8th January, 2012

Pickled Politics is coming to an end

by Sunny at 11:35 am    

I think I’m merely stating what has become obvious now.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on my new project – Rippla – and my blogging energy went into writing for Liberal Conspiracy or editing it (which takes up a lot of time too). Rumbold has a new job that makes it difficult for him to find the time too. Only Jai has had the time to blog properly.

We wanted to host a new conversation on race, religion and identity politics in general. We gave voices to people who felt a certain way, annoyed people, entertained them and pushed an agenda that slowly made its way into the national conversation. I made lots of mistakes, lots of friends and learnt about politics faster than any other way possible.

If you don’t have regrets then you didn’t make much impact. But more than the badly titled posts or the flame-wars or the arguments – I had lots of fun blogging and creating mischief.

But everything has to come to an end. We started September 2005 – racking up over 14,000 posts over six and a half years. We thank the bazillions of wonderful visitors and commentators (including the mad ones) for making this place interesting and occasionally informative.

You can catch me on Twitter or on Liberal Conspiracy. I’ll sign off with the photo I think best encapsulated Pickled Politics.

ALSO: I apologise to all the people who’s emails I didn’t reply to. There were too many :(

Rumbold adds: I would like to say thank you as well to everyone who made this such an enjoyable place. I made a lot of friends here, and had so many interesting debates.

It also exposed me to issues I would never have given much thought to. Things like far-right groups and ‘honour’-based violence aren’t going to stop just because we have (sadly), but I hope we at least raised awareness and understanding of the latter and maybe contributed to some positive changes, whilst giving the former a (metaphorical) black eye.

We won’t completely vanish however. Elton John is going to update ‘Candle in the Wind’ for us (“Goodbye Hounslow’s Rose”) and Sunny will be appearing in the next series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

Jai adds: I would like to add my heartfelt thanks to PP’s readers, the editorial team, and everyone who has made a positive contribution to the comments threads. We’ve jointly managed to do a lot of good work here, and your kind support, involvement and feedback has always been invaluable.

Many commenters and writers have passed through this website’s doors since 2005, and some long-term regulars are still with us. It’s fascinating how the articles and discussions have evolved over the years, especially in response to major real-world events. For my part, I’ve learnt a great deal as a result of my participation on Pickled Politics. It’s been quite a ride; we’ve had days of high drama, times of fierce debate, and moments of tremendous warmth and humour.

To those of you who don’t want the story to end: The logical decision would be to collectively relocate to Liberal Conspiracy.

Good luck for the future, everyone. It’s been an honour.

Filed under: Blog
1st January, 2012

Happy New Year

by Rumbold at 11:28 am    

Pickled Politics wishes all its readers a happy New Year. Good luck for 2012.

Filed under: Culture
25th December, 2011

Merry Christmas

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Pickled Politics would like to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas.

I think we’d all agree that 2011 turned out to be not only surprisingly eventful but also very unpredictable. A great deal has happened around the world during the past year, and it makes one wonder what is in store for the human race in 2012.

Regardless of whether you regard Jesus as the messianic son of God, a prophet, a saint, or simply a great man, his powerful message of peace and compassion, the need to oppose injustice and prejudice, and the importance of helping the poor, the vulnerable and the persecuted clearly still has great resonance as an inspiring example for mankind.

Some suitable music to mark the occasion:

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing “The Face of Love”, accompanied by Eddie Vedder of the American rock group Pearl Jam and Nusrat’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The song is from the Oscar-nominated film Dead Man Walking.

The simple Urdu/Hindi lyrics mean “What is living without love ? Since you have come into this world, love each other”.

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Filed under: Religion
16th December, 2011

Christopher Hitchens death is no reason to avoid criticism of him

by Kulvinder at 11:03 pm    

The death of any prominent individual – let alone one who held controversial views – always results in a certain amount of aggravation as the skeins of supporters flock to various forms of media to have one final fight about the irreplaceable stature or utter irrelevance of the recently deceased.

