Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bits and pieces

Apologies for the lack of blogging, mixture of being busy and bloggers block.

While I ponder doing a proper post, here are some bits and pieces that caught my attention.

Belated link to Jim's Carnival of Socialism, a very good round up of international affairs , Labour and bit of culture .The next one is over at BoffyBlog on the 10th May, so send posts for inclusion to Boffy.

Meanwhile Coatsey, if not a national then a leftie 'treasure', has decided to come upwith his own Carnival of Contrarians :

There’s something called the ‘Carnival of Socialism’. It’s a rotating list of Blog posts the ‘Carnis’ decide are socialist. I suppose they must be - if I could be arsed to check up on all of them. Like most self-appointed glee clubs it’s terribly dull. The latest one looks as if it’s written by a professional dullard. Somehow Tendance Coatesy, despite its leading position in the labour movement, and the hope and joy it spreads amongst the world’s struggling oppressed, doesn’t get mentioned. In its place too many Quorn pies of bland comment maketh a sorry feast.

With a proud tradition of contrarianism we at the Tendance are now holding an alternative Carnival, of, you guessed it, Contrariness.

Well always room for more carnivals, and thanks for the link Coatesey, but I must defend Jim J . He is open to anyone hosting a blog (socialists of course)and having themes or just general leftiness and isn't a professional or even amateur dullard. I do look forward though to more Coatsey Carnivals !!He is of course welcome to host his an edition of the Carnival of Socialism and even theme it , perhaps on contrarians and the left!

I'd also like to encourage anyone else to consider hosting it. It is actually fun to do (or is that me being sad ?) , it highlights blogs across the left and hopefully introduces people to ones they hadn't come across .In the general bickering and point scoring that is a feature of the left, that's all for the good surely ? As Dave points out :

PERHAPS it's the spillover effect from the sectarianism that typifies the hard left away from the keyboard, but for some reason leftie bloggers rarely draw attention to good stuff published on other leftwing websites.

Received info on this via facebook:

Vigil for Iraqi LGBT
To remember the dead, to protect the living...

01 May 2009
08:45 - 09:30pm
The Indian Gate (Gateway to South) The Pavilion, Brighton
Palace Place, North Road

A candlelit remember those in Iraq who have died from homophobic violence, for those who are hiding and for those who are trying to recover... we will remember them, we will keep them alive, we will support them seek asylum in the UK.Candles provided.
Info at:
And Facebook.

I hope to get along and report back.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Up The Posh!

As a lifelong follower of Peterborough United, please indulge me while I record my delight that the lads have achieved promotion for the second successive season!

OK, so I don't go to the match as often as I used to (most home games as a teenager, many away games since departing Peterborough a quarter-century ago), but I'm still over the moon. Follow a team like the 'Borough and success doesn't come as often as it does for the likes of Chelsea or Manchester United, but that just makes it taste more sweet when it does come.

Mind you, the big-money-domination that has steadily aleinated me from footie in general has now got its claws into the Posh, and it is horrible to admit that we might still be languishing in the nether reaches of league football were it not for the dosh of owner Darragh MacAnthony, chairman of MRI Overseas Property. Let's put today's success down to manager Darren Ferguson and his talented team instead.


End HOPI"s Exclusion from the Stop the War Coalition

See letter below :

End HOPI's Exclusion from the Stop the War Coalition
To Andrew Murray, officers and members of the Stop the War Coalition:

