24th June, 2009
The BNP thrive off an anti-establishment and anti-politics fervour. They thrive on a victim mentality that is ingrained in their hardcore supporters and attract whites who buy into that victim mentality. I get that. And MaidMarian in the comments earlier made a good point about the BNP being more about getting their message to be common currency, with votes and political office only as a secondary concern.
But there is a danger of going the other way too far. I don’t think BNP affiliated teachers should be banned from the classroom, and Neil Robertson makes a good case here, but some seem to worry that we should avoid doing anything that helps Nick Griffin play the victim card.
Listen folks, if you want to stop the BNP then volunteer for the Hope Not Hate campaign, don’t become so afraid of stepping on the BNP’s toes. There is a need to continue delegitimising the BNP while not letting them paint themselves as victims. But I refuse to go so far that we have to accept the BNP as equal partners because the alternative is that we feed their sense of victimhood. When will people call them out for that?
23rd June, 2009
… except that its action contradict its actual words:
Israel’s defence ministry has proposed legalising 60 existing homes at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, and building another 240 homes at the site, despite US calls for a halt to settlement growth. Construction at the outpost, known as Water Reservoir Hill, near the Talmon settlement, north of Ramallah, would “greatly damage” the freedom of movement of Palestinian farmers in the area, according to Bimkom, an Israeli planning rights group.
So far, Israel has resisted Washington’s pressure for a halt to construction in settlements and the issue is fast becoming a test of wills between the two governments. In an interview yesterday Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said arguing about settlement activity was a waste of time. Last week, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, told Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, that Washington wanted “to see a stop to the settlements”.
I’ve not really commented on I/P much recently, especially since we were going through a period of flux. But it seems clear now that the Israeli government doesn’t actually want peace. They were presented with an opportunity to negotiate and use Obama to force Palestinians into a deal, especially since most lefties around the world support Obama. And yet not only as Netanyahu pointedly refused to do anything about the illegal settlements – they’re actually expanding them. This is not only flouting international law – but signalling that Israel isn’t interested in peace.
You must be aware the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is saying it may launch a legal action against the BNP for its discriminatory membership policies. Their press release today states:
The letter, sent to the party chairman Nick Griffin, outlines the Commissionâ€™s concerns about the BNPâ€™s compliance with the Race Relations Act. The letter asks the BNP to provide written undertakings by 20th July that it will make the changes required by the Commission. Failure to do so may result in the Commission issuing an application for a legal injunction against the BNP.
The Commission has a statutory duty, under the Equality Act 2006, to enforce the provisions of the Act and to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination. This duty includes preventing discrimination by political parties.
The Commission thinks that the BNPâ€™s constitution and membership criteria may discriminate on the grounds of race and colour, contrary to the Race Relations Act. The partyâ€™s membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular â€œethnic groupsâ€ and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with. The Commission therefore thinks that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.
Anything that continues to highlight the BNP’s racist policies is good for me, especially since the BNP cannot say here that their membership policies merely echo those organisations such as the National Black Police Association (which has never had a bar on race).
But why has it taken them so long to launch this anyway? It’s good publicity now for everyone involved, but this BNP policy isn’t new, is it? Is this a belated attempt by Trevor Phillips to shore up his position?
Watch the press conference here (info via Zohra at the F Word)
Update: Afua Hirsch writes on the legal hoops it may have to jump.
When the previous speaker, Michael Martin, stepped down as result of the expenses scandal, it was widely that believed that this was in part due to his own questionable use of taxpayers’ money. This assertion has now been shattered after MPs voted to elect John Bercow, who flipped his home (a dishonest practice) in order to avoid Capital Gains Tax (which people pay if they sell a property which isn’t their primary residence), while spending taxpayers’ money on an accountant (no business would ever be allowed to claim back such fees). And this is the man MPs think can clean up Parliament.
There’s not much one can add. They have damned themselves.
(Links Via Devil’s Kitchen)
22nd June, 2009
I can’t believe anyone sane could have any admiration left for Galloway after watching this video where he pretty much licks Iran’s Ahmedinijad up and down (sorry if I triggered your imagination there but there’s no other way to describe it, is there?). No mention of all the brutal killings. No discussion of why hundreds of thousands of people were angrily on the street.
George Galloway isn’t on the far-left any more; he has simply become a supporter of a brutal autocratic theocracy. There’s no ideological justification – he just wants more of that Iranian cream. Sick stuff. (via Stroppybird, who is actually on the socialist-left). The UK group Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI), to which I’m a signatory, has some good coverage too. Galloway is on his own.
