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Alain Finkielkraut, France’s Peter Hitchins, elected to Académie française.

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Alain Finkielkraut a été élu à l'Académie française. Entre amour passionnel de la langue et de la littérature et une pensée qui s'est radicalisée, retour avec Jean Birnbaum du « Monde des livres » sur cette entrée polémique.

New Low for Académie française.

I suppose any institution claiming to represent the heights of French culture that includes  former French President and mediocrity Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (still, amazingly, alive, though it’s often hard to tell)  lacks, shall we say, all credibility.

But the election of Alain Finkielkraut to the “immortals” has introduced a new low.

Finkielkraut occupys the same place in French philosophy and culture, as, say, Peter Hitchins.

He began with some, middlebrow, writings in the tradition of Emmanuel Levinas. He celebrated Jewish culture and sometimes offered penetrating insights into post-Shoah Jewish identity. Some may admire his stand on the break up of Yugoslavia, where he was beside himself against Serbia. Fewer, perhaps,  would have admired  his close friendship with Croat leader, and Holocaust denier, Franjo Tuđman.

In recent years Finkielkraut has been distinguished by a relentless hatred of anything he believes threatens French identity.

If anybody wants to distinguish left-republican secularism from what Finkielkraut’s critics call his « républicano-communautariste » it is easy to do.

He explicitly attacks multiculturalism  from the right, offering only a tale of woe and decline faced with immigration and métissage (Mixing, cultural and ethnic). As one can imagine he has had the courage of those going with the grain of conservative prejudice to oppose “political correctness” – a term as wide as it is vacuous.

By contrast Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explicitly defended” ” métissage” as the basis for a new class unifying republican socialist  left.

Over the last year Finkielkraut has become even more obsessed – were it possible – with “l’identité française”.

He complains that France is an “auberge espagnole” (a pejorative term, in this context,  for a mixture of people living together)  in which the ethnically true French dare not speak out. (L’Identité malheureuse, d’Alain Finkielkraut. 2013)

Despite the occasional exalted language Finkielkraut resembles a Peter Hitchins, or a French version of Nigel Farage.

It is with no surprise that we learn that his election to the Académie française met opposition. The columnist scraped in with 16 votes out of the 28 members of the august body.

Birmingham Islamists Take a Gramscian Turn.

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School sign composite image

Birmingham Islamists  battling for Hegemony over Civil Society.

Salafists  have,  like other religious groups, for-profit businesses, people with a self-appointed mission to run schools and bigots (not a term excluding the former categories )taken advantage of  the government’s education policies.

“The academy status, as promoted by schools minister Michael Gove, allows them to be run out of the control of the local authority, with funding provided direct from central Government.”

So no surprise that, “Leaked letter suggests Salafi parents be enlisted to help as they adhere to a more orthodox form of Islam.”

From their strategy document on how to mobilise support,

‘The only way to do this is to tell each parent that the school is corrupting their children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children pray Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sport.

‘If you can get them to be very vocal in the playground as they drop off or pick up their children that will stir up other parents.

‘The parents MUST be given direction and told not to discuss this with anyone, you only need a maximum of four parents to disrupt the whole school, to send in complaints to question their child’s education and to contact their MP and local authority.’

The story so far….(Birmingham Mail)

An alleged plot by Islamic fundamentalists to take over Birmingham schools by ousting headteachers and staff through dirty tricks campaigns is being investigated by education chiefs.

The city council and the Birmingham Mail have received documents which purport to show Jihadists are targeting schools and orchestrating false allegations against staff, including non-Muslims, in an operation dubbed Trojan Horse.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police have reopened a fraud investigation at one school named in the supposed leaked letter – and Ofsted is currently conducting a snap inspection at another.

The documents claim to be leaked written correspondence from one Birmingham fundamentalist to another in Bradford and details plans to roll out Trojan Horse to Bradford as well as Manchester.

The letter states some Birmingham headteachers have already been forced out and predicts others will follow.

**Police probe ‘fake letters’ at school as two heads named in document quit**

Meanwhile, police have confirmed to the Birmingham Mail that a fraud investigation has been reopened at Adderley Primary School after the documents came to light. It is understood the investigation centres on allegations of ‘faked’ resignation letters.

Both schools were named in the documents, along with Saltley School.

The documents claim former Saltley headmaster Balwant Bains would ‘soon be sacked’. In fact, the much respected principal resigned last November after a damning Ofsted report criticised his “dysfunctional” relationship with governors.

An alleged plot to oust headteacher Tina Ireland at Regents Park Community School by ‘planting the seed’ of SATs cheating allegations is also detailed in the documents.

The long-serving and respected teacher and her deputy, Michelle McCusker, resigned in October after education chiefs scrapped the primary school’s SATs results following cheating allegations.

