Monthly Archives: January 2011

Porter, it’s time to tell truth

Time to ‘fess up’, no one shouted anti-Semitic abuse at you. And shame on your friends in the Tory press for printing such rubbish. How much did they pay you?

Here’s the video of the barracking in full.

Now go home and get your glowstick!

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Filed under Journalism, Media, propaganda, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Smears, Aaron Porter and the Tory press

Yesterday morning’s editions of the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph, along with Sky News, claimed that Saturday’s student protests in Manchester were marred by what the papers claim was a “barrage of anti-Semitic abuse” that was “hurled” at beleaguered NUS president Aaron Porter.

The Mail cites a single, anonymous source for its story

The national president of the NUS pulled out of speaking at a student fees rally after being surrounded by demonstrators calling for his resignation and shouting anti-Semitic insults at him.

Aaron Porter had to be escorted to safety by police this morning as he made his way to his offices in Manchester.

Protesters shouted ‘Students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!’ and ‘Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a f******* Tory too!’

One photographer reported chants of ‘Tory Jew scum’ directed at Mr Porter, who is facing calls to step down as NUS president by members of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, who claim he has ‘lost the confidence of the movement’.

The rest of the article retreats to a familiar position of attacking the protesters and playing up the government line. The article also ignores the reason for the protests which it simply puts down to “tuition fees”. Once again, the fact that higher education is facing some of the deepest cuts in 30 years isn’t mentioned.

This article from the Alliance for Workers Liberty (a Shachtmanite sect) sets the record straight. The AWL are rather sensitive when it comes to anti-Semitism, so if they are saying that no such chants were made, then it is entirely likely that this story has been manufactured in an effort to smear the student movement and the trade unions.

The quality of the Daily Mail’s ‘evidence’ (“A photographer said he also heard cries of ‘Tory Jew scum’”) should tell you something about the veracity of their claim. (In fact the chants were “Aaron Porter, we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too”, “Students, workers, hear us shout, Aaron Porter sold us out” and “Porter – out”.) The Mail’s accuracy can also be gauged from the fact it claims Porter took refuge in University of Manchester Students’ Union, when in fact it was Manchester Metropolitan Union.

The Telegraph thinks it can go one better. Like the Mail, it opens with accusations of anti-Semitic abuse,

Aaron Porter was escorted by officers after being confronted as he made his way to offices in Manchester. Witnesses report that among the chants directed at him from a small number of demonstrators were “——- Tory Jew”. Other protesters responded to the anti-semitic taunts aimed at Mr Porter by chanting: “No to racism, no to racism.”

Again, there are no witnesses named. The Telegraph even throws in imagined chants of  “No to racism”. The entire article looks as though it has been fabricated from remnants of the Mail’s story. Only 24 hours earlier, the Telegraph printed this,

Campaigners shouted: “Students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!” and “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a ******* Tory too!”

This blog puts the whole thing into perspective.

According to both the Mail and the Telegraph, Porter told them that he had been ‘racially abused’.  Today’s Jerusalem Post picked up on the story. But the article looks as though it’s been distilled from the same source as the Telegraph article.

The Independent makes no mention of supposed anti-Semitism and nor does The Guardian.

During the incident, Mr Porter was subjected to chants of “students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!” and “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a fucking Tory, too!”

There is no mention of Porter’s supposed Jewishness. If anything, he’s half-Trinidadian according to his Wikipedia entry.

The government and its agents will do anything to divide the protest movement. If this means lying and making things up, then that is what they will do.

Here’s the video. I can’t hear any “anti-Semitic abuse”.

The anti-Zionist blog, Jews sans Fronteires, doesn’t agree with the Tory press.

So does anyone have any evidence for these allegations of antisemitism or has the meaning of antisemitism morphed (yet again) from anti-Jewish to anti-racist to anti-establishment?

That’s a very good question though this is pretty typical behaviour for a paper that ran the headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”! on 8 January 1934.

UPDATE @ 1825

Changed “Matgamna-ist” to Shachtmanite. The AWL was founded by Sean Matgamna. Both are associated with so-called Third Camp socialism.

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Filed under Media, propaganda, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Rand the Moocher

From Alternet. I wonder if Dan Hannan or Dougie Carswell know about this?

Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them

By Joshua Holland

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers” using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes’ labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O’Connor (her husband was Frank O’Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University’s Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, “In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.”

Her ideas about government intervention in some idealized pristine marketplace serve as the basis for so much of the conservative rhetoric we see today. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” said Paul Ryan, the GOP’s young budget star at a D.C. event honoring the author. On another occasion, he proclaimed, “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.”

You can read the rest here.

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Filed under Bad philosophy, Ideologies, Philosophy

The Cure – Fire in Cairo

Thanks to Dublin Opinion for this(tips hat).

