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Birmingham Schools, Islam and Secularism.

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Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

 

http://chevaliersdesgrandsarrets.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/laicite.jpg?w=244&h=288

Secular Emancipation: What UK Education Needs.

Amongst the confused reactions to the very evident problems raised by the Birmingham Schools and the influence of Islamist ideology in education  two responses stand out for their  good judgement.

The first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of  secular education.

Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf

It makes this simple observation,

….it is important to note that whether or not the Trojan Horse document proves to be genuine, there is no doubt about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists over many Birmingham schools: teachers and other school staff members have already come forward with reports of segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, bans on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff. Shiraz Socialist has spoken to several Birmingham teachers, including activists within the main teaching unions, who have confirmed that these claims are true and, in some cases, such things have been going on for years.

The all-too predictable line taken by an article in today’s Guardian (“Despite reasonable evidence suggesting the plot letter is a hoax, it has sparked debate in the city, with far right groups looking to capitalise”) simply will not do: the concerns about Islamic fundamentalists undermining secular education are not the preserve of the far right, but are felt by teachers, Labour councillors and MPs and -not least - many Muslim parents who want their kids to have an inclusive, secular education.

The second is by comrade Rumy Hasan (a long-standing defender of left-wing secularism) on the National Secular Society site.

Since the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light, some 200 reports have been received by Birmingham City Council, including claims that boys and girls are being segregated in classrooms and assemblies, pressure on girls to cover their hair, sex education being banned, the prevention of the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes, and non-Muslim staff being bullied. Yet all this is precisely what has been happening in Free Schools such as Al Madinah in Derby (which Education Minister Lord Nash found dysfunctional) and the Madani faith school in Leicester. But none of this should be surprising: on the contrary, it is entirely to be expected that leaders of faith communities wish to impose values and practices in schools in their neighbourhoods that are in accordance with their religion. The reason for this is that the emphasis on a multifaith society facilitates the primary identity of some minorities being on the basis of their faith.

………

Bob Jones, the elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct to state that ‘My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance’. Indeed they should be embarrassing and it really is high time that the both the government and the opposition grasped the nettle that a firm commitment to a rounded secular education is what is needed for the benefit of children and for society at large, and act accordingly.

One should add that the actions of the Birmingham ‘faith communities’, imposing their religious ideology on education, are inconceivable n a secular educations system, like France’s.

A great deal of noise has been heard from liberals and multicultural leftists about the robust prohibition of faith symbols, from the veil to the cross,  in French schools, as well as other progressive policies designed to prevent these kind of communalist politics in education.

We hear very little from British left and liberal quarters equates about sexual segregation and other aspects of religious bigotry being imposed in Birmingham schools and elsewhere.

Henri Pena-Ruiz of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de gauche (left Party)  recently said (March 2014),  that it was ten years since the law banning ostentatious religious signs from French schools was passed.

Laïcité scolaire: une exigence d’émancipation

“It has discouraged  religious proselytism and those who would wish to take schooling  hostage (for the religious agenda). Today communalist demands are rare.”

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.T567GEet.dpuf

Pena-Ruiz calls secularism an “emancipatory demand”.

The British left could learn from this approach.

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.bblaeVz0.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

Leading Ipswich Tory Calls for UKIP Vote.

with 10 comments

Leading Ipswich Tory and Former Brain of Britain Jumps Ship.

 

Voters Should Vote UKIP in Bridge Ward

Posted on April 15, 2014by 

I agree with James Spencer here where he says

It is tough to persuade voters who have invested some of their identity with a party that the town’s interests, a Labour defeat, means lending your vote to another party…….

…..So with the European elections coming up vote for your party in the European elections where you won’t be wasting your vote and vote for the party most likely to beat Labour in the local council.

In Bridge that means UKIP.

 Algar continues,

“It’s a case of none of the other parties being capable of beating Labour. The Tories can’t win Bridge and neither do they want to. So UKIP are the only option.”

So, having slagged off Ipswich as a “dump” Holy Roller Kevin Algar is now preparing to abandon his own party.

We confidently predict that many other Tories, and not just eccentrics like Algar and his friend Spencer (who left the Conservatives in opposition to gay marriage) will shift over the xenophobic far-right UKIP.

Like rats deserting a sinking ship? 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Eric Pickles Fights ‘Militant Atheists’. A Militant Secularist Reply.

with 2 comments

 

Militant atheists should ‘get over it’ and accept Britain is a ‘Christian nation’, according to communities secretary Eric Pickles.

Having previously introduced laws that ensure parish councils can avoid legal challenges for holding prayers in public meetings, Pickles this weekend urged non-believers to avoid imposing their ‘politically correct intolerance’ on others.

Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum, the communities secretary said he had ‘stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish’.

‘Heaven forbid,’ he added. ‘We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.’

In his speech, Pickles said the Government had also ‘backed British values’ and ‘stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL, be it extreme Islamists or be thuggish far-left, they’re all as bad as each other’. From here

This follows the much more strident claim by  Baroness Warsi in February that,

For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

There have been many commentaries on this bluster.

One of the best, by Matt Broomfield (Left Foot Forward), focuses on the secular alternative to Pickles’s  ‘Christian nation’.

What is secularism?

Following Broomfield we note  that,

Secularism is not  Atheism.

Secularism is the policy of opening up society  to all beliefs by making no one faith or non-faith a central part of the public sphere.  This means no public subsidies for religious groups, and certainly no “established” Church. It means that education is free from religious doctrine. It means that official religious values, symbols and practices in these areas – such as schools – should be excluded.

It is not  Extremist.

Broomfield states, “In his speech, Pickles aligned secularism with the extremist doctrines of the English Defence League and militant Islam, saying “they’re all as bad as each other”. In reality, secularism is not a religious or political ideology at all, so much as it is the absence of any one dominant ideology.

It is not Intolerant. 

Broomfield notes that secularism  has nothing to do with the Marine Le Pen’s claim that Front National schools will only lay on pork for children to eat. This is as bad as forcing people to eat Halal food (something  rigorously  forbidden from diet  example, to all Sikhs). Le Pen is not a secularist – she has backed Catholic led-demonstrations against gay marriage and teaching gender equality in schools. Such has been the importance of this clash that Libération has a whole special section on its site devoted to it: here. Those citing the FN should look there before pontificating about its opportunistic ‘secularism’.

Militant Secularism.

But more is needed.

In Britain the education system, particularly through ‘free schools’ and academies’ has been wide open to the influence of faith groups. These have imposed their narrow agenda with public funding.

Some on the ‘left’ would no doubt prefer Pickles to promote faith more broadly.

The multiculturalism that has been used to promote religious causes, from reinforcing traditional authority, to the state where active communalism, with public subsidy is promoted by municipalities  like Tower Hamlets.  It bolsters reactionary political influence of religious groups – the opposite the aim of secularists who wish to make the public domain open and free from bigotry.

Only a militant, that is vigilant, secularism, can fight back against this.

It requires not just the ‘absence’ of an official doctrine  but a conscious effort to undermine religious dogma.

That  is,  not an official replacement doctrine but a call for mass pressure and activity to create free spaces for people’s ideas, culture and values.

Contrasts with the Front National.

But before one lie gets repeated again and again, nobody has ever proposed the following (as Broomfield claims), “the National Front’s plans to force Muslim schoolchildren to eat pork.”

A weaker version of this claim, closer to the truth,  is made by the Bob Pitt,

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

The Front National proposes to put  pork on the menu in all school canteens.

In practice this has not meant denying an alternative.

« Il y a toujours eu deux menus dans les cantines : l’un avec porc, l’autre sans porc pour ceux qui ne désirent pas enconsommer. Naturellement, cette possibilité sera préservée dans les cantines de Fréjus, l’essentiel étant que la liberté de chacun soit préservée »

There has always been two menus in the canteens: one with pork, the other without pork, for those who don’t want to eat it. These possibilities will be maintained in the canteens of Fréjus” (Front National town).

Today Le Monde summarises the real conditions which the Front National operates within.

It debunks some myths. Essentially that there is a major issue about Halal food in French school, and that Marine Le Pen’s Party is laying down an important marker on the subject.

The question of pork is a sign of secularism in danger

But the issue is not new, the vast majority of canteens offers alternative dishes and have done  for decades, and no religious organisation has recently made a special request on this subject.

Le Pen’s  party will not accept halal in canteens

But there is none in the places where the party is in charge.

Impose the presence of  pork on school  menus

This is already the case for all menus that we could see in towns run by the FN.

- But maintaining a substitute menu

But this, too, is already the case in most  FN run towns

- If the municipality cannot offer an alternative to pork dishes, would it keep the pork?

This is already the case in the past for menus in FN controlled towns.

- Finally, will the president of FN  ensure that “there are always two menus”

This is mostly true for municipalities  run by the  FN, it is not in general the practice

So, not only is Halal Food not a major topic of controversy, but that all it boils down to in practice is that the Front National claims that it will “offer” a pork menu.

The only really major fault of their position (distasteful rhetoric aside)  is that they do not guarantee to offer an alternative Halal – or vegetarian? –  dish.

