Posts Tagged ‘Yorkshire’

Tory MPs Joke about Fabricant’s Hair behind His Back

February 9, 2022

Okay, this is just ad hominem personal abuse, which is, like swearing, neither big nor clever. But in this instance, it is funny. Michael Fabricant, like his boss Boris Johnson, sports weirdly coiffured blond. hair. If it’s been styled at all, that is. He recently went on a blind date for television, which was duly watched and commented on by the citizen critics of Gogglebox on Channel 4. It didn’t go well. His female date from the off noticed his bizarre hairstyle, and asked him if it was a wig. Fabricant was politely offended by the question, and the evening swiftly declined from there as everything the poor woman said to try to excuse her faux pas made it worse. But she’s not the only one, it seems, who has suspicions about Fabricant’s thatch. In this video from Euronews’ Raw Moment on YouTube, Fabricant stands up to speak about how some government measure will be good for west Yorkshire. Behind him on the Tory benches two MPs, a young man and woman, can be seen looking, pointing and clapping at his august personage, with the man mouthing ‘It’s a wig’. Baldness and wigs for men have been topics for jokes for centuries. One Russian tsar was so sensitive about being follically challenged that he banned the word ‘bald’. Trying to cover up your lack of hair if you’re a bloke with a wigs doesn’t work. It only increases the speculation and laughter, unless the wig is really good. Now I don’t know if Fabricant’s weird hair is a wig, but he’s clearly doing himself no favours if it is.

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

December 17, 2021

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

Racism to and Enslavement of Asian Indentured Workers

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

The Asian Presence in British and European History

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

Asian Stars on British Television

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

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

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

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

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

Asians More Culturally Confident?

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

Black African Cultures Less Well-Known and Admired

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

Blacks and Affirmative Action

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

Blacks More Vociferous and Forceful in Attacking Racism

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

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

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

Belfield Claims Black Police Commissioner Covering Up Muslim Grooming Gangs

September 29, 2021

More about mad YouTuber Alex Belfield, whom some of the commenters here have described as my favourite right-winger. A few days ago Belfield put up a video claiming that the new police and crime commissioner for Yorkshire, a Black woman, was trying to cover up the kind of Muslim grooming gangs responsible for the terrible, 20 year-long abuse of White girls in Rotherham. A systematic abuse which the police and authorities knew very well was going on, but did nothing to stop because they were afraid it would cause riots. Belfield was commenting on an video he’d been sent of the Black commissioner being interviewed on a northern local news programme. A White chap, not in the studio, was claiming that the police and authorities had not accepted that there was a particular problem with certain communities. The Black woman responded by saying that rape appears everywhere in all communities, and it was therefore wrong to accuse certain individual communities. She had been raped by a White man, for example, but she wasn’t blaming all White men. To be fair, this has been the general response by anti-racists to the scandal, who fear that some of the coverage is deliberately spreading islamophobia by portraying Muslims, and Muslim immigrants, as dangerous rapists determined to prey on White women.

I think the problem here was not that the lady was trying to cover up what had gone on Rotherham and elsewhere, but that she was not responding to the White man’s specific point. Yes, rape and sexual abuse really definitely isn’t confined to any one race or community. Anti-racist researchers have cited statistics showing that the Muslim and Pakistani communities aren’t any more likely to engage in rape or paedophilia than the rest of Britain’s people. And unfortunately you can find more than enough rapists and child abusers in the White population. However, I can remember reading years ago that rapists tend to target those of their own race. White men rape White women. Black men rape Black women. But these gangs specifically targeted White girls, who were subjected to racist verbal abuse during their rape. Even though the Rotherham scandal has broken and similar rape gangs are being rounded up and prosecuted, there really does seem a determination to avoid talking about the racist nature of these offences. I think this comes from a general reluctance by the press and authorities to discuss openly deal with anti-White racism.