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Filed under: Blog,Culture,Media
14th December, 2011

Sunday Times investigation unmasks EDL’s wealthy strategists

by Jai at 8:00 am    

The Sunday Times have formally investigated the English Defence League’s backers and have confirmed that two key individuals in particular are involved. You can read the full article here. A few extracts:

A property tycoon and a City-based financier quizzed by police over his links to the gunman who slaughtered 69 people in Norway are exposed today as key figures behind the rise of the far-right English Defence League (EDL).

A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that Ann Marchini, a mother from Highgate, north London, and Alan Ayling, a former director of an investment fund, have sought to mould the thuggish anti-Muslim group into a credible political force. They are both linked to the murky world of the online “counter-jihad” movement from which Anders Behring Breivik drew ideological inspiration before committing his massacre in Norway in July. They have remained in the shadows until now by using aliases on the internet to mask their true identities.

…..Marchini, who is thought to be in her fifties, runs a buy-to-let property empire from her £1.6m mock-Tudor home in Highgate, a leafy suburb usually associated with liberals…..She is said to have helped organise a “pivotal” meeting between EDL figures and anti-jihad thinkers in July 2009 and recently attended a discussion where the EDL agreed to consider an electoral pact with the right-wing British Freedom party (BFP).

…..Ayling, 57, has been operating under the alias “Alan Lake”. He is an IT expert and was a director of Pacific Capital Investment Management until January this year. The fund was dissolved in August. Last month Ayling was interviewed by officers from Scotland Yard at the behest of Norwegian police who were investigating whether he was a possible “mentor” of Breivik. Paal-Fredrik Kraby, an Oslo police prosecutor, confirmed that “the man known as Alan Lake” had been questioned.

…..In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper nine days ago, Lake denied having any contact with Breivik. However, he admitted to having met a prolific anti-Islam blogger called “Fjordman”. “People ought to read him, he is good,” Lake said. Breivik named Fjordman 111 times in his manifesto.

Background information

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5th December, 2011

‘Moral relativism’ – what Orwell actually said

by Sunny at 10:38 am    

This paragraph from Glenn Greenwald caught my eye:

One other point: whenever you dare to suggest a comparison between the United States of America and whatever country happens to be the New Hitlers of the moment, you get accused of moral relativism.

That has always struck me as so bizarre, because moral relativism actually refers to precisely what Orwell described: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.”

As Rudy Giuliani said when asked if waterboarding is “torture”: “It depends on who does it.” That is moral relativism.

This sounds about right. People who use the ‘moral relativism’ argument to shield the USA and UK from criticism really annoy the hell out of me. Now it turns out they also misinterpret what Orwell said. How… Orwellian?

Filed under: Civil liberties
30th November, 2011

EDL leader agrees with Anders Breivik, but psychiatrists declare Breivik insane

by Jai at 8:00 am    

The mass-murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik has been declared insane. In a 243-page psychiatric report following 13 meetings between Breivik and a team of psychiatrists, Breivik has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a severe psychotic mental disorder.

It has been recommended that Breivik should be indefinitely confined to a secure unit at a psychiatric hospital, potentially for the rest of his life, with reviews every three years to determine if he is still a danger to society. The public prosecutor in the ongoing terrorism investigation told a press conference that the psychiatrists evaluating Breivik’s mental state had “described a person who lives in his own delusional universe”. The report will be formally presented at Breivik’s next court appearance, on 16 April 2012.

As discussed on Pickled Politics here, the English Defence League recently issued a public statement on their official Facebook page finally admitting that their agenda is racially-motivated (it turns out that part of the EDL’s statement was practically identical to the statement made by Anders Breivik during his court appearance just two days previously), and the EDL have also announced a formal alliance with the Far-Right “British Freedom Party”.

It is worth noting that EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) is on record as explicitly stating that he does not think Breivik is insane and that he actually shares some of Breivik’s opinions:

We share some of his opinions, and his fear, but not what he did in Norway 22 July. I do not think he is insane. I think that his approach was insane. Breivik dared to come forward with his opinions, and was tough, in some regards. People need to understand that Breivik is not alone in these feelings.”

