20th January, 2010
Got this press release yesterday:
Conservative Party members in Leigh have selected Shazia Awan as the Conservative party candidate to fight the Leigh constituency at the General Election.
Shazia an experienced campaigner and well respected entrepreneur will stand at the next general election against sitting Labour MP and Cabinet Minister Andy Burnham. The election must take place by 3rd June 2010.
Congrats to Shazia – she’s written for PP before and is a strong entrepreneur.
Over at the Operation Black Vote blog, Lester Holloway points out:
So far, Labour has selected a total of 30 candidates from African, Asian and other visible minority ethnic backgrounds. If Gordon Brown has a good election â€“ denying David Cameron an overall majority â€“ Labour could end up with as many as 21 BME MPs.
He has a good analysis of the chances of various ethnic minority Labour candidates too.
19th January, 2010
On the Sunday just gone past, Catherine Bennett mentioned me in an article taking a shot at “the mob” – especially on Twitter and blogs.
Here’s my reply:
This weekend Catherine Bennett castigated me, along with others, for being part of a mob that had taken exception to the prospect of Rod Liddle being appointed editor of the Independent. She’s right â€“ I refuse to buy the Indy ever again (or link to it) if Liddle is appointed editor. More than 4,000 people share my concern, and with good reason.
In all these cases the so-called “mob” has been accused of suppressing free speech. But what you can hear screaming isn’t the Twitter or Facebook mob, it’s newspaper columnists terrified at the idea that their critics could organise themselves and do damage to their reputations.
What the likes of Bennett, Cohen and others protesting about the “mob” don’t seem to understand is that these are real people, their own readers, trying to do something about the world around them. They join Facebook groups, retweet about court injunctions or state #welovetheNHS because, occasionally, they have the opportunity to be part of an spontaneous movement that can have a big impact. Not all lead somewhere, of course, but some do. And the more people realise the power of the collective the more they’ll join in.
Read the whole thing here
The disaster in Haiti has brought out another surge in anti-Americanism. You would think a relief effort that saw thousands of US troops, support equipment, supplies and over $100 million in immediate cash (as opposed to pledges) would win widespread praise. Sadly not. The usual suspects led the way, with the Socialist Worker claiming that it was all part of a plot to occupy Haiti. This rested on the appointment of George Bush Junior as proof that Barack Obama doesn’t care about Haiti (the more prosaic reason that the president wanted a non-partisan fundraising drive was ignored). The French too were angry about US control of the airport, and talked about the US ‘occupation’.
There is a need for a strong hand in Haiti at the moment. As more than one charity worker has pointed out, one person needs to take charge. And at the moment the only ones capable of doing that are the Americans. Yet whatever the Americans do, some people will detect a sinister motive behind their actions.
18th January, 2010
Call for â€˜race slurâ€™ Pendle Conservative councillor to resign
It is alleged that Coun Benson responded by saying: â€œThe problem with Colne is that there are too many takeaways. And too many Pakis, thatâ€™s why people donâ€™t come to Colne.” Cllr Iqbal described the Conservative councillorâ€™s words as â€˜deplorable and disgusting.â€™ He said: â€œIt is an example of the Tory party showing its true colours.”
The striking thing to me, though, is how fast the left has turned on him. Conservatives gave Bush five or six years before they really turned on him, and even then they revolted more against the Republican establishment than against Bush himself. But the left? It took about ten months. And the depth of the revolt against Obama has been striking too.
As near as I can tell, there’s a small but significant minority who are so enraged that they’d be perfectly happy to see his presidency destroyed as a kind of warning to future Democrats. It’s extraordinarily self-destructive behavior â€” and typically liberal, unfortunately. Just ask LBJ, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. And then ask them whether liberal revolt, in the end, strengthened liberalism or conservatism.
Geoff Hoon to give evidence to Iraq inquiry
Former defence chief Lord Boyce has already told the inquiry he was prevented by Mr Hoon from talking to the chief of defence logistics “because of the concern of it becoming public knowledge that we were planning for a military contribution” in Iraq.
