31st December, 2010

How sectarianism works

by Sunny at 11:18 am    

So I write a blogpost about how people from the SWP always try and denounce others, and I get a whole bunch of SWP fans on Twitter saying ‘OMG its not true, we never do that!’, including Richard Seymour from Lenin’s Tomb. The next day he writes a blogpost taking personal potshots at Aaron Peters, an activist and student, going by the exact script I outlined in my post.

Let’s check the score-sheet: (1) personal attacks – check. (2) Criticising him for being on the centre-left – check. (3) Accusing anyone of supporting mutuals as being very little to different to Osbornomics (sectarianism) – check. Bonus: believing crap in the Daily Mail to feed his narrative. Don’t you get ousted from the SWP these days for taking the Mail at face value?

I like mutuals. I like the Co-operative. I like John Lewis. I’m happy to support this effort by UKuncut, which prompted Richard to write a post dredging up all the personal past stuff (‘omg he actually said on Facebook he was employed by Demos, but he just interned! Wot a liar!‘)…. literally a day after he accuses me of being McCarthyite.

The substantive point is this: I don’t care if some people believe supporting Mutualism is akin to working at Goldman Sachs. Take your simplistic view of the world and shove it. I believe there is a massive distinction.

The whole point about not being sectarian is that you don’t go around telling other people, what events to run and what to support – just because it doesn’t match with your level of radicalism. Organise your own damn event if you want. Just because some people within UKuncut support mutuals, that must mean they support the privatisation of Royal Mail> This is the level of debate we’re supposed to engage with? Screw that.

Overall, I think Richard Seymour is a good bloke. He means well. But like other SWP people he sings the praises of unity while constantly engaging in the SWP tactics I mentioned earlier. Unless these folks shed their old habits they will always be regarded with suspicion by large parts of the left.

Update: Aaron Peters has written a reply to Richard.

Filed under: Blog
30th December, 2010

The EU as a troubled teenager

by Rumbold at 4:51 pm    

The Guardian is running an EU series, and the latest piece, translated from the French, is worth a read, as are the comments. It was written by a French academic and explains that the problem with the EU is not that it is a greedy inefficient, corrupt body, but rather that it lacks confidence in itself (since it is admired by the rest of the world). The author argues that:

The twin motors of European construction – solidarity and the quest for greater efficiency – have ground to a halt under the strain of economic crisis.

To which one commentor responded:

Lol! Efficiency. “I know what we’ll do! 1 week a month we’ll move the whole eu from brussels to strasbourg!

It is a fairly common argument amongst EU partisans that only greater integration and more central control can lead Europe into a new age, and overcome the issues of an ageing population, increasing debt and a loss of competiveness. While it is a enchanting argument, manly of the EU’s current policies are having a negative impact on Europe’s economic competiveness (particularly the Common Agricultural Policy), and so greater EU centralisation will only make matters worse. What is needed is a further scrapping of external trade barriers, which will not only benefit EU consumers, but also be an effective aid package. Scrapping the CAP could be the ‘major project’ called for in the article, but there are too many vested interests stopping it. The EU will neither disintegrate or become dynamic, rather it will carry on amalgamating power and regulating, without realising more rules and taxes don’t give companies the space to compete with emerging markets (and America).

Filed under: Current affairs
29th December, 2010

Fighting back against misogynistic forces in India

by Rumbold at 9:26 am    

This is an edited crosspost from the 50 Million Missing Campaign

498A is a significant law in India that is meant to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed. These cases may or may not involve dowry. The law is cognizable (i.e. a police officer can investigate and arrest without a warrant) and non-bailable (i.e. the court has the power to grant or refuse bail). The maximum sentence under this law is only 3 years.

Over the last few years there has been a very powerful, wealthy, lobby of Indian men, many living outside India (married to women from India), who have funded a strong anti 498A drive and have managed to put the law before the Indian administration for amendment. Their complaint is that many women are making false claims of torture and harassment under this law. They want the law to be made non-cognizable and bailable.

The 50 Million Missing Campaign will be sending this memorandum (letter below) to the Committee protesting this amendment. We request that you put your comments in the boxes below [HERE] supporting our protest. Your email address will not be published. You can also send an email (by Dec 30) directly to rsc2pet@sansad.nic.in.

