Monthly Archives: August 2010

My summary of Tony Blair’s memoirs

I don’t expect any shocks or revelations from Blair’s memoirs. His book is likely to full of the usual guff,

1. Je ne regrette rien

2. Why neo-liberalism is good

3. Saddam Hussein was a threat to world peace (repeated ad nauseum)

4. I am a god

5. I admire Thatcher

6. Dubya and I were equals

7. Britain is a much better place because of me

8. Me me me!

There I’ve saved you the trouble of reading it and giving him money that he clearly doesn’t deserve. Besides, the best thing that one can do when faced with a narcissist is to ignore them.

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Filed under Government & politics

There’s a bad smell around here. Oh…it’s Peter Mandelson!

Peter Mandelson is like Banquo’s ghost: he’s always hanging around making trouble and stirring things up.  Today, he fired a warning shot over Ed Miliband’s bows by telling the Murdoch media that Labour risked heading down an “electoral cul-de-sac” if the party turned its back on its recent Nu Labour past. He also gave his blessing (or Mafioso kiss of death) to David Miliband.

He said Ed, the younger of the Miliband brothers, would take Labour back to the past by appealing to only the party’s “core” supporters.

“If you shut the door on New Labour you’re effectively slamming the door in the faces of millions of voters who voted for our party because we were New Labour,” he told the Times.

To be honest, Mandelson is deluded: the party turned its back on its core support the moment it abandoned Clause 4 and began to woo so-called Middle England. When it did this, those people who voted Labour felt alienated and betrayed; the party was continuing the policies of the Thatcher government by refusing to build new council homes and refusing to repeal the anti-union legislation that was enacted in the 1980’s.

Of all those associated with the Nu Labour neo-liberal project, Mandelson was seen as one of its chief architects. Alongside Tony Blair, it was Mandelson’s job to schmooze the wizards and alchemists of the Cittie of London, the captains of industry and  the Murdoch press (he still has quite a fondness for Murdoch). Indeed, the Nu Labour project has Mandelson’s fingerprints all over it.

What is richly ironic is this from Sky News,

Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, criticised former leader Neil Kinnock and former deputy leader Roy Hattersley for attempting to “hark back to a previous age” by supporting the more left-wing of the brothers.

It was Kinnock who welcomed Mandelson into the party as a spin doctor in the 1980’s. This marked the very beginning of Nu Labour. It is ironic that Mandelson should attack Kinnock and then have a swipe at Hattersley, who was never seen as a left winger by anyone. Though, in fairness, Hattersley for all his sensibilities,  was pretty much to the left of Blair. Of course that isn’t a terribly difficult thing to do; even the very dead Ramsay MacDonald was to the left of Blair!


Asked if he would want Lord Mandelson in a future shadow cabinet, Ed said he believed in the “dignity of retirement”.

Yep, I agree, it’s time for Mandelson to climb back into his coffin and leave us all alone.

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour leadership contest

Hypocrisy, AV and the illusion of proportional representation

The Lib Dems and their allies in the Take Back Parliament movement are a deluded bunch.  They continue to delude themselves that AV is a stage on the road to real proportional representation.  Of course we know that this isn’t true at all; it’s another illusion that has been designed to give the appearance of the possibility of a fair voting system. This Lib Dem blogger whines that Labour are now “hypocrites” because they no longer support the Yes camp on the forthcoming referendum on the Alternative Vote system (AV).

At the 2010 general election they supported immediate legislation to change the electoral system to AV. A few weeks later they now oppose it- on the grounds that the Lib Dems and the coalition are for it.

Actually, the coalition doesn’t support it;  the biggest support comes from the Lib Dems. This BBC article says,

The Lib Dems insisted on electoral reform as the price of forming a coalition with the Conservatives, even though most Tories, including party leader David Cameron, oppose it.

These naive folk believe that referendum will be “fun”.

The campaign to ditch Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of the Alternative Vote will be “fun,” its organisers have promised.

Of course the Yes to AV camp has been linked to the Lib Dems

He said the Yes to AV campaign was also keen to counter the impression that it will be a Liberal Democrat “front” organisation – stressing it will be a cross-party, non-partisan organisation and not run out of the Lib Dems’ Cowley Street headquarters as some bloggers have claimed.

