Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Message from We Own It about Their New Website and Campaign Against Channel 4 Privatisation

June 14, 2022

I got this email from anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It informing me about their new website and their continuing campaign against the government’s proposed sell-off of Channel 4.

‘Dear David,

What do Armando Iannucci, the Archbishop of York and Siobhán McSweeney from Derry Girls all have in common?

They’re all taking a stand against Nadine Dorries’ plan to privatise Channel 4.

They’re not the only ones. 27 independent production companies, actor Jon Pointing, comedian Jack Rooke, and the Bishops of Ripon and Leeds are taking a stand too.

They’ve come together today to send a message to the divided Conservative Party: Channel 4 ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. Conserve it.

Thanks to donations from hundreds of you, today we were able to launch an ambitious new campaign which hit the front page of the Yorkshire Post, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the National and local papers across the country.

Check out the beautiful new website and share it to spread the word! We need YOU to make this big launch even bigger! This is a campaign we can win.

Share the new campaign on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Check out the website and forward the link by email to friends and family

THANK YOU so much for showing this government where you stand.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Jack and Kate – the We Own It team

PS Thanks so much to everyone who took part in the day of action for the NHS on Saturday. You were all over the press for that campaign as well!’

I very much support this campaign, not least because Bristol is one one of the various cities in which the broadcaster is located. I’m afraid that if the government privatises the station it will have to close down its offices or studios in Bristol and the other towns, and that these local broadcasting industries will be severely damaged. A little while ago I wrote to my local Labour MP, Karin Smyth, to express my fears about the loss of local broadcasting in Bristol. She very kindly wrote back stating that she also was going to oppose Channel 4’s privatisation.

I think the channel has declined in quality since the 1980s and 1990s, but it has been a vital part of British broadcasting and cinema. There have been a stream of British films made either by, or with the participation of Channel 4 films. And when it was first launched in the 1980s, it offered a genuine alternative to mainstream broadcasting. It showed Indian films in a slot entitled ‘All India Goldies’ as well as an adaptation of the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata. It also provided excellent opera coverage, and really did much to bring it to a genuinely popular audience. It also gave Britain the wit and wisdom of the journalist and TV critic, Clive James, who had his own show on a Sunday night. James published a trio of books of his TV criticism, as well as his travel journalism and an autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs. His writing could be hysterically funny, as when he covered the extremely excitable remarks of over-the-top sports commenters. In one of his articles he described how one of the cars broke down or crashed during a race ‘and Murray Walker exploded’. At other times, when discussing the horrors of the Holocaust and the surviving Nazi and Fascist leaders like Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach and Oswald Mosley, who turned up on British television, he was deadly serious and scathing. As he also was when writing about Stalin’s famine and purges and Mao’s China. He interviewed a number of great personalities on his show, including a very young Victoria Wood and the late, great Peter Cook. For fantasy enthusiasts, there was The Storyteller, a series of tales adapted from folk stories, narrated by John Hurt, with puppet creatures, including the Storyteller’s dog, created and operated by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Henson and Frank Oz were the geniuses behind the Muppets. They also made the fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, in which every character is a non-human creature. In the 1990s Henson’s Creature Shop also created the various aliens in the Australian-American SF series Farscape. I am very much afraid that if Channel 4 is privatised, then this history and pool of great broadcasting talent and skills will be permanently lost.

And it will be lost not because there’s anything wrong with Channel 4, but because the Tories’ backers, like one Rupert Murdoch, want British state broadcasting to end so their own cruddy networks can move in and take its place.

Convict Transportation to America and Penal Slavery

June 6, 2022

When most people think of the transportation of convicts, they probably think of Australia. But before Britain started sending its convicts there, the destination in the 17th and 18th centuries was America. There’s a ballad lamenting the fate of such criminals, ‘The Lads of Virginia’, in Roy Palmer’s A Ballad History of England From 1588 to the Present Day (London: B.T. Batsford 1979), p. 67. The section discussing the policy on the previous page, 66, taken from A.G.L Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, (Faber 1971) gives a short description of the history of the trade and the way the British government paid merchants to carry it out. It also suggests that once in America, the convicts were sold to the plantation masters. The extract runs

‘For most of the seventeenth century, merchants trading with the plantations were willing, and often anxious, to carry out the relatively few convicts who were sent; bu8t as time went on they found some, particularly women or bad characters, who were difficult to dispose of, and they became reluctant to take them… After the [Transportation] Act of 1718 the Treasury let regular contracts for the job, first for £3 a head from London and £5 from ‘other parts’ but after 1727, £5 for all; when added to the sale price this allowed a good profit, even taking into account losses through sickness or death on the voyage.

The ‘trade’ grew as the years went by. Between 1729 and 1745 the two contractors for London and the Home Counties sent out an average of 280 a year, which suggests that about 500 a year were sent from all England. In 1753 there were nearly 800. During the Seven Years’ War, 1756-63, fewer were transported, for many convicts were sent to the army, the navy and the dockyards… After 1763 transportation to America increased again, and between 1769 and 1776 about 960 convicts a year were sent out. The demand for convict labour in the plantations was so high that in 1772 the Treasury was able to stop paying its £5 subsidy, though contractors were for a time still able to persuade local authorities to pay…. Between 1719 and 1772, the years of the subsidy payments, 17,742 were sent from London and the Home Counties, and perhaps 30,000 from the whole of England. At least two-thirds went to Virginia and Maryland, and very probably more.

Was it an effective punishment? Sir John Fielding, magistrate and penal reformer, thought it was, though in 1766 Mr Justice Perrott declared that for common offenders it was no punishment at all….’

