Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jack Bruce 1943 to 2014

Jack Bruce one of the world's greatest bass players passed away today. He was a member of one of the world's best known "super-groups" Cream.

Rest In Peace Jack. Your music will live forever.

Friday, 24 October 2014

PCS: A union in terminal decline?

Earlier this year the Socialist Party and it's allies in the PCS union attempted to arrange a "shotgun wedding" to merge the union with Unite. There was much speculation as to whether this was to do with the state of PCS finances. Chris Baugh the Assistant General Secretary assured concerned reps and members that was not the case.

The merger did not go ahead after the National Executive motion was knocked back by conference and the Unite delegation left (some say stormed) out of the observers gallery. Certainly the route to shoring up the ever failing fortunes of PCS by being subsumed into Unite is on a back burner and certainly not on Unites list of current priorities given there will be a general election next year and they are more concerned with getting a Labour Government elected.

However something remains seriously wrong in PCS as the news was broken by the satirical PFLCPSA website that the union is considering another option that of selling off it's purpose built headquarters building in Falcon Road, Clapham Junction:

Well, we could sell Falconcrest to be turned into luxury flats, but that would involve enormous amounts of pre-planning, getting reports done, having architects draw up plans, consulting not just PCS members, but GMB members who work there. Nah, too much effort.

Although, we could sneak off and get that all done in August while everyone is on their hols and not bother to tell anyone, and then sneak in a a full scale planning application to the Local Council, also without telling anyone, because we wouldn't want anyone to find out until the time to register comments has expired.

And so it came to pass. The expiry date for comments was 02/10/14. Falconcrest is destined to become 65 luxury flats, subject to planning approval. Tory run Wandsworth will just lurve having a new bunch of yuppies to vote for them. Any affordable housing? Hahahahaha! What do you think we are, socialists or something?

All done in secret it would seem since none of the reps or members were informed of this possibility and yet when interviewed by The Socialist newspaper recently, Mark Serwotka the "Dear Leader" of PCS said:

I would say the union is unrecognisable from the one that existed when I became general secretary.

It's now a union that respects its activists as its lifeblood rather than an inconvenience. It has democratised massively in terms of electing its senior full time officers, of giving much more power to the groups, the branches and the regions, where decisions can be made at a level nearer the grassroots.

It is certainly true that PCS is unrecognisable from when Serwotka and his henchmen took over. PCS has changed from being a union that represents its members to one that represents only it's (far left) political activists. Most of the latter part of his statement about "grassroots" power is just hype.

PCS has become a very centralised, authoritarian union.

Serwotka also inherited a financially stable union that didn't need to look to merge with other unions or sell off the "family silver".

Members would be right to ask what is going on in PCS. 

Is there something we are not being told? After all the man who controls the purse strings, the rather useless Mr Baugh is a member of the Socialist Party which older readers will recall was formerley the Militant Tendency.

And Militant buggered up the finances of Liverpool Council.  So much so they had to send out taxis to issue redundancy notices to their staff. Hence Neil Kinnocks famous speech.

Oh and they helped make Labour unelectable hence the years of Thatcherism we ended up having to endure.

They still don't want a Labour Government by the way. PCS has a policy to "stand and support" candidates that will eventually lead to the union backing the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition which gets next to no votes.

PCS has become divorced from the political mainstream and far weaker than ever thanks to the actions of Serwoka and his far-left allies.

Members need a union, but it seems to me PCS is no longer up to the task.

The question is what happens next?

By the way for anyone that's interested Serwotka got re-elected unopposed this week. Hardly worth mentioning.

Will the last person out of Falcon road please turn the lights out.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Turkish President Erdogan fails to imprison cartoonist

The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to be developing his megalomania on a more personal level. He took exception to  a caricature produced for the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper which ridiculed Erdogan over the corruption scandal that hit the headlines recently.

The artist, Musa Kart could have faced nearly 10 years in jail for just poking a little fun at the increasingly dictatorial Islamist President. Today's Zama reported:

Cumhuriyet reported on Monday that according to the indictment filed by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart for insulting him and slandering him via the media in a caricature that was published in the daily's Feb. 1, 2014, edition. The press bureau of the prosecutor's office initially ruled that there were no grounds for legal action over the caricature. However, upon objections from Erdoğan's lawyer, the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court ruled that the cartoon went beyond the boundaries of criticism and revoked the initial decision. The indictment filed afterward calls for a prison sentence of up to nine years and 10 months for Kart.

The cartoon depicted a couple of thieves stealing from a safe. One says "Don't rush, the watchman is a hologram". In the background is a figure of Erdogan who apparently appeared as a 10 foot hologram at one of his rallies!

Cult of the personality strikes again.

Or should it be ego?

The irony is that none of the 209 people implicated in the scandal was charged. Not one. All charges were dropped by the public prosecutor. With a little help from Erdogan who had all the investigators, police and prosecutors replaced when the whole sorry affair became news.

The protector of public morality on behalf of the Turkish people was more concerned about a cartoon than allowing justice. There's a surprise.

However the attempt to punish Musa failed and he was cleared of charges today. In his defence En.Haberler reported that Mr Kart said in his defence:

“Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult. I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect's seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.”

Yes it was.

And budding dictators don't have a sense of humour.

Turkey is a society that remains divided between Islamists and secularists. The fact Musa Kart avoided imprisonment shows there remains some hope that democracy and justice can be saved from the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt Islamist regime led by the humourless self serving President Erdogan.

This case shows how important free speech and expression is and how fragile it can be if attacked by those who don't believe in it for anybody but themselves.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Students wrong to ban & censor the SWP

It seems the Socialist Workers Party just cannot get away from the side-effects of the "comrade delta" scandal. A motion has been submitted to the Edinburgh University Students Association to stop the SWP from not only holding events on campus, ban them "advertising" their wares and prevent the ratification of any associated student groups.

The motion sponsored by the University's Feminist Society was due to go before the student body on October 23rd, but the SWP have threatened to sue for libel. The EUSA have suspended the motion whilst they take legal advice.

I don't intend to re-iterate the events surrounding the downfall of the SWP since they are well documented on this blog as well as probably hundreds of others around the world wide web. However the Journal reports:

Supporters of the motion claim that banning of the SWP is necessary under EUSA’s safe space policy, as well as their policy to “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus.”

Eleanor Brayne-Whyatt, Events and Fundraising Secretary of the Feminist Society, submitted the motion. She previously told The Journal: “This will show that rape apologism and victim blaming cannot be put up with, and any movement that allows them to take place and that stamps all over women’s rights for the furthering of some ‘bigger’ cause will not be accepted. It is a shame that this hasn’t come sooner.”

Now there are a whole range of difficult issues to be covered as a result of this on-going debate. Rape is a serious issue that everyone, not just students, not just the left but the whole of society has to address. Women's rights and in particular the right to simply say no to sexual advances must be taken seriously.

The SWP has behaved very badly in their dealings on not just the "delta" business but over other alleged incidents that have been reported as taking in place inside their organisation. If people want to shun the SWP and their publications that's their right. 

But should they be banned and censored?

If so where else does this policy lead us?

The right to free speech and peaceful assembly is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society. There are limits to free speech, such as libel or promoting racial hatred or violence against individuals or groups of people.

I have no more time for the SWP than the British National Party. Both organisations stand against democracy. Both would introduce dictatorships. The SWP would have gulags, the BNP concentration camps. Violence is very much inherent in their adopted political philosophy's as much as both would seek to deny it.

But should we ban them because of their ideas?

The clear answer has to be no.

In order for democracy to function properly we have to allow those with whom we fundamentally disagree the same freedoms which we wish to afford ourselves, otherwise where would the limitations of the right to speak and write freely end?

There is no simple answer, but the approach of banning the SWP opens up a Pandora's box, especially in the students movement which seems to me to be dominated by increasingly bizarre and doubtful ideas and individuals.

Many Universities have given in to the Islamists demands of gender separation in meetings. "Islamophobia" is used as a means to silence any critic of Islam including the atheist, humanists and secularists who reject all religions not just Islam.

Yet the the SWP is to be banned in order to have a "safe space", whatever that actually means in practise rather than in theory. I can't see the students banning Islamic groups because of their anti-women, anti-gay, anti-anybody else ideology.

That would be "Islamophobic" wouldn't it.

Banning the SWP is wrong. Cold shoulder, ignore, argue with, steer clear. Fine.

Expose the SWP, expose their pathetic little group to scrutiny. Frankly the same should be done to all the dodgy little groups both political and religious that seem to run rampant in our universities.

Put Equality, Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Democracy first and show the world what pathetic creatures these extremists are regardless of the ideology they claim to follow.

Freedom of speech is the rock from which democracy flows.

Use it don't lose it.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Overturn Asia Bibi's death sentence #saveAsiaBibi

Four years ago, a mother of five kids in Pakistan named Asia Bibi was sentenced to die for blasphemy.

Petition by Emily Clarke via

Asia was alleged to have made disparaging comments about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking out of their water glasses because of her Christian faith -- a charge she has denied. This week, a High Court in Pakistan upheld Asia’s death sentence, which means that she now faces execution unless Pakistan’s Supreme Court and the global community works to save her.

Join me in asking your government to speak out on behalf of Asia, and help bring the global community together to #SaveAsiaBibi.

Earlier this year, I started a petition calling on governments around the world to stand up for Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman in Sudan who was sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith. More than 1 million people signed my petition to #SaveMeriam, and world leaders like UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out demanding her freedom. This past summer, Meriam’s case was thrown out and she was reunited with her children and husband. Now we have another moment to put the spotlight on religious persecution of women, and help Asia Bibi be released.

In Pakistan, politicians have been killed for defending Asia. Her own five children and family are in hiding, fearing their lives. Her execution could happen soon, and her family and supporters continually targeted, unless the global community comes together to demand her release and her safety.

We can help Asia try to secure freedom, and try to make sure she is reunited with her family safely. Please show your support and help protect Asia those standing up for Asia.