There is at the moment a rise in islamophobia, particularly in Starmer’s Labour party. Starmer makes much about tackling anti-Semitism, but has done nothing about the abuse and bullying his supporters in the party bureaucracy have meted out to Muslim and Black activists. One third of Muslims in the party have claimed that they have been verbally abused because of their religion. Some of this islamophobia comes from 9/11, the 7/7 suicide bombings and similar acts of terrorism, like the London Bridge knife attacker. Others factors are the fatwa Ayatollah Khomeini imposed on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses and the mass demonstrations against the previous pope for quoting the very hostile views of a Byzantine emperor on Islam. Crowds of angry Muslims marching down the street shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ and waving placards saying ‘Behead the Pope’ and ‘Islam will conquer the west’ won’t endear Islam to non-Muslims, even if they come from a small minority.

And much harm has been done by the cover-up of the abuse in Rotherham. This has given the impression to many Whites that their lives don’t matter to the authorities, who consider it more important to stop race conflict by protecting Muslim criminals. I also believe that the refusal of anti-racists to deal with anti-White racism in the same way as the deal with prejudice, abuse and violence against Black and Asians is harmful because it does leave issues like the Rotherham scandal open to exploitation by the right, and real racists.

We need to have Black and Asian people obviously joining the White friends to march against anti-White racism, just as Whites join their friends from those communities marching against the racism directed at them. This is not happening, but until it does, scandals like Rotherham will fester and contribute to more anti-Muslim suspicion and hate.

Mysterious Vanishing Tories – An Import from Australia

December 8, 2019

Okay, this is just hearsay, but it suggests what and who’s responsible for the Tory strategy of running away from interviews. And that person is their election strategist, Linton Crosby.

Thursday evening I put up a little piece commenting on the very low profile adopted by Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Tories had been keeping him well away from the cameras and the microphones after he had massively put his foot in his mouth about the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire on LBC radio. Mogg was due to appear at a hustings in Midsomer Norton, but considering his record of not appearing in public, there was speculation that he wouldn’t.

Of course, Mogg isn’t alone in his reluctance to talk to the media. Trev, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted a couple of remarks about other Tory candidates also running away. Like the one for Colne Valley, who apparently declared that he avoids meetings with a left-wing bias. The site reporting this is

https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/jason-mccartney-explains-hasnt-attended-17364450.

But be warned! It’s behind a paywall.

And the Sidmouth Herald also reported that a Tory down there had also pulled out of a hustings.

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/conservative-candidate-pulls-out-of-hustings-1-6406694

And last Wednesday Mike also reported how the Tory candidate for Peterborough, Paul Bristow, ran away from Channel 4. They wanted to ask him about a possible threat from Brexit, but this was obviously too much for the Tory’s delicate constitution.

Terrified Tories are running from media scrutiny

The Russians say that a fish rots from the head down, and that’s certainly true of the Tories. They only seem to be following the lead of their chief, our unfunny comedy prime minister, Boorish Boris Johnson. Johnson runs away from interviews at a rate of knots. he has signally failed to turn up to be mauled by Andrew Neil and ducked out of Channel 4’s climate debate. And to think that the Tories had the gall to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of being chicken.

I was talking to a friend about this, and he remarked that it’s how the parties campaign in Australia. They don’t give interviews, just keep their heads down and smear each other. I don’t know if it’s correct, but if it is, it’s something that the Tories have decided to import over here. And the person most likely to be responsible for it is Linton Crosby. Before he become the Tories’ electoral strategist under Tweezer, he was one of the major electoral strategists for their equivalent Down Under. Now it seems that after destroying proper democratic debate there, he’s importing the same policy of silence and smear here.

But what does it say about the Tories’ style of government, that they just lie and smear their opponents from running away from real scrutiny and honest debate themselves? Would you trust such dishonest cowards in government?

James Cleverly Tries to Claim William Wilberforce was Tory

August 6, 2019

The Tory chairman, James Cleverly, whose name is surely a contradiction in his case, has tried rewriting history. According to him, William Wilberforce, the great 18th – 19th century campaigner against the slave trade, was a Tory MP from Yorkshire.

