30 October 2009

UK Supreme Court to rule on whether a child is Jewish

We have reached a pretty pass indeed when after more than a decade of New Labour government the Supreme Court of the UK is asked to define whether a child is Jewish or not.

That British education operates on principles of religious Apartheid is offensive enough, but that such schooling is funded by the tax payer is outrageous. All schools assisted with state money should be fully secular; and private schools ought not to be allowed to discriminate on grounds of race or religion. The fact that New Labour shuns and rejects those principles shows its fall from being any kind of progressive party in British politics.

Blair’s hopes for EU Presidency fade

The fact that Blair’s hopes of assuming the role of European President are fast fading is wonderful news.

Despite Blair’s love affair with the rich and powerful and his conversion to Catholicism, the centre-right governments in France and Germany cannot stomach this delusional politician, who would use the office of EU President to promote his own pious ego and sell the Union out at every opportunity to the US.

As Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's social democrat foreign minister, said: “There is and will remain a link for the next generation between Iraq, Bush and Tony Blair."

27 October 2009

Oppose Blair for EU President

In the Guardian (27 October 2009)George Monbiot argued that he is supporting Blair for the EU presidency for tactical reasons.I disagree with him.

I agree completely that Tony Blair should spend the rest of his days in jail for his crimes, but I disagree with supporting his presidency of the EU.

Such Machiavellian strategies always backfire. The campaign to stop a Blair presidency is already part of the indictment against the man; so why is it sensible to abandon that campaign? How many ordinary people would misunderstand what progressive people were doing?

Also the EU does matter. To disregard and subordinate EU politics to a plan to embarrass Blair is wrong. Additionally, there is a fear that the slippery eel that Blair is could re-invent himself in the presidency with the result that public focus on Iraq would recede. Who remembers today that it was Winston Churchill who sent in tanks against striking workers in 1926?

26 October 2009

2010 Tweedle Dum replacing Tweedle Dee

The Tory assumption of office in 2010 will be the replacement of Tweedle Dee by Tweedle Dum. Sure each party has its entourage of yes-people; New Labour cosmopolitan yuppies will be replaced by the offspring of landed families supplemented by a few Tebbit-like second hand car dealers.

Yet on the key issues of upholding the undemocratic authoritarian state, maintaining the vast levels of social inequality that characterise Britain and backing US-style capitalism, both the Tories and New Labour are one.

24 October 2009

The BNP, Television & Democracy

The issue is not whether Nick Griffin’s appearance on question time wins the BNP more recruits or not. The key point is whether Britain is a democracy.

British people have a right to hear the representatives and spokespeople from political parties which win election mandates and/or have a significant following. It cannot be for the BBC (and it would be wrong for Parliament) to impose censorship.

The real horror is that in New Labour’s Britain, fascists can win 6% of the vote and two Euro seats, not that such relative success gives the BNP a right to be heard on Question Time.

21 October 2009

Nuclear Power, Policing and Civil Liberties

The British private nuclear industry funds (GBP 57m in 2009) the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, whose armed officers have powers over and above those of regular police officers. As the Guardian reports 21 October 2009:

The force is authorised to send informers to infiltrate organisations and to conduct undercover surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). It is also permitted to obtain communications data such as phone numbers and email addresses…

The force keeps secret the extent of its clandestine surveillance operations on protesters and others. It has been collecting more intelligence in recent years…

Since 2007, the CNC has also been headed by an ex-intelligence official, rather than a police officer. Richard Thompson is reported to have been a senior officer in MI6…

Obviously, the very existence of nuclear power in Britain leads to conspiracy against the British people and a diminution of their civil liberties.

20 October 2009

Chirs Huhne on Griffin

Chris Huhne really can’t have it both ways. The BBC inviting the fascist Griffin, you say, is to the advantage of the BNP because it facilitates the normalisation of the party in British politics. On the other had you claim that to exclude him would play into his “us against the establishment” pose.

The truth is that you, like everybody else, don’t know whether Griffin’s appearance on Thursday’s Question Time will boost or hinder the growth of fascism in Britain.

But the key point is another one. As an elected politician, however vile his ideas may be, Griffin has a right in a democracy to be heard on the BBC. That’s all you need to say to defend liberalism.

Radicalisation and Extremism; the basis for police action?

My problem here arises out of the misuse of language which then legitimises illiberal policing in Britain. In the minds of many I hold radical and extreme views because I dislike all religion and believe that the state should be fully secular. But such views don’t yet make me a criminal in New Labour Britain.

Radicalisation (meaning going to root of one’s belief system) is not something that is necessarily either wrong or illegal. I would describe myself for instance as being of the radical left. In the same way, it is possible to hold extreme views and even act in an extreme way without breaking any law, let alone engaging in terrorist acts.

