Archive for the ‘Conservatives’ Category
Kevin Algar: Ben Gummer’s Top Man.
The ‘Election Battle‘ for Ipswich is hotting up.
Ever so often Ben Gummer, Cabinet Minister for Ipswich, Editor Ipswich Star, Local Government Correspondent Ipswich Star, Mayor of Ipswich, Shop-Steward (National Union of Private Debt Managers, Canary Wharf), Producer, Channel Four News, Patron of Lady Lane Shrine, presents the Alternative View on Tendance Coatesy.
“As somebody who knows what it’s like to be denied media time, I’d like to thank Coatesy for the opportunity to ‘get the message’ out.
Your doing a great job chaps – and chappettes! – even if you didn’t have my ‘privileged’ (dread word!) education in the Trivium and Quadrivium.
I care passionately about my town!
- Kept working class ‘council houses’ from polluting the beautiful meadows of Ravenswood – thanks Mr Pickles!
- Constructed and funded scores of New Schools in Ipswich, and passed thousands of A levels and GCSE’s.
- My betting and pound shop building programme has reduced Ipswich Unemployment by 50%.
- Backed national ‘sanctioning’ ‘targets’ for so-called ‘claimants’ leading to a fourfold rise in their numbers.
- With the Help of ATOS and (now) Maximus I have healed the lame and halt at the Shrine of Lady Lane.
- Brought a halt to the restrictions of employee representation by supporting to an end to interfering union activity.
- Dredged the Orwell and laid the foundation stone for a new Bridge between Ipswich and Harwich.
“Hats off to Benjy! With you at the helm of Ipswich I’m proud to be standing as a Conservative Candidate in the May local elections!”
Cabu – who spent his life caricaturing political figures – says Merde! to Japanese Manga drawer, Hayao Miyazaki, who instructs them not to make fun of holy figures from other cultures and restrict themselves to their own politicians (from here)
Charlie Hebdo: the Joy of Liberty. Andrew Coates.
From the latest Chartist magazine. (‘For Democratic Socialism’).
7th of January 2015, “I called my mother. For a moment, in tears, I was unable to speak. It was as if we’d lost members of our family.” (Le Monde 30.1.15) Millions in France, and across the world, shared the reactions to the slaughter at the office of Charlie Hebdo, expressed in images by the cartoonist Lisa Mandel. 11 people, from well-known artists to technical staff and police guards, had already lost their lives.
On the 8th of January a municipal policeman was killed at Montrouge. The following day the murderer, Amedy Coulibaly, left four hostages dead at the kosher supermarket, Hyper Cacher, Porte de Vinceness. He was shot by the security forces, as were the two Charlie attackers, tracked down by the police to Dammartin-en-goële.
The butchers, the two Kouchai brothers and Coulibaly, underlined the Islamist character of their ‘synchronised’ action. The first pair shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohamed!” They claimed to spare woman, but murdered the Jewish psychoanalyst and Charlie columnist Elsa Cayat. Coulibaly could not have made his anti-Semitism clearer. He claimed affiliation to the Islamic State in the Levant and Syria (Isis). A more certain link to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula emerged.
The reaction to the atrocities was overwhelming. An avalanche of Je suis Charlies circulated on social media. On the 11 of January millions demonstrated in France. In Paris the French political class – except the Front National – and foreign leaders, including representatives of countries not noted for tolerating freedom of expression stood in the march.
The crowds celebrated Charlie in the Place de la Bastille. Some criticised the appeal to ‘national unity’. The vast majority of the left, the Front de Gauche, the Parti Socialiste, joined in. There were flags of every description, Puerto Rican, Kurdish, and French. Far from endorsing a ‘union sacrée’ hundreds of thousands of people were there simply to share their common grief.
Appearing after these events Charlie Hebdo (14th of January) stated, “In a week, Charlie, an atheist paper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and the prophets together … Charlie has masses of new friends: people without a name, world celebrities, the lowest and the most privileged, sinners and religious dignitaries, the sincere and the Jesuitical, those who’ll be with us for life, and those who are only here for a short time.”
