Friday, August 31, 2007

Gallows Cracks the Whip

Much feverish comment on the far-left blogosphere as George Galloway's letter to Respect's National Council has found its way onto Liam McUaid's blog for all to gawp at.

Here are some highlights from the beginning and end of the document together with some helpful translation notes:


"The Shadwell by-election victory has stunned the New Labour establishment, turned the tide in Tower Hamlets and opened up the real possibility of winning two parliamentary seats in East London,"

Triumphal arches, bouquets, flags fluttering resplendently in the wind.

"[W]hich, together with the potential gain in Birmingham, would make us the most successful left-wing party in British history."

Mmm, mouthwatering. I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.

"New Labour’s decision to try to rehabilitate Michael Keith – the former leader of Tower Hamlets council who we first defeated last year – raised the stakes in this election enormously. A victory for him in a ward where we had all three councillors would have thrown us into a grave crisis. Instead, it is Labour that is suffering shattering demoralisation and we are enjoying a post-Shadwell bounce."

Nach Brown uns, comrades.

"Ealing Southall, on the other hand, just a few weeks before, marked the lowest point in Respect’s three-year history."

Uh oh!

"The failure to harvest even the vote we had secured in just one ward of the constituency in the local elections 12 months earlier was a sharp reminder that what goes up can come down and should shatter any complacency about the London elections next May."

This is what happens if you don't pay attention to what I tell you.

"It is clear to everyone, if we are honest, that Respect is not punching its weight in British politics and has not fulfilled its potential either in terms of votes consistently gained, members recruited or fighting funds raised."


"The primary reasons for this are not objective circumstances, but internal problems of our own making."

Internal problems of the SWP's making.

"The conditions for Respect to grow strongly obtain in just the same way as they did when we first launched the organisation and had our historic breakthrough in 2005."

You too can be successful if you-listen-to-me.

"Michael Lavalette’s advancing position in Preston shows what can be done with imaginative and dedicated work. In Bristol, around Jerry Hicks, and in Sheffield around Maxine Bowler, we have placed ourselves in pole position to enter the council chamber. But to achieve that we must recognise our serious internal weaknesses which are becoming more apparent and which threaten to derail the whole project. "

Success or failure, my road or the highroad.


"It is abundantly clear for a variety of reasons that the leadership team must be strengthened and all talents mustered."

My leadership must strengthened, my people must be promoted.

"I therefore propose the creation of a new high-powered elections committee,"

I demand more power, more, more, more.

"This committee must comprise the leading members of Respect, including Salma, Linda Smith, Yvonne Ridley, Abjol Miah (as the leader of our 11 councillors in the central election battleground of Tower Hamlets), me, Lindsey German, Alan Thornett, Nick Wrack as well as the National Secretary."

The board of directors will be stocked with my people, and I'll have the controlling vote, got that?

"I also propose a crucial new post of National Organiser, preferably full-time, whose task would be the aforementioned re-organisation and re-energising of the key clusters of Respect support and the encouragement of members everywhere."

We should have a managing director who will march to my tune.

"This position would sit alongside the position of National Secretary. It must be advertised and subject to competitive interview overseen by the elections committee."

My candidates will be selected.

"While this document may seem stark in black and white it reflects a widespread feeling which has surfaced in various ways - including at the National Council - and it is clear that the status quo, or minor tinkering, are not options. Time is short, renovation is urgently required and we must start the process now."

I'm bored with pussy-footing (sorry, couldn't help myself) around, I wanna take over the show.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Charities: Politics by other means