If anyone wants evidence the vote was rigged – it’s there.
Recently eGov sent the BNP a list of the ’85 Questions’. We have now received an answer to the first twenty questions, while the other questions remain unanswered, with no indication of when they will be. The response was written by Lee John Barnes, a member of the BNPâ€™s legal affairsâ€™ team and a well-known blogger. Below his unedited response, a number of us have printed our collective reaction to his answers:
Well, the title is self-explanatory. Here is the blurb:
The BNP – How should we deal with them?
A Panel Discussion with:
Fiyaz Mughal, Salma Yaqoob, and Sunny Hundal
on: Friday 26th June 2009, 6.45pm – 8.30pm
at: 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP
The recent election of two BNP members to the European parliament has brought to the fore concerns around the rise of far-right extremism in the UK. How should this challenge be confronted?
21st June, 2009
Before I write a more important post, it’s time to chuck out a few links.
- BNP Wives, Sky Three – you can watch the whole thing on Google Video. (h/t: @poorva)
- Video shows surveillance protesters bundled to ground by police – this is big news. I need to write about how environmentalists now increasingly bear the brunt of our attack on civil liberties. And yet all those Tories and Libertarians who get so exercised by stuff like smoking bans don’t even bother saying anything about this.
- More strikes ahead at power plants as oil refinery row rumbles on, says the Guardian. I say bring it on – am fully behind the Lindsey Oil Strikes. There’s a better piece in the Indy titled: How the issue of foreign workers has poisoned industrial relations – need to come back to this.
- Spiked Online: don’t you just hate it? I do. Anyway, a good blog post by Naomi McAuliffe taking down its stupid misogyny. There’s also one by Gimpy challenging another Spiked article on passive smoking. But the most interesting is this one by Richard Wilson questioning the editorial bent behind Spiked and its funders.
- Interesting article in the Washington Post about Obama’s approach to the civil-war in Iran. Let’s be clear about this: I support the voting out of Ahmedinijad because he’s a repressive, Holocaust-denying, racist tyrant. I’m not enamoured with Moussavi but he’s better than the former. It’s also pretty obvious, except to the idiotic rag-tag of people who supported the war in Iraq or are Tory that Obama must do something, without taking into account how that plays into Ahmedinijad’s hand. When will these people learn?
- Also according to Richard Wilson, though Tory MEP Daniel Hannan loves talking about transparency etc, his voting record in fact betrays the exact opposite. Typical.
Remember that fictitious front-page Sun news story where some Muslims on a forum had drawn up a Jewish hit-list? It got taken down after questions were asked about “anti-terrorism expert” Glen Jenvey who apparently sold the story to the Sun. Anyway, here’s an update.
Apparently he’s converted to Islam. LOL. No seriously, Dave Bones emailed earlier and has now blogged it. Richard Bartholomew has much more. This really is a bizarre story. If this guy does become a big disciple of Anjem Choudhary then expect him on TV soon.
As I just said on Twitter, thank fuck for some good news for Pakistan. Well done to the players. This is probably one of the few times I’d support Pakistan over Sri Lanka in Cricket. Heh.
I’ve been alerted to a video of a television discussion on the Iranian channel Press TV, where Taji Mustafa of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir refers to the terrorist killers in Pakistan as “brothers”. See the video here (ffwd by 9min). He says:
Today, this action is on behalf of America. Today you have Pakistan – the sons of Pakistan in the army are turned against their brothers the sons of Pakistan, living in the tribal areas. [interrupted by Pakistan high commissioner] So this idea that a few thousand Taliban or whoever could threaten several hundred thousand, a several hundred thousand army, the seventh largest army in the world, could be overrun by a few thousand people in the tribal areas was a nonsense, and I think it was designed to get us to where we are today – to give in from pressure from America and get Pakistani fighting Pakistani.
There are of course the same militants who have been blowing up innocent people across Pakistan for months. These are the same people a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist in the UK calls “brothers”. Now we know his sympathy lies with terrorists.
There was also a good photo-journalism piece by Declan Walsh yesterday in the Guardian about people fleeing the Swat Valley. (hat tip: zakk)
20th June, 2009
This is a guest post by Elliot Borges
The shocking attacks on Romanian immigrants in Northern Ireland this week have again raised the inexhaustibly contentious issue of immigration in 21st century Britain. The issue made me instantly think of Slavoj Zizekâ€™s excellent book Violence, in which he propounds the thesis that such acts of violence with a clearly identifiable agent are generated by a hidden violence; namely the one which sustains our political and economic system.