Charlie does not only have friends. Over the years there have been many attempts to silence the Weekly. Since its relaunch in 1992 legal challenges have mostly come from the extreme-right and Catholic fundamentalists. But in 2006 their publication of the Mohammed cartoons of Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, led to a court action brought by Muslim organisations. The case failed. In November 2011 they announced the production of a special Charia Charlie (Sharia Charlie) with Mohammed as Editor, to ‘celebrate’ the victory in Tunisia of the right-wing Islamist party, Ennahdha. Their offices were burnt out. The paper was still published.
In Britain some on the left also loathe Charlie. People who have seen no more than a few of its front pages have heaped ordure on the Weekly. Charlie wasn’t just printing a “‘depiction’ of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” (Seumas Milne, Guardian. 15.1.15) Charlie, was “blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist.” (Tim Sanders. Socialist Review 2015)
For a wide range of critics the underlying cause of the massacre was Western intervention in Islamic countries and the Republic’s mistreatment of French Muslims. As Milne says, “So long as we allow this war to continue indefinitely, the threats will grow.” Charlie had played a role in the battle. Its secularist humiliation of these believers put it in the camp of the West.
Yet nobody could ignore that the weekly’s humour is informed by radical leftism. Charb, the Editor, backed the Front de gauche. His cartoons, like those of Wolinski, regularly appeared in the communist daily, l’Humanité. Cabu, one of the gentlest and most loved of all French cartoonists, was a libertarian anti-militarist green. Other Charlie authors are from the same stable. There views are as varied as any cross section of the left. Attempts to expell them from their own political family are not likely to succeed.
Charlie Hebdo defends secularism, laïcité, as part of the left’s identity, along with feminism and human rights. It is accused of haughty disdain for religion. But few can ignore that radical Islamism – only one of their targets but the one that it at stake here targets – is against the left’s central values. Charlie does not make the arrogant assumption that any religion is a single ‘community’. It wants the public sphere to be open to all, free of any religious domination. They state, “All of those who claim to defend Muslims, and who accept a totalitarian religious discourse, defend in effect their own butchers. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims.”
“The killers have failed,” observes Serge Halmi, “they have given eternal life to the Weekly they wanted to annihilate” (le Monde Diplomatique. February 2015) More than that, Charlie, is loved.
Iain Duncan Smith’s Responsibility.
Yesterday I spent an enjoyable hour with Scarey, an East Ender, in the pub.
Over a few jars we talked of beloved comrade Anwar Huq who used to drive us out to the Suffolk wilds in pursuit of the perfect pint.
Scarey is now on the dole and not well off but seems in good cheer.
As I left I bumped into M, a bloke I know.
He is a lorry driver.
He comes up to us when we run stalls for the left and says, “I know Andy is a socialist so I’ll sign that.”
He has told me that some of the happiest days of his life were when he went to the big anti-racist festivals in London (not 70s – 90s).
M is living on the streets of Ipswich – homeless.
I am utterly utterly distraught at this.
We had a long wait for Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) yesterday (we began at 9 o’clock) but he finally arrived at “MyGo” Ipswich at 5.00 pm, accompanied by Ben Gummer, before heading off to a £45 a head Tory fund raising dinner in Melton.
This Tory Party stunt received a hostile welcome from many people.
Members of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) from Suffolk and Norfolk, and Suffolk Peoples Assembly made sure the message that his term of office as Work & Pensions Minister has been a disaster for people with disabilities and should be terminated immediately came over loud and clear.
As we stood many Ipswich people came up and told us their own stories of how IDS has made their lives worse.
Cries of ‘murderer’ greeted the Tory Toff as he was spotted in the building.
So effective was this messaging that the tv interview they were trying to conduct had to be moved from room to room within the building – only for DPAC banners and renewed chanting to pop up outside the window of each successive refuge.
We think they might have had to hide in the broom cupboard to complete the footage!
The report on Look East (BBC) mentioned that a “small group of protesters tried to disrupt the visit.”
They showed the Proud Banner of Suffolk DPAC in the window of the room where he’d finally scurried to.
