Monday, May 31, 2010

Israeli attack on aid flotilla

Feel shock, anger, outrage and sadness at the news of the attack that appears to have left at least 10 civilians dead.
Civilians , trying to deliver aid, facing the might of armed professional Israeli commandos.

For fuck sake, this was an aid ship. It was a humanitarian mission, helping bring much needed food to Gaza.

Key words; unarmed, civilians, aid ship, humanitarian .

No justification at all . This was not defence by Israel.

Lots being written across the blogosphere, check out Dave , Jim , Phil , Anna and Charlie for starters .


Sunday, May 30, 2010

We've Been Here Before ...

There is an economic crisis. There is a Tory-Liberal coalition government. Big spending cuts are coming, and local government is going to feel the squeeze. Labour councils will have to choose between resisting the cuts and passing them on to local people. In one working-class area at least, the labour movement and the community are ready to fight back - and win.

It's a true story from 1921, which needs re-telling in the similar times of 2010.
And the spooky similarities mean that it is high time to plug my book again, and to remind you that I am available to give talks on this subject, together with a slide slow featuring contemporary photographs....

By Janine Booth
With foreword by John McDonnell MP

"The book is especially good at bringing to light many of the lesser known characters in the struggle. It also reflects critically on the lessons of Poplar, which still resonate today." Labour Research

"This book is not only an incisive study of past events, it is a handbook for present struggles." John McDonnell MP

Buy the book here.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Murders of Sex Workers in Bradford

From the English Collective of Prostitutes ...

A man has been charged with the murder of three women in Bradford.

When will sex workers’ safety be prioritised?

The discovery of a woman’s body, now confirmed to be that of Suzanne Blamires, has focussed press attention on the disappearances of three women in Bradford. Stephen Griffiths has been charged with their murder. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of Susan Rushworth, Shelly Armitage and Suzanne Blamires.

The public outrage over the murder of five young women in Ipswich – where the police were slow to connect the deaths and act effectively – seems to have spurred the police into adequate action this time.

Yet Susan Rushworth disappeared a year ago, and we don’t why it has taken so long to find her murderer. And the scandalously prejudiced and incompetent investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, who murdered 13 women, some of them in Bradford, and attacked many more, has not left our minds – leads were not pursued because the police considered sex workers’ lives to have no value. Many more women died as a result.

Although Griffiths has been charged, the police should declare an amnesty from arrest for prostitution offences so that anyone with information can come forward without fear of arrest. If Griffiths is guilty, he is a serial attacker who has been operating for some time and it is likely that other women have suffered at his hands – they may have valuable information to the extent of his crimes, as may clients and others. If he is not guilty, the information other women may have is urgently needed.

Despite the announcement of Griffiths’s prosecution, we must ask: how many more times do families and communities have to go through this agony? Sex workers continue to pay the price for decades of criminalisation and, more recently, for a government-led moral crusade against prostitution. Safety has been discarded and must now be prioritised.

Serial murderers tend to have a history of rape and other violence, including domestic violence. Women Against Rape reports that the conviction rate for reported rape in West Yorkshire is 8%, slightly higher than the national average but still shamefully low. If women were able to come forward to report attacks and these were vigorously investigated, violent men could be stopped, maybe even before they kill. Sex workers face particular obstacles in getting justice. One woman from Bradford who was assaulted four times commented: “I didn’t bother to report because I knew that nothing would be done.”

Women in our network in Bradford complain about increased arrests, raids and prosecutions, especially since the Policing and Crime Act. One woman working from premises reported a campaign of racist attacks, including faeces being smeared on her windows – the police did nothing. But a few days later she was arrested and charged with “running a disorderly house” – an ancient offence which is no longer on the statute books. Proceeds of Crime legislation is fuelling prosecutions as the police get a cut of any money or assets seized. In Scotland, when kerb-crawling offences were introduced attacks on sex workers doubled.

The economic crisis and now proposals to slash welfare benefits and other community resources, to pay for a debt run up by voracious bankers, are forcing more women, particularly mothers, into prostitution to support themselves and their families. Police raids are driving them underground and into more danger.

