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15th March, 2006

Education Bill Requires Opposition Support

by SajiniW at 6:38 pm    

Tony Blair’s controversial plans for schools in England face their first test in a Commons vote this evening - backbench trouble on the loose!

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14th March, 2006

Labour lose brown person to Tories

by Sunny at 11:09 pm    

This will come as some embarassment to Labour. The Tories sent out a press release today triumphantly informing everyone that 27 year old former Labour candidate for Horsham, Rehman Christi Chishti, has defected to the Tories. A Muslim kid too! Double punch in the face.

He was born in Pakistan, and attended Fort Luton High School for Boys and then Chatham Grammar School for Girls in sixth form. He read law at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (2:1), where he was part of the NUS executive and vice chairman of the Labour students in Wales. He has also been a political aide to the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, and worked for Peter Skinner MEP, and Helen Brinton, the former MP for Peterborough.

Yes, I know. Damn high achieving lawyers - can’t get away from that stereotype. Francis Maude, who he ran against, has appointed him his advisor on diversity and ethnic minorities. Sigh. Isn’t that like the fifth EM advisor they have now?

Asian unemployment and crime?

by Sunny at 2:15 pm    

Getting money from Asian businesses is like drawing blood from stone. Yes - you know what I’m getting at, Asian businessmen didn’t become rich by lending money for sponsorship, let alone charitable causes. So I think Tarrique Ghaffur is being rather optimistic with his latest scheme. I got this note yesterday:

Since the bombings of 7 July 2005, the MPS has received many offers of help. I am asking the business sector to show their support by ‘signing up’ to become partners of Operation Quadrant, a long-term crime prevention initiative focusing on building confidence within the Asian community. We are asking businesses to pledge a donation of £250 for a partnership certificate, which we hope, you will proudly display within your organisation. All funds will be directed to the Safer London Foundation, to help set up long-term crime prevention and youth diversion projects.

My job as the Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard and head of the Specialist Crime Directorate is to focus on crime prevention, gathering intelligence and catching the criminals. However, long-term solutions are needed to deal with the social and economic deprivation and the lack of ‘legitimate’ job opportunities.

It’s interesting that this is being billed as a community project as if Asian unemployment is different to others. In London this is primarily a problem in East London’s Tower Hamlets with the Bangladeshi community. I don’t really see a point to this? Maybe Mr Ghaffur wanted some money from the government, who turned around and said “Your Asian community keep having rich award ceremonies so why not ask them for money?

11th March, 2006

What price are we paying for freedom?

by Amit S at 6:27 pm    

We have to ask ourselves, in good conscience, is the government dealing with issues in the right way? I cannot be the only one who has noticed that very often nowadays the government will set up some sort of target, but then try their best to fudge it up or change the targets themselves later.

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7th March, 2006

Political plagiarism on immigration

by Nush at 1:51 pm    

This morning started off like any other, my usual morning ritual of the alarm going off and me turning over and switching on my radio. The headlines came on and in my half sleep-like state I bolted up stunned by what I was hearing. It may sound a tad dramatic for most but I was infuriated by what I heard.

Charles Clarke had announced this morning a “new system” to somewhat tackle, in my opinion, the disastrous scheme that Labour have in place to tackle immigration. But the “new system” has blatantly been plagiarised from the Conservative’s policies outlined just over 6 months ago. Does no one else apart from me remember the Conservative Party Manifesto from the General Election?

Is the general public not outraged, as I am, that once again Tory Party policy has been ripped off and bootlegged? Especially when Labour criticised this exact scheme when the Conservatives proposed it. It seems all too hypocritical of this corrupt government. Forget that the new series of Hustle starts on Friday (BBC1), “the Con is already on”.

5th March, 2006

Tories “welcome immigration” shock!

by Sunny at 8:50 pm    

No really, it’s not a trick - the Tory minister for immigration Damian Green says so in today’s Observer. [hat tip Peter in the comments]

In a previous article I mentioned that such noises may increasingly come from the party since Cameron’s election. So what are we to make of this latest shift of ‘compassionate conservatism’?

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Muslims should learn “art of peaceful dissent”

by Sunny at 4:09 pm    

Lady Kishwer Falkner yesterday:

Muslims should have “broader shoulders” when it comes to issues of free speech such as the Danish cartoons, a Lib Dem home affairs spokesman has said.

Kishwer Falkner, who is a Muslim, said her community must be “tolerant” and “learn the art of peaceful dissent”. She said freedom of speech was not just a Western concept but it was necessary in any pluralistic society.