Too late, the campaign is dominated by the Lib Dems because who else would be so hopelessly naive to support such a bad compromise? It was the Lib Dems who decided, somewhat naively to go into coalition with the Conservatives when they could have propped up the Tories with a confidence and supply arrangement instead.

In spite of what the Lib Dem blogger said, Ed Miliband is in favour of AV but offers a proviso,

EM: Yes. I am in favour of AV and will campaign for it if there is a referendum. But the Coalition is giving political reform a bad name by spatchcocking together with the AV referendum a naked attempt to gerrymander the parliamentary boundaries.

Miliband the Elder sings from the same hymn sheet,

DM: I strongly support political reform and I would support a system of AV but I do not support the Bill in its current form. I think it makes little sense to introduce reform for the Commons without introducing PR for the House of Lords. The Lib Dems are giving parliamentary reform a bad name.

The coalition have complained bitterly that Labour’s accusation of gerrymandering is a smear but as this Conservative blogger indicates, the fear of gerrymandering existed before the General Election,

Labour and the Lib Dems have completely lost touch with what the public want. They want a general election now to clean up Parliament by electing a new set of MPs. They do not want the existing lot to vote for a referendum on gerrymandering the voting system. Let us not forget that Labour and the Lib Dems were the parties who promised a refendum on the EU Constitution and reneged on that as they thought they might lose. These parties cannot be trusted.

Hypocrites, eh? You don’t know the meaning of the word.


Filed under Electoral reform, Government & politics

David Miliband: forget our history, we’re middle class warriors now!

I was reading in The Independent that E. Miliband has been criticized by his brother for “preaching to Labour’s traditional supporters rather than reaching out to middle-class voters”. More proof if proof were needed that D. Miliband is happy to continue as Blair Mk II should he become leader.

As the brothers’ battle for the Labour leadership becomes increasingly bitter, the Shadow Climate Change Secretary will reject David Miliband’s suggestion that he would shift the party back towards Old Labour if he wins the contest.

So what is so bad about reaching out to traditional Labour supporters?  Is it because they find the working class embarrassing? Is it because Labour really has become a sort of Tory-lite and are more interested in appeasing middle class anxieties than those of the working class? Perhaps it’s too many summers spent in Tuscany and living in Islington that’s affected D. Miliband’s thinking. No wonder parties like the BNP are appealing to working class voters: Labour doesn’t care about them and nor does the Tory Party (Hon Gid made that clear with his budget).

It looks as though Miliband Junior has changed his tack because of his brother’s harsh words.

“We must have the courage to change, the confidence to know that our values, when applied to the challenges of Britain in the modern world, can reconnect with those who have turned their backs on New Labour.”

Ah, it’s all about ‘change’….anyone would think the word carried any real meaning these days. If Blair II is bad, just have a think about Ed Balls for a moment; he looks like a man possessed. Seriously, there is something wrong with the man. I wonder if he’s collegiate?

The Daily Mirror has an altogether different take. Apparently the two bothers haven’t seen each other for weeks.

Banging the desk, he all but accused David of being trapped by the right-wing press into thinking only a move to the right would see Labour back in power.

“I don’t think that will work,” he said. “I don’t think the Blair formula will work for the future. Of course we have to appeal to the middle class and the working class but if we think reheating the formulas of the 90s will get us back in power then we are completely wrong.

“Trapped by the right wing press” is very telling, since most of the country’s newspapers are in the hands of Tory-supporting proprietors and Blair II wants to follow his mentor by sucking up to them. As for Miliband the Elder, The Honorable Tobes thinks he’s great,

In his speech on Wednesday, David Miliband put clear blue water between him and the other candidates, tacitly admitting that the state grew too large under his New Labour predecessors and acknowledging the need to cut the deficit. He invoked the spirit of Rab Butler, the Conservative politician who was instrumental in persuading his party to embrace the reforms of the Attlee government, suggesting that Labour should not oppose the Coalition’s radical overhaul of public services. He even hinted that he wouldn’t try and reverse Michael Gove’s education reforms, saying he was in favour of “a diversity of schools that drives innovation and improvements”.

He’s practically wetting himself here. He continues,

That’s clinched it for me, obviously. Free Schools will only survive in the long term if they’re embraced by the Labour Party. But even if I wasn’t trying to set up a parent-sponsored Academy, this speech would still have won me round. The quality I admire most in politics is courage and it took guts for David Miliband to reject the sentimental attachment to the state that is still such a core characteristic of his party.

It’s all  me, me, me with Hon Tobes.  If Labour members vote Blair II as their leader, they can kiss their core support goodbye. In fact, I would urge core Labour voters to abandon Labour and vote for a proper left wing party. The only problem with that idea is that under the current electoral system there is no choice:  the electorate has a limited menu to choose from and none of the parties on the menu are worth voting for – especially if you happen to be working class.

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour leadership contest

The Tory response to the IFS report: shoot the messenger and then kill his extended family

There’s an old saying, “if you don’t like the message then shoot the messenger”. And so it is with this coalition. When the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)  report on the Honorable Gid’s emergency budget was presented, it didn’t take long for the usual suspects to start complaining of some sort of ‘left wing conspiracy’. One commenter on this blog described it as “Daily Mail headline-grabbing”.  This is ironic, given that the Daily Mail is a Tory-supporting paper.

Clegg was the first to slam it, complaining that it was “partial”. The usual suspects have  entered the fray to both praisesong Osborne and complain how ‘fairness is ruining Britain’. The first is this article from Policy Exchange bod, Neil O’Brien who also writes for the Daily Telegraph (quelle surprise!). He presents a series of bar graphs (yeah, bar graphs) which he then uses to justify how the poorest in Britain will be ‘better off’. Then he says,

I don’t really want to get into the ins and outs of who is right in these arguments here, which are pretty complicated. Even the IFS admit their claim is fair less clear cut if you look at expenditure rather than income. And everyone knows that the statistics at the bottom end are dodgy and hard to measure. If you believed the stats, lots of households in Britain would appear to be surviving on no income of any kind, benefits or otherwise.

So you admit that you haven’t got a clue then? What makes the statistics at the bottom ‘dodgy’? Is it because those stats undo your argument?

Then he says,

The third problem is even more profound. Free societies like ours are complicated, and difficult to understand or steer. It’s often difficult to predict the effects of any given policy change. Brilliant government wheezes can have disastrous effects, and ideas which were seen as hopeless can end up saving the day.

So there is a possiblity that these changes could have disastrous effects?Policy Exchange man in two-face shocker! But Hannan leaps on this and makes the bold claim,

Neil O’Brien has already done a superb job of demolishing the claim that the last Budget was unfair to the poor. (The BBC, like The Guardian, told us that these claims came from a report by the “respected” Institute for Fiscal Studies, neglecting to mention that the report had been commissioned by a Left-wing pressure group).

Oh yeah? Which “left wing pressure group” is this? The left wing pressure group in question  is  End Child Poverty.  What’s the matter Dan, don’t you want an end to child poverty or do you see child poverty as a ‘price worth paying’? It shouldn’t surprise any of us  that Hannan is against such things. He is a self-confessed fan of Ayn Rand, after all. Yet if this report had been commissioned by say, The Freedom Association (of which Mad Dan is a member), there would be no issue? Not that the Freedom Association would be interested in such an issue. Their raison d’être is, er, something rather vaguely called ‘freedom’.

The ‘rationally self-interested’ Hannan ends his blog by saying,

Wouldn’t a truly “fair” society be one in which welfare budgetsfell, as former recipients were lifted out of dependency?

And how do you propose to “lift people” out of what you call “dependency” when there are no jobs and the gap between rich and poor is getting wider? Are you going to employ them on your estate or maybe your parents will give them job on the family chicken ranch? Hannan’s solution is, in common with so many of his colleagues, to create as Thatcher once said a “nation of entrepreneurs”. Though how everyone in the country could be an ‘entrepreneur’ was never elucidated by Thatcher or any of her acolytes. Of course the other option is to rely on ‘trickle down economics’ to produce non-results. Even Capitalism Magazine says that,

[…] there has never been any school of economists who believed in a trickle down theory. No such theory can be found in even the most voluminous and learned books on the history of economics. It is a straw man.

