceived bankruptcy of marching from A to B then the possibiliy of a broad base direct action campaign - including both pacifists and non-pacifists as Yukka states - may be on the agenda again.

Still on the subject of war, Michael Greenwell suggests that it is is not a natural part of human behaviouir.

Now the next few posts are dedicated to Mr Eddie Truman,to show I take a pop at all religions :-) Over at the New Humanist blog I found these , starting with the catholic church in Australia having to train up more exorcists :

The Catholic Church in Australia is facing a massive shortage of exorcists – and hundreds of priests are to be trained to help plug the deficit. Church leaders are blaming a rise in Satanism for the increasing demand for exorcisms.

The Church has now vowed to "fight the devil head-on" by training hundreds of new exorcists. Father Gabriele Amorth, 82, the Pope's Exorcist-in-Chief, recently announced a new initiative to ensure every Catholic diocese has a group of trained exorcists, saying: "Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist."

As for the Brisbane priest, who asked the Sunday Mail not to name him for "fear of reprisals", he remains troubled by the threat of possession: "We are not very plentiful and certainly need more of us to cope with the big occult following that is emerging today. It's frightening what can happen when you invite entities into your life which are not meant to be part of God's world."

He provided the newspaper with one example of someone carelessly inviting these entities into their life: "He said one woman he had met had been plagued by demonic manifestations since taking part in a playground witch game as a child."

Right, now a post on bible bashers in the US using their small children ‘to convert the world’s sinners’

First up – and arguably the "star" of the show – was seven-year-old Samuel Boutwell from Mississippi, who is forced by his parents to stand on street corners urging sinners to repent. We first meet him as he preaches outside his local abortion clinic and we follow him on a road trip to New York, where he hopes to convert those urban heathens. As his Baptist minister father observes, "more people means more sinners. Fact". Needless to say the people of New York prove somewhat unreceptive to the sight of a child preaching fire and brimstone, and his father comes in for some abuse from passers-by. Unable to understand why the urban populace refuses to repent, Samuel eventually breaks down crying.

In case there was any doubt where this child acquired his religious zeal, an interview with his father informs us that, when he was three, Samuel asked him if he was going to Hell. Mr Boutwell responded by asking him if he had ever "sinned against God". Samuel didn't know the answer, so his father asked "have you ever disobeyed your mother?". Samuel answered in the affirmative, so he was kindly informed that yes, if he didn't mend his ways he would burn in Hell for eternity.

Yep, lets privilege religion and the right to fuck up kids!

Right, end of that rant.

Just as I was finishing the carnival , news came through about Castro retiring, so here is a last minute entry .Check out Dave's post
I know, another post from Osler, but honest its not favouritism. I couldnt find many posts anaysling the situation and Dave recycled one from his trip to Cuba. Add others in the comments.

Now I am going to be all upbeat about the left. It won't last mind. Check out a post from Jim saying what he loves about the left! On a similar positive theme, check out this post by Organised Rage on a school rebellion.

And on a practical note , Dave Riley is working on a wiki activists toolkit .Its a collaborative project where people can add to and edit and work together . Im keeping my cynical streak in check , I won’t say anything negative…

I’ll just finish off with the ridiculous. Phil has a post on conspiracy theories, lamenting the quality of them these days.
Mind this was before the latest rantings at the Diana inquest. Check out Hakmao for her take on it .

Right that’s your lot . Next carnival is over at Jack Ray's blog on the 29th February.


Fidel Castro retires

Castro has announced :

he will not return to the presidency, in a letter published by official Communist Party paper, Granma.
"I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," he wrote in the letter.

Mr Castro handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery.

The 81-year-old has ruled Cuba since leading a communist revolution in 1959.

In December, Mr Castro indicated that he might possibly step down in favour of younger leaders, saying "my primary duty is not to cling to any position".

In the letter, published on Granma's website during the middle of the night in Cuba, Mr Castro said he would not accept another five-year term as president when the National Assembly meets on Sunday, because of the health problems.

It would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to offer," he wrote.

However, Mr Castro insisted he was "not saying farewell".

"My only wish is to fight as a soldier of ideas," he added. "I will continue writing under the title, Reflections of Comrade Fidel."

"I will be one more weapon in the arsenal that you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."

Comments ...


