PROFITING FROM THE POPPY – THE HYPOCRISY OF THE FAR RIGHT

This is from EDL News and I thought I’d repost it here. The far-right is using the Poppy Appeal in a shameless attempt to boost its credibility and its numbers.

This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is even more poignant this year as we mark the centenary of the “Great War”. The appeal was first launched to assist those returning from those brutal World War One battlefields and has remained to serve as a vital reminder of the sacrifices made. Crucially it raises funds to support wounded and disabled service men and women, bereaved families, young veterans adjusting to life back on Civvy Street and their elderly compatriots who may need assistance with age-related life issues.

The poppy is the powerful and evocative symbol that lies at the heart of the campaign. Witness the extraordinary – and extraordinarily moving – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

Quite rightly the Royal British Legion seeks to protect the integrity of the poppy because of what it stands for, its symbolism and importance as the visual identifier of its most important fundraising initiative. Sadly every year Britain’s far right denigrate the poppy and what it stands by appropriating it to promote their ugly and divisive politics, not least by spreading lies, through falsehoods, scare stories.

Each year they also seek to profit financially from the poppy, either individually or for their organisation. Take as an example an outfit called Patriot Wear UK, brainchild of David Roocroft, co-founder with wife Sara of the notorious foaming far right group, the British Patriots Society which was also linked to former Manchester-based EDL big cheese, Steve Simmons (to whom its original website domain is still registered). Patriot Wear was caught out this week ripping off the poppy and Lest We Forget, the line from Kipling’s Recessional poem which is so strongly associated with the appeal.

You can read the rest by clicking on this link.

3 Comments

Filed under Government & politics, Political parties

What’s Happening To Stand-up Comedy In Britain?

I’m one of the judges for the New Acts of The Year and we’re about half way through the contest. One thing that I and other judges have noticed is the general lack of political and philosophical engagement with the world among novice comedians. There are also a worrying number of acts who either have no material or have nothing interesting to say. Some have even ventured into misogyny, homophobia and casual racism in a feeble attempt to get laughs. What we also tend to find is that, rather than present a quirky view of the world, some of these novice comedians are giving us a spoken version of their CV. Is this what people are being taught to do at the many stand-up comedy courses that have proliferated since the early 1990s? I think it is. Whatever the case, British stand-up comedy is on its sick bed.

For the last few days, many comedians have been talking about Andrew Lawrence’s alleged support for UKIP and his attack on immigrants. Even UKIP leader Nigel Farage has given Lawrence his support.   A potential kiss of death? Possibly. Only time will tell. What has the world come to when today’s comedians are embracing anti-immigration rhetoric and railing against diversity? Are we really heading back in time to the immediate post-colonial period when comedians used trot out a stream of racist and sexist gags and used “it’s only a joke” as a defence? Sometimes it seems that way.  In Lawrence’s case, it’s easy to suggest that he’s doing this to attract attention. On the other hand, perhaps he, like so many others, is suffering from cognitive dissonance or maybe he’s just a right-wing reactionary arsehole. At any rate, there is an absence of critical thinking to his rant and I would argue that this is indicative of a malaise that is currently affecting the entire country, especially in England, where this negative attitude towards difference seems rife. This malaise is particularly manifest in those people who believe UKIP is ‘anti-establishment’ or ‘anti-politics’.  ‘Anti-politics’? Really? There is no such thing as ‘anti-politics’. Everything is political. UKIP is an anti-intellectual party that appeals to anti-intellectuals, who believe the country’s myriad problems can be solved by simply ‘pulling up the drawbridge’.

On Lawrence’s Facebook page, he attempts to “clarify” his earlier post but is actually reiterating what he said previously. In effect, he ends up digging himself an even bigger hole of gargantuan proportions:

A comedian from a minority background who uses their own ethnicity as a foundation for the whole of their act, rather than looking at wider aspects of society and exploring outside of their own personal experience.

And then says:

Quotas have been introduced, whereby every panel show must book a certain number of female and ethnic comedians, regardless of ability or merit.

Objectively then, there are comedians on panel shows who are there first and foremost because of their gender or ethnicity.

But it gets worse:

Because there is currently not a sufficiently large enough pool of female comedians with the requisite experience and ability to fill the quota, there are females who’ve been booked for these shows who are either poor comedians, not comedians at all, or aspiring female comedians that are still learning their craft, but have not yet reached a decent professional standard.

These females I have described as ‘women-posing-as-comedians’.

The upshot of all that is that there are still many women coming across incredibly badly on panel shows, which is helping to perpetuate the myth that women aren’t funny.

