Monday, March 31, 2008

Update on Southall Black Sisters

Received this message on facebook :

Dear all -


Please see below for an update from Rahila Gupta, of SBS:

'We are NOT holding the picket on Tuesday because the council has given us a 2 month reprieve.
The interviewing panels are unable to come to a decision between the four bidders. We can only assume that we were so good, in terms of scoring, that we may be at the top but of course we don't meet all the council's criteria, i.e. we are not prepared to provide a service a borough wide service for that sum of money and they may be worried that we will want to scrutinise their decision making process.
[At the moment,] we don't know what's going on. We are also going to judicial review.


We will keep you abreast of how this unfolds!!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Socialist Youth Network Conference report

John McDonnell is so on the ball that he even managed to blog a report of the conference before I did!On SYN Conference John says"The young people that turned out for the SYN conference demonstrated an astute appreciation of the total disconnect between New Labour and the real world facing the current generation. They displayed a practical idealism which is lost on the remnants of New Labour. The politics they want to pursue aren't the boring and nauseatingly obvious public relations exercises rolled out by the Brown machine or the self serving academicised sophistry of Compass. It came across very clearly that the politics of today and tomorrow for these young people are based upon mobilising for direct action, linking up with a wide variety of social movements, maximising creativity in protest but also engendering understanding by discussion, study and theory. The word praxis, the combination of theory and practice, was revisited and revitalised in our discussion at the SYN conference."
We had less than half of the attendance than we had last year (45 compared to 100) and all of those weren't in the room at the same time 5 or 6 of them left early/arrived late because of also attending the immigration conference.
I wasn't expecting to meet last years reach tbh we are in a different place, last year was the launch of SYN and also was at the start of the John4Leader campaign which was the most exciting thing to happen to the Labour left in recent history.
Clearly we face an uphill struggle and for me the most enjoyable part of SYN conference was the honest and frank debate we had about where we are post J4L and what an uphill struggle we face as people, (especially young people for whom joining labour has never been an option) find the notion of joining the LP in its current state repulsive.
I made the point at Thursdays LRC meeting that for most young people the belief that we can fight for socialist politics within the labour party is about as believable as the tooth fairy!The debate was constructive and had a variety of contributors including a few new people who joined syn on the day.A lot was made of the fact that most left leaning young people are leaning towards the Green Party and the Anarchist movement around direct action on climate change.Dave has also written a good post on the discussion around praxis so I wont repeat what he says but direct you there instead! :)The morning session started late (surprise there then) and mainly dealt with the formalities of the elections of the new exec and rather than just having a motion on the direction of our COFUP campaign we had a discussion about the way forward , which actually produced some surprisingly good and practical ideas, + we now have a campaign committee who will be taking the campaign forward,I'll leave my co-chair Rory to go into the details of that.The equality caucus was also inspiring and as you'll see a common theme emerging rather than have boring motions and political grandstanding we had on conference floor a broad discussion on equalities before separating into caucus groups - this enables solidarity work between the groups but also ensures that the whole of conference are involved in pushing for equality issues.The LGBT and Womens caucus after having discussions themselves decided to merge and out an emergency motion on the agenda about some direct action on climate change which was fantastic.Although the turnout was small it turned into a really vibrant and interesting afternoon session.After the discussion I mentioned earlier we debated the motions and defeated a motion on the agenda that called for us to support independant candidates - as the majority of the people in the room who contributed to the debate mentioned this is a question of tactics and at this moment in time we are not there yet - but we will return to the question I'm sure.Another motion on the agenda about the labour party and where we are mandated the exec to organise some further discussion meetings which I am actually looking forward to!in total we debated 16 motions and by far the most controversial as well was the motion on Venezuala/Defending Orlando Chino (not controversial to support him btw just the wording of the motion/amendment)I will publish full list of the motions passed and exec elected on the SYN website of the debates were actually very comradely and i have mentioned before how the youth of the various sects in the LP seems to be able to debate the differences without resorting to the willy waving way that sometimes our older comrades behave We decided that this wasn't because all young people are on drugs - but perhaps because we have found a new way of having the discussions in an open and honest way, and also possibly because we are not cursed with having the same debates for the last 20 years and building up personal hatreds?Although disappointing entirely understandable that Bob Crow wasn't able to make it at the last minute because of negotiations and arrangements that were needed re the latest strike actions, but we still had good debate on the current situation within the RMT.Another note was that contrary to opinion and my expectations the room was mainly trade unionists, When we decided to launch SYN my concern was that it would be mainly students.Anyway enough for now - I'm sure there will b others that will also post reports and as I say I will be posting the formal reports :)

Northern Rock: rewarding incompetence

Arguments in favour of paying fat cats mega bucks often state that its rewarding talent . The City makes money and brings us all prosperity. New Labour positively drool over the rich.

So how come when Northern Rock not only fuck up, but the taxpayer bails them out thus costing us money,its now former boss gets a nice pay off:

Northern Rock will ignite a storm of controversy tomorrow when it reveals that its former boss Adam Applegarth received a £750,000 pay-off when he left last December.

Applegarth, who is 46, is also entitled to draw on a pension pot of £2.5m at the age of 55, built up since joining the bank as a graduate trainee almost 20 years ago. Experts say that could bring him retirement benefits of up to £200,000 a year.

Can't see an ordinary worker getting anything other than their cards if they cost their company money.


LIDL and the right to go to the loo !!

Thanks to Will for bringing this story to my attention:

The German discount supermarket chain Lidl has been accused of spying on its employees, including recording how many times they went to the toilet as well as details about their love lives, personal finances and menstrual cycles.

An investigation by the German news magazine Stern uncovered an extensive espionage system in its shops across Germany. It obtained hundreds of pages of documents gathered by detectives allegedly employed by the chain to find out about its staff. The surveillance took place via mini-video cameras installed by detectives. The official reason given to store managers was to reduce shoplifting.

Critics have accused Lidl of using "Stasi methods", referring to the secret police of the former communist East German state who kept track of the most banal and intimate details of hundreds of thousands of citizens' lives.

The detectives' records include details of precisely where employees had tattoos as well as information about their friends. "Her circle of friends consists mainly of drug addicts," reads one record. The detectives also had the task of identifying which employees appeared to be "incapable" or "introverted and naive".

While most incidents seem to have occurred in Germany, the most shocking one allegedly occurred at a Lidl store in the Czech Republic, where a female worker was forbidden to go to the toilet during working hours. An internal memorandum, which is now the centre of a court case in the republic, allegedly advised staff that "female workers who have their periods may go to the toilet now and again, but to enjoy this privilege they should wear a visible headband".