While that may be the case, it hasn’t stopped the likes of the Tories from claiming that it will produce ‘wealth’ further down the income scale.

This part of the IFS’s report is pretty crucial

The report also questioned the government’s decision to use the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) when calculating certain benefits.

It’s like using GDP to measure a country’s economic performance. GDP does not take into account factors such as unemployment, the black economy and waste. Yet both Tory and Labour governments use it.

This blog from Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home is laughable only for its suggestion that the Tories take a leaf out of Orwell’s 1984. First of all he says, “We should say that we want to help people overcome poverty and not make it more comfortable”. Since when has poverty ever been “comfortable”? Friends, this is the warped mindset that we are dealing with. The whole idea here is to redefine the word ‘fairness’ in the same way that Hannan and his zombie army have attempted to redefine ‘left wing’.

Meanwhile The Independent says that the Budget may have breached equality laws. The mere mention of a word like ‘equality’ will have Dan and his pals foaming at the mouth.

It is looking into complaints that a Treasury website asking the public to suggest where cuts should be made has attracted racist comments. It is also considering the wider impact on women of the proposed cuts. Under the Act, the Commission has power to take “enforcement action”, which could range from encouraging a change of practice to starting a formal inquiry – a move which could delay some of the proposed cuts.

This is the most revealing part of the article,

Justin Webb, the presenter, asked Mr Hoban whether the Treasury had conducted an assessment of how the Budget would affect specific groups, as required under the Act.

The Treasury minister appeared not to know the answer. Mr Hoban stuck rigidly to his brief, insisting: “We went through a very detailed distributional analysis at the time of the Budget, it was the most extensive piece of work anyone has done.

Oops! It looks like someone has messed up.  Have a look at the rest of the ambush interview and decide for yourselves.

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Filed under Big Society, ConDem Budget 2010, Government & politics, Public spending

That ‘progressive’ budget and coalition denial

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a report that claims that the coaltion’s  (Tory in actual fact) emergency budget is set to hit the poorest. Of course this has been denied by the government who believe that poor people are a figment of our imaginations or are simply defrauding the less-than-generous benefit system.

The Tories were quite happy to cite (well, cherry-pick) the IFS findings on the public finances before the General Election and used them as a stick to beat up Labour. Now that the IFS has come out with a report that criticizes their cherished plan to kill the poor, they don’t want to know. In fact, they are in denial.  Contrary to their deluded beliefs, child poverty is set to rise.

James Browne, senior research economist with the IFS and co-author of the report, said: “It seems likely that, once changes to other benefits are taken into account, child poverty will go up.”

In his budget, the Honorable Gid said

“the policies in this Budget, taken together, will not increase measured child poverty over the next two years” and that “overall, everyone will pay something, but the people at the bottom of the income scale will pay proportionately less than the people at the top. It is a progressive Budget.”

The word “progressive” is being used ironically.  With VAT set to rise in January, the cost of living will rise accordingly. And while there is no VAT on food, the knock-on effect from higher fuel duties will impact on the price of food and other essentials. The only people who will be able to absorb the higher costs are the wealthy.

Here’s what Nick Clegg said about the Budget.

“This time, the richest are paying the most … as a proportion of their income.”

A comedian as well as a liar.

The Guardian’s leader column paints a  stark picture

No minister can read this report and attempt to describe their measures as fair. They are anything but. Nor is it the case that these regressive measures are a one-off. Far from it: the biggest reason the chancellor’s emergency budget is so unfair is because he has permanently pegged benefits to the lower consumer price index (CPI) rather than the old retail prices index (RPI). That may sound technical, but consider this: CPI is currently just above 3%, while RPI is nearly 5%. Now imagine your disability benefits inching up by 3% a year every year rather than 5%: within just a few years that leaves you with a big shortfall. This one fact puts in perspective the recent speculation about how Iain Duncan Smith is fighting for more generous welfare provision – a couple of billion extra does not offset the many billions being taken from society’s support for the poorest. With full access to all the Treasury models, Mr Osborne will have known how much poorer he was about to make some of the most vulnerable members of society – yet he went ahead and did it anyway.

