Posts Tagged ‘Portsmouth’

Hope Not Hate Publishes Dossier of Tory Islamophobes

March 14, 2020

A week or so ago Mike put up a piece on his blog commenting on the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s apparent double standards towards racism in the Labour and the Conservative parties. They have spent a year combing the Labour party for evidence of anti-Semitism. It’s undoubtedly there, because it exists in wider British society. However, the fact that they haven’t published anything about it so far indicates what has already been said about anti-Semitism in the Party: it’s at a much, much lower level than mainstream British society, and the majority of it comes from the right and especially the far right. However, the Tory, media narrative demands that Labour be a hotbed of anti-Jewish hatred, and so they’re determined to find it. No matter how long it takes.

This is in sharp contrast to the Tory party, which is seething with real islamophobia. The internet personality Jacobsmates found plenty of it on Tory Facebook and Twitter accounts, with the supporters of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg expressing real, vicious, murderous hatred towards Muslims. Sayeeda Warsi has been demanding that islamophobia in her party should be investigated, as has Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Great Britain. I think Boris even promised an inquiry, but put it off until after the election. How very convenient! A fortnight ago, 20 Tories were suspended and expelled for their prejudice towards Muslims. But so far the EHRC has done nothing. Perhaps it has something to do with its leader, Trevor Philips, being suspended from the Labour Party for it. This has infuriated the Tories, who are all claiming that Philips is innocent and it’s because he was telling the truth about Muslims and their grooming gangs. But the evidence against Philips seems strong. He did make false accusations against Muslims, particularly over the case of a child placed with a Muslim foster family. Please go and see Zelo Street’s posts about this for further information, such as https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/trevor-phillips-doth-protest-too-much.html

Now the anti-racism/anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, has published its list of Tory islamophobes, and is calling on the Conservatives to take firm action against them and racism in the party. The organisation says

Throughout 2019 there was a steady flow of allegations made against Conservative Party councillors, activists and members which, when viewed alongside the polling of members conducted by YouGov in July, paints a picture of a party that has a significant problem with anti-Muslim sentiment at local level. Now HOPE Not Hate can reveal a new dossier of Islamophobic social media posts by more than twenty Tory officials and activists, including six sitting councillors. We are calling on CCHQ to take immediate action against these individuals, and will continue to demand that they take proper steps to tackle the Islamophobia crisis that has gripped the party at every level.

The list includes:

Councillor Steve Vickers, of Nottingham County Council

Councillor Sonia Armstrong, Harworth and Bircotes Town Council

Councillor Judith Clementson, Winchester City Council

Councillor Karl Lewis, Llandinam Community Council

Councillor Derek Bullock, Bolton Council

Councillor Ranjit Pendhar Singh Gill, Hounslow

Parliamentary Assistant Fraser McFarland

Ex-councillor Bryan Denson, Wakefield

Ex-Councillor Gail Hall

Ex-Councillor Christopher Meakin

Ex-Councillor Susanna Dixon, Coventry

Ex-Councillor Martin Akehurst, Henley-on-Thames

2019 Council Candidate Liam Christopher Ritchie

2019 Council Candidate Roger Vernon, Bassetlaw

2019 Council Candidate Deirdre Vernon, Bassetlaw

2016 Council Candidate Yonah Saunders

2018 Candidate Paul Ingham, Tower Hamlets

2017 Council Candidate and Former Chair, Alan Booth, Durham

2016 Council Candidate John Hill, Portsmouth,

2016 Council Candidate John Shoesmith, Calderdale

2016 Council Candidate Charles Beckham, Darlington

Party Donor Fraser Duffin

Activist Fraser Duffin, Inverness

The offensive comments and posts they made include personal attacks on London’s mayor Sadiq Khan and Sayeeda Warsi, general hatred of immigrants and support for Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, some of them also believe that Muslims are collectively responsible for 9/11 and support terrorism, as well as the various conspiracy theories about Muslims deliberately invading Europe in order to take over and destroy western society. Many of them believe the discredited ‘Eurabia’ nonsense, which holds that Muslims are outbreeding everyone else, and in two generations will be the dominate ethnic/ religious group.

Revealed: New evidence of Islamophobia among Conservative Party officials and activists

I have strong reservations about Hope Not Hate. They’ve done some brilliant work exposing genuine racism and religious extremism. However, one of the organisations they liaise with is the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which has been one of the major promoters of the Labour Party anti-Semitism smears. Nevertheless, they’ve done an excellent job in helping to expose the rabid islamophobia in the Tory ranks.