Readers can therefore draw their own conclusions about the implications of the EDL leadership claiming that they share the “opinions”, “fear” and “feelings” of an individual whom psychiatrists have now certified as psychotically insane.

Update:

· Two EDL members have now been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to blow up a British mosque. Full details via EDL News and BBC News.

· It turns out that British Freedom Party leader (and EDL ally) Paul Weston has regularly written articles for the virulently anti-Muslim website “Gates of Vienna”. The website was repeatedly cited in Anders Breivik’s manifesto. In fact, the rhetoric and terminology used by Weston in his articles is very similar indeed to Breivik’s statements in his manifesto (by tests forge severly). Weston himself appears to take no responsibility for the poisonous influence of such propaganda on people like Breivik; instead, in an article cross-published on the EDL’s main website, Weston has bizarrely blamed Jeremy Paxman, the BBC and “the entire political/liberal left” for Breivik’s mass-murdering actions and any similar future atrocities. More details here.

28th November, 2011

What would you do if confronted by this

by Sunny at 3:17 pm    

Filed under: Race politics
22nd November, 2011

“When did lefties becomes so unreasonable [about Obama]?”

by Sunny at 9:28 am    

There’s a brilliant article in NY Mag this week on President Obama, titled ‘When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?‘. I read it and agreed with most of it, with caveats (about civil liberties and the ‘war on terror’).

Jonathan Chait first makes a historical argument: that while liberals (lefties) in the US keep saying Obama sold out and didn’t do as much as promised, especially compared to earlier US Presidents, this is rubbish. In fact they complained just as much, if not more, in past decades.

Bill Clinton’s election, following a dozen years of Republican presidencies, ushered in buoyant hopes of renewal. But liberals experienced his presidency as immediate and almost continuous deflation and cynicism. Clinton did enjoy one major triumph in his first year, when he passed a budget bill that raised the top tax rate, expanded the earned-income tax credit, created a new national-service program for graduates, and reformed other parts of the budget. This was the progressive apogee of the Clinton administration. Liberals at the time viewed it as a sad half-measure.

Today, Carter is remembered as a president anchored in liberal values, a revision of history both conservatives and Carter himself are happy to leave uncorrected. But the truth is that Carter’s domestic agenda carried only small bits of liberalism, and those small bits (a consumer-protection agency, tax reform) met with total failure in the Democratic Congress. Carter’s policy accomplishments tilted right of center—he deregulated the airline and trucking industries and cut the capital-gains tax. Most infuriatingly to liberals, Carter refused to push for comprehensive health-care reform.

Kennedy’s reputation benefited from a halo of martyrdom, deepened by liberals’ rage against Johnson, which retroactively cast Kennedy as far more liberal than he actually was. In reality, Kennedy’s domestic agenda slogged painfully through a Congress controlled by a coalition of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats. He campaigned promising federal aid for education and health insurance for the elderly but didn’t get around to passing either one.

Franklin Roosevelt is hard to compare to anybody, because his achievements were so enormous, and his failures so large as well (court-packing, interning Japanese-Americans). But even his triumphs, gleaming monuments to liberalism when viewed from the historical distance, appear, at closer inspection, to be riddled with the same tribulations, reversals, compromises, dysfunctions, and failures as any other.

So why does this keep happening, again and again?

Why, for the most of the past 60 years, have been in “a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage”?

And why does this not apply to Conservatives?

There is obviously the willingness to quickly forget the past. But it’s also because conservatives think differently, he says.

Conservatives, compared with liberals, have higher levels of respect for and obedience to authority and prefer order over chaos and continuity over change. They are more likely than liberals to agree with statements like “It is more important to be a team player than to express yourself.” (Interestingly, libertarians tend to resemble liberals on these measures, which may explain why libertarian politics also so frequently resemble a Life of Brian–esque farce.)

That sounds about right.

Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor, defines the contrasting moral styles of right and left like so: Conservatives excel at competition between groups—your team, your nation, your tribe—while liberals care more about fairness within a group.

He also says this is partly why Tea Partiers were able to quickly suppress racist signs at their rallies, while Occupy protests have been unable to stop a small group of anti-semites from bringing them under attack.

In contrast, Obama has managed more than every other Democratic president in the past (except Roosevelt):
- “His single largest policy accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, combines two sweeping goals—providing coverage to the uninsured and taming runaway medical-cost inflation—that Democrats have tried and failed to achieve for decades.”

- “The Recovery Act contained both short-term stimulative measures and increased public investment in infrastructure, green energy, and the like.”

- “The Dodd-Frank financial reform, while failing to end the financial industry as we know it, is certainly far from toothless, as measured by the almost fanatical determination of Wall Street and Republicans in Congress to roll it back.”

And don’t forget the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Marriage Act (which said it could only be be between a man and a woman). And there’s plenty more.

If Obama gets re-elected then all the above legislation he passed, especially healthcare, gets entrenched (by tests forge severly). Otherwise Republicans will repeal it – including the legislation on banks. Next year, that alone is worth fighting for.

Filed under: Party politics
17th November, 2011

EDL finally admit that their agenda is racially-motivated

by Jai at 9:00 am    

The English Defence League issued the following public statement yesterday on the EDL’s official Facebook page where they finally confirmed that they are indeed motivated by racial reasons. If the terminology in the statement sounds familiar, that’s because it’s identical to the explicitly racist propaganda of the BNP, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacist websites such as Stormfront, complete with references to “race”, “dilution”, “genocide”, “indigenous” and “wiping us out as a race”. A screenshot of the EDL’s statement is displayed below:

EDL - race

For the convenience of readers who may wish to quote the statement elsewhere, here is the transcript:

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14th November, 2011

EDL had threatened to shoot police on Remembrance Day

by Jai at 8:30 am    

More than 170 English Defence League members were arrested in London on Remembrance Day in order to prevent a “breach of the peace”.

The reasons for the arrests were the threats of violence which senior EDL figures had posted on the internet beforehand. Three EDL members who had been arrested were released specifically on police bail, with further inquiries pending.

The most incriminating message of all was posted by Michael Rafferty, a senior EDL leader from the group’s ‘Combined ex-Forces’ (CxF) division. As reported in The Independent, police have confirmed that Rafferty had claimed that the EDL had access to guns and would bring them to London on Remembrance Day.

Rafferty had also claimed that the EDL have snipers and other armed members, and were prepared to open fire against the police. A screenshot of Rafferty’s sinister Facebook message is displayed below, which includes Rafferty’s repeated threats of an armed war being started on the streets of Britain.

Michael Rafferty was subsequently stopped by police in London’s Whitehall area on Remembrance Day and searched for guns, although none were found on him. The EDL had also made direct threats against the Occupy LSX camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, claiming that the protestors had ridiculed what the EDL referred to as “our religion”.

The Guardian have reported that the EDL posted Facebook messages threatening to burn down tents in the Occupy LSX camp if they were still outside St Paul’s on Remembrance Sunday; The Guardian have also confirmed that EDL members tried to enter the camp, with the most recent incident occurring on Thursday night.

Shortly after the arrests of EDL members on Remembrance Day, the EDL released a statement making the following threat against the Police and the British Government:

 

Of course, making threats is a repeated pattern of behaviour for senior EDL figures.

For example, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), an ex-BNP member who recently claimed that Islam is a “race”, is on record as recently accusing “every single Muslim” of collective guilt and publicly making a direct threat of EDL-led retribution against what he terms “the Islamic community” en masse. Similarly, The Guardian have confirmed that EDL financier & strategist Alan Lake was the author of a horrifying “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population and anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, including death threats against British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury (by tests forge richards). Lake is currently being formally investigated by the Norwegian police to ascertain his ideological influence on the terrorist Anders Breivik.

10th November, 2011

Wusses from Muslims Against Crusades back out of protest

by Sunny at 5:03 pm    

So… Muslims Against Crusades have been banned as of midnight. For people not aware of the context, this isn’t new. Anjem Choudhary’s two previous reincarnations of the same sect – Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK – were also banned in the past.

As Jeromy Taylor points out:

RE Muslims Against Crusades. Since 2001, 31 people have been charged with proscription offences. 15 have been convicted.

The ban isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that they decided to cancel their protest tomorrow (by tests forge richards). After all, Anjem Choudhary and his motley crew are used to just turning up under a different name.

But it is also the case that they hate their publicity stunts being neutralised. The last time British Muslims for Secular Democracy openly called for a counter-protest, Anjem Choudhary and his lot decided not to turn up at the last minute. This time too, they’ve decided to call it off.

If you’re reading guys – don’t worry we’ll be there every time you try and hold one of your stunts.

Filed under: Islamists

Press release: Muslims to protest against poppy-burning extremists

by Sunny at 1:44 pm    

MAC are being banned from tonight, according to the Home Secretary. But we’re assuming they’ll still turn up under a different name

On Friday 11th November 2011, at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, a growing number of individuals and organisations will be observing the nation’s silence at the Royal Albert Hall, to counter an incendiary protest by the group Muslims Against Crusades (formerly known as Al-Muhajiroun).

Led by the Alliance Against Extremism, an umbrella body for many of the organisations and individuals involved, banners will also be held to send a clear message to Muslims Against Crusades (MAC).

The vast majority of British Muslims – irrespective of their diverse views on particular armed conflicts – recognise that British soldiers continue to serve in difficult circumstances.

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Filed under: Islamists

Norwegian police formally investigating EDL financier for possible terrorism links

by Jai at 8:00 am    

· Reuters news agency are reporting that English Defence League financier & strategist Alan Lake is now being formally investigated by the Norwegian police in order to verify if he was an ideological influence on the mass-murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik.

· The Guardian have formally investigated and independently confirmed Alan Lake’s authorship of a “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population along with anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, including death threats against British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury. You can see a screenshot of Lake’s horrifying “Final Solution” here and here.

· Alan Lake was interviewed by the Daily Mail in 2010 and openly discussed his involvement with the EDL as a financier and strategist.

· Channel 4 News, describing Alan Lake as “the EDL’s chief financier” during their investigation of the EDL’s connections with Anders Breivik, have confirmed that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011. In that interview, Lake confirmed that he has funded the EDL.

· Video footage is available of Alan Lake attending a meeting in London with senior EDL leaders Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), Kevin Carroll and Roberta Moore, in a video released on 20 March 2011.

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9th November, 2011

More information on our demo against poppy-burning extremists on Friday

by Sunny at 10:22 am    

As promised, we’re organising a demo against Muslims Against Crusades (Anjem Choudhary and fellow band of bandars) for this Friday morning. Man. I hate getting up early morning.

Full details on the FB page. I quote:

Last year, extremists from the small group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) burnt a big poppy on Armstice / Remembrance Day as a stunt to rile up anti-Muslim and anti-British sentiments.

MAC (formerly known as Al-Muhajiroun) are planning a similar stunt this year on Friday, at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP.

We are calling on all right-minded people to join us.

This initiative is being led by a new umbrella group – Anti-Extremism Alliance (AEA) – and supported by other individuals and organisations including Islamic Society of Britain, Pickled Politics and more.

The humble poppy is a symbol of our common quest for peace. It represents a stand taken by civil society against fascism, racism and hate preaching. It represents the ordinary citizen against the ideas of groups such as Muslims Against Crusades and the English Defence League.

Someone also made us a video! Come down, even for a little bit. Strength in numbers and all that (by tests forge severly).

Filed under: Islamists
8th November, 2011

EDL leader continues to reveal his disturbing attitudes

by Jai at 8:00 am    

English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) has a history of making statements indicating that his actions are racially-motivated. For example, during an interview on 27 January 2010, Yaxley-Lennon made the following remarks:

“Within 30 or 40 years in this country we are a complete minority to Muslims, because of the Muslim demographics…..Our culture and our race will disappear in this country.”

More recently, Yaxley-Lennon gave an interview to Adrian Goldberg at BBC Radio West Midlands on 22 October 2011. It’s available via Youtube here. Yaxley-Lennon made some particularly self-incriminating statements towards the end:

“The black community and the white community in Birmingham are treated with iron fists. The Islamic community are treated with kid gloves and that’s just the way it is. And it’s not on, You can’t have a two-tier policing system. There can be no master race. And I’m sorry, but there is a master race in certain areas of this country and it’s Islam !”

Therefore, Yaxley-Lennon is now on record as 1) essentially claiming that there are 3 races in Birmingham, namely white, black and Muslims, and 2) describing the religion of Islam as a “race”. Apart from the fact that Yaxley-Lennon’s description of what he claims to be the three communities in Birmingham would raise some eyebrows amongst the city’s sizeable Sikh and Hindu populations, his remarks also make a mockery of the EDL’s claims that their bigotry isn’t racially-motivated “because Islam is not a race”.

The implications of Yaxley-Lennon’s statements are even more disturbing when you bear in mind the following fact: As a result of his speech during the EDL’s demonstration in London on 3 September 2011, Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as publicly accusing “every single Muslim” of collective guilt for 7/7 and publicly making a direct threat against what he terms “the Islamic community” en masse:

“EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM watching this on Youtube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”

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5th November, 2011

We’re planning to disrupt Anjem Choudhary’s Remembrance day demo

by Sunny at 10:54 am    

Extremist Muslim group Muslims Against Crusades are planning their annual Remembrance Day stunt again, on 11th November.

The Daily Mail, which always reports on their actions in advance, says the demo, which will mock the charity for injured soldiers Help for Heroes, is due to take place outside the Royal Albert Hall, the same location where a poppy was burned last year.

The Muslims Against Crusades protesters, who have sought permission from police to hold the rally, aim to chant and disrupt the minute’s silence held in honour of the war dead.

Like last time – when we stood against them at their 9/11 demo – a group of us are organising a little protest against Choudhary and his band of monkeys on Nov 11th.

Come down and join us on the day! More details will be posted soon.

Filed under: Islamists,Religion
31st October, 2011

New report into the EDL shows most political overlap with the BNP

by Sunny at 10:23 am    

The think-tank Demos have published a report into the English Defence League.

There report is here. They say:

While leaders of the EDL claim they are a pluralistic, liberal movement that is fighting Islamic extremism, chants heard at demonstrations and the vitriol frequently posted on the EDL’s chat forums suggest otherwise. It is in this context that we have undertaken the first ever large-scale empirical study of the EDL, which comprises responses from 1,295 sympathisers and supporters, and includes data on their demographics, involvement in EDL activity, political attitudes and social views. The results show that, although the EDL is usually understood as an anti-Islamic or anti-Islamist demonstrating group, the reality is more complex.

Supporters are characterised by intense pessimism about the UK’s future, worries about immigration and joblessness. This is often mixed with a proactive pride in Britain, British history and British values, which they see as being under attack from Islam. Although their demonstrations have often involved violence and racist chants, many members are democrats who are committed to peaceful protest and other forms of activism.

That sounds about right to me.

The report also destroys the myth that EDL people have usually defected from the left; in fact most have right-wing sympathies:

Who would they vote for?

BNP – 34% (public: 2%)

UKIP – 14% (3%)

Conservative – 14% (36%)

Labour – 9% (29%)

Lib Dem – 3% (23%)

Filed under: Race politics
26th October, 2011

Happy Diwali

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Pickled Politics would like to wish our Sikh and Hindu readers a very Happy Diwali.

Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali (the “festival of lights”) for a range of reasons, most popularly to commemorate the return of the victorious Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya, as described in the Ramayana. The inhabitants of the city decorated it with lamps to celebrate Rama’s return. The festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil.