Another high-profile NGO, another political controversy. This time its a charity, War on Want, long known for its ties to the British left. According to this week's Jewish Chronicle, WoW has 'unveiled plans for a worldwide anti-Israel boycott.' It continues:
'A document, described as “a guide for boycott, divestment and sanctions”, appears on the War on Want website, and as a booklet, laying out a strategy for those planning sanctions against the Jewish state. MPs have called on the Charity Commission to investigate the publication, described as “a handbook of hate” by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark.It suggests that the boycott movement needs to “gain greater popular support” in order “to grow into a truly global movement”.'
Dolphinarium refrains from taking any position on the Middle East conflict except to say that the campaign for a boycott of Israeli academics seems wrong-headed and counterproductive.
But what this blog does find concerning is the growing trend for charities to involve themselves in overtly political matters.
There are a number of problems with this.
First and most obvious, it is not what charities are for. They are philanthropic organisations, not political pressures groups. This is how the general public perceives their purpose and that is how they justify their own existence; their good works. Money raised from the public which is then spent on political campaigning is arguably money raised on false pretences.
Second; charitable executives are unelected and unaccountable to the electorate.
Third; being perceived as philanthropic organisations, charities are the repositories of enormous public goodwill. This is being cynically abused when they use their privileged positions for political purposes.
Fourth; the suspicion arises that charities are only performing good works in exchange for political influence, that altruism is not their primary motivation.
Fifth; charities' influence in politics is not sufficiently transparent. They already have plenty of scope to exert their influence on public policy - there are some 2,800 NGOs with consultative status at the UN - with the added benefit that large sections of the electorate are ignorant of their activities.
Sixth; the are legitimate concerns that wealthy individuals and interests will buy political influence by means of charitable donation. This aquatic creature comments that we'd already had enough of this sort of thing in political parties.
Regretably this trend seems likely to increase. Ed Miliband, minister for the voluntary sector, recently proposed that the rules governing charities be relaxed to allow political campaigning to be their dominant activity.
Since there is remarkably little that can be done about this sort of thing, this blog suggests that people be a little bit more questioning before they slip their money into the collection tins.

Hari-Cohen: The Veep Verdict

After having spent days going through the source documents, carefully weighing up the evidence and deep reflection, the hard left's most irreverent iconoclast Voltaire's Priest has, in his characteristic love it or shove it style delivered his verdict on the pressing issue of our times: Hari-Cohen. So here with a clash of cymbols and drum roll it is:
A plague on both their houses! quoth Veep.
These are but the petty squabbles of a band of cosseted London-based media luvvies. They are, he said thunderously, a grand irrelevance. Hari-Cohen can Hara-Kiri.
So there!

Friday, August 24, 2007

More crap from Amnesty.

To say that Amnesty International has played a very dirty game in pushing through its abortion policy would be an understatement.
As pointed out in an earlier post, it blatantly censored Pro-Life members in the US and ignored the results of its consultation with members in the UK. Now further details have emerged about the deceptive practices of its US section.
Elsewhere, Jen R, an Atheist Seamless Garmenter who blogs at
"The general membership in the US was never consulted. The policy was discussed at regional meetings in the US late last year, but: a) most members don’t attend those meetings; and b) pro-life Amnesty members who tried to present the case for continued neutrality on abortion were told that the new policy was not being debated, and that the discussion would only be about how best to implement it. Callers to Amnesty’s US national office in May 2006 were even told that Amnesty wasn’t considering a change in policy on abortion at all, and that that was just a rumor!"
Given such low ethical standards then, its hardly surprising that Amnesty should appeal to vulgar anti-Catholicism in spinning its new policy. The egregious Kate Gilmore, Amnesty's deputy general secretary, who has busily been granting interviews hither and yon opined:
"The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights."
Ms Gilmore seems to imagine the Catholic Church has a duty to offer uncritical support to her organisation. She believes that Amnesty has a right not to be contradicted. She also assumes that Amnesty is the only avenue through which human rights work can be carried out, a self-evidently risible notion. Of course she doesn't explain precisely how the Catholic Church is giving a misrepresentative account of its position. That's because the Church is not misrepresenting a damn thing. The scope of Amnesty's position on abortion extends far beyond abortion for rape victims. An organisation that uses questionable methods to push through a policy change is in no position to take the moral high ground.
Gilmore continues:
"We live alongside people's life experiences. We don't run a theocracy. We have to deal with the rape survivor in Darfur who, because she is left with a pregnancy as a result of the enemy, is further ostracised by her community," adding for effect "We have the dirt under the nail and the blood and pain of the people that we are responding to."
Au contraire, Ms Gilmore. The people's life experiences you live alongside are those of a pampered coterie of spoiled westerners. You don't own the experiences of Darfuri rape victims and neither have they granted you any mandate to speak on their behalf.
Using Darfuri rape victims as an emotive cover for its abortion policy is as shameless, as cynical is it gets.

