Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

BBc Drama about Fascist Radicalisation of Deprived White Youth

July 4, 2019

Next week’s Radio Times also says that next Wednesday, 10th July 2019, there’s a drama, The Left Behind, on BBC 1 at 10.35 pm after the news about young White men drawn into Fascism. The play’s set in an unnamed Welsh town, and is about a working class lad, Gethin, who becomes increasingly radicalised as his life collapses through poverty. The blurb for it on page 78 of the magazine runs

Factual drama from the Bafta award-winning team behind Killed by My Debt and Murdered by My Boyfriend. Gethin is a working-class teenager in a south Wales town with no secure job, housing or future. As he seeks solace online, he is increasingly attracted to anti-immigrant sentiment as a way of explaining why he’s been “left behind” in his own country.

The additional piece about it by Alison Graham on page 77 runs

Gethin is a nice lad, part of a fractured family, but he is close to his sister and niece. He has a handful of good mates and not much of a job – he’s on a zero-hours contract in a fast food takeaway shop.

But the fates conspire to send Gethin (Sion Daniel Young, who is excellent) completely off the rails as the fragile thread that hold his life together unravel and snap, leading to tragedy.

The Left Behind looks at the rise of far-right extremism in the poorer parts of Britain through the prism of Gethin, a young man looking for easy targets who blames outsider for robbing him of everything worthwhile.

The mag also has a feature about the programme on pages 20-21 by Claire Webb, pointing out the working class roots of the play’s author, Alan Harris. Harris’ parents were forced to sell their house in Tonteg, near Cardiff, when he was a child, and he grew up in a caravan on his grandfather’s smallholding. After he graduated, he had a series of poorly-paid jobs, including selling Santa hats in the street and working in a car park. He was also homeless for a time, sleeping on friends sofas or in their spare rooms. He got his break into theatre after training as a journalist and submitting scripts to a theatre group encouraging new writers. The article quotes him as saying ‘We don’t see honest stories of White working class men.’ It also states that he spent a lot of time talking to people using food banks and a community centre in one of Cardiff’s most deprived suburbs. He says

“They told me people feel powerless,” he says. “It is a case of being left behind, but it’s also a case of being left out. There are a lot of people in the UK who have no hope of progressing, and once hope is gone, a wedge is driven between different sections of our society and extremism is very good at exploiting that wedge. Online radicalisation does that well: it turns personal problems into a crusade.”

The article contains the chilling statistic that in 2018 there was a 36% increase in the number of far-right extremists referred to the government’s Prevent programme. Harris spoke to a counterterrorism expert working on the programme as part of his research. It says he was frightened by how quickly people can become radicalised, and how the far-right organisations have smartened up their act.

“These are well organised, respectable-looking organisations,” he explains. “They don’t turn up in red braces with a skinhead. They turn up in a suit with a much more professional attitude. They realised that the old model wasn’t working from a recruiting point of view.”

The article also states that these organisations’ supporters are concentrated in Britain’s post-industrial towns and cities, which is why the drama’s producers set in south Wales.

To the possible objection that the programme is a sympathetic treatment of a violent extremist, Harris replies that we need to under where they’re coming from if we are to tackle domestic terrorism.

“Society tries to ignore these things but they’re happening, whether we like it or not. Understanding these people is a movement towards making society better.”

For one scene, in which a chipper councillor is confronted by residents angry at the lack of social housing, the producers used working class extras drawn from that area, and asked them to improvise. And their raw, pent up anger exploded. They ripped the councillor to shreds to the point where Harris felt sorry for the actor.

Asked if he was apprehensive that Cardiff’s working class communities would be offended by the drama, Harris replies

“Not at all. I think it’s a good thing to shine a light on the problems that some people experience. Hopefully those issues of housing, of employment, will ring true with a lot of people from Cardiff and the surrounding area. Hopefully it’s bits of their lives reflected back at them. I don’t have all the answers, but at least we can ask questions.”

While this isn’t a programme I can I’d like to watch, it does seem to be an honest attempt to grapple with the underlying issues behind the far-right’s attempts to reach out and recruit disenfranchised working class Whites. But the responsibility for the growth in racism goes far beyond the Fascist right itself, right to the heart of the neoliberal establishment. At one level, the Nazis are only building on the extreme nationalism and racism that’s been pushed for decades by the Tories and the Tory press – the Scum and the Heil are two notorious examples. But it also includes the supposedly more upmarket Spectator, which, as the Sage of Crewe has pointed out, employs the anti-Semitic Taki and is increasingly Alt Right.

And among the causes of the growth of Fascism in this country is Blair and the New Labour project. Blair abandoned socialism and the party’s traditional working class base to appeal instead to Tory swing voters. They fully embraced and participated in the destruction of the NHS and the welfare state, with Gordon Brown particularly enthusiastic about encouraging a flexible job market. In other words, job insecurity. And Tony Greenstein has repeatedly pointed out how hollow and non-existent are the Blairites’ attempts to deal with Fascism. Margaret Hodge, now the darling of the anti-Semitism smear merchants, was so negligent in her treatment of the growth of Fascism in her constituency, that the BNP actually sent her flowers when seven of their stormtroopers were elected on to Tower Hamlets local council. As for Tom Watson, he was a friend of Phil Woolas, a New Labour politico, who ran a very racist campaign against a Lib Dem opponent, claiming that he was soft on immigration and encouraged Muslim radicalisation. Woolas said that his campaign was about getting White men angry. And David Rosenberg on his blog warned that the anti-Semitism witchhunt was designed to purge the Labour movement of genuine Left-wingers and anti-racists, and that this was damaging real opposition to Fascism in working class communities. The witchhunt and Blairism meant that recent anti-racist counterprotests were, for the first time, outnumbered by the Fascists. And to add insult to injury, the Nazis chanted ‘Anti-Semites! Anti-Semites!’ at their genuinely anti-racist opponents. Rosenberg has shown repeatedly on his blog how proper campaigning in working class communities, by socialists determined to give working people better opportunities and conditions, will devastate Fascist organisations by depriving them of the real, social and economic issues they exploit to misdirect rightly angry Whites into hating Blacks, Asians and other ethnic minorities.

