Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guest post - Save Behnam and family

I heard about this via Pauline , the coordinator of the campaign. on Facebook. I asked her to write something for the blog and here it is below. Do please sign the petition and support this campaign.




Behnam is a 22 year old artist studying for a BA Fine Arts degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, part of the University of the Arts London. Born in Iran, he has lived in London since the age of fifteen. Unusually for such a young artist, Behnam has held several solo art exhibitions and has exhibited alongside more established artists. His art is eclectic, much of it reflecting his strong yearning for freedom especially for the country of his birth.

In 2005, following the arrest of his father at Tehran Airport by Iranian authorities, he and his mother claimed asylum in the UK. They were subsequently tried and sentenced to 5 and 7 years imprisonment respectively and told they would be given 70 and 100 lashes for “jeopardizing Iran’s National Security”.

They were absurdly charged with this serious offence due to their association with two teenage brothers, school friends of Behnam. These students were arrested at Behnam’s family’s Tehran apartment where they were staying for some of the time that Behnam’s family were living in London. They were members of an underground group opposed to the regime and were apparently found in possession of anti-regime materials and printing equipment.

There is a culture of disbelief that sadly permeates the asylum system in the UK. The application for asylum was refused and an appeal was also unsuccessful, at least in part attributable to very poor legal representation at the time at the hands of an unqualified representative posing as a fully qualified solicitor.

It was clear to all those who know Behnam as a completely trustworthy and exemplary character that they could not stand by and let an appalling injustice happen to Behnam and his family, knowing of the terrible fate that awaits them back in Iran. It was at this point that the Behnam & Family Must Stay Campaign was set up.

Iran’s record on Human Rights is appalling. It has deteriorated since the coming to power, in 2005, of hardline President Ahmadinejad, and since the fraudulent Presidential election of June 2009 and the resulting widespread protests, there has been a further clampdown. Students and cultural figures are among the groups most targeted. Torture is rife and executions, including of juveniles, common.

Behnam and his mother’s lives are in clear danger. Like so many refugees before them, they are positive assets to this country. They must be given protection and allowed to remain in safety in the UK where they belong.

To date over 11, 200 people, including many famous names, have signed a petition calling upon the Home Secretary (we are now on number 4) to lift the threat of deportation hanging over the family and to grant them leave to remain in the UK.

The petition can be signed online .

Thank you for your support.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

No Right to Religious Bigotry

In a welcome decision, the Employment Appeals Tribunals has ruled that legislation outlawing religious discrimination does not protect Bible-bashers who want to discriminate against others.

The EAT made its decision following on from the case of London Borough of Islington v Ladele, which Stroppyblog has reported on previously.

Hurrah. Workers do not have nearly enough rights. But the one right they should not have is the "right" to use religious beliefs as a pretext to oppress other workers or services users.

Whether you would want to get relationship guidance from someone who thinks you are a mortal sinner is another matter, of course.

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Hopi week of action, February 13th-20th 2010

Via Facebook :

This will see fundraising events, protest actions and meetings. Comrades around the country are coming forward with ideas for activities that range from pickets and petitions, to benefit meals for a few comrades and friends. We want to mobilise every Hopi supporter to participate in the week, at whatever level their circumstances and time constraints allow. (And make sure you send us small reports and photos for our website!)

February is a key month in the Iranian political calendar. The Shah’s regime imploded in February 1979. Every year since, the government has initiated official state-backed marches and rallies to celebrate the revolution and to bolster the myth that its social and political dynamic was simply ‘Islamic’.

However this year, in the aftermath of the huge upsurges post the rigged presidential elections in June 2009, the regime will face stiff opposition. There will be counterdemonstrations organised by both the Green reformists such as the western media darling Mir-Hossein Moussavi and by more radical trends within the movement, forces that are subject to a media blackout.

In their different ways, both these reformists and the elements to their left will challenge the theocracy for the legacy of 1979. This difference is vital, however. The likes of Moussavi charge that the regime has lost its way and deserted the ‘true’ Islamic nature of the revolution. For the left, 1979 could have had a very different outcome. That is, a victory for the forces of popular democracy from below and fundamental social change.

Iran is in turmoil and the opposition is utilising every opportunity to protest and organise. These counterdemonstrations will also commemorate the 40th day since the death of the leading reformist cleric Ayatollah Montazeri and also the murder of protesters in the Ashura demonstration in late December.

This poses important tasks to the anti-war and solidarity movement in this country and beyond.

