13th July, 2011
13th May, 2011
There was a good article in the Guardian yesterday offering background to the recent controversies in East London regarding Muslims and gays.
The article by Jack Gilbert starts off describing the ‘Gay free zone’ stickers that were stuck around East London, and then says:
Coverage of the sticker campaign, particularly online, often seemed ill-informed. Comment pieces from both sides tended towards a rabble-rousing tone, inspiring a torrent of racist and Islamaphobic abuse. I experienced more back-to-my-roots shivers, this time thinking about my grandparents’ fight against Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts.
Acting on Rainbow Hamlets’s advice, a joint statement was issued by Tower Hamlets’ mayor Lutfur Rahman, the Inter-faith Forum, and the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre (ELM). This represented the first public condemnation of homophobia by both Rahman and the ELM.
Both the points: about the tone of the debate online (I wonder which blogs he was thinking of!) and of who were the first to issue a condemnation, should be noted.
Jack Gilbert then highlights two more points. First, that the law is inadequate in dealing with homophobic abuse in the way that it deals with racist abuse for example. I suspect this is partly because tightening that up would instantly render both the Testaments and the Qu’ran as illegal writings. Nevertheless, I believe more needs to be done.
Secondly, he does say that the East London Mosque initially failed to back its initial action with more public statements. But he later says:
Today, moderate communities have a simple unequivocal duty: to be seen to show all their neighbours respect – whether or not they agree or approve of their beliefs or lifestyle. What is needed is a paradigm shift among LGBT and Muslim opinion formers, one that enables the leaders to find a rhetoric that can speak of respect and joint-working publicly, and which addresses patterns of prejudice on all sides without fear
He is right. There is an internal battle going on at the ELM right now between conservative and more moderate voices. Like in the Usama Hasan case, I hope that saner, moderate voices prevail. In fact I’m sure they eventually will.
But the likes of Andrew Gilligan and certain blogs with their incendiary and one-sided reporting don’t help this debate. In fact they poison it.
I hope the ELM will pay close attention to the progress report and listen to local communities in how it can tackle homophobia, regardless of what racists outside of the area say online.
23rd October, 2010
A lot of anti-cuts activists and students radicalised by the jump in tuition fees cite the Suffragettes. After all, they took on the establishment and won. They even used violent tactics! Take that you wimpy non-violent people who want to stick with the status quo!
But the Suffragettes were fighting for the vote. This point seems to be getting lost in all the noise. They were fighting to get representation in Parliament because there was no alternative to the laws passed there. A law had to be passed to kill off slavery. A law created the NHS. A law created income tax. A law created the BBC, broke up the railways and promised everyone a Living Wage. The Suffragettes were keenly aware that unless their vote was counted, the law would ignore them.
Now. Paul Mason of Newsnight has reviewed ‘Fightback’ the book edited by Dan Hancox, on the recent rise of activism. There’s one line that is key:
And yet, throughout Fight Back!, the lingering question is one of strategy. Given that the default ideology of this new movement is what Noam Chomsky calls “libertarian communism”, it would be worth exploring why all its predecessors fell victim to their “sour-faced” opponents from the right or the left (or, as in the Spanish civil war, both at the same time).
This is a key question. This is also why I hitched my bandwagon to the Labour party, because without strategy and a plan – you’re just ranting. To be fair, a lot of the activists aren’t just ranting (though its about the only thing the libertarian communists do). Many are organising events, getting activists involved, leafleting, providing inspiration to others, having debates etc.
But where’s the infrastructure? What are the goals? What is the strategy to achieve those goals? These questions not only remain unanswered, but are actively avoided because that always lead to some form of compromise – to reach out to people beyond the already converted. And if there’s something many of the activists hate, its compromise. So the strategy debate goes nowhere. And its never clear what the goals are, beyond opposing the Tories.
