Monthly Archives: January 2013

Trevor Kavanagh bangs the war drum

Can you believe anything The Sun says?

I was alerted by tweet (hat tip @mehdirhasan) to this “Sun Says” op-ed piece by headbanging hack, Trevor Kavanagh. It’s an intellectually dishonest attempt (well, he writes for The Sun, what did you expect?) to link the current situation in Algeria and Mali to this country. To be honest, I’m surprised he even knows where these countries are.

He says,

Britain and France justified support for Libyan rebels because they were ridding the world of one of its bloodiest tyrants.

But in destroying Gaddafi, they put thousands of his vicious, battle-hardened Islamist thugs out of a job.

These fanatics fled home to Mali, armed to the teeth, to join a ramshackle but dangerous al-Qaeda network that spreads across Africa from Somalia to Algeria and beyond.

But that isn’t quite true… is it, Trev? Let’s read some more.

They may be loose-knit and sometimes at odds but they share a murderous hatred of non-Muslims.

Mali has no historic links with us. Nor has Algeria. But unless extremist forces are driven out of these two French former colonies, the next target is Nigeria, which certainly does.

Nice bit of scaremongering there. Kavanagh’s banging his war drum.

Nigeria is criminally corrupt and barely democratic. But it is a strategically and economically vital member of the British Commonwealth.

Its vast reserves of “sweet oil” and huge gas fields make it a major player on world energy markets.

You’re forgetting something, Trev, the UK is criminally corrupt, barely democratic and is run by a cabal of upper class thugs, who ride roughshod over the people and are happy to blame the poor, disabled and unemployed for their economic failures. They pit one group of people against another by making artificial and fallacious distinctions. But I guess you can’t see that, because you’re just like them.

But Nigeria is a divided nation, split between Muslims and Christians — ripe for a revolution which is already under way.

Here, Kavanagh pretends to know a great deal about the African continent but is drawn to Nigeria because of its oil reserves. The rest of the continent or, indeed, the region seems to be left out to pursue a certain narrative.

This is pure garbage (it’s the best kind). Who are these “Islamists”?

Islamists in the Saharan North have forged links with the Mali fanatics called, chillingly, Those Who Sign In Blood.

No mention of the Tauregs and their struggle for independence in Azawad. Best not to confuse your knuckle-dragging readers with facts… eh, Trev? Keep them in the dark.

But here’s the worst bit of this desperate piece,

Britain is a melting pot of nationalities and faiths, home to hundreds of thousands of Malians, Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, Kenyans, Nigerians, Yemenis and Pakistanis.

Not all are grateful. Indeed, many are becoming outspokenly defiant. Some have colonised suburbs in major cities. One London borough is so staunchly Muslim it has become known as the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets.

First, he describes Britain as a “melting pot of nationalities”, then he puts the boot in by referring to Tower Hamlets as the ” Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets”. It would seem he’s been reading Kennite’s drivel about Lutfur Rahman, whom he’s described as “Islamist-supporting” and “extremist supporting”. Hatemongers and warmongers. My, what a combination.

Last week, hooded gangs of self-appointed religious police roamed Muslim- populated suburbs ordering women to cover up and confiscating liquor.

Ah, but doesn’t Islam prohibit vigilantism? You’re not doing such a great job here, Trev. Besides, you don’t say where this “suburb” is located and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were lying.  But then, I remember the stuff you used to write in the 1980s about “the enemy within”. You have “plenty of previous”, as they say in the East End.

Kennite often accuses the East London Mosque of being a “hotbed of extremism”, but here’s what they had to say.

Individuals claiming to be self-styled ‘Muslim patrols’ have been harassing members of the public on the streets of east London late at night, including outside our mosque after it has closed. They have anonymously uploaded their exploits to the internet.

These actions are utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord. We wholly condemn them. The East London Mosque is committed to building co-operation and harmony between all communities in this borough. The actions of this tiny minority have no place in our faith nor on our streets.

