Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance Alert ...

Lynne Featherhead MP at the Lib Dem Conference :

And there has been so much damage done to the image of Muslims with the reporting of news from overseas and here, where so-called Islamic terrorists often feature - but when those fighting the terrorists, or the victims of terrorism, are also Muslim - this often goes unmentioned.

The drip-drip effect of linking the word 'Muslim' and the word 'terrorism' - but not linking "victim" and "Muslim" in the same way - is pernicious.

And at the same time we have seen a rising tide of attacks on Jewish people too.

Er ... do you want to tell her, or shall I ?

CST recorded 609 antisemitic incidents (pdf link) in the first six months of 2009. This is more than the 5441 incidents recorded by CST during the whole of 2008. CST has never before recorded more than 600 antisemitic incidents in a calendar year. The previous annual high was 598 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2006. The 609 antisemitic incidents reported to CST in the first half of 2009 is more than double the 276 antisemitic incidents reported to CST in the first six months of 2008. The main reason for this record number of incidents was the unprecedented number of antisemitic incidents recorded in January and February, during and after the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The number of incidents recorded did not return to normal pre-Gaza levels until April, some three months after the fighting in Gaza ended.

CST recorded 286 antisemitic incidents in January 2009, by far the highest number
ever recorded in a single month since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984. In January 2008 CST recorded 43 antisemitic incidents. The previous high recorded by CST in a calendar month was 105 in October 2000, the month that the second Palestinian Intifada began.

Must be all those hideous right-wingers, what ? To be fair to Ms Featherstone, I imagine she knows perfectly well where the anti-semitic attacks are coming from. Just another one of those truths that dare not speak its name.

More contradiction :

And then there's religion. In recent years, sadly the spectre of religious discrimination has arisen again. A party born of revulsion at the treatment of Catholics and Non-conformists stands four square behind all those who seek to practice their faith.
Well, yes. As long as they don't practice it too seriously, that is.

Not that long ago it was against the law to be openly gay. Now it is against the law to refuse to register a civil partnership.

And registrars like Lilian Ladele are sacked for practicing their faith and refusing to register civil partnerships - a decision thoroughly approved of by Lynne Featherstone, standing four-square behind Ms Ladele's practice of her faith - with a P45 in one hand and a pitchfork in the other.

"There is no hierarchy between strands of equality"
But you've just proved that there is. Gay trumps Christian - even black Christian. Time to give the old Victimhood Poker pack a shuffle and tweak some of the values for British cultural sensibilities.

To be fair, she's no more full of hot air than her leader. I was on a running machine for pretty much the whole of Clegg's speech. It was a great speech to run to. Normally time crawls by on a running machine - you feel you need to get the miles or calories in, but it seems to take forever to get there. Not so yesterday - the time flew by. Never have so many platitudes been rolled out per unforgiving minute.

"We offer discipline for a purpose. Not just austerity, but progressive austerity"

Even Tony Blair, whose spirit seemed to be have been hovering somewhere in the background when the speech was written, would have had a job delivering that with a straight face.

"I want to say something to teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers, in fact to everyone who works in our public services. Britain depends on people like you and the services you provide"

Yes, but we depend even more on there being a few people selling things that other people want to buy - and being taxed to pay for the public services. As sterling loses its value our exports should rise - but are we still making anything ?

The whole thing was motherhood and apple pie and could (in the main) have come from any one of the three main party leaders. Pretty much all the sticky issues (where's our energy going to come from ? A 'zero-carbon future', apparently) were glossed over and some of the biggest (like immigration) didn't get a mention at all. The stuff about public sector pensions ('Let me reassure you: my particular focus will always be on the gold-plated pensions enjoyed by senior civil servants, quangocrats ...') was downright dishonest - as if there are enough MPs and senior civil servants to take the whole funding hit which will almost certainly be necessary.

Some ideas were OK. I'd go further than a £10,000 zero-tax band and say that the threshold should be set at the annual salary of someone doing a 40-hour working week for the minimum wage. But some of their other ideas ("abolish safe seats") sounded pretty odd. And if the speech had a theme, it was 'we're nice guys. Trust us' - which Blair and Cameron have already trademarked.

There was one bit in Ms Featherstone's speech which resonated.

The battle lines are drawn at our childrens' feet.

In pessimistic moments I fear that may be all too literally true.


Rob said...

What on earth is "progressive austerity"???

ChrisC said...

Laban I'm sure you wouldn't excuse a Muslim supermarket worker if s/he refused to sell liquor.
Civil partnerships are part of a registrar's job.

Anonymous said...

"...are we still making anything?" you ask.

Well, these figures are three to four year old, but they should still be useful guidelines, and might cheer you up a bit:

At peak financial sector accounted for 8% GDP; manufacturing at same point 14%

UK manufacturing turnover c. £500 bn/yr

Earns 60% of all export earnings.

UK manufacturing out put exceeds that of France by value.

Total UK industrial value added 2005 $510 billion (5th in world rank); manufacturing value added (i.e. less construction, energy, utilities etc.) $283 billion (6th in world).

In 2005 manufactured exports as % merchandise exports 77%; lower than other G7 except Canada due to N. Sea oil and "specialised fodd processing" (whisky?);
BUT of these the "high tech" sectors (aerospace, computers, special electronics, pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments, electrical machinery) were 28% of manufactures exports (compare US 25%, Japan 22%, France 20%; Germany 17% - German figures skewed down due to large exports in autos, specialty metals etc; also N.B. UK figures exclude batch production high grade machinery & parts where we score well).

Also 7th in global table of CO2 emission, which can be pretty good rough proxy for industrial activity.

So, yes, a lot of old industries have been bludgeoned, but that doesn't mean Britain has been wholly de-industialised. Newer businesses have grown; and with the cheaper pound should be able to expand, so long as govt. doesn't throttle them with red tape and taxes.


asdf said...

"CST recorded 609 antisemitic incidents (pdf link) in the first six months of 2009. This is more than the 5441 incidents recorded by CST during the whole of 2008."

That should be "... more than the 544 incidents recorded in the whole of 2008." The last "1" is not a digit, just a footnote that, I assume, copied over like a digit.

JuliaM said...

"Laban I'm sure you wouldn't excuse a Muslim supermarket worker if s/he refused to sell liquor."

Umm, don't the supermarkets fall all over themselves to provide alternatives, so they can ensure they meet diversity rules?

Why, yes. It seems they do.

Yet, no such opt-out was allowed for the registrars. Odd, isn't it?