Those Monmouth rebels, who Judge Jefferies didn’t hang, were also transported to the new world and sold, though they were taken to the Caribbean colonies and sold to the planters for sacks of sugar. The transported convicts also included Irish rebels, and I’ve been told that you can still tell which of the slave cabins they occupied on the plantations by the shamrocks they painted on them.

I have to say that while I was aware of convict transportation, I wasn’t aware that once there they were sold, except in the case of the Monmouth rebels. This makes the practice look like penal slavery, which existed in ancient Rome and early medieval Europe. This punished certain types of criminals by selling them as slaves. I feel that the similarity between convict transportation and penal slavery also somewhat complicates the issue surrounding transatlantic African slavery, as it shows that certain punishments inflicted on Whites also approached a form of slavery or unfreedom. Back in Britain, the Scots miners at the time were also unfree. They were bondmen, who were effectively the property of the mine owners and even had to wear something like a slave collar around their necks. It also raises issues when it comes to the payment of reparations for slavery. If reparations are to be paid to the Black community for their abduction, exploitation and brutalisation during the era of the slave trade, it can also be argued that other groups, who suffered a similar fate like the transported criminals and rebels to America and the West Indies, and Scots mining communities in Britain for the enslavement of their ancestors.

On the 120th Anniversary Performance of the Bundist Song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’

May 10, 2022

There’s a fascinating video on YouTube of the performance by Jewish radical musicians Daniel Kahn and Psoy Korolenko of the Bundist song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’. It was sent over the internet to the Melbourne Bund as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Bund, the mass Russian and Polish Jewish socialist party in 1897. Korolenko sings it in three languages, Yiddish, English and Russian. It’s militantly socialist and stridently attacks the rich and Zionism in no uncertain terms.

It begins with the tears of the Jews running into the sea, but the tears of the rich are clear, while those of the poor are bloody. It also sings about Jews and gentiles marching together are comrades in their shared homelands. As for Zionism, it says that the call for Jews to return to Israel is what they’ve heard from the priests. It’s just putting Jews back into another ghetto. The Zionists are concerned with the Jewish people’s fathers in their grave, but have no concerns for the present generation. But there’s a new messiah – the working man, who will transform the world.

It’s a great song which makes the Bund’s anti-Zionism very clear, preformed by too excellent musicians. It also adds further weight to the amount of historical scholarship showing that it was the secular Bund that represented the majority Jewish opinion in Poland and eastern Europe before the Second World War, and not Zionism. That said, I have issues with it that prevent me from putting the video up on this blog. I’m an Anglican Christian, but I found the rejection of the Jewish hope for the Messiah actually shocking and blasphemous. And if it shocks a gentile like me, I wonder how offensive it must be to religious Jews. I also realise that many religious Jews, even some Israelis, are critical of Israel or just disgusted at its treatment of the Palestinians. I’ve blogged before now of Haredi and other very Orthodox Jews, who believe their religious duty is remain in the countries to which Jews have been scattered, until Israel is redeemed by the Messiah. I understand from one of the Jewish anti-Zionist bloggers that one former Chief Rabbi held that view. When he was asked whether the redemption of Israel then would have the same result in the removal of the Palestinians, he replied that under the Messiah it would be done peacefully through negotiation. There are Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem that are under attack from the right-wing Israeli establishment because they criticise their country for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I also remember the way Israeli nationalists attacked and vilified a group of liberal Israelis because they said the kadish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over a dying Palestinian who’d been shot by the IDF. The song interests me as a historical artefact and as part of an alternative tradition of Jewish radicalism that still holds a place in current Jewish society.

But I don’t feel I can put it up on this blog because I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

My issue is with the Israel lobby and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and with the way Zionist groups are trying to rewrite history so that only they appear as the true champions and expression of Jewish political aspirations, and definitely not with Jews or Judaism.

If you want to see the video for yourself, it’s on the Bund Melbourne channel on YouTube, and has the Yiddish title of ‘In Zaltsikn Yam – Bund 120 Yoyvl 2017’.

Clive Simpson on the Murder of Transwoman Mayang Prosetyo

April 8, 2022

Clive Simpson is a gender critical gay YouTuber. He’s published very many videos on his channel attacking the trans ideology and the ideas and behaviour of some of its supporters. Several of his recent videos are about trans-identified men, who have committed murder or attempted murder. These individuals, it should be noted, were often dangerously violent before they transitioned to women, and some had killed before. The point he’s trying to make is that at least some transwomen should not be housed in women’s prisons because of the real threat they represent to born women’s safety. At the same time, the examples he has given also indicate that the transition itself doesn’t make them violent.

Today he posted slightly different type of crime. It was the case of Marcus Volke, and this time it was a transwoman – his wife Mayang Prosetyo – who was the victim, in Brisbane, Oz. Volke had worked as a chef, but became a sex worker in one of Brisbane’s legal brothels. It was there he met Mayang, who introduced him to other brothels with transexuals. It’s not known why he killed his wife. Neighbours heard a disturbance from their apartment and their dogs barking before going silent. Later they reported a terrible smell coming from the apartment, as though somebody had left meat out in the sun. Volke telephoned the gas company to get one of their engineers to fix his cooker, which he claimed had busted after food from something he was cooking overflowed and got into the device’s innards. The engineer came, suspicions were aroused and the cops called. After murdering Mayang, Volke had dismembered the body and tried to dispose of it by boiling it in chemicals. When confronted by the police, he cut his own throat and leapt out of the window. Brisbane’s finest found him later dead in an industrial bin.