Seven years ago New Zealand successfully decriminalised prostitution. While there has been no increase in prostitution, sex workers are now more able to come forward and report violence.

The feminist ministers who championed the Policing and Crime Act and other laws that increased the criminalisation of sex workers and clients, refused to pay attention to what New Zealand had achieved. Decriminalisation is Liberal Democrats party policy. Will they implement it before more women lose their precious lives?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't get caught in a bad hotel

Palace Hotel workers hold signs as they walk a picket line during a three day work strike amidst stalled contract negotiations November 11, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Nearly 350 workers from the luxurious Palace Hotel are staging a three day work strike as contract negotiations with hotel management have stalled leaving many without a contract since mid-August. The temporary work strike follows a similar strike over one week ago when workers at the Hyatt Hotel also went on strike in an attempt to pressure management to continue negotiations and offer a fair contract with retirement and health benefits.

If you really must storm a meeting you can do it with finesse - does this not look like the protest you always wanted to go to?

The hotels in San Francisco are basically poor employers and workers are calling fora boycott of the hotels that do not provide health care and have poor working conditions. This is part of the Sleep with the Right People campaign - hotel workers campaign.

Check it out

You can read more about the campaign here


Scotland hates the Tories!!!!!

A wee video made up by the Scottish Socialist Youth - I know the the SSY and Scotland are not the only people who hate the Tories!!

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They Are Not Perks, They Are Rights

Having heard the BBC News refer to BA cabin crew's "travel perks" once too often, I have submitted the following complaint to the BBC ...

I object to the repeated use by BBC News of the term "perks" to describe British Airways cabin crew's travel concessions. The term "perks" is highly subjective - it suggests something unearned, undeserved and which a person could easily do without.

In fact, the travel concessions are essential for many staff to remain in work, and are a well-earned part of their wages and rights.

As this issue is now the main sticking point of a very high-profile, highly-charged industrial dispute, the BBC should take more care and use a less loaded, more objective term, such as "travel concessions".

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Cross post - ACAS sit-in: the future of the Socialist Workers’ Party

Right, still away and trying to avoid the real world and the Internet . Have succumbed though to a little potter on the blogs and notice the kerfuffle about the ACAS sit in. As no one else here has written about it, I'm pinching Dave's post on the subject :

THERE might be times and places in which it would be warranted for the far left unilaterally to disrupt talks aimed at settling an industrial dispute; it’s just that yesterday was clearly not among them.

Whatever justifications the Socialist Workers’ Party advances for invading the headquarters of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and staging a sit-in, one claim it cannot make in truth is that they did so because those involved in the British Airways strike wanted it to do so.

The irony is that several generations of socialists schooled in the IS tradition will be well aware of the dangers of what SWP founder Tony Cliff used to call ‘substitutionism’; the tendency of the revolutionary party to substitute itself for the working class. What we saw at ACAS last night was absolutely a (small-scale) case in point.

It’s not that anybody on the hard left has got a problem with direct action. If we were in a situation in which easy-lifer trade union bureaucrats on six-figure salaries were about to sign a shockingly unfavourable deal, despite the express desire of the low-paid rank-and-file to keeping on fighting, then such tactics might rightly be contemplated.

This time round, nobody in their right minds could accuse Unite leader Tony Woodley of behaving in this fashion. Sure, he is looking for a compromise; but then he’s a general secretary. General secretaries look for compromises. Let’s assume – for the sake of argument – that he was about to sell out the cabin crew. Even then, the initiative would properly rest with the strikers themselves, not the paper-sellers.

Sure, the press reports will inevitably be exaggerated. There are discrepancies between the various versions available online, but as far as I can make out, only around a dozen Trots got onto the floor where the talks were taking place.

They chanted for a bit and then – much like Elvis, I suppose – left the building. It will have been a minor league pain in the arse for all concerned, but no biggie in the wider scheme of things.

But what has rendered me bewildered is the sheer bloody pointlessness of it all. There seems to be no obvious rationale, far less any intelligent assessment of how such a move fits in with wider efforts to win the BA dispute. Unless I am missing something, the reasoning more or less comes down to ‘we are SWPers, this is what we do, innit’.

