Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Carnival of Socialism is a tad delayed

But I'll have it up here by Monday evening . Been busy demonstrating in Brighton and then Dave hogged the laptop . I am though trying to bring all my lovely readers , and Duff and anon, lots of good links and that all takes time to do properly . Patience .


Apologies again. Been offered a few hours temp work, yesterday and today, so off working . Crap pay, but gets me outta the house.

Meanwhile a little musical interlude :


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's back, the Carnival of Socialism

Yep, Mr Jepps is kick starting the carnival back to life and I have volunteered to do one this weekend .

Its been dormant for a while, but the aim is that lefty bloggers take turns in doing a Carnival .Basically pulling together posts of interest across the left blogosphere . It can be themed or general . In the past I have done both.

I enjoy it as it focuses me on looking wider than my usual blogs and hopefully introduces them to new readers .

Do please leave suggestions for posts in the comment box, it will be a general one this time, and if you are interested in doing one contact Jim over on the Carnival website . There are also links to past ones, that will give you a flavour of what they are like.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paul OGrady on the cuts !


Friday, October 22, 2010

Cuts and the CSR

Been busy this week; trying to find work, not getting work and protesting . Feel a mix of anxiety, anger and general depression . But hey, gotta a blog to attend to .

Tomorrow I plan to do a round up of posts , and my thoughts on the CSR. I'll have a potter round the blogs and papers , but if anyone wants to highlight anything they have seen, let me know in the comments box.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

RIP Ari Up


Happy birthday Janine


Monday, October 18, 2010

Week of action against Cuts and for trade union rights

Right , for those readers who feel like taking some action against the cuts , see below. Duff, you're excused !

From the LRC:

Stop the Cuts! There is an Alternative

With the Comprehensive Spending Review, just days away – see our October 2010 events calendar for details of events against the cuts around the country. There is an LRC public meeting in Parliament on the night of the CSR statement, and another event a week later in Manchester:

Stop the Cuts! There is an Alternative – London meeting

Wednesday 20th October 2010
7:00pm to 9:00pm

Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons, Westminster

Speakers include: Manuel Cortes (TSSA), Bob Crow (RMT), Jeremy Dear (NUJ), Dot Gibson (National Pensioners Convention), Steve Gillan (POA), Jonathan Ledger (NAPO), John McDonnell MP (LRC Chair), Mick Shaw (FBU), Simon Weller (ASLEF)

Download the flyer

Stop the Cuts! There is an Alternative – Manchester meeting

Saturday 30th October 2010
12:30pm to 2:30pm

Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester

Speakers include: Cllr Matthew Brown (Preston), Jeremy Dear (NUJ), Steve Gillan (POA), Peter Keenlyside (CWU), Alice Mahon, Joe Marino (BFAWU), John McDonnell MP, Mick Shaw (FBU)

Download the flyer

Lobby your MP to back the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill

John McDonnell’s Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill is being debated in Parliament this Friday, 22 October.

It needs 100 MPs to attend the debate. If you have not already done so, please lobby your MP to vote for the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill. You can lobby your MP by email using the e-action through the PCS website or download the model letter from the RMT website to print out. You can also download the briefing on the Bill, prepared by John Hendy QC.

The LRC Conference: Resist the Cuts, Rebuild the Party will take place on Saturday 15 January 2011 at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square – reserve the date in your diary now – more details soon

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

LGBT rights , battle not won

Many think LGBT rights have been won, I mean look the poofs can have a civil partnership. There is the pink pound, now stop your griping and get back in the club rather than the closet .ON an aside that ignores the point that LGBT includes Trans people and bi-sexuals, often forgotten in the debates. One need only look at Stonewall to see how even Gay organisations happily ignore the issues of trans people by nominating candidates for awards with less than enlightened views . Then there is the attitude of some feminists to trans women, ignoring the very real violence that they face and excluding them from events , by omission or explicitly. I'll say more about trans issues and bisexuality as well , another time .

Back to the main point, people are still prejudiced against lesbian and gay people, and the battle is far from won . Sadly no one should sigh with relief and believe its all sorted , rights and acceptance can slip away . Even in very Gay friendly Brighton there is still violence and abuse . I want though to focus on worrying reports from the US . The Observer reports on this :

Liberal America has looked on aghast as virulent homophobic prejudice seems to have returned to its streets and cities. Most remarkable of all, much of it seems to be centred on the New York region, usually tolerant in its politics and not seen as hostile to homosexuals living openly. But it was just a few miles away from Bounville's protest in the Bronx that a group of suspected gang members brutally beat and tortured a 30-year-old gay man and several other youths who had been associated with him. The details of the assault, for which 10 people have been arrested, horrified New Yorkers. The gay victim was kidnapped, beaten, whipped and burned.

The shocking crime was just one of a series of incidents that have hit the city. Others have even occurred in the heart of New York's vibrant gay scene. In the Chelsea neighbourhood, which has a large gay population, a group of men hugging each other goodbye after a night out were punched and had a rubbish bin thrown at them. Meanwhile in the famous Stonewall Inn, where the modern gay rights movement was founded after a police raid in 1969, a customer was beaten and robbed by men who hurled homophobic insults at him.

For many observers the violence has been especially worrying as it has come at the same time as several leading Republicans have made anti-gay statements. South Carolina's Senator Jim DeMint, one of America's most powerful Republican politicians, has publicly said that gay people should not be allowed to become teachers.

Those sentiments were echoed by the Republican candidate in the New York governor race, Carl Paladino. In an astonishing piece of political theatre at a meeting of conservative Orthodox Jews, Paladino condemned gay pride parades and said gay people should not teach in schools. When the comments stirred outrage in the media, Paladino went on the talk show circuit in New York to complain about men "grinding" against each other at marches while wearing Speedos. "Is that normal?" he asked one TV interviewer.

The remarks were so bizarre some observers dismissed them as just another gaffe from a candidate dogged by allegations of infidelity and sending pornographic images by email. But gay rights activists say that is a mistake. There is a direct link, they say, between such public statements of homophobia and attacks. "These comments give licence to those who use violence. It is dangerous. It is tragic to think these hateful kinds of words have consequences," said Michael Cole, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, which campaigns for gay rights in America.

Such sentiments do not just encourage violent attacks; they can also spur people to suicide. Recently a student at Rutgers University committed suicide after his room-mate broadcast one of his gay sexual encounters over the internet. In Oklahoma recently a 19-year-old man killed himself after attending a local council meeting where members of the public had spoken out against celebrating the local gay community. The family of Zach Harrington, who committed suicide at home, told their local newspaper in the small town of Norman that they believed the "toxic" environment of the meeting had pushed him over the edge.

I remember friends who struggled at school , teased and bullied for being gay . Its depressing to read reports of this still happening , but it does. "Gay ' is an insult in the playground , kids are still bullied in the US and over here . Talk of gay people as unsuitable to be teachers sends a very clear message ; being lesbian or gay is not normal, don't tell anyone if you are and of course that most despicable of mud slinging, poofs are paedophiles after your children. Sickening . Add in faith schools teaching its a sin and its hardly a positive environment .

Playground bullying extends into adult violence , as Johann Hari points out :

In London, recorded homophobic attacks are up by 20 per cent. In Glasgow it's 32 per cent; in Liverpool it's 40 per cent; in Greater Manchester it's 63 per cent. James Parks is only the latest face to be kicked in by this trend: last week, the off-duty police officer left a club in Liverpool with his boyfriend and was lynched by a group of 20 teenagers who smashed his skull and left him close to death.

In a recession, violence always rises, and violence against minorities rises more. Attacks on Muslims, Jews, and black people are also spiking across Britain. But recorded violence against gay people has shown the most extreme rise. Last year, an 18 year-old hairdresser in Liverpool called Michael Causer was sleeping on a friend's sofa after a party when he was woken up. A witness testified that a group of teenagers yelled, "You little queer faggot!" They said they were going to cut out his body-piercings with a knife, and started burning his legs with a lighter. He was found bleeding to death later, dumped in the road outside, after having his head smashed in with a hardback book.

At the trial, one of the 19-year-olds tried for the murder said he was acting "in self-defence" – against a smaller, seven-and-a-half stone boy with no history of violent behaviour. A witness said that during the attack, he had yelled: "He's a little queer, he deserves it!" Yet the jury found him not guilty

Hari points out the culture in schools :

Almost all the new homophobic attacks have been carried out by teenagers who are in – or just out of – the education system. It is not a coincidence that our schools are the one place where homophobic violence is still absolutely mainstream. The official schools inspectorate, Ofsted, says that homophobia is "endemic" in our playgrounds and our classrooms. A study by Stonewall found 41 per cent of gay children are beaten up, and 17 per cent have been told they're going to be killed (it's 10 per cent higher still in faith schools). The young people who attacked PC James Parks were simply taking that culture out of the playground and onto the streets.