10th October, 2009
Luftur Rahman, the former Labour council leader, has been elected as the mayor of Tower Hamlets. Mr Rahman was exposed earlier this year as working with a group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which pushed an Islamist agenda at the council:
The council chamber has hosted at least one debate with an anti-homosexual Islamic preacher. Until last month, Tower Hamlets public libraries stocked hundreds of items of extremist Islamic literature, bought at taxpayers’ expense and available to borrow. These included hundreds of audio tapes of sermons by the extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, blamed for inspiring September 11, the Fort Hood terrorist massacre and the underwear bomb plot.
After Dispatches exposed this entryism, Mr Rahman’s position became increasingly precarious, and led to his removal as leader of the council and Labour’s candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets, leading Mr. Rahman to stand as an independent. Thanks to the support of people like Ken Livingstone, Mr. Rahman was elected, winning just over half the vote. No doubt part of this vote was due to the support of the IFE, but it also reflects a communalist, block voting tendency (which major parties are happy to exploit when it suits them).
25th September, 2009
The Times has published an email exchange on London Mayor Boris Johnson trying to get former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley, who was a big supporter of his candidacy, chair the Arts Council of England for London.
So Boris writes offering his full support. This is the conclusion of the response:
So we are left with a due process that was not followed, a candidate who was manifestly less qualified than three of her competitors and three distinguished candidates put through a process that seems to have questionable validity. My conclusion is that the Mayor’s [Boris] intended appointment is based on reasons other than selection of the best candidate for the post. Had the appointment been run to the standard applied to other appointments on Council Veronica would not have been seen by the Mayor.
Wow. Given all the accusations levelled at Ken Livingstone (some rightly in my view) for favouring former colleagues for top jobs – I waited to see whether the Tories who are resolute about ‘merit and not cronyism’ for appointments would say anything. Nope. Nothing. Nada.
Conservatives do make a big deal about how they oppose ‘positive action’ on diversity for the same reasons – people should be judged only on merit. And yet when such flagrant examples of cronyism come to light they say nothing.
Adam Bienkov and Dave Hill have more.
8th July, 2009
Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s sole representative on the Greater London Assembly, has been found guilty of inventing three murders in order to spread fear amongst his constituents:
“The BNP representative is to be sent for training in ethics after he exploited peoples fears about knife crime in his constituency by inventing a series of murders. He was banned from B&D council today but escaped suspension from the Greater London Authority.
The BNP, however, are furious and Simon Darby has called the decision, â€œutterly vile hypocrisyâ€. The party are using the Baroness Scotlandâ€™s â€outrageous whoppersâ€ to help deflect attention away from Barnbrooks own conduct. Lee Barnes, the BNPâ€™s legal director and advisor to Richard Barnbrook, has said that the decision taken by B&D council will be appealed.”
Richard Barnbrook did lie about this. But we mustnâ€™t forget that there are actually people in Barking and Dagenham who carry blades, and think nothing of posing for pictures with them.
(Thanks once again to 5cc for the image)
19th June, 2009
The London Evening Standard reports:
The Mayor announced his policy adviser Anthony Browne has been made one of 13 board members of the LDA. The board, which spends Â£700million a year on business and community projects, is intended to be independent, but has only one Liberal Democrat and no Labour Party members.
Labour’s deputy leader on the London Assembly, John Biggs, said: “Given that Boris’s cries of cronyism helped him beat Ken last May it looks pretty hypocritical that he’s now filling the board room with his own advisers and chums.
The appointment of his right -hand man shows he has lost trust in the members he appointed only last year and the appointment of yet another Tory in a board without a single Labour representative shows a profound lack of confidence in his ideas and a retreat from his commitment to transparency.
Yes, the very same Anthony Browne who apologised for writing “provocative” articles for the Spectator and the Daily Mail etc. Browne is among the biggest right-wing nutjobs going. He wrote vitriolic and sometimes downright racist articles in the right-wing press in the past, suggesting variously that lefties were to blame for everything, and that Africans were to blame for the rise in diseases.
Anyway, Boris does exactly what he accused the previous adminstration of doing, shock.
1st June, 2009
This is a press release by Ken Livingstone’s Progressive London crew
The annual Jewish cultural festival â€“ Simcha on the Square â€“ has been cancelled because Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson has withdrawn most of its funding.
