Thursday, 19 December 2019

Statement on the closure of The Independent Group for Change













During the internal crisis inside the Labour Party a group of MPs broke from Labour and formed Change UK. As someone alienated from the Labour Party by the very people I had spent two decades fighting in the trade unions I was one of the first to declare support for this initiative.

Sadly from the beginning there were problems in that no attempt was made to actually create a constituency based organisation and the MP's ran it from the centre until after constant intervention by Liberal Democrat activists (which one former member who joined TiG told us was a deliberate plot to destroy a potential rival) poached not just MPs but activists and members.

The Liberal-Democrats cannot and should not be trusted.

As a result there was only a rump organisation around three MPs, Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes three thoroughly decent individuals who I wish well for the future.

I have removed all links on this Blog to the groups websites and also that to the Renew Party with whom there was at least some healthy co-operation but are themselves a political dead-end.

A large number of people in and around the group are returning to the Labour Party. I wish them well in their endeavours but have decided to revert back to being an independent activist.

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Statement of the TIG for Change Management Council

As you know the Management Council convened today and we unanimously agreed to begin the process of closing down The Independent Group for Change. As you know more than anyone, we came together to form our party in response to the broken state of British politics. Last February, in order to do something about this, The Independent Group was formed.

From the outset we hoped more Labour and Conservative MPs would share our courage and leave their respective political parties. Sadly this was not to be. After the EU Elections our fortunes were further depleted when some of our original MPs decided on a different route. From that point onwards, it became harder for us to cut through as a distinctive political force in our own right - but we nevertheless believed it was important for us to have the courage of our convictions and to stand in the General Election so that our constituents would have a full choice.

Whilst there is clearly a need for massive change in British politics, now that we no longer have voices within Parliament, a longer term realignment will have to take place in a different way.

Honesty and realism are at the core of our values, and we therefore must recognise that the political uncertainty of recent months has now given way to a settled pattern in Parliament for the next five years. So this is the right time for us to take stock.

Our values and principles remain the same and they remain as essential as ever - but we need to be honest about what’s happened. We have no regrets about standing up and speaking truth to power when the country needed it. It was always better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.

But I want to be very clear about what we did achieve. My former Labour colleagues shone a spotlight on the state of the Labour Party, exposing how it had moved to the hard left and was tolerating anti-semitism. I do not doubt Labour shifted its position to a confirmatory second referendum because of the courageous move made by Chris, Mike, Ann, Joan and others. We called out the dangers of the Conservative Party's no-deal Brexit and identified the drift in the party further to the nationalist right wing.

But as I say, we need to be realistic and therefore we have agreed to start the process of winding up the party. We have ended your monthly subscription and are beginning the process of closing down our office and organisation. We will contact the Electoral Commission to de-register as a political party.

We remain hopeful and positive about the case for a future realignment in British politics and would urge you to continue to be active in advocating our values for the longer term.

In the meantime I want to thank my dear friends and colleagues Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Joan Ryan and Ann Coffey for their wisdom, advice and courage.

Thank you to everyone who stood in the EU Elections and everyone who worked on the campaign. Thank you to those of you who helped in the recent General Election campaign and who have been active in forming local groups.

And finally a thank you to Sian and Sophie and the many others who were there from the beginning for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

With all good wishes,

Anna

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Labour needs a good look at itself

Guest Post by Caroline Watson


























Like many others, including such as Alan Johnson, I believe that the election results show that the cult that currently holds the Labour Party in its grip has been well and truly rejected by traditional Labour voters, particularly in the North and Midlands.

I think that isn’t because of Brexit, but that it was happening before Brexit, which is why people voted for it. I also think that to write off Brexit voters as racists is simplistic; one of the reasons why people in the former coalfields voted for it was because of the EU’s green agenda, which they see as having no concern for their jobs and communities. In Bassetlaw, which returned a Tory with a 14,000 majority, a coal fired power station had closed only weeks earlier.

I agree with Alan Johnson, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and others that the only way that Labour can save itself is to ditch the Corbyn cult once and for all, along with Momentum, the middle class social justice warriors and identity politics, and go back to being a party of the working class, led and run by the working class. That is what Labour was set up to be and this devastating loss is because it has moved away from its roots in Northern and Midlands towns. It is the Labour Party. The clue’s in the name. It must stop patronising working people and telling them what to think.

What I don’t understand, is why so many people, who apparently want a Labour government, disagree with me. Thursday proved that the current model hasn’t worked. Why do people think more of the same will be different another time?

Perhaps they think that working class people are too stupid to make their own decisions and need to be lectured like children until they believe that men can become women and and all the other ‘woke’ rubbish? That the Labour Party needs them to put the working class right? That, rather than being a vehicle by which the working class can represent itself, and make sure that its members earn enough not to be poor, and not to need benefits or food banks, it should be a means of keeping them helpless and dependent; grateful to the lady bountifuls with PhDs and stoned-sounding Momentum voices who intone mawkishly about ‘the poor and the needy’ and make ‘art installations’ about poverty?

Or, perhaps they think that, if the Labour Party reverts to being led and run by the people by and for whom it was originally created, middle class lefties will no longer have a political home, because the views and policies developed by working class people won’t fit with theirs.

Well, do you know what? They don’t have to. That is the point. That’s why the Labour Party exists. It’s not for the middle class. Perhaps it wouldn’t be for me and I would choose not to vote for it. We all have that right. But I think middle class people who think that the Labour Party shouldn’t change because they might not like it anymore need to have a bloody good look at themselves and wonder why they have ever supported it!

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Human Rights Day: Defend Free Speech!











Today is Human Rights Day and as a contribution to raising the issue as we head towrds the General Election it is necessary to remind people that all our rights depend on Free Speech.

There can be no Human Rights without Free Speech!


And yet everywhere there is a growing tendency towards censorship which began in of all places out universities which should be the centre of of developing and discussing ideas both past and present for the future. These are after all our centres of learning.

The Times reported

Academics accused a leading gay rights charity of suppressing academic freedom by encouraging a “censorious” approach to gender identity.

In a letter to The Times more than 20 professors, researchers and lecturers say that many British universities have adopted policies on transgender issues from a template drawn up by Stonewall that does not allow criticism from academics who take a different view.

The stance goes well beyond legal requirements of equality law but academics who question Stonewall’s position risk harassment and complaints from students or colleagues, they say.

Signatories of the letter co-ordinated by Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at Sussex University, include Simon Fanshawe, former chairman of Sussex University council and one of the founders of LGB Alliance, which in October broke away from Stonewall over its approach to transgender issues.


The letter was written in support of Rachel Ara, an artist who is crowdfunding a legal case against Oxford Brookes University for its last-minute cancellation of tutorials and a lecture she was due to give last month. The artist, who is gay and draws a distinction between biological sex and gender identity, said the university’s LGBTQ+ society wrote to the vice-chancellor criticising her invitation. The university said at the time that correct procedures had not been followed.


The LGB Alliance have written a letter to the Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in support of artist Rachel Ara:

Dear Vice Chancellor

Misrepresentation of LGB Alliance and banning Rachel Ara

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the founders of the new LGB Alliance.

It is concerning that the LGBTQ+ society at Oxford Brookes is reported to have described our organisation as being “openly transphobic” and “seeking to isolate trans people within the LGBTQ+ movement”.

As a result of her apparent support for the LGB Alliance, an event featuring artist Rachel Ara to be held on 19th November was cancelled. The LGBTQ+ society sent a letter to Anne-Marie Kilday - condemning the invitation - which it seems the Pro Vice Chancellor then withdrew.

We imagine the news that an artist was banned from speaking at Oxford Brookes sends shudders down your spine. Are Universities not the perfect place for informed dialogue and respectful free speech? And would it not be reasonable to expect an institution like Oxford Brookes to find out whether LGB Alliance is “openly transphobic” before accepting that accusation from a student society?

The LGB Alliance held our inaugural meeting on 22 October with an invited audience of former employees and supporters of the lobby group Stonewall, doctors, psychiatrists, academics and lawyers with expertise in child safeguarding.

We expressed our intention to challenge the unscientific concept of gender identity, our commitment to supporting the rights of LGB people, our wish to stop untested hormone treatment and surgery on young people who do not easily fit into gender stereotypes (particularly girls) and our commitment to respectful free speech and informed dialogue. I wonder which of these was thought by your Pro Vice Chancellor to be transphobic. It may also be of interest that one of our speakers was a trans woman called Miranda Yardley and there were other trans people present whom we had invited to the meeting.

We attach a link to the article in the Sunday Times describing what happened in case you have not seen it.

It is the view of the LGB Alliance that, at minimum, you should issue an apology to us as a group and Rachel Ara as an individual. It is most unfortunate that your institution has rushed to judgement on something about which you appear to know very little.

Finally, may we say that we would be delighted to speak to you, your Pro VC or your LGBTQ+ group if you would be interested in really understanding what we are about.

Kind regards Kate Harris & Bev Jackson

Friday, 6 December 2019

A week through the radio.....







In this age of fake news and misinformation on the Internet I still choose The Times, Radio 4 and the World Service for my primary source of news. In fact since my enforced retirement I watch very little TV other than for DVDs preferring the radio for information and entertainment. I also tune into Radio 4 extra for old fashioned comedy and sometimes drama.

For music there's Planet Rock or radio Caroline depending on my mood.

As we enter the last week of one of the most divided and cantankerous general Elections I remember with so many people voting against the one they dislike rather than for their choice. Same for me. I am voting against Corbyn not that this will surprise my readers.

However at the beginning of the week I caught the tail end of a Radio 4 documentary about the millions of people who don't vote. There are so many and questions were asked bout whether voting should be compulsory or not. I believe people should use their vote but no one should be compelled to.

Thing is there are so many   who really do choose to say "None of the above" for a whole variety of reasons. A lot of those interviewed said their vote didn't make a difference. Many of these lived in "safe seats" where a donkey standing for the dominant local party would get elected.  I'm sure there are a few but I digress...

What really bothered me were those who said they didn't understand any of it. Some people take no notice of politics whatsoever. I was always shocked that one of my managers in the civil service admitted she never read a paper or watched the news. Strange especially in a public servants case. We had to always ensure impartiality which meant at least keeping a minimum eye on current affairs.

Then there was a programme about Lawrence of Arabia from the time when Britain was a, if not the major power in the world. It seems that our dramatising of the man was not shared by the Arabs. they mentioned him as a figure in their struggle but not to the extent that warranted a cinematic epic as much as I liked the film. Our imperial past still influences many in the background.

Today we were treated to a programme about the fall out between Hindu's and Sikhs in this Country following the Indian governments storming The Golden Temple in Amritsar held by Sikh militants. Three hundred people were killed. This was followed by Indira Ghandi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. Tragedy all round that reached our streets for a while.

The programme then turned to Ray Honeyford  a Head Teacher in a Bradford school who wrote about the problems of the failure of cultural integration. This led to protests outside his school by Sikhs. Something happening over LGB rights in Coventry today. My how times don't change just the groups that protest. This time it was local Muslims  prompted by extremists in their community.

Which brings me back to the coming election. With the possibility of large scale tactical voting the seeming collapse of the Brexit Party vote and many traditional Labour voters rejecting Corbyn the road ahead is set with difficulty. At least election night should prove interesting so plenty of strong coffee ladies and gents.

Return to you sofas for the election results!

In the meantime The Who's new album is released today. It's much more pleasant listening than yet another droning contest between Boris and Compo.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Demonstrate Against Anti-Semitism!





Together Against Antisemitism  

National Solidarity Rally

Parliament Square London SW1

Sunday 8th December 

13:15 to 14:30

 Sponsored by Campaign Against Anti-Semitism & Together Against Anti-Semitism

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Labour's dangerous manifesto reviewed

Guest Post by Armin Hartinger

This election so far has been unparalleled with hyperbole and vitriol and it seems a forlorn hope to try to make a difference with an article which is, if we're honest, alarmist.

But I shall do my utmost to articulate my points both comprehensively and concisely and hopefully adequately referenced.

Plenty has been written about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of Labour's many pledges for social reform. Also plenty has been written about the danger of putting a self-avowed Marxist chancellor in charge of a liberal market economy.

But not enough has been written about Momentum's Labour being a clear and present danger to our democracy. It certainly sounds brazenly alarmist, but ever since I've read the 2019 Labour manifesto in its entirety, have I felt compelled to try to articulate my concerns for I think they've not been given enough coverage in the media.

This is mostly based on the pledges in the Labour manifesto [1] itself, which I will reference by page and if it had been discussed in the press prior to the manifesto launch itself, also with a few links.

Let's start with some facts together with relatively fair but biased commentary.

Item 1 - The voting franchise

On page 82, it is pledged to give full voting rights to all non-citizen UK residents and lower it to 16. As the manifesto itself puts it, "largest extension of the franchise in generations". Now, the voting age has already been lowered to 16 in Scotland and full voting rights are already applicable to some Commonwealth citizens, but even discounting that, we are looking at expanding the electorate by around 8% in one go, to the tune of probably just shy of another 4M voters. With a demographic which I think is fair to say has a strong bias in favour of Labour. We all know how this plays out in those marginals under first-past-the-post.

The extension of the franchise to such a Labour-friendly demographic, while cheesy, isn't per se objectionable, even if I disagree with it, however the distinct lack of an intent to let the UK voting population decide on that themselves in a legally binding referendum absolutely is. To so radically dilute the voting franchise without a public vote on this is profoundly undemocratic.

Item 2 - Abolishing of the House of Lords

On page 81, Labour pledges to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a Senate of Nations and Regions.

Here again, that by itself is not objectionable per se, even if I disagree with this as well. What is concerning however is the desire to not merely reform the way new members are appointed, but to completely do away with it.

The appointed Lords are typically topic experts which are critical to perform expert reviews of proposed legislation while at the same time also more politically detached. Furthermore, in this constitutional monarchy without a constitution, many of those checks and balances which guarantee our rights and freedoms are entangled in arcane rules and roles in the Commons, and the Lords! There is also the question of the Supreme Court, which established in 2005, has taken over roles formerly in the Lords. How far this was successful has seemingly never been explored.

