Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Forgotten Jewish Refugees

The following documentary is about 50 minutes long but is highly recommended and will hopefully give a new perspective on North Africa/Middle East that has been seemingly erased from history for political purposes. ...

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Reflections on the 1970s

One of the television programmes I like to watch from time to time are the repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC 4 which is currently covering the year 1979. The edition on this week had quite obviously been edited and had narration added by Peter Powell, to remove certain presenters like the Saville creature who turned out to be such a monster.

Not that I or most other people knew at the time.

The seventies was quite a different era and a recent two-part documentary It was alright in the 1970s highlighted much that would be considered "tasteless" today. Matt Lucas reintroduced to rampant sexism, racism, xenophobia and homophobia that was literally part of mainstream society.

Take Butterflies for example. This gentle family comedy with a young Nicholas Lyndhurst had a scene in which  a frustrated housewife played by Wendy Craig suddenly shouted in one of her rants that she wanted to be raped. It even attracted the obligatory canned laughter that was used for such shows.

Shocking, yet even though I vaguely recall seeing the first time round seemed not to have registered as misplaced by most, if any viewers way back then.

They have been repeating this series on some channel recently and it wasn't edited at all.

But should it have been?

Social attitudes to women's rights have changed as has societies views on racism and homophobia.
Take this little gem from Till Death do us part:

Now I was then and remain a fan of Alf Garnet as played by Warren Mitchell. The whole idea in this particular case was to ridicule the bigot that he was. Some people "didn't get it" and I'm not sure that this show would get past today's censors because of the language.

Yet it was real to many peoples experiences if "stereotyped" for comedy purposes.

The show that I certainly did find offensive even back then was Love thy Neighbour, ITV's botched attempt to copy the format. Quite rightly it has never been repeated.

The seventies also saw the rise of a strong feminist movement which like many I came into contact with as a student in the late seventies. Attitudes to sex/sexism were certainly quite different as many of us had grown up watching the wonderful Carry On film franchise and shows like Benny Hill were all the rage.

These still attract repeats, though less so in Benny's case. But he did have a number one hit which is remembered fondly by many:

The seventies was quite a contradictory time. The far-left which had an attraction for many and started to influence me by the end of of the decade was growing in influence, but was hostile to many of the radical developments taking place in politics. Feminism was a "distraction", the Militant Tendency was quite homophobic and racism seen by many as purely a "class issue".

Even the "left" was generally quite backward then. Though some of it it hasn't changed much comrades of the Socialist Workers Party please take note!

Then of course there was the music. "Progressive Rock" was my main interest, though mainstream music still held its' occasional attractions. With "Glam Rock" being a major genre in the mid seventies. So I thought I'd end with a track from the late, great Marc Bolan.

Despite it's seemingly bad reputation, the seventies wasn't as bad as many pundits made it out to be. As part of the generation which had it's formative years in this decade there were good things as well as bad.

The same could be said for any decade in history.

Just don't revive flared trousers, OK.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Peer faces formal complaint after calling on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur’an"

Cross post from the National Secular Society

Peer faces formal complaint after calling on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur’an"

Lord Pearson of Rannoch is facing a formal complaint from Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, after calling on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur'an."

Speaking in the House of Lords, Pearson, the former UKIP leader, said: "My lords, are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby's murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur'an to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the prime minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam? Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Qur'an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?"

The Leader of the House of Lords dismissed his concerns, and now Labour MP Khalid Mahmood has stated his intention to make a formal complaint to the Lord Speaker over Pearson's question.

Mahmood told the Guardian: "I find it absolutely offensive that this guy is still able to say this. I will actually tomorrow make a complaint formally to the lords speaker on this issue. This is not tolerable and it should not be tolerated at all."

Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP for Bolton South East, said: "These are lies. Trying to say this comes from some text in the Qur'an or there is some justification in the religion – it isn't there."

Ms Qureshi said that Muslims should not have to "take responsibility" for the actions of extremists, though Lord Pearson had only actually called on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur'an."

Lord Pearson did not say that Muslims were responsible for the actions of extremists, and was clear to state that the "vast majority" of British Muslims were "our peace-loving friends".

National Secular Society executive director Keith Porteous Wood, said: "Nothing in our society should be beyond discussion or debate. But Lord Pearson is now facing a formal complaint for expressing a view in Parliament. This is a type of farce we should have left behind long ago."

"If Khalid Mahmood – or anyone else – disagrees with Pearson so strongly, then they should challenge him to a public debate or write an article rebutting his arguments. We don't have freedom of speech so that we can only discuss things we're all comfortable with."

Lord Pearson has previously warned of the threat posed by Islamism; in 2013 he said: "What baffles me completely is that when we do speak against these things, when we dare to say that they come from within Islam, we are told that we are the guilty ones, that it us who are stirring up hate."

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

SWP shenanigans over Ferguson demo

The outcry over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black youth in Ferguson has focused a lot of attention on racism and justice in the USA. Unsurprisingly the protests has attracted coverage in the media and the attention of political activists on the far-left who have organised a vigil outside the US embassy today (26th November).

As usual the Socialist Worker Party has tried "muscling in" on the demo which has led to a fallout with the London Black Revolutionaries, an organisation I have no previous knowledge of.

LBR have published a lengthy statement, part of which is reproduced below:

Reply to Weyman Bennett/ Sabby Dhalu / Stand Up To Racism & Socialist Workers Party from London Black Revolutionaries

We would like to clarify a recently alarming statement on behalf of Stand Up To Racism posted to us by Dennis Fernado and Sabby Dhalu.

From the hours of 25/11/14 3:00pm - 26/11/13 1:00am. LBR Organisers received a bombardment of calls from SUTR organisers.

We would like to refute some accusations being made.

At 1am of the 26th of November. SUTR approached us with the possibility of some of their Non-Socialist Workers Party members to speak as speakers of both events. We made the democratic decision to of course allow the families of those killed in police custody to speak at the event, as some have been arranged too already. We would like to convey respect and solidarity to all speakers of both events.

Our organisation received a plethora of threats from Weyman Bennett over the phone, ranging from the threat to dismantle and “go to war” our organisation if we continued to “ignore the leaders of the movement” and secondly, if we ever organise events within Anti-Racism, that we must be obliged to speak to SUTR/SWP.

Secondly, veiled threats were received to make individuals known to the police if we continued to host the first statement made on the situation at 26/11/14 1:00am & additionally, that the police had stated to SUTR that LBR's demonstration would need heavy policing as it appears to be friction between the two demonstrations. We would like to state that there is to be no friction between the two organisation on the day of the demonstration which is for the sole purpose of Unity. We are disappointed that individuals are using the police as a way to threaten and bend the democratic decisions made on behalf of our organisation as a method to get what they want.

Today, public letters stating individuals names were published and we take this as an extremely threatening move against our Organisation.

At London Black Revolutionaries we take these threats extremely seriously, a number of threats was made against the safety of our organisation and individual members which were redacted later in the conversation. These threats have set the tone and approach of our organisation from the outset towards SUTR and as such, we have chosen to remain separate from SUTR & the Socialist Workers Party.

Unsurprisingly the perennial problem that the SWP faces wherever it goes these days gets raised:

Furthermore, there are a number of issues as highlighted above, as well as wider political issues which remain unresolved over allegations made against members of the Socialist Workers Party regarding Rape, and as such, organisations and speakers within our demonstration take issue with, including ourselves.

