28th September, 2007
… here is one saying:
Despite my disagreements with the political views of the government, I am enamoured of the fact that I can protest about their loathsome views. I won’t get arrested for lobbying, demonstrating, writing about my views or speaking out. Whether we Brits always live up to our values of fair play and justice is one thing, but I’m proud that as a nation we at least aspire to them.
The very best of British however, is being able to challenge stereotypes and having the opportunity to make Britain a better place. When Britain closes its eyes and its heart as it seems to be doing in understanding the issues of Muslims and of women, it is a disappointing and dark place to be. But being British means I have hope that we can make this a great nation. Being in a country where I can have the good fight, and be proud that I am doing my duty as a citizen is why I love being here.
That’s from Shelina’s article on her blog. She’s a columnist for Muslim News, where this will be published. If anyone is still confused as to how people can combine multiple identities – religion and nationality – in a way they feel comfortable, then it’s worth reading the whole thing. All very obvious stuff for most of our readers, I know, but it needs to be said sometimes. She even puts the Scottish to shame!
Today has been declared ‘red shirt day‘ for Burma, so I’ve dug mine out of course. But short of making fashion statements, what can we really do for Burma?
Before I get to that, a quick point about liberal intervention. The popular uprising in Burma raises difficult questions for people on many sides of the political spectrum. Those against intervention in other states are now being told that they should boycott companies that invest in Burma and find ways to bring down the oppressive military. Those in favour should ask why the sanctions against the country are not tighter than those against Iran, even though it treats its people much more oppressively? Selective standards maybe? Either way, I agree with A. Tory that Brown needs to do more.
My view has always been for liberal intervention, depending on who is intervening and on what basis of course. Moreover, the anti-imperialists can’t blame this on western governments alone. China and Russia have vetoed a UN resolution for tighter sanctions, while the Indian govt stands by and shuffles its feet. Simon Tisdall had a good article on this yesterday.
from the Burma campaign, via Sepia Mutiny.
Moving on… Facebook has a rapidly expanding group on global action to support the Burmese monks. It says there will be a demonstration outside the Burmese Embassy in London every day from 12-1pm. The TUC is helping organise protests.
There is going to be a bigger protest march through London on Sunday 30th September (12pm), from Trafalgar Square to the Burmese Embassy. FB event page. I’ll most likely be there! Come and show your support!
27th September, 2007
Two years ago Navjeet Sidhu jumped in front of a train in Southall with her kids. Six months later her mother did the same. But these two were not isolated incidents.
Rail suicides are soaring because of a dramatic rise in Asian women killing themselves on just one stretch of track, a train company’s internal report has revealed. An incredible one third of the total for England and Wales now happen on the line going through Southall, West London, which has a large Asian community.
Last night a women’s rights group controversially claimed that the suicides were linked to the “prevalence of domestic violence in Asian families”. Figures from a route manager at First Great Western trains show that 80 of the 240 rail suicides nationally last year were on the lines into Paddington, West London.
British Asian women are three times more likely than the national average to commit suicide. But do the so-called ‘community leaders’, who keep lobbying the government for their piece of the cake, do anything? Never.
Is Osborne the olive branch the Tories need or simply hedging his bets in Cameron’s last days?
Rumours of growing division in the senior ranks of the Conservative Party increased last night as George Osborne was accused of distancing himself from David Cameron and the modernisers in the party. Mr Osborne, the shadow Chancellor is a close friend of the Tory leader and has been a leading architect of the modernisation of the Tory Party in an attempt to widen its appeal.
However, the strain of a growing Labour lead and the threat of an early election has begun to show. In an eve-of-conference interview with The Spectator, Mr Osborne said: “I don’t take the kind of Ã¼ber-modernising view that some have had, that you can’t talk about crime or immigration or lower taxes.”
One former Tory shadow minister said: “We are falling apart under the strain.” [via The Independent]
I really donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on with the Tories these days. For the most part Iâ€™ve welcomed the attempts to modernise the party (although it now looks to be only skin deep). Iâ€™ve said on here at least once that Cameronâ€™s best bet is the stay the course; donâ€™t let the reactionary right obscure his attempt to reach out with the reasonable right.
Plenty of times over the last six months various people close too or within the party have told me of an internal power struggle. There are two factions vying to sway the leader and the partyâ€™s direction. Events of the last couple of months makes me think itâ€™s more akin to a civil war.
Each group has had their successes but with Cameronâ€™s catastrophes and Brownâ€™s bounce one side looks like its now taking hold. How long before the king is slayed and a full lurch to the right happens?
