Monday, 31 March 2014

Problems in Unite the Union as merger talks with PCS continue

The Unite union has come to the attention of the national press this weekend as both The Times and Sunday Times reported the failed candidate for general Secretary, Jerry Hicks has bought in the Trade Union Certification Officer to investigate last years election. The Sunday Times (30th March) reports:

More than 147,000 members of Unite the union were removed from the membership register a few weeks after Len McCluskey was re-elected as general Secretary. A leaked union document reveals.

Jerry Hicks, who stood against McCluskey last April claims the election was unlawful because tens of thousands of lapsed members were included in the ballot….

A September 2013 report to Unite’s executive council stated there had been “problems with the accuracy of the (membership) data. Unite says it correctly balloted members whose membership had lapsed but were still entitled to vote.


Keeping union records up to date is a notoriously difficult task especially since Unite seems to allow unemployed members, something not known in other unions like the PCS. Jerry Hicks is one of these.

Apparently Hicks was quoted as saying this was “superb news”. Other allegations include claims that the unions resources were used to support McCluskey’s election campaign. Such allegations will be difficult to prove. For example when Mark Serwotka was last up for election as PCS General Secretary, I complained that there were far too many photographs of the man in the pre-election edition of the PCS members magazine. The reply I got was “Mark had been very busy”. Given he was the GS how could I possibly prove otherwise?

But this is more than just sour grapes on Hicks’s part. A known Trotskyist activist he received the backing of the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party during his election campaign. Indeed it was rumoured that a campaign to support him was unofficially run out of PCS HQ (see here) as the Socialist Party PCS leaders backed his campaign against McCluskey. Why this didn’t scupper any talk of mergers is a mystery.

Whilst the SWP and SP are silent on this issue, not everyone on the far-left is happy with Hicks. On Shiraz Socialist, Jim Denham writes:

I am by no means an uncritical supporter of Len McCluskey, but the developments described in the article (which, like previous pieces in the Murdoch press, has clearly been written with the full co-operation of Hicks) vindicate my assessment that Hicks was not worthy of support in last year’s Unite election and is entirely unfit to lead a trade union. If Hicks had any genuine concerns about the conduct of the election, he could have raised them within the union, which whatever its faults under McCluskey is at least a fairly open and democratic organisation. Those leftists (not just the SWP) who supported Hicks should now be hanging their heads in shame. Incidentally, anyone who knows anything about Unite will know that any “phantom voters” would have been, overwhelmingly, from the ex-Amicus side of the merged union – precisely the constituency that Hicks was appealing to in his campaign. A shameful indictment of a man (Hicks) who can no longer be considered even to be a misguided part of the left:

Where I part company with Jim is that these tactics and worse are very much part and parcel of the way the bureaucratic left operate as activists in PCS will be only too familiar with. Hicks and his supporters represent the very worst elements of the left which is why they need to be opposed.

The Unite executive committee is meeting mid-April to discuss the merger with PCS further. My advice to them is to rethink the whole idea. Whilst PCS may be in difficulties (of the Socialist Party’s making), but one of the main reasons a merger with Unite is sought out is to try and take control on Britain’s largest union and undermine it’s support for the Labour Party.

People are beginning to talk as if this years PCS conference will be it's last, certainly given that less reps are able to attend than in the past, the format and time that they take place needs to change. 

But do we really need to close down an independent civil service union?

Even if we did, surely joining up with Unison, the largest public sector union would make more logical sense from a trade union viewpoint.

As usual political agendas are put before members interests in the myopic world of Serwotka & the Socialist Party.

PCS needs to put it’s own house in order before going cap in hand to other unions.
 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Dagenham Labour councillors defect to Scargill and UKIP in two-way split

socialist labour party header

Whilst most left-wing pundits were trying (and failing) to watch the latest Trot fest on-line in Manchester in the form of Left Unity's second conference a rather odd split has taken place in Dagenham Labour Party.

Two of Labour's councillors have split to join Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party and another four have decided to throw their lot in with UKIP. The Barking & Dagenham Post reports:

Labour has seen six of its members cast off the red rosette and move to parties on either side of the political spectrum in as many months.
Four have gone on to join Nigel Farage’s fast-rising UK Independence party while the other two have taken a step to the left and joined Arthur Scargill’s trade union supporting Socialist Labour Party.

But is this a sign that Ed Miliband’s party is losing its grip on Barking and Dagenham?

Party spokesman and chair of the local candidate forum Cllr Darren Rodwell claims nothing could be further from the truth.

Speaking to the Post he said all of the recent defectors had failed Labour’s two-stage reselection process to stand as candidates for the party in the upcoming May local election.
The Socialist Labour Party has been seen as a "ghost" organisation for many years now since King Arthur kicked out all and everyone who disagreed with his leadership. At the same time the SLP has put up "paper candidates" who generally do better than the much more active far left groups with which it competes in elections.
The SLP has even managed a couple of updates to its' usually moribund website
Our warmest welcome is extended to Councillor Jim McDermott who has joined the SLP after resigning from Labour.

Jim, who has represented the Eastbury ward of Barking and Dagenham since 2006, tells us he feels the Labour Party in Barking has over many years been taken over by people ‘following a different political agenda’ not consistent with the principles he believed the party represented when he joined it fifty years ago.

As an SLP councillor we believe Jim will be free to speak out more openly in support of the interests and needs of his electors as indeed it is his wish to do.

His actions demonstrate integrity, and a concern for the benefit of others over self which is rare in politics these days.


If you share the concerns of Jim McDermott and many others, who are disgusted by the brutal capitalism that is scarring our society and our world, take the first step. Join Us!

Kim Singleton, SLP General Secretary.
They now report:
A second Labour Party councillor in Barking and Dagenham has defected to the Socialist Labour Party. We are delighted to welcome Cllr. Barry Poulton to our ranks. Party President Andrew Jordan describes him as a man of principle who is placing the concerns of his community ahead of any self interest. Cllr. Poulton has stated that he does not wish to waste his work for the community which would be the case if he did not make his political move.
Dagenham was an area in which the BNP has traditionally been a threat, but as the English Elections blog tells us:
Labour managed a clean sweep of all 51 seats in Barking and Dagenham in 2010, but through a series of defections since then the combined opposition has grown from zero to eight councillors - UKIP are the largest opposition group now with four members, the Socialist Labour Party are up to two, with one Conservative and one Independent both also sitting on the council.....

However, with Labour having pulled off a clean sweep here in 2010, and with polls generally showing them in a better position now compared to then, there is every chance of another Labour clean sweep coming in May. Saeed's Abbey ward is particularly safely Labour with 67.1% of the vote last time to the second-placed Conservatives' 13.2%. Thames ward was a little more marginal by the monolithically Labour standards of Barking and Dagenham with a Labour vote of 49.4% to a second-placed BNP's 17.1%. Neither ward has history of UKIP or Socialist Labour candidates though, so further speculation on electoral chances would have no basis.

Arthur Scargill may not be smiling for long.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Time to stand up against Islamic extremism!

A spectre is haunting Europe, Marx once wrote, but he was referring to the now long discredited virtually dead ideology of Communism. Other than in the prison camp known as North Korea or the decaying states of Cuba & Venezuela and the minds of a number of increasingly irrelevant sects in the West, such ideas have been pushed aside in favour of secular democracy.

However new threats inevitably arise and one that has certainly come to the fore since the burning of the Satanic Verses is political Islam. Islamic extremists are nothing new, existing back in the early days of Islam itself, they have raised their ugly heads at various times in history.

According to Marx's still existing disciples, Islamism is a reaction to Western imperialism which is why various and competing remnants of the far left give such uncritical succour to such movements. They ignore the more barbarous elements of Islamism, such as anti-Semitism (see here ), women's rights, gay rights, hell human rights full stop!

