»   Anyone know more about this Free Schools BSEC conference that Toby Young is speaking at? Sounds all too chummy http://yfrog.com/h380020818j 50 mins ago

»   UK takes major step towards written constitution... with a 'Cabinet manual' http://bit.ly/i8fITK (we take this gradualism stuff too far) 2 hrs ago

»   Coming to Captain SKA's "Liar Liar" party tonight? Comedy, left-wing activists and lots of Tory bashing! Why not eh? http://bit.ly/fB48w4 5 hrs ago

»   'Why anti-fascists should let Pastor Jones visit the UK' http://bit.ly/gB0eO5 - great post by @RadicalDanFrost 5 hrs ago

»   'The face of our student cause isn't my brother Charlie Gilmour but Alfie Meadows' http://bit.ly/gWY6A1 says @heathcoter 6 hrs ago

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  • Technorati: graph / links
    9th July, 2010

    Save Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani

    by Rumbold at 6:47 am    

    The campaign to save Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is facing the death penalty for alleged adultery in Iran, has continued to attract worldwide attention after the story was featured on the front page of the time. Numerous foreign politicians and other notables have called for her not to be stoned:

    Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani is a forty-three year old mother of two children, 16 & 20 year old respectively. Both Sakine’s children and her lawyer tried everything they could to stop the stoning sentence, as a result of committing adultery. However, her stoning is finalized by the Iran’s court. Sakine is in Tabriz prison awaiting her imminent stoning sentence.

    Iran sits on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.

    8th July, 2010

    Simply, er, unexpected

    by Sunny at 4:41 pm    

    I am very surprised by this:

    The police’s use of controversial counterterrorism stop and search powers against individuals is to be scrapped immediately, the home secretary announced today. Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, officers can stop and search anyone in a designated area without having to show reasonable suspicion. Interim operational guidelines to be issued to the police say that in future section 44 powers will be used only to search vehicles, and officers will have to have grounds for suspecting they are being used in connection with terrorism.

    The Guardian’s Alan Travis was right - it’s amazing the Home Secretary didn’t bother challenging this or even ignoring it, as New Labour would have done.

    The assault on our civil liberties and people’s dignities was one of New Labour’s biggest stains when in government. It’s rather unexpected when the Tories, who are meant to be more authoritarian on this issue, are now far more liberal.

    Update: Kevin Blowe points out why Labour’s response to this is disingenuous.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    More on Englishness

    by Sunny at 3:04 pm    

    Good to see more articles on Englishess, prompted by LabourList.

    This article by Rick Muir says:

    The English left needs to reclaim English identity – otherwise there is a dangerous vacuum in which all sorts of resentments over devolution, and immigration get channelled through the prism of a reactionary and belligerent Englishness. We all know the signs of this – and ippr research has found that concerns about immigration are often articulated through a sense of aggrieved English nationalism.

    This is not to argue for an English parliament, but rather for the left to re-discover its radical English heritage and defend our interpretation of our national history against that of the right. It is also a call for Labour in office to give some institutional or cultural recognition to England, so we can promote the same kind of shared civic identity that has been so successfully fostered in Scotland and Wales.

    And Sunder Katwala:

    If we want to remain British – as I do – then we have to sustain majorities for British identity in each of the British nations. The idea that this is best done by suppressing other national identities is wrong-headed, and denies the history of Britain and Britishness too. As a civic identity for a multi-national state, Britishness was inherently plural from the start. Just as, after Thatcherism, devolution to Scotland and Wales was necessary to save the Union so is demonstrating that British identity has plenty of room for Englishness too.

    The British left should have more confidence in its engagement in our national conversations. If some on the left have had an apparent allergy to expressions of national identity, that has never been universally true.

    Yes to both.

    I wrote about Englishness a few weeks back, and have nearly finished a follow-up article.

    Filed under: British Identity

    …and we’re back

    by Sunny at 4:15 am    

    So you lot can stop emailing me with complaints about the theme now, thanks. I had a stroke of UNIX genius and managed to recover old files. Voila.