The hope is that women currently on panel shows, will further legitimise stand-up comedy as a career for women and encourage other women to take up comedy. Which is an admirable aim.

Unfortunately for every female who gets on a panel show, there are very many male comedians with more ability and experience who are not and will never get the opportunity to be on one. I think that’s a great shame for TV audiences.

And for his finale:

Oh, and I don’t have a problem with properly regulated immigration and I don’t have a problem with immigrants.

I do have a great deal of concern about the lack of border controls in this country and subsequent gross overpopulation as a result of EU legislation, which I believe adversely affects all our quality of life.

Here Lawrence uncritically accepts UKIP’s position on immigration and seeks to rationalize this position by summoning up the Malthusian claim of “overpopulation” to lend some kind of intellectual gravitas to his narrativization. This is exactly what Malthusian think-tank Migration Watch UK (and Bill Oddie) does all the time.  But this claim that there is a “lack of proper border controls” is not only ludicrously melodramatic, it’s a complete myth. He claims that he isn’t a UKIP supporter but that claim is pretty meaningless, given the fact that he’s regurgitated the same myths as Kippers and the rest of the English Right. Lawrence, if anything, is a reactionary, though it’s not something that he would readily admit. Instead, he complains that comedians are making jokes about UKIP. Diddums.

Let’s return to Lawrence’s comment about “minority comedians”, who he claims use their ethnicity as the basis of their act. Here, he doesn’t even try to understand why this is the case. He’s a white male stand-up and looks more or less like every other white male stand-up. If you’re black or a woman (or both), you have certain visual signifiers that differentiate you from the rest of the pack and may make jokes about those things. That’s what happens. If you have red hair or you’re fat, you will also make jokes about those things. That’s what happens. Yet, for Lawrence, it’s as if over 200 years of colonialism and racism never happened and that things are all right now because this is the year 2014 and people have stopped being racist. Sure they have. Yet for all the white male faces on television, the numbers of black faces on panel shows is so small as to be non-existent. Can you think why that is? I can. It’s called institutionalized racism and it’s a product of the dominant class’s early socialization. The vast majority of producers and commissioning editors come from public school and Oxbridge backgrounds. In their schools, some of which are all boy schools, they never see any females apart from those who are employed to teach or make beds. Black pupils are just as much of a rarity, thus commissioning editors tend to employ those people who are most like them: white and male.

With regards to women comedians, Lawrence has painted himself into a corner by claiming on the one hand that there aren’t a large number of women comics and on the other,  this small number of women comics is responsible for inferior female talent because male numbers are superior. Confused? Don’t be. It’s the anti-intellectual tripe of a knee-jerk reactionary. Like so many white [right-wing] males, Lawrence is playing the victim and it’s as if to say “It’s all the fault of those horrible wimmin with their feminism. They’re oppressing me”.  Lawrence is offering nothing new and is merely repeating the worn-out fallacy that women aren’t funny. Let me tell you something, Andrew, a lot of women are funnier than men, they just don’t get the same opportunities as white males who constantly refer to their genitalia and their apparent sexual inadequacies/perversions. Boring, huh?

The current malaise in British stand-up comedy is an indication of an overall malaise that hangs over this country like miasma. We have now entered a time when the very idea of tolerance is being pissed on, not only by right-wing politicians, but also by selfish misogynistic comics for cheap laughs, who believe they’re ‘pushing the boundaries’. The dominant discourses in this country have been orientated to the right for the last 35 years. People walk around talking in market-speak without realizing it. Other people repeat phrases like “Benefit claimants are addicted to the state” and “We need to have cuts” without thinking about them. Some, like Toby Young, believe that free speech means you can say anything you like without being criticized or being called an ‘idiot’ for it. However, if you’re tolerant and see immigration as a benefit to the nation, you’re shouted down, while those who oppose immigration complain that their voices “aren’t heard” even though the newspapers are full of articles complaining about immigration, and which rely on the usual myths, tropes and hyperbolic flights of fancy like “the country is crowded” to make their spurious points.

If comedy acts as a barometer for the political and social health of a nation, then Britain or, at least, England is a very sick patient indeed. It is obsessed with nostalgia and ready to blame its condition on everything but the system that produces inequalities and untold miseries. Instead, women, ethnic minorities and immigrants are scapegoated for a system that has comprehensively failed to deliver. Those in power in Westminster are happy to allow this continue and comedians like Andrew Lawrence are more than happy to act on their behalf. Sometimes I think the battles that we fought in the 1980s were for nothing.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Comedy, comedy, Ideologies, immigration, National Identity, Popular culture, racism, sexism, social class, Society & culture

Occupy Democracy – The Battle of the Tarpaulin

buddyhell:

Think we live in a democracy? Think we live in a ‘free country’? Think again. Protest is increasingly being criminalized by our imperial masters. For the last few days Occupy Democracy has been occupying Parliament Square. This excellent blog by indyrikki explains what happened last night when the Territorial Support Group moved in and tried to force the protesters to give up.

