• David Miliband's speech tonight is good on rhetoric. Actually, very good. But very little on specifics other than he wants a Labour chair. 15 hrs ago

  • RT @matatatatat: Stop Facebook assisting the Tory ideological cuts agenda by publicising it http://bit.ly/a71kpr - Pls RT 15 hrs ago

  • Tory MP plans march on Downing Street to protest against Gove's education cuts http://bit.ly/dxkafl - er, why not Labour MPs? 1 day ago

  • Oh god, Iain Dale just agreed with me. I need to lie down and then have some tea :( 1 day ago

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    9th October, 2008

    Sri Lankan Civil War Open Thread

    by Shariq at 11:09 am    

    I was watching Al-Jazeera English this morning and it appears that the Sri Lankan government is stepping up its attacks against the Tamil Tigers in an effort to finally ‘defeat’ them (Reuters story). On the other hand, it seems the Tigers aren’t giving in and also continuing with suicide attacks.

    As someone whose main contact with Sri Lanka is through watching their cricket team, my mind still boggles that a seemingly idyllic island is home to such a brutal and long-running war. My impression on the politics is that the Sri Lankan foreign minister’s argument, that the Sri Lankan Army is trying to liberate the Tamils from the LTTE is nonsense and that there needs to be a political solution.

    However, I’d be interested in hearing more about this from people who know more than I do. Also, if anyone wants to publish a longer guest post on this please e-mail us.

    7th October, 2008

    Cutting and Running

    by Douglas at 8:40 pm    

    Sometimes I surprise myself. Over the weekend, I signed up for the Scottish National Party (SNP). On the basis that I am of the Groucho Marx tendency that believes that you really shouldn’t be part of a club that is willing to have you, this really is a bit odd. Yet something attracted me to the SNP. Here are some of the policies that they advocate, which are clearly not on the agenda of any major UK political party:

    - A more open attitude to immigration and a more just system for dealing with asylum seekers.

    - No to nuclear power.

    - No to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

    - Scrapping council tax and replacing it with a local income tax.

    Continue Reading...

    Two more Muslim MPs

    by Sid (Faisal) at 5:19 pm    

    Here’s a hearty piece of news:

    PM Gordon Brown has promoted both of his two junior Muslim ministers among government changes aimed to restore Labour`s declining popularity ahead of the next general election, which is due to be held by May 2010.

    The two Muslim MPs in question are: Shahid Malik and Sadiq Khan.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Race politics

    Online Activism in the UK

    by Shariq at 8:00 am    

    Sunny has touched on the internal battle between the Progress (New Labour) and Compass (Progressive) wings of the Labour party.

    With the general alienation with the current government, it seems like the conservatives will take power in the next election due to a combination of people voting for ‘change’ and many left and centre-left voters not voting at all.

    I think that its imperative that if the tories do take over, progressive Labour and Lib dem MPs aren’t the ones who lose their seats. Not all MPs are the same and I think that it would be disastrous if in the public’s general mistrust of the Labour party, intelligent, centre-left, progressives who would otherwise be the future are sidelined at the expense of more bland careerists.

    As I’ve said before, a great way of trying to enhance the role of progressives in the Labour and Lib Dem parties would be through primaries. However this doesn’t seem likely soon and we need to find other ways.

    My suggestion is that we use the internet to get people who read sites such as Pickled Politics and Liberal Conspiracy to organise and volunteer for the campaigns of vulnerable progressive MPs. Pickled Politics gets 35,000 unique visitors a month. Say that even if 1,000 of those were interested in volunteering it would make a difference.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Current affairs
    6th October, 2008

    42 days detention unlikely to become law

    by Rumbold at 3:26 pm    

    The government is going to give up on its attempts to bring in detention without charge for 42 days after accepting that the House of Lords would never pass it.

    Ministers admit privately that there is not “a cat in Hell’s chance” of the legislation, which returns to the Lords this week, being passed into law.

    The Government has decided against using the Parliament Act to force the measure through after peers reject it, The Times has learnt. That decision will effectively confine the controversial proposal — which the Prime Minister fought tooth and nail to get through a Commons vote in June — to the legislative dustbin.

    But watch out for a shoddy compromise, and a confirmation of the 28 days limit.

    (via Tim Worstall)

    Why were police protecting an armed racist?

    by Rumbold at 10:01 am    

    In March of this year Ellis Hammond was given a conditional discharge after admitting two firearm charges. Police found a number of weapons in his possession, including a replica AK-47, stun gun, combat knives and CS spray. He was a member of the BNP and had a collection of racist literature. Yet what the CPS didn’t know, or the magistrates, was that Ellis Hammond was at the time of his arrest a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer). The police had withheld this information from them, and the Sunday Times has only just uncovered it:

    In a letter to an IAG member, Nazir Afzal, the director of the CPS for south London, confirmed: “The prosecutor presented all the relevant information available at the time to the magistrates’ court. “This did not include any reference to the fact that the defendant was a PCSO at the time of the offences as those details were not disclosed on the prosecution file when submitted to the CPS by the police.”

    A CPS spokeswoman added: “We would have used the information if we had had it. It is fair to say it would have been helpful.”