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Government's Love Affair With Faith Schools Goes On

A while back, I signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website against faith schools, worded thus:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abolish all faith schools and prohibit the teaching of creationism and other religious mythology in all UK schools ... Faith schools remove the rights of children to choose their own religious, philosophical and ethical beliefs. They also sanction ethnic segregation and create tension and divisiveness within society. Schools should be places where children are given a free education, not centres for indoctrination. Creationism and other religious myths should not be taught as fact regardless of the funding status of a school. Abolishing faith schools will provide children with more freedom of choice and help to promote a fully multi-cultural, peaceful society."

The government has now responded, thus:

The Government remains committed to a diverse range of schools for parents to choose from, including schools with a religious character or "faith schools" as they are commonly known.

Religious Education (RE) in all schools, including faith schools, is aimed at developing pupils' knowledge, understanding and awareness of the major religions represented in the country. It encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils' moral, cultural and mental development. In partnership with national faith and belief organisations we have introduced a national framework for RE.

In February 2006, the faith communities affirmed their support for the framework in a joint statement making it clear that all children should be given the opportunity to receive inclusive religious education, and that they are committed to making sure the framework is used in the development of religious education in all their schools and colleges.

The Churches have a long history of providing education in this country and have confirmed their commitment to community cohesion. Faith schools have an excellent record in providing high-quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and are some of the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country. Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character.

I scarcely know where to begin replying to this mixture of conservativism, soundbite, deference to superstition, unsubstantiated assertion, jargon-mongering, and refusal to answer the bloody points. So I refer you to my previous rants on the issue, and leave the comments box at your disposal.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why I Can't Sign This Anti-Fascist Statement

The South East Regional TUC (SERTUC) is circulating the statement below, and asking trade unionists and others to put our names to it.



We, the people of London, are totally opposed to all those who seek to promote racism in our society. We strongly believe that the lessons of history show that racism, discrimination and fascism, if unchallenged, causes hatred and division in society and will provoke fear and intimidation among many within our city.

We believe that diversity is a strength and a cause for celebration, and that those who promote racism and discrimination divide our community.

All signatories to this statement have a shared belief in justice, fairness and equality for all. We oppose racism and discrimination wherever it takes place and will not co-operate in public meetings or media events that offer fascists or racists a platform to normalise their repugnant views or to legitimise the politics of hatred.

We declare our desire to co-operate with trade unions, political parties, faith groups and others that take a stand against those that promote racist and fascist political views.'

Sounds worthy enough. But my initial concern was that I didn't see how I could put my name to the sentence "All signatories to this statement have a shared belief in justice, fairness and equality for all" when I don't know who all the signatories are. The wording asks people not just to endorse the content of the statement, but to endorse all the people who sign it.

Then I found out some more about who has signed it. In Hackney, this includes some Tory Councillors. So, if I signed the statement, I would be saying that those Tory councillors share my belief in justice, fairness and equality for all. But they don't. They are representatives of a party that supports inequality, injustice and unfairness - there is Tory policy, ideology and practice aplenty to prove that.

I also think it is a real shame that a trade union body issues a statement about fascism that does not even mention that fascism is anti-trade-union and anti-working-class. Neither does it raise any of the issues that have allowed the BNP to grow over recent years - the alienation of working-class communities through the destruction of public housing and services, the cross-party anti-immigrant hysteria-mongering, etc. That makes the statement bland and of limited use in the fight against the fascists. But if it were just bland and of limited use, I could still sign it. The fact that it asks me to give Tories an anti-fascist paint-up means that I can't.


Boycott Lil-Lets

Women are being urged to boycott Lil-lets sanitary products as part of a campaign to save workers' pensions.
Around 150 people lost their jobs when the company - now owned by private equity - shut its last UK factory, "exporting" the work to Taiwan and Poland.
Now the Unite union has made a "period drama" highlighting the plight of 46 members they claim will lose a third of their pension. The union is posting the film on YouTube and its own website in an effort to shame Lil-lets' new bosses into a more generous settlement.
Unite leader Derek Simpson claimed that it would cost the company £1.7million to let the workers "retire with dignity" on a full pension.

He said: "The power of the internet lets unions reach out to millions of people and influence their choices."