While his motives are unknown, Simpson believes he may have been mentally unstable. At one point he was treated for anxiety and depression as well as another psychological disorder. He had also been sacked from one of his jobs as a chef because he brought a gun into work. He cites a medical paper which considers that male prostitutes are particularly susceptible to mental health problems because of the nature of their work and the fact that they’re mostly having sex with men. It may have been these psychological problems that pushed Volke over the edge.

I’m putting this up because, while I am strongly opposed to the transgender ideology and do believe that there are certain fields that should be kept for born women, I don’t hate transpeople themselves. I’ve said several times on this blog that I condemn any kind of persecution or discrimination of anyone for their sexuality or gender expression. I don’t believe that there is a ‘trans holocaust’ as has been claimed, at least not in this country. But I fully recognise that trans people have been killed, and that their murders should be condemned as well as everyone else’s.

Looking at this murder, it seems it was domestic rather than an attack by murderous bigots. However, as we’ve seen, domestic violence and violence against women, are serious issues. It occurs not only in heterosexual couples, but also in same sex relationships and this case shows that it also happens to transwomen. I strongly believe that the home should be a sanctuary away from the problems, pressures and dangers of the outside world and find crimes like this horrifying.

I fully support the cops in their efforts to tackle it and bring violent abusers and murderers to justice, and hope our representatives in government, social scientists and psychologists will also find ways to tackle murders like this.

Ukrainian-Australian Instrumentalist Larysa Kovalchuk Talks about the Bandura

March 14, 2022

Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy has said that he fears that Putin’s invasion is designed to wipe his country off the map and erase its history and culture. I’ve noticed that along with armed resistance by the Ukrainian armed forces and civilians, there have also been a number of videos posted to YouTube from Ukrainians, including those in the West, about their national instrument, the bandura. It’s described as a ‘lute-zither’, and the entry for it in Anthony Baines, The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments (Oxford: OUP 1992) runs as follows

‘A popular Ukrainian instrument looking like a large lop-sided lute and held almost vertically on the lap. The body, with a back shaped rather like a shallow basin, bulges out on the treble side and, across this, up to 36 metal strings (called pristrunki) fan out to tuning pins placed round the edge, which has a thick rim to hold them. These are chromatically turned melody strings, plucked by the right hand. Over the short neck run six or more bass strings, mostly plucked by the left hand.

‘The bandura, going back to the 18th century, formerly accompanied minstrels’ songs and ballads, but its ringing, harp-like tone is now heard in popular orchestras. There was also, played mostly in the first half of the 19th century, the torban or ‘Russian theorbo’ (or ‘gentleman’s bandura’), in app0earance like a theorbo and and again with pristrunki, here diatonic (as in older banduras), as well as fretted strings and long bass strings. Bandura and torban are both said to have been brought to Russia by Italian musicians in the 17th century (there is, in fact, a Paduan instrument of c. 1390, now in Vienna, with similar treble strings , perhaps related to the pandura which the lutenist Piccini later (1623) named as having been his invention.’ (p. 19).

In this video, Ukrainian-born Australian Larysa Kovalchuk talks about the instrument and briefly demonstrates its ringing sound. She states, however, that it has 64 strings, but also says that it’s also sued to play harp and harpsichord music. Ukrainians are proud of their national instrument, which no other people play. It is indeed a fascinating instrument, and I hope it will soon be played once again in peace rather than in this terrible war.

History Debunked Questions Johnson’s Britishness

January 12, 2022

Oh ho! This is very amusing. The Tory party has always positioned itself, at least since the 19th century, as the party of Britishness. If you listen to its supporters and propaganda, it’s the party of the British constitution and the union, protecting our ancient liberties and defending our great nation from plots and attacks by evil foreigners. Historically this largely meant the French, but today means the EU and Scots Nationalists. Under Maggie Thatcher this nationalism became particularly shrill. The 1987 Tory election broadcast showed Spitfires zooming about the sky while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’ and ended with ‘It’s great, to be great again!’ Political theorists who’ve read, or at least heard of Rousseau could correct the first statement. At the beginning of his book, The Social Contract, which became one of the founding texts of the French Revolution, Rousseau said: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Which is probably not something Thatcher wanted said about her government. As for being ‘great again’, this was the period when Thatcher was selling our state industries off to foreign investors, destroying trade unions, cutting unemployment and other welfare benefits and trying to find ways to get people to take out private medical insurance instead of relying on the NHS. She would have liked to have privatised that, but was prevented by a massive cabinet rebellion. At the same time she was using her ‘strong state’ against striking miners and anyone else she thought was an evil Commie subversive while at the same time propping up truly evil Fascist dictators abroad. Like the brute General Pinochet, responsible for the murder and torture of 30,000 people in his native Chile. The country’s present grinding poverty and crumbling infrastructure are all a result of her policies. The identification of the Conservative party with Britishness was so loud and crass that, reviewing the election broadcast on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, the late, much-missed humourist Alan Coren referred to the planes as ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. I also remember one of the Observer’s columnists referring to the Tories as ‘the patriotic party’.

But now aspersions have been cast on the Britishness of the Tories’ leader and current head of the country, Boris Johnson. Simon Webb of the History Debunked YouTube channel put up a piece yesterday asking ‘How British Is Boris Johnson?’ This speculated that Johnson carries on the way does because, quite simply, he isn’t really British. He was born in New York, and is of mixed Turkish and American ancestry. He is also part Jewish, which is one reason why I’m not going to put the video up here. One of the elements of the genuine anti-Semitic conspiracies is the allegation that Jews aren’t really patriotic citizens because of their international connections and foreign ancestry and relatives. They have frequently been accused of being ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ with no real connection or loyalty to the gentile peoples among which they settle. It’s a poisonous allegation that has resulted in the murder of countless innocents and encouraged the formation and growth of Fascist organisations and parties like the Nazis. The vast majority of British Jews are as British as everyone else. And before the Second World War, the vast majority of Jews wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as patriotic fellow citizens by their gentile countrymen. It’s why the leaders of the British Jewish community during the First World War actually opposed the Balfour Declaration. They did not want the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine nor anywhere else, as it could lead to the accusation that their loyalties were divided. And they weren’t. They were, and wanted to be seen as, patriotic Brits.

