31st October, 2011
26th October, 2011
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%)
25th October, 2011
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:
19th October, 2011
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. 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?
18th October, 2011
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)
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. They just are…!
17th October, 2011
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. 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.
16th October, 2011
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.
13th October, 2011
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.
11th October, 2011
guest post by Rima Saini
The first of a series of four events presented by the RSA, City University London and the Samosa was a resounding success with a keynote speech by Conservative Chairman Baroness Warsi followed by a fiery Q and A session with Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa.
Anwar Akhtar began the lecture with an insight into his personal connection with Pakistan, drawing attention to the inspiration that British Pakistanis such as Amir Khan and Baroness Warsi herself are to those both here and in Pakistan, as strong British patriots with a love for their ancestral home.
8th October, 2011
This is a guest post by Haroon Ravat.
Many observers trace the origin and development of the English Defence League to a poppy-burning publicity stunt staged by the group Muslims Against Crusaders (MAC) at last year’s Armistice Day commemorations. For many British Muslims like myself, the actions of MAC left us in a precarious situation with the tabloid press intent on providing front page publicity to a fanatical fringe and strengthening the EDL argument that we are a minority of fifth-columnists who cannot be trusted in relation to our loyalties to Britain. Muslims who adopted a principled anti-interventionist attitude towards the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also felt that they could no longer articulate their position without being connected somehow to the opinions of Anjum Chaudhry’s band of merry but troubled men.
The recent murders of Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir forced a much needed realignment in public opinion towards Britain’s largest and arguably most visible minority. Brutally run over whilst protecting local shops from looters, the principle of laying down your life in order to protect the innocent was thought to be an archaic concept from bygone eras of conquest and marauding tribes. However, within a moment of tragedy the boys recovered for many thousands of British Muslims the true meaning of the word ‘jihad’, which means ‘to struggle’ in Arabic from the nihilists of Al-Qaida.
4th October, 2011
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is to kick off a series of four events with a speech exploring the complex and intimate relationships between Pakistan, Britain and the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.
The four debates will discuss:
· Given the historic ties between Britain and Pakistan (with 1.2 Million British citizens having Pakistani heritage and over 10,000 people flying from Manchester Airport to Pakistan every week) – what next for Britain and Pakistan?
· Do Westminster’s political and media networks engage sufficiently with the national British Pakistani community? Has the Prevent strategy resulted in the alienation of British Pakistani young people, and if so, how can more positive opportunities be created?
· Have the negative news reports and media narratives surrounding the conflicts in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan effected community relations in Britain?
· With the Pakistani diaspora continuing to support families, businesses, charities and welfare organisations back in Pakistan, what more can they do to engage with the recently announced £650 million DFID Pakistan aid programme?
· The series will feature prominent figures from the worlds of politics, business, arts, charity, culture, religion, philanthropy, development and the media. The programme will explore the historic, family, contemporary, economic, military and cultural ties between Britain and Pakistan and discuss the future for these relations both as part of the Commonwealth and in the context of a globalised 21st Century.
The events kick off 10th October. See this page for more details and if you want to attend.
3rd October, 2011
This is public interest note… I’ll be speaking at the launch of a new think-tank based at Goldsmiths college called ‘Centre for Identities and Social Justice’.
The event will take place on Wednesday, 5th October, 6pm.
LG Theatre 1, The New Academic Building
THE PREVENT AGENDA: What are its unintended and intended consequences?
LORD CARLILE (Liberal Democrat, House of Lords)
SUNNY HUNDAL (Editor, Liberal Conspiracy)
FARZANA SHAIN (Public Policy, Keele University)
AKEELA AHMED (CEO, Muslim Youth Helpline)
JAMES HAYWOOD (President, Goldsmiths Students Union)
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
This is a guest post by Rita Banerji. She blogs here.
Calcutta currently is in the midst of the Durga Puja – the 10 day carnival celebrating the goddess Durga. It is the annual climax of Calcutta’s cultural ethos. Not having grown up in Calcutta, I had never actually attended this celebration as a child. So at 30 when I moved to the city, I was fascinated and curious. I photographed the celebrations from every angle and asked a million questions.
Hundreds of pandals— elaborate temple like structures of bamboo, cardboard and jute—are are set up all over the city, which house the idols of the goddess and her family. There are different ceremonies marking each of the 10 days with enthralling symbolisms. Yet, within a couple of years my puja fever had died down, and that was largely because I didn’t appreciate a lot of what I was discovering about the pujas. So much so, that over the last 5 years, I have consistently boycotted the Pujas and urged others to do the same. Here are my reasons why:
> At the end of the celebrations all the idols are immersed in the Hoogly – the city’s river, a tributary of the Ganges. There are more than 40,000 idols dumped into the Hoogly every year. These idols are larger than life, some of them 10-20 feet tall, and most are made of non-biodegradable materials like concrete, fiberglass and metal. These don’t wash downstream. They sink to the bottom and make the river bed one big junkyard.