Recording how a German employee identified as Frau M spent her break, one report read: "Frau M wanted to make a call with her mobile phone at 14.05 ... She received the recorded message that she only had 85 cents left on her prepaid mobile. She managed to reach a friend with whom she would like to cook this evening, but on condition that her wage had been paid into her bank, because she would otherwise not have enough money to go shopping."

A Hamburg labour lawyer, Klaus Müller-Knapp, said the transcripts were "scandalous to the highest degree" and breached laws on freedom of expression.

Human rights groups and trade unions pledged to take up the case.

While denying any knowledge of the Czech case, Lidl, which has more than 7,500 stores in 24 countries, including Britain, confirmed that surveillance had taken place in Germany. It said the purpose was "not to monitor staff, but to establish possible abnormal behaviour".

It added that in retrospect the company distanced itself from the transcripts. "The references and observations are not in keeping ... with our understanding of how people should treat each other."

Where to start !

The report does not detail exactly what surveillance methods were used, but it seems to be much more sophisticated than a few cameras on the shop floor to identify shoplifters as is the case in most supermarkets.It was picking up the minutiae of detail into people's personal lives that had no relation to the supposed purpose of catching shoplifters.

The attitudes are scary. What exactly constitutes 'abnormal behaviour'?

What use was made of the material ?

Oh and "female workers who have their periods may go to the toilet now and again, but to enjoy this privilege they should wear a visible headband". A privilege !! Visible headbands !! As Will says :

Just one thing out of many that could be said. Most revealing — going to the toilet is a fucking ‘privilege’ is it? Granted only by our betters and masters?

Hunt down the boss class now and kill them. Kill them all.

It is appalling that going to the loo is a privilege! Perhaps the workers should just wet themselves on the shopfloor , that might focus the bosses minds.And 'visible headbands'!What business is it of anyone when a woman is having her period . And what of others who may need to go to the loo a bit more often, should they have different coloured headbands for medical conditions . And why should attention be drawn to anyone like that.

Anyone know what LIDL is like in this country?

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Latest Carnival of Socialism

Check it out at Leftwing Criminologist .

Its a themed one :

Hi all, Welcome to Carnival of Socialsim 20 - focussing on crime, criminal justice and socialism.
Crime is a relatively under discussed subject on the left - Indeed it's even seen as a weakness, but that shouldn't be so - given the high levels of crime in many places around the world (especially advanced capitalist countries) and the expensive measures used in the attempt to combat this (ie. prison) - this really shouldn't be the case. In this Carnival, we'll look at various aspects of crime from how socialists should approach crime, to criticising capitalist methods of tackling crime to crime in the third world.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mehdi Kazemi - Early Day motion

Click here.

Has your MP signed it? Not if you live in Bethnal Green and Bow (or, indeed, numerious other constituencies). There is a notable number of anti-war MPs on the list of signatories, once again giving the lie to the ridiculous slander that anti-homophobia campaigners are the 'pink section of the khaki brigade'.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

RMT Women's Conference report

A couple of weekends ago, it was my great pleasure to chair the largest ever RMT women's conference.

35 delegates from around Britain gathered in Swansea to discuss the issues facing women rail and transport workers. Now, 35 may not seem many to members of big unions with loads of women members and a good tradition of women's organisation. But RMT has 75,000 members, only 11% of whom are women, and a quick bit of mental arithmetic tells me that 1 in 250 of our women members were at the conference. Which aint bad.

I'd like to be able to claim that our union has a strong commitment and impressive tradition of involving women, but that just wouldn't be true. The National Executive is all-male, and has only ever had two women members. All union officers are male, and always have been. The truth is that recent increases in women's involvement have come from the hard work of women activists, which has finally pushed the union bureaucracy into making more of an effort too.

The key to this has been taking up issues facing women in the workplaces. This was reflected in the discussions at the conference. We kicked off with a plenary discussion about the effects on privatisation on women, a subject on which many women delegates had the confidence and knowledge to speak. Their contributions ranged from long-standing women activists describing the nightmare of going through rail privatisation and the failure of the union to defeat it; to more recent stories of re-franchising and contracting out and the disastrous effects on women's working conditions.

Smaller, 'workshop' discussions included issues such as women's uniforms, maternity rights, sexual harassment and abortion rights; and more practical skills such as being an effective union rep and health & safety campaigning.

A particular highlight on the second day was a presentation by two delegates who work as cleaners on London Underground. They described in depth and with passion the appalling conditions which their employers impose on them, and the potential power of an all-grades transport union to improve their conditions and give them dignity. We also had guest speakers from PCS, the Welsh Assembly and local MP Sian Davies.

The conference passed resolutions on short-notice duty changes, and how these play havoc with workers' lives, especially those of us with caring responsibilities; pregnancy and health & safety; pregnant workers and rest facilities; and abortion rights. The first and third of these resolutions will be submitted to this year's RMT AGM in June.

And finally, thanks to our Vice Chair, Mandy, for organising a splendid social on the Friday evening, capping an excellent and productive conference for all concerned. Having been re-elected as Chair for another year, I look forward to an even bigger and better conference in Newcastle next year.

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Planes and mobiles

Buses and trains are annoying enough with inane babble .

Now people can use mobiles on planes .


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tatchell on Iran , Galloway and LGBT rights

Peter Tatchell, on Comments is free :

George Galloway, the Leftwing Respect MP, has been accused of making allegations that border on paedophile smears and play to homophobic prejudice. He claims that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for "committing sex crimes against young men".

The insinuation of such a claim is that Mehdi's boyfriend was a rapist or a child sex abuser. It also stigmatises Mehdi with the shame that he was the partner of someone who committed sexual assaults on male youths. He will suffer with this stigma when he is returned to the UK and could face considerable personal hostility from people who have heard and believe these allegations against his boyfriend.

Mr Galloway made his astonishing allegation on Channel Five's The Wright Stuff. You can watch his interview here.

He has been asked to explain the source of his claim, but has so far failed to do so.

I am not aware of any paedophile-style sex abuse claims against Mehdi's partner. Moreover, no human rights group has mentioned any evidence that Mehdi's boyfriend was a rapist or a child molester.

Although the regime in Tehran frequently defames political, religious, ethnic and sexual dissidents with false claims of kidnapping, rape, alcoholism, sodomy, adultery, drug-taking and hooliganism, even the most extreme ayatollahs have not made allegations that Mehdi Kazemi's boyfriend was involved in sex abuse.

Nevertheless, Galloway has broadcast this very serious, potentially defamatory, allegation to the British public, and has then failed to back it up with evidence.

To some people, Galloway's claims look like propaganda in defence of the totalitarian, homophobic Islamic Republic of Iran. His passionate opposition to a war against Iran, which I share, seems to have clouded his judgement; leading him to downplay the regime's persecution of lesbians and gays, which includes state-sanctioned executions.

