»   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
    22nd June, 2010

    But what if people don’t blame Tories for public sector cuts?

    by Sunny at 9:20 am    

    I visited this topic yesterday and I’m going to go further with this a bit. Like most of my lefty colleagues, I don’t want public services cut massively. Some spending will have to be reduced, I think most people recognise that, but the bulk of the budget deficit shortfall should be made up through progressive tax-rises in my view (not VAT).

    But many of my lefty colleagues (on Twitter and yesterday’s LibCon thread) are saying that once the Tory cuts kick in, the public will turn against them. And that will make them unpopular again. I disagree.

    I think the Tories already saw that coming. So they decided that the best strategy was to overplay the debt crisis. It’s classic expectations management. With the economy supposedly on the brink, they can argue that the cuts were necessary to stabilise the economy. They make themselves sound prudent while conveniently blaming their ideologically driven cuts on Labour.

    So my point is this. What if, 3-4 years from now, when public service cut start affecting people, they carry on believing the drastic cuts were Labour’s fault? That is certainly what the Tories will carry on arguing relentlessly. Stuart White suggests we collect stories of people being affected and make them the narrative. It’s a great idea. And if we can capture some hard-hitting stories that make the media narrative, the Tories will be on the back foot.

    But they might empathise with how people are being affected, but still blame Labour. Remember, they don’t think as ideologically as we do. This is already the case.

    My feeling is that while public service cuts speak to the base - they don’t translate well across everything. As Krishnan Guru-Murthy told me yesterday, the public actually want cuts. “They seemed to relish it” - he adds. The NHS is the only sacred cow.

    My point is that it’s dangerous to assume the cuts will be unpopular. The Tories were elected on a promise of massive cuts. The public expects them. Secondly, it’s dangerous to assume that even if people are hurt by the cuts, that they’ll blame the Tories. Sure, this might change when it actually hurts them. But these are still dangerous assumptions not borne out by the polling.

    My view is that the focus should remain on the state of the economy (which the Tories are trying to undermine) and unemployment (which will increase). That would annoy Middle-England much more than simply cuts.

    Filed under: Economics
    21st June, 2010

    Has the left become illiberal?

    by Sunny at 10:00 am    

    The academic Francesca Klug, who I have immense respect for, asks: Why has the left become so illiberal?

    My instinctive reaction is to point out that the left is not the same as New Labour. The left includes a whole bunch of people who are very much pro civil liberties (OurKingdom and their Convention on Modern Liberty did an excellent job of bringing them together), including the massive environmental movement that has always been anti-establishment.

    My second gripe is that Francesca doesn’t go into how the atmosphere whipped up following 9/11 and 7/7 contributed to this massive assault on civil liberties, in particular the part played by the neo-con left who egged on Blair to push further on terrorism related legislation.

    That aside, this bit certainly rings true:

    Continue Reading...
    20th June, 2010

    How do you define being English? And being ‘anti-English’?

    by Sunny at 11:09 am    

    I want to follow on from the earlier thread on ‘anti-English racism’ and start with an anecdote I’ve related here a few times. Back in 2005 when I was passionately arguing against the Sikh play Behzti being shut down, because some Sikh extremists were angry, I was invited to a radio discussion. Sitting next to me were some Sikh ‘human rights group’ who said, with a straight face, that they wanted to see the playwright Gurpreet Bhatti (herself a Sikh) put on trial for ‘inciting racial ahtred against Sikhs‘. I kid you not. I laughed at them.

    Of course, they didn’t get anywhere, thankfully. I’ve earlier pointed out why Sikhs and Jews in the UK, absurdly, are legally defined as a race. Briefly, it’s a legal instrument to ensure they were covered by race relations legislation while having some particular exemptions. The point is that the law is a bit of an arse and it’s terribly outdated and messy. New Labour did say they were going to streamline and simplify all this equalities legislation but I’m not sure it got anywhere.

    The broader point is that the Campaign for an English Parliament are behaving exactly like how Ms Bhatti’s detractors were at the time.

