Saturday, February 27, 2010

Throwing newspapers........excusable due to pressures of being PM - throwing water bottles.......must be made an example of - 1 year in prison

I received the following today -

Seventeen people - all Muslim - have already been given extremely harsh and disproportionate custodial sentences to the alleged offence of violent disorder. Last week, a 19 year old aspiring to be a dentist, was sentenced to a year in prison for throwing a water bottle in the direction of the Israeli embassy. Despite the judge's admission that the young man had an excellent character and the bottle thrown did not hurt anyone, he wanted ‘to send a message of deterrent to the rest of the community'.

The court has also failed to take into account any evidence of police brutality - including beating up protesters and refusing to allow them to leave - and had used the controversial "kettling" technique.

The sentences - primarily targeted towards the Muslim community - will only serve to alienate and criminalise British Muslims, deterring them from engaging in their democratic right to protest.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tories in pre election meltdown..............

Many thanks to my dear pal Paul Walter for drawing my attention to this via Twitter. OK, I admit it, my iphone has changed my life! I am discovering a cornucopia of "things you always wanted to know but never dare ask" - following not only my favourite Lib Dems, but the likes of "I am trying really hard not to morph into a Lib Dem" Kevin Maguire, "if you think you're hard enuf" Charlie Whelan, "honest guv" Andrew Rawnsley "I used to be Linda Jack's fave MYP" Richard Angell and "one day I'll get a life" Chris Paul. Actually Chris.....just are doin good, for anyone not following him - he will do your donkey work for you - well worth following even if he does your head in with his anti Lib Dem rhetoric from time to time :-)

So. Burbler extraordinaire lead me to this unbelievable piece of Tory reeeeealpolitik on Conservative home. If anything ever exposed their shallow, value free, excuse for a serious response to the very real problems this nation faces......this is it. Seriously - we need to get this on our billboards toot sweet!

A little analysis - when you plaster this all over your flagship Mannering - get over here fast!

(1) Don’t panic! The Tories are still 7% ahead in the ConHome Poll of Polls. We’re almost certainly further ahead – where it counts - in the marginals

Ok......."almost certainly" code for - we really don't know. The totally hilarious assertion in this bit is "all the right policies are in place" - er right............would the Tories know a policy if it jumped up and bit them on the bottom? Have a look at their website and play spot the policy - or more exciting - spot the policy that will still be the policy int morning...

(2) Clarify the economic message. In the vote of Tory members I tested four descriptions of the party’s economic message. The official description, supplied to me by George Osborne's office, came bottom in the voting.

Yes, Mr O, he who fades into insignificance against Mr C.........even your loyalist supporters despair that the media rates our Mr C higher than you :-(

3) Raise the dangers of a hung, flippin 'eck, don't let the Lib Dems get a sniff of power, people might realise they really are the "real alternative"!

(4) Deploy the party's very sensible immigration policies. We may have overplayed it at the 2005 General Election but we are in danger of underplaying it this time. Now here they refer to the "sensible" policies of Chris Grayling - linking to this - One of the other crucial ingredients in the Tory commitment to end Labour's uncontrolled immigration policy is the introduction of a cap on the inflow from outside the EU. It may be impossible to set the cap exactly because the party has rightly promised to consult with business and the key public services on their needs for specialist and seasonal workers. We could, however, announce an overall target for net immigration. A commitment, for example, to limit net immigration to an average of 50,000 per year - within an annual flexible rage of 30,000 to 70,000 would be indicative to voters while allowing employers flexibility to influence the inflow of economic migrants.
The announcement should be made soon - to avoid being made in the heat of an election campaign - and ideally after a couple of good opinion polls. The worst time would be after a bad opinion poll and the announcement would then risk being presented as a panic measure
. - You couldn't make it up!

5) Stop announcing new policies (unless we have a pledge as potent as the 2007 inheritance tax policy up our sleeves!) and focus on the best ones we already have. The Tories have loads of policies but we can’t go into a campaign with two hundred bullet points. We need to highlight just a few key pledges. Doesn't this just say it all?! The "potent 2007 inheritance tax policy" - yeah right - let's take care of the rich and the poor will take care of themselves a reverse of the take care of the pennies mantra if ever I heard it. And loads of policies................where, please, are they hiding? Certainly not on the Tory website,


(6) Hague is a golden asset. No Comment.