In the same interview for The Wright Stuff, Galloway went on to state: "All the [British] papers seem to imply that you get executed in Iran for being gay. That's not true."

His claim that lesbian and gay people are not at risk of execution in Iran is refuted by every reputable human rights organisation, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the International Lesbian and Gay Association. None of these esteemed bodies are anti-Iran warmongers, as Galloway has subsequently seemed to imply.

The leftwing US journalist, Doug Ireland, has documented cases of the flogging and execution of men who have sex with men in Iran. These are just the cases we know about. It is likely that some similar executions never get media coverage in Iran and are therefore unknown to the outside world.

The Iranian Queer Rights Organisation also confirms that homosexuality is a capital offence and that gay Iranians are subjected to brutal punishments, including torture and hanging.

The government of Iran admits that it has the death penalty for homosexuality. Gay people are sometimes tortured to make confessions - even false confessions. Iranian law makes no distinction between consensual and non-consensual same-sex relations. Both are punishable by execution.

If Iran doesn't execute queers, why does it need to retain the death penalty for same-sex relations? Why doesn't it repeal a law it supposedly never enforces? Why doesn't it announce a moratorium on hangings for homosexuality?

As with other dissidents, gay men are usually hanged in public by the barbaric slow strangulation method which is deliberately designed to maximise and prolong the suffering of the victim. These gruesome public barbarisms are also designed to terrorise the gay population.

To discredit the gay people it hangs, and to stir up public homophobia in support of its medieval religious-inspired punishments, the regime sometimes frames gay people with false charges of rape and child sex abuse. It wants to create the impression that homosexuals are monsters, in order to deter men from seeking same-sex relations.

This is what happened in the case of 21-year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh, who was executed in Iran last December. He was hanged for alleged sex offences against male teenagers, when he himself was a mere 13 years old. Amnesty International condemned his trial as "grossly flawed" and a "mockery of justice."

Human Rights Watch reports that Moloudzadeh was coerced and tortured into making a confession. According to Amnesty International, his accusers retracted their sex assault allegations and admitted that they had been pressured into making false claims against him.

Even if Moloudzadeh had been guilty as charged, he should never have been hanged because the alleged offence was committed while he was a minor.

Strong evidence for Moloudzadeh's innocence is the fact that hundreds of villagers turned out for his funeral; which would not have happened if the official Iranian account that he was a child sex abuser was true.

In a second interview on The Wright Stuff, Galloway launched into a scurrilous attack on Medhi's friends and supporters, and the defenders of lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights in Iran, including myself:

"This (Mehdi Kazemi's case) is a useful story for the war propaganda machine, the khaki machine now taking on a tinge of pink....what I will not accept is people being used, as Tatchell is, as the pink end of the war machine. That's what Peter Tatchell has become by attacking Iran in the way that he does."

At the antiwar protest in London on March 15, which I supported and attended, Galloway repeated these claims in his keynote speech. He said the "khaki war machine now has its pink contingent". He went on to imply that people who support gay rights in Iran are "useful idiots" and said their aim is to "bamboozle the public to go along with mass murder in Iran".

It is untrue and deeply offensive to suggest that those of us who oppose homophobic persecution in Iran are backing the bombing and invasion of Iran. We are not.

I am on record in my writings and speeches as opposing an attack on Iran. When, for example, I exposed Tehran's racist and neocolonial persecution of its Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, I stated categorically:

"I am part of a new campaign group, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI). HOPI opposes both a US war on Iran and the tyranny of the Iranian regime. My motto is: Neither Washington nor Tehran!

A war against Iran would be another disastrous neo-imperial adventure, which would strengthen the Tehran dictatorship. President Ahmadinejad would play the patriot and manipulate nationalism to rally the population behind him. He would use a US military attack as an excuse to further crack down on dissent in the name of safeguarding national security.

The overthrow of the theocratic police state by the Iranian people - not by US military intervention - is the best way to resolve the nuclear crisis and prevent a needless, unjustified war. With no dictatorship in Tehran, President Bush and the neo cons would lose the rationale for a military strike against Iran."

Galloway's insinuation that I am banging the war drum and siding with imperialism is both laughable and dishonourable.

For nearly 40 years I have supported the Iranian people's struggle against dictatorship, first against the western-backed Shah and, since 1979, against the clerical tyranny of the ayatollahs. I have been totally consistent. I am not suddenly focusing on Iran's human rights abuses and doing the dirty work of the Washington neocons, as Galloway seems to suggest.

Undeterred by criticisms that his outbursts collude with homophobia and with a viciously anti-gay regime in Tehran, Mr Galloway boasts: "I have an unblemished record of support for lesbian and gay equality."

Well, not quite. The Public Whip website (which monitors MPs votes) notes that Galloway did not vote on 8 out of 10 of the major parliamentary votes on gay law reform in recent years. His repeat absence is a strange way to express support for gay rights. Most other MPs turned up to vote. Why not George?

Galloway is, of course, a Respect MP. A commitment to gay rights was entirely absent from Respect's 2005 general election manifesto. Some insiders claim gay equality was originally included but was removed to appease Muslim fundamentalist voters (this apparent assumption by Respect that all Muslims are homophobic fundamentalists is just plain wrong - they are not).

The policy section of the Respect website has included a one-line opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation but it is hidden away under "other policies". Not exactly upfront.

One of Respect's major funders is Dr Mohammed Naseem. He is a one-time member of their executive and was a Respect parliamentary candidate. He is also a leading member of the Islamic Party of Britain (IPB) which appears to advocate the death penalty for consenting adult homosexuality in certain circumstances.

The IPB is viciously homophobic in other respects too, as it's website explains, and as my OutRage! colleague, Brett Lock, has revealed.
Naseem is a strange bedfellow for a supposedly pro-gay rights MP.

George Galloway was magnificent before the US Senate, exposing the Iraq debacle. Sadly, he now sometimes seems to be exonerating a cruel, unjust regime in Tehran that is responsible for some of the worst state-sanctioned homophobia in the world. This regime is also responsible for the equally heinous persecution of trade unionists, women's rights campaigners, student leaders, human rights advocates, investigative journalists and activists who defend Iran's subjugated minority nationalities, such as the Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis.

Misguided, untruthful attacks on Iranian gay people, the queer rights movement and the pink community do not strengthen the antiwar movement and the struggle against US imperialism. On the contrary, they play straight into the hands of the tyrants in Tehran and their mirror opposites in Washington. They betray all Iranians who are yearning and striving for democracy, human rights, social justice and the self-rule of Iran's oppressed minority nations.

