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  • 21st April, 2009

    Torygraph happy Labour is listening to BNP voters

    by Sunny at 12:30 am    

    The government are listening, says Philip Johnston in the Telegraph:

    It is noticeable how the Government is suddenly responsive to concerns that many people have voiced over many years yet about which nothing was done at the time. Recantation is all the rage. Last week, a government-commissioned study said schools were no longer able to discipline unruly children properly. It took three years to reach a conclusion any teacher could have given in three minutes. They will be saying next that spelling and grammar are important. Now we have Phil Woolas saying that immigration has been allowed to grow so high that the BNP is picking up votes; Hazel Blears has discovered that political correctness has gone too far; Jack Straw has accepted that sharing people’s private data across Whitehall might not be a good thing…

    Sounds like the Tory right are grateful the government is finally listening to the concern of BNP voters. Isn’t that nice.

    20th April, 2009

    Tamil protests in Westminster - pictures & video

    by Sunny at 7:47 pm    

    I went to Westminster today to check out the Tamil protest - where they’d taken over the entire area to entirely stop any traffic. A policeman said they had tried to move them several times but the number were too many. I suspect the high numbers of women with kids also made it very difficult for them to take any strong stance.

    Tamil protest

    More pictures below the fold.

    Continue Reading...

    The liberal-left Islamism argument rumbles on

    by Sunny at 9:15 am    

    This argument about how the liberal-left engages with Islamists doesn’t seem like it will finish anytime soon. To be honest I don’t want it to finish until I’ve laid out an entire range of arguments (I’m building up to them). Over the last few years the liberal-left has failed to develop a strong theoretical and practical framework for how the liberal-left should engage with Islamism to defeat terrorism - instead letting the shouting contingent on the right and the so-called ‘muscular liberals’ take over the agenda.

    For a while I didn’t mind because the Islamists were getting a free ride and not being challenged enough. But frankly the debate has gotten absurd in the last year or so. So I need to highlight why it’s become absurd and where the correct position should be.

    Anyway, Shiraz Maher has written a reply to Sunder Katwala on Harry’s Place. Now the point is that Nick Cohen has been firmly smacked down by everyone, including the Observer’s own readers editor. But Shiraz feels he has to defend his own reputation. Unfortunately he seems to want to deliberately antagonise the people he claims he wants to work with.

    I say this because he looks like he’s libelling the Fabian Society by accusing them of giving them a platform to Islamists, essentially by saying that Hizb ut-Tahrir are the same as the Muslim Council of Britain. That is a woefully bad reading of Islamist politics and I expected Shiraz to be a bit more nuanced. If he doesn’t believe that the MCB are the same as HuT - then he should make it clear, and then add on what basis one organisation should be boycotted and another hosted at an event. Let’s have an explicit criteria, not just a vague condemnation that they don’t believe in ‘British values’.

    Shiraz is of course playing that game of ‘condemnathons’ that I pointed out in my last article. Conspicuously, neither Martin Bright came back to me on why he was happy to have a platform on The Spectator magazine, and nor has Shiraz Maher explained why he’s happy to be hanging around with Policy Exchange.

    It’s also worth noting that Shiraz was challenged plenty of times by various bloggers in the comments section of that article, but he avoids responding to them. I’ll come back to all this soon - I’m sure Sunder will reply too.
    Ben Six has also piled in.

    19th April, 2009

    With liberals like these, who needs enemies

    by Sid (Faisal) at 11:02 pm    

    Shiraz Maher has cleared up his side of the story in his “involvement” in the long-running spat between Nick Cohen, journalist, and Sunder Katwala, director of the Fabian Society. I say Maher’s “involvement” but it really was no more than a mention by Cohen at the very end of his original piece attacking the governmmet’s indulgence of Islamist organisations.

    When I asked Shiraz Maher, the co-author of the Policy Exchange report, why he had not offered his work to the leftish Fabians or Institute for Public Policy Research, he guffawed. They would never print what he wrote. For this Muslin liberal, the left was no longer a home but an obstacle.

    As those who have followed this feud will know, Katwala then retaliated with a piece on NextLeft and a letter signed by a group of writers and activists to the Observer, as a rebuttal to Cohen.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Current affairs

    A Colour At The Crucible

    by guest at 12:40 pm    

    This is a guest post by Sarah as part of Speaker’s Corner Sundays.