We note with great concern the comments of the STWC’s national chair, Andrew Murray, which seem to suggest that coalition officers will again recommend rejection of the affiliation of Hands Off the People of Iran. If this is indeed the case, we urge you to reconsider your decision as soon as possible.
Hopi is an integral part of the anti-war movement. It fights against the threats of imperialism against Iran and has just launched its ‘Smash the Sanctions’ campaign in the House of Commons. Clearly, democracy
cannot be delivered from above, as the example of the invasion and occupation of Iraq shows.
Democracy can only come from below, from the people themselves.
This is why Hopi is in active solidarity with the women’s, workers’ and students’ movements in Iran who are not just fighting against the threat of imperialist war, but also against their own oppressive regime, the Iranian theocracy.
In a letter to the Hopi steering committee on April 15, STWC chair Andrew Murray asks to “clarify a couple of points”. Firstly, to our knowledge no other organisation has ever been asked to pass such an exam before it was allowed to affiliate to the coalition. Why start with Hopi? Secondly, the “points” he requests clarification on actually amount to a single question: Will the Hopi steering committee disassociate itself from comments made by Hopi secretary Mark Fischer (the national organizer of the Communist Party of Great Britain) at an internal CPGB meeting in 2007? This should not be a barrier to our affiliation and could almost be classed as ridiculous.
There is an extremely wide range of opinions concerning STWC in the ranks of Hopi. We are a broad organisation, including the CPGB, the Labour Representation Committee, the PCS, Aslef, Workers Left Unity
(Iran), alongside many other individuals, each with their own unique viewpoint, but working together in common concern for the people of Iran.
In fact, it would be more logical for STWC to assume that Mark Fischer’s views are far more likely to be in a majority in the CPGB itself. Yet we have had confirmation that you are happy to allow this organisation to re-affiliate, to submit motions to your 2009 conference and to stand for election to your steering committee.
This inconsistency brings no credit to the coalition and could lead people to question what your actual reason for excluding Hopi is. We feel that your decision undermines the struggle for effective unity against the sabre-rattling and war preparations of imperialism. The deeply reactionary regime in Tehran is no friend of the international anti-war movement and, as illustrated by its collaborationist role in the US’s occupation of Afghanistan, is no way a consistent opponent of imperialism. Our real allies are in the ranks of the movements that this theocratic regime is busy oppressing and imprisoning on a daily basis. That is the important debate that should be had in the ranks of a
united anti-war movement, alongside - and as a vital component of - its campaigning work.
As for comments made by Mark Fischer two years ago, can we suggest that, instead of attempting to implicitly conflate the views of Hopi and the CPGB, you debate the issues directly with your affiliate, the CPGB?

In solidarity
John McDonnell MP
Professor Moshé Machover
April 23

Can commentators on this please try to debate without calling people names such as scabs and nazi's .

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Steve Purcell, Leader of Glasgow Council is this week's Friday Fuckwit!

There are plenty fuckwits this week however this week i am nominating Steve Purcell. Mr Purcell's biography can be read here

But why poor Mr Purcell, what has he done to merit Stroppybog's wrath well he's massacared 22 nurseries and schools in Glasgow. Check out the Save Our Schools blog here

Fury has erupted amongst parents, carers and communities after Labour councillors voted to close primaries and nurseries, despite the mass opposition movement of the past 3 months.There have been demos, public meetings, occupations and blockades but the voice3s of the community, parents and school pupils themself have been ignored.

Activists in Glasgow said:

“Labour councillors have shown absolutely spineless careerism by bowing to the dictatorship of their Labour group leader, Steven Purcell. They will rue the day!

At the secretive meeting of the Labour councillors last week, they voted by 31:6 to proceed with 22 closures. That means 6 of them felt the closure package is rotten, the tens of thousands who oppose the closures are right, and they hoped to save their electoral skins by making a gesture of opposition behind closed doors. But today Labour councillors all toed the Labour party line, obeyed orders and ignored their own consciences. Shame on them for their cowardice - for putting their Labour party careers before kids!

“They have voted to close down schools and nurseries, but they won’t find it so easy to implement their scandalous decision!

“Across the road from the Council meeting, the Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign met, with representatives from schools across the city, and decided a plan of action to defy, defeat and reverse these closures.

“We will launch a new round of peaceful direct action protest, with unity in the community, starting with a city-wide Hands Around Our Schools protest on Monday at 3pm, declaring that the councillors might vote for closures, but ‘we shall not be moved’!

“We are seeking professional help with legal challenges to a brutally flawed procedure.

“And we are taking our case to the Scottish parliament. The Scottish government should come out clearly in opposition to these closures, wield its political power to demand they be reversed, and side with the people of Glasgow against the Labour council’s unprincipled axe-wielders

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Pants and the recession

Just a quick post, any thought on this dear readers:

Last month, Y-fronts outsold boxer shorts for the first time since the early 1990s - the last time when Britain was in recession.

Debenhams said it is the standard, thick, warm, white, slightly frumpy styles which are selling like hot cakes rather than the skimpy, tight, high fashion versions of previous years.