So come on Respect Renewal, hold Galloway to account. Surely deep down you must be feeling uneasy . Its not good enough to just dismiss his critics as trouble making and obsessed, or to repeat the mantra that he is anti imperialist.
New Respect seems to have inherited the same tactic as the SWP in the old Respect, attack critics and defend the indefensible.

Be honest and open, like you said you would be. If not it looks like you are no better than the SWP were in their cheerleading and now hypocritcal criticism of Galloway.

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More Gems From Gorgeous George

Below you will find an article by George Galloway from Monday's Daily Record.

This being a blog 'n' all, I should expect myself to comment at length on said article's content, analytically taking it apart and examining its every nuance. But sometimes, a piece of writing is such patent gibberish it seems to speak for itself and defy intelligent comment. Please someone, read this and tell me why any self-respecting lefty should take it, or its author, in the least bit seriously.

What could we start? Perhaps with the very idea that a bloke could die and then wake again; let alone that an entire religious faith could be built on such an absurdity; let alone that this myth should then determine your political views.

Moving on, how is it that shaking hands with Saddam is morally OK, but having a flutter on a sporting fixture is somehow damnable?! And how is gambling morally acceptable on some days but not on others just because one religious faith decides that particular day is something special regardless of whether the rest of us adhere to their superstition or not?

Then GG caps it all with a total failure to address any of the valid arguments that the sort of embryo research currently before Parliament might actually reduce suffering and save lives (you don't have to agree with it, George, but you could try actually engaging with the argument rather than ignoring it).

Anyway, for those of you with a strong stomach or a tolerant sense of humour ...

Don't Put A Bet On Des's Conscience
Mar 24 2008 George Galloway

HAPPY Easter, Christ is risen. Not that you'd know it in this Godless country presided over by a son of the manse.

Apparently oblivious to the soldiers gambling on Golgotha at the foot of the cross as Jesus died and Our Lady wept, bookies were allowed to open on Good Friday for the first time in our history.

Gambling has now been unleashed with full state approval. Indeed when the state become a croupier in the National Lottery, only me, Pastor Ian Paisley and a few others opposed it.

And the proposals in the Embryo Research Bill before the House imminently blasphemes against the very idea of God.

The Bill contains the literally monstrous idea to allow boffins to insert human DNA into animal eggs creating hybrid human-animal embryos. This Frankenstinian proposal allegedly has some Christian ministers parading their double standard consciences, pretending they are agonising between their principles and their ministerial Montegos.

One such is Des Browne, whom you may not know is a Scottish MP and part-time Defence Secretary.

Des's conscience has allowed him to make illegal war in Iraq in defiance of his Pope, not to mention the UN, international law, the views of his Kilmarnock constituents and the millions of anti-war marchers, but he might draw the line at making a pig's ear in a laboratory.

Well, might is the operative word.

Given it's Easter under New Labour - so the bookies must be open - I'd stick a few quid on the outcome of a wrestling match between Des's conscience and his limousine.

My money is on the conscience getting a .202 round to the head.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Politicians And Their Consciences

As the latest Emybrology legislation approaches the floor of the House, there is a renewed flurry of excitement about MPs and their consciences, and more than a smattering of calls for MPs to be allowed a free vote in the name of the aforementioned consciences.

Explain to me, please, how it is that a conscience seems to come in to play for politicians' views only on a certain limited range of subjects. Embryo experimentation is, apparently, a matter of conscience. As is abortion rights (or lack of abortion rights). Down the years, LGBT rights have caused a tremble in the conscience department too. But war? Civil liberties? Privatisation? Cuts in public services? How are these issues not a matter of 'conscience'? What is the point of your conscience if it lets you deport people to their deaths, or sell the council housing from over their head, or fluff the nests of the rich while others live in poverty?!

Some tell us that on certain matters, their consciences must tell them what to do not their party whips. For some of these, such as Ruth Kelly and others, the 'conscience' appears to take the form of their chosen religious affiliation. So the Labour whips own your politics but the Pope or his Cardinal own your conscience?

For over a century, socialists have fought for independent working-class representation in politics - for the election of representatives who will take the democratically-decided policies of the workers' movement into Parliament and elsewhere. The problem with today's Labour whips is not that they over-ride the precious conscience and make people toe a soulless party line, but that they exert their authority to pressure MPs to break labour movement policy and toe a government line that usually contradicts it.

PS. Sorry for the long gap in blogging. I've had a bout of flu leading to a secondary infection of the chest from which I am still suffering (I've always been a martyr to my chest). On top of that, I've had a sudden and massive increase in workload with my union job the details of which I won't go into until the rather explosive dust has settled.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Giant Rabbits

I haven't posted anything recently so I thought I would put up a picture of a giant bunny rabbit because it was Easter. Hope youse didn't eat too much chocolate today. I went to a Easter tea party - ate too many cakes and then had to lie on the couch all night drinking herbal tea. But atleast i don't have to go to work tomorrow.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Tony Benn and Class War - Captions please

OK, its a bank holiday and I thought I would do a lighter post. I have pinched picture from Darren ,again, who pinched it from Ian Bone.

The pic is of Tony Benn on the demo last week.

Anyone think of a witty caption?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mehdi Kazemi - demo still on

The demo on saturday is still taking place.

From Peter Tatchell :

Demo – Defend Mehdi Kazemi

Oppose Iran's homophobic persecution

Reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees

Join the protest

This Saturday, 22 March

2pm to 3pm

Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1

Friends and supporters of gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, are
asking you to join our protest opposite Downing Street this Saturday,
March 22nd:

Our demands are:

- Don't send Mehdi Kazemi back to his death in Iran
- Down with Iran's homophobic laws
- For the right to settle in the UK.

The event is sponsored by Middle East Workers' Solidarity and the
National Union of Students LGBT campaign, and is supported by the LGBT
human rights group, OutRage! has more details.

OutRage! is highlighting the five failings of the Home Office with
regard to LGBT refugees:

- No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and

- No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to
claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation

- No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum
detention camps

- No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT
people in violently homophobic countries

- No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum

We hope to see you on Saturday at 2pm.

Solidarity and appreciation, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Also, some background from Mehdi :

Statement of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi

I am an Iranian national, was born in Tehran. I am Shia Muslim. I have one sister. I have lived all my life with my parents and sister until I came to the UK on 15.09.2005. My father owns dried fruits shop in Iran and sometimes he exports and imports goods.

I attended school, in Tehran for five 12 years. When I finished my secondary school I started my high school called Bagher Al Olom. I was 17 years old that I should study in the UK. He made all arrangements for me to come to the UK to study. I was granted six months student visa until March 2006. In February 2006, I decided to continue my studies and extended my student visa until November 2006.

When I arrived in the UK I began my English course at Leicester Square School of English in London. For the first two months I lived with my uncle in London. I then moved to Brighton and in November 2005, and joined Embassy CES College in Hove. I extended my student visa until November 2006 as I wanted to continue my studies in the UK.