Er, no. He wasn’t. As Mike has posted on his blog, Wilberforce was an independent. Mike quotes two Tweeters, who know far more history than Cleverly, who point out that the Tories largely hated him, and that the Conservative Party only came into being in 1834, a year after the Act banning the Slave Trade throughout the British Empire and Wilberforce himself had died in 1833. And Philip Lowe, one of the Tweeters, also points out that the Tories tried to break him as a politician and a man, just like they’re trying to do with Corbyn.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/05/new-tory-chairman-owned-over-slavery-howler/

This looks like another example of the Tories trying to appropriate anything progressive from an earlier era. They tried it a couple of years ago with the National Health Service, despite the fact that it was very definitely launched by Clement Attlee’s Labour government with Nye Bevan as the minister responsible for it. Then there was the ‘Red Tory’ movement launched by David Cameron and his mentor, Philip Blonde, which used the example of the great 19th century Conservative social reformers and radical socialists like the anarcho-communist thinker Peter Kropotkin, to try to position the Tories as more left-wing than Blair’s Labour. In opposition, Cameron had the Conservatives campaigning against hospital closures. Once in power, however, anything left-wing was very quickly dropped. Cameron went on and accelerated hospital closures and the privatisation of the NHS.

He also tried to present the Conservatives as being eco-friendly. ‘This will be the greenest government ever!’, he announced. And put a windmill on his roof as a symbol of his commitment to green policies and renewable energy. But once he got his foot in the door of No. 10, that all went for a Burton too. He and his government decided that they loved fracking and petrochemical industry, cut funding for renewable energy. And took that windmill off his roof.

And somehow I don’t think Cleverly’s attempt to claim Wilberforce for them is unrelated to the current furore about Tory racism. Cameron attempted to present the Tories as nicely anti-racist, severing links with the Monday Club and throwing out anyone who had links to the NF and BNP. Now that Brexit’s the dominant issue, racism and Fascism has come back with a vengeance. There have been revelations about the vitriolic racism and islamophobia in the Tory party, and particularly in online Twitter and Facebook groups for friends of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. And people very definitely remember BoJob’s comments about Black Africans and ‘grinning picaninnies with water melon smiles’. So Cleverly is trying to sanitise their image by appropriating Wilberforce.

Don’t believe the lies. The Tories are racist and viciously islamophobic. Get them out!

Anna Soubry Torn into by Constituents on LBC

February 27, 2019

I found this short video by Mark Braithwaite on his channel over on YouTube. It’s just under two minutes long, and is of Ann Soubry being told by her constituents exactly what they think of her for leaving the Tories and not holding a bye-election. They ask her why, if she believes in democracy so much, she doesn’t hold a bye-election. One tells her that he thinks she only left because she wasn’t in the cabinet. Another tells her that while she thinks she’s a rebel, she isn’t. She is also told that she is showing disrespect to her constituents for not holding a bye-election, because they didn’t vote for her as an Independent, they voted for her as a Tory. And she’s also disrespecting the 17.5 million people, who voted to Leave by demanding a second referendum on Brexit.

It’s all rather amusing. And I can quite believe that her motivation for leaving the Tories is frustrated ambition. A Labour MP yesterday said he believed that Chuka Umunna hadn’t left Labour for any better or nobler reason than that. He departed because he knew he would never be the party’s leader.

But Soubry doesn’t seem to have left the Tories at all. Not in her heart. According to a recent post by the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice, she’s said that she still intends to campaign for the Tories. And she and Umunna also believe she should be allowed to go back to the Tory party when she wishes, and that it’s terrible that the Tories won’t have her. Which shows how utterly inept Umunna would have been as a Labour leader, if he believes it’s acceptable for a member of his political grouping to campaign for a rival party. See https://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.com/2019/02/chuka-umunna-thinks-ex-tory-members-of.html

The Independents are quickly showing themselves to be an absolute farce. And I don’t doubt that they’ll be gone at the next election. And good riddance!

 

Folkie Mike Harding Reads His Angry Letter to May on LBC

December 2, 2018

This is a short video from Garbage Collector’s channel over on YouTube. Those of us of our certain vintage will know Mike Harding has a folk musician and comedian. He used to have his own folk music show on Radio 2. Harding was on holiday in France when May made her speech calling for the whole country to unite behind her on Brexit. Harding was so outraged by her, her party and Brexit that he wrote this letter, which went viral. May herself even shared it, and James O’Brien then asked Harding to record himself reading it, so he could play it on his show on LBC.