    Continue Reading...
    19th June, 2010

    Is supporting ‘Anyone But England’ really inciting racial hatred?

    by Sunny at 3:49 pm    

    This is ludicrous? And political correctness gone mad.

    Entertainment retailer HMV will no longer stock anti-English World Cup merchandise in its Scottish stores amid fears it could incite racial hatred.

    The chain reportedly made the decision following complaints to police from the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) and members of the public. A banner featuring the slogan ABE - Anyone But England - was removed from HMV in Kirkcaldy after a police visit.

    What the hell? I used to be in the ‘Anyone But England’ camp years ago (firmly supporting England this time) but the idea that these t-shirts incite racial hatred is bollocks.

    You know why? Because it assumes that Englishness is a racial identity. It’s certainly not. And I have half a mind to complain to the ‘Campaign for an English Parliament’ that they are inciting racial hatred by implying I cannot be English simply because I’m not white.

    Update A CEP person responds by calling me a ‘British Nationalist’. Erm, what does that mean? I’m in the BNP now? The blog post says:

    There was even the obligatory attempt to portray either the CEP or myself (or both) as ethnic nationalists who believe that English means white – that’s not the CEP’s opinion and nor is it mine.

    Ok, so being English does not mean being white according to them. But then Stuart goes on to say:

    First of all, let’s just deal with the misconception that English is not a race

    WTF? English is a nationality, not a race. White Caucasian is a race. Anglo-Saxon is an ethnicity. If an identity such as being English can be multi-racial, how in the world can it be a race? These people really are confused.

    Anupam Kher pulls out of Bollywood Hitler film

    by Rumbold at 2:14 pm    

    Anupam Kher, who was due to play Hitler in a Bollywood film showing the dictator’s ‘love for India’, has pulled out of the main role after an adverse public reaction:

    The project drew protests from Jewish groups in India and outside and was condemned by historians.

    “Thanks for your varied reactions to my opting out of Hitler. After 400 films in 26 years I have the right to be wrong and still be happy,” the actor wrote on Twitter.

    In a statement to news agency Reuters, Mr Kher said: “Considering the ill-will that the project is generating among my fans, I wish to withdraw from it as I respect their sentiments.”

    The problem with the film is that it is completely inaccurate historically (even more so than Braveheart), which Anupam Kher doesn’t seem to have understood. What this film has done though is (unintentionally) taught a number of people about Hitler’s attitudes to India, which they might not have been aware of beforehand. To quote Alex von Tunzelmann once again:

    Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

    Filed under: Culture,History,India
    18th June, 2010

    Pakistan through a lens (ends this Sunday)

    by Sunny at 11:37 am    

    guest post by Anwar Akhtar

    A recurring theme when you speak to many Pakistanis, both in Pakistan and among the diaspora, is a prolonged list of complaints about how Pakistan and Pakistanis are presented in the media.

    The diversity, cultural heritage and complexity of Pakistan, a vast, beautiful, complex country, which encompasses the great metropolises of Karachi, Faisalabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi, to the mountain regions of North West Frontier Province and Balochistan, and also hundreds of villages, towns and the fertile plains of the Punjab.

    Pakistan Through a Lens showcases a Pakistan rarely highlighted by the mainstream media.

    It is a Pakistan that is thankfully being highlighted by increasing interest in the photography coming out of Pakistan as well as its neighbours, as seen in the recent Three Dreams exhibition in Whitechapel.

    Continue Reading...

    More BNP and EDL updates, including counter-demonstrations

    by Sunny at 9:27 am    

    This is an update from ExposeTheBNP

    1. SUNDAY: East London united against racism
    The English Defence League has called off its planned march this weekend after it realised it would be a “suicide mission” in the face of huge local opposition. Some 700 people packed out a rally in Whitechapel at the weekend, as unions, religious and community groups came together.

    “It would be a suicide mission if we walked into East London,” EDL leader Tommy Robinson told the East London Advertiser. “The Met Police told us there would be a hostile scene with thousands of protesters coming from all over if we turned up.”