    Filed under: Blog
    7th July, 2010

    Sikh centre given an award by the Queen

    by Jai at 5:01 pm    

    The Queen has recently given the Sikh Nishkam Centre in Birmingham an award for its exemplary voluntary services to society.

    The group running the centre is headed by “Bhai Sahib” Mohinder Singh, whom I previously discussed in the “Music of Unity/Politics of Division” article here (pictured).
    (more…)

    Subliminal messaging

    by Sunny at 4:42 pm    

    I’m tickled at how, on this Harry’s Place blog-post, they publish something innocuous about Muslims and nail-varnish (who said they’re obsessed by Muslims??) and then end up with a big picture of some evil-looking Hizbollah fighters.

    I mean I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental that HP bloggers have no problems sticking in videos or pictures of angry, nasty looking Muslims on every other post even if it’s totally unrelated to the topic. Oh wait, it is related - they are all Muslims after all!

    Filed under: Other racists

    Tony Blair ”very much exaggerated” Iran’s role in supporting al Qaida

    by Sunny at 3:44 pm    

    Oh wait, it’s another Tony Blair makes up shit to support his foreign policy shocker today.

    These have become so regular that it’s almost difficult to get fazed by them. A few people keep defending Tony Blair on foreign policy with the view that he “wanted to do the right thing” etc etc. But here’s the point: if you started to list all the exaggerations and rubbish claims his administration made in order to justify foreign policy aims, you can only come to two conclusions:

    1. Either he was incredibly uninformed and made bad decisions on that basis (in which case he was unfit for purpose)

    2. He made decisions first and then bent facts and narratives to fit that. In which case he was also unfit for purpose on foreign policy.

    There really aren’t that many other options.

    Filed under: Party politics
    6th July, 2010

    Explain something about changing constituency sizes to me…

    by Sunny at 10:14 am    

    So the Coalition government has a plan to change constituency sizes by the number of people on the electoral register, rather than actual population size or people eligible to vote. Labour cllr Paul Cotterill doesn’t like the idea - he said so quite forcefully (in his understated way) at the Liberal Conspiracy Blog Nation event.

    Neither does Darrell Goodliffe, who says:

    Let’s be quite clear; the equalisation of constituencies based on voter registration is totally unacceptable. An attack on Labour as a Party it certainly is but what makes it unacceptable is the disenfranchisement of the voiceless; the making of them into ‘non-people’ as far as the government is concerned. In other words it is the antithesis of fairness and democracy; it must be opposed and stopped.

    Here’s what I don’t get. Those people who are not on the electoral register but not eligible to vote are already politically voiceless. Perhaps they want to remain that way. But if some Labour constituency sizes are reduced because they contain large numbers of people who don’t register to vote - then that is the fault of the Labour MP not of the system. The same goes for Tory MPs.

    In the US they have massive voter-registration drives to get people enfranchised and supporting candidates. The problem in the UK is that there are far too many MPs who get elected with minimal support from their local constituencies, and they have little incentive to get those people registered.

    Kezia Dugdale is right - instead of complaining, the Labour party should be organising voter registration days. That way they can get closer to their core voters and win some damn elections.

    The other problem is that these complaints of ‘gerrymandering’ aren’t going to get much traction with the public. It’s quite easy to make the argument (for the coalition) that everyone’s vote should count equally. Who will disagree with that? And how would anyone sum up opposition to that in one line? It’s a political non-starter, and I doubt there will be serious opposition to these plans even on Labour benches (though I could be proven wrong admittedly).

    Filed under: Party politics
    4th July, 2010

    Just fine words?

    by Rumbold at 11:01 am    

    The UN has announced the formation of a new body dedicated to advancing the cause of women:

    The General Assembly voted unanimously on Friday to launch a new agency called UN Women. It will begin its work in January, have a high-level leader, probably twice the $250m annual budget now allocated to gender issues, and will be tasked with challenging governments on women’s plights and rights.