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Carnivalof Socialism

I have volunteered to do the next Carnival, which is due this friday. It will be a few days late,as the real world has interrupted my usual strolls around the wonderful world of blogs this week. Still Jim and John are such sweeties they won't tell me off :-)

Jim did a spendid job on the first carnival and I hope to do as well.

See this post for a bit more info .

Its once a fortnight, a sort of round up and at the moment its not being themed.

Please send me posts that you think should be in it.

I would like to find some new blogs to higlight, well new to me, a bit less of the usual suspects.

I also plan, next week, to update the blog roll.

Oh and more volunteers are needed !


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blog plug

Plug for another socialist feminist blog, PennyRed.

Check it out.

Update: The Left Women's Network now has a website. Check that out too.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The Horror of Caltongate

On Wednesday 6th February Edinburgh Council finally showed its lack of imagination and that they really were just Tories. £300 million and our homes and heritage were flung out the window. If you have never been to Edinburgh before then advice you come. Location, Location voted it the best place in Britain to live and it was voted the 10th best city in the world to visit and that isn't just because I live there - though I add to the ambience.

I am from Edinburgh and my family (on my grandma's side) came here originally from Ireland (on her father's side) and on her mother's side we were tinkers/travellers/gypsies.

Edinburgh is a great place to live and I am lucky because I live in a council house there - one of the last. There are 9 council houses just down from me built by the great visionary Ebenezer Macrae, he was the City Architect in the 20s, 30s and 40s. My grandma and granda's house when I was born was a Macrae tenement in Morrison Street at Haymarket. We are city folks. Well the cooncil and the developers reckon that the tatty tenements are in the way of the biggest development of the Old Town since the 12th Century and they must go to create a fancy 5 star hotel and conference centre. They are also demolishing the Old Sailor's Ark and the Canongate Venture, old school and technical college. They have also sold of our "common good land" for a song, it doesn't belong to them it belongs to the people of Edinburgh.

The above picture is Ernie, he's nearly 80 - he is my neighbour who is to be evicted out of his house because it is in the way for a 5 star hotel. Ernie is the Old Town's old coal man when we all used coal fires. Lily is one of my neighbour's too - her mum Sally is one of the main campaigners.

The councillors were open that they could not turn down £300 million worth of development and if our neighbour's homes had to go then fair enough and if Edinburgh went on UNESCOs "At danger" risk of loosing its heritage it was a gamble worth taking. We are not against the area being developed - it is an old gas works/bus depot and old unused market buildings but not at the cost of perfectly good buildings that are in use. the development is nasty!!

So we will fight on and have to use the bourgeois courts, EU etc - off course the Scottish Ministers have to agree to it so it might not get past that hurdle. So watch this space or

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Going Walkabout

After the Home Secretary said she would be scared to walk around Hackney at night, local MP Diane Abbott took some fellow politicians for a stroll in the borough.

All well and good, except that they went for their walkabout in Stoke Newington! Not much to be scared of there, unless you nurse a fear of literary types beating you about with polysyllabic words, or live in terror of being knocked over by a local yummy mummy taking Hugo and Poppy for a power-push in the latest three-wheeler buggy. Honestly, the worst fight you are likely to see on Church Street is Mark Fischer, Dave Osler and Clive Bradley arguing over the last bottle of Shiraz in Clissold Wines.

Ok, so she also took them to the Smalley Road estate, site of a murder last year. But what about visiting the Pembury, or 'murder mile' in Lower Clapton, or numerous other places? Or how about walking around without a camera crew following you? It's not like most attackers like to be caught on film, is it?

Or how about encouraging a constructive discussion on tackling Hackney residents' fears, rather than some cheap publicity stunt?

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Now I've Got A Cat Too

Here she is. Her name is Professor McGonagall, suggested by my 3-year-old son Harrison, after the Harry Potter character who can change into a cat. Of course, that's too much of a mouthful for everyday use, so she is affectionately know as Minnie. Not only is this short for Minerva (Professor McGonagall's first name), but is conveniently the name of one of my great heroes (Minnie Lansbury) and one of my 8-year-old son Alex's great heroes (Minnie The Minx).

This is something of a challenge to Obi (short for Obi-Wan Kenobi), our 8-year-old labrador / springer spaniel cross, who really wants to be Minnie's friend, but usually just gets a hiss and a slap round the nose for his troubles.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Pro choice demo, female genital mutilation, the left and why I sometimes would like to be a cat ...