They also show ignorance of the history and development of Islam, which has always been a supremacist cult as their treatment of non-Muslims has always shown. This before the age of colonialism that the comrades always bark on about.

This medieval mind set still exists as the following video clearly shows. If we decline to be converted to the "one true faith" and retain our own ideas then we can only be protected by paying a tax. If we fail to pay we are clearly not only "unprotected" we are at risk. Sounds more like a protection racket to me.

Islamism is clearly gangsterism.



Today's issue of The Times carries two pertinent stories relating to Islamism that should be of concern. The first tells of the Taliban making threats to kill anyone who votes. So much for the religion of peace.
The second relates to issuing of a death sentence on Sawan Nasih  (a Christian) for so-called blasphemy. According to the Times:

Mr Nasih says he was falsely accused as part of a plot by local businessmen to push Christians off valuable land. "They contrived a case and got it filed by a person close to me. I am innocent" he said. He is to appeal.

So much for Islamic "protection". Just more gangsterism.

Besides there is no god in this writers opinion so blasphemy laws are an insult to humanity.

But there is worse. I often refer to medievalism in the Islamist mind, but this guy in the following video is just sheer stone age in his opinions. Even the interviewer  is obviously seriously getting pissed of with this Salafi idiot.

He wants to destroy the Pyramids, the Sphinx and all the other historical artifacts in Egypt. This "Sheik" justified the destruction of the giant Buddha statues by the Taliban on the grounds they were "worshipped" by 800 million people across Asia.

Sheer criminal savagery no other words for it.



There are millions of ordinary Muslims in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and beyond who put their lives at risk by defying the Islamists and their political regimes, yet in the West we seemingly cower at anything remotely deemed "Islamophobic".

Enough is enough. The Islamic agenda is on the rise through imposed segregation in British Universities and pushing forward the agenda of Sharia Law in the UK.

All our rights are constantly at risk if we do not stand up to this creeping religious authoritarianism.

Defend secular democracy! Human rights for all!

Further reading: Chris Moos on Gender Seperation in Universities HERE 

Sign this petition against Sharia Wills now!: HERE

Friday, 28 March 2014

Channel 4 buys fake Hitler hair from Holocaust denier


File:David Irving.jpg
Holocaust denier David Irving (image wikimedia commons)

On April 22nd 1983 the West German magazine Stern published excerpts of what it then claimed were excerpts fro Adolf Hitlers personal diaries. A claim that if true would have provided both historians and psychologists another insight into the mind of the worlds most evil man. The eminent British historian Hugh Trevor Roper was bought in to help verify their authenticity and he promptly declared in The Times newspaper that:

I am now satisfied that the documents are authentic; that the history of their wanderings since 1945 is true; and that the standard accounts of Hitler's writing habits, of his personality and, even, perhaps, of some public events, may in consequence have to be revised.

He was wrong of course and we now know they were fakes, created by Konrad Kujau who ended up serving time but died back in 2000.

You would think that people would be weary of buying stuff like that, except not it would seem. On March 24th the Jewish Chronicle reported:

Channel 4 has defended its decision to buy a lock of Hitler’s hair from Holocaust-denier David Irving.

Television executives said paying £3,000 was justified on scientific grounds.

The hair will be tested on the channel “Dead Famous DNA” programme which will be broadcast this week.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “We wanted to obtain a sample of Hitler's DNA because scientific analysis of it could provide a key biological component to one of the most significant biographies in history.

“The programme makes clear David Irving’s views and his denial of the Holocaust. However, we believe the potential importance of the scientific and historical insight justified the purchase of the sample.”

There is one problem though. It was fake as the Chronicle reported yesterday:

The sample of Hitler’s hair which Channel 4 paid Holocaust denier David Irving more than £3,000 for, has been revealed as a fake.

The Channel bought the sample for its documentary series Dead Famous DNA, but said tests had shown it was not authentic.

In a report in the Radio Times, David Glover, Channel 4’s head of specialist factual programming, said it was not clear if Mr Irving had known the hair was not Hitler's.

"Whether he knew what he was selling was fake or not, we don’t know,” Mr Glover said.

“He may have sold it in good faith, but what we can say is all the evidence suggests that the hair he claimed was Adolf Hitler’s, our DNA science strongly suggests it wasn’t.”

The channel said it has not asked Mr Iriving to return its money.
Perhaps they should have checked it's veracity in the first place, after all someone who tries to claim the Holocaust never happened must be so trustworthy.

Not.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Another left-wing attempt to undermine Labour



The recent death of Tony Benn brought back memories of those heady days in the late seventies and early eighties of the hope of so many that a new socialist nirvana could be built on the backs of the Labour Party being pulled ever leftward. During the "Winter of Discontent" the left both inside and outside the Labour Party joined together to call for the Callaghan Government to be bought down and a "socialist" one to replace it it.

Jim Callaghan was replaced, but not by socialists of any description. This was the beginning of the Thatcher era and all that involved.

At the time the various left-wing groups, particularly those entrenched in the Labour Party held out hope that their gathering of strength would create a more left-wing Labour Party.

What they got was Michael Foot and a left-wing Labour Party Manifesto that was described in the press as the "longest political suicide note in history".

Labour was pushed to the sidelines, the "gang of four" split the Labour Party forming the Social Democratic Party which attracted not only a number of Labour MPs but a couple of more "moderate" Tories too. The SDP allied itself with the Liberal Party promising a new political dawn.

That never came either, with the SDP being nicknamed the Slowly Disappearing Party and eventually merged with the Liberals to form the Liberal Democrats.

Labour re-asserted itself, driving the wreckers of the Militant Tendency out of its ranks, even resorting to closing down the party's youth wing the LPYS and pushing the Labour "lefts back to the fringes.

A number of organisations developed in those stormy days, one of which represented the non-Trotskyist left. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. They still exist today, though its been a while since any of their activities have caught any ones attention. However the bright sparks that remain in the CLPD have come up with a new "wheeze", to establish  a new "trade union party".

The tiny CLPD will be discussing a motion at their AGM this weekend which seeks:

"Exploratory discussions... to seek to establish (after the general election)... a 'trade union party'... along the lines of the Co-op Party - that is to say a political party to further the political interests of the trade unions by seeking an agreement with the Labour Party (rather than by opposing it or replacing it)..

In other words yet another attempt to create a "party within a party" Militant style.

The reason for this is outlined in an interview with Jon Lansman over at Workers Liberty :

The Labour Party, replied Jon Lansman, is at present discredited among trade unionists. A structure which belongs and is congenial to the trade unions might attract many who are unwilling, as of now, to take on the uphill fight against careerists and entrenched interests in the Labour Party.

The new initiative, he said, would have to be done collectively by the unions, or at least by a number of unions. That is preferable to each union having its own political strategy and its own, often ineffectual, effort to mobilise members politically.

The new initiative would not be a revolutionary party. It would reflect and campaign for trade union policies on issues such as employment rights, union rights, the living wage, and so on.

By "trade unionists" I suspect Lansman means political activists in the unions which is a far narrower view of reps than actually exists on the ground. The vast majority of reps are not aligned to the organised left and the members of the unions are no longer wedded to Labour, even if large numbers will still vote Labour come the general election. But far from all.

The layer of activists Lansman will inevitably end up operating with are the very "revolutionaries" he tries to disassociate himself from. The main trade union leaders in the affiliated unions will see this measure for what it is. A return to the bad old days of the seventies which wrecked Labours electoral chances for a generation.

Such a proposal should be rejected by trade unionists as just another self indulgent move by the discredited remains of the old fashioned Labour left.

