Posts Tagged ‘News’

My Objections to the Removal of the African Statue on Stroud’s Town Clock

April 21, 2022

More iconoclasm driven by current sensitivities over historic slavery and contemporary racism. The local news for the Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire area, Points West, reported that Stroud council was expected to vote for the removal of the statue of an African from the town clock. I’m not surprised, as there were demands last year from a local anti-racist group, Stroud Against Racism, demanding its removal, and I really thought it had been taken down already. Stroud’s a small town in Gloucestershire, whose historic economy I always thought was based on the Cotswold wool trade rather than something more sinister. Stroud Against Racism seems to be a group of mainly young Black people, led by a local artist, who’ve had terrible personal experiences of racism in the town. In an interview on BBC local news, it seemed that they particularly resented the figure as representation of the racist attitudes they’d experienced. They assumed it was a slave and demanded its removal, with one young Black woman complaining about the statue’s grotesque features which she obviously felt were an insulting caricature.

The African ‘Slave’ Figure on Stroud Town Clock

While I entirely sympathise with them for the abuse they suffered as victims of racism and appreciate why they would want the statue removed, I believe it is profoundly mistaken. Firstly, while the local news has been describing the statue as a slave, there’s no evidence that connects it directly to slavery and the slave trade. They know the name of the clockmaker, and that’s it. No evidence has been presented to suggest he had any connection with the slave trade or slavery at all. Further more, there are no marks on the statue to suggest slavery. There are no chains or manacles, as seen in this image of Black African slaves captured by a group of Arab slavers below.

Arab Slave Coffle

Nor does the figure look like the poor souls on sale in this 19th century picture of an American slave market.

American Slave Market

It looks far more like African chief and his people, shown making a treaty with British officers in this painting from 1815, following the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807.

British Officer Meeting African Chiefs to Make a treaty, 1815

As Europe expanded to colonise and establish trading links with the outside world from the 15th century onwards, so Blacks and other indigenous peoples began to enter European art. Sometimes they were depicted as servants and slaves, but at other times simply as symbols of the exotic. See this picture of the 17th century painting, Vanitas, by Jaques de Gheyn.

Jacques de Gheyn, Vanitas, 17th century

The statue also looks somewhat like the depictions of a Black Brazilian family by the `17th century Dutch artist, Albert Eckhout, between 1641-3. These are part of a series of 8 paintings commissioned by the Dutch governor of Nassau, intended to be anthropological studies of Brazil’s non-White peoples.

Blacks also appear as decorations on the musical instruments of the time. For example, negro heads often adorned the pegboxes of citterns, a 17th century ancestor of the guitar. It therefore seems to me that the statue of the Black African on Stroud’s clock is not that of a slave, but simply of the sculptor’s idea of an indigenous Black African. The modelling isn’t very good, but I suspect this is less due to any animosity on the part of the sculptor than simple lack of artistic training or skill. It’s more an example of folk art, rather than that of someone with a proper academic artistic education.

I therefore think that it’s wrong to assume that the Stroud figure is a slave. The assumption that it is seems to be a result of the general attack on anything vaguely connected to historic slavery and the slave trade following the mass protests in support of Black Lives Matter. It also seems to be directly influenced by the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, further to the south.

In fact, I believe that rather than suggesting Black degradation and slavery, the statue could be seen in a far more positive light as showing Stroud proudly embracing Blacks as trading partners as well as symbols of exoticism and prosperity.

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.

Boris Johnson Caught Hiding in His Car Outside Ten Downing Street

January 13, 2022

This is another video posted by mad right-winger Alex Belfield. But as right-wing and unpleasant as Belfield is, it’s a good one that’s worth reblogging here. Because it’s a clip from the news in which a reported tells Britain that the press photographers saw Johnson lying in his car outside Ten Downing Street.

Just about everyone’s piling on and telling him to resign. Belfield even put up a video of Stalin giving him a mauling at PMQs with the title that 10 Downing Street was now open to him. I think that day’s very far off, because Johnson’s unpopularity has precious little to do with anything Stalin’s done. Furthermore, I doubt if Stalin, as a true-blue Tory infiltrator, will be much better than Johnson, if at all.

But it is amusing to see Johnson running away yet again. Clearly when there isn’t an available nearby fridge, his only means of escape is to get in his car and keep his head down.