The play looks like a good, honest account to deal with the growth in working class racism by showing that it is partly caused by the real despair in these communities at their poor and declining conditions. And tackling those and combating Fascism means attacking and combating the Tories and New Labour, who have caused them and seek to exploit the anger they’ve caused in turn by scapegoating ethnic minorities.

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Congrats and Respect as Beeb apologises for Anti-Semitism Smear against Jackie Walker

July 2, 2019

Congratulations and respect to Jackie Walker and twitter user and campaigner Simon Maginn for finally getting the Beeb to admit it misquoted Jackie Walker, smearing her as an anti-Semite. Walker, as I’ve described many, many times, was the vice-chair of the pro-Corbyn group, Momentum, who was smeared by the Israel lobby and the Blairites and expelled from the Labour party as part of a purge of pro-Palestinian activists and genuine, traditional Labour members and activists. Walker’s Facebook page had been scrutinised by members of the Israel Advocacy Movement for material they could use against her. They found a passage from a private conversation she had had with two or three other colleagues, in which she made the entirely historically correct statement that her people – the Jews – were among the chief financiers of the  slave trade. This was then taken out of context by the low-life scumbags of the IAM, who claimed that she said that the Jews were the chief financiers of the slave trade. Walker’s a woman of colour and Jewish by descent and faith. Her partner’s Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. She and her parents, who met on an American civil right march, have always campaigned against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. But truth doesn’t matter to the Zionist witch-hunters, who actively smear critics of Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians as anti-Semites in order to silence them. The Zionists’ smear was then taken up by the Macclesfield Goebbels, Nick Robinson. The Beeb’s journo claimed that Walker had said that the Jews controlled the slave trade, and that this was an example of the anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Simon Maginn complained to the Beeb about this gross distortion of what she’d said when Robinson tweeted it back in February. And now, six months later, the Beeb has finally admitted that Walker had been misquoted. Mr Maginn tweeted about his victory yesterday, putting up a picture of the letter he’d received. An official from the Corporation’s Executive Complaints Division wrote

What she had said, however (in response to a friend who had raised the question of ‘the debt’ owed to the Jews because of the Holocaust), was “Oh yes – and I hope you feel the same towards the African holocaust? My ancestors were involved in both – on all sides as I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews… and many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice. And having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator.”
‘Even allowing for the element of compression often seen in tweets, I think the paraphrase of Ms Walker gave an insufficiently accurate impression of her actual words, so I am upholding that aspect of your complaint.’

Mike in his article about this points out that this is exactly what he said when he blogged about Jackie’s victimisation nearly three years ago. He described how the IAM misquoted her and sent their material to the Jewish Chronicle, so it could publish the smear. Mike wrote that this had led to her receiving abuse by people claiming to be anti-racism campaigners, albeit only of the kind relating to the Jews. And that these were the same kind of people, who claim the Holocaust exclusively for the Jews, omitting the murder of the Roma, the sick and disabled, and other groups, who suffered genocide under the Nazis.

This is absolutely correct. The intolerant defenders of Israel really do have a policy of claiming Nazi genocide exclusively for the Jews. Tony Greenstein has posted a piece about it, pointing out that the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem describes the other groups targeted by the Nazis for extermination only as ‘victims of persecution’. But although Mike was entirely correct, the witch-hunters and smear-merchants in the Labour party used it as part of their allegation that Mike himself is an anti-Semite. The party said that “qualifying racism in this way Mr Sivier has done is dismissive of antisemitism. There are very few, if any campaigners who ‘claim the Nazi holocaust exclusively for Jews’. Stating this discredits and diminishes antisemitism and the work done by campaigners.”

But Mike in his defence provided plentiful evidence showing that pro-Israel campaigners do precisely this, quoting the prize-winning author Elie Wiesel, Lucy Dawidowicz, a right-wing Zionist and historian of the Holocaust, and a piece by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian in July last year. He also cites a letter by Jewish activists and campaigners protesting against Jackie’s suspension, which cited Yehuda Bauer, the professor of Holocaust Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Mike also cites other assertions that claim the Holocaust exclusively for the Jews from people attacking him on social media. These include Beth Rosenberg, Christina Wallis and ‘Plastic Fantastic’.

Mike therefore raises the question of when the Labour party will apologise to Jackie and himself. But he’s realistic, recognising that the prejudice in favour of the witch-hunters is too strong in the Labour party at the moment. He concludes, however

But I do think there is a clear message here – that the Labour Party machine now needs to engage in full and open discussion with those of us it has wronged, about its reasons for attacking perfectly innocent people, for dragging our names and reputations through the dirt, and for protecting those who have lied about us – both inside and outside the organisation.

How about it, Jennie Formby? Let’s have an open debate – or are you afraid?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/07/02/bbc-admits-anti-semitism-claim-against-jackie-walker-was-false-wheres-labours-apology/

Unfortunately, I doubt very much that any such debate will ever be allowed to be held. The victims of the witch-hunt aren’t just facing the forces of the Zionist lobby and the Blairites within the Labour party, but the entire Conservative establishment and the Israel lobby outside. Both groups realise they cannot win by allowing a fair debate, because the facts are against them. The only way they can defend Israel and try and prevent the revival of socialism and a return of the Labour party to its traditional pro-working class policies, is through smears, lies and vilification. If they do decide to hold a fair debate, and the witch-hunters lose and the party is forced to readmit the victims and apologise, the party will be viciously attacked by the Tories and the Tory press. They will falsely claim that the party is once again siding with the anti-Semites and try to stir up fresh outrage.