Times have changed, including the nature of the often quoted "working class". The need for modernisation of the Labour and Trade Union Movement is more than just structural. It must also be ideological.

The proposals of the CLPD and the forces they are likely attract are part of the problem, not the solution.

Labour needs new ideas for a new direction fit for the 21st Century.

The old left needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Save 26 year old Rayhaneh Jabbari from being hanged in Iran

Appeal by Iran U

Rayhaneh Jabbari is sentenced to hang for killing her rapist in self defence in Iran

Reyhaneh Jabbari is at risk of imminent execution for having killed a member of the Iranian intelligence services, Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a physician, who was attempting to rape her. Her execution verdict has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Rayhaneh Jabbari is a 26 six year old woman who has been in prison for the last 7 years and is awaiting imminent execution [by hanging].

Rayhaneh, an interior designer, was speaking on the phone about her work in a coffee shop, a conversation which was coincidentally overheard by Morteza who approached her for professional advice about renovating his office. They then set a date to meet at his office in order to see and discuss Morteza’s renovation project.

On the day of the meeting, Morteza picked up Rayhaneh in his car. On the way to his office, Morteza stopped at a pharmacy, purchased an item (while Rayhaneh waited in the car), got into the car again and drove to his office. After arriving at their destination, Rayhaneh realized that the place did not look like a work place at all as it was a rundown house. Inside the house, Rayhaneh saw two drinks on the table, Morteza went inside and quickly locked the door from inside, put his arms around Rayhaneh’s waist and told her that “she had no way of escaping”. A struggle soon ensued. Rayhaneh trying to defend herself stabbed Morteza in the shoulder and escaped. Morteza died from bleeding.

Lab analysis showed the drinks Morteza intended to serve to Rayhaneh contained sedatives. Regardless, Rayhaneh was arrested. There she was told by the authorities that the murder had been set up [by them] and was “politically motivated”. Nevertheless, Rayhaneh was tortured until she confessed to the murder, after she was given the death penalty which was upheld by the Supreme Court. As a result she is to be executed at any moment.

An interrogator went to the apartment and made a report. At that time Reyhaneh clearly stated to the investigator that she was innocent, that she had met Morteza for business meeting, and that said she killed him only in self defense to stop him from rape.

"The evening I was there, I knew that he wanted to rape me, so because of self defense I stabbed him and escaped," she said.

During a meeting concerning the case at the Criminal Court Branch 74, the family of the victim -- one girl and two boys -- stood up and demanded a "death sentence."

Reyhaneh explained that she had to defend herself: "

Now, any moment it is possible for her to be hanged. Her crime is self defence and she does not deserve to die.

Please do not allow her to be hanged; she is now waiting for our help and support.

NOTE: In Iran men and women, including some minors, face execution everyday for some 131 offenses punishable by death under the fundamentalist Islamic Republic. Some of these crimes include adultery, theft, homosexuality, drug possession and political dissidence. Iran hangs more people per capita than any other country in the world, Since President Rohani's election; there has been a sharp increase in executions. Trials in Iran fall short of International standards and the majority of those hanged did not even have access to a lawyer, jury, or even evidence.

PLEASE DO NOT LET REYHANEH JABBARI BE HANGED. SHE CAN BE HANGED IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The true face of the Hamas clerical fascists

The following two videos show the true nature of the genocidal, racist and frankly supremacist nature of the Islamists of the Hamas organisation that has hijacked the Palestinian cause for its own evil ends.

Clerical fascists? Terrorists? Hamas are Nazi's if you ask me.



If you think that was bad watch this one.



When will the left wake up and condemn this racism.

Answers on a postcard to Godot.......

Monday, 24 March 2014

PCS - Unite merger talks pressing ahead


The news that the main civil service union the PCS is pressing ahead with merger talks should come as no surprise since it hasn’t exactly been a secret since a resolution was passed at last years conference to set the scene for exploratory talks. What does come as a wee bit of a surprise is how advanced the talks are, or at least have been. Both the PCS and Unite National Executive Committees have agreed to further talks which have been taking place over the last couple of months.

PCS General Secretary and his Socialist Party side-kick, Chris Baugh did meet with Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey back in January and it has been reported that there are “no fundamental obstacles to talks on the merger. However the recent revelations on the PCS staff pension scheme were probably not known to Unite back then and have only come to light this month (see here).

Further talks have involved not just Serwotka and a full timer, but also John McInally one the PCS Vice Presidents & the Socialist Party’s “fixer” insider the union. Unites representatives included Tony Woodhouse and Martin Mayer from the Unite EC along with two full timers from McCluskeys Office. Talks centred on “creating a powerful new union” capable of “acting across the public and private sectors”. Serwotka has given a commitment that any merger talks would be conducted in an “open and transparent manner” which I am sure members will be looking forward to with baited breath.

Since Unite already contains a section covering the MOD and other Government Departments it is proposed that PCS (probably as a whole) would transfer into this sector. Apparently “public sector”, though not civil service members would represent one quarter of Unites membership. Unite would also become the largest union in the TUC, though Unison would remain the largest public sector union. Not sure why a merger with them was not considered other than for the self-centred political interests of the Socialist Party who threw their weight behind fellow Trotskyist Jerry Hicks in the recent Unite General Secretary election. Unison of course frown on the Socialist Party (I like them already!) and are less tolerant of the mad militants than is the Marxist McCluskey.

The politics of the merger face one other obstacle. Unite is affiliated to the Labour Party, and despite the recent constitutional changes implemented by Ed Miliband, Unite remains more than committed to Labour. PCS on the other hand, has the sectarian policy of “standing & supporting” candidates in elections, which the like of Serwotka and McInally hope will one day lead to the union backing the tiny and totally misnamed Trade Union & Socialist Coalition. Whether the TUSC survives Bob Crow is a matter for speculation as the power struggle for the leadership of the RMT remains in its early stages.

Socialist Party logo

What Serwotka and the Socialist Party seek is for Unite to have a separate “political fund” for “those who want it”, i.e. themselves. Such a proposal clashes with Unites main political aim being to back the return of a Labour Government and would lead to factional strife, with the Trotskyists using such a fund to undermine Labour, and seek to take over Unite itself. 

More is to come on the merger proposals and members will have to consider the issues involved, including whether this is really the best way forward or just another political manoeuvre based on the narrow political interests of the Militant ruling clique in PCS.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Venezuela: another socialist experiment turns bloody

The situation in socialist Venezuela continues to spiral into into violence as the Guardian reports today:

Three Venezuelans have died from gunshot wounds during protests against socialist President Nicolás Maduro, witnesses and local media have said, pushing the death toll to 34 from almost two months of demonstrations that have been answered with deadly force from both security forces and armed pro-government gangs.

Troops briefly clashed with a small group of protesters who attempted to block a highway in an upscale neighbourhood of Caracas after thousands of opposition supporters marched to demand the release of students imprisoned during the unrest.

Demonstrators complaining of soaring prices and product shortages have vowed to remain in the streets until Maduro resigns, although there are few signs that the country's worst turmoil in a decade will force him from office.

This comes after the murder of more high profile victims such as beauty queen Genesis Carmona only a month ago. At the time one of her relatives told Reuters:

"How long are we going to live like this? How long do we have to tolerate this pressure, with them killing us?''

At the same time how long will it take the left in this country to wake up and recognise what a nightmare Venezuela has become? As usual the so-called progressives see all opposition to the former Chavez regime under Maduro as "fascists".

