Stop the War Coalition Doesn’t Object To neo-Nazis Or Antisemites

As a matter of public record this is a poem published by the British Stop the War Coalition.

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Astute readers will notice that it approvingly quotes from a neo-Nazi, Gordon Duff.

“JOAN RIVERS died in an endoscopy clinic
Where she was having her vocal chords examined.

Her voice had been getting raspier and raspier,
And recently she’d berated an interviewer
On leaving LAX, Los Angeles airport,
Who’d had the impudence to solicit her opinion
On the then current massacres in Gaza.

She turned on him angrily screaming
That she had “zero sympathy
For the civilians killed in Gaza”
Because “they had fair warning to get out, and they didn’t …
“So they deserve to die. They were told to get out.
“They didn’t get out. You don’t get out? you are an idiot.
“Hamas,” she continued, “was re-elected
By a lot of stupid people who don’t even own a pencil.
“At least the ones that were killed,” she added with a savage relish,
“Were the ones with very low I.Q.s.”

She then praised World War Two being ended by Hiroshima and Nagasaki
And she continued hoarsely shouting
At the interviewer who’d had the gall to ask her,
In view of her uncritical support for the Israeli State,
What were her feelings about the deaths of 1400 people:
“They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead.
“You’re dead, you deserve to be dead.”

In her snarling triumphalism
She was suggesting
That three hundred and seventy three children,
Killed by Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’,
Had brought their own deaths
Upon themselves.
“You’re dead, you deserve to be dead.”

However karma is also a bitch,
And shortly afterwards Rivers
Would lose her voice
And, worse still, upon her entering the endoscopy clinic
And being given an anaesthetic
She fell into a coma and died.

The friend of Nancy Reagan, the friend of Netanyahu,
And the friend and favoured wedding guest of Prince Charles,
She would dance attendance upon the rich and powerful
And make it clear that she held political opinions
That matched theirs. She’d play court jester
And then growl, “We must bomb the shit out of Iran”.

Her friend, the Prince, said that he was ‘deeply saddened’
By the comedian’s death
And, keen to identify himself with outpourings of showbiz grief,
He added that, “Joan Rivers was an extraordinary woman
“With an original and indefatigable spirit,
“An unstoppable sense of humour and an enormous zest for life.
“She will be hugely missed and utterly irreplaceable.”

In his dull insouciance the hapless Prince
Had overlooked the fact that his heroine,
Fawned upon in Hollywood as the ‘Duchess of Dirt’,
‘Queen Wise-Arse’, and the ‘Goddess of Snark’,
Had advised his future daughter-in-law, Kate Middleton,
‘If you ever want to go to Paris, fly, don’t take the tunnel.’

But perhaps he hadn’t really forgotten it –
Perhaps he’d perversely savoured Rivers’ sick reference
To his ex-wife’s untimely death…
And nor did Charles seem aware that,
Far from her being “irreplaceable”,
Much of Joan Rivers had been replaced by plastic.

Thanks to nearly three hundred operations
She’d become a smooth skinned gargoyle
Coated by a lustrous chemical sheen;
A reflective veneer on her tautened pink skin.

In 2010 she tweeted, “With all the plastic surgery I’ve had,
I’m worried when I die God won’t recognize me.”

The historian Alan Hart responded,
“If she was still alive today, I would say to her something like,
‘If he does recognize you, perhaps you should worry
About whether he will forgive you for saying
That, because they voted for Hamas,
The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip prison camp
Deserved what they were getting
When Israel was delivering them
More death and destruction.”

The commentator Gordon Duff had a less measured response:
“May a gaggle of flying blood monkeys escort her to the side of her creator”.

Others disobligingly wondered whether
Those disposing of her body would cremate her
Or would recycle her plastic corpse.

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery,” she’d declare,
“When I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”
Although sadly, Tupperware might not think it served their brand –
Devoted to keeping food fresh in a hygienic fashion.

Most tragically of all, despite her surgery she was wistfully to confess,
“No man has ever, ever told me I’m beautiful.”

Maybe that was because there was an inner ugliness
That couldn’t be concealed by cosmetics:
The inner ugliness of a woman who’d often complain
How much she was inconvenienced by children on ‘planes
By saying “where is Casey Anthony when you need her?”
Casey Anthony being an infamous mother
Accused of killing her two-year-old daughter
By suffocating her with parcel tape;
Ugliest of all perhaps, Rivers took a hideous pride
In doing anything for money:
“For $500, I’ll write for Hitler,” she said.

