Posts Tagged ‘Freddy Mercury’

Starmer Takes Labour to Far Right with Appointment of Yvette Cooper and David Blunkett to Shadow Cabinet

December 1, 2021

Well, Starmer has had his cabinet reshuffle, and as Mike and the good folks on Twitter are saying today, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled and immigrants should beware. Because he’s just made Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary. Cooper previously had the job from 2011 to 2015 when, according to Damian Willey, she was all but invisible except for the times she deigned to give us all the benefits of her views on immigration. In 2014 she denounced Tweezer’s immigration bill as too soft on it, the same bill which caused the illegal deportation of the Windrush migrants. She also wanted to stop immigrants and asylum seekers claiming child benefit for children living abroad, and her voting on immigration is comparable to Priti Patel’s. Daniel Grigg summed up just what her appointment means on this issue: “Nothing says couldn’t give a toss about migrants’ rights more than promoting David Blunkett and Yvette Cooper. So this is Labour now is it?”

The vile woman was responsible for the introduction of the Work Capability Test in 2008. These were subsequently kept in place by those Tory monsters, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVile. Kahlisee is right when he says, “In policy terms, it would appear Cooper has more in common with the Tories than she does with Labour values.” And other Tweeters described how Cooper’s fitness for work tests would dock points from the disabled for the following:

Amputees using their stumps to lift objects.

People being able to walk using an imaginary wheelchair.

People with speech problems who can nevertheless write down what they want to say, and deaf claimants who can read it.

On international issues, she voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq five times, 14 times voted against an inquiry into it, voted eight times for the use of British armed forces in overseas operations, and also voted to replace Trident with another nuclear missile. She and Ed Balls also flipped their homes three times. Ed Poole said of her appointment: “Yvette Cooper is an ableist nightmare. Among other things. If you need any more evidence that Labour is finished as a force for equality, democracy, socialism or just plain human decency her promotion is it.” And Julie Harrington said, “Labour is now a hard right party.”

And then there’s Starmer’s appointment of David Blunkett to his ‘skills council’. This has proven something of an embarrassment as the internet never forgets, and his critics were able to find a clip from years ago in which Blair’s former cabinet minister made a homophobic slur about legendary Queen singer, Freddie Mercury. Aaron Bastani posted a piece on Twitter which seems to be an extract from a longer film about Queen or Mercury. It begins with members of the band, including awesome axeman and astrophysicist Brian May, describing how hurtful some of the comments were when their friend and bandmate passed away of AIDS in 1991. This is followed by a clip of a much younger Blunkett on some kind of panel show saying that he didn’t want people idolising Mercury because of his ‘bizarre and perverted lifestyle’.

Now you could be generous, and argue that this is not homophobic but just fair comment about rock and pop stars. Gay, straight or whatever, pop music, especially Heavy Metal, is associated with debauchery and excess. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, as the old saying goes. I can remember the rumours going around college that the name of American rockers, WASP, was an acronym standing for ‘We Are Sexual Perverts’. Other suggestions are that it also stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or, as their lead singer answered a question about it on a chat show, ‘We Aren’t Sure, Pal’. Some of us can also remember that momentous occasion in the ’90s when Motorhead’s Lemmy got a letter of complaint and an apology published in one of the Brummie papers. They claimed that he’d hung a woman upside down from a cupboard for a day during about of rock and roll debauchery. No, corrected the late Mr. Kilminster. It was three days, and he tied her to a bed. The newspaper was happy to print apologise and print the correction. Which must be one of the few instances where someone has written to the press complaining that their article about them has made them appear less degenerate and degraded than they want to be known.