Japan Airlines to file for bankruptcy protection
Japan’s government says flights will continue as normal as JAL begins restructuring under the supervision of a state-backed turnaround organisation.
contribution by Bobby Smith
Much newsprint has been used up on the cartoon like figure of Amjed Choudhury – arguably the most recognisable British Muslim in the UK – at least since Captain Hook was imprisoned – and certainly the one they love to hate.
Oh what ‘fun’ it was as person after person, organisation after organisation queued up to put the proverbial steel toe-capped boot into him – thus proving their integrationist and ‘moderate’ credentials – organisations such as the Muslim Public Affairs Committee.
Although a view of the forum section of their website would show views more in keeping with the ‘radical’ Choudhury than those of Florence Nightingale!
What, though, are we scared about? Yes, I accept Choudhury and his like are dangerous to young minds, all too readily brainwashed by his twisted ideology, but I like to think the majority of the population possess the brain cells to see past his schoolboy ranting.
In addition to their somewhat one-dimensional outlook on life I am afraid they are also somewhat behind the times, as the Cockney Rejects, back in 1979, beat them to it with their East End Oi! anthem ‘Police Car’ – a song that contained the immortal line “Freedom? There ain’t no fucking freedom“.
17th January, 2010
I’m going to try and do a morning links round-up of interesting news stories every day, so I can combine various stories of interest into one segment.
Iraq inquiry urged to recall Alastair Campbell after ‘rethink’
It emerged yesterday that:
â€¢ Mr Straw warned Mr Blair of doubts about supporting the invasion;
â€¢ Hoon / Blair were told they had less than five days to decide to join the attack;
â€¢ more than half of voters now believe Blair deliberately misled the country.
Boris Johnson wants London to be Britainâ€™s first plastic bag-free city
Mr Johnson, the Mayor of London, will propose aggressive targets today for cutting the amount of waste going to landfill and a complete ban on this form of disposal by 2025. He wants the proportion of waste sent for recycling to double within ten years to 50 per cent. He believes that it is possible to make rapid progress in reducing the 13 billion plastic bags issued to shoppers each year in Britain because experience elsewhere has shown that people can easily be persuaded to live without them.
Islamic sectâ€™s plan to build mega-mosque collapses
Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted this week from the East London site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers. The Muslim Council of Britain said that the group had fallen victim to â€œunfounded hostility and hysteriaâ€.
Why it’s Tory hypocrisy not to talk class
After all, Conservative leaders have long played the class card from grammar school boy Ted Heath; to Margaret Thatcher, “the grocer’s daughter”; to John Major, who’s famous trip down memory – or rather down Brixton’s Electric Avenue – formed the basis of a party election broadcast; and, most recently, to Michael Howard who chided Tony Blair across the despatch box by declaring, “This grammar school boy isn’t going to take any lessons from a public school boy”.
Police accused of undermining power station protest
He has been accused of straying from his duty under human rights Âlegislation that requires the police to neutrally facilitate peaceful protest. Senior officers have repeatedly denied claims that they encourage corporations to scupper environmental activists through the use of high court injunctions. But in a private letter to the head of UK security at E.ON, Fuller urged the German-owned firm to seek “legal remedies” against activists, and suggested using injunctions.
Teachers in call to aid white working class
The report, entitled Opening Locked Doors, concludes: “While white working class children are not the only underachieving group, they are the largest in number and by many criteria the greatest under-achievers. Thirty years ago a 14 or 15-year-old working class young person could walk out of school and into a decent working class job. That is no longer the case.”
After the recent documentary on the 1984 massacres, presenter Sonia Deol has been heavily criticised because of the portrayal of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. There have even been calls for Sikhs to refuse to pay the licence fee:
Sonia Deol was forced to delete her page on the Facebook website amid a barrage of criticism from fellow Sikhs over her film about the Indian army storming the Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the faithâ€™s most holy shrines, in 1984.
Documentaries like this were always going to inspire strong emotions, but some of the criticism has been strange:
Dr Sadhu Singh, chairman of the Council of Sikh Temples, said many viewers were angered that â€˜the BBC showed him [Bhindranwale] looking like Bin Ladenâ€™.