In previous years the festival was strongly supported by Ken Livingstoneâ€™s Mayorâ€™s Office, working with Jewish Culture UK, and providing an annual grant of Â£50,000 together with free use of Trafalgar Square.
Ken Livingstone said: â€œSimcha on the Square officially celebrated the Jewish contribution to London and gave all Londoners an opportunity to share in the richness of Jewish music, dance and culture. By officially recognising and celebrating Jewish culture we made clear our total commitment to fighting anti-Semitism.â€
The organisers announced on Friday that the festival cannot take place this year because Mayor Johnson has slashed proposed funding from Â£50,000 to Â£20,000. Simcha joins a list of other events celebrating the contribution of different communities to London including the Rise anti-racist festival, Africa Day on the Square, the Russian Winter Festival and the Oxford St lighting display for Chinese New Year.
20th April, 2009
Ticket machines on the London Underground (LU) have been upgraded to operate in 17 different languages. Some of the touch-screen machines were already available in six languages – English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. From Monday, all machines in every station will also have Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Polish, Punjabi, Tamil, and Turkish.
Damn these left-wingers and their attempts to serve the needs of the unwashed immigrants from all over the world. It’s political correctness gone mad! Or perhaps it’s cultural relativism! I’m not sure which one. Either way, it’s the end of the west and the Freedoms We Hold Dear.
7th March, 2009
I went to Westminster today to check out the Tamil protest – where they’d taken over the entire area to entirely stop any traffic. A policeman said they had tried to move them several times but the number were too many. I suspect the high numbers of women with kids also made it very difficult for them to take any strong stance.
More pictures below the fold.
25th February, 2009
Andrew Gilligan has written an article in the Evening Standard titled: ‘Change the record, Ken – and we might listen to you again‘. I doubt a journalist so intent on smearing Ken can be taken seriously on that claim, especially when Gilligan doesn’t actually do serious journalism. If he did, we might listen.
Anyway, I say this because Gilligan is still on that mission. Yesterday he wrote a story on the continuing case against Lee Jasper. I’m no fan of Jasper, as regular readers know, but I am definitely against politically motivated smear attempts. Gilligan calls them “friends” of Lee Jasper. But as this letter obtained by Dave Hill shows, these people are anything but. Andrew Gilligan once again shown to be a shit journalist.
24th January, 2009
The Evening Standard reported yesterday:
The claims are made by PCSO Asad Saeed in a race discrimination case and centre on two white PCSOs at Belgravia station who have now resigned from the force after facing charges of gross misconduct. He claims they effectively ran an “apartheid” culture at the station where ethnic minority support officers were threatened with violence by the two white officers. The claims contained in a document to be submitted to the tribunal include the allegations of a â€œwhite van, black vanâ€ for PCSO staff. In particular, he outlines one incident when a black woman PCSO was ejected from one van by a white colleague and told to get into â€œthe black vanâ€. The two men would also play a â€œspot the PCSOâ€ game when a van would drive around at night looking for ethnic minority officers.
19th January, 2009
I’m live blogging from the Progressive London conference in central London, organised by Ken Livingstone to set up a more active coalition against Boris. The place is packed with several hundred people thronging various sessions and talks. I’m actually surprised it’s so busy, which indicates there are a lot of people out there still annoyed with Boris’s win.
More on the sessions later… there’s a blogging event later with Tory Troll and Tom/BorisWatch speaking. Right now the main session is with Ken Livingstone, Bonnie Greer, Eric Hobsbawm, Harriet Harman and Jon Cruddas.
Ken spoke first and gave us a broad history lesson about economics and the environment. Bonnie then made some predictions about where she sees the world going – including the dissolution of race and racial differences.
Prof Eric Hobsbawm is giving a speech also focusing on the economic crisis. This has been a big topic today and you won’t be surprised to hear there has been plenty of big corporations that didn’t pay their taxes, neo-liberal capitalism and New Labour’s part in all this.
Have we developed an alternative narrative yet? Remains to be seen…
Press release I was sent today.
Rushanara Ali, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, has met with a senior Cabinet Minister to underline her calls for a lasting and meaningful ceasefire in Gaza.
9th January, 2009
Despite cutting Â£511,000 from funding for new centres for rape victims, Boris Johnson has decided to continue to spend Â£1.4 million of ratepayers’ money per year on offices abroad to promote London (without offering any proof that these offices actually benefit London). The offices are considered important as they ensure that
staff can go on junkets there at our expense London can be ‘sold to the world’. It’s not clear why a world-famous capital city which is an incredibly important financial centre needs to do that, but I am sure that those at City Hall who benefit from these outposts won’t complain too loudly.
(Via Conservative Home)
18th December, 2008
Brian Klug has written an excellent short piece for Comment is Free. He says:
Attached was a flyer for a “Mass Rally in Support of Israel” organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, with “the support of the major organisations of UK Jewry”, to be held in London this weekend. The flyer proclaims: “End Hamas terror!” No ifs and buts here either. No hint at the unspeakable state terror being unleashed, day after day, by the Israeli military. It defies belief.
It does indeed. If the rally on Sunday says nothing about the dead Palestinians or the death of innocent lives in Gaza, then its a rally to support state terrorism, nothing more nothing less. I have no problem carrying a banner saying ‘End Hamas Terror’. But there will be no peace unless that is accompanied by another banner saying ‘End Israeli attacks’.
Leon updates: Progressive rabbi: Trafalgar Square rally not for him
Rabbi Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, has dissociated himself from Sundayâ€™s Israel solidarity rallies in London and Manchester.
10th December, 2008
While campaigning for the mayoralty, Boris Johnson promised to spend Â£744,000 on new centres for rape victims. Now he has gone back on his word, cutting the money available to only Â£233,000. This really is a disgrace. It is one thing to adjust spending in line with the current economic climate, but quite another to reduce the amount available to 31% of what was originally promised. Still, as long as there is still enough ratepayers’ money to hire people from Policy Exchange, everything is okay.
26th November, 2008
Details are emerging about the coming Progressive London conference to be held on the 24th January 2009.
Saturday 24 January 2009
Great Russell St London WC1
Tickets Â£10 waged; Â£6 unwaged; Â£20 per person for organisations;
Register for the conference now by emailing email@example.com and we will be in touch with you very shortly with further details including payment details.
The conference is the first event organised by â€œProgressive Londonâ€, which was initiated by Ken Livingstone to bring together supporters of progressive policies in London including politicians, trade unionists, artists, campaigns and individuals. The conference will be an opportunity to debate and discuss all the issues that lie at the core of Londonersâ€™ quality of life and the cityâ€™s future success, from the current economic crisis to protection of the environment, social justice to good community relations, the cityâ€™s cultural life, transport and equal rights to name just a few.
Sounds interesting, although I’m still not sure what the format is going to be or how the many (and there are many) speakers are going to be fitted in.
Anyone else going to this? Let us know and perhaps we can organise a PP meet up on the day.
25th November, 2008
So, taxes are raised slightly for high income earners and suddenly some people are up in arms. Here is Boris Johnson’s policy advisor Anthony Browne stupidly stating the obvious:
Short of introducing a London banker tax, this is as close a direct hit that the Chancellor could get on those who brought the country to its knees. It is overall an Old Labour redistributive budget, yanking up taxes on the rich to help the poor.
Yes, progressive taxes usually are redistributive and most people including economist Adam Smith were in favour. Boris Johnson himself turned up on TV later saying higher taxes would hit the ‘wealth creators’ who were the life-blood of the economy.
Let’s shoot this fallacy down right here. The bankers from London’s Sqare Mile, earning over £150,000 a year have actually been net wealth destroyers over the past decade. All the wealth created by the big banks here and in the US has been destroyed and much more – taking other industries down with them. These former Masters of the Universe were so rubbish at gauging risk and so good at flogging off bad debt that when the wobble came – confidence crashed everywhere.
Destruction so swift comes only when people know they are living in a house of cards. They knew the boom would not last because the models were dubious, and would not withstand a crisis of confidence.