Allegations of "bullying" by the SWP are not new, especially inside their own organisation,but certainly they can longer expect to be accepted by anyone with half a shred of decency whether they are "revolutionary" or not.

The SWP is facing increased isolation as seen in the recent banning of the party in Goldsmiths Student union.

Time for them and their supporters to close up shop and leave politics all together because those hardcore "loyalists" that remain will never be accepted as a legitimate part of the Labour and Trade Union movement, let alone the "revolutionary" milieu they claim to be part of ever again.

Good riddance I'd say.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

McDonald's Korea union member dismissed for fast food activism

Gahyun Lee was dismissed from her job at a McDonald's outlet in Yeokgok, Gyeonggi Province on September 15 following her visit to Los Angeles earlier that month to support the national action by US fast food workers.

Management had previously warned her about union activity in May - citing a phone call from the head office - after she denounced wage and scheduling manipulation and unsafe workplace practices at a May 15 Seoul rally in support of global fast food workers.

Management refused to provide her with an explanation of why her contract was terminated, instead telling her to reapply for the job. Her application was rejected.

The Arbeit Workers' Union (which organizes precarious workers) is demanding her reinstatement and publicizing her case. You can support them - CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE to McDonald's Korea corporate management calling on the company to reinstate Gahyun Lee, recognize union rights and representation and enter into good faith talks with the union over unfair practices.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Religion wants to be exempt from equality, criticism......

The requested cake as it was eventually produced by a different bakery. Photo: Facebook/QueerSpace Belfast
Photo: Facebook/Queer Space Belfast

The ever forward march of equality has it's opponents. Take Paul Givan of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. He's got the hump over a bakery being ordered to pay compensation for discriminating against a gay couple who simply wanted a cake baked for their marriage. He says it's "bullying".

Givan wants to exempt religious people from "equality legislation":

We now are heading towards a community where it’s not just about live and let live – people are now saying, ‘you need to affirm my particular lifestyle and if that goes against your conscience, you have to do that’.

“That’s not equality; that’s intolerance.”

In other words, bigots are entitled to remain bigots and exclude those they do not approve of from their public businesses.

Givan thinks this would be "equality" by "pandering to individual consciences".

So those little notices that used to appear in lodging houses with the words "No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs" will re-appear with "No poofta's" one assumes.

I don't think he understands the concept of equality at all.

Neither does Medhi Hassan.

He wants to establish what in effect becomes a "Muslim Censorship Board" since he doesn't like or approve of the "demonising" of the "religion of peace" or some of it's more charming aspects and supporters that get negative press coverage.

According to the PC brigades paper of choice he says of press coverage that it is:

“dangerous and counter-productive [...] because it increases alienation, [...] and it also confirms the extremist narrative, the Islamist narrative that there is some kind of inevitable clash between the West and all of the Muslims living in the West, that there can never be any kind of reconciliation, that there is always going to be some kind of war between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Somehow I think he needs to have a word in the ear of members of his community that seem to loudly proclaim "Islam will Rule the World" and support the establishment of a Caliphate even in the UK. Was that a placard saying "Non-Muslims can go to hell" we saw the supporters of Anjem Choudary carry on a demo?

If the "barriers and alienation" he refers to are to be broken down it's not going to be by suppressing free speech (though he denied this in a later statement) it is only going to happen if the Muslim community starts integrating in wider society.

The infiltration of schools by extremists has gone on for years until finally it was exposed this year. Political correctness helped cover up child abuse in Rotherham by men of what particular community was it again.

Of course the majority of abusers in this country are not Muslim, but the point is the establishment was afraid to deal with it because of their fear of being labelled "racist".

Islam is NOT a race. Like all religions it is a made up theology of superstitious nonsense.

Not that I'm even supposed to say that.

Islamophobia would be the cry.

There are plenty of laws already in place to deal with unfair press coverage. We don't need more legislation.

No religion, philosophical or political viewpoint can be exempt from criticism.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

It's not just ISIS but the Taliban, Boko Harem and others that need to be stopped

The fight against ISIS seems to have slipped from the news headlines for the moment but as the Kurds remain about the only people on the front line actually fighting these religious Nazi's, there are others around the world claiming to follow the "religion of peace" who commit the most heinous of acts.

Today the BBC reports:

A suicide bomber has killed at least 45 people at a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.

A spokesman for the governor of Paktika province told the BBC that the attacker had detonated the bomb amid a crowd of people gathering for a game.

About 60 people were also wounded in the bombing in Yahyakhail district.

Also just coming to light is the murder of fishermen in Nigeria:

Islamist militants from Nigeria's Boko Haram have reportedly killed 48 people in an attack on fish sellers near the border with Chad.

A fish traders' group said some victims had their throats slit whilst others were tied up and drowned in Lake Chad.

The attack took place on Thursday, but the news took several days to come to light because Boko Haram has destroyed mobile phone masts in the area.

It was the second major attack in two days by Boko Haram.

In Thursday's attack, the traders were on their way to Chad to buy fish when militants blocked their path near the village of Doron Baga, some 180km (112 miles) north of Maiduguri in Borno state.

Abubakar Gamandi, the head of the fish sellers' association, said the militants had used no guns.

"The attackers killed their victims silently without the use of the gun to avoid attracting attention from the multi-national troops," he told AFP news agency.

A silent murder in a country where school girls are kidnapped and enslaved by Islamists.

If that wasn't enough, there's Kenya. The Independent reports:

Terror organisation al-Shabaab have claimed an attack that killed 28 people on a bus in Northern Kenya.

Around 100 gunmen, who are believed to have travelled over the border in Mandera county from Somalia, took the bus off the road before separating the passengers.

It is believed they asked travellers to recite passages from the Koran, shooting dead those who were unable to prove they were practising Muslims.

I have to ask myself what kind of "God" would ask for such death in his name.

Not a "religion of peace" from where I'm sitting.

The world must wake up to the not so silent threat from these religious fanatics.


No, just standing for common human decency and the right to life.

Islamism is a threat whether the "anti-imperialist" so-called left like it or not.

Wake up. Support the Kurds, defeat ISIS. 

But don't forget the other threats, they are very real.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Censorship: A double warning from history

Freedom of speech is under constant attack at the moment from every quarter at the moment. The latest incidents include the banning of the Socialist Workers Party by Goldsmiths Students union, whilst the SWP themselves are using their so called Unite Against Fascism front organisation to try and ban Tommy Robinson, the former EDL leader (now "reformed") from taking part in a debate organised by the Oxford Union.

This month has seen feminists prevent a debate on abortion in Oxford and the University of West London banned a meeting to discuss the reach of extremist preachers following a report published by the secularist Sharia Watch group.

The common thread in these particular instances is that it is student and academic bodies that are promoting censorship.

Our seats of learning have become seats of censorship.

Unless you are a extremist Islamic preacher insisting on gender separation in meetings and promoting hate against gays, Jews and all other non-Muslims or indeed removing the rights of women.

Where are the protesters over this?


Only Islam(ism) is beyond censorship. That would be "Islamophobic" innit.

It's not so long ago the National Union of Students were refusing to back the Kurds for that very reason.

There is something seriously wrong with student politics today.

Remember the Nazi's:

And don't forget bloody communism either:

No difference in practise.