When I was in Iran I did not have any problems. However, I used to have a male partner whom I used to meet secretly. I was 15 years old when I started dating one of my class mates in school. His name was Parham. He was also Iranian and we used to spend a lot of time together. I had just turned 15 years of age when I found out that I was sexually attracted men. I was very scared of this feeling and did not tell anyone about it. Parham was my best friend and one day he told me that he was attracted towards men and not women. When he told me that I started feeling comfortable with him and decided to tell him that I felt the same, we were 15 years of age when we decided to start our relationship.

We used to meet everyday in school and sometimes out side school in cinema or park. We started having sex about eight months after dating each other. We used to meet either in his house or my house when there was no one around.

No one knew about our relationship. Everyone believed that we were best friends and nothing more than that. Very rarely he used to come to our house. My parents knew him as I used to spend a lot of time with him.

We were very scared of our relationship. But I had strong feeling towards him and could not stop meeting him. We had decided to keep our relationship a secret. We continued our relationship as I knew that if any one from the government had found out about our relationship we would be executed.

When my father decided that I must study in the UK, I was sad that I was leaving Parham behind in Iran. But I knew that I could return to Iran during my college holiday and after I have completed my studies in the UK. The thought of returning to Iran gave me the courage to leave Parham behind.

When I came to the UK, I was in touch with him via email. We used to email each other almost once a week. He used to tell me that the situation in Iran is getting worse and there is more restriction on people and we used to write about general issues. We missed each other a lot and I wanted to return Iran at the end of my studies.

Around December 2005, Parham stopped emailing me. I wrote about two three emails to him but he did not reply. I thought that this was maybe because he was outside Tehran or did not have access to internet.

Towards the end March 2006, my uncle in the UK called me and informed me that my father had called me and informed him about my male partner in Iran. He further informed me that Parham was arrested by the authorities in Iran and he had mentioned my name to the government of Iran. The authorities had been to my father's house looking for me and my father was very shocked and scared about the whole situation. My uncle is an opened minded man and has lived in the UK most of his life and was not angry with him about this issue as I had expected him to be. However, he informed me that my father was very angry with me and had informed my uncle that I must return to Iran as he wanted to beat me up.

I was very scared and my uncle advised me that I must not return because I am in trouble with my father and the authorities. He told me that I will try to find a way for me to stay in the UK as my life would be in danger if I had return to Iran. He told me that I must wait for his call.

Later that day my father called me and was very angry with me. He shouted at me on the phone and told me to return Iran as soon as possible. I did not say anything to him and just hang up the phone as I was very scared of him.

I continued my studies but had a lot of tension in my mind. I was thinking about Parham. I was very sad and scared for my life. I waited for my uncle to figure out a way to save my life as I knew that if I return to Iran I will be killed.

A week later my uncle called me and asked me to explain the whole situation to him. He told me that I would not be able to help if I don’t tell him full and true story. I decided to tell him everything. We discussed that whole issue and I told him that I was very sacred of my father and the government of Iran. My uncle told me that he will get more information from Iran and will keep me informed.

Around end of April 2006, my uncle called me again and informed me that my father had informed him that the authorities had executed Parham and that I must not return to Iran as the authorities would do the same to me. My uncle told me that this time my father was very scared and had specifically advised my uncle that must not return to Iran.

I asked my uncle how the authorities found out that Parham's homosexual. My uncle told me that he was caught with another guy and was arrested. He was interrogated and asked to tell the authorities about all the men that he relationship with and he had mentioned my name to the authorities. The authorities had informed my father of the whole issue and that I was also in relationship with Parham. At first my father was angry and wanted me to return home but the last time he called my uncle after Parham's execution, he feared for my life and strongly advised that I must not return to Iran.

Parham was charged with crime being homosexual and was executed. Iran is an Islamic country and it is a serious offence to be in a relationship with a person of the same sex.

I wish to inform secretary of state that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me. I can not stop my attraction towards men. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I was born like with feeling and can not change this fact but it is unfortunate that I can not express my feeling in Iran. If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like Parham. Since this incident about Parham I have been so sacred. However, when things do get settled down I want to start dating again and live my life without fear.

I am currently living in he UK on student visa which is due to expire in November 2006. I now wish to claim asylum in the UK I can not return to Iran because I will face persecution in the hands of the Iranian government.

For the reasons stated above I requested the Secretary of State to grant me full refugee status in the UK.

More info on other case on IRQO.

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blog roll

Right, the blog roll needs a tidy, update and some new links.

Suggestions welcome in the comments.

Pic Sort of related, Punchie and a mate outside the last leftie bloggers piss up demonstrating .


Carnival of Socialism

I have been a bit remiss on plugging the latest carnivals.

Apologies to Jack at Practically Insurgent and blackstone at Power to the People, both good carnivals . Pop over if you haven't already.

The next carnival is over at Leftwing Criminologist. So send any posts of interest over to him.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Conspiracy theories and a bigoted Catholic Bishop

Seems the plan of those degenerate LGBT people to take over the world, corrupt the innnocents and destroy society as we know it has been twigged by one Bishop Devine. Darn, the Catholic Church is now on the case:

The Rt Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell and president of the Catholic Education Commission, said gay rights organisations aligned themselves with minority groups, such as Holocaust survivors, to project an "image of a group of people under persecution".

He warned that the gay lobby – which he labelled "the opposition" – had mounted "a giant conspiracy" to shape public policy.

"It is ever-present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution. We neglect the gay movement at our peril.

"I want to ask you if you are able to see the giant conspiracy that's taking place before our eyes, even if we didn't see it at the time. I take it you're beginning to see that there is a huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy taking place, which the Catholic community missed."

He went on: "In this New Year's honours list, I saw actor Ian McKellen being honoured for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail. "It's a very small group of people, but very active and organised – and extremely indulgent. The opposition know exactly what they're doing. We don't."

Calum Irving, the director of Stonewall Scotland, said the bishop was "deluded", pointing out that the Catholic Church had much greater wealth and political influence than the gay rights lobby. He said: "So Bishop Devine has decided it's time to have a go at lesbian and gay people again.

"I would defend the bishop's right to practise his faith and yet he would deny me basic dignity and respect. Worse, he appears to hanker after an age when Oscar Wilde was put in jail for being gay. Worse still, he seems to infer that gay people have no right to be remembered as victims of the Holocaust."

After Bishop Devine's lecture, entitled Sectarianism and Secularism: Bugbears for the Catholic Church in Scotland, one audience member asked how Catholic parents should "come to terms with a child's mission to become homosexual".

