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Showing posts from July, 2014

LONDON LETTER JULY 2014

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I have just spent a week in the country, on the outskirts of Shrewsbury in Shropshire. When away from London I always feel further away from the centre of events. This is slightly ridiculous since how am I closer to the events in Gaza or on the border between Russia and Ukraine? The buzz of the city and the proximity of Parliament and Whitehall providing the illusory sense of being closer to events.
One thing however is true that if you are going to protest about events unfolding in the world London is a good place to do it. London still an important centre, the most cosmopolitan city in Europe and the base for so many media organisations. So perhaps I contradict myself, or more accurately the illusion is more a solipsistic affair.
One curious and paradoxical aspect about my being in Shropshire was the fact that my sister has satellite TV, consequently I had access to a whole panoply of TV news Channels reporting from the perspective of China, France, India, the US, UK and Russia among…

JUST ANOTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRY

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Germany And The End of A Nightmare

100 years ago Germany, with a population of 67 million, was the industrial powerhouse of Europe, Berlin a sophisticated metropolis the heart of an empire that was technologically innovative, progressive in social welfare provision and boasting the strongest labour movement in Europe. The future looked bright, the future promised a continent dominated industrially by German industry and technology and culturally by German ideas. It then all went horribly wrong and Germany entered a nightmare that grew ever darker as the century progressed. Is it fanciful to see in the German world Cup victory in Brazil and the celebrating crowds close to the Brandenburg Gate as the moment that Germany finally emerged from that nightmare? Certainly for the first time in my lifetime the majority of British people were rooting for a German victory once they reached the final and in many cases even before the comprehensive 7 - 1 demolition of Brazil. Germany now just anoth…

WHAT’S THE POINT OF THE LABOUR PARTY?

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The Labour Party and the Parliament of Nodding Dogs For the first time in my life I did not vote in the last general election. Not out of apathy or indifference but out of rage and frustration. Voting Labour, where my natural political sympathies lay, had begun to feel increasingly like writing a blank cheque for a political party determined to shred our civil liberties, curtail free speech, and continue to spy on our private lives.   I have wanted to believe in Ed Miliband and that the Labour Party has changed for the better, after all this country cannot afford another five years of being governed by a party of the ideological far right. However I wake this morning with that weary familiar feeling of impotence and rage. What is the point of the Labour Party? Yesterday saw millions of workers withdraw their labour, take to the streets and protest against this government, - an appalling cabal of millionaires who are slowly destroying the very fabric of this country. Where stood the L…

MELTDOWN

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Cameron plans crackdown on strikes as one million public workers walk out Guardian 10.07.14


Cameron stands at the despatch box as the fumes from the early Thatcher years filter up from the basement, the corruption of police, the media and of course politicians slowly begins to fill the chamber. In this putrid stench he seeks once again to hit out at those who are fighting to be treated fairly, the trade Union members who have the effrontery to withdraw their labour. The most draconian anti-union laws in Europe it seems are not enough, he wants once and for all to cripple the trade union movement by imposing such stringent conditions on action that withdrawal of one’s labour ceases to be a weapon that can be used by working people. In the face of this disgusting onslaught by the Bullingdon Bully and his partners in slime who, the hedge fund asset strippers and morally bankrupt tax dodgers, where is the Labour Party? Instead of standing up for workers fighting for a living wage they cower…

OF PAXMAN PARTIES AND THE INDUSTRAIL SCALE USE OF CLICHE

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Jeremy Paxman: 'Newsnight is made by 13-year-olds (and I’m probably a one-nation Tory at heart)'
So Jeremy Paxman has discovered the foolish idealism of the young who are “…are on a fool’s errand trying to change the world,” going on to state that old canard, as fresh and original as old carpet slippers. “The older you get, the more you realise what a fool’s errand much of that is and that the thing to do is to manage the best you can to the advantage of as many people as possible.” Unfortunately here I cannot replicate my own reaction to this statement, a trademark Paxman look of bored indifference and barely concealed scorn. This formula, that the young rebel and the old become conservative is presented as a given. As the old adage goes ‘if you not a socialist at 21 you have no heart, if you are not a conservative by the time you are forty you have no brains.’ It is as effective as pro-right propaganda as it is self-serving and untrue. A few years back I met a left wing friend …

ANOSMIA* THROUGH NATURAL SELECTION

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SANCTIMONIOUS HUMBUG, HYPOCRISY AND THE VENALITY AT THE HEART OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY On the 18th March this year William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, stepped up to the despatch box, and speaking with all the gravitas that he has long since perfected in front of his bathroom mirror, sonorously declaimed, with respect to Russian annexation of Crimea:-
"No amount of sham and perverse democratic process or skewed historical references can make up for the fact this is an incursion into a sovereign state and a land grab of part of its territory with no respect for the law of that country of for international law…”
Going on to declare,
" [A] third tier" of sanctions against Russia, including economic and financial measures, and that the UK has suspended all military cooperation with Russia…[the] Credibility of international systems rests on there being costs attached to breaking binding commitments, and refusing to address disputes through peaceful diplomacy,"
Stern stuff…