Allowing anyone to change the nature of the roles of the second chamber of parliament requires an extraordinary trust and faith in the competency and integrity of whoever is going to attempt it.

And again, no mention of allowing the population at large an actual say in the matter if they even want this. Via referendum or any other mechanism.

Item 3 -  A constitution for the UK

Also on page 81, Labour pledges to renew Parliament through a Constitutional Convention, led by a citizens' assembly and issuing recommendations.

There is no mention of how this convention will appoint its members and how much weight the recommendations will have and -again- if the people at any point will be polled if they want this constitution, or even this "renewal" process to begin with. Both items are of grave concern.

We should also note in this context the language in the manifesto "how a Labour government can best put power in the hands of the people", which clearly implies that the power isn't in the hands of the people already. That is noteworthy.

Item 4 - Brexit

On page 91, Labour pledge to negotiate their own Brexit deal with the EU scrap existing Brexit legislation and introduce their own "in line with Labour’s priorities" and to deliver a legally binding "final say" referendum. Outside of the manifesto, Corbyn has pledged a neutral stance on said referendum [2].

With this stance public, negotiations will be severely hampered. Which is noteworthy. It also must be said that even with a professedly neutral stance, any presentation of a deal after having invested time forging it and having brought it to signable state, carries an endorsement.

This is important for two reasons:

First, we should once and for all consider the Brexit stance of the Labour leadership to be pro-Brexit. The incentives of leaving the influence and/or control of the EU institutions are simply too powerful and this in my view explains this willingness to give away negotiating strength positions, for they simply pale in importance if one considers leaving the primary objective.

Second, at some point the last Labour Remain stalwarts will realise that they have been duped all along and this will cause an irreparable permanent rift within the party at which point Labour will break apart if not for extraordinary measures. But for now they are needed, so they are being nursed along. As this is a known likely outcome, it stands to reason that if given the choice between a liberal and an authoritarian path of transferring power "to the people", the latter will take precedence in the interest of the party being able to maintain power in the future.

Item 5 - Non-government seats of political power

Here it must be noted, that any new organisation, a fund, or a commission, or however you wish to call it, is subject to potentially being abusively stacked by yes-men and ideological cronies of those who created it. Something to keep in mind, not just for this election for it applies not just for when individuals are replaced in say in the US supreme court, but anywhere especially if an organisation is created or replaced wholesale. Such  unofficial political appointments are typically extremely hard to dislodge.

5.1 The Unions

On Page 62, Labour pledges to repeal anti-trade union legislation, including the Trade Union Act 2016. Note that the above not necessarily refers to the 2016 act alone. On page 62, this is called "Remove unnecessary restrictions on industrial action". Outside of the manifesto, it has been reported that Labour intends to bring back sympathetic strike action [3], including in support of workers abroad [4]. Who or what decides what "necessary" actually means, is anyones guess.

On page 14, trade unions are guaranteed to be a stakeholder in each of the Local Transformation Funds, which are going to be in charge of the distribution of billions of investment.

It's anyone's guess how much will remain of the requirement for secret and fair ballots prior to any strike action. Also what remains of the requirement of 50% of work force support prior to mandatory unionisation. In that context, as per page 17 it is required that all companies bidding for public contracts must recognise their trade unions. Aside from the aforementioned 50%, the voluntary recognition threshold is 10% currently. In effect that means that the mandatory recognition threshold goes down to 10% for any company bidding on public contracts, amounting to near-full unionisation of all industry and commerce.

5.2 Utilities

On page 7, Labour pledges to bring rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership.

5.3 Internet

Also on page 7, Labour pledges to deliver full-fibre broadband to everybody for free.

By pricing all private providers out of the market, that amounts to the creation of a state monopoly no different to the utilities above. Does it need to be pointed out, that whoever controls access to the Internet, controls the entire Internet experience and is capable of complete censorship to the users? A nation-wide firewall akin to what China has, would become a real possibility, if so desired.

5.4 Private Enterprise

On page 64, Labour will require "one-third of boards to be reserved for elected worker-directors". Please note that this is nowhere close to the German system of having separate consultation boards called a "Betriebsrat" which are ensuring worker representation in decision making.

On page 60, Labour pledges to create IOFs - Inclusive Ownership Funds which will own 10% of companies and pay out a dividend of up to £500 per worker the rest being distributed to a state-controlled fund.

This amounts to a part-confiscation of all private enterprise.

Please note that the manifesto does not mention a limit on the size of the companies to which IOFs will apply. It was reported previously to be limited to companies of 250 employees and above.

5.5 Education

Aside from scrapping SAT tests stage 1 and 2 (page 39) and replacing Ofsted (p40), Labour is to create a National Education Service (p37), abolish university tuition fees (p41) and intends to integrate all private schools (p40) into the NES.

As per page 41, "Labour will make lifelong learning a reality".

A lifelong state monopoly, with entrenched teachers unions, accountable to no one but the state, with all forms of schooling subject to state control.

5.6 Social Justice Commission

As per page 64, Labour will replace the Social Mobility Commission with a Social Justice Commission, based in the Treasury, with wide-ranging powers to hold us, and future governments, to account.

Yeah sure, I could possibly find no fault with a loosely worded commission which has wide-ranging powers to enforce the so clearly defined concept of social justice.

Did this come across as cynical? Sorry. Not sorry.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

Let's try to weave this all together into one cohesive narrative. You might have skipped to this section after losing patience with the all the stuff listed above. It's already been the shortened version. I understand and I'll try my best regardless.

More than any manifesto by any party or any individual I have ever read, the Labour Manifesto 2019 seems to be about a transfer of power and it makes no attempts to even hide it. Hiding in plain sight, as they say. In favour of socialist ideology and with an unparallelled capacity to be abused in bad faith. It is not a coincidence that people like Corbyn and McDonnell have in the past made their intention clear to transfer power "irreversibly" in a state populated with "cradle-to-grave" state services. This should send any committed democrat a shiver down their spine. In a liberal democracy, nothing should be irreversible and the state should have monopolies only when absolutely necessary.

I wrote at the beginning that Momentum Labour presents a clear and present danger to our democracy.

Now, let's be fair. Let's call this a worst-, or at least bad-case scenario, of a Labour leadership, which instead of a group of moderate social democrats primarily concerned with the preservation of our rights and essential freedoms, were a group of radical socialists primarily concerned with establishing a socialist republic perhaps even with "democratic" in its name but not in practise, like they all were.

Like many non-violent attempts in history at taking permanent control of a country, this is best achieved by subverting and changing existing institutions to preserve a veneer of legitimacy. It would do so first by shifting the voting demographic in its favour so should any plebiscites be necessary in the pursuit of the ideological goals, or if the implementation of irreversible change exceeds the length of one legislative period and more another contested general elections (or by-elections) must be fought, that these have a high degree of success.