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28th December, 2010

Why I have a problem with the SWP

by Sunny at 6:15 pm    

In the past few weeks I’ve taken minor pot-shots at ‘trots’ and the SWP, which annoys the hell out of a contingent of my Twitter followers.

They accuse me of wanting left unity while being sectarian, which sounds plausible in that context, but needs some explanation. There are a few things that annoy me about the SWP and, sometimes, their related factions (don’t ask me to name them all):

1) Going too far, in a tendency to join in an alliance with people who go completely against left-wing values / ideals. The hero-worship of people such George Galloway, who praised the Iranian regime when it was cracking down on student protests, is a prime example. Also in the past, groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.

2) Being protest parasites. Sure, I get that the SWP lot spend money on banners, but it annoys the hell out of me when they try and brand protests and events organised by others with their own placards.

That isn’t a selfless contribution: that’s like saying if you volunteer in a charity you want it written down and proclaimed loudly. Their people did it at UKuncut protests too (conveniently placing themselves in-front of pictures) – it looks shameless and completely opportunistic.

3) Entryism. Tales of SWP people trying to take over successful left organisations that didn’t follow their line are everywhere. It smacks of opportunistic control-freakery and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be criticised.

4) Ignoring other left movements. People at the SWP and other similar organisations believe that only class politics matters. Sure, class underpins a lot of outcomes but it is not the sole driver of people’s behaviour. By that, I mean that people on the far-left completely ignore (and ridicule) other movements such as feminism, environmentalism, civil liberties etc.

The upshot seems to be that you’re either fighting the class war comrade or you don’t really understand politics and you’re a bourgeois sellout. This simple narrative isn’t just frequently wrong because it fails to understand the intersection of movements, but it really is sectarian and patronising.

Just because I don’t spend half my day ruminating about what Marx said on a particular development doesn’t mean you understand politics better. Really – it is that straightforward. And if you ignore other movements then frankly you don’t understand how broad the left is.

5) Sectarianism aimed at the centre-left. People on the far-left want unity with people with agree with, but not others who might not be as radical as them. The thinking goes: ‘if you’re not as radical as us then you’re part of the problem‘. Their line of thinking is that people within the Labour party are sell-outs while they are the only true defenders of the working class.

People who think there is very little difference between (post Tony Blair) Labour and the Conservatives either know very little about national politics, or stay so far out in the political fringes that everything else looks like a vaguely similar blur. I’m not sure that attitude makes them an effective proponent of ‘left unity’.

I find this as sectarian as people on the centre-left who dismiss those more radical than them.

* * * * * * * * * * *

That said, I don’t go around saying the SWP aren’t really part of the left and are ‘sell-outs’. They are part of the left even if I don’t regard them as particularly important or effective, despite their past organisational effectiveness.

I just don’t like their way of working, and saying this is no different to saying I don’t like the way the Labour party conducts its internal democracy. Or criticising Phil Woolas, or their take on civil liberties etc.

Unfortunately there are too many childish lefties on Twitter who think any criticism of the SWP is akin to blasphemy and spend hours / days / months call you “part of the problem”. There are plenty of good reasons to call out the SWP, and if their defenders can’t take the criticism they shouldn’t really be in politics.

[PS - post written rather hurriedly as I've got a ton of stuff to do, but as I'm trolling socialists on Twitter, I though it was worth getting out there quick]

Filed under: Party politics

BBC stars ‘blacked up’ controversy

by Rumbold at 10:39 am    

Having watched Little Britain once, briefly, I have been fortunate to have escaped it ever since. It came across as unpleasant and unfunny, and it seems that the show’s creators have continued in the same vein with their recent Christmas Day special. Matt Lucas and David Walliams decided to ‘black up‘ in order to play a number of characters, including a black woman:

Lucas darkens his face and wears a beard to play a Muslim worker called Taaj. He also adopts a strong West Indian accent to play a black woman called Precious who works in the coffee shop.

Though the story has been mainly pushed in the Daily Mail, which has a vendetta against the BBC, the reaction of the BBC’s spokesman was pretty weak:

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Come Fly With Me had a huge audience and many people loved it. ‘Matt and David play all the characters and they are representing a multicultural society. They are not setting out to offend people.’