Emergency Meeting with Venezuelan Minister for Communications Delcy Rodriguez this Saturday
After the anti-racism demonstration in London yesterday, the sinister Socialist Action group invited participants to attend an emergency meeting of the pro-government Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. We are told that the Minister for Communications Delcy Rodriguez :

She will give a briefing & update on the current situation in Venezuela, where recent weeks have seen – as part of a campaign launched by Venezuela’s extreme right-wing opposition leaders forLa Salida (The Ousting of the country’s elected Government) – a wave of violent street disturbances in various parts of Venezuela, & continued Government calls for peace & dialogue.

This would be the "democratically" elected government that suppressed most of the opposition press would it comrades?

James Bloodworth writing in The Independent last month reminds us:

In recent weeks students have taken to the streets in the capital Caracas to protest at the rising cost of living, rampant crime and government repression. And there is a great deal to be angry about if you are Venezuelan. Inflation has rocketed to more than 55 per cent, there are widespread blackouts and the staples of life are increasingly scarce. This, despite the fact that Venezuela is the most oil-rich country in the world. Crime is so rife in the big cities that many vulnerable Venezuelans are reluctant even to venture outside anymore. The murder rate in Caracas is 122 per 100,000 residents - higher even than Baghdad (as a Cuban friend of mine quipped last year, at least proper dictators like Fidel Castro keep the streets safe).

The response by the authorities to the protests has merely highlighted once again the government's unwillingness to tolerate dissent. Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor and one of the protest organisers, has had an arrest warrant issued against him and videos have emerged of students being pistol whipped and kicked by armed policeman. As if taking its cue straight from the Soviet playbook, the government has blamed a “fascist upsuge” for the violence and “saboteurs” for the disintegration of the economy.

The supporters of the brutal Venezuelan government are launching a series of meetings around the country to lobby for Labour Movement support for this "beacon of socialism and democracy. One of the advertised speakers is none other than George Galloway, whose other political hobbies include supporting the Islamist dictatorship in Iran (key of ally of the Venezuelan government) and that other great beacon of democracy, the concentration camp known as North Korea.

Meanwhile in Venezuela ordinary people will continue to suffer at the hands of Maduro's thugs.

The Labour and Trade Union movement needs to break off all support for the Venezuelan Government and stand up for real democracy and human rights.

Venezuela must release all political prisoners and allow freedom of speech and expression in the media. The left are currently covering for a corrupt and brutal dictatorship. This has to end.

Now!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Musical Interlude - A readers request!

After posting a couple of videos of Steeleye Span on Monday I night I received an e-mail from one of my readers who asked if I took requests. Not something I would have thought of I must admit (and can see some bright spark trolling about that!) but since she tells me that Saturday mornings usually contains a spin of All Around My Hat by Steeleye Span, she obviously has good taste.

So Lisa Roberts from Swansea this track is for you!

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell is from her 1970 Album Ladies in the Canyon and reached number 11  in the UK charts.

Enjoy.



You can find more about Joni Mitchell at her official website: http://jonimitchell.com/

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sharia law is well and truly operating in the UK – thanks to the Law Society

Cross-post from: The National Secular Society

Sadikur Rahman, of the Lawyers Secular Society, fears a practice note issued by the Law Society could compromise the Code of Conduct for solicitors and increase the application of Sharia law in the UK.

It was with incredulity that I saw this practice note issued by the Law Society last week.

Lawyers will know that practice notes issued by the Law Society are guidance on best practice for specific topics or areas of law.

This practice note provides guidance to lawyers specialising in areas such as wills, succession and inheritance, and in particular how to accommodate the wishes of clients who want to ensure their assets are distributed according to 'sharia law principles' on their death.

I'm not a wills lawyer, but according to memory in the UK unless you draw up a will, on death your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. I'm sure most lawyers will also say that clients can do whatever they want with their assets, and it has always been the case that a lawyer must follow the client's instructions on such issues.

But what this guidance does is legitimise discrimination towards women and "illegitimate children" – if that term still has any meaning in English law. In an astonishing few paragraphs the guidance states (at Section 3.6):

"The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death.

"This means you should amend or delete some standard will clauses. For example, you should consider excluding the provisions of s33 of the Wills Act 1837 because these operate to pass a gift to the children of a deceased 'descendent'. Under Sharia rules, the children of a deceased heir have no entitlement, although they can benefit from the freely disposable third.

"Similarly, you should amend clauses which define the term 'children' or 'issue' to exclude those who are illegitimate or adopted."


Now, of course a person has always been able to distribute their assets in any way they wish and a Muslim may completely legally have distributed their assets according to sharia principles, without letting the lawyer know the basis of the instructions. The difference now is that a solicitor could offer this service to a Muslim client and the Muslim client can say they want to distribute their assets in a certain way because of their religious requirement.

This guidance essentially provides legitimacy to use a system of law that is discriminatory towards women, particularly in the area of inheritance provisions. There seems no recognition of the fact that solicitors are being asked to use and accommodate instructions which in any other circumstances would be socially unacceptable or at which a solicitor may balk. Suppose a client instructed that their assets should not go to a relative because they happened to be of a different colour?

This raises serious questions about professional ethics and the role of the Law Society. The guidance seems not to recognise that there is a serious potential conflict between the Code of Conduct for solicitors and the guidance. Here is what the Code of Conduct – which all solicitors must abide by – says about equality and diversity (at Chapter 2):

"This chapter is about encouraging equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, and preventing unlawful discrimination, in your relationship with your clients and others. The requirements apply in relation to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

"Everyone needs to contribute to compliance with these requirements, for example by treating each other, and clients, fairly and with respect, by embedding such values in the workplace and by challenging inappropriate behaviour and processes. Your role in embedding these values will vary depending on your role.

"As a matter of general law you must comply with requirements set out in legislation – including the Equality Act 2010 – as well as the conduct duties contained in this chapter."


The Code of Conduct makes it clear that solicitors cannot discriminate, yet this guidance is encouraging us to facilitate discrimination in advising Muslim clients on their wills. Even accepting that testators have the right to act in a discriminatory fashion with their assets if they choose to, this guidance encourages solicitors to adopt a different approach to clients who are deemed "different" – in this case clients who are Muslim. It creates a damaging assumption that Muslims on their death will want to distribute their assets in accordance with sharia law – with all the discrimination that comes with that. This is the "racism of lower expectations". Furthermore, the Law Society has set the scene for further disharmony: the guidance states at Section 1.2 that "There are specific differences between Sunni and Shia rules on succession. These differences are not covered in this practice note…" In time will the Law Society publish different guidance notes for different branches of Islam? Should it be the role of a secular organisation such as the Law Society – an organisation which occupies precious ground in our democracy – to take a view on theological matters?

The language in the guidance is innocuous and very technical, suggesting somehow that it is nothing unusual and just another area of legitimate expertise for solicitors. It is nothing of the sort. It is a dangerous precedent: legitimising a discriminatory practice, which without this guidance clients may have been embarrassed to ask about. But now that the Law Society has said it's perfectly fine for lawyers to draft wills in this manner, I'm afraid it will become increasingly prevalent in England. It also sows the seeds for more sharia law in other areas.

The guidance should be withdrawn. Solicitors are still officers of the Court and have a duty as clearly stated in the Code of Conduct to abide by the Equality Act. How solicitors can do this and still draft "sharia compliant" wills is beyond me.

Sadikur Rahman is a member of the Lawyers Secular Society. The views expressed in our blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the LSS or of the NSS.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Why Marx was wrong

A Rejoinder to Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist

File:Solzhenitsyn Gulag Photo.jpg

Despite all the crimes against humanity carried out in it's name Marxism continues to attract and influence large numbers of people across the left. Every so ofter some bright spark decides its time to publish some glowing little book reinterpreting Marxism for a new generation. One such book we are told is Terry Eagletons Why Marx Was Right.

In a (very!) brief exchange over at Phil's gaff last night I simply wrote that:

Marx was wrong. Marxism should be left behind as a very bloody failed experiment.

Of course young Phil wasn't going to let me get away with that and says it is the "book for me".

Having had time to think about his challenge I went to the more dust filled sections of my various bookshelves and looked at the large number of books that I had purchased and read in my own youthful years on the left. Besides books by Marx and about Marx (plus the other two main icons of the far left in this country, Lenin & Trotsky) there were several tomes outlining the virtues of Marxism ranging from Duncan Hallas and Cliff Slaughter to Ernest Mandel and more.

Additionally like Phil, I had been active in and around groups on the far left for a decade or more up to the late eighties when for a variety of reasons I finally gave up on revolutionary politics and returned to the mainstream, a difficult decision given it meant a major change in my personal life, but one that I have never regretted making.

Marxism was in my view a failure and the comrades were deluding themselves after the fall of Stalinism across Eastern Europe and Russia that anyone would even consider going back in the direction of such an oppressive ideology.

The problem was with Marxists themselves. All the organisations extant on the far left then (as now) were all very inward looking sects and cults. The International Marxist Group/Socialist League  was always looking for shortcuts then indulging in constant faction fighting. The Workers Revolutionary Party was a thuggish cult around their leader Gerry Healy and the Socialist Workers Party had branch meetings that gave the impression of either attending some kind of revivalist organisation or at times a meeting of Alcoholics  Socialists Anonymous. 

I have previously written of Marxism as religion and there remains a need to examine the origins of why so many people who would seek rational solutions to world problems would become so single minded and blinkered not just to the reality of the world around them but end up being worse in practice than the regimes they seek to replace.

The starting point is of course the supposed "scientific" nature of Marxism itself. Originating in the nineteenth century when many of the ideas we take for granted began to germinate, there was a constant need for a kind of modern reassurance of ideas. To call something "scientific" endows such ideologies with some plausibility.

The trouble is "scientific" socialism is about as scholarly as creationism.

And just as dangerous, if not more so.

One thing that is abundantly clear with all the various movements that have been inspired by Marx and his subsequent disciples from Lenin to Pol Pot is a propensity to neglect the individual and his or her basic human rights. They seek to represent the class as an amorphous anonymous mass so democracy free speech and human rights all become obstacles to the one true objective, the establishment of the so-called "classless society".

Therein lies the road to the Gulags.

Everything is determined by the class struggle and as such originates in the thoughts of Marx, "the history of all existing societies...

The role of the individual has no place in the Marxist methodology and mindset.

Estimates of deaths resulting from this inhumane doctrine are difficult to estimate from the beginnings of the Bolshevik coup and the early purges as Trotsky, then Stalin suppressed all opposition both inside and outside the Communist party to the famines in 1930's Soviet Union then under Mao in China to the killing fields of Cambodia must in total reach 100 Million.

Marxism has proved itself to be a false hope but the near religiosity and deterministic outlook of its' adherents means that attempts will remain to revitalise this dangerous creed every so often.

Marx was dangerously wrong.

So is Terry Eagleton.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

"Islamic" teacher escapes prison sentence for paedophilia (Updated)

I was appalled by a story that appeared in The Times today:

An Islamic teacher who molested a girl as he taught her the Koran has been spared jail after a court was told his family were dependent on him as his wife spoke "very little English".

Suleman Maknojia, 40 repeatedly rubbed the 11-year old's leg and reached underneath the long folds of her headscarf to squeeze her chest while giving her and her two brothers private tuition in Arabic at their home in Lancashire.....

The girl said she was "too afraid to say something".

The case only came to Court after the girls Mother overheard the other two children talking about what was going on.

Despite being convicted of five counts of sexual activity with a child his sentence was commuted from 40 weeks in jail to two years suspended. The Judges ruling was:

I bear in mind your own family circumstances. I accept you are a very good father to your six children, your wife speaks little English and administration falls upon you.

I bear in mind that social services conducted their own assessment and found that you do not pose a risk. You are now unemployed living on state benefits.

I have come to the conclusion that this repeated offending from a person in a position of trust merits a term of imprisonment that crosses the custodial threshold.

But I’m satisfied that the sentence of imprisonment in this case for the reasons I have referred to may be suspended.
Oh and apparently he is about to have surgery.
What about the damage he has caused to the victim (a child) and her family.
Un-bloody-believable.
The fact his wife had obviously been isolated and did not have a proper grasp of the English language is no excuse for such a lenient sentence. Social Services instead of apparently reporting he "posed no further threat to children" should have arranged support for the family including language lessons and teaching the woman her full rights under English law.
This case has set a very dangerous precedent for cases involving families where English is not the main language and undermines the basic principle that all are equal under the law.

Update:

The Mail reports that:

The suspended sentence handed to a Koran teacher who sexually abused an 11-year-old girl will be reviewed by the Attorney General after protests from Muslim women's groups.

Suleman Maknojioa from Blackburn was given a 40-week suspended sentence for abusing the girl, after his defence argued that his wife couldn't speak English and the household was dependent on him.

But that decision will now be looked at again after dozens of people complained to the Attorney General's office. The Crown Prosecution Service could then send the case to the court of appeal to be reconsidered.

Lets hope justice is finally served in this case.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The madness of King George and Respect




As readers of this blog will be well aware I am no fan of George Galloway in any shape or form. Sometimes I think he's a dangerous idiot. Sometimes Just a bloody fool. His latest remarks show the man's complete and utter stupidity in the extreme.

In an obituary of Tony Benn he muses:

“At the height of his campaign when he seemed to be about to carry all before him, Benn was struck down by an obscure illness The Guillain – Barre Syndrome which attacked his nervous system, confined him to bed, and left him shaky on his legs for the rest of his life. It seemed suspicious at the time, and it still does now. Especially after what happened to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and other left-wing leaders in Latin America.”

Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

Of course such attacks on political opponents are far from new. Back in 2003 CNN reported

LONDON, England -- It was one of the most notorious acts of assassination carried out during the Cold War.

Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed by poison dart filled with ricin and fired from an umbrella in London in 1978.

Markov, a communist defector working for the BBC World Service, left his office at Bush House in the UK capital on September 11 and walked across Waterloo Bridge to take the train home to Clapham in south-west London.

As he waited at a bus stop moments into his journey home, he felt a sharp jab in his thigh and saw a man picking up an umbrella.

He developed a high temperature and in four days was dead.

A post mortem, conducted with the help of scientists from the UK government's germ warfare centre at Porton Down, established that he had been killed by a tiny pellet containing a 0.2 milligram dose of the poison ricin.

Markov's assassination was detected only because the pellet carrying the poison had not dissolved as expected.

His assassin has never been captured despite close cooperation between British and Bulgarian authorities, including Interpol.

Markov, a playwright and satirist who had broadcast scathing accounts of Communist high life to Bulgaria, was the subject of two failed assassination attempts before he was killed.

And in the years following his death efforts were made to reveal the chain of command which led to the order for his assassination being given....


So it does happen, but the culprits are the kind of Stalinist gorgeous George admires. 

More recently of course there was the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.  The BBC reported:

A post-mortem examination suggested Mr Litvinenko had died after being poisoned with the radioactive substance polonium-210.

A frantic police investigation led to a number of premises being briefly sealed off while forensic scientists tested for traces of the radioactive material.

Locations which tested positive included the Millennium Hotel, the Abracadabra lap-dancing club and the Emirates football stadium, where Mr Lugovoi had watched Arsenal play CSKA Moscow.


No idea what Galloway had to say about that, but then he is a wee bit of a self promoting celebrity on RT, Putin's propaganda channel broadcast to the West.

However in Tony Benn's case there is another explanation as explained by Jim Denham over at Shiraz Socialist who unfortunately has suffered in the past with the same condition and writes:

For several years after that I never met, or heard of, anyone else who’d had the condition, until in 1981 Tony Benn had to interrupt his campaign for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party due to a mystery ailment that turned out to be … Guillain–Barré syndrome.

I remember thinking at the time that Benn must have had a much milder version of it than mine, as he was only out of action for a few weeks. But still, I liked to boast to my friends that with both myself and Benn as victims, it was clear that Guillain–Barré syndrome was a ruling class plot against their most dangerous enemies.


Jim of course is just jesting, he's one of the few on the left with a bit of common sense these days. 

Had to laugh at Andy Newman though who wrote (probably grudgingly since he published Galloway's ludicrous comments on his pro-Soviet blog) that sometimes people get ill. 

Guess that's why doctors gave the condition a name Andy! You might want to think twice about promoting such nonsense now that you are a Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party.

I'm sure the Labour Party Grandees are watching....

Meanwhile I await further atrocities from the crazy world of George Galloway.

Sarah AB has already looked at one odd Respect policy on unity in the Arab world from their redesigned website which you can read here.

Sounds awfully like a call to Baathism George, tell me how's that worked out recently... "cough" Assad "cough" the indefatigable Saddam anyone.

If there's anyone left in Respect, time to come back to the real world before it's too late...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Musical Interlude - Steeleye Span

Time for a musical interlude tonight......

Steeleye Span were one of my favourite bands back in the seventies. The lead singer with the wondrous voice is none other than Madeline Prior. Here's a couple of numbers you may remember:

Gaudete (rejoice in Latin) is a 16th Century Christmas carol apparently, not that I knew that when I first heard it. This version got to number 14 in the charts way back in 1973. I still have a copy!



This second song is taken from Steeleye Spans album Now We Are Six, which was released in 1974 and reached no 13 in the Album charts. This particular performance was in Penshurst Place Kent



The band are still recording! Their latest album (their twenty-second) was released in October last year. The songs are inspired by the Tiffany Aching books by Bob Pratchett who by chance makes a spoken appearance.

Wintersmith (Park Records)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Canterbury Labour Party select extremist as candidate


photo: pflcpsa

It seems that despite taking the very generous pension availed to him by the PCS union, former PCS Deputy General Secretary Hugh Lanning is determined to carry on his political career. Having failed to get elected as General Secretary of the Probation Officers union, NAPO shortly after "retiring" last year, he now has his eyes set on Westminster Palace.

The Canterbury Times reports:

Labour have selected their candidate to run against Julian Brazier for the parliamentary seat of Canterbury and Whitstable.

Hugh Lanning, a lifelong trade unionist and Labour Party member, has served as Deputy General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, and remains an activist in Unite Against Fascism and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.....


Mr Lanning has stated that it is his ambition to be Canterbury’s first Labour MP.

Lanning is a rather odd choice for the modernised Labour Party as his career, such as it was in the PCS union relied on his being part of an unsavoury alliance with the remnants of the old Militant Tendency that helped make Labour so unelectable back in the eighties. 

Indeed as part of the unions ruling group Lanning was also allied with the Socialist Workers Party and other far left activists that have helped make the PCS union a former shadow of what it used to be. They labelled his mainstream pro Labour opponents as the "right wing".

Lanning is best known for his leadership of the rather unsavoury Palestine Solidarity Campaign which whilst not in itself an anti-Semitic certainly has attracted somewhat repugnant elements such as his predecessor Francis Clark Lowles who was expelled from the PSC for being a Holocaust denier. Worryingly 20% of the pro-Palestinian activists actually voted against his expulsion!

Lanning is also a fan of the Cuban dictatorship and for several years ensured that the end of PCS conference social was a propaganda bash for the pro-Castro Cuban Solidarity Campaign. Not even the announcement of huge numbers of redundancies of civil servants by the communist regime shook his support for the Stalinists.

Nicknamed as Hugh "passport" Lanning by the unions unofficial satirical website the PFLCPSA, he gained a reputation for visiting some of the more dubious regimes such as Cuba, Chavez's Venezuela and not forgetting the Gaza strip controlled by the Islamist terrorists of Hamas.

Certainly not someone I would want representing Labour in Parliament. But then this seems to be part of a pattern of failed leftists seeking new careers inside the Labour Party. Lanning joins the openly Stalinist Andy Newman of Socialist Unity "fame" as another of a new wave of unelectable Militants seemingly wheedling their way inside Labour.

Ed Miliband needs to check on what is happening at his "grass roots". The last thing Labour needs is a new "Militant"problem as the general election approaches.

PCS faces financial crisis over own staff pensions



Rumours of the main civil service union is facing financial difficulties have been flying around for a while now, though usually denied by the Grandees in charge. Only recently I was told by NEC member Ian Albert that the unions finances were healthy.

This despite staff cuts, disputes with the staff's union the GMB and the lack of a diary for members, now the the truth is out.

The Independent reported last week that:

A staunchly left-wing trade union that has fought a bitter campaign to protect the pay and conditions of 250,000 public-sector workers is poised to impose draconian terms on its own staff’s pension plans.

Documents seen by The Independent reveal the Public & Commercial Services Union faces a pensions crisis, with the combined deficit on two of its schemes estimated to be as high as £65.5 million.

The figure is more than double the organisation’s £27.6 million annual income, which is expected to fall again this year and threatens a proposed merger with Unite.

The PCS is considered one of the most militant unions and has orchestrated public-sector walkouts over the Government’s pension reforms, such as the eventual rise in retirement age to 68.

The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, has described changes to civil service pensions as a “tax on public-sector workers”.

However, the PCS has privately admitted, given its limited financial resources, that “it is no longer affordable to maintain benefits at current levels” and “no one single change to benefits is going to be sufficient to bridge the gap”. The documents show the Pensions Regulator criticised the PCS’s previous valuations of its pension schemes as being too optimistic over its ability to afford them.

Staff will be asked to accept changes that would mean it would take 45 years of employment to receive half of their salary in retirement, with a lump sum no longer paid at 65 in typical circumstances, and any increase in pay above 1.5 per cent not pensionable.

It is thought this could affect around 300-400 staff, many of whom could have expected half their salary in retirement after 30 years’ service.

A union source said that the “Government is going to have a field day with this”, given the PCS’s “Protect our pensions” campaign that condemned the Coalition for wanting public-sector workers to “work longer and retire with less”.


No kidding Sherlock.

The Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael has already observed:

To see them now imposing on their own staff a worse deal than we offered their members is a bit rich.”

Unsurprisingly the report goes on to discuss the problems faced in a possible merger with the Unite, who would have to make up the shortfall in any future merger. This explains why all is seemingly quiet on the merger front inside PCS itself at the moment.

The Socialist Party may shortly need to look at its' taxi bill again.

Questions need to be asked why PCS members haven't been officially informed about this yet!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Religion as politics: Islamists establish their own "Militant Tendency"



Back in the seventies and eighties the Labour Party was under threat from a well organised group of Trotskyists who had infiltrated its' ranks and taken over the Labour Party Young Socialists, several constituency parties and even managed to get three MPs into Parliament.

The Militant Tendency as they called themselves was in fact a group known as the Revolutionary Socialist League who hid their identity by organising around a newspaper called the Militant. At one stage they actually organised a rally of 10,000 "supporters" (they didn't claim members due to the Labour Party rulebook which forbade such outfits) and became infamous over the bankruptcy of Liverpool Council for which they were responsible.

Then came Neil Kinnocks famous speech about a "Labour Council" handing out redundancy notices by taxi and the subsequent expulsion of Militant, the closing of the LPYS and other measures to remove this parasitical organisation from the Labour Party.

The Militant still exist, albeit under the name of the Socialist Party in much reduced circumstances, but continue their parasitical colonisation policies in the trade union movement and have successfully hijacked the PCS union, itself being led to destruction under their inane ideological leadership.

File:Islamic symbol.PNG

Such tactics it would seem are now being taken up by other groups of extremists, this time in the form of Islamists. Andrew Gilligan reports in The Telegraph (27th Feb 2014)

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) — which believes in jihad and sharia law, and wants to turn Britain and Europe into an Islamic state — has placed sympathisers in elected office and claims, correctly, to be able to achieve “mass mobilisation” of voters.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Jim Fitzpatrick, the Environment Minister, said the IFE had become, in effect, a secret party within Labour and other political parties.

“They are acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it’s at local government level or national level,” he said.

“They are completely at odds with Labour’s programme, with our support for secularism.”

Mr Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Canning Town, said the IFE had infiltrated and “corrupted” his party in east London in the same way that the far-Left Militant Tendency did in the 1980s. Leaked Labour lists show a 110 per cent rise in party membership in one constituency in two years.


So just who is behind this? The anti-extremist website Stand for Peace reports:

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) was founded in 1990 by Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and other Islamist activists. The IFE, which runs the infamous East London Mosque, is described as the “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group. Jamaat-e-Islami is the South Asian equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood. It supports theocratic government and was complicit in the Bangladeshi genocide in the 1970s. The links between the East London Mosque (and thus the IFE) and Jamaat-e-Islami have been noted in a government report.

Stand for Peace concludes:

The IFE’s youth wing, the Young Muslim Organisation (YMO), encourages its members to read books by extremists such as Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue Maulana Mawdudi; and Ali al Tamimi, who advocates the decapitation of Shia Muslims.

The YMO has previously promoted hate preachers such as Khalid Yasin, an American-born Islamic preacher who claims Christians and Jews are “kuffar” [infidels] and their beliefs are “filth.” Yasin has called for the killing of homosexuals and claims that “Christian groups” have deliberately infected Africans with the AIDS virus. He further adds that the Koran gives men permission to beat women.

Most recently, the YMO helped the IFE to organise an event with Abdul Qayyum, who is listed as a signatory to the unambiguously anti-Semitic and pro-terror Istanbul Declaration, which called for attacks on British troops and Jewish communities.


According to The Telegraph there have been previous concerns raised about the activities of the IFE in Tower Hamlets.:

Moderate Muslims in London told how the IFE and its allies were enforcing their hardline views on the rest of the local community, curbing behaviour they deemed “un-Islamic”. The owner of a dating agency received a threatening email from an IFE activist, warning her to close it.

George Galloway, a London MP, admitted in recordings obtained by this newspaper that his surprise victory in the 2005 election owed more to the IFE “than it would be wise – for them – for me to say, adding that they played a “decisive role” in his triumph at the polls.

Given the pro-Islamist policies pursued in Tower Hamlets, including the forced closing of schools in Eid, even where the majority of pupils are not Muslims gives cause for concern about the activities of Islamists in and around the country, not just in the Labour Party either.

The Islamists appear to have a base in the Liberal Democrats which needs to be watched after their disgraceful attacks on Maajid Nawaz a Lib Dem PPC shows. 

Exposing the mad Militants of the Socialist Party is relatively easy, but so many so-called progressive and liberal thinkers are always at hand to excuse these backward medievalists in the name of multiculturalism.

However the views of these Islamists towards women, gays and Jews. let alone anyone else they happen to disagree with is a threat to real inclusiveness in society.

The threat to democracy from the parasites and extremists of both the Trotskyists and Islamists must ever be guarded against.

The Militant tendencies of the Socialist Party in the unions and the Islamists in the Labour & Liberal parties are an ever present danger to democracy from within.

They must be stood up against, and that time is now.

Friday, 14 March 2014

A question of free speech

A couple of days ago I published a statement (without comment) from ULU, signed by some of it’s officers proclaiming a “ban” on the Socialist Workers Party from their premises. Like many others I saw this simply as the SWP finally getting its ”comeuppance “. Others seemingly took that view like Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist who wrote:

What did the SWP expect? Did they think their culture of bullying and depravity wouldn't have repercussions for their standing in the student movement, that pool from which they've habitually fished? As far as the University of London Union are concerned - a favoured venue of many a revolutionary outfit - the SWP are now non-people.

On the face of it that seemed to be then end of the matter, except it appears not only has a row broken out amongst the Sabbatical Officers in ULU, as Susuana Antubam points out on her Face Book page:

Potentially risky post, but I have to be honest.

Hey, thanks for the messages of support. I have to announce that that I wont be in the sabb office much any more, because I don't feel like i work in an office where the rest of my sabbatical team (not Oscar) constantly undermine me as a Women's Officer. The statement I released was written a week ago, we've known about the swp request for weeks, I tried to engage with officers but they chose to ignore me. The rooms that the SWP tried to book have been given to other organisations. Yet both of my sabbatical officers are trying to reverse this decision because apparently its not good politics to ban people that we "disagree with" this isn't the first time this has happened and I can't let it effect my mental health more than it has. I really want to do my job well but I can't do it located where I am, they are not my comrades.


But also bloggers like Andrew Coates have raised serious concerns about how this may affect free speech and assembly in the future, not just for the “far-left” but even for the mainstream parties as he rightly points out on Tendance Coatsey:

This is utterly, completely, wrong.

I feel strongly about this since I have been at left meetings held at ULU since the mid 1970s.

Ban one, then why not another?

This was particularly lame, they have “no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation.”

Fuck me, lets look at some really oppressive organisations and practices in some fucking oppressive countries. 

Coatsey adds in the ensuing discussion on his blog:

Those who think that the SWP are so bad that they do not deserve a venue for their meetings should perhaps also consider banning the Tories, the Liberals, Labour and UKIP, who have plenty of faults, often similar ones, to account for.

What most people have “put the SWP on trial” over is not whether “comrade delta” is guilty or not (frankly that’s a matter for the courts to have decided) but the way in which the alleged victims of this case (and others let us not forget) were treated by the SWP leadership and the loyalist majority in order to both obfuscate matters in order to defend one of their leading members and ignore the whole question of “natural justice”.

In my view and probably that of most outside observers they certainly were guilty as an organisation of failing vulnerable members. Talk of “Lynch mobs” by the de facto leader of the SWP, Alex Callinicos didn’t exactly help matters. Many of us saw just cultish behaviour and wondered what kind of political regime would be established by these “comrades” in the unlikely event of them ever gaining state power.

Stalin anyone?

Of course this “banning” is a very real question that all those of us who believe in democracy and free speech need to address. One of the basic tenets of democracy is that we have to allow those who have differing views, no matter how appalling one might find these people, the right to organise and propagate their ideas no matter how unsavoury most of us might find them.

The SWP along with the British National Party and the Islamists who all in their own nefarious ways seek to undermine & destroy freedom and democracy cannot be outlawed or banned in an arbitrary manner in a democratic society. To do so would undermine the basic liberties that most of cherish and seek to protect. At the same time such rights come with responsibilities (something most of the left in particular tend to forget). This does not include the right to promote violence against either groups or individuals just because their views “offend” others.

The left in particular showed extreme cowardice over the Rushdie affair and continues to do so over whenever death threats against more secular inclined Muslims like Maajid Nawaz take place. They are not the only ones as the media are failing free discourse on a regular basis as this video from the outspoken (and somewhat controversial) Pat Condell shows.

Some of his You Tube talks go a little too far for me, let alone some of my more left-wing inclined readers, but hey its’ a free country (still!!) and sometimes it’s useful to view issues from a different perspective.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Of all the call centers, in all the towns, in all the world ...

LabourStart Appeal
by Eric Lee



"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

- Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca (1942)

On February 13, 2014, the Total Call call center in Casablanca, owned by the French telecom group Iliad, dismissed five leaders of the Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT).
They sacked the union leaders just one day after they officially registered a local union in the company, in accordance with Moroccan law.

Among those dismissed were Mostafa Berrchid, El Mehdi Nasseur, and Kamal Souker.

The union is demanding their immediate reinstatement.

Please take a moment to send your message of protest to the company -- click here.

And please spread the word -- share this message with the usual suspects.

Thanks very much!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tell China: Stop Bear Farming NOW!

care2 petitionsite actionAlert

Farming bears for their bile is one of the most atrocious forms of animal cruelty. The practice still continues in China and must be stopped!

Please sign the petition today!

I first learned about bear bile farming when I began working with animal welfare organisations nearly 7 years ago. It shocked me then and still does. Across China more than 10,000 moon bears are crammed into tiny cages in barren warehouses while their bile is painfully extracted every day.These wild animals never feel the sun on their backs or grass under their feet.

Bear bile farming must stop NOW!

Bear bile is used in traditional Asian medicine to treat anything from headaches to poor eyesight. There is no scientific evidence to prove its potency and there are plenty of synthetically-created medicines that actually work.

The method of extraction makes it even more unappetizing. A permanent hole is made in the bear's gall bladder from which bile is extracted by a tube. Because bile is actively produced by a living bear, the animals are kept on bile farms for up to 30 years to increase bile yield. This illegal practice continues despite overwhelming public opposition and the availability of many humane, effective and affordable alternatives.

In recent months, the Chinese government has begun taking steps to close illegal farms. Now we must urge them to make this issue a priority and set a firm date when bear farming will stop!



Thank you for taking action,

Sharanya P.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team


Changes to comments policy at Howie's Corner

File:New-troll-1.tif
Graphic by EFF designer Hugh D'Andrade


It is with regret that due to obvious "trolling" over the last week that I am now introducing a Moderated Comments Policy on this blog.

Spam, abuse and trolling will be deleted and will not be read or responded to.

This will not be used to prevent criticism or debate.

Many thanks for your patience.

Howie


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

SWP lose venue for "Marxism"

This needs no further comment!

Displaying 20140311_175613.jpg
Picture: Michael Ezra

Statement Regarding Marxism Festival 2014 and the Socialist Workers Party

The Marxism Festival is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). Our rejection of this year's request to book rooms at the University of London Union for Marxism Festival 2014 is due to the fact that the Socialist Workers' Party has, over the last year, proven itself to be a corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women. As elected officers – like many others in the student movement – we see the SWP’s handling of rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable denial of sexism.

Here at ULU we have a clear policy which outlines a zero tolerance stance against sexual harassment and violence. We believe survivors of sexual harassment and aim to offer the best possible support we can. Last year we were angered that the SWP was able to hold Marxism 2013 here but we didn't not have oversight on what type of organisations hired out ULU. ULU is first and foremost a space for student organisation and we aim to put the welfare of students first. We stated that we were going to bring in measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings and we did.

At Marxism 2013, many students and mostly women activists, who attended in order to protest against the SWP, were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party. This only adds to our concerns for the safety of students at ULU when the SWP is present. Furthermore, criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour as well as accusations that it is we who are sexist and sectarian.

The Socialist Workers' Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the the hands of the leadership. Instead of supporting those women, the SWP instead started a victim-blaming campaign and protected the perpetrator. To quote a member of the SWP "we aren't rape apologists unless we believe all women tell the truth, and guess what some women and children lie".

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.

Signed

Susuana Antubam (Women's Officer)
Natasha Gorodnitski (Ethics & Environment Officer)
Maham Hashmi (Black Students Officer)
Thomas Ankin (Disabled Students Officer)
Andy Turton (LGBT+ Officer)


We welcome other student officers of activists to sign.

Countdown to accusations of "Witch Hunt" 10,9,8.........

Poetry: The Ghost in the Lobby

Guest Post by Kevin Higgins

Displaying The Ghost In The Lobby COVER (2).jpg

Historically Sensible

You knew for a fact, they’d never
allow a pair of mad eyes with a pistol
near the Emperor and his wife;
and when they did, knew
the war would be done
before the Christmas tree went up
in Chichester town square;
and when it wasn’t, that the Germans
must be forced to pick up the bill,
so they never did this again.
You knew for a fact, the Tsar
had a special place in the Russian peasant’s heart;
and when he hadn’t, that the Bolsheviks
wouldn’t last five minutes.
And when they did, they were what
you’d been praying for all along.
Hitler was a joke with an Austrian accent
who’d never amount to anything,
and when he did, you knew for a fact
he had no interest in Warsaw, Kiev, Coventry.

You knew when the turbulence
had done its worst, the Shah
would still be sat on his Peacock throne,
looking taller than he actually was. Khomeni?
In five years’ time no one
would remember his name.
And that cowboy actor was never
going to win the White House.

The hijackers you envisaged
always landed the plane
and let the passengers go.

KEVIN HIGGINS

‘Historically Sensible’ is from The Ghost in the Lobby, Kevin’s fourth poetry collection, which is available now from Salmon. http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=323&a=108
It was first published in the online literary magazine The Burning Bush 2

Kevin Higgins lives in Galway, Ireland. For many years he was a political activist, a member of the Militant Tendency in both Ireland and London. He was especially active in the anti-poll tax campaign and was Chair of Enfield Against The Poll Tax. After politics (in 1995) Kevin began writing poetry. His poetry features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and one of his poems is included in the forthcoming anthology The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe April 2014). The Ghost In The Lobby (Salmon, Spring 2014) is Kevin’s fourth collection of poems.

Kevin’s poetry has successfully attracted the ire of both right wing Catholics, one of whom described a poem of his as an “atrocity”, and Galway Socialist Workers Party whose response to one of his poems was to suggest that he had, in their collective opinion, masturbated too infrequently when he was a teenager.

The Ghost In The Lobby will be launched in London on Saturday, April 20th at 3pm by former Conservative Mayor of Enfield Nadia Conway at Haringey Irish Centre, Pretoria Road Tottenham, London N17. All are welcome to attend.

Praise for Kevin Higgins’s poetry:

“His contribution to the development of Irish satire is indisputable…Higgins’ poems embody all of the cunning and deviousness of language as it has been manipulated by his many targets... it is clear that Kevin Higgins’ voice and the force of his poetic project are gaining in confidence and authority with each new collection.” Philip Coleman

“With backstage guardians in Paul Durcan (see his titles) and Patrick Kavanagh, Kevin Higgins's work has a buoyant spoken immediacy (often taking the form of dramatic monologues), his poems springing out of colloquial address and celebrating the ordinary through a use of quotidian bric-a-brac, which he often pits - with positive effect - against larger (but no more important) forces…Comedy is part of his poetics, and what I especially like in his work is its swiftness of wit, its tone of buoyant contrarianism and jubilant disappointment”, Eamonn Grennan, The Irish Times

“It is a profound compliment to the quality of Kevin’s writing that you can disagree with the content and yet find yourself still reading on and appreciating the style. You’d have to say that he is one of the lead poets of his generation in Ireland at this stage.” Clare Daly T.D.

“Gil Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised as re-told by Victor Meldrew”. Phil Brown, Eyewear

“good satirical savagery”. The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry, 1800-2000