The bishop replied: "This must be a nightmare moment for any parent. There are many days when I'm glad to not be a parent. I would try to handle it with a degree of compassion, but I would not tolerate (it]."

Bishop Devine also cited the battles over Clause 28, legalising civil partnerships and same-sex adoption.

He said prominence had been given to the "supreme moral values of liberty and equality" replacing "truth and goodness" as supreme moral values.

Bishop Devine continued: "It was bound to result in state-sponsored morality at war with Christian values. We must resist being corrupted by secularism."

Reading through this rant I fail to notice much kindness or to use his words 'goodness'. He comes across as quite hateful, seeming to prefer a time when gay people were imprisoned . He denies ,or at best downplays, the very real persecution faced by lesbian and gays in Nazi Germany . He proudly states he would be intolerant of a child who was lesbian or gay. Yep, lets fuck up kids (sometimes literally in the Catholic Church), make them feel guilt about who they love.

The reality is that lesbian and gay people , along with a number of other groups and alongside Jews, were victims of the holocaust.

The reality is that LGBT people still, in this country , face discrimination , attacks and are sometimes killed .

The reality is that children brought up by religious parents can be made to feel guilty, pressurised to be 'straight' and are sometimes disowned.

I do wonder why religious people get so wound up about those who do not believe and do not live to their codes of behaviour. Why are they so threatened by it if their faith is so strong ? Why can't they just let others be and what is this obsession with what other people do in the bedroom ...or anywhere else for that matter :-)

Picture : the pink triangle,which was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, used by the Nazis to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality.

hat tip: New Humanist Blog

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Monday, March 17, 2008

A question about recycling.

I'm having a bit of a clear out of papers, documents etc that are cluttering up my flat. Some of have confidential info on it, such as old bank statements, so I'm going to shred them.

So my question, and this may be a dim one, but how do I recycle shredded paper ? Can I put it in the same public paper recycling bins ?

I'm sure one of my greenie readers will know the answer :-)


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mehdi Kazmi and what Galloway has to say on the subject

I am sure some will think I am happy to have a go at George Galloway and use anything against him.Honestly, my feelings were of anger and upset at seeing this video clip, sent to me by Mod. I really wish the left could be united in supporting a teenager facing execution if he is returned to Iran. I would rather see Galloway lending his support to the campaign than make what some might see as cheap political shots.

In my posts I have called on other blogs to publicise and support the campaign and the demo on the 22nd. I was , genuinely, pleased to see Andy as a RR member plug it on Socialist Unity, especially as it would get a much bigger audience than this blog and that's all for the good.

That is why I was angered to see Galloway on TV downplaying the reality for LGBT people in Iran. We have our own Govt saying LGBT people will be safe if they are 'discreet'. They are going to send Medhi back to certain death. The left should be united against this. This teenager is now caught in the left's bloody stupid inability to criticise a war on Iran AND criticise the Iranian state who execute people for being gay. George says people are not executed for being lesbian or gay, OK, George, split hairs. Someone can be Lesbian or gay and just pretend not to be. But the reality is if someone has gay sex then they can be executed. So as George says, people are not executed for being gay. So would that be OK if it applied to religion ? Pretend to be someone you're not.

So its 'only' if someone has sex they are executed, well that's OK then.

Its not OK to execute people for having gay sex, which can be anything from a one night stand to a long term relationship. And why is being lesbian or gay so defined by sex . Its about relationships as well.

I'm not going to shut up about it because people like George see criticism as part of the propaganda against Iran. The reality is Iran is a reactionary, repressive brutal state. It oppresses Lesbian and Gay people, women who step out of line, trade unionists and socialists. Shutting up shows us as apologists and abandons the people we should support. Its unprincipled, disgusting and also tactically stupid.

We also mustn't forget that its the British Government that will be sending him back to his death, so the argument about propaganda is not clear cut. They are not being consistent .We should be though.

We need to grasp the complexities, say we are against war and that we support those in struggle against the Iranian state to overthrow it. What the fuck is so difficult about that. Its honest and its principled and it doesn't betray those suffering, often paying with their lives, in Iran.

As I said at the start I would much rather see Galloway on a platform supporting Mehdi , strengthening rather than weakening the case for not just him but others who also face deportation and risk of execution because of their sexuality.

Here is the you tube:

A you tube featuring those puppets of Imperialism; a gay Iranian(from Iranian Queer Organisation) and Peter Tatchell is over at Mod's site.

You know this is about a young man who will end up executed because he is gay . Shouldn't we be on his side and not apologising for the Iranian regime .

The second Wright Stuff programme where Galloway again says Lesbian and Gays arent executed and can freely meet for trysts !Not much worse than Tonbridge Wells apparently. Hmmm...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Update on Mehdi Kazemi

I have posted on Mehdi Kazemi and his fight to avoid deportation to Iran where he faces a execution.Yesterday, a Dutch court ruled that he should be sent back to Britain after refusing to consider his claim for asylum:

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, who sought sanctuary in Britain in 2005 when he discovered that his partner had been hanged in Tehran for engaging in homosexual acts, is expected to be returned to Iran in the next few weeks.

Mr Kazemi fled to Holland from Britain last year after the Home Office rejected his claim for asylum. But yesterday, a Dutch court ruled that he should be sent back to Britain after refusing to consider his claim for asylum.

He believed he would have had a much better chance of protection from deportation to Iran in Holland, according to his uncle. But yesterday, Holland's highest administrative court rejected his lawyers' arguments that the UK asylum and immigration system did not take proper account of international conventions that uphold the rights of refugees.

"There is no doubt that Mehdi will be arrested and probably executed if he is sent back there," said his 51-year-old uncle, a salesman from Hampshire. "The police have issued a warrant for his arrest. He will be in terrible danger if he goes back."

Mr Kazemi's father has also told him that if the state doesn't kill him, he will. "His father is very angry but his mother still loves him. She is extremely worried for him but she is in a very difficult position. In Iran, mothers don't stop loving their children because they are gay."

Mr Kazemi's only hope now is that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will exercise her discretion and intervene in his case, or that either the European Court of Human Rights or the European Court of Justice agree to consider the wider implications of gay Iranian asylum-seekers. Mr Kazemi's case is be debated by the European Parliament tomorrow.

Last night, his case was taken up by Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, who wrote to Ms Smith to urge the Government to end the return of all gay asylum-seekers to Iran. "It seems absolutely clear that any gay or lesbian person sent back to Iran is at risk of their lives," he said. "Such returns must be stopped."

Jean Lambert, a Green Party MEP for London, who has signed an appeal to the European Commission and the prime ministers of the UK and the Netherlands regarding the Kazemi case, said: "The law is clear that no one should be returned to a country where their life would be in danger and it seems that Mr Kazemi has a very strong case for asylum."