“Representing a multicultural society” by ‘blacking up’? Oh dear. One of the main problems with ‘blacking up’ or blackface’ is its historical legacy. Most prominent in America as a way of perpetuating negative stereotypes of black men (and women), it also came to this country mainly in the form of the Black and White Minstrel show. Many people found it offensive at the time and still do so today. Nor is this the first time Little Britain has used ‘blacked up’ characters.

Filed under: EDL,History,Media
27th December, 2010

Skin whitening

by guest at 10:14 am    

This is a guest post by Eshaan Akbar

Oft-repeated family stories tend to have a mythical characteristic to them – particularly when they relate to many generations past. But one story has an altogether different type of tale in our family that continues to amaze those who hear it.

My great grandmother had the good fortune of being born into a wealthy family of landowners who branched out into businesses ranging from tea gardens to garments. The day she was to eventually get married, the groom-in-waiting turned up with his family who offered his hand in marriage. Everything was fine until they saw the complexion of my great grandmother – slightly darker than wheatish. Sensing the reluctance of the groom’s family, her father summoned some weighing scales, sat her on one of the scales and piled gold jewellery on the other until the value of the gold equalled the value of his daughter. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sexist? Yes. Archaic? A little. Consigned to the past? No. As part of every Bangladeshi wedding, the most important ceremony is the ‘Gaye Holud’ (turmeric on the body), not least because this is where all the singing and dancing happens. But, most importantly, it is where turmeric paste is applied to the body of the bride a few days before the wedding to ensure her complexion is the fairest it can be on the big day.

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Filed under: Culture,South Asia
26th December, 2010

Aishwarya Rai skin lightening controversy

by Rumbold at 11:15 am    

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is at the centre of a controversial photoshoot for Elle magazine, in which she appears to have had her skin whitened for the photos. Mrs. Rai Bachchan, who like many Bollywood actresses and actors is very wheatish anyway, appears to be several shades lighter in the photos taken.

Filed under: Culture,India
25th December, 2010

Merry Christmas

by Jai at 8:30 am    

According to Christian tradition, today marks the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christianity actually has a very long history in the subcontinent; there have been settled communities of Christians in India for hundreds of years longer than there have been Christians in northern Europe (including Britain). Thomas the Apostle is also believed to have been sent to India by Jesus to spread his message; St Thomas is buried in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Apocryphally, there are some unconfirmed legends of Jesus visiting Buddhist monasteries in northern India and Tibet during the “missing years” between his childhood and his early thirties.

More recently (relatively speaking), several of the Mughal emperors, who were all Muslims, were particularly broad-minded about Jesus, Christianity, and Christian artefacts.

For example, the arch over the gateway to the main mosque in Akbar the Great’s old imperial capital near Agra displays a quote attributed to Jesus; a large mural of the Nativity was displayed in Akbar’s sleeping chambers; and Jesuit missionaries were allowed to set up a chapel within the imperial palace itself.

Akbar’s son & successor Jahangir, who owned a large carving of Jesus on the Cross, kept large-framed pictures of Jesus and the Madonna in his own sleeping quarters.

In fact, Jahangir appeared to be so amenable to Christian theology that Jesuit missionaries mistakenly believed that he was on the brink of formally converting from Islam right until the very end. During the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir, missionaries built churches at several locations in the Mughal Empire, and Christians were free to openly celebrate major festivals such as Christmas and Easter.

Multiple paintings and murals depicting various aspects of Jesus, Mary and Christian saints were commissioned by the Mughals, and were displayed not only on the walls of the palace but also on Mughal tombs and caravanserais. The picture at the top of this article is a painting of the Nativity, created during the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah, circa 1720. During the 1850s, the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s own physician formally converted to Christianity, to which the emperor simply replied that the man’s faith was his own private matter and “there was no cause for shame in what he had done”.

In modern-day India, Christmas is a major national holiday.

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Filed under: History,Religion
24th December, 2010

Coalition Christmas announcements: 0AD

by Rumbold at 11:10 am    

Andrew Lansley: Due to the financial mess inherited from the previous Labour government, we have had to reduce spending on the NHS. However, don’t despair, as this has enabled us to outsource many essential tasks to private providers. Gone are the boring standard maternity wards, replaced by stables with mangers in them.