(7) Remind voters on a daily basis of Labour's failures. Yep

(8) Put someone in 100% charge of campaign co-ordination. I’m hearing lots of stories of too many chiefs in the Tory campaign (all able) but no overall chief. We don’t (alas) have Lynton Crosby co-ordinating this campaign but we need someone in absolute charge and able to give the campaign 100% attention. Who is that? George Bridges? The question needs answering and kinda now. WOT?!

(9) Cameron can show that he's stronger than Brown by being the election's straight-talker.

Straight talker...............are you havin a laugh??????

(10) This election is a choice between decline and recovery. Well, not entirely sure about this, but if this is the case, it would be really interesting to stack up the Os-spawn solution with the Capable solution.........

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brown - the real problem is with the behaviour he admits.

Unexpectedly stranded at home and unable to attend a trustee meeting of Re:generate in Derby, I have had more time to follow Twitter and listen to the unfolding story of Mr Brown. Interesting just how party political this has become - OK, I know there is an election coming, allegedly........but I would like to think if this kind of allegation was made against Nick Clegg we would welcome an investigation even if we regarded the allegation as ludicrous.

It seems to me Brown has a real problem though, all he and Mandelson have denied is him hitting anyone. He admits to throwing things when he gets angry - I work in a big, open plan office - I have never seen anyone throwing anything, however frustrated they are. I have worked with bullies (one of whom was sacked for her bullying), I have represented many union members who were being bullied, but in spite of their aggressive and intimidating behaviour, none of these people was ever accused of throwing anything. Mandelson, it seems to me, compounded the problem with his interview on Andrew Marr yesterday - he "took his medicine like a man" - er right. So he, as more or less an equal of Brown, thinks because he could take unspecified behaviour, which presumably was unpleasant (hold your nose and swallow hard), everyone else, whatever their position, should do the same. Bullying is invariably the abuse of power by someone more powerful than the recipient. It is not about intention it is about impact. Brown may not have intended to upset anyone when he shouted or threw things around, that's not the point.

I can only imagine how intimidating it may be to be in an office with someone who is getting so angry they have started throwing things, be they newspapers or brick bats. If it happened in my office, even if it were my Director, I would expect some sort of action to be taken. It seems to me that what this shows us about Brown is his total lack of self awareness and emotional intelligence. If he thought that he had the right to behave like that, if he never stopped to think about the impact his behaviour may be having on those around him, if he had no notion of the great responsibility of his office and the great privilege it affords him, then I for one completely understand why so many of his colleagues have lost their trust in him.

But I am equally appalled at the actions of the National Bullying Hotline. It takes a huge amount of courage for anyone to report workplace bullying. Let's not forget it is only in very recent years it has been taken seriously. I can remember being laughed at by councillors in Bedfordshire when I raised the issue, what I was describing only happened in schools! If anyone from Brown's office did call, they called because they didn't have the confidence to approach anyone internally and because they were presumably worried about anyone internally knowing what was going on. To have that trust betrayed by the people they turned to in their time of need is inexcusable.

This country faces unbelievable challenges, the most pressing of which, from my perspective, is the growing inequality and unfairness. I have no doubt that Gordon Brown is a man, despite the clear failure of his government, who is very exercised by this. I have no reason to doubt what he says about his concern to tackle poverty in this country and across the world. How tragic then, that it appears, having been given the opportunity to really make a difference that only a handful ever get, he seems to have become so arrogant as to think he can behave as he pleases, regardless of the impact on others. Fairness is about how we treat each other as individuals, as well as a society.

It is really not good enough for Mandelson and Brown to try and create a smokescreen and claim this is all a politically inspired operation to undermine the Prime Minister - it may well be, but surely, the adult thing to do would be to immediately promise an investigation. After all, as I have already intimated, most responsible adults, however frustrated, would throw little more than the odd inappropriate comment around the office.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More evidence that Tories are same old same old

Full of fresh ideas "New Tories". Only this morning, just in time for the Sundays, time to consider over our tea and toast - a brand new investment opportunity for the hoy palloy - cheap shares in our nationalised banks.