And Labour’s allegations of deep-seated islamophobia in the Tories is clearly causing more than a little discomfort. One of the hacks in the I last week wrote a piece attacking political ‘whataboutery’. I didn’t read the article, just the headline, so I may well be wrong. But I took this to mean that they weren’t happy with Labour raising the issue of Tory islamophobia in response to the anti-Semitism smears. Smears which the I, like the rest of the press, was all too eager to promote.

This is an embarrassing issue for the Tories. Which is why they and the media are trying to play it down and cover it up. But it’s not going away, and needs to be exposed and dealt with.

Perhaps after Hope Not Hate, other organisations will take up the challenge and pressure Johnson to do more to combat such racism in his ranks. But as he’s one of them, don’t bet on it. 

See: https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2020/03/02/revealed-new-evidence-of-islamophobia-among-conservative-party-officials-and-activists/

 

 

The Flightless Bird So Good It Evolved Twice

May 12, 2019

Another fascinating piece of news in yesterday’s, for 11th May 2019, was about the discovery by evolutionary scientists that a type of flightless bird had evolved twice on the same Indian Ocean atoll. It reappeared the second time thousands of years after it had first come extinct, in a process biologists call ‘iterative evolution’. The article, ‘Evolution strikes twice for flightless bird on isolated atoll’, by Ben Mitchell, reads

A flightless bird that became extinct when its home island became flooded by the sea “came back to life” when a similar species evolved in the same location, scientists have discovered.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the Natural History Museum found that a species of rail colonised an isolated atoll called Aldabra in the Indian Ocean on two occasions separated by tens of thousands of years. On both occasions, the white-throated rail evolved independently to become flightless. The last surviving colony of the flightless rails is still found on the island.

A University of Portsmouth spokesman said: “This is the first time that iterative evolution – the repeated evolution of similar or parallel structures from the same ancestor but at different times – has been seen in rails. 

The co-author of the study in the Zoological Journal of Lennean Society, Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, said: “We know of no other example that demonstrates this phenomenon so evidently.”

How fascinating! It sounds similar to the phenomenon of parallel evolution, in which unrelatedly creatures develop similar features through occupying similar ecological niches. One example is the way penguins have evolved features similar to other marine creatures like whales and fish, with their wings becoming flippers. Another example is the thylacine, the marsupial wolf, otherwise known as the Tasmanian tiger. This creature is, unfortunately, now extinct, as it was hunted down as a pest by the Australian farmers. Although it was a marsupial, and had evolved independently in Australia over millions of years, it was remarkably like a European wolf. There was speculation at one time that the different human races were also the result of parallel evolution around the world, each evolving separately from common hominid ancestors. This has since been rejected, not least because it’s considered to be more than a little racist, somehow suggesting that the different varieties of modern humanity are biologically different species.

The palaeontologist Simon Conway-Morris has been so impressed by parallel evolution, that he considers that humans would have evolved anyway, even if the dinosaurs had not been wiped out by the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretacious Period 64 million years ago. He also believes that this means that other, extraterrestrial alien races, would also be humanoid. The final chapter of one of his books describes an alien spacecraft landing in southern England. When the aliens leave their ship to make contact with us, they are a humans. So much so that when asked if they want food, not only do they say yes, but they also ask for water for their dog.

Conway-Morris’ views are extreme, and not shared by other biologists. And some researchers into extraterrestrial life, like Seth Shostak, believe that aliens would be radically different from us.

Even so, this piece of science news is fascinating, and makes you wonder about the other possibilities of similar species evolving parallel or iteratively.

 

Vox Political: Portsmouth Tory Wanted to Smear Feminists and Other Opponents

February 6, 2016

This is another interesting piece from Vox Political. A Conservative member of Portsmouth town council, Scott Harris, wanted his friends and colleagues to collect information on various political opponents, including the local feminist group and a charity devoted to combating domestic violence, in order to smear them. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/05/tory-smear-councillor-sent-emails-to-his-intended-victims/ He was also looking at gathering information on a local government employee, who was getting information about the council under the Freedom of Information Act. The man was pursuing this as a private citizen, concerned at the way the town was being developed. Nevertheless, Harris wanted to find a way to get his bosses to sanction him.

This is a proper ‘Rotten Boroughs’ story, of the type that appears all too often in that column in Private Eye devoted to shady dealing by members of the local authorities. Many of them are about the efforts of councillors to shut down political opponents, even private citizens using their own time and means. This one was discovered through his own stupidity and his smear campaign unmasked in the Guardian before it could get going. But it shows how nasty and low the Tories are now going.

It also shows the very low priority the Conservatives give domestic violence. According to a piece in the I last week or so, the amount of violence against women is rising. The piece stated that campaigners linked this to the stresses created by Tory policies. Which might be another reason Mr Harris wanted the two groups smeared. It was another pair of voices criticising not just the violence itself and the council’s response to it, but it pointed to the underlying party political causes.