Email Campaign by We Own It Against Channel 4 Privatisation

October 20, 2021

I got this email yesterday from anti-privatisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It about the government’s latest sell-off. They’re planning to privatise Channel 4. Their email explains that this is disastrous because Channel 4 are one of the few media outlets holding them to account. At the same time they have been instrumental in producing quality television, which is funded through the channel’s advertising revenue. The government’s proposed privatisation is such a terrible idea that even many Tories are protesting against it. To counter it, the organisation is asking people to write to their MPs using a form letter they have devised. Here’s the email:

“Dear David,

There is absolutely no reason to privatise Channel 4, but the government is planning to do it anyway.

You can take a quick, easy action today to stop them in their tracks.

Take action now

Why is this so important?

Channel 4 News is one of the few news programmes that really holds this government to account, on issues from the NHS to the climate crisis. In fact, that’s probably a big part of why the government wants to privatise it. 

(Remember when Boris Johnson failed to attend the Channel 4 leaders’ debate on the climate crisis, and they replaced him with a melting ice sculpture?)

If you want decent news coverage at the next general election, please take 2 minutes to email your MP, ESPECIALLY if they’re a Conservative.

Email your MP now

Privatising Channel 4 would be an incredibly destructive act that would damage the UK film and TV industry. The creation of Channel 4 is the reason why the independent sector in film and TV exists today.

This matters 

  • For the quality of programmes and films that get produced
  • For young people trying to enter the creative industry
  • For the UK’s reputation in the world

There is no problem that privatising Channel 4 is the solution for.

Channel 4 has a unique business model, making a profit from advertising that it reinvests in good programming and nurturing talent. Channel 4 now has offices in Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Bristol, so it helps with the ‘levelling up’ agenda, boosting investment and jobs all around the country. They also support local production companies and outreach programmes in Cardiff, Belfast, Bournemouth, Norwich, Wolverhampton, Preston, Doncaster, Corby and Leicester.

That’s why wherever you are in the UK, Channel 4 is a good thing for your area.

Take 2 minutes to take action now

Lots of Conservatives have come out against the proposed sale of Channel 4. Many celebrities, including very right wing ones, have too. This means we have a chance of persuading the government that privatisation is a bad idea.

As Kirstie Allsopp has said, the plan to privatise Channel 4 is incredibly destructive. “I am a fiscal conservative and I’m naturally conservative-leaning and I find [the sale of C4] to be a betrayal of conservatism. It’s bonkers…I stood outside St Pauls when Margaret Thatcher’s coffin went by, and she would be spinning in her grave if she knew what this government was intending to do. Because C4 produces money, it produces jobs, it fosters talent, it brings out the best in people, and it’s very British.”

If you have a Conservative MP, it’s so important that you take this action! Your MP is EXACTLY who we need to shift. You will see that the template email is aimed at appealing to MPs like yours. Please send the text as it is, to maximise the chances of doing that! Thank you.

If you don’t have a Conservative MP, your MP can still really help to raise this issue up the agenda.

I want to stop the Channel 4 sell off

Last time the government tried to privatise Channel 4 they failed – partly because of the campaign we were part of to stop them. 

Let’s win again this time around and protect this much loved, publicly owned asset.

Thank you so much.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Zana and Anna – the We Own It team

PS Thank you so much for the incredible response to our Halloween action to protect our NHS from the Health and Care Bill! If you’ve let us know that you’d like to take action locally, we’re getting your action packs ready at the moment and we’ll be in contact with you via email. Get in touch if you want to get involved – there’s still time!”

I’ve supported their campaign, and duly sent a message to my MP because of the reasons they’ve laid out in their email. It’s not just the government that Channel 4’s held to account. They also gave Mark Regev a hard time when during the bombardment of Gaza. Regev tried to tell the British public that if they sent aid to Gaza through Israel, it would still get there. John Snow knew he was lying and told him he was. Which shows that Channel 4 has more backbone when it comes to tackling Israeli lies and atrocities than the rest of our craven media, or at least, they did then.

Channel 4 was set up in the 1980s to be an alternative to BBC 2. News was to be a particularly important part of its programming, and this has been consistently extremely good, even to Tories like former Mail columnist, now scribbling for the Times, Quentin Letts. The broadcaster was also going to offer programmes to minorities and groups not served by mainstream broadcasters. Hence when it started off it broadcast an adaptation of the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata, and a season of Indian films, All India Goldies. I also remember it having a news series of reports from Africa, fronted by Black reporters. It also helped launch a new generation of Black comedians with the series Desmond’s. And then there was the awesome Max Headroom. Unfortunately, the quality did decline in the 1990s as the programme chiefs made it more mainstream, though even then it did broadcast quality material like the American import, Fraser. And it does support the British film industry, or what remains of it. If you’ve seen a British film, or a British/Irish co-production in the past few years, chances are that it’s also been co-produced by Channel 4 films. Kirstie Allsopp is wrong about Margaret Thatcher not wanting it privatised. There were several times when the Conservative government tried to sell it off, or sold shares in it but it hasn’t been totally privatised.