But there is a kind of irony in Boris Johnson, a pukka old Etonian, and true-blue Tory being accused of not being British enough.

And I think Webb has a point, though not in the sense he means. At the heart of the right-wing ranting and suspicion about the ‘globalists’, supposedly plotting to create an evil, Satanic one-world Communist state, there’s an element of truth. Regardless of their nationality or ancestry, it appears to me that the global superrich really are forming a separate international class whose loyalty is primarily to themselves and not to the people below them, even if these people are of the same nationality. You can see that in the way the Tory grandees and those like them move their capital around the world, investing in countries on the other side of the world while making pay and conditions worse over here and cutting benefits. As far as I know, Jacob Rees-Mogg is thoroughly British in his ancestry. He also projects a caricatured, right-wing image of Britishness very much like his nickname of ‘Lord Snooty’. He also backed Brexit, which was supposed to be another patriotic gesture in which Britain took back her sovereignty.

In fact Brexit has wreaked massive harm to our economy, disastrously cutting British firms off from continental markets and suppliers. The deals we’ve made, or are trying to make, with the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders are to our disadvantage, whatever the Tory mouthpieces say to the contrary. And the response of Rees-Mogg and the superrich like him amply demonstrate where their loyalties lie. Even before Brexit, Mogg had invested in companies in the far east. And when he was urging everyone to vote to leave the EU, he was moving his own financial interests to Eire. This was to pick up on all the EU business he would otherwise have lost if they’d remained centred in Britain. Which is, to me, another example of Tory hypocrisy.

Back in the 19th century Disraeli declared in his books Coningsby and Sybil that Britain was divided into two nations, the rich and poor, who had no knowledge or connection with each other, and demanded that this should be remedied. They’ve been talking about ‘One Nation’ Toryism every since. This is done by leaders like John Major, Michael Howard, David Cameron and so on, and is supposed to show that they are from that branch of the party that still has some paternalistic regard for those below them. The same people talk, or used to talk, about ‘caring Conservativism’. This is all the while doing what Tories always do – cut benefits, wages, and employment conditions and make it easier to sack people. All while manipulating the stats to persuade people that this is actually working and that they’re somehow better off.

Tony Benn in one of his books said something about the British ruling class regarding the lower orders as indeed like a foreign nation. Thinking about the Britannia Unchained mob, he had a point. This was the book written by a group of Tory MPs, including the smirking insult to decency, Priti Patel, that said that for Britain to compete in the global market, British workers must endure the same terrible conditions and wages as those elsewhere in the world, like India. A similar view was put forward by a former Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane in Somerset. I’ve forgotten who he was, but I do remember his appearance on the local news. Introducing him, the interviewer stated that he came from a family of colonial administrators and governors. This strongly suggests to me that, deep down, he regarded British people of all colours in the same way his family had regarded the Africans and other indigenous peoples they governed.

And going back back to the 1920s, George Bernard Shaw attacked the Tory claim that they and the rich represented Britain and her interests in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism by pointing out that the rich spent much of their time and money abroad, and preferred to invest in firms in the colonies using cheap indigenous labour. And this still remains absolutely true. One of the problems with Britain’s banking system is that its investment banks are geared to putting money into commonwealth rather than domestic industries.

At a fundamental level, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Tory elite really don’t have any connection to the Brits below them. It’s not because of their ancestry. In my view, they’re the same whether they’re completely British by descent. It’s because they are part, and see themselves as part of an international industrial and political class, who move their businesses and investments from one country to another without concern for how this affects their fellow countrymen. All the while trying to deceive the rest of us by yelling about their Britishness and British values.

Johnson and the Tories aren’t British patriots, except at the crude level of repeating nationalist slogan and anti-immigrant attitudes. Ordinary Brits are foreigners to them, like the low-waged workers in other countries they also seek to exploit.

History Debunked on the Racist Lies about the Treatment Black World War I Soldiers Told by Bristol Black History Prof

December 4, 2021

This is another video by History Debunked’s Simon Webb, in which he critically debunks a film produced by the BBC for their Black History season. This is a talk by Olivette Otele, the vice-president of the Historical Society and professor of slavery at Bristol University, about the treatment of Black soldiers from the West Indian regiment during the First World War. It’s a subject Webb knows something about, having written a book about the events of 1918 and 1919. What disturbs Webb is that the young Black members of the production team are encouraged to get involved and feel aggrieved about racism, showing that this is not objective history by propaganda.