This is achieved by extending the voting franchise to the young and to migrants (I forgot to mention right-to-work for refugees on arrival p71) and by buying the votes of the students by scrapping tuition fees. In my opinion, not by coincidence a portion of the demographic less familiar with the working and political life in the UK than the rest of the population.

It is those students, which can be mobilised as necessary, which are a seat if not primarily one of political power, but one of force (potentially disruptive) to be wielded.

More potentially disruptive force can be wielded through the power of unfettered unions, which together with sympathetic strikes and full unionisation of all utilities can hold the public to ransom for all sorts of ideologically-driven demands.

A state-controlled education monopoly ensures that the young are suitably educated to the expectations of the state alone.

Control of Internet access ensures that alternative ideological influence is being filtered out.

Having part-ownership and part-control of nearly all companies together with near-full unionisation ensures the compliance of private industry. If that influence then reaches as far as editorial control of the press is up to anyone's imagination.

And if all that were not enough, the lack for a requirement for a super-majority (as in other countries) to make constitutional level change through a new constitution, means that our future rights and freedoms are literally up to defined by the Labour leadership. For better or worse. At this point it should also repeated, that for none of these items a public mandate via a referendum is being sought.

But we are a country with a proud long-standing legal tradition, so any possible violation of property rights or personal freedoms would be subject to legal challenge at the Supreme Court (staffed by Lords - Lords, what Lords? Whoops!), which functioning might or might not be tied to the House of Lords (Abolished! Whoops!) or subject to interference by the EU commission in Brussels (Brexit whoops!) or the EU parliament in Strasbourg (Brexit whoops!) or legal challenge at the EU court in Kirchberg (Brexit wops!). We'd have to helplessly witness our rights and freedoms being redefined without us being able to do anything about it.

So the bottom line to all this boils down to this: We are expected to have faith into a Labour Party leadership lead by a lifelong radical socialist, who is surrounded by various "ex"-communists, flanked by a Marxist chancellor, to completely rework and redefine our democratic process and our democratic framework and that in the process of these they will act completely responsibly and neutrally and will not abuse the power thus granted to the to them -by virtue of winning the election alone- to their ideological benefit.

I find that notion to be completely ridiculous and I hope that I speak not just for me, but also for you by stating:

WE DO NOT WISH TO HAND RADICAL SOCIALISTS THIS KIND OF POWER. NOT NOW. NOT EVER.

-------------------------------

[1] https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Real-Change-Labour-Manifesto-2019.pdf
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/23/jeremy-corbyn-defends-his-pledge-to-stay-neutral-in-second-referendum
[3] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/john-mcdonnell-backs-workers-right-20935812
[4] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/08/john-mcdonnell-labour-will-let-workers-taking-sympathy-action-for-overseas-counterparts

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Corbyn is too much of a risk to our security












It's been a week since I last blogged and not entirely by design as this is the worst era of British politics like.. ever. As someone who until Corbyn had happily voted Labour or Liberal depending where I lived or what election was taking place the current options do not impress.

In fact what prompted me to return to the blog (I have been highly active on Facebook if you wish to join me over there, see sidebar for link) was the tragedy yesterday. Two innocent people stabbed to death by a religious Islamist terrorist in the name of his non-existent  deity. Those members of the public who tackled him deserve a medal.

Besides the shock of the attack it was the reaction of the left-wing tweeting community who appalled me. Hundreds of messages doing the rounds that this was  a "false flag" probably establishment or Mossad inspired attack to help the Tories. Even worse where the morons who complained about the police shooting the bastard despite the fact he had what appeared to be a suicide vest.

I was reminded of Corbyn's interview back in 2015. The  reported:

In an interview with the BBC, Corbyn was asked whether as prime minister he would be happy to order police or military to follow such a “shoot to kill” policy.

He said: 

“I’m not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general – I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons, where they can. There are various degrees of doing things as we know … but the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing. Surely you have to work to try and prevent these things happening, that’s got to be the priority.”

This caused a furore at the time and combined with his general desire to reduce the armed forces and his dithering over all security related issues on which he would seek a "collective decision" thereby wasting valuable response time and lacking leadership abilities he shows himself and his party unfit to be in power in this country under any circumstances.

Bugger Brexit or a second referendum this idiot and his supporters would leave us defenceless in the face of the enemy. 

That on top of the endemic anti-Semitism and now revealed in the tweets of the leftists combined with a political programme that would decimate the economy and seek state ownership of the Internet combined with new laws to control newspapers makes the prospect of a Labour Government a frightening prospect.

Whilst there remain some good people in the Labour Party it is far too risky to allow Corbyn and his unhinged followers to be elected. 

In these circumstances despite the many criticisms I may have of Boris it is clear that voters should follow the basic principle of ABC, that is Anyone but Corbyn on December 12th.

For only the second time in my life (the last being in 2017) I recommend that you vote for the candidates most likely to keep Labour out which will mean Conservative in most seats but also some Liberal-Democrats and hopefully the three Independent Group for Change MP's plus Frank Field who is running as an Independent.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Fringe 2019: Socialist Labour Party






















Most people who have any interest in left-wing or trade union politics will remember Arthur Scargill former President of the National Union of Mineworkers. During the great miners strike back in the eighties Scargill led his members into industrial action without a ballot thereby casing a division in the NUM and helping laying the foundations for a massive defeat not just for the union but the trade union movement in general.

The failure of the NUM was a watershed in British politics that cemented Thacher's government and began the wearing down of trade union power and influence to the almost negligible level it has today, though there are some exceptions to the rule.

This was also the period in which the left attempted to and failed to take control of the Labour Party. Militant, a parasitical Trotskyist organisation was purged and Labour entered years of opposition until the rise of Tony Blair.

In 1996 Arthur Scargiil split from the Labour Party and set up a new organisation known as the Socialist labour Party and at the beginning there were high hopes as various smaller groups and individuals joined up. However from the start the SLP was ruled by an Scargill with an iron fist and his Stalinist politics led him to purge not just the various Trot groups inside his party but anyone who dared oppose him.


Emblem of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist).svg


Scargill was aided in this by one Harpal Brar who himself split with the SLP in 2004 to form the ultra-Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) as Scargill refused to back North Korea.

The party failed in it's attempts to gain any traction electorally and there has always been some mystery about it's financing but this year the SLP is standing but one candidate in Hartlepool where it has a small group of ex-Labour councillors.

The SLP website can be found here: www.socialist-labour-party.org.uk

The CPGB (M-L) can be found here: thecommunists.org

Monday, 18 November 2019

Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Tom Baker)


























In trying to avoid the tedious pre-election prattle about Brexit I decided to go in for what turned out to be a major piece of escapism and ordered the boxed set of Tom Bakers Key To Time. This consists of no less than six stories over 26 stories which means it would have bee broadcast over six months. Being retired I got though it in just over a week including a few of the bonus features of which there are plenty.

This is Doctor Who as most people of my age remember it. Great acting and the need to suspend disbelief due to the low tech special effects, but it was a kids TV programme at the end of the day. I recall describing it to a media studies student ans classic British Pantomime with monsters thrown in!