    I’m a very big fan of snooker, and will be watching this year’s World Championship, which runs from April 18th until May 4th, with great excitement.

    This morning, I went looking for TV timings and discovered the Snooker Scene Magazine Blog, where a snooker journalist called Dave H reports that professional player Rory McLeod will make history during the tournament by becoming the first black player ever to compete at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which has been the tournament’s home for over 25 years. He goes on to say that “Snooker is not an elitist sport. Anyone can join a club and start playing.”

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Sports
    18th April, 2009

    Should I put an anglicised name on my CV?

    by guest at 11:53 pm    

    This is a guest post by Tze Ming Mok (former blog)

    I’m a recent transplant from New Zealand, formerly a political race-blogger and civil servant there. So, now I’m looking for crappy temp work rather than positive-discriminating-civil-service work. My expat-transition-agency and the EHRC hotline have no idea whether there have been any studies in the UK on name-racism in employment and CV-viewing.

    It was a big deal in New Zealand, where a key study showed that recruiters were more likely to find ‘Bobby’ Singh and ‘Harriet’ Lim a job than poor old Harjeet and Guilin. Here’s a brief story that I wrote for the NZ Human Rights Commisson: ‘A rose by any other name’. (Pakeha means white person in New Zealand).

    So, after this, all the NZ Chinese gritted their teeth and put white first names on their CVs if they were just looking for some crappy temp job. Which is now the case with me. I’ve heard about the case of the guy in Wales a couple of years ago who applied a second time with an entier fake CV using a Welsh rather than Pakistani name and got an interview. Do you have any links or info or studies that arose from that time that show the lay of the land?

    Filed under: Culture,Race politics
    17th April, 2009

    The Treasured Auntie Open Thread

    by Clairwil at 11:35 pm    

    Contrary to the nasty remarks made by a vile Guardian columinst who might want to ponder glass houses and stones, owing to the rate her rancid personality is etching itself accross her jowls, before she criticises anyone’s physical appearance, I think You Tube sensation Susan Boyle looks like a lovely little auntie. Not an ug or a munter.

    So with that and my sixteen month auntieship in mind I have decided to base this open thread around the theme of lovely aunties, big or small. Naturally being a nice, indulgent sort of auntie you won’t be restricted to aunties in the comments, oh no I want tales of grannies, great grannies, mad uncles, sisters in law and any other grown up relatives you care to inflict on us.

    Say what you like about families, I do and usually turn the air blue as I do so but they do throw up the odd great anecdote and fine bit of banter. Who in the Clairwil family can forget the remarkable tale of ‘our Michael’ being forced into a sack by an angry nun? All Clairwils are familiar with both ‘rickle pickle’ and ‘hob shoe hob’. Similarly ‘wee Irishmen’, ‘decency Anna’, ‘cut the cards’, ‘All Greeks are gay’ and ‘Jesus calm the waters’. Don’t ask about any of it, you’ll only be sorry.

    Still let’s have your family in jokes, anecdotes and sentimental tales of aged relatives. Honestly that time your uncle fell off a ladder whilst trying to impress a woman with his head for hights is the stuff we’re after. One of you has a true belter and I want to hear about it. Failing that let all of us not attending the picklers outing run amock in the absence of the grown ups and make them wish they’d shunned the lure of the pub to stay at screen and supervise. As ever politics is only allowed if it’s funny and used sparingly. No grim or divisive stuff please.

    Filed under: Blog,Humour

    Picklers meetup tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon

    by Sunny at 6:46 pm    

    Readers - we’re having a little meet-up of PP writers and readers (approved ones) tomorrow afternoon in central London.
    Venue: usual place / Time: 4pm - 7pm
    If you’d like to come, please email me.

    Filed under: Blog

    Will the BBC bow down to anti-Muslim bigotry?

    by Sunny at 3:42 pm    

    This article was published this morning on Comment is Free

    A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Telegraph ran a front-page story alleging that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was worried the appointment of a Muslim as head of religion at the BBC would “sideline” the “Christian voice”. Coincidentally, the Sunday Times ran a remarkably similar story the same day, as did the Daily Mail the following day.