Earlier this week we contacted the Police and the local authorities to alert them to the presence of these individuals and video. We advise anyone who has been harassed by these individuals to contact the Police.

We will monitor the situation closely and our Imams will be speaking out against such actions.

But I guess you wouldn’t talk to them… would you, Trev? Is it really too much trouble to tell the truth? In your case and that of your vile rag, that’s clearly a stupid question.

DON’T BUY THE SUN!

UPDATE 22/1/13 @ 0928

After making some checks, I’ve discovered that “Those Who Sign In Blood” is mentioned on two other sites: one is Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs (I won’t link to her site). Geller, a friend to the EDL and other racists, is fond of lies and disinformation. Geller also apologised for Anders Behring Breivik ( Breivik is rather fond of Geller too). This is the kind of person Trevor Kavanagh is. The other site, SABC News, uses it as a tag but doesn’t mention it in the text.

UPDATE 22/1/13 @ 1419

I found this interesting article on Globalreasearch.ca. Unlike, Trevor Kavanagh, I do my research. This name “Those Who Sign In Blood” is actually “Those Who Sign With Blood”. Sure, there is a slight semantic difference but so what? Kavanagh ignored many details in order to advance a pro-war thesis.

Take this, for example.

This process of escalation is part of a US military and strategic “road-map”, a subsequent stage in the militarization of the African continent, “a followup” to the US-NATO 2011 war on Libya.

It is a project of neo-colonial conquest by the US over a vast area.

While France is the former colonial power, intervening on behalf of Washington, the end-game is to eventually exclude France from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. This displacement of France as a colonial power has been ongoing since the war of Indochina in the 1950s.

While the US is prepared in the short-run to share the spoils of war with France, Washington’s ultimate objective is to “redraw the map of the African continent”, and eventually, to transform francophone Africa into an American sphere of influence. The latter would extend across the continent from Mauritania on the Atlantic to the Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

A similar process of excluding France from francophone Africa has been ongoing since the 1990s in Rwanda, Burundi and the Republic of the Congo.

In turn, French as an official language in francophone Africa is being encroached upon. Today in Rwanda, English is an official language, alongside Kinyarwanda  and French. Starting with the RPF government in 1994, secondary education was offered in either French or English. Since 2009 it is offered solely in English. The University since 1994, no longer operates in French. (The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame does not read or speak French). In 2009, Rwanda joined the Commonwealth.

Throw China and India (Yes, India) into the equation and what have you got? A new Scramble for Africa. Kavanagh’s not interested in that or the lives of ordinary African people who will get caught up in this mess.

I’ve also changed the title of this blog to better reflect Kavanagh’s chest-thumping narrative.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, News Corporation, propaganda, Racism, Yellow journalism

Nina Wallet Intalou: the strongwoman of the MNLA

Western leaders and their media lackeys have been at pains to point out that the French military presence in Mali is aimed to destroy Islamist militants in that country and the Maghreb. Many of us understand that the words “Islamists” and “Jihadis” are dog whistle words that are intended to strike fear and, indeed, terror into the minds of those who hear them. In another time, the word “German” would have been used in much the same way. In fact, in  England (and not the rest of the UK), “German” is similarly deployed by Europhobes to convince people that leaving the EU is in their best interests – the spectre of a powerful Germany still exercises the minds of these people who still pine for the long-dead British Empire.

If Islamism is the driving force behind the rebellion in the Azawad region of Mali, then it isn’t doing a particularly good job. Under Islamism, women have no say in political discourse. They are kept silent.  Yet in the Taureg MNLA, there is one woman to whom men will listen. She is Nina Wallet Intalou and she is the voice of her people’s struggle for liberation.

