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George Galloway Contests General Election Result.

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Galloway in a Pickle. 

George Galloway to challenge election result.

Former MP George Galloway has announced he has started legal proceedings to challenge his general election defeat.

Mr Galloway, leader of the Respect Party, lost his Bradford West seat to Labour’s Naz Shah, who he has alleged made “false statements” during the campaign to affect the result.

He also claimed “widespread malpractice” involving postal voting meant the result must be “set aside”.

A Labour spokesman said the action was “pathetic and without any foundation”.

Mr Galloway won the Bradford West seat in a by-election in 2012, but lost to Ms Shah – who secured a majority of more than 11,000 in last week’s general election.

However, the bitter campaign was dogged by claims and counter-claims between Labour and Respect over a number of issues – particularly relating to Ms Shah’s family background.

Labour accused Mr Galloway of breaching election law by making false statements during the campaign.

‘Divisive politics’

A spokesman for Mr Galloway said the legal action was at an early stage.

A complaint had been made under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which related to candidates making false statements during campaigns, the spokesman said.

In a further statement, Mr Galloway – a former Labour MP – said: “It has come to my notice that there has been widespread malpractice in this election, particularly over postal voting.

“We are in the process of compiling the information which will form part of our petition to have the result set aside.”

A Labour spokesman said: “George Galloway should accept he was booted out by the people of Bradford West.

“They saw through his divisive politics and made a positive choice, by a majority of well over 11,000, to elect a brilliant new MP, Naz Shah.”

Mr Galloway was reported to police on Thursday for allegedly sending a tweet about exit polls before voting closed – which is banned under election law.

His spokesman called the allegation a “storm in a thimble”.

Speaking from his bunker in Berlin Mr Galloway, the leader of the East London based ‘Green Shorts’ party, added,

That was an order! Steiner’s assault was an order! Who do you think you are to dare disobey an order I give? So this is what it has come to! The military has been lying to me. Everybody has been lying to me, even the SS! Our generals are just a bunch of contemptible, disloyal cowards… Our generals are the scum of the German people! Not a shred of honour! They call themselves generals. Years at military academy just to learn how to hold a knife and fork! For years, the military has hindered my plans! They’ve put every kind of obstacle in my way! What I should have done… was liquidate all the high-ranking officers, as Stalin did!

Written by Andrew Coates

May 11, 2015 at 9:25 am

Vote Labour! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory.

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Vote Labour Tomorrow!

SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY: WHERE WE STAND

Another Tory government – ruling by themselves, with the Lib Dems or, worst of all, in coalition with UKIP – would be a disaster for the working class. As socialists, we want a Labour victory, not because we support Labour’s current position – a softer version of austerity and anti-migrant politics – but to throw out the Coalition, and because Labour is linked to workers’ basic organisations, trade unions. If the unions choose to fight, they can change Labour’s direction.

We don’t want to “hold our noses” and vote Labour as a lesser evil. We want to combine campaigning for a Labour government with making clear working-class demands, to boost working-class confidence, and strengthen and transform our labour movement so it is fit to fight.

We must challenge the idea that the working class should pay for the capitalist crisis through increased inequality, lower pay, job insecurity, workplace stress, draconian ‘performance management’ and cuts to services. The labour movement should be championing every working-class fightback against the bosses’ drive to squeeze more and more profit out of our work and our lives.

In place of the dog-eat-dog, exploiting society of capitalism, we socialists are fighting for a world of collective ownership, equality and sustainable planning for people’s needs, not profit. We want to spread these ideas in the working class and among young people.

A socialist transformation of society is not immediately on the cards. Socialism is only possible when a majority of workers are convinced and organised to make it happen. But if we work to strengthen the left and working-class struggles, and reinject socialist ideas into political debate, we can push Labour to shift course and deliver at least some positive changes for the working class.

Whether on the Living Wage or the NHS, free education or zero hours contracts, rail renationalisation or fracking, we need to up the pressure on Labour. We need to advocate radical policies like reversing all cuts, taxing the rich and taking the banks into democratic public ownership. The labour movement should aim for a government that serves the working class as the Coalition serves the rich.