Now it seems it will be. For the same reasons the government is trying to privatise the Beeb. Because both are obstacles to private TV stations that don’t have a public service commitment, and particularly because they’re obstacles to the grasping power of Rupert Murdoch.

I’ve supported this campaign and emailed my MP as requested because I don’t want the channel privatised. If you feel the same, please do so.

Introducing Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi: One of the ‘Wrong Type of Jews’

November 30, 2020

Double Down News are another left-wing, alternative news site and agency. In this video, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of Jewish Voice for Labour, talks about the abuse and attempts to silence her she and the other left-wing, pro-Palestinian Jews have faced. She describes what a breath of fresh air Jeremy Corbyn was and the hope he gave people like herself, that there would be real change at last after 30 years in the Labour party. She talks about the eminent Jewish academics, who have criticised the establishment’s exclusive concentration on support for Israel as the defining factor in Jewish identity, and the powerful role left-wing Jews like herself have played in combating racism and prejudice all over the world, from the battle against Mosley’s BUF to the American Civil Rights movement and apartheid South Africa.

Anti-Semitic Abuse for Being Pro-Palestine

She begins by describing the abuse she personally got when she was 19 and presented a pro-Palestinian talk at Uni. she was called ‘safe-hating’, ‘the wrong kind of Jew’, ‘anti-Semitic’ and a ‘kapo’. This is especially despicable, as they were the Jewish collaborators with the Nazis in the concentration camps. She is bitterly critical of this type of abuse, not just because it’s especially offensive for people who have really suffered under Nazis and other vicious anti-Semites – she equates it with being called a ‘paedophile’ – but because it also delegitimises the struggle against real Fascists. Here the video shows footage from the notorious Charlottesville Nazi gathering, with the storm troopers of the Alt Right marching along chanting ‘The Jews will not replace us.’ Wimborn-Idrissi’s talk and the abuse she received was covered by the Jewish Telegraph, who put it all on the front page. Which shows you what a despicable, right-wing establishment rag it is.

Heijo Meyer and Israel’s Nazi-like Persecution of the Palestinians

She also gives the real truth about Corbyn’s infamous attendance at the speech given by Heijo Meyer, which was used to pillory Corbyn as an anti-Semite. Of course he’s no such thing, and the video shows images of the greatest prime minister Britain rejected demonstrating against racism, including his arrest for protesting against apartheid. Meyer was a Dutch Holocaust survivor – and the video shows this with Meyer rolling up his sleeve to show the tattoo on his forearm which the Nazis used to mark the inmates of the death camps. Meyer’s was speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Day event. He was describing how the techniques used by the Nazis to dehumanize people like him – Jews – in the camps to enable them to murder them are also being used by Israel against the Palestinians. And what Wimborne-Idrissi says is horrifying is that the parallels are there.

This section of the footage is grim, as it show the Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression – homes in rubble, a disabled person tipped over in their wheelchair by Israeli squaddies, a little girl with horrifically blackened, swollen eyes.

The talk was part of a series of events that also showed other communities had suffered oppression, like the Travellers. But they were shouted down by a very obnoxious, very vociferous group of Zionists. She found it deeply disgusting that these people were trying to shout down and intimidate an eighty year old man, and urged Corbyn to call the rozzers to have them removed. And in fact the fuzz were prevailed upon to do their duty. But unfortunately by that time they’d been successful in drowning out the Travellers, so that people hardly heard a word from them.

The Media Silencing of Left-Wing Jews

Naomi points out that the media refuses give Jews like her a voice. Instead they give space to organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism as if they were long established and authoritative. There the video show a group waving placards, ‘Labour – For the Many Not the Jew’. This is the mendacious slogan dreamed up by novelist Howard Jacobson when he was in New York. Which is a good and sufficient reason for no-one to buy his books or listen to anything he has to say ever again. It also shows the Beeb’s Kirsty Wark and other journos as an example of this media bias. But Jews have opposed Zionism and Israel for a long time. This is accompanied by images of prominent Jewish critics of Zionism like the awesome Norman Finkelstein and various anti-Zionist Jewish conventions. Some of these are in Black and White, and are of packed, mass meetings. One looks like the Bund. This was the mass socialist party of eastern European Jews. Its slogan was ‘Wherever We Are, That’s Our Homeland’, and they were fiercely anti-Zionist.