This week I have felt unwell and sorry for myself. Most of it has been spent on the sofa with a duvet, a book and my cats . Im not good at being ill, so am best left alone .

Because of being unwell I didnt get to the pro choice demo. I really wanted to, I had a little dry run by going out to the shops (starved out as no food left in the flat),this made me realise that a train journey and a demo was going to be all too much.

It does sound like it was a good demo and there are a number of reports here, here, here and here .

I hope the rest go as well.

Now my genteel last few days of reading, feeling sorry for myself and the odd game of Facebook Scrabble today ended with me almost burning down my kitchen. Regular readers will know im not always safe in the kitchen. Today I decided to make porridge, mainly because that was all I could find to eat for breakfast, popped it on the hob and pootled over to my computer. I went on to Dave's site and managed to get so annoyed that I forgot about the porridge , even when I could smell burning I sort of thought it was someone else in my building. Anyway, disaster was averted with lots of open windows.

If you want to see what annoyed me pop over to this post . I won't regurgitate my arguments here except to say I am pretty disgusted that I have to explain why female genital mutiliation is not a good thing to lefties !

This is why I sometimes think it might be nice to be a cat. A much simpler life , although not for all when some humans are such cruel fuckwits.
Here is a pic of my two rescue cats lazing around . I wonder if they ever ponder why the left is fucked...


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I am screaming on the inside and the outside

This is how I feel today!! Read our blog on
I hate the sham of democracy we have and I hate all Edinburgh's councillors except Steve Burgess (green) Cllr Keir (SNP) and David Beckett (SNP)who fought gallantly for the people. I will post more tomorrow.
My neighbours and I were like fishwives in the Chambers every sweary word that could be said was said, every abusive comment (except sexist, racist and homophobic ones of course) was said!!!!!!!! We were very continental with our emotions. The sky was blue!!!!!!!!!!!
Tell you more tomorrow...........all I have to say is that the councillors were NUMPTIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Drowning In Sleaze

Whether it's cash-for-honours, employing yer lad on a big wodge to do nowt, or forgetting to mention that many-thousand-pound donation that some generous-but-anonymous geezer gave you, we appear to be drowning in a sea of sleaze. But while party leaders appear to find this embarrassing - and certainly do blush at some of their own MPs' more cringeworthy gaffes - I wonder whether, in the great scheme of things, they are doing themselves a favour.

Thing is, lots of people seem to be saying to me stuff like "They're all the same" ... "You can't have politics without sleaze" ... "There's nothing we can do about it", and so on. And an electorate which feels powerless to do anything other than select the least awful option on those rare occasions when the ruling party decides they should have a vote mightily suits those with their snouts in the trough of power.

So it seems to me that the left must assert that we CAN do something about it, and raise some key democratic demands, such as:
  • MPs should be paid the average wage.
  • No second jobs for MPs.
  • Constituents should be able to recall their elected representative - for example, a certain number of signatures on a petition should trigger a by-election.
  • The best way to do away with cash-for-honours is to do away with honours.

Moreover, the labour movement has a particular responsibility to keep its own representatives in line. Perhaps those parties whose job it is to represent the ruling class have an excuse - the people they represent are parasitic sleazebags permanently on the take, so why shouldn't their representaives be?! But the labour movement? That's supposed to represent ordinary people who live off a meagre return for their own labours.

It used to be a staple of the left that a workers' MP should be on a workers' wage (and ditto for trade union bureaucrats). But it is one of many principles that have fallen off the radar. Let's have it back.

PS. What are the chances of Respect renewal taking up these demands?! More interestingly, what are the chances of SWP-Respect taking up these demands now that they have split from their main reason for rejecting them?


Monday, February 04, 2008

Resignations and scandals - the tale of Puddles the Shih Tzu

Now thats what I call a scandal.

Can you imagine an honourable resignation over dog snatching here?


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Demand Release of Factory Inspector in Bangladesh

Mehedi Hasan (pictured), a field investigator for the US-based Worker Rights Consortium, was arrested on Thursday 24th January in Bangladesh by the security forces. For details - and how you can protest - click here.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Carnival of Socialism

As I posted a little while back, the Carnival has been relaunched .

Jim has kicked off the first Carnival over at The Daily (Maybe), and very good it is to.

