Monthly Archives: September 2010

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 6) or It Was Gillie Wot Won It!

Here’s a question: when is a connection not a connection? Answer: when the connection is made by Andrew Gilligan. In a recent blog for the Daily Telegraph for which he gives the sensationalist headline “Luthfur Rahman: Islamic fundamentalism’s Dave Nellist moment“, he says

Back in the 1980s, Labour knew it had beaten Militant when its sympathisers left the party and stood separately in elections under their own label. They could then be easily and quickly thrown out: the one universally-accepted ground for expulsion from the Labour Party is fighting against a Labour candidate.

Labour. Militant. 1980’s.  But no mention of Dave Nellist there. Let’s move on.

The decision by eight of Tower Hamlets’ Labour councillors to appear at a press conference backing the sacked fundamentalist-linked politician, Lutfur Rahman, in his Independent bid to become the borough’s directly elected mayor could be a similar moment. The eight are Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum, Rania Khan, Alibor Choudhury, Ohid Ahmed, Aminur Khan, Rabina Khan, and Shelina Aktar.

Still no mention of Nellist. What’s going on here?  Besides where is this connection to Militant and why mention Dave Nellist at all?  Nellist was a very good Labour MP who supported Militant but took only a worker’s wage when he was in the Commons…unlike many of today’s crop of MPs who all have their snouts in the trough. So there are loads of Bangladeshi sounding names in that paragraph, but is there a connection? Only if you look really hard and then try to imagine one. There is no connection between Militant, Dave Nellist, Tower Hamlets Council, the East London Mosque, Hizb ut Tahrir, The Blind Beggar Pub, Luthfur Rahman, Gyles Brandreth, my piles and the Tooth Fairy but I’ll bet Gillie could find one. Then Gilligan says,

Not all of these people are fundamentalist sympathisers – Oli Rahman, for instance

Well, hey, thanks for sharing that with us,. Are you sure Oli Rahman isn’t one of those fundies too? He shares the same surname…surely that’s good enough for you, Mr Gilligan?  But he continues to bang on about the Islamic Forum of Europe which he labels as a “hardline Muslim supremacist group” and if by the very act of repeating those words, hopes it will magically become true.

On the 16th, 17th, 21st (two blogs), 22nd and 23rd of this month Gilligan churned out blog after blog about Luthfur Rahman, Labour’s erstwhile mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets. It seems to me that there has been a concerted effort on the part of Gilligan to influence the selection process. For if you look at his blogs over the course of a month or so, one finds that they are either about Luthfur Rahman or his nemesis, Ken Livingstone. But is Luthfur Rahman really somebody to fear? I hear that he’s just a typical local politician trying to carve out a bit of territory for himself. He’s a bit like all the others in any local authority anywhere in the country.  According to our Andy, Rahman’s a hardline Islamist who is a member of the ”extreme’ East London Mosque and the even more ‘extreme’ Islamic Council of Europe. But Rahman’s been sacked as a Labour candidate…all thanks to our protector, Andrew Gilligan. But to Gilligan’s disgust, Rahman is standing as an independent.

Nowhere Towers is concerned that Gilligan may have taken it upon himself to interfere in the selection process of the Tower Hamlets Labour party. He dismisses the notes of one member of the NEC as written from a “far-left perspective”. Why? Because they contradict your own version of events? Or because it isn’t your idea of the truth? Which is it? If you scroll done this blog and find Keith Vaz’s first comment, you’ll see,

I gave Andrew Gilligan a job as an intern 20 years ago. He was dismissed because he had forged references for his CV. The last time this matter went to court, it cost us £70 thousand, and we were advised by the same solicitors who have given this legal opinion.

And Gilligan’s in fighting mood according to Guido

“It’s completely untrue and actionable. I was never employed by Vaz – I did a few weeks’ work experience with him in 1987 – and I never submitted either a CV or references, forged or otherwise. Running it would be outrageous”.

I look forward to the forthcoming slander case.

Just to finish here’s one that Gilligan made up earlier about Ken Livingstone. “I like Boris”, he gushes, “Boris is reasonably assured of victory”. I think Gillie’s getting a little ahead of himself. I’d like to say I hope Ken wins and wipes the smile off his face but if Livingstone’s last term was anything to go by then we can expect Gilligan to keep up his smear campaign. The Torygraph has deep, deep pockets.