This doesn't have to happen. Michael Causer's mother, Marie, says: "This generation of infants needs to be educated. You hear youngsters as young as four and five saying 'Go away, you're gay.' It might be a word to them, but their parents need to pull them up and tell them that it's wrong. They need better education to let them know that gay people are no different."

When this is tried, it works. The Stonewall study found that in schools with a consistent policy of punishing homophobic language, gay children were 60 per cent less likely to be attacked. That fall in violence could ripple out from the school gates - but today, only 6 per cent of schools adopt this policy. The Government should immediately make it mandatory.

So my point is ? Well its that there is no room for complacency .It IS still an issue. Kids are still bullied, its still seen as an insult . People die, others still pretend or struggle . The left as well need to keep this in mind, many seem to minimise it when it happens in 'anti imperialist' countries, well it happens here as well . Wherever it happens , its bloody awful.

This still needs to be on our agenda , even if it doesn't build the party.

So if that has fired up anger at such horrific examples of violence, the only 'reason' for it being that someone loves or has sex with another of the same gender, then get along to this on the 23rd . It is the 2nd Vigil against hate crime.

Now to end on a more positive note, a very moving personal account alongside the stories and pictures of children who killed themselves due to homophobic bullying :

A very brave man, especially in Texas I suspect. Give that man a hug.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nick Clegg on tuition fees ...when he wanted to get votes


Claire Rayner : "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him."

Those are apparently what Claire Rayner, who has died, wanted to be her last words.

I am sure she had her faults , but she was a strong woman who stood up for the NHS and spoke out about safe sex when it was not the done thing. A humanist, rationalist and defender of the rights of patients . She came from a generation that didn't talk about sex, but her approach as an agony aunt was non judgemental and open :

Her husband, who was also her agent and manager, paid tribute to her, saying: "Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the 80s when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

"Through her own approach to life she enabled people to talk about their problems in a way that was unique.

I always remember the horror stories my mother, a similar age, told me about girls in particular not being told about sex , about the ignorance . It was good to have someone no nonsense, like Claire, talk about that openly to break down the embarrassment . Sadly many want to go back to the days of no sex education in schools, or pull their children out of it.

New Humanist reprint an interview, that gives a flavour of her forthright style .

We need more outspoken women like that !

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solomon Burke RIP


Lobby your MP to back the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill

Via the LRC :

John McDonnell MP is sponsoring the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill as his private members Bill in Parliament. The Bill would tackle the increasing practice by employers of using minor technical errors in the balloting process - which have no material effect on the outcome - to take unions to court in order to prevent them from taking industrial action.

The Bill is being debated in Parliament on Friday 22 October, and requires 100 MPs to attend the debate and to vote for it. If you have a Labour MP, please lobby them to attend and vote for the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill. Come to the Lobby of Parliament and Rally on 13 October to tell your MP to back the Bill.

You can lobby your MP by email using the e-action through the PCS website or download the model letter from the RMT website to print out. You can also download the briefing on the Bill, prepared by John Hendy QC.

John McDonnell MP said:

“We have seen in the current BA Cabin Crew dispute and many other recent disputes, employers have been able to exploit loopholes in the existing law by using minor technical errors in a trade union ballot to thwart trade unionists from taking strike action.

“This resort to the courts by some ruthless employers is bringing current employment law into disrepute and undermining industrial relations in this country. This cannot be right and in the interests of good industrial relations needs to be addressed.”

Read Prof Keith Ewing’s article from the Morning Star (09/10/10), urging Labour MPs to back the Bill.

Dash it, my MP is now a Tory :-(


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Is George Osborne squeezing the rich to help poor families? No!

I posted earlier this year in defence of universal Child Benefit, when gossip was spreading that it could come under attack. I won't repeat here the arguments I made there in defence of universality, but I do want to make a few points about the specific policy that the Tories have just announced - to remove Child Benefit from families where one person earns more than £44k.

In doing so, I want to tackle the aspect that I find particularly annoying - the Tories' pretence that this is a pro-working-class policy, which will no doubt find cheerleaders in the tabloids and may even impair the ability of some on the 'left' to defend universal Child Benefit against this attack.