She shows them pictures and film of Black World War I soldiers, and states that nobody knows about them. Webb says that this is possible, as they may simply have gone to bad schools or just not known about them. But she goes on to say that the British army didn’t want Blacks to join because they were afraid it would upset notions of White superiority. This sounds convincing, until you realise that one million Indians served in the British army during the War, of whom 75,000 were killed. She complains that the Black regiment had to serve in Egypt and the Middle East, but so did the Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipolli and the Dardanelles. She says in a sad voice that some were labouring and were killed. Well, this happens in wars, and the men weren’t conscripts but volunteers. The West Indians were also fighting, but you wouldn’t have realised this from what she was saying. She also states that after the end of the War, while White soldiers celebrated the Blacks had to do the laundry and clean the latrines. But Webb points out that soldiers still had to do duties even after the cessation of hostilities. Webb wonders if she knew that White soldiers were also moaning about this and wanted to be demobbed. Has she not heard of the many mutinies at the time. She also claims that the White soldiers got a pay rise that was denied to Blacks. This was due to a mix-up, but the Black soldiers did eventually get their money. But the mix-up also affected other colonial troops such as Indians and Australians. She’s angry at the suppression of various mutinies, but until the armistice Britain was still technically at War. There was a similar mutiny of White British soldiers at Southampton. At Calais the army considered shooting the mutineers with heavy artillery. There was also one in Wales which was suppressed by shooting in which five men were killed. The West Indian mutiny was simply one of many. He also points out that she couldn’t pronounce the words ‘machine gun corps’ and so sounds like a small child. She claims a Black trooper was shot, which is untrue. A young Black girl says it’s a horrible way to treat people who put their leaves on the line. Webb gives the girl the benefit of the doubt, as she may not know much about history. She claims that Black soldiers were treated worse than Whites, but there were plenty of Whites who were also treated badly. She also claims that they were written out of history, but that’s only the case if you don’t read books about the War. But the West Indian Regiment were comparatively small, only consisting of 15 thousand men, compared to the million Indian troops and the millions of other colonial troopers. He concludes by saying that it’s an example of a modern Black academic trying to remodel history for political purposes, and says it’s no wonder it was backed by the Beeb.

There are several things to be said about this. Otele is highly qualified – she has a doctorate from the Sorbonne and was recently appointed the professor of slavery at Bristol university. This looks like a political appointment. The University has been under fire because it was partly founded through donations from the Colston charities, set up in commemoration of the slavery Edward Colston. The same Colston whose statue was toppled last year by Black Lives Matter protestors. I understand that there’s also a lot of Black anger in Bristol directed at the university because of its low number of Black students. This is probably because, as a member of the Russell Group of universities, it’s entry standards are very high, and Black educational levels throughout Britain are disproportionately poor. Also, when I was at school, you were discouraged from applying to your local university. Thus although Bristol has a large Black population, few Bristol Blacks would end up in the uni.

Then there’s the question of what she says about the treatment of the West Indian regiment. I’ve also heard that there was a reluctance to use Black troops against Europeans, and they were sent out to fight the Turks as an inferior civilisation. It’s also true that the Black and Asian soldiers who fell in the War weren’t commemorated like the White. A few years ago a monument was finally set up to them in Belgium. But a few years ago, at the beginning of this century, the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol held an exhibition on the contribution of Black and Asian soldiers to the War. This included diaries and other artefacts. It also included a statement from a Black soldier that serving with Whites and seeing them suffer in hospital like everyone else broke down racial barriers and showed that they were not gods to be feared. The Empire and Commonwealth Museum closed sometime ago, long before Otele was appointed. It’s a pity it is no longer there, but it’s holding are currently held in the archives at Bristol’s M Shed. It’s a pity Otele didn’t contact them.

******

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Starmer’s 11,500 Word Vision: Blairism Rehashed

September 24, 2021

Last week people were commenting on an 11,500 word piece Starmer had written laying out his vision for the Labour party. There was a rumour going round that it was going to 14,000 words, but mercifully we’ve been spared that. I think Novara Media put up a piece suggesting that it would be 14,000 words in which Starmer says nothing. This would be the same nothing that he says to voters and with which he criticises the Tories. He has precious little to say to them. When questioned a while ago on whether Labour had a particular policy in one specific area, the Labour person questioned replied that they did, but that it was secret. Now it seems Starmer does have policies of his own. He has written that he is not in favour of nationalisation, but that government should be ‘a partner to industry’.

This is Blairism. Blair had Clause IV, the clause in the Labour party’s constitution committing it to nationalisation, removed in the 1990s. Instead, Blair promoted various public-private partnerships with business in public works projects, the building and management of hospitals and health centres and so on. This was Tony’s big idea. The result was the corporatism that mars public administration in America and Britain. Government functions were outsourced to companies like Serco, G4S and Maximus, managers and chief officers from private companies were appointed to government bodies, often those that regulated the very industries from which these officials were drawn. NHS privatisation moved into a higher gear and expanded further than the Tories had pushed it, and schools were handed over to private academy chains.

This has been a massive failure. Tens of schools have had to be taken back into public administration thanks to the failure of the private companies running them. Academies are no better educating their charges than state schools once the far greater expenditure on academies is accounted for. Hospital, GP and other medical services are being cut so the private firms providing them can make a profit. The construction companies with whom Blair5’s government went into partnership to build the country’s infrastructure, like bridges and so on, have gone so regularly over budget that the entire PFI scheme under which they are given contracts has been criticised by the Office of National Statistics as a colossal waste of money. And at a local level, ordinary communities saw their traditional shops closed down by local authorities in favour of the big supermarkets despite the opposition of ordinary people.

The private firms running the utilities are not providing the investment these sectors need. Several of the railway companies have had to be removed from running the trains in their areas and the service taken back into public administration, for example.

Thatcherism is, as one Australian economist described it, ‘zombie politics’. It’s dead and should have been buried years ago, but still lurches on, supported by a neoliberal elite, including the Blairites in the Labour party.

Starmer has nothing to offer but more of this unappetising stuff warmed up. It’s yesterday’s economic left-overs, which were foul and indigestible then, and even worse now.

The only alternative is the socialism Corbyn championed – nationalisation of the utilities, a strong welfare state and the restoration of power to the unions. Everything Starmer hates.