    It smacked of a classic media hit-job and I decided to dig deeper. Rowan Williams had met the BBC director-general at a lunch that was nothing out of the ordinary. According to a source at his office, there was no official agenda or any leaks about what was discussed. Since his office is very non-confrontational about such matters, and because nothing is ever denied or confirmed, it presents a perfect opportunity for others to use for their own agenda.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Media,Religion

    Football, racism and anti-racism

    by guest at 2:07 pm    

    This is an extract from Sunder Katwala’s article on the Hillsborough disaster.

    Sport did a lot to shape my emerging politics. Norman Tebbit’s cricket test was confusing, because I supported England (though not against Viv Richards’ West Indies) though my Dad didn’t, and now I felt I didn’t particularly want to either. I discovered the emerging fanzine movement, subscribed to When Saturday Comes, and used to buy and browse others at Sportspages in Charing Cross in those pre-internet days. My first act of civic activism was in 1988: against ID cards, the project of the late and unlamented Tory MP and Luton Town chairman David Evans. (I felt even more strongly about plastic pitches, on which we always lost). I got a Football Supporters Association petition against and hawked for signatures at Roots Hall.

    Football did a lot to introduce me to racism and to anti-racism too. John Barnes scored the greatest ever England goal against Brazil in the Maracana. England won 2-0 but the National Front contingent chanted one-nil. Barnes’ goal didn’t count. All hell broke out as John Barnes signed for Liverpool, captured in Dave Hill’s brilliant book Out of His Skin, with the famous picture of Barnes’ back-heeling a banana off the pitch at Goodison Park. Everton had a racism problem. At one Everton-Arsenal game where the Gunners had four black players, the racism was the worst you could ever hear. (At another, Arsenal were given a standing ovation at the end for playing Everton off the park on the way to the title).

    Outside Selhurst Park in my Everton tracksuit, the voice behind me “Even the Pakis are supporting Everton now”. And Everton had no black players. At a Southend game, racist abuse of a Wolves player was challenged behind the goal: “Oy, mate, what’s Andy Ansah going to think about that?”. Skinheads and sarky sixth-formers chanted “Ansah’s black, Angell’s white, we are f-ing dynamite”. Andy Cole was the King of Newcastle. As Jean Marie Le Pen was to find out in 1998, the far right has to choose between the new reality of national and local pride as it now was, or the all-white fantasies which meant they had no club or nation of their own.

    (And there I was, on my own, on the terraces at the wrong end at West Ham at an FA Cup quarter final in 1991 (ticket from a tout, expensive at £25) as the chant went up “I’d rather be a Paki than a Scouse”. So was I safe? I wasn’t sure this was progress. I hadn’t entirely lost my accent so I thought I had better keep my mouth shut. My heart jumped as we scored, but I tried to keep my head down as we lost a thriller).

    Afghanistan to amend rape law, probably

    by Rumbold at 8:43 am    

    Recently, a law which legalised rape in marriage in the minority Shia community of Afghanistan was heavily criticised. Now, President Karzai has promised to change some of its provisions. However, it may not be in the way that human rights groups want:

    “Karzai told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that he and others were unaware of the provision in the legislation, which he said “has so many articles.” Karzai signed the measure into law last month.

    “Now I have instructed, in consultation with clergy of the country, that the law be revised and any article that is not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and Islamic Sharia must be removed from this law,” Karzai said.”

    A statement which gives him massive leeway to not change the most appalling aspects of the law.

    16th April, 2009

    Move along

    by Rumbold at 8:01 pm    

    Eight members of the Strathclyde Police force have listed their religion as ‘Jedi’. Local followers of the Sith have complained to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, according to Councillor Terry Kelly, spokesperson for the Glasgow chapter of the Sith.

    (Incidentally, who does the captions for these articles? Yoda is a Jedi Master, not Knight. Typical).

    Filed under: Humour,Religion

    Taliban force Sikh citizens to pay jizia

    by Sid (Faisal) at 11:09 am    

    The Pakistan Daily Times reports:

    The Sikh community living in Orakzai Agency on Wednesday conceded to Taliban demand to pay them jizia – tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule – and paid Rs 20 million to Taliban in return for ‘protection’.

