Friday, June 05, 2009

Off ...

.... for a couple of days. God willing, blogging will recommence Sunday.

Let us hope these encouraging early results continue ...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The polls close ....

... and one James Purnell steps forth, dagger in hand :

I owe it to our party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may be. I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely.

It hit the Guardian website at 10.19 pm. Smart footwork.

(Mr Purnell is the guy with the outrageous idea that we shouldn't give smackheads and alkies invalidity benefits unless they try to get off the scag/booze. Fascist !)

(also recall this comment from Socialist Unity :

"the Compass candidate would come to an agreement with Cabinet Brownites to prevent the move of a Blairite candidate such as James Purnell from putting forward a reactionary, anti-welfare policy agenda which would be little different from BNP populism ...")

Underclass News - Hebden Bridge

Who says they're not integrating in the West Riding ? Mr Patel seems to understand the native culture pretty well. Hebden Bridge has changed in the 30-odd years since it was the heartland of Northern hippiedom.

A judge has jailed the Hebden Bridge parents of a six-week-old baby who suffered "inexplicable, deplorable and indefensible" cruelty while on social services' at-risk register. Rizwan Patel and Alliah Bradshaw pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Bradford Crown Court to failing to get medical attention when their daughter suffered fractured legs and later contracted meningitis, leaving her with "catastrophic" health problems.

Patel, 27, also pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm after admitting shaking the baby so hard "in a fit of temper" he broke nine of her ribs and her collar bone. Patel was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail, while drug addict Bradshaw, 29, was jailed for three years.

The court heard the baby, known only as Baby H for legal reasons, was placed on the Child Protection Register after Bradshaw, a drug addict, had two children in her care taken from her for neglect and ill-treatment.

Bradshaw. A fine Northern name. From 'memsahib' to 'white meat' in three generations. Pretty impressive.

Just went to vote ...

... and they were queueing out of the door of the polling station, in a rural village. Admittedly they'd put the table too close to the door. About 15 people in the queue and more arriving in the car park every minute. I think there must always be a rush around 9pm - either that or people are more motivated than everyone says.

Two Massacres

Twenty years after the massacres in the Chinese capital (which have been effectively erased from the national consciousness there. Someone showed the famous picture of the demonstrator in front of the tanks to Beijing university students last year. They'd never seen it and didn't know what it was), let us hope for a less bloody massacre today, with Gordon the lone figure bravely standing in the path of the outraged British people.

If God wills, Gordon could be gone by next Tuesday, although the Tories think he's their best asset and would want him to carry on right up to a General Election. But I trust the men in gray shell suits will persuade him of the need to step down, following what I fervently hope will be unspeakably awful election results.

Use your vote to show these people what you think of them (but don't actually cover the ballot-paper with faeces if you want your vote to count). And if you're in London, Vote Worstall !

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Is This Legal ?

Equality South West is reminding people not to vote for the British National Party in the June 4 elections, like you need reminding… right?

Paul Dunn, chief executive of Equality South West, told the PRSD: “It wasn’t long ago that BNP leader Nick Griffin said he wanted the South West to be a multicultural-free-zone.

“That’s a shocking statement and reveals the party’s true colours. When you also take into account their opposition to mixed-race relationships and homosexuality, their stated desire to stop all immigration and their scapegoating of Muslims and migrant workers, you get the polar opposite of all that Equality South West holds dear.

“We believe in an inclusive, diverse and tolerant society, we believe that different religions and nationalities add richness to all our lives, not just in economic terms, but in cultural terms too.

“Most importantly, we believe that everyone is equal, which is why I strongly urge people not to use their vote for a party that seeks to divide people on grounds of their religion, sexuality or race.”

Isn't Equality South West 100% tax-funded (assuming the Big Lottery Fund to be a tax on stupidity) ?

As I said a while back :

All over the country there are 'funding streams' washing about. Most start at the Home Office and EU, and meander through swamps of bureaucracy before ending up in some sociology grad's budget.

But is a tax-funded organisation allowed to run a partisan campaign at election times ? Anyone know ?

The Need for Diversity ...

Mrs Andrew Marr on Gordon Brown's most pressing issue - the shortage of women in his cabinet.

"Tony Blair never had a "women" problem. They liked him. From Tessa Jowell, who famously said that she would throw herself under a bus for him, to Ruth Kelly, Hazel Blears and Bev Hughes, the women were loyal to Blair."