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Filed under Egypt, World

Can we have some of what the Egyptians and Tunisians are having, please?

We need some of this here

First Tunisia and now Egypt, the old corrupt and repressive regimes are under threat. Ben Ali of Tunisia went into exile last week and Hosni Mubarak is clinging on. But these protests tell us something: ordinary people have put up with neoliberalism, corruption and attacks on them for long enough. There is only so much people can take before they snap.

Yesterday,  David Cameron said

“I think what we need is reform in Egypt. We support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.

“Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched.

“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest that people are being killed on the streets of Egypt as we speak, and so I hope the violence will cease.

“But clearly, when you have people who have grievances and problems that want them responded to, it’s in all our interests that these countries have stronger rule of law, stronger rights, stronger democracy.”

Foreign Secretary, Fizzy Willy Hague chipped in with

“I think it is important to recognise that the people involved have legitimate grievances – economic grievances and political grievances – and it is very important for the authorities to respond positively to that, and to be able to hold out the hope and prospect of reform in the future.

“That is the answer to this situation, rather than repression. It does not help to suppress people’s right to freedom of expression.”

Cameron  also said to the delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Europe had to

‘incentivise the same kind of risk-taking investment culture’

What Cameron can’t wrap his head around is the fact that British people have plenty of  grievances and problems  but his government ignore them and are intent on creating more problems by pursuing their ill-conceived and poorly-formulated social experiments.

Yesterday, one of Cameron’s model councils, Westminster, announced that it has plans to give social housing priority to those people who are employed.   Westminster was infamous in the early 1990’s for the Homes for Votes scandal. The then leader, Dame Shirley Porter, gerrymandered marginal wards to favour the ruling party (her party).

Under the council’s plans, working households will be defined as those where the main applicant or their partner are in work, have a permanent or temporary contract or are self-employed.

People who would be prioritised must have been working for a minimum of two years.

As if to emphasize their intellectually feeble and philosophically bankrupt policies, Hon Gid  and Cameron were spreading the Thatcherite message. Their message files in the face of recently published economic figures which say that Britain’s economy has shrunk while the US economy has grown. The US has spent money to achieve growth, while the British government makes deep cuts to public services and raises the rate of VAT, thus choking off consumer confidence. A PPE degree clearly doesn’t make for a wise politician.

While the likes of Cameron and Hague call for reform in Egypt, they trample over our democratic rights and pursue ideologically-driven policies that will make people poorer and destroy public services. Not only are these people intellectually feeble (it was the snow that caused our economy to shrink) and philosophically bankrupt (social housing is responsible for worklessness), their minds are firmly closed to today’s realities.

This is 2011, not 1981.

But the Great Lord of Darkness is still living in the past.

After nearly a quarter of a century of good industrial relations, the cloth-cap colonels of the TUC are talking about using the strike weapon to overrule a democratically elected Parliament. I can understand their anger and frustration.

I doubt he can understand the anger and frustration. His take on history is faulty too. What does he mean by “a quarter of a century of good industrial relations”? He’s not even honest enough to admit that it was his government passed a series of anti-trade union laws and spent a lot of its time smashing those unions while, ironically, supporting Solidarinosc in Poland.

I won’t bother to quote the rest of his blog. It’s really depressing.

There are demonstrations against the cuts to education in London and Manchester today and there are more planned for the future. There should be daily protests and if a few things are damaged in the process, then so be it. This government has shown that it isn’t interested in what ordinary people think and it is only through the tactics of shock that we can get them to change anything. Though, expecting this shower of shite to leave office and go into exile to Chile is clearly my fantasy and mine alone.

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Filed under Comprehensive Spending Review, ConDem Budget 2010, Conservative Party, Cuts, Egypt, Government & politics, Public spending

Adam Curtis’s The Living Dead (Part 3)

Here is the final part of The Living Dead. This episode tells how Thatcher used public relations  to exploit a particular memory of  Winston Churchill for political ends. This episode is called “The Attic”.

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Filed under History & Memory, Ideologies, Society & culture

The Big Society? It’s not The Great Society

When President Lyndon Johnson proposed his Great Society, he had a vision and a coherent plan. Contrast this to David Cameron’s “Big Society” which has been largely incoherent and possesses no real vision. It seems to me – as well as many others – that it is nothing more than a cover for the slashing and burning of the public sector.

The Conservatives haven’t been big on the idea of society or anything inherently social for some time. Thatcher once infamously asserted that there was

no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations.

I thought that I would include more of the quote than is actually remembered. I have done this to illustrate the Hayekian thread that ultimately runs through this speech and the policies of the Thatcher government.  The individual in the Hayekian sense is one that has been emptied of all humanity and then re-filled with greed and alienation. Your role in this world – if you aren’t rich and wield governmental or judiciary power – is to consume and be happy. This is an update of the old maxim “know your place”.

Cameron’s Big Society takes this idea forward by imposing something he calls “localism”. But what this localism amounts to is a further atomization of society.

So here is a reminder of the big priorities of the Big Society

  1. Give communities more powers (localism etc)
  2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities (volunteerism)
  3. Transfer power from central to local government
  4. Support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises
  5. Publish government data (open/transparent government)

The key points of Johnson’s Great Society were:

  1. Civil rights
  2. War on Poverty
  3. Education
  4. Health (Medicare/Medicaid)
  5. Arts and cultural institutions (National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, public broadcasting, etc.)
  6. Transportation
  7. Consumer protection
  8. Environment

There is no grand vision in Cameron’s Big Society brand. There is no mention of poverty, arts and culture (currently being slashed) or education. On the latter, university funding is being cut and free schools – far from being the saviour of the English educational system seem likely to create further division. Admittedly much of the Great Society was rolled back in Reagan’s Gold Rush of the 1980’s. In this country the welfare state was similarly shrunk though, ironically, a quasi-welfare state continues to exist for private enterprise.

The National Health Service, seen by many free-market Tories as a beast that has been fattened for slaughter, is to face the effects of the Tories social experiment. The GP fund-holding scheme will be resurrected, dusted down and given a new name: patient choice. Those who propose these ‘reforms’ are well aware that they do not use public services of any kind, so it doesn’t matter to them if a few libraries in their constituency are closed or the NHS is privatized because they don’t use the NHS either.

There is no aim to improve anything except the channels that deliver wealth to the already wealthy. Public transport will become more expensive as this government reduces the amount of subsidy that it gives to the Train Operating Companies.

When Blair appropriated FDR’s phrase “New Deal”, he divested it of meaning. Instead the New Deal was used to massage unemployment statistics. If someone was on the New Deal, they weren’t claiming Jobseekers Allowance and were thus excluded from the figures. The New Deal was as superficial as the man who dreamt up the ‘idea’.

The Tories may think that by coupling the word “big” with society this will convince people into thinking that what the government is doing is for the benefit of all. This line of thinking is delusional but then thinking isn’t what these people do best.

UPDATE @ 1632

Edited out sentence that made no sense.

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Filed under Big Society, Conservative Party, Government & politics

Young: I’m the whipping boy of the loony left (sic)

Could there be a more whiny, pitiful individual than Toby Young? Today, the Hon Tobes moans that he’s the “Whipping boy of the loony left” (sic).

Honestly, the “loony left”. Young is still living in the 1980’s when the Tory press routinely manufactured headlines that ridiculed Labour councils.  “Ba Ba Black Sheep” never happened. It was made up by some braindead sub-editor in Wapping.

So Young is safely ensconced in the past or so he thinks. His use of popular 80’s pejoratives reveals just how out of touch he is with the real world. His divisive West London Free school will displace over 20 charities in the building Hammersmith & Fulham Council has promised to sell to him.

Young, who has never worked in education, thinks he knows how to run a school and, more importantly, what subjects should be included in the curriculum. Here he lambasts Christine Blower, who actually works in education.

Last week, it was the turn of Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the NUT, to weigh in. She denies being a member of the SWP, but her links to the organisation are well-documented. In 2000, she stood as a candidate for the London Socialist Alliance, an affiliation of far Left political groups broadly controlled by the SWP. (It was known as “Paul Foot’s LSA”, Foot being the SWP’s best-known member.) Blower was described by Jack McAvoy, a former General Secretary of the NUT, as “controlled and supported by a group of extreme Left organisations including Militant, the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Campaign for a Democratic and Fighting Union and the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance.”

When reasoned argument fails, fall back to the default position of smearing your opponent. The rest of the blog follows the same downward trajectory until it finally reaches the gutter.

The latest Left-wing attack dog to go for my jugular is Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith. After personally abusing me in the House of Commons, he followed up with a blog post on LabourList in which he repeated the calumny about the special needs school and added some more misinformation for good measure. He claimed that the boroughs of Ealing, Hounslow and Brent all said no to the West London Free School – three lies in one sentence, which is pretty good going even for him.

It won’t surprise you to learn that Slaughter himself went to Latymer, a direct grant school that was forced to become independent when Labour abolished the direct grant system in 1976. He benefited from precisely the sort of classical liberal education the West London Free School is intending to offer, yet he now wants to deny that same opportunity to local children from low income families.

Young’s ‘argument’ is that Andrew Slaughter once went to Latymer Upper School and his education somehow excludes him from any conversation about the state school system. He lies when he says that Slaughter “abused him” in the Commons. Does this look like abuse?