She talks about Marek Edelman, one of the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising, who said that ‘to be a Jew is always to side with the oppressed, never the oppressor’. And that was why Jews like her aligned with the oppressed and fought against racism, and why it was just so revolting that their opponents wished to associate Jewry with the type of people they’d always fought against. She tells how the Jewish journalist, Anthony Lerman, has published articles attacking the anti-Semitism smears in the Labour party, and also Kenneth Stern’s criticism of the abuse of the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism. Stern is the Jewish academic, who formulated it. He meant it to be used in compiling statistics about anti-Semitic abuse. But he is concerned about the way it is being used to silence critics of Israel. He testified on this to Congress, and the video has a clip of his speech. He says he’s worried about the way its being used against Jewish non-Zionist college students and the way organisations are compiling dossiers and passing round opponents on critics of Israel. The anti-Zionist college students should also be heard. This is significant, because I think Stern is himself a Zionist. He’s just a decent man and not a racial fanatic like some of the organisations abusing his definition of anti-Semitism. But unfortunately all you hear are the pro-Israel fanatics. You don’t hear or see anything broadcast or printed by Lerman or Stern, except a few learned articles if you look online.

Fleeing Real Anti-Semitism, and Hope for the Future

She also talks about some of her and her families experiences as refugees from the pogroms and persecutions in eastern Europe, of not fitting because you’re weird with a funny accent. But there has to be hope. Jeremy Corbyn brought 300,000 new people into the party. And an increasing number of a new generation of young Jews, especially in America, are turning away and against Israel.

She concludes by praising Double Down News for giving left-wing Jews like herself a voice, and urges people to support it.

Meet The Wrong Type of Jew, The Media Doesn’t Want You To Know Exists | Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi – YouTube

Naomi makes excellent points, and people should hear not just her voice, but the many other Jews like her. She is right to point out, early in the video, that the political and media establishment are anti-Semitic in their attempts to create the impression that Jews constitute a single, monolithic block. That’s what their oppressors have always done.

Unfortunately the media has shown that they have absolutely no intention of giving any space to good peeps like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas and the Jewish Socialist Group. The Beeb, a company which increasingly looks like it has a proud future behind it, has been one of the leaders in pushing the anti-Semitism smears. And it wonders why it comes fifth ranked as trustworthy by the British public, lower even than Channel 5.

The Beeb is reviled as left-wing and ‘woke’ by the Tories and their poodle media because of its anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic stance, and ’cause they see it as anti-Brexit. But in domestic politics and economics, it’s solidly pro-Tory and pro-Israel. Hence its steadfast refusal to let any other voice be heard, Jewish or gentile, to contradict the anti-Semitism.

But left-wing, sincerely anti-racist folks of all religions and ethnicities have and are waking up to the Beeb’s disgusting bias. Which is why they’re joining the right in switching it off.

If we are going to hear the real truth, it has to come from news sites like Double Down News, Sam Seder’s Majority Report and the David Pakman Show in America, Amy Goodson of Democracy Now! and Abby Martin of Tele Sur, Ash Sarkar of Novara Media and Kerry-Ann Mendoza of The Canary. She’s another anti-racist gentile, who’s been accused of anti-Semitism, despite having a Jewish partner. Seder and Pakman are both Jewish. Seder has described himself as the most Jewish guy you know, and has no time whatsoever for Israel screaming anti-Semitism ever time America cuts its aid budget.

When we hear the truth, more often than not it comes from these broadcasters. Because it surely is not coming from the establishment media.

BBC Chief Says Corporation Could Axe News Programmes

August 22, 2020

Here’s another piece from yesterday’s I, for 21st August 2020. Written by Adam Sherwin, it reports the comments by the Beeb’s Fran Unsworth in an interview with the Torygraph that the corporation could axe the 6 O’clock and 10 O’clock News from its mainstream channels in a decade. The article runs

The BBC’s News At Six and News At Ten could disappear from television screens as the corporation’s coverage shifts to digital, its head of news has said.

Fran Unsworth said that a push to attract younger viewers meant that the BBC’s flagship bulletins could move from broadcast channels to the iPlayer within a decade.

Ms Unsworth said: “Ultimately, in 10 years’ time, we probably won’t be consuming linear bulletins. I might be wrong about that but I doubt it. There might be one (bulletin) a day, but video will just be in a different space… you know, iPlayer, your tablet, your iPhone.

One of the flagship bulletins, whose audiences have doubled during the pandemic, might survive, she told The Daily Telegraph.