    Officials told Daily Times that the Taliban also released Sikh leader Sardar Saiwang Singh and vacated the community’s houses after the Sikhs accepted the Taliban demand.

    The officials said the Taliban announced that the Sikhs were now free to live anywhere in the agency.

    They also announced protection for the Sikh community, saying that no one would harm them after they paid jizia. Sikhs who had left the agency would now return to their houses and resume their business in the agency, the officials said.

    Thanks to The Common Humanist in the comments.

    Filed under: Islamists
    15th April, 2009

    Mark Thomas says vote Green!

    by Leon at 8:39 pm    

    I must admit I’m a little surprised, I always had the impression Mark Thomas wasn’t too keen on voting. This is another step in the Green Party becoming the ‘left’ alternative for those who don’t want to vote Labour or can’t bear voting Lib Dem.

    What binds Brits together

    by Sid (Faisal) at 4:34 pm    

    Ed Husain has posed a set of probing questions on what it means to buy into the shared values of British identity.

    The strongest challenge to Britain’s value system since the civil war is in our midst. Yes, the Victorian period posed the odd challenge around social mores, but with empire “over palm and pine”, Britain felt reassured about its sense of self. Since losing its empire, Britain has failed to re-invent itself or to find a new, attractive identity.

    But can a secular, liberal democracy in 2009 sustain values-based challenges from faith communities? Time will tell, but a national conversation is overdue. Without fear of racism or Islamophobia, it is time to ask the difficult questions. Can religiously observant Muslims really integrate into Britain? And should they? How can a nation that has pubs as its shared space, ever truly welcome non-drinkers? How do ordinary Brits really feel about those who prefer orange juice to beer? And how can religious, marital monogamists raise children in a sexually liberal society that values individual choice over collective obligations?

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: British Identity

    Turning strangers into citizens Rally - 4th May

    by Sunny at 4:33 am    

    Strangers into Citizens is a national campaign calling for a one-off regularisation of long-term irregular migrants in the UK. There are an estimated 500,000 irregular migrants in the UK. They face exploitation and uncertainty. They want to work, integrate and be able to contribute to life in the UK as full members of our society.

    Strangers into Citizens is holding a National Rally on the May Bank Holiday (Monday 4th of May) in Trafalgar Square in Central London. More on their website

    Event: What do Britons have in common?

    by Sunny at 3:09 am    

    I’ll be away then but this event looks interesting.

    Why does Britain face a difficult challenge around integration today? Is it because, as some claim, we have too many immigrants? Or because of Britain’s liberal sexual mores that seemingly contradict religious teachings? Or is it because our shared national space —pubs — appear inaccessible to some? Or are democracy and the secular state unacceptable to those who want to govern in God’s name?

    Or do Asian forced and arranged marriages abroad create generational tensions here in Britain? Or even more fundamentally — is it the lack of a shared sense of history, perhaps?

    Are these differences irreconcilable? Ultimately, how do we overcome these and other problems and build a Britain in which future generations will be proud?

    Continue Reading...
    14th April, 2009

    So good, I had to say it again

    by Sunny at 10:02 pm    

    Andy Newman highlights something I wrote late last night, which I sort of scribbled quickly while half-asleep. But I think its worth repeating here:

    The thing is this: all the bloggers mentioned above [Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home], Derek Draper, and the Westminster journos who buy into the rubbish that these are the only blogs worth mentioning, are part of the Westminster bubble culture that makes politicians so aloof from the rest of the country. They think the world revolves around Westminster, which is why they exclude anyone who doesn’t write about the same as ‘boring’ and bereft of any readership.

    I’d go as far as saying that left-wing blogs have more diverse and wider audiences because they cover a whole range of different issues and topics, rather than being part of a circle-jerk where the same people read Guido, Dale and CH, and occasionally pop over to other rightwing blogs those three link to.

    Andy ends by saying: “It is time to rebuild trust based upon ideological conviction and honesty, a project that the likes of Derek Draper have no place in.” — as pretty much everyone, including the formidable Sunder Katwala of the Fabians has said, Derek Draper’s time as the online saviour of New Labour is up. He’s just delaying the inevitable.

    Added: And you know what is among Derek Draper’s biggest crime? Re-habilitating and making Nadine Dorries MP respectable again! Argh!