Sikhs celebrate Diwali to commemorate the return of the 17th century Sikh Guru Hargobind to Amritsar after he had been imprisoned for political reasons. The Guru had eventually negotiated the simultaneous release of 52 imprisoned kings; his arrival in Amritsar coincided with Diwali, and the overjoyed population adorned the city with lights to celebrate his return. You can see a photo of modern-day Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple in Amritsar at the top of this article. Guru Hargobind’s supporters included Mian Mir, the Muslim saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple and was later the main religious teacher of the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh.

The Golden Temple’s architecture symbolises the core Sikh principles of the unity of God irrespective of the name people call their deity by, and the inherent unity & equality of mankind irrespective of people’s religious background. Like the other 9 Sikh Gurus, Guru Hargobind himself embodied these principles and therefore had a mosque built for the Muslim population of the town he’d founded in Punjab (the mosque was recently renovated by a major joint Sikh-Muslim project in India). Guru Hargobind was also responsible for initiating the militarisation of the Sikh population by raising a standing army, and for founding the Akal Takht, the temporal seat of Sikh authority which now forms part of the Golden Temple complex.

Some suitable music to mark the occasion:

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Hindu,Religion,Sikh
25th October, 2011

Crowd-sourcing info-graphics on UK inequality – get involved!

by Sunny at 9:08 pm    

Graphs like this from the New York Times and this from Business Insider have been circulating all over Facebook, along with lots of other charts and info on how bad inequality has gotten in the United States.

I literally cannot log info Facebook without being hit with another graph that backs up the arguments made by the Occupy Wall Street movement. But 99% of these graphs relate to the United States. There is a dearth of info for the UK.

It’s time to remedy this.

I’m just going to put a list here of info and links people have sent me when I requested info:

- The Office of National Statistics has some info; another set
- Data from Danny Dorling’s book

Major sources of info:1

- One Society also focused on Inequality
- EHRC data: ‘How Fair in Britain?’
- New Economics Foundation, which has a new report coming out
- The Equality Trust
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation

- Resolution Foundation: [report 1: figs 5, 9, 12, 16, 18 and 36) // report 2

So what do we need?
Well, for a start we need someone to find interesting info that can be turned into infographics (by tests forge richards). We need info that particularly stands out, or would look good as a graph contrasting with previous decades.

Second, we need people to help turn the info into pretty info-graphics. I’m willing to help with this bit, as I have my head in enough technical data already.

So come on leftie nerds – let’s do something useful than just come up with slogans eh?

Filed under: Economics
19th October, 2011

Faibian society elections: my choices

by Sunny at 4:56 pm    

The Fabian Society election ballots have to be returned by post before 5pm on Friday 21 October. So today’s like the last chance you have, unless you deliver it by hand!

And voting at Fabian exec ballots is usually quite low (colleagues tell me) so voting is VERY important!

Anyway, here are the people I’m definitely voting for and would recommend (in alphabetical order)
Asato, Jessica
Ibrahim, Sara
Khan, Sadiq
Loewe, Marie-Noelle
Malhotra, Seema
Rampulla, Vincenzo
Roberts Marcus

There are other solid people on the list too, but these are my key recommendations. (obviously this post is only relevant to people who are Fabian Society members)

Update: Sara Ibrahim and Ellie Cumbo are standing in Young Fabians elections too – please support them!

PS – I would write biogs on each explaining why I think they’re good people but I don’t have the time (by tests forge severly). They just are…!

Filed under: Party politics
18th October, 2011

The political dilemma on immigration and welfare

by Sunny at 7:59 pm    

This is more a quick note and thought than an extensive analysis (which I’ll write up later).

Anthony Browne at ConHome writes that immigration is ‘cooling’ as an issue.

I’m entirely unsurprised by this, and it illustrates how these issues change in importance on the left and right.