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Does anyone else care about the Miliband soap opera?

Oh how the media love a soap opera! As soon as Ed Miniband’s victory was announced, the press immediately began producing speculative story after speculative story about the future of failed leadership candidate David Maxiband. Despite his star turn at the opening of the conference in which David told the party how his brother was a “special person” and how the party must make him a “special person” to the British people, the soap opera rumbles on.

The talk coming from the usual telly news providers tells the same story: David Maxiband will resign; he will take his bat and ball and walk off the pitch. Apparently David can’t cope with playing second string to his kid brother…I mean, just look at his face when Ed is speaking. And did he really say to Harriet Harman, “Why are you clapping?  You voted for it”?  I have to say, there are some bloody good lipreaders working in telly journalism these days. And look! All the signs are there too: Maxiband appears outside his home, dressed casually and looking chipper. Surely this is a sign that he will walk?

Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

To tell the truth, I am neither interested in nor bothered by the Miliband drama even if the media finds it fascinating. But it’s a diversion; the coalition government are about to announce the biggest raft of public spending cuts for a generation and all the BBC can talk about is ‘Will he or won’t he”? The Labour Party conference has been overshadowed by this story but what of the conference itself? Miniband talked of a “new generation” in his speech but this new generation that he talks of smacks of the neupolitik that Cleggeron keeps talking about.  Self-confessed Labour supporter Terry Christian nails it on the head in this clip from the BBC’s Politics Show.

I agree,  I detect no lurch to the left here and given Miniband’s lightly-veiled challenge to the unions not to strike, the chance of the Labour leadership supporting the workers and backing any strikes that may happen is as likely as me waking up tomorrow morning as a born-again Tory.

UPDATE:

Maxiband has taken himself off to the backbenches from where he will be free to engage in Blairite rearguard actions…maybe even plot a coup. He says he’s doing it to “recharge his batteries”. Usually the excuse is to ‘spend more time with one’s family’.

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour

And they’re off!

The rush to paint Ed Miliband as ‘red’ has moved into overdrive a mere 2 days after his win was announced.

The Honourable Tobes has produced this blog where he repeats the line that Microband is a ‘deficit denier’.

Ed Miliband’s tax-and-spend approach to the economy, by contrast, would plunge Britain into a far more dire fiscal crisis which would eventually mean more swingeing cuts than those likely to be proposed in the CSR. If we want to see the consequences of insufficient fiscal tightening, we only have to look at Greece or, more recently, Portugal.

Thing is, Eddie hasn’t said a dickie about taxing and spending; this is just a presumption that is based on the flawed thesis that Labour is a ‘socialist’ party. He continues,

So I was delighted when the IMF confirmed today that the British economy is on the mend and praised the Coalition for its hardline approach.

Ah, the IMF…we must always trust what the IMF has to say. I mean, they are, after all, the sages of late capitalism. The IMF always support austerity measures since the slashing of public spending is the usual condition that is attached to their loans.  The IMF cares nothing for the poor; it’s all collateral damage; a price worth paying and poorer countries hurt the most.  Hon Tobes links to this Torygraph article which says that,

The IMF’s unequivocal endorsement of the Coalition’s proposals, which comes the day before Ed Miliband’s first speech as Labour Party leader, will be seized on by ministers as they hit back at opposition claims that the cuts will damage growth.

This is quite obviously the Telegraph’s idea of a shot over Microband’s bows.

Other articles and blogs have muttered darkly about alleged electoral misdeeds that led to Eddie’s leadership victory. This one by Guido Fawkes is typical,

Unite the Union broke not only the spirit but the letter of the leadership election laws by sending a mailshot endorsing Ed when they sent the ballot papers to their 950,000 members.  Unite even set up a website backing Red Ed which linked to the Electoral Reform Society’s online voting page. If David Miliband had a little less dignity he would have pretty solid grounds for an investigation.