But this is no reason why the party should not be challenged to hold an open debate, and for the Tories, the Israel lobby and their allies in the press should not be fought and their lies attacked and refuted again and again. Until it’s very clear to the public who the liars are. And the real racists are the Blairites and Zionists, who claim that only the Jews suffered genocide under the Nazis, and vilify decent, self-respecting Jews, who attack this falsification of history, with the same rhetoric the Nazis used.

 

Milkshake Thrown at Sargon as He Campaigns in Cornwall

May 12, 2019

There were several items of interest in yesterday’s I, for the 11th May 2019. One, on page 11, ‘Milkshake thrown at Ukip Candidate’, reported that the infamous extreme right-wing internet personality, Carl Benjamin, aka ‘Sargon of Akkad’, had had a milkshake thrown at him when out canvassing in Cornwall.

The article read

A scuffle broke out in Cornwall after two protesters attempted to throw a milkshake on the controversial Ukip election candidate Carl Benjamin.

The candidate for the European Parliament’s South West England constituency was canvassing in Truro when a man in a white scarf and a hooded woman tried to throw the beverages.

Reportedly, the drinks missed, and footage taken by BBC Cornwall shows when Mr Benjamin’s supporters pulled the man to the ground.

Sargon is the idiot responsible for sending the tweet ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ to Labour MP Jess Phillips, and for making a series of videos attacking feminism, trying to justify the use of slurs against ethnic minorities, gays and the mentally handicapped, and for stating in internet conversations that he thought it was to sexually abuse children, as sexual maturity depended on the child. Oh yes, and the ancient Greeks abused boys. He describes himself as a ‘classical liberal’, which means that he’s an extreme conservative, who wants the end of the welfare state and the privatisation of whatever remains of nationalised industry, including the NHS. And when he was asked by a journalist for Sky News what his policies were, he said it was to combat ‘political correctness’ and Islam. The Gloucestershire branch of UKIP closed itself down rather than endorse him because of his vile views on rape and sexual abuse, and the Swindon branch of UKIP have called for his deselection. When he went to Gibraltar to campaign, governor Fabian Picardo refused to meet him, and then went on twitter to denounce his views as hate speech, which had no place in Gibraltar.

The attempt to throw a milkshake over him seems to be an attempt to copy similar attacks with other milkshakes on Tommy Robinson, the notorious islamophobe now campaigning to be an MEP in the north west. He and his followers went on social media to complain of the attacks, one of which didn’t actually happen, as attempts by the regressive left to silence him. Some would say that, given Robinson’s behaviour in trying to intimidate his critics through turning up on the doorstep mob-handed, and lying about them trying to attack him with guns, having a milkshake thrown at him was the least he deserved. Fifteen years ago, when Robert Kilroy-Silk went campaigning against immigrants, he had a load of ordure thrown over him.

Sargon’s a vile candidate for a vile party. But his political career may well be very shortlived. At the last poll of polls, UKIP was scoring 0.0 per cent. Much of this decline is due to him and the other far right personalities, who have also joined Batten’s band of squadristi. If he goes on, he’ll destroy UKIP completely. But left-wingers hope he won’t stop there. Kevin Logan has called for him to join the Conservatives in Britain, while the Canadian bloggers The Serfs wish he would go to Canada to join the Tories over there. If only he would!

Yay! David R. Bunch’s ‘Moderan’ Now Back in Print

May 7, 2019

Bit of good news for fans of classic SF. Looking through the Cheltenham branch of Waterstone’s last week, I found that David R. Bunch’s Moderan was now in print. This was published in 1971, and is really a series of vignettes originally published in small magazines, as well as the big SF mags Amazing and Fantastic. These are set in a future in which organic humanity has decided that its reached the end of its natural evolution, and to evolve further it must transform itself into machines. This process is described as it affects the hero, Stronghold 10. The style is superficially sympathetic to heighten what the reality of what this new, cyborg humanity has become: immortal, but paranoid with each stronghold at war with their neighbours.

Brian Aldiss gives as sample paragraph of Bunch’s prose style, which explains the background to the novel, in his and David Wingrove’s history of SF, The Trillion Year Spree:

Now, to turn tedious for a time, this is what happened. Flesh-man had developed to that place on his random Earth-ball home where it was to be the quick slide down to oblivion. All the signs were up, the flags were out for change for man and GO was DOWN. To ENDING. Flesh-man was at the top, far as he could climb as flesh-man, and from there he was certain to tumble. But he had the luck to have these brave good white-maned men in the white smocks, the lab giants, the shoulders, and great-bulged thighs of our progress (what matter if they were weazened, probe-eyed, choleric scheming, little men sometimes – more often than not, REALLY?) authors of so much of man’s development and climb to that place where he was just due to die, expire, destroy himself and his home at this grand stage of development to make new-metal man and set him in the Strongholds upon the plasto-coated Earth that had been man’s random and inefficient home. New-metal replaced flesh (down to the few flesh-strips and those, we hope, may soon be gone) the bones were taken out and new metal rods, hinges and sheets put in (it was easy!) and the organs all became engines and marvellous tanks for scientifically controlled functional efficiency forever. YAY! Don’t you see?! Our Scientists made of life-man (the VERY-STRANGE-accident man) essentially a dead-elements man, one who could now cope with eternity, but he certainly was not a dead man. AH! Heavens no! He was alive! with all the wonderful scienc3e of the Earth ages, and just as functional as anyone could wish. YAY! science, take your plaudits now! You’ve shown what was meant from the beginning for the VERY-STRANGE-accident man. (p.324).