It may also have been a clumsy attempt to point out the dangers of getting AIDS through promiscuous sex. Part of the problem was that at the time there were parts of the gay community that were extremely promiscuous. I can remember one of the gay journos on the Observer writing an article about it back in 1984, with the detail that there was a self-group, Orgiasts Anonymous, in either LA or San Francisco. The group was set up to like Alcoholics Anonymous, but to help talk gay men out of going to the bathhouse every time they felt the overwhelming urge. Not that the dangers of catching the disease was limited to gays. It also affected promiscuous straight people having unprotected sex, as well those who caught it from their partners and haemophiliacs from contaminated blood products. It would have been possible to make a comment about the dangers of excessive sex without sounding anti-gay. But Blunkett didn’t. His comment about a ‘bizarre and perverted lifestyle’ sounds like the standard denunciations of homosexuality.

In fact Mercury’s sexuality really wasn’t all that remarkable, and not what he was celebrated for. The 1980s had seen the appearance of a number of openly gay and gender-nonconforming pop stars – Marc Almond and Jimmy Summerville with the Communards and Bronski Beat; Boy George of Culture Club, Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Marilyn and the Pet Shop Boys. I can’t remember if Elton John and George Michael had come out of the closet by the time of Mercury’s death. And Mercury didn’t, as far as know, have the reputation of being the most promiscuous of them. There were rumours, for example, that either Almond or Summerville, I forget which, had had to have their stomach pumped following various shenanigans with a rugby team. I honestly don’t remember any such rumour about Freddie. And I think there were probably far more angry headlines in the Heil and other right-wing papers about Marc Almond and Frankie’s relax video than I ever remember about Mercury. People didn’t idolise him because of his sexuality or lifestyle, although I did notice than there was a fashion among young gays at the time to dress like him. What people celebrated him for was what he was: a superb performer with an incredible vocal range that even now few others can match.

Mercury passed away thirty years ago, but is still a towering presence in British pop music with legions of fans, many of whom will not have been best pleased by Blunkett’s denigration of their hero. As I doubt will many gays and their allies. Tony Blair was the Prime Minister who set the ball rolling for gay marriage with the introduction of civil partnerships, and this makes Blunkett’s comment seem very homophobic after the intervening years. And if Bastani hadn’t forgotten Blunkett’s views on Mercury’s death, you can bet others won’t have either. Quite apart from the other vile policies Blunkett shares responsibility for as a member of Blair’s cabinet.

Starmer has appointed as part of his team people who have caused untold suffering to the poor, the disabled, asylum seekers, immigrants and been responsible for the destruction and looting of an entire country, Iraq, for the benefit of the oil industry and multinationals. These are good reasons for anyone concerned about the massive growth of poverty and inequality and real imperialism and exploitation to despise Starmer and what he is turning the Labour party into.

Get Starmer, Cooper, Blunkett and the rest of the Blairites out before they do further damage.

isttps://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/11/30/starmtrooper-cooper-new-shadow-home-sec-will-compete-with-pritipatel-in-race-to-the-right/https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/11/29/starmers-reshuffle-disaster/

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Nonviolent Protest Groups Placed on Anti-Terrorism List

January 18, 2020

Last week it was revealed by the Groaniad that the environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion, had been put on a list of extremist organisations, whose sympathisers should be treated by the Prevent programme. Extinction Rebellion are, in my view, a royal pain, whose disruptive antics are more likely to make them lose popular support but they certainly aren’t violent and do keep within the law. For example, in one of their protests in Bristol last autumn, they stopped the traffic for short periods and then let some cars through before stopping the traffic again. It was a nuisance, which is what the group intended, and no doubt infuriating to those inconvenienced by it. But they kept within the law. They therefore don’t deserve to be put on an anti-terrorism watch list with real violent extremist organisations like Islamist and White fascist terror groups such as the banned neo-Nazi group, National Action.

But Extinction Rebellion aren’t the only nonviolent protest group to be put on this wretched list. Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday revealing that the list also includes Greenpeace, the campaigners against sea pollution, Sea Shepherd, PETA, Stop the Badger Cull, Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, CND, various anti-Fascist and anti-racist groups, as well as an anti-police surveillance group, campaigners against airport expansion, and Communist and Socialist parties.