What you can do to support Mehdi:

There is a petition , here.

There is a demo :

On Saturday March 22nd at 2pm Middle East Workers' Solidarity will be staging a protest opposite Downing Street in defence of Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian asylum seeker who the British government plans to send back to Iran on the grounds that if gay Iranians are "discreet about their sexuality", they will not get in trouble.

In fact, Mehdi Kazemi's boyfriend in Iran has already been executed for being gay, and the regime knows about Mehdi Kazemi and will likely kill him if he returns. We are demonstrating to demand that he should not be sent to his death in Iran, and that he should be allowed to stay in Britain if he so chooses."
--Middle East Workers' Solidarity

Saturday March 22nd, 2pm, Downing Street. Nearest tube Westminster/Charing Cross

More info on Mehdi .

Here are some email addresses that you should send direct letters of protest to.

Most importantly, the UK government member who is trying to have Mehdi deported. Here is her full contact information.If nothing else, send her an email voicing your concern.

The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
House of Commons, Westminster,
London, SW1A 0AA
By Telephone and Fax :
01527 523355
By E mail

It would be really good if other leftie bloggers publicised this.

Picture: The brutal reality of what Mehdi faces.

Update There is now a website .
Hat tip to Charlie who has posted again on this. Be good to see more of leftie blogger land publicise this!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Swearing allegiance to the Queen

I have noticed of late Brown sucking up more and more to the Royal family. He did it recently with Prince Harry and Afghanistan :

The prime minister said: "The whole of Britain will be proud of the outstanding service he is giving."

Err, no .

His fawning to royalty is very like Blair's with his 'people's princess' gush.

So I expect he will like this idea :

School-leavers are to be encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen under new government proposals being unveiled on British citizenship.
Pupils would give a commitment to Queen and country in ceremonies akin to those for new immigrants.

The proposals are contained in a review of citizenship conducted by the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith at the request of Gordon Brown.

He believes that citizenship ceremonies for teenagers would help improve their sense of what it means to be a British citizen.

Why should anyone, born or moved here, have to swear allegiance to the Monarch ? Someone who owes their position of privilege solely to an accident of birth, who we have no choice over. Yep, lets drum subservience and respect for our 'betters' into kids . The Tories have always fallen back on a war, a royal wedding or birth and drumming up jingoism to detract from the reality of life for people and New Labour are certainly not above the same tactics.

Also, and correct me if I'm wrong, but all this talk of citizens, aren't we still 'subjects' ? Surely we should be changing that,not further embedding the position of privilege ?

But on a positive note :-) :

Under laws dating back more than 600 years crimes include plotting to kill the sovereign, "violating" the king's wife, eldest unmarried daughter or eldest son's wife and helping the sovereign's enemies.

A detect a note of disappointment in the Daily Mail:

Legal experts doubt whether a successful treason prosecution could be brought now.

None of the men said to have slept with Princess Diana have ever been prosecuted, even though they could in theory have been sentenced to death for any such encounters prior to her divorce from Prince Charles.
The maximum punishment for treason is now life imprisonment.

pic: a different type of queen.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Happy International Women's Day



Remember, if you're a woman and...

* you can vote, thank a feminist.

* you get paid as much as men doing the same job, thank a feminist.

* you went to college / university instead of being expected to quit after school so your brothers could go because "You'll just get married anyway", thank a feminist.

* you can apply for any job, not just "women's work", thank a feminist.

* you can get or give birth control information without going to prison, thank a feminist.

* your doctor, lawyer, judge or MP is a woman, thank a feminist.
* you play an organised sport, thank a feminist.

* you can wear trousers without being excommunicated from your church or run out of town, thank a feminist.

* your boss isn't allowed to pressure you to sleep with him, thank a feminist.
* you get raped and the trial isn't about your hemline or your previous boyfriends, thank a feminist.

* you start a small business and can get a loan using only your name and credit history, thank a feminist.

* you are on trial and are allowed to testify in your own defence, thank a feminist.

* you have the right to your own salary even if you are married or have a male relative, thank a feminist.

* you get residency of your children following divorce or separation, thank a feminist.

* you get a voice in the raising and care of your children instead of them being completely controlled by the husband/father, thank a feminist.

* your partner assaults you and it is illegal and the police stop him instead of lecturing you on better wifely behaviour, thank a feminist.

* you are granted a degree after attending university instead of a certificate of completion, thank a feminist.

* you can breastfeed your baby discreetly in a public place and not be arrested, thank a feminist.

* you marry and your civil human rights do not disappear into your husband's rights, thank a feminist.

* you have the right to refuse sex with your husband, thank a feminist.

* you have the right to keep your medical records confidential from the men in your family, thank a feminist.

* you have the right to read the books you want, thank a feminist.

* you can testify in court about crimes or wrongs your husband has committed, thank a feminist.

* you can choose to be a mother or not a mother in your own time not at the dictates of a husband or rapist, thank a feminist.

* you can look forward to a lifespan of 80 years instead of dying in your 20s from unlimited childbirth, thank a feminist.

* you can see yourself as a full, adult human being instead of a minor who needs to be controlled by a man, thank a feminist.

Sadly not all women around the globe can enjoy these rights and priviledges, however when people minimise the role of feminism and the demand for women's liberation - it is easy to forget who few rights women actually had in the past few decades.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Save Southall Black Sisters - update

I received this message via Facebook :

Save Southall Black Sisters

Things you can do currently to support the Save SBS campaign:

1. Come to the Million Women Rise march on Saturday. The march as a whole will gather in Hyde Park at 12 and then make its way to a rally at Trafalgar Square from 3-6pm at which SBS will be speaking.
Southall Black Sisters, and its supporters, will be gathering between 11.30-12.30 at Marble Arch. Please come and show your support for this vital campaign. We will be taking photos to release to the press to show how outraged we all are by this decision so the more of us that are there, the better.
It is a women and children only demo but the male supporters of SBS are still encouraged to come and stand on the sidelines (as it were!) to offer their support.

2. Sign the newly created online petition on the Number 10 website to urge the Government to clarify it's position on 'community cohesion' in relation to organisations providing non-generic, essential services to vulnerable people, such as those provided by Southall Black Sisters.

3. Write to your MP asking them to sign the Early Day Motion (a formal motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons) in support of SBS - EDM 1122.
You can find and write to your local MP via this website.
A template letter will be posted on the Facebook group very soon.

4. I know many of you have already but please do vote in the poll on the Ealing Times website. The local authority will be taking note of this kind of public demonstration of feeling.
(It’s at the bottom right hand side of the page.)

5. A letter is being submitted to the press ASAP to draw their attention to the campaign’s presence at the Million Women Rise demonstration on Saturday 8th March. If you would like to have your name attached to this letter to show your support please give your consent on the wall of the group ASAP.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Can other bloggers publicise this.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mehdi Kazemi - Gay teenager facing execution in Iran

First things first, I do not support war against Iran. I do though think its possible to be anti war and to criticise the Iranian regime . As a socialist I believe we should condemn the reactionary nature of the Iranian state and highlight the attacks on LGBT people, women , trade unionists and socialists . We should support those groups in their struggles. We should not make excuses or downplay the brutal reality of the Iranian regime in the name of anti imperialism. Its unprincipled to ignore the plight of those under attack even if Ahmadinejad doesn't much like Bush.

Its also tactically wrong. If we on the left downplay the reality what message does that send? Wittering on about sex changes won't win people round to an anti war position when the evidence is presented by the war mongers of the nature of Iran. How can we say we are progressive, support women, trade unionists , LGBT people when we abandon them . How can we win people to socialism if we cant speak out against oppression.

Nope, we need to clearly state why we oppose war, that we are in solidarity with the oppressed people in Iran and support their struggles to challenge and overthrow the regime. That way we are honest and principled and a little bit fussy about who we make alliances with.

Right that's my rant.

So lets see the left show some support for Mehdi Kazemi :

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in Britain when his boyfriend was executed by the Iranian authorities now faces the same fate after losing his legal battle for asylum.
Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
In a telephone conversation with his father in Tehran, Mr Kazemi was told that before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Mr Kazemi as his partner.

Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. But late in 2007 his case was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of deportation the young Iranian made a desperate attempt to evade deportation and fled Britain for Holland where he is now being detained amid a growing outcry from campaigners.
He appeared before a Dutch court yesterday to plead with the authorities not to return him to Britain where he is almost certain to be sent back to Iran.

Mr Kazemi's future will now be decided by a Dutch appeal court, which will rule whether to grant him permission to apply for asylum in Holland, which offers special protection to gay Iranians, or whether he will be deported to Britain. His case has attracted support from leading gay rights groups across Europe who are campaigning to allow him to live in Britain.

Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights campaign group Outrage, described the Government's policy as "outrageous and shameful". He said: "If Mehdi is sent back to Iran he will be at risk of execution because of his homosexuality. This is a flagrant violation of Britain's obligations under the refugee convention.

"It is just the latest example of the Government putting the aims of cutting asylum numbers before the merits of individual cases. The whole world knows that Iran hangs young, gay men and uses a particularly barbaric method of slow strangulation. In a bid to fulfil its target to cut asylum numbers the Government is prepared to send this young man to his possible death. It is a heartless, cruel mercenary anti-refugee policy."

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, more than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. The last reported case of the death penalty imposed against a gay man was that of Makwan Moloudzadeh, 21, who was executed in December after being convicted for sodomy, or lavat, a capital offence under Iranian law.

The Home Office's own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians.

I'll keep an eye out for the decision as to whether he is returned to Britain. Meanwhile there is a petition here .

More on Iran and LGBT people here.

This should be a basic for the left, supporting women, LGBT people, trade unionists against repressive regimes, sadly its not these days.

The brutal reality in Iran.


An Iranian Lesbian,Pegah Emambakhsh, faces deportation.
In Iran :

Under the Iranian Islamic Punishment Act, lesbians found guilty of sexual relations can be sentenced to 100 lashes. But, for a third offence, the punishment is execution.

The Home Office view :

In turning down Ms Emambakhsh and Mr Kazemi's asylum applications, the Home Office has said that, provided Iranians are discreet about their homosexuality, they will not be persecuted.

What the fuck ! Given that the two people highlighted here are known to be lesbian or gay, does that mean that its all their own fault then for being 'indiscreet'?
Does the fact that only 'indiscreet' lesbian and gay people get stoned or executed make it all alright ?

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don't Spend It All At Once

The government is to increase the minimum wage - by a pathetic 21p. Unless you are aged 18-21, in which case your minimum hourly wage will rise by an even more pathetic 17p. And if you are 16 or 17, you can salivate at the prospect of a minuscule 13p. A quick surf of online shopping reveals that teenagers could rush out and buy an economy peg to pin down ground cover in their gardens. Shame that one peg alone is useless.

The minimum wage is on the few things that New Labour can genuinely boast that it has done for the benefit of workers. Then it spoils it by setting it at such a miserly level that fewer benefit than could, and those who do benefit little.

Over the last year, I have taken part in several discussions - some more productive than others - about how to close the still-enduring gender pay gap. One obvious answer is: pay low-paid women more. And one easy way to do that is to increase the minimum wage - by a serious hike, not a paltry 21p.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The first leftie bloggers piss up of the year !!

Yep, this Saturday , 4pm onwards at the Euston Flyer , Euston, London.

All leftie bloggers, commenters and lurkers welcome. And no, its not just the AWL and their groupies. The last one had CPGB, PR, the Labour Party/LRC, independents and the odd AWLer.

New people are welcome,we are quite friendly honest .

For a flavour of the proceedings here are a few reports , here, here,here and here.Oh and there was also a mini piss up in Scotland.

I will of course report back any gossip :-)


Monday, March 03, 2008

Free Mansoor Osanlou

This Thursday, activists in 34 countries will be campaigning to demand the release of jailed Iranian trade unionist Mansoor Osanlou.

The Iranian regime has jailed and tortured Mansoor - a union leader for bus workers - and had its security forces attack the union.

Click here for information about campaigning activities on Thursday, and here for a detailed chronology of Iranian state persecution of Mansoor and his fellow trade unionists.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Consultation, Hackney Council style

At the end of last year, Hackney Council consulted tenants about rent increases. The 'choice' the Council offered them was a 5% rise, 10% rise or 12% rise. What a fabulous choice! Between rises that you can't afford, really can't afford, and really really can't afford. It's a bit like the local burglar consulting you on whether s/he should rob some of your stuff, most of your stuff, or all of your stuff.

The result of the survey? 62% responded in support of the 5% rise. Hackney Council's Cabinet then took a long, hard look at the survey results, concluded that 62% was 'just over half' (?!), and voted to increase rents by 6.7% (a figure not even included in the consultation)! Blimey, if we'd know we could go for figures not mentioned in the consultation, everyone could have written '0%' on the form.

Lucky tenants have just received a letter from Councillor Laing telling them the good news.

That is what is so marvellous about 'consultation'. It's a different beast from 'democracy' or even 'negotiation'. The consulting body seemingly feels free to ignore any result that it does not like. Trade union reps will already be familiar with this phenomenon. As are Hackney people who were 'consulted' about the Homerton becoming a foundation hospital. And Hackney residents who were 'consulted' about whether we wanted our homes taken over by an ALMO.

Seems like another small patch of forest has been sacrificed in vain.

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