    A major anti-racist demonstration will take place on Sunday to mark this victory and show unity against the fascists.
    Assemble 12.30pm, Sunday 20 June
    Stepney Green Park, London E1, marching to Altab Ali Park

    2. Justice for Bolton anti-fascists
    A campaign to win justice for anti-fascists arrested on a demonstration in Bolton was launched in the House of Commons last week, with speakers including MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Peter Hain.
    Campaigners are facing serious criminal charges after they were arrested on the March 20 demonstration against the EDL. Bolton’s newly elected MP is calling for the charges to be dropped.
    Full details: http://justice4bolton.org/

    3. Demonstrate against the EDL at Wembley
    The EDL has announced that they plan to “protest” outside a charity event organised by the Al-Khair Foundation at Wembley Arena, north west London, on Saturday 26 June.

    The Al-Khair Foundation is a registered charity that raises aid and delivered relief to Haiti and Kashmir after the earthquakes there. The convention that the foundation is organising at Wembley aims to “remove misconceptions, false fear and hate of Islam and Muslims” and to promote dialogue between faiths. The EDL are using the convention as a pretext to target the local Muslim community in Brent, a London borough with a hugely diverse population.

    Counter demonstration against the EDL in Wembley:
    Saturday 26 June, 1.30pm to 6pm
    Outside Wembley Arena, Engineers Way, London HA9 0DH
    (Wembley Park or Wembley Central tube)

    Filed under: Race politics
    17th June, 2010

    The North Report on drink/drug driving

    by earwicga at 11:41 am    

    The North Review on drink and drug driving is in and has provided the coalition with 51 reasonable recommendations - 28 regarding drink driving and 23 regarding drug driving (pages 15-20 of the report).

    Perhaps the biggest change that North recommends is the reduction in alcohol levels allowed before driving, from 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood to 50mg.  This would contribute to a reduction to the current situation of 430 deaths and 1600 serious injuries caused annually by drink drivers.  The estimate of 43-168 lives that would be saved annually have been garnered from experiences in other countries such as Switzerland.  North did not estimate the reduction in numbers for serious injuries. 

    The review found that:

    (more…)

    Filed under: Current affairs
    16th June, 2010

    But will Muslim leaders condemn….?

    by Sunny at 11:07 am    

    Weren’t conservatives against this policy of multiculturalism and segregating Muslims into blocks led by community leaders? Oh right, except when Muslims are required to condemn other Muslims for something.
    Nile Gardiner at the Telegraph: British Muslim leaders must condemn Islamist anti-troop protests. Will white community leaders also condemn the BNP and EDL? No? Yes! Confused? That’s because most Telegraph writers are un-thinking ideologues.

    Gardiner goes on to say:

    There is a fundamental difference between legitimate, peaceful protest, and this kind of mob behaviour, that clearly threatens public safety.

    To offer a bit of context, it looks like Al-Muhajiroun aka Al-Ghuraaba aka Islam4UK - have now morphed into ‘Muslims Against the Crusade’. The Daily Mail reports that they had a predictable rally against British troops. The rally wasn’t violent really, but as I’ve said before - the right to protest must be protected. Anyway, I like how Gardiner tries to turn it into “mob behaviour” and call for it to be banned. Typical.

    15th June, 2010

    An act of political bravery

    by Rumbold at 10:03 pm    

    Theresa May, the Home secretary, has announced that the Vetting and Barring scheme is to be scrapped before it has been set up:

    Nine million people who wanted to work with children or vulnerable adults would have had to register on the database, or face a £5,000 fine…

    The scheme would have been run by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. Checks were to be made with the Criminal Records Bureau before adults could take up their posts.

    Volunteers could register free of charge, while others would have had to pay a one-off fee of £64.

    Why was this an act of political bravery? Because of the media reaction if something goes wrong. A government that cuts a scheme like this is open to attack if something happens to a child (or a vulnerable adult), which could have been prevented by the proposed database. And governments know that in media terms, it is better to be accused of interfering too much then failing to prevent something. The Telegraph headline to the story provides a good example, calling it an anti-paedophile database whilst putting ‘commonsense’ in quotes. Even if something happened that the database couldn’t have prevented, there would be blame attached to the government, because of people’s perceptions.