I found this article on a site called WorldCrunch. Here’s an excerpt,

A member of the Executive Bureau of the NMLA (most of whose members live in exile here in Nouakchott), Nina Wallet Intalou, 49, is a key figure of the movement. She is also the only woman of the group. Wrapped in a shiny black malafa, the traditional Sahara veiling dress, and smoking a cigarette, she smiles, trying to conceal her concern about the possibility of a reverse: “AQIM is occupying our land,” she said. “Even men are not allowed to smoke any more. They are fighting our culture and our identity. Mali has never done anything against them. They want to erase us, with the complicity of Algerian authorities.”

Her father was a top nurse in the military from the Idnane tribe. Raised between Kidal, Gao and Mopti, the activist moved to Ivory Coast in 1984, aiming to raise awareness about the Tuareg cause among her African brothers. There, she married a rich businessman, with whom she had three children, and resumed her studies. After graduating in Public Law, she set up a construction business at the age of 26, leading 250 employees and holding the monopoly on the cleaning of phone booths in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital.

After divorcing from her husband, she returned to northern Mali. She was elected Mayor of Kidal in 1997, but could never exert power. “Islamists were starting to settle in the region, and they didn’t want a woman to rule a city,” she said. “At the time, most of them were from Pakistan and were beginning to create the katiba combat units. Algerians only came in 2003.”  As a consolation prize, Alpha Oumar Kondaré, then Mali President, offered her a position of local councilor.

My bold. Let us not forget how the 1992 Algerian elections were cancelled when Islamist parties performed well in the first two rounds,and the military forced the president, Chadli Bendjedid, to resign and replaced him with a “High Council of State” (a junta in all but name). The civil war that followed was bitter and brutal.

The above article was originally published in Le Monde and can be read here (in French).

The weak Malian government is using the threat of Islamism as a cover for its wider aims of smashing the MNLA, who are opposed to Islamism. Indeed, according to Intalou, the Malian government largely ignored the Islamists. So what changed?

This video of an interview with Intalou came to me from Lissnup on Twitter.

Like many of her compatriots, Intalou is currently in exile in Mauritania.

If Islamism is gaining traction in the Maghreb, then it would be important to ask why that is the case.  But as we know, the word “causality” has always absent from the warmongers’ discourse.

Elsewhere, Front de Gauche leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon points out that Hollande’s decision to put French troops on Malian soil was done without consulting parliament or the Prime Minister.

Enfin, il apparaît que la décision d’intervention a été prise par le seul président Hollande, non seulement sans consultation préalable du Parlement, mais même sans que le gouvernement de Jean-Marc Ayrault en ait été officiellement saisi.

That sounds so familiar.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Mali, The Maghreb, World

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 47): Moving to City Hall

Boris Johnson’s hatchet man, Andrew “Kennite” Gilligan

The Cat always knew Kennite was close to Emperor Windbag and now, according to this article by Hugh Muir and Adam Bienkov in today’s Guardian, he’s been offered the part-time job of – get this – cycling advisor. His qualifications? He rides a bike. So what? So do I and many others, who are probably better qualified.

Gilligan is expected to take up the post part-time while retaining his current staff position at the Daily Telegraph, but curtailing his coverage of London issues. It is understood he will be paid the normal adviser rate on a pro-rata basis. Most of the mayor’s advisers draw salaries of more than £90,000.

Gilligan won’t be giving up his job as Bozza’s Deputy Mayor for Information at the Telegraph just yet. In fact, he’s been knocking out more anti-Livingstone stories like this one.

Ken Livingstone was openly laughed at by members of Labour’s National Executive Committee today, I am told, after he urged them to readmit the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, to the party and let him stand as the Labour candidate in the borough’s 2014 mayoral election.

Some habits die hard. The vendetta grinds on, even though Livingtone lost last year’s mayoral election, Kennite just can’t let go.

The Telegraph is like a conduit to City Hall.

Veronica Wadley, Johnson’s former colleague at the Telegraph and editor of the Evening Standard during the 2008 campaign, has an arts and volunteering advisory role. It is said she first suggested Johnson to David Cameron as the man to win the mayoralty for the Conservatives.

Victoria Wadley too. There’s nowt like a little bit of cronyism in local government.