The store's spokesman Ed Watson said: "These are the sort of pants our fathers wore.

"They provide a much greater sense of security than loose-fitting boxers, and perhaps, in these troubled times, that's what men need to feel."

Y-fronts were launched in the US 74 years ago. In recent years, loose fitting boxer shorts and slim line trunks have been, by far, the biggest sellers in Debenhams' menswear range.

The fashion chain's sales figures show that the sudden surge in Y-fronts began in November, just as the recession was starting to bite.

In total, sales have leapt by 35% over the six-month period, the company said.

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Friday Fuckwit

I'm busy today , so may not get a chance to post properly.

So this is an open thread, who do you think should be the FF and why?

Thoughts please .


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oops they did it again - Left Disunity?

This appeared in my inbox tonight - no doubt some one causing trouble internally in the No2EU pact in Scotland - the Socialist Party's sister organisation (CWI) in Scotland seem to be in a tizzy about tactics and strategy, anyway don't know who the author is but I think it comes from the Socialist Party grouping in Scotland. Some good points and analysis however is fundamentally flawed by focussing primarly on the No 2 candidate. Its a bit like Waldorf and Stanley from the Muppets, always complaining but still suppotting their folly.

"Statement about No2EU

As comrades will be aware the No2EU list for Scotland has been decided with John Foster of the Communist Party of Britain top Tommy second and Leah Ganley third. There was a concerted campaign to keep Tommy off the list altogether by the CPB in the main. However, a combination of the Socialist Party, Solidarity, Bob Crow and a few others at the National Steering Committee of No2EU ensured he was on the list - albeit second. Since then some Solidarity members have intensified their opposition to Solidarity’s involvement in No2EU.. Some comrades feel this is justified by the opposition to Tommy by the CPB and the general hostility by the CPB to Solidarity. Other comrades have insisted that the idea of No2EU MEP’s not attending the European parliament if elected be a line in the sand. There is likely to be resolutions to Solidarity’s NSC that 1. Propose that Solidarity withdraw from No2EU and/or 2.That Solidarity should come out and make clear our intention of taking part in the parliament if elected which would have the effect of publicly splitting the No2EU and throwing it into a crisis, at least in Scotland.

Some comrades are clearly unhappy about No2EU because they have political disagreements with No2EU in the first place – which of course is their right. Others are understandably angry about the way Tommy and Solidarity is being treated by one part of the coalition namely the CPB – who were defeated in their attempts to keep Tommy off the list. The comrades who fall into the first category are not bringing out their primary political objections and are instead concentrating on important but secondary issues mainly around the tactics over taking seats and the methods of the CPB in general.

It is important that in taking part in these debates we emphasise first and foremost the historic step taken by the RMT in fronting a left list that is essentially a pro worker, pro trade union bloc that represents an important potential step forward in the struggle to build working class representation, albeit with limitations on its name, structures and programme. The fact that those standing for No2EU across Britain includes Visteon workers, leaders of the Lindsay Oil struggle, leading Unison members, NUT members and CWU members as well as Bob Crow and four other RMT EC members means that it has the potential to be a pole of attraction for workers facing cuts and job losses and those looking for an anti-capitalist alternative. There is no other electoral alternative for the Euro elections that comes anywhere close to this type of broad working class representation. Particularly as it involves workers who have taken part in real life struggles including those in Visteon and Lindsey Oil.

We have never hidden our opposition to the boycott tactic being proposed by the RMT leaders which Solidarity correctly believes will weaken the appeal of No2EU. The current position is for a convention of No2EU to discuss what happens after the elections in the event of anyone being elected which would give Solidarity and the Socialist Party, among others, the opportunity to argue for limited participation in the European parliament and for MEP’s to live on workers wage as the best answer to the EU gravy train. We will oppose any attempts to water down the commitment to a convention. However, even if a refusal to attend the parliament continued to be the position of No2EU it would be wrong to turn our back on No2EU, because it wants to boycott the EU parliament. This would leave Solidarity with a policy of effective abstentionism for the June elections. This is doubly the case as it would leave the field open to parties like the BNP to go unchallenged by a genuine left alternative.