When the Priest was a Trot

Father Ray Blake's blog is a gentle stroll through contemporary English Catholicism, filled with entries typical of the Catholic blogosphere; newsy pieces on Chinese bishops, wry observations about modern ecclesiastical architecture and an entry about Russian martyrs from the Communist era accompanied by an image from an Orthodox icon.
Scrolling down a bit further however, I came across an entry piquantly entitled When I was a Trotskyist. The post is fetchingly illustrated with a logo associated with The Fourth International. Father Ray reveals that in his youth his love for the beautiful revolutionary, Sue BM, led him for a while to Trotskyism.
While outwardly pitted against each other - historical materialism famously predicts the ultimate demise of all religion - Catholics and Communists have often had a sneaking regard for each other. The weightier kind of Catholic commentator (one's mind turns to Clifford Longley) have on occasion lamented the receding influence of Marxism on the wider British left. A few years ago, Longley wrote in his Tablet column that Marxism took an eschatological view of human history.
Not that only Cafeteria Catholics have been influenced by Marxism. Towards the end of his life, it became commonplace to hear Pope John Paul the Great of blessed memory described as more of a liberation theologian than the liberation theologians. And in his later years, he used self-consciously leftist language in calling for Solidarnosc to be a genuinely workers party. As a young playwrite he explored his interest in revolutionary socialism in a play entitled Brother of Our Lord. He also had an impressive record as an anti-racist, accompanying Jewish children in the 1930s to school past anti-Semitic Endeja thugs. Could this in part have been due to the influence of Marxist internationalism? Its an intriguiging question.
In the past this aquatic creature has been the target of both SWP and Opus Dei recruitment efforts. I wonder if it would have been possible to be a member of both at the same time?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cynics Corner: Secrets, lies and Amnesty International

What do you call an organisation that consults its members on a contentious policy change but ignores the result, censors dissidents, adopts the policy in secret, claims without any verification that the policy has been "overwhelmingly adopted by the global membership through our democratic structures” and then launches a vicious smear campaign against conscientious objectors by accusing them of undermining its "good work"?
It calls itself a human-rights organisation. This blog calls it what it is: a fraud.
Pro-Life human rights activists across the globe have reacted with shock, hurt and dismay at the move.
This blog candidly tells them: wake up and smell the coffee.
AI never had any intention of listening to you. It doesn't care about you. Its leadership made the decision to adopt a pro-abortion policy years ago. The so-called consultation was never more than a fig-leaf for pushing it through. It didn't let its official neutrality on the issue stop it seven years ago, when it joined other groups in pushing for legalized abortion in the UN's declaration on women's rights, opposed by the Vatican. At the time, "Amnesty... accused the Vatican of entering into an unholy alliance with a number of Muslim and developing countries to stop abortion from being enshrined in international law." It didn't let its neutrality stop it from appearing on an Abortion Rights platform at the European Social Forum in 2004.
Want to know how the leadership of AI got its own way? Check out the words of old Uncle Joe Stalin who knew a thing or two about cynical manipulation.
Its not who votes that counts its who counts the votes.

Save Pegah Emambakhsh

In a week when we've seen just how disgracefully certain so-called human rights organisations can behave, Peter Tatchell's OutRage! reminds us just how important grassroots human rights slog is to real people whose lives are at risk.
This blog is by no means an uncritical fan of The Tatch (he got it badly wrong with the SORs and his membership of The Green Party remains perplexing to me) but on the whole, he's a decent egg and Outrage! does what it says on the tin, without arrogance or dissembling.
Here's an appeal this blog does support (Hat tip to Simon Forbes and Brett Lock). So get your fingers out and get writing to the relevant people.

Save Pegah - Write now!URGENT ACTION - Pegah Emambakhsh solidarity and support campaign

From Peter Tatchell and OutRage!

Pegah is an Iranian lesbian asylum seeker who is facing deportation from the UK on 27 August 2007. She is at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture, lashings and/or possible execution if she is returned to Tehran. A briefing on Pegah's case follows at the end of this email.Please write or email asap the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and to Pegah's British constituency MP, Richard Caborn (see details below), outlining your concerns and indicating your support for Pegah.Pegah's Home Office reference number is: B1191057This number must be quoted in any letter, so the Home Office can identify and access her case.Campaign letters for PegahSend a hard copy letter by first class post to arrive by Friday 24 August:1. Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary, 2, Marsham St, London SW1P 4DFOr by fax if too late to post a letter: Fax no: + 44 (0) 207 035 3262 or +44 (0) 207 035 2362In either case the letter (envelope or fax) should be clearly marked for 'The personal attention of ..'Email: smithjj@parliament. uk and /or homesecretary. submissions@ homeoffice. Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP,Sheffield Constituency Office2nd FloorBarkers Pool HouseBurgess StreetSheffield S1 2HF