    The current round of protection policies, crowned by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), is a case in point. This apparatus was set up after the Soham murders in 2002, which saw two schoolgirls murdered by a local caretaker. His violent past was not known to the school, and had it been, he would never have been hired. Therefore the system of CRB checks was designed to stop this happening again. What most people seem to have missed though was that a CRB check would have made any difference: the caretaker worked at a different school, so his position did not give him privileged access to his two victims. Yet it was enough that something had to be done, so it was done.

    Last year around 15,000 people were wrongly branded as criminals by CRB checks, whilst many more were unable to start work as they had to wait months to get their cheques back. Children and vulnerable adults will never be completely safe under any system. The government needs to ensure that those who can do the most for these groups aren’t put off or prevented from doing so by bureaucracy and the fear of being branded. Well done to the coalition for taking this step.

    The Melanie Phillips digested read

    by Sunny at 5:09 pm    

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read on the Guardian in a long time:

    hese falsehoods are presented as unchallengeable truths; in fact, they are anti-Semitic leftwing ideologies based on twisted evidence. We now live in a world of moral relativism where to believe in scientific inquiry or to be gay or a Muslim is socially acceptable. How can any right thinking person go along with this new age of Reason? The Enlightenment has a lot to answer for. Surely it must be apparent to even Richard Dawkins that he couldn’t have written the God Delusion without God’s help? Though obviously not the Muslim God because he doesn’t exist.

    Secularism is the curse of modern life. If everyone went to Synagogue to thank the Intelligent Designer there would be no more conflict. Instead there is a global coalition of Muslims, environmentalists and vegetarians whose sole purpose is to destroy the state of Israel. The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre – co-ordinated by Osama bin Laden and George Monbiot – was nothing less than a dry run for a ram raid on the Burger King in central Tel Aviv.

    And the thing is, it’s only a half-parody isn’t it? Phillips’ recent wheeze: A pre-pogrom atmosphere builds in the west.

    Filed under: Humour,Media

    David Miliband expresses regret over Lebanon invasion fiasco

    by Sunny at 10:10 am    

    Well here’s a surprise. Asked what were his top three policy regrets were, David Miliband cited Israel’s invasion of Lebanon as the top one.

    Lebanon: he argued in Cabinet and wished he had been more successful in persuading his colleagues and senior colleagues.

    You’ll remember that over 1000 civilians died in Lebanon when Israel decided to invade and bomb. I’m surprised the elder Miliband is willing to admit he wasn’t successful enough in convincing his colleagues to take a stronger stance against Israel, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

    He also admitted it was stupid of the party to try and stop Ken Livingstone running as Labour’s candidate for Mayor. And he repeated his line: “The worst thing to happen to Tony Blair was George Bush.” The ultra-Blairite is saying things that even now the decent left and neo-cons will not admit to. Maybe he has more sense than I thought.

    Filed under: Middle East
    14th June, 2010

    Oh no, the idiots are unhappy with a positive Muslim campaign

    by Sunny at 7:31 pm    

    The desperation of neo-con and the “decent left” never ceases to amaze me. A few weeks ago a group of Muslims got together to launch a campaign called ‘Inspired by Muhammed‘ that wanted to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims. It features Muslims saying they also believe in women’s rights, protecting the environment and social justice (among other things) and so does their religion.

    Of course, everyone has a different interpretation of their religion. I suppose someone like Anjem Choudhary might not care much for those ideals. Can’t see Abu Hamza caring much for the environment, nor Omar Bakri for women’s rights. But hey, isn’t it good that some Muslims do want to challenge those negative interpretations and say they also care for those ideals?

    Oh nooooo. We can’t have that can we?

    Continue Reading...