First and foremost, we have to dramatically step our work against any imperialist intervention against Iran. Military action would be a disaster for the burgeoning movement. It would disrupt and disperse the masses just at a time when we are beginning to see the potential for a new Iran, shaped by the democratic and militant action of millions of ‘ordinary’ Iranians themselves.

Sanctions – the so-called ‘soft’ option – have the same demobilising effect, if anything in a more insidiously poisonous way. When working people have to spend their time individually begging, bartering or borrowing their way round shortages of basic foodstuffs and amenities, their ability to collectively impose a progressive agenda on society as a whole suffers.

So, we have to see off the threats of imperialism. We have to give the ‘red’ strands within the Green movement in Iran the space to survive and thrive. In contrast to some mistaken comrades in the anti-war movement, Hopi knows that the real Iranian anti-imperialists are amongst the millions of protesters on the streets, not in the corrupt and deeply compromised echelons of the clerical bureaucracy.

In addition to our anti-war work, we must also supply these comrades with the oxygen of publicity.

The bulk of the mainstream English or Persian’s media reporting of the upsurge since June 2009 has implied that the ‘Green movement is a homogeneous bloc, where the masses are little more than ‘walk-on/walk-off’ bit-part players in a drama directed by Moussavi and the reformists.

In truth, these ‘leaders’ have struggled to keep up with the movement. Actions and slogans on the ground have gone far beyond even the maximum demands of the reformists. Since at least September ’09, important elements amongst workers, students, women and youth have called for the overthrow of the entire regime. While the Green leaders repeated assert their loyalty to the existing order, militant slogans from the movement they purport to lead demand the overthrow of the supreme religious leader, Khamenei and the entire apparatus of Islamicist rule and oppression.

None of this finds reflection in the mainstream media. The BBC and the western news outlets are the propaganda wing of the imperialist campaign. Sanctions and the threat of military strikes serve the purpose of undermining the Ahmadinejad-led regime and preparing a ‘colour revolution’ a la Georgia or the Ukraine, headed by the likes of Moussavi. The BBC’s selective silence about the evolving politics of the real movement beneath this ‘hero’ makes it the propaganda arm of that reactionary campaign.

We will target the BBC for protest during the week of action. Details of protests and activities are being finalised as this bulletin goes out. We will keep comrades posted, but check regularly on our website for updates.

Check out the Facebook page for more info as events added. Also check out the Hopi website .

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Islam, Islamophobia, Islamism: what should the left say? Workers' Liberty debates Islamophobia Watch

Workers' Liberty will be debating Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch

With both anti-Muslim bigotry - 'Islamophobia' - and reactionary political Islam on the rise, how should the left respond? Have many socialists capitulated ideologically to political Islam, as Workers' Liberty believes, or does our sharp condemnation of political Islam mean collapsing in the face of racism?

All welcome. Plenty of time for debate and discussion.

Thursday , 18th February 2010. 19.30-21.15. The Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London.

Should be , ahem, lively .

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

‘Reformists’ fear revolution - cross post from Hopi

Repression and Resistance Repression and Resistance

The attempt by the two wings of the Iranian regime to shelve their differences is unlikely to defuse the mass movement, writes Yassamine Mather

More than two weeks after the demonstrations of December 27 2009, the political repercussions of these events, and the reaction to the anger and radicalism of the protesters, continue. Clearly now no-one, from the government to the ‘reformists’, to the revolutionary opposition, has any doubt that the current protests are no longer about who should be the ‘president’ of the Islamic Republic, but represent a serious challenge to the very existence of the religious state.

Ashura is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims, as they commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Mohammed in 680AD. In December 2009 it coincided with the seventh day following the death of a clerical critic of the regime, ayatollah Montazeri. Throughout Iran hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets with slogans against the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. When security forces attacked, the crowds fought back. Tehran was “covered in thick smoke from fires and tear gas” and there was “hand-to-hand combat between security forces and the protesters,” with reports of street battles in other major cities.1 For the first time in the last 30 years, many women came out into the streets to join the demonstrations wearing no headscarves or hijabs.

At a number of locations in Tehran security forces were forced to retreat, as demonstrators burnt police vehicles and bassij posts and erected barricades. There are videos showing instances where police and bassij were captured and detained by demonstrators and three police stations in Tehran were briefly occupied. Demonstrators also attacked Bank Saderat in central Tehran, setting it on fire.