Perhaps the perpetrators are congratulating themselves on the publicity they have secured, in the hope that it will make them attractive to some layers of youth. Perhaps. But to most of the population they will come across as a bunch of berks determined to undertake occupations just for the sake of it. In the eyes of many ordinary union reps, the SWP’s standing will be even more tarnished than it is already.

As the terms ‘Socialist Workers’ Party’ and ‘revolutionary left’ are synonymous in many people’s minds, the rest of us can expect to get flak for this when we get back into our workplaces tomorrow.

In truth, I’ve still got a soft spot for the SWP. I have in the past been a member, and I think that the left as a whole would benefit from having a sizeable Marxist formation outside of Labour, with a base among the most combative sections within the working class.

But it is increasingly apparent that the SWP is not that kind of a party, and there is nothing in its current practice that so much as hints that it has the potential to become that kind of party. That ‘workers in struggle’ – to use the almost anachronistic jargon – are not attracted to the SWP in the way that they once were to the Communist Party of Great Britain tells you everything you need to know on this point. What is more, even at the level of theory, signs of disorientation are increasingly apparent.

During the era when post-war consensus social democracy dominated politics, strikes were an everyday feature of labour movement life, and international relations was characterised by the Cold War, the far left had answers on a postcard courtesy of the classic Marxist texts. Yes, the SWP tweaked those texts, but still operated within a recognisably Marxist framework.

We now live in a very different world, and the SWP has patently lost the plot. Since the death of Cliff, it has increasingly oriented away from the working class and towards both ‘the movements’ on the one hand and openly rightwing and bourgeois Islamist forces on the other.

Mutatis mutandis, this is the precisely the same sort of mistake that the Fourth International made in adapting to student vanguards and radical third-worldism in the 1960s and 1970s. The IS was among the FI’s sternest critics, and understandably so. But look, it’s way beyond my pay grade to act as keeper of the Cliffite flame.

Just as many Trotskyists who entered the Labour Party in the early 1980s ended up going native, so the SWP is increasingly infected by the quasi-situationist bad habits it has picked up from its latest turn. And to this day, the organisation remains in denial over just how much of a fiasco the Respect debacle truly represented.

International Socialism Journalism still sometimes carries impressive articles. But more and more it instantiates an internalised system of thought, in which positions are justified by reference to the writings of Cliff, Kidron, Harman and Callinicos rather than engaging with any ideas from outside this constellation.

It is difficult to engage the average SWPer in friendly informal Marxist-to-Marxist political discussion, as once might have occurred over a pint after a union meeting, for instance. Even those who would once have relished arguing for their politics against other leftist viewpoints now simply shy away.

There has been a lot of gloating on other blogs about the ACAS occupation. Socialist Unity speculates that the SWP is finished, which it very obviously is not. Harry’s Place is predictably jubilant at having its prejudices confirmed. I am not inclined to join in.

But can I just say – more in sorrow than in anger – that the comrades badly need to get their act together. There are many warning signs that the SWP is rapidly degenerating politically, and some of the obvious historical parallels leave me feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stropps goes wild in the country ...

Won't be posting much, if at all, this week.

On a sort Famous Five go wild in Wales with lashings of pop . Except its more a queer version and there is nine of us.

Basically chilling and doing my best to steer clear of the Internet.

Am posting this in glorious sunshine , next to a stream , eating yummy Biscuits homemade by our Southern Belle Gregg,and fresh coffee.

We even have a sauna and Gerard has brought his 'pouf box' full of lotions and potions .

But standards are maintained , red lippy and a big seventies sunhat and shades at all times :-)

Yep, a little bit of Camptown in the middle of Wales, only queers for miles :-)

Will read a book, have a walk, glass of wine and ignore the bickering's of the left for a week . Unlike the boys though, will keep my clothes on ! I think sunburn on certain sensitive parts of the body would not be good!

Hopefully fellow bloggers will post, if not chat amongst yourselves ...

Pic , Famous Five as pics of naked gay men on river banks bit much even for this blog !


Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Meg, Please Nominate John

John and I have just sent this missive to our local MP, Meg Hillier ...