Defend free speech. Without out our freedoms are in danger!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Musical Interlude - Scandal

It's Friday night & time to relax or party, you make your own choice. Either way I thought I'd kick of the weekend with a track from my favourite band at the moment Scandal!

You Tube didn't translate the page for their new single so I do not have a clue what it is called (any readers speak Japanese?) but it's a bit of fun I couldn't resist posting!


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Marxist musings on prizes and pakora?

I was surprised to receive an e-mail from Mark Serwotka that didn't whinge about something I'd written or published yesterday. In fact he was offering me and thousands of other PCS members the opportunity to enter a draw to win £1,200.

The catch? 

Entrants to this draw would have to fill in a direct debit form to pay subscriptions to the union by December 31st 2014.

It's a real sign of the desperation that the PCS leadership are facing in trying to persuade members to sign up to the union when "check off" ends in most departments, which now seems more than inevitable.

There was even a circular recently claiming that some reps were reporting the new direct debit scheme was a problem for BME members.

How exactly? 

I asked a few BME members in my own PCS Branch they were baffled or just laughed saying that was simply ridiculous.

Methinks they, like many others are just prevaricating.

A union collapsing on itself.

At the same time PCS is trying to use the recent leaked management document on reducing the influence of PCS in the HMRC to try and rally its declining membership.

They haven't got long. The new Revenue & Customs Union (RCTU) launches soon. With just over 1 in 10 PCS members signing up for DD, they have some competition.

And clearly they are worried about the RCTU no matter how the comrades of the activist caste dismiss it.

The latest issue of the bring newspaper of the Socialist Party rants about "scab unions", a reference to the RCTU.

Just because this is being founded by ex-PCS members who have had enough of the antics of the far left doesn't make them scabs.

Such formulations are typical far-left fare when they don't get their way.

Members in the HMRC (and elsewhere) should make their own minds up.

There are plenty of us who have had enough of PCS and rather than offer prizes or slag off political opponents Serwotka and his far-left cronies should look at themselves. It is their own actions that have driven members away, first in SOCA, now in the HMRC. Who will be next?

Meanwhile the Socialist Workers Party who form a small part of the ruling "Left Unity" group in PCS are themselves struggling.

The SWP PCS "fraction" as they call themseves have written a rather boring, deluded  "perspectives" report in the third and final edition of the pre-conference SWP Bulletin.

They have recruited one new member "through patient work" and muse that getting new SWP in other areas would increase the party's influence.

No kidding sherlock.

Oh and they also tell us they cooked pakora on the picket line in Birmingham.

The revolution is obviously here......

Or not.

For those of you interested in sectariana here is the link to the third SWP Pre conference Bulletin:

SWP Bulletin 3

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Marxist murderers of the PFLP

Embedded image permalink
"They were murdered" - Front page of Israel Hayom

As if there weren't enough murderous group vying for position in the ever violent melting pot in the Middle East, another almost forgotten group has joined the fray.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist terrorist group often feted by the far-left, particularly the Stalinists in this country.

The responsibility for the attack on a Jerusalem Synagogue and the murder of four rabbis and a policeman has been "claimed" by the comrades of the PFLP, though only sort of as they jockey for position amongst the other terror groups trying to gain hegemony over the Palestinians.

In a statement issued in the name of the group they try to claim that:

“The PFLP also wants to send its message to a billion and a half Muslim brothers and sisters that our fight is not with Jews and is not based on religion; it is about justice, liberation and return to the homeland, and this is your struggle,”...

The PFLP is not a religious organization and our resistance is not based on religious convictions. 

Right. They expect us to believe that an attack on a Jewish place of worship, killing Rabbi's is not an attack on Jews?

Of course not. That would be the work of anti-Semites wouldn't it.

No matter what Marxist verbiage they try to cover their tracks with, that's exactly what happened here.

Khalil Maqdesi, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has clearly stated that:

Resistance includes many methods of struggle, including, centrally, armed resistance and armed struggle. Revolutionary violence is necessary in order to confront and overthrow the colonization of our land and the confiscation of our rights..

I suppose sitting down and trying to reach a peaceful solution is not an option then?

Nah, not the Islamist Marxist way.

Marxism as religion. Discuss.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Students protest shuts down debate on abortion

The activities of student politicians have come to my attention again. This time over abortion. Now before I begin I want to make it quite clear to readers that I fully support the position of a "woman's right to choose" when it comes to abortion. Their bodies their choice. Ok!

However I was disturbed by the following report from today's issue of the Independent where Niamh McIntyre wrote:

I helped shut down an abortion debate between two men because my uterus isn't up for their discussion

The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups

This was a student activist justifying the closure of a debate between Brendan O'Neil and Tim Stanley called "This house believes that Britain's abortion culture hurts us all". This debate was organised by Oxford Students for Life. 

Not an organisation I would choose to support in any shape or form, but surely debating the issue which cuts across political and cultural divides is a necessary one to have in a democratic society?

Not according to Niamh its not:

The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups. Debating abortion as if its a topic to be mulled over and hypothesised on ignores the fact that this is not an abstract, academic issue. It may seem harmless for men like Stanley and O'Neil to debate how and if abortion hurts them; it’s clearly harder for people to see that their words and views might hurt women.

McIntyre goes on to justify her actions by referring to the demonstrations outside abortion clinics by pro-life groups, something I also do not approve of but preventing their right to do so opens a whole door to censorship and suppression that threatens to undermine free speech, the foundation upon which democracy is built.

In order for democracy to work, rights have to be afforded to all sorts of groups and individuals with ideas that we might not like ourselves. Some others equally may not approve of mine or anyone else's but that is their right. It is not their right to stop anyone from stating their beliefs.

Only the advocating of hatred and attacks on individuals or groups should be proscribed in law.

The debate on abortion should not only have gone ahead, those who wished to disagree should have peacefully lobbied the meeting with literature and calmly argued their point of view.

Debate is not rocket science.

More to the point the reaction against the cancelling of the event has probably done far more damage to the cause of abortion rights than the meeting itself could ever have done.

Perhaps Ms McIntyre should reflect on this.

The meeting was cancelled due the threat of intimidation. So much for the "safe spaces" policy that seems to be the rage in student unions these days.

Seems to me "safe spaces" is only a way to shut people up anyway.

Defend free speech!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Left Unity Annual Conference: Listening to paint dry

Back in March the New Statesman carried an article in which the author one Salman Shaheen, a "speaker" for the then fairly new Left Unity Party gets somewhat exited and proclaims:

Labour must watch its left flank in months to come – new party Left Unity is on the move:

Left Unity is the hottest thing on the left right now. In a few short months, it has attracted more than 1,800 members. With a new member joining every 10 minutes over the weekend, the party is going from strength to strength.

That was then.

Since then Left Unity seems to have err..stalled somewhat, though new factions (they call them platforms) have appeared inside their organisation. And a varied lot they are indeed. One is heartily called the Libertarian Socialist Platform and proclaims:

The Libertarian Socialist Tendency believes that a new society cannot be based upon authoritarian institutions such as the state. Those campaigning against the ruling class need to develop their own organisations based upon workers’ self-management, co-operatives, federalism and grass-roots democracy.

Sort of Anarchists then. Oh well.

Meanwhile at the other end of Left Unity's political spectrum is one John Lubbock who believe it or not put up a motion to support ISIS as they are struggling against imperialism. (see Shiraz Socialist here).