What overrides the disagreements over the proposal to boycott the parliament is the urgent need for a pro working class anti neo liberal alternative in these elections. Moreover, the political importance of a national left union launching an electoral challenge to the left of Labour for the first time in 100 years, given the crisis of political representation, can have huge repercussions for the next period which will see an acceleration in moves towards new workers organisations and parties. For any socialist organisation to turn its back on such an important development, warts and all, under these circumstances would leave us open to the criticisms of being incapable of facing up to the political challenges of this period and showing itself to be irrelevant to the needs of the working class. Our attitude to this development has certain analogies with the Lindsay Oil strike. Lindsay was not a chemically pure struggle. There were even reactionary and backward ideas present, especially at the start of the strike.

The use of “British Jobs for British Workers” posters by a minority was enough for some sections of the left to attack this movement as reactionary. However the Socialist Party (CWI) did participate putting forward a fighting programme which, because SP members were propelled into the leadership, helped cut across the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia. It also led to an important victory for workers rights and against the race to the bottom by the European bosses.

Now clearly No2EU is a left initiative from the start and does not, even in its limited programme, make concessions to xenophobic ideas. It is anti privatisation, pro workers rights and calls for international solidarity of the European working class. There are weaknesses and problems which we all recognise. However to stand aside and condemn this initiative not for its strengths and potential but only for its problems and limitations would be a major error. An error that would damage Solidarity’s reputation particularly among those workers who are looking for a left alternative against the impact of the capitalist crisis. This is especially the case if we turned our back on this on the basis of the secondary issue of whether any possible elected No2EU MEP would sit in the Brussels or Strasbourg parliament.

They would still be MEP’s and would still fight to defend working class communities in whatever region or country they were elected from. Perhaps it is the case that some members of Solidarity oppose No2EU because frankly they believe that the EU plays a certain progressive role and do not fully accept the vicious pro capitalist and anti working class character of the bosses European project. If so that should be discussed openly in a comradely way. But to call for Solidarity to turn its back because we oppose the tactic of not attending the parliament or because of the actions of the CPB is wrong headed in the extreme. It is a case of cutting of our nose to spite our face and ironically would leave the CPB laughing up their sleeves while representing a kick in the teeth to those comrades like Bob Crow, the Socialist Party and others who fought to ensure that Tommy and Solidarity were fully included in the No2EU Scottish list.

Solidarity can gain significantly through its participation in this platform and strengthen its position as the main left party in Scotland in the process. Despite the fact the Tommy is at number 2 on the list it is already clear that the press and media will be more inclined to go to him for quotes and copy during the campaign. He can very quickly become the main point of reference for the No2EU campaign in Scotland - if we approach it in a determined and energetic way. Even if there are problems with the CPB in Scotland in attempting to cut Solidarity out from the campaign, which some comrades may fear, we can and should ensure that Solidarity press statements and material focuses on calling for support for No2EU and the main issues of the economic crisis, the jobs slaughter, workers rights etc. We can run a campaign around Tommy to build support for No2EU and ensure he is seen as a key figurehead for the campaign. At the same time we will participate fully in the No2EU steering committee and aim to get agreement on the best and most effective way of running the campaign in Scotland.

The fact that Tommy and Leah are 2nd and 3rd on the list will make it very difficult for anyone who is politically hostile to exclude them from the No2EU rallies, meetings and press events during the campaign. And while building support for this temporary platform we can also help to strengthen the profile of Solidarity as well. No2EU despite all of its weaknesses is a living embodiment of the process of “left unity” in action. It is of course a process but it can potentially represent the breaking of the logjam that has existed in the urgent task of building real political representation for the working class in Scotland and across Britain. Solidarity should participate fully in the forthcoming No2EU election campaign while continuing to argue our opposition to the boycott of the Euro parliament. You only have to pose the question does the No2EU coalition represent a step forward from what we have at present to find the answer. And that answer is yes, despite its limitations. Solidarity should grasp this opportunity with both hands."