I grew up having been lucky enough to see the very first episode of Doctor Who aged seven in 1963. My favourite Doctor was always Patrick Troughton with his companions Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Fraser Hines) but frankly they are all good and so were most of his companions over the years though Ace always irked me by referring to the Doctor as "professor". Still part of her particular charm I suppose.

This box set is actually quite inexpensive having set me back a little over £22 from Amazon and with the exception of the first story (after the introduction to the whole sequence) they are all solid Doctor Who yarns. The Ribos Operation could have been shorter in my opinion especially since it had just about the worst "monster" set I can think of.


Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet (Story 99, The Key to Time Series Part 2) (Special Edition) by BBC Home Entertainment by Pennant Roberts

However once you get past that the stories improve. Of course this adventure also introduces us to Romana (Mary Tamm) and Lalla Ward appears as a Princess in the final part, The Armageddon Factor as does another (not to be seen again) Time Lord. There's some classic if laughable moments in The Stones of Blood as huge stones chase the Doctor across the countryside and into space as for the giant squid Kroll, Like I said, pantomime with "monsters".

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (Story 100, The Key to Time Series Part 3) (Special Edition) by Tom Baker Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll (Story 102, The Key to Time Series Part 5) (Special Edition) by Tom Baker Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor (Story 103) (The Key to Time Series, Part 6) by Tom Baker


The new adventure of the Doctor from Christopher Ecclestone onwards are on a technical level so superior to these old ones but I think they will always have an appealing charm to those of us like Peter Pan refuse to grow up and hopefully generations to come.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins -Sparks 25th Anniversary Re-release


























In the seventies one oddball duo of American brothers Ron (keys) and Russell Mael (vocals) renamed  their band and came to fame as Sparks. The infamous Hitler moustache of Ron being a trade-mark of their early form of electronic pop in the age of Glam Rock.

One of Sparks more memorable hits was This town Ain't Big Enough For the Two of Us which reached no 2 in the British charts in 1974.

Sparks - TopPop 1974 04 (cropped).png
Photo: By AVRO  

Sparks went on to have a couple of other hits that year with Amateur Hour and Never Turn Your Back On  Mother Earth which reached numbers 7 and 13 respectively that yer. Despite releasing other singles they did not impact again in the charts until 1979 with a couple of sings which reached 14 and 10. They failed to chart again until the nineties when a trio of singles entered the top 40.

These were tracks from their 1994 album Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins which has it's 25th anniversary this year and has subsequently been re-released on CD and coloured vinyl. Not having heard this album before I chose the CD version and was pleasantly surprised at the music which is a mix of their original sound and humour with more than a little influence from the Petshop Boys.

The song titles Frankly Scarlett, I Don't Give A Damn and I Thought I told You To Wait In The Car give a flavour of the material. Here's a track from the album which as they used to say is well worth a spin!





Official website: allsparks.com

Video Channel: SparksOfficialVideo

Fringe 2019: The Animal Welfare Party

Animal Welfare Party


Unlike other most of the other fringe parties the Animal Rights Party has no illusions of grandeur. It simply exists to promote a cause and I noticed they were standing in my local constituency (Chelsea & Fulham). If it wasn't for the need to keep Corbyn out I would have lent them my vote to at least help save their deposit and help highlight their cause.

In their own words:

The Animal Welfare Party’s vision is of a fairer, more equitable and sustainable society for all.

AWP’s Key Policies for the 2019 General Election
  • Avert climate catastrophe, improve human health and save NHS funds by promoting healthy and sustainable plant-based diets
  • Re-direct farming subsidies from animal agriculture and fisheries into plant-based agriculture
  • Increase penalties for those convicted of animal abuse up to a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years
  • End the badger cull and strengthen the fox hunting ban
  • Strengthen companion animal welfare with an end to breed specific legislation, the sale of animals online and in retail stores and the exotic pet trade
  • Phase out farming practices and systems with poor welfare consequences for animals
  • Phase out animal experimentation with binding targets for reduction combined with proper funding & real support for alternatives
  • Introduce independently monitored CCTV for all slaughterhouses
  • End live animal export and all slaughter without prior stunning
  • Oppose hard Brexit. Support a second or ‘people’s’ referendum on the final exit deal

AWP’s 2019 General Election Manifesto will be released shortly.


The Animal Welfare Party are standing six candidates:

  • Professor Andrew Knight MANZCVS, DipECAWBM (AWSEL), DACAW, PhD, MRCVS, SFHEA is the AWP candidate for New Forest East in Hampshire
  • Vanessa Hudson, AWP Party Leader is the candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow in London
  • Jane Smith, AWP Deputy Leader is our candidate for Congleton in Cheshire
  • Sam Morland is the AWP candidate for Chelsea and Fulham in London
  • Angelika Cowell is the AWP candidate for Kingswood in Gloucestershire
  • Fahima (Femy) Amin is the AWP candidate for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner in London

Further info from their website: www.animalwelfareparty.org

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Fringe 2019: Socialist Equality Party













The Socialist Equality Party is one of the fragments of the old Workers Revolutionary Party whose origins and breakup was covered yesterday. (See post below)

The SEP (originally called the International Communist Party) consists of a group of individuals who sided with David North leader of the American section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) then called the Workers league who started questioning Healy's demands for money from their co-thinkers around the world.

The WRP had a large operation consisting of their own print shop which employed party members at lower rates than the printing unions would have tolerated. They published a daily newspaper had a fleet of lorries for delivery ran several bookshops plus a "College of Marxist Education" and supplied Healy with vehicles for his personal use.

The WRP was in trouble despite continually telling it's allies how well they were doing when in fact sales of The News Line were in sharp decline. Additionally North had the temerity to challenge Healy's dialectical materialist theories or gobbledygook as most all outside observers saw it. This along with the sex scandal prompted the Young Socialists around the Hyland family to break away.


























North managed to get all but the Greek and Spanish sections of the ICFI (all of one member in the latters case) on side and eventually all the groups changed their names to the Socialist Equality Party issuing similar manifestos in their respective countries.

Highly sectarian and aggressive the SEP is also standing candidates in the General Election. Their set of demands include that urgent matter for all of us:

★ No to austerity, militarism and war!
★ Free Julian Assange!
★ For class struggle and socialist internationalism!


Corbyn will not mobilise the working class against this threat or the war danger, but instead seeks to convince the ruling class he can be trusted. Asked by the Guardian if he was prepared for the “3 am call” warning that Britain is under imminent threat, he replied, “Of course: absolutely. You have to take decisions at times like that.”

Build the Socialist Equality Party!

Britain’s pseudo-left groups have once again loyally rallied to the Labour Party, insisting like the Socialist Workers Party that a vote for Corbyn “could change everything.” But four years of Corbyn’s leadership have proved that the Labour Party cannot be reformed, let alone British capitalism, by the installation of a nominal “left” leader whose real loyalty is to the Labour and trade union bureaucracy and British imperialism.

Election campaigns will be run in Bradford, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester and London. 