The following video purports to show the debate but in fact shows the vote over the anti-imperialist motions on their agenda. The pro-ISIS motion got four votes. Four more than it should have.

What this video does show is that Labour has nothing to worry about from this useless bunch. 

The words "organise" "piss-up" and "brewery" come to mind but these tossers would probably say we're oppressing them in their "safe spaces".

Which reminds me I tuned in to their debate on "safe spaces", it had turned into a wee bit of a shouting session.

Back to the drawing board comrades.

Nil points.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

PCS in trouble in HMRC

Writing in the Huffington Post, Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of the PCS union states:

The revelation that senior HM Revenue and Customs officials have been plotting to undermine and isolate my union that represents 50,000 of their staff is not just shocking, it is sinister evidence of an increasing politicisation of the civil service.

It appears HMRC's top brass no longer believes the representative body for three quarters of its employees should have any role or say in issues that ultimately affect their livelihoods and the state of our economy.

The PCS union describes this as a "plot" to undermine the union and it certainly does consider all the options HMRC management could use against the union. Serwotka writes as if he is surprised by the policies contained in the short paper which PCS has helpfully published on it's website.

In fact the only thing that surprises me is the sheer naivety of Serwotka and his cohorts that management wouldn't have a strategy to oppose the union. They are after all the bloody management and are following the line put our by Francis Maude at the top of the civil service.

The only way this can ultimately be opposed is to replace the current Tory led coalition government which would mean ensuring a Labour victory at the next general election.

And Serwotka isn't up for that.

Trade unions have to operate in the political climate that actually exists in order to get their best for the members. Digging his heels under the table hasn't moved our interests forward one iota.

The campaign against "austerity" may be laudable but is ultimately impractical because this is the economic imperative that the government is working under and even if Labour gain power can only really be either slowed down or amended because the national debt does continue to increase.

In the mean time the union must learn to negotiate around the way cuts are implemented rather than just demanding they don't take place.

Before anyone asks, of course I don't want to see cuts, but being a realist, I know they are going to take place and the best we can achieve is to at least ensure that redundancies are voluntary, that early retirement schemes are available and that vacancies elsewhere are filled in as practicable fashion as possible. Not a perfect solution by any means.

In the HMRC PCS tells us that staff do not have have confidence in management. Not a particularly surprising fact. It's the same in many other departments, my own included.

However that doesn't appear to be translating into renewed confidence in the union. One of the reason PCS has reacted so badly to the recent proposal to establish a new union in the HMRC is that members are more than reticent to sign up for direct debit as "check off ends.

The unions own official figures show just 13.2% of PCS members had signed up by week commencing 4/11/14, a disastrous situation for the union given that the HMRC is the second largest group in the union. By comparison the DWP has signed up 34.1% in the same period, still a long way from the projected overall target of around 90% that the National Executive thought was achievable.

Given that PCS is now far removed from being the trade union it was set up to be, it comes as no surprise that its' faced one successful breakaway in SOCA and the establishment of an alternative union in the HMRC would seem more than viable given the circumstances.

The left seek to blame any scapegoat they can find for the poor position they now find themselves in but frankly given their dominance of PCS for so long they actually have no one but themselves to blame.

Frankly Serwotka and the Socialist Party led far-left who control PCS have marginalised the union to almost, if not totally, the point of no return.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The need for a national Kurdish Solidarity Campaign

This article originally appeared on Face Book earlier this week. Howie's Corner is committed to supporting the struggle of the Kurds and fully endorses the following motion.

Flag of Kurdistan.svg

Why we need a national Kurdish Solidarity Campaign

By Pete Radcliff Nottingham Kurdish Solidarity Campaign

Passed at our meeting 11th Nov

The Nottingham Kurdish Solidarity Campaign believes that a national campaign needs to be built in the UK. Such a campaign could:

1) Organise national mobilisations and co-ordinate local actions nationally

2) Promote the widest possible political and practical solidarity immediately behind the forces fighting for freedom and democracy in Kobane and across Rojava against IS/ISIS.

3) Engage with national organisations such and trade unions and labour organisations

4) Better co-ordinate pressure on the UK government

5) In the longer term it might consider other acts of solidarity with those fighting against ISIS and campaign against the forces that are aiding this reactionary formation.

We also agreed to organise a day school on Saturday, Jan 17th. One of the things we will be discussing is the possibilities of acting on the above. If anyone or any campaign is interested in being involved please contact us

Nottm Kurdish-Solidarity

The unacceptable face of Ken Livingstone

As the situation in Tower Hamlets continues to deteriorate, Ken Livingstone has made what must be the most unacceptable of suggestions as part of his campaign to back the Islamist Mayor Lutfur Rahman. The BBC reports

When these commissioners turn up, find out where they live and then have a peaceful demonstration outside their homes so their neighbours know that these are the type of people that turn out and overturn a democratically elected mayor.

"Make their lives intolerable. Fight them, expose them, make sure everybody knows what they're doing."

Find out where they live? Demonstrate outside their houses?

Sounds like intimidation to me.

And intimidation is one of the problems that keeps being alluded to whenever political intrigue arises in the Tower Hamlets caliphate.

Livingstone has been rightly condemned across the political spectrum and Labour has made it blatantly clear that he does not speak on behalf of them.

Nor does he speak for the vast majority of people in this country who prefer peaceful political debate and protest.

There is more than enough evidence in the reports to justify an investigation into the activities of Lutfur Rahman and his supporters.

Let the commissioners do their job and report back.

Let the courts rule on the allegations of electoral malpractice.

If Rahman has done nothing wrong he should not be afraid of the investigation and Livingstone's intervention doesn't help his cause such as it appears to be one jot.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Galloway & Livingstone line up to defend Tower Hamlets shock!

The saga of the Tower Hamlets caliphate continues to make the headlines as the BBC reports:

Mr Galloway said there was a "witch hunt" against mayor Lutfur Rahman and that he was backed by residents.

Speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 people in Mile End, Mr Galloway said: "Just what exactly did mayor Lutfur do wrong?

Erm, where does one start exactly? 

Lets return to the BBC earlier in the month:

A report into allegations of fraud at Tower Hamlets Council reveals a "culture of cronyism", the government has said.

The investigation has prompted Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to send in three commissioners to work at the council for three years.

Auditors said the council grant system lacked transparency and some groups got cash without applying for it.

Then there's the elections... which will be subject to:

(a) court case - which does not yet have a start date - will hear:
  • Dozens of allegations of postal ballot fraud and of people pretending to be registered voters.
  • Claims that some votes for Labour were not counted properly by Tower Hamlets staff.
  • Alleged "treating" of voters to secure their support, which is forbidden under election law.
Some unnamed voters claim they were told at polling stations by the mayor's supporters: ''You must vote for Lutfur otherwise you are not a good Muslim.''

We won't mention the allegations of witness intimidation...

This and plenty more is available all over the Internet. A quick google will find everything you need to know but were afraid to ask. Some of the allegations remain allegations of course and will be subject to legal proceedings but there is certainly reason to be more than concerned about what has been happening in Tower Hamlets.

Oh and then there's the "Muslim" connection.

That's the reason the "gorgeous one" has put on his best hat and trundled off for another photo opportunity to defend "the religion of peace". After all any criticism of a Muslim is automatically "Islamophobic" to the anti-imperialist brigade.

Enter one Ken Livingstone and you get a picture that I can't reproduce due to copyright reasons of Ken Lutfur and George sitting in a row like the three stooges, except they are just not funny.

But down right dangerous.

The rally to defend Rahman attracted around a thousand people, which from the photos looked pretty much like they mostly came from the (male section) of (cough) one particular community.

Can't say more some bright spark might accuse me of a phobia of some kind.

Can't upset the PC brigade can we.

There is one religion from one section of society that is not allowed to be criticised.

Nor are any of it's adherents.

Makes one an racist apparently.

Trouble is the people who use this argument (and you know who you are comrades) don't extend this courtesy to anyone else. Jews, oh I mean Zionists, the ones that run a world wide conspiracy (ring Jerusalem 666 for further details) along with the pro-imperialist Kurds can be abused as much as you like.

That's not racist.......

Just anti-imperialism.

Meanwhile subject to further investigation and at least one court case, could it be the Caliphate of Tower Hamlets does have something to answer for?

Nah, not according to Ken & Georgie boy.

Like I'd ever trust their opinions on anything.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Socialist Party contagion

The largest remaining Trotskyist sect on the British left is the Socialist Party, remembered by many as the Militant tendency of old has been holding it's annual "Socialism" love in and gleefully reports:

Well over 1,000 people spent 48 hours being inspired and, in turn, inspiring others with their commitment and determination to fight back against the misery of capitalism.

The entire event was infused with a contagious confidence that our class, the working class, can fight and can win.

Those people unfortunate enough to have had dealings with this  organisation will indeed see a contagion, but not in the terms the comrades define themselves.  Pestilence would probably be a better definition since they want to define themselves in such an odd manner.

Lest we forget that the two times that the Socialist Party has had any hands on power they have buggered up everything. 

Liverpool Council - Bankrupt

PCS Union - heading to ruin it would seem.

It doesn't help that they managed to persuade failed messiah Mark Serwotka to join in their delusional ravings as he told the assembled comrades:

"I call on the leaders of all the unions - let's strike together as a matter of urgency ". He also pointed to the need "to build an alternative political force that has the credibility to stand in elections."

Fortunately the other union leaders are mostly much saner than to go down that road and seem to prefer getting negotiations under way rather than manning the barricades on a semi-permanent basis a-la-PCS and it's failed strategy.

As for building an alternative political force, that laughable given the dire performance of the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition that the Socialist Party created.

Here's their latest astounding result (at the bottom of the list)


The result of the Bilton Ward by-election held on Thursday 6 November2014.

A'BARROW, Julie Beverly (Conservative) - 668 Elected
DAVIES, Gordon (UK Independence Party) - 325
KENNEDY-GEORGE, Lesley (Liberal Democrats) - 280
WELLS, John (Labour) - 212
HERMAN, John (Independent) - 60
CROWLEY, Kate (Green Party) - 37
McLAREN, Pete (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) - 10

The revolution is just around the corner it would seem. Not.

The PCS union despite it's growing financial crisis may be considering spending money on this nonsense at the next election if Serwotka and his Socialist Party henchmen have their way.

Pathetic really.

Meanwhile up in Scotland the latest issue of their boring rag The Socialist reports:

Leading Scottish trade unionists back TUSC

Not quite what happened.

John McInally, vice president of civil service unionPCS, explained that austerity was the only choice on offer from the capitalist parties - including the discredited Labour Party. "Labour is in long term crisis in Scotland, as we see by the resignation of Johann Lamont. If Blairite Jim Murphy is the answer to this crisis, we're asking the wrong question."

Cheryl Gedling, a member of the PCS national executive committee, chaired the meeting - which was also attended by leading members of the union's Scottish Committee. The leadership of left wing branches of public service union Unison, including Glasgow and Dundee, attended as well.

Both of these "leading trade unionists" are members of.. The Socialist Party. Surprise! Not.

As was most of the audience probably.

A self serving sect that wrecks whatever it touches.

PCS, the union they control along with their satraps is heading to collapse.

An alternative strategy to austerity?

They're having a laugh I tell you.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Free speech under threat

This is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv's high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State then this?
John Milton

The modern political order is changing. Freedom of speech the sacrosanct right that all of us have come to expect at as a basic right right is under threat.

The threat comes from the state

Theresa May wants to introduce a new law ostensibly aimed at extremist preacher types provisionally called "Extremism Disruption Orders" The BBC reported in September:

A future Conservative government would seek new powers to ban extremist groups and curb the activities of "harmful" individuals, Theresa May has said.

Banning orders and "extreme disruption" orders will feature in the party's 2015 election manifesto, the home secretary told the party's Birmingham conference.

She got a standing ovation as she said "British values" would prevail in the end in the battle against extremism.

There are already laws in place to deal with those who promote violence, but this will go further and "cross the Rubicon" as all sorts of people could be drawn in under increasingly illiberal regimes that could arise out of the political flux that is developing in the UK.

Can we really stop Christians saying they disagree with gay marriage? Marxists who believe in working class revolutionary politics?

Of course not. People have a right to say what they want. 

Subject to libel laws and existing provisions such as promoting hate or promoting attacks on other people.

Like err... the threats made against Salman Rushdie for example, which takes us to...

The threat comes from Islam(ism)

The religion of peace as it likes to be known is actually not very tolerant even it's more moderate forms if you read the Koran carefully. All sorts of activities from blasphemy to fornication and being different are "harem" and punishable by death.

Yet to openly expose this causes much discomfort amongst not just Islamists but the so-called liberal establishment. Take The University of West London. It has just cancelled an event to promote a secularist report on Jihad. The National Secular Society reports:

A new report from Sharia Watch UK (SWUK) has revealed the shocking reach of Islamist speakers on UK university campuses. The report, which warned of the dangers of censorship on campuses, was due to be released on Wednesday 12 November at an event at the University of West London. However, the University has now cancelled the launch, citing concerns over "PR" and the "balance" of the event.

Anne Marie Waters said:

"none of the information we have put together in this report should come as any surprise. For decades now, Islamists have had a tight grip on British universities - much of it propped up by Saudi Arabia. We've seen a rise in anti-Semitism - even from lecturers towards Jewish students - gender segregation, anti-Western rhetoric, and all of it is facilitated and defended by a Left-wing elitism within student unions".

The threat comes from the far-left

Oh yes we can't forget the comrades can we? Those supporters of (cough) "workers democracy" who expel each other from their sects at the slightest sign of political deviancy. Unless they are called "comrade delta" of course. The leadership is always right.

If you criticise Islam in any way what so ever you are labelled "Islamophobic", if you dare to raise a concern about immigration you are racist. A form of arrogant intellectual bullying designed to frighten people off from raising difficult issues.

We know how these people behaved in power.

From Lenin & Stalin through the Gulags to the Year Zero with Pol Pot the threat or even whiff of dissidence is dealt with through suppression and death.

Free speech must be defended

Wherever the threat comes from, the state, religious or political sources people must stand up because without it democracy and human rights will fall.

The enemies of free speech are the enemies of humanity.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Monday Book Review

UK Monogram Murders jacket.jpg

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Harper & Collins £18.99

With the nights drawing in perhaps it's time to pick up a novel (or two) to read in front of the fire, especially as with the exception of Gotham, now that Doctor Who is finished there is little of interest on the box in the corner of the room.

The publishing of a brand new Hercule Poirot adventure by Sophie Hannah with the support of the Agatha Christie Estate is a rare opportunity to relive the intrigue and games invoked by the mistress of mystery herself.