The Lib Dems have acted as the Tories handmaidens. But there are many who are deeply troubled by this. They know they could lose their seats in the next General Election (which could be as early as next year).

Mike Hancock, a former member of the SDP and MP for Portsmouth South said,

“We didn’t sign up for a coalition that was going to hurt the poorest people in society, and I certainly didn’t get elected to do that ever.”

He adds,

“If that fairness is not there, there are some serious questions for the leadership to answer.”

Clegg and the rest of the leadership can expect a rough ride at conference next month. But MPs like Hancock will not cross the floor or split from the party. These are not men of principle rather, they are careerists and opportunists like the rest of them.

Conference season is going to be very lively indeed…but for all the wrong reasons!


Filed under Big Society, ConDem Budget 2010, Government & politics, Public spending

Daniel Hannan: left winger?

Don’t you wish some people would just grow up? There are some people in this world who are old enough to know better but Daniel Hannan isn’t one of those people.

Today he repeats his canard that the BNP is “left wing”. His ‘rationale’ for this is simply because, he says, the horrible BBC is beastly towards the right. Aw, diddums… is poor lickle Danny Boy upset then? Let me tell you something: just because you repeat a lie often enough that doesn’t make it true. Here is his opening line,

There was a snotty, sneering, superior piece about elected sheriffs on Radio 4’s PM programme this evening.

“Snotty”, eh? “Sneering”, huh? He goes on to pour fulsome praise on Sheriff Joseph Arpaio of Maricopa County Jail in Arizona (hardly the most enlightened state in the union). Arpaio is one of those hardnosed, no nonsense types that reactionaries love; he forces inmates to live in tents; has reintroduced the chain gangand he hates immigrants. The prison has been featured on America’s Toughest Prisons and is often shown on Channel 5 and Sky 3. Dan wants to see Arpaios in this country, so why don’t you? Is it because you’re a soft socialist?

Like many in his party he wants to see elected police commissioners but PM asks serious questions about whether the role should be politicized. Hannan is not amused. Damn and blast the BBC!

You get the idea. Allow people to choose who directs their local police force and you are likely to get racists, half-wits or crooks – often with hilarious redneck names. Just in case we missed the message, the correspondent spelt it out with his closing words: “While popular elections may increase direct accountability, it [sic] doesn’t necessarily lead to better policing”.

Unfortunately the US has more than its fair share of racists and other cranks running sheriff’s departments. This is something that Mad Dan appears to have glossed over (racism doesn’t exist because we’re all white now thanks to the democratizing force of consumerism). He isn’t bothered that this idea hasn’t been thought through properly, he is just convinced that it is a good idea.  He adds,

Some areas might opt for men like Arpaio, though the sheriffs in, say, Vermont, are a very different breed. That’s the beauty of the system: law enforcement reflects the local temper.

Have you ever been to Heanor, Dan? I’d hate to meet a locally elected sheriff of Heanor.  He/she might be a little like PC Savage in this Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch,

As I mentioned above, Mad Dan is upset because the BBC has been ‘beastly’ to the right. Of course, I want to see examples of this ‘beastliness’. Let me ask you this, Dan, if the BNP are ‘left wing’ then does that mean you’re left wing too? Maybe you’re a closet socialist…who’s so far inside the closet that you don’t know day from night and vice versa.

Dan Hannan, a left winger…who’d have thought it?

Finally, here’s an interesting article on Dan’s new hero. It seems Arpaio has used his position to engage in vendettas against his political rivals.

Over the past year, 5 Investigates examined more than two dozen complaints against the sheriff from business owners, government workers, mayors and law-enforcement officials.They claim they spoke out against Arpaio, and shortly after, deputies paid them unwelcome visits.

3 days ago, it was reported that the US Department of Justice was looking to sue Arpaio for his abuse of Latinos.

Is this what we want here? No way!