Have a good think about the new Points Based System of immigration, which was launched last year. What is the official government line on the PBS? The introduction and application of the Points Based System of immigration to non-EEA nationals is apparently justified on the basis that because the UK is legally required not to close its borders to EU nationals, it has to apply stricter controls to immigrants from outside of Europe. Whether or not one agrees with the need for this type of immigration control, it is hard to contest that this is good law or indeed that it is not inconsistent with the principles of equality and non-discrimination that the government claims to abide by.
I’m a bit late to this of course, but this comment by Daniel Davies on Crooked Timber (via Don Paskini) is worth highlighting:
As Iâ€™ve noted before, thereâ€™s a Laffer Curve implicit here. If nobody ever egged Nick Griffin, then heâ€™d never get egged, which I presume nobody wants. On the other hand, if he was egged every single time he went out, then heâ€™d never leave his house â€“ result, no eggings. But I really donâ€™t believe that weâ€™re on the right hand side of that Laffer Curve, not yet.
And in this particular case, the egging itself is actually a very important speech act and a significant contribution to our national debate. Based on the fact that they got two MEPs elected, non-white British citizens might justifiably be looking with suspicion at their white neighbours today, thinking that a significant proportion of us were secretly harbouring fascist sympathies.
And as a commenter notes right underneath that blog post: “As I recall, the fascists didnâ€™t like it when people chucked bricks at them back in 1936; Mosleyâ€™s Blackshirts didnâ€™t gain political support after that, they lost it.”
So frankly, I can’t say I have I did that much hand-wringing over Nick Griffin’s pelting. It is our democratic right to signal disgust at fascists and the pelting didn’t go completely over-board. Though I would probably draw the line at Unite Against Fascism basically stalking the guy and trying this at every possible event.
19th June, 2009
Hello all! I took a quiet one week break from blogging, twittering, facebook etc in Morocco last week. I spent mosst of the week i Marrakech, and then took the train up to Casablanca for a day. Here are some pics. It was a much needed break, but it’s also good to be back.
(orange juice sellers were everywhere (inside the central square near where I stayed)
More art here.
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.
18th June, 2009
This sounds like good news:
“In the past year alone, the number of solar-powered household systems has doubled to 300,000, delivering electricity to 2.5 million people.
Leading the rapid expansion is Grameen Shakti, a sister concern of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus’s micro credit giant Grameen Bank. The charity, along with 14 other smaller organisations, extends loans with generous conditions to enable the poor to purchase the wherewithal to produce solar energy.
“Solar systems are selling so fast in rural areas that we’re struggling to keep up with demand,” said Dipal Barua, Grameen Shakti’s head.
Growth also means new employment opportunities. “We have created some 20,000 green jobs, some 2,000 of them employing rural women who earn a decent income of 100 dollars a month,” Barua said.”
Let’s just hope this can continue. The signs are promising, in that the charity has a proven track record of loaning money which is then paid back.
It was billed as the comeback fight: Anjem Choudary of Al-Muhajiroun verses Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion. However, the fighters were not allowed into the ring after Al-Muhajiroun thugs attempted to enforce gender segregation, leading the management of the venue to cancel the meeting.
Yahya Birt argues that we the worst thing we can do is to persecute Al-Muhajiroun, rather than try and defeat them in debate, since the former only turns them into celebrities:
“Anjem Choudary’s latest wheeze to incite the ire of the national press and to irritate the hell out of Britain’s Muslims as well as everyone else is to use a legal loophole to relaunch al-Muhajiroun this week, which had been disbanded in 2004. Only its successor groups, al-Ghurabaa and the Saviour Sect, were banned in 2006 under terrorism legislation.
It seems fairly clear that Choudary expects, and indeed makes the calculation, that the reformed al-Muhajiroun will be banned pretty quickly to generate the notoriety and street-cred that he wants to sustain. As they play a propagandistic role, they will continue to find ways to dodge past legal restrictions by using coded language or forming new entities. The law is obviously a blunt and ineffectual tool.”
The fallout from the (probably) rigged election continues as the supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi plan to hold a day of mourning to commemorate the seven protestors killed on Monday. The opposition protestors, who have rigidly stuck to peaceful protests, have been under attack from allies of President Ahmadinejad.