The government’s reaction was predictable. Since December 27 bassij and pasdaran (revolutionary guards) have been unleashed to impose further repression. Hundreds of people have been incarcerated. The summary arrest of leftwing and worker activists, the death sentences issued against left political prisoners, the sacking of workers already in prison are part of a deliberate attempt by the regime to impose an atmosphere of terror.

Ultra-conservative clerics have also called for the arrest and execution of ‘reformist’ leaders. In a speech on January 9 the supreme leader told government security forces and the judiciary to act decisively against “rioters and anti-government demonstrators”.

Conservative divisions

Despite the bravado of Khamenei, there are clear signs that the demonstrations of December 27 have divided the conservatives further on how to respond to the protests. While supporters of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly call for more arrests and even the execution of political opponents, the ‘principlist’ faction2 within parliament is preaching caution.

On January 9, a parliamentary committee publicly blamed Tehran’s former prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, a close ally of Ahmadinejad, for the death of three prisoners arrested during anti-government protests in June 2009. The committee found that Mortazavi had authorised the imprisonment of 147 opposition supporters and 30 criminals in a cell measuring only 70 square metres in Kahrizak detention centre. The inmates were frequently beaten and spent days without food or water during the summer.

Ali Motahhari, a prominent fundamentalist parliamentarian, told the weekly magazine Iran Dokht: “Under the current circumstances, moderates should be in charge of the country’s affairs.” He suggested Ahmadinejad should also be held accountable for the deaths in Kahrizak and for fuelling the post-election turmoil. Iranian state television is broadcasting debates between ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’ conservatives, in which Ahmadinejad is blamed by some for causing the crisis.

There are two reasons for this dramatic change in line:

1. The December 27 demonstrations were a turning point, in that both conservatives and ‘reformists’ came to realise how the anger and frustration of ordinary Iranians with the political and economic situation is taking revolutionary forms.

2. The principlists are responding to a number of ‘proposals’ by leading ‘reformists’ as a last attempt to save the Islamic Republic. Fearful of revolution, ‘reformist’ leaders from the June 2009 presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi to former president Mohammad Khatami have made conciliatory statements, and the moderate conservatives have responded positively to these approaches.

‘Reformist’ compromise

In a clear sign that ‘reformists’ have heard the cry of the revolution, Moussavi’s initial response to the Ashura demonstrations was to distance himself from the protests, emphasising that neither he nor Mehdi Karroubi had called for protests on that day. His statement on January 1 entitled ‘Five stages to resolution’ (of the crisis) was a signal to both his supporters and opponents that this was truly the last chance to save the Islamic regime from collapse.

Western reportage of the statement concentrated on his comment, “I am ready to sacrifice my life for reform.” Of course, Iranians are well known for their love of ‘martyrdom’, from Ashura itself to the Fedayeen Islam in 1946,3 to the Marxist Fedayeen (1970s-80s). Iranians have been mesmerised by the Shia concept of martyrdom, inherited from Sassanide ideals, a yearning to put their lives at risk for what they see as a ‘revolutionary cause’. But Moussavi will no doubt go down in history as the first Iranian who is putting his life on the line for the cause of ‘reform’ and compromise!

His five-point plan is seen as a compromise because it does not challenge the legitimacy of the current president and “presents a way out of the current impasse” in order to save the Islamic Republic, basically demanding more freedom for the Islamic ‘reformist’ politicians, activists and press, as well as accountability of government forces, while reaffirming his allegiance to the constitution of the Islamic regime, as well as the existing “judicial and executive powers”. The preamble to the proposal explains very well Moussavi’s message to the supreme leader and the conservative faction: it is not too late to save the regime, but this could be our last chance.

It reads: “Today the situation of the country is like an immense roaring river, where massive floods and various events have led to its rising and then caused it to become silted. The solution to calm down this great river and clear its water is not possible in a quick and swift action. Thinking of these kinds of solutions that some should repent and some should make deals and there should be some give and take to solve this great problem is in practice going off the track … I also believe that it is still not too late and our establishment has the power to accomplish this important task, should it have insight and a respectful and kind view toward all of the nation and its layers.”