I am old enough to remember the Ask Sid campaign. What I particularly remember is my socialist aunt, responding to the letter she received from British Gas asking if she wanted to buy any shares. She wrote back to tell them no thank you, she didn't want to buy shares in a company she already owned.

And therein lies the rub. These "fresh" Tory proposals demonstrate just how out of touch they are. Well yes, of course, for those with the spare cash to invest, they may benefit from cheap shares and a bit of a windfall. But for those who have been hit hardest by the credit crunch and the failure of the banks, there is nothing. They may have already lost their homes, their jobs, the little savings they had.

Now I may have a little more time for the Tory proposal if it was to sell the shares for the best possible price, in order to invest in making this a more equal society so that everyone who has suffered because of the greed and incompetence of the banks gets at least a little redress. But unfortunately that would betray what appears to be the only belief they have left, namely that "to he whom much is given, he shall have more" as opposed to "to he whom much is given, much is required".

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Praise of Jenny Tonge

The news that Nick Clegg has today sacked Jenny Tonge is sad news indeed. It further clouds what is and always has been a desperately clouded issue. I have read what Jenny said to the Jewish Chronicle about allegations of the IDF organ harvesting in Haiti"To prevent allegations such as these - which have already been posted on You Tube - going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti." Frankly, in my view, Nick has totally over reacted, which is disappointing given his unblemished and brave record of standing up to the Israeli lobby. He says - I quote from the BBC article - "The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognise the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community," Nick thus plays into the hands of the Zionists - if Jenny caused distress it was surely to the Israeli community? The British are being accused of colluding with torture, do we worry about that causing distress to the Christian community? Oh yes, we also have a sizeable Muslim community, so does Israel, and numerous other faiths, so does Israel.

Jenny has not accepted the allegations, she has merely suggested they should be investigated. Of course they are outrageous allegations, but so was the suggestion that this country may have colluded with torturers. Of course it is beyond belief that human beings, sent to help a country in distress would do such a thing, but human beings do do terrible things to each other, be they Israeli, American, Iraqi or British, particularly when they have been able to dehumanize those they hurt. Now, of course, I am not suggesting I believe these allegations, just challenging the idea that we assume some people are automatically beyond reproach. If such allegations had been made against Iranian forces for example, would that have evoked the same reaction?

In all of this the danger is that we lose sight of the very real outrage that the world sits silently by and allows the Israeli state to behave with impunity in violating not just the human rights of the Palestinians but of its own citizens. That we do this and continue to support a state which even Desmond Tutu has said is worse than apartheid South Africa, shames us all.

Jenny has been a brave and courageous voice challenging this. I know her to be a woman of huge integrity and compassion - she speaks out of the agony of witnessing what is happening virtually unchallenged in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself. I for one admire and value her contribution. If her frustration sometimes results in her speaking out of turn - at least it is only her words that are causing offence.............unlike the bombs and bullets that have maimed and killed countless innocent Palestinians in their homeland that is STILL illegally occupied.

I am thankful that there are Israelis, many of whom happen to be Jewish, and Jews, many of whom happen to be Israelis, who are at the forefront of challenging Israeli policy towards Palestine. They give the lie to the notion that this has anything at all to do with anti-semitism, they give me hope that ultimately, just as the Berlin Wall came down, just as today we celebrate the release of Mandela and the end of apartheid, one day we will celebrate a meaningful and lasting peace in Israel Palestine - but that peace will continue to allude us until we recognise that there can be no peace without justice and until we recognise that the Israeli state and the Jewish religion are not synonymous.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Will Boris oust Dave?

Having spent the last few weeks charging around all over the UK, I am now paying for it by enforced bedrest due to gammy leg/back. The only benefit being that I have been more able than usual to catch up with blogs and tweets. This tweet from Charlie Whelan caught my eye - My pal Graham Sharpe from William Hill contacts me again. Money piling on to Boris to replace 'vulnerable' Cam. Hague still favourite.