Archive for the ‘Conservatives’ Category
Ed Miliband came to Ipswich yesterday.
He was interviewed on Look East.
Ed showed a sure grasp of the key issues facing people in the Town*
These included a low wage economy, a town centre in need of regeneration, and people working on zero hour contracts, as well as the health service and education.
The Labour leader has visibly grown in stature over the last few weeks.
He responded with clarity and modest determination.
It was impressive.
Miliband spoke to local paper, the Star,
..he said the key message he had heard from local people was that the economy had not got better for ordinary workers.
He said: “It may be better if you work in the City of London or you’re one of the highest-paid people in the country, but this idea that the wealth will trickle down is nonsense.
“The people working hard to try to improve their lives are not seeing any improvements, and it is time we changed things to ensure that any recovery is shared by everyone – not just the richest.”
David Ellesmere was present to welcome Labour’s Battle Bus.
David has also risen in – political – stature during the election campaign.
As leader of the Labour Group in Ipswich Borough Council he had headed a team dedicated to making things better for ordinary people.
Labour councillors have has introduced the Living Wage for all its employees – and contractors.
They have banned the use of ‘workfare’ by the Council.
The Borough has engaged in a programme of building council houses (although one project has been held up by Eric Pickles).
It has invested in land, in supporting schemes to help ordinary people (such as the Credit Union), and a range of community bodies.
More broadly Ipswich Council has backed progressive policies, such as an anti-racist march.
David appeared at the first public meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly (SPA), along with Owen Jones, and the Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa MacKay and other trade unionists.
Campaigning locally for the Living Wage, Ipswich Labour, local community groups, and the SPA, have tried to extend this principle.
On Suffolk County Council, the Labour leader, Sandy Martin – who also works with the SPA – has attempted to get this administration to adopt the Living Wage. The Conservatories have blocked it.
Recently David came along to a SPA/UNITE protest against the sanctions regime for benefit claimants -a major cause of the rise of Food Banks.
Ipswich Labour, and David Ellesmere, have done a through, careful, job of making things better for ordinary people – just as Ed Miliband intends to do.
They have earned a lot of trust in the constituency.
By contrast Tory candidate Ben Gummer is looking increasingly rattled.
His efforts to claim credit for every thing positive that has happened to the town, up to and including the recent sunny weather (I made that one up – just…), are, people admit, at least pleasanter than his colleagues’ attempts to spread fear of a Labour doomsday.
Ben Gummer tries to show his liberal side, but has come down hard in favour of the sanctions regime, and other regressive Tory policies.
Many people are tried of free-market politicians who lay ownership of economic upturns (never downturns), while disclaiming government responsibility for the precarious existence a large number of working people, not to mention benefit claimants, have to live.
I have no insight into the voting intentions of the public.
But if Ipswich is anything to go by, the hard-graft of politicians like David and his colleagues, is beginning to pay off.
* population 133,400 – up to 200, 000 if you include the coterminous villages and small towns.
Daniel Bensaïd: Illustrated by Charlie Hebdo Editor, ‘Charb’.
Book Launch (Daniel and Charb)
Yesterday the Verso Spring catalogue arrived.
Amongst the books they present it this one:
Published February 2015.
“France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.” –Tariq Ali.
And this – which indicates a lot about the ideology of Verso and New Left Review.
To announce this book’s publication Verso have put this on their site by Christine Delphy (from 2007).
Religion: a private affair? A rebuttal of a commonplace idea by Christine Delphy.
“Among other forms of intellectual, ethical and political regression, since the massacres of 7–9 January we’ve seen a brutal and authoritarian neo-laïcisme [French state secularism] coming back into force. And let’s say it frankly: it’s targeted against Muslims. Indeed, this neo-laïcisme radically subverts whatever may have been emancipatory about secularist thought and legislation between 1880 and 1905. More particularly, today we’re again hearing the absurd refrain about the supposedly secularist need for religion to stay ‘personal’ and ‘limited to the private sphere’.
For all these reasons, we thought it opportune to republish a short but punchy history lesson, taken from a book whose title [Un universalisme si particulier; ‘A very particular universalism’] is, unfortunately, once again very much relevant.”