Socialist Equality Party: socialequality.org.uk

International Committee of the Fourth International: www.wsws.org

Friday, 15 November 2019

Fringe 2019: Workers Revolutionary Party






Not everyone on the far-left is happy to give the revisionist Jeremy Corbyn a free run in the General Election. Enter the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) a grand sounding name for what is just a tiny fragment of the old WRP that split asunder in 1985 after their founder/guru/leader was found to have have been sexually abusing or rather raping his female members. Young Socialists in particular were to his tastes.

Back in the seventies and early eighties the WRP was one of the four main far-left political parties outside the Labour and Communist Parties. It had originated out of the Revolutionary Communist Party (1944 version) which contained not just WRP founder Gerry Healy but also Ted Grant who went on to found Militant and Tony Cliff who formed the Socialist Workers Party. It was the only tie that most British Trotskyists were in one organisation.

Healy split and entered the Labour Party forming The Club and publishing Socialist Appeal which eventually transformed into The Newsletter in time for Hungary 1956 where it managed to attract many dissident members of the Communist Party not that it hung on to most for long due to it's hard line internal regime in which Healy could not be challenged.

Logo of the Fourth International

Cutting a long story short Healy went on to found the Socialist Labour League and published the first Trotskyist daily newspaper Workers Press as it transformed itself into the Workers Revolutionary Party. Healy attracted Vanessa and Corin Redgrave giving the WRP influence amongst a certain layer of luvvies and helped the group manage to organise some quite large rallies.

The Workers Press was closed down and a new colour daily newspaper (before the mainstream press it has to be noted) The News Line was published with as we now know money from various dodgy supposedly "anti-Imperialist" Middle Eastern regimes like Libya and Iraq but with help from the luvvies toured around the Gulf States fund raising.

Heavily supportive of the "anti-Zionist" movement and worked towards promoting not just the PLO but eventually ended up a friend of the Ayatollah. When the Iran Iraq war broke out The News Line published a statement calling on them to stand down and face the Zionist common enemy.

The News Line Logo

The News Line's photographers were used to to take pictures of Iraqi and other Middle Eastern dissidents which ended up being traded to the various despots. At least one walked out of the WRP at the time.

When the rape scandal broke out the WRP split with the Redgrave's backing Healy and for a while there were two WRPs and two editions of the News Line every day which we all joked was just to "double their circulation". However Healy eventually formed The Marxist Party which pandered to Gorbachev and the other WRP founded a weekly paper Workers Press but the group disintegrated as they all fell out.

Amongst the organisations that came out of the WRP were Socialist Fight led by Gerry Downing him of the car crash interview when interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC after he was kicked out the Labour Party and the Socialist Equality Party who followed David North of the American Workers League who managed to capture the majority of the WRP's tiny version of the Fourth International.

Then there was the small group around Sheila Torrance who continued with the WRP name and News Line franchise. It's not known how many members they have or how they manage to continue a daily paper! Yet they do and the WRP are running candidates in the General Election.

So far they have declared candidates in Bradford, Southall, Peckham and Kensington. A long way down from their 1979 heyday of 60 candidates which gave the country it's first Trotskyist party political broadcast.

Their votes will be derisory but I might pick up a copy of The News Line if I manage to bump into a paper seller. For old times sake. It was once an "essential read" for Trot spotters and inveterate sectarians.

You can find the WRP here: wrp.org.uk

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Fringe 2019: The Renew party






















This election already has attracted all sorts of odd and somewhat unprincipled or dubious alliances as the three main parties are joined by the Brexit Party and the SNP for a major clash over the future of the country. of course Brexit is the big issue though keeping Corbyn out is on a lot minds, mine especially.

Each time there is a General Election I try to look at the fringe party candidates, especially the left-wing and other oddities that pop up but this year the far left including the Communist Party is throwing it's weight behind Corbyn though there are exceptions as we shall see in due course, but first a more "mainstream fringe party" has come to attention. The Renew Party.

There has been much talk of the need for a new "centre party" and Renew was formed in the wake of the referendum to provide just that alternative. Currently led by former MEP Julie Girling it has yet to make any real impact on political affairs but not for the want of trying.

They have put much effort into building their organisation and have a highly proffesional website and social media presence along with well designed material. The Party Manifesto is comprehnsive and there is much to agree with Renew on. But...

Renew has  recently announced that it is "joining" the Remain Alliance but none of the other parties have given them a free run and just thanked Renew for withdrawing. Considering their votes would be derisory. Renew were unlikely to have had any real impact in these seats. Where they have contested elections Renew has only rallied a handful of votes.

Still every vote counts in what promises to be a close run thing as alliances change and party tribalism continues to break down.

The Unite to remain people thanked renew for their withdrawal in a letter from the unreliable Heidi Allen:









































Renew have now issued the following statement:

Putting country before party and pursuing a focused approach!

We are thrilled to announce that Renew will be running a focused, positive campaign in four highly varied constituencies in England and Scotland:


  • Hackney North and Stoke Newington
  • Edinburgh North and Leith
  • Bromley and Chislehurst
  • Sefton Central

Our other 47 candidates have agreed to stand aside. This was not an easy decision, by any means. We know that in each constituency, we have the people on the ground and the strength of message to make a real impact. We know that each of our dedicated and passionate candidates would make an excellent representative of their constituency.

But this election is about more than party politics. It is about the future of this country, and who in each seat has the ability to overcome the damaging path that we have been set on by the right wing of the Conservative party.

This decision will allow us to run a focused campaign in seats where we can have a real impact, get out on the streets and on doorsteps, and spread our positive and exciting vision for the UK.

Far from making an impact Renew will simply be another fringe party not noticed come election night.

But they won't be the only ones!
---------------------------------------



Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Demonstrate to defend equality not discrimination




PLEASE JOIN US AT COURT OF APPEAL,

Strand, Holborn, London WC2A 2LL

13/14 NOVEMBER


9:30AM


Southall Black Sisters (SBS) is intervening in an important case (Akhter v Khan) with far-reaching implications for minority women’s rights.

As part of the One Law for All campaign, we will be holding a protest outside the Court of Appeal to let the government and the public know that minority women will not tolerate being trapped in marital captivity and treated as subjects of their so called religious communities rather than as citizens with equal rights.

Background

On 31 July 2018, Mr Justice Williams, a family court judge decided that Ms Nasreen Akhter was entitled to a decree of nullity of marriage, following the break-up of her 18 year old marriage. She had had a nikkah ceremony resulting in a Muslim marriage contract between herself and her husband, Mr Mohammed Khan. The couple were widely recognised as married in Britain and the UAE (where they lived from 2005 to 2011) for tax and other purposes. Although Ms Akhter wanted a civil marriage and believed one would take place, it never happened because Ms Akhter’s husband refused to also have a civil marriage. When the marriage broke down, (it is suggested that he wanted to take another wife) he said that he owed his wife nothing because their relationship constituted a ‘non-marriage’.

In court, the judge concluded that in the interests of human rights and justice, the marriage should be recognised as ‘void’. He granted Ms Akhter a decree of nullity which allows her to claim the financial remedies such as maintenance to which she may be entitled to following the break- up of her marriage.