George Osborne: The three wise men did bring expensive items into this country it’s true. But since they were only visiting for forty days, they are classed as non-domiciled; given that they earnt the money for these items elsewhere they won’t be taxed on them. The fact that these three businessmen recently donated gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Conservative party is neither here nor there.

Nick Clegg: We had to form an agreement with the Roman Empire. Judea wasn’t a viable state in this world. Now thanks to our agreement, we can get wine from Gaul and slaves from the Rhine. Isn’t that what all our people want?

Iain Duncan Smith: Baby Jesus has a very rich, absent father. The idea that he should receive taxpayer-funded child benefit is wrong. Mary needs to take responsibility for her actions too.

Vince Cable: I am going to teach those Pharisees a lesson if they want to expand their temple. It’s war. Hang on, you are not random members of the public are you? I see that parchment in your hands! You are scribes!

Ed Davey: I hate working with Augustus and the Roman empire. It was much better when it was just King Herod and the other Jews. I don’t mind taking his sesterii though.

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Filed under: Culture,Humour
23rd December, 2010

Asian Network DJ Sentenced For Carer’s Allowance claims

by guest at 10:38 am    

This is a cross-post by Sarah.

The case of Lubna Qazi has got me thinking. Mrs Qazi, 53, admitted falsely claiming Carer’s Allowance of up to £18,000 while working as a DJ for BBC Asian Network in Birmingham.

She began claiming the benefit in 2002 after her husband had a stroke. She started work at BBC Asian Network in early 2003- but for 7 years, she did not declare her job as a DJ to the DWP. She was earning more than the £95 a week allowed for people claiming Carer’s Allowance.

I am usually the last person to agree with benefit fraud. If Mrs Qazi had never been a carer and had claimed Carer’s Allowance, or if she had continued to claim the benefit after her husband had been cured of his health problems, I would have been the first person to strongly dislike her for this.

However, Mrs Qazi was genuinely her husband’s sole carer during the 7 years- a fact recognised by Birmingham Crown Court and the reason why she received a conditional discharge rather than a three month jail term. She has also been ordered to pay £100 legal costs and to return over £17,000 to the DWP.

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Filed under: Disability,Economics
22nd December, 2010

EDL’s Sikh spokesman arrested

by Rumbold at 7:39 pm    

Guramit Singh (sometimes called Amit Singh) has been arrested today by Cambridgeshire police on suspicion of “intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress, under section four of the public order act 1986.” following a speech on December 11th. Mr. Singh is perhaps the most high-profile non-white member of the English Defence League (EDL), and has been in trouble before, after boasting on his Facebook page about his hatred of Muslims:

the muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!

After that controversy he apologised, claiming he only hated militant Muslims. Was his apology sincere? It seems unlikely, given his latest remarks. Richard Bartholomew has an extract from his speech (available on YouTube):

I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.

Filed under: EDL,Sikh

Anjem Choudhary and mates behind ‘xmas is evil’ stunt

by Sunny at 5:12 pm    

The Daily Mail has found the ‘war on Christmas by Muslims‘ it always wanted. The news report is practically salivating at their amazing find. I went to www.xmasisevil.com – it doesn’t work but redirects to islamicrevival2010.com – run by Al-Muhajiroun / Islam4UK.

Just to be clear, all Anjem Choudhary and his mates needed to do was set up a blog, put up a few posters, send the pictures and link to the Daily Mail. Job done
via @mjrobbins

Update: Oh look, Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick has also demanded they be ripped down. Now, I don’t really care for stunts etc, but when will it occur to this obnoxious MP that the best strategy is to ignore these idiots rather than fuelling tabloid rage / extremist stunts?

Update 2 The Daily Mail has also recycled its ’40% of British Muslims want Sharia and to kill us all’ story from 2008. Martin Robbins has dissected the dishonest way it’s reported.

Filed under: Religion
21st December, 2010

The bigger tragedy behind the assault on Afshan Azad

by Sunny at 6:32 pm    

The story of young actress Afshan Azad, assaulted by her brother because her boyfriend was not Muslim, has hit the headlines because she starred in Harry Potter.

But there are thousands of girls like her every year who aren’t able to tell anyone their story. They don’t just face domestic violence, but are sometimes forced into marriages to avoid any further such embarrassments. In extreme cases she could also be the victim of “shame” based violence.