I can sort of understand why Greenpeace is on the list. They also organise protests and peaceful occupations, and I remember how, during the ‘Save the Whale’ campaign, their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, used to come between whalers and their prey. I also remember how, in the 1980s, the French secret service bombed it when it was in port in New Zealand, because the evil peaceful hippies had dared to protest against their nuclear tests in the Pacific. From this, and their inclusion on this wretched list, it seems they’re more likely to be victims of state violence than the perpetrators of violence themselves.

Greenpeace’s John Sauven said

Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?

And Prevent’s independent reviewer, Alex Carlile, said:

The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”.

Zelo Street commented that this was all very 1960s establishment paranoia. Which it is. You wonder if the list also includes anyone, who gave the list’s compilers a funny look once. And whether they’re going to follow the example of Constable Savage in the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch and arrest gentlemen of colour for wandering around during the hours of darkness wearing a loud shirt. This is a joke, but the list represents are real danger. It criminalises any kind of protest, even when its peaceful. About a decade ago, for example, Stop the War held a protest in Bristol city centre. They were out there with their banners and trestle tables, chanting and speaking. Their material, for what I could see where I was, simply pointed out that the invasion of Iraq had claimed 200,000 lives. They were on the pavement, as I recall, didn’t disrupt the traffic and didn’t start a fight with anyone.

As for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, this is a knee-jerk attempt to link pro-Palestinian activism with terrorism. But wanting the Palestinians to be given their own land or to enjoy equal rights with Israelis in a modern, ethnically and religious diverse and tolerant state, does not equate with sympathy for terrorism or terrorism itself. Tony Greenstein, Asa Winstanley and Jackie Walker are also pro-Palestinian activists. But as far as I know, they’re all peaceful, nonviolent people. Walker’s a granny in her early 60’s, for heaven’s sake. They’re all far more likely to be the victims of violence than ever initiate it. In fact, Tony was physically assaulted in an unprovoked attack by an irate Israeli, while one woman from one of the pro-Israel organisations was caught on camera saying how she thought she could ‘take’ Jackie.

I realise the Stop the Badger Cull people have also physically tried to stop the government killing badgers, but this is again disruption, not violence. And one of those against the cull is Brian May, astrophysicist and rock legend. Apart from producing some of the most awesome music with Freddy Mercury and the rest of Queen, and appearing on pop science programmes with Dara O’Brien showing people round the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, he has not, not ever, been involved in political violence.

This shows you how ludicrous the list is. But it’s also deeply sinister, as by recommending that supporters of these organisations as well as real terrorist groups should be dealt with by Prevent, it defines them as a kind of thoughtcrime. Their members are to be rounded up and reeducated. Which is itself the attitude and method of suppression of totalitarian states.

Zelo Street pointed the finger for this monstrous shambles at Priti Patel. As current Home Secretary, she’s ultimately responsible for it. The Street wanted to know whether she knew about it and when? And if she didn’t, what’s she doing holding the job? But there’s been no answer so far. And a police spokesperson said it was unhelpful and misleading to suggest the nonviolent groups on the list had been smeared.

The Street said it was time for Patel to get her house in order, but warned its readers not to bet on it. No, you shouldn’t. This is an attempt to criminalise non-violent protest against capitalism and the actions of the authorities and British state. It’s the same attitude that informed the British secret state’s attempts to disrupt and destroy similar and sometimes the same protest movements in the 70s and 80s, like CND. And it will get worse. A few years ago Counterpunch published a piece reporting that the American armed services and police were expecting violent outbreaks and domestic terrorism in the 2030s as the poverty caused by neoliberalism increased. They were therefore devising new methods of militarised policing to combat this. We can expect similar repressive measures over this side of the Atlantic as well.

This list is a real threat to freedom of conscience, peaceful protest and action. And the ultimate responsibility for it is the Tories. Who have always been on the side of big business against the rest of society, and particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

They’re criminalising those, who seek peaceful means to fight back.