Figures released at the start of lockdown showed news programmes’ ratings had risen.

In the week to 28 March, five of the 10 most-watched broadcasts were editions of the BBC News At Six, with the bulletin on 23 March attracting a TV audience of 8.3 million, nearly double its typical rating so far this year. The 10pm programme had reported audiences of six million.

But Ms Unsworth said that while young viewers had discovered the BBC delivered information they could trust during a crisis, the surge in TV news viewing was a temporary phenomenon.

The corporation has announced already that it will axe the Newsround afternoon bulletin, which has run for nearly 50 years.

The BBC is slashing more than 500 jobs from its news division in a bid to make savings of £80m. Reports and interviews will be shared between BBC outlets.

This is going to delight the Tories and the Murdoch empire, who would like to see the Beeb privatised completely. About 70 per cent of news consumed in the UK comes from the Beeb, and obviously Murdoch and his squalid minions would like to see this greatly reduced so that they can move in. And that means extremely biased right-wing news, like Fox in America. Or Sky News Australia, which is so right-wing it can only get further to the right by beginning with an evocation of the Eureka Stockade and calls for the reintroduction of the White Australia policy.

The Beeb is having trouble attracting a young audience. According to the reports I’ve read, they simply aren’t interested in it. And unless the corporation can find ways of attracting them, that means the Corporation won’t have an audience and so consequently, no future.

However, many young people have learned that the Beeb doesn’t produce information they can trust. Not after its constant, vicious smearing of Jeremy Corbyn and its blatant anti-Labour bias. And Scots viewers, I’ve no doubt, will remember how Nick Robinson very carefully edited down SNP leader Alex Salmond’s full answer to a question about the impact Scottish independence would have on Edinburgh’s financial sector. Salmond stated fully that they’d gone into it, and Edinburgh’s banks would remain in the Scots capital after independence. They wouldn’t leave for London. But this didn’t satisfy the Macclesfield Goebbels, and his answer was first cut so that Robinson claimed he hadn’t properly answered it, and then completely edited out so that he finally claimed that Salmond hadn’t answered it all. It was a piece of propaganda worthy of a totalitarian state. I realise that Salmond, despite his acquittal, is still under the shadow of the multiple rape accusations. But this is a different issue, and shows how desperate the Beeb and the British establishment were to discredit him when it came to Scotland leaving the union.

Millions have learned that the Beeb does not produce information they can trust. That’s why they’re turning to alternative news sources, like those on the Net.

I think it would be disastrous if the Beeb did abandon proper news bulletins on its broadcast channels, leaving that space to be filled by Murdoch and the other media magnates. I want it to get better, not to go completely. But through its concerted campaign against the Labour party, the Beeb has successfully alienated the very people, who would have otherwise supported it the most against Tory demands for its privatisation.

And so the Beeb has only itself to blame for the crisis it is now facing, whatever delusions Unsworth might have about winning back young people.

 

 

Score! Football Marcus Rashford Gets Government to Provide Free School Meals During Holidays

June 19, 2020

Kudos and respect to Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer, for managing to get Boris Johnson to supply free school meals during the summer holidays. Rashford had written an open letter to our comedy Prime Minister urging him not to end the current scheme of supplying vouchers for school meals to families, who otherwise could not afford to feed them at lunch time. Rashford was interviewed on BBC news, where he remembered having used food banks and free school meals when he was a child. He also raised £20 million to help poor families avoid starvation and other problems with the charity FareShare.

Johnson, as your typical Tory, initially refused. He said instead that he was going to make £63 million available to local authorities to help the poor obtain food and other necessities. But this is only a fraction of the £115 million that would be spent on free school dinners. Robert Halfon, a senior Tory, also broke ranks to argue that, under Johnson’s scheme, the money would never reach those who needed it because it was too bureaucratic. Johnson also tried palming Rashford and his supporters off with another scheme, in which the government would spend £9 million on holiday activities and feeding 50,000 needy sprogs. This is 1.67 per cent of the three million or so children going hungry thanks to the government’s wages freeze and destruction of the welfare state.

Mike one of his articles about this has put up a number of Tweets from people decrying Johnson’s miserly, spiteful attempts to stop children continuing to receive school meals. One of them is from Damo, who pointed out that the government can find £150 billion to help out big business, but can’t find £115 million for hungry children.

