Posts Tagged ‘Hansard’

Conservative MP to Attend Misogynist Men’s Rights Conference

April 28, 2019

Yesterday, Saturday 27th April 2019, the I carried a piece on page 11 reporting that the Tory MP Philip Davies was planning to attend a men’s rights conference in the US, alongside other far right notables like Mark ‘Nazi pug’ Meechan and Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin. But he denied it was a misogynist event. The article, entitled ‘MP to attend ‘misogynist’ gathering, by Andrew Woodcock, ran

A Conservative MP has defended his decision to speak at a men’s rights conference in the US on the same platform as controversial figures.

Philip Davies said he intends to raise issues such as male suicides, boys’ performance in school, and the treatment of fathers in family break-ups at the Chicago conference in August. Other speakers listed for the International Conference on Men’s Issues include the Ukip MEP candidates Carl Benjamin and Mark Meechan, as well as Paul Elam, leader of the US group A Voice for Men.

Mr Benjamin has refused to apologise for tweeting “I wouldn’t even rape you” to Labour MP Jess Phillips. Mr Elam’s group, which once announced an “Annual Bash a Violent Bitch Month”, has been branded migosynist and male supremacist.

Confirming his plans to speak at the conference, Mr Davies said it was “nonsense” to suggest that his presence amounted to an endorsement of other participants’ opinions.

“I’m responsible for what I say. I’m not there to defend what anyone else says,” he said. “I’ve never heard of many of these people and I’m not responsible for their views.”

Philip Davies has been accused of misogyny himself. Apart from being a bog-standard, anti-welfare, tax the poor for the benefit of the rich Conservative, I seem to remember that a little while ago he caused controversy himself for his antics in parliament. If memory serves me correctly, he talked out a piece of legislation intended to protect women either from rape or FGM. Or both. As for the Men’s Rights Conference, one of them was held over here a couple of years ago, and was extensively critiqued by Kevin Logan. Logan’s a male feminist with a degree in 20th century history and politics, and puts up a series of videos attacking the denizens of the men’s rights movement, ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’. He states that the people – some of them are women, surprisingly – are attempting to reverse evolution and drag us all back into the sea. And it’s hard to dispute the fact.

These conferences aren’t really about men’s rights. Despite the accusations of activists like Paul Elam that men’s issues aren’t discussed by mainstream politicians, male suicide, boys’ performance in schools and so on have been debated in parliament. Logan even put up on one of his videos excerpts from the parliamentary journal, Hansard, to show that they were. He has also refuted Sargon’s claim that he sent his infamous tweet to Jess Philips because she was laughing at male suicide. She wasn’t. She was laughing at the claim that it wasn’t debated in the House, and replied to him informing him that she is consulting m’learned friends. Moreover, some of these issues could actually be solved by introducing left wing policies, that would benefit working people across the board. One of the issues is the low pay earned by certain types of male worker. But this could, as Logan states, be solved by strengthening trade unions and employees’ rights. But the people attending these conferences and those, who comprise the ‘manosphere’ generally, are on the right, very often the far right. And the mens’ rights movement itself will ignore these issues when it suits them. These conferences really are all about attacking feminism and trying to preserve the traditional male domination of society. Which can very clearly be seen by the hashtags used by Sargon when he sent his infamous tweet to Philips: #feminismiscancer.

Logan has also pointed out that some of the mens’ issues that Davies intends to present have even been discussed by feminists, citing a number of academic articles in feminist and gender-studies journals. I think part of the problem here is that most people have no contact with academic feminism, and depend for what they know about it from the press and public figures, some of whom are unsympathetic. I can remember reading a newspaper article a decade or so ago, where one of the female politicos – I think it may have been Baroness Blackstone or someone like her, but I’m not sure – was asked about boys’ declining performance in school. I can’t remember what her precise words were, but she more or less said that it was all the boys’ own fault. She simply wasn’t interested. Now it was probably unfair to expect the good lady to be concerned about this, as she had been talking about her campaign to improve girls’ performance in school and career prospects. But it and other comments like it leaves the deep impression that avowedly feminist politicians are deeply hostile to men.

Quite apart from changes in gender roles, and the demands for greater equality and opportunities for women in society, jobs and politics, the economic structure of society has changed so that traditionally male jobs in heavy industry and manufacturing have declined. The result has been an increased sense of threat and insecurity among some men, who have burned to the ultra-traditional, misogynist far right. The core support for the Republican party in America is angry White men, who feel under attack from women and ethnic minorities. This is the electoral base that turned to Trump and other politicos like him.

Issues like male suicide, the decline in boys’ performance in schools and greater access to children for fathers in marital break-up do need to be addressed. And there are some extremely violent women out there, as well. But the men’s rights movement and its members and activists behind this and similar gatherings aren’t interested in these issues so much as keeping women firmly in their places as subordinates to men. They are deeply misogynist, and deserve to be attacked and criticised. Just like Davies and the other politicos, who attend them.

Here are a few videos by Kevin Logan attacking the men’s rights conferences and some of the individuals mentioned above.