Here’s what Gilligoon said about his own appointment… or is that anointment?

It’s emerged today – slightly earlier than planned – that I’ve been offered a job as Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner. It’s part-time; I’ll continue in my day job, covering national and international news for the Telegraph, though I will no longer be called London Editor or cover any matter related to City Hall or Boris Johnson.

I’m very pleased to be doing this at a time when London cycling stands on the cusp of quite ambitious change. As perhaps the foremost cycling blogger in London, Danny Williams, was kind enough to say, I have been a “big supporter” and long-term advocate of London cycling.

So, let me get this straight, he was going to keep schtum until Bozza paraded him before the cameras?

I’ve never driven a car in my life and nearly all my travel in London is by bike. I cycle about 100 miles a week in the capital, and have cycled in every borough. I understand cycling provision from a cyclist’s point of view. Just as importantly, as a fairly recent convert, cycling since 2006, I understand how you can go from being a totally unfit slob who does no exercise to becoming a daily cyclist whose life has vastly improved as a result, because I have taken that journey. I know what got me cycling, what nearly put me off cycling, and what ultimately kept me cycling because I have been through that process.

I’ve been cycling on London’s streets for 17 years. I know other people who have been cycling longer. I’m even a nationally accredited cycling instructor. Others are too. This job (it pays £90,000 a year) is Gilligoon’s reward for writing tons of anti-Livingston smear stories in the Evening Standard and later the Torygraph, for whom Bozza also writes and gets paid “chicken feed” – apparently. Did I tell you that Bozza employed Kennite at the Spectator when he was editor?

The Cat asks “When is Darius Guppy going to be brought in from the cold”? Eh, Bozza?

UPDATE 18/1/13 @ 0935

Kennite defends Bozza’s cronyism by offering us his, er, definition of the word, which is, as you’d expect, another attack on his favourite politician,

Cronyism, of the kind I exposed in City Hall six years ago, is when the mayor’s advisers channel vast sums of public money, for no clear purpose, to their friends, their business associates and women they secretly want to honey-glaze. I’m fairly sure I won’t be doing that. (And to anyone tempted to diss those Lee Jasper stories of mine, do remember that the only libel action to result from them was brought, successfully, by me.)

Naturally, Gilligoon sidesteps the issue of the smear stories he’s written for his chum, the current mayor, who’s done, er, nothing much since he was elected last year.

If you’re thinking about leaving a comment, then you can’t. He’s closed the comments thread.

Leave a comment

Filed under City Hall, London

Mali: we’ve seen this movie before (reprise)

Map of Mali showing the Azawad region

Already the Mali adventure looks like the opener for something nasty. Today, the Independent reports that “alleged Islamists” (described as “Jihadists” by the BBC’s Frank Gardner) have taken 41 people, all of them foreign workers, hostage at a remote gas plant on the Algerian-Libyan border. 2 people have been killed, one of them a Briton, the other a Frenchman.

This caught my eye,

Reports suggested that the raiders spoke Arabic with “strong Libyan  accents”. A group called the Katibat Moulathamine, or “Masked Brigade”, told Mauritanian radio the attack was a “punishment” for Algeria’s decision to permit French warplanes to use its airspace to attack Malian rebels.

In neighbouring Mauritania there have been ongoing protests, none of them have been reported in Western mainstream media, while Syria, Egypt and Tunisia receive more than ample coverage. Mauritania has seen a massive influx of refugees from Mali.

In the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring” similar things were predicted for “sub-Saharan” (a term I absolutely detest) Africa. From al-Arabiya,

There was eventually no “African Spring”. But Sub-Saharan Africa is not impervious to change. Sporadic protest movements there still could turn into clamoring for radical overhaul of current systems, if living conditions do not improve. Recent events have also shown that the Sahara is not an impenetrable wall. It could not prevent the destabilization of Mali after Tuareg fighters flocked back home following the collapse of the Gadhafi regime.