The police should be concerned only with only one thing: behaviour which is illegal. Making people who hold radical or extreme views per se objects of police surveillance and control is simply wrong.

19 October 2009

No to Blair as EU President

The last thing the EU needs is a disreputable indidividual like Blair as its first president.

Blair has blood on his hands from wars in which he involved Britain on wholly false grounds. It would also seem that he was complicit in torture and he cares nothing for human rights or civil liberties. He also appears to be delusional, amassing fortunes by prostituting himself to international banks, while preaching his newly-found Catholic moralism.

The man makes honest people sick.

Nuclear issues require referenda in Britain

There are two issues on which Britain should hold referenda. The first is whether Britain should have new nuclear power stations; the second is whether the country should replace the nuclear weapon system Trident.

On both issues I would campaign for a clear NO.

16 October 2009

The UK Border Agency

The innocuous-sounding UK Border Agency seems to have become in several respects a police service something akin to a combination of the Staatssicherheitsdienst (Stasi) and the Grenzpolizei (Grepo) of the former GDR.

Formally one used one’s passport to show on entry to the UK that one had a right to be in the country, and on exist to prove that you had a valid passport because you would be wasting everybody’s time if you didn’t have one. Today the philosophy is entirely different: you are entered on a data base on entry and exit, detailing who you are along with the time, date, place of travel plus any other information elicited from you.

BNP to drop racist membership rules

Of course I support the requirement that the BNP membership policies conform to race discrimination laws.

Yet it is also true that however much Griffin may huff and puff, I am sure he appreciates the help that Human Rights Commission is giving him in moving his party away from an indefensible racism. Instead, the party can, if it so wishes, claim to be defending so-called British and Christian values, with racism as an undertone and not an up-front embarrassment.

That would all allow the BNP to resemble something like the Austrian Freedom Party, i.e. a pollution on the far right of politics, but not falling off the edge. In many ways this kind of politics, particularly if linked up with UKIP, would be a dangerous development in Britain.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority to register all voluntary workers

I find the argument somewhat implausible, though, that New Labour had good intentions, but simply didn’t think through the consequences of their own actions.

Two features of New Labour thinking are clearly embedded in these regulations. First, the policy of spin; i.e. the need to be seen to doing something to appease society in the short term rather than actually achieving practical outcomes for the long term. Second, we can see their policy of bureaucratic control; i.e. the desire to have the whole population under surveillance and on data bases.

Where New Labour probably miscalculated was in underestimating the degree of common sense opposition from ordinary people who have their private community life damaged by this kind of legislation.

14 October 2009

Welsh Labour should declare its independence

The first move for any successful leader of the Labour Party in Wales should be to declare independence from New Labour in London.

Blair and Brown killed all that was good in the British Labour Party by abandoning social democracy in favour of market fundamentalism, mass social inequality, war-mongering and an attack on personal and civil liberties. The British electorate has the cane raised and it will inflict a devastating and painful blow on New Labour next year. Welsh Labour, never at the heart of London’s New Labour project, needs to be elsewhere, if it can.

Labour in Wales must chart its own path and to do so successfully it needs to disown New Labour completely. Only an independent Welsh Labour Party can do that.

The INLA rejecting violence has nothing to do with Marxism

The decision of the INLA to pursue it objectives without armed struggle is of course welcome. But to describe this event as representing the decommissioning of Marxism, as the Guardian Jason Walsh did today, is absurd.

Karl Marx (1818-83) never considered armed struggle in Ireland for the twenty-first century. What he did write about in his masterpiece Das Kapital were concepts and models to understand the political economy of capitalism; these theoretical tools are still useful today for analysing society.

The value, or otherwise, of Marx and Marxism is not affected by the actions of INLA in Ireland.

13 October 2009

Klaus: sign or resign

Vaclav Klaus is entitled to his personal views on the Lisbon Treaty, but he is not entitled to lead the Czech Republic a dance.

The Czech Republic does not have presidential system, but is a parliamentary democracy. The parliament of the Republic has decided to endorse the Lisbon Treaty and it is merely the duty of the President to sign a treaty which has been lawfully approved in the country.

If Klaus feels so strongly about the issue, he should resign the presidency, not play rogue elephant and embarrass the Czech government, parliament and people. And – if he persists in his obstinacy – cause the constitutional crisis which would ensue from his removal or his being by-passed.

Conservative tie themselves in their own knot over Europe

However much one dislikes the Conservative Party, nobody is seriously suggesting - as some commentators here appear to misunderstand - that Cameron, Hague et al are themselves fascists.