She has also said Britain should repeal blasphemy laws, and there should be equal standards on freedom of speech - i.e. David Irving should not have been jailed and neither Ken Livingstone suspended. I agree.

I also consider Lady Falkner to be more informed, in tune with British Muslim sentiment and credible compared to Trevor Phillips, hence my reason for ignoring his speech last week. Another point that many hysterical ranters forget:

Sajj Karim MEP said Muslims in the European Union had “by and large” responded to the publication of the cartoons democratically, even though they had been offended by them.

Filed under: Party politics, Religion
28th February, 2006

The most important election in years?

by Sunny at 3:42 pm    

By 3pm on Thursday, the Liberal Democrats will have a new leader. It could be a huge development for the future of British politics (don’t even try and smirk, you there in the back!), or it may not.

The Lib Dem winner will have an unprecedented opportunity to lead a resurging party and force a hung parliament at the next General Election and kingmaker. But for that the party needs the right candidate. Here is my choice…

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Filed under: Party politics
22nd February, 2006

You’re Muslim, you must be a terrorist then

by Sunny at 5:05 am    

Director Michael Winterbottom has just finished making The Road to Guantanomo, a documentary-drama telling a story of the Tipton Three from their perspective. The boys were taken by the US military to Guantanomo Bay and kept their for two years before being released without charge. It opened at the Berlin Film Festival where it won awards and acclaim. Channel 4 financed it and will be showing it on 9th March.

Yesterday morning I went to its advance screening where the team confirmed an assertion first made by Craig Murray that the actors and one of the Three were repeatedly detained on the way to and back from Berlin under anti-terror laws.

On Monday The Lip published an exclusive interview with actor Rizwan Ahmed who was detained for longer (now released as a statement by C4), followed by The Guardian and BBC Online with more details yesterday.

The police statement said: “Part of the counter-terrorism act allows us to stop and examine people if something happens that might be suspicious.” Meaning: you know…. if they happen to have beards and brown skin…that sort of thing. A bit of harassment will go a long way to combat terrorism I’m sure.

I shall be reviewing the film soon. Meanwhile the Indy and Times have more from the Q&A session.

A point they both omitted: Winterbottom called for Gitmo to be closed, but added that the facility seemed to be the “public image” of detainees following Afghanistan’s invasion designed to attract all the attention. A smokescreen if you may, to deflect attention from the hardcore elements they want to deal with in other ways in secret jails.

Given the recent uncovering of “extraordinary rendition“, this certainly seems plausible. The stats speak for themselves. Funny then, that I’m forced to agree with Jack Straw once again.

20th February, 2006

Could Pickled Politics be forced to shut down?

by Sunny at 4:03 am    

I briefly covered the passing of the terrorism law and what it meant for British Muslims last week. I have not read up enough on it yet, however there are many issues of concern others have highlighted. One directive is that “offending material” on websites may lead to them being shut down. Because the new law is quite vague, no one is quite sure how it will be implemented or even policed.

Unity at Talk Politics has been covering this extensively and wrote this with Pickled Politics as an example on this post:

So, to move our hypothetical situation forward let us assume that one of PP’s contributors posts a commentary on the Islamic conception of martyrdom and how this relates to suicide bombing – yes, I have picked this example deliberately as one highlighted by Charles Clarke as constituting the ‘glorification’ of terrorism.

Now, knowing PP’s style well I can guarantee than any such hypothetical commentary by one of contributors will not only not condone the idea that suicide-bombing is acceptable but try to challenge the validity of that idea. However, open debate being what it is, a commentary of this nature would almost certainly draw contrary opinions, which would in likelihood result in comments supporting the idea that suicide-bombing is a legitimate tactic is certain circumstances and is permissible under Islamic religious law as a form of martyrdom.

Now, let me ask you this. In the situation above where does that leave a blog like Pickled Politics – does this law no mean that all debate on subject of suicide bombing is ‘out of bounds’ because someone could post comments supporting such actions? Does the law only permit them to have a one-sided debate in which any comments in support of suicide-bombing must be immediately removed from their site?

And if they did go ahead and permit comments setting out both sides of the argument, are they putting their site at risk by doing so? Could one or two comments in support of the principle of suicide-bombing or arguing in favour of its validity in Islamic law, in the context of legitimate debate actually result in Pickled Politics being hit with a take down notice?

It’s a very valid question, and one I don’t know the answer to. In a previous post discussing websites specifically, he points out that this relates to websites hosted in the UK only. That makes it a bit of a farce since anyone can move their site abroad. Fortunately for our lovely readers we are hosted in the US so you can glorify terrorism all you want (though you will get cussed hard).

