Posts Tagged ‘Miners’

Katie Hopkins Talks Sense! Wants Us All to Unite Against Fuel Poverty and Threat of Suicide

August 18, 2022

Heaven help me, I’ve agreed with ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins! You remember her, the supercapitalist, racist snob who came runner-up on The Apprenticeship and became a right-wing media pundit until her views were too toxic even for the Heil to keep her on. Since then she’s been knocking around with convicted stalker Alex Belfield, now looking at the possibility of going to the slammer. But in the video below she actually says something that I hope we can all get behind.

She criticises the way 45 million people by her estimation will be in fuel poverty this winter. This means that more than ten per cent of their income will be spent on heating. This is unsustainable. And she’s afraid that something like one million people will decide they can no longer face life in this country. She goes on to state that in her view, the energy crisis has been brought on by successive governments going green and shutting down the coal-fired power stations with nothing to replace them, at a time when India and China are building new ones. And our government has also thrown away concerns about this country’s fuel security. But, she says, even if you disagree with her views and are a complete ‘greenie’, can we all agree to unite against fuel poverty and the possibility that a million people may decide that life in this country is not worth living. And so she urges people not to pay their exorbitant energy bills.

I fully support people from both left and right coming to together against fuel poverty and put pressure on the various politicos and companies that are responsible for the present crisis. Tory icon Maggie Thatcher has had a large part in it, because the Tories closed down the British coal mines except for a very few in the ’90s or so. The argument for this was that it was supposedly cheaper to import South American coal. An additional, if not the real reason, was that she wished to break the miners’ union, the NUM, because of the way they’d defeated the Tories under Ted Heath.

But energy policy has been a mess. Cameron’s lot got the French nuclear power engineers in to build various nuclear power stations despite problems building them and the sustainability of this strategy as well. And this is apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg showing us all where his sympathies lie last week when the Beeb interviewed him on Radio 4. Instead of sympathising that the price rises were wrong when these companies were making massive profits, the Minister for the 18th Century and Bringing Back Child Chimney-Sweeps declared that those companies had only been able to pay their shareholders dividends of a few pence, and that they needed to do so as a reward on investment. Somehow I don’t think the shareholders only got a few pence as dividends. The companies’ directors certainly didn’t: they’ve pocket bonuses and salaries worth hundreds of thousands, if not a few cool millions.

I don’t really agree with people refusing to pay their energy bills, as I can see people being prosecuted as a result and going to prison, whereas it should be the energy companies and their bosses up before the beak.

Incidentally, it shows where the sympathies of the Heil are that they published an article about how the ‘don’t pay’ campaign was organised by middle-class ‘Corbynistas’. Oh those poor mega-millionaires, being persecuted by the evil middle class commie followers of the despised Trotskyite running dog Corbyn!

But even so, I agree with her that left and right need to stand together against this poverty and profiteering and look after those who may otherwise think that life is not worth living. Always assuming that she means suicide, and not people trying to flee abroad to live and so help to precipitate a demographic crisis.

Left Labour Pride & Socialism Event Tonight on Zoom

July 3, 2022

I also got this email today from the organisers of the Arise Festival of left Labour ideas notifying that there’s an event at 7.00 pm tonight about LGBTQ+ Liberation, Solidarity and Socialism. The email runs

ūüĆąLGBTQ+ Liberation – Pride, solidarity & socialism.

Premieres TODAY, Sunday July 3, 19.00. 
Join & watch with comrades here or watch back later here // Get ticket for the whole festival here.

As the government turns to reactionary divide and rule politics in the face of a cost of living crisis, and as violent attacks on LGBTQ+ increase at an alarming rate, Amy Smith of Arise Festival meets in conversation with Mike Jackson (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and Katherine Harlow (LGBTQ+ candidate on Young Labour‚Äôs Socialist Future slate) to discuss the way forward for LGBTQ+ liberation.

LGSM were at the forefront of providing solidarity to striking miners throughout the 84/85 strike. The NUM then led the 1985 Pride March and moved the motion supporting LGBT rights at Labour’s conference in the same year. We’ll be discussing what we can learn from that experience, the importance of Pride, and why solidarity and socialism must be at the heart of fighting for LGBTQ+ liberation.

An online event as part of Arise 2022 РA Festival of Left Ideas.

Email from the Labour Party on Pride and their Pro-Gay and Trans Policies

July 3, 2022

This is going to be a controversial post, but I think it’s very important that these issues relating to transgenderism should be discussed, especially as the Labour party wishes to reform the equality act so that it benefits transpeople. It’s an admirable attitude, as no-one should be despised and discriminated against because of their sexuality, sexuality identity or gender presentation. But these proposals have grave negative consequences in that they will potentially make it compulsory to trans children having problems with their gender identity whether it is genuinely appropriate for them or not. And it will greatly harm women’s sex-based rights by opening up their private spaces in prisons, rape crisis centres and shelters for homeless and abused women to men, as well as harm women’s sports by opening them up to men who retain their biological advantages but identify as women.

Here’s the email from the Labour party.

‘Dear¬†David,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first UK Pride event, when hundreds of members of the LGBT+ community marched through London to demand equal rights. Despite facing appalling hostility and prejudice at the time, they persevered.

That perseverance paved the way for Pride marches across the country, which are now an important part of the campaign for equal rights for LGBT+ people.

Labour is the party of equality and we have a proud legacy of standing up for LGBT+ rights. Watch our video to see more: 

Watch and Share

We have come a long way but there‚Äôs more work to do.  

LGBT+ people have been let down by a Conservative Government that abandoned its LGBT Action Plan, disbanded its LGBT Advisory Panel, and u-turned on promises to bring in a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.

The next Labour government will stand up for LGBT+ rights by:

  • Protecting and upholding the Equality Act.
  • Requiring employers to create and maintain workplaces free from LGBT+ harassment.
  • Strengthening and equalising the law so that LGBT+ hate crimes attract tougher sentences.
  • Banning all forms of conversion therapy, including trans conversion therapy.
  • Reforming the outdated Gender Recognition Act¬†while upholding the Equality Act.

Thank you,

Alex Beverley¬†(Chair of¬†LGBT+ Labour) and¬†Anneliese Dodds (Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities)’

These proposals, although very well intentioned, are by implication so potentially harmful to women, gender-confused children, vulnerable adults and also to ordinary trans people who simply want to get on with their lives and the Labour party itself, that I wrote the following reply:

‘Dear Alex and¬† Anneliese,

Thank you for your email about Labour’s proposals to strengthen LGBTQ+ rights in concert with reforms to the equality act. I am not  part of the gay community, but appreciate the hardships and persecution gay people have experienced and their long struggle to gain equality. I am also very grateful for their support shown to the miners’ during the great strike in the 1980s, a coming together which was celebrated in the British film Pride. I am also pleased that the Labour party has also valued their contribution and supported them in their struggle. 

Unfortunately, I believe that the Labour party, along with the gay organisations outside the party, will be making a terrible mistake by opposing trans conversion therapy. I am very much aware, through online videos posted by gay YouTubers like Clive Simpson, how horrendous gay conversion therapy was for gay men. It sounds like nothing less than medicalised torture administered by sadists of the same stripe as the infamous Dr Mengele. I understand from Mr Simpson’s video, however, that such brutal, pseudo-medical treatments are now illegal. I have also little sympathy for the psychological treatments also used in the present day to ‘treat’ homosexuality. These also don’t work, and, from a report in Private Eye about one centre which does this in Wales, they appear to make gay people’s mental health much worse by destroying their self-esteem. I have absolutely no problems about this form of conversion therapy also being banned.

But I am concerned about what a ban on trans conversion therapy might entail. As I understand it, if left on their own 65-85% of teenagers experiencing doubts about their gender identity will eventually pass through it and enter adulthood comfortable and secure in their birth gender. The majority of these young people will, according to studies, be gay. 

This raises a number of issues. Firstly, many gay men and women are very much afraid that medical gender transition is being used as a form of gay conversion. This appears to have more than a little truth behind it, as many of these children seem to come from families which have trouble accepting that their son and daughter may be gay. It seems easier for these families to have a trans son or daughter, than a gay one. There is also concern about the affirmation-only model of gender care, in which the psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors see it as their duty to reaffirm the patient’s belief that they are of a different sex than their biological gender. This is, in my view, completely inappropriate. There is now a large and growing community of detransitioners, former transwomen and men, who believe they were mistaken and even misled into transitioning when it was not suitable for them. I understand there is an online community of 20,000 such people, and a book about their experiences,¬†Trans Lives Regret, by Walter Heyer. I also understand that whistleblowers from within a number of gender clinics have also come forward, stating that they were forced to trans people they knew were mentally ill and who were therefore incapable of making an informed decision about their condition. They are also worried about the disproportionate number of autistic individuals, who are also being transed for the same reason. The source of these people’s problems may be these underlying mental illnesses and neurological conditions, rather than dissatisfaction with their biological sex. An attempt to ban trans conversion therapy could result in an absolute focus on the affirmation model, to the great detriment of those sufferers who do not really need medical transition. There are detransitioners already considering legal action against their doctors and surgeons. If the ban on trans conversion therapy goes ahead, I foresee many medical professionals who are dissatisfied with the affirmation model leaving the profession and those who remain facing a sharp rise in malpractice suits.

I am also afraid that an emphasis on trans rights will come at the expense of women’s sex-based rights, and that biological women will be vulnerable to abuse by men claiming to be women. In America, female prisoners have been sexually assaulted and raped by male prisoners who have been houses with them after they have claimed to identify as women. These men are often sex criminals, the very last people who should be housed with women. Similar concerns have and are being raised about trans-identified boys in schools. There have been a number of cases where female students have been raped by a trans-identified boy, who was allowed to enter their spaces. See the recent controversy in Loudoun County in America. I also believe that transwomen should not be allowed to compete with natural, biological women because of the advantages they retain from when they were men. Sharon Davies, the great Olympic women’s swimmer, has stated that because of men’s biological advantages, transmen still compete with women despite their transition. If this is acceptable for women and transmen, then it should be acceptable to transwomen and men. I am also concerned about the presence of trans-identified men in rape crisis centres and other shelters for women. From what I understand, the mental health of women who have suffered such assaults is shattered to such an extent that it can be made much worse by the presence of men around them, even when those men identify as women. While it would be very good indeed if this were not the case, I believe that for reasons of these extremely vulnerable women’s mental health it is inappropriate to employ trans-identifying women in such facilities. And for the same reasons of mental health, privacy and dignity I do not believe that trans-identifying male nurses should automatically have the intimate care of women in hospital.

I am also gravely concerned with the spread of gender dysphoria among young people and particularly girls. It has been suggested that this is another form of social contagion, like anorexia and multiple personality disorder. It is a mass psychological disorder, rather than arising through a genuine feeling of alienation from one’s gendered body. If this is the case, then this needs to be fought and combated. Thanks to the long austerity caused by the banking crisis, Covid and massively increasing poverty due to Tory rule and policies, there has been a massive increase in mental illness, anxiety and depression. It therefore seems to me to be extremely plausible that this is also a factor in the explosion of trans-identifying children and young people.

I would also like say that in my opinion, Queer Theory should also be banned because of its promotion of such gender anxiety and the psychological harm it does to gay pupils. Queer Theory is a postmodernist revision of Marxism. Its leading thinkers stated that they weren’t interested in healing gay people’s mental anguish and making them valued members of contemporary society. Instead they wished to exacerbate their problems further in order to create unstable sexual identities in people who could be indoctrinated and exploited. I am also very, very concerned in that some of the founders of Queer Theory, like Foucault, were paedophiles and attempted to defend the sexual abuse of children philosophically. I am sure you are also aware in this regard of a recent paper in the feminist magazine Reduxx revealing that WPATH, the World Psychological Association for Transgender Health, has recently gone into partnership with the Eunuch Archive, an organisation for castration fetishists. The Archive’s website also contains an an archive of fiction written by its members. These frequently involve fantasies of abuse and castration of children. It should be absolutely unethical for WPATH to go into partnership with such an organisation, and it should be regarded with deep suspicion rather respected as a leading organisation in transgender medical care.

It is because of these concerns that many women are forming organisations to challenge the trans ideology. One such organisation, with its motto ‘If you don’t respect my sex you don’t get my ‘x” was recently profiled in the Daily Mail. This organisations encourages women to deny their vote to organisations voting against politicians promoting the trans ideology at women’s expense. I am also worried that the Labour party became a laughing stock in the right-wing media by the inability of so many of its politicians a few weeks ago to give a proper to the question ‘What is a woman?’ I am dreadfully afraid that by pursuing extremist pro-trans policies,, the Labour party will lose its female vote and membership. And I am afraid that many gays will also become estranged from the party for many of the same reasons.

Another of my concerns is the threatening and violent behaviour of many trans rights activists. Gender critical feminists have been abused and sent death threats online. Across Europe feminist protests against trans policies have required police protection. One such demonstration in Spain was halted when the police advised the women there to go home as there were so many angry counter-protesters that they were not able to protect them. You can find online any number of videos of such trans rights activists threatening and even physically assaulting women. In my home city, Bristol, the anti-trans campaigner Kelly-Jay Kean and her supporters received similar aggressive treatment from trans activists, supported by Bristol Anarchist Federation and Antifa. And I am outraged that respected feminist academic Kathleen Stock was forced out of her university place because of very aggressive demonstrations by the university’s students. Whether you agree with Kean, Stock and the other ‘TERFs’ as they are called, is immaterial. In a free society, every idea with a few exceptions, should be open to debate, examination and refutation. I am afraid that if Labour sides with such people, then the party that should be viewed as the true party of freedom and open debate will instead become one of authoritarianism and control.

It is for the same reason that I am also opposed to the abuse of hate speech legislation to persecute gender critical women. This has most prominently happened in Scotland, where one gender critical feminist has been prosecuted simply for leaving stickers with the suffragette bow and the slogan ‘Scottish women won’t wheesht’, meaning that the ladies of Scotland will not be silent. 

I would therefore greatly appreciate it if the Labour party would rethink its position on these important issues.

Please do not think I hate trans people. I am strongly opposed to prejudice and the abuse, discrimination and persecution of anyone because of their sexual orientation and gender presentation. I am aware that trans people are vulnerable to abuse and assault, as was detailed in the ’90s small press magazine Aeon: The Magazine of Transkind. But I believe this enlightened concern for this sexual minority’s wellbeing should be in accord with biological reality, medical science and ethics and a proper respect for women and their rights, on whom these issues considerably impinge.

I want Labour to win and for LGBTQ+ to receive proper respect and protection, including and especially those struggling with their gender identifies. It is for this reason that I cannot support Labour’s current policies on trans issues, which I feel will not only bring harm, but a terrible backlash against gay and trans people. I would therefore respectfully ask the pair of you to reconsider your positions.

Yours in solidarity,

David -‘

I didn’t get very far with my response, as I got an automated reply telling me they couldn’t respond to my message, and suggesting other email addresses and departments of the Labour party that would be more suitable for my inquiry. The Labour party are having a policy review at the moment, and I consider these issues so important that I am considering my concerns and objections to their proposed reforms in the area of trans policy to that.

The great commenters on this blog have raised the issues of very entrenched figures on the right with secure political and media positions othering trans people, and the concern that by raising these issues I may be following them and demonising trans people.

I very definitely don’t want to see trans people demonised and made vulnerable to abuse and discrimination. But there are very deep and serious issues here that need to be properly discussed and I believe that the ideology and policies being pushed today in the belief that they will benefit trans people will unintentionally do immense harm.

Gay Pride and Socialist Solidarity Event at the Arise Festival of Left-Wing Ideas

June 26, 2022

I go this email below from the organisers of the forthcoming Arise Festival about an online event next Sunday celebrating and promoting gay and socialist solidarity.

LGBTQ+ Liberation – Pride, solidarity and socialism –¬†Tune in at¬†Arise Festival¬†

Premieres, Sunday July 3, 19.00. Register here // Retweet here // Get ticket for the whole festival here.

As the government turns to reactionary divide and rule politics in the face of a cost of living crisis, and as violent attacks on LGBTQ+ increase at an alarming rate, Amy Smith of Arise Festival meets in conversation with Mike Jackson (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and Katherine Harlow (LGBTQ+ candidate on Young Labour‚Äôs Socialist Future slate) to discuss the way forward for LGBTQ+ liberation.

LGSM were at the forefront of providing solidarity to striking miners throughout the 84/85 strike. The NUM then led the 1985 Pride March and moved the motion supporting LGBT rights at Labour’s conference in the same year. We’ll be discussing what we can learn from that experience, the importance of Pride, and why solidarity and socialism must be at the heart of fighting for LGBTQ+ liberation.

An online event as part of Arise 2022 РA Festival of Left Ideas.

They’re absolutely right about the gay movement’s support for the miners. It’s the subject of a British film, Pride, which is set during the miners’ strike and is about gays and the striking miners coming together. I’m not aware that homophobic violence has increased, but it wouldn’t surprise me. There have been polls showing that for the first time, the present younger generation is less tolerant in this direction than its elders.

Some of this hatred might come from recent controversies from over the other side of the Pond. There has been considerable discussion and opposition to the nudity and kink at Pride marches over in America, as well as drag clubs hosting shows for children and the inclusion of LGBTQ* teaching to young children of nine and below in schools. There’s also increasing opposition to the drag queen story time events for children in public libraries. I gather that British Pride marches are somewhat different, but concerns about nudity and kink in public at an event which is promoted as child-friendly and suitable for children do seem to me to be entirely justified given some of the behaviour displayed by the marchers. This doesn’t mean banning the marches, though, or using it to promote homophobia. It should just mean getting the organisers and participants to clean up their act if they really want to be seen as suitable for children. Otherwise, regardless of the marches’ best intentions to promote tolerance across all ages, they should really be seen as for adults only.

I’ve also read criticism of Pride marches by gays, who say they’ve been put off them by the atmosphere that’s appeared there in recent years. They’ve written in various comments about Pride on right-leaning video channels discussing them that the marches have changed and aren’t what they once were. Some of these gay commenters find them now rather intimidating and corporate, as companies boast how they’re sponsoring them as a public relations exercise to show how tolerant and inclusive they are. They contrast this with the genuinely celebratory and subversive feeling there were about such marches back in the 80s and so on, when gays didn’t have the right to marry, were widely hated despite decriminalisation, and Thatcher wanted to ban the promotion of homosexuality in schools. As Thatcher was friends with Fascist monsters like Pinochet, it seemed all too credible that this would result in real, vicious persecution against gays that could see a return to them being imprisoned and worse.

Under Cameron, the Tories reversed their public stance against homosexuality and promoted openly gay candidates. But it does seem from the above message that they are trying to find ways to break the connection between the gay movement and the organised working class through stirring up anti-gay hatred.

Convict Transportation to America and Penal Slavery

June 6, 2022

When most people think of the transportation of convicts, they probably think of Australia. But before Britain started sending its convicts there, the destination in the 17th and 18th centuries was America. There’s a ballad lamenting the fate of such criminals, ‘The Lads of Virginia’, in Roy Palmer’s A Ballad History of England From 1588 to the Present Day (London: B.T. Batsford 1979), p. 67. The section discussing the policy on the previous page, 66, taken from A.G.L Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, (Faber 1971) gives a short description of the history of the trade and the way the British government paid merchants to carry it out. It also suggests that once in America, the convicts were sold to the plantation masters. The extract runs

‘For most of the seventeenth century, merchants trading with the plantations were willing, and often anxious, to carry out the relatively few convicts who were sent; bu8t as time went on they found some, particularly women or bad characters, who were difficult to dispose of, and they became reluctant to take them… After the [Transportation] Act of 1718 the Treasury let regular contracts for the job, first for ¬£3 a head from London and ¬£5 from ‘other parts’ but after 1727, ¬£5 for all; when added to the sale price this allowed a good profit, even taking into account losses through sickness or death on the voyage.

The ‘trade’ grew as the years went by. Between 1729 and 1745 the two contractors for London and the Home Counties sent out an average of 280 a year, which suggests that about 500 a year were sent from all England. In 1753 there were nearly 800. During the Seven Years’ War, 1756-63, fewer were transported, for many convicts were sent to the army, the navy and the dockyards… After 1763 transportation to America increased again, and between 1769 and 1776 about 960 convicts a year were sent out. The demand for convict labour in the plantations was so high that in 1772 the Treasury was able to stop paying its ¬£5 subsidy, though contractors were for a time still able to persuade local authorities to pay…. Between 1719 and 1772, the years of the subsidy payments, 17,742 were sent from London and the Home Counties, and perhaps 30,000 from the whole of England. At least two-thirds went to Virginia and Maryland, and very probably more.

Was it an effective punishment? Sir John Fielding, magistrate and penal reformer, thought it was, though in 1766 Mr Justice Perrott declared that for common offenders it was no punishment at all….’

Those Monmouth rebels, who Judge Jefferies didn’t hang, were also transported to the new world and sold, though they were taken to the Caribbean colonies and sold to the planters for sacks of sugar. The transported convicts also included Irish rebels, and I’ve been told that you can still tell which of the slave cabins they occupied on the plantations by the shamrocks they painted on them.

I have to say that while I was aware of convict transportation, I wasn’t aware that once there they were sold, except in the case of the Monmouth rebels. This makes the practice look like penal slavery, which existed in ancient Rome and early medieval Europe. This punished certain types of criminals by selling them as slaves. I feel that the similarity between convict transportation and penal slavery also somewhat complicates the issue surrounding transatlantic African slavery, as it shows that certain punishments inflicted on Whites also approached a form of slavery or unfreedom. Back in Britain, the Scots miners at the time were also unfree. They were bondmen, who were effectively the property of the mine owners and even had to wear something like a slave collar around their necks. It also raises issues when it comes to the payment of reparations for slavery. If reparations are to be paid to the Black community for their abduction, exploitation and brutalisation during the era of the slave trade, it can also be argued that other groups, who suffered a similar fate like the transported criminals and rebels to America and the West Indies, and Scots mining communities in Britain for the enslavement of their ancestors.

Venceremos – Chilean Socialist Song against Fascism

May 4, 2022

Here’s another piece of socialist music I really had to put up. It’s Quilapayun – Venceremos on the Commieball channel on YouTube. The images accompanying the song simply show the late, democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in the CIA-backed coup that ushered in the bloody reign of Maggie’s friend General Pinochet.

‘Veneremos’ is Spanish for ‘We shall prevail’, and the song is about how the Chilean people – peasants, soldiers, miners, women, students, employees, workers’ will prevail over fascism and sow a new land, ending with pledges to ‘fulfil’. It’s a stirring tune with overtones of Andean indigenous melodies on the panpipes. The American right and the secret state regarded Allende as a threat not only because he was a Marxist, but because he was a democratically elected Marxist. His election showed that Marxism could be genuinely popular and not imposed by force or gerrymandering, as with the Bolshevik coup that inaugurated Communist rule in Russia and the way Stalin rigged the elections and political systems in eastern Europe to foist Communist regimes on its peoples. Allende’s election threatened the image of Marxism as a threat to democracy, and so Allende had to go.

The blurb for the song on the YouTube mentions Allende’s overthrow in Pinochet’s coup that outlawed all political parties, but especially the socialist and communist ones, and gives the Spanish lyrics.

Bonded Miners, Indentured Servants and the Victorian Labour Laws

March 17, 2022

I’ve been reading Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery & Islam (London: Oneworld Academic 2019), and it is fascinating. Brown’s a White American convert to Islam, and he ties in the debate about slavery in Islam to the contemporary American debate about slavery and its legacy in American and western society. He also begins the book with the question of definition and the problem presented in forming a universal and transhistorical definition of slavery that applies in all circumstances. This is because under different types of slavery, the slave could have more power and respect that nominally free people. For example, the viziers of the Ottoman Empire were slaves, but they ran the Ottoman Empire, had bodyguards, who were also slaves, often married the sultan’s daughter and were clearly men of immense power and respect. At the same time, slavery existed in Chinese society but wasn’t defined as such, for the simple reason that there was no such thing as a ‘thing’ in Chinese law.

But he also discusses certain types of servitude and unfreedom in British and American history. This includes the indentured servants who were used to populate the British colonies in North America. He states that it’s difficult distinguishing them from slaves. He writes

‘The division between slavery and indentured service can similarly b e hard to pin down. Indentured servants from Britain, who made up two-thirds of the immigrants in British North America before 1776, could be sold, worked to exhaustion and beaten for misbehavior. They could not marry and, in Virginia at least, could be mutilated if they tried to escape. In Maryland the punishment was death. Slavery in colonial America was worse, but only in that it was permanent.’ (p.49).

He also notes that the bonded miners in Scotland had to wear a ring on their necks with their master’s name on,, and he includes the ‘master/servant’ relationship on a list of various forms of servitude. He writes of this form of service

‘when serfdom disappeared from Western Europe, it was replaced by the relationship between the laborer and the landowner/employer. Unlike our modern notion of a worker’s contract, however, failing to live up to this contract was a criminal offense. Only in the British colonies in North America did a notion of free labor eventually appear in the 1700s, and this did not make its way back to Britain until 1875.'(p.,48.) Earlier, Brown gives the example of a shop worker in 1860. If he didn’t turn up for work, he was guilty of theft under British law, and could be imprisoned. (p.30).

The current debate over slavery and its legacy doesn’t include those aspects of British or western society that also approached slavery as they affected Whites, although there is now a debate about the ‘Irish slave trade’ – the trade in indentured servants from Ireland. The similarity between White indentured servitude and slavery is closer when you consider that originally the Dutch limited the period of slavery to 25 years. This was more than three times the length of the usual contract for indentured service, and slavery soon became permanent. But it also explains how indentured servants also frequently took part in slave uprisings and even intermarried with slaves.

I knew that the Scots miners were also unfree, bonded to their masters. I think it was one of the reasons Scots working people had great sympathy with Black slaves, to the extent that the slaves’ masters grumbled about them helping them to escape. The neck ring is the classic thrall ring, also used in the middle ages and Roman Empire to mark slaves out as property.

I wasn’t aware, however, that the Victorian labour laws could have you imprisoned for not turning up for work. It’s not quite slavery, but does come close.

And given the current lot of exploiters in government, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were people in the Conservatives who’d dearly like to bring it back.

Email from We Own It Opposing Tory Privatisation of Channel 4

January 28, 2022

This morning I received this email from the anti-privatisation organisation, We Own It, about the open letter they have written as well as their blog posts and a tweet opposing the privatisation of Channel 4. As they state in their message, We Own It had also appeared at Nadine Dorries’ office to express their opinions against it, joined by trade unionists. The message runs

Today We Own It supporters showed up at Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ office to send her a clear message: stop the privatisation of Channel 4

We were joined by members of Equity and BECTU trade unions as we launched our open letter to Nadine Dorries. We are still collecting signatures, but already top trade unionists, the West of England and West Yorkshire Mayors and independent production companies have signed.

The letter lays out our case against Channel 4 privatisation. You can read the letter and see who’s signed it below!

READ THE OPEN LETTER

The action was full of surprises…

Including Boris Johnson fancy dress, an unexpected appearance from Margaret Thatcher in support of our campaign, and a sudden outburst in which Boris Johnson literally tore up job opportunities in the nations and regions! 

You can read all about it and see pictures from the day on our blog.

READ THE BLOG

This fight is not over and there will be more campaign actions to come.

But today we want to say thank you to everyone who came along!

And even if you couldn’t make it, you can show your opposition to Channel 4 privatisation by sharing our tweet far and wide.

SHARE THE TWEET

We know that when you come together with other We Own It supporters we can achieve big wins.

You and supporters like you have also been making your opposition to the privatisation of Channel 4 heard loud and clear.¬†You’ve sent letters to your MPs. And you’ve shared YOUR reasons why Channel 4 needs to stay in public ownership.¬†Including!¬†

Caroline: If we allow this Government to get their hands on Channel 4, it will have far-reaching consequences for many and will join the growing list of treasures we as a nation value but are in danger of losing.

Irena: I totally object to Channel 4 being removed from public ownership. It creates thousands of jobs for our economy.

Jon:¬†Channel 4 produces brilliant work, excellent documentaries and independent news – what’s not to like?

We saved Channel 4 before. Let’s do it again! 

Solidarity, 

Cat, Zana, Jack, Johnbosco, Alice, Matthew, Tom – The We Own It team

P.S. We are still collecting signatures to our open letter. If your organisation would like to sign or you can share it with someone who you think would you can email info@weownit’¬†

I fully support their campaign to save Channel 4 from privatisation and was one of those who wrote to my local MP, Karen Smyth, about it. She sent me a very kind reply stating that she was also opposed to it and would vote against it in parliament. I’ve noted that the West of England Metro mayor, Dan Norris, is also one of the signatories to the open letter.

This isn’t about saving money or opening up broadcasting to private competition, although that’s certainly part of the reason. It’s because the Tories hate public service broadcasting. Channel 4 was set up in the 1980s to be an alternative to BBC 2. Hence it was supposed to include programming that would appeal to ethnic minorities, such a season of Indian films, ‘All India Goldies’, as well as the organised working class. Jeremy Isaacs in his book about his career with the broadcaster also included miners’ oral history as one of the kinds of programmes he wanted to include in the station’s repertoire. The broadcaster was also intended to be particularly strong on news. Much of this was dropped in the 1990s when the channel became much more mainstream. Which is a shame, because they did produce some excellent programmes which introduced high art to a mass audience. I particularly remember some of the operatic events broadcast, which really did much to make it more accessible to a mass audience.

But I suspect it’s the news coverage that the Tories hate. Veteran news anchors and reporters like John Snow do hold the government to account. When Snow resigned, right-wing Tory sites and blogs celebrated it as the end of a ‘liar’ or ‘SJW’. The Tories want it gone for the same reason they want the Beeb gone, so it can all be replaced by reliably right-wing broadcasters like GB News and anything set up and owned by Rupert Murdoch.

I wish We Own It every success in opposing the Tories’ grotty privatisation and in saving this vitally important British broadcaster.

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.

Alex Belfield Attacks Rishi Sunak Cutting Miners’ Pensions

July 5, 2021

More from the person Gillyflowerblog, one of the great commenters here, has described as my favourite right-winger. Belfield is definitely a man of the right with some appalling views, and many of my commenters understandably can’t stand him. But here he says something that should be coming from the left. Rishi Sunak has decided that he’s going to cut miners’ pensions by ¬£14 per week in order to save ¬£1 billion. And Belfield begins his video by saying he’s never been so appalled. He attacks Hancock for channelling government money and support to his friends in the hospitality industry, but the government is now saying that they can’t afford to support the people who did one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth.

Belfield makes much of the fact that he grew up in a pit village. He remembers the ’80s and ’90s and how those years tore communities apart, between scabs and strikers, people who did one thing and those who did another, simply to put food on the table. That’s why he’s a fan of the film Brassed Off, because it feels so raw and captures that period so well. Miners were killed not just by accidents but also through the stuff they inhaled that damaged their lungs. Many of those, whose pensions will be cut have already died. He makes it very clear that he despise this move to cut the pensions of men, who worked extremely hard and suffered much to feed and light this country.

This, however, is what corporatist capitalism is. It’s been described as ‘socialism for the rich’, as government aid is removed from the poor and needy, and given instead to the rich and greedy in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and so on. And the government is four-square behind it. I can also remember the miners’ strike, and my mother told me today of something her mother said about remembering the miners in the Bristol area marching through town begging when they were striking, because they were so poorly paid. Yes, Belfield is an appalling right-winger, but when he attacks the government for their attacks on working people, I’ll put it up regardless. It doesn’t matter if it comes from left or right, within reason. If it’s correct, I’ll reblog it.

But if Belfield’s correct this time, then I do wonder what Starmer’s position on this is. He should be condemning it, but he’s a Blairite, who’s afraid of offending all those middle class people on the right he wants to appeal to. So will keep silent, and once again betray the working class by not speaking up?