Guest post : Hands Off Lewisham Bridge Primary School

Cross posted from Infantile and Disorderly , by Vicky:

Early this morning, parents of children who attend Lewisham Bridge Primary School bravely occupied the roof of the school in protest at Lewisham Council's reprehensible decision to bus all the pupils and teachers 3 miles each day to another site. For decades, Lewisham Bridge Primary School (a grade II listed building) has been at the heart of the community... There is a facebook group called Hands off Lewisham Bridge Primary School (you will need to be logged into facebook to see this). Join the group, or check back here, for pictures and updates. If you're one of the strange people who prefer twitter, you can keep up to date with events here.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iraq: Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of LGBT People

Hat tip: Faz / Iraqi LGBT

The following is a translation of a story from Alarabiya, a UAE-based media network, which was published on its Arabic website a few hours ago. While IGLHRC has not verified all of the allegations, many are consistent with patterns of human rights violations being reported from within the country. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life (Article 6) and the right of all its citizens “to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Article 7).

On Friday April 17, IGLHRC sent a letter to the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights, asking her to take specific measures to protect LGBT Iraqis. On April 8, IGLHRC and Human Rights Watch submitted an urgent appeal to the Special Procedures of the United Nations to ask for an investigation. In 2006, after a wave of violence targeted LGBT Iraqis, IGLHRC sent a letter to then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, requesting that the U.S. government conduct a thorough investigation of the violations.

IGLHRC will continue to monitor the situation and gather more evidence about the recent wave of violence against Iraqi LGBT people. You can follow and discuss this story on IGLHRC's blog.


Bodies of 7 Gays in Baghdad Morgue

By Hayyan Neyuf - Dubai / Ali Al-Iraqi - Baghdad

A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using "Iranian gum.” ... Yina Mohammad told that, "Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using very strong glue that will close their anus."

According to her, the new substance "is known as the American hum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cell phones in Iraq ."

According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels."

63 People Tortured

According to Hassan from the Iraqi LGBT group in London, attacks against homosexuals have been abundant in Shiite neighborhoods, especially poor regions and remote areas such as the southern provinces and the Hurriya, Sho'la and Sadr neighborhoods in Baghdad. So far, 63 members of the group have been tortured.

Hassan also confirmed the use of "Iranian Gum" in the torture process, adding that, "I talked to many young men who have been tortured by this method. They went to the hospital for treatment and in some cases they were refused treatment." According to Hassan, "all religious leaders, whether Sunni or Shiite, call for the eradication of homosexuals, but the Shiites are the ones who are most involved in these attacks."

Vigilante Groups

According to newspaper reports from local news sources in Sadr City in East Baghdad, a previously unknown group "Ahl al-Haq (the followers of Truth) have stepped up the persecution of Iraqi homosexuals after the murder of a number of them in the past few days. The news sources say that, "3 lists, each with the name of 10 gay men were circulated in Sadr City for a few hours." The lists included a quote saying, "You, prostitutes, we will punish you!"

7 Bodies in Bagdad's Morgue

The Alarabiya reporter visited the Baghdad Morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where the Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed that they have the bodies of 7 homosexuals in the morgue. He said, "We were not able to identify the culprits who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled, without being seen."

He explained, "There were bodies with gunshots in the head and chest and the rest of the body without any obvious causes of death."

Khalaf Abdul Hussein, from the Legal Affairs Office at the Police Station in Sadr City, told Alarabiya: "the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state."

He said: "We, like everyone else, have heard rumours about these cases, but we can't comment on something that is not evidence, and there is no evidence for these crimes either in terms of motivation or in terms of the nature of the criminal acts. We do not know the motives of the killers and we do not know the intentions of those killed."

“Son of a Bitch”

Officials and tribal leaders in Sadr City are reluctant to provide details about the murder of homosexuals. However, Sheikh Hashem Mokhani, one of the tribal elders in the city, said: "The people refer to these sexual perverts as ‘son of a bitch', but most of the victims were not residents of Sadr City. They used to hang out in a [gay] cafe, on Palestine Street in Baghdad."

Sheik Salal Al-kaabi, one of the elders of Sadr City says: "we have heard that the tribes, to whom these perverts belonged, declared their lives worthless and allowed their death, but we have also heard that an organization calling itself the followers of Truth (ahl-al Haq) are responsible for the murders and have written on the chest of victim a sentence that reads: This is the fate of a son of a bitch."

Website :

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Campaigns In Support of Palestinian Workers

From Labour Start ...