    It is not clear how much of a positive impact this will have, as previous UN bodies have often proved to be detrimental to the cause they purport to represent. The UN ‘Human Rights Council’ was famously obsessed with attacking Israel (ignoring North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc.), whilst the UN also debated a worldwide blasphemy law designed to stifle criticism of religion.

    There are plenty of dedicated individuals and groups working for and with the UN. The question is, will the UN’s members allow them to really fight for women’s rights in various countries, or will this take a back seat to political considerations?

    3rd July, 2010

    Muslims And Music Lessons

    by guest at 10:15 am    

    This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs at Same Difference.

    I love music. I’ve grown up listening to music and playing songs on everything from a Walkman to an Ipod. Today I rarely sit in a car without the radio on. And in school, a few too many years ago, I sang along at assembly and loved the songs used. I even tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to play a couple of musical instruments.

    I’m also, usually, proud to be Muslim. What’s the connection, you may ask? Well, when I heard reports on BBC London News that hundreds of Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from primary school music lessons because their beliefs forbid them from learning an instrument, I was more than a little unpleasantly surprised.

    The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said music lessons were potentially unacceptable to about 10% of Muslims. This could equate to hundreds of Muslim children being withdrawn from the lessons, the MCB said. Eileen Ross, its head teacher, told BBC London: “Some of the parents don’t want children to play musical instruments and they don’t have music in their homes.

    “There’s been about 18 or 22 children withdrawn from certain sessions, out of music class, but at the moment I just have one child who is withdrawn continually from the music curriculum.”

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Muslim
    2nd July, 2010

    Lefties cutting off their noses to spite their face, part 2

    by Sunny at 5:49 pm    

    I’m intensely frustrated by the attitude of many lefties on electoral reform, who are opposed to the Alternative Vote. Let me explain why.

    Late last year I posted this article by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, who was then writing about Health Care reform. He said:

    Failure does not breed success. Obama’s defeat will not mean that more ambitious reforms have “a better chance of trying again.” It will mean that less ambitious reformers have a better chance of trying next time.

    Conversely, success does breed success. Medicare and Medicaid began as fairly limited programs. … As any scientist will tell you, it’s much easier to encourage something to evolve in a certain direction than it is to create it anew.

    As I said then, the left should not lose the stomach for revolutionary change or radical ideas. But it must also have the pragmatism to find ways to push for them, perhaps even incrementally, rather than constantly throw toys out of the pram when change does not go far enough quickly.

    We now have a situation where several lefties within the Green Party, Libdems and Labour saying that because AV does not go far enough, they will not support this change.

    It’s absurd. AV offers more choice, even if it’s not proportional. At the London Mayoral election I voted for Sian Berry as my first choice and Ken Livingstone as my second; I was able to support both without having to pick one over the other. There is no political appetite now for Proportional Representation.

    So to then say you won’t support AV because it’s not as good as PR is to misunderstand the politics of how things work - and setting back the cause of electoral reform for decades.

    And lastly, there are people who keep going on about how FPTP is great because it ensures Labour won’t need Libdems at the next election. Rubbish. This excellent article by academic John Curtice thoroughly pours cold water over that thesis; even under FPTP coalition politics is here to stay.

    Filed under: Party politics

    No turban searches at airports

    by Rumbold at 4:14 pm    

    Sikhs travelling through British airports will no longer have their turbans unravelled by airport staff if the metal detector goes off. It is not clear how many Sikhs were actually subject to this procedure, but the changes followed a campaign against the practice:

    A spokesperson for Birmingham International Airport said: ‘On Thursday the Department for Transport advised all UK airports to continue using the previous methods of screening religious headwear, which eliminates the need to carry out hand searches. We have reacted accordingly.’

    Sikhs who set off alarms at airport body scanners will now have their turban scanned by a hand held wand, and will only be subjected to searches by hand if metal is detected in the turban.

    This seems a sensible compromise to me, as it eliminates the need for turban removal unless there is metal contained within the turban, which there shouldn’t be.