Afshan Azad’s ordeal is common, and not just prevalent among Muslims.

When my mother found out I was dating a Muslim girl while at university, I faced a stern, disapproving talk about how she wouldn’t tolerate me marrying a Muslim girl (yes,most Asian parents are obsessed with marriage). But I got off lightly.

One night a group of Sikh guys came to our university and stabbed (in the leg) a Muslim guy who had been going out with a Sikh girl. In stark terms they told him to ‘leave our women alone.’

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The Daily Mail 100 years ago*

by Rumbold at 9:22 am    

Reading through Professor Andrew’s history of MI5, I came across a story about anti-German propaganda in the run up to the first world war.

In 1906, a popular author, William Le Queux, published a book, The Invasion of 1910, explaining in meticulous detail German plans to invade Britain in 1910. The plans were made up by the author, but were widely believed. They were serialised by the Daily Mail, whose proprietor had a special hatred of the Germans (in his final will he accused them of poisoning him by ice cream).

The Daily Mail changed the invasion plans in the book, as they felt that there were too many villages on the invasion route where the Daily Mail’s circulation was low. Instead towns were added with a greater number of Daily Mail readers (to induce extra fear).

The serialisation added 80,000 to the Daily Mail’s readership and contributed to greater anti-German feeling.

*Well, 104 years ago.

Filed under: History,Humour,Media
20th December, 2010

If Tories want transparency, why not ask the TPA to declare their funders?

by Sunny at 10:02 am    

Iain Dale wrote a very muddled rant in the Mail on Sunday against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, combining the sex allegations, the claim that ‘WikiLeaks has revealed nothing really’, and the Andy Coulson story to generate outrage against ‘hypocritical lefties’.

In one paragraph we’re told he’s just published “purient gossip” and in the next paragraph we’re told that our national security is at risk from the man. Julian Assange’s ego is out of control… from the blogger who starts off by talking about how he caused a “minor stir” when he stopped blogging. It’s all par for the course, quite amusing, and easily ignored.

Two points need to be made. Dale says:

You’d have thought that The Guardian would be the first newspaper to support the concept that he should be judged under the rule of law. Its journalists are normally the first to assume that men who face court on rape charges are guilty. And yet here, they’ve done a volte-face.

They haven’t. They have actually published the most detailed account of the allegations so far (causing Assange’s lawyers to howl in outrage) and published an editorial saying the allegations should be investigated. Not sure what the volte-face is over.

Secondly, he says:

Julian Assange purports to believe in total openness – except when it comes to himself.

Erm – there is a difference between details of your private life being all over the media, and details of government policy or workings being released. Even Daily Mail readers (see the highest rated comments) understand that.

But if the right is suddenly interested in transparency and disclosure – why aren’t they demanding that the Taxpayers’ Alliance reveal how they are funded?

Representatives of the TPA are constantly in the media as commentators. They release reports that the media then dutifully regurgitates without fact-checking. They have also sister-organisations such as the Drivers’ Alliance and Big Brother Watch. And yet, despite constant requests, they don’t disclose who is funding them and where their funding comes from.

If you’re going to call for transparency – have some consistency please (not that I expect it, over transparency or free speech)

Update: It’s not just Iain Dale who’s confused, the idiots at Harry’s Place can’t tell the distinction between private and government secrecy either.

Filed under: Party politics
18th December, 2010

Saving the planet through women’s rights

by Rumbold at 11:09 am    

The debate surrounding Earth’s resources and population growth can often be quite fraught. Some people argue that an ever-growing world population will strain world resources even more, worsening climate change in the process. Others criticise this vision as an attack on the poor (who use less resources per head than the rich) and women who have plenty of children, which suggests some sort of mass planning where permission to breed is required from the state.

In theory, the calculation is a simple one. If technological advances and energy conservation can keep pace with population growth, then the situation is unlikely to get any worse. But whether this will work in practice is impossible to say. That is why it is useful to approach the issue from other angles, just as Kate Smurthwaite has done. Ms. Smurthwaite believes that reducing population growth is a good thing, but doesn’t see the need for state planning and control:

There are millions of women around the world and right here at home who desperately want to have less or no children, to have children later in life and to control their own fertility. Furthermore some of us crazy feminist types actually think it is their right to do so and to be given access to the tools and education to enable them to make those choices in their own lives. We call them reproductive rights.