We are fighting for democracy in the Labour Party so that working-class voices, muffled by the New Labour machine and union bureaucracy, can be heard.

We need a labour movement responsive and accessible to the working class in all its diversity, fighting bigotry and oppression. We oppose Labour’s shameful accommodation to anti-migrant agitation by UKIP and other right-wingers. British and migrant workers have the same interests. We support freedom of movement and equal rights for all. We want working-class solidarity across Europe and the world.

In the run up to the election, we are building a network of socialists to carry out this fight. Help us, get involved!

Demands:

As part of fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism, we are fighting for the labour movement to campaign around a “workers’ plan” of demands in the interests of the working-class, such as:

1. Stop and reverse the cuts. Make the rich pay to rebuild public services. Tax the rich! Expropriate the banks!

2. A decent income for everyone: attack inequality and precariousness. Tax the rich, curb high pay. Nationalise companies that axe jobs; create decent, secure jobs in the public sector. Wage rises that at least match inflation for all workers. Raise the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage. Full, equal rights for part-time and agency workers; ban zero hours contracts. Stop the war on the poor, unemployed and disabled: decent benefits. Good pensions for all, public or private, at no older than 60.

3. Rebuild the NHS. A comprehensive public health service providing high quality care for all, not a logo above a marketplace of profit-making companies. End outsourcing, marketisation and PFI. A free, public social care system.

4. End privatisation and outsourcing. Expand public ownership, starting with the railways, Royal Mail, the energy companies and other utilities, under democratic and workers’ control.

5. Stop scapegoating migrants. Freedom of movement and equal rights for all. End deportations and detention.

6. Promote workers’ rights. Scrap the anti-union laws. Introduce strong rights to strike, picket and take solidarity action, and for union recognition and collective bargaining, in individual units and sectorally.

7. End the housing crisis. Build millions of council houses. Repopulate empty homes and estates; take over property left empty; tax second homes; end the sell-off of public land. Control rents.

8. Free education. A good local, comprehensive school for every child. Abolish “free schools”, academies, grammar schools, public funding for religious schools. Reverse cuts in FE. Scrap tuition fees, a living grant for every student. Reverse cuts to Sure Start, invest in early years education.

9. Strong action for equality. Crack down on police and state racism. Ensure and make real civil rights for LGBT, black, disabled people and women, and expanded social provision and redistribution to fight inequality. Universal, free public childcare and nursery provision so no parent is forced to choose between work and care. Ensure equal pay and a Living Wage for all. Free abortion on demand.

10. Slash military spending: scrap Trident. Aid for working-class and democratic movements around the world, not support for dictatorships and imperialism.

11. Drive down carbon emissions. Public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Stop fracking. A public, integrated transport system with radically reduced fares. Workers’ plans for a just transition to a sustainable economy.

12. Expand democracy. A federal republic of Britain: abolish the monarchy and House of Lords. Votes at 16. Re-empower local government. Extend civil liberties and rights to organise and protest. Disband MI5 and special police squads, disarm the police. MPs should only be paid a worker’s wage.

We need to transform our unions so we stop just adopting good policies on paper and start fighting effectively for the interests of the working class – in strikes and struggles, but also by putting forward a working-class political alternative, including demands on Labour. What we can win depends on to what extent we can convince, organise and mobilise people to fight, and in the process renew our movement and change it for the better.

We will prioritise support for Labour candidates who advocate these kinds of policies and represent a voice of working-class opposition within the party.

Tendance Coatesy supports this campaign (see list of signatories).

With  our own secularist angle:

Respect Mark ll Emerging ? Left Unity and Ian Donovan Unite to Back Rabina Khan.

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Image result for Rising from the grave

 Respect Mark ll ?

Following Left Unity extraordinary decision to unconditionally back Rabina Khan in the election to replace convicted frauster Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets Mayor, Ian Donovan says, “Left Unity are to be congratulated on this brave and principled political stance.” He noted that this comes as a response to the “to a racist coup against the elected Mayor and council of Tower Hamlets, led by the Tory/Zionist minister Eric Pickles.