UPDATE: Two more judges are to sue Joseph Arpaio. This time it’s for defamation and abuse of power. More from this article published 3 December 2010. Here’s a snippet,

PHOENIX (CN) – Two more Superior Court judges have sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio for defamation, and a deputy county manager and a county administrator added complaints of their own, all alleging that Arpaio targeted them for baseless criminal investigations to retaliate for the judges’ court rulings and the county employees work on budget cuts. Four Superior Court judges or retired judges have sued Arpaio this week; the new plaintiffs claim that Arpaio’s actions “constitute the rankest misuse of power against those innocent and powerless citizens that our system of government is supposed to protect.”

The story continues…


Filed under Ideologies, Society & culture

Sock puppetry of a penis: the strange world of Andrew Gilligan

I wrote about Gilligan in an earlier blog. I noticed how he appeared to be singularly obsessed with Ken Livingstone, even going so far as to praise his rival, Oona King. This is an odd thing for a self-declared supporter of Boris Johnson to do but nothing is quite what it seems on Gilligan’s Island.

The Guardian’s Dave Hill uncovered evidence of Gilligan’s deceptive shenanigans back in 2008. So what is an Internet sockpuppet?  This is from Wikipedia

sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception within an online community. In its earliest usage, a sockpuppet was a false identity through which a member of an Internet community speaks with or about himself or herself, pretending to be a different person,[1]like a ventriloquist manipulating a hand puppet.

In current usage, the perception of the term has been extended beyond second identities of people who already post in a forum or blog to include other uses of misleading online identities. For example, a New York Times article claims that “sockpuppeting” is defined as “the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company.”[2]

The key difference between a sockpuppet and a regular pseudonym (sometimes termed an “alt” which is short for alternate, as in alternate identity) is the pretense that the puppet is a third party who is not affiliated with the puppeteer or acting under their control for their benefit. The earliest known[1] usage of the term was on July 9, 1993 by Dana Rollins in a posting to bit.listserv.fnord-l,[3] but the term was not in common usage in USENET groups until 1996.

So Gilligan pops up on a blog or a forum under an assumed name. Nothing wrong with that you may think,  but sockpuppets exists to either give praise to themselves or to appear to be taking a contradictory line to the blogger. Most people leave sock puppets at the school gates before they embark on their journey through life. Not Gilligan.

Gilligan’s Telegraph blogs all follow a similar theme. This one is little different to say, this one. To an observer with even the slightest knowledge of psychology, Gilligan appears obsessed to the point of the ridiculous.

His role, it seems, is to act as a kind of Chomskyian flak machine for the Telegraph.  When he isn’t producing flak, he also acts as the coalition’s (and Boris Johnson’s) cheerleader-in-chief. Here he claims that the “public seem happy with this breakneck coalition”. The word “breakneck” is used to parry David Davis’s quip that this government is a “Brokeback coalition”. Cute.

Here Gilligan claims that The Guardian has fallen for an “extremist lie” but what he is actually saying is that he disagrees with the survey that was carried out. He offers no evidence to contradict the findings. Sunny Hundal of LiberalConspiracy asks the pertinent “Why is Andrew Gilligan still taken seriously”? Good question, but my guess is that he knows how to produce the sort of copy the Telegraph and its readers want: stories about ‘evil’ Muslims and regular hatchet-jobs on ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone. For an investigative journalist, his interests are a little limited.  Let’s face it, he’s no John Pilger.

Gilligan thinks that by screaming the words “Islamic fundamentalism”, he can convince readers that the country is being over-run by savages hell-bent on destroying our ‘democracy’. But is all he says about the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE)  justified or is it just another scare story from a man so desperate to be liked that he produce any old rubbish for his new masters?

This article in The Guardian dated 5 March 2010 rebuts Gilligan’s accusations and yes, it is written by a Muslim,

Contrary to Andrew Gilligan’s misrepresentations, IFE has been promoting a balanced message of our faith, often finding itself at loggerheads with fringe and extreme groups both within and outside the Muslim community. Far from supporting violence and terrorism, IFE members and supporters were among the first to assist the emergency services to support the victims of the 7/7 bombing in Aldgate. Our fight against extremism predates recent government schemes such as Prevent.

However according to Gilligan and Dispatches, the IFE has practically taken over Tower Hamlets Borough Council. This blog from Harry’s Place claims that the Tories have also been courting the IFE. Interstingly enough the blog links to an article by….Andrew Gilligan.