Carl Benjamin, alias Sargon of Akkad.

Paul Elam

The 2018 International Conference on Men’s Issues

Be warned that some of the views of these men’s rights activists are extremely unpleasant. Some of them do justify rape, or at least try to excuse it, and they also hold very racist views.

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Tim Peake and British Space Rockets

December 17, 2015

The big news in science this week as far as this country goes, was Tim Peake’s blast-off yesterday to join the crew of the International Space Station. He’s the first Brit to travel into space for nearly twenty years. Helen Sharman in the 1990s was the first Briton to go into space in a privately-funded mission in Russia. Unfortunately, the private funding didn’t appear, and she only flew thanks to the generosity of the Russian government. Towards the end of the decade, Tim Foale also flew aboard the Space Shuttle. He was not, however, technically British, as in order to participate in American shuttle programme, he’d had to take American nationality.

The launch was covered by the Beeb in their Stargazing Live programme, and there was a countdown to the launch, featuring various Beeb celebs and personalities. Down here in Bristol, even the local news programme, Points West, got in on the act. Their anchor David Garmston interviewed an Asian lady, an astrophysicist working as the education director for the @Bristol Science Centre. She had joined the competition to become the first British astronaut for over a decade, and had reached the final six before sadly being rejected. She graciously said that the better person had won, and wished Peake all the best.

In fact, long before Helen Sharman, Foale and Peake voyaged into the Final Frontier, from the 1950s to the 1970s Britain was manufacturing and experimenting with space vehicles as easily the third space power apart from America and the USSR. The rockets launched by Britain, many of them from the Woomera launch city in Australia, were the Skylark, Skua and Jaguar sounding rockets, the Blue Streak missile, Black Arrow and Black Knight. There was also a projected larger launcher, Black Prince.

Skylark

Skylark Rocket

These rockets were developed at the suggestion of the Gassiot Committee of the Royal Society, which in the 1950s became interested in using rockets to study Earth’s upper atmosphere. The committee invited members of the Ministry of Supply to their 1953 conference on the subject, and the result was that they were contacted by the British government to see if there would be any interest in developing such a vehicle. And from this came the Skylark programme.

These rockets were 25 feet long and 17.4 inches in diameter. They were built by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and the Rocket Propulsion Establishment, Westcott, which made the Raven solid rocket motor which powered it. The first Skylark rocket was launched from Woomera in 1957. By 1965 over 100 such rockets had been launched. The rocket was modified, and the Raven motor replaced by the more efficient Cuckoo, so that it could lift a payload of 330 pounds 136 miles into space.

The rocket has been used to study wind, the temperature of the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, radiation and micro-meteorites.

Skua

Skua Rocket

This is another sounding rocket used to study the atmosphere. It was 8 feet long, 80 pounds in weight, but could carry a payload of 11 pound 46 miles into the atmosphere. Like today’s hobby rockets, it was re-usable, coming back to Earth via parachute, so that it could be given another load of charge and used again. A second variant of the rocket, Skua 2, could take the same payload up to 62 miles. The rocket was built by Bristol Aerojet, and was launched from a 32 foot long tube mounted on a Bedford truck.

Jaguar

This was developed to research the problems of aerodynamics and heating in hypersonic flight. It was a three stage rocket developed by the Aerodynamics Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, and the Aerodynamics Division of the Weapons Research Establishment in Australia. The rocket motors for the vehicle were produced by the Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott.

The first stage was powered by a Rook motor, which takes the rocket to 80,000 ft. The second stage Gosling motor is fired, which increases the rocket’s speed from 3,000 ft/s to 5,500 ft/s. After this is used up, the final stage Lobster motor accelerates the rocket to 10,000 ft/s. It was capable of taking 20 pounds to an altitude of 500-600 miles.

Black Knight

Black Knight Rockets

This was developed as the test vehicle for Blue Streak, an independent nuclear missile launcher. Blue Streak was abandoned in 1960, partly because they wouldn’t be anywhere in Britain suitable to launch it from in the event of a nuclear attack. Black Knight, however, continued to be developed as rocket for scientific research. It was used for a further five years to study problems in re-entry, the upper atmosphere and carry experiments later incorporated into UK and US joint scientific satellites.

The rocket came in single and two-stage versions. The single stage version was powered by a Gamma 201 liquid rocket motor burning a mixture of High Test Peroxide and Kerosene. It was 32 ft 10 in. in length, and three feet in diameter. The rocket could reach a maximum height of 147 missiles. The rocket motor was produced by Armstrong Siddeley, and based on an existing Gamma motor developed by the RPD at Westcott.

The two-stage version of the rocket were flown from August 1964 to 25th November 1965. It was 38 ft 8 in. in length. The first stage rocket motor was powered by a Gamma 301 engine, and then by a Gamma 304, developed by Bristol Siddeley. The second stage was powered by a version of the Skylark’s Cuckoo motor, and was three feet long and 1.4 feet in diameter. It was fire back into the atmosphere so that the effect of the re-entry speeds could be studied.