He said: â€˜They used pictures of him wearing a turban and holding a gun. To someone who doesnâ€™t know what Sikhism is about, it would be very misleading.
He was a leading Sikh militant. It would have been odd to portray him as non-violent, especially as he and his followers took over the Harminder Sahib (Golden Temple), and were armed. Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of the Khalistani conflict, you can’t deny that both sides resorted to violence.
â€˜Some people are very upset that the documentary also showed Sonia Deol dancing with Hindus as if there is no problem between Hindus and Sikhs.
â€˜The feeling is still there that people who were responsible for 1984 have not been brought to justice.â€™
I agree with the latter bit, as will most people who know about 1984. But criticising her for dancing with Hindus who weren’t involved in the massacres (presumably)? Bizarre.
For an different view that stays well clear of Khalistan, I would recommend The Widow Colony, which focuses on the women whose men folk were murdered, and who now struggle to live while still fighting for justice.
(Hat-tip: Kulvinder in the comments)
16th January, 2010
guest post by Rupy Kaur as part of Sunday Speaker’s Corner
In a months time itâ€™ll be Valentineâ€™s Day (VD) and soon there will be lovey dovey gifts in all the shops along with love hearted balloons. Well itâ€™s time for those balloons to be POPPED! Like venereal disease, VD has also become diseased. When people make a show and a dance from expressing their love, it is questionable as to whether their love is actually real.
Being a disabled activist I have noticed that within the disability world there is the constant debate and presumption that disabled people find it hard to find a partner due to their disability. I avoid reading articles about â€˜disability and sex/relationshipsâ€™ as I find them stupid! Especially when reading things like, â€˜a mother of a 21 year old, autistic boy, wishes to pay a woman to have sex with himâ€¦â€™ awkward silence and feelings of WEIRDNESS will then followâ€¦
WAKE UP people!!! Yes, disability is a variable when choosing the right partner but there other variables too. Perhaps you are just boring, or have green teeth and smell real bad? Maybe youâ€™re culturally different and therefore have different opinions on certain values? Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 1/3 people will find you attractive anyway, disabled, or non-disabled.
Choosing a life partner is like choosing the right pair of shoes. A shoe shop may be filled with lots of lovely shoes. However only s few will have the right balance – shoes which are comfy, yet stylish at the same time. Sometimes it can take years to find the right pair of shoes, but when you do, youâ€™ll never want to chuck those shoes away.
Terence Gavan, a ‘former’ (his current status is unclear) gold member of the BNP has been sentenced to eleven years in prison after pleading guilty in late November. Mr. Gavan was found to have:
12 firearms and 54 improvised explosive devices, which included nail bombs and a booby-trapped cigarette packet, at the home Gavan shared with his mother.
The BNP called his sentence “correct”, although refused to clarify his membership status. Given that senior figures in the BNP have recently praised violence and not been reprimanded, it is unclear how genuine their statements are.
The Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC) is co-ordinating the British response to the disaster:
Â£25 will supply a kit of household essentials.
Â£50 buys a food pack to feed a family for a fortnight.
Â£100 provides temporary shelter for two families
To make a donation to the DEC Haiti appeal visit www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque made payable to â€˜DEC Haiti Earthquake Appealâ€™ to â€˜PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AAâ€™.
15th January, 2010
I’ve been sent over this communication by a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government:
The Muslim Council of Britain has made a commitment to Government to examine their internal processes and ensure that the personal actions of all members, including senior leaders, remain true to the organisation’s agreed policies, avoiding a repeat of the issues which arose after one member signed the Istanbul Declaration.
The MCB has stated its categorical opposition to attacks on British defence interests and confirmed its unwavering support for British troops across the world. It has also made clear that it stands firmly against Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.
The significance of these actions on the part of the MCB has led to the Government lifting the suspension of its formal relationship with that organisation. The MCB will now contribute to ongoing dialogue with Government as one amongst a wide range of Muslim organisations.
We will closely monitor how the internal processes progress over the coming months.