Furthermore, these so-called Wealth Creators have been Wealth Re-distributors too: enriching themselves during the boom while playing around with other people’s money. But now that the economy has crashed and pension funds have lost money – do these Wealth Creators give any of their money back? Nope. They made their money while the going was good, now tax-payers have to pick up the pieces.
2nd November, 2008
11th August, 2008
In 2005, one of the Conservatives’ election slogans, ‘it’s not racist to talk about immigration’, was widely condemned as, er, racist. While the slogan itself wasn’t racist, the implication was that it was an attempt to lure more anti-immigration voters back to the Conservatives by suggesting that the time had come to crack down.
Yet three years on, that slogan looks positively tame by comparison with the tabloid-pleasing anti-immigrant stances taken by the Conservative and Labour parties these days. Immigrants now vie with Muslims and youths for the title of most vilified group of the day. So it was refreshing to see that Boris Johnson has called for a nationwide amnesty for illegal immigrants, subject to conditions. Yes, there are issues with an amnesty, and the Tory front bench have condemned these proposals, but isn’t it nice to hear a high profile politician standing up for immigrants, rather than attacking them in order to get his or her name in the Sun?
1st August, 2008
Here are a list of popular festivals in London that currently receive financial support from the Mayor’s office or the London Development Agency.: Chinese New Year; St Patricks Day; St George’s Day; Vaisakhi; Africa Day; Baishakhi Mela; Pride and Soho Pride; Rise; Carnival del Pueblo; London Mela; Notting Hill Carnival; Liberty – disability arts festival; Thames Festival; Trafalgar Square summer festival; the Jewish Simcha on the Square; Chanukkah; Black History Month events; Diwali; Eid; Celebrating Sanctuary (refugee festival); Capital Age; Festival of Youth Arts.
Unsurprisingly, now Boris wants to cut funding from them all so they can rely on the businesses to support them. The guy is adamant on making London lifeless again. Meanwhile his office will spend over a quarter of a million on head-hunting alone.
This is just a start.
29th July, 2008
5cc points me towards this blog post by the BNP London councillor Richard Barnbrook.
The lefties are out in force again today, despite the “civil war” that is about to break out within NuLabour, they are trying to use me to besmirch Anthony Browne. They cannot seem to come to grips with the fact that the Marxist Ken Livingstone was elected out of office and it simply has yet to sink in that somebody like Boris Johnson and of course myself now push the buttons.
I have not exactly been backward in coming forward to criticise some of the Mayor’s rather exotic appointments but in the case of Anthony Browne’s swift transfer to City Hall as head of policy I cannot help but think that this is at least a step in the right direction. Obviously there are people within the BNP that I would like to see there instead, but all things in good time.
All in good time indeed. Funny that Barnbrook thinks that Anthony Browne is a step in the right direction. Hmmm… I wonder why that would be. Could it be because racist websites like V Dare think he’s a hero? Could it be because, like the BNP, he believes ‘Islam does want to conquer the world’ and all Muslims are part of this conspiracy? Nice friends you have, Mr Browne.
Update: Dave Hill has written this spot-on article for CIF:
Is Mayor Johnson concerned about Browne’s off-message past? I’d say that in a certain way he is. I’d say it’s significant that the press release announcing Browne’s addition to Johnson’s team stresses his “expertise” in environmental, health and housing issues but makes no allusion whatsoever to his view â€“ expounded in another Spectator article published under Johnson’s editorship â€“ that the multi-ethnicity typical of inner London goes against the grain of basic human desires, let alone his seething contention, quoted above, that “there is little British left” about the city whose future, according to Johnson, Browne will be “helping to shape” in the next four years.
10th July, 2008
Anthony Browne, writing in the Daily Mail.
“If people donâ€™t learn the difference between right and wrong, it is not just that they become anti-social. They donâ€™t learn the fundamental lesson that there is only one person responsible for what they do â€” and that is themselves. Nothing is wrong, and nothing is anyoneâ€™s fault; it is always someone elseâ€™s. Donâ€™t blame me for what I do; itâ€™s societyâ€™s fault.