But this article should be approached with caution, because it was written by Oussama Romdhani, a former Tunisian Communications Minister and “Fulbright scholar”.

It was reported in most of the mainstream media that French troops would engage in direct combat with the insurgents.

Last April, The Christian Science Monitor reported,

This year, Mali‘s restive Tuareg minority has erupted into rebellion after four years of relative quiet, the army has mutinied and seized control of the capital city of Bamako, and today Tuareg separatists declared an independent republic in the country’s vast north.

And asked,

Is this all NATO‘s fault?

Not exactly. But the law of unintended consequences is (as usual) rearing its head. In this case, the successful popular uprising against Muammar Qaddafi‘s regime inLibya, which was substantially aided by the air power of NATO members, has sent Mali tumbling back into chaos, something that neither France nor the US (two of the major backers of the war to oust Qaddafi) are happy about. Far from it.

They call it blowback.

I found this interesting article from The Guardian. It’s dated 28 December, 2010. It poses the question, “Mali: whose land is it anyway”?

Mali is one of the countries most affected by the scramble for land, and Ségou, the country’s rice basket, is at the eye of the storm, with buyers from Senegal, South Africa, China, as well as domestic companies snapping up leases on thousands of hectares. This is land already intensively used in a country with one of the highest population growth rates in the world and where 80% of the people depend on farming for their livelihood.

People are being forced off their land by foreign investors. If this doesn’t sound like a new scramble for Africa, I don’t know what does.

French troops were apparently invited into Mali by that country’s government. But we need to remember that France still pulls many strings in its former colonies. To view this as a war against Islamist insurgents is a massive oversimplification of a complicated situation. It also ignores the ongoing global food crisis, which was partly responsible, along with neoliberalism, for the so-called “Arab Spring”.

The Tuareg people, who inhabit  Northern Mali have been neglected by the government and it is this region that has been singled out for French bombardment. Coincidence?

The pale-skinned Tuaregs, who inhabit northern Mali, have long complained of neglect and disrimination by the government dominated by southerns in far-off Bamako.

In February, Mr Kader says attacks increased against Tuareg in Bamako and the nearby garrison town of Kati.

“People started attacking anything Tuareg: They burnt houses, cars and attacked anyone with white skin – even Arabs,” he says.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad or MNLA is made up of Taureg, many of whom fought for the Libyan Army during the 2011 Civil War. It is they who are being linked to al-Qaeda by the Malian government. The MNLA declared independence from the rest of Mali.  That gets left out of the current narrative in order to advance the spurious argument that this is an “Islamist insurgency”. Al-Qaeda is often used as a handy catch-all term for any Arab or Muslim who demands rights or autonomy – especially if their demands don’t intersect with the free market dogma of the neoliberal West. There probably once was an al-Qaeda, but these days it sounds more like a brand name that almost anyone can use.

Oil, gold and uranium. There’s a lot of it in the region, as Globalresearch.ca points out (I urge you to read the article),

Whatever is reported by the mainstream media, the goal of this new war is no other than stripping yet another country of its natural resources by securing the access of international corporations to do it.  What is being done now in Mali through bombs and bullets is being done to Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain by means of debt enslavement.

Finally, I found this rather hilarious blog by Paul Cotterill on Liberal Conspiracy. It’s classic left-baiting stuff.

But if the anti-war left is going to get serious about anti-imperialism/promoting the long-term advisability of stopping these continued interventions – we can be sure enough there’ll be another one along in the non-too-distant future – it had better start by getting serious about its analysis.

I bet he believes in “liberal intervention”.

POSTSCRIPT

I found this interesting article on Huffington Post, dated 27/9/11.

In the mid 1990s Gaddafi moved to quell the very Tuareg insurgencies he had once promised to support. A decade later he awarded Libyan citizenship to diehard Tuareg rebels who rejected the negotiated peace settlement in Niger and enlisted many of them in the Libyan army. It is among the Tuareg, according to Frederic Deycard and Yvan Guichaoua, that Gaddafi is likely to have secured troops to defend his crumbling regime.