As long as the MCB understands the rules of engagement, the government cannot conceivably ignore them forever. And as long as they speak to the MCB as part of a range of opinion and organisations, this is a fine stance to take in my opinion.
14th January, 2010
I have an article on LibCon about the ‘end of racism’ and John Denham’s excellent speech on race saying that in many ways class is more important. Have said that for ages. Also pointed out how many on the right are still obsessed by race, especially when it comes to Stop and Search.
Left Foot Forward has some stats on this:
Between October 2008 and September 2009 the Met alone carried out 162,846 such stops and searches, seven times more than in the same period three years earlier.
The Metâ€™s use of s44 stop-and-search has been disproportionately targeted at young Asian males, angering many in the capitalâ€™s Asian communities, and undermining their much-needed trust and confidence in the police who are there to serve and protect them. Hayman, now retired, defended this profiling approach last week in The Times.
But targeting young Asian males is fraught with risk. Plenty of suicide bombers and their senders have been white, such as Nicky Reilly, or old, such as Samira Ahmed Jassim, or female, like Muriel Degauque. One of the failed 21/7 London bombers fled the capital dressed as a woman.
And you know how right-wingers and the police defend this? By telling you the choice is only between stopping an Asian male and a old white granny. Pathetic.
I think the key to Islam4UK’s banning wasn’t the Wootton Bassett march but the Detroit attack by the Nigerian bomber. At that point, given that I4UK are the UK’s most high profile Islamist group, linked to terrorism though many of their former members, I’m betting that the Intelligence services leaned on Johnson.
Their thinking would be that they need to start being more pro-active and go through various members of al-Muhajiroun / Islam4UK and check if they’ve had contact with Yemenis or any other potential bombers.
After all, it’s very likely that many Islam4UK members are in contact with groups in the Middle East.
So proscribing the group makes it possible for the intelligence services to swoop down on, and legally find it easier to monitor members of the group. It would make it easier for them to confiscate computers or other communication devices of members to see if they’re had contact with potential terrorists.
And so even if they don’t prosecute specific people or ban them outright, banning the group at least gives the intelligence services some legal cover to do better counter-terrorism.
If you watch Newsnight from yesterday, just before the debate between Maajid Nazaaw and Anjem Choudhary, there’s an intelligence officer saying its ludicrous to think these people are normal or innocent given how closely many of their ‘former’ members have been charged with terrorism related oiffences or actually blown themselves up.
I’m almost certain this is a widely held opinion in the intelligence community. It is also likely their views forced Alan Johnson’s hand.
Channel Four’s ‘Indian season’ has come into for plently of criticism, as Sunny and others have pointed out the focus on the Mumbai slums. This does seem to be excessive, and does smack to a certain extent of ‘poverty porn’. It clearly does not show the whole of India.
Yet could an ‘Indian season’ ever be created which is representative of India as a whole? Take Britain, a country with around 6% of India’s population. Could a ‘British season’ be made which reflects Britain? Would it involve binge drinking and chips, the X-Factor and Facebook, the Queen and Churchill? There are always going to be problems with trying to do such a series, as choices will inevitably involve some sort of stereotyping, or else be so eclectic as to not be representative at all. Channel Four made mistakes by focusing too much on slums, and in the way it advertised the series (with stereotypical Indian images), but it never would have been perfect.
13th January, 2010
I’ve written an article for the Guardian pointing out why the decision to ban Islam4UK was right.
I know people are fond of saying freedom of speech is absolute, but it’s not. People don’t have the absolute right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. This relates to people’s access to information: in crowded places they don’t know whether there is a fire, and therefore start panicking if someone shouts “fire”. This principle applies to Islam4UK, too. They continually troll the media with outrageous statements and stunts they have no intention of carrying out, or are hilariously fantastical (the pictures of how Trafalgar Square / Buckingham Palace would look under sharia law, for instance).
The public and media, not knowing much about Islam4UK, end up attaching too much importance to what this small bunch of crackpots have to say. Many also assume or want to believe that Islam4UK represents mainstream Muslim opinion. That is a failure of context and information: just like shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre. Islam4UK spokesman Anjem Choudary does this repeatedly, and a sensation-hungry media keeps dancing to his tune.