This novel set in the earlier years of Poirot's adventures does not disappoint. A distressed woman in a coffee house, three murders in a hotel and a trip to the country in search of the origins of what on the surface appears to be a suicide pact is not to be missed.

One of the joys of reading this novel was the vision of David Suchet in the leading role. If only he could be persuaded to return to his role as Poirot for just one more adventure this would be it.

You can read the first chapter for free at: Agatha

The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber

Canon Gate £18.99

One of the more unusual novels of the year comes from Dutch born author Michel Faber. A science fiction adventure where the science and adventure is understated as our "hero" Peter Leigh, a evangelical Christian of sorts travels to a remote and bleak new world to spread the word of God to the natives.

More about humanity and the relationship he has with his wife left back on planet Earth, which is having trouble from mega-cyclones wiping out the Seychelles to the bankruptcy of Tescos (written before the current troubles came to light) this gentle, but troubling story will stick with you even when you have finished the book.

You don't have to be religious to appreciate the dynamics of talking about about shepherds on a world without sheep and fishermen on a planet with no bodies of water whatsoever to understand the difficulties Peter has explaining the King James Bible to his flock of numbered "Jesus Lovers" as they are called.

Oh and Marvel Comic fans should look out for a hidden tribute.

Highly recommended.

Currently reading Proxima by Steven Baxter.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Prospect Union launches petition to save Imperial War Museum Library from closure

As we commemorate our fallen heroes on this Remembrance Sunday the much used library at the Imperial War Museum is threatened with closure. Prospect has launched a petition to save it.

Please sign the Petition!

Urgently reverse current and future cuts to the UK Imperial War Museum's annual operating grant in aid so that it can maintain services and preserve its standing as an international centre for study, research and education.

Petition by Andy Bye Prospect, United Kingdom

One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the Imperial War Museum is under threat.

The Museum is facing an annual deficit of £4m because of cuts in government funding.

It has drawn up proposals to:

• close its unique library and dispose of the majority of its collection

• cut important education services

• cut 60-80 jobs

• close the widely emulated ‘Explore History’ facility in London.

The Museum’s library gives ordinary people access to research materials on all aspects of British and Commonwealth involvement in conflict since 1914.

Prospect trade union believes the world's leading authority on conflict will be irreparably damaged by the £4m deficit.

It has launched this petition to help ensure that the Imperial War Museum continues to provide for, and encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and ‘wartime experience'.

Please show your support by signing today.

Imperial War Museum Library

The Imperial War Museum Library is a collecting department in its own right and plays a key role in helping IWM staff do their jobs - curating exhibitions, helping to identify and understand artefacts and furthering their own knowledge.

IWM aspires to be a highly-respected authority on its subject matter, but this will be impossible without a library.

Once the Library and its professional staff are gone, the damage will be done.

It will be impossible to replace this unique collection of primary and secondary printed materials and the dedicated people who care for them and make them available to the public - remotely or in person.

The Library acquired its first item in April 1917 - a programme for a 'Dick Whittington' pantomime staged by the 85th Field Ambulance in Salonika - and has been a vital part of the Museum ever since.

The Research Room
The Research Room, available to all for more in-depth research, will continue to operate but at a reduced level, and without access to library materials.

These materials are vital for providing context to personal papers and interviews and are the most commonly used items in the Research Room.


IWM attracted 433,000 learners in 2013-14 and 256,000 children took part in its on and off-site education programmes.

School educational visits to the paying branches at Duxford, HMS Belfast and Churchill War Rooms, with on-site teaching sessions led by museum and education professionals, are under threat.

The Museum is justifying the cuts at these original historic sites because of changes to the national curriculum and their ‘narrower exhibition focus’.

Formal education bookings at Duxford are steady and IWM London is already full to capacity.

‘Explore History’ attracted 55,000 visitors in 2013. It is a popular resource open to all, seven days a week, allowing the public to explore IWM’s collections and find out about objects or subjects not on display.

Westminster government funding

IWM was founded in 1917 as a place of study and memorial. Its London museum was refurbished at a cost of £40m and re-opened in July 2014. Demand for its services has never been higher.

IWM is successful in generating its own revenue - less than 50 per cent of its funding comes from the Westminster government, but that income is vital to the organisation's future.

IWM has faced funding cuts over several years but has not yet suffered the mass redundancies and reorganisations that have occurred in other national museums and galleries.

But the cuts announced in November 2014 will put the Museum’s educational and research functions in danger and experienced professional staff will be forced to leave.

Prospect fears that this is only the start and that further damaging cuts are likely unless there is widespread public support to maintain adequate levels of funding.

Please sign our petition and consider making a donation to IWM here: highlighting that your donation is a response to Prospect's petition.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

PCS: Controversy & crisis continues

The decision of PCS to put the Falcon Road headquarters building on the market for conversion into upmarket homes has caused consternation and surprise amongst many rank and file union members as no one was aware of the scale of the financial crisis that the union is facing,

Actually nobody outside Serwotkas inner circle appears to have any real knowledge of how had things are and no explanation seems to be forthcoming. 

Meanwhile there have been a couple of developments, the first being an adverse reaction to the sale of PCS HQ from Clapham Junction Action Group:

PCS is the Trade Union in occupation at Falcon House, since its construction more than 20 years ago. Many of PCS’s staff either live locally in Clapham Junction area or are reliant on the proximity of rail services at Clapham Junction station for their journey to work. The PCS is one of the few major employers still present in Clapham Junction, with a staff of approximately 240 who, together , contribute significantly to the social and economic life of the centre. As the Head Quarter of a trade union with 300,000 members, Falcon House receives as many as 350 visitors per week according to a contribution sent to the Planning Application Committee in 2009.

In their objection to the proposal to erect two 42 storey towers at the station in 2009, they told the Council that the developer’s proposal was making “no reference on effects of the loss of 241 full time jobs in Clapham Junction“. Therefore we can only be surprised now that the same people who objected against the loss of jobs are fulfilling quietly the same purpose.

In a submission to the Council, the Clapham Junction Action Group wrote at that same time:

“The fundamental problem with the scheme is that it has been developed under a system of appraisal that has only looked at the values of office space as is currently available at Clapham Junction. With the availability of only sub-prime office stock, and inadequate levels of floor space availability, the current market for office is severely under-shopped and under-valued. If the development were to seek to establish prime office units at this location, then the evaluation of these units, based upon the accessibility of the location, would be quite different. It would then work to set a new benchmark to enable further inward investment and development of office and workspace uses in the area, including land at LIDL and Boots. 
With such great accessibility to Central London, both airports, and the highly skilled and qualified workforce of South West London and Surrey, this location could easily attract a major international company as an occupier, lifting up the business profile of Wandsworth as a whole. 
[...] More residential will do nothing to improve the area and provide little in the way of a much needed daytime economy for caterers, service providers, retailers and convenience stores in the area.  
Without developing a stronger daytime population at this location the viability, of the whole retail scheme is at risk; considering the fact that the Westfield London is only 11 minutes away, and will only become more accessible as the London Overground service improves over time.”
It was valid in 2009, it’s even more valid in 2014!

It is about time the union leadership, the so called "socialists" of Left Unity actually issued a statement about the sale.