Aldiss states that it’s a technophobic piece in the SF tradition of questioning technological progress that began with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Moderan was out of print for a long time, so I’m looking forward to reading it some time. Bunch also wrote poetry in an avant-garde style very much like his prose, though in verse. A collection of his pieces, of which only one or two were SF, The Heartacher and the Warehouseman, was published in the 1990s. The title poem is set in the Moderan world, and is about one of these cyborgs coming to a warehouse carrying his pump in his heart. He complains that he – and all the other cyborgs – have no heart. The cyborg warehouseman, suspicious, retreats behind his armoury of weapons, informing him of all the cyborg bits and pieces they have, like hearts and mechanical fingers. But he fails to understand the man’s real complaint – that their civilisation has no heart in the metaphorical sense. The warehouseman drives the Heartacher away, but wonders what will happen to him as he retreats back into his cubby-hole.

It’s one of those pieces that was acutely relevant in the 1990s, when there was much talk among the chattering classes of transhumanism and cyborgisation. It was the decade when Radio 3 broadcast the series Grave New Worlds examining these possibilities through interviews with writers, artists and scientists, including Paul J. McAuley, J.G. Ballard and the Australian performance artist, Stelarc, who really has tried to turn himself into a cyborg in performances in which he wired himself up to the net, so that images found online would work his body automatically through galvanic stimulators some Borg organic puppet, and by giving himself a third, cybernetic arm. It’s still relevant as prosthetic limbs continue to improve. While these are an immense benefit to those, who have lost their real limbs through accident or disease, it does raise the question of how far this process can go and humans become the cyborgs of SF. This was the central question David Whittaker was pondering when he created Dr. Who’s cybermen. Bunch’s novel also seems to have influenced one of the writers of Dr. Who Magazine way back in the ’70s. One of the comic strips, Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman, was about a cyberman, who had some how retained his emotions and compassion. The story was set on the planet ‘Moderan’. And in the 1980s the British space scientist, Duncan Lunan, expressed concerns that people, who were heavily reliant on medical machines suffered a loss of creativity when he explored the possibility of similar mergers between humans and machines in his class Man and the Planets.

I’m glad that this lost classic is back in print. But still more than a little annoyed that it, and other SF works like it, are overlooked by the literary crowd in favour of those by ‘literary’ authors like Ian McEwan. Sorry to ride this old hobby-horse again, but a few weeks ago there was an interview with McEwan in the I. The newspaper mentioned to him that Science Fiction fans were upset about him denying that his book was part of the genre. McEwan repeated his sentiment, saying it wasn’t SF, but was based on him considering real world issues. Well, so is much Science Fiction, all the way back to Frankenstein. Aldiss has praised it as the first real work of Science Fiction as it was based on science as it was known at the time. This was Galvani’s experiments making the severed legs of frogs twitch and move through electricity. McEwan’s attitude shows the basic contempt of many literary authors and critics for the genre. They’re keen to borrow its tropes, but sneer at it as essentially trivial fantasy, unlike the serious stuff they’re writing. Much SF is, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. But there is a very large amount which isn’t, and which deserves to be taken as seriously as so-called ‘serious’ literary works like McEwan’s.

 

UKIP Destroy Credibility by Selecting Count Dankula as Euro Election Candidate

April 13, 2019

Here’s one more episode in the continuing saga of despair and decline that is the UK Independence Party. Yesterday, Mike reported that the party has chosen Mark Meechan, the internet personality who goes by the monicker ‘Count Dankula’, to be their candidate in the forthcoming Euro elections. Dankula is the idiot, who ended up before the Scottish beak and fined £800 for teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do the Nazi salute when he shouted ‘Heil Hitler!’ or ‘Gas the Jews!’ He joins other extreme right-wing internet personalities, who have also joined the Party, like Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin and the infamous Tommy Robinson. Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon, is the notorious anti-Muslim activist, who has previously been in the BNP, founded the EDL and was briefly part of Pegida UK. And Dankula is also great mates with him. It’s a sordid list of far-right activists that shame the party. Their entry has pulled in thousands of new, younger members, as Kipperfuehrer Gerard Batten hoped, but at the expense of driving out many older, more moderate members disgusted with his turn to the racist right. I’ve put up a video of one Kipper angrily denouncing Batten for this and stating very clearly that he was leaving the party because of it.

Dankula’s obviously a very controversial figure. He was going to be one of the talking heads on a BBC Scotland topic issues show, ‘The Collective’ but was dropped after complaints from the public about the Corporation employing someone, who was guilty of an anti-Semitic hate crime. UKIP’s electoral chances will probably go the same way now they’ve selected him as one of their candidates. While anti-immigration is a very strong and contentious issue, no decent Brit wants to vote for someone, who even remotely looks like a Nazi. Hence Mike is very glad that the Kippers have done so, and looks forward to Dankula and UKIP sinking without trace.

He also points out that Rachel Riley, the Countdown presenter who is trying to sue him and very many others because they revealed how she bullied over the internet a vulnerable 16 year old schoolgirl she accused of anti-Semitism, has also embarrassed herself over Dankula and his stupid prank. Dankula put up a tweet by Meechan complaining about how he was forced to wear a smart ankle tag so the rozzers could monitor his movements. She commented ‘insane’. Her tweet, as Mike says, provoked strong responses, but Riley has not issued any clarification about what she meant. Mike concluded that by showing her support for people like Dankula, she had made it clear that as far as her case against him and the others goes, she hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/04/12/nazi-salute-dog-man-count-dankula-standing-for-ukip-in-euro-election-so-theyre-both-sunk-then/

UKIP are also considering another far right internet activist, Carl Benjamin, to be a candidate in the Euro elections. Although Sargon denies being a racist, he is a far right ‘classical Liberal’ who wants to privatise everything and destroy the welfare state, and shares the Fascist right’s hatred of feminism, gay rights and ‘social justice warriors’ in general. This also includes Black civil rights activism and anti-racism. Sargon’s prospective appointment as another UKIP election hopeful has already given great mirth to male feminist and internet anti-racist activist, Kevin Logan. Logan has pointed out that the press will have a field day with Sargon’s extremist opinions, and that any conversations Benjamin will have with prospective voters out campaigning are going to be hindered by his unique debating style. When Sargon runs out of ideas, he starts screaming at people to shut up, as he did during a debate on atheism and social justice at the American atheist conference, Mythcon. He’s also known for resorting to ad hominem abuse, which isn’t going to help him either. As Logan said, ‘you can’t call people ****heads on their doorstep.’

No matter how many people Dankula, Sargon and the others  have brought into UKIP, it looks like they’re going to drive many more away with their racism and bigotry. Their appointment could well be the final death knell for the party. It’s a grim story, but it could be highly amusing to see how the press handles Dankula and Sargon. Assuming they don’t follow the previous press line of praising them to the rafters, of course.

Zelo Street on Neil Hamilton’s Nazi Antics

April 5, 2019

This morning, Zelo Street has put up a very interesting article about Neil Hamilton and his sordid history of extreme right-wing acts. The Street reports that Labour’s Ruth Jones has retained her seat at the Newport West by-election yesterday. This was despite the fact that she’s a Remainer, and it’s a constituency where a sizable part are ‘Leave’ supporters. The Labour majority was reduced, but that’s partly to be expected as the turn-out was much lower.

Unfortunately, the UKIP candidate, one Mostyn Neil Hamilton, also retained his deposit, even though he didn’t get in. Hamilton used to be a Tory politico until he ended up before the beak for taking bribes from one Mohammed al-Fayed, a grocer of Knightsbridge, in the ‘cash for questions’ scandal under John Major. Fayed, who was the-then owner of Harrod’s, had given money to Hamilton to ask questions in parliament, which is very much against the laws. Hamilton had taken the money and run, whereupon the man Private Eye dubbed ‘the Phoney Pharoah’ sued him for breach of contract. The result was a court case and mass hilarity. As someone said, it was the kind of case you wished both sides would lose.

The Street goes on to discuss the Kippers’ lurch to the far right, and its involvement with street protests. Why has Hamilton remained in the party when it has become notorious for intimidation and thuggery? The answer is that Hamilton himself has a history of intimidation and Fascist thuggery. He was one of those discussed in the Beeb Panorama documentary, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’, which alleged that the Tories had been infiltrated by the Far Right. Hamilton was in it because he had made the Nazi salute in Germany, contrary to the country’s anti-Nazi legislation; worn blackface makeup to impersonate Idi Amin; gave a speech to a group of Italian neo-Fascists; was a member of the far-right Eldon group and an associate of the notorious George Kennedy Young, who had issued anti-Semitic slurs against Leon Brittan and Nigel Lawson. The documentary was never shown, because, despite all the evidence that the Tories were infested with Fascists, the Beeb surrendered when it could and should have humiliated Hamilton over Fascist links and behaviour. He also tried it with the Guardian, but the Groan stood up to him.

Zelo Street says that it was clear that several of the witnesses had suffered intimidation to change their stories, whether this was just a private word or a phone call. And it wasn’t personal intimidation, but legal threats from his wealthy supporters, like James Goldsmith and the Spectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos,  who’s notorious for his anti-Semitism. This makes Hamilton perfectly at home in UKIP, which now boasts Tommy Robinson and associated thugs. Robinson was the former founder of the EDL, and has also been in Pegida UK and the BNP. His tactic of dealing with critics is to turn up mob-handed on their door step to intimidate them, as he has done with Mike Stuchbery. He also did this a few weeks ago to the parents of an unnamed young man, who had committed the heinous crime of posting footage showing Robinson contradicting himself or otherwise looking stupid or obnoxious on the web. The Street says

Plenty of intimidation, a little thuggery here and there, plenty of far-right links to keep him happy – Hamilton will be like the proverbial pig in shit.

And concludes

That’s why someone who served as a Conservative MP for 14 years fits right in with today’s UKIP. It’s also an indictment on that broad Tory church letting in the boot boys for so many years with no questions asked. 

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/still-liar-and-cheat.html

 

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media Exposes BBC Anti-Labour Bias

March 16, 2019

The Beeb has been hit with several scandals recently about its right-wing bias, and particularly about the very slanted debates and the selection of the guests and panel in Question Time. Members of the audience have been revealed as UKIP and Tory plants, the panels frequently consist of four members of the right against only one left-winger, chair Fiona Bruce intervenes to support Conservative speakers and repeat right-wing falsehoods. When she and other members of staff aren’t making jokes for the audience against Diane Abbott, of course.

In this eleven minute video from Novara Media, presenter Aaron Bastani exposes the anti-Labour, anti-socialist bias across BBC news programming. He begins with Brexit, and a radio interview by Sarah Montague of the Beeb’s World at One and Labour’s John Trickett. Trickett talks about how they’ve been to Europe, and suggests changing the red lines and forming a consensus. He is interrupted by Montague, who tells him that May’s deal has been struck, and gives Labour the customs union they want. She asks him why Labour would not support it. Bastani points out that the government is not in favour of a customs union. If they were, the Irish backstop would not be an issue. Does Montague not know this, or is she laying a trap for the opposition when now, more than ever, it is the government that needs to be held to account.

The Beeb’s Emily Barnett asked a simply question of Labour’s Emily Thornberry the same day. Barnett states that the EU have said that it’s May’s deal, and asks her if she has any evidence that they’re open to another deal. Thornberry replies with the letter Labour had written to the EU, with its entirely viable suggestions. Barnett repeats that they aren’t supported by the EU. Thornberry responds by saying that Michel Barnier said that it was an entirely reasonable way they could have negotiations. Bastani points out that Barnett’s assertions aren’t true. Guy Verhofstadt, Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk have all welcomed Labour’s suggestions. Tusk even told May that Corbyn’s plan could break the deadlock.

Bastani states that it isn’t just on radio that there’s bias, where basic facts are not mentioned or denied and where there is a great emphasis to hold Labour to account than the government. He then goes on to discuss the edition of Newsnight on Tuesday, the day before those two radio broadcasts, where presenter Emily Maitlis talked to the Tories’ Nadim Zahawi and Labour’s Barry Gardiner. This was the evening when May’s withdrawal agreement was voted down for the second time, but it looked like there was a tag-team effort between Maitlis and Zahawi against Gardiner. He then plays the clip of Maitlis challenging Gardiner about what will be on Labour’s manifesto. Gardner replies that it will all be discussed by the party, which will decide what will be put in the manifesto. Maitlis rolls her eyes and then she and Zahawi join in joking about how this is ‘chaos’. Bastani says that the eye roll was unprofessional, and states that the Guardian talked about it because it was anti-Labour.  He goes on to describe how Maitlis has form in this. In 2017 she tweeted a question about whether the Labour party still had time to ditch Corbyn. She’s not impartial and, when push comes to shove, doesn’t have much time for democracy. He plays a clip of her asking a guest at one point does democracy become less important than the future prosperity of the country.

Bastani goes on to discuss how the Beeb had a live feed outside parliament during the Brexit vote. This was, at one point, fronted by Andrew Neil, who had as his guests Ann McElroy from the Economist, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Matthew Parris. He submits that this biased panel, followed by Maitlis’ eye roll and the shenanigans the next day by Barnett shows that the Beeb’s current affairs output simply isn’t good enough.

He then moves on to Question Time with its terrible audience and panel selection. He says that there is an issue about right-wing activists not only getting access to the audience, but to the audience question, but on last week’s edition with Owen Jones the rightists asked five questions. Bastani states that the purpose of Question Time is to show what the public thinks beyond the Westminster bubble. But if the audience is infiltrated to such an extent, then what’s the point. He also argues that it isn’t just the audience that’s the problem. You frequently see the panel set up four to one against the left. There may be some centrist figures like the economist Jurgen Meyer, who voted Tory, but in terms of people supporting a broken status quo against socialists, it is anything but a fair fight. And almost always there’ll be a right-wing populist voice on the panel, whether it be Isobel Oakeshott, Nick Ferrari, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and their function is simple. It’s to drag the terms of the debate to the right. You almost never see someone from the left performing the same role.

He goes on to discuss how some people believe that since in 2017 election, the Beeb has recognised some of its failing and tried to correct them. Forty per cent of the electorate is barely represented in our television and our newspapers. Bastani states that he finds the changes so far just cosmetic. You may see the odd Novara editor here and there – and here he means the very able Ash Sarkar – but the scripts, the producers, the news agendas, what is viewed as important, have not changed. This is because they still view Corbynism a blip. They still think, despite Brexit, Trump, the rise of the SNP and transformations in the Labour party and the decay of neoliberalism, that things will go back to normal. This is not going to happen as the economic basis of Blairism – the growth that came out of financialisation and a favourable global economic system and inflated asset prices – was a one-off. This was the basis for centrist policies generally, which is why the shambolic re-run with the Independent Group is bound to fail. And there is also something deeper going on in the Beeb’s failure to portray the Left, its activists and policies accurately. Before 2017 the Beeb found the left a joke. They would have them on to laugh at. In June 2017, for a short period, it looked like it had changed. But now we’ve seen the Beeb and the right close ranks, there is class consciousness amongst the establishment, who recognise the danger that the Left represents. They don’t want them on.

The radical left, says Bastani, has made all of the right calls over the last 15-20 years. You can see that in innumerable videos on social media with Bernie Sanders in the 1980s, Jeremy Corbyn in the Iraq demonstrations in 2003, or even Tony Benn. They got everything right since 2000. They were right on foreign policy, right on the idiocy of Iraq, right about Blairism, as shown by the collapse of 2008. They were right about austerity and about the public at large being profoundly p***ed off. mainstream print and broadcast journalists missed all of this. They want to be proved right on at least one of these things, which means they have a powerful incentive to prevent Corbyn coming to power and creating an economy that’s for the many, not the few. Corbyn represents a threat to Maitlis and her colleagues, because it’s just embarrassing for them to be wrong all the time.

This is a very good analysis of the Beeb’s bias from a Marxist perspective. In Marxism, the economic structure of society determines the superstructure – its politics and culture. So when Blair’s policies of financialisation are in operation and appear to work, Centrism is in vogue. But when that collapses, the mood shifts to the left and centrist policies are doomed to fail. There are many problems with Marxism, and it has had to be considerably revised since Marx’s day, but the analysis offered by Bastani is essentially correct.

The Beeb’s massive right-wing bias is increasingly being recognised and called out. Barry and Savile Kushner describe the pro-austerity bias of the Beeb and media establishment in their book, Who Needs the Cuts? Academics at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have shown how Conservatives and financiers are twice as like to be asked to comment on the economy on the Beeb as Labour MPs and trade unionists. Zelo Street, amongst many other blogs, like Vox Political, Evolve Politics, the Canary and so on, have described the massive right-wing bias on the Beeb’s news shows, the Daily Politics, Question Time and Newsnight. And Gordon Dimmack posted a video last week of John Cleese showing Maitlis how, out of 33 European countries polled, Britain ranked 33rd in its trust of the press and media, with only 23 per cent of Brits saying they trusted them. Now that 23 per cent no doubt includes the nutters, who believe that the Beeb really is left-wing and there is a secret plan by the Jews to import Blacks and Asians to destroy the White race and prevent Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson getting elected. But even so, this shows a massive crisis in the journalistic establishment. A crisis which Maitlis, Bruce, Barnett, Montague, Kuensberg, Robinson, Pienaar, Humphries and the rest of them aren’t helping by repeating the same tired tactics of favouring the Tories over the left.

They discrediting the Beeb. And it’s becoming very clear to everyone.