Originally posted on indyrikki:

If a progressive movement can gauge the effect it’s having from the response of the State, then the Unions should be ashamed of themselves, and the Occupy movement should be cheering loudly.

08 occupy 18

Depending on whom you believe, the Unions roused between 50,000 and 100,000 people to march a tiring long course to Hyde Park to listen to the same old speeches from the same list of actors, demanding change but seldom challenging the system.

Policing was hands-off, relatively low key, and generally good-natured.

Meanwhile, globally there is a movement growing that recognises the present system of central banking and corporate power is so out of all public and democratic control, so corrupt, and so destructive that it can’t be ‘changed’ but must be replaced.

Although in the UK the movement appears to be small in numbers, it’s clear it has a growing resonance, and that more and more people are…

View original 836 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Government & politics, Occupy movement

Don’t Be Bored By The TUC, There’s More Than Just A March Happening In London Tomorrow

buddyhell:

I can’t get to this tomorrow due to work commitments, but Johnny Void reminds us that the TUC isn’t the only game in town.

Originally posted on the void:

poor-doors-flyer

Tomorrow lots of people will be marching through London on the TUC’s Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration.  Sadly this slogan does not apply to those on TUC backed work experience schemes or Traineeships on which people don’t get paid at all.

Still many will wish to march anyway to show their disgust at the current austerity policies that are destroying so many lives.  But if you’re coming into  central London for the march why not make a day of it.  Instead and standing around at the end listening to a bunch of boring old bastards making speeches about action that will never materialise, jump on the tube over to East London where the annual Anarchist Bookfair will be taking place.

As well as lots of books, and other info stalls, many groups will be holding meetings and workshops, including Boycott Workfare at 2pm and the Focus E15 Mothers along…

View original 303 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Government & politics

You’re Only Allowed To Be Anti-Establishment If You’re Part Of The Establishment. It’s The British Way

He drinks beer and smokes tabs. So what?

UKIP is an anti-establishment party, or at least this is what our beloved media and the party itself tells us. Its leader, the beer-swilling, chain-smoking Nigel Farage, even goes so far as to claim that his party is a “People’s Army”. Laughable. This is a party that is bankrolled by former Tory funders and whose top table is replete with ex-Tories, the latest being Dizzy Doug Carswell, the self-styled libertarian who has decidedly conservative impulses. Confused? Well, so are they. Hell, they don’t even have any policies of note, other than leaving the European Union and “pulling up the drawbridge”. Even when Farage is questioned about his party’s policies, he disavows them. Being a ‘libertarian’, he suggested that the army should be deployed to deal with disorder.  He also tells Andrew Neil that the party’s 2015 manifesto will be similar to the 2010 manifesto. Really? He also admits to wanting flat taxes. I wonder how many of his working class supporters realise how much it will cripple them to pay the same rate of tax as a billionaire?

Watching the reports from last week’s by-elections, I couldn’t help thinking that the people who were being interviewed on camera, who told us they were voting UKIP, weren’t in full possession of their faculties. “UKIP represents change” one opined, while another claimed that UKIP would “shake up the establishment”. Yes, of course they will. It’s like the political satire we get on television: it’s so anti-establishment that it’s produced by scions of the establishment who gently mock their own kind and receive OBEs for their “contribution to British comedy”. It reminds me of Henry Ford’s famous dictum: “you can have any car you like as long as it’s black”. For our media, it’s a case of “You can have any anti-establishment party you like, as long as it’s led by a former commodity trading ex-public school boy and former Tory, and his ex-Tory chums and financial backers”.

Yes, people are turned off by the main political parties but voting UKIP won’t change a thing. If anything, successes for UKIP make it more likely that this country will be pushed further to the right as the three main parties compete with each other to out-UKIP UKIP. British politics has traditionally been seen as the province of the aristocracy and the wealthy. To change British politics for the better, we need to abolish the monarchy and the institutions that stem from it (the House of Lords) and create new transparent democratic institutions in their place. This means greater public involvement with politics. The people of Scotland are already engaging in this process. Isn’t it time the rest of HMP United Kingdom did the same?

A better world is possible.

4 Comments

Filed under Government & politics, UKIP

The ‘Deficit’? Which deficit are they talking about?