Report from Sarah and Andy.
Bob Lambert Receives Islamic Human Rights Award (2007).
Lambert is in the news again, for what reason?
Well this was his most recent appearance (September 2014).
Ministers have been urged to enlist the help of several controversial Muslim groups to stem the flow of British jihadists to Iraq and Syria.
Calls are growing for Whitehall to restore ties in particular with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), one of the country’s largest Islamic organisations. The group, which once enjoyed a close relationship with the government, has been ostracised since 2009 when one of its officials signed a declaration supporting Hamas and calling on Muslims to destroy “foreign warships” preventing arms smuggling into Gaza.
Robert Lambert, a former head of the Metropolitan police Muslim contact unit who is now a lecturer in terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews, said that the MCB and other Muslim groups could be valuable partners in the struggle against home-grown jihad….”
Originally in the Times (yesterday) – Hat-tip DT.
But on this occasion it’s not to develop the failures that resulted from the policy of co-operating with ‘moderate’ (hard-right) Islamists that he expounded in Countering Al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnerships (2011).
It’s Lambert’s past and the great wrong that he has done that’s in the news.
Today we learn.
The Metropolitan Police is to pay £425,000 to a woman whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer.
The unprecedented payment comes after a legal battle with women who say they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them.
Scotland Yard says it “unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering”.
The woman told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer’s real identity.
Married with children
The Met’s payment is part of an agreement for her to drop her legal action alleging assault, negligence, deceit and misconduct by senior officers.
Scotland Yard statement
The force faces further possible claims from other women who say they were tricked into relationships with Special Demonstration Squad officers.
The SDS ran long-term undercover operations designed to infiltrate protest groups, including animal rights organisations.
One of its key officers, former Special Branch detective Bob Lambert, used the pseudonym Bob Robinson, and was tasked with infiltrating the Animal Liberation Front.
During that operation in the mid 1980s, he formed a relationship with a 22-year-old activist called Jacqui – even though he was already married with children. In 1985 she gave birth – but when the boy was two years old, the father vanished.
Jacqui only discovered the real identity of her son’s father in 2012 after he had been outed by other campaigners.
Scotland Yard had refused to confirm or deny whether Bob Lambert was an SDS operative, despite his own admissions to journalists, until it was forced to change its position in August.
We note with concern that this individual is still a Lecturer in ‘Terrorism Studies’ at St Andrews University.
The University sees fit to publish this (link) about the past for which the Met now has had to pay out a hefty sum,
For the bulk of his police service (1977–2007) Robert Lambert worked in counter-terrorism, gaining operational experience of all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of international terrorism that include what may now best be described as the al-Qaida movement. One common denominator in all the many and varied terrorist recruitment strategies he witnessed over the years is the exploitation of a sense of political injustice amongst susceptible youth. Throughout his police career Lambert placed value on street or grass roots perspectives over more rigid top down security approaches to counter-terrorism.
We helpfully note that there is something…missing in this account.
One hopes that a number of glaring absences are swiftly replaced by a fuller account of Lambert’s ‘career’.
The word “exploitation” is also particularly unfortunate.
Ideal Happy Suffolk Library User.
In 2012 Suffolk LIbraries were taken away from public ownership (‘divested’) and direct control by elected councillors under a hard-right leadership of Suffolk County Council. They were given to an Industrial and Provident Society
Or as they put it,
In the first arrangement of its type in the UK, and after extensive consultation with the people of Suffolk, on Wednesday 1 August 2012, all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries and the mobile, school and prison library services were put under the direct control of the Suffolk’s Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent company registered as a charity.
Suffolk’s Libraries has a long-term contract with Suffolk County Council to ensure the service is delivered to an agreed specification and to work with local community groups to develop locally-focused services at each library.
The county council remains the statutory library authority, and monitors the performance of the library service through a framework that forms part of the contract.
As a member of the Ipswich Friends, who are on the list, I would be interested to know how this election took place – certainly it would be hard to recall being consulted, let alone presented with a ballot paper.
It would be possible to go further into this arrangement, whose transparency has been unfavourably compared to the Kremlin’s under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.
Our concern is the future of the libraries.
It would seem that a number of problems have come to a head: Ipswich Library is opening late tomorrow, because a special ‘Staff Meeting’ is taking place.
It is known (I have seen a copy of the, non-public, minutes of the meeting) that part of the Library is to be transferred to a business ‘hub’ of some kind (as if Ipswich needs another one….).
Appropriately commerce will replace part of the Arts section.
In the meantime a large number of books from all over the Central Library are ‘disappearing’ and some books on the shelves are ‘not-recognised’ – about to be withdrawn for sale.
One loyal member of staff say that these volumes have gone to a better, happier, place.
Others, less favourable to management, suggest that the “disappeared” will never be seen again.
The computer provision, which last year’s annual public report (a rare glimpse into the Provy’s workings) needs upgrading, is in a mess.
Some new terminals are available (though 2 have already broken down) with super, indeed excellent, service, exist (though their censorship filter blocks some left-wing sites).
Some of the old ones still function.
There is a shortage of free computers and great competition to use them – an essential activity for Jobseekers.
But near to them are the dead carcasses of extinct terminals, a sad reminder of former days.
We suspect a funding crisis is in the offing and “profit centres” are seen as the way out.
Note the word “suspect“, not “certain”.
It is said – from the Management – that “nothing has been decided yet” about the libraries’ future.
We have heard that one before: it is no doubt taught in many ‘dealing with a crisis’ master classes for managers.
Teresa May Outlines Plans to Clamp down on ‘Harmful Individuals’.
Very Short Treatise on Intolerance.
Nietzsche wrote somewhere that the greatest haters, with the longest memories and deepest grudges, are learned religious men. (1) The contrary can easily be found. But malevolent violence in the Middle East – inspired and carried out by those who see themselves as holy – is something thrust in front of us every single day.
That this affects Europe was equally brought home quickly. It is not an exaggeration to say that the world of social media and instant media reporting, has worn away the sense of distance. That thousands of European volunteers, including hundreds of British citizens, have joined the Jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq became news in weeks. For those who follow the right sites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, more information piled up every day.
From these sources the oppressions and crimes of the Islamist forces rapidly became known. In Iraq and Syria the Islamic State and Isis began to carry out ethnic and religious cleansing, tortured, raped, and committed acts of genocide.
Clamp-down on ‘harmful individuals”.
That there are those who continue to justify the Jihadists, here and now, is equally public. The British Conservative Party has announced that it intends, if elected in 2015, to legislate. It will issue “banning orders” on “extremist” groups. It will ratchet up its ‘anti-terrorism’ strategy and ‘anti-extremism’ programme. There will be ‘terrorism Asbos’ – extreme disruption orders, that will restrict the actions of named individuals, including a ban on their media appearances. (BBC)
Opponents of the proposals will state that it not possible to ban a version of a faith, which is a private matter. But the liberal argument in defence of free speech appears to hit a wall at this point. The Jihadists’ behaviour is not confined to “self-regarding acts” (John Stuart Mill). It is anything but limited to the individual: they are carrying out the Word of god, as spoken by their own authorities, to bring the world into line with their ideas.
Jihadists and Violence.
If we argue that the consequences of Jihadist ideology are violent few would disagree. The link could not be plainer and self-designated. They appear to be, and are intolerance incarnate. But if Mill’s doctrine has its faults, a much greater one is to “augment the authority of whatever sacerdotal or legislative body (that) may represent the majority”, as John Morley pointed out. (On Compromise. 1886)
Give those in government and their functionaries that power and it is not hard to see that Teresa May’s laws would open the door to abuses. A floodgate of malicious accusations (anonymous or Tabloid inspired). As somebody who has been the target of a ‘moderate’ Islamist – soon proved false – claims, one also see the scope for factional warfare between Muslim groups and their opponents, secularists or otherwise, opening up. And that is before we consider the potential for racists and other hate groups using the legislation for their own purposes. That the idea appears to encompass “extremisms” as a whole – left, right, religious and otherwise – rings others alarm bells. As David Davis (Conservative) observed, these measures “quite incredible powers to limit democratic rights”. Or as Padraig Reidy puts in the Tory Telegraph, “The concept of extremism has become rather like fascism: a catch-all term for things we don’t like.”
It would be hard to find any organised religion (with the possible exception of the Society of Friends) that did not claim special powers over other people and society. If we oppose this claim then it’s not the individual who’s the problem but the institutions that would bring compulsory rules over other people’s lives. The Conservatives’ proposals come close to this, very close indeed for anybody suspected of “extremism”.
By contrast those who consider that there is no special place for religion in our common political institutions, would not consider the public body the best authority make the ultimate decision over what is and what is not an acceptable “moderate” religious belief. Secularists would leave the faithful to battle amongst themselves over whether they are hard-liners or reasonable. This would leave the rest of us free to exist as human beings, at liberty to adopt, to approve, to mock or to criticise any religious belief that tries to impinge on our lives.
There remains the problem of Islamism. Some simply deny that there is any connection between Islam and ISIS/Islamic State. We have seen the attempt by some to get the media to call the Islamic State the “un” or “so-called” Islamic State. It’s as if Trotskyists demanded that the old Soviet Union be always referred to by its “proper” name, as a “degenerated/deformed workers’ state”.
The analogy can be extended. Some commentators have compared the reaction of political Islamists, including those in government, as in Turkey, to the left’s difficult coming to terms with Stalin’s blood-drenched rule. This is not an easy process, and it has not ended yet.
One thing is certain coming to terms with the crimes of the Islamists in the Middle East will not be helped by fine-sounding phrases that instantly dismiss any connection between their ideology and Islam. This is a claim shared by Teresa May who states, ” Islam is a religion of peace.” We would wish for evidence to back this assertion.
It may be said that those who loudly clamoured for bans on books and publications, which “offended” Islam, from the Satanic Verses onwards, are not in a good position to demand freedom of expression. That is indeed a rod of their own making.
Intolerance of the Intolerant.
None of this implies any let up on the pressure on violent Islamists. Those who follow the tradition of Voltaire’s Traité sur la tolérance (1763) are not tolerant of fanaticism. The crimes of Isis/Islamic State, including those committed by European Jihadists, should be answerable to courts and due process. We can, already, clamp down on incitement to violence and religious hatred. The means to bring to account those actively involved in Jihad exist. The killers in the service of the Assad regime deserve the same treatment – bringing up a subject which, to examine properly, would extend this ‘short’ treatise by several pages.
What we do not need is increased “authority” to legislate on what is, and what is not, ‘extremism.”
(1) “The really great Haters in History have always been priests, but also the cleverest haters – in comparison with the cleverness of priestly revenge every other piece of cleverness is practically negligible” Genealogy of Morals. 1887.
The Home Secretary revealed the new “extremism disruption orders” would ban those who “spread hate but do not break existing laws” from the airwaves and make it easier to formally proscribe groups deemed to be linked to terrorism.
The orders will apply to those who “spread or incite hatred” of gender, race or religion as well as those who engage in “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”. That’s prompted fears the laws could be used on non-violent political groups and the political enemies of those in power.
Critics said the powers were draconian and mocked the notion of banning those who are not proven to have broken the law, while human rights Liberty said the powers were “worthy of a caliphate”.
The eurosceptic party that is jeopardising the Tories’ chance of winning the next election – and to which two MPs and other prominent politicians have already defected – also suggested it could be banned with such an order.
Suzanne Evans, deputy chair of Ukip, told a fringe event at the Tory Party conference that the power could be used to close down her party, the BBC’s Norman Smith reported.
Hope Not Hate call for contributions to debate on “To ban or not to ban?” : here.
How should society tackle extremism?
There will be various streams to this debate, so ideas and contributions on them all will be useful:
- What is extremism?
- Where does extremism come from?
- How should the Government tackle extremism?
- How should communities tackle extremism?
- What are the limits of freedom of speech?