Despite its pretensions at squeezing the rich, George Osborne's announcement leaves rich people without kids well alone while those with kids have money taken from them. No-one is losing money for being rich, but for having kids.

There is a serious ideological point here about society's attitude to, and responsibility for, children. The attack on Child Benefit is based on an assumption that children are the private indulgence of their parents rather than the responsibility of society in general. Sometimes, it feels like people think that "the taxpayer" is being asked to pay towards people's cars or butlers, not towards their children.

Moreover, earning £44k and bit most definitely does NOT make you "rich". It may be well above the average wage, but it is the wage of, for example, some skilled manual workers. If you are one of these and, say, you live in London bringing up three kids on your own or with a partner on much lower earnings, then you may get by, but you hardly live the life of Riley.

The rich-poor divide is not between people on £25k and people on £45k, but between people on £25k and people on £100k+ and a stash of wealth. Let's target our anger against the genuine rich, not on working families who might earn more than other working families, but who certainly do not share in the full fruits of their labour, and are definitely not "rich".

Even so, the way to deal with the genuinely rich is not to take away their child benefit, but to tax them til the pips squeak, or better still, to legislate a maximum wage.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pink stinks , or why not all little girls want to be princesses

Now I don't have kids and until recently didn't really know any . I was more likely to be found camping it up with gay men or sitting with a load of old Trots at a meeting . Over the last few years though, I have spent time with Dave's girls, Rachel and Hannah. They are 10 and 7 respectively.

This has meant delving into the world of little girls, whether that be toys, books or clothes. Now when I was a kid I got mucky outdoors, rode a bike, played with 'boys' toys and I can't ever remember wanting to be a princess or wear pink. As I wandered through Hamleys looking for pressies a while back, argh a hell only equaled by a trip to Ikea, I found my self confronted by what looked like quite clearly stereotypes boys and girls toys. Now of course there is nothing to stop a girl having any of the toys, and in fact Hannah is partial to bug related books and games, but the shop does not so gently demarcate specific gender toys . It is not the only store that does this. Go in most toy shops and you'll be surrounded by barbies and bratz, all pink and princessy or wag wannabes. Toys are pink packaged. This must be what its like in Katie Price's world, an explosion of candyfloss.
Many of the games are quite domestic, others aimed at quite young girls include make up, glitter and kits to make jewellery.Head to the boys and it is all much more manly, with science kits,trucks and sport.

Clothes shopping is no better , ranging from the cheap Primark to the more yummy mummy approved Gap . I have been looking around for some pyjamas for Rachel and they are all pink or if not very very cutesy . Rachel does not like pink ! Over the summer she needed some t-shirts. All she wanted was plain and not pink, with long sleeves. Bloody nightmare to find . Rows of pink, cute or princess t-shirts , or if not some bordering on a bit too Wag and grown up.

I popped into a shop selling rock t-shirts as she likes these and has a few. The assistant was helpful , but assumed the ten year old was a boy. I said a girl, yes they do like rock music !, and was directed to some pink Blondie ones . I said she doesn't like pink . The assistant looked bemused .

Now I know there are good educational toy and clothes shops with more of a range . I know that no one needs to buy along gender lines. But a quick tour of the high street will show an assumption that little girls love love love pink, want to be princesses (so many books about that) or else want to be Wags or on X Factor . It is not choice when all pyjamas on the high street come in a range of pink . The boys had action figures, combat pant PJs and dark manly colours .I gave up and will get her black leggings and a t-shirt instead.

To avoid this, to try to push past the stereotypes and marketing, takes times and effort and often is the more expensive shop that caters . Many parents will not have time or will grab cheap clothes as kids grow fast. They may not have the cash for the more expensive shops catering for the educational toys , with less pink in them.

Girls are being offered little choice and to move away from that means them pushing the boundaries and going to the boys section, thus perhaps then not fitting in with their peers . It takes a strong minded girl to reject the overwhelming pink pressure . This also affects boys , yep they are being pushed towards manly pursuits from an early age. Brave is the boy who wears pink and buys a doll.

I am not talking about pushing Hannah and Rachel into politically correct gender neutral toys and clothes. They are saying what they want themselves. Hannah likes her bugs and Rachel hates pink and dresses . Luckily they are both pretty strong minded little girls and say what they want. It just means a lot more effort to get the stuff.

I'm not alone in my frustration, there is a website called Pink Stinks. Check it out !

Pic, one of the T-shirts for sale on the Pink Stinks website.

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