This statement was followed on January 4 by a ‘10-point proposal’ from the self-appointed ‘ideologues’ in exile of Iran’s Islamic ‘reformist’ movement: the former Pasdar, Akbar Ganji (nowadays introduced on BBC and CNN as a “human rights activist!”), Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar, Abdolali Bazargan and Ataollah Mohajerani.4

Fearful that the Moussavi plan will be seen by many as too much of a compromise, the group of five call for the resignation of Ahmadinejad and fresh elections under the supervision of a newly established independent election commission to replace that of the Guardian Council. In the last few days both Khatami and another former president, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, have publicly declared their support for the compromise, while condemning “radicals and rioters”. Khatami went further than most, insulting demonstrators who called for the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

All in all, it has been a busy two and a half weeks for Iran’s ‘reformists’, terrified by the radicalism of the demonstrators and desperate to save the clerical regime at all cost. Inevitably the reformist left, led by the Fedayeen Majority, is tailing the Moussavi-Khatami line. However, inside Iran there are signs that the leadership of the green movement is facing a serious crisis.

None of the proposals addresses the most basic democratic demand of the Iranian people: separation of state and religion. A widely distributed leaflet and web post inside Iran entitled ‘Who is the leader of the current protest movement in Iran?’ refers to comments made by ayatollah Taleghani 31 years ago,5 at the height of the revolutionary movement. Taleghani, faced with a similar question, replied that it was the shah who led the protest movement because the repression he imposed and his inability to compromise caused it to move forward day by day. The leaflet concludes that the current force leading the movement is supreme leader Khamenei, who by his words and actions is fuelling the revolutionary fervour.

Working class response

In every event Iranians see real and imaginary parallels with the 1978-79 uprising that led to the shah’s downfall. Last week the publication of Khamenei’s alleged escape plans and the revelations that senior clerics had arranged to send their fortunes abroad to avoid sanctions and the consequences of an uprising reminded Iranians of January 1979, when the shah and his entourage were busy making similar arrangements.

The Iranian left is not immune to such nostalgia. Arguments about the ‘principal contradiction’ and ‘stages of revolution’ seem to dominate current debates. While some Maoists argue in favour of a ‘democratic stage’ of the revolution, citing the relative weakness of the organised working class, the Coordinating Committee for the Setting Up of Workers’ Organisations (Comite Hahamhangi) points out that the dominant contradiction in Iran, a country where 70% of the population lives in urban areas, is between labour and capital. They point out that the level and depth of workers’ struggles show radicalism and levels of organisation and that the Iranian working class is the only force capable of delivering radical democracy.

Leftwing organisations and their supporters are also discussing the lessons to be learnt from the Ashura demonstrations. Clearly sections of the police and soldiers are refusing to shoot at demonstrators and the issue of organising radical conscripts in order to divide and reduce the power of the state’s repressive forces must be addressed. In some working class districts around Tehran and other major cities the organisation of neighbourhood shoras (councils) has started.

The current debates within the ruling circles have had no impact on the level of protests undertaken by workers and students. There are reports of strikes and demonstrations in one of Iran’s largest industrial complexes, Isfahan’s steel plant, where privatisation and contract employment have led to action by the workers. Leftwing oil workers/employees are reporting disillusionment with Moussavi and the ‘reformist’ camp amongst fellow workers and believe there is an opportunity to radicalise protests in this industry despite the fact that close control and repression has intensified over the recent period.

Last week a number of prominent labour activists, including Vahed bus worker Mansour Ossanlou, who are currently in prison (some incarcerated for over a year) were sacked from their jobs for ‘failing to turn up at work’, which prompted protests in Vahed depots and the Haft Tapeh sugar cane plant. In late December workers at the Lastic Alborz factory went on strike demanding payment of unpaid wages. This week workers have been holding protests at dozens of workplaces, including the Arak industrial complex, the Mazandaran textile factory, at the Polsadr metro construction and in Tonkabon.

Over the next few weeks Iranian workers will face major challenges. Even if the two main factions of the regime achieve a compromise, it will be unlikely to defuse the movement. In fact the conciliatory line of Moussavi and Khatami is certain to further reduce their influence amongst protesters. However, if the religious state is able to reunite, it will be more difficult to attend demonstrations, call strikes and hold sit-ins, etc.

Whatever happens, Iranian workers will need our solidarity more than ever. That is why Hands Off the People of Iran is currently planning a week of solidarity and fundraising actions in February – check the Hopi website for more details (


1. New York Times December 29 2009.

2. One of the groups in the conservative faction of the Iranian parliament.

3. Fedayeen Islam was one of the first truly Islamic fundamentalist organisations in the Muslim world. It was founded in Iran by Navab Safavi in 1946 for the purpose of demanding strict application of the sharia and assassinating those it believed to be apostates and enemies of Islam.