It’s a powerful, angry attack on the Tories. Harding states that his family includes Irish people and Poles, who came to Britain and fought for it. His father is buried in Holland, having been shot down with his bomber during World War II. Yet these brave people have been shamefully discarded by May. He attacks the way she treated the Windrush people and her vans going round calling for immigrants to hand themselves in. He states that she has no answer to the question of the hard border in Ireland, nor over Gibraltar. Her party has privatized everything bar the NHS, and is lining that up to sell it to the Americans. And the Tories refusal to invest in industry has resulted in the north – Yorkshire, Sunderland and elsewhere – being decimated. She has grievously divided this nation. Those who voted remain will never forgive her for Brexit, and those who voted Leave will never forgive the Tories for not fulfilling the glowing promises they made about it. There are no magic unicorns being produced by the government, and no 350 million pounds people were told would go to the NHS if we left Europe.

Here it is. There’s a complete transcript of it over at Garbage Collector’s post for it on YouTube.

No, Hodge, It Is Violence Against the Left that Is Increasing!

November 3, 2018

Yesterday, the Beeb covered the story that the Met police are now investigating accusations of anti-Semitism against members of the Labour party. The investigation is based on a dossier of such incidents, which was leaked to LBC Radio, who have now passed it on to police commissioner Cressida Dick. Mike wrote a piece about it yesterday welcoming the move, as it means that these accusations will have to be investigated according to proper police procedure and law. This means that while such incidents will be registered as a hate crime, they will still have to be investigated and held to the same standard of proof as any other criminal investigation. An action cannot be considered anti-Semitic solely because a Jewish person says it is.

And Mike also draws attention to the way he was smeared by someone leaking information to the press from within the Labour party. And that he has spent the last nine months trying to defend his good name. He is now due to appear before a hearing, and is also appealing to people to contribute to his crowdfunding campaign, so that he can afford to sue those responsible for libel.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/11/02/met-police-investigation-into-alleged-anti-semitic-hate-crimes-in-the-labour-party-is-a-welcome-move/

The Beeb, which has shown itself to be committed to repeating the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party sent in walrus-moustached John Pienaar to report on the story. Pienaar’s also shown himself all-too willing to repeat the smears uncritically. This time he interviewed Margaret Hodge, who had slithered out from whatever hole she’d been hiding in after she got a drubbing the last time she smeared Corbyn.

Hodge told Pienaar that there was a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party, and Jews like her now lived in fear of their lives. This was the woman, who managed to outrage Jews, people of Jewish descent, and gentiles, who had experienced persecution by the Nazis, or had relatives who had. Hodge, remember, had called Corbyn a ‘F***ing anti-Semite’ in parliament, a disciplinary offence. When she was threatened with it, which was later dropped, Hodge showed herself to be a massive self-pitying narcissist by declaring that she felt like the Jews in Nazi Germany did waiting for a knock on the door from the Gestapo.

Utter, utter, offensive, mendacious rubbish.

As the people on Twitter reminded everyone, including Tom London and the blogger Tom Pride, her experience was NOTHING like the terror the Jewish and other victims of Nazi persecution felt and experienced.

Way back in September, Martin Odoni wrote in his blog, the Critique Archives, a piece about how in fact violence against the Left was growing. Martin’s a friend of Mike’s blog, and a critic of Israel’s vile maltreatment of the Palestinians. He, like very many other critics of Israel, is Jewish. Which makes him a special target of the Israel lobby, who have an especial hatred of anti-Zionist or Israel-critical Jews.

Martin reported how a screening of the film about Jackie Walker’s suspension from the Labour party for anti-Semitism, and her attempts to clear her name at a fringe event at the Labour conference in Liverpool had to be called off due to a bomb scare. Later that week, he was in The Caledonian pub in the same city, discussing Israel and Palestine with other Labour party members and supporters, when this meeting too was subjected to another bomb scare. They reasoned that it was another false one, however, and carried on with their evening.

He then moves on to a far more serious case in which a young woman, Jade Unal, and her mother were abused and attacked in a pub in Wakefield, west Yorkshire. Unal is an activist and local campaign manager for Young Labour. She and her mother were drinking quietly when a group of people came up and assaulted them. Jade was called “a posh c*nt in politics, that’s stuck up your own a*se” and a paedophile. Her head was then smashed against the bar, raising a lump and leaving a gash that required hospital treatment. The gang also followed her and her mother home, and threatened to torch their house. Martin shows the photographs of the wounds, with a warning about how grim they are.

Martin goes on to make the point that she was attacked because she was a Labour Leftist, but has received precious little help from the authorities. The police took her complaint, but have done anything further to help her or find her assailants. Jade also tried to get the help of social services, as her attackers had children with them. But she didn’t get any help there, either. And the Labour party itself has done nothing to help her, beyond the support she is receiving from her circle of friends.

Martin compares this with the massive attention given to the Blairites, who have claimed that they have suffered threats of attack. He writes

In short, while I do not wish to sound over-dramatic, the British Left is currently facing growing aggression and threatening behaviour from other parts of the political spectrum. That aggression is largely being overlooked or misrepresented. When Labour centrists complain about ‘bullying’ and ‘victimisation’, as I have pointed out before, they seem highly selective over which victims they care about. Hence, an almighty ker-fuffle is made over the very obviously faked and theatrical ‘bodyguard’ requirements of Luciana Berger this week. But there is a muted reaction, or no reaction at all, when a young woman in the party is actually beaten up for her political persuasion, and when party meetings are threatened with bomb attacks.

I am not in any doubt that there are some violent, over-aggressive leftists out there. But the Left is not the aggressor here. It is the target. And it is time that it was made clear to the public at large just how dangerous the aggression is getting.

And in addendum to his piece, Martin also talks about the criticism he has received for using an image of far-right violence in Germany as a link to the article on Twitter and Facebook. His detractors believe it is inappropriate. Martin explains it is all too appropriate, because far right violence is growing. He himself was threatened with murder on social media by one of Tommy Robinson’s supporters. Tommy Robinson is the monicker of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the infamous Islamophobe and founder of the EDL, who was banged up for contempt of court.

Martin concludes

Okay, maybe I should have been more explicit, but my point was, if people are bothered about political violence, why are so many of them looking for it on the left, when all of this is happening on the right?

Sounds perfectly consistent with what is in this article? I would say so.

Absolutely. But the lamestream media does not want to talk at all about the real and rising violence against the left, preferring to indulge the fantasies and posturing of people like Hodge. It’s just another example of the completely corrupt nature of the Beeb and the rest of the media, who are determined to slander Corbyn supporters as anti-Semites. And in their way, they are responsible for promoting and inciting this violence against the left.

The Sky At Night Looks at Britain in Space

October 19, 2018

I just managed to catch the weekday repeat a day or so ago of this month’s Sky at Night, in which presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock and British astronaut Tim Peake looked at the history of Britain in space, and forward to the country’s future in the deep black. The programme’s changed a bit over the past few years in the case of its presenters. It was famously presented by Sir Patrick Moore from its beginning in the 1950s until he passed away a few years ago. This made the programme the longest-running show presented by the same person. Aderin-Pocock joined it before Moore’s departure. She’s a black woman scientist, with a background in programming missile trajectories. She’s obviously very intelligent, enthusiastic and very definitely deserves her place on the show. But I wish she’d done a job that didn’t involve the military use of rocket technology, however much this is needed as part of national defence.

Aderin-Pocock was speaking to one of the management officials from Orbex, a new, British company, which has developed a rocket launcher and intends to open a spaceport in one of the more deserted areas of Scotland. The rocket will stand about 17 meters tall, using propane and High Test Peroxide as fuel. High Test Peroxide is a highly concentrated version of the hydrogen peroxide used by hairdressers to bleach peoples’ hair. The use of propane is particularly important, as it’s lighter than conventional rocket fuels, meaning that the rocket doesn’t have to carry as much fuel to lift off into space. Advances in satellite design have also allowed the rocket to be smaller than other spacecraft used elsewhere. British universities have succeeded in developing microsatellites – satellites that are much, much smaller than some of the satellites put into orbit, but which can perform the same functions. As these satellites are smaller and lighter, they only need a relatively smaller, lighter rocket to launch them.