It begins, with her statement,
Though it is a constant element of laïcard [aggressively secularist, in an atheist key] propaganda, the idea that religion belongs to the ‘private sphere’ is rarely contested. No one ever defines this ‘private sphere’: the term ‘private’ has many different definitions depending on the context, including as regards law. The laïcards are anti-Muslim, and mask their opposition to this particular religion in claiming to be opposed to all religions.
This text (above) is translated by David Broder.
We stumble here. David fails to note that ‘laïcard’ is by definition pejorative – it’s as if we start by saying that “Islamophobics are hostile to Islam”. That is what the suffix, ‘ard‘ means, as in Trotscard. This is argument by assertion.
It is used by the enemies of laïcite (secularism).
It is hard to see that anybody hostile to secularism ever saw anything ’emancipatory (or there ‘may have been’ something good) about it.
It is the language of the enemies of secular freedom, from the Catholic far-right onwards.
Just as the enemies of Trotskysim call Trotskyists – in French – Trotscards .
It is true that some on the French far-left (a small minority) also use the term.
To analyse the article seriously is not worth while.
It is essentially a sustained rant, whose quality can be judged by this statement,
The laïcards don’t attack freedom of expression, but defend it; and they would even be right to do so, if only they weren’t so selective. For them, this right is absolute when it comes to ridiculing Muslims and Islam, but not when you draw a policeman with a pig’s nose, which is a grave insult against the state – indeed, it’s close to blasphemous
It ends with this hysterical scream.
Is this country doomed to stumble from one form of intolerance to another? Will atheism become a new state religion, while those who believe in a god or gods will become the new ‘freethinkers’ – hounded, persecuted and imprisoned?
If Verso thinks this kind of statement is worth reproducing – and the following obscure ruminations about sects (his dada) by former Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA) member Didier Leschi – then they are in a bit of a pickle.
This all leads us to ask about Christine Delphy’s politics. These are well known. She has some very reactionary views (against civil/gay marriage on the grounds that it is a ‘bourgeois’ institution), and is associated with figures in the orbit of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan and has vauinted the British education system as a model, far better than French laïcité at accommodating Islam (indeed!) (More here).
The above text comes from the L’Indigène de la république site and this is her background with this group:
“In 2004-2005, she participated in the birth of the movement, the ‘indigènes de la République’.” (French Wikipedia).
We have covered them before, a homophobic, anti-laïcard (an expression we note with origins on the extreme right and Christian believers), the militant wing of post-colonial studies pretending to be the voice of the ‘banlieue’.
Here is one notorious example of their thinking:
“Houria Bouteldja principal speaker of the Indigènes de la République « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires
The homosexual way of life does not exist in working class and deprived areas.” (from here).
The Charnal House writes more widely on the groupuscle,
Marxism? Enlightenment? Universalism? Rationality? All inventions of the decadent bourgeois West, apparently. Bouteldja situates her own indigenous perspective somewhere in the rarefied epistemic space of radical alterity. Decolonial thought, she contends, “defied the imposed margins: the margins of enlightenment thinking, of western rationalism/rationality, of Marxism, of universalism, of republicanism.” She therefore implores her fellow indigènes to “resist the ideology of White universalism, human rights, and the Enlightenment.” In Bouteldja’s view, the “the cold rationality of the Enlightenment leads…to the fanaticism of market and capitalist reason,” and engenders an “outrageous and arrogant narcissism to universalize historical processes (i.e., secularism, the Enlightenment, Cartesianism) that were geographically and historically located in Western Europe.” Karl Marx himself was nothing more than a white, Eurocentric chauvinist when he dismissed religion as the opiate of the masses. “There are societies which don’t need the separation between the Church and the State, and for which religion is not a problem,” Bouteldja has written. “Religion is not the opium of the people.”
This is Tariq Ali’s comment (26th January) on the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres,
How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?
France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.
It is not expected that Verso has reproduced these cartoons by our murdered comrade Charb that appeared in Marx Mode d’emploi to illustrate the Daniel Bensaïd book.
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.