Pop over and read it .

The next one will be here in a fortnight. Do send me posts you think you should be in it.

Oh and volunteers needed for future Carnivals.


Internet details being made public

This story was on the front page of the Evening News yesterday - it's about a cop being on an internet site. Is it me or is this bang out of order, not about the man being gay or using the internet but having your profile from an internet site being on the front page of a local newspaper. No wonder people don't want to use their real names on such things. Luckily for him Lothian and Borders Police were voted top LGBT Friendly Employers 2007 because a few years ago the guy could have gotten his cards.

TOP Edinburgh police officer is at the centre of an internet campaign to vote him the world's sexiest gay man.Chief Inspector David Lyle, from the Lothian and Borders force, today said he was flattered someone had seen fit to nominate him for the Sex Factor 2008 contest, hosted by dating site Gaydar."It's a light-hearted bit of frivolous fun," the 55-year-old said. "It makes me smile – I feel slightly flattered. I woke up one morning, saw somebody had nominated me and thought 'good heavens'. I feel quite chuffed."The officer, who campaigns for gay rights in the police, said his online presence had allowed other homosexual officers to speak to him about coming out.On his online profile on the dating site, which includes half naked pictures of himself, the inspector describes himself as a "big-chested, big-hearted man who laughs a lot".He says he is looking for outgoing males aged 18-40 for "friendship, chat/e-mail and other activities".Today he said: "I don't think it's in anyway inappropriate. I think it's interesting that all the attention is always on gay sites. There are a lot of heterosexual dating sites but no one ever seems to hear about them."I have had a profile on Gaydar for eight years and the force has known about it since day one. The main reason for using it is trying to reach out to police officers who are not out. I have been able to make contact with a lot of gay officers who have nobody to talk to."Iain Whyte, convener of Lothian and Borders Police board, said the force had been using Gaydar for some time as an attempt to improve relations."The force has a presence on that site to reach out to reassure gay people that the police are there for them," he said."Obviously some people appreciate the work of David Lyle and appreciate him. I'm sure it's a bit of light-hearted fun."Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken MSP is reported to have described Mr Lyle's entry into the competition as "unacceptable".But Bernard McEldowney, a spokesman for the Gay Police Association, said police officers had the same right to privacy as everyone else.He said: "There's nothing wrong with a police officer or anybody else having a Gaydar profile as long as there's nothing on there that's inappropriate."Everybody has the right to a private life, as long as there's nothing on their profile that brings their force into disrepute."Earlier this year, Lothian and Borders Police was named as Scotland's best employer for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Check out the article here

What Have The Unions Ever Done For Us?

Amusing Antipodean YouTube clip:


Friday, February 01, 2008

Fifty year old floosies and the Daily Mail

Daily Mail women know their place. Yep, they have jobs but not too high powered. They marry and have nice children who don't binge drink or wear hoodies .They enjoy sex just enough to keep hubbie happy and breed but not too much, none of that 'whore in the bedroom' malarkey .The soundtrack to their lives is Dido and Phil Collins .They go from wife to mother to granny then death , with less and less sex as they progress.

If they are unhappy and want a divorce they are very very selfish. If hubbie leaves then its probably their fault and they should now blend into the wallpaper, do voluntary work and find a nice hobby such as a book group.

There is of course another world and the Mail regularly scares them with stories of this place full of drunken floosies (otherwise known as a leftie bloggers piss up), gay soldiers and single parents with 30 children living on £2 million a year handouts. Hmmm, slight exaggeration on the last example, but you get the point.

Every now and again there is a warning , in case any Mail reading woman feels tempted to dip a toe into the degenerate other world.
One such warning came today with the headline "Are the frisky fifties putting their sexual health at risk?"

It starts by telling the story of 44-year-old Diane(thats not fifty !) who not only had sex with someone other than her husband , and at such an advanced age, but with a younger man to boot:

"When I was growing up, the only thing we worried about was getting pregnant," says Diane, an attractive blonde divorcee with two daughters in their 20s and her own PR company in South London.

"The issue of sexually transmitted infections simply never entered my head, because by the time the Aids epidemic came round I was married and obviously in a monogamous relationship. I was vaguely aware that there was a big increase in such infections, but that had nothing to do with my life."