    Tories planning to drop 28 days pre-charge detention

    by Sunny at 12:08 am    

    So far they’ve proved OK on civil liberties. This is also welcome news. In an interview with Sayeeda Warsi:

    The little-used but contentious Labour legislation allowing terror suspects to be detained without charge for up to 28 days could also be scrapped. “The question I would ask is this: how many times has 28 days been used?” said Warsi, who also has a cross-Whitehall brief on community issues.

    A review could recommend changes in July. “Of course you have got to protect your country. But we have also got some very clear principles of natural justice. We have principles that people should know the charge against them, that we don’t detain for excessive periods without charge,” Warsi said.

    It’s a sad day when Tories understand principles of natural justice better than some idiots in the Labour Party (who claim to be all for civil liberties).

    Filed under: Civil liberties
    13th June, 2010

    Hitler goes to Bollywood

    by Rumbold at 4:16 pm    

    Alex von Tunzelmann reports on the news that an Indian film director is planning to make a film about Hitler, with Anupam Kher (best known to Western audiences as the dad from ‘Bend it Like Beckham’) as Adolf. It is billed as a serious film (which, given the possibilities of song and dance numbers, is quite a shame), and is titled ‘Dear Friend Hitler’. The director chose the title because of Hitler’s alleged fondness for India and his role in helping to end British rule of India. That Hitler was a friend of India is historically illiterate. As Alex points out:

    Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

    The second world war did fatally weaken Britain’s grip on her empire, but it was America who pressed the moral case for it to be dismembered, not Germany. The director was also swayed by Hitler’s alliance with Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, which worked with the Japanese forces in an attempt to invade the then British-ruled India:

    In fact, the Nazi regime’s disgust when Bose became romantically involved with a German woman revealed its true feelings. Hitler was happy to let Bose’s recruits die fighting the British. But he never stopped believing that Indian people were racially inferior to white Europeans, and that any attempt at Indian independence would inevitably lead to reconquest by a “superior” race.


    (Hat-Tip: KJB)

    Filed under: Culture,History,India

    Nick Cohen and the “collapse in liberal principles”

    by Sunny at 1:19 am    

    Nick Cohen has some rambling blog-post in which he juxtaposes a whole bunch of events, described very briefly, to come up with the radical and original conclusion that there is far too much “liberal cowardice”. You never saw that coming did you? He writes at the end:

    The collapse in liberal principles in the past decade has been so widespread that one vignette was bound to become a representation of the wider disintegration.

    Liberal principles eh? Do you think those might include not trying to justify torture [link fixed]? How about demanding that governments respect Habeas Corpus? What about not defending state terrorism? Does a person who stands up for liberal principles defend Sarah Palin? Do you think they’d have mates justifying black ops and Guantanamo Bay?

    A funny definition of “liberal principles” that. But then, Cohen has also always claimed he stood up for universal human rights.

    Filed under: Humour,Islamists
    12th June, 2010

    BNP & EDL Update

    by Jai at 10:35 am    

    A selection of ongoing developments involving Britain’s extreme far-Right, further to the recent PP article focusing on the BNP here.

    BNP:

    1. Nick Griffin is finally admitting that the BNP’s disastrous defeat in the recent General Election was due to them being comprehensively outclassed by the other political parties, particularly (in Griffin’s view) the Labour party. The URL link includes Griffin’s bizarre, rambling email to BNP members in full, detailing his plans to revamp the party prior to his alleged stepping down from the Chairmanship in 2014 so that he can lead a block of “nationalist opponents” in the European Parliament. Apparently a BNP “Campaign Executive” group has been formed, as a way to integrate the various groups involved in the BNP’s overall strategy. Griffin also wishes to create an “Operations Command Centre” (described by him as a “BNP academy of political excellence”), which will include a “National Training Department” for their key officials. The BNP also plan to create a distance learning website, described by Griffin as “a sort of Nationalist Open University” (one would assume that white supremacist websites such as Stormfront already perform that function). Amusingly, Griffin is still insisting that the BNP are the “Real British People”, despite the fact that more than 98% of Britain’s entire electorate did not vote for them in the General Election.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Other racists,The BNP
    11th June, 2010

    How do left-wing principles stack up in the face of diversity?

    by Sunny at 9:20 am    

    Carl Packman says over at Libcon that the left hasn’t developed an effective response to multiculturalism:

    There have been very many areas of distraction where the left seem to have been weak, and it has been an almost impossible task to try and square this circle, about immigration, about Islamism and extremism, about right wing groups such as the EDL or SIOE.