A larger version of Black Knight using Gamma 303/4 motors in a vehicle 54 in. in diameter was under development in Bristol in 1963. There was also a plan to build a three stage rocket, Black Prince. This was to use Blue Streak as its first stage, a 54 inch Black Knight as the second stage and then a small, solid rocket third stage. The rocket would be 97 ft 10 in. tall, and be able to send 1,750 pound satellite into polar orbit 300 miles above the Earth.

Between September 1958 and November 1965 22 Black Knight rockets were launched from Woomera. Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight were responsible for the rocket’s overall design, construction and testing. Armstrong Siddeley of Ansty, near Coventry, were responsible for the rocket engine, and De Havilland of Hatfield were to supply the test team at Woomera. The rockets were subjected to systems checks at Highdown on the Isle of Wight, before being flown or shipped out to Woomera.

BK 10, the spare for the rocket BK 11, was returned to Britain, and donated to the Science Museum, while High Down is now the property the National Trust.

Blue Streak

Blue Streak Rocket

Although it was cancelled as an independent nuclear weapon, there was an attempt to salvage it by using it as the proposed first stage for the proposed European rocket launcher, Europa 1. It was built by Hawker-Siddeley Dynamics and Rolls Royce. It had a Rolls Royce RZ-2 engine, burning a mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen to produce 300,000 pounds of thrust. Unfortunately, this also came to nothing as the European rocket launcher project was cancelled due to the failures of our European partners to produce effective, functioning second and third stages.

Black Arrow

Black Arrow Rocket

After the cancellation of the Black Knight programme, Britain continued developing its own independent satellite launcher. This was Black Arrow, a three stage rocket standing 42 feet 9 inches tall. The main contractor for the spacecraft was Westland Aircraft, which was famous in the West Country for manufacturing helicopters. The first stage was powered by a Rolls-Royce Gamma Type 8 engine, burning hydrogen peroxide and kerosene. The second used a Rolls-Royce Gamma Type 2 engine, while the third was powered by a solid propellant rocket, Waxwing, made by Bristol Aerojet. Sadly, the project was cancelled after it successfully launched the 220 pound Prospero satellite into a 300 mile polar orbit in November 1971.

And Now the Politics Bit

These projects were cancelled and the accumulated knowledge effectively thrown away, because the mandarins at the British Civil Service saw no value in them. They were considered too expensive, and it was believed that using American rocket launchers would be a cheaper and more cost-effective option. In fact Britain has lost out because, at least in the 1990s, it looked as if there was going to be an international market in space vehicles. Even the Indians were developing them. The launch of British satellites by the Americans meant that Britain depended on their goodwill and available space aboard their rockets.

The French, who I believe were responsible for the second stage of Europa I, the European rocket launcher, forged ahead to produce the cheap and successful Ariane, launched from their site in Kourou, French Guiana. The French rocket is actually cheaper, and more economical, than the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle, however, had the advantage in that it was heavily subsidised by the American government.

It’s therefore ironic that David Cameron should try to show the world how keenly he is supporting a British astronaut, when this is precisely what British governments have failed to do since the 1970s. Maggie Thatcher was all for Helen Sharman’s voyage into space, as that was supposed to be managed by private enterprise. Until private enterprise wasn’t able to do the job. Cameron’s government has carried on this daft and destructive policy of closing down Britain’s manufacturing base, and preferring to buy in from outside rather than develop our own industries. Way back in the 1960s Harold Wilson made a speech about Britain benefiting from the ‘white heat of technology’. Those in power never listened to him, and despite Cameron mugging on Twitter, they still aren’t. You can see that from the way they’ve sold off our industries, including the defence contractors that were able to create such magnificent machines as Black Arrow. And our country is much the poorer.

Further Reading

The Encyclopaedia of Space (Hamlyn: 1968)

John Becklake, ‘British Rocket Experiments in the Late 1950s/Early 1960s in John Becklake, ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics (San Diego: American Astronautical Society 1995) 153-64.

John Becklake, ‘The British Black Knight Rocket’, op. cit. 165-81.

T.M. Wilding-White, Janes Pocket Book : Space Exploration.

In this clip below, Alice Roberts from the Beeb’s Coast TV series, interviews members of the Black Arrow team on the Isle of Wight. One of them tells her how he was told to tell the rest of the team the project was cancelled and they were sacked immediately after the launch. Hansard, the parliamentary newspaper, records that the mandarin, who made the decision did so because he could see absolutely no future in the development of satellite launchers.

Here’s a British newsreel report on the Blue Streak programme from 1964. It shows the rocket being tested at Spadeadam in Scotland, and its launch in Woomera. It talks about the European Rocket Launcher programme, and some of the dignitaries attending the launch, such as the French general in charge of the European project. It also shows what a thriving community Woomera was back then, and follows Mrs Lawrence, a housewife with a part-time job as a camera operator tracking the rocket on its launch, as she goes on her 300 mile commute each day from home to the launch site.

It recalls the era as one of optimism, of a time when Australia itself, its rugged landscape and sheer vastness, were a source of fascination and wonder to Brits, long before the arrival of soap and pop stars like Kylie Minogue.