Which is why Starmer must go. He’s an ideologically bankrupt, dictatorial non-entity, who has nothing to offer but more Toryism and Blairite despair and exploitation.

Yours Truly, Beast Rabban, Now Falls Victim to the Ultra-Zionist Witch Hunters

August 20, 2021

I suppose it had to come and in truth, I’m not really surprised. Indeed, I’ve been half expecting it. I am, after all, a man of the Labour left. I have made no secret that I support a nationalised and properly funded NHS, nationalised utilities, strong trade unions, proper workers’ rights, a living wage, as well as ‘Communist’ policies like worker involvement in management in firms of a certain size, and a special workers’ chamber in parliament. Because 77 per cent of MPs are billionaires and precious few members of Britain’s great working and lower middle classes. And while I am bitterly critical of Black Lives Matter and much of the current anti-racism ideology, I have Black, Jewish, Asian and Muslim friends and relatives. And so I despise the rising prejudices against these ethnicities and religions in the Labour party under Keir Starmer. I have also been a critic of all forms of Fascism and colonialism, and so have published pieces supporting the Palestinians, who have been victims of Israeli racism and ethnic cleansing. Just as I condemn the persecution of Muslims by Modi in Kashmir, the Turkish persecution of ethnic Kurds, China’s genocide of the Uighurs and historic genocides such as the slave trade and the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the South Seas and Australasia. And obviously, the Holocaust, merely reading about which has given me nightmares.

But, as they say, ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. And so today I was sent this darling missive from the Labour party Complaints Team, informing me that I have been accused of anti-Semitism. How vile and grotesque! Here’s the email which I have edited to remove personal details.

Notice of investigation  

Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Party. These allegations relate to your conduct on social media which may be in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book. It is important that these allegations are investigated and the NEC will be asked to authorise a full report to be drawn up with recommendations for disciplinary action if appropriate.  

We are currently at the investigatory stage of the disputes process and at no time during an investigation does the Labour Party confer an assumption of guilt on any party. You are not currently administratively suspended and no restrictions have been placed on the rights associated with your membership at this time.  

However, the Party reserves the right to invoke its powers under Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B and Chapter 1 Clause VIII.5 to impose an administrative suspension in the future should the alleged misconduct continue or additional allegations of misconduct come to the attention of the Party.  

It has also been determined that this case may be suitable for the use of NEC disciplinary powers under Chapter 1 Clause VIII.3.A.iii* and Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B** because it involves an incident which may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief .   

This means that, upon the conclusion of this investigation, the NEC may impose such disciplinary measures as it sees fit. These measures include suspension from membership of the Party or from holding office in the Party; withholding or withdrawing endorsement as a candidate; and expulsion from membership of the Party.  

Attached to this letter is the draft charge(s), the evidence pertinent to the case, and a series of questions which require your response. Upon receipt of your response, and any evidence you intend to rely on in your defence, the Party will be able to conclude this matter as quickly as possible.  

Please respond in writing to the London address at the top of this letter or by email within 7 days of the date at the top of this letter.  

The Party may consider an extension to this deadline if you are able to provide a clear and compelling reason to do so. The Party will also take reasonable steps to ensure that you have been given an opportunity to respond to these allegations. However, if you do not respond, the NEC is entitled to consider your case without a response.  

You should take this letter and your response seriously. Possible outcomes of the NEC disciplinary process could include your expulsion or suspension from the Labour Party.   

The Labour Party’s investigation process operates confidentially. That is vital to ensure fairness to you and the complainant, and to protect the rights of all concerned under the Data Protection Act 2018.  We must therefore ask you to ensure that you keep all information and correspondence relating to this investigation private, and that do not share it with third parties or the media (including social media).  That includes any information you receive from the Party identifying the name of the person who has made a complaint about you, any witnesses, the allegations against you, and the names of Party staff dealing with the matter. If you fail to do so, the Party reserves the right to take action to protect confidentiality, and you may be liable to disciplinary action for breach of the Party’s rules. The Party will not share information about the case publicly unless, as a result of a breach of confidentially, it becomes necessary to correct inaccurate reports.  In that case we will only release the minimum information necessary to make the correction.  The Party may also disclose information in order to comply with its safeguarding obligations.  

The Party would like to make clear that there is support available to you while this matter is being investigated. There are a number of organisations available who can offer support for your wellbeing:  

  • You can contact your GP who can help you access support for your mental health and wellbeing.                 
  • The Samaritans are available 24/7 – They offer a safe place for anyone to talk any time they like, in their own way – about whatever’s getting to them. Telephone 116 123.  
  • Citizens Advice – Provide free, confidential and impartial advice. Their goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face.  People go to the Citizens Advice Bureau with all sorts of issues. They may have money, benefit, housing or employment problems. They may be facing a crisis, or just considering their options. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/  
  • If you have questions about the investigation process please contact the Complaints Team, whose details are included in this letter.   

    It is hoped you will offer your full co-operation to the Party in resolving this matter.  