But then Diane's 19-year marriage came to an end and she found herself back on the singles scene - a very different scene to that when she was first dating in her teens.

"Firstly, I found that all the men my age had let themselves go or were really controlling," she says. "Or if they had kept themselves in shape, were chasing women half my age."

Now this is her mistake. She should have resigned herself to a life of book clubs and gardening, or else made do with what was on offer . But no, off she went to the internet and found herself a younger man. Fun comes before punishment as any Daily Mail reader must know and she caught Chlamydia. The Mail goes on to call her shamefaced and just in case readers thought this a one off :

Diane's tale might sound like a sorry story of one woman's naivety and stupidity, but the fact is she is just one of the soaring numbers of middle-aged women who are at risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Diane herself says:

"It's had a huge effect on my life. I feel as if I daren't date a man as I might give him chlamydia, or catch it again. I haven't slept with anyone for four years. If I did, I would always insist on a condom now, but even then I would feel really nervous.

"What a way to look forward to my retirement in nine years time - I feel I will almost certainly be alone, thanks to my own crass stupidity."

So there you have it, you risk a lonely old age for stepping out of line.

Now of course there are a number of issues here. For a start why not address this to men and women? What about men taking responsibility for safe sex?I note there is no mention of men with younger women being 'naive' and 'stupid' and getting infections.
There is a real issue that the safe sex campaign is missing out people (not just women) who may have been in long term relationships and not really taken notice of them at the time. What is needed is better information, awareness and campaigns that are relevant to all ages not . Thats the issue, not calling women stupid and not giving them sole responsibility for safe sex and ignoring the men .

It should be applauded that women in their 40s, 50s and as the Mail puts it 'even' their 60s have sex. For an article headed 'frisky fifties' they also seem to have a problem with 40 year olds. WTF !! I think its great that women are refusing to conform as they get older and still see themselves as sexual beings.

Yep, when I get to fifty I'll trade in the grumpy old man for a toyboy ...

Pic : Whilst googling for a pic of a floosie came across a site of papier mache figures and this one was called Flora Floosie ;-)

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Pro-Choice demo - London 6th February

Tami reported on the launch of a campaign by Abortion Rights to fightback against the attacks on a women's right to choose (which btw are still not good enough). This included :

...some direct action against Anne Widdecombe’s “road trip” to whip up support for the anti-choice amendments. I am listing the dates, times and venues in full in the hope that it will help to gain support for protests across the country. I plan on being at the London counter-demo and encourage everyone to join us in this crucial fight for a women’s right to choose against the forces of reaction. Anne Widdecombe’s Anti-Woman Road Show Dates:

Glasgow, 23rd of January @ The University Union, 7:30pm
Southampton, 30th of January @ Univ of Southampton, 7:30pm
London, 6th of February @ Central Hall Westminster, 7pm
Liverpool, 12th February @ The Liner Hotel, 7:30pm
Coventry, 13th February @ Coventry Cathedral, 7:30pm
Widnes, 18th February @ The Foundry, Lugsale Rd, 7:30pm
Cardiff, 4th March @ TheCity Temple, Cowbridge Rd, 7:30pm

The next one is in London:

Abortion Rights has called a peaceful pro-choice protest against anti-abortion MP Ann Widdecome’s road show ‘Not on your life . .. or anyone else’s’ which is promoting anti-abortion goals around the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (subject to police permission).

Assemble outside Central Hall Westminster
Wednesday 6th February, 6.30pm
Nearest tube Westminster

Methodist Central Hall, Westminster is on Victoria Street in London, just off Parliament Square, next to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and facing Westminster Abbey.

Visit the link below for a map and directions,0,11521531439811860185&sa=X&oi=local_result&resnum=1&ct=image

The road show by ‘Ann Widdecombe and guests’ is jointly organised by hard line anti-abortion groups Care, Life and Right to Life Trust and is also being promoted by other anti-abortion organisations including the Christian Medical Fellowship.

I plan to be there and report back. I hope to see a good mix of left and feminist groups there. Even with the latest defeat on one of the amendments , we still need to be proactive and fight to not only defend the rights we have but to extend them. The anti abortionists will never give up. They will fight to erode not just access to abortion but contraception, sex education and all aspects of reproductive rights.

If anyone is going to one of the other demos and would like to do a report here do please get in touch.