    This ruling also drew comment from Sikhs in England, a Sikh organisation which suggested that Sikhs were being unfairly targeted (yet failed to provide any evidence of this), with the implication that security staff should focus on Muslims:

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Current affairs,Sikh

    Englishness gains traction

    by Sunny at 3:19 am    

    I wrote last week on why I’ve embraced my English identity. This week David Miliband (no coincidence I’m sure) has written for the New Statesman on why Labour needs to talk about Englishness.

    It’s a welcome contribution, and would like to see the other candidates also talk a bit more about re-imagining national identity too. Am writing another article for the Guardian as a follow-up to explain why I think the left should also embrace Englishness.

    There’s one point I wanted to clear up about the initial article: I’m not saying that you can only be English and not British. I emphatically believe in multiple identities… and have no problems with people calling themselves British and English.

    Filed under: British Identity
    1st July, 2010

    New theme….

    by Sunny at 2:24 am    

    Well, the old PP look has definitely gone. I can’t seem to retrieve it from any of the back-ups. And the ‘retro’ theme was a bit too complicated to modify as I wanted. So how about this one? Or do you not care? I’m still in experimental mode…

    On blogging generally, I’m still recovering from the Libcon conference - which took a hell of a lot of time and, while being very successful, left me with a big backlog of work. So I’ll be a bit sporadic for the next few days at least.

    Filed under: Blog
    30th June, 2010

    India’s forgotten women - screening tomorrow

    by Sunny at 5:35 pm    

    Leicester Square screening of India’s Forgotten Women
    (a documentary film by Michael Lawson, presented by Anjali Guptara)

    Followed by a Q&A Panel Discussion
    Chaired by Dharshini David (Sky News)
    Panelists include Director Michael Lawson and Lady Kishwar Desai (Chair of “Tongues on Fire”, London’s Asian film festival, and author of “Witness the Night”, a novel that delves into female gendercide in India)

    Thursday 1st July 6.30pm - Doors open 6pm
    VUE West End, Leicester Square
    3 Cranbourn Street, London WC2H 7AL
    Tickets: £10 at the door or in advance

    —-
    India’s Forgotten Women explores the outrageous plight of millions of women oppressed in India today because of their caste identity … astonishing, never-seen-before evidence of domestic violence, dowry crime, sex selective abortion, female infanticide, bonded labour, rape, temple prostitution, and human trafficking.
    Clips viewable here
    More info here

    Am going to this tomorrow.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    29th June, 2010

    Douglas Murray does a Rod Liddle

    by Sunny at 10:25 pm    

    Remember Rod Liddle’s obsession with Mary Seacole? Now Douglas Murray of the oxymoronic Centee for Social Cohesion looks to be following suit.

    Richard Spencer at the Telegraph:

    I was reminded of it when he asked us the other day to consider whether a West Indian or an Asian is the stupidest woman in Britain. It may be, of course, a coincidence that the candidates, Diane Abbott MP and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a newspaper columnist, are both from ethnic minorities, and that Murray had gone through the white contenders and assigned them to third, fourth and fifth places without telling us. After all, we were only likely to be interested in the grand, head-to-head final. However, since the topic at issue was race this seems a coincidence too far.

    Douglas Murray splutters: Of course I’m not racist and it’s just entirely a coincidence that I’m picking on these women as the “stupidest in Britain”. It’s not racist to accuse others of playing the race card.

    Think of the possibilities this rhetorical device offers. From now on, you could just play on any racist stereotype or make any accusation you want. Then, as soon as someone pulls you up on it, just accuse the people you’re hating on of playing the victim card! Genius.

    Filed under: Race politics
    28th June, 2010

    Let’s try this again…

    by Sunny at 5:29 am    

    For some reason the server has been using up a lot of memory - affecting PP heavily all last week. Hence the constant outages. I don’t know if this is sorted yet, but I’m still working on it. Unfortunately, I also deleted the blog theme that I created and can’t find a back-up. So, for the time being, we have the old one.

    Either I’ll try and find the theme or create a new one. Maybe PP does need a fresh look. Are you still having problems accessing?