Voters generally assume that Tories will be harder on issues such as immigration, ‘welfare cheats’ and reducing govt spending. They also generally think Labour will be better on issues such as the NHS, jobs, education and looking after ‘ordinary people’ (some readers may disagree but these are broad brushes and the polls bear this out).

Take an issue such as immigration: most voters don’t expect immigration to come down significantly. But they expect Tories to do as much about it as possible, given their rhetoric. So it becomes a less politically charged issue for them since they expect the party in power to be harsh.

Same goes for the economy. I was talking to a mate at Labour party conference, who said his company had done some private polling on the economy just before the election (by tests forge severly). They found that, given the choice between what a govt should focus on, 70% picked reducing the deficit while just 30% picked jobs. I was a bit taken aback but it makes sense I suppose.

At the time – the deficit was seen as a higher priority than jobs. And the media was hyping it up as massive issue (for political reasons too, obviously).

But I’m So betting that pre-election poll will now have inverted. As soon as the Tories came into power, an increasing number of people who picked the deficit as their priority will start choosing jobs instead. Partly because unemployment is rising, but also because they think the Tories will tackle the deficit anyway, but need other priorities too.

That was my first point. My second point is this:

There is a dilemma for Labour (on immigration and welfare – where voters overwhelmingly thought they were too soft), and for the Conservatives (on education and NHS – where voters overwhelmingly thought they didn’t care for ordinary concerns), on how do you keep your natural supporters on side while dealing with concerns of the centre that you’re crap on the issue.

To be more specific: I don’t want Labour to triangulate on welfare or immigration any more either. This is specifically why I didn’t vote for them in 2010. But I also recognise I was more to the left of the public on the issue, and it’s difficult to make the argument that just by listening to the likes of me, Labour will win elections.

The good news is that the election showed triangulation didn’t work either. But I’ve not heard a convincing narrative out of this dilemma either.

Filed under: Party politics
17th October, 2011

EDL thugs attacks bookstall run by Muslims

by Sunny at 6:37 pm    

Halesown News reports:

A MUSLIM book stall in Cradley Heath market was stormed by over 25 thugs from the English Defence League this weekend. The shocking attack occurred in front of shoppers, many of which were women and children, at the market at 2.30pm on Saturday. The local Ahmadiyya Muslim book stall and Qur’an exhibition was attacked and volunteers were manhandled and abused by members of the Far Right organisation.

“We have the book stall to raise awareness of our work in Britain and in the local community we are proud to be British Muslims and this incident saddened us.

“Our motto is ‘Love for All – Hatred for None’ and we do not meet violence with violence so we just stood there and did not respond to the provocation.”

I thought the EDL lot were against violence and British values huh? So much for that pretence. via @HopenotHate

On Boxing Day in 2009, Cradley Heath Mosque and the local Islamic Centre was burnt to the ground by arsonists.

Filed under: EDL,Race politics
16th October, 2011

Jagjit Singh – a tribute

by guest at 5:51 pm    

This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh.

The music legend Jagjit Singh sadly passed away on Monday in the Indian city of Mumbai. He was 70 years of age and had died of a brain hemorrhage. Like myself, millions had grown up with his music and songs. Many of them he had earlier sung with his beautiful and talented wife, Chitra Singh. Over the years though, the couple have had to endure horrific tragedies, particularly in relation to the deaths of their son and daughter. That pain and loss would cast a shadow on much of Singh’s compositions.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jagjit Singh perform live in London and was immediately captivated by his soft and warm voice and his take on the Ghazal, the musically form of Urdu ‘shayari’ or poetry. Without realising it, he had brought alive the words of the 19th Century poet Mirza Ghalib like no one before him. Such was his impression on me then, that I began to learn to read the Urdu script so to understand fully what was being said.

Yet Jagjit Singh was no ordinary singer from the subcontinent. He crossed borders and faiths in his quest to bring poetry to ordinary folk. From the Urdu verse and the Punjabi poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, to the Punjabi Tappe, Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads. Before his untimely death, he was in the middle of a tour with renowned Pakistani ghazal legend, Ghulam Ali.

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