Dear Meg

We are writing to you to urge you to nominate John McDonnell for Labour Party leader.

As we are sure you know, John has a long record of service to the Labour movement and the Labour party.

Where John has found himself at odds with Labour's leadership, it is usually on issues where the public support the stance taken by John rather than by the party leadership eg. opposing privatisation of public services, the Iraq war, or the third runway at Heathrow airport. We feel strongly that Labour can regain its lost support by reversing unpopular policies such as these, and could best do so under John's leadership.

We both work on London Underground, and have seen many of our workmates, often lifelong Labour voters, stop voting Labour because of issues like these and because of the disastrous Public-Private Partnership on London Underground.

Even if you do not intend to vote for John, we still urge you to nominate him, in order to ensure that he gets onto the ballot paper. If Labour is to win back its lost support, it is essential that the leadership election is a genuine debate about policies, not a contest between personalities. Many people perceive Labour to have moved away from its working-class roots and to be out-of-touch with ordinary people. Going by the candidates declared so far, if John is not on the ballot paper, then every candidate will be an Oxbridge graduate, and most will have a background as a special adviser!

Thank you.

Janine Booth & John Leach


Thursday, May 20, 2010

LRC Press release-McDonnell welcomes Diane Abbott to Leadership race

Via the LRC website :

John McDonnell MP, already backed by the LRC and Unison United Left, said:

“I welcome Diane’s candidacy and urge other women and ethnic candidates to come forward from all wings of the party. We need a full and wide ranging debate about our future direction.
“I am writing today to all the so far declared candidates to ask their support for a review of the current process and timetable for nominations which has been mismanaged from the start and is now in total disarray.
“I am calling for an extension of the timetable for nominations and a reduction of the threshold so that everyone can get on the ballot paper and our members can have a full range of candidates from all wings of the party from which to choose.”

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Reprieve for Gary McKinnon

Good to see a repreive for Gary McKinnon, the man with Asperger syndrome under threat of extradition to the USA for computer hacking.

It's just a temporary reprieve though, and rather than reflecting credit on the new Home Secretary, it reflects a great deal of discredit on the old one.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

John McDonnell on the timescale for leader nominations

Its on the BBC and don't think I can embed it here, so click the link .

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LRC National Committee Backs John McDonnell for leader

Via the LRC website

On Saturday, following the After the Election ... Join the Resistance!meeting, the LRC National Committee voted to back John McDonnell MP for Labour leader. Although John McDonnell has not declared his candidacy, the LRC urges him to stand as the best representative of socialist values within the Party.

The motion passed 22-0 by the National Committee read:

“The LRC endorses John McDonnell as the best candidate in the forthcoming Leadership election”.

We call on MPs to nominate John McDonnell to ensure that this time members and affiliated trade unionists get a proper choice for the next Labour Party leader. We urge LRC members and others to start lobbying Labour MPs to nominate and to pass motions in their CLPs and trade union branches to nominate John McDonnell for Labour leader.

We urge people who have left the Party to rejoin in order to vote for John. It has been confirmed that new members will be eligible to vote in the Labour leadership election.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

What the Osler decision means

Very interesting analysis of the verdict in Dave's libel case, including implications for bloggers, over at Jack of Kent.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Abstractions of Democatic Reform - part 1: Fixed-term Parliaments

A lot has been spoken about electoral and political reform since the general election, following a fair bit of talk during it. Sadly, a lot of that talk has been disingenuous.

Is the introduction of fixed-term Parliaments a democratic reform? Yes it is. It was one of the demands of the Chartists. It is undemocratic, indeed absurd, that when a General Election is our only chance to replace the government, the government that does not want to be replaced chooses when it takes place, self-evidently picking the date on which it reckons we are least likely to vote to replace it!

However, setting that fixed term at the current maxiumum term of a Parliament minimises the democratic improvement it offers. Genuine democratic reform would mean setting the fixed term at, say, four years, three, or better still, adopting the Chartists' proposal of annual Parliaments.