Both British Muslims for Secular Democracy and Quilliam have also released statements agreeing with this.
That reminds me, did anyone watch the Newsnight fight (at 18min in) between Maajid Nawaz and Anjem Choudhary? Choudhary pointedly refused to answer almost every question put to him. A complete fraud.
12th January, 2010
A guest post by Yo Zushi
The BBC website’s profile of the recently proscribed extremist group Islam4UK (also known as al-Muhajiroun) ominously states: “What is clear is that there are . . . men who have attended al-Muhajiroun events who have gone further than words.”
Omar Khyam, a Crawley resident who masterminded a plot to bomb targets in south-east England, had attended the group’s meetings; another supporter, Abu Izzadeen, was jailed for attempting to raise funds for the Iraqi mujahideen. But do such vague connections warrant the banning of the organisation, under new legislation that outlaws the “glorification” of terrorism?
From tomorrow, it will be a criminal offence to support the group, which courted public outrage earlier this month by planning a deliberately inappropriate anti-war protest in Wootton Bassett [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/10/islam4uk-cancels-wootton-bassett-march] — a Wiltshire town famous for honouring Britain’s fallen soldiers. Prior to Alan Johnson’s move to ban the organisation, Gordon Brown condemned the proposed march:
I don’t think there is anybody I know in this country who wishes to turn Wootton Bassett and what happens there into an undignified political event led by one or two people who’ve got malicious reasons for doing so . . . I think we should be very clear that it’s not acceptable and it would be disgusting and offensive and I don’t think there is any public support for any means by which Wootton Bassett should be abused in this way.
As much as I disagree with Islam4UK’s core beliefs, I found Brown’s play on populism to be cynical and distasteful at the time. Now, I find it worrying.
You know what annoys me? Dumb, idiotic bloggers who try to smear others by vague ‘nth degree‘ associations. Usually because they happen to be Muslims. ‘Lucy Lips’ on Harry’s Place takes a shot at Libdem PPC and Harrow Mosque imam Ajmal Masroor.
Now, I’ve met Ajmal loads of times and though I don’t always agree with everything he says, he is a thoroughly nice guy and has sound political views.
It seems Alan Johnson is reading my mind or this blog. Anyway, I’ll be on Sky News at 7pm discussing this, with Padraig Reidy, who is opposed. I support the ban for reasons I outlined earlier.
The think-tank Centre for American Progress has some encouraging views on Obama’s moves on green issues:
During President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition, the Center for American Progress proposed a 10-point clean-energy agenda for the president and Congress that would speed the economic transformation to a clean energy economy. A review of these items today finds that all were adopted or are working their way through the process. This is a startling achievement amidst the worst economy in 70 years, two wars, and an opposition party disinterested in cooperation. President Obama did much of what he promised, and he can do more in 2010 by cajoling Congress to do its part.
These achievements will have real world impact. By 2011, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, P.L. 111-5, will double the generation of renewable electricity from the wind, sun, and earth. ARRA will also lead to energy efficiency retrofits in 1 million homes by 2012. And President Obama’s new fuel economy standards would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil. Additional benefits will accrue as the president and Congress finish some 2009 clean-energy initiatives and additional efforts are launched in 2010.
The post a full review of progress made by the president and Congress over the past year. Very encouraging.
11th January, 2010
I know that Slumdog Millionaire was a good film, though it didn’t deserve to win that many Oscars, but I never thought it would encourage slum-fetishism.
Here’s some dude called Kevin McCloud in the Telegraph telling the government: ‘Forget eco-homes and look to the Mumbai slums‘.
“I’ve come back with a sense of renewed hope about how we can do that,” McCloud said. “If I have one message for developers and the Government, it’s to focus less on eco-housing and green buildings – because, frankly, we know how to do that. Let’s start focusing on the social stuff, on how we can make people happier.” His words are likely to dismay the Government, which is pressing ahead with the plans to build 10 sustainable â€œeco-townsâ€ by 2020.
