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Archive for the ‘BNP and right-wing extremists’ Category

Monday
Nov 12,2012

There was a fairly surreal discussion in the House of Lords this afternoon following the Government statement on the resignation of the Director General of the BBC.  This reflects the wider political and media preoccupation with the inner workings of the BBC and not the very serious allegations of child abuse that lay beneath the two questionable editorial decisions by those in charge of the BBC Newsnight programme.

The depths were plumbed by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, former Leader of UKIP, who seemed to think that the central issue was that “a large majority” of the members of the BBC Trust are “climate change enthusiasts” and that “the BBC remains blindly Europhile …. as exemplified by its chairman, who has a large EU pension which he could lose if he went against what the European Commission regards as the interests of the European communities.”

It took a Bishop to reinject some sanity into the discussion:

The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds:

My Lords, I am very grateful that in the initial Statement the Minister said that we must continue to recognise the needs of those who have been abused. He spoke of the BBC facing a series of crises. Those who were abused face a far more serious series of crises. Will he stress again that the primary concern at this point needs to be the protection of children and young people? Will he also stress the continuing desire of us all to encourage those who have suffered abuse to come forward so we can change the culture of how we deal with such issues?

But that didn’t stop Lord Stoddart of Swindon from trying to bring the debate back to the people selected as BBC Trustees and lobbying for his UKIP mate, Lord Pearson, to be appointed:

Does the noble Lord agree that the selection pool for the BBC Trust is very narrow? Would it not be as well that that pool should be widened so that a perhaps more critical attitude could be taken of the operations of the BBC? Perhaps one of the new candidates could be the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

This goaded me to get to my feet and ask:

My Lords, the right reverend Prelate has rightly reminded the House that the people we should be most concerned about in all of this are those who were the victims of abuse. Can the Minister comment on whether the Government feel that the frenzy around the existential crisis of the BBC is not really a distraction from concerns that there was very real abuse in children’s homes in north Wales and elsewhere; that there was an individual who, because of his celebrity, was able to abuse children all over the country; and that we are in danger of being deflected, which of course plays into the hands of those who would rather cover up what happened and the names of those who were ultimately responsible?

By mentioning the dread words “cover up” I am no doubt at risk of being dubbed a conspiracy theorist but the fact remains that the present furore about the internal workings of the BBC does nothing to help those who were abused in North Wales or by Jimmy Saville, nor does it do anything to bring to justice those who were directly involved or complicit in that abuse.  And frankly that is what really matters.

 

Tuesday
Aug 28,2012

No doubt I will be told that I don’t understand the nuances of American politics, but I can’t help feeling that Tropical Storm Isaac’s disruption of the Republican Party Convention at Tampa in Florida is not the problem for Mitt Romney’s strategists that they are suggesting it is.

Conventional wisdom is it that a Presidential candidate – particularly one that is already securely nominated – gains a political boost from his Party’s Convention and the TV exposure that it brings.  In this case, the Republican Party was hoping to relaunch/repackage their Presidential candidate and demonstrate to/bamboozle an excited American electorate that  Mitt Romney was Presidential in timbre, had the vision thing, and was an-all-round nice decent guy (oh and that his Mormonism is OK really).

Now that some of the Convention has already had to be cancelled because of Tropical Storm Isaac this plan is in disarray.

However, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is also determined to use the Convention to write into the Party’s platform their particularly weird mix of ideology, including such gems as:

  • no exemptions on abortion being illegal for rape or incest, or where the mother’s life is at risk;
  • no legal recognition of same-sex couples including civil unions;
  • tough immigration laws, including a huge Berlin-style wall along the USA/Mexico border;
  • a return to the Gold standard and a ban on any tax increases, except for war and national emergencies; and
  • the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency and a big increase in the use of fossil fuels.

This, of course, would be on top of Mitt Romney’s own platform of massive tax cuts for the wealthiest and tax increases for other Americans (sounds familiar).

Maybe I am naive but wouldn’t TV exposure of all this stuff strengthen the Democrats?

So perhaps Tropical Storm Isaac is actually a boon to the Republican Party and will in fact boost the chances of the rest of the world having to come to terms with President Romney in a few months time.

Thursday
Apr 26,2012

I have written a short piece for the Labour Lords website.

You can read it here, but the text is as follows:

London elects its Mayor in one week’s time.  The choice is a simple one.  Do Londoners want someone who cares about (and will do something about) the issues that affect them, such as rocketing transport fares, falling police numbers and poor prospects for young people? Or do they want a Mayor who is more pre-occupied with costly vanity projects and using the Mayoralty as a platform to gain the Leadership of the Conservative Party?