5. See

Originally here .


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Harriet Harman, Class Warrior - Yeah Right

It seems that Harriet Harman has discovered class, pointing out that class is an obstacle to people progressing in life. Give her a job as Minister for Stating the Bleeding Obvious. Evidently, class is such an obstacle that comprehensive schools populated by local working-class kids were not good enough for her offspring.

I can only assume that the very idea of Harriet as a class warrior is what prompted her evident amusement in this photograph. Mind you, New Labour has indulged in plenty of class war since being elected in 1997 - the only problem that it has not been for the working class but against us!

There's a decent kick back at Ms Harman in the Guardian letters page.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Faint? Whaddya Mean, Faint?!

The news broke last week that Fred "The Shred" Goodwin is back in gainful employment after a year kicking his heels and living off the vast pension that you apparently deserve if you royally mess up the bank that you run. And there was us thinking that pensions are for people who have retired.

Widespread outrage greeted this news, but was not matched by government action to recover the public dosh that Fred stuffed into his pockets. Do our politicians not feel as strongly about this as the rest of us mere mortals?

Apparently not. According to the article linked above, Michael Connarty, Labour MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, said the appointment was "odd", while Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for the Lothians, said she felt "faint disgust".

"Faint" is defined by the Chambers dictionary as "weak in spirit", or from an online search as "barely perceptible".

Good to see such passion in our political representatives. Or is strong denunciation and stern action something they reserve for asylum seekers and benefit cheats?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Want Help From Social Services? Not Actually Beating Your Child? No Chance.

Today, I received confirmation in the post that our family will not receive any help from Social Services. This is because we are not beating our child.

Our family would really benefit from some respite care. We need to provide our son Joe, who has Asperger syndrome, with structured activities designed for him to improve his social skills, manage his anger, understand others' feelings etc. It is hard to do this with two other children to look after. It would help a great deal if the other two could be taken out for a while, or if Joe could have a weekend away once in a while so that his brothers (and parents!) could have a break fom his needs dominating our home life.

The only way to access such respite care from the state is via Social Services. So we accepted a referral and had a visit from a social worker before Christmas. While he was very sympathetic and could see the benefits of our request, it was clear that due to shortage of resources, Social Services would pretty much only authorise respite care when the child(ren) were in imminent danger of abuse by their parents.

Whatever happened to the idea that if you help families before they get to that stage of dysfunction, you might actually prevent things from getting that bad? Or even - what about the idea of Social Services for everyone that needs them, not just those who (are about to) abuse their kids?!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fuckwit: Pat Robertson

The USA's leading wacko god-botherer has pronounced that Haiti had an earthquake because it was cursed.

Yes, apparently the country signed a deal with the Devil that it wouuld serve him should he help rid it of French colonial rule. And ever since then, Haiti has been cursed. Obviously, he reckons Haitians should have remained in the holy state of subservience to an occupying power.

Equally obviously, earthquakes are acutally a geologically-explainable (although saidly, not altogether predictable) natural phenomenon. The extent of their impact, however, is very largely determined by social and political conditions. Well-constructed buildings are more likely to stand; high-tech warning systems can facilitate safety; people already living in poverty are much more vulnerable to the loss of shelter, sanitation and healthcare that comes with an earthquake. So Haiti - the poorest country in the Americas - suffers more than most would.

To explain Haiti's situation in more details (without any references to pacts with the Devil), here is Charles Arthur from the London-based Haiti Support Group:
THE EARTHQUAKE - a first reaction, 13 January 2010
The magnitude of this terrible tragedy is directly linked to the massive influx of people who have come to live in Port-au-Prince over recent decades. Hundreds of thousands of people have abandoned the countryside and come to capital to try and make a living. This human wave has overwhelmed the city and the rudimentary services that serve the city's population. The result is completely unregulated construction, poor or non-existent sanitation, a meagre supply of water, constant power outages, and the spread of poverty-stricken shantytowns. The loss of life from the earthquake, the potential for disease to spread, and the danger that many poor people will be left without water and food in the days ahead, are all far greater because there are too many people living in Port-au-Prince - over two million people are living in a city built to serve just a few hundred thousand.
The phenomenons of the rural exodus and the mushrooming size of Port-au-Prince are a consequence of the complete and continuing neglect of the rural sector by both the central government and the international finance institutions. There has been no significant investment in agriculture despite the fact that the vast majority of the population are peasant farmers. Next to nothing has been done to repair - let alone extend - irrigation systems. There are no subsidies for fertilisers, seeds or tools. And perhaps most damaging of all, the international planners have forced the authorities to eliminate import tariffs, and the resultant deluge of cheap foreign food imports that undercut local produce has been the final nail in the coffin of the Haitian farmer. Their sons and daughters have had to leave home, and instead scratch a living in the cities where they are at the mercy of the hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes that have afflicted this most unfortunate land.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SOS: Staff Our Stations