No, actually the government probably isn’t dismayed because only a complete idiot would tell people they should think about living in slums than eco-towns. But I suspect this is more down to the Telegraph’s own agenda against ZaNuLabour and anything ‘eco’ related.
Further commentary from Stroppyblog:
You know what won’t make people happier, Mr McCloud? 1 toilet for every 1400 people. No hospitals or public sanitation programmes. Typhoid, maleria and cholera. McCloud also brings women’s oppression into his praise of the slums: “Because women donâ€™t have huge kitchens, they rinse their pots in the street. That has to be the most civilised, sociable way of doing the washing-up â€“ outside in the sun, chatting to your neighbours.” Women engaging in arduous domestic labour in the streets; what a pretty picture indeed!
Do people even think before they write up these news stories or give these interviews?
That interview is actually part of Channel 4′s Indian Winter of programming, which takes this fetish to another level.
Of the six programmes, four are somehow or the other based on slums. And the one film is Om Shanti Om. Ugh.
Damn straight. Now, I realise India has lots of slums but there’s no need to turn them into a fetish; there’s plenty more interesting stuff to the country. This just looks like cheap, lame programming. And there’s no need to start worshipping people who live in slums – 90% of them want to escape the poverty and live somewhere with proper sanitation.
Over 70% of women seeking asylum are rape survivors. Over 400 women and their families are currently detained at Yarlâ€™s Wood Removal Centre. Many are detained in other Centres throughout Britain.
While the brutal detention of children is finally widely condemned, there is still little said about the detention of mothers and the impact of this on families, including children, as well as on other vulnerable people.
Hope Not Hate have sent out this strategy briefing regarding the BNP:
The BNP is likely to contest over 200 parliamentary seats in the General Election and up to 1,000 council seats. The main threat is in Barking & Dagenham, where they could take overall control of the council, and Stoke-on-Trent, where they could become the largest single party â€“ and we fear that Nick Griffin could win the parliamentary seat in Barking.
The HOPE not hate campaign has identified 102 council wards in 31 local authority areas that are at risk from the BNP. Just over half of these risk wards are in just 10 local authority areas. The concentration is even starker when one counts the most at risk wards. All but three of the 25 most at risk wards fall in 10 local authority areas, as do 38 of the 50 most at risk wards.
The high risk local authorities, where the BNP pose a threat in multiple wards, are Barking & Dagenham, Stoke-on-Trent, Thurrock , Nuneaton, Sandwell, Amber Valley, Burnley, Barnsley, Rotherham and Leeds. But there are other areas, such as Wigan, Tameside and Bexley, where the BNP will be pushing strongly for the first time.
10th January, 2010
So Anjem Choudhary and Islam4UK have decided to cancel their march through Wootton Bassett. Wait, I’m shocked. No really, I expected this to happen just like their lame march through London, which they backed out of simply because some anti-Islamists showed up.
The News of the World reports that the home secretary plans to ban the group, and for reasons I outlined years ago when it applied to al-Ghuraaba, that’s fine with me.
But the question is – will the British media now wake up to the fact that Anjem Choudhary has them wrapped around his little finger, and not dance to his tune the next time he tries a publicity stunt? We’ll have to wait and see but I doubt it.
Update: 5 Muslim men who called parading troops ‘baby killers’ and ‘murderers’ were today convicted of threatening behaviour.
Munim Abdul, 28, Jalal Ahmed, 21, Yousaf Bashir, 29, Shajjadar Choudhury, 31, and Ziaur Rahman, 32, all from Luton, were convicted at Luton magistrates court today of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
I’m crying for them… really I am. Idiots. Full story.
more recent posts » — « previous posts
An hour-long documentary presented by Sonia Deol titled â€˜1984: A Sikh Storyâ€™ will ret-tell the story of the year the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent troops into the holiest and most revered of Sikh shrines, The Golden Temple.
AIM Magazine has learnt that it is likely to prove controversial with some Sikh groups because of its portrayal of the militant Sikh preacher Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. It is also likely to draw the ire of the Indian government for its story on how it reacted following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.