What does Britain and Britishness, of which Gordon Brown was banging on incessantly at the Labour Conference, actually mean?
Certainly not much to multi-cultural Britain: a Sikh in Bradford, a Gael in Stornoway or a South Londoner in Streatham. And if they did have a sense of Britishness, what were the key elements that held them together?
The collective experiences of British identity, that might just have fused a sense of togetherness in a post-modern world are undoubtedly the pain of war and the pride in institutions like the BBC and the NHS.
26th September, 2007
Home Office Security Minister Tony McNulty has admitted the government made mistakes in response to the 7 July bomb attacks in London. He said the government should not have treated the Muslim Council of Britain as the only voice of British Muslims. At a Labour Party conference fringe meeting, he warned against rushing into laws in response to a terror threat.
Mr McNulty suggested that ministers had been too ready to adopt exceptional measures which could impact on the liberties enjoyed as part of the British way of life. He distanced himself from the phrase “war on terror” stressing that terrorism should be tackled through “normal” rather than “exceptional” means.
Mr McNulty was praised by Shami Chakrabati, director of civil rights group Liberty, who said his words were “music to my ears”. – BBC News
Of course many would say that it’s too little too late as they did with David Miliband’s speech. This is surely a very welcome development. As I have said plenty of times in the past, the government will eventually get it right… it will just take years before sensible arguments reach their ears.
Moreover, this also signals that Tony Blair’s agenda is basically out of the window. One after the other ministers are finally breaking their silence over what needed to be said ages ago and formulating more sensible policy with a new Prime Minister. It’s also a testament to how tightly (dictatorially?) Tony Blair controlled the Labour party and ensured that only his view would be reflected.
This guy should be struck off the medical register: “A Muslim dentist has been found guilty of telling a female patient she could not register with him unless she wore an Islamic headscarf.”
The specialist blogs and commentators aside anyone who has written or reported on the ongoing pro-democracy struggle is essentially saying little more than theres an ongoing struggle for democracy.
Myanmar is such a hazy country in our minds that when asked we can’t even recall the name of its leader. We know theres a military Junta, we know theres a woman called Aung San Suu Kyi and thats about it. Whilst I support the right to self-determination of any people I honestly don’t know what to say about Myanmar other than I wish the people can live as they choose. Should I applaud the red robed monks in the street or question whether they have any alternative theocratic intentions?. Aung San Suu Kyi may be a symbol for democracy but can any of us claim to know what her philosophical ideas actually are? Unlike the North Koreans and their enigmatic leader who may claim to shun the outside world but flirt with it around a nuclear table the leaders of Myanmar are so introspective as to be invisible.
Commenting intelligently about the fast moving developments of country whose name most people don’t even know is difficult. George Bush and Gordon Brown have probably realised the political capital that can be gained from supporting freedom in this far off nation, but its really little more than political opportunism. As far as we can tell Myanmar doesn’t have any significant deposists of crude oil so we aren’t that interested in them. The vast majority of the people aren’t followers of one of the ‘Abrahamic religions’ so aren’t tied into any other political struggle.
What more can we say about Myanmar other than we hope its people find what they’re looking for?
Sunny adds: Clashes between the police and monks have now intensified.
BBC Online has an article on using Burma or Myanmar. Interestingly, using ‘Burma’ is akin to taking a particular political position, which is fine for us but may not the BBC…
There’s also a Facebook group (40k members and rising) here.
25th September, 2007
Over across the pond, when the issue of skin lightening or anything inter-racial is discussed at Sepia Mutiny, it’s a guaranteed flame-fest of over 500 comments. Clearly, the Punjabi dominated British Asian nation does not get as worked up about the issue as the South Indian dominated American-Indian nation. Anyway, I thought I’d point you to this article on BBC magazine yesterday.
One of Bollywood’s biggest film stars is being criticised by Asian campaigners for promoting a skin-lightening cream – a product that is now on the shelves of British shops.
They’ve quoted me and, unsurprisingly, I’ve totally dissed Shahrukh Khan. That’s enough to get me killed in India (by his fans, not mullahs, dammit!). The story on SRK reminded me of this campaign we ran recently.
And to our paler readers: no I’m not biased against white skin either and neither is this reverse racism, so let’s not go over that again please. Can you just let us brown people fight over this one? Thanks…
David Miliband’s speech today at the Labour party conference is perhaps the biggest indication that not only has the Labour party indeed learned from the fiasco that was the invasion of Iraq, but they need a different strategy for the future. Tying yourself down with idiotic American presidents who know little about foreign affairs is apparently not the best way forward.