The brilliant Labour election broadcast was attacked by the Tories for being “scripted” (since when was an election broadcast not scripted?) and (wrongly) of having used actors.  The attacks were typical of a Conservative campaign that has sought to keep away from any proper policy debate or focus on what directly affects Londoners.

Indeed, what is interesting about the Tory campaign is what they do NOT talk about.  Their candidate’s manifesto barely mentions the word “Conservative” – relegating it to the published and promoted by small print at the end of the page.  But more significant is the failure to mention childcare or child poverty, the different faith communities that make up London, or LGBT Londoners.  And black Londoners are only mentioned in the context of crime.  The manifesto itself is light on policy and says little about what Boris Johnson would do in a second term in office.

By contrast, Ken Livingstone’s manifesto makes a series of striking pledges that match the concerns of Londoners.  Ken has committed to cut fares – saving the average fare-payer £1,000 over four years; crack down on crime by reversing the Tory Mayor’s police cuts; and help reduce rents with non-profit lettings agency for London. The Labour Mayoral campaign promises to provide free home insulation for those in fuel poverty and campaign to force the utility companies to cut heating bills; establish a London-wide Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 per week to help young people stay in education; and support childcare with grants and interest-free loans.

Ken Livingstone has also promised to freeze both the Mayor’s share of Council Tax and the congestion charge for four years and to invest in improving transport services, build new homes and cut pollution.

On 3rd May, Londoners will also be electing twenty-five members of the London Assembly whose role is to hold the Mayor to account and to speak up for the interests of Londoners.   At present only eight of the seats on the Assembly are held by Labour (the Tories hold eleven with three LibDems, two Greens and one ex-BNP “other”).  With the Assembly being a mix of fourteen constituency seats and eleven more “additional members” elected to achieve proportionality, there is a real prospect of the balance shifting significantly.  Labour is hoping to gain Barnet and Camden where the incumbent Tory has made his name by making controversial statements and there are several other constituency seats being targeted.

With just one week to go and the public increasingly focusing on what sort of policies they want from London’s government, there is all to play for.

Monday
Aug 8,2011

I gather that the Total Politics Blog Awards are now in progress.  I want to make it quite clear that I will not be in the least bit affronted should you chose to vote for this blog by clicking here.

Friday
Jul 22,2011

My good friend and webmaster, Jon Worth, has it absolutely right in his blog written earlier tonight:

“We have known for a few hours that twin attacks have taken place in Norway – an explosion in central Oslo and a series of shootings at Utøya, an island in Tyrifjordento the north east of Oslo where a Labour Party youth meeting was taking place.

Beyond that what do we actually know? Rather little, at least for sure. That’s indeed the position taken by Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg, who was calm and collected in a television statement (can’t find the video of it online), saying it was not known who or what was to blame, the priority was for everyone’s security, and people should remain calm. Spot on, and my good friend Bente Kalsnes who lives in Oslo agrees.

But what do you then get? 24 hour news channels start an endless stream of speculation about what may or may not have happened.”

And his latest update notes:

“Partial volte-face from BBC’s Gordon Corera from BBC’s Live Text? (BST to CET explains time difference)

2211: Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News During the day, after an initial focus on an al-Qaeda link, the possibility of domestic extremism increasingly came into focus. The choice of targets – government buildings and a political youth rally – suggested a possible political agenda rather than the mass casualty approach typically employed by al-Qaeda.

Maybe you should not have been so swift to jump to conclusions at the start?”

It is always worth remembering that in the immediate aftermath of an incident even knowing what has happened may be difficult to determine for some while. Remember the initial reports of a “power surge” on the London Underground on the morning of 7th July 2005.  Or the misreporting of the man who jumped over a ticket barrier wearing a bulky coat at Stockwell Station fifteen days later (he turned out to have been one of the armed police team pursuing the tragically unfortunate Jean-Charles de Menezes rather than a suicide bomber).  Or for that matter the initial reports assuming that the Madrid train bombings were ETA-related.

Generals used to talk of “the fog of war”.  But rolling media with their desperate need for an endless supply of talking-head experts create their own fog.  I was in New York on 9th September 2001, sitting in a diner listening to a feed from one of the New York radio stations, when first one “expert” opined that the attacks on the World Trade Center could have been so much worse – “suppose those airliners had been packed with anthrax spores” – which prompted the radio station to produce another “expert” fifteen minutes later to tell listeners what the symptoms of anthrax were and what they should do if they started to have difficulty in breathing ….