Yet the tide may be turning. The Guardian Council, which is the real power in Iran, is considering recounting some of the ballots. Even if President Ahmadinejad is still declared the winner, it is heartening to see that others are recognising the necessity for moderation. Yes, some of the opposition supporters are hardly shining beacons of liberty, while the candidate himself has plenty of flaws. But sometimes such compromises are necessary.
Barack Obama has also come across rather well during this.
17th June, 2009
[This concludes PP/eGov's 85 questions that the BNP need to answer, but are still refusing to do so- Rumbold's note]
Religious impact of a BNP government
74. During an interview on Sky News with Adam Boulton in June 2009 shortly after the relevant elections, Nick Griffin clearly stated that he would use the current Saudi Arabian policy on non-Islamic places of worship as a guideline for official policies towards non-Christian places of worship under a BNP government, thereby effectively turning Britain into a Christian version of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, upon the election of a BNP government, will it be legal to build new non-Christian places of worship?
75. Will it be legal to maintain existing non-Christian places of worship or will they be a) allowed to fall into disrepair or b) destroyed?
76. What will be the official BNP policy towards non-Christian white/Caucasian British citizens who have adopted other religions (eg. Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam or any others) or are the children of such individuals?
Not sure about this one:
“Fata Lemes, 33, worked at the Rocket Bar in Mayfair for eight days last year and was told female staff would have to wear the tight red dress in the summer. At the time the uniform was a black shirt and trousers for men and women.
A panel upheld her claim that bar owners Spring and Green had discriminated against her on the grounds of her gender.”
The owner sounds like a sexist oik. It is unreasonable to expect employees to dress provactively to attract business. It is also good that women are standing up to men like this. However, the award seemed excessive (not that I feel sorry for the owner):
” [The tribunal] granted Â£3,000 compensation and Â£711.73 in wages, plus interest, giving a total of Â£3,893.26.”
The wages (+interest) makes sense. But I don’t quite understand what the Â£3,000 is for. Any ideas? Perhaps it is just something I missed in the article.
16th June, 2009
I’m not sure what’s brought on this mini ‘road to Damascus’ like change of mind but Nick Clegg is now opposed to replacing Trident. The Guardian reports:
Figures in the cabinet and the shadow cabinet have been privately pressing for their parties to renounce a replacement for Trident, but have not been able to persuade their leaders. This means Clegg is the first big figure to argue openly against a full-scale Trident replacement.
Clegg said: “New leadership in Russia, new leadership obviously in the White House and a wider geo-strategic appreciation means that a cold war missile system designed to penetrate Soviet defenses and land in Moscow and St Petersburg at any time, in any weather, from any location anywhere round the planet, is not our foremost security challenge now. We have got to be grown-up and honest about it.”
So, the LibDems have basically adopted the SNP policy on Trident, the Guardian describes it as the first ‘mainstream’ party to oppose the replacement. I’m not sure our Scottish friends will agree that the SNP is a fringe party…
Either way it’s good to see another party moving forward on the issue, even if they won’t give credit where credit’s due to those who held the view earlier.
I blog under a pseudonym. Being a private person, I like to separate out my blogging life from my ‘offline’ life (though a number of people know my real identity and I have met many friends though blogging). I am lucky; I can blog without fear of reprisal because I know that even if my real name was published, it wouldn’t really matter. Others are not so fortunate:
“Earlier, Mr Justice Eady refused an injunction to prevent the Times identifying “Night Jack”, who won an Orwell prize for blogging in April. The judge said blogging was “essentially a public rather than a private activity”. The blogger’s lawyer had argued that preserving his anonymity was in the public interest.”
Whistleblowers are not protected in this country, whether they are corporate or public sector whistleblowers. Fine-sounding laws are meant to safeguard them, but they don’t work. Blogging provides (or used to) one of the few safe outlets for people to expose wrongdoing by. This is in the public interest. The ruling also asserted the odd idea that it was in the public interest to know as much as possible about a blogger: but the very joy of the blogosphere is that you do not have to read any blog you don’t want to.
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[This continues PP/eGov's 85 questions that the BNP need to answer, but refuse to do so- Rumbold's note]
Social and legal impact of a BNP government (cont…)
55. What percentage of a non-white British citizenâ€™s legal testimony will be deemed equal to the testimony of one white/Caucasian British citizen?
56. Will non-white British citizens have the legal right to prosecute white/Caucasian British citizens, and if so, under what specific conditions/restrictions?
57. Will non-white British citizens have the legal right to defend themselves against prosecution by white/Caucasian British citizens, and if so, under what specific conditions/restrictions?