I’ve known for a while that Mr Archer has quite close and interesting relationships with the IFE’s headquarters, the East London Mosque. I’ve been prepared, until now, to put this down to the usual naivety of the white political establishment.

What is so revealing about this quote is that Gilligan refers to the “white political establishment”. It is as if to suggest that Islam is the religion of dark-skinned peoples. But it also tells us more: the attitudes to race have changed very little in Britain. This is a new kind of racism; it is the kind of racism that can be batted away with a mere “Islam isn’t a race”. Today Gilligan’s headline screams “Fundamentalists in London politics: new links emerge “. But reading the blog it quickly becomes apparent that much of his ‘new information’ is actually hearsay.

Gilligan is a tireless self-promoter. Originally writing for The Sunday Telegraph he was then hired by Rod Liddle, the editor of Radio 4’s Today programme. However after the Hutton inquiry, Gilligan’s career seemed destined for the dustbin. He was rescued by The  Evening Standard which he then left for The Spectator. From there he took up residence at The Daily Telegraph. This article from Middle East Monitor says that,

Over the past few days his articles have served as shameless self-promotion for this week’s Dispatches programme, prompting a number of allegations that he is neither objective nor balanced when it comes to his“investigation” of the Muslim community.

Shameless?  He most certainly is.  Watching Gilligan running around looking for Islamic extremists hiding under the bed is a little like watching a dog chase its own tail. Pointless.


Filed under Media

Cultural relativism and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

Douglas Murray may not have blogged for The Daily Telegraph recently but that doesn’t stop him from doing the rounds, spreading his poison as he goes. He appears to have taken up residency at The Daily Mail…he should feel right at home there and he’s in good company. What with Mad Mel and Peter Hatchetman Hitchens, he won’t want to leave. The readership will also welcome him with open arms; there is nothing they like more at the Mail than a good, wholesome scare-story.

The so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ story has brought out all the lunatics, doom-sayers and demagogues. Our own Buck Turgidson has been making sure that his voice is heard above those who call for tolerance and reason. Because as far as he is concerned, no one does reason and tolerance like Christians. Of course, that is to ignore the centuries of persecutions against minority movements like the Bogomils or the Cathars and the pogroms against the Jews in Eastern and Central Europe. This also ignores the fact that slavery was excused by using filleted passages from the New Testament to justify bondage. The Crusades were nothing less than the Christian equivalent of Islam’s jihads.

It is incredible how simply some people view the world and those who inhabit it.

This blogger, while appearing to call for tolerance appears to have got his lines mixed up as this reply to my first comment shows,

It wasn’t only Christians who died in the twin towers, but it was only Muslims who perpetrated the atrocity.

Here’s your evidence that the Imam responsible continues to refuse to associate Islamic organizations with terror and continues to place the blame for even atrocities such as 9/11 on the victims:

Westboro Baptist Church claims to speak for Christianity, but many others who claim to speak for Christianity rise to condemn them. To compare with Islam, there are many more radical Muslims who resort to terrorism – Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, The Tamil Tigers….the list goes on and on, but many Muslims, even mainstream American Muslims, refuse to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, and sometimes even the other organizations, for their terror.

The Tamil Tigers are Muslim? That’s news to me! Note here the lie about American Muslims “refusing to condemn” terrorism.  But what really stands out is his inference that America’s Muslims have to shoulder the responsibility for the atrocities of 11 September 2001. In other words, all Muslims have been pronounced guilty by ‘association’.

I think we need to respect property rights and freedom of religion (as long as they’re properly respecting the liberties of everyone around them. Such as those of gays)

Right, so here he appears to be suggesting that Muslims are uniquely anti-gay. Of course he ignores the vast numbers of Christians who think it is unbiblical to be gay and will try to ‘cure’ them. He forgets the tensions within the Anglican community whose many members are threatening to leave the communion if a gay man is elected bishop – it has already happened in the US but in Britain, the idea was rejected. But it’s the way that he chucks in the word ‘freedom’ as though it was part of an assortment of herbs that are used for cooking dinner. This is someone who claims to ‘respect’ the religious rights of others as long as they conform to his and his majoritarian idea of religious practice.

When I pointed out to him that tolerance wasn’t unique to the west, this is what I got back.