There is now a new face in hell,
With its mouth made of collagen
And a voice that may mercifully be silent. “

Update 1: This is where Duff’s word were extracted from:

Gordon_duff_Screenshot from 2014-09-10 11:17:18

Notice the link to the Daily Stormer, Stormfront’s regular neo-Nazi filth.

Update 2: I covered Gordon Duff’s Veterans Today previously.

Duff is rather keen on David Duke.

Not forgetting his admiration for the Holocaust denying, David Irving.

Update 3: A moment’s research on Gordon Duff would reveal his sick racist view, Veterans Today Editor Blames Newtown Tragedy on Israel.

Update 4: Heathcote Williams eventually managed to remove Duff’s contribution, but wasn’t too troubled to tackle antisemitism on Stop the War Coalition’s web site, ie. Alison Weir’s appalling article.

I can’t say I am surprised. Only a matter of time before another hardcore antisemite pops up on their site. Not that they will notice.

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Occupy Wall Street And Open Racism

The Occupy Wall Street movement is not a single organisation, however, that does not excuse the presence of plain and simple antisemitism on related Facebook pages.

This is one example:

occupst01

A cursory glance across their page reveals other little snippets or links to neo-Nazi material:

occupst02

The bottom part links to the IHR, infamous Holocaust deniers & wandering antisemites, the other leads to Jew Watch, a hard core antisemitic site run by a neo-Nazi.

This is a small sampling. There is probably much, much more racism further down the page.

Their presence on Facebook is attached this site and the OccupyWallSt Twitter account.

Scary, but their main page has 623,988 likes!

Update 1: New posters should read the Comments Policy and re-read!

Update 2: We should not forget that racism comes in many shapes and intensities, so it is with this Occupy Wall Street Facebook page.

These dog whistles of racism often include a photograph or cartoon which conveys a secondary message.

The one below is suggestive that President Obama is subservient to Jews.

That is a common theme found on many neo-Nazi/hardcore antisemitic web sites. Now it is a point that this Occupy Wall Street Facebook page echoes, more racism by the day.

Update 3: There is an almost hourly link which connects to odd bits of antisemitism or makes sweeping generalizations on this Facebook page. I suggest readers and OWS supporters study that page and learn to spot this form of racism along with its motifs.

occupst03

News International And The Police

There is a very revealing article in the Independent concerning Rupert Murdoch and News International.

It seems that, for once, the Police will investigate them with some vigour and potentially prosecute them as a corporation. This very notion has sent shivers down News International spines and they have reduced co-operation with the police accordingly.

But do read the article in full, as there is a lot more to this:

RUp2

“Lawyers for the media behemoth have pleaded with the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company as it would not be in the “public interest” to put thousands of jobs at risk. Gerson Zweifach, the group general counsel of News Corp, flew in to London for emergency talks with the Met last year. According to Scotland Yard, he told police: “Crappy governance is not a crime. The downstream effects of a prosecution would be apocalyptic. The US authorities’ reaction would put the whole business at risk, as licences would be at risk.”

The Independent can reveal that Scotland Yard warned News Corp that its UK subsidiary, which publishes The Sun and used to publish the now-defunct News of the World, was under formal investigation on 18 May last year.

A month later, Rupert Murdoch announced he was splitting the global empire he spent six decades building up into one of the most powerful companies in the world. The 82-year-old hived off the highly profitable television and film assets, including 21st Century Fox and Fox News, into a separate entity from the troubled newspaper group in what was widely perceived as an attempt to isolate any contagion from the phone-hacking scandal.” [My emphasis]

Antisemitism, Anonymous And Twitter

Finding antisemitism on Twitter is easy, but it’s surprising how few attempt to stop it, as witnessed by the 170,000 plus followers of the Anonymous Operations account.

Remembering that wherever you find racism, sexism and the degradation of women is often not far behind.

k1

My first storify looks briefly at the issues, Holocaust Denial at Anonymous.

Elsewhere, there is a nice tumblr account which tries to track this form of racism.

Also, the new humourously entitled Zionist Entity blog aims to tackle antisemitism and supports Kestrels.

Finally, Oliver Hotham is blogging and always worth a read.

Iain Duncan Smith Caught Lying By The Economist

Politicians do not like being told that they lie.

The English language hides the necessary directness beneath such wording as disingenuous, economical with the truth or actualité. But even the Economist, frequently feriously supportitive of the Tories, has conceded that Iain Duncan Smith is a liar, in a roundabout fashion:

”And this is the only the latest in a series of questionable press releases. Earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith claimed that the benefits cap had encouraged 8,000 people to get jobs. Yet as Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute for Economics and Social Research pointed out, the Department for Work and Pensions has never made an estimate of the behavioural effects of the benefit cap. At best, Mr Duncan Smith’s figures simply showed that 8,000 people who were to be affected had got jobs. Perhaps some did because of the benefits cap—but we have no idea.

Even before that, there was the matter of 878,000 people who apparently dropped their claims for disability benefits when faced with a doctors test over the past four years, as the old Incapacity Benefit system was replaced with the new Employment and Support Allowance. Again, this figure was absurd. It took no account of the churn—the number of people who come off benefits each month anyway. The most glaring error was that the figures completely ignored the fact that a lot of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claims are short-term—and so a lot of claimants simply got better before facing the test.

All of these are technical, even wonkish objections. “Yes, we twisted the statistics a little”, I can hear a hypothetical Conservative MP saying, “but so does Labour, and the fundamental truth is that the benefits system costs too much and is need of reform.”

Well, quite. The welfare system does indeed need reform. But the whole point about government statistics is that they are meant to be at least sort of objective. Ministers can quote the ones which support their case—but they shouldn’t manipulate them and distort them to tell stories that aren’t actually true. There is plenty of evidence to support welfare reform without resorting to such disgraceful abuse of numbers.

But the problem is, they get away with it—they have done for a long time. Even before the election, Chris Grayling, then the shadow home secretary, was alleging that gun crime was soaring, using distorted data to prove his point. In fact, gun crime began its precipitous decline under Labour. Similarly, much of David Cameron’s “Broken Britain” rhetoric ignored—or denied—dramatic and unexpected improvements in social indicators. “[My emphasis.]

The Economist is too polite. I blame lying Tories, myself.

Douglas Murray, The English Defence League And The Jewish Chronicle

That is Douglas Murray umming and ahing when asked about supporting the EDL. His inability to criticise the Far Right thugs in the EDL indicates something deeply troubling about his sentiments.

In that wider context, I was exceedingly disappointed to see this week that the Jewish Chronicle ran an article by this Hard Right commentator. I was even more disturbed to see that they allowed Murray to attack an anti-racist campaign, Tell MAMA. I am at a loss as to understand why such an editorial error took place and why the JC would publish such scurrilous nonsense.

Murray On The English Defence League

I had hoped that, whoever commissioned Murray, would know the questionable nature of his views, particularly concerning the English Defence League. It cannot have been beyond the JC to research Murray’s slippery outlook. In the above video, Murray is all over the place, rather than give a straight answer we hear “just don’t know…it is complex…benefit of the doubt… take enormous care…”. Douglas Murray is unable or unwilling to come out unequivocally against the neofascists in the EDL.

Murray could not answer, in any satisfactory way, the simple question “Should we support the EDL?”

I find that exceedingly troubling, as should anyone opposed to racism and neofascism. More importantly, the JC must answer the question, do they share Murray’s ambiguity towards the EDL? Or was this just an editorial oversight?

But, if the JC’s editorial staff are as ill-informed about the nature of the English Defence League as Murray clearly is, then this video of EDL supporters should help clear up the matter.

We should not forget the violent criminality connected to English Defence League members and supporters. Or their recent threats to Andrew Neil.

The CST and Tell MAMA

This is the Community Security Trust commenting on Tell MAMA‘s first annual report:

“The Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) group, led by Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, has issued its first annual report on anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Tell MAMA’s findings include the following:

• 632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported March 2012-March 2013
• Muslim women are the victims in 58% of all incidents
• Victims range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• 75% of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)

CST is proud to have helped Tell MAMA to establish and professionalise itself. BBC News carries a good summary of the report. This includes CST’s public support:

CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes.

It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive.

We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better.”[My emphasis.]

Murray’s Corrosive Views

Marko Attila Hoare provides a fair summary of Murray’s dubious political connections and attitudes. Murray was deemed even too toxic and Right Wing for the Conservative Party, Paul Goodman: Why the Conservative frontbench broke off relations with Douglas Murray – and what happened afterwards.

Lessons Of The Past

I do hope that the JC editorial staff reflect on their mistake of allowing Douglas Murray to soil the Jewish Chronicle and do not repeat this grave error, ever. We should have learnt the lessons of the 1930s. The JC should be promoting antiracist campaigns, not using pundits with an axe to grind to attack them. The JC must understand the dire need of combating racism faced by all ethnic minorities.

Next time, I would hope that the JC would be wise enough to ask the CST about Tell MAMA, and not those on the political fringes of the Hard Right.

PS: I am getting some abusive and aggressive comments from Far Righters in the moderation queue. New readers should make an effort to read, digest and familiarise themselves with the comments policy on this blog.

Update 1: Jessica Elgot reminds us, Women Targeted In Anti-Muslim Attacks, More Than Half By Far Right Groups.

Update 2: Last year Matthew Goodwin pointed out, Far Right Violence: More Needs to be Done.

Update 3: Shiraz Maher puts many fine arguments:

“In recent weeks, a Muslim group called Tell Mama has come in for severe and unfair criticism. Modelled on CST, Tell Mama has been assisted by it in setting up to monitor anti-Muslim sentiment. The group was subjected to a ferocious and unfounded assault by the Sunday Telegraph who accused it of “scaremongering” and artificially inflating the level of hostility directed towards Muslims following Rigby’s murder.

Tell Mama is new and, though gauche in many respects, it is badly needed. It was established by Fiyaz Mughal, who led the “Muslims Against antisemitism” campaign. Unlike most Muslim groups, Tell Mama also records intra-Muslim sectarian attacks. More importantly, it replaces the Muslim Safety Forum, an extremist group dominated by Islamists who support Hamas.

It is undeserving of the insidious claims levelled against it. British Jews already know the outstanding contribution CST makes to their community and will recognise the growing need for Muslims to have a similar organisation. This is why CST has offered Tell Mama extensive support.”

Update 4: In 2009 James Brandon provided background to Murray’s mindset:

“Finally, there is, of course, Douglas Murray, “Britain’s only neoconservative”, who has often failed to distinguish Islam from Islamism. In just one speech, for example, Murray referred to the “violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam” and “the problem of Islam”. Like Steyn, Murray has also represented Muslims as a collective threat, referring ominously to the “demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities”. He concluded that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” – a phrase that could easily be interpreted as a call for the collective punishment of Muslims.”

Update 5: Matthew Feldman hit the nail on the head, Centre-right columnists are legitimising the EDL.

Update 6: This is helpful in understanding the data, FAQ’s to the Teesside University Report Launch on TELL MAMA Data.

Update 7: This 1997 PDF summary from the Runnymede Trust is useful, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. See the closed and open views of Islam, which is exceedingly relevant in this instance.

Update 8: This scholarly report is a fine antidote to the Hard Right’s dismissal of anti-Muslim racism, Anti-Muslim Hate Crime & the Far Right by Prof. Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler & Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 9: A handy Google map detailing recent attacks on mosques.

Update 10: This week, BBC Question Time has chosen Murray as one of their panelists. Expect the usual torrent from him.

Update 11: Rachel Shabi makes many strong arguments:

“t’s a symptom of the febrile atmosphere around Islam, this ridiculous furore over a timeless spiritual occurrence across the Muslim world. But it obviously has a much more serious and troubling context. In late June a home-made bomb was found at a mosque in Walsall, from which 150 people were evacuated. Police are also investigating arson attacks a few weeks earlier on an Islamic centre in north London and a mosque in Grimsby, which was targeted with petrol bombs as worshippers prayed inside. Last Sunday a suspicious package was destroyed at a mosque in Liverpool, and a Muslim cemetery in Newport, south Wales was desecrated with swastikas. And last Wednesday saw the spraying of yet more Nazi symbols on a mosque in Redditch, Worcestershire.

These are just a few of more than a dozen recent racist attacks on mosques. And that’s before we get to the death threats, taunts and spitting; the forced hijab removing; and the depositing of pig heads outside Muslim homes. Such incidents are believed to be widely under-reported – although the monitoring group Tell Mama UK says there were 212 hate incidents in the week following Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich

And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. When Tell Mama UK reported this rise in attacks after Woolwich, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both pushed out reports suggesting fakery.”

Update 12: Mehdi Hasan takes on a petty Spectator contributor: Douglas Murray, the EDL, Dodgy Videos and Me.

Update 13: Douglas Murray’s fans extend across the Atlantic, the ill named American Thinker comes to his aid in a rambling piece:

“Like so many other people, I found Mehdi Hasan’s arrogant and smug words repulsive. (Hasan is arrogant and smug most of the time. What do you expect from a public schoolboy?) But they didn’t repulse me half as much as his later claims that all his critics took his words ‘out of context’! Ah! That old Muslim chestnut — out of context. You know, as in all the negative and violent passages in the Koran always being cited ‘out of context’. That’s strange. Have you noticed that the positive Koranic passages (of which there are few) are always quoted in context? To be accurate, Muslims never mention the ‘necessary context’ required for any citation of the positive passages.”

My guess is that American Thinker has some, er, issues with Muslims in general and is probably soft on the EDL.

Update 14: Knock me down with a feather!

Pam Geller writes for the American Thinker and uses it to drum up support for the EDL.

Elsewhere, that dreary rag does a PR exercise for the English Defence League:

“The war for freedom of speech in Australia and the U.K. was discussed by Debbie Robinson, President of Q Society in Australia; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the English Defense League (EDL); and George Igler of the Discourse Institute in the U.K. It was astonishing to listen to both Robinson and Carroll share how their small town in England is one of many communities where Muslims have been moving in over the last twenty years; the Muslims have grown so large in numbers and influence that both the police and the Brits are intimidated, and many have left.

They made the argument that Americans should not fall for the idea that this can’t possibly happen in the U.S. with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and religion. This is what the British people also thought, Britain being the home of the Magna Carta. How wrong they were.

Mr. Carroll dramatically held up two British newspapers with headlines that are testimony to the degree of Muslim influence the English are living under today and the loss of their individual freedoms. They read: NO RIGHT TO WEAR A CROSS AT WORK and SPEAK UP FOR CHRISTIANTY PM TELLS ARCHBISHOP, both front-page stories in the U.K.’s Daily Express.

These brave gents refuse to leave their homes in spite of the fact that their country is now in the second stage of Islamic transformation.” [My emphasis.]

But it is hardly surprising that right-wing conservatives are found in the company of neofascists, or that they defend them. The pity is that the American Thinker deliberately omitted the criminal convictions and background of the EDL leaders.

Hope not hate reminds us The BNP past of the EDL leader.

Ann Coulter Tiptoes Towards Antisemitism

Ann Coulter

I have never had any time for Ann Coulter.

She is not funny, instead a bit sad and bitter. Her form of shockjockism, bigotry and obnoxiousness appeal only to the basest of prejudices.

I felt her attitudes were often governed by a political calculation, as to who to keeping with, rather than any principle.

So I am not surprised that she is tiptoeing towards antisemitism, which she will no doubt denied:

“Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 11h

As Reagan aide James Baker (allegedly) said of another Dem voting bloc sought by Repubs: “F*** the Jews; they don’t vote for us anyway.”

Best kept as a public record, lest it vanishes when she realizes her mask has slipped.

UKIP, Casual Racism And BBC’s Bias

UKIP Election Poster 2013

If you ever wanted to understand bigotry in Britain then this UKIP poster from South Shields is a fine example.

It sums them up nicely, scaring people and putting out a simple xenophobic message.

Logan Smith wrote an intelligent piece on casual comments and racism.  I think it has a wider application in society and in particular relationship to UKIP:

“It’s that the people I retweet – the vast majority of which appear to be teenagers – genuinely don’t understand whether they’re being racist. It’s a generation that never had to grow up during the times of Jim Crow, civil rights marches or apartheid, and has never been confronted by the institutional racism that older generations saw on a daily basis. As a result, many teens seem to think racism simply means active hatred of another race, and not the apparent prejudices and stereotypes displayed by the people I retweet. “

Speaking of prejudice, the BBC’s has not helped itself over the years, when it comes to the Jewish community, according to a recent poll:

“36% – The proportion of Jews who believe BBC news coverage is “heavily” biased against Israel, according to the report

14% – The number who say that the corporation reporting is “balanced” “

Bowen and Gaddafi
Over the years I have watched Jeremy Bowen display an unsophisticated vista of the Middle East, so I am surprised the 14% figure is that high.

The full report is here, Jews and the News: News consumption habits and opinions of Jews in Britain. Some 79% of those sampled replied they felt the BBC is biased against Israel. That is a lot, for one community to perceive the BBC’s way of reporting the news.

A reminder of where such prejudice leads, murder in Eltham.

Finally, Doreen Lawrence’s words.

Update 1: A reminder of Richard Dawkins’ stupid words from 2007:

“”When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous, I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”

Such views are common on the Far and Extreme Right. This essay explains the antecedents of such beliefs, What are “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”? I do wish that Professor Dawkins would educate himself on these issues and not assume he knows everything.