He said a decade of “good intentions” and trying to extend western values of freedom and democracy to other countries had led many in the Muslim world to believe “we’re seeking not to empower them but to dominate them.”
“The lesson is that it’s not good enough to have good intentions,” he said.
The Nether-World points us to the fact that Tim Ireland is back, albeit temporarily, with a new blog taking on a certain Uzbek businessman. Good stuff!
Update: Interesting set of observations on how the campaign unfolded here, I wonder if we’ll see more models like this develop the more we use this medium in this way? Link courtesy of Douglas Clark in the comments.
The apparent seizure of one of Nan Goldin’s photographs in Tyneside is one of the funniest things i’ve read about in a long time. There is really little more one can do other than laugh at the righteously dull who get upset at what they consider to be obscene. We may as well open a new Secretum or Secret Museum and fully take on the Victorian distaste for art we consider disgusting.
The Crown Prosecution Service is now thoroughly examining a photograph that shows a young girl with her legs apart so that we may not be appalled, challenged or forced to think by a piece of art. Mary Whitehouse would have been proud. We need more artistic censorship.
Obviously this is brilliant publicity for the exhibition. For what its worth i’ve never considered Nan Goldin’s work to be all that shocking – or interesting to me. But though I’m not a fan she should have every right to display her art as she wishes.
Sunny adds: The same could be said about the news that the Royal Gala for the film Brick Lane has been cancelled amidst fears of protests. Here we go again…
Either by accident or design the Guardian today coined a phrase to describe ethnic minority people: British Minority Ethnic. After quoting Simon Woolley (number 75 on the Left power list) saying BME the Guardian decided to define it as British Minority Ethnic.
The government is holding talks with a leading black pressure group to see whether any future change in the law to let parties choose parliamentary candidates from shortlists made up entirely of ethnic-minority candidates could work in practice, Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, said yesterday.
“It’s a positive and bold measure. What they want from us at Operation Black Vote is to make the case for all-black shortlists. Partly it’s come from pressure within the organisation but also the fact that in the last four months the Labour party has broadly failed to select any number of BME [British minority ethnic] candidates from winnable seats. They are being outdone by the Tories,” Mr Woolley said. He is writing a paper for Ms Harman which he hopes will be ready in six weeks. [Via The Guardian]
I must say I quite like the term! Itâ€™s one that is inclusive, forward looking and neatly triangulates any fascist wanting to co-opt the idea of majority ethnic people in the UK.
It would not have gone unnoticed by many that the Labour Party and the Conservatives increasingly sound the same on many issues.
As Chris Dillow said last week:
They can’t distinguish themselves from each other, as they used, to by representing different classes. The big class divide in party politics (though not elsewhere) is now that between the political class – Tories, Labour and the MSM – and the rest of us. Nor can they distinguish themselves by philosophical positions, such as equality vs liberty. The political class has long lost the ability to argue for philosophical or ethical principles.
If there are no real ideas to differentiate the political parties, it follows they will be more obsessed by marketing and positioning themselves than actually developing coherent policies and ideas that help the masses.
24th September, 2007
That is the subject of an upcoming discussion by the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights…
India beat Pakistan in the World Cup final. It was a brilliant match, and both sides should be proud of themselves.
Elated or miserable?
Open Source Campaigning is what Robert Sharp calls the drive to offer asylum to Iraqi employees. On comment is free today I have an article on this issue and how it came together, pointing out that this collaborative and decentralised way of pushing issues may be a sign of the future.
Here it is…
The media always makes it look like Muslim women have a rough old time of it, and we’re miserable… In an upcoming article, due to be published next week in The Muslim News, I’m writing about Five Things I Love About Being a British Muslim Woman. If you come back here on the 27th of September, you’ll be able to read the whole piece. In the meantime, here is a teaser-taster for you…
“Poor, oppressed, miserable, battered Muslim women!” cry the media harpies. They take lustful pleasure in oppression of their own kind, by misrepresenting us, by stifling our voices, by denying us our identities. “It cannot be that you love being Muslim!” say the politico-journo-lobbyist voices. “You must not partake of Britain and its values,” say the Muslim voices that also try to own us.
Read the rest, by Shelina. It’s cute.