Free access to and information about contraception – including condoms which also prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs – and abortion are basic rights that every woman should have. All we have to do is provide them.

More education and rights for women is a good thing in itself, and if it helps combat climate change then even better.

16th December, 2010

Now Jody McIntyre is being attacked for his pro-Palestinian views

by Sunny at 10:20 am    

Surely as night follows day, protester Jody McIntyre is being attacked for his pro-Palestinian views by British Israel supporters.

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Hoffman pours scorn over Jody McIntyre’s interview with the BBC:

McIntyre has been at several of the boycott demonstrations at Ahava, the Israeli cosmetics shop in London. I lead the pro-Israel counter-demonstrations. At one of the demonstrations McIntyre deliberately directed his wheelchair to run over my foot, causing me agonising pain.

I have no idea if he did something similar at the student demonstration last week. But unless his condition has changed since he ran over my foot some 4 months ago, his assertion to Brown (“I can’t physically use my wheelchair myself”) is simply not true. He is only too adept at using his wheelchair, sometimes as an offensive weapon.

Maybe he ran over the police, these Pro-Palestinians are vicious you know! Then Mr Hoffman approvingly links to Richard Littlejohn’s disgusting “view” on the whole incident. Some people really have no shame.

Then CIFWatch – a blog that is all about witch-hunting anyone with vaguely pro-Palestinian views in the Guardian – goes further: Jody McIntyre, professional anti-Israel activist, takes center stage.

Ooh oooh! A man we don’t like is all over the media! Now is the time to stick the knife in!
Blogger Modernity, who I rarely agree with, at least sees sense on the issue:

CiF Watch strays into the territory of political vitriol and character attacks, all completely irrelevant to the issue of Jody McIntyre’s appalling treatment by four big police officers. I can’t help wondering if he had held different views, would the attack upon him, as a wheelchair user, instead be condemned?

It takes a certain moral turpitude not to see his manhandling by the police as wrong, it takes an entrenched ideologue to want to use that against a disabled person. I can only imagine that *if* Jody had been blind then the excuse would have been that his labrador dog was about to attack some riot police, or some such nonsense. That’s the level of this mindless maliciousness.

What, he expected civility when people who have opinions on the Middle East are involved?

15th December, 2010

Independent Living Fund is to be abolished

by Rumbold at 9:51 am    

The government is planning to abolish the Independent Living Fund by 2015. The fund, which spends £398 million helping 21,000 severely disabled people fund carers has been closed for new claimants and will vanish entirely in 2015. The government claims that local authorities will still have to provide care for the people who have lost out, but there is several problems with this approach.

At present, the Independent Living Fund is used to provide carers to the severely disabled in their homes, at a cost of around £300 a week per person. This is so they can remain in their own homes rather than having to go into care homes. If the Independent Living Fund is abolished then it is more likely that the severely disabled will have to go into care homes. However dedicated the care staff are in a care home, the majority of people will always be better off living in their home and thus will be happier. On the cost side too, it is unclear whether the fund will produce a saving, as the costs of running a care home are high.

I think that the state should focus on helping the weakest and most vulnerable in society. It should help them, if possible, in a way that most suits them, which the Independent Living Fund does, but paying for their care without them having to sacrifice their surroundings and independence. It is wrong that a state can find millions to spend on researching happiness, or hiring ‘Senior Media Officers’ for Sport England while reducing support for the most vulnerable in society. While it is true that cuts need to be made thanks to Labour’s destruction of the public finances, the cuts should hit where the state is at its most bloated and unnecessary, rather than at key areas like this.

Filed under: Disability
14th December, 2010

Pastor Jones to speak to the National Front instead

by Rumbold at 1:37 pm    

Pastor Jones, who was due to address the English Defence League (EDL), has had his invitation withdrawn by the EDL and has now been invited to Britain by the National Front instead. As Richard Bartholomew reports, this was after a media storm led the EDL to ‘reconsider’ his invite and withdraw it on the grounds of his homophobic and racist views, despite the EDL knowing about them all along.