Tommy Robinson Turns Up to Threaten Mike Stuchbery, Free Speech Supporters Fall Silent

March 7, 2019

More Fascism, this time from the veteran islamophobe Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon, and his thugs. Robinson is the founder and former leader of the EDL and Pegida UK. He makes his living touring Europe and America whipping up hatred against Muslims, claiming that they are a threat to the British way of life, system of government and the welfare of its people. Four days ago, on Sunday 4th March 2019, Zelo Street reported that the bigot and racist had been served legal papers by Brother Neuro, the comedian and anti-racist campaigner Dick Coughlan. This was because Robinson had made a series of defamatory statements about a Syrian refugee, Jamal, who had been the victim of racist bullying at his school. As had Jamal’s sister. Robinson, however, decided that the person, who was really in the wrong was the Syrian lad, despite the bully actually having recorded himself attacking and pouring water over the Syrian lad. So m’learned friends were called, and Robinson found himself being served with legal papers instructing Lennon that he has 14 days either to settle the claim with Jamal or prepare defend himself. In which case, Jamal’s legal team will initiate proceedings against Lennon. Lennon’s receipt of the papers was livestreamed by the Heil, Resisting Hate, the Guardian and Channel 4.

http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2019-03-04T12:11:00Z&max-results=20

Lennon’s response to his critics is thuggish. He doxes them, revealing their identity and home address, and then turns up mob-handed with his goon squad to intimidate them, often in the middle the night. He did it to the good blogger behind Zelo Street a little while ago, when he dared to criticise an article about him in, I think, the Speccie. This time he decided he’d go after historian and anti-racist blogger Mike Stuchbery under the mistaken impression that Stuchbery was somehow involved in delivering the papers. Stuchbery has criticised Lennon before. A week or so ago he was in a livestream with Kevin Logan, another anti-racist activist, discussing how Lennon had doxed  another of his critics, and then driven up north to doorstep the poor fellow’s parents in the middle of the night. He had decided that Stuchbery was one of those involved in serving the legal papers against him, and so turned up in the middle of Monday night and then in the early hours of Tuesday morning, banging on his windows demanding to talk and accusing him of being a child abuser. For which Stuchbery is considering suing him. It shouldn’t be too hard, as one of Lennon’s moronic companions actually filmed the incident and the abuse.

Zelo Street has also written a piece about this disgraceful incident, attacking the various right-wing hacks and politicos, who have defended Robinson. Robinson, they claim, isn’t a vicious bigot spreading hate, but only standing up for free speech. So what do these proud defenders of freeze peach – Fraser Nelson and James Delingpole of the Spectator, Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars, Brendan O’Neil and Mick Hume of SpikedOnline have to say about Robinson’s attempt to suppress someone else’s right to free speech? Not a thing! They are all strangely silent. Zelo Street quotes the Groaniad’s Peter Walker, who advises anyone, who really believe that Robinson stands for free speech, to take a look at Stuchbery’s twitter thread. Robinson’s actions are those of someone trying to shut down someone else’s free speech through intimidation.

Zelo Street concludes

That’s how much all those campaigners care about free speech. They don’t care at all.

http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/03/doorstepping-tommy-robinson-fans-silent.html

Ken Loach Talks about Writer and Poet Kevin Higgins, Suspended for Satirising War Criminal Blair

March 3, 2019

Here’s another excellent piece from Labour Against the Witchhunt, where the respected left-wing film-maker, Ken Loach, talks about the case of Kevin Higgins. Higgins is a writer and poet, an overseas member of the party, living in Ireland. He was suspended in June 2016 for daring to write a poem satirising Tony Blair and the bloody carnage he had caused in Iraq. Loach only reads a part of a poem, as it’s rather too long to repeat in full. Before he does he jokes that as this is what got Higgins suspended, then everyone present is also going to be suspended simply for being there. So anyone who doesn’t want to be suspended should leave.

The poem is a reworking of a piece by Brecht, about a soldier, who gets shot, and his needy widow receives only something insignificant. In the part Loach reads, which I’m paraphrasing, not quoting, Blair’s ‘no longer new’ wife wonders about what she will receive from all the depleted uranium shells he had dropped during the battle of Basra, all the soldiers he had sent to meet Improvised Explosive Devices in far Mesopotamia? She got for all that white night terrors of him on trial for his crimes and the desire never again to look out the window of their fine Connaught Square House at the tree, which people said was once used to hang traitors.

Loach says of  Higgins that he guesses Higgins isn’t the only one who’s disgusted with Blair, with his illegality, the hundreds of thousands he caused to die and the millions he’s made since he left office. ‘If anyone brings the party into disrepute, it’s that mass murderer.’

He goes on then to reveal what happened to Higgins himself. He didn’t hear anything, so in May 2017 he wrote to the Governance and Legal Unit requesting all the documents relating to him to be sent to him within forty according to his right in the laws about data protection. Nine months later, no reply. The video was uploaded on YouTube on 7th February 2018. He was still suspended, as far as Loach knew.

The cineaste concludes

It is incompetent. It is inefficient. It is unprincipled. And those people should not be in charge of that disclipinary procedure.

Loach is absolutely correct. And Higgins’ suspension, simply for satirising Blair, isn’t the mark of a democratic socialist party. It’s the action of a rigidly centralised dictatorship, where the leader was, like Mussolini, always right. It’s like nothing so much as Stalin’s ‘cult of personality’ in the USSR, with the exception that Higgins only got suspended. In Stalin’s USSR, he’d have been tortured and shot, or at the very least sent to a gulag.

And Loach is definitely correct when he says that he probably isn’t the only one disgusted with Blair. Millions of us are. Over a million people marched against the Iraq invasion, including the priests at my local church. It was one of the biggest popular demonstrations in British history, but Blair and his vile cronies ignored it. And people certainly left the party and refused to vote for the grotty profiteer because of his greed, his illegality, his warmongering, his privatisation, his insistence on absolute obedience and micromanagement of party affairs. Private Eye called him the ‘Dear Leader’, satirising the smaltzy, sentimental image he tried to project, as well as his demand to be loved. The Tory party at the time stood in opposition to the War, which got a left-wing friend of mine to buy the Spectator for a time. I think that this was mostly opportunism on the Tories’ party, as there is nothing they love better than a good war. But to be fair to them, Peter Hitchens, the brother of the late atheist polemicist Christopher, genuinely despised him for Iraq and continues to loathe him, describing him as ‘the Blair creature’.