London Underground plans to close or cut most of its ticket offices, and to reduce station staffing by over 1,000 staff. To provide customer service and safety, London Underground stations need more staff not fewer. Popular opposition stopped planned ticket office closures in 2008; now we need the same popular opposition to stop them again.

I have set up a petition against the job cuts on the 10 Downing Street website. It will take you just a minute or so to add your name, and give a big boost to our campaign to save jobs.

Click here to sign the petition, which reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop plans to close ticket offices and cut staff on London Underground.


Please feel free to forward this to anyone else who you think might support our campaign.

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No thanks, I don't want to live in a slum

I don't think I could manage a regular "idiot of the week" type post (or what Stroppy would no doubt call call a Friday Fuckwit). There are too many idiots/fuckwits in the world. Far too much choice.

This week, however, a certain Kevin McCloud would undoubtedly be a finalist in any stupidity contest. The smug advert for his upcoming show Kevin McCloud: Slumming It has been showing on TV all week, with Kevin's beaming facing espousing the virtues of slumming it (literally).

In a companion piece in The Telegraph, the Grand Designs host argues that the government should "look to the Mumbai slums" for housing inspiration. You might be forgiven for thinking that disease-ridden imoverished slums are exactly what Britain does not need, but McCloud has a different take: "If I have one message for developers and the Government, it's to focus less on eco-housing and green buildings - because, frankly, we know how to do that. Let's start focusing on the social stuff, on how we can make people happier."

You know what won't make people happier, Mr McCloud? 1 toilet for every 1400 people. No hospitals or public sanitation programmes. Typhoid, maleria and cholera.

McCloud also brings women's oppression into his praise of the slums: "Because women don’t have huge kitchens, they rinse their pots in the street. That has to be the most civilised, sociable way of doing the washing-up – outside in the sun, chatting to your neighbours." Women engaging in arduous domestic labour in the streets; what a pretty picture indeed!

McCloud's big thing is sharing possessions. He believes that those living in slums have an "elastic attitude to what is theirs", but apparently forgets that this might arise from having next to nothing. All this does seem a bit rich - excuse the pun! - coming from a guy with a posh 16th-century house in Somerset, complete with £75,000 biomass boiler.

McCloud isn't the first person to get excited about the slums. A couple of years ago, a spokesperson for Greenpeace argued that "in the UK we could do worse than looking to the recycling endeavour of slum-dwellers in places like Dharavi for inspiration... There is a lot to learn from the developing world, where a scavenger mentality, grass roots recycling and sheer necessity can lead to imaginative leaps in redeploying waste.” No mention of the fact that many of the recyclers are child labourers, or indeed of the small problem that none of these workers have rights enshrined in law, of course.

Poverty is not something that people choose and it's certainly not a state of being that should ever be elevated to an aspiration.

Monday, January 11, 2010


The comments have reverted back to blogger . They are showing up under posts, just not on the sidebar. They are there .
Will be sorted !

Need a overhaul of the blog...on the to do list.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Belated Friday Fuckwit(or Sunday Sinner?), Iris Robinson


OK, belated Friday Fuckwit. Been busy, well not really. Couldn't be arsed , hibernating from the snow.
Anyway, Iris Robinson , Friday Fuckwit.

First off can I say that I do take mental health issues seriously. Depression, not just a bit sad or down, is bloody awful. I have worked with people with it, I have had friends who struggle it and I had a father whose life was literally destroyed by it.
OK, just wanted to get that out of the way.

I also don't wish it on Iris. BUT, she is still a nasty hateful reactionary intolerant thoroughly bigoted individual. Just now she is a depressed nasty hateful reactionary intolerant thoroughly bigoted individual. Check out an earlier post where I highlight the role of 'treatments' and intolerance on the lives of LGBT people and the effect people like Iris can have on their lives and mental health.She happily added to an environment that makes LGBT people feel depressed, isolated and wary of living their lives in the open. Yeah, we have civil partnerships, but we still have this crap from Iris and various other hateful people, often justified by religion. What about their depression Iris, did you care ?