But in practice they do: as can be seen below.

Ville FN Restauration Porc dans les menus Substitution proposée?
Cogolin privé oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Le Luc privé ?
Mantes-la-Ville ville oui
Villers-Coterêts ville oui
Camaret privé ?
Béziers ville oui
Fréjus ville oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Hayange ville ?
Le Pontet ville ?
Marseille 7 ville oui

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP, to ‘abolish’ National Insurance.

with 5 comments

Ben Gummer’s Political Programme.

Ipswich Tory MP Ben Gummer is famous for a number of  things.

  • He has ” suggested shaking up local government so that councillors solely representing local businesses could be elected to town halls.Mr Gummer acknowledged the idea “had no hope of getting into a manifesto” but pointed to the City of London, as a model for how his idea works in practice.The City is governed by the Corporation of London, which is the oldest local authority in England having been founded in medieval times.Elections there give votes to both firms and residents. (BBC 2012)
  • For his book, The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles. Gummer suggested that the Catholic Church played a noble role in comforting the sick and helping stem the worst effects of the plague. This may or may not be taken as seriously. We note that his Catholicism has not helped him take a stand against the misery that “welfare reform” has brought to many of his constituents. Or to help the present-day unwell fight off the ATOS pandemic.
  • Being a Toady, a founder indeed, of the Royal Guild of Toadies. This has earned him the position of adviser to Michael Gove.

Today we learn this,

A Conservative MP is campaigning for national insurance contributions (NICs) to be rebranded the “earnings tax” in a move that has caught the eye of the chancellor.

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, is bringing forward a 10-minute rule bill this week that proposes changing the name as the first step towards merging it with income tax.

It is highly unlikely to make it into law through this route but George Osborne, the chancellor, is said to be attracted to the idea.

Gummer has been campaigning on tax transparency as a merger of income tax and NICs could make it clearer to people how much they are paying to the exchequer out of their earnings.

National insurance, first introduced in 1911, is levied on employers and employees to pay for certain benefits such as the state pension. It works out at around 12% per year, plus an extra 2% for earnings above £41,450.

Guardian.

Ipswich Spy notes that renaming National Insurance  is a demand of the hard-right Tax Payers’ Alliance*.

Gummer states that “Taxpayers are consumers”, including no doubt employers.

Nobody should be in any doubt as to which ‘consumers’ he is most interested in.

A recent post (14th February)  on his Blog shows where he stands, “ANGLIAN WATER SHOWS WHY PRIVATIZATION CAN WORK.”

Now he wants to get people aligned with the bosses to complain about the level of tax, that is the “earnings tax”.

Gummer’s support for the City of London and hard-right free-market ideas are no secret.

Perhaps  Georgi Dimitrov was thinking of the likes of Gummer when he talked of “of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”

*The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has called for National Insurance (NI) to be scrapped to make the tax system simpler and more transparent. The need for tax reform has never been more pressing, particularly in light of this week’s revelations about HMRC errors.

The campaign group says National Insurance serves no purpose and has set out a package of measures to merge both employers’ and employees’ contributions with Income Tax. The call comes as part of the Treasury’s call for feedback as part of its consideration of the integration of the operation of the income tax and National Insurance contributions system……

The move could significantly reduce the burden on businesses of complying with these taxes, as well as making it easier for people to see exactly how much tax they are paying on their earnings. Here.

The Spectator underlines our point.

After describing the Ipswich Toad Eater’s proposal notes, 

That’s all very noble in itself. But there’s another point, which Gummer isn’t focusing on, but which is politically handy to his party. Labour wants a greater emphasis on raising taxes after 2015 than the Conservatives do. But because tax rises aren’t very popular, the best way to do this beyond some symbolic taxes such as raising the top rate back to 50p (if that raises anything more at all) and introducing a mansion tax would be to focus on the mysterious National Insurance. But if National Insurance became an Earnings Tax and it was clearer to the electorate what it is, then the Tories wouldn’t need to work quite so hard on their ‘stealth tax’/’jobs tax’ campaigns as they have before.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 24, 2014 at 10:53 am

Nelson Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

with 7 comments

Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.

He was truly a great man.

What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.

We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.

How they were backed by supporters across the world.

In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM)  played its part.

The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 17 1990, there was dancing in the streets in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.

Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.

Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.

Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.

The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.

Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.

Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.

Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.

Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of  Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party,  the trade unions, to a group of  courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.

London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid: Editor  Ken Keable.

It is hard to recall any of the present Government and their backers, some of whom are quite offensive about Mandela’s death, doing the same.

A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2013 at 11:48 am