Really? Excuse me while I roll my eyes but isn’t the party that our Fawkesie supports funded by a load of millionaire tax exiles and private interests? The thrust of Guido’s blog is that Miliband is a creature of the evil unions and as such will only do their bidding. Hang on, didn’t the unions support Tony Blair in his leadership bid? Is Blair a ‘red’ too?

Here’s a classic from the Taxpayers Alliance,

While one does not like to get involved the internal family matters of others I feel that it would do Labour more good than harm to cut off its formal links with the trade unions and in so doing cut off the rumours that its leader owes a debt to those unions.

I have a suggestion: why doesn’t the Conservative Party sever its links with its millionaire backers? Let’s not forget that while the TPA poses as a ‘non-partisan’ organization, it is supported by many Conservatives and operates as an unofficial flak machine.

I expect to see more stuff and nonsense in the next couple of weeks. The Tory Party conference is next week and this will provide a perfect opportunity for the faithful to chuck out a few jibes about Stalinism and the USSR. I can’t wait…

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour, Labour leadership contest, Public spending

Will the IDF try and blow this boat out of the water?

An aid vessel that has been organized by Jewish humanitarian organizations worldwide has set sail for Gaza from Cyprus. How will the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) respond to this latest attempt to break the illegal blockade?

A boat carrying aid for Gaza’s population and organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus today at 13:32 local time

The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist.

There will doubtless be a few Christian Zionists who will call them “self-hating Jews”. CNN reminds these people and those who are in the mistaken belief that all Jews support Israel’s inhumane actions in Gaza and the Occupied Territories that,

“Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,” said Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, one of the organizers. “We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.”

Last week the UN report into the Israeli actions over the last aid convoy condemned the use of force used by the IDF. Israel responded by claiming the report was “biased”.  Meanwhile Israel has ordered its own ‘inquiry’.

The Israeli government has begun its own independent inquiry into the flotilla raid, the Turkel Commission. It has two foreign observers, but critics say its remit is too narrow.

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Anti-war activists harrassed

I received a post from International Action Center which contained some pretty disturbing news. The post said that activists in the Minneapolis and Chicago areas were targetted by the FBI in a series of raids on homes and offices.

AP says,

FBI agents in Chicago took a laptop and documents from the home of a Palestinian-American anti-war activist in an attempt to silence his advocacy, an attorney said Sunday.

The FBI on Friday searched eight addresses in Minneapolis and Chicago, including the home of Hatem Abudayyeh, who is the executive director of the Arab American Action Network, attorney Jim Fennerty told The Associated Press.

“The government’s trying to quiet activists,” Fennerty said. “This case is really scary.”

More than half a dozen agents went to Abudayyeh’s home on Friday and took any documents containing the word “Palestine,” Fennerty said.

Abudayyeh, a U.S. citizen whose parent immigrated from Palestine, wasn’t home at the time of the raid because he was at a hospital with his mother who is battling liver cancer, Fennerty said.

Apparently no arrests were made but this is a worrying development: anti-war activists are being harassed because of their views and for no other reason. This is reminiscent of the Red Scares of the 20th Century.

Demonstrations are being planned for this week in various cities.

Monday 27/9/10

Minneapolis, MN – 4:30, FBI Office Monday, 111 Washington Ave. S.

Chicago, IL – 4:30 Fedeeral Building, Federal Plaza.

Kalamazoo, MI – 4:30 Federal Building, 410 W Michigan Ave

Salt Lake City, Utah – 9 AM at Federal Building

Durham, NC – 12 noon Federal Building, 323 E Chapel Hill St

Buffalo, NY- 4:30 pm at FBI Building – Corner of So. Elmwood Ave. & Niagara St.

Gainesville, FL – Monday, 4:30 PM at FBI Building

Tuesday 28/9/10

NYC, NY –  4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza,

Newark, NJ – 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA – 4:30pm Federal Building, 6th & Market,

Washington DC –  4:30 – 5:30 FBI Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Boston, MA –  5 pm, JFK Federal Building

Detroit, MI –  4:30 pm McNamara Federal Building, Michigan Ave. at Cass

Raleigh, NC –  9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave

Asheville, NC –  5 pm Federal Building,

Atlanta, GA – Noon, FBI Building

Los Angeles, CA – 5 pm, Downtown Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St

Tucson, AZ – 5 pm Federal Building

Wednesday 29/9/10

Albany, NY –  5 to 6 pm Federal Building

The anti-war movement in the US is still strong unlike the Stop The War coalition in Britain which was hijacked by the SWP and eventually strangled to death. We need to revitalize the anti-war movement in the UK and ensure that it is kept out of the hands of the SWP and others who would use it for their own ends. We also need to show solidarity and support to our American comrades who are being harassed by the state’s security apparatuses.