East Jerusalem workers appeal for support

Twenty one Palestinian workers from East Jerusalem who have been employed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority have lost their jobs in a bid by the employer to get around the law. They are victims of the kind of outsourcing many of you will be familiar with in your own countries. They've launched an international appeal for support and it's important that we flood their employer with messages of protest from around the world.

Please click here to send off your message today -- and spread the word!

Arab railway workers in Israel face discrimination, job loss

We've received an appeal from Sawt el-Amel, an NGO based in Nazareth, protesting the decision by Israel Railways to deny employment to railroad crossing guards who lack a permit to carry weapons. As such permits are usually only issued to army veterans, 150 Arab employees now face the sack. To learn more and to send off your message of protest, please visit the Sawt el-Amel website.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Alice Mahon leaves the Labour Party

In her resignation letter she states :

"It is not a party I recognise - I have lost faith with it," she told the BBC. "I am very very sad, the Labour party has been my life."

Mrs Mahon said it had taken "months of agonising to reach my decision."

She said the final push came after the recent scandal surrounding emails sent by Mr Brown's special adviser, Damian McBride, who sent emails proposing unfounded slurs about senior Tories.

Mrs Mahon is also angry at the government's Welfare Reform Bill saying it was "an assault on people with disabilities and the poor" and that it was remarkable it was being inflicted "in the middle of a recession".


"There is bewilderment… that as a government we have not taken on the bankers, who are still doing as they please and taking large bonuses," she said.

"I have reached the conclusion that there is not any avenue left in the structure of the Labour party for people like me.

"Any threat from anybody marginally from the left and… the party machine comes down on them like a ton of bricks."

Can't argue with that, but can the left outside the LP and those who leave find a way to build a new Party that won't just descend into sectarian fights . The Labour Party is a lost cause , but recent history does not bode well for the left to work together and build a mass party .

Susan has posted on this with more background.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shame It's Not Friday - The Tuesday Tosser?

I feel under a strange kind of obligation to blog about Derek Draper, seeing as he is back in the news, and he and I were at University together. There, and in the student movement at large, Draper and I did battle, he for the right, I for the left.

I find it a little hard to understand why Gordon Brown has not twigged that for as long as Derek Draper has any association with his party, stuff like the e-mail scandal will happen. There may be weeks, months or years between such scandals, but happen they will.

You see, Mr Draper can not help himself. Sure, he is political, clever, and one of the few actual ideological adherents of the Labour right's project - as distinct from those along for the ride. But essentially, he enjoys manipulation, intrigue and stitching up much more than he would ever enjoy political battle. He also shares a particuarly unpleasant trait with a historical succession of Labour figures running from Ramsay MacDonald and Aneurin Bevan through to Draper's hero Peter Mandelson: he adores the company and attention of the rich and important.

The real political point at the heart of this small scandal is that it is only when practically nothing distinguishes political parties politically that they seek to distinguish themselves personally. If they were supporters of an even halfway-decent Labour government, Draper and Damian McBride would be exchanging emails about how to bring out the political differences, how to expose the Tories as the vile, pro-capitalist, anti-working-class scum that they are. But when they are supporters of a Labour government which is also vile, pro-capitalist, anti-working-class scum, then there is not much purchase in that particular strategy - so hey, diss their personal traits instead.

So I think maybe I have worked out why Brown has not twigged ... Because he has left Labour with no other way to distinguish themselves from the Tories than smear campaigns, and Draper is a natural at those.

How repulsive.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another (late) Friday Fuckwit - "Someone's Gotta Go" reality show

Even by reality TV standard,  this show hits a new low:

The Fox network is letting employees of some troubled small businesses decide which one of their colleagues will be laid off and turning the results into a reality show.

The series, "Someone's Gotta Go," is in production, but Fox wouldn't say on Wednesday when it would go on the air.

Each episode will feature a company with about 15 or 20 employees that needs to cut costs because of the economy. Instead of the boss deciding who is fired, the company will open its books to show everyone's salaries and let the employees make the call.

In an inverse to "The Apprentice," the chosen one loses, instead of gets, a job.

Fox says the laid-off worker will get a small severance, but isn't saying whether the network or producers are paying the participants in anything beyond the chance for prime-time fame. Fox is developing the show with Endemol USA, the company behind "Big Brother," "Deal or No Deal" and "Fear Factor."
...Mike Darnell, chief of alternative programming at Fox, said everyone who participates in the show knows fully what they are doing.

"I feel that it's part of the times that we are living in," Darnell said. "It's certainly no worse than watching the news every night and hearing all the statistics and watching what is happening. To be frank, like all these shows, if you don't want to watch, don't watch it."

He envisions it as a story about employee empowerment. Many people in the workplace can relate to seeing a colleague laid off and wondered why someone else they perceived as less valuable kept their job, he said.

Darnell said he wasn't concerned about the emotional fallout in a workplace after "Someone's Gotta Go," where an employee might be left to work with a colleague they'd just said on national television should be fired.

"Sounds like good reality television," he said. "You just described a good concept for a reality TV show."

Not quite how I understand 'employee empowerment,' what about them working together to support each other, run their own companies, fight to keep jobs for all of them? Says it all that Darnell isn't concerning about people's emotions or welfare or how they will continue working together afterwards. And what of the person chosen to be fired, yeah that's going to feel great , no job and also feeling unwanted and unpopular by your workmates. Dog eat dog indeed. 

Still it suits the companies, a divided workforce is a lot weaker, at each others throats rather than the bosses, plus making money for the TV company.

Workers of the world unite !


Friday Fuckwit: A Spokesman With No Name

Again, the 'Friday Fuckwit' award comes a day late.

This week, it goes to the unnamed spokesman for the Department for Children Schools and Families who reckons that teachers boycotting SATS would be "unlawful".

So - Don't bother considering the legitimate concerns of teachers about how these ridiculous tests get in the way of them doing their jobs (ie. teaching kids, rather than generating test scroes). Ignore the fact that most parents deplore SATS too and that kids are developing stress-related illneses because of them.

No, why bother even thinking about such serious issues when you can just wave your hand dismissively and write off any action against them as "unlawful"?! I guess that's easily done in a country whose anti-union laws are, as Tony Blair used to boast, the strictest in western Europe.

But in this case, the government may be arrogantly exaggerating the extent of these oppressive laws. Even the NUT's senior lawyer - renowned as a man who will defer to the law whenever possible - reckons that the boycott would not fall foul of the law. He states that, "If there was any serious question about the lawfulness we wouldn't be doing it."

Which may be reassuring in this particular case, but in general is not very reassuring at all.

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Visteon Occupation Ends, But Fight Goes On


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Support the Schools Occupations in Glasgow

People Power in Glasgow has broken out when some parents occupied their children's schools, St Gregory's Primary and Wynford Primary Schools are under occupation just now.

Check out a video with interviews with some of the mothers here 

Find out more about the Save Our Schools campaign by reading the Scottish Socialist website here

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Stand Up Now For Social Work?

Community Care magazine has launched a campaign called 'Stand Up Now For Social Work', to demand better PR for social work.

There is a clear case for this given the media witch-hunting over the Baby P case, but it seems to me that it falls woefully short and only addresses quite superficial issues.

According to the campaign's organiser, 'Stand Up Now For Social Work' has three central aims:
1. Better media coverage of social work (to achieve better public perceptions of the profession)
2. More government support (the government has supported the police and teaching, with the ‘Those who can, teach’ campaign – social work deserves something similar)
3. Better support from employers (lots of local authorities refuse to allow social workers to tell their positive stories to the press. The result is that the only coverage the profession gets is when there is a child death. LAs need better, more proactive PR to tell the good news)

But what about better funding? More social workers? Reduced workload? Reversal of some of the restructuring measures that have made both the service and workers' conditions worse? I'm no expert on how social work is organised, and I'm sure that there are issues other than this (I think better IT might be one), but you get my drift ...

Some media coverage of London Underground annoys me, although it is rarely as nasty as the commentary on social work by the likes of the Sun (except when we go on strike, of course). But rather than demand better media coverage of the Tube, I'd sooner demand better funding, cheaper fares, more accessible stations, more reliable train services, and more staff with better pay and conditions. Yes, you have to tackle negative media coverage - particularly from the right-wing, reactionary, keep-the-nanny-state-out-of-the-private-family-sphere stuff of the tabloids - but a signficantly better service would be much harder for the press to attack.

