Archive for the ‘Comedy’ 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.

Cineworld Pull Film on Life of Prophet’s Daughter Fatima Due to Intimidating Protests from Sectarian Sunnis

June 8, 2022

I feel I have to comment on this story now going the rounds on the right-wing satellite news shows like GB News and the Murdoch-owned Talk TV, if only to provide some perspective on it. They’ve been discussing Cineworld’s decision to remove a British-made film, in which a young Muslim girl learns about the life of Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima. The film’s directed by Eli King, and was written by a Muslim clergyman, and its executive producer, Malik Shlibak, appeared on GB News talking to Nigel Farage to defend the movie. There were mass protests outside cinemas in Bolton and Birmingham, which led to the cinema chain removing the movie, first from those towns and now across the country. They stated that they were afraid that if they did not do, they could not guarantee the security of their staff.

One of the accusations against the film is that it is blasphemous, because it shows Mohammed’s face. This is frequently omitted in Islamic art, it has to be said. There’s either an oval hole left for the face, or else the face of Mohammed and other leading members of the early Muslim community are hidden behind veils. Shlibak explained to the Fuhrage that Habib, the Islamic scholar who wrote the film, was a highly respected clergyman with a following around the world. They were also very careful to base it on the historical sources. As for blasphemy in portraying the Prophet’s face, Shlibak stated that this wasn’t true, as there is a variety of attitudes towards the portrayal of Mohammed across the Muslim world.

The real issue, it appears, is sectarian. The protesters were all Sunnis, the orthodox branch of Islam, who objected to the film because it was from the Shia perspective. Fatima was married to Ali, whom the Shias revere as the first Imam and the true successor to Mohammed as the leader of the nascent Muslim community. However, he was passed over in favour of three members of the Meccan aristocracy, who had converted to Islam. Ali’s sons, Hassan and Hussein, attempted to seize power but were defeated in battle by the forces of the Caliph Muawiya. They were killed, their forces routed and the women of Ali’s family captured. Shia Muslims commemorate this event annually with processions and a passion play, in which they carry models of the Hassan and Hussein’s mausoleums.

Apart from Shlibak, the Fuhrage also talked to a Muslim who supported the protests. He denied that the film was being accused of blasphemy, because blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam. The protests were instead against it because it caused sectarian tensions. Now the statement that blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam is pure taqiyya, a lie to defend the faith. Technically what he said is correct – it doesn’t have quite the same concept, but has a similar idea. This is ‘insulting Islam’. There have been mob lynchings and murders of people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. The Pakistani legal code also considers it a crime, and there are 200 people on death row in the country on blasphemy charges. When the man defending the protests repeatedly refused to answer Nige’s questions about blasphemy, Nige ended the interview ‘in the interests of free speech’.

I found an other video today in which the protests were being discussed by Leo Kearse, a Conservative comedian, who has appeared with Sargon of Gasbag’s Lotus Eaters, and another man, whom I didn’t recognise. It seems that the protesters were also recorded chanting ‘Allahu akbar’ and ‘Shia kaffir’, Shia unbelievers. Although unremarked by the three discussing the issue, this is particularly chilling. Muslims cannot enslave other Muslims under the explicit dictates of sharia law, although this was frequently violated. In the Middle Ages, however, a number of Sunni theologians and jurists ruled that the Shia were not Muslims, but unbelievers. They could thus be killed and their children enslaved. A few years ago the Grand Mufti of Mecca declared that the Shia were ‘heretics, worthy of death’, which is a call to genocide if ever I heard one. Kearse added that this was a problem of importing thousands, millions of people from other cultures that don’t share our values. He was corrected by the second panellist, who made the point that the people speaking were all born here. The problem was about parallel societies. This is a genuine problem. There have been articles in the press discussing the way White and ethnic minority communities are growing apart. There was one such in the left-wing political magazine, Prospect, a few years ago about one town in which Whites and Muslim lived in separate areas and had nothing to do with each other. The panellists stated that there wasn’t much in the way of British values on display. No, the protesters were following the traditional values of the Sunni Muslim world. They also made the point that it was similar to the teacher, who was hounded of his job at a school in Batley because he dared to show his class the French cartoons of Mohammed. This fellow and his family are still in hiding a year later. And it was for showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that the French teacher, Thomas Pattie, was murdered following similar protests.

Julia Harley-Brewer on Talk TV tried to put it into some kind of perspective by comparing it to Christian protests against Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And a few years before in the ’70s there were also protests against the horror film The Exorcist because of its portrayal of demonic possession. But as far as I know, these protests never included death threats, whether explicit or tacit, against those involved in the movie. The real parallels, and the source of the problem, are the protests in Bradford in the 1980s against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. This was intended as a critique of western racism, and the Mahound character, who was supposed to be a caricature of Mohammed, actually wasn’t at all. People I know who’ve read the book have said it’s not blasphemous. It is, however, incredibly boring. The book was denounced by the Ayatollah Khomeini as a cynical political ploy in order to gain some kind of moral leadership over the Muslim world against Saudi Arabia. In Britain there were mass protests, led in Bradford by Mohammed Akhthar, Kalim Saddiqui and other intolerant hardliners. Akhthar penned a pamphlet, Be Careful With Mohammed, which I had the misfortune to read when I was briefly trying to study Islam at postgraduate level. It’s a staunch defence of traditional Islam, which is held up as everything good and admirable as compared to western society and Christianity, which is everything inferior and wrong. And Akhthar makes very explicit the British Muslim community’s rejection of British culture and values ‘They came to Britain to work, not to become Englishmen’. These protests gave the Muslim radicals in Britain as sense of power, especially as Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for a decade or so. In 1991 or so Kalim Saddiqui was filmed in his mosque in a BBC documentary, The Trouble With Islam, telling his flock that British society was a vast killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to us. When asked about this, he bleated some nonsense about a forthcoming Muslim holocaust.

But to return to the death threats, these are not confined to the leaders of the mass protests. The Muslim evangelist Ali Dawah in one of his videos told one of the ex-Muslim atheist YouTubers that when Britain becomes an Islamic state, he’d be put to death. One of the ex-Muslim atheists, Harris Sultan, appealed for donations a little while ago to pay for protection after a British Muslim put a price on his head.

I feel very strongly that we have to start pushing back against these bigots. One of the criticisms levelled against the handling of these protests is that the police didn’t turn up. I’m not surprised. They were no doubt scared of being accused of racism and Islamophobia, which may have been blown up into mass demonstrations around the globe. But I also despise the way protests like these are being ignored and played down by our politicians. I well appreciate why. They’re afraid of stoking real hatred against ordinary Muslims, who have nothing to do with the protests and who may not share these views. When Akhthar and Saddqui were organising protests in Bradford, there were counter protests against them from liberal Muslims. One of my former college’s lecturers on Islam also went up, and quote the passage in the Quran which condemns religious intolerance. I think it was probably the verse that runs ‘There should be no compulsion in religion’.

And protests carrying real or implied death threats aren’t confined to Muslims. A year or so ago Kathleen Stock, a feminist scholar, was forced out of her job following mass protests by students. She was accused of transphobia because of her stated belief that transwomen aren’t women. The university first tried sacking her for bigotry, which she successfully challenged. But she went anyway because she no longer felt safe.

I think this all needs to be stopped now. People have the right to protest but not to the extent where others fear for their lives. I wonder if it’s time to demand legislation against protests where there is a reasonable fear of threats to life and limb, and to make sure it is properly enforced. And I realise that this is an attack on free speech and the right to protest, but I cannot see any other way of defending free speech against such mobs without it.

Here are the videos I’ve mentioned.

Farage talking to executive producer Malik Shlibak:

Leo Kearse and others discussing the protests.

Mitch Benn’s Rock Assault on Boris Johnson’s Refusal to Accept Consequences of Partygate

May 15, 2022

Mitch Benn is a YouTuber who makes comic, parody videos attacking politicians and various issues. This piece, ‘We’ll Move On When You Move Out’, takes square aim of Johnson’s attitude that everyone should forget all about partygate. But as the song points out, he was partying while we were burying our dead and obeying the lockdown. It also calls him a lying, rich, upper-class lout, which he is most certainly is, and reminds him that it’s our house he’s squatting in. So sling your hook, Boris. For those of us of a certain age, the song’s particularly fun as it’s in the style of an ’80s Rock anthem.

Oh the Irony! David Evans Asks If I Could Be a Labour Organiser!

May 13, 2022

Remember David Evans, the Labour party’s utterly poisonous Blairite General Secretary, who did everything he could to oust Jeremy Corbyn and defame, smear and purge his followers? Now, it seems, he and the party are on the hunt for future organisers. And I got sent this invitation from him to join an online workshop on becoming one last Saturday. The event was Monday evening, and I didn’t go. It was tempting, because as a supporter of Corbyn and a critic of the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with a black mark against me for doing so online, I am precisely the type of person he, Starmer and the other Blairites really don’t want in the party. Here’s the email to amuse you. I’ve removed the text with the links.

‘Dear David,

When I was appointed General Secretary, I set out my three priorities: to win the next election; to deliver a first class organisation; and to become a diverse and inclusive employer. 

The local election results showed that we are making real progress with gains right across the country and I thank every one of you for your support and effort during this campaign.

As we now look to the next general election, we are recruiting 21 Trainee Organisers to join our party on that journey. Not only are we going to recruit the very best, we want those organisers to be representative of our country and party.

Our Trainee Organisers will be the campaign leaders in those seats we need to win, and through on the ground and classroom learning, will gain the skills and knowledge to deliver a Labour victory whenever the election comes.

Find out more about the Trainee Organiser role and apply:

Apply Here

We are committed to ensuring our Trainee Organisers reflect the diversity of our party, our communities and our country.

We welcome applications from everyone regardless of background, and from groups currently under-represented in our workforce, including women, ethnic minorities and disabled people. 

That is why we are holding a bespoke online session open to all where staff and politicians from the Labour Party will explain the Trainee Organiser scheme, how to apply, what the scheme involves and what you’ll learn along the way. 

The session will take place at 6pm on Monday 9 May over Zoom. Register today.

I look forward to you joining us.

Best wishes,

David Evans
General Secretary’

Well, the Labour party’s Black and Asian members are leaving the party in droves, because Starmer’s Labour isn’t representing them or doing anything for them. Starmer was tepid in his support of Black Lives Matter when it first emerged. He conspicuously took some time before he and Rayner gave it their support, indicating that this was just another publicity stunt. The party did nothing to reprimand or investigate the allegations of racist bullying by party apparatchiks against Black and Asian MPs and activists like Diane Abbott. And Muslim members have complained of rising islamophobia, with 1/3 claiming to have been victims of such racist incidents. But there’s been no crackdown or investigation of that.

And ordinary disabled people don’t really have a reason to give their unqualified support for Labour. It was Tony Blair who introduced the work capability tests, which have seen tens of thousands of genuinely disabled and critically ill people thrown off the benefits they need because they’ve been falsely judged fit for work. And all too often the clerks interviewing them have been numbskulls like the moron who asked an amputee when he expected his limbs to grow back!

As for women, while I don’t doubt that the party is sincere in its desire to give them fuller representation, the women they’re aiming for are affluent, middle class women, who nevertheless believe in the Blairite message of pruning back the welfare state in order to make the proles more self-reliant. Or desperate, as Maggie did.

But I do find it hilarious that they sent out this appeal to me, after having me investigated for wrongthink.

I hope you found this as funny as I did. And Corbyn forever!

Open Britain Demonstration Against the Tories on Sunday

May 13, 2022

I got this email from the pro-democracy organisation Open Britain earlier this week, announcing a demonstration against Boris and his corrupt coterie in Downing Street on Sunday, 15th May 2020. The email runs:

‘Dear David,

At 2pm this Sunday, 15th May, we will be outside Downing Street to show Boris Johnson and his cronies that we’ve had enough of their lies, excuses, and attacks on democracy. Our message is clear: Boris Johnson is not fit to lead, and we need to act now to stop the rot that is killing our political system. 

We’re proud to announce that Rosie Holt, political comedian and satirist known for playing a role as a Conservative MP, will be our host for the afternoon. 

The following speakers will highlight different aspects of the rotten politics we have in Boris Johnson’s Britain, and point out how we can respond positively: 

David Lammy: Labour MP for Tottenham and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs.

Peter Tatchell: Human rights activist, campaigner and founder of LGBT rights direct action group Outrage!

Supertanskiii:Political commentator and satirical comedian of online fame.

Marina Purkiss: Political commentator, writer, activist, and campaigner.

Mandu Reid: Leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) and prominent spokesperson for women’s rights in the UK. 

Thomas Brake: Former Lib-Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington and founder/director of cross-party campaigning organisation Unlock Democracy. 

Additionally, we’re lucky to have DJ Cosette, American DJ, singer-songwriter, and outspoken advocate for progressive politics, providing some tunes to keep things light.

JOIN THE PROTEST | STOP THE ROT | CHOOSE YOUR FUTURE

If you are as concerned as we are about the state of our politics, you won’t want to miss this event. Thanks to the activists above, #StopTheRot will be an afternoon of politics, entertainment and action. We’re going to send Boris a message loud and clear, showing that we’re united against the rot that he and his government have brought to our politics.

We want to know: 

WILL YOU BE THERE ON MAY 15th?

CAN YOU DONATE TO HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

Mark Kieran
CEO, Open Britain’

I can’t do either, but I’m putting this up in case anyone of my readers are interested in attending, or would like to donate.

Commoners Choir’s Musical Assault on Boris Johnson

May 7, 2022

Here’s another piece of musical satire from YouTube, taking square aim at our incompetent, libidinous, avaricious and utterly, utterly mendacious pathetic excuse for a prime minister. After the Tory defeats at the council elections yesterday, people are looking very hard at Johnson’s leadership and they don’t like what they see: his utter contempt for everyone else. He partied while us proles had to abide by the lockdown.

The video shows a group of people in cagouls, dressed somewhat like medieval monks, marching around a ruined medieval monastery with mops. The lyrics run something like this:

‘Tick tock, tick tock, people ask us what makes us tick, it’s Boris’ head upon a stick. Comes in handy when you’re mopping. Comes in handy when you’re mopping. Tick tock tick’.

Now I don’t condone real death threats to MPs. We’ve had too many of our representatives in parliament murdered by maniacs and fanatics over the past few years. But this is plainly satirical, and so I’m putting it up. Do I want Boris’ head upon a stick? No. But I would like the entire Tory front bench – Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Sunak, Patel and the rest of them to lose all their money and have to go live under a bridge in cardboard city. Just so they can experience the extreme hardship they’re policies are inflicted on everyone else.

Chumbawamba Sing Their Farewells to Maggie Thatcher

May 6, 2022

Okay, I’ve put up a series of left-wing and socialist music videos over the past couple of days laying into the Tories and other right-wing pundits and blowhards like Piers Moron and ‘Depeche Toad’ Farage. The results of the council elections are coming in, and it seems the Tories haven’t done terribly well. Not as disastrously as I’d like, but they’ve lost several councils to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. And I thought I’d rub it in a bit further with this musical reminder that Maggie is no longer with us. This is a performance by the pop band Chumbawamba singing their song anticipating Thatcher’s death, ‘In Memoriam – So Long So Long’ at a concert in Bedminster, one of Bristol’s suburbs, way back in 2009. It was put up on Random Planet’s channel on YouTube in 2013.

The song was written and performed before Thatcher’s death and the band were going to release it as an EP. Hence they ask people not to put it up on YouTube just yet, and also give instructions on how you can order it directly from them. As the performance is over a decade old, it’s doubtful this arrangement is still working. You can, however, hear the full EP on YouTube as well. This includes a short piece in Spanish which is supposed to be General Pinochet’s regards from beyond the grave, as well as Frankie Boyle’s joke that when Thatcher dies, the Scots are going to dig a hole so deep they’ll be able to hand her over to Satan personally. It’s an interesting piece musically. It’s jazz-inflected and actually really laid back, for all that it’s celebrating Thatcher’s demise.

Thatcher’s long gone, but unfortunately Thatcherism still remains a force in British politics as zombie economics – a doctrine long shown to be dead and useless, but which is still propped up into a kind of ghastly semblance of life by right-wing politicians and the media. It’s about time it was laid to rest as well.

Mitch Benn ‘What Shall We Do With the British Sailors?’

May 5, 2022

This little piece of musical satire comes from Mitch Benn and his channel on YouTube. It’s an attack on P & O’s sacking of their British maritime staff and replacement with foreign workers on lower wages. Benn states it was too conceal their corporate failures, but points out that it’s a consequence of Brexit. A consequence that the Remainers foresaw, but were ignored. Because people were driven insane by the idea that our passports were the EU’s rather than our own. Now the jobs have fled overseas and Brits can’t get jobs abroad. But ‘this is the Brexit that you voted for’, the song concludes.

You might expect it to be sung to the tune of ‘What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor’, but it’s not. The tune is Benn’s own, strummed on a guitar. But it’s right, and although it’s rather old news now, it’s still worth remembering as the right and the Brexiteers try to make our departure from the EU look like some kind of resounding success. Or simply hope that we’ll ignore and forget its spectacular failure.

P&O’s sacking and rehiring of its sailors also worried me because it reminded me of the origins of the anti-Chinese riots that broke out in the first decade or so of the last century. Firms across England had sacked their English staff and replaced them with Chinese workers, resulting in race riots. Nothing like that happened when P&O sacked their British people and replaced them with cheap foreign labour. I am worried, however, that with increased racial tensions over woke ideology and its attack on ‘Whiteness’, coupled with the Tories’ determination to roll back our human rights protections, something similar may break out again the future.

Depeche Toad: Nigel Farage Just Can’t Get Enough

May 5, 2022

Here’s another video from PoliticsJOE on their channel on YouTube, taking square aim at another poisonous product of the far right – Nigel Farage. This time it has him singing about his own electoral failure – he tried and failed seven times to get elected to parliament – and how he blames everything on the EU, migrants and refugees – to the tune of 80s pop stars Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. But although he’s never won an election to parliament, he can expect to be knighted by Boris Johnson. The video was put up three years ago in 2019, and although UKIP and the Brexit party have imploded, Farage still has a career as a pundit on GB News.

Commoners Choir – ‘These Are the Bastards’

May 5, 2022

And now, as the late, sorely missed computer-generated video jockey Max Headroom said, ‘More – of the same’. Here’s another deeply satirical musical attack on the Tories and their backers in industry, the media and the aristocratic landlords from Commoners Choir and their channel on YouTube.

It’s presented as a school lesson, showing us the bastards who underfund everything, rarely work, don’t pay tax, print lies, fiddle accounts, and frame our laws. The bastards making money responsible for starting wars, play golf while damning the poor, privatising everything they can while going grouse shooting, and tell lies. The same people who botched the response to the Coronavirus, failed to prevent further deaths by going into lockdown as soon as possible, botched supplying the protective masks and equipment. The Tory and industrial elite that deliberately don’t employ enough staff and underpay those they do, curtail public rights of way, cut grants and condemn the sick. The aristos and toffs who use public school arithmetic to drag everything back to the 19th century and before. They are arms merchants, landowners, the proprietors of the news media, and the rich figures who hypocritically front appeals while enjoying obscene wealth themselves. It also has a go at beardie Branson for suing the NHS and then grovelling for the state to bail him out. It ends with the request that people remember what they learned today, with images of people demonstrating against the privatisation of the NHS and the message spoofing the government’s own warnings about the Coronavirus – ‘Stay alert> Stop the bastards> Save Lives.

It’s less music than an old-fashioned schoolroom chant accompanied with the images of the offenders themselves. They are too numerous to list, but obviously include Johnson, Cameron and co. as well as Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Margaret Thatcher and many, many more.