The Scottish launch complex also wasn’t going to be as big as other, larger, major launch complexes, such as those of NASA, for example. I think it would still contain a launch tower and control buildings. As well as the official from Orbex, the show also talked to a woman representing the rural community in the part of Scotland, where they were planning to build it. She admitted that there would be problems with building it in this part of the Scots countryside. However, the community was only going to lease the land, not sell it to Orbex, and care would be taken to protect the farms of the local crofters and the environment and wildlife. Like much of rural Britain, this was an area of few jobs, and the population was aging as the young people moved away in search of work. She looked forward to Orbex and its spaceport bringing work to the area, and creating apprenticeships for the local young people.

The programme went on to explain that this would be the first time for decades that a British company was going to build a British rocket to launch a British satellite. From what looked the British space museum in Manchester, Time Peake stood under the display of Britain’s Black Knight rocket and the Prospero satellite. He explained how the rocket launched the satellite into space from Australia in 1975. However, the project was then cancelled, which meant that Britain is the only country so far which has developed, and then discarded rocket technology.

But Black Knight wasn’t the only space rocket Britain developed. Peake then moved on to talk about Skylark, a massively successful sounding rocket. Developed for high altitude research, the rocket reached a maximum of altitude of 400 km in the few minutes it was in flight. At its apogee – its maximum distance from Earth – the vehicle briefly experienced a few minutes of zero gravity, during which experiments could be performed exploring this environment. The Skylark rocket was used for decades before it was finally cancelled.

Aderin-Pocock asked the official from Orbex how long it would be before the spaceport would be up and running. The manager replied that this was always an awkward question to answer, as there was always something that meant operations and flights would start later than expected. He said, however, that they were aiming at around the end of 2020 and perhaps the beginning of 2021.

Orbex are not, however, the only space company planning to open a spaceport in Britain. Virgin Galactic have their own plans to launch rockets in to space from Cornwall. Their vehicle will not, however, be launched from the ground like a conventional rocket, but will first be carried to a sufficiently high altitude by an airplane, which would then launch it. I’m not a betting man, but my guess is that of the two, Orbex is the far more likely to get off the ground, as it were, and begin launching its rocket on schedule. As I’ve blogged about previously, Branson has been telling everyone since the late 1990s at least, that Virgin Galactic are going to be flying tourists into space in just a few months from now. This fortnight’s Private Eye published a brief list of the number of times Branson had said that, with dates. It might be that Branson will at last send the first of his aspiring astronauts up in the next few months, as he claimed last week. But from his previous form, it seems far more likely that Orbex will start launches before him, as will Branson’s competitors over the pond, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

When asked about the company’s capability of perfecting their technology, Orbex’s manager not stressed the skill and competence of the scientists, technicians and engineers working on the project. This included not just conventional space scientists, but also people, who had personally tried and failed to build their own spacecraft. He said that it was extremely important to fail to build rockets. He’s obviously referring to the many non-professional, hobby rocketeers out there trying to build their own spacecraft. He didn’t mention them, but one example would be the people at Starchaser, who started out as a small group of enthusiasts in Yorkshire but have gone on to create their own space company, now based across the pond in America. I think it’s brilliant that amateurs and semi-professionals have developed skills that the professionals in the industry find valuable. And the failures are important, as they show what can go wrong, and give the experience and necessary information on how to avoid it. I don’t think the rocket will be wholly built in this country. The manager said that some of it was being constructed in Copenhagen. This sounds like Copenhagen Suborbitals, a Danish team of rocket scientists, who are trying to put a person into space. They’re ex-NASA, I believe, but it’s a small, private venture. They have a webpage and have posted videos on YouTube, some of which I’ve reblogged. They’ve also said they’re keen for people to join them, or start their own rocket projects.