    Let me try and develop a response to this because I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately. But it’s worthwhile pointing out that concerns around immigration and far-right movements aren’t new. Even during the 70s and 80s the Tory right used the spectre of the National Front and BNP to say that more immigration would lead to increasing community unrest. That underpinned Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and it has been echoed repeatedly since, though in different guises. Even now it’s fashionable on the right to say that the BNP’s growth has been entirely due to immigration, even if the evidence doesn’t hold up (it certainly didn’t in the last election).

    Politically active minorities in Britain have gone through evolutionary cycles of identity politics: from ‘black unity’ to more fragmented secular Asian politics to even more fragmented religious politics by community leaders. The last paradigm is now also fading away as 9/11 starts becoming a distant memory. Of course, if a few major terrorist attacks in the UK happen then hysteria about Islamists could rise again and you could be back to people clinging to their religion to defend it.

    Let me emphasise that last point again: the rise of religious communitarianism was largely a response to the hysteria against Muslims: it made them defensive of an identity they didn’t pay much attention to earlier. They had mostly ignored the religious fundos and were then damned with them by loose religious association. I talked about this evolution a few years ago in this article for The Times.

    And where does the future lie? I think, in the breakdown of religious and race-based structures and a focus back to the biggest British identity politics of all: class/poverty differences.

    What’s needed to respond to the point by Carl, I think, is to lay out principles that lefties should be able to agree on, that govern how issues relating to ‘diversity’ and multiculturalism’ are treated.

    Free speech and neo-cons
    I was at a round-table on free speech last week with the excellent writer/think Kenan Malik who made a good point: that a diverse society not only needs free speech but actually relies on that principle. It’s easy having free speech in a relatively homogeneous society because people mostly think the same. It’s diverse societies that stretch those free speech principles to breaking point because suddenly people are confronted with views they find abhorrent.

    Over the last ten years a curious alliance developed between Conservatives (generally against ‘abhorrent views’ and diversity anyway) and lefties we can label as ‘neo-cons‘ in favour of restricting civil liberties and suppressing free speech.

    And so they turned a blind eye to falsified evidence (in support of war), torture, extraordinary rendition, locking up ‘enemy combatants’ etc. They start looking for potential terrorists everywhere and started smearing them as Islamists and sympathisers. They wanted “hate literature” banned while simultaneously demanding that Muslims adhere to their ‘enlightened’ values of free speech.

    They cried about how great civil liberties were while simultaneously calling for students to be spied on at universities in the name of national security.

    That isn’t to say minorities helped their own cause. And so we need to establish some first principles: in favour of free speech, civil liberties, secularism and basic individual freedoms of religion, the right to marry who they want etc. (partly why I argued against demands for BNP / EDL marches to be banned - they go against basic principles of civil liberties).

    Anyway, those are some initial thoughts. This is how you could contribute: tell me in the comments what such a list of ‘first principles’ should look like. A list of 5-10 thoughts maybe.

    10th June, 2010

    New Amnesty reports highlights abuses by Taliban

    by Sunny at 1:15 pm    

    Millions of Pakistanis in the north-west tribal areas live in a human rights-free zone where they have no legal protection from the government and are subject to abuses by the Taleban, Amnesty International said today (10 June) as it published a major report on the region.

    The 130-page report, ‘As if Hell Fell on Me’: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan, is based on nearly 300 interviews with residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and adjacent areas of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). The report gives voice to those whose experiences are rarely reported and reveals the abuses faced by the region’s residents.

    Amnesty is urging both the Pakistani government and the Taleban to comply with international humanitarian law by taking all measures to prevent loss of civilian life and buildings including hospitals and schools and allowing unfettered NGO access to provide food, shelter and medical supplies to the injured and displaced.