    Filed under: Blog
    26th June, 2010

    Unarmed Forces Day 2010

    by earwicga at 8:43 pm    

    Via Quakers in Britain

    Britain’s second Armed Forces Day will take place on 26 June 2009 - initiated by the government in order to raise the public profile of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Day website  billed it as “an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community”.

    Given the already huge public support the armed forces enjoy as well as the enormous sums of money spent on war and military solutions to conflict, QPSW and others felt it a good time to focus more on the alternatives to the armed forces in part by calling for an Unarmed Forces Day: Unarmed Forces Day press release - 22nd June 2009

    Below are a list of resources for Armed Forces Day [please see here for a long list of resources and websites]

    Useful information for those considering joining the armed forces:

    ‘Informed Choice’ is an independent report on the subject of armed forces recruitment practices in the UK.

    Before You Sign Up is a website for people thinking of joining the armed forces - it offers impartial advice and recommended questions to ask recruiters.

    Meanwhile, the ConDem coalition are performing a u-turn on the promises they made to screen for and support personnel with PTSD.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Weekend hilarity (from Southall)

    by Sunny at 10:26 am    

    Well, I found this hilarious anyway. And anyone who’s been to Southall will find this hilarious.

    Filed under: Humour
    25th June, 2010

    Back to life…?

    by Sunny at 7:28 am    

    I’m still trying to figure out why the blog keeps being inaccessible. I have a feeling it has something to do with upgrading to WordPress 3.0 but I’m not yet sure. I may try and revert back to try and test this over the weekend.

    In the meantime, if it starts working fine for you, please let me know. cheers!

    Filed under: Blog
    24th June, 2010

    Terry Fitzpatrick

    by Sunny at 4:02 am    

    According to this blog, Terry Fitzpatrick, an east London based activist has been charged for racially aggravated harassment. Fitzpatrick was a frequent commenter on PP before he was banned for being abusive. He now spends a lot of time slagging us off on other blogs and writing long incoherent rants.

    Filed under: Blog
    23rd June, 2010

    This is rape culture

    by earwicga at 6:53 pm    

    From Hansard, 15 June 2010:

    Kenneth Clarke: We shall also have to consider the arguments on the other side, where a woman can make an anonymous complaint, the man can eventually be convicted, after going through a long and probably rather destructive ordeal, and the woman retains her anonymity as she walks away, with her ex-boyfriend or ex-husband left to live with the consequences.

    Hon. Members: What?

    That’s right, the convicted rapist having had to go through a ‘destructive ordeal’ who has to ‘live with the consequences’ has the sympathy of Kenneth Clarke, QC,  Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe, Secretary of State for Justice, and Lord Chancellor.

    Perhaps the revolting Clarke could say this to Ribz (trigger warning) or even come and say to my face that my rapists have his sympathy.  A good time would be half eleven on a Wednesday then he can also meet my Rape Crisis counsellor.  Or perhaps he could just do his job, or even better, just die and rid the world of another hideous misogynist.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    22nd June, 2010

    Zakir Naik’s exclusion from Britain

    by Rumbold at 9:18 pm    

    Zakir Naik, an Indian-based Islamist preacher, has been banned from entering Britain after the home secretary revoked his visa due to his comments on Osama Bin Laden, Jews and other issues:

    While it is evident that most of Naik’s views are out of step with the values of any 21st-century liberal democracy, this in itself does not provide sufficient justification to exclude him from the UK. As Lord Justice Sedley stated in the notable high court judgement Redmond-Bate vs Director of Public Prosecutions [1999]: “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative, providing it does not intend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.” Incitement to violence is a crucial caveat of this fundamental principle, and forms the basis of the Home Office’s “unacceptable behaviour” policy.

    I am always dubious about such bans, and am not sure what to think. No one has a right to enter this country, Britain is unlikely to benefit from Mr. Naik’s presence, and he is clearly an unpleasant anti-Semite, but do his utterings constitute an incitement to violence? Perhaps.

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