Obviously, there are always external factors which have a big influence. People from difficult backgrounds definitely have higher hurdles to jump over, and need help. But for all of us, whatever our background, what we do is ultimately up to us.
This Left-wing moral neutrality comes from the best of intentions â€” wanting to sympathise with victims and other vulnerable people. If they do something anti-social, it is because anti-social things have been done to them â€” they are not at fault. And if you canâ€™t judge someone for their actions, there canâ€™t really be a right or wrong thing to do.”
via Dave Hill, who quite rightly says: “I weep before this edifice of patronising, self-serving, intellectually dishonest, straw man-abusing, willfully sub-Gumby arrogance.”
Hmmm… I wonder what Nick Cohen has to say now about his newly found mate. Anyway, the thing is – the man Boris Johnson has recruited as his new Policy Director has always been a tosser when writing about social/cultural issues. Browne is worse than Rod Liddle and possibly even Jon Gaunt. And because he keeps saying the right things, people on the right keep promoting despite his obvious lack of intelligence or nuance.
But this development is great for political reasons. Boris Johnson was hated by a lot of people when running for Mayor because people thought he didn’t get this wonderfully cosmopolitan city. He didn’t, but pretended anyway. Now he’s hired a deranged loon as his policy director and its great, not only because it gives us added motivation for getting rid of Boris in four years time, but because this means the political divide (left v right) gets wider.
Frankly, all this political centrism is boring. It’s a bit perverse but I rather like some elements of American political culture – where the left-right divide is so wide that there is huge hatred and fury on both sides for the other. It makes for more interesting politics. I also want to see a bit more anger on the left. British politics lost a lot of that with Blair and frankly the left always did well when it was united against easily identifiable enemies. Anthony Browne and Boris Johnson are perfect for the job. Bring it on, I say.
4th July, 2008
I’m amused to see that the excuses for London Mayor Boris Johnson have started already, and its only been two months! On Tuesday David Aaranovitch in the Times called it a ‘witch-hunt‘, saying politicians were being targetted for non-scandals. I usually like DA’s columns (incidentally, he quotes Sunder Katwala from this article on LC but doesn’t mention the website. It’s only courtesy, David?). But then you should have seen it coming when people were desperately trying to smear Ken Livingstone and his “cronies”… why should Boris be exempt? Poor Andrew Gilligan is still valiantly waiting for the promised land while muttering about “anti-Boris forces“. If that wasn’t bad enough, we had Iain Dale desperately blaming ‘Uncle Tom’ hating leftists (care to name any Iain?) and trying to protect his mate Nick Boles, who’s team were paid half a million for “transition” and yet failed to do any proper check. It’s all very comical.
In just two months Boris Johnson has clocked up a long list of controversies and gaffes (compiled by Mr Stop Boris). In fact, his latest gaffe could have been prevented if only Boris followed the rules he so hates.
Not that his latest plan to scrap the Â£25 charge and hand Â£400,000 of taxpayer’s money to Porsche is the final straw or anything…. but unlike Sian Berry, I’m happy to openly declare that I’m committed to getting rid of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. I want to topple this adminstration in four years time, or maybe sooner. And you know what? It’s looking like I’m going to have more fun than Andrew Gilligan, who will sooner or later be muttering about dark “anti-Boris forces” in his sleep.
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Wow, just wow. I was out all evening with family and didn’t hear about the resignation of Ray Lewis until I got in. Will this damage Boris Johnson?
More at Boris Watch.
Update: Ken Livingstone pulls no punches with his view of Ray Lewis’ resignation:
“In a mere two months in office Boris Johnson has already suffered the second resignation from among his most senior officials – Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis following Deputy Chief of Staff James McGrath two weeks ago. In my entire eight years in office I suffered only one enforced resignation of any of my most senior officials, Lee Jasper – and that only after seven years – and this extreme contrast shows vividly the incompetence of Boris Johnson and his administration. It is an equal crisis for David Cameron who, it should be remembered, chose to make his first photo opportunity as Tory leader with Ray Lewis.”
Via Dave Hill