Nevertheless, more than a few bloggers are pissed off at New Labour’s attempts to curtail our civil liberties (to Bin Laden’s delight no doubt), and Unity is organising a counter-revolution of sorts. Sign me up mate.

18th February, 2006

Amartya Sen on British multi-culturalism

by Jay Singh at 7:19 pm    

In July, Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen is publishing a book titled Identity and Violence that brings more perspective to the debate on British multi-culturalism. Sen’s voice is badly needed. He is heavyweight intellectual with an impeccable record in advocacy for tolerance, pluralism and harmony; critical of the situation we are in but ready to defend multicultural precepts where they need to be defended.

In the Guardian today:

What begins by giving people room to express themselves, he argues, may force people into an identity chosen by the authorities. “That is what is happening now, here,” he says, a little indignantly. “I think there is a real tyranny there. It doesn’t look like tyranny - it looks like giving freedom and tolerance - but it ends up being a denial of individual freedom. The individual belongs to many different groups and it is up to him or her to decide which of those groups he or she would like to give priority.”

And next, he makes a point that Pickled Politics has been expounding consistently:

“Suddenly the Jewish, Hindu and Muslim organisations are in charge of all Jews, Hindus and Muslims. Whether you are an extremist mullah or a moderate mullah, whether you’re Blair’s friend or Blair’s enemy, you might relish the idea of being able to speak for all people with a Muslim background - no matter how religious they are - but this may be in direct competition with the role of Muslims in British civil society

In particular it means that government accords power and consults with the most conservative and self-interested representatives of a community, it silences dissent, and it also formulates a crude counter-response by society as a whole.

Unable to appreciate the diversity of individual life within minority groups, mainstream British society slots individuals into reckless and inadequate stereotypes, viewing minorities through the telescope of the issue-and-identity politics that sectarian bodies push, pumped up as they are with hot air and hubris because they get to sup with politicians and appear in the media.

He further speculates that this attitude may have roots in a disastrous policy followed by the British in the end years of British rule in India:

“This is the way,” he says, “that the British tried to interpret community divisions in India between Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. To Indian nationalists, it looked a further example of divide and rule, emphasising the divisions. The way that the British are handling it today makes one wonder whether the cultural confusion that the British had then has now been brought back home.”

Guest post by Jay Singh

16th February, 2006

The terrorism law for British Muslims

by Sunny at 5:00 am    

Shadow attorney-general Dominic Grieve stated the obvious to BBC News: “This is a bogus spat generated by No 10 Downing Street for the purpose of the prime minister looking tough.” The torrent of abuse from newspapers yesterday pointed to the same thing.

The most instructive statement however, comes once again from the Muslim Council of Britain.

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15th February, 2006

The school that wants to ‘convert’

by Sunny at 4:19 am    

Here at Pickled Politics, we’re against faith-based schools, or at least an expansion in their numbers since they are not going anywhere for now. So with some interest, I see this article about a Catholic school in Glasgow that is 75% Muslim, and now trying to ‘convert its religion’.

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Filed under: Party politics, Religion
14th February, 2006

Re-visiting Behzti: from a different perspective

by Sunny at 4:20 pm    

Christie Davies points me to an interesting article he has written for the Social Affairs Unit blog, on the Sikh play Behzti.

But before you say - ‘oh no, not again’, I think its worth discussing this because he raises different arguments to the standard ‘freedom of speech’, or ‘Sikh nutters gone crazy’ ones. For a start, he is very disparaging about the quality of the play itself.

But the article is also very critical of the government and the liberal arts establishment. Why are minority groups treated differently? Why did the government not take a stronger stance against the violence? Are there double standards in the way it was all treated? And finally, why it was such a PR disaster for Sikhs.

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26th January, 2006

Support Samina Altaf

by Sunny at 2:18 pm    

Samina and the children fled Pakistan after domestic abuse by her husband. All 3 suffer from severe rickets and, for the first time, are receiving proper medical support in this country. But the Home Office want to deport them.

It’s a tough life for us all. Low wages, low benefits, bad jobs or no jobs. However this does not mean we should turn our frustration on asylum seekers – or indeed on anyone who wants to stay here. Refugees also have a tough life. It is not easy fleeing persecution -then on arriving in the UK receiving treatment even worse than the rest of us.

David T has more on a campaign this Sunday in Manchester to lobby the Home Office and not deport Samina and her kids back to Pakistan where she may face more domestic abuse.
St Sebastians is on Norfolk St, off Gerald Road, off Cromwell Rd. Post code M6 6ET - buses from M/C Exchange are 27 or 93 and from Salford 51 or 52 to Cromwell Rd roundabout.
Support the campaign! Get the word out!