UPDATE:

The Stop the War Coalition have announced a national demonstration in London for 2o November. There is no mention anywhere on the site about the raids.

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Ed Miliband becomes Labour leader. So what?

So Ed Miliband has won the Labour Leadership election. Please forgive me if I don’t get excited but this is all something of an anti-climax. Given the number of Blairites in the party, I do not expect Labour to suddenly lurch to the left. It will not happen.  In fact, I don’t expect Labour to come up with any truly socialist policies. Ed and David Miliband’s father may have been a Marxist theorist but that doesn’t mean that the brothers  share Ralph’s politics…even if Ed was pictured during the campaign wearing a pair of work boots.

The question on my mind is whether or not, older brother David, will work with kid brother, Ed in a shadow cabinet or will he fume on the backbenches? What about the other failed leadership candidates? Will Diane Abbott finally get her hands on a portfolio? Unlikely.  She’s got her media career to think about. How about Ed Balls? What’s in store for him? Shadow Chancellor? As for Andy ‘Aspirational Socialism’ Burnham maybe he’ll just become a shadow. Serves him right for being such a tosser.

Nick Robinson is on the telly now saying how the right will try to paint Ed Miliband as a left-winger because of the support he received from the unions. The Tories are supported by a variety of millionaires and private interests, yet this oft-repeated accusation of Labour ‘being in the pay of the trade unions’ does not strike them as hypocritical. Besides, which is the more democratic? Trade unions or unaccountable millionaires?

Kinnock is on BBC News talking about how he supported Ed Miliband. Is that the kiss of death or what?

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour, Labour leadership contest

Crime, punishment and moral relativism

The Honorable Tobes does his best to defend the US from the charge made by Mr Armoured Dinner Jacket that the US is hypocritical for accusing Iran of barbarism. He cites the examples of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and the recent execution of  Teresa Lewis in Virginia who had an alleged IQ of 72 who ordered a hit on her ex-husband. What Hon Tobes doesn’t explain is the fact that the two hitmen were given life sentences while Lewis was executed.

What Hon Tobes fails (or refuses) to understand in his haste to ratchet up the pre-war rhetoric is the fact that minors and those with learning difficulties were once executed in states such as Texas until fairly recently. However Tobes falls back on the allegations made by the prosecution which are, in any case, flawed.

One thing that often gets overlooked by critics of capital punishment in America is just how robust the legal process is. I’m not denying that innocent people have been executed in the past – and the possibility of that happening is a powerful argument against capital punishment – but Teresa Lewis wasn’t innocent and the chances of anyone innocent being executed in contemporary America are slight.

On the one hand, Hon Tobes says that the US legal system is “robust” and then admits that innocents have been executed. You can’t have it both ways, Tobes. But let’s be clear, miscarriages of justice in the US are as common as they are in Iran and indeed Britain.

He finishes with this,

This is the key difference between the United States and Iran. It’s not the fact that the two countries have different laws – though, God knows, making adultery a capital crime is barbaric. Rather, it’s that America is characterised by the rule of law, whereas Iran is a tyrannical theocracy, riddled with corruption, ruled by a religious maniac who can throw anyone he likes into a dungeon where they are then subjected to rape and torture before being stoned to death.

Yes and if you have the money, you can quite literally buy justice in the US. Just ask OJ Simpson and William Kennedy Smith. Tobes’ argument smacks of moral relativism. I am not defending the Iranian state or its legal system but what Hon Tobes is trying to do is make the spurious argument that the US is morally superior to Iran because of its adherence to the ‘rule of law’. By the same token, the rule of law exists in Iran but it is alien to our understanding of that phrase. Stoning a woman for alleged adultery is barbaric but the execution of minors and those with learning difficulties is equally as barbaric.

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