Unpopular governments do not tend to call elections short of the five-year maximum, but to do the opposite - to struggle on for the longest possible time with their fingertips clinging to power. Look at New Labour in power, first elected in 1997. In its first term, its honeymoon period, it called a General Election after four years, in 2001. Its second term, still popular, also lasted for four years, with a general election in 2005. Only when its popularity crashed in its third term did it stagger on for five years. Its Tory predecessor did similar: calling its first two General Elections after four years (in 1983 and 1987), thereafter going for the full five years, somehow managing to win the 1992 General Election and going for the five years again. Yes, such a government still gains an advantage by choosing the exact date and giving only a month's notice, so yes, a fixed-term Parliament is a democratic reform, but now only a small one.

Now we have a further twist from the ConDem coalition government. Not only is the marginal advance of a fixed term nailed at a full five years, but Parliament itself can only get rid of a government if more than a majority of MPs vote to do so! The definition of "majority" - 50% +1 - is no longer good enough for the proud democrats who now run the country; it has to be redefined at 55%.

And, entirely coincidentally, the percentage of non-Tory MPs in the current Parliament is ... 53%! Aha - that's more than 50% but less than 55%! See what's going on here - eh? eh? It's the worst bloody stitch-up since my Caesarian.

The best way to dramatically improve political democracy is for the working-class movement to mobilise and reassert itself, to push itself back into the political arena. The impact of this would be far greater than any marginal improvement to the political process. But improvements, even marginal ones, should still be welcomed rather than dismissed. The ConDems' proposals, though, gut democratic reform of any positive content, even marginal.


Friday, May 14, 2010

David Osler libel case, the impact on lives

Yesterday I posted about the victory for Dave, fingers crossed that there won't be an appeal.While still very relieved and happy, I'm increasingly pissed off by the litigant's attacks on Dave . She is basically saying it was alright for him, he has a good job and his own home, she is distressed .

Well, it wasn't a bed of roses for him !

Without going into detail , he did not have the money for legal support. He is not loaded and risked losing his home . I did not have the money to help him either . We can all get the violins out,Dave though has not played this game , even though he could have.

This has hung over us for nearly three years . Lets not forget Dave did take down the post and gave her a right of reply , as a gesture as she was upset. He did not need to do that. Oh no, that wasn't enough.

OK, lets get out the violins, or at least borrow Kaschke's very well worn one .

Before Dave got the pro bono help, he had to do all the legal work himself, building his defence and responding to her e-mails and letters . He had to go to court and represent himself .

This meant that weekends and annual leave were used up, as he was holding down a full time job. This meant that for the last two years we did not have a holiday together as he did not have the time or spare cash. It meant that he could not spend as much time with either me or his children, impacting on them and their mother with whom he shares childcare. Yes Kaschke, you aren't the only one with children who need your time and love.

Leave was taken to go to court for his own hearings, and to support Alex and John who are also being sued , as was mine when I could . Yep, fun way to spend time off in the Royal Courts of Justice. He faced the prospect of defending himself at what was likely to be a one week jury trial at the Royal Courts of Justice , pretty bloody overwhelming .

Life was , as I say on hold. The stress was at times overwhelming . What if he lost , where would he find the money. Bankruptcy and losing his home was a very real option. Luckily we have a strong relationship, but nevertheless it would strain and test the best of them.

Yes , eventually he was offered pro bono help and we are extremely grateful for that,for the first time some weight was lifted from our shoulders . Dave was offered this as Robert and David felt strongly that this case should not be going to trial and they wanted to do all they could to help. Kaschke did not get this help, though she blogged asking if anyone would come forward . Dave did not stop her getting help, in fact it would have been better for all concerned if she had. What was he to do, say no , I'll go it alone ?

No one came forward to help her case ,draw your own conclusions . That is regrettable, but not our problem.

Dave has not played the poor me card, though he could have. He has behaved in a dignified way .

I just wanted to set the record straight.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Victory for Dave Osler !!!!!!!

After nearly three years of this libel case hanging over us, today Justice Eady struck it out.

It was only in the last six months Dave got pro bono legal help, from the wonderful Robert Dougans and David Allan Green. Though from the other end of the political spectrum, we affectionately called Robert Tory Boy, they took up Dave's case and won the day . Without them who knows what would have happened .