25th January, 2006

Lib Dems need to pull their finger out

by Sunny at 5:59 pm    

Many blog-inches have been spent commenting on the Liberal Democrats lately, not least because two bloggers have tried to stake some claim to Mark Oaten’s scalp, much to the annoyance of many of their comrades.

Personally I couldn’t care less. I continue to judge political parties on their policies than what their MPs do in private, especially when it’s not illegal. So I will continue to support them while Labour and Tories have little to offer.

Instead, I want bring your attention to a new initiative called Reflecting Britain that some Lib Dem MPs launched on Tuesday to increase representation of women and ethnic minority MPs within their ranks. Currently all 62 Lib Dem MPs are white and predominantly male.

In the current climate of intense turmoil, it would be great if they reinvented themselves by doing more than other parties in being sexually representative since they’re barely par with the Tories in % terms.

I’m not as bothered about more ethnic minority MPs to be honest, as that is about merit, but more concerned why the most liberal of parties does not have more women MPs. They are, after all, a vote grabber. So c’mon Lib Dems, get your fingers out!
Oh and the website is in the form of a blog, so even better!

Filed under: Party politics
24th January, 2006

Tony Blair: ignorance is bliss

by Sunny at 4:37 pm    

Garry Smith (aka Curious Hamster), who has a fantastic eye for these things and the studious dedication of a man on a mission, asks politely if the Guardian is losing its balls. Tony Blair made the startling admission yesterday that he hadn’t actually asked the Americans whether people had been illegally transported through the UK from A to B.

In the ongoing “extraordinary rendition” controversy, it seems rather bizarre the PM would not ask its best ally whether people had been illegally transported through its airspace. Or maybe he doesn’t want to know? So you would think a paper dedicated to the ideals of freedom of civil liberties would press home the point? Unfortunately, no such joy.

Last week the Independent on Sunday also revealed that “Lord Triesman, the Foreign Office minister, misled peers when he told the House of Lords that no such meeting had ever occurred” between the UN and UK civil servants about the secret CIA torture flights. In frustration, Garry puts some very pertinent questions to Blair:

Does he, I wonder, understand that he’s radicalising people with his obsession with control and the stifling of dissent? Does he understand the frustration felt by people living under a government displaying such contemptable levels of duplicity? Does he realise that he shows a complete lack of respect for rational debate and the democratic process? Does he see that behaving as he does undermines the very institutions he puports to hold dear?

22nd January, 2006

Shades of 1975: Nepal Roundup

by Rohin at 2:50 am    

Just a brief summary of the events that have brought Nepal back into the world headlines, much to the embarrassment of many Nepalis.

Almost a year ago, King Gyanendra seized absolute power in Nepal, suspending civil liberties and sacking the government. You may recall that Gyanendra only came to power when the King and Queen were slain along with several others, by their own son. Since last February, the country has been steadily degenerating, but Maoist rebels have been growing in power for several years now. An estimated 12,000 have died in the last decade - a result of the Maoists campaign for a communist state. The rebels abandoned a four month unilateral truce earlier this year. Civil war.

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7th January, 2006

Kennedy Resigns

by Nush at 3:56 pm    

Charles Kennedy has resigned as Liberal Democrat leader.

Kennedy at resignation

In a statement at Lib Dem HQ, Mr Kennedy said he had been “inundated” with support from party members since admitting having a drink problem.

But it had become clear he did not have strong enough support among MPs and had decided to quit with immediate effect.

It comes after 25 MPs delivered an ultimatum saying they would refuse to serve on the Lib Dem front bench unless he resigned by Monday.

You can watch the video of his resignation here

I guess we all knew that this day was coming, sooner rather than later.

In someways I say that this has all come full circle. The Tories are now riding a wave with Cameron shaking things up and wellLabour as usual they are spinning a dream (no pun intended heh!) it seems inevitable to me that the Lib Dems should now have their spot of bother.

I commend Kennedy for admiting he had issues but as ever it slapped him in the face. I hope he gets everything sorted that kind of scrutiny is typical of the politcial back stabbing arena!

So what is the future for the Lib Dems now?

By the way, what does everyone make of Blair’s comments yesterday that Brown will be leading Labour next?

6th January, 2006

Is Bush and the Republicans going down?

by Sunny at 10:46 am    

If President Bush thought 2006 could not get any worse than a year in which his ratings dropped to a record low – he could be in for a nasty surprise.

It started with revelation of unauthorised wire-tapings, and now the shit just keeps hitting the fan. Will it drag the Republicans down? More importantly, will it help the Democracts grow hair on their chest?

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