    Amnesty’s review of available information also suggests that at least 1,300 civilians were killed in the fighting in north-west Pakistan in 2009, from a total of more than 8,500 casualties (including combatants).

    ‘As if Hell Fell on Me’ documents systematic abuses carried out by the Taleban as they have established their rule - killing those (such as tribal elders and government officials) who challenge their authority. Amnesty says they have imposed their rule through torture and other ill-treatment, targeting teachers, aid workers and political activists. The Taleban have also attacked women, and schools and health clinics catering to their needs.

    ——-
    Wait! I thought they were in league?? I’m getting all confused here, because according to certain defenders of human rights Amnesty was acting LIKE the Taliban. All very confusing isn’t it…. or not.

    John McDonnell vs Diane Abbott

    by Sunny at 1:26 am    

    Understandably, a lot of socialists are angry that John dropped out and gave way to Diane today. To be honest, I think it’s a testament to his intelligence and pluralism that he acted in the best interests of the party, a point missed by some who are just ranting away at Diane now.

    After talking to a few people today, my overwhelming feeling is that if John had stayed in the race he would not have made the cut. Firstly because there is the precedent and this time around there are less socialist MPs, and secondly because Diane Abbott had Harriet Harman, David Lammy and others ringing around for her to get to the 33. It went to the wire and she managed to get some extra names just past 12:30 because some “literally had to be dragged out of their chambers to nominate her” (according to one source). Also, David Miliband arm-twisted his supporters last minute to nominate her instead.

    Now, I’m a big fan of John McDonnell. But as I said earlier that I wanted to see at least one left-candidate on the list and I’m glad one did at least. The New Statesman hustings last night were a testament to that.

    Filed under: Party politics
    9th June, 2010

    A response to Claude and others on immigration

    by Sunny at 10:28 am    

    Hah! I can’t stop talking about. Claude Carpentieri has written this blog post criticising my defence of Ed Balls on immigration. He says:

    In a nutshell, his point was: we were wrong to allow so many Eastern Europeans into Britain; we should revise the free movement of labour and keep it one way only (1m Brits can live and work in Europe, but not the reverse); his government, Labour, was wrong in a) both not placing restrictions on new EU states and b) not implementing the agency workers directive.

    No, I think his point was that allowing so many EEs into the UK so quickly was a mistake because it destabilised communities economically. I also don’t think he’s arguing to stop Europeans from coming here while allowing Britons to go outside easily. Practically, other European countries won’t allow it. So, in many ways, Ed Balls is bluffing on what he’ll actually do to restrict immigration from Eastern Europe. So little heed should be paid to that bit. The final point I’ll agree with: Labour should have developed ‘managed migration’ and it should have done more to protect rights of poorest workers.

    Others have noted how unfeasible it all looks that Balls is suddenly laying into entire chunks of 13 years in power while he seemed to be happily going along with it all until May 7

    Look, you either applaud someone for taking Labour into a new direction or you have a go at him for sticking with the old ways.

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    Filed under: Media,Race politics
    8th June, 2010

    A symposium on the future of public broadcasting in the UK

    by Sunny at 4:49 pm    

    A symposium has been organised by openDemocracy and hosted by City University’s Department of Journalism this week on Thursday.

    …chaired by Steve Hewlett, presenter of Radio 4’s The Media Show, and hosted by City University’s Department of Journalism. The symposium embraces the current consultation on the BBC’s Strategy Review in asking a broader question: what is the future for pluralism in the supply of public service content in the UK?

    The symposium is the physical culmination of the online Public Service Broadcasting Forum, an editorial series and online discussion board. Launched on 29 March by Frank Field MP on the openDemocracy website, the Forum aims to debate the status, health and future of public service broadcasting in parallel with the public consultation period of Putting Quality First, the BBC’s formal Strategy Review

    I’ll be speaking at the event later in the day. More info here.
    (Readers can get in for £15 if they want to attend)

    How do you think public service content should be funded in the future?