    A member of Mr. Hammond’s family noted:

    “There were people from the Met at court to support him, which was nice too.”

    Mr. Hammond was also permitted to resign as a PCSO rather than face disciplinary procedures. One wonders what the reaction would have been had Mr. Hammond been a Muslim and a member of, say, Hizb ut-Tahir. It would probably warrant a double page spread in the Dailies Express and Mail.

    4th October, 2008

    Alive in Amritsar!

    by Sunny at 10:45 am    

    …. barely! I joked on my facebook status that it was going to take me 30 hours to travel from Kathmandu (Nepal) to Amritsar (Punjab, India) a few days ago. It actually took over 36 continuous hours… I feel bloodyt exhausted, but tomorrow I’m going to cross the border into Lahore. Wish me luck!

    Anyway, it took me about 12 hours to get from Kathmandu to the Indian side, and 24 hours on the train (thankfully air conditioned) from Gorapkhpur (the grimiest town ever) to Amritsar - where I’m staying at the Golden Temple. It’s good being back in Punjab. Everyone still thinks I’m a white man speaking in Punjabi though. Grrrr…

    I think its time to find some more food. Later alligators.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    3rd October, 2008

    Mandy’s back. But where’s David Miliband?

    by Leon at 9:02 pm    

    We knew the reshuffle was coming but we didn’t know it would cause such a media kerfuffle. The return of twice resigned Peter Mandelson has been something of a surprise, but you know how it is; you can keep staking the Prince of Darkness and yet he rises anew.

    Brown must be desperate if he’s calling on someone he’s long felt betrayed him. But as they say needs must when the devil drives.

    Peter Mandelson has said he is surprised but “proud” that Gordon Brown has drafted him back into the cabinet as business secretary.The EU trade commissioner was twice forced to resign from Tony Blair’s cabinet - speaking in Downing Street he joked it was “third time lucky”.

    The PM said he needed “serious people for serious times” and Mr Mandelson had unrivalled experience in global trade.

    One thing that occurs in all the media coverage and the MP’s backing and condemning the decision is the distinct lack of one David Miliband. Just where is the Millipede, what does he think of this turn of events?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

    Update: Interesting piece about Mandy’s return including that he may have been up to his old tricks recently:

    Barely 24 hours after joining the government Mandelson was last night embroiled in his first row after being forced to deny claims he had ‘dripped pure poison’ about Brown in a private conversation with a senior Conservative. Weeks before rejoining the government he is said to have complained that Brown had left Labour vulnerable to the charge of creating a ‘culture of debt’.

    2nd October, 2008

    Mid-Week Culture Open Thread

    by Shariq at 1:36 pm    

    Hey guys. I saw Ae Fond Kiss on tv a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a really well made film. Of course one of the reasons that films and novels are written on issues such as mixed-race relationships, forced marriages etc, is because its an important issue facing many british-asians. These types of stories also have a dramatic narrative which translate well to movies and novels.

    However I was wondering if people had recommendations about films, books, documentaries, music, plays etc which have a broader vision. Something which you found fresh and which didn’t follow traditional storylines.

    I’ll start things off by recommending Suketu Mehta’s, ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’. It was written a few years ago, but gives a really nuanced and interesting perspective on modern India.

    In an age of ‘drive-by’ journalism, Mehta actually spent a couple of years developing relationships with a range of fascinating characters. A leading anti-terror policeman trying to fight the criminal underworld, a glamorous young dancer making her living in Bombay’s bars, an internal immigrant family trying to make their way out of the slums - its all there. Anyways, I look forward to getting some excellent recommendations.

    Filed under: Culture
    1st October, 2008

    How we Got into a Financial Meltdown

    by El Cid at 5:30 pm    

    The funny thing about this mess — the mother of all credit busts — is that it can be legitimately attacked from both left and right.

    Those on the left can point to the old Marxian critique about how profits are privatised in a capitalist system while losses are socialised. The man and woman on the street and the middle class professional bamboozled by a subject out of his or her comfort zone can rail against fat cat bankers bloated on ill-gotten gains and protected from their own incompetence.

    Those on the right meanwhile can rail against government interference in the market and argue in favour of letting it all go to pot, which would allow the free flow (eventually!) of capital to sort things out, no matter the damage caused in the interim. In the log run we would be better off and stronger. They can also point to the fact that credit extended by a quasi-state institutions to poor people so that they could live the American dream and buy their own homes lies at the heart of this crisis. After all, the Federal National Mortgage Association (or Fannie Mae) was created in 1938, a key pillar of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies.

    So if we can steer clear of the ill-informed knee-jerk partisanship for a moment, I would make the following observations.

    (Bullet points after the fold)

    Continue Reading...

    Obsession: McCain’s Hate Campaign

    by Sid (Faisal) at 1:51 am    

    Here’s a question for observers of the US Presidential elections: How do you campaign for McCain in ‘swing states’, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia?

    Answer: You distribute 28 million copies of a right-wing, terror propaganda DVD in the post or bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters. The 60-minute DVD, entitled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West landed on doorsteps to coincide exactly with the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Funding is coming from a New York based group called the Clarion Fund.

    Continue Reading...
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