And Blair was a smooth, lying snake-oil salesman, personally attractive and charismatic, brilliantly competent at talking the talk of politics and disastrously incompetent at walking the walk of effective policy. Hmm. This is an argument for more women in the Cabinet ? Strange, how potent cheap rhetoric can be. I remember Clinton's last Labour Party conference appearance - not a dry seat in the house and you could have bottled the oestrogen in the air. The Labouristas loved him - a guy whose most lasting legacy will be a hefty cut in US welfare rolls.

Mussolini didn't have a woman problem either - he used to pleasure women journalists who'd come for an interview without even taking his boots off. Maybe Ms Ashley should head for Rome to do a piece on Berlusconi ?

I digress. The comments struck me :

RapidEddie :

if we take a look at the present and recent cabinet:

David Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Jacqui Smith - Hertford College, Oxford.

Peter Mandelson - St Catherine's College, Oxford.

John Hutton - Magdalen College, Oxford.

Geoff Hoon - Jesus College, Cambridge.

Ed Balls - Keble College, Oxford.

Ed Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

James Purnell - Balliol College, Oxford.

Shaun Woodward - Jesus College, Cambridge.

Andrew Burnham - Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

Yvette Cooper - Balliol College, Oxford.

Paul Murphy - Oriel College, Oxford.

You'd think that such a high proportion of top positions being filled by alumni from just two universities might not have escaped the eagle-eyed attentions of the gender-balance-noting Jackie Ashley (St Anne's College, Oxford), or her colleagues Polly Toynbee (St Anne's College, Oxford) and Madeleine Bunting (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge).

Chesney01 :

Singly perhaps it doesnt matter what their backgrounds are but put together the lack of world experience is frightening. I am sure that if I carried on adding names then the experience profile would not widen significantly. It would merely add ex public sector employees and lawyers.
I am sure that the lack of knowledge of the real world is a major factor in why the Labour Part is so out of touch and why the government is in the mess it is in. It is no wonder that Labour campaign on peripherial issues of gay rights and foxhunting and have lost the working class they claim to represent.
David Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford. No profession outside politics.
Jacqui Smith - Hertford College, Oxford. Short time as a teacher
Peter Mandelson - St Catherine's College, Oxford. Short time in tv being groomed by the BBC for politics.
John Hutton - Magdalen College, Oxford. Lecturer (Law)
Geoff Hoon - Jesus College, Cambridge. Lecturer (Law)
Ed Balls - Keble College, Oxford. Writer/Journo
Ed Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Short time in tv as journo
James Purnell - Balliol College, Oxford. No profession outside politics
Shaun Woodward - Jesus College, Cambridge. Short time in tv as journo
Andrew Burnham - Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Trade Union
Yvette Cooper - Balliol College, Oxford. No profession outside politics
Paul Murphy - Oriel College, Oxford. No profession outside politics

RapidEddie :

AllyF said:

Haven't exactly been sticking up for the Graun of late, so feel obliged to point out Kettle, White, Monbiot, Freedman, Younge for starters.

Ally, I stand corrected.

I was of course forgetting Martin Kettle (Balliol College, Oxford), George Monbiot (Brasenose College, Oxford), Jonathan Freedland (Wadham College, Oxford) and Michael White (University College London. Oh, the shame). Younge? Who he?

But are these brave chaps just token sausage-swingers amongst Catherine Bennett (Hertford College, Oxford), Allegra Stratton (Emmanuel College, Cambridge), Zoe Williams (Lincoln College, Oxford), Tanya Gold (Merton College, Oxford), Marina Hyde (Christ Church, Oxford), Bidisha Bandyopadhyay (St Edmund Hall, Oxford) and Melanie Phillips (St Anne's College, Oxford)?

"Ah!" but I hear you cry. "What about Sam Leith (Magdalen College, Oxford), Peter Preston (St John's College, Oxford), Andrew Rawnsley (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge), Simon Jenkins (St John's College, Oxford), Alexander Chancellor (Trinity Hall, Cambridge) and not forgetting the leader of the pack, Alan Rusbridger (Magdalene College, Cambridge)?"

In the light of such overwhelming evidence, I should have to concede that The Guardian is in fact gender neutral and representative of the widest possible cross-section of British society.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In An Ideal World ...

Neither academic papers nor conferences titled 'Beyond ... ' or 'Towards ...' would exist. What does 'beyond' actually mean here, apart from implying (falsely in this case) some notion of progression ? What about 'different from' ?