For the judgement , see here. Check out the post by David on the judgement .

Here is a press release :


May 13, 2010

In an important judgment handed down today in the High Court, Mr. Justice Eady ruled in favour of Bryan Cave pro bono client David Osler, a well-known journalist and blogger, who was defending a libel claim brought against him by Johanna Kaschke. London associate Robert Dougans represented Mr. Osler and acted as the advocate at the hearing. Mr. Justice Eady ruled that the claim against Mr. Osler was an abuse of process and should be struck out.

This significant case clarifies the position in respect of bloggers and the online media in relation to the liability they face in respect of old postings still available in their archives. Dougans advised on the recent landmark libel case win for Dr. Simon Singh brought by the British Chiropractic Association, which has been one of the causes of a campaign to reform England's libel laws.

The Osler case arose out of a blog post written by Ms. Kaschke in which Ms. Kaschke stated that she had been wrongly arrested in Germany in the 1970s. Mr. Osler linked to, and summarised her blog post, which caused Ms. Kaschke to sue him for libel. However, Ms. Kaschke did not issue the claim form until over a year after Mr. Osler’s blog was posted on the web. Mr. Osler applied to the court to strike out the claim on two grounds, namely that the claim was an abuse of process and that there was no evidence of any publication after the expiry of the 1-year limitation period.

In the light of this decision, it is clear that real evidence of publication of such material is required, and that it will not lightly be inferred by the courts.

Dougans successfully convinced the court that the claim brought by Ms. Kaschke fell within the situation envisaged in the case of Jameel v Dow Jones [2005] QB 946, and should be struck out as an abuse of process. Mr. Justice Eady held that there was very little difference between what the claimant had put into the public domain and what Mr. Osler had published on his blog. In the circumstances, damages could only ever be very minor and a trial was simply not worth the time and expense that would be incurred. On these grounds, Ms. Kaschke’s claim was struck out as an abuse of process.

“This is a rare occasion where the Jameel argument has actually succeeded in striking out a claim. This argument is often run, but rarely succeeds” Dougans said. “Mr. Justice Eady's decision today ought to clarify exactly when it is appropriate to run this argument, and give clarity to both Claimant and Defendant lawyers as to the type of dispute, which should be allowed to proceed by the courts” Dougans added. “This is not just my victory. My thanks go to the excellent William McCormick QC, of Ely Place Chambers, and David Allen Green, Of Counsel at Preiskel & Co; both played a key role in assisting me in this case, particularly in the development and expression of the key arguments, which were successful on the day. Further thanks are also due to Tooks Chambers' Joel Bennathan QC and Martin Huseyin, who offered their time to represent Mr. Osler at trial, should it have been necessary, on a pro bono basis. It is a privilege to have been able to work with such a team.”

This has hung over us for the best part of three years. Before the excellent legal help, Dave was having to do all the work himself and I can confirm it is very very time consuming and stressful. To a certain extent our life was on hold.

Alongside his great legal team, I'd like to thank the bloggers and commentators, from across the political spectrum, for their support and good wishes .

There is a small chance there might be an appeal, fingers crossed this is all over for good!!
Top Pic of Dave with assorted supporters.
Next pic of Robert, Dave, Simon Singh and David.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Awwwww, do I really have to 'do ' a Tory Govt all over again

I have the t-shirt, the badges and the 'credits' to just give this one a miss surely ?

Done the demos under the last lot of Tories, Thatcher included: miners strike, section 28, Poll Tax etc . 18 years worth .

I have done the fighting in the Labour Party , from Benn to McDonnell .

Can't I just skip to the next election ? Better still, transport me to a time with a Socialist Government .

Damn, we don't have time machines yet . Well then I'll just have to hibernate in bed, with Dave and a bottle of JD .

Whats that? Need to organise, get out there , start the fight back.

What about after this weekend ? Nope, need to Join the Resistance !!

Oh if you insist .

One request though, if we must go back to the 80s, bring back Spitting Image !

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well done Lib Dem voters ...

Forward to cuts , cuts and more cuts from the 'progressive' LibTory tossers .