Filed under: EDL

The ‘model minority’ issue

by Rumbold at 10:41 am    

One of the Daily Mail’s main stories today concerns a new study which examines what they call “the lifestyle of a typical Middle Briton.” This study looked at a number of different factors to produce a picture of a typical middle class household. The Daily Mail’s take on it was interesting, as it headlined the piece:

How Sikhs and Hindus became the bedrock of middle Britain

The actual article spends very little time on this, but it is telling that the Daily Mail chose such a headline, which suggests a clear ‘endorsement’ of Sikhs and Hindus, and recognition that you can be British without being white. This should be all the more welcome coming only months after the same paper said that second and third generation British Asians couldn’t be considered British.

There are a few problems here though. The main one is that such an approach once again resorts to stereotyping. Not in a negative way with regards Hindus and Sikhs, but in a way that lumps them all into one group: both religions contain masses of very different individuals, from professors to convicts, so to suggest they form a monolithic group is wrong.

This idea feeds into the notion of the ‘model minority’, which is difficult to tackle because it is viewed in a positive way. Often applied to Sikhs (amongst others), the notion of a ‘model minority’ suggests a well-integrated, hard-working ethnic/religious group whom few have a bad word to say about it. For many first generation immigrants who experienced severe racism in the 1960s and 1970s, being in such a group is seen as a great advantage, and understandably so.

The problem with this though is twofold: Firstly it encourages members of that group and those dealing with this group to view them as a single monolithic block, which discourages individualism and perpetuates the old colonial mentality of ethnic groups being apart from mainstream society. Secondly it leads to competition between different minority groups, who use the praise given to them as a ‘model minority’ as a way of showing that their ‘community’ is superior to other ones. In this case, that would mean the Muslims. Some white people will make the same comparisons, leading to bigotry against groups seen to not be model minorities, rather than treating people in those groups as individuals.

Filed under: EDL,Hindu,Muslim,Sikh
13th December, 2010

A special investigation on the EDL by the Mail

by Sunny at 9:30 am    

The Daily Mail reports today:

They call themselves ‘patriots’ and wear masks emblazoned with the red cross of the Knights Templar.

But behind the ­inflammatory propaganda and war paint of the English Defence League (EDL) — the ­far-Right ‘anti-Islamic extremism’ group that is fast becoming an even more pernicious ­influence than the BNP — we find such men as Jeff Marsh.

Like all the other EDL ‘patriots’, Marsh — or ‘Marshy’ as he prefers to be known — insists he is not racist. And he is absolutely true to his word in one respect: he was happy to stab or stamp on anyone, black or white, ­during his career as a football hooligan. ‘Marshy’ wasn’t bothered about colour; violence was the thing. To him, ‘it was better than sex’.

The whole article is worth reading from here

Filed under: Race politics
12th December, 2010

Qur’an-burning pastor to visit UK

by Rumbold at 8:23 pm    

Richard Bartholomew has the news that Pastor Terry Jones, who earlier in the year threatened to burn the Qur’an in America to protest against freedom of worship in New York, has been invited to come and address a national meeting of the English Defence League (EDL) in February in Luton. Richard has also highlighted some of Pastor Jones’ views which weren’t widely known before:

He claims that it is not racist to use the slur “nigger”, on the grounds that it doesn’t apply to intelligent black people but can be used to refer to foolish white people. He also reportedly at one point threatened to burn the Talmud as well as the Koran, although I haven’t been able to find an authoritative source for that.

This continues the EDL’s attempt to position themselves as a purely anti-Islamic group, with the media focus on the Pastor’s Islamophobia rather than his racist language. Will Theresa May ban him from coming here? Such a decision would undoubtedly be popular, but it would also feed into the narrative of the EDL that Islam is taking over the UK and that criticism of Islam and Muslims is being muzzled.

Filed under: EDL

Apparently skin whitening creams make life easier for you too

by Sunny at 10:28 am    

This skin whitening cream ad is about the most absurd I’ve seen in quite a while (it’s Indian).

Rough translation: Woman refers to other woman’s face and gives her the cream. She has magical transformation. Comes back to the same situation at a future moment in time (logic isn’t necessary here), goes to the desk and the guy says: ‘the foreign passport desk is there‘. She says something like: ‘oh whatever do you mean?‘.

Yuck. via Sunny Ali

Filed under: Race politics
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