Mr Slaughter: Yesterday my local Tory council announced that 22 well regarded voluntary organisations would be evicted from their home in Palingswick house, which they have been in for 25 years, to provide a site for a free school run by the self-publicist Toby Young, most of whose pupils will come from outside the borough. Will the right hon. Gentleman extend his deliberations and come to Hammersmith to sort out the broken big society there?

But Hon Tobes is a self-publicist. What’s so abusive about that? It’s a fact.

Young’s free school was supposed to have been located in the Borough of Ealing. Presumably, he had a tough time with the local council and he came to Hammersmith & Fulham where the ruling party has made shafting the disadvantaged into an art form (this is the same council that closed a load of homeless shelters). As I have pointed out in previous blogs, the council [Dear]leader, Stephen Greenhalgh wants to attract more rich people into the borough. To achieve this he has to bulldoze council estates and exile the low-waged and poor to other boroughs. This is the man who describes social housing as “welfare housing”.

All I have to say to Hon Tobes and his rich pals is “Nulli Secundis”…which is a nonsense phrase that was, nonetheless, used by him and his school as a motto. A propos, nonsense is what drips from his lips and flows from his er, pen.

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Filed under Education, Government & politics, Hammersmith & Fulham, London, Media, Tory press

Adam Curtis’s The Living Dead (Part 2)

Here is Part 2 of Adam Curtis’s documentary The Living Dead. This episode is called “You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough”. This episode is about brainwashing and mind control. The US and USSR both believed they could use a combination of mind manipulation and hallucinogenic drugs to program assassins. The program was a failure and was abandoned. This didn’t stop the wunderkinds of psychiatry from using these techniques in an attempt to obliterate bad memories from the minds of their patients.

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Filed under History & Memory, Mental health, Modernity, social engineering, Society & culture

A word about Labour…

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am not a fan of the Labour leadership and I haven’t been since Kinnock delivered that speech. This does not mean that I am against working with individual Labour members to fight the cuts.  I am prepared to work with anyone who is fighting the ideologically driven cuts that this Tory-led government (whose own mandate for such cuts is dubious)  is currently implementing. Indeed my local Labour MP, Andy Slaughter, is pretty decent and the local party is doing the right things (though, some years ago, I had a serious disagreement with the former Labour MP, Iain Coleman, over the Iraq invasion).

In recent weeks, the Tory press has printed stories about how unions are planning to go on strike during the royal wedding.  We know why these papers have printed such stories and the word that I have in mind begins with the letters “s” and “m”. Last Sunday, Ed Miniband chipped in with his twopenneth worth on the Andrew Marr Show,

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he is “appalled” by the idea of trade unions planning strikes to disrupt Royal Wedding celebrations.

He told the BBC such a plan of action would be “absolutely the wrong thing to do” and a “sign of failure”.

The Daily Mail led the charge with this article on 30 December 2010. They quote Mark Serwotka of the PCS union as saying,

Unless you look like you want a fight, they won’t negotiate. The Government has to see we are serious.’

He added: ‘Actions around Easter have quite an effect because so much is happening at that time of year.

‘The end of April, beginning of May would be best. The royal wedding would not be a factor in our planning but nor would it be a factor to avoid.

The wording here is vague, yet the pair who wrote this claim to have some kind of ability to see into the future as well as the hearts of men.

No union leader has actually called for strikes during the royal wedding. Yet, Miliband appears to have fallen into a trap laid for him by the Tory press by condemning the action in advance.

This article from the Press Association says,

In a warning shot to union bosses, Mr Miliband said that strikes were a “legitimate last resort” in industrial disputes, but he did not want to see them used in a co-ordinated attempt to undermine the coalition Government, insisting that this was not the way to bring about a change in power.

It’s that last sentence that sticks in the mind like a splinter. What Dear Ed seems to forget is that parliamentary opposition is limited to what the Labour front bench decides or doesn’t decide to do. What Miniband wants us to do is to submit to their [lack of] leadership. Here he summons up the ghosts of the 1980’s.

He insisted there must be no going back to the divisive and politically-driven disputes of the 1980s, such as the miners’ strike led by Arthur Scargill, which divided the nation and presented Labour with a hugely-damaging challenge to its credibility as a potential government.

The Labour leadership offered tepid support for the miners and others who went on strike during the 1980’s. Kinnock was more concerned with pleasing the Tory press than with supporting those people who had voted for Labour. It seems as though the current leader is thinking along the same lines. This comes as no surprise to us here at Nowhere Towers because of Kinnock’s endorsement of Mister Ed during the leadership contest.

So I am not against the Labour Party per se, just the leadership that has consistently failed to er, lead.

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Filed under Cuts, Government & politics, Labour, Public spending