The Guardian adds,

The alleged plot was condemned by Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, a group which aims to promote active Muslim engagement in British society. He said: “The contents of this document are very disturbing. On the face of it this would appear to be part of a radical agenda by a tiny yet highly committed group of activists to impose their very conservative and bleak vision of Islamic teachings in our schools by fomenting division and distrust against the existing school leadership. It constitutes highly objectionable and unethical behaviour.”

More reports: Independent, Daily Mail, BBC.

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

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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.


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

“Stalin was Diamond Geezer” says Labour Candidate Andy Newman.

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Diamond Geezer say Labour Candidate Andy Newman. 

“Stalin was great says Red Ed’s man.”

So sayeth the Sun.

The Daily Mail helpfully adds,

Red Andy, the Labour hopeful who says Stalin improved living standards and the Berlin Wall was ‘a great success’ (but Ed says the party HASN’T lurched to the Left).

At first glance, Andy Newman would appear to be a good fit with the affluent Wiltshire seat, held by Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames.

Educated at a private school   (Editor’s note I didn’t know that – another reason to hate Newman) and Oxford University (same as previous)  Mr Newman’s CV bears the hallmarks of a modern Labour politician.

However, a delve into some of his recent writings suggests the union official is determined to keep the Red Flag flying over the West Country.

He has called the Berlin Wall ‘a great success’ and praised the ‘significant improvement in working class living standards’ during Stalin’s Great Terror.

He described the attacks on Pearl Harbour as the ‘opening salvo in a war between two rival imperialisms’ – equating America with wartime Japan under Emperor Hirohito – and branded the Dalai Lama a ‘figurehead for slavery’.

In the run-up to his selection last month, the telecoms engineer set out some of his uncompromising beliefs in articles in ultra-left-wing publications.

Paying tribute to Stalin’s character, whose brutal dictatorship led to the deaths of millions of citizens, he wrote earlier this year: ‘We should recognise how Stalin was the creature of his times; and not alone in culpability.

‘What is more, the character of Stalin, who almost through a feat of sheer will industrialised and militarised the USSR to defend itself against the Nazi threat, was also the character that ruthlessly regarded people as expendable. It did give Stalin the attributes needed to be a great war leader’.

And in 2009, Mr Newman, who is the local branch secretary of the GMB union, used a piece in Socialist Unity to put a positive gloss on the tyrant’s rule

Describing him in apparently respectful terms as ‘the Stalin’, he wrote: ‘Free market capitalism had seen worldwide depression in the 1930s and had led to fascism and war.

‘Meanwhile the USSR’s economy had achieved staggering success in the same period, including a significant improvement in working class living standards, despite the Stalin’s terror’.

In the same article, he wrote warmly of the Berlin Wall: ‘If we set to one side the issue of personal liberty, the [Berlin] wall was a great success.’
Our hearts are bleeding at the right-wing press witch hunt.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Ipswich Protest Against Probation Service Privatisation.

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Thursday Lower Brook Street Ipswich. (Photo JB)

Members of the National Association of Probation Officers are joined by trade unionists and supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly.

Probation workers across the eastern region have taken to the streets today in protest at the government’s decision to privatise the service.

Across the country members of union Unison, along with colleagues from the GMB and National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), held their joint protest to coincide with advertisements being placed by the Ministry of Justice in OJEU – the Official Journal of the European Union – inviting private sector bids.

Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust workers outside the offices in Palace Plain, Norwich said privatisation would axe services designed to keep communities safe, as well as introduce potentially dangerous cost cutting measures in the relentless pursuit of profit.

They also warned that among the list of likely bidders were Serco and G4S, both currently under investigation for alleged fraud in the running of previous MoJ contracts. EDP 24

Thousands of probation workers will join nationwide protests today to claim that public safety will be jeopardised by the Government’s plans to transfer the community supervision of most former offenders to private companies.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is to signal his determination to push ahead with the £800m privatisation of the bulk of the National Probation Service, which traces its roots back to 1907. He will publish advertisements today inviting bids to take over around three-quarters of the service’s current workload.

Under the moves, the 35 existing regional probation trusts will be replaced by 21 government companies which will tender out the work of supervising more than 200,000 offenders each year considered to present low or medium risk. Those regarded as high risk will continue to be monitored by a slimmed-down national probation service.

Ministers insist their plans are essential to drive up standards in probation and to reduce reoffending levels. Six out of 10 people who leave prison are reconvicted within two years.

Potential bidders include such firms as G4S and Serco, which are both being investigated over alleged fraud in Ministry of Justice contracts. The sums paid to the successful companies or voluntary-sector organisations will be linked to their success in reducing offending rates.



Bidding has begun for probation service contracts worth £450m across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

Payment-by-results contracts are to be split between private companies and charities in 20 English regions and one Welsh region, officials said.

They will supervise 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year.

Senior probation officers have condemned the plans as “a disgrace and total failure”.

The competition will continue through 2014, with contracts awarded by 2015.

Under a system of 21 contracts, the voluntary groups, charities and private companies will only be paid in full if a certain proportion of offenders do not commit further crimes.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm