Posts Tagged ‘London’

Bristol Announces Education Report about the Contribution of Different Communities to City

January 19, 2022

Yesterday a couple of bods from Bristol city council appeared on the news to announce the imminent public of two reports, both dealing with race and community issues. At lunchtime it was reported that there was a report coming out about how the city should educate people about city’s history as a major centre of the slave trade. Then on the 6.30 local news, deputy mayor and head of equalities Asher Craig appeared to tell viewers about another report coming out about another education initiative, this time about the contribution different communities had made to the city. She thought it might perhaps form the basis for a new museum. The report was hailed as bringing communities together.

Bristol’s a port city and so people of different races and nationalities have been living in the city since the Middle Ages. It had a Jewish community, complete with a miqveh or ritual bath, on Jacob’s Wells Road before Edward I’s expulsion of them from England. it also had strong links with Ireland, and it’s possible that there was a community of Bristol merchants in Dublin before Henry IIs invasion of 1169. It also had strong links to Wales, and so there’s always been people from Ireland and Wales here in the city. There were a few Icelandic merchants resident in Bristol in the 15th century. As the city also traded in wine from France and Spain, I’m fairly certain there were also French people and Spaniards here. There were also Black people in Bristol from the 16th century onwards following the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. However, the bulk of the modern Black population probably really only dates from the Windrush migration. Other immigrants to Bristol include Poles, Russians – there’s a Russian Orthodox church on University Road by the museum in Clifton, Chinese and peeps from India and Pakistan. A few years ago a book was published about Bristol’s diverse immigrant population.

But I don’t think this is primarily about all of the city’s various ethnic communities. I think it’s really an attempt to promote Bristol’s Black community. Last year, when I contacted Craig criticising her for some of her comments about the city’s involvement in the slave trade, her reply talked about the ‘One Bristol’ educational project. This would promote Blacks, and be ‘diverse and inclusive’, which didn’t always happen with White men. I don’t know if that last comment is a deliberate sneer or putdown.

It’s fair to say that the majority Black areas of the Bristol have the same problems and reputation of inner cities elsewhere – drugs, crime, prostitution and violence. When I was growing up people from outside the area drove along Stapleton Road in St. Paul’s with their windows up and the door firmly locked. Nearly two decades ago in 2004 there were a series of murders in the area and it was reported on the news that there was a gun-related incident everyday. I can remember going along the road on the bus to a lecture at UWE and seeing armed policemen on the street. I’ve heard from friends that there are local people in the community collecting and blogging about the area and Bristol’s black history as way of combating the alienation and marginalisation many Black Bristolians feel. From Craig’s reply to me, it looks like the ‘One Bristol’ education project is intended to do something similar by giving a more positive image of the community.

As for educating Bristolians about the city’s role in the slave trade, I’ve grown up knowing about it although there is still the strong belief among some Blacks, repeated by Craig in her interview on Radio 4 last year, that the city authorities have covered it up. In the 1990s the City Museum and Art Gallery staged an exhibition about the city and the slave trade, ‘A Respectable Trade’, named after the costume drama then showing on the Beeb, adapted from a book by Philippa Gregory. The M Shed museum on the city docks also has a gallery about Bristol and the slave trade. There are articles about the city’s involvement in the slave trade on the museum’s website, a slave walk in Clifton and a plaque on one of the warehouses down by the M Shed commemorating the victims who were enslaved and sold by Bristol merchants. The official name for the very bizarre looking ‘horned bridge’ across the dock’s is Pero’s Bridge, after one of the few named slaves who was brought to Bristol itself.

I have to say I’m a bit sensitive about some of the demands for the proper commemoration of the slave trade in the city. It sometimes seems to me that’s it’s being used by angry members of the Black community to attack White Bristol because of the poverty and marginalisation that still plagues their community. Back in the 1990s, for example, when the city celebrated the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, various Black spokesmen declared that it was a celebration of slavery. This followed American Blacks’ condemnation of the celebration of Columbus’ discovery of America a few years earlier. Indigenous Americans also attacked it as a celebration of their genocide. It wasn’t, of course, meant to be a celebration of slavery, but they had a point. Following Columbus discovery of the New World, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean were enslaved and worked, tortured and massacred until they died out. The Spanish then turned to Black African slaves to replace them. I don’t believe that the discovery of Newfoundland had any direct connection with slavery. That seems to have started in 1619 when Spanish merchants brought a consignment of them to Jamestown, and it seems that initially the English settlers didn’t know what to do with them. However, slavery and all the horrendous methods of repression soon followed. A Black artist produced a picture showing his feelings about the celebration of Cabot’s discovery. It shows the Matthew sailing up the Avon Gorge. watched by cameras from the Evening Post and the local news, while shadowy figures rampage across the suspension bridge. The painting’s now on display in the slavery gallery in the M Shed. To me it demonstrates a bitter mentality that automatically assumes any celebration like it must somehow be about the persecution or exploitation of Blacks, and it seems to me that a similar deep bitterness is driving the demands for proper education about the city’s slavery history. On the other hand, there have been a large influx of newcomers to the city from London and elsewhere, and it’s possible that, not being Bristolians, they really know little about the city and the slave trade. The education initiative could therefore be a response to them requiring to know more.

Points West stated that the report about educating Bristolians about the contributions of Bristol’s multiracial communities will make five recommendations, while the one about slavery will make fifteen. It’ll be interesting to see what they are.

Lobster Reviews Book on Six British Fascists

January 14, 2022

It’s a new year, and a new issue of the online magazine on parapolitics and genuine conspiracies, Lobster. In issue 83 they have a fascinating review by John Newsinger, professor emeritus of history at Bath University, of Graham Macklin’s Failed Fuhrers: A History of Britain’s Extreme Right, published by Routledge at £24.99. The book’s actually a collection of biographies of six infamous British Fascists, Arnold Leese, Oswald Mosley, A.K. Chesterton, Colin Jordan, John Tyndall and Nick Griffin. Newsinger states that it is a book to read and keep for reference for the information it provides. He will never forget that Colin Jordan, of NF infamy, was arrested in the ’70s for stealing women’s underwear from Tesco’s. The Scum mocked him as a panty-thief, which must be one of the few times when the vile rag actually did something anti-racist. Jordan himself, as with all the grotty sawdust Caesars examined in the book, was a massive anti-Semite. He claimed he was innocent and it was all part of a Jewish conspiracy. Right. So he thought that the same people he believes have absolute secret control of media, politics and the economy, would feel the need to frame him for such a squalid petty crime. It shows both how paranoid the real Nazis are, and how ridiculous and absurd their stupid ideas about a secret Jewish global conspiracy get. Newsinger’s review summarises the careers of these real anti-Semites and Nazis.

Arnold Leese

was, the book claims, a pivotal figure in the development of British race nationalism. He was a poisonous anti-Semite who believed the Jews were the enemies of the White race secretly conspiring about Britain. They were to be first segregated and then exterminated. He founded the Imperial Fascist League. He was briefly interned during the War. After which he founded the racist magazine, Gothic Ripples, with its vile column, ‘Nigger Notes’. After a period of disillusionment with Hitler, he returned to praising him as one of the greatest statement produced by Europe. He blamed the war on the Jews. You hardly need to add that he was also a holocaust denier. His statement about it in Gothic Ripples sums up the whole mentality behind Holocaust denial: the people who do deny do so out of embarrassment, but would have absolutely no objection to it at all. Leese claimed that it didn’t happen, but if it had, his only objection would have been that too few Jews were murdered. Provided it was all done humanely. There is no way you can commit mass murder humanely. Leese also Lord Haw-Haw as a hero, and was jailed in 1947 for trying to help two Dutch SS officer escape to Argentina. Leese, unfortunately, wasn’t just influential in Britain, but also Europe and America.

Oswald Mosley

was the notorious leader of the BUF and the subject of an earlier biography by Macklin, which charted his career after the War. Mosley was an anti-Semite, although he constantly denied it despite all the plentiful evidence to the contrary. It’s therefore ironic, then, that Leese hated him because he thought that, as a member of aristocracy, Mosley’s own racial purity had also been compromised through intermixture with the Jews. ‘Cause Britain’s wannabe great dictator had a Jewish uncle on his mother’s side. In 1963 three members of his Union Movement, the post-war successor to the BUF, were jailed for bombing the offices of the Daily Worker. He managed to rehabilitate himself after the War, appearing on TV shows despite having condemned the Nuremberg trials and blaming the Jews for the Second World. War. I didn’t know about the bombing, and it explains why the authorities appear to be more afraid of White right-wing terrorism than Islamist.

A.K. Chesterton

was a relative of novelist and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton. He was a member of Mosley’s BUF and editor of its magazine, The Blackshirt. He later broke away from the BUF, but continued as an extreme right-wing activist. Another grotty anti-Semite, he told the Nordic League that Jews should be hanged from lamp posts. He briefly served as a British officer in Kenya and Somaliland. But he’s also interesting for the way he and his followers also crossed over into the Tory party. He wrote for the Conservative magazine, Truth, which published his anti-Semitic screeds. He was even planning to run an article on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He also contributed articles to the magazine of the Royal United Services Institute, as well as the Daily and Sunday Express and the Evening Standard. He also ghost wrote Beaverbrook’s biography, before launching his own rag, Candour and founding the League of Empire Loyalists. He hated the Common Market and regarded those who supported it as traitors. Many grassroots Tories were also member of the LEL. When a Conservative MP accused League members of following a Fascist, it was pointed out to him that the chair of the meeting, the MP Jocelyn Lucas, was a former member of the BUF. The League firmly supported White rule in Africa. He also wrote the anti-Semitic book, The New Unhappy Lords, which claimed that the Jews were conspiring to enslave the west and incorporate it into a one-world superstate. Now we know the origin of that particular conspiracy theory and all those rantings about ‘globalists’. The National Front was former from a merger of the League with the Race Preservation Society, and served as the new organisation’s president until his death.

Colin Jordan

was another Nazi and member or founder of the National Socialist Movement. However, like Mosley he turned to anti-Black racism after the way, loudly supporting the ‘Keep Britain White’ movement. He also exploited the Notting Hill riots to promote racial hatred. He staged a series of tasteless racist stunt to stop the Labour candidate, Gordon Walker, getting elected. These involved his followers appearing in blackface and monkey costumes. After a Jewish cabby refused to accept his wife, Francoise Dior, the poor fellow was forced to flee to Israel after his home was firebombed. The NSM’s magazine hailed it as ‘the Second Expulsion of the Jews’. Two groups of NSM members firebombed ten synagogues and more in London. Jordan denied knowing about it beforehand, but had no qualms about posing with the accused outside the courthouse. He also hoped to get funding from the United Arab Republic and had schemes for a racist, offshore pirate radio station. I doubt it would have been a success. Not against Radio Caroline. He was also obsessed with Rudolf Hess, and wanted him awarded the Nobel Peace. It’s grotesque, but when you consider that they later awarded it to Henry Kissinger it starts to seem all too reasonable. However, the rest of the Far Right thought he was an embarrassment because he was too open about the Nazism they all held.

John Tyndall

was secretary of Jordan’s grotty NSM, praising the SS and the Holocaust in the pages of its magazine and calling for the creation of an SS state. He broke with Jordan to join the NF, taking over as leader. He was another anti-Semite who turned from attacking the Jews to racism against Blacks and immigrants. He also had connections to the American Far Right, helping them to resist the extradition James Earl Ray, suspected of the assassination Martin Luther King, from London. He was also a friend of William Pierce, author of the Turner Diaries, helping to sell his wretched Vanguard newspaper in London. The NF’s membership was boosted by Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Ugandan Asians, even though Amin was another anti-Semite and fan of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Well, Black and White, unite and fight – against racists and anti-Semites whatever their colour. After the NF’s electoral failure in 1979, Tyndall went back to Nazism before founding the fifth incarnation of the BNP. As leader of the NF, he was in some kind of power struggle with Martin Webster, who called it a gay organisation. I think that’s because Tyndall was gay, and had gay toleration written into its constitution.

Nick Griffin

claimed to have read Mein Kampf when he was just thirteen, and joined the NF when he was 15. The NF viewed some of the Middle Eastern countries as allies in the struggle against the Jews. He welcomed Iran’s reprinting of the Protocols and ardently supported Gaddafi’s Libya. After 9/11 he exploited Islamophobia,, but when debating Abu Hamza he found that his and the terrorist supporter’s views converged, with Abu Hamza telling the audience to support the BNP. And what a surprise, hem-hem, I do not think, as Nigel Molesworth would sa, he was yet another Holocaust denier. He then started playing down the anti-Semitism so that the BNP even had a Jewish councillor elected in Epping. Well, one of left-wing Jewish bloggers I follow – I can’t remember if it was David Rosenberg or Tony Greenstein, noted that the Jewish Conservative MP for somewhere around Islington or Tower Hamlets used to hobnob with the local Nazis at elections, complaining that the division between the BNP/NF and the Conservatives also meant the nationalist vote was divided. And the very respected Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman got into a bit of hot water with the Board of Deputies of British Jews when his history of the British Jewish community stated that two per cent of British Jews voted for the NF because of anti-Black racism. The BNP’s peak came with the election of over 50 councillors and two MEP, of whom Griffin was one. He also liked Vladimir Putin, hailing him as an enemy of European liberalism and saviour of Christianity. He also supported Assad’s regime in Syria, even appearing on Russia Today to do so.

British Fascism’s Influence on Front National

Newsinger also notes that the book also claims that the NF also influenced the French Front National, now National Reveille. He wonders how this could be so, considering that British Fascism’s history is one of failure. My guess would be that Marine Le Pen looked at what they were doing, and then did the opposite. Her tactics are more like that of the founder of Italy’s post-Fascist party, Fini and his Alleanza Nazionale. Fini wound up the explicitly neo-Fascist MSI, and positioned the new party as centre-right. Le Pen has done something similar with the former Front National. Not that there isn’t a precedent in French Fascist history. The Croix de Feu were a ’30s French Fascist organisation, combing far right politics with their enthusiasm for cars. They also originally had a Fascist uniform, but their greatest electoral victories came when the dumped it and started trying to sound more like ordinary Conservatives.

This book’s important, because apart from the light it sheds on the history of British Fascism, it also shows where the vast majority of anti-Semitism really comes. And no, the real anti-Semites aren’t Corbyn and his supporters, let alone with sincere anti-racist peeps, especially Jewish, whom the British establishment has libelled and smeared. The real, poisonous anti-Semitism nearly always comes from the Far Right. And they are a real terrorist menace. I didn’t know British Nazis had bombed the Daily Worker and ten synagogues in the 60s, though I knew about the street fights between them and anti-Fascists. In the ’80s the NF were successfully prosecuted for holding paramilitary ‘self-defence’ training out on a farm somewhere. Part of the evidence they were planning to commit a terrorist outrage was that a can of weedkiller in a garden shed had the word ‘weed’ crossed out and replaced with Jew. Then there was the lone Nazi in the 90s who nail-bombed three pubs, including a gay bar. And this is quite apart from the assassination of Jo Cox and genuine Nazi outfits like the banned National Action. Simon Webb over at History Debunked has questioned the jailing of White Nazis as terrorists, when they have done nothing but look at Nazi material on YouTube, unlike the Islamists, who have committed real terrorist atrocities. I think the answer is that the authorities fear that they will start committing genuine acts of terrorism like those in the ’60s, as well as exploiting racism and the immigration crisis.

The six men profiled by the book are failures, but they continue to exert a malign influence and there is always a danger that their ideas will inspire real terrorism while persecuting and murdering innocents ’cause they’re the wrong religion or race.

For further information, see: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster83/lob83-failed-fuhrers.pdf

Vandal Attacks BBC Statue Because of Colston Verdict

January 12, 2022

This evening, a man climbed up to a ledge on the front of Broadcasting House, the Beeb’s HQ, and started to attack the statue of Ariel by Eric Gill. Someone took film of him smashing the statue’s feet with a hammer, and it’s been widely posted and reposted by right-wingers over YouTube. The man was David Chick, and there’s a phone call from him on the channel of someone rejoicing in the monicker ‘Tyrant Finder UK’. Chick and the Tyrant Finder are both men, who can’t utter a sentence without using the F-bomb nor other foul language, but in the phone call Chick makes it clear that he’s attacking the statue because Gill was a paedophile. Indeed he was. During his life he professed to be the model of Roman Catholic piety as a tertiary Franciscan. After his death it was discovered that not only did he rape his two daughters but also the family dog. But Chick also seems to have done it out of anger for the acquittal of the Colston Four. And he’s being applauded by people, who similarly believe, or seem to believe, that the BBC is promoting child abuse with the statue and who are also angry at the Bristol verdict. The attitude seems to be that if the woke can tear down statues, then so can they.

Mad right-wing Youtuber Alex Belfield was one of those who put up an approving video of the attack earlier this evening. He has his own grievances against the Corporation. He claims he was forced out of the Beeb because he’s a poor White kid from a pit estate and not one of the middle class, Guardian reading, university educated Naga Manchushy types, as he calls them. He also has some kind of personal feud with various broadcasters, like Jeremy Vine. He frequently rants against the Beeb demanding its privatisation and the Eric Gill statue is one of the weapon he uses in the attacks. He criticises the Corporation for keeping the statue on its facade, which he seems to claim shows the indifference to child abuse which allowed Jimmy Savile to carry on with his predations unstopped.

Gill certainly was a vile human being, and some of his art does pose a genuine moral problem. A few years ago Victoria Coren discussed him in her documentary, How to Be a Bohemian, which traced the history of bohemianism from 19th century Paris and the Romantics to Britain, the Bloomsbury Group, the Bright Young Things and today’s London and its drag queens. Gill was one of the Bohemians she discussed. She was particularly upset at a bas relief Gill had made of a nude girl. I can’t remember what the sculpture’s official title was, but Gill called it ‘F*cking’. The girl in it was his 15 year old daughter, whom he was abusing at the time. Victoria Coren was talking to a female art expert about the sculpture and the unsettling questions it raised. The expert denied that this was a problem with a comparison to W.B. Yeats and his poetry. Nobody, she declared, objects to Yeats’ poetry because he was a Fascist. Coren replied that they did, and she was particularly unhappy about it. As her father, Alan Coren, was Jewish, it’s very easy to understand why Victoria Coren would have deep misgivings about the poet. It must be said, though, that Yeats was only a Fascist for a short time. If I remember correctly, this was c.1919. He later left them and was very critical about them.

I’m sure most people would be unhappy at Gill’s sculpture of his nude daughter, and would have very strong moral questions against its display. But it isn’t the Ariel statue. And there is still a need to separate the artist from the art. Many of the greatest figures in the arts, literature and science were vile people, or had loathsome views, like Dickens, for example. He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest writers in the English language, but he fully supported General Eyre and his brutal suppression of the Morant Bay rebellion by former slaves on Jamaica. But that in no way invalidates his work, in the same way that Orwell pointed out that Hamlet isn’t diminished by the fact that Shakespeare left his wife his second best bed. I also don’t think you can quite compare the Ariel statue to that of Edward Colston. The Ariel statue is of a character from Shakespeare, used as a kind of mascot by the Corporation. It is not a monument to someone who was a slaver, even if he did give most of his money away in charity.

Those defending and applauding the attacker are wrong on another point. They seem to believe that Colston’s Four’s acquittal has somehow become a precedent, which they can use to defend their attacks. But this isn’t the case. Jury trials, according to Adam Wagner, a lawyer on the Net, don’t set precedents, so Chick could still find it difficult to defend himself if he’s arrested.

I’m deeply unhappy about cultural vandalism regardless of who’s doing it. The attack on Colston’s statue is understandable given that it’s been a subject of controversy and demands for its removal for decades. And now it seems the right have also decided that they are entitled to attack any statues they find offensive, and I’m afraid that this will kick off more vandalism rather than reduce it.

I don’t deny that there’s a good case for taking some statues down, but I don’t support violent attacks on public art, regardless of whether it comes from the right or left. And I think Belfield’s attacks on the Beeb’s statue largely come from his own personal feud with the corporation and the Conservative’s demands for the Beeb’s privatisation and its replacement by a private broadcaster. This hostility partly comes from the Tories’ deep ideological objection to nationalised industries, their loyalty to Rupert Murdoch and his shoddy empire and their hatred of the Beeb because, once upon a time, it used to hold them to account. Some of us can still remember the time Michael Heseltine stormed off Newsnight, tossing his mane after a grilling by Paxman.

Britain’s statues are now threatened not just by the woke left, but by a vengeful, intolerant Conservative right using the outrage it has generated against the offending statue as part of its campaign to silence its critics.

Rightwingers Outraged at Acquittal of the Four Who Toppled Colston’s Statue

January 7, 2022

As a Bristolian with long personal roots in the city, I feel I’ve got to tackle this. The four people responsible for pulling the down the statue of the 18th century slave trader and philanthropist in a massive Black Lives Matter protest last year were on trial for it this week. They were charged with criminal damage, and yesterday were found ‘not guilty’ by the jury. And the right has been predictably incensed. The story’s on the front page of the Daily Mail, which reports that the jury may have been placed under pressure to acquit by the defence, which urged them ‘not to be on the wrong side of history’. The prosecution is therefore planning to appeal the decision. Nigel Farage has released a video on YouTube about it. Mixed-race Tory commenter Calvin Robinson has appeared on GB News talking about it. And inevitably the Lotus Eaters have also released a video about it, with Callum and one of Sargon’s other mates expressing their poor opinion of the whole thing. The message from the right has been the same: this decision imperils every statue in Britain, because it legitimises attacks on them through an appeal to the emotions of the attacker regardless of the letter of the law. Calvin Robinson in his interview on GB News agreed with the two journalists, one Black, one White, that you had to be very careful about limiting people’s freedom of expression. However the decision to acquit was, he explained, based on a legal loophole in the criminal damage law. This permits such damage, if the property damaged or destroyed itself serves to promote a crime. The argument made by the accused in a feature about them in the Groan was that the statue constituted a hate crime against Black Bristolians. The right-wing critics of the decision have therefore argued that this makes every statue unsafe, as an emotional reason could be found for any attack on them. The person, who vandalised Churchill’s statue last year could get off because, despite defeating Fascism, Churchill was a racist and imperialist. They have also made the point that the decision also means that Conservatives also have a right to tear down Marx’s bust in London, as he was also racist and anti-Semitic, quite apart from the millions murdered under Communism. Darren Grimes, the repulsive spawn of the Guido Fawkes site, said that he could also therefore tear down the statue of Friedrich Engels in Manchester.

Jury Freedom and the Historic Acquittal of Guilty Murderers

Yesterday Simon Webb of History Debunked also joined the debate, comparing the decision to the jury’s acquittal of the attackers of three policemen during a riot in 1820s London. The cops had been stabbed, and one killed, but the jury acquitted their attackers because the cops had attacked in a particularly aggressive and provocative manner. Webb stated that back in the 17th and 18th centuries judges could and did send juries back to reconsider their verdict, and even imprison them if they didn’t give the right verdict as directed. It was, of course, a great improvement to allow the juries the freedom to judge themselves rather than according to the opinion of the beak. But this did raise problems in cases like this. Indeed. Juries won the right to judge freely according to their own judgement following arguments for such free trials by the Levellers and particularly when William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania, was put on trial for preaching his radical views in Bristol. The jury repeatedly refused the judge’s order to find guilty, and were even imprisoned. They eventually won out, and the trial helped established true British justice.

Allegations of Bias against Witness David Olasuga

One of the other objections to the trial was that one of the witnesses was the historian, David Olasuga. whom the Lotus Eaters describe as a Black activist and who admitted that, had he been able, he would have joined the mob in toppling the status. There is indeed a problem with Olasuga as some of his historical interpretations are questionable. For example, he and Reni Edo-Lodge turned up in video by the Beeb laying a plaque in Liverpool to a victim of racist lynching. Except that Wootton, the lynched man, had been part of a gang of West Indians, who had launched an attack on a group of Swedes and Russians. When a cop intervened, the West Indians repeated stabbed and tried to slash his throat. They retreated to a house where someone, probably Wootton, shot three policemen, before he was chased down to the docks trying to escape. He was hardly an innocent victim. Olasuga has been one of the Black historians claiming that historically, Britain had a much larger Black community than it probably did. He claims that there were Blacks in Roman Britain. History Debunked has shown that this largely comes from one of the legions at Hadrian’s Wall coming from the Roman province of Mauretania. This has been confused with the present day country in West Africa. However, the Roman province of Mauretania was further north in Morocco. I think there are perfectly reasonable questions of bias in Olasuga’s testimony.

Political Bias in Prosecution of Vandals

And then have come the various commenters sneering and deriding Bristol. I’ve seen the usual rants about how it’s a ‘Communist’ or ‘left-wing’ shithole; it’s a lefty university town, and as terrible as Liverpool or London. Rather more interesting was one comment from a working class Bristolian, who had been having a meal at a cafe in the city, whose customers were largely Black West Indians. These people had all been solidly against the decision. I can well believe it. I don’t think the Black community Bristol or elsewhere in our great nation is a monolithic bloc. Just like other racial groups, like Whites, Asians or Jews aren’t either. As for the four defendants, they were White middle class liberal kids, who most likely didn’t come from Bristol. There was also speculation about what would happen if someone vandalised a statue to a Black personality, like Nelson Mandela. Would this be treated the same way? Not if the example of the vandalism done to a mural of Marcus Rashford was an example. Although the messages sprayed on it weren’t racist, it was nevertheless treated as a racist hate crime. Actually, you don’t have to look that far for a similar example. After Colston’s statue was torn down, a bust in one of Bristol’s parks of a Black writer and dramatist was vandalised and the cops were after those responsible.

Some Black Bristolians Genuinely Upset at Statue

As for the feelings of fear or outrage that the defendants claimed justified the attack, the Black interviewer on GB News and Robinson both questioned whether Black people are so emotional fragile that they would be upset simply walking past Colston’s statue. Some may well not be, but others definitely were. Asher Craig, Bristol’s deputy elected mayor, head of equalities and city councillor for St. George’s, was on Radio 4 last year giving her opinion about the statue and Bristol’s historic connection to the slave trade. The programme also talked to others about it, including one ordinary Black woman. She said that she felt physically sick having to walk past it on the way to work every morning. I understand and sympathise. I think her example was far better and more persuasive than the various political activists angrily demanding that it should be torn down. It was the voice of an ordinary, working-class woman, about how the statue affected her.

Arguments for the Preservation of the Statue

It also has to be stated that Black Lives Matter’s attack was deliberately against the wishes of Bristolians themselves. There had been several polls in the past about whether the statue should be taken down or not. The majority of people voted against it. Paul Stephenson, one of the organisers of the Bristol bus boycott in the 1960s against the bus company’s refusal to employ Blacks, gave his opinion on the issue in an interview with Philippa Gregory in the 1990s. Gregory had just had her novel, A Respectable Trade, about the Bristol slave trade adapted for television and there was an exhibition about the city and slavery then at the City Museum and Art Gallery. It has since been moved and is now on display, sans title, at the city’s excellent M Shed Museum. Stephenson has something of a mixed reputation. To some he’s a respected civil rights activists, while others regard him more a deliberate troublemaker. He declared to Gregory that Colston was a bloody mass murderer responsible for a ‘Holocaust in Africa’. This follows the statement of W.E.B. DuBois, the pioneering American Black rights activist, that slavery and the slave trade were a Black Holocaust. It sounds like hyperbole, a deliberately emotional exaggeration, but I believe it’s based on the accounts of 19th century anti-slavery activists about the fierce tribal violence generated by the slave trade, and the devastation of whole regions as a result. But Stephenson also said that he didn’t think the statue should be torn down. He believed it should remain standing with an additional note to remind people of his crimes. A similar argument was made by the Lotus Eaters, who felt that statues should be left standing, even though they may be to terrible people, because they’re history. And we need to learn from history if we are to move on.

It’s a perfectly good argument, and one advanced in the ’90s by radical anarchist band The Levellers. They took their name from the radical, proto-democrat, proto-socialist sect during the British Civil War. They also believed in ‘Godly reformation’ and so, along with the other merchandising at their concerts were copies of the Bible and Christopher Hill’s Marxist study of the British Civil War, The World Turned Upside Down. I particularly remember one of their songs that had the lines ‘I believe in justice, I believe in vengeance, I believe in getting the bastard’. But they also released a song protesting about the decision by Manchester’s Labour council to rename the town’s historic Free Trade Hall. They objected to it because it was the destruction of history and an attempt to rewrite the past. It’s strange and rather disconcerting that they should have the same view on this issue from a libertarian left perspective, as the Tories.

Lastly, it needs to be remembered that Colston was not honoured for enslaving Blacks. The statue was put up long after that was over. Rather it was because he was a great philanthropist, who gave much of his fortune away in charity. There were schools named after him and funded by his largesse. My old school used to celebrate Colston Day in his honour, when the children were given a few days off. A few were specially honoured and went to a special service at Redcliffe Church, where they were given a Colston bun.

Bristol Great City

Now for a few remarks on the decision and the views of the various right-winger, who have sounded off about it. Firstly, Bristol isn’t a shithole. It’s a large, great city with a proud history of trade, exploration, industry and invention with excellent museums and theatres. The Bristol Old Vic and its theatre school have a particularly excellent reputation and have produced some of the country’s great thesps. It has it’s problems. I believe that the Bristol’s Black community is one of the three largest in the country, along with Birmingham and London. It has its problems with marginalisation, lack of educational achievement, unemployment, drugs and violent crime, though this is by no means confined simply to Blacks. But it’s not particularly left-wing. Some areas, like Stokes Croft, have a reputation for radical politics. I’ve heard local people refer to it as ‘the people’s republic of Stokes Croft’. Other areas are Conservative, and all the shades of political opinion in between.

Academic Freedom and Marxist Indoctrination at Universities

As for the universities, the comment blaming them for the decision comes from the standard right-wing attitude that the unis are full of Marxists indoctrinating students. In fact, universities, courses and individual lecturers vary immensely. Some universities had a reputation, even in my day, for being hotbeds of left-wing activism, others were more Conservative. It also varies with the course you’re on. There hasn’t, traditionally, been much opportunity for far left-wing indoctrination in maths, science, medicine and engineering courses because of the nature of those subjects. Although it’s creeping in now in the form of ethnomathematics and the demands that the achievements of Black scientists and mathematicians should be particularly taught, it’s mostly been confined to the humanities. There have always been Marxist historians. These include the very well respected Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Saunders, and there is a specific Marxist view of history. You are taught about this on the historiography courses in history at University, along with other forms of history, such as women’s history, social history, what Butterfield called the ‘Whig view of history’ and more conservative and Conservative views. I’ve been taught by lecturers with feminist or left-wing views. I’ve also been taught by people with far more traditional views. I also know lecturer who determined to keep their political views out of the classroom. University is supposed to be a place of free speech and debate, and it’s important that this is maintained. Students should be encouraged to read sources and the historical literature critically, and make up their own views. This means an engagement with Marxism as well as other ideologies. I think Bristol university has particularly come under fire because it’s rather more conservative and traditional compared to the newer universities. It received funding from the Colston charities when it was established early in the last century. Hence I believe the granting of a chair in the history of slavery to a Black woman. It also has relatively few Black students, which contrasts with the population of the city as a whole. This is partly because it has very high standards, and as a rule Blacks generally have poorer grades than other racial groups. It is also no doubt because when I was young, going away was seen as part of university education and so you were discouraged from applying to the local university. Hence the university is now trying to give greater opportunities to study to more Blacks and ethnic minorities.

Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory and the Marxist Attack on Western Culture

Now I largely agree that the acquittal of the four defendants has set a dangerous precedent because it allows people to attack public monuments they dislike or which are controversial. James Lindsay, one of the group with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose that has attacked postmodernist Critical Theory, has argued that ideologies like Queer Theory and Critical Race Theory are deliberate attacks on traditional western culture and Enlightenment values. They are aimed at destroying the past to create a Marxist future, just as Chairman Mao did during the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. One of the ancient monuments the Red cadres smashed as part of the campaign against the ‘Four Olds’ was the tomb of Confucius! This sounds like an idea straight out of loony right-wing paranoids and conspiracists like Alex Jones and the John Birch Society, until he backs it up by reading chapter and verse from the founders of such postmodernist Marxism, like Marcuse, Horkheimer and others. And yes, I can quite believe that vandalism to a monument to a Black politico or celebrity, like Nelson Mandela, would be treated far differently and as a terrible hate crime than the attack on Colston.

But regardless of the defence’s plea to the jury to ‘be on the right side of history’, I think there would always have been pressure on the jury to acquit. Colston was a slave trader and had been controversial for decades. They naturally wouldn’t have wanted to acquit people who attacked a monument on that score, rather than the philanthropy the statue commemorated. And the defendants make a good point when they say that ‘he no longer speaks for Bristol’. There were others in the city who opposed the slave trade. As well as the slavers and the West Indian planters, Bristol also had a large abolitionist movement. If you go a little way from the centre of Bristol into Redcliffe, you’ll find the Georgian church where Jeremiah Clarkson, one of the leading 18th century abolitionists, collected the testimony of Bristol’s slavers as part of his evidence against the trade.

Other Statues Not Vandalised

As for other statues, none of those in the surrounding area were touched. Not the statue to Edmund Burke, the politician and founder of modern Conservatism through his book, Reflections on the Revolution in France. The Lotus Eaters are offering it, or reading through it, as their ‘book of the month’. I wonder if they’ll mention that Burke’s statue was signally left untouched by the rioters. As was the statue of a monk in Lewin’s Mead, which had before the Reformation been a monastic complex. They also failed to destroy the statue of Neptune and a sailor on the docks. Queen Victoria was left untouched on nearby College Green. They also didn’t destroy the statue of John Cabot outside the Council House, sorry, ‘City Hall’ and the Central Library. This was despite various ‘spokesmen’ for the Black community claiming that the City’s celebration of his discovery of Newfoundland and America, following Columbus, was a celebration of slavery. There may well be similar defences used on similar attacks on other statues, but I think such attacks will be far more difficult to defend. Churchill was indeed a racist and an imperialist, as well as personally responsible for sending troops to gun down striking miners in Wales. But to the vast majority of severely normal Brits he was also the man, who helped save Europe and the world from Nazism and the Axis. And that would also count powerfully in the case against anyone who vandalised his monument.

Historians also Successfully Defend Controversial Statues

As for testimony from historians, this can work against the iconoclasts. The BLM fanatics trying to get the statue of Cecil Rhodes torn down at Oxford university claimed that he was somehow ‘South Africa’s Adolf Hitler’. Now Rhodes was a grotty character and an imperialist, but this goes too far. Rhodes’ biographer tackled this claim on social media, at which the BLM protesters making it went quiet. They couldn’t refute it, and so went silent.

I therefore do not feel that other statues are necessarily in a greater danger than previously because of the acquittal.

Then there’s the question of any possible statue to replace it. There are rumours that it could be a Black person. Well, if there is, it should be of a Black person, who actually had contact and lived in the city. One of Bristol’s sporting heroes way back was a Black boxer. One of my aunts was friends with his daughter. I’d say this gentleman would be a good candidate for such a statue, because as a sports hero he united everyone from left and right, as well as being a citizen of Bristol.

Nigel Farage has suggested a memorial to the British navy. Absolutely. The British West India squadron did excellent work patrolling the seas for slavers. And they were by no means all racist. Captain Denman, giving evidence on a massacre of 300 unsold slaves by one of the West African slaving states to parliament, made the point that ‘it is remarkable given the advances they have made in the arts of civilisation’. He clearly believe European civilisation was superior, but had been particularly shocked because the African peoples responsible for the massacre were also comparatively civilised. Africans serving or aiding the British navy were also given the compensation payments awarded to British tars when they suffered injury and loss of limbs.

We also patrolled the waters between east Africa and India to stop western and Arab slavers, and one antipodean historian has written that in the Pacific, the royal navy was the chief protector of its indigenous peoples against enslavement.

It also needs to be remembered that one of the reasons for the British invasion of Africa was to stamp out slavery and the slave trade. I’ve no doubt that the main, if not the real reasons were simple hunger for territory and resources, and to stop those areas falling into the hands of our European imperial rivals – France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. But some of the officer involved took their duty extremely serious, such as Samuel Baker and Gordon of Khartoum. The Mahdi, against whom Gordon fought, and his followers were slavers outraged at the British government’s ban on it and the enslavement of Black Sudanese. There are therefore excellent reasons for putting up a memorial to the British navy and armed forces.

And I would also support a statue to Jeremiah Clarkson for his work in the city bringing the horrors of the trade to light.

In the meantime, despite the right-wing outrage at this act of vandalism, I think we should view the attack on Colston’s statue as a special case.

Claims of a general threat to British history because of it may well be exaggerated.

History Debunked on the Comparative Lack of Interest in British Asian History

December 17, 2021

This is a related video to the one I put up from Simon Webb’s History Debunked this afternoon, which discussed how the Beeb had race-swapped the characters in their adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. Phileas Fogg’s servant, Passepartout, is now Black, but the leading lady, who is Indian in the book, is now White. ‘Cause you can’t have two non-White leads apparently. Or Blacks must be given preference over Asians when it comes to casting non-White roles. In this video Webb discusses the case of Hsien Fan Sun, a Chinese gent who worked as a librarian at the court of James II. If Sun had been Black, then knowledge of him would have been promoted as it has been about Mary Seacole and John Blank, the Black trumpeter at the Tudor court. But he isn’t, because he’s Chinese. It’s another example of how, to Webb, diversity means primarily Black people. Which left me wondering why this should be so.

Racism to and Enslavement of Asian Indentured Workers

Asians have suffered their share of western racism and enslavement. During the infamous ‘coolie trade’, Asian workers from India and China were recruited as indentured labourers to work on plantations in the Caribbean, Fiji and elsewhere to replace the Black slaves, who had been emancipated. They worked in horrendous conditions, which in many cases were worse than those endured by the Black slaves. The system was widely denounced by Indian nationalists and humanitarians, including the Anglican Church and leading politicos, as ‘A New System of Slavery’. Which is the title of an excellent book on it by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses. There were riots against the coolie trade in India and China, and the British authorities were also keen to stamp out the enslavement of Asians. The Indian police raided warehouses where Indians were being forcibly confined after they had been kidnapped, or tricked into signing indenture papers. It was such a scandal that the government issued a series of regulations demanding that Asian labourers should have access to an interpreter and understand the terms and conditions of the contract, that there should be a minimum level of acceptable living conditions aboard ships, children should be with women rather than left with the men, and a minimum number of women should emigrate with the male workers. There should also be opportunities for correspondence home and the remittance of money. I think the Britiish government first discussed the recruitment of the Chinese in particular in 1816 or so. They wanted replacements for the Black slaves, and the Chinese were decided upon because they were hardworking and less likely to complain or rebel. The prejudice against Chinese workers continued into the 20th century, when the early Labour party at one meeting denounced the government’s ‘Chinese slavery’ and put up a picture of a Chinese man. There were anti-Chinese riots in 1909, although this was caused by British firms sacking their White employees and replacing them with Chinese during an industrial dispute.

The Asian Presence in British and European History

There isn’t a total lack of interest in the Asian presence in British history. The book Under the Imperial Carpet, whose editors were Asian, also discussed Asian British history. Before the present set of ethnic minority MPs were elected in the ’70s and ’80s, Britain had BAME MPs. Webb put up a video about an Indian rajah, who became a Conservative MP in the 19th century. Other Asians became Liberal and even Communist MPs later in the early 20th. I’m not entirely surprised by the presence of Sun at James II’s court. This was the age when Europe was expanding, not just across the Atlantic, but also into Asia. The Jesuits were establishing missions in China, and scientific and technical knowledge flowed back and forth. I think the Chinese were impressed by European clockmaking, while Europeans were impressed by the Chinese skill at making automatons. By the following century upper class Europeans were consuming tea, Chinese porcelain, decorating their homes with wallpaper and furniture with Chinese art and motifs. Chinese literature was also being translated into European languages. The great religious sceptic, David Hume, read at least one Chinese novel. What impressed him was not how different it was, but how it was comprehensible, given the difference between Chinese and European culture.

Asian Stars on British Television

There are and have been Asian actors and presenters on British TV. I’ve mentioned Anita Rani, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Adil Ray in my previous post. But before them there was David Yip way back in the ’70s, who starred as The Chinese Detective. Dino Shafeek and Andy Ho appeared as the Indian and Burmese staff in the comedy It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum. The classical Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar gained widespread popularity among the Hippy crowd through his friendship with Beatle George Harrison. He’s said since that this wasn’t altogether beneficial, as you should approach classical Indian music with the same attitude you approach western classical music, rather than listen to it like pop. And were any number of western groups taking over oriental instruments, like sitars, and rhythms. This in turn led to the rise of World Music, a genre that encompasses music and its performers from across continents, and which includes both traditional and more modern forms.

And there is an interest in recovering an Asian, as well as Black British past. The Black rights and history organisation with whom I briefly corresponded when I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was the Black and Asian Studies Association. Researchers on Islam in Britain, when I was studying the religion at College in the 1980s, were particularly interested in the discovery of tombs with inscription in Arabic dating from the 17th century in Yorkshire. A more recent programme on the Barbary Pirates on Radio 4 in the early part of this century suggested instead that they may have been the graves of indigenous White Brits, who had been captured by the north African pirates and forcibly converted to Islam before either escaping or being ransomed. And a year or so ago there was a programme on Radio 3 about the Muslim servant of one of the ministers responsible for carrying through the Reformation over here. There have also been history books written about ‘The Muslim Discovery of Europe’. With the rise of capitalism, the stock exchange and the nascent consumer culture in the 18th century came popular ballads celebrating how people of all races and creeds, Jew, Christian and Turk, were all united in the peaceful work of making money. I don’t think there’s any shortage of material. My great-grandfather was a docker, and I can remember my grandmother telling me about the lascar and Chinese sailors that came into Bristol docks. But in general Webb is right: as a rule diversity means Blacks rather than Asians. Why is this?

Blacks More Determined than Asians to Be A Part of Mainstream British Culture?

I think some of it may be that Blacks have a greater determination to be a conspicuous part of western culture than Asians. Blacks have certainly formed a large part of the British and American entertainment industries since White youth started tuning into Jazz in the 1920s. There were Black screen actors, although quite often the roles they were given were demeaning before Sidney Poitier revolutionised the portrayal of Blacks on screen, paving the way for contemporary Black leading men. But then, so did Bruce Lee and stars of Chinese martial arts cinema like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. And some of us still remember the TV adaptations of the Chinese classics The Water Margin and Monkey, the latter based on Wu Cheng-en’s epic novel.

I wonder if some of it may be that some Asian cultures are more inward looking, and likely to look more toward their homelands and its culture for their roots and identity than Britain. Please note: I am certainly not suggesting that they are somehow less British than the rest of us. But I can remember coming across an academic, ethnographic study British Asians entitled The Myth of Return. This probably took its title from the initial conviction among many Asian immigrants that they were coming here only to make enough money so that they could afford to retire back to their home countries in comfort. This aspiration certainly wasn’t confined to them. Many Black West Indians also shared it, as did the Irish correspondent to the Groan whose letter began, ‘Sir, I am an Irishman, who came to Britain to make enough money to go back to Ireland again.’ In the ’70s there was a difference in integration between Muslim and Christian Pakistanis. Both groups were equally Pakistani in their culture at home, but the Christians were far more integrated into wider British culture. For example, their children mixed at school with the White children. By contrast ethnographers found that the Muslims took their children straight to school and straight back, and really didn’t allow them to share the same afterschool activities as their White classmates. This might explain why there were Islamist segregationists, who wanted there to be self-governing Muslim enclaves in Britain and Belgium, with Arabic as the official language, governed by shariah law. I hasten to add that things are rather different now. There was a Big Iftar around the country, a giant feast marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated by the Muslim community, who also invited their non-Muslim neighbours to partake. And polls have shown that only five percent of British Muslims want shariah law. But I think the Asian community may be more likely to get their entertainment from their ancestral countries through the Internet, satellite TV and video and DVD.

Asians More Culturally Confident?

I also wonder if part of the answer is that Asians, and specifically Indians and Chinese, may be more culturally confident than western Blacks. India and China were highly advanced, literate civilisations with histories going back millennia. A glance through books on the history of inventions and mathematics shows any number of works and innovations by Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese scholars. The first instance of plastic surgery, for example, comes from 8-9th century India, when one of the leading surgeons repaired the nose of a Indian princes. Muslim mathematicians and scientists studied astronomy, alchemy, medicine. And the Chinese had printing – though not with movable type, that was definitely Gutenberg’s invention – gunpowder, rockets, paper money and toilet paper, to name but a few. Sometimes this cultural confidence has formed the basis for humour. One of the characters on Goodness, Gracious Me – or was it the Kumars at No. 42? was a father, who was excessively proud of his home country’s achievements. He shouted out ‘India!’ every time various inventions were mentioned. I also remember one episode of Lovejoy in which the dodgy antique dealer was in negotiations with a Hong Kong businessman. This man was also conscious of how his country had led the world in science and invention for centuries, to the point where he believed the Chinese had more or less invented everything. At one point this is too much for his interpreter, who says to him, ‘Oh no, Mr -, I don’t think we invented motorcycles’.

Black African Cultures Less Well-Known and Admired

This is in contrast to Africa, whose great civilisations and monuments are less appreciated. Ancient Egypt has been claimed as Black civilisation by the Afro-Centrists, but this is controversial and they could well be wrong. Nubia and Meroe in what is now the Sudan died out centuries ago. Christian Nubia was conquered by the Muslims. It’s predecessors in the Sudan unfortunately spoke languages that are now extinct. The Nubians took over the culture and alphabet of the Ancient Egyptians. Frustratingly, we can read their inscriptions but have no idea what they mean until the appearance of a Rosetta Stone that will give us the key to translating them. Abyssinia was a literate, Christian empire while the Kiswahili were also an advanced Islamic civilisation. As was Mali and other states in northwest Africa. But I think these have been seen as the exceptions rather than the rule. Although many of the civilisations of north and Saharan Africa were capable of building large structures, like house and mosques from mud brick, I suspect the popular image of Africa remains that of mud huts. And until the introduction of Islam and Christianity on the continent, many of these peoples were illiterate. The result has been that the attitude of many western scholars towards African civilisation was wholly negative. The book Colour and Colour Prejudice, by the last British governor of Ghana, has page after page of quotes from various western scholars, almost all of whom declare that African culture is worthless and that the continent’s people have discovered nothing. Obvious this has been and is being challenged by Black activists and scholars.

Blacks and Affirmative Action

Much of the promotion of Blacks as a specific group has come from concern at the poor conditions of the Black community in America and Britain. Other groups have also suffered racism. I can remember one of my uncles telling me with disgust about the horrible ‘jokes’ the other White workers played on an Indian comrade. As a rule, I think Blacks are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy when it comes to academic performance and employment. Above them, but still disadvantaged, are Muslims. Indians are about the same level as Whites, or just below, while Chinese actually outperform us. Black history as a specific subject in schools is being promoted as the solution to the problems of the Black community. If Black people were aware of their achievements and presence in American and British history, then they would develop the self-respect and confidence to perform better at school, and challenge the racism that still sees them as outsiders and foreigners. Unfortunately, this has led to Black activists claiming the credit for Blacks for scientific achievements that came from others. I think the entertainment industry is part of this drive for Black empowerment too. I have a feeling that some of roles created for Black performers are intended to provide positive images of Blacks as just as urbane and middle class as everyone else. Or proper, respectable working class. I’ve no doubt its done to challenge the negative racist stereotypes Whites may hold, while at the same time hold up positive role models to the Black community. To show that Black people also live in families with fathers, where the parents are respectable, upstanding citizens who work to support their children and give them the best life they can. I’m not aware that family breakdown is the same issue in Asian communities as it is amongst Blacks and the White poor, so some of the issues that have led to a specific emphasis on Blacks in diversity may simply not be as pressing. It thus seems to me that, in general, Asians may be so much more confident in their culture that they don’t see the same urgency in establishing and insisting on their historic presence in Europe.

Blacks More Vociferous and Forceful in Attacking Racism

I also think it may also come from Blacks complaining the most forcefully about racism. One of the key events in the introduction of positive discrimination in Britain were the 1980s/81 race riots, where Black communities in Bristol, Brixton in London and Toxteth erupted in rioting. It led to various official reports, which recommended affirmative action programmes to give greater opportunities to Blacks, as was being done at the same time in America. There have been protests in the Asian community, and interethnic violence between Asians and Whites, along with Asian anti-racist activism. But I don’t recall the Asians rioting in the same way Black Brits did. And the protests held by Britain’s Muslims seem to be about specifically Islamic issues, like the publication of the Satanic Verses, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and general Islamophobia, rather than issues like employment or education although those have also been present. As a result, I think it’s probably true that Asians are less represented than Blacks in moves for ethnic diversity, although it should be stressed that they aren’t completely absent.

But these are just my ideas based on my own impressions. I may be wrong, and there may be other factors involved. I’d be interested to know what others think about it.

As an example of a TV series with an Asian leading man, here’s the titles to the Chinese Detective, starring David Yip, which I found on Robert Telfer’s channel on YouTube. Since then we’ve had Luther, starring the awesome Idris Elba as a Black detective. I like Elba – I think he’s a great actor, who could easily play Bond. I haven’t watched Luther, however, as the crimes he investigates all seem too grim and ‘orrible, like the serial killers tracked by Linda La Plante’s heroines. But perhaps it might be time once again for an Asian detective.

Focus Magazine on the Israeli Intelligence Agencies

November 16, 2021

I found this brief description of the Israeli intelligence agencies and their exploits in an old copy of Focus, dating from September 1993. It’s nearly 30 years out of date, but nevertheless gives an indication of what they’re like which I think is still relevant. It runs

The Shin Bet is responsible for security at home. Mossad, a highly notorious secret service, conducts clandestine operations abroad. Agents infiltrated the PLO and killed some of its leaders. In 1986 in London, a female Mossad agent abducted Mordechai Vanunu, who had blown the whistle on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons programme. He was flown secretly to Israel and sentenced to 18 years. Questions remain about Britain’s prior knowledge of the operation. Mossad agents have also taken torpedo boats from a French port, stolen the design of the Mirage jet fighter and hijacked cargoes of uranium at sea. In 1988 a Palestinian student living in Britain was found with a cache of explosives. He was a Mossad agent, a discovery which briefly soured MI6 and Mossad relations.

They’ve also been caught spying over here. Once was under Maggie Thatcher, who threatened to throw them out of the country. They did it again a few years ago, and nothing was done. They were allowed to get away with it. And I very well remember the scandal over Vanunu’s revelation that Israel had broken the anti-nuclear proliferation treaty and his subsequent abduction. It’s all very murky indeed. What comes across from this is that the Israeli intelligence agencies have scant regard for their supposed allies and pretty much do whatever they like.

And now Starmer has got one of these clowns in the Labour party, searching for anything he thinks is anti-Semitic which he can use to purge the left.

Private Eye: So Many Academies Are Going Bust They Need a Special Insolvency Service

October 28, 2021

Here’s another interesting piece from this fortnight’s Private Eye for 29th October to 11th November 2012. It seems it’s not just the failing private railway companies that the government is desperate to prop up against the threat of nationalisation. They also need to do it for the academy chains and further education colleges. Here’s the article

Chains Reaction

In a worrying indication of the Department for Education’s level of confidence in the financial health of school chains and further education colleges, the department has made a deal with seven big law firms to provide insolvency services to “a broad range of financially distressed education providers”.

The scheme will put the firms, based in London, Leeds and Bristol, on a rota to provide advice on restructuring and insolvency to institutions facing either normal insolvency or “education administration”, the new process created in 2019 which allows an administrator to prioritise the needs for existing students to finish courses or find new placements, before paying creditors. Although the billing rates for insolvency work are not revealed in the contract award notice, the tender is listed with an estimated value of £3m.

The DfE has borne the brunt of winding up costs for a number of large academy trusts and has had to write off large sums where the department itself was one of a trust’s creditors.

Thus far two colleges, Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College, have been through the education administration process. Recently Brooklands College in Weybridge also faced the threat of insolvency as the Education and Skills Funding Agency attempts to claw back £20m after an investigation into the subcontracting of apprenticeships.

Academies are another failed Thatcherite idea that was taken over by Starmer’s molten idol, Blair, and then kicked into high gear. Thatcher and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, had founded a series of schools outside the Local Education Authorities as City Academies. They were an abject failure and were actually being wound up. Then Tory Tony fished ’em out of the dustbin along with a whole slew of other grotty ideas, and lo! the academies were established These were supposed to introduce private investment and management in the school system. Great things were predicted, like schools specialising in the STEM subjects, or music or whatever. And standards were definitely going to get better. In fact, the academies are only able to maintain their high standards through a rigorous policy of exclusion and selection to keep out the poor, the less able and those with behavioural problems, which state schools are bound to take. They have also benefited from far greater levels of funding. Some of the academies received up to £40 million, compared to LEAs which may have a budget for all the schools in their area of £250,000. Despite these advantages, numerous academies have had to be taken into receivership and into state management.

There is no use keeping up the pretence that they’re some kind of glowing Thatcherite, private industry success. This is just throwing good money after bad, and using the taxpayer to bail out failing private investors as the with PFI in the Health Service. It has to be ended now, and schools renationalised. Mussolini also set up a government department to bail out failing private industry. Fascist manifestos and ideology praised private industry and declared it to be the foundation of society and a proper, healthy economic system. But they had to recognise that some industries could not be supported privately and had to be taken into state ownership. And if Mussolini’s viciously anti-socialist dictatorship could realise that private industry is not the panacea for all industries, it’s high time our supposedly liberal, democratic politicos also had the guts to do so.

Academy schools are failing children, and it is just grotty Tory and Blairite Labour ideology that’s keeping them going. Renationalise now!

Private Eye on SF Book with Hero Called Boris Johnson

October 26, 2021

I found this rather amusing little piece in Private Eye’s literary column for 28th October 2011. It notes that the hero of an SF book by Norman Spinrad from 1967 is one Boris Johnson, and the book’s title is strangely appropriate: Agent of Chaos. The article runs

LIFE IMITATES ART

Sonia Purnell’s new book about the mayor of London, Just Boris, has been treated with disdain by those of Boris’s chums who have been asked to write the majority of the reviews. But it’s not the only book out there starring a man named Bojo.

The 1967 sci-fi novel, Agent of Chaos, by Norman Spinrad, stars as its hero a man named Boris Johnson. He is described as follows by his enemies: “The man is a bumbler; he stumbles in the dark ignorant of even the Democracy he professes to champion… Yet still he stumbles on. Blind courage is, after all, a Random Factor. So is heroism. So too, for that matter, is sheer stupidity – and Johnson, paradoxically, is a course of all three.”

Well, I see absolutely nothing heroic about Johnson. Quite the reverse – he’s a villain, who’s ruining this country and its great people purely for the profit of himself and his super-rich friends. But he is certainly a bumbler and agent of chaos.

I also recall that back in the 1980s, Spinrad caused a bit of controversy with his book, The Iron Dream, which speculated on what would have happened if Hitler had instead migrated to the US and wrote SF pulp fiction. It was banned in West Germany for violating the Basic Law against glorifying Nazism, though I don’t believe that Spinrad himself was a Nazi. Given how right-wing Boris’ politics are, perhaps there should be an SF novel in which Adolf Hitler writes a novel, whose hero is called Boris Johnson.

Graham Linehan and DJ Lippy Discuss the Gay Protests Against Stonewall on Friday

October 20, 2021

On Monday broadcaster and comedy writer Graham Linehan posted this video in which he spoke to DJ Lippy, who is one of the organisers of a mass protest against Stonewall the Friday.

The gay charity is coming under considerable fire. Because it gave misleading legal information to the organisations seeking its advice on delicate issues like transgender rights, a number of them, including the Beeb, have cut ties with it. I’ve also heard that they’re being sued. An increasing number of gays and lesbians are also upset with Stonewall. They feel that its concentration on trans rights and other alternative sexualities has dangerously diluted the charity’s original purpose so that it no longer adequately defends and fights for the rights of gay men and women. Lesbians are particularly affected. For example I’ve seen numerous videos in which gay women and their supporters, like Linehan, describe how lesbian spaces have been invaded by biological, straight men demanding they have sex with them on the grounds that, as they identify as women, they are therefore lesbians. As this video also makes it clear, they are also concerned about the way the trans ideology is erasing natural, biological femininity. A recent issue of the Lancet on women’s health didn’t refer to women, but ‘people with a cervix’ and thanks to Stonewall’s advice, NHS Scotland has removed the word ‘mother’ from one of its leaflets. I will state again that I do not want trans people persecuted, abused, assaulted or denied jobs or opportunities because of their condition. I believe very strongly that people with problems with their gender identity deserve compassion and support. But this goes too far. It denies biological reality and, in my view, is dangerous because of this. The blurb for the video below explains the reasons behind the protest and where it is all happening.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/come-o…

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and their allies will take part in a national protest on Friday to ask all public and private organisations who have signed up to the Stonewall Diversity scheme to leave it and #ComeOutOfStonewall. They claim the charity no longer represents the interests of lesbians, gays and bisexuals and are critical of its authoritarian #NoDebate stance. What’s more they say the charity is misleading members of the scheme about the equality act, reflecting the law they would like it to be, rather the law as it is written. They are calling on these organisations #ComeOutOfStonewall and leave its Diversity Champion scheme. Stonewall has come under fire in recent months, and last week the Nolan Investigates podcast added to the pressure, asking serious questions about its relationship with Ofcom and the BBC. This follows on from the Reindorf Review which said its behaviour was having a ‘chilling effect’ on academic freedom at UK Universities Protests will take part in Belfast, Edinburgh and London. Protests will be held throughout the day, targeting many of the most prominent members of Stonewalls Diversity Champions scheme – including the BBC and Westminster. Their protest follows on from another event organised two weeks previously in which women’s rights activists dressed as dinosaurs targeted the offices of the Lancet and the Labour Party using the #HearMeRoar National co-ordinator Katy Worley said of Stonewall. “It’s thanks to the hard work of my lesbian and gay elders that I got to grow up in a world largely free of homophobia. But in the past few years I have been the victim of an alarming amount of homophobic and misogynistic abuse. This happens in spaces which are supposed to be safe for the LGBTQ+ community – often by those who identify as allies. I hold organisations like Stonewall directly responsible for this. They redefined homosexuality as attraction to the same gender, rather than sex– effectively erasing my sexual orientation. What’s more their failure to condemn this abuse has emboldened the bullies. We are here today to say Stonewall does not speak for us and we will not stop fighting until their anti-gay and anti-woman agenda is defeated.” London: Meet up: 12pm at the Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square. Edinburgh: Meet up: 1.30 at Waverley Gate, 2-4 Waterloo Place. Belfast: Meet up: 3.45 at BBC Broadcasting House, Can the Plan. Stonewall Cymru have been hired by the Welsh government to both commission and implement the LGBTQ+ Action plan in Wales, bringing in self ID by the backdoor. They are yet again writing and marking their own homework. Aside from the ethical concerns this action plan would abolish sex in law, impacting women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Merched Cymru and LGB Alliance Cymru want to #CanThePlan and have released guidance and resources for responding to the consultation. It takes five minutes to complete using this resource, and you do not need to be in the UK to fill it out. https://merchedcymru.wales/can-the-ac… Add a personal note about why you oppose the abolition of sex in law. Personal testimony can be so powerful when lobbying the government for change. The consultation closes on Friday the 22nd of October the same day as the protest, so please fill it in and share on your networks before this date. Retweeting the information under the #CanThePlan also helps these groups share their message. You can support the work of previous, current and future protests via this crowdfunder https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/terfasa…

Here’s the video.

Cassetteboi versus Boris Johnson

October 10, 2021

Cassetteboi are a group of merry pranksters, who take clips of politicians, celebrities and other public figures and edit them so that they appear to say something amusingly insane. One of my faves is the video they made taking the mick out The Apprentice. This began with the announcer stating that Alan Sugar was the self-made millionaire who sold Amstrad from the boot of a car for £8 before getting funnier. Boris Johnson has been one of their targets for years, starting when he was mayor of London. Now they’ve released yet another video lampooning him which contains a high dose of their usual satire. Johnsons word’s have a rhythm to which a beat has been added so that it’s a song or a chant. It begins

‘If you live in Britain today/ I feel sorry for you son/ There are 99 problems/ and I can’t fix one.’

It then goes to sing about the way there is no petrol nor goods on the shelf in the supermarket, the rich aren’t paying their way and Boris’ mates in industry are giving him large donations for government contracts. This goes along with the other issues, such as the £20 benefit uplift being taken away along with free school meals, test and trace not working along with Johnson’s utterly incompetent handling of Brexit and the Covid crisis. He didn’t attend the briefings because he was too busy divorcing his wife, and the song notes that despite Johnson trying to pretend the disease isn’t still around, over a hundred people are dying a day.

The song concludes:

‘If you live in Britain today/ I feel sorry for you son/ There are 99 problems/ And I’m number one!’