I’d been looking forward to that edition of the Sky at Night for the past week, but when the time came, it slipped my mind that it was on. I’m very glad I was able to catch it. If Orbex are successful, it will be the first time that a British satellite will launch a British satellite from here in Britain. And it sounds really optimistic. Not only will Britain be returning to space rocket development, but the Scots spaceport sounds like it will, hopefully, bring work to a depressed area. I’m also confident that the local environment there will also be preserved. The launch complex around NASA is necessarily so remote from other buildings, that it’s actually become a wildlife haven. So much so that it’s now a location for birdwatching.

When it was announced that they were planning to build a new spaceport in Scotland, I assumed it would be for Skylon, the British spaceplane. There had been articles in the paper about the spacecraft, which stated that it would be launched either from Scotland or Cornwall. It seems I was wrong, and that it’s Orbex’s rocket which will be launched there instead. But nevertheless, I wish Orbex every success in their venture, and hope that sometime soon Skylon will also join them in flight out on the High Frontier.

May’s Speech to Rich Tory Donors: This Is What the Lollards Warned You About

February 11, 2018

Sunday is the Christian holy day, so I thought I’d include here a particularly relevant piece of radical Christian polemic against the rich and powerful and their neglect and oppression of the poor from the 15th century.

A few days ago Mike put up a piece reporting Theresa May’s speech at a fundraising banquet for rich Tory donors. To get in, you had to pay £15,000 for a ticket. The long reign of Thatcherite neoliberalism in this country has led to a massive transfer of wealth from the poorer sections of society – the working and lower middle classes – upwards to the extremely rich. Thatcher, and her fanboys and -girls – have cut and privatised benefits and services to the poor, with the specific intention of making the bloated rich even richer, though tax cuts, massive subsidies, and exploiting the very state industries, that they have privatised and sold to them.

The Lollards were a proto-Protestant sect of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, who followed the teachings of the Yorkshire priest and reformer, John Wycliffe. Wycliffe was disgusted by the corruption of the church and society in his day. He advocated the Bible in English, holy scripture as the only source for religious authority, clerical marriage and proper concern for the poor. And he and his followers were bitterly critical of the friars, as they were generally perceived to have neglected their vocation of teaching and preaching Christianity to focus on serving the rich for their own material gain.

The text here is ‘The Perversion of the Works of Mercy’, which inveighs against the way Christ’s commandment to feed, give drink, and clothe poor people, and visit those in prison, as well as other holy works, have been so corrupted so that those, who feign moral rectitude and Christian charity now spend their time doing this for the rich and powerful instead. Here’s an extract. You should be able to understand the late medieval spelling and vocabulary.

Hou Sathanas [Satan] and his children turnen werkis of mercy upsodoun and discyven men therinne and in here five wyttis.

First Crist comaundith men of power to fede hungry pore men. The fiend and his techen to make costy festis and waste many goodis on lordis and riche men and so suffer pore men sterve and perishe for hunger and other myschevys. Ye, men that feynen hem [them] ful of charite and religion gadren proper goodis to hemselven and festen dlicatly lordis and laides and riche men and suffer here pore brethren begge for meschef and fare ful harde.

Crist comaundith to yeve drynk to thrusty [thirsty] [men] and wymmen. The fiend and his techen to puveye high wyn and spised ale and strong for riche men and lordis to make hem drunken and chide and fighte and foryete God and his lawe, and to suffer pore, that han nought of hore owene and may not labore for febilnesse or sikenesse and blyndenesse drynke water and falle in feveris or ellis perische.

Crist comaundith to clothe nakyd men and wymmen whanne thei han noght of here owene. Thereto the fend and his techen to yeve costly clothis and manye to riche men and mynstralis and shavaldours {Northern slang for robbers] for worldly name and suffer pore men have nakid sidis and schakynge lippis and hondis for cold that woo is hemwith the lif. Ye, prelatis and men singular religion, that taken the charge to ben procuratouris and dispenderis of pore mennus liflode, clothen fatte horsis with gaie sadlies and bridles and mytris and croceris with gold and silver and precious stonys, and suffren pore men and children perische for cold. And yit these prelatis and newe religious comen in staat of Cristis povert and his apostlis, and techen and crien that whatever thei han is pore mennus goode. Yit riche men closen dede stockis and stonys with precious clothis, with gold and silver and perlis and gaynesse to the world, and suffren pore men goo sore acold and at moche meschefe.