Meanwhile PCS is struggling to re-sign it's members so has decided to offer prizes if you sign up before January:

You can help secure our future and stay protected at work with an independent voice against a hostile employer and you could win a big cash prize in the new year by taking three minutes to register on-line to pay your PCS subs by direct debit.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is an unnecessary political move by the Tories but we’ll not let them undermine us. Please sign up today to help us remain strong and independent."

Here are the prizes:
1st £1,200
2nd £200
3rd £100.

The prize fund has been donated by Thompson solicitors and is open to all who have registered by 1 January, 2015.

Frankly given that the PCS Grandees aren't being open with us and are planning to throw our scarce resources into some ridiculous grandstanding in the general election next year I'm not sure that's much of an incentive.

We need an open, democratic, representative trade union. Not a pseudo-political party for the benefit of the activist class.

PCS is clearly not up to that.

The clock is ticking

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Friday night musical interlude with Mud

It's Friday night and there's still lots of fireworks parties on it would seem so here's a little musical interlude with Mud and a little number called Tiger Feet from 1974, the year I left school!

Yeah I'm an old git... but still young at heart! (I hope)

Still hopefully it will bring back memories for those of you who were around at the time. When music was fun!

I'm ashamed to admit me and my mates did dance like those two guys on the stage. 


Howie says he no longer has any flared trousers......

Thursday, 6 November 2014

PCS union desperate for a merger..with anyone

The PCS union is in more trouble than it's leaders care to admit. They have seen one successful breakaway of a whole civil service department in SOCA, a failed attempt to get Unite to take PCS over, are facing another breakaway in the Customs & Revenue group and sneakily attempted to put the unions biggest financial asset on the property market without telling anyone.

Sound like a union in good hands?


Despite the assurances of the more than useless Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh that the union has "sound finances" (stop laughing at the back), it seems that the far-left have come up with another set of proposals to "rescue" the financially sound ailing union.

The ruling political group of the PCS union is the Left Unity group, an alliance of the Socialist Party, SWP, remaining Stalinists and other miscellaneous malcontents. At their forthcoming conference in Manchester they are due to discuss this little motion which members might find rather telling...

This conference notes with concern the financial problems caused by the withdrawal of check off and the ongoing cuts to our membership. In this financial context, it believes we should be looking at mergers with other unions where there is industrial logic to do so.

The aim is to provide not just financial stability but, also, to increase our industrial and political muscle. Unions to be considered on this basis are FDA, Prospect, NIPSA and POA.

Conference instructs the NEC to explore whether these unions would be interested in joining an expanded public sector union and beginning discussions on issues like a rule book, reserved seats etc.

Progress or lack of it should be reported back to conference 2016.

If passed by the assembled "comrades" it is likely to be put to the unions 2015 conference. The leadership will have a little explaining to do. The unions finances are obviously not in good shape regardless of the end of "check off" and perhaps it's time to use old Leon Trotsky's transitional slogan:

Open the Books!

Meanwhile as the comrades plan to try and save their necks from financial ruin they still plan to spend large sums of money that PCS obviously hasn't got in the general election next year.

One of their other motions to be debated is about standing and supporting candidates against "austerity", a euphemism for backing the tiny Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition and a couple of other no-hopers that will get nowhere whilst the bulk of the trade union movement will be working for a Labour victory.

In the run up to the 2015 election LU members should work to support the widest unity in mounting electoral challenges to austerity policies.

LU members on the NEC should argue for backing from the union where united and serious campaigns are standing credible anti-austerity candidates of whatever party.

LU should campaign for PCS policy to be extended to allow support for candidates in all elections not just national ones.

LU should argue for PCS to jointly host a summit on the crisis of political representation with other trade unions and those on the left to discuss how to develop strong and united electoral alternatives for working class people in this country.

Is this what the money from the sale of Falcon Road (PCS HQ) is going to be wasted on?

As for Unity? It won't be with the bulk of the trade unions in this country.

My advice to the other civil service trade unions is to dismiss the proposal for a merger immediately.

The PCS would swamp any smaller union that got involved and given the track record of the likes of Mark Serwotka and his motley crew a merger would lead to disaster for their members.

If PCS wants to get it's act (and finances) in order the activist class needs to stop using it as a platform (and purse?) for their own sectarian interests and remember that PCS is supposed to be a trade union not a political party.

Little hope of that.

No wonder many of us are starting to think of alternatives to PCS.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The blasphemy of violence in the name of religion

Quran 9.5: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

With the world focusing (but not acting) over the growth of ISIS in Syria and Iraq atrocities in the name of the "religion of peace" are being overlooked in other parts of the world. It's not just in these countries that Christians are facing violence and murder.

Take Pakistan, a country with an infamous and much abuse so-called "Blasphemy Law". The New York Times reports:

An enraged mob tortured a Pakistani Christian couple and incinerated their bodies in a brick kiln in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday after they were accused of burning a Quran, police officials said.

The killings, which happened in the town of Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab Province, were the latest violent outbreak of religious intolerance in Pakistan, where members of minorities are frequently accused of blasphemy.

The two victims, Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih, who had four children and were believed to be in their mid-20s, both worked as laborers at a local brick kiln. The accusations against them began after burned pages of the Quran were said to have been found in their trash.

Now it just so happens:

On Tuesday, as word spread, the couple were locked up in a room adjacent to the brick kiln by their employer, Yousaf Gujjar, who also had a running dispute with the couple over money. Some accounts in local news media suggested that Mr. Gujjar accused them of blasphemy after they refused to repay money he had lent them.

Meanwhile, local clerics made incendiary announcements and urged people to gather. Hundreds of people converged on the couple’s home, and witnesses said some in the crowd broke down the door and dragged the couple out. The police said they were tortured and then burned in the kiln.

Words fail me on the barbarity carried out in the name of this so-called religion.

Meanwhile back in the UK, The Times tells us that Prince Charles has called on Muslim leaders and their religious colleagues to "break their silence" about the suffering of minorities in the Middle east.

What does the Muslim Council of Britain have to say about this? The Times reports their statement:

"We must not conflate what some Muslims do with what Islam teaches. They are poles apart."


Tolerance isn't exactly a virtue in most Muslim countries from the evidence I have seen. It's not just ISIS carrying out slavery and genocide in the name of Islam. In Egypt the Coptic Christians have been treated as second class citizens with their daughters being kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam and married off.

Shades of Boko Harem?

And of course these "god-fearing" types think nothing of kidnapping girls to take as their "wives" after they have been forcibly converted to Islam.

You can't even practise Christianity in Saudi Arabia, or own a bible without putting yourself at great risk.

Then there's apostasy, the penalty for which in Islam is err... death.

Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. (16:106)

They really wish that you should also become disbelievers, as they themselves are so that both may become alike. So you should not take friends from among them unless they migrate in the way of Allah; and if they do not migrate, then seize them wherever you find them and slay them and do not take any of them as friends and helpers. (4:18)

This despite the Koran stating there "shall be no compulsion in religion" (2:256).

Then there's this:

Koran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

Perhaps the MCB would like to explain this? Seems to be the basis of what the extremists they say does not represent Islam but is found in the religious texts themselves!

It seems to me the real blasphemy against humanity itself is the religion of violence that the Koran itself promotes.

Now to be fair the Bible contains some pretty hoary passages, Islam is not alone in it's intolerance, but for the most part Christianity has come a long way from the dark days of the Inquisition.

If the MCB wants to persuade us non-believers that what they say is true then it is indeed time for them to put their "money where their mouths are" so to speak and move the religion of "peace forward at least 1400 years.

Or become atheists.

After all there is no god.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The changing face of British politics

Since the Blair years British politics has frankly been quite boring. Men (and a few women) in grey suits all competing for what they see as the "centre ground" leading to almost indistinguishable policies and faces on our TV screens. 

Then came the expenses scandal. No party was exempt from criticism and the number of MPs and Peers of the realm caught with their hands in the national till was legion.

Duck ponds, moat cleaning, you name it our politicians claimed for it whilst at the same time telling the rest of us to grin and bear the cuts forced on the country by an international banking crisis.

We certainly don't appear to have all been in it together as Cameron tried to persuade us.

The MPs now have a 10% pay rise and some of them don't think it's enough. Greedy bastards!

As a result politicians have never been held in such low esteem by the public.

They've started looking elsewhere.

And that could cause a problem.

Nationalism has reared it's head in two forms. First UKIP have been gaining ground under the oafish Nigel Farage who seems to never be far away from a pint, something many voters, particularly men seem to relate to prattling on about bar level politics. 

"If only we weren't in Europe". "Those bloody foreigners taking our jobs" 

You know the sort. These types who prop the bar up all night sorting out the worlds problems whilst imbibing an ale or tow (or three or...)

Then there's the rise of Scottish Nationalism and the SNP.

"If not for the English." "It's our oil"

Propped up in bars themselves across the hostelries north of Hadrian's Wall. "Another pint of heavy pal" did I hear some say?

UKIP have won their first parliamentary seat and are on course for their second in the by-election due later this month whilst the SNP according to recent polls will win the bulk of seats in Scotland at the next general election.

Two conflicting nationalisms in one small island.

And what does the left have to say about this?

UKIP are "a bunch of racists", "fascists" whilst Scottish nationalism is somehow progressive.

Whatever happened to the description of the SNP as the "Tartan Tories"?

Meanwhile the bulk of the left outside the Labour Party continues to bleat on about "anti-imperialism".

"It's the fault of the Zionists". Supporting the Kurds is "Islamophobic". Holocaust memorial is too "euro-centric".

Fuck me can things get any worse?

Well yes.

Russell Brand the (quite unfunny) comedian has picked up a pen (when it should have been a bar of soap) and becomes a new apostle for something or another with a book that's probably going to make it to the new E-left book Club" run by...

George frigging Galloway of all people.

Not sure I'd actually describe him as being on the "left". Whenever I look at his laughably named Respect Party it reminds me of Mosley's New Party.

It's ultra-conservative amongst some sections of the Muslim "community" led by errant lefties from a variety of backgrounds with a focus on the "anti-Zionist" cause is certainly disturbing.

But then I'm not that left wing. If at all most of the time.

The next general election will be worth staying up all night to watch though.

Hope Galloway loses, can't stand the man.

What emerges from it is impossible to predict. seven months or so is a long time.

I'll be voting Labour, but Mr Miliband needs to pull his bleeding finger

The Tories, the Nationalists, the "anti-imperialist left" and others of their ilk are tearing this country apart.

We need a change, but the future looks far from being bright at all.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Significant minority of Anglican clergy favour disestablishment

Cross-post from the National Secular Society

Significant minority of Anglican clergy favour disestablishment

A new YouGov poll conducted among Anglican clergy shows a significant minority of them would support separating the Church from the state. An even larger minority supported the idea of the Church "partially separating", while retaining the most valuable privileges.

The poll - conducted for the Religion and Society programme at Lancaster University - showed that overall one in seven clerics would support full disestablishment of the Church of England and three in 10 said it should retain only "some aspects" of its current status with formal ties to the state.

Fifty-four per cent of those polled said the Church of England should "retain its current established status", which includes having the Queen as head of the institution and 26 bishops in the House of Lords.

The research also showed that just over half of serving Anglican clergy subscribe to the idea that Christians are being 'discriminated against' by being required to abide by the equality laws.

The research also shows significant support for the idea of the Church of England separating from the worldwide Anglican Communion over differences of approach to issues such as homosexuality and biblical interpretation. There is even some support for the Church of England itself splitting down liberal and conservative lines.

Prof Linda Woodhead, director of the Religion and Society programme, said that the research indicated that that many in the church want to "pick and choose" what elements of establishment are retained.

"They like some parts, they like the privileges it gives, the status and voice in society – including literally in Parliament," Ms Woodhead told the Daily Telegraph. "But you can see from the question about persecution, the feeling that Christians are being discriminated against by the Government, that they are also very suspicious of government."

She went on: "I think Anglicans want to have their cake and eat it – to be 'prophetic', as they would say, while still being part of the establishment. Non-Anglican Christians would say that that is just not on. They are effectively saying 'we want to represent the whole of England but we don't want to be subject to the law'. That is very difficult for a state church to do. If you are a state church, many would say you should more closely articulate the democratic view."

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: "What is most obvious from this research is that many Anglican clergy have come to the conclusion that the established status of the Church is unsustainable. Some have reached that conclusion because they see the injustice of one small Christian denomination having such disproportionate privilege, others think they would have a better chance to revive the Church if it were free from its ties to the state."

Mr Sanderson said that there was a sustained campaign among many sections of Christianity to promote the idea that 'people of faith' are disadvantaged by the equality laws.

"The mythology of Christian persecution under the equality laws is deeply embedded, even though it has no grounding in reality. We can see many initiatives at present – including the Woolf Commission - which are seeking to convince the Government that changes are needed in the law to accommodate religious prejudice. Indeed, Lancaster University itself is funding another such initiative."

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sussex University reject ban on SWP

The Socialist Workers Party whose recent Internal Discussion Bulletin emphasised the "importance of working with students" faced a motion to ban them from Sussex University Student Union at an Emergency meeting called on Friday following the collection of 150 signatures.

The motion read:

The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) have had numerous allegations raised that they have a systematic problem of rape, rape cover-up, and rape apologism in their party.

The Students’ Union Believes

1. The Union should take a stand against organisations that make women and survivors feel unsafe on campus.
2. The 'Socialist Worker’, the official newspaper of the SWP, should not be sold on campus, as its content is highly troubling and upsetting to women.

The Students’ Union Resolves

1. To remove any student organisation from the Union that fails to adhere to our Zero Tolerance Policy.
2. To not support the SWP and SWSS (Socialist Workers’ Student Society) and all officially affiliated organisations, through use of any union resources, included, but not limited to stands, printing, room booking services, or union rooms.
3. To refuse to stamp/authorise/print any SWSS posters, and to remove from the Union any such posters.
4. To strongly discourage SWSS and the SWP from holding events at Sussex, and discourage the advertising of any events on or off campus.

It should be made clear that this decision has been made as they make people feel exceptionally unsafe.

The motion was rejected 44 in favour, 141 against with 35 abstentions.

A victory for free speech and democracy but a clear warning to the SWP that their days of recruiting students (and anybody else) to their cult is going to be difficult, if not impossible. 

The remaining members of the Professors "Lynch Mob" are either at or heading to pension age which should see their demise in due course.

The sooner the better methinks.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Unite the union backs the Kurds

The largest British trade union has issued a statement backing the struggle of the Kurds in Kobane. This is a welcome development on a day which will see international solidarity with the Kurds world-wide.

I call on my own trade union, the PCS to issue a similar statement.Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 20.36.44

Hat-tip Andrew Coates