    Filed under: Media,Net Campaigns

    Review: From Fatwa to Jihad

    by Sid (Faisal) at 5:18 pm    

    My review of From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy by Kenan Malik is now online on CiF Belief.

    The great appeal of From Fatwa to Jihad is its pitiless observation and it is this which raises it above the easy standards of one-sided polemic. No one gets away – certainly not Islamic radicalism and multiculturalism and its penchant for ethnic and religious particularism, the monomaniacal Melanie Phillips and the chauvinism of Daniel Pipes and Mark Steyn are all roundly criticised. If Malik’s book advocates anything, it is a social order based on universalist Enlightenment values, the importance of free speech and for the elevation of secular and progressive ideas within minority, particularly Muslim, communities.

    And a fine review by Lisa Appingnanesi:

    Recent history has a way of becoming too quickly forgotten, its shifts naturalised so that current assumptions take on the aura of “forever”. Impeccably researched, brimming with detail, yet razor-sharp in its argument, this book provokes a necessary re-examination. It demands, particularly, to be read by faint-hearted politicians and all those worried by the ongoing erosion of our liberties.

    Maliks is a superb book that reads like a precursive diagnostic tool for most of the issues we discuss here. Well recommended.

    Improve teachers’ conditions, not pay

    by Rumbold at 2:53 pm    

    Last week The Economist wryly observed that the annual teachers’ unions’ conference contained those who “can always be relied on to provide a few news stories to delight the headline-writers.” And so it came to pass that a 10% pay rise was demanded.

    The predictable response was one of withering contempt from many quarters. I don’t think that such a rise would be justified either. Teachers’ pay, while not incredibly high, has to be seen in the context of final salary schemes, which promise to provide a retirement income far out of the reach of most workers in the private sector. Instead of focusing on pay, the unions should devote their time solely to lobbying for changes in conditions, which are often poor.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Economics

    Tories: listening to BNP voters

    by Sunny at 4:27 am    

    I’ll come back to this theme later, but first I want to highlight a post on ConservativeHome which publishes this BNP poster:

    The comments underneath the article betray typical Tory thinking on the issue.

    maybe the Conservative party should plainly announce it’s views on Europe,immigration etc and reconnect with it’s core voters.
    Posted by: R.Rowan | April 10, 2009 at 18:28
    How about a policy on immigration and overcrowding.
    Posted by: erica | April 10, 2009 at 19:15
    This is not really worrying. Let’s please not exaggerate the ‘threat’ posed by the BNP. The will not win any parliamentary seats, they will not control any councils. If they win a seat at the European Elections it will be because of the absurdity of the electoral system not because of their popularity.
    If we want to fight the BNP effectively then we need to have a coherent,effective policy on immigration which we can sell to all reasonable people.
    Posted by: Malcolm Dunn | April 10, 2009 at 19:27
    I heartily agree with most of the posts here. You can’t defeat the BNP by calling them rude names, however well deserved.
    The only way to beat them is to fight them on their own ground. But we are failing to do this. They have policies on immigration - where are our policies? They have policies on multiculturalism. We mouth PC platitudes…. I could go on.
    Posted by: Country Mouse | April 10, 2009 at 20:15
    When all three establishment parties more or less agree when it comes to issues like immigration, crime, MPs expenses etc, it’s no surprise people are looking for answers elsewhere. As poll after poll tells us, people care about these issues, and are unhappy with the Labour-Tory-Lib-Dim line.
    Posted by: James | April 11, 2009 at 12:34

    A few points. First, the BNP poster doesn’t even talk about immigration - rather about corruption, and yet it’s the first issue many raise.

    This then suggests that rather than saying ‘we should never have our policy dictated by fascists‘, or saying ‘we shouldn’t be fighting them on their ground because they’re racists/fascists‘ - these Tory supporters actually want to reclaim the ground from the BNP.

    Not everyone says that on the thread of course. But my point is - no one actually challenges the view that the Conservative Party should not have its views dictated to by the BNP, and that the party should take a different stance. And actually, I don’t find this altogether very surprising.

    13th April, 2009

    Happy Vaisakhi

    by Rumbold at 3:07 pm    

    Vadhaia to all our Sikh readers (a festive few days it seems).

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Religion
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