    Yours sincerely,  

    Complaints Team  

    The Labour Party  

     
    * Where a determination has been made as a result of a case brought under disciplinary proceedings concluded at NEC stage under Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B below of these rules, to impose such disciplinary measures as it thinks fit including: formal warning; reprimand; suspensions from membership of the Party, or from holding office in the Party (including being a candidate or prospective candidate at any, or any specified, level) or being a delegate to any Party body, for a specified period or until the happening a specified event; withholding or withdrawing endorsement as a candidate or prospective candidate at any, or any specified, level (such disciplinary power shall be without prejudice to and shall not in any way affect the NEC’s other powers to withhold endorsement under these rules); expulsion from membership of the Party, in which case the NEC may direct that following expiration of a specified period of not less than two nor more than five years, the person concerned may seek readmission to the Party on that basis that Chapter 6.I.2 is not to apply to that readmission; or  any other reasonable and proportionate measure. (Chapter 1, Clause VIII.3.A.iii of the Labour Party Rule Book)  

     ** In relation to any alleged breach of Chapter 2 Clause I.8 above by an individual member or members of the Party which involves any incident which in the NEC’s view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation, the NEC may, pending the final outcome of any investigation and charges (if any), suspend that individual or individuals from office or representation of the Party notwithstanding the fact that the individual concerned has been or may be eligible to be selected as a candidate in any election or byelection. The General Secretary or other national officer shall investigate and report to the NEC on such investigation. Upon such report being submitted, the NEC or a sub-panel of Disputes Panel may exercise its powers under Chapter 1 Clause VIII.3.A.iii (Chapter 6, Clause I.1.B of the Labour Party Rule Book)  

  • Please respond to the following questions to the email address outlined in your letter within 7 days of the date on page 1. Your response should include:  
  • A written statement of representation in your defence to the draft charge(s) below.  
  • Any evidence you wish to submit in your defence to the draft charge(s) below.  
  • A written response to the questions contained in this letter.  

Your response should be submitted in writing to the Disputes Team by email or by post:  

Email:  

investigations@labour.org.uk  

Post:  

Investigations Team  

The Labour Party

Southside, 

105 Victoria Street, 

London SW1E 6QT ” 

They then include the following draft charges:

  1. (the Respondent) has engaged in conduct prejudicial and / or grossly detrimental to the Party in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book by engaging in conduct which:  

     
    1. may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief ;  
    2. may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments;  
    3. Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  
    4. Accuses the Jews as people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;  
    5. Repeats stereotypical and negative physical descriptions/descriptions or character traits of Jewish people, such as references to wealth or avarice and equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class;  

      i.1 Shows David Sivier posted the following quotes on this blog on December 5, 2020 at 9:19 pm;  

      “I’m not surprised that the Blairites and ultra-Zionist fanatics wanted to purge Tony Greenstein from the Labour party, as they have done with so many other entirely decent people.”  

      “Or rather more narrowly, support for the current viciously racist Israeli administration”   ” believe that the Palestinians should be treated decently and with dignity, have also suffered anti-Semitic vilification and abuse if they dare to protest against Netanyahu’s government.”  

      “Zionism was until recent decades very much a minority position among European Jews.”  

      “it is an internalisation of gentile anti-Semitism, with which it has collaborated, including in the mass murder of Jews, such as in the Holocaust, by real anti-Semites.”  

      ” far from being a pro-Jewish stance, Zionism in the 19th and early 20th centuries was associated with anti-Semitism.”  

      “he had previously not come forward to add his support because he didn’t want people to think that he was a Jew-hater.”  

      “These quotes clearly show that the criticisms of Israel and the Zionist movement by people like Tony Greenstein and the others are historically justified,”  

      “My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism.”  

      “I’ve come across the adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’.  

      “people, who hold entirely reasonable opinions critical of Israel are being vilified, harassed and purged as the very things they are not, racists and anti-Semites.””  

The email continues

Please respond to these questions to the email address outlined in your letter within 7 days of the date on page 1.  

1)      Please see the evidence attached overleaf. The Party has reason to believe that this is your Word   Press web blog  account. Can you confirm this is the case?  

 2)      The Party further has reason to believe that you posted, shared or endorsed these statements yourself. Can you confirm this is the case? If not, each individual piece of evidence is numbered so please specify which of the pieces of evidence you are disputing posting, sharing or endorsing? 

3)      Taking each item in turn, please explain your reasons for posting, sharing or endorsing each numbered item of evidence included in this pack?  

4)      Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book provides:  


“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member, unless the disclosure is duly authorised or made pursuant to a legal obligation, shall also be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”  


What is your response to the allegation that your conduct may be or have been in breach of this rule?   

5)      The Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy states that members should “treat all people with dignity and respect” and that “this applies offline and online.” Do you think your conduct has been consistent with this policy?   

6)      Looking back at the evidence supplied with this letter, do you regret posting, sharing or endorsing any of this content?  

7)      Do you intend to post, share or endorse content of this nature again in the future?  

8)      Are there any further matters you wish to raise in your defence?  

9)      Is there any evidence you wish to submit in your defence?”

I am determined to fight this, although I doubt it will do any good. This is a witch hunt after all, and as those of such great fighters for truth and justice as Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and so many others show, these scumbags have already made up their minds. Well, I was taught from earliest infancy by my parents, relatives and educators that you stand up to thugs and bullies, and you don’t back down or give in to Fascists and Stalinists. And I consider it a badge of honour to suffer the same persecution as these highly principled men and women.

And this is Stalinist. I am being asked if I admit my guilt, just as Stalin’s victims were forced to in the infamous show trials. I wonder if, come a tribunal, the president of the kangaroo court will conclude with the phrase, ‘Let the mad lice be shot’, as Stalin’s judge did. How guilty are you, comrade Rabban. ‘I am guilty, very guilty comrade Starmer’.

I am very much aware that I am breaching confidentiality in posting about this. Well, it’s my confidentiality to breach. I am the victim here, not the Labour party, and I note my accusers are safely anonymous. Cowards and snitches! I am doing so, because the Labour party’s promises are confidentiality are worthless. We saw that when some anonymous invertebrate leaked the accusations against their victims to the press, including the Sunset Times, the Jewish Chronicle and the Scum. The demands for confidentiality are to protect the Labour party and my accusers, not me. They are afraid that if enough people like me go public and air their side of the story on social media, they will be discredited and lose their position.