Crist trechith to herberwe [harbour, accommodate] pore men that han non houses ne penby to peye for here innys [inns, lodging]. The fend and his techen to herberwe riche men and lordis with grete cost and deyitte for worldly worschipe and suffer pore men wander in stormys and slepe with the swyn and many tymes suffer not hem come withinne here yatis, and so to fynde many excusacions and coloure this doynge, Ye, ypocritis of privat religion maken grete houses and costy and gaily peyntid more than kyngis and lordis bi sotil beggynge and confessions and trentalise and mayntenynge of synne, and herberwe lordis and riche men, and namely ladies, and suffer more men lie withouten or geten houslewth at pore men or ellis perische for wedris and cold.

Crist techeth to visite sike men and counforte hem and helpe hem of sustenaunce. The fend and his techen to visiten riche me, lordis and ladies in here prosperite and lykynge to be holden kynde [high born] and curteis, and to comforte eche other in synne and to have lustis of glottonye, lecherie and other schrewidnessis; but of pore men that ben beddrede and couchen in muk or dust is litel thought on or noght. Yit ypocritis of feyned religion vistien not fadirles children and modirles [motherless] and widewise in here tribulacion, and kepe not hemself unbleckid fro this world as Seynt James techith; but visite off riche men and wymmen and namely riche widewis [widows] for to gete world muk by false deceitis and carien it home to Caymes’ {Cain’s] castelis and Anticristis covent [convents] and Sathanas children and marteris [martyrs] of glotonye.

Crist techith to visit men in prison and helpe to delyvere hem in good manere and counforte hem bi almes-yevinge. The fend and his prresonen pore men for dette whanne thi ben not at power to paie and traveil night and day and liven ful harde and toylen with trewthe and susteynen wif and children…

From Middle English Religious Prose, edited by N.F. Blake (London: Edward Arnold 1972) pp. 239-41.

Clearly, this is a piece of sectarian polemic, and isn’t entirely fair. Historians have pointed out that the church was suffering serious poverty and neglect the time, which affected many of the lower clergy and monastic institutions, so that they simply weren’t in any position to perform their Christian duties of aiding the poor themselves.

And my point here is not to attack the Roman Catholic church, as I know many ordinary Catholics and Roman Catholic clergy are deeply involved in caring for the poor. But simply to make the point that the issues the Lollards inveighed against are still present and embodied in the Tory party and people like Tweezer. In the Middle Ages, it was the church that had the function of providing whatever welfare services there were to the poor, as well as the personal charity of great lords. But since Thatcher, public institutions and the welfare state – the modern, secular equivalents of these religious institutions, have been run down for the profit of the rich.

And there’s also a distinct religious parallel here too, though it’s with the evangelical Christian Right and their prosperity gospel. Tweezer is a vicar’s daughter, who claims that when she was a child she was a ‘goody two-shoes’. Lobster has pointed out just how many right-wing Christians gathered around IDS and now Damian Greene in the DWP. The evangelical Right in America believe that God doesn’t want you to be poor, for whom they have nothing but contempt. One particularly self-righteous Republican politico – it might have been Ted Cruz – even declared that the poor should be taxed more. ‘Because it’s what Christ would have wanted’. No, and this moron should read the Gospels before opening his mouth.

And I’m still furious at the way a large number of right-wing pastors made it clear that they didn’t care if one Republican candidate was guilty of molesting underage girls. He stood for their values, which were for the rich, and against the poor. And, of course, gays. Which shows how selective their concern over changes and violation of traditional sexual morality is.

These hypocrites have done as much harm to Christianity as Dawkins and the militant atheists. Many of the atheist polemicists are socially conscious people, whose rejection of religion is partly based on the way the religious don’t live up to their ideals. And as history has shown, and these pratts continue to show, all too often the atheists have been right in this criticism.

And in there moral condemnation of the fawning over the rich at the expense of the poor, the Lollards were right. And this text from six hundred years ago shows up the Tory party and its hypocritical supporters in the Christian religious right as it is today.