Deycard and Guichaoua estimate that pro-Gaddafi elements recruited roughly 1,500 Tuaregs from Mali and Niger, most of who were already resident in Libya, over the course of the six-month conflict. In short they comprise a tiny fraction of the Libyan armed forces. To put this number in perspective, at the beginning of the conflict Gaddafi’s army was estimated to be 76,000 strong. Defection and death have greatly reduced this number, but attrition has also been high among foreign combatants, both African and non-African.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Africa, Libya, Mali, World

Mali: we’ve seen this movie before

French Mirage fighter jet in Mali

It all began with the familiar rhetoric, “We’re going after Islamist terrorists” and with those magic words, the UK swung behind its neighbour, France,  in support of another desperate, but nakedly brazen, military adventure in Africa. The use of Islamists and associated “terror” groups to justify mass killing on an industrial scale is, by now, a familiar refrain. Indeed, the UN Security Council, on which France has a permanent seat, rubber-stamped the mission. François Hollande, the so-called Socialist Président de la République,  has revealed himself to be quite the little warmonger.

France enjoys wreaking havoc in Africa. It was quick to swing into action in the Central African Republic when the ostensible tyrant, Jean Bedel Bokassa, declared himself Emperor of his newly created “empire” (he was copying Napoleon I). France even has a military presence in Chad, a country that has a lot of desert and little else. It just happens to share a border with Libya.

Even though it ostensibly gave up its empire in West and Central Africa, France seems to spend rather too much time on the continent. It has a military presence in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and possibly Niger too. Niger being the alleged home of the infamous yellow cake uranium hoax.

It’s obvious why France is in Mali and it has nothing at all to do with “Islamist terrorists”, it’s more to do with the stuff that lies beneath the ground; the mineral wealth. Well, why else are European countries still exercising considerable influence on a continent that has been plundered and looted; its inhabitants forced to endure autocratic and capricious puppet rulers for the last 50 odd years? It ain’t humanitarianism, baby! Altruism is the last thing on their minds.

Britain wants a slice of the action too. We can see echoes in the Second Opium War, which was a joint military enterprise between the classical liberal British Empire and the newly liberal  Second French Empire, ruled by the vain and impulsive Napoleon III. Markets: they must be opened up – by force, if necessary. Yes, Britain is happy to provide military “assistance” because it wants a share of those riches – even though it may overstretch itself. Afghanistan?

Already, French air strikes have killed hundreds of civilians. There’s nowhere to hide in the desert and one group of people looks much the same as any other to the French pilots. If they wear turbans, gun them down where they stand. Better still, bomb the lot of them and save the bullets. The trouble is, a lot of people wear turbans in that part of the world.

This is another scramble for Africa. Desperate to relive the glories of 19th century imperial power and all the wealth it provided for the few, France is having another bash at the old imperialism game. A spokeswoman for the Stop the War movement, quoted in today’s Morning Star said,

The civil war in Mali is a direct consequence of the disastrous intervention in Libya and shows that the war on terror is a source of instability in Africa as in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Libya. Remember that place? It’s a total mess. And one mess leads inexorably to another mess. And messes can be used to the advantage of countries with massive military machines. They usually call this peace-keeping or a humanitarian intervention. Like the various aid appeals for famine-hit Ethiopia, the claim of humanitarianism rings rather hollow when weighed against the evident dash for the continent’s resources, backed up by the latest in killing technology.

The Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor warns of mission creep,

David Cameron has insisted that no British combat troops from the UK will be involved in operations in Mali. Britain’s top military commanders have no wish to join French combat troops there — a view they were expected to make quite clear at a meeting on Tuesday of the National Security Council, chaired by Cameron.

However, that may not be the end of it. Britain and the US could yet provide surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft or pilotless drones. The European Union is planning to deploy a military training mission consisting of several hundred troops, including British soldiers, to Mali in the next few weeks.