Update 2: Any Richard Dawkins’ supporters who can not see the possible racist connotations here should examine the evidence and come to some reasoned conclusion.

Finally, try and work out why neo-Nazis would proffer such views?

Update 3: Apparently, UKIP banned extremists from its ranks, good first start but did not seem to inform its lay officials, Stand for Peace explains:

“Evidence has emerged that a senior UKIP figure, the Chairman of UKIP Hillingdon, Cliff Dixon has links to the English Defence League (EDL), a far-Right group with a long history of attacking Muslims.

Dixon, formerly involved with the English Democrats party, boasted on his blog, in 2011, that he has ”joined my friends from March for England to tag along on the EDL Tower Hamlets demonstration.”

Colin Cortbus, a Stand for Peace fellow, notes: “If Mr Dixon thinks extremists should get off our streets, perhaps he should lead by example.”

Mr Dixon’s blog also records his attendance at a number of nationalist marches, mainly through the relatively small ‘March for England’ group. One event was co-organised by the British Patriots Society, which is described by anti-extremism campaign Hope not Hate as “a tiny splinter of the English Defence League”.

One photo shows Dixon posing with EDL leader Kevin Carol and other EDL and BNP figures.”

Q:Can any of my readers suggest why UKIPers might be found associating with the neofascists in the English Defence League?
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Railways: A Manifestation Of Thatcherism

During the post-war period the railways were nationalised after years of neglect by private owners, in many ways they were seen as key to building and enhancing Britain’s infrastructure.

Thatcherism changed all of that.

Two of its key aims were to sell off the family silver and enrich its supporters, so it was with Major’s breakup of the railways.

The net result is a poorer, accident prone railway system which rewards management failure and pays individual workers a pittance.

More examples of this Thatherite attitude has been seen recently:

“Network Rail has paid out £630,000 to four of its executive directors as a portion of their long-term incentive plan (L-tip) to reflect the organisation’s performance in the period 2009-12.

However, Network Rail’s remuneration committee decided to reduce the award by 20% to take into account specific safety and train performance issues.

Patrick Butcher, finance director, was awarded £168,000, while Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations and Simon Kirby, managing director of infrastructure projects, were awarded £158,000, and Paul Plummer, group strategy director was awarded £148,000. Chief executive David Higgins did not qualify because he was not with the organisation in 2009.”

In July 2012 even the Torygraph was moved to comment:

“The taxpayer-backed company is once again at the centre of a political row, after it put forward plans to pay five directors an extra £2.6 million under two new schemes.

Under the proposals, three directors at the company will get payments of £300,000 each in 2014 just for turning up to work for the next two years.”

It pointed out the dismal record of Network Rail’s management:

“Two months later, the operator was fined £4 million over the Grayrigg rail disaster that killed one person and seriously injured 28 others.

Within the last two years, Network Rail has also been fined £1 million over the deaths of two school girls at a level crossing in 2005 and £3 million over the Potters Bar crash in 2002 that left seven dead.

The company is also under pressure over its punctuality, leaving it in danger of a £42 million fine. It has a target of running 92 per cent of trains on time – or less than ten minutes late.

At the moment, it is only providing 89.2 per cent of services within these limits, risking a £1.5 million fine for each 0.1 per cent below the target. “

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A Few Thoughts on Thatcher’s demise

Had you asked me five or ten years ago what I thought of Margaret Thatcher then I would have let forth a stream of invective and only subsided as my blood pressure reached a critical point.

But now on reflection I am not sure I could do the same. That is not to say I do not loathe every facet of Thatcher’s governments, but I feel we should avoid overly simplifying our reactions to her demise.

I think it is necessary to separate out the person from the politics and the wider consequences.

Consequences

Looking at the latter first. It is hard to describe to contemporary generations what Britain was like some 40 years ago. Not only in terms of lack of technology, variation or the comparatively insular nature of society back then. Whole books have been written on the political, economic and social legacy of Thatcherism, instead I would sum those changes up in two words, privatisation and profit.

When you look at fragmented British society with its extremes of wealth and poverty that is a legacy of Thatcherism. Where other European countries have public utilities running public services Britain has a range of private monopolies, which yearly attack people’s pockets. Other countries have joined up transport and infrastructure, Britain has Thatcher’s legacy.

Nevertheless, she cannot take all of the blame, numerous politicians, some even found in public life today (Michael Portillo is but one example) were key advocates of Thatcher’s myopic policies back then.