Religious persecution has to stop.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Time for Muslims to drag Islam into the modern world

One of the major stories circulating today is that of the mother who set off to "rescue" her son from ISIS after he had run off to join "Jihad". The Times reported:

A Single mother travelled to the Turkish Border in a dangerous attempt to persuade her British-born son to leave the Islamic State.

She waited there for three week and used an ipad in an Internet cafe to send directions to her son, 21, to help him make his way back to safety.

The odd thing is that this young man was actually brought up as a Christian and still got "radicalised" on the Internet and joined some 600 youths who have travelled to the Middle East to join the brutal ranks of ISIS and lets not forget how brutal these people are. The Daily Mail reported:

An horrific image has emerged of a baby girl moments from being beheaded by IS.

The picture is among several recovered by Kurdish soldiers from the mobile phones of dead fanatics in the Syrian town of Kobane.

It shows the child being pinned to the floor, in clear distress as a knife is held to her throat.

It is feared she may have been beheaded along with her family for being an Alevi Muslim, a branch of Islam whose followers have been targeted by IS. 

Other pictures show beheadings and jihadis playing football with the severed heads of victims.

This youth (if you can call a 21 year old such), is one of around 250 who have returned to the UK. One wonders how many crimes these men have committed. As much as the mother can be commended for her actions, we have to remain extremely vigilant about what future action these men take.

Crimes beyond most peoples imagination have taken place in the name of the so-called Islamic State and it is going to be partially up to the Muslim community to tackle the extremists in their midst's.

Another equally disturbing story has been seemingly under reported in the media, that of the outcome of the trial of one of Hate Preacher Abu Hamza who has been sentenced to prison for torturing a man, not in the Middle East but in the middle of London. According to a very brief report in the Times:

Tito Ibn Sheik, 28 was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a court heard that he "orchestrated violence" against Hassan Monwwer, a restaurant worker over a £15,000 debt. Mr Manawwer was kidnapped in Acton, West London and taken to underground garages and forced to call his elderly father in Egypt to plead for money before being found by police.

This trial took place in 2012, but has only just been reported due to a Judge lifting reporting restrictions. 

Why were we not told earlier?

The son of an Islamist "preacher" turns out to be nothing more than a common criminal. 

The Jihadists go abroad to fight for a criminal group defining themselves as an "Islamic state"

Beheading babies? A "religious act"?

These men (and some women) must be treated as criminals and the Muslim community in this country must address the problem that their so called "religion of peace" is producing such barbarians.

It means a critical self examination of how the Koran and the (somewhat dubious) Hadiths are used by these dangerous miscreants to justify such wanton cruelty and savagery.

Islam itself needs to grow up and adjust to the modern world.

And that means accepting criticism, learning tolerance, understanding equality and human rights.

Anything else will leave Islam in the dark ages.

And a danger to everyone else.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Censorship: Serwotka is not for turning

Following my rejection of a demand issued by the General Secretary of the PCS union that I must remove a guest post by Margaret Rathbone, I have received another missive from the Dear Leader. In this he complains I "misrepresent him" over his directive.

To remind readers this is what he said:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

Quite clear I would have thought. His attempts to justify this clear demand are frankly irrelevant. Neither he nor the PCS union have jurisdiction over my or anyone else's blogs or websites. It's just censorship.

And talking of censorship, Robert Mottershead a PCS member in the HMRC posted an article from the Eclectic Blue website which covered the story in an article entitled The Civil Service Union from North Korea to the PCS members FB page. The article was about censorship rather than the RCTU but fell foul of the PCS leadership and was removed. 

A post from "admin" then appeared stating that no articles about the RCTU would be allowed. Robert publicly resigned from PCS as he said this was the second time he had been censored. Amongst the responses was the President Janice Godrich. Although this thread was itself deleted, I did keep copies of her interesting remarks including a reply to me.

Janice Godrich: Robert this is not about censorship. This is the official pcs Facebook page, administered and funded by pcs staff from pcs members money via their subscriptions. Pcs has recognition rights in the civil service. Our members money is not been used to promote allternative organisations because individuals cannot win a democratic argument in pcs. by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page but it's not been done on our members time and money

Howard Fuller: "by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page" Thanks Janice. You need to tell Mark Serwotka that!

Janice Godrich: Howard: anyone can promote what they like, it doesn't mean their actions don't have consequences.

An ominous comment especially when taken in tandem with the concluding words of Mark Serwotka's latest letter:

Please consider this matter carefully.

The consequences could indeed lead to what the union calls a "Rule 10" complaint which could lead to my suspension as a Branch Secretary for up to three years or expulsion. I should imagine I'll find out in due course.

The only question is whether I will immediately be suspended before I'm found guilty by the PCS leadership or after.

My crime? Publishing a guest article (without endorsement) on an issue that would be of interest to readers on my own personal blog which has no connection to the PCS union of which I happen to be a member.

My message to Mark Serwotka and his followers is simple. I will not remove the article and do not and will never recognise your authority to even tell me I "must" do as you say on my private blog.

Defend freedom of speech!