This could be the pattern of future European military interventions, as our blog has suggested before. Britain, France, the US, all know air strikes from high-flying planes or drones is not the most effective way, militarily (or politically or ethically, given the likelihood of civilian casualties) to fight mobile forces speeding around on pickup trucks.

So the emphasis is on training local forces, in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and now Mali. They could be backed up by special forces, rather less visible than warplanes.

And mercenaries too, I shouldn’t wonder. After all, European and US mercenaries have been hanging around African countries for decades now. In 2002, the war criminal Blair chillingly told us how he would have liked to see mercenaries operate in a peace-keeping role in West Africa. Mercenaries only know how to do one thing: kill for money. Asking a mercenary to be a peacekeeper is a little like asking a butcher to perform keyhole surgery on a seriously ill patient. Why would you do it?

Finally, I need to mention arch-Blairite, Hatchet-job Hodges, who penned this blog, designed to goad and mock the left, whom he declares have “been silent” on the issue of military intervention in Mali.  As a “Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest” (the Torygraph’s words, not mine), he no doubt supports the Orwellian notion of “liberal intervention” and turns a blind eye to the war crimes associated with it. It seems to me he has no room to talk. He offers us this myopic vision from his crystal ball,

Francois Hollande is unlikely to emerge from his Mali adventure as the new De Gaulle. But he may well become the new Left-wing poster boy for progressive interventionism. It would be enough.

What a nasty piece of work. Just like his war criminal idol in fact. But in his haste to have a dirty little dig, he failed to spot this blog on the Stop the War Coalition website. Hodges talks shit, just like his war criminal idol.

6 Comments

Filed under Africa, Mali, World

Nightmare on King Street (Part 13)

Bozza doesn’t have much luck with his Deputy Mayors. Almost as soon as they are installed, they face controversy and are dismissed. Ray Lewis, much to everyone’s dismay, has been brought back into service like a clapped out old train that’s been given a quick lick of paint. An error of judgement on the mayor’s part? Most certainly.

Since he became Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, has been involved in scandal after scandal. First, he arrogantly refused to deal with Assembly Member’s questions, then he was accused of “inappropriate behaviour” in a City Hall lift. Yesterday, The Guardian’s Dave Hill reported that he could face criminal charges over his involvement in the Earls Court/West Kensington redevelopment – and I don’t think I’m being too dramatic when I use this word – scandal.

Hill writes,

A complaint that Boris Johnson‘s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, may have engaged in criminal conduct while he was leader of the Conservative flagship council of Hammersmith and Fulham has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Greater London Authority’s monitoring officer, who is responsible for ensuring that the GLA, its members and officers comply with the law, informed the complainant on Monday that under regulations applying to elected local policing bodies his complaint:

“falls with the statutory definition of a “serious complaint”: a qualifying complaint made about conduct which constitutes or involves, or appears to constitute or involve, the commission of a criminal offence. As a consequence…I am obliged, today, to refer your complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission”

The complaint relates to Greenhalgh’s close involvement when Hammersmith and Fulham leader with the proposed redevelopment of a vast, 77-acre site in the Earls Court area of inner west London by the property giant Capco.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Last March, the Kwok brothers, who were involved in the massive CapCo project were arrested on corruption charges.

Leave a comment

Filed under City Hall, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

The Miliband speech: one crumb of comfort in amongst the neoliberal detritus

Picture courtesy of the Daily Mirror

Well, it’s really nice of Ed Miliband to stand up for tenants who are being screwed by unscrupulous private sector landlords. Thanks for the warm words, Ed, they mean so much. And yes, I’m being sarcastic. That is my wont.

Labour has not pledged to reverse any of the Tory cuts, indeed if they won the next general election they will continue cutting, slashing and capping. I had a look at Miliband’s speech he gave to the Fabian Society (the fact that he spoke to the Fabians should tell you all you need to know) on Saturday and there was nothing to get excited about. In his speech he apparently fleshed out his “One Nation”, er, vision.