The politics

Thatcherism has had a profound political influence in Britain, all major political parties eventually succumb to its ideas, one way or the other. The notion that the market could fix everything, or nearly everything, has been adopted by both Conservative and Labour Party. Tony Blair, was obviously from the outset an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, brought those maligned policies into the Labour Party. This can be seen by the fool hardly and dangerous changes to the NHS over the past 16 years.

But the adoption of manic pro-market politics cannot be blamed solely on Thatcher. While she was a vehicle and obvious face of those wretched ideas, others chose to pick up the policies and articulate them, with the resultant mess that we see in Britain today: scarcely any manufacturing, poor public services, poorer infrastructure and a seriously divided society

The person

Margaret Thatcher was a singularly clever individual, who crawled her way to the top of the Conservative Party. When they had no use for her she was stabbed in the back and thrown aside.

If newspaper reports are to be believed, she suffered numerous ailments, the loss of a husband and serious dementia which is punishment enough for one person

But the other individuals, who articulated or benefited from her policies, have greater culpability.

Thatcher alone was not to blame for Britain’s adoption of vicious pro-market attitudes. Thatcher alone was not to blame for profiteering. Thatcher cannot be blamed, solely, for a financial sector, which is a law unto itself. She, alone, cannot be blamed for the lifelong misery, unemployment and destitution which resulted from her and subsequent governments’ policies.

Tory_cab2

Many, many others are to blame, as well.

She died as a sad, confused individual. A failure.

More is the pity that the pro-market nonsense she articulated can not be buried at the same time.
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Genteel Racism at Liberal Conspiracy And Cranks Around Up

We tend to think of anti-Jewish sentiment as coming from the Far Right, yet nowadays it is fairly common to find examples of it on liberal or left wing web sites. It is not overt or blunt as found amongst the extreme racists, but there are tell-tale signs: conspiracy theories and strange terminology.

Some posters at Liberal Conspiracy indulge in such activities without a moment’s recrimination or actions from the site’s moderators or post’s author.

I am not surprised that racists mount their pathetic hobbyhorses, rather that the non-racists who read that material at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see a problem or are willing to let it go unchallenged. If I were charitable I might conclude that most at Liberal Conspiracy don’t understand racism, and in particular anti-Jewish racism.

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Shorter version: maligning Israelis and Jews gives the game away. Particularly if there is a pejorative reference to the “Chosen”, or consciously linking to Rense, a site which proffers conspiracy theories, anti-Jewish racism and approvingly advertises David Duke.

This is not an isolated incident at Liberal Conspiracy as I have covered such poor behaviour before.

Even George Orwell spotted this form of usage in the post war period.

In an under reported topic on the British media, Asiya Islam looks at discrimination faced by Muslims, as seen by five women:
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Orwell, Atos and The Tories

Like many, I have read most of Orwell’s work, discussed and debated what he was trying to get at and even questioned some of his later decisions. Not unsurprisingly there is a lot to get to grips with. He was a multifaceted character living in turbulent times and profoundly affected by it.

David Aaronovitch does an excellent job in presenting the views of various scholars, friends and associates of Orwell. Nicely balanced. Over at the BBC Iplayer, The Road to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Readers will remember how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) outsourced to Atos, eligibility assessments of the disabled. Atos, in return, have been roundly criticised for declaring people to be “fit for work” only to have them die a few weeks later. Charities and other organisations connected with disabilities have pointed out the flaws in Atos’s methodology.

But now, in a bizarre twist, Atos are outsourcing many of those assessments to the NHS.

So the Public sector outsources to the private sector, a nasty task, who in turn outsource it back to parts of, the once, Public sector.

Atos is using this to deflect criticism on how many of those declared fit either die or end up destitute, whilst Atos rakes in millions.

From Lebanon, Hezbollah has been attacking Syrians with rockets.

Mapping child poverty, not something the Tories or their LibDem allies will welcome.

In other news, a UN official wonders about food banks in Britain. I am just waiting for some idiot Tory to trumpet them, saying “…at least we are world leaders in food banks!”

The privatisation of education continues a pace as Gove brings in help to sack people.

Polly Toynbee on the bedroom tax and housing.

Not above shelf stacking.

Finally, NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests, well worth a read. I can’t even imagine how scathing George Orwell would have been, of a society which attacks the poorest and weakest whilst selling off the family silver, and for once a Tory was right about something.

David Ward MP, David Duke And His Supporters

Power and privilege affect people’s judgements. Proximity to it changes people, clouds their common sense.

Witness the sense of entitlement that Westminster MPs had, they genuinely could not understand the issue of their excessive expenses claims. These MPs lacked any insight into their own conduct and how others saw them.

So it is with David Ward MP.

A few weeks ago, Ward made sweeping generalisations about “the Jews”, compounded offence with an insincere apology and only then begrudgingly when threatened by the LibDem chief whip.

Now Ward continues on his path of dog whistles, paranoia and is devoid of any self examination.

After his crass behaviour, an unapologetic interview at the Guardian was meant to clear the air and help him, but Ward made things worse:

“There is a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who’s seen to criticise the state of Israel.”

Later on, Ward had the temerity to email the Jewish News and asked the most facile of questions.

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There are being a number of intelligent responses to David Ward’s idiocy, but I can’t help thinking that nothing will sink in, nevertheless, Rabbi Neil Janes makes the effort:

“Instead of leaping to the conclusion that you are being silenced by a powerful lobby or that you were ‘just’ speaking truth to evil, I advise you to begin to demonstrate your understanding and empathy for all peoples – by the way, it is not just Jews and Palestinians who live in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. If you had done that and then voiced your concerns in a measured way, not on Holocaust Memorial Day, you may have found the reaction would have been different.

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Post US 2012 Presidential Election Thoughts

A random pile of US election insights, links and wit.

Fox News didn’t have a good night, Watch Fox News Chew Its Own Leg Off in a Fury of Recrimination.

Huff Post and idiotic GOPers, US Election: The Funniest Angry Republican Twitter Responses To Barack Obama’s Victory.

On voting, Hollywood tweets on the Obama win, sexy voting and Karl Rove.

How Wall Street gambled on Romney and lost! Wall Street left to rebuild Obama ties after backing Romney.

Gary Younge from Chicago, Obama’s second victory is more low key, but in some ways more impressive.

Bigots can’t take it, Obama’s reelection sparks racially charged protest at Ole Miss.

At Labour List, 5 lessons for Labour from Obama 2012.

Again, Fox News provides their own excuses as to why Romney lost.

Netanyahu handling of Obama has backfired, so he’s told his MKs to shut up for fear of causing more offence.

Peter’s The Times They Are A Changin’.

Bad losers, Karl Rove melts down after Fox News calls Ohio for Obama.

Elizabeth Ann Warren’s win.

Most racist moments of the election, not pretty but Donald Trump gets a lookin.

Ever the politician, Boris Johnson buries news.

Markos Moulitsas is good and thoughtful.

Photos from the NYT.

GOPers might like this, How To Cope If Your Candidate Lost.

Talking of losers, Fox News Slowly Loses Its Mind Over Election Results.

From the Middle East, Likud and Islamic Jihad Decry Election Results.

Finally, as younger readers might say, Mel Phillips, has jumped the shark. Unbelievable nonsense, completely detached from reality, like reading a poisonous discharge from the John Birch Society. Glad I never read her in the first place!

Donald Trump And The Egalitarianism Of Twitter

There is one marvellous aspect to Twitter, its egalitarianism.

Class, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation and wealth are all irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire, a millionaire or just someone with access to the Internet, you are all equal.

Twitter judges you on the contents of your tweets, not your wealth, and this has proved to be a problem for the likes of Donald Trump.

He is a regular Twitter user, but despite a vast wealth his idiocy is laid bare on Twitter.

Trump rants and raves with ease yet struggles to make the most elementary arguments.

He tries to delete his more idiotic comments but thankfully New York magazine has captured a few of them.

Update 1: One of Trump’s previous stupid tweets.

Crooks and Liars have more.

US Presidential Election 2012 Part Round Up

This is a partial round up of the US Presidential Election 2012, it is highly subjective as it is still going on and the final votes are not in yet.

If Romney wins as a picture!

The BBC’s America votes: scenes from the US election.

MIT or MITT? Florida Polling Place Denies Entry to Woman with an MIT T-Shirt.

Daily Kos Elections 2012 coverage.

Wow, Family of anti-gay Republican candidate for US Senate take out newspaper ad – against him.

Politics Home US elections – live.

Estimated declaration time in the US.

HOPE, not hate:

Mapping America’s Election Night and Tea Party vandals launch racist attack on Obama posters.

The Guardian live coverage is good.

This 2008 article by Mitt Romney might have lost him the election, Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

Some intelligent comments at the Atlantic.