Let’s get something straight: there is no such thing as “The Deficit” there are deficits, and the politicians of the three main parties are all guilty of presenting an image of a single monolithic deficit that must be “brought down” at all costs. This is to support their cock-eyed view that cuts, particularly to social security benefits are necessary, while tax cuts for the rich will somehow stimulate the sluggish (some would say moribund) economy because the “wealth” will miraculously “trickle down” to those below. Not even the very right-wing George H W Bush believed that and derisively referred to trickle down (or supply side) economics as “voodoo economics”.

Our imperial masters will confuse, sometimes deliberately, “The Deficit” with “The Debt”. Again, there is a debt and it’s called The National Debt, which is accumulated through government spending on wars, for example.  The current national debt has been around since the end of the First World War. Politicians, many of whom are not economists, will often claim that “The Debt” also needs to “paid off” and will again cite government spending on social security as the main culprit of increased borrowing. This is economically illiterate bunkum. Yet, we are now in a situation where, once again, the level of the nationals debt is set to be increased by a new war in the Middle East. Yet, the government can’t find money for the NHS? Please, pull the other one.

When politicians talk about The Deficit, most of the public haven’t a clue what it means and this suits our imperial masters well, for they can use this magic phrase to rebut any criticism of austerity, privatizations and cuts to public services. I have lost count of the numbers of vox pop interviews where some member of the public has quite literally repeated verbatim the spiel of some government minister or other. “The country is broke and we need to pay our debts” some ignoramus will opine, while another will claim “There’s no money, we need to cut something”. The United Kingdom is the seventh richest country in the world and there’s no money? Come off it.

There are five kinds of deficits. Let’s deal with each one in turn.

First, there is the structural or budget deficit. This is when the government is spending more money than it receives. Usually, governments receive money through taxation. If a government is cutting taxes for billionaires and faceless corporations, then it isn’t making any money. It’s simple logic. The other way a government can raise money is to print the stuff but quantitative easing, as it’s referred to, has only benefited the same people who got us into this mess: the bankers. The government could remedy this by taxing the rich more. Whenever this idea is proposed, our imperial masters respond by telling us this will hurt the “wealth creators”. These people only create wealth for themselves. They don’t even work for it. They get other people to do the work.

Work is over-rated. Hard work more so.

The cyclical deficit refers to, as its name suggests, the economic cycle and is caused by downturns in output. Low levels of business activity and high levels of unemployment are the manifestations of this kind of deficit. Some economists disagree over the terms ‘cyclical’ and ‘structural’ and claim that there’s no difference between the two.

A balance of trade deficit occurs when imports outstrip exports. If you’re not making and selling enough stuff to other countries but are buying in loads of stuff from overseas, then this is what happens. Every outgoing Tory government since 1964 has racked up a massive balance of trade deficit for the incoming Labour administration to deal with.

Finally, there’s the balance of payments deficit. This is related to the balance of trade. A balance of payments deficit is created when the imports of goods, services and investment income exceeds the exports of the same things. In 1974, this led to the Sterling Crisis of 1976.

So what is the national debt? Well, this is when governments borrow money from the central bank (In the case of England, this is The Bank of England), which is a private concern and not owned, in spite of its name, by the state. Governments borrow by issuing bonds, securities and bills.  In the United States the level of debt to GDP is 73.60%. In the UK, it’s 88.7%. Does this make a difference to you or I? Well, not really, since the government can borrow money at preferential rates of interest. The Tory-led government claims that it’s “reducing borrowing” but it hasn’t. It’s actually borrowed more money  than the previous government. Furthermore, all governments borrow money. It’s a fact of life.  The Tories’ continual claim that they’re borrowing less (sic) is a lie. In fact, most people don’t even know how much the national debt is, yet Westminster politicians will usually pretend to know when they’re busy conflating the national debt with ‘The Deficit’.

I realize that I have simplified these terms without going into heavy economic theory, but this is how deficits need to be explained to the public.

Do I expect our imperial masters to come clean on government finances any time soon? I doubt it. These people can’t even lie in bed straight.

Here are more blogs about the government’s deficit lies.

Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going To Apologise?

The Great Debt Lie and the Myth of the Structural Deficit

Another Cameron myth: the coalition hasn’t reduced the deficit by “a quarter”

 

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics

Unpopular Tory government goes to war just before election. Sound familiar?

buddyhell:

Cameron wants his Falklands moment. There is no way they can win next year’s general election without it… well, that and spreading fear about how this country faces a huge threat from “Islamic terror” (sic).

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

View original

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized