Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Institutionally Anti-Semitic Blairites Expel Jewish Woman at Labour Conference

September 27, 2021

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m accusing the Blairites in the Labour party of institutional anti-Semitism. They maintain that they, and only they, are the true defenders of Jews in the Labour party, who are being terribly victimised by the Corbynite left. The truth is that they are themselves sectarian anti-Semites, carrying on a campaign to vilify and purge the party of ‘the wrong sort of Jews’. These are severely normal, decent Jewish peeps, who despise the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and support Jeremy Corbyn and his socialist policies. Simply by not showing the required amount of support for Israel, they challenge the image the Board of Deputies of British Jews seeks to present, that Britain’s diverse Jewish community is uniformly behind Israel and that Zionism is an integral and indivisible aspect of true Judaism. In fact, British Judaism is like any other religion composed of many different sects and denominations, and Jews, like everyone else, vary widely in the religious and political beliefs, including on Israel and Zionism. The Board and the Blairites in the Labour party, however, cannot tolerate such religious and political independence, and so demonise and expel these decent people with false accusations of anti-Semitism and self-hatred.

They struck again at the weekend when the vice-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour, a grassroots Jewish organisation that represents Jewish supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, Leah Levane, was expelled from the party. Levane’s crime, according to the JVL, was that she was one of the signatories to an open letter organised by Labour Against the Witch Hunt. This is an organisation campaigning against the anti-Semitism smears and purges, that seeks to expose them for what they are – a politically motivated campaign against the left and critics of Israel. She had also spoken at an even organised by the Labour In Exile Network, founded by former members of the party, who have been falsely accused and purged. These organisations are now proscribed, but they were perfectly acceptable when Levane committed her ‘crimes’. But Starmer’s Labour party has made justice retroactive, which is a feature of arbitrary government condemned by Kant and the great Enlightenment philosophers and which is a feature of totalitarian regimes, despots and tyrants throughout history. It’s an attitude to justice that shows that Starmer is completely unfit to run any kind of democratic state.

The Blairites also pulled the stunt of telling her she was being expelled in an email sent in the middle of the night, another stunt which seems to be deliberately intended to disorient the victim and not give them enough time to formulate a response. Levane didn’t realise she’d been expelled until she went to the conference, where she was refused entry.

It really doesn’t surprise me that Levane has been hit like this. The Blairites would dearly love to expel Jewish Voice for Labour altogether. One Blairite, Neil Coyle, made this very clear when he tweeted that they should be purged along with other ‘Commies’. Which also shows that the Blairites are riddled with the old anti-Semitic fear of the Communist Jew. It also reminds me very strongly of the Nazi propaganda which claimed that the SPD, the German Labour party, was filled with Jews who were trying to take over the party and force non-Jews out.

Mike’s in his piece about this sorry squalid affair, has also included a picture showing the sorry, squalid hypocrisy of Starmer himself. It’s a photo of him at a gathering somewhere, standing in front of a banner saying ‘Kick Israeli Racism Out of Fifa’. Not only does this show Starmer as the massive hypocrite he is, it also suggests to me that he knows extremely well that the pro-Palestinian rights campaign isn’t anti-Semitic. Many of the organisations have Jewish members, such as Tony Greenstein, and rules making it very clear that genuine anti-Semites and self-hating Jews, such as Gilad Atzmon, are very definitely not welcome.

Blairism is corrupt and institutionally anti-Semitic. Leah Levane should have her membership restored immediately, as should everyone else unfairly accused and purged.

Rosie Duffield Making Up Stories about Abuse from Trans Activists

September 20, 2021

Readers of this blog will be very aware of my position on the trans ideology. I believe the ideology is immensely harmful, causing psychologically vulnerable people to believe falsely that they are of the wrong sex. The process of medical transition is long, expensive and very often difficult and there may be serious complications that permanently impair the life of the person undergoing it. At the same time the idea that anyone can validly claim to be a member of the opposite sex simply by saying they identify as that gender has made biological women vulnerable to sexually predatory biological men, who have gained access to female-only spaces. There have been a spate of rapes and sexual assaults in Californian women’s prisons, thanks to legislation backed by Biden granting trans-identified men the right to be housed in them. At the same time transwomen may still retain biological advantages over born women in sport which makes them competing with them unfair. And Trans Rights Activists can be violent and abusive. They do post abuse and threatening imagery against their opponents online, and gender critical feminists – termed TERFS by their opponents – have been assaulted. At a recent demonstration in Spain by feminists protesting against their government’s self-ID bill there were three squads of riot police sent in to protect them against assault by militant pro-trans activists. Eventually so many of trans activists appeared in such a aggressive mood that the police advised the women to leave for their own safety.

Now Rosie Duffield has appeared in the Sunset Times to claim that she’s not appearing at the Labour party conference due to threats from trans activists and LGBTQ+ Labour.

Despite my opposition to the trans Ideology, I have to be fair. It seems that no such threats have been sent to Duffield. She has not produced a single threatening tweet to support her claim.

As Mike points out, it seems she’s copying the tactics of Luciana Berger of smearing her opponents in the party with false claims of abuse. Berger a few years ago claimed that she had received anti-Semitic abuse from Labour party members. It was a flat-out lie. She had received abuse, but it all came from the usual source – the far right. Duffield is a right-winger, and so Starmer has taken the trouble to check her welfare, something I doubt he would do for anyone on the left who had suffered abuse.

Duffield, of course, has form when it comes to trying to get left-wingers and Corbynites thrown out of the party. She marched with Ruth Smeeth in the ‘lynch mob’ of right-wing female Labour MPs in support of the fake anti-Semitism allegations against Mark Wadsworth.

She also demanded that Chris Williamson should be found guilty and thrown out of the party when he was hauled before the NCC’s kangaroo court.

And Mike points out that she smeared victims of her own abuse.

She is deeply untrustworthy and this looks like another lie made up by a right-winger to smear the left.

But unfortunately it’s a lie that the right-wing press and media are all too keen to hear. Alex Belfield has been pushing it this morning.

Duffield’s behaviour not only shows the sheer mendacity of the Blairites, it also shows their complete absence of any positive policies. They say nothing to oppose the Tories, because they support Tory policies and want to steal their voters. They want to turn Labour into a second Tory party, and to do so wish to suppress and expel the left.

But having nothing positive to offer themselves, all they can do is smear and expel them with lies and falsehoods.

GB News Interviews Graham Linehan

September 18, 2021

As I’ve said before, I’ve mixed feelings about the imminent demise of GB News. It is a right-wing news network, deliberately founded to provide an ‘objective’ alternative to the ‘wet, woke’, BBC with Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunset Times, Economist and head of the board that runs the increasingly far-right Spectator, as its main man. Well, the channel has failed to attract viewers, advertisers have been put off by what they see as its racist bias, and its main broadcaster now is former chief of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage. Neil has jumped ship like the proverbial rats and it’s highly debatable how long the channel’s investors will put up with it before they finally pull the plug. Plus Rupert Murdoch is planning his own rival in the shape of TVTalk. This won’t have the financial problems of GB News, because it’s going to be financed through subsidies from the other parts of Murdoch’s empire of filth. Which means that Britain could be getting a version of Fox News, a channel so untrustworthy and which tells so many lies that researchers found that people who took no news at all were better informed that viewers of Fox. Salvador Dali once said that he was intent on cretinizing the public. Dali was immensely talented, but greedy, treacherous, perverted and a supporter of General Franco. He died some time in the late ’70s or ’80s. But his mission to turn the west into a region of dribbling morons is being carried on by Dirty Rupe.

On the other hand, GB News does provide a valuable service by inviting guests to speak, who have been blogged or silenced by the other channels and media for their controversial views. These include critics of postmodernism, including Critical Race Theory and the transgender ideology like Helen Pluckrose. Another critic of the transgender ideology is Graham Linehan, the writer of such comedy greats as Father Ted, the IT Crowd, Big Train and co-creator of Black Books. In this interview with Andrew Doyle on GB News’ Free Speech Nation, Linehan talks about his activism challenging the transgender movement. He’s motivated by fear and outrage at the way he feels vulnerable people, especially girls and young women, are being misled into believing themselves to be transgender and the immense harm that such needless transitioning is doing to their bodies and minds. The puberty blockers not only halt the transition to physical adolescence but there is also evidence that it stops the crucial brain development that comes with it. The people given these drugs therefore stay locked in an emotional childhood. The double mastectomies performed on transitioning women leave the patient with no sensation in their chests. The use of male sex hormones causes the womb to atrophy and adhere to other organs, so that the transmen given these hormones often have to have hysterectomies in their 20s. He argues that there is no respectable science backing up the claims of the transgender movement, and that what science there that supports some of their claims comes from very small studies, and so is scientifically highly debatable.

Linehan is also concerned about the way sexually predatory men may claim to be transwomen in order to get into a position to abuse women. One example of this is the recent Wi spa incident, where a Black woman complained about a naked man in the women’s area. Although this was dismissed by pro-transgender activists as a hoax, further witnesses have come forward. And the perpetrator himself had multiple convictions for indecent exposure as well as burglary. He also talks about the way the Girl Guides have extensive, rigorous rules protecting girls and women if men go away with them, but these rules are somehow relaxed with transwomen, as if all such people were equally safe and nice. He draws a comparison between the paedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. For nearly a century, the priesthood were a protected caste. As a result, paedophiles could join the Roman Catholic clergy confident that they would be protect from prosecution. Transwomen in his view now form a similarly protected class who are somehow held to be immune from any wrongdoing.

Linehan has, unsurprisingly, been accused of transphobia, which he denies. He states that there are transpeople who support him, and says he has met more transpeople through his activism than possibly his critics. He certainly does have his supporters in the trans community, several of whom have appeared on his YouTube channel, The Mess We’re In. As for the position that transwomen aren’t women, he points out that there are transwomen like Debbie Hayden and Blair White who don’t describe themselves as women. He believes that in the coming years we will see a growth in the number of detransitioners, former transpeople who have found that transitioning has not cured their problems with gender identity and expression.

Linehan also views the trans movement as acting against gay people, particularly lesbians. He has spoken about Pride rallies, where much has been said about trans people, but lesbian women aren’t mentioned. He views the trans ideology as a new kind of conversion therapy designed to stop children from being gay. In his view, homophobic parents are putting gender non-conforming children – kids who play or adopt the dress of the opposite sex – forward as transgender out of the fear that they may be gay. They can’t handle that, and it’s easier for them to accept that they are really people of the opposite sex stuck in the wrong body. He’s particularly convinced of this since he heard a joke going round the Tavistock clinic, one of the main transgender clinic, that if they continue transitioning people, soon there won’t be any lesbians left. He also talks about how many gay people are worried about the way the main gay organisations, such as Stonewall, have thrown all their weight behind the trans ideology. They are afraid that when the transgender craze finally breaks and the bankruptcy of the ideology is finally revealed, then ordinary gay people will suffer because of the strong support organisations like Stonewall gave it.

He also talks about the attempts trans rights activists make to silence their opponents. He describes the abuse gender critical feminists receive and the refusal of TRAs to engage in any kind of dialogue with them. He states that a group of gender critical peeps wrote a letter to one of the papers requesting their opponents to tone the abuse down a bit. Not only was this polite request refused, but one of the signatories, a gay man, suffered attempts to wreck his career simply for signing the letter. James Dreyfus, a gay actor, who has appeared in the comedy programmes The Thin Blue Line and Gimme, Gimme, has also suffered from this. Dreyfus has played the Master in one of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays. Yet his gender critical stance has resulted him being airbrushed out of a list of actors who have played the Doctor’s arch-enemy. Trans Rights Activists refuse to appear on programmes or platforms with people like Linehan, stating that they will only debate the issue with trans people. But there’s silence from them when transpeople come forward, who oppose the ideology. They don’t want to debate them either. Linehan has said that the reason one very prominent feminist academic has refused to debate the issue on television is because this woman would be unable to credibly explain how Eddie Izzard is a woman in the same way as people’s mothers.

And Linehan has also suffered for his gender critical feminist views. His own career is comparatively safe, though he mentions that there is one episode of the IT Crowd that the broadcasters tried to censor. This was about one of the characters falling in love with a transwoman. It’s held to be transphobic, but he points out that the joke is actually that the transwoman, although identifying as female, still behaves like a man. Which makes her the ideal partner for the other character, who is quite blokey. His wife, however, suffered far more from attempts to wreck her career, simply because she was married to him.

I realise that this is a very, very, emotive and controversial position, but I strongly believe critics of the transgender movement like Linehan, Kellie-Jay Minshull and others, absolutely deserve to be heard. What should matter in a debate like this is reasoned debate, backed by scientific fact. But I don’t see this coming from the Trans Rights Activists, many of whom, Linehan alleges, really aren’t transgender. Instead I just see abuse, including horrific death threats and violence. For examples of this, go to the Women Are Human site.

I am aware that there are supporters of the new transgender ideology who read this site. I appreciate their fears and their views, and really don’t want them to feel excluded or vulnerable. I repeat: I don’t want to see anyone persecuted, discriminated against or victimised because of their sexuality or sexual orientation. I appreciate that there are people for whom transitioning to the opposite sex may be the best treatment for their condition. The statistics for the number of transpeople murdered in Britain is actually very low – perhaps about three in the last decade or so. It’s far lower than the murders of other demographic groups. But I do understand transpeople’s fears of violence against them. Way back in the 1990s there was a small press magazine for transpeople, Aeon: The Magazine of Transkind. This covered issues such as anti-trans violence. I definitely do not, in any way, support such violence against anyone because of their gender presentation or identification. I am also acutely aware that transgender people are definitely not all paedophiles, rapists or sexual predators, and don’t want to see them tarred as such because of those that are.

But there are real issues surrounding women’s safety, their ability to participate in women’s sports against transwomen, who may have a physical advantage from their former male physique and development. I think there is a problem with psychologically vulnerable young people, particularly girls, being misdiagnosed and put on the track for transition when it is medically inappropriate. One of the other issues Linehan and the gender critical feminists raise is that there are all kinds of medical complications with gender reassignment. It is difficult, painful and expensive, and can lead to poor health for the rest of the life of the transman or -woman. They feel that people with gender dysphoria – the medical term for dissatisfaction with one’s gender identity – are being miss-sold gender reassignment surgery as a cure for this problem when it may not. There are problems with the TRA claim that without surgery, trans-identified people will commit surgery. However, some transpeople have committed surgery, possibly because they have found out that it is not a cure for their problems.

This has certainly happened. Years ago there was a report in the papers about the discovery of the body, police had initially believed, of a young woman. Forensic investigation, however, revealed that this individual was a transwoman. From what I remember of the case, she had drowned herself, leaving a suicide note that read that she now regretted transitioning and wished she could turn back. It’s a tragic case, and I hope whatever side of the debate you’re on, we all agree that everything should be done to stop transpeople, or anyone else, taking their life for whatever reason.

These are vital issues, but any criticism of the trans ideology is being blocked and silenced. North of the border the Maria Miller, a gender critical feminist, is being prosecuted for hate speech because she put up stickers saying ‘Scottish women won’t wheesht’ – a Scots term meaning ‘shut up’ or ‘be silent’ – and a looped ribbon which her opponents claim is a noose. The SNP have also gone further and banned demonstrations outside the Scots parliament after the mass demonstration by Scots women and their male supporters a week or so ago. Every attempt is being made to silence gender critical people through the accusations that they are hateful and transphobic. The LGB Alliance, which believes trans is a separate issue and the gay organisations should return to fighting for gay rights, has been accused of being a hate group.

Horrendous as GB News is, I believe it is performing a vital service by allowing people like Helen Pluckrose and Graham Linehan to speak. This is a service that should be done by the BBC as the country’s public service broadcaster. But it isn’t. Linehan has pointed out that the Corporation backs the trans ideology to the extent that one of its children’s programmes presented a White, heterosexual couple as a pair of lesbians on the grounds that the male partner was trans-identified. He has become so disgusted with the Beeb that he has joined the right-wingers demanding the cancellation of the license fee. As for himself, he and Doyle have crossed swords in the past, though the discussion on here is entirely amicable. Linehan states that the debate is tribal, and that before he got involved in it he believed that everyone on the right really was evil. But after coming into contact with them, he finds that they are not. It’s just a different view of the world. Well, in the case of some Tories, that’s definitely the case. But I still believe that Therese Coffey, Esther McVey, Iain Duncan Smith and their ilk, who have been persecuting the disabled, the unemployed and the poor are genuinely evil, and don’t simply have a different opinion. Not with the number of people their policies have killed.

Controversial as they are, programmes and videos like this are an argument in favour of GB News. I’ve no time for the standard media rhetoric about how neoliberalism is absolutely correct and anyone challenging it, like Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, are evil Trotskyites and communists. That’s all over the media, including supposedly left-wing papers like the Groan and the Mirror. But the culture war issues cut across political boundaries and are the best argument for the channel’s continuation. But it’s these issues that are alienating the younger staff and causing them to leave.

I’m no fan of GB News nor the horrendous Farage and Brillo. I don’t think it’s remotely a loss to British broadcasting that the man who has no problems with Taki writing horrendous anti-Semitic screeds and praises the neo-Nazi Greek Golden Dawn in the pages of the Spectator. But I am afraid that dissenting voices that genuinely need to be heard will be left without a platform when it goes.

And I am very much afraid of Dirty Rupe’s planned replacement.

Mock Photo of Starmer and Evans Wrestling

September 5, 2021

A few days ago I put up a cartoon I’d drawn of David Evans and Keir Starmer wrestling, based on a photo I’d found in an illustrated dictionary of two wrestlers in a very bizarre hold which could raise a few bawdy guffaws and speculation about such sportsmen’s sexuality. Brian Burden, one of the great commenters on this blog, suggested that I should find a whizz kid with photoshop and produce a photoshopped image of Evans and Starmer using that photo. I regret that I don’t know anyone like that, and I don’t think I’ve got the programme myself. But I did create the following rough image of the two leading politicos on the bodies of the wrestlers using Windows Paint. I don’t think there’s any chance of it going viral, but it should give you an idea of what someone with far more skill could do. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t have nightmares.

Lookalikes: Boris Johnson and Simian Double

September 5, 2021

Okay, I know it’s rather ad hominem, but it’s too good not to use. Private Eye have carried column for years entitled ‘Lookalikes’ which shows picture of various public figures, politicians, actors, sportsmen and women and pop stars, next to things that look like them for comic effect. I found a picture of Snowball the albino gorilla in an illustrated dictionary we’ve had since the 1970s, I was struck by the uncanny similarity to the simian creature now occupying No. 10.

Way back in the ’70s and ’80s there was nasty racist joke going round. It was a picture of Black man and a gorilla, and asked what the difference was. I’m not going to go further, because it is offensive, but you could ask the same about Boris and Snowball. What’s the difference between them? The gorilla is gentler, more intelligent, and doesn’t make the poor even poorer for the benefit of the rich.

Should Starmer and Evans Wrestle in Labour’s Next Election Broadcast

September 3, 2021

This is just a bit of fun inspired by a photo I found in an illustrated encyclopaedia of two wrestlers engaged in a very peculiar hold.

Decades ago in one of their lampoons of the Labour party, Spitting Image had then party leader Neil Kinnock and his shadow cabinet discussing what they should do about the coming election. When the subject of the party’s election broadcast was brought up, the Roy Hattersley puppet immediately said that they’d filmed him and Kinnock wrestling naked in front of the fire. This was, of course, a reference to the notorious bit in the film of Sons and Lovers where two of the male characters wrestle in the buff. But is having Starmer and Evans wrestling in their party election movies such a bad idea? Obviously, they wouldn’t be naked, at least, not before the watershed. By wrestling they could demonstrate both their close working relationship, and make explicit their wrestling with intense political ideas and close grasp of today’s issues.

I therefore drew this cartoon yesterday showing how it all could look.

Then again, perhaps not.

But it couldn’t damage the Labour party any worse than what those pair of jokers are already doing to it. And that’s not satire.

The Squaddies Knew the Truth about Afghanistan, But the Politicos Wouldn’t Listen

August 17, 2021

There’s a headline in today’s Independent about a former soldier in Afghanistan, who states that when he was there, all the drill sergeants knew the reality but the politicians wouldn’t listen: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/when-i-served-in-the-us-army-our-drill-sergeants-all-knew-the-truth-about-afghanistan-politicians-ignored-them/ar-AANnGJ6?ocid=msedgntp

I am honestly not surprised. It’s a truism in the army that it’s run by the NCOs, who have a better idea of what’s going on than the officers. But one of the major complaints about George Dubya Bush and the neo-Cons was that they had little real knowledge or experience of the Middle East, its politics, culture and peoples. Their views of the region were based almost wholly in their political ideology. As a result, they had little real idea about it. Worse, they bitterly resented those who did. One of the leading voices against the neo-Cons was a female Pentagon colonel, who was a traditional Conservative. She was opposed to them because they didn’t know anything about the Middle East and the reality of fighting wars there, did not share the team ethos of the American armed forces and silenced and sacked the senior staff who knew better than them, who tried to put them right. Bush and co were ‘chickenhawks’ – largely draft-dodgers, who had avoided service in Vietnam, but were now all too keen to send other, braver men and women to fight and die in foreign fields. This senior Pentagon officer – I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten her name, as it’s been a long time since I read her piece – also stated that the army is very keen that its squaddies do team sports. It’s all about team work in which everyone gets criticised if they make mistakes, no matter their rank or importance. But the neo-Cons were too precious for that, and didn’t accept criticism of their policies and plans. And they hated the senior, professional military staff who had real knowledge and experience of the area. Bush and his crew sacked General Zilli, the head of the section of the American army dealing with the Middle East, because he told them they were wrong.

The squaddies knew what a fiasco the occupation was. Their senior officers also knew and tried to get it through the thick skulls of Dubya and the rest of his gang. They failed, and the result has been twenty years of war culminating in the Taliban once again seizing power in Afghanistan. Not to mention the chaos and carnage in Iraq.

Blair lied, people died.

Labour left-wingers have warned that the same people, who started these wars and occupations, are trying to come back. They’d like a few more, all for the benefit of big business and the oil industry.

This has been a catastrophe. They must be stopped, and no-one should ever listen again to anything Blair or Bush says about the Middle East. They’re ignorant and greedy, and have cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives, wrecked whole countries and made the whole region even more unstable. And ultimately it’s all been for nothing.

Blairism is a failure. It has failed in the Middle East, and Thatcherism at home, including Blair’s version, has just made poverty worse. Blair’s heir, Starmer, is offering more of the same.

Ignore the right. Get Starmer out, and a proper Labour leader with real insight, knowledge and concern for human rights, international law and improving the lives of the working class in.

No Return Invasion of Afghanistan

August 15, 2021

According to mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, parliament has been recalled to discuss the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Belfield made it very clear that we should not go back there. This was a country whose culture and way of life we would never understand. Four hundred British squaddies have already died during the invasion and occupation, and besides, we’ve too much on our plate here at home with domestic crises like the Plymouth mass shooting, rampant knife crime in London and the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel in dinghies and other flimsy craft. I agree with him, but partly for reasons that are very different from his.

Firstly, like the invasion of Iraq, the British and American public were deliberately deceived about the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, the invasion was an appropriate response to al-Qaeda’s attack on America in 9/11, although it was planned and executed by the Saudis. And there is very strong evidence that the responsibility for the atrocity goes all the way up to the highest levels of the Saudi state. But the American neo-Cons had been planning the invasion years before. They’d been in talks with the Taliban over the construction of a new oil pipeline to run through the country, allowing them to get around the Russian affiliated pipelines in the region. These talks stalled and eventually failed. So George Dubya Bush and his friends in big business got together and planned an invasion, waiting for a suitable opportunity to arrive when they could launch it. The liberation of the local people from a deeply repressive, bloodthirsty Islamist regime was never the real, primary objective.

As for Afghan society, this is a deeply conservative, tribal culture. The Taliban have their roots in their traditional way of life and particularly the very traditional Daobandi movement in Islam that stretches across into Pakistan and India. Hence, although extreme, the Taliban will appear to many Afghans to be fighting for their traditional values and society against those imposed upon them by force by the western invader. They have also been given support, supposedly, by elements within the Pakistani military. The Pathan tribe, I believe, form the core supporters of the Taliban, and their tribal territory extends across the border into Pakistan. They thus receive cross-border support from their fellow tribesmen over there.

Besides which, I don’t believe that the western occupation has done much to win hearts and minds. Hamid Karzai’s government was massively corrupt, and this corruption extended all the way down to the local level, where the police and government officials tried to find every way they could extort more money out of the ordinary citizens. The drone operations in the region have also done much to generate discontent. I recall reading cases where wedding parties were slaughtered in anti-terrorist drone strikes. However, instead of only killing the terrorist targeted, they also killed innocent people who just happened to be present.

A second invasion of Afghanistan would also be extremely expensive. And as this is a Conservative government which is already protesting about the expenses of dealing with the Covid pandemic, the funding for it would be through further cuts in welfare spending and the privatisation of whatever’s left of the state infrastructure. Which means the NHS. This will mean more poverty, starvation and misery for Britain’s great working people, and poor health as more services are given to private healthcare providers. Who will start cutting their provision so they can make a profit.

The Taliban are a deeply unpleasant organisation and their attitude towards women is particularly misogynistic. There have been reports that wherever they have taken over an area, they have gone to the local mosques to compile lists of the unmarried girls. These are then forcibly married, even though they may be barely into their teens. They do, however, have an age limit of 12. When the Taliban were in power, women were not expected to leave their homes except when they had. If they were out of the house, they had to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. This meant that they had to be silent. I’ve read reports in the papers of Afghan women, who’d lost limbs during previous fighting, being beaten because their artificial legs made a noise. And this is apart from the ban on art, music and television, the restrictions on non-Muslim religions, the closure of football stadiums and their conversion into arenas for mass public executions.

Our invasion and attempts at nation-building have failed, and there are dangers in this. Al-Qaeda were encouraged to launch their attack from Afghanistan on 9/11 because of the success the Mujahideen had achieved fighting the Soviet occupation, although much of that was due to covert funding from the West and Saudi Arabia. I am very much afraid that with the withdrawal of western troops and the fall of the democratic Afghan government, the Taliban or some other Islamist terror group will similarly feel empowered and that they can launch another attack to destroy the west.

But Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’. We found it impossible to occupy the country in the 19th century, as did the Russians a hundred years later. Any further invasion is likely to fail again. As repulsive and dangerous as the Taliban are, we should not go back. We would not be helping its people, only the oil industry and big business who seek to exploit it. And the costs of the occupation would be borne in the lives and limbs of the servicewomen and men sent out to fight, and by Britain’s working people as the government slashes more services.

We should not go back to invading countries simply to make massive multinational corporations even more obscenely rich.

Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees on What His Party Has Done for the City

August 3, 2021

As a member of the local Labour party, I got this general email from Bristol’s elected mayor, Marvin Rees, explaining what his administration has done to improve conditions in Bristol. I’ve mixed feelings about Rees. He can be stubborn and obstinate, insisting on what he wants against the wishes of local people. He did this in the case of the housing development now being built in Hengrove park. His plans for the development were opposed by local people, who wanted fewer houses and more amenities, like shops, to be built on the site. But despite the fact that Rees’ own plans for the area were also criticised by the planning authorities for exactly the same reasons, Rees overruled the suggestions of the locals and went ahead with his own plans. There has also been a similar controversy over his scheme for a new arena for the city. Common sense would say that it should be built nearer to the city’s centre, where communications are excellent and visitors from outside the city could easily get to it via the motorway. However, for some reason best known to himself, Mayor Marv has decided instead that he wants it built in Filton, a suburb some distance away from the centre in the north of the city. Which is far more difficult to get to.

On the other hand, I was very impressed by his handling of the pulling down of Colston’s statue by Black Lives Matter. There have been demands from Bristol’s Black community for the statue to be taken down for decades, and so the assault on it probably shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, it followed similar attacks on Confederate statues across the Pond in America. Despite loud criticism from people of the right, like Alex Belfield, I think Bristol’s police did exactly the right thing in not trying to defend it when it was attacked. It was the only monument affected. The other statues nearby, such as one to Bristol’s sailors, and of the 18th century politician, Edmund Burke, and Queen Victoria (Gawd bless ‘er) weren’t touched. Neither were the surrounding shops and offices. But I think there would have been a full scale riot if the cops had tried to defend it. And I think it’s extremely likely that some in the mob that attacked the statue were hoping for a chance to fight the police as symbols of racist authority. The police didn’t give them the opportunity, and saved the people and property in the area from harm. As for Marvin himself, while he has made it very plain that, as a man of colour, he personally loathes the statue, he has been extremely diplomatic and careful in his handling of the controversy.

Here’s what he says in his email:

“Dear member,

I am writing to you to thank you for your support in the recent elections and to let you know how your Labour administration is repaying your trust in us. 

I want to start by reiterating how grateful I am; for everyone that voted for me and for the activists who knocked on doors, called voters, and spread our message of hope on social media. It’s been an enormously difficult year – which makes me even more appreciative for the support – but we still managed to adapt to the circumstances and get Labour’s message out to the voters. Our activists are the cornerstone of our movement – we wouldn’t have won the mayoral elections if it weren’t for the strength of our members. 

However, despite winning the Mayoralty and gaining a Labour Metromayor in the West of England Combined Authority, we lost a number of excellent councillors and had hard-working, dedicated candidates miss out on their seats. I know how talented our candidates were and how much they cared about their communities, so these results were hard to take. 

Despite the disappointment, we’ve regrouped and have been working to put Labour values into action and to continue delivering on your priorities. I want the next three years to be defined by inclusivity, sustainability, and delivery – everything we do will be defined by those three principles. 

At the first Full Council since the election, we put forward a motion that forbids the Council or its partners from following Home Office guidance that uses rough sleeping as a reason to cancel someone’s leave to remain, resulting in their eventual deportation from the UK. It should go without saying that we found this guidance deplorable – it shows how out-of-step Priti Patel and the Home Office is with Bristol’s collective conscience. Read more on Cllr Tom Renhard’s Blog. 

This announcement follows a recent further £4m investment to help tackle rough sleeping and the setting up of Bristol Street Outreach, a new service to support rough sleepers. Since 2019, we’ve reduced the levels of people rough-sleeping by 80% – this new service will focus on on-street engagements, particularly with those who have been sleeping rough for a long time, to help enable them to move off the streets and live independently.

As well as this we’ve:

Won Gold Food Sustainable City Status – only the second city in the UK to do so – for excellence in tackling food waste, urban food growing, and action to address food inequality. Awarded by the independent, Sustainable Food Places Board, the accolade recognises the work of Bristol’s good food movement and the city’s work to tackle the impacts of food on public health, nature, and climate change. More information here. 

• Offered residency to a number of Afghan interpreters who worked with the British Army, as they were at risk of persecution by the Taliban. 

• Moved forward building a 17,000 seater arena and its surrounding district – which now includes a 15 acre public park, £3.1m for transport infrastructure, 2,600 news homes, employment space, up to three new schools, a health centre and retail and leisure facilities – with it now set to open by the end of 2023.

• Allocated £34m in funding to help businesses in the city centre upgrade to cleaner vehicles, so they can avoid fines when the Clean Air Zone is implemented.  Despite pushing back the implementation date for the Clean Air Zone, by giving people and businesses time to adapt we will still have cleaner air by 2023 – the same time as we would if it had been implemented this October. 

• Painted a trans-inclusive rainbow crossing on Wine Street to as part of our celebrations for Pride Month. As well as this, we passed a motion that will strengthen mental health provision for LGBT+ people within the Council, and to work with our partners to improve services across the city.

Built the largest water-source heat pump in the UK, bringing zero-carbon energy to 5,000 homes in central Bristol. This comes after we built the largest land wind turbine in the country in Avonmouth. We’re also pushing ahead with finding a partner for the City Leap Programme, which will see us invest £1bn in decarbonising Bristol’s energy systems. 

• Started work to transform the Bear Pit into a haven for bees and butterflies. We declared an ecological emergency last year and are working to turn make our built environment more ecology-friendly – We’re investing in green structures and bright native flowers in the bearpit to attract pollinators and make it a thoroughfare the city can be proud of. 

• Invested £4.7m to rejuvenate our high streets, including Bristol city centre, East Street, Church Road, Shirehampton, Filwood Broadway, Stapleton Road, Brislington Hill, Filton Avenue, Two Mile Hill and Stockwood. The funding will help develop a support programme for existing and new high street businesses, while funding improvements to the streets in a bid to boost footfall through them. Financial support will also be offered to new or expanding businesses, such as pop-up stores or galleries, to reduce the number of vacant premises on the streets.

This is just a small selection of the work we’ve been doing for you. As this next term is only three years rather than four, we wanted to hit the ground running, but we have much, much more in the pipeline that will be ready for announcement in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about the work we’ve been doing, have questions over specific policy, or just want a general chat, then please feel free to ask your constituency executive to invite myself or a Cabinet member to one of your party meetings. 

I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer – I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Best wishes, 

Marvin Rees”

The various green projects Labour has introduced shows the administration is taking ecological issues seriously and shows that the Labour party in the city would be behind the Green New Deal proposed by the left, which would not only help the planet, but also create jobs and new industries. I’m also particularly impressed by the investment in local high streets and their businesses, and the offer of residency to the Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army. With the Taliban now advancing in Afghanistan, these people’s lives would very much be at risk if they remained there, and they undoubtedly deserve to be given sanctuary here in the UK, no matter what Priti Patel may think.

Despite my strong criticisms of some of Rees’ policies, I think overall he has been good for the city, and hope his administration will continue to do its best for Bristol and its great people.

Best Wishes and Commiserations to the Enland Team for their Great Performance

July 12, 2021

I know I’m late publishing this, but I wanted to express my admiration for the great performance of the England players during the FA cup. They really took it all the way to the top, and football nearly came home. I didn’t watch it, due to simple superstition. I had the irrational feeling that if I watched it, they’d fail for sure. But I understand they lost on penalties. Still, very, very well done. We almost got there.

Unfortunately, the excellent sportsmanship of both teams has been marred by the violence in London between the rival England and Italy fans. Like everyone else with half a brain, I’m sickened by such hooliganism and wish it were kicked out the game along with racism. It’s revolting that the superb achievement of the England team in getting so far is being brought down by this idiocy.

Captain’s Log, Supplemental, as Captain James Tiberius Kirk used to say.

Since I put this up, Sargon of Gasbag’s bunch, the Lotus Eaters, have put up a nasty little video blaming ‘wokism’ for Britain’s defeat. Apparently it was a few of the Black players who missed the vital penalty shots, and the racists have come out of the woodwork to abuse them. Thus the Lotus Eaters have put up a piece entitled ‘Wokism Is Not Our Strength’ with the subtitle, ‘The England Team Lost’ and a thumbnail of a White player grabbing one of the Blacks from behind. Now I honesty can’t say that diversity is our strength. It’s made British society different, less homogenous, but this has also brought strains and tension as well as more positive benefits, like the skills, hard work and enterprise of many immigrants and people of immigrant descent. But there’s a nasty streak of racism in all this, which has been condemned by people right across the political spectrum, including Boris Johnson. I think the England did excellently to get so far, and defeat so many nations, and to lose the cup by penalties. I’ve seen similar performances from England teams with a far smaller proportion of Black players. This is sheer Daily Mail anti-immigrant ranting. Literally. Way back in the 1990s Paul Dacre or one of the wretched rag’s other columnists wrote a piece predicting that we would lose the world cup in 2020 because the England team were mostly Black. It was attacked for its bigotry at the time. As it stands, that prediction has come true, I admit. But I don’t believe we lost because we had Black players, who in any case did superbly well along with their White team mates. I speak as someone who, like Arthur Dent, was always bad at sport.

I’m not going to link to the wretched video. I haven’t watched it, but it simply appears to be nasty and racist. So let’s celebrate our team’s impressive achievement, and kick racism out of football.