Then the news breaks that the woman who once said she was a "simple housewife " is rather more "Desperate Housewife," showing a flair as a budding female Ronnie Wood , though her penchant being cafe owners rather than cocktail waitresses.

Now I really don't care what people do sexually as long as its consensual between adults , they are honest and respectful to each other. What pisses me off is hypocrisy, lecturing others about sin whilst partaking off some forbidden fruit themselves. They must know they will get caught out? Surely if they believe all this stuff, and expect others to live a sin free life, they realise that goes for them as well? Do as I do ?
As well as the double standards in sexual conduct, there appears to have been some questionable practices re setting up the bit on the side in a cafe .

Tut tut tut.

Iris is not the first, and won't be the last, to be shown up as a hypocrite.This is a long and fine upstanding tradition of god bothers.When will they learn...or perhaps when will they learn to be less judgemental and concerned about other peoples sex lives.

So the year has got off to a good start with the downfall of a bigot.I'm hoping now for a few more to get caught out. Wish list , well for a start Sarah Palin found in a lesbian threesome S/M bondage session, wielding a whip shouting hell yeah. Tony Blair found frequenting a fetish website where people share their fantasies of being beaten by Maggie and her handbag, screaming oh yes yes yes. Oh and some Catholic Priests caught fucking the choirboys and girls...oh yeah, that's a bit last year isn't it.

Meanwhile what of the future for Iris? Well she has had to resign her political positions and been expelled from the DUP. Will she use this time on her hands to reflect on the complexity of human nature and sexuality? Will she be more caring and compassionate towards others and less judgemental? Will she reflect on the emotional pain caused to LGBT by bigotry ?
Nah, my bet is that after a suitable interval she will publicly repent, probably via talk shows and newspaper interviews. She will espouse how her faith in God has helped her to be a better person and that she is now a good and faithful wife .
Perhaps the Psychiatrist she knows who 'cures gays' has a sideline in adulterers and she can pop along and turn her faithful.

Let us hope she takes on board he who is without sin cast the first stone, and lay off Lesbian and Gay people.

Or in Stroppy language ...shut the fuck up !


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Spoof Mrs Robinson


Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Fuckwit -coming soon

Busy at the moment, will do this later.

Meanwhile , here is a clue ;-)


Thursday, January 07, 2010

"God hates "lady" GaGa"

I must admit I was disappointed when the good Christian folk of the Westboro Baptist Church were banned from coming over here. I was rather looking forward to counter demonstrating them, nothing I like more than winding up the batshit religious tendency.

To refresh your memories, this group picket funerals of lesbian and gay people and US soldiers(their deaths are revenge for the US tolerance of gay people,not sure of the logic there !). They piss off woolly liberals and war mongers alike ,not being too keen on decadence and all that malarkey. Is Paddy a member ?

They state :

The only lawful sexual connection is the marriage bed. All other sex activity is whoremongery and adultery, which will damn the soul forever in Hell. Heb. 13:4. Decadent, depraved, degenerate and debauched America, having bought the lie that It's OK to be gay, has thereby changed the truth of God into a lie, and now worships and serves the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen! Rom. 1:25. But the Word of God abides. Better to be a eunuch if the will of God be so, and make sure of Heaven. Mat. 19:12. Better to be blind or lame, than to be cast into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Mk. 9:43-48. Abstain, you fools.

Seems they are now getting a little agitated by Lady GaGa, planning to picket one of her gigs:

“Art” and “fashion” are the euphemisms, the guise under which

proud whore Lady Gaga teaches rebellion against God (incidentally,

her claim to the title of “Lady” is sound only if she tacks on “of the

night,” thereby alluding to another euphemism for what she is). As

much as she’d like to pretend otherwise, there’s nothing new or

different about this particular hussy’s pretentious prancing. Does the

simple slut truly think that she can change God’s standards by

seducing a generation of rebels into joining her in fist-raised, stiff-

necked, hard-hearted rebellion against Him? Get real!

Even as she gives lip service to “liberating” her young fans, Lady

Gaga brings them into slavery to their own corruption, teaching

them to glory in their shame. She hates you!

They finish with ...YOU’RE GOING TO HELL!

Well it sounds more fun than heaven populated with the Phelps family, and possibly Mr Puritan ,that's for sure.

Hat tip to Dave.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Death Knell for Tube PPP?