The second demand mentions the government's 'those who can, teach' campaign. I suspect that if I were a teacher, my reaction to that campaign would be to resent the government running a PR campaign whilst doing nothing about low pay, massive class sizes, workload, testing, privatisation, etc.

Perhaps these problems arise from this initiative coming from a magazine rather than from workers or socialists?


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Im off...

Well just till friday.

Play nicely ;-)


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Friday Fuckwit a day late- Peter Hitchens, sex and condoms

I was sent a link to this article by a reader, there isn't a blog link so I won't hat tip as I don't know if they want their name on here. Its about the debate over condoms:

And so it is with our country’s policy on contraception. It devalues the sex act. This ought to be an immensely private and intimate thing. It should be reserved for people wholly committed to each other and prepared to become parents.

Separated by ‘safety’ devices from its true purpose, it turns into a casual, often impersonal recreation, rather less serious than tennis – which is at least played according to fairly strict rules.

The article goes on to talk of "sex education that licenses teachers to groom children for under-age sex" and "here’s another pill, originally developed to protect pedigree bitches from becoming pregnant by mongrels."

Yep its the other Hitchens frothing about the fact that some people are not 'restrained' into having sex purely to breed. I really cannot get my head around why others have such an issue about what others do sexually and that they may be doing it purely for fun. I have never ever wanted children, so should I never ever have sex ?

Actually I can get my head round this, its all about women being kept firmly in their place, having no control over their own bodies, baby making machines . Yep, back in the kitchen and nursery with you ! The norm of marriage, babies, respectability good, floozies bad . Just in case women do question that, papers like The Mail will regale them of how it all goes wrong, whether that's a woman leaving a marriage she wasn't happy in, wanting a career, being independent or having sex with lots of people. Don't do it, you're regret it love.And what of sex between men or women in Hitchens world? Well that is obviously a no no isn't it, no risk of the patter of little feet there.

Well I think sex is as valid as any other form of recreation . Its certainly more fun than traditional womanly chores such as cooking , cleaning and looking after a husband .


Friday, April 03, 2009

Defend Freedom to Protest: Saturday 12pm, Bank for England

Got this in the e-mail inbox ...

Getting to the truth: March to call for public inquiry into death at G20 demo and to defend out freedom to protest!

Assemble 12pm Bank of England

Over the last week across London there has been a series of demonstrations and protests against the policies and programs implemented by the G20 leaders.

We are taking to the streets to express our compassion with the family of Ian Tomlinson who tragically died during the 1 April protests at the Bank of England. We are calling for an independent public inquiry into the instances of police violence that occurred though out the week and to establish to true circumstances of his death.

We wish to communicate our disgust and anger at the violent and brutal policing of the G20 demonstrations.

The press once again created an atmosphere of fear and violence in the lead up to the protests, preemptively justifying the police violence that occurred. They also misreported and lied about the circumstances of the tragedy. We recognise that for many communities the reality of police violence is a daily occurrence. The demonisation of communities, like the demonisation of protesters makes police violence seem normal.

As the crisis deepens and continues there will be increased resistance - from factory occupations to demonstrations, strikes and people coming together on the streets. We need to speak out now the right to defend our freedom to protest, our communities and our dignity.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Armoured car , is it Punchie in the city ??

Ok, another quickie.

There is some footage of the police stopping an armoured car on the demos today (can't work out how to embed ).

I want one of those !!

thinks the guy with the Che beret, hair and flak jacket looks like 'Wolfie' Smith, I say its Punchie !!

Oh and apparently :

City workers have been leaning out of windows to wave £10 notes at G20 protesters on the streets below, the Press Association reports. Demonstrators responded with jeers and shouts, their reporter says.

Hm, isn't tenners a bit credit crunch ? Not exactly 80s style with wads of cash and Bollie is it.


"If atheists ruled the world"

Busy today so here is a quick You Tube that I nicked from New Humanist.

Its some actors in the US who got together and produced this talking heads clip, with the words lifted wholesale from online Christian fundamentalist forums.

btw good luck to those on demos in the city today and I'm there in spirit.