Tolerance isn’t unique to Western Civilization, but it was Western Civilization that first articulated most of what we consider tolerance today: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, and also it is those nations considered western that have been the leaders in enshrining those liberties as fundamental to their law.

Oh? How did you work that one out? While the US Constitution may have made provision for freedom of religious worship, the reality was somewhat different: Jews and Catholics found themselves subjected to bigotry by ‘Protestants’.  To date, only one Catholic has ever been elected President. But what this blogger also appears to be suggesting is that the entire western hemisphere is some beacon of liberty. But did he ever take the time to look at the dictatorships of South and Central America? All of them were propped up with US support; the same US that, er, enshrines ‘freedom’.

After presenting him with a series of counterarguments, he then began replying with the usual twisting and stonewalling that I have seen so many people use when they have lost the argument. To him, I am now “excusing Muslims”.

Arguing with people like this is pointless because they aren’t interested in reasoned debate; they want to win the argument at any cost – even if it means deluding oneself in order to avoid the truth. Freedom of religion means exactly that. But to tar all Muslims with the same brush because a handful of nutjobs flew a plane into the Twin Towers is patently illogical and absurd. No one blames all Christians for the bombing of abortion clinics in the US when only a handful of cranks are involved.

This is the most telling part of his blog

Liberals. Natural, perfect Dhimmis.

For this blogger it’s a conservative/liberal issue (black/white); it’s an ideal opportunity to engage in smears. Where does that put the mayor of NYC? He’s a Republican or is he what they call a RINO (Republican In Name Only)?

Double standards? These guys have them by the truckload.


Filed under Islamophobia, Society & culture

The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’: some myths exploded

The US Right has got itself into a lather; the forces of ignorance have declared that a community centre in downtown Manhattan that is a couple of blocks away (approximately 2km in fact) is a hotbed of Islamic extremism. They also claim that the building of this ‘mosque’  is an insult to the memories of those who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Of course it would wrong to suggest that all right-leaning Americans are as ill-informed and as ignorant as those people who currently call themselves ‘teabaggers’. Even Michael Bloomberg, the Republican mayor of New York City has spoken in defence of the building, formerly named Cordoba House, now called Park51. This is not a right/left issue, it is an fight between the forces of ignorance and those of reason and tolerance.

Let’s have a look at some of the things said about the building itself.

1. It is often called the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ but is in fact 2 blocks away.

2. It is not a mosque but a community centre that has a prayer space inside it.

3. The imam at the centre of this, is a man called Abdul Rauf has been accused of “not condemning terrorists”. This is not true. In an interview in the New York Daily News, Rauf said, “We condemn terrorists. We recognize it exists in our faith, but we are committed to eradicate it”, he added “”We want to rebuild this community. This is about moderate Muslims who intend to be and want to be part of the solution.” This article is even more explicit.

4. Right-wing commentators and demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have repeated the lie that this ‘mosque’ will be used to ‘train terrorists’. Rauf is a Sufi and as such has attracted the ire of more fundamentalist groups. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that is concerned, among other things, with peace.

Here Limbaugh gives succour to the lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim because he appeared to support the idea. Funnily enough, Limbaugh hasn’t dared to take a swipe at Bloomberg.

For many Americans it is easier to follow the crowd and to consume their thoughts and ideas from a loudmouth opinion-maker than to engage in critical thinking.  I am currently involved in a discussion with one such person who has repeated a number of fallacious arguments about Islam; that it is unique for its honour killings, misogyny and so on. When it is pointed out that these things happen in other cultures and religions, the other person simply repeats the same lies, only louder – just like an English-speaker abroad who thinks they can get their point across to a non-English speaker by shouting at them. By the way, the same person tried to claim that the LTTE or Tamil Tigers were a Muslim group. When I pointed out this obvious gap in his knowledge, he chucked back “MILF” which means “Mother I’d Like to F*ck”. Cute but no cigar….


I found this interesting blog from Julian Kossoff in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph who says that most of New York’s Jews have no problems with the building of Park51. If America’s Jews can be tolerant, what’s the problem with America’s so-called Christians?


Filed under Islamophobia, Society & culture