I've just written the following article for 'Solidarity' ...

A decision by the PPP Arbiter in December may prove to be a fatal punch to private infrastructure company Tube Lines and the whole ‘Public-Private Partnership’ set-up on London Underground.

The New Labour government imposed the PPP at the very end of 2002, despite widespread opposition. PPP organised the Underground’s infrastructure into three groups of lines, and transferred them to private consortia known as Infracos, two to now-defunct Metronet, one – the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines – to Tube Lines.

Metronet collapsed in 2007, and Tube Lines has now hit trouble, falling well behind schedule with its upgrade of the Jubilee line’s signalling, causing closures to the line which are trying passengers’ patience. PPP Arbiter Chris Bolt, an ‘independent’ government appointee, has blamed this on Tube Lines itself, mainly for signing a contract for the work with another private company, Thales, before knowing the detail of the project.

The Arbiter had to decide what Tube Lines’ costs should be for the second 7½-year period of the 30-year PPP contract, due to begin on 1 July this year, and therefore how much London Underground will have to pay Tube Lines in fees. During this period, Tube Lines will have to continue to maintain the infrastructure of all three lines, upgrade the Northern and Piccadilly lines’ signalling systems, and refurbish 38 stations, far fewer than the 100 it was originally required to improve because it underpriced this work in its original bid.

Tube Lines reckoned that this work would cost it £5.75 billion, London Underground reckoned much less, £4 billion; the Arbiter calculated £4.4 billion. This leaves London Underground with a worrying funding gap of £400 million, but Tube Lines with a potentially devastating one approaching £1.5 billion. The Arbiter also ruled that Underground stations and lines should close to allow access to carry out improvement works for far less time than Tube Lines had demanded (15.5 million Lost Customer Hours for minor closures rather than 35.6 million), causing it further difficulties.

So who will pay? Even if Tube Lines paid, the public sector would reimburse it through higher charges, and London Underground and Tube Lines agree that “it would be better value for money for TfL [Transport for London] to raise additional finance than for Tube Lines to do so”. But the government argued the case for PPP on the basis that the private sector could raise the money needed to maintain and improve the Tube more easily than the public sector could! Intentionally or not, this view undermines the whole case for PPP.

Although the Arbiter’s report may speed the collapse of Tube Lines and the return of its work to the public sector, this does not mean that the Arbiter is a friend of workers and passengers. The Arbiter supports Tube Lines’ recent cuts to safety inspections of track and escalators. He also wants the workforce to be more ‘flexible’ by working across all three lines rather than just one, and the response team to have fewer workers.

Tube Lines’ troubles come despite the very generous terms of the PPP contract. PPP guarantees a high rate of profit in the projected costs, and expects an Infraco to follow only Good, rather than Best, Industry Practice. It allows for not just inflation but “differential inflation” (real prices going up faster than official figures show) and even for the risk of differential inflation being higher than expected! PPP protects the Infracos from losses if their risks fail, but allows them to pocket the proceeds if their risks pay off.

Despite their failures to deliver quality improvements to schedule, the Infracos have benefited handsomely from PPP. The Arbiter has caught Tube Lines paying secondment fees to its own shareholding companies – Bechtel and Amey – way above the usual rate. When Metronet collapsed, its Chief Executive walked away with his pockets full while the public-sector Transport for London inherited 95% of the failed Infraco’s debt, setting the scene for the landslide of cuts that now threatens to engulf London’s transport.

The London Underground PPP is an indictment of New Labour, whose turn away from the working class in search of credibility with capital has been not only unprincipled but a spectacular failure.

But even if PPP collapses and the Underground’s infrastructure is fully re-integrated into the public sector, two big dangers remain: firstly, further attacks on workers and passengers due to the debt and the cross-party consensus on the need for public spending cuts; and secondly, that the Tories simply privatise the reintegrated London Underground. Then we may find out that that there is something worse than PPP.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

More blogging issues

Right, I have reverted back to classic blogger and it has brought back this template.

What I would like to do though is use the new blogger that has widgets on it that let me do more with the layout. Anyone know a way to import the old template into the new system?

Fingers crossed re comments as I need to switch over to echo from haloscan, hope to not lose them...all those gems from our regular readers :-)


Friday, January 01, 2010

I had to change to a new haloscan and to do that I needed to upgrade blogger. Trouble is I seem to have lost comments and my old template.

Hope to sort it out asap.



Ignore horrible template, just temporary.