This is not to suggest that the media should be censored in the aftermath of atrocities like those today, but rather that media editors and presenters should be responsible and avoid speculation until more facts are known. Maybe, given the excitements about the News of the World and the British media over the last few weeks, the idea of the media acting responsibly looks like a forlorn hope.  However, I do not believe it is an unreasonable aspiration.

Tuesday
Mar 15,2011

I meant to post about this yesterday, but didn’t get round to it.  Nevertheless, it really is too comprehensive a squelching not to highlight.

Yesterday, in Lords’ Question Time Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the former Leader of the UK Independence Party, had the following question on the Order Paper:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they will make to the Government of Botswana about their complying with the 1966 constitution, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and recent court judgments in their dealings with Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.”

This elicited a response from Lord Wallace of Saltaire as follows:

“My Lords, the UK follows closely the situation of the San communities in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. We will continue to encourage dialogue between the San communities and the Government of Botswana, and we raise the issue at appropriate levels. We welcome the Government of Botswana’s announcement that they will respect and facilitate the implementation of the recent decision of the court of appeal granting San community members the right to access and sink boreholes within the reserve.”

Lord Pearson then put his supplementary:

“My Lords, that is, of course, good news. However, as the Government of Botswana have overridden court judgments in the past, do Her Majesty’s Government accept that we have perhaps a special responsibility in this matter, because we did, after all, give Botswana its constitution in 1966, and it has been consistently abused? Will the Government, as the noble Lord has indicated, pay particular attention to making sure that the Bushmen have free access to their reserve, to their water supply and, indeed, to new boreholes?”

And then Lord Wallace went in for the kill (like a predator in  the Central Kalahari Game Reserve):

“My Lords, I am not sure that the Government accept that the constitution has been consistently abused, but I welcome the noble Lord’s support for this ethnic minority and its culture, for his vigorous support for the international human rights regime and his insistence that human rights obligations limit state sovereignty. I also congratulate him on his support for the rule of law as a limiting factor on majoritarian democracy, and I am sure that he will hold true to all these principles in his approach to the EU Bill next week. I particularly welcome his reference to the ruling of the Botswana appeal court, which the Botswana Government have clearly accepted. As he will know, the court is, unusually, composed of foreign judges. The judgment is signed by two South African judges and one each from Ghana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, the last of whom is called McNally. I am glad that the noble Lord recognises that foreign judges can reinforce domestic standards of human rights.”

So courteous: “ I welcome the noble Lord’s ….. vigorous support for the international human rights regime and his insistence that human rights obligations limit state sovereignty.”

Then the stiletto: “ I also congratulate him on his support for the rule of law as a limiting factor on majoritarian democracy, and I am sure that he will hold true to all these principles in his approach to the EU Bill next week.”

And for good measure: “As he will know, the court is, unusually, composed of foreign judges. ….. I am glad that the noble Lord recognises that foreign judges can reinforce domestic standards of human rights.”

Squelch, squelch, and squelch again!

Tuesday
Nov 16,2010

This was drawn to my attention …..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI&feature=player_embedded

Thursday
Nov 11,2010

Luke Akehurst has written an excellent analysis at Labour Uncut of the way in which extreme groupings can hijack demonstrations for their own purposes.  Their activities must not be allowed to detract from the message of the vast majority of those demonstrating.

However, if – as seems likely – we are entering an era of more frequent demonstrations, there are important lessons here for both those organising demonstrations and for the police.

Friday
Jul 30,2010

I have already explained that I really don’t mind.

However, just in case you really really want to cast your vote for this blog in the Total Politics annual beauty parade, this is what you have to do:

The rules are:
1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and rank them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).
2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.
3. You MUST include at least FIVE blogs in your list, but please list ten if you can. If you include fewer than five, your vote will not count.
4. Email your vote to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com
5. Only vote once.
6. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents or based on UK politics are eligible. No blog will be excluded from voting.
7. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name.
8. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2010. Any votes received after that date will not count.

So I’m not asking you to do it, but I really won’t mind if you do……

Thursday
Jul 22,2010

I have already explained that I really don’t mind.

However, just in case you really really want to cast your vote for this blog in the Total Politics annual beauty parade, this is what you have to do:

The rules are:
1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and rank them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).
2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.
3. You MUST include at least FIVE blogs in your list, but please list ten if you can. If you include fewer than five, your vote will not count.
4. Email your vote to
toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com
5. Only vote once.
6. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents or based on UK politics are eligible. No blog will be excluded from voting.
7. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name.
8. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2010. Any votes received after that date will not count.

So I’m not asking you to do it, but I really won’t mind if you do……