23rd September, 2007
As some readers have pointed out already, Iain Dale and Brian Brivati have compiled a list of the 100 most influential people on the left in Britain for the Telegraph. Erm, Gordon Brown in number 1 and I’m nex-… 72. Doh! Looks like I’m the highest ranked blogger on the list. I’m presuming they did that to get PP off everyone’s blogrolls. I’d been higher if I hadn’t criticised Iain so much lately, damn.
But are my mate Gordon Brown and I really on the left? In the introduction the authors explain their criteria:
To cut through the mess contemporary politics has made of traditional political labels, we have adopted a policy of allowing people to describe themselves. Politics is today mostly about branding. Being on the left is, in essence, a brand which identifies with certain historical trends and against certain others. To be on the left is to be for forms of change to the existing status quo, for reform in a broad sense.
Now, please don’t hate on a brotha. When I was first told about this (yesterday), I assumed I’d be No. 100 as a wild-card like they do on the Media Guardian power list. And I haven’t even launched my next blog yet! These guys are trying to get me killed…
Amusingly, PP is not on the top 100 centre-left blogs, but we are in the top non-aligned.
22nd September, 2007
If this is what globalisation gets us…. then I’m all for it
Consider this the weekend thread since our dear Clairwil seems to have gone a bit awol.
21st September, 2007
Disgruntled at Gordonâ€™s Brownâ€™s failure to hold a referendum on the new EU treaty/constitution, residents of a small village in Dorset took matters into their own hands and voted on the question of whether or not to hold a referendum. The pro-referendum party won overwhelmingly, and now the village of East Stoke in Dorset is committed to holding a referendum.
This was no idle publicity stunt, but rather a proper vote based on a (previously) little-known clause in the 1972 Local Government Act: that a district council is obliged to hold a poll if 10 or more local people vote for it. Other villages are now looking into this and are planning to hold their own polls.
It is great that people are getting involved in local democracy, and I do think that there should be a referendum on the constitution, as the Labour party promised it in their manifesto on which they were elected. Any talk of there being significant differences between the â€˜constitutionâ€™ and the â€˜treatyâ€™ is just plain wrong.
However, I am more sceptical about the value of referendums in general. Representative democracy is heavily criticised by all sides, but the problem with referendums is that once you have one, how many more should you have? Should they only be on constitutional matters, or on war, or on immigration, and so on? If a party is elected on the back of a referendum-promising manifesto, that is one thing; but I prefer to recognise that complex issues cannot be distilled down to a yes or no vote. Do they have a place though?Â
More 4 News are tonight covering the blogger campaign in support of Tim Ireland and Craig Murray, started by Justin, for the 8pm news programme. I’ll be on there talking about this and what it means for trying to control free speech over the web. Well done to More 4 for being ahead of the pack. But it means I end up missing the Daily Show.
Updated further: Coverage also on: MediaGuardian.co.uk… The Times and Channel 4. A brief mention also on Bright’s blog. Also on AFP and Sunday Herald.
Video thanks to Mike Power. Links from PoorMouth
642-812 professionals usually have a 350-030 as well as a 220-602 on their credit. Rarely an applicant may come up with a 1Y0-259.
I was interviewed for the Media Guardian weekly podcast about my CIF article on why the liberal-left should go on the offensive regarding BBC editorial policy.
It has just been published online. You can listen to the podcast from here.
20th September, 2007
Seeing as it’s Friday, here’s something to cheer you up / make you depressed depending on who you support: Yuvraj Singh’s 6 sixes against England this week.
As they say on the interweb… England got pwned!
Yes, I proudly fail the Tebbit test. Heh.
more recent posts » — « previous posts
Well thank god for our stupid libel laws again! Justin McKeating has blogged and sent an email around alerting us to the fact that Tim Ireland and Craig Murray’s blogs have both been taken down by their hosting company.
It happened because both had asked questions about Uzbek minerals billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who recently bought shares in Arsenal. The Guardian pointed out last week:
Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.
More on Obsolete. British libel laws always make it more difficult on the party with less money. Paying to defend the charges has the potential to break an individual or company, and having “I’m sorry” just won’t cut it. So hosting companies don’t want to take a chance and, at the first threat of legal proceedings, will capitulate. Tim and Craig’s example is worrying because it may have repercussions for British blogging in general. So do blog about this and spread the word! This will hopefully make others re-think before issuing legal threats to bloggers. Oh by the way, we’re hosted in the United States, which have different libel laws.
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(Send me or Justin the link if you’ve blogged this please. Phew! It’s getting difficult to keep up! I’m just mirroring Justin now…)
Banners: Matt Wardman and Unity have banners too.