    Filed under: Media

    Misogyny turned good: #DannyDyerDonate

    by guest at 1:43 pm    

    guest post from Liam Barrington-Bush

    A quick timeline:
    7/6/10, 4:00pm – I’m ‘on Twitter’; I notice a Tweet from @VictoriaPeckham, that said a remarkably low 24 people went to see Danny Dyer’s new film, Pimp, during its entire opening weekend; £205 was grossed. The blog points out that Dyer was last in the news when his advice column in Zoo lads’ mag had caused fury, after he recommended a reader cut an ex-girlfriend’s face, so ‘no one would want her’.

    7/6/10, 4:10pm – I noticed that @andyvglnt had also picked-up the story, Tweeting “Danny Dyer’s new flick take £205 in 1st weekend? @Diazzzz and I took more than that for band t-shirts and cupcakes yesterday!” Banter ensues… we decide that more people would choose to support the women Dyer ‘jokes’ about cutting, than would want to see his film.  I suggest finding a suitable charity and sending a link to their donate page, @andyvglnt suggests a page on JustGiving.com, so we could see “how much more generous people are than Dyer is successful.”

     7/6/10, 4:20pm – In about 10 minutes, I’d set-up a JustGiving page for #DannyDyerDonate, giving money to Solace Women’s Aid. I sent the following Tweet: “Danny Dyer’s ‘PIMP’ film made £205; can we raise more for the women he ‘jokes’ of abusing? http://bit.ly/aK91xw #DannyDyerDonate”

    7/6/10, 6:30 – £210 had been made, surpassing the goal and outdoing ‘Pimp’s opening weekend take.

    8/6/10, 9:25am – £420 had been raised for Solace Women’s Aid, via 47 separate donors, pitching in between £2 and £100 each.

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    Why I support the right of racists to demonstrate in East London

    by Sunny at 10:30 am    

    Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of the English Defence League. Last week PP reader Halima sent me this email:

    The English Defence League is a violent, bigoted organisation and an embarrassment to our country. They should be condemned everywhere, but will be particularly unwelcome if they come to Tower Hamlets (as reported in the Guardian 29/5).

    Most people in the East End live in peace and mutual respect for our neighbours, regardless of their faith or skin colour. We will not tolerate attempts to divide us or stir up hatred. The real enemies of Tower Hamlets are poverty and inequality, not Islam. At Cable Street in 1936 the people of the East End united to block the way to Mosely’s fascist blackshirts. We stand ready to do the same to the EDL.

    I don’t agree. I think the EDL should be allowed to have their demo and if people want to oppose them then they should also be allowed to have their counter-demo. I may have been a bit ambiguous on this issue in the past but I want to clarify my stance: I think there are far too many (growing) restrictions on the right to protest in this country.

    Usually, the police use excuses such as: (1) it will cause public disorder or (2) it will cost too much to police - to stop protests from taking place. I think this is wrong. We need to defend the right to protest and that includes the racists and bigots. That includes defending the right of the BNP to stage their annual festival of racists.

    Lefties need to stop this fetish of trying to ban protests or demos they don’t like because it will always end up affecting them later. And anyway - the principle of the right to demonstrate is not only important but should be protected by law.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    Could this mean a change in Pakistani attitude towards Ahmadis?

    by Sunny at 9:02 am    

    Express India reports (via @afpakchannel):

    Former Pakistan Prime Minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has created ripples in Pakistan’s political and religious circles by saying that the members of the minority Ahmedi sect are his brothers and sisters and that militants should be flushed out wherever they are active.

    Speaking a week after 95 Ahmedis were killed during terrorist attacks on two mosques of the sect that has been declared “non-Muslim” under Pakistani laws, Sharif said the Ahmedis too are citizens of the country.

    Excellent and brave stance, in a country where militants have always been allowed to get away with massacring Ahmadis for decades without any blowback. Some extremists have inevitably attacked him, but I wonder if this marks a turning point in the debate. I can’t see this being an electoral stunt given it’s more likely to lose him votes than gain any. Although the extremists are suggesting Obama put pressure on him to say that… Say what, Pakistan watchers?

    Filed under: Pakistan,South Asia
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