What has happened is that the Tory leadership has made a terrible mistake which many among the Tories already realise. In his attempt to satisfy Tory Euro-sceptics, Cameron took his delegation of Conservative MEPs in Brussels out of the centre-right EPP group and instead formed a parliamentary fraction with right-wing parties which include fascist MEPs from Eastern Europe.

It is no small matter that the MEPs of the party which will probably form the next British government are of their own free will part of a political fraction in Brussels which contains fascists. This point needs to be made again and again until the Tories (or the fascists) leave that grouping.

If Cameron wants to land on planet Earth with regard to the EU he needs to do two things:

First, leave the so-called Conservative and Reform fraction in the European Parliament which contains fascists.

Second, recognise that the EU is a reality (and largely a beneficial one) and work out how best to purse British interests inside that body.

12 October 2009

Sir Hugh Orde on the British policing of protest

The UK police service has a long and proud history of upholding the right to lawful protest

This is far from true.

On 1st April 2009 the police in London mounted a full-scale attack on the freedom to demonstrate. Peaceful and defenceless protesters were herded into street concentration pens, held for hours against their will, beaten with riot equipment and had dogs set upon them.

The police acted with impunity, removing en masse their service numbers in order to beat, punch and otherwise assault the general public.

None of this happened because of bad apples in the barrel, but as a result of a police management that couldn’t give a damn about civil liberties, human or political rights.

No to more public debt

We don’t want higher levels of public debt and we don’t want a fall in aggregate demand.

The only solution is a hard pill to swallow and is certainly not on offer from New Labour, let alone the Tories: i.e. an increase in government expenditure on capital projects funded by tax increases, not borrowing. Such an expansion in public investment would help cut unemployment while the high rates of tax on income, land, capital, inheritance, etc would help bring about greater social equality in Britain.

Cameron is no solution to New Labour's faults

Let as look for a second at the faults of New Labour.

Producing the highest level of social inequality in Britain since 1945.

Privatising, linked to hidden public borrowing, through PPP schemes in the public sector.

Running an economy based on massive credit expansion which led to the near collapse of the whole financial sector

Diminishing civil and personal liberties through the creation of a bureaucratic surveillance state.

Brown-nosing to the US and involvement in its imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Now which of these faults are Cameron and his Tories going reverse?

The unnecessary arrest of Damian Green

Again we see evidence of the abuse by New Labour of national security and the terrorist threat. The leaked documents were merely embarrassing in showing the incompetence of the Home Office.

The question remains why it was necessary to arrest Green and imprison him for several hours, when the police had every opportunity to question him in freedom about the matter. (Compare the questioning of Tony Blair)

The violation by the police of a parliamentarian’s office in the House of Commons was utterly unacceptable.

One has the feeling that New Labour tried to change the rules of the political game by backing the police on this matter. Their hope was to limit the field of activity for opposition politicians. Fortunately for the sake of democracy they failed.

7 October 2009

Tories link up with Euopean fascists

The fact that the Tories share a European grouping with East European fascists does matter. It means that in European politics Cameron and Hague feel nearer to these people than they do to the European Christian Democrats of the centre right.

In some aspects this development is more disturbing than the growth of BNP in Britain, for while Griffin and his BNP are likely to remain on the margins of British politics, Cameron is set to become Prime Minister in 2010.

The Tories are not afraid to stand alone on Europe. If they got the chance they would not ratify the Lisbon treaty, leaving Britain out on a limb. Yet such loneliness was not for them in the European Parliament; they joined forces with East European fascists to form parliamentary group. Their association with fascism is an alliance of choice, and the Tories deserve to be attacked for it.

2 October 2009

The survival of New Labour

The coalition of Middle England and working class voters which brought Blair victory in 1997 has fallen apart. Middle England has Cameron; and working people see nothing for them in New Labour.

In the industrial towns of the north and much of the inner city Labour is likely to be the leading party and will, with the help of first part the post, be assured of a certain quota of seats.

If Labour were challenged on the left, such as SDP in Germany is confronted by Die Linke, then the story would be different, but sadly there is no serious Left Party in Britain.

The photomontage of Brooke Shields

There seem to me two be two issues tied up here.

The first is whether Brooke Shields has a right to have a sexually explicit image taken of her when she was ten removed from public display. I would support her right to have the image restricted, but I believe that issue has to be determined in the US. American courts have already decided against her.

That leaves the second issue whether this photomontage should be banned from the Tate Modern. I think not. The image is already publicly available, and people should be able to make their own judgment about it, morally and artistically.

What to me is the most unacceptable is to have police arriving at art galleries and threatening the promoters of art exhibitions. The police should either get a court order against an art exhibit or keep out of it.