Ghoul Johnson spits on footballer’s school meals plea – he wants millions of children to STARVE

Finally, after realizing just what a public relations disaster this was, Johnson gave in. Rashford duly Tweeted his appreciation of the support he had received from the British public. But as Mike reminds us, Johnson only finally conceded to grant the meal because the campaign was led by a celebrity. Mike concluded

England in 2020 is a place where the government deliberately tries to harm its citizens…

… and where it only gives anything back in fear of harmful publicity from a campaign by a highly-visible public figure. If Joe Bloggs from a small village had run this campaign, your children would be skin and bone by September.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/06/16/tories-cave-in-to-rashfords-school-meals-campaign-with-scheme-for-holidays/

And where was Starmer during all this? 

As far as I am aware, Starmer said and did precious little. I think he might have made some approving, supportive comment after Rashford won his victory, but that’s it. And it’s not good enough from the head of the Labour Party.

But what do you expect? Starmer’s a Blairite, and Tony Blair’s entire strategy was to take over Tory policies in an attempt to appeal to their voters, while assuring them and the Tory media that he could do it better than they could. Meanwhile the British working class was expected to continue to support him out of traditional tribal loyalty and the fact that they had nowhere else to go. This resulted in Labour losing many of its members, to the point where even though he lost the elections, Corbyn had far more people voting for him than Blair did.

The result is that Starmer is dragging us back to the situation of the late 90s and first years of this century, when a genuine left-wing opposition fighting for working people and traditional Labour issues, was left to organisations outside the political parties. Organisations like Disabled People Against Cuts, who fight for proper welfare support for the disabled, anti-austerity groups and campaigns to save the NHS from privatisation. They’re doing what Starmer should be doing and conspicuously isn’t, afraid he might offend all those Tory voters he wants to support him. As against a real Labour leader like Jeremy Corbyn.

Marcus Rashford deserves full plaudits for his work to get deprived kids proper meals.

And Johnson and Starmer, for their initial lack of support for the scheme, are nothing but a disgrace.

 

After Slavery, the West Indies Had Black Politicians

June 19, 2020

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in Britain has come the debate about the teaching of Black history in schools. There was an item about this on BBC news earlier this week. Some schools already teach it, including the Black British experience but also the Black kingdoms in Africa, which is taught before going on to slavery. There were comments from Black students, who said that it had boosted their self-esteem. However, not all schools teach it and there have been calls from Black politicos to make it compulsory.

But Caribbean history may also provide useful role models and inspiration for Black Britons. What isn’t really appreciated is that shortly after the abolition of slavery in 1837, Black West Indians elected Black and biracial ‘coloured’ politicians to protect them from the planters’ attempts to force them back into servitude. Gad Heuvelmans mentions this development in The Caribbean: A Brief History, 2nd edition (London: Bloomsbury 2014). He writes

Strikes and riots were one form of response of the ex-slaves to emancipation; another was challenging the political domination of the planters. This took the form of electing black and brown representatives to the local Assemblies. Although not forming a single political bloc, black and brown Assemblymen generally supported government policies. Moreover, they could be significant: in Dominica, for example, coloured representatives formed a majority in the Assembly. Their presence prevented the passage of harsh legislation against the ex-slaves which characterized many other West Indian colonies.

In Jamaica, the coloured and black members of the Assembly united to form the Town Party, a faction which opposed the predominately planters’ Country Party. The coloureds favoured funds being spent on education, resisted expensive immigration schemes, and sought to counter planter attempts to restrict the franchise. Moreover, the coloureds also voted against measures to shift the burden of taxation almost entirely onto small settlers. Brown and black representatives did remain a minority in the Jamaican House of Assembly, but as tehir numbers increased, the planters became increasingly alarmed about the possibility of being outnumbered. (p.113).

I’ve known Black educators and historians get frustrated about the lack of awareness of this aspect of West Indian history. One of the experts, who also worked at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was a Black historian from the West Indies. He used to give talks regularly to Bristol’s Black community was active in several Black improvement programmes. I remember him telling me how exasperated he got when he was talking to a young man, who blamed the problems of the Black community on slavery. He told the young man that that was no explanation as they had Black politicians immediately after slavery.

I think this is right. You can’t put all of the problems of the western Black communities down to slavery. Some of it is also due general racism, and the oppressive measures the planter elites imposed to try and force Black West Indians back onto the plantation under their control. But just as they had strongly resisted slavery, so the newly emancipated Black population turned to politics and got themselves and their representatives elected to resist attempts to disenfranchise them. No small achievement! I don’t want to be accused of telling Black people what they should or shouldn’t do to improve their condition, but perhaps it would give more Black Britons hope and inspiration if they knew more about this.

Another nation that might also provide useful role models might be Ghana. As the former Gold Coast, in the 1920s this had a remarkably enlightened governor for the time. It was the first British colony to appoint indigenous people as members of its governing council. I think its governor also wrote a book on racism in the 1940s, with the title of ‘Colour Prejudice’ or ‘Colour Issue’ or something like it. This included not only examples of White racism, but also Blacks against Whites. He quotes the 14th century Arab traveler ibn Battuta on the racism towards Whites of the people of the Black African kingdom of Mali.  This was something like ‘They would be great Muslims, if they didn’t treat Whites with such contempt’.

And regardless of skin colour, I wish there was more of the spirit of the Town Party today. We need more spent on education, just as we need more spent on welfare and the NHS. We need to stop the Tories shifting the tax burden onto the poor instead of the rich.

And the Tories are doing what they can to disenfranchise and force into servitude Britain’s working people, all while trying to preserve a facade of freedom.

 

 

Beeb Attempts to Refute Tory Sock Puppet Allegations

April 22, 2020

This morning I caught a brief item by the Beeb tackling what they called the ‘rumours’ of the Tories using fake Twitter accounts to post messages supporting Boris Johnson and pressing for a return to the herd immunity policy. When this became difficult for them to justify outright, they simply retreated into calling for the lockdown to be lifted. Which would pretty much be the same policy. It just wouldn’t describe itself as ‘herd immunity’.

The plot was uncovered on Monday by John O’Connell of Rightwing Watch, a site which I think tackles Fascism and right-wing extremism. Which would, judging by the Tories horrendous policies and long history of flirting and supporting extreme right-wing parties and ideologies, naturally include them, and particularly Boris Johnson. O’Connell believed he had found 128 fake Twitter accounts posing as NHS staff. These seemed to come from the DHSC through a marketing company that had only one client, the DHSC, four staff, all ex-DHSC. The accounts themselves had been posted by a single person, who was herself on secondment from government.

O’Connell presented as evidence a Tweet purporting to be from a deaf junior doctor, Susan, who said that she was transitioning this year. She said she was fighting Covid-19 with other LGBTQ+ people. ‘Susan’, however, didn’t exist, and the photo of her was an NHS paediatric nurse from Greece. O’Connell contacted the Department of Health and Social Care to get their response. There was absolutely none, and his offers to go through their data was refused. When he tried again, they told him it was also misinformation, and if you repeated it, you were harming our common attempt to battle the Coronavirus. And the messages themselves all mysteriously disappeared.

From the details O’Connell gave, it sounds like he has the government bang to rights, including the very identity of whoever posted the tweets. And it’s not like Boris hasn’t done it before. The Tories did, using Cambridge Analytica for Brexit, and Dominic Cummings was unmasked by the Absurder as the noxious personality behind the Twitter account @toryeducation, which abused the government’s critics and opponents. This was when Cummings was a mere spad at the department of education under Gove. And I think Boris has been using a bot army more recently too.

The Beeb, however, in their wisdom decided to give the story no credence. The government and Twitter had both denied that these fake accounts had been created, and O’Connell had not handed over his data. The only evidence was the Tweet from ‘Susan’ and the 128 deleted accounts. ‘Susan’ was, the Beeb’s correspondent explained, a genuine fake account. But the character with its LGBTQ+ identification looked like it was by someone trying to discredit Boris by posting a fake identity that looked like it came from him or his supporters. And so the Beeb decided that the claims were just rumours after all.

At no time was it mentioned that Boris, Cummings and the Tories have used such bot accounts. O’Connell wasn’t even named, let alone interviewed to present his side of the argument. Perhaps the Beeb contacted him and he was unavailable for comment. But somehow I doubt that. Another Tweeter had tried to get the Beeb in the form of Laura Kuenssberg, as well as Robert Peston and a number of websites and news organisations interested, including Zelo Street and Novara Media. Mike and Zelo Street put up articles about it, but the lamestream media had zero interest when Zelo Street put up their articles yesterday.

I don’t know, but it seems to me that O’Connell is correct, and the Tories and Twitter are lying. As for the Beeb, they now have such an extreme pro-Tory, anti-Labour bias that I don’t think they can be trusted on stories like this. O’Connell has said that he doesn’t want to be crucified like the people, who revealed Cambridge Analytica. He’s therefore waiting for the evidence to be ‘gold-plated’ before he reveals it in full. It’ll be very interesting if and when he does.

In the meantime, the Tory supporters were out on Twitter screaming that he was a crank, and, unsurprisingly, a left-wing anti-Semite. Yes, we’re back to the anti-Semitism smears again. The fact that the smear merchants were reduced to name calling and smearing once again to me acts as another factor in his favour.

O’Connell’s probably right, as the abuse directed against him shows that certain people are very, very worried.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/04/20/more-coronavirus-propaganda-hundreds-of-fake-nhs-social-media-accounts-set-up-by-health-dept/

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/nhs-fake-twitter-accounts-exposed.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/tory-twitter-dirty-tricks-warning-from.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/fake-tweeters-shoot-messenger.html

The Beeb and Lamestream Media’s Total Lack of Interest in Anti-Corbyn Plots in Labour Party

April 18, 2020

Here’s another example of the malignant bias against Labour and particularly the real Labour Centrists – Corbyn’s supporters – in the BBC and the mainstream media. They have shown close to zero interest in the leaked report showing massive plotting by the Blairites in the Labour Party to unseat Corbyn, particularly through the careful manipulation of the anti-Semitism crisis.

Sky News reported on it on the 12th of April, and Tom Mills, the author of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service, followed this up by seeing how the Beeb would respond to the story. Just before 3 in the afternoon of the 14th, Mills issued a tweet noting that the Beeb was ‘eerily quiet.’ The Beeb has an official list of 100 journalists on Twitter, but he couldn’t find a single one of them tweeting or retweeting the story about the leaked report. The Corporation did publish an article about the report, which played it down, and Keir Starmer’s reaction. But when The Canary went to look at Twitter themselves, they found that Mills was right. The Beeb’s journos were not tweeting about the story.

The Canary remarked that this was significant for several reasons, one of which was that many of the hacks on the list were keen to comment on the anti-Semitism allegations. Laura Kuenssberg is one particularly glaring example. The other was that the Beeb was at the forefront of reporting the anti-Semitism allegations against the Labour party. And one of the prime examples of that was the massively biased Panorama documentary, ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ The Jewish academic Justin Schlosberg was extremely critical of the programme, noting that it was the third edition of the programme since 2015 that was wholly critical of Corbyn’s leadership. It contained gross breaches of the Beeb’s rules governing impartiality and accuracy, and he mounted a challenge to Ofcom’s refusal to investigate the programme, calling it a ‘wholesale failure of accountability’. As for the leaked report, he further commented that ‘it appears to corroborate reams of evidence of a historic collapse of journalistic standards.’

Mark Curtis, who’s made a string of fascinating and important documentaries such as The Century of the Self, stated that it was important to view the Beeb’s lack of response in context. It was no wonder the Beeb wasn’t interested when the rest of the media wasn’t either.

Mills responded by urging people to support independent media. Because, for now, there is no alternative.

The Canary concurred, and concluded

Indeed, we’ve had years of shameful, unprofessional media coverage about Corbyn and his movement. And this has had a clear impact on voters. So today, it’s more important than ever before that we build an accountable, people-led media landscape. Our democracy depends on it.

See: https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2020/04/15/author-highlights-bbc-journalists-highly-revealing-response-to-labour-leaks-scandal/

As much as I respect Adam Curtis, the argument that the Beeb shouldn’t be judged too harshly for its silence because the rest of the media aren’t reporting it either, is absolutely no excuse. The Beeb has a dominant position in broadcast news, if not the media as a whole. Something like 70 per cent of the population get their news from the Corporation. This is immensely important at a time of falling newspaper circulation. The Beeb is suffering too from online competition, but even so, it is still in a powerful position as news provider. It should be leading the rest of the media in news coverage, not following them. Perhaps if it actually did this, it might start winning back some of the viewers it has lost to blogs, vlogs and the online news shows.

The reality is that no matter how liberal the Beeb’s bias may have been over a decade ago, it is now stuffed full of Tories and its pro-Labour staff seem to be Blairites. The Beeb took a major role in promoting the anti-Semitism smears, and the silence of its top journos shows that it is determined to preserve the narrative it has constructed: that Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and under him the Labour party was awash with Jew-hatred.

The opposite was true. Corbyn was always a friend of the Jews and campaigned on their behalf. He had the respect and support of a large section of the Jewish community, and during his leadership the levels of anti-Semitism were far lower than in society at large. Rather than being any kind of Nazi, as certain loudmouths allege, Corbyn was an anti-Fascist. He was simply critical of Israel’s slow-motion genocide of the Palestinians.

But to the Tories, the Blairites and a politically Conservative Jewish establishment absolutely unrepresentative of Britain’s diverse Jewish community, this meant that he was an anti-Semite they could vilify and smear in order to prevent a genuine reforming Labour government coming to power.

The Beeb’s silence about the leaked report is as damning an indictment of their culpable bias as their lies.