And this monster seems intent on coming back into politics. He has praised the Independent Group, which led Mike, Martin Odoni and others to ask why he should still be allowed to remain in the Labour party. It is against the rules to be a member or support a rival organisation. This was the rule the Blairites used to throw out Moshe Machover, the Israeli academic and anti-Zionist. His crime was that he had a piece published in the Morning Star, as have very many leaders and MPs over the years. Professor Machover was grudgingly readmitted to the party after a massive outcry. But Blair gives them his support, and no-one important seems to raise any objections whatsoever. The left-wing vlogger, Gordon Dimmack, says he has heard speculation that if the wretched group survives, then before long Blair will return to active politics. It’s an idea that he says gave him nightmares.

Unfortunately, I think it’s a distinct possibility. Despite the fact that his time as this country’s leader has been and gone, he was on Andrew Marr’s wretched propaganda show today. I’m glad I missed it, as it would only have infuriated me. But it does seem to bear out these rumours.

One million men, women and children killed. Seven million displaced all across the Middle East. A secular state with free healthcare and education destroyed and looted. A state where women were free to have their own careers and run businesses. Where there were no ‘peace barriers’ between Shi’a and Sunni quarters in cities to stop them murdering each other. A country whose oil reserves have been looted by the American and Saudi oil companies, and whose state industries were plundered by American multinationals.

And this creature appears on TV again, to grin his sickly smile and utter neoliberal platitudes and smooth words. But hey, you can’t criticise him, because he stands for inclusion and diversity. While parents starve themselves to feed their children, students are faced with unaffordable tuition fees and the disabled are thrown off benefits thanks to the wretched assessments and work capable tests he, Mandelson and the others in his coterie introduced.

Higgins’ poem reminds me about one of the great protest poems written back in the ’60s about another unjust war, Vietnam. This was To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam) by Adrian Mitchell, where every stanza ended ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam’. The note about it in Colin Firth’s and Anthony Arnove’s The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport states that he added stanzas later to include more leaders and more wars.

So perhaps if Blair comes back to politics we should write another: ‘Tell Me Lies About Iraq’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regenerating the High Street through National Workshops

January 7, 2019

Last week Tweezer announced her plan to revitalize Britain’s failing high streets. Many of our shops are closing as customers and retailers move onto the internet. City centres are being hit hard as shop fronts are left vacant, inviting further vandalism, and further economic decline as shoppers are put off by empty stores and smashed shop windows. In America, it’s been forecast that half of the country’s malls are due to close in the next few years. Tweezer announced that she was going to try reverse this trend in Britain by allocating government money to local authorities, for which they would have to bid.

I’m suspicious of this scheme, partly because of the way it’s being managed. In my experience, the Conservatives’ policy of forcing local authorities to bid for needed funding is simply another way of stopping some places from getting the money they need under the guise of business practice or democracy or however they want to present it. It’s the same way Thatcher would always delay the date when she’d give local authorities they funding they needed for the next year. It’s a way of disguising the fact that they’re making cuts, or simply not giving the money that’s really needed.

As for how local authorities could regenerate their town centres, I wonder if it could be done through a form of the national workshops suggested by the 19th century French socialist, Louis Blanc. During the Revolution of 1848, Blanc proposed a scheme to provide jobs for France’s unemployed by setting up a series of state-owned workshops. These would be run as co-operatives. The workers would share the profits, a certain proportion of which would be set aside to purchase other businesses. This would eventually lead to the socialization of French industry.

Needless to say, the scheme failed through official hostility. The scheme was adopted, by the state undermined it through giving the unemployed on it pointless and demeaning jobs to do. Like digging ditches for no particular reason. It thus petered out as unemployed workers did their best to avoid the scheme. There’s a kind of parallel there to the way the Conservatives and New Labour tried to stop people going on Jobseeker’s Allowance by making it as degrading and unpleasant as possible, and by the workfare industry. This last provides absolutely no benefit whatsoever to workers on it, but gives cheap labour to the firms participating in the scheme, like the big supermarkets.

The national workshops, on the other hand, were at least intended to provide work and empower France’s working people.

In his Fabian Essay, ‘The Transition to Social Democracy’, George Bernard Shaw suggested that Britain could painlessly become a truly socialized economy and society through the gradual extension of municipalization. Town councils would gradually take over more and more parts of the local economy and industry. He pointed to the way the local authorities were already providing lighting, hospitals and other services.

I therefore wonder if it would be better to try to create new businesses in Britain’s town centres by renting the empty shops to groups of workers to run them as cooperatives. They’d share the profits, part of which would be put aside to buy up more businesses, which would also be turned into co-ops.
Already local businesses in many cities have benefited by some radical socialist ideas. In this case, it’s the local currencies, which are based on the number of hours of labour required to produce an article or provide a service, an idea that goes all the way back to anarchist thinkers like Proudhon and Lysander Spooner in the 19th century. These schemes serve to put money back into the local community and businesses.

I realise that this is actually extremely utopian. Local governments are perfectly willing to provide some funding to local co-ops, if they provide an important service. I’ve heard that in Bristol there’s a co-op in Stokes Croft that has been funded by the council because it employs former convicts and drug addicts. However, you can imagine the Tories’ sheer rage, and that of private business and the right-wing press, if a local council tried to put a system of locally owned co-operatives into practice. It would be attacked as ‘loony left’ madness and a threat to proper, privately owned business and jobs.

But it could be what is needed, if only partly, to regenerate our streets: by creating businesses that create jobs and genuinely empower their workers and provide services uniquely tailored to their communities.