Still, Clegg has only done it in the national interest ...yeah right.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Thanks from john McDonnell

From John :

"I just want to say thank you to everyone who gave us such fantastic support in our campaign in Hayes and Harlington. People will know that I was really worried that the combination of the New Labour's commitment to a 3rd runway and a new ward coming into the constituency would enable the Tories to take the seat with a limited national swing against Labour. I have been here before in 1992 when I lost by 54 votes.

So I was amazed that we not only won but actually increased our majority. This was because of the superb support that we received from so many people for our campaign. People just turned up from all over the country to help us. It was such an incredible and moving show of solidarity.

We could not have achieved this success without you all. The sight of so many people from all different backgrounds working together with such determination was inspirational. Thank you all so much.

Thank you also to Stroppyblog, who has worked tirelessly in helping getting word out to people about the campaign and in mobilising support and to Dave Osler for his brilliant assistance and advice on our the media campaign and his canvass footsloggng.

I will alway seek to ensure that all I do will serve to live up to the expectations and hopes of all those who worked so hard to make certain that I was re-elected. "

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I'm ready for my close up ...Gorgeous George is off to Hollywood

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Farzad Kamangar Executed

From Infantile and Disorderly

"Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet?

Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death?"

- Farzad Kamangar, executed 09/05/10, aged just 32

Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher activist, was executed today alongside four other political prisoners. Kamangar was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to death by hanging in February 2008 after a trial lasting 5 minutes. He had been tortured and had attempted suicide while in prison. When his family last visited him, he was unable even to walk. Kamangar was sentenced to death for the alleged "crimes" of endangering national security and enmity against god. Once again, this brings shame on those on the left who are - or have been - apologists for the Iranian state and its barbaric catalogue of human rights abuses.

Kamangar was executed alongside Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Houli and Mehdi Eslamian. They were all members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), described by the Islamic Republic of Iran as "counter-revolutionary". It appears that the executions are intended to quell support for anti-regime protests in Iran. Nonetheless, the families and supporters of those killed will be protesting outside Tehran University tomorrow.

"Mr Judge and Interrogator: when you were interrogating me, I couldn’t speak your language and couldn’t understand you. I learned Farsi in the past two years in the women’s section of the prison from my friends. But you interrogated me, tried me and sentenced me in your own language even though I couldn’t understand it and couldn’t defend myself. The torture that you subjected me to has become my nightmare."

- Shirin Alam-Houli, executed 09/05/10, aged just 28

Letters of protest can be sent to,,, and

Further reading

To torture a prisoner is to torture humanity- letter from Farzad Kamangar 2007 here

The angels who laugh on Monday - letter from Farzad Kamangar March 2010 here

I am a hostage - letter from Shirin Alam-Houli, written one week ago here


Right to Vote?

No doubt one or other of us Stroppybloggers will offer a comprehensive analysis of the General Election results pretty soon. But in the meantime, I feel the need to comment about people being unable to vote.

Frankly, I'm astonished that this has not provoked more outrage and more media coverage than it has. To my knowledge, it is unprecedented that thousands of people have been denied the right to vote despite turning up to the polling station on time. It is an affront to democracy, and promises that it won't happen again are just not good enough.

Some councils didn't even print enough ballot papers, others obviously did not have enough polling stations or sufficient capacity within the polling stations that they did have. Queues were, in some places, several hours long, so even people who turned up with plenty of time to spare were shut out.

Some may argue that it did not affect the result. That may be true, I'm not certain. But in any case, it is irrelevant. The working-class movement did not fight for the right to vote just to see people denied the right to exercise that vote.


Friday, May 07, 2010

BNP well and truly had their arse kicked in Barking and Dagenham

Not only did Griffin come third , but they have lost All THEIR COUNCIL SEATS !!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and so did the Tories .

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It was the wagon wheels wot won it

Really pleased that John McDonnell, for all his doom and gloom, retained his seat. There was only a small swing to the Tories, 1.6%, very good considering this was in the face of the Tory Party coming out against a third runway and the addition of some extra wards with a high percentage of Conservative voters .

John showed that solid Socialist principles, combined with working hard for the local people , won the day .