Ian Donovan was expelled from the Weekly Worker group after, “espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. ”

Socialist Worker reports today on the immediate background

Mass rally in Tower Hamlets backs Lutfur Rahman, by Annette Mackin.

TUSC and Left Unity parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow with Lutfur Rahman at the meeting

TUSC and Left Unity parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow Glyn Robbins with Lutfur Rahman at the meeting (Pic: Kelvin Williams)

Over 1,000 people came to a Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets meeting in east London on Thursday of last week.

It was called after Lutfur Rahman was removed as mayor of Tower Hamlets after an islamophobic witch hunt.

Councillor Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of “corrupt practices”.

Commissioners have been sent in to run the local authority until a new mayor is elected on 11 June.

Rahman announced that councillor Rabina Khan will stand as an Independent. He said, “The establishment could not win at the ballot box—37,000 residents’ votes have been overturned.”

Other speakers included Salma Yaqoob, Lindsey German from the Stop the War coalition, local trade unionist John McLoughlin, Weyman Bennett, and Andrew Murray from the Unite union.

Socialist Worker has given up bothering to contest in any rational way whether the decisions of the electoral court were based on fact.

It’s all “Islamophobia”.

No doubt all that will cease once the SWP runs voting, supervises the ballot boxes, and local government,  on the template they have set for internal party judgements in, say, the ‘Comrade Delta’ case.

East London Lines has its own take on events,

At a public event last Thursday titled “Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets”, ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman introduced Khan as his Tower Hamlets First party’s new candidate for the position he had formerly held, until he was found guilty on April 23 of “corrupt and illegal practices” and removed from office.

This resulted in some confusion over which party Khan would represent, as Tower Hamlets First was delisted from the register of political parties last Wednesday – the day before the event.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said the party was delisted because the financial scheme it submitted at the time of registration was not being properly implemented.

However, some residents are sceptical about how independent a candidate Khan will be.

Writing on his website Love Wapping, Mark Baynes referred to Khan as a “puppet” of Tower Hamlets First, saying: “All the bloc votes that were previously used for the benefit of the ex-Mayor are directed towards the new ‘front person’”.

In his judgment in Rahman’s case, Electoral Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC wrote: “The selection of candidates was made by Mr Rahman personally on the basis of the prospective candidate’s commitment to Mr Rahman personally.”

At the event on Thursday, Khan stated that she originally became a councillor because Rahman “gave [her] the confidence and the faith that [she] could do it as a woman.”

Some residents believe electoral fraud has been a recurrent issue for Tower Hamlets.

Stephen Jones, 22, a research assistant from the area, said: “Tower Hamlets has always had problems with vote-rigging, whichever party the MP or mayor represents.”

However, Tower Hamlets resident Peter Perren, a business consultant, said: “If every infraction of [Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act] PPERA was acted on, there’d be no political parties in the UK.”

In a statement on her website, Khan pledged to fight for a style of politics that puts “women, families and ordinary people at the heart of policy and decision-making.”

New political party Left Unity have pledged their support for Khan. In a statement on their website, they said: “She is standing… at a time when the council is being taken over by Tory government agencies [who are] whipping up Islamophobic scare stories.”

Left Unity have called upon those on the political left to support Khan’s campaign.

Mitch Winehouse, father of late singer Amy, has also endorsed Khan’s run for mayor. A Twitter user called @LutfurForMayor tweeted a picture of Winehouse and Khan together today.

Ian Donovan’s views in Winehouse’s ethnic background are, so far unavailable.

Update: Is Tower Hamlets really an Establishment conspiracy?

Sacha Ismail makes, amongst others, this important point,

Rahman’s left supporters are very bothered about the law preventing “undue spiritual influence” in elections. Counterfire claims that this law was “introduced by the British in Ireland to stop Catholic preachers rallying the Irish! One doesn’t need much imagination to see how this legal relic will be used against Muslims.” In fact, it was introduced by Gladstone, as he was becoming a supporter of Irish Home Rule, and as part of a package of measures which also, for instance, outlawed bribery and checked employers’ ability to coerce their workers to vote a certain way.

Despite the oppressiveness of British rule in Ireland, the law was not used to repress Irish nationalists; cases were brought by more radical and anti-sectarian nationalists against less radical and more sectarian ones (by a Parnellite against an anti-Parnellite nationalist in the Co. Meath case referred to Mawrey). The Catholic Church in Ireland was not an anti-imperialist force! It waged war against the most radical and left-wing nationalists.

And here we come to the fundamental problem with the whole approach of the left. The fact that an organisation has its base in an oppressed community does not necessarily make it progressive. Counterfire (and not only Counterfire) make arguments that tend towards assuming Catholic = anti-imperialist. In the same way, they assume Muslim = anti-imperialist or in this case really left-wing. CF’s John Rees argues that Rahman has been prosecuted “not for what he has done wrong [making cuts], but for what he has done right”. The Socialist Party also implies that all would be well with Tower Hamlets council if only it fought cuts.

Russell Brand: A Note from the Ministry of Truth.

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Note from Ministry of Truth – Minitrue – Dayorder Rectify.

Delete, Brand, Russell Prolefeed, Ownlife: conspiracy nutter, vain pontificating idiot, cretin, overpaid fool who knits own yoghurt.

Replace Brand, Russell, Doubleplus Class Hero.

Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc Russell Brand Ungood.

Facecrime, Duckspeak: Joycamp.

Demonstration to thank Russell Brand, Corn Hill Ipswich 14.00.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2015 at 10:33 am

Green Party Goes Post Modern.

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The Most Inane Slogan Ever? 

Postmodernism was fashionable about thirty years ago.

It was a cluster of artistic, literary, architectural styles and philosophical ideas. These overlapping trends were “characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.”

Philosophically it was “critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.”

Amongst the more directly political themes advanced by theorists associated with the term were;

  • Relativism – the idea that not only are there no “foundational” truths, but that political practice should be directed against agencies that seek to work with any.
  • An end to “meta-narratives” – to overarching accounts of history, such the Marxism (historical materialism), or the economy (neo-liberalism).
  • Support for identity politics: ” The identity of the oppressed group gives rise to a political basis around which they can unite.” Now known as “inter-sectionality”, ” intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. An example is black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being a woman, considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.”
  • Other forms of localised fights against the dominant power relationships: regionalism, nationalist separatism, defending the rights of religious groups and other species.

 Green politics is a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy.

It cannot be reduced to postmodernism.

Indeed some of the strands associated with the Greens are described as ‘fundamentalists’ – deep ecology, primitivism.

But the ghost of dead postmodernism lingers over Britain’s Green Party – as it does over the Leninist Left.

As a section of  the left backs Lutfur Rahmen – dropping a concern for truth and the ‘meta-narrative’ of class struggle for the local Boss of Tower Hamlets and the ‘community’, not to mention the ‘rights’ of Islamists, the Green party is also undergoing its own ‘post-modernist turn.

 This list is not at all exhaustive.

But it show that what tends to come out of Green politics is a kind of ‘post-modernist’ strategy. This is a bit by bit accumulation of ideas, as relativism (the idea that people should ‘just do what they want to do – who are you to tell me what to do!) co-exists with very clear messages about what you should do (animal rights), and messages from the Authority of a wide range of groups (speaking ‘Asa’).

Their ideas are a jumble but the drift is clear.

The Green Party values the diversity of ways in which people relate to each other and the natural environment. It seeks a balance between a number of different processes which contribute to human well-being, rather than stressing one at the expense of all others. It refuses to treat any single value, whether freedom, wealth or equality, as a supreme criterion of political success. In an ecological society a wide range of lifestyle choices will be promoted as individuals and communities seek to establish the most appropriate means of implementing sustainability. (Philosophical Basis of the Green Party.)

We reject the view that wealth can be measured solely in monetary units, a view which allows its adherents to think it consists primarily of the results of human labour. This error has caused successive governments to pursue objectives which appear to increase the nation’s wealth while in fact they reduce it. Symbols of wealth, like money, reinforce the error and dominate political decision making. Economic growth is a poor guide to human welfare.

We seek a society in which people are empowered and involved in making the decisions which affect them. We advocate participatory and democratic politics. Leadership should always be accountable, consensus-driven and moral. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and followers.

Property laws should permit neither states nor individuals to treat their property in whatever way they choose. Instead they should aim to ensure that all people, where they wish it, have their needs met through access to the land and its resources, while maintaining its quality for future generations. Property laws should therefore impose duties on owners as well as granting rights.

We do not believe that there is only one way to change society, or that we have all the answers. We seek to be part of a wider green movement that works for these principles through a variety of means. We generally support those who use reasonable and non-violent forms of direct action to further just aims.

Imposing ‘duties’ on property owners, however much wealth is “symbolic” does not seem an easy thing to do by “consensus”.

Why is wealth not a ‘life-style choice’ amongst others?

It is hardly worth going further.

The Green Party’s policies that result are an attempt to look at the world as it is and the world as it might be.

As a wish-list, drawn up by (largely) well-meaning people they appeal to the kind of fragmented interest groups typical of ‘post-modern’ politics. In the 1980s and 1990s this was often called the  “post-materialist” constituency. Their French electorate is more recently described as “bobos” – bourgeois bohemians.

This political support is inherently unstable – as the rapid shrinking of the French Green (Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV) vote has indicated. This has gone from 16,28% (European elections 2009), 5,46 % (General Election, 2012),  8.95 (Europeans elections 2014) to 2,03%  in this year’s regional elections (départmentals). They are on the point of breaking into separate parties, one aligned to the ruling Parti Socialiste, the other to the Front de gauche.

It would be tempting to go into the experience of the British Greens in local government, notably Brighton, where there politics have singularly failed.

But since this will be instantly dismissed as the result of Coalition policies t finish, this is an example of the British Green’s approach.

Citizen’s Income is both universal, and very post-modern: it would be given to all (within a nation state), and post-mdoern – detatched from any relationship to ‘production’ class struggle and history.

But…

The Green party’s flagship economic policy, the £72 a week “citizen’s income”, would hit the poorest hardest unless it was made more complicated by including a means-tested element, the leading advocate of the policy has conceded.

The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party and been repeatedly cited by the Greens, has modelled its scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.

More Guardian.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

Police to Open Inquiry into Rahman and Tower Hamlets First as Post-Modern Left rallies to his Support.

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Post-Modern Politics in a Fedora Hat.

Lutfur Rahman: Police poised to re-open inquiry after election scandal.

​Police are re-investigating the electoral fraud scandal surrounding Lutfur Rahman, the former mayor of Tower Hamlets in London, after four new allegations came to light in an official report.​

Scotland Yard confirmed last week’s High Court electoral fraud judgment into Rahman, Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor, contained new material which had not been previously reported to them.

It means the inquiry into Rahman and potential collaborators​ could now be formally re-opened, bringing into question the Metropolitan Police’s decision to previously shut down the investigation.

James Bloodworth comments on this fiasco, (Daily Beast): Lutfur Rahman Turned East London into a Banana Republic.

Political correctness and left-wing myopia helped protect Britain’s first democratically-elected Muslim mayor from corruption charges for years. Eventually justice caught up with him.

Comrade Bloodworth notes,

Rumours of Rahman’s links with extremist politics, whether accurate or not, only appeared to heighten his attractiveness to a certain type of activist. In this respect Rahman was merely the latest footnote in a sorry tale of the pro-Islamist Left—the Hitler/Stalin pact of the twenty-first century. Those who would automatically reject any compromise with the British establishment were once again ready to collaborate with the most reactionary sections of the Muslim community. George Galloway’s Respect party, a significant player in Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First, was conceived in 2004 out of an amalgamation of the Leninist Socialist Workers’ Party and the Muslim Association of Britain, one of Britain’s most radical Islamist groups. As the French writer Pascal Bruckner mockingly put it, on the far-left hatred of the market was ‘worth a few compromises regarding fundamental rights’.

The judge’s ruling appears to have done little to dampen support for the deposed mayor on the far Left. Last night, a week after the damning verdict, a rally of hundreds of supporters took place in Stepney Green in East London, where Rahman confirmed that he was “exploring the possibility” of challenging the judgment. The rally was made up largely of Rahman’s Bangladeshi supporters—and left-wing activists, including Andrew Murray, the chief of staff at Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, Respect party MP George Galloway, who appeared via video link, former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Christine Shawcross from Labour’s National Executive Committee. Shawcross, who is expected to be disciplined by the Labour party for continuing to support Rahman, is also reported to be acting as a trustee of Rahman’s legal defence fund. The corrupt former mayor used the rally to launch a fundraising drive to pay his £1 million legal fees and to insist—again­—that he was the victim of smears.

He adds,

Another thing which seemed to rankle with the Left (and which made defending the disgraced mayor a point of honor) was the fact that, for their own reasons, right-wing newspapers didn’t much like Rahman either. One of the journalists who fought hard to bring Rahman down was Andrew Gilligan of the conservative Daily Telegraph. The British Left, keener on the verbal diarrhea of Slavoj Zizek than the windowpane prose of George Orwell, had clearly forgotten the latter’s injunction that “Some things are true, even though the Daily Telegraph says they are true.”

Read the rest of the article here.

We do not agree with all of this analysis, the ‘far-left’ is by no means unanimous in its backing for Rahman to start with, and it the ‘pre-Islamists are a mixture of the credulous, the well-intentioned who have no idea of what they’ve got into,  and the less savoury. But  James Bloodworth much of it echoes the point we made a few days ago about Putin’s Russia and his chief ‘political technologist’.

Surkov, we are not in the least surprised to learn, is a fan of post-modern theories of simulacra. Pomerantsev does not name the texts in detail, but you can instantly feel the presence of Jean Baudrillard at work – or should we say, his lingering hyper-réalité. From the façades of Kaliningrad to the wars between Moscow business-gangster clans, the Oligarchs, to the battles in Ukraine, there are so many kinds of ‘surface’, that even the master-players get lost. They speak « several languages at the same time ». This is not just double-think, a split between what you say in the public and the private derision you cover it with, but, contrary to Pomerantsev’s own judgement, but a boundless enthusiasm for playing.

Is this just a Russian phenomenon ? Former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First Party look in many respects to have come out of Surkov’s tool-kit. A little anti-austerity for the left, a little religious enthusiasm for the ‘community’, the brazen funding of ‘players’, the ‘management’ of elections, the cajoling, the bullying…

The SWP, Socialist Action, Left Unity, Counterfire, the list is long of those caught up in this ‘post-modern politics’ where any means are good to keep the ‘Boss’ in power.

Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets: meeting report

Glyn Robbins, who is standing as a joint Left Unity – Trade Unionist and Socialists candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, made a stirring speech evoking the memory of the battle of Cable Street against the fascists of Oswald Mosley back in the 1930s, and today marching arm in arm with Lutfur Rahman to stop the English Defence League storming through Tower Hamlets on three occasions. He noted that Labour candidate Rushanara Ali has refused to comment on what’s happened. As Glyn wrote in a leaflet distributed to the meeting:

“Anger and resentment are rising in Tower Hamlets following the election court decision on 23 April. Even people who didn’t previously support Lutfur Rahman recognise the ruling as a hypocritical, state-sponsored attack on local democracy, with strong racist and Islamophobic under-currents… The election court judgement is an attempt to intimidate and neuter political dissent and shore-up the political establishment.

“Lutfur Rahman’s administration has reinstated EMAs, maintained Council Tax Benefits and celebrated St Patrick’s Day and LGBT culture. In stark contrast to the Labour council leader who preceded him, Lutfur Rahman took a courageous and principled position to oppose the EDL.

“We need a united, determined campaign to defend our community against cuts and direct rule by Westminster on the form of Eric Pickles’ government commissioners and to demand a better future for Tower Hamlets… On May 7 the people of Tower Hamlets have another chance to tell the establishment ‘we’ll decide who to vote for and who runs our borough’.”

Cable Street, Rahman, arm in arm….Robbins is in full Russian propaganda drive against ‘fascism’ with a dribble of Pickles…

Rahman celebrated St Patrick’s Day!

Gay Rights!

And no doubt the Birthday of the ‘Prophet.

No mention of how exactly Tower Hamlets First came to select (so, so, quickly) Rabina Khan as Rahman’s chosen successor.

Big City Boss……

Oddly these people are not rushing to join Tower Hamlets First………

More: Lutfur Rahman announces new Tower Hamlets mayoral candidate following dismissal.

World Press Freedom Day Sees List of Honour Back Charlie Hebdo as 145 Writers Join List of Shame.

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The List of Honour of those who Back Charlie and Freedom.

Not in our name: World Press Freedom Day 116 days after Charlie Hebdo.

On World Press Freedom Day, 116 days after the attack at the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 11 dead and 12 wounded, we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive.

The Charlie Hebdo attack – a horrific reminder of the violence many journalists around the world face daily in the course of their work – provoked a series of worrying reactions across the globe.

In January, the office of the German daily Hamburger Morgenpost was firebombed following the paper’s publishing of several Charlie Hebdo images. In Turkey, journalists reported receiving death threats following their re-publishing of images taken from Charlie Hebdo. In February, a gunman apparently inspired by the attack in Paris, opened fire at a free expression event in Copenhagen; his target was a controversial Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Muhammad in his drawings.

But many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments.

A Turkish court blocked web pages that had carried images of Charlie Hebdo’s front cover; Russia’s communications watchdog warned six media outlets that publishing religious-themed cartoons “could be viewed as a violation of the laws on mass media and extremism”; Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi empowered the prime minister to ban any foreign publication deemed offensive to religion; the editor of the Kenyan newspaper The Star was summoned by the government’s media council, asked to explain his “unprofessional conduct” in publishing images of Charlie Hebdo, and his newspaper had to issue a public apology; Senegal banned Charlie Hebdo and other publications that re-printed its images; in India, Mumbai police used laws covering threats to public order and offensive content to block access to websites carrying Charlie Hebdo images. This list is far from exhaustive.

Perhaps the most long-reaching threats to freedom of expression have come from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries, including France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement in which they called on internet service providers to identify and remove online content “that aims to incite hatred and terror”. In the UK, despite the already gross intrusion of the British intelligence services into private data, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the country should go a step further and ban internet services that did not give the government the ability to monitor all encrypted chats and calls.

This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.

On World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned, call on all governments to;

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely.
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference.
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies.
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression
  • Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media
  • Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

PEN International
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Article19
Association of European Journalists
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Belarusian PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Danish PEN
Derechos Digitales
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
English PEN
Ethical Journalism Initiative
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Guardian News Media Limited
Icelandic PEN
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Malawi PEN
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Mexico PEN
Norwegian PEN
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association
PEN Afrikaans
PEN American Center
PEN Catalan
PEN Lithuania
PEN Quebec
Russian PEN
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN South Africa
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Swedish PEN
Turkish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru
West African Journalists Association
World Press Freedom Committee.

Good on all who back this letter.

Vous serez honoré(e)s parmi toutes les Nations. 

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, Moblisez-Vous!

Here is the declaration of Shame.

Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham are among the 145 writers who have signed a letter protesting PEN American Center’s decision to award its “freedom of expression courage” award to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, because the award seems to endorse drawings of the prophet Muhammad and other images that “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering” among France’s embattled Muslims.

“It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic,” the letter states, referring to the attack by Islamic extremists in Paris in January. “What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo or what criteria exactly were used to make that decision.”

By honoring Charlie Hebdo, the letter said, “PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

New York Times.

I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list…..