Surprisingly, the Attorney-General on behalf of the government has intervened in this case and will argue that Mr Justice Williams was wrong to recognise the marriage as ‘void’.

Our Intervention

SBS is intervening in this case because we are clear that if the appeal is successful, the consequences for minority, especially Muslim women, will be profoundly discriminatory. Christian women in a similar situation would be able to have their marriages declared ‘void’, and thus have access to financial remedies from the courts, but women who have married in another religious system, may not.

Pragna Patel of SBS says:

“If this appeal is upheld, it will force Muslim and other women to turn to Sharia ‘courts’ that already cause significant harm to women and children. If this appeal succeeds then the government will succeed in outsourcing justice to unaccountable and fundamentalist inspired community based systems of arbitration. This amounts to an endorsement of parallel legal systems and an abrogation of its own legal obligations to uphold principles of the rule of law. This is not about recognising religious marriages; it is about the state guaranteeing equality to all before the law."

Maryam Namazie of One Law for All says:

“Mr Justice Williams’ decision to consider a Sharia marriage a void marriage is an important one for women’s rights. It doesn’t recognise the Sharia marriage but by deeming it annulled, opens the way for Muslim women to secure financial remedies if they so choose where none would otherwise be available. Unsurprisingly, the Government has appealed this crucial decision. The Government is always perfectly happy to relegate minority women to kangaroo courts and faith-based parallel legal systems in order to appease fundamentalists and manage minority communities at the expense of women’s rights. If the appeal is upheld, it will further discrimination against minority women.”

Gita Sahgal of One Law for All says:

“The One Law for All campaign’s research has shown that the collapse of civil marriages in Muslim communities has been used to spread the influence of sharia ‘courts’. Women are trapped in a legal limbo unable to divorce, and unable to remarry. We believe all marriages must be registered; but we support this judgement which voids the Muslim marriage contract. The government, which has failed to act against sharia councils, is now threatening to send women back to them, by closing off this remedy.“

More Information: 

Don’t Lock Women Out of Justice: Equality Not Discrimination: https://onelawforall.org.uk/dont-lock-women-out-of-justice-equality-not-discrimination/

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Musical Interlude: Ozzy Osbourne, New Single!

Time for a new piece of music and hopefully the first from a new album from Ozzy Osbourne.



Ozzy Osbourne's website: www.ozzy.com

Friday, 8 November 2019

Another five bloody weeks....

Three smiling live-action villains next to electronic equipment

A few days ago a friend posted a message on Facebook that he would cease all political posts and discussion until after December 12th due to the election as he was fed up of it all. I responded by saying I knew how he felt but am unable to shut up!

Despite what you might see on social media or the press most ordinary folk are sick to death of Brexit even if they have an opinion and though the majority have an opinion and will probably vote the activists do get carried away with themselves in a torrent of self-righteousness no matter which side of the debate they are on.

The thought of six weeks of continuous campaigning is frightening or boring depending on ones point of view. The first leaflets have arrived through my letter box from the local Tory MP. The Lib Dem's are tweeting how much support they are picking up round here and although I voted for them in the local elections there's fat chance of that in the General Election.

Like my friend I had considered taking very much a backseat this time round as the tiny party to which I belong, Change UK defends it's last three seats, two retiring and the others having been poached by the Lib Dems. All are too far away for me to actively help, though door to door canvasing is sadly no longer possible due to my disabilities.

What happens to Change UK after the election remains an open question and I will decide a course of action then. Meanwhile I have to consider my options in this election both locally and nationally.

There have been so many interesting developments as Labour kicks out figures like Chis Williamson and Roger Godsoff both of whom have declared they will stand as Independent candidates in the election. Neither will win but could prevent Labour winning In Clacton the candidate has been withdrawn due to ant-Semitic comments including calling a Jewish person Shylock.

Three former Labour MP's including Ian Austin and Giselle Stuart have called for a vote for the Tories.  A former Militant/Socialist Party candidate in Pudsey, Leeds has been attracting negative attention whilst Kate Hoey has backed the Brexit Party.

It seems Labour has bad news every day not that the Tories haven't had their moments as on was found to be lying over a rape trial and the victim has quite rightly called for his removal as a candidate in Wales.

Which brings me to the Lib Dems who have made agreements with other Remainer parties to stand aside in some 60 seats. Besides the fact Wales voted to Leave as a whole it's also led to at least some Libe Dems standing as Independents and defying Swinson's edict.

Nigel Farage is targeting Labour seats but is happy to shaft Boris over his Brexit deal but already at least one Brexit candidate has quit over that notion. If people want Brexit then Boris is actually the one they should vote for. The Brexit Party remains a high fringe vote despite it's success in the European Elections. Even Farage chickened out of standing.

The Greens being both remainers and getting the backing of the Extinction Rebellion louts have risen in the polls but other than their current MP in Brighton are unlikely to progress much further.

The SNP and Plaid Cyrmu both think they will improve their respective positions by shafting both Boris and Corbyn in some seats and the Lib Dems appear to be having a bit of a surge and may do well, but Swinson will definitely not be prime Minister despite their hype.

With other local elections including Frank Fie;d standing as an Independent there could be some interesting results overnight come election day. I for one will be watching with renewed interest.

In the mean time there's another five bloody weeks of this.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Does PCS Need a Change of Direction?

















Guest Post by Andy Magee (PCS HMRC NI) (PC)

PCS has been around for a number of years. Often its General Secretary voices views on topical subjects of the day. Do such views represent the membership of PCS or are these the views of others? It’s a question I regularly ask myself and often when I look at the problems PCS members face I feel that these problems get lost in translation.

The role of PCS General Secretary is currently up for election. Balloting will commence shortly. Some may believe that the current incumbent is doing a fine job and will wholeheartedly support that candidate. Others like myself may see a change in this role leading to a change in the direction of PCS. I would like to see a change where the issues impacting members will be at the forefront of PCS as I believe often these issues get lost in the merry go round.

Important issues like pay, pay progression, pensions, jobs, job security, centralisation, compensation payments, work life balance and terms and conditions constantly circulate . However I feel that they never get the attention, focus and desire to make that difference that I and the other fee paying members deserve. Change for it's own sake is not the answer. However when things go off the boil or become stale is Change is refreshing.

Some may see little change or variety with the candidates standing for the role of PCS General Secretary. However I believe as voters and observers we must scrutinise what each candidate stands for and how this will impact on the direction of PCS. Will what they have to offer bring changes that you consider necessary? PCS cant be dead there are to many people that need it to work.

I will be casting my vote for a new candidate. Taking a gamble that the union can progress from what I consider is a position of no momentum to something that can shape PCS for the future. A change and future that I believe needs to start tomorrow.

------------------------------------------------

Balloting for the General Secretary Election runs from Thursday 7th November until Thursday 12th December

Use your vote for change.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Campaign to silence Jewish Voices on Twitter























Guest Post by Jeff Samuels


Last night I received notification from Twitter that after further consideration my account had been reinstated.

On the 31st August I logged in to find that my account had been locked. I was notified that 25 of my tweets had been held to be in violation of their rules on abusive conduct and harassment. I was required to serve a 14 day ban which would commence only once the offending tweets had been deleted.

Common to all 25 complaints was the account of Kerry Ann Mendoza, editor of the Canary, one of the leading pro Corbyn "news" outlets. She and I had clashed a few days prior, following which a concerted and coordinated campaign of mass reporting was initiated to silence me from combating antisemitism on Twitter.

Although entirely devoid of substance the sheer weight of numbers must have induced Twitter to be duped into acceding to the designs of anti-Semites against a jew trying to fight them.

I refused to comply and notified Twitter accordingly. I lodged an appeal but received no response. I followed up with a long email setting out the full context but again received no reply. The Board of Deputies kindly made an informal approach on my behalf which sadly bore no fruit. Twitter maintained that they had "made the right call".

I was urged by a number of people to comply with Twitter's requirements in order to get back into the fray as soon as possible where my voice was much needed and valued. Flattered as I was I declined. Expedient as such a course may have been it was to my mind misconceived. To do so would be to bend to the will of anti-Semites and they would never let me forget it. On principle I was not prepared to compromise. The only course was therefore to pursue Twitter myself for relief.

On a return to Manchester my friend and former instructing solicitor, the very able Daniel Berke, agreed to assist. Having been provided by Dave Rich of CST with the name of the CEO of the UK division of Twitter we decided to address all communications to him personally.

We drafted a Letter Before Action setting out my complaint together with my demands which, if not met would result in legal proceedings being initiated without further notice.

As the deadline approached I received the notification that they had reversed the suspension and reinstated the account forthwith. Importantly this included an acceptance that none of the 25 tweets in fact violated their rules. There would be no requirement to delete any of them nor to serve any ban.

My public thanks must go to Daniel Berke whose creative legal strategy so clearly unnerved Twitter as to engender a complete capitulation on their part.

It was his idea not to pursue the matter via the courts. Instead he argued that the effect of the suspension was to prevent a jew from using their service to combat antisemitism. This was discriminatory on religious grounds. The Human Rights Act he pointed out is applicable to private service providers as well as public bodies. Thus our complaint would be furthered by a reference to the EHRC on those grounds.

The point seems to have resonated with Twitter as evidenced by the volte face yesterday.

The important point is that too many Jews are being bullied off Twitter as a result of pile on's and mass reporting by antisemites who are abusing the rules and procedures against those whom the rules are designed to protect.

That intimidation must not be allowed to succeed. We must show the antisemitic bullies that we will not be cowed nor silenced neither shall we bend or buckle.

We will fight and we will win.

We are Jews. We are proud and we are strong.

As someone observed to me last night when welcoming me back, Twitter is the front line in the fight against antisemitism. It is a cesspool and thus unpleasant to wade through. It is, however, important. I urge friends to get on that forum and fight the fight, particularly now and over the next 6 weeks. My story shows that when we stand up to the anti-semites we will win.

They resorted to seeking to silence me only because they could not win the argument. They failed. Let's together make sure that they fail again on December 12th.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Thrillers for a chilly weekend

The Devotion Of Suspect X by [Higashino, Keigo]

As the weather changes and the raincoats and anoraks are taken off their respective pegs, the fires are lit or the cnetral heating is fired up the time to warm up and shelter begins again.  It's time to reach for the bookshelves and cosy up with some good thrillers.

Neither of my recent reads are new, the first having been found by chance in a pile of "recommended reads" in my local Waterstones. The Devotion Of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Abacus Paperback: £8.99) originally published in 2012 apparently and has been a big seller both in the authors home country of Japan and abroad. It's also been made into a cult movie.

This tale features a murder committed in self defence by an abused ex-wife and her young daughter when her appalling former husband comes calling after she's hidden away.  Yasuko knows not what to do when the quiet but infatuated teacher next door Ishigami comes to the rescue. He arranges to save the woman he loves from afar in a way that the police will never be able to trace back to her.

A genius he may be but he doesn't reckon with Detective Kusanagi's friendship with a former student peer of his another genius. This fascinating mystery weaves in ways the reader does not expect. A page turner indeed.



Next up is The Chalk Man, the first novel by C.J.Tudor (Penguin £8.99). I picked this fascinating little tome up after reading her latest novel and was impressed by ability to create a highly believable world full of characters so full of life and weave a mystery around the. It's no surprise the novel was a hit as a group of childhood friends find a body in the woods.

Skipping chapter by chapter from the present to the past the mystery evolves around the fate of a bully, car accidents the return of old friends and a forbidden friendship. Who was the dead girl and where is her head?

There's sub plots surrounding an abortion clinic, an anti-abortion vicar and a pregnant girl. There's poisoned dogs, missing bikes and much more as bullies prowl, friends fall out and parents fall out.

What or who is the Chalk Man?

And a little unexpected twist. Creepy.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

This is music for Halloween with Marilyn Manson

The things that go "bump in the night" are stirring preparing to wake for their annual feast of terror on the unwitting.

Witches brew and their familiars mewl.

So make sure you have your treats ready for the knock on the door or fear what tricks may haunt later tonight.

Meanwhile some music to get you in the mood! Take it away Marilyn


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

At last a General Election: The people yawn...


Joseph Ducreux (French) - Self-Portrait, Yawning - Google Art Project.jpg


The news that there is finally to be a General Election may have excited the politicians and their followers and given the keyboard warriors something to rant about  other than Brexit but the world around us remains unimpressed. Who cares anymore.

Do politicians think of anyone except themselves and who do we vote for? Boris may be bad but the alternative Corbyn? A leftover from the 19th Century let alone the seventies. Then there Jo Swinson if anyone on the street remembers her name. Nigel Farage probably has a higher profile but he's just a bar propping politician.

Will the election solve anything anyway? The polls suggest a large lead for Boris but they did the same for poor old Theresa May who blew an opportunity to rid the nation of old Compo Corbyn through sheer incompetence.

Then there's the Nationalists snapping at everyone's ankles demanding this or that. Not just the Scots the DUP want their pot of gold for every vote. There's more than a few independents in Parliament including a small group around Change UK or whatever they call themselves this week (and I'm a paid up member).

Voting in this election is not going to be straightforward. Most people are sick of the "B" word. I certainly and when meeting up with a group of people I hadn't seen for years we all agreed at the start that , the unmentionable was to be exactly that.

Relief all round.

Sky even has a news channel sans news about Brexit so sick of it people are, yet so many of the political establishment will be making promises around Europe. In or out just get it done. We've had a vote. You lost let's just go. We've become the laughing stock of the world with our failure to deal with this crisis. So much for "Great Britain".

The "Mother of Parliaments" is broken.

I blame all of them. 

The General Election will now start in earnest as the parties strt vying for your vote. It's going to be more wide open than people think because old party loyalties have started to meltdown. The nation is divided and polarised more than anytime since the Civil War.

Unless a new Oliver Cromwell rises from the fray then the slogan must revolve around a very basic ABC.

Anybody But Corbyn.

Nuff said?!!