So be it. They have thrown down the gauntlet. I have picked it up, and I fling the charges back in their faces. As President Truman said of his fight against the military-industrial complex, ‘I am not afraid of this fight. Indeed, I relish it.’

Ash Sarkar Destroys Sun Hack over Climate Change on Jeremy Vine

August 13, 2021

This week the UN issued a report stating that climate change was now ‘Code Red’ for humanity, and that irreversible damage had been done to the environment. So the right-wing press immediately got their best and brightest to dispute this. Thus Jeremy Vine had on his show Mike Parry, who I believe is one of Murdoch’s minions. He’s a former hack on the Scum, the Depress and now a host on TalkRadio. Which is owned by Dirty Rupe, that walking affront to responsible, civilised journalism. And it ain’t just me that says this. When he took over one of the leading Ozzie newspapers in the 1970s, its journos went on strike complaining that they didn’t want to see the paper they worked for and loved turned into a laughing stock. And when Murdoch took over an American paper later in the decade, the hacks did the same there. The subplot of Superman 4, in which the staff at the Daily Planet protest at being taken over by a right-wing publisher of yellow journalism, seems to have been inspired by these real events. Facing him was the awesome Ash Sarkar, the main woman in Novara Media. And she handed Parry his ample rear end.

Parry had tried to counter her by stating that as the majority’s of today’s carbon dioxide emissions come from China, who were also about to open several more coal power stations, it was absolutely useless Britain trying to do anything to stop greenhouse gas production. Sarkar responded by stating that we could pass laws banning British corporations from investing in fossil fuel and polluting industries in China. She also pointed out that historically, Britain was responsible for a vast amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Her co-host, Michael Walker, produces the stats to support her case. Historically, Britain is responsible for 22 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced. America and China both are responsible for 29 per cent, but India, despite its growing economy and vast population, only 3 per cent. Walker acknowledges that Parry is correct about the Chinese opening new fossil fuel power stations and that it’s a problem that needs to be tackled. But he also makes the excellent point that industrialising nations are right to be outraged at western demands to cut their carbon emissions, when the west has benefited so much from its own industrialisation that produced much of it.

Here’s the video. I’m afraid it’s a bit long, at over 21 minutes, and I haven’t watch more than a few minutes of it, but it is very informative and does expose the poverty of the right’s arguments.

Mind you, at least Parry was able to marshal some good, intelligent arguments, unlike Sky News Australia. I found a video from them which was so stupid I actually felt less intelligent after watching it. And I only watched it for a few minutes. The host, another right-wing blowhard, got their pet climate expert on to poor scorn on the left’s desire to cut carbon emissions. Because carbon dioxide is plant food, and if we cut carbon emissions, they’ll all die off. How stupid, they sneered.

Er, no. No-one is talking about totally removing carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere. What they are talking about is getting rid of the excess carbon dioxide, or halting its production, which is responsible for rising temperatures across the globe and the consequent damage to the environment. But Murdoch and the right doesn’t want people knowing about this. It’s why the Koch brothers, who own a vast amount of the American oil industry, spent much of their money buying up and closing down independent climate and environmental research laboratories, which were then replaced by their own pet scientists and astroturf organisations. It’s why Donald Trump passed a tranche of legislation preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from publishing anything actually showing the damage being done to the environment. This is all being done for corporate profit, not for the benefit of ordinary folks, who will be left with the legacy of horrendously polluted countryside. Thanks to the oil industry, much of the Louisiana swamplands, for example, is seriously contaminated.

My guess is that the right will only start taking climate change seriously when their parts of the world, like the Cotswolds in Britain and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s part of BANES, becoming howling dustbowls and the dunes start advancing on Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge. Douglas Murphy in his book, Last Futures, a history of brutalist architecture, states that in the 1970s the scientists behind the report Limits to Growth ran computer models to predict the future. And with only two exception, they all predicted that if current trends continued, civilisation would collapse and humanity be all but extinct by the end of this century. The report’s been criticised for the simplicity of its models and the technology used, but its seems that much of it still stands up. He also states that when the environment eventually breaks down, the rich will retreat into specially engineered artificial biodomes, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves in the wilderness outside.

Great. The rest of the world becomes a Mad Max battleground while the rich retire inside something like the Eden Project, hoping that nobody like Sean Connery comes inside to wreck their utopia like the plot of Zardoz.

I’ve blogged about this before, but for those seeking genuine information on the climate crisis, books are available. I came across one in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. It covered the whole world, and I think it was one of the set texts by the Open University. For younger readers, last month’s Postscript catalogue contained one published by Dorling Kindersly, Dan Hooke’s Climate Emergency Atlas. The blurb for this stated that Hooke

offers a clear explanation of the science behind climate change, with concise text supported by numerous diagrams. World maps show the environmental impact of different countries, detailing issues such as their population growth, consumption and deforestation, as well as how they have been affected by the rise in global temperatures. A final section describes the actions being taken in response to the crisis, and the part individuals can play.

The catalogue says it’s suitable for ages 10+. It’s normal price was £12.99, but they were offering at £6.99. I don’t know if it’s still available.

Ignore Murdoch, the Koch brothers and right-wing politicians like Trump, Blair. and as it looks like now, Starmer. It’s people like Hooke, the Open University, Ash Sarkar and the other peeps at Novara Media and, indeed, just about every respectable climate and environmental scientist on the planet, who are actually an unashamedly telling the truth.

Murdoch is publishing disinformation and lies. It’s now more than ever important to listen to the Left and mainstream science, and stop the profiteering from trashing the planet.