An international, interdisciplinary conference

30 June - 2 July 2010
Birkbeck, University of London

Confirmed Speakers
- Sara Ahmed
- Davina Cooper
- Antke Engel
- Katherine Gibson
- Julie Graham (a.k.a J.K. Gibson-Graham)
- Rebecca Gomperts
- Ranjana Khanna
- Gail Lewis
- Lynne Segal
- Margrit Shildrick
- Birte Siim
- Gloria Wekker
- Anna Yeatman

I haven't got time to do the Googling, but I would be amazed if any of these people are NOT funded by the taxpayer in whatever country. I see that as well as Dave Public, the Nowegian government is putting some of those oil revenues to good use by supporting this event. There's a doctoral thesis to be written, if not a whole research arm of a think-tank, in tracking the tax revenues diverted towards the cultural Left.

The language of citizenship has, in recent years, been mobilized by feminists to articulate a wide range of claims and demands.
And the language of English has beem mobilised by feminists likewise, but for a whole lot longer. Nothing wrong with that, mind.

The notions of economic, political, social, cultural, sexual/ bodily, and intimate citizenship, for example, have all been developed and explored in terms of their normative potential and their actual realization.
Zzzz ....

In Europe, in particular, there has been a strong steer from research funders and policy makers towards research agendas which address the question of citizenship in the context of increasingly diverse and multicultural societies.

Aka 'they're crapping themselves about the future' - hence conferences on 'the future of Britishness', Gordo wrapping himself in the Union Jack, and worry about/attempts to rebuild the notion of Britishness.

I must say it's going to be entertaining to watch the feminist response to the cultural challenge of an 'increasingly diverse and multicultural society'. This theme will run and run. I hope the proceedings will be reported.

UPDATE - I'm amazed. It may be that two out of the 13 speakers are not tax funded, although it's hard to be sure :

- Sara Ahmed - Professor of Race and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths. Tax-funded.
- Davina Cooper - Professor of Law and Political Theory, Kent. Tax-funded.
- Antke Engel - Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Berlin, Institute for Queer Theory. Possibly privately-funded via a foundation. I can't find the ICI's accounts.
- Katherine Gibson - Australian National University. Tax-funded.
- Julie Graham (a.k.a J.K. Gibson-Graham) - Professor of Geography, Amhurst. Mass. Tax-funded, although there may be some endowment money, it being America.
- Rebecca Gomperts, abortion promoter and doctor of medicine. Funding unclear, can't find the accounts, but probably not tax-funded.
- Ranjana Khanna, Women's Studies, Duke. If the financial reports are to be believed, only 28% tax-funded. God Bless America.
- Gail Lewis - sociology, OU. Tax-funded.
- Lynne Segal - Gender Studies, Birkbeck. Tax-funded.
- Margrit Shildrick - Gender Studies, Queens Belfast. Tax-funded.
- Birte Siim - Social Sciences, Aarlborg, DK. Tax-funded.
- Gloria Wekker, Gender Studies, Utrecht. Link not work or child-friendly. Tax-funded.
- Anna Yeatman, Citizenship and Public Policy, Western Australia. Tax-funded.

Monday, June 01, 2009

"The Empty Cans And Plastic Bags ...

... are most beautiful to be seen
Near by Dundee and the bonnie Magdalen Green"

A pity. The town that produced Scotland's two greatest writers - William McGonagall and Al Kennedy - has lost its civic pride.

They Sound Optimistic

I suppose it's got to be worth getting the vote out when you look at the potential rewards :

Leading Muslim Scholars, coming from diverse backgrounds and schools of thoughts, have urged British Muslims to "vote in the European elections, as xenophobic, extremist right wing parties have a very real chance of gaining national prominence by winning a seat in the European Parliament," in a statement that was issued on May 28.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Busy ...

And I'd hoped to write a long 'where we are now' post on the UK political landscape, too.

Fortunately the Pub Philosopher has written it :

... whatever the Telegraph's agenda, you can't agitate people if they are not already aggrieved about something. If there was widespread respect for our political class, there would not have been anywhere near the level of sustained public anger we have seen over the past few weeks. That many of these expense claims are trivial and that many of us have also bent the rules on our expense claims is beside the point because this collective outrage has much deeper roots.

For many years now, people have been feeling increasingly frustrated and powerless. As usual, working class people were the first to feel it as immigration changed the urban landscape, put pressure on local services and led to increased competition for work. More recently, rural areas have found themselves subjected to the same pressures. Then middle-class people began to feel threatened too as their incomes were left behind by those of the super-rich. Their children could no longer afford to live in the areas in which they grew up and higher education, once almost a right, was priced beyond many people's reach.

As TUC leader Brendan Barber explained last week:

Middle-income Britain did not share in the largesse of the boom years. One study shows that real hourly wage rates for median earners grew by only 0.1% a year between 2002 and 2007.

A sense of anger was growing too about the state of public services. Even when they had been sold off, few benefits seemed to come to consumers ...

All the while, people were assured that all this was part of the dynamism that was re-shaping Britain into a global economy and bringing us unparalleled prosperity. Ministers boasted that Britain was the most open economy in the world. Immigrants, it was argued, created jobs and helped the economy to grow. PFI deals and privatisation brought market disciplines to public services and made them more efficient. The rise of the super-rich was good for us as they spent money and it trickled down into the economy. Sure, there were some temporary downsides but the increased prosperity brought by our globalised economy would sort it all out in the end. Public services would improve, immigrants' taxes would pay for the increased demands on healthcare, transport and school places, the booming economy would create more jobs and debt-laden graduates would easily be able to pay off their student loans as the demand for their skills rose.

It still sounded unconvincing to many of us but the soothing voices of politicians and journalists dampened down the feelings of suppressed rage.

Then the dam burst.

Read the whole thing.

Elsewhere a few links I've not had time to blog on :

White Riot in Luton - nasty. While I approve of demonstrating against anti-British bigots, I do not approve of beating up innocent people, be they respectable fast-food vendors of the wrong ethnicity in Luton or respectable fathers of the wrong religion in Coleraine - a disgusting crime.

What was notable - and uncomfortable - was the Daily Mail "recommended comments".

"Good for you. It is about time people fought back ..." rated 2256 - i.e. 2,256 more people rated it up than rated it down.

"The government should know they can only push people so far before they fight back" - rated 2160.

"Finally--let it spread now to the rest of UK" rated 2080.

"This is only the start, it had to happen" - rated 2007.

I've not seen such high ratings on any comments there before.

Fake English colleges - another gaping immigration loophole, if loopholes can gape.

A Home Office investigation is under way today into a Pakistani gang alleged to have pocketed millions of pounds enrolling hundreds of men from the militant heartland of al-Qaida into bogus UK colleges.

One of the young businessmen thought to have helped mastermind the scam, Mir Ahmad, was arrested yesterday, according to a report on Times Online. A subsequent report on the site says he is also alleged to be linked to two murders in Pakistan.

Hundreds of men paid at least £1,000 to the gang to be admitted into sham colleges, it is alleged. Some paid £2,500 for fake diplomas, attendance records and degrees.

This allowed the students to extend their stay in Britain and enabled the fraudsters to make almost £2m in less than two years.

Many of the students are from the North West Frontier province of Pakistan, the heartland of al-Qaida.

Eight of the terror suspects arrested last month in Manchester and Liverpool attended one college, which has three small classrooms and three teachers for 1,797 students.

The Times, which handed a dossier on the bogus colleges and the gang behind them to the Home Office, said another college claimed to have 150 students, but secretly enrolled 1,178 and offered places to an extra 1,575 — the majority of whom were from Pakistan.

A vicious attack in Vienna leads to rioting across the Punjab.

Most of the violence was in or around Jalandhar, which is a stronghold of the Dera Sach Khand, a Sikh sect made up mainly of Untouchables, or Dalits, from the lowest level of the Hindu caste system.

A leader of the sect was killed and another preacher wounded yesterday when higher caste Sikhs wielding knives and a gun attacked the two at a Sikh temple that they were visiting in Vienna, according to Austrian police.

Guru Sant Rama Nand, 57, died in the night after an emergency operation. Guru Sant Niranjan Dass, 68, was in a stable condition, police said. Both had suffered bullet wounds.

At least 15 other people were wounded, including four of the attackers, who were eventually overpowered by worshippers, police said.

Witnesses said that the attackers were fundamentalist Jat Sikhs — traditionally the land-owning farmers in the northern state of Punjab — who accused one or both of the preachers of being disrespectful of the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s Holy Book.

Sikhism does not officially recognise caste and was founded partly to rebel against the system but the concept remains deeply rooted in Indian society, even among Sikhs, Christians and Muslims. The system divides society into hundreds of groups and sub-groups which for many Indians continue to define where one lives, who one marries, what job one does and many other things.

The Dera Sach Khand also differs from mainstream Sikhism on several religious issues, including worshipping living gurus such as Sant Rama Nand, which is considered blasphemous by most Sikhs.

At least some of the attackers were Austrian residents who had asked for asylum, prosecutors said. About 2,800 Sikhs were living in Austria in 2001, according to the last census.