I will quote some of the speech, starting with this extract.

New Labour rightly broke from Old Labour and celebrated the power of private enterprise to energise our country.

You will notice how he uses the Tory-coined phrase “Old Labour” here. It’s as if to say that anything the Labour Party did before the arrival of Kinnock and Blair was bad or wrong. What about the National Health Service? I could list other achievements but the NHS is certainly a great achievement for a country that was, ostensibly, broke. The celebration of “the power of private enterprise” led to the disastrous reliance on the Private Finance Initiative, which effectively led to the wholesale destruction of the NHS. It licensed carpet-bagging on a massive scale. In short, it was a failure. The only thing it “energised” were greedy businessmen.

It helped get people back into work, and introduced the minimum wage and tax credits to help make work pay.

And it used tax revenues to overcome decades of neglect and invest in hospitals, schools and the places where people live.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) was seen as a great achievement by the New Labour government but it wasn’t a living wage and was never going to be. Of course, the Tories opposed the NMW and continue to do so. Many Tories, especially of those of a free-market bent want to scrap the NMW altogether and force people to accept sweatshop wages with no workplace protection.  Speaking of workplace protection, New Labour refused to reverse the draconian anti-trade union legislation introduced by the Thatcher government. Workers continue to find themselves under attack by a ruthless and venal government that pits worker against worker and dares to offer them pitifully worthless shares in return for compliance. if it could get its way, the Tories would take us back to the 19th century… and Labour would let them.

The word “responsibility” appears several times during the speech. This word is much beloved of neoliberals and is, more often than not, applied to those at the bottom.

To turn things round in Britain, we all have to play our part.
Especially in hard times.
We are right to say that responsibility should apply to those on social security.

This language is no different to that used by the Tories. The suggestion here is that those on social security are universally “irresponsible” rather than victims of circumstance – which is often the case. But he throws in the following decoy to distract those who would seek to pick holes in his argument.

But we need to say that responsibility matters at the top too.

That’s the essence of One Nation Labour.

It shares New Labour’s insight about our obligations to each other.

And it learns the lessons of what New Labour didn’t do well enough, ensuring responsibilities go all the way through society from top to bottom.

Here, Miliband appears to suggest that his One Nation Labour brand is an extension of the New Labour brand. If you thought Miliband’s Labour Party was any different to Blair/Brown, think again. The ingredients on the label are exactly the same but with a couple of new additives… and the new brand name.

New Labour began with a bold agenda for the distribution of power in Britain.

And it stood for a Labour party not dominated by one sectional interest, but reaching out into parts of Britain that Old Labour had never spoken to.

Again, Miliband distances himself from so-called “Old Labour”, that’s the same Labour Party that legalized homosexuality and abortions under the rather right-wing Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins. It’s been said that if such proposals were put to the Commons today, they would be voted down.

Miliband came from a relatively a privileged background. He went to Oxford and like many of those who were intent on a career in politics, he read (they don’t study at Oxbridge) Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). He tells us that the Labour Party will be

Recruiting MPs from every part of British life: from business to the military to working people from across every community.

With most of Britain’s mines and factories closed, it’s hard to see how Miliband can recruit more Dennis Skinners. It sounds like a load of guff to me.

All in all Miliband’s speech was crafted to appeal to the Fabians and placate those so-called floating voters whose  political allegiances change with the wind. Fabians believe that they can reform capitalism. They are mistaken and have been wrong for more than 100 years. Their gradualism has led them to betray the working class and the labour movement time and time again.

On the one hand, Miliband is a hostage to the Blairites and on the other, he’s running scared of the Tory press (ably assisted by Hatchet-job Hodges in the Torygraph), who pore over his every word, hoping to find a way to paint him as a closet Commie. It’s quite laughable and, at the same time, it’s tragic.

There really is nothing Red about Ed.

4 Comments

Filed under Government & politics, Labour, Tony Blair