And the wagon wheels ? Well once supporters fought past the wild garden and into the magical little house on Pump Lane , the "man in the red jumper" had many sugary confections to keep the comrades going, including wagon wheels and doughnuts .


John McDonnell Labour 23,377 54.8 -1.6
Scott Seaman-Digby Conservative 12,553 29.4 +1.7
Satnam Kaur Khalsa Liberal Democrat 3,726 8.7 -1.1
Chris Forster British National Party 1,520 3.6 +1.3
Andrew Cripps National Front 566 1.3 +1.3
Cliff Dixon English Democrats 464 1.1 +1.1
Jessica Lee Green 348 0.8 -0.6
Aneel Shahzad Christian Party 83 0.2 +0.2
Majority 10,824 25.4

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Election night

Pizza+Red Bull+red wine +laptop +TV coverage = election night sorted at StroppOsler towers .

Tomorrow , if the Tories win i'm staying in bed for the next five years ...


No return to the Tories

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jewish Museum Celebrates May Day

On Sunday, I spoke at a marvellous May Day celebration at the Jewish Museum in Camden, London, organised by David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group.

Click here to see some photos of the event on Facebook.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Homophobia and the Tories

Seems a rising star Tory has some homophobia in her closet :

A high-flying prospective Conservative MP, credited with shaping many of the party's social policies, founded a church that tried to "cure" homosexuals by driving out their "demons" through prayer.
Philippa Stroud, who is likely to win the Sutton and Cheam seat on Thursday and is head of the Centre for Social Justice, the thinktank set up by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, has heavily influenced David Cameron's beliefs on subjects such as the family. A popular and energetic Tory, she is seen as one of the party's rising stars.
The CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many as 70 of the party's policies. Stroud has spoken of how her Christian faith has motivated her to help the poor and of her time spent working with the destitute in Hong Kong. On her return to Britain, in 1989, she founded a church and night shelter in Bedford, the King's Arms Project, that helped drug addicts and alcoholics. It also counselled gay, lesbian and transsexual people.
Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the church by her parents, who were evangelical Christians. "Convinced I was demonically possessed, my parents made the decision to move to Bedford, because of this woman [Stroud] who had come back from Hong Kong and had the power to set me free," Abi told the Observer.
"She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong, I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus."
"T" said he moved to Bedford because he believed the church could help him stop having homosexual thoughts. "I was trying to convince myself that a change was possible but, at the same time, a part of me didn't believe it was possible," he said. "The church's approach was not that it was sinful to be homosexual but that it was sinful to act on it. The aim is to get a person to a position where they don't have these sinful emotions and thoughts."
"T" said it was only after he "took a break" from the church that his depression lifted. "It was the church's attitude towards my sexuality that was the issue," he recalled.
"My impression is that she genuinely cares about people," he said of Stroud. "Her personal beliefs may get in the way sometimes, but she is a positive person."
Stroud and her husband, David, a minister in the New Frontiers church, allied to the US evangelical movement, left the project in the late 1990s to establish another church in Birmingham. Angela Paterson, who was an administrator at the Bedford church, said: "With hindsight, the thing that freaks me out was everybody praying that a demon would be cast out of me because I was gay. Anything – drugs, alcohol or homosexuality, they thought you had a demon in you."
Kacey Jones, a hostel resident, said she was told to end her lesbian relationship or leave the church. "Philippa was still around when I first moved in," Jones said. "There was a 'discipleship house' for Christians struggling with issues, including their sexuality. They told me my feelings weren't normal. I didn't want to be gay, I wanted to be like everybody else, get married, have kids and please my parents."
Stroud wrote a book, God's Heart for the Poor, in which she explains how to deal with people showing signs of "demonic activity". Stroud, who declined to talk to the Observer, writes: "I'd say the bottom line is to remember your spiritual authority as a child of God. He is so much more powerful than anything else!"
In the book she discusses the daily struggle of running the hostel. "One girl lived in the hostel for some time, became a Christian, then choked to death on her own vomit after a drinking bout. Her life had changed to some extent, but we wondered whether God knew that she hadn't the will to stick with it and was calling her home."

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