Background Briefing - With the help of the UK asylum support network, Assist
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Her claim failed despite appeals and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August 2007. She faces deportation to Iran on 27 August 2007. If returned to Iran, she faces certain imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation - she was in a same-sex relationship. Ms Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum, after her lover wasarrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released but not before he had been tortured himself. Ms Emambakhsh has a more than well founded fear of persecution if she is returned to Iran. She belongs to a group of people - gays and lesbians - who, it is well known, are severely persecuted in Iran. According to Iranian human rights campaigners, many lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979. In 2006 a German court ruled that an Iranian lesbian could not be deported as she risked death because of her sexuality. The UK Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) have chosen not to believe that she is in danger if returned to Iran, even though the UK government are well aware of the terrible situation that gay people face there.The BIA will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human rights violation if they insist on Ms Emambhaksh's deportation. We are now getting Pegah new solicitors in order to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence and expert testimonies. We need a stay of deportation to give Pegah time to prepare and submit this fresh claim.
For further information please contact:Lesley Boulton - 077 3302 1087orMargaret or Robert Spooner0114 258 5715Asylum Seeker Support Initiative - Short TermC/o Victoria Hall Methodist Church60 Norfolk Street , SHEFFIELD, S1 2JBCharity Registration no. 1100894E-mail address admin@assistsheffie Site www.assistsheffield .org.ukTelephone & fax 0114 275 4960ENDS

Cohen v Hari

Forget Burchill and Parsons, Bette and Joan, Tupac 'n' Biggie, the big feud de nos jours is Cohen and Hari.
It all kicked off about a month ago when (have I got the patience for this, it goes on and on? Yes, get on with it, damnit) one-time Neo Con mascot now repentant peacenik Hari penned a scathing and lengthy review of Cohen's book What's Left for Dissent. Cohen retaliated in fine style in the same place a while later, accusing Hari of making things up. Enter David T of Harry's Place (to which Hari used to contribute) who quoted Cohen and added a few pointed comments himself about serious commentators and career death. Hari reached for m'learned friends and David T was forced to remove the offending post but as a disgusted Cohen pointed out, you can't censor the Net and full accounts have seeped out here here and here not to mention here with added commentary here here and here oh and here too, as well as a gossipy hackwatch peice in The Eye, which has covered Hari in the past.
There are few things Dolphinarium likes more than a damn decent handbags-at-dawn feud and this one looks set to be a classic. Its already dangerously fashionable, with Norman Geras, Oliver Kamm, the Drink Soaked Trots, Francis Sedgemore and (phew!) the fat man on a keyboard in Hull weighing in on Cohen and David T's side. And Splintered Sunrise and Aaro-Watch piling in for Hari.
What with all this bable of noise in the blogosphere, its impossible for Dolphinarium to come to any considered judgement on who's right or wrong in this particular case. So I've outsourced the task to Voltaire's Priest at Shiraz Socialist. Veep will, I hope, tell me what to think.

Moaning Doctors

Doctors back penalties for patients who miss their GP appointments, according to some survey or another. The BMA disputes the findings but similar stories appeared in 2002 and 2003. On each occasion, the survey has been commissioned by something called Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP), which describes itself as a health education charity.
DPP chairman, Dr David Wrigley said today: "In our view, striking patients off really is the last resort," said DPP Chairman Dr David Wrigley. "But what is clear from this is the level of frustration felt by GP practices."
Yeah, well.
This blog reckons a really interesting survey would poll the general public on their GP satisfaction levels and ask them if they supported punitive fines for GPs surgeries which kept them waiting more than ten minutes for an appointment.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Edith Stein's Forward to Life in a Jewish Family

Edith Stein wrote the following in September 1933. On 9th August 1942 Edith Stein was murdered at Aushwitz.

'Recent months have catapulted the German Jews out of the peaceful existence they have come to take for granted. They have been forced to reflect upon themselves, upon their being and their destiny. But today's events have also impelled many others, hitherto non-partisan, to take up the Jewish question. Catholic youth groups, for instance, have bean dealing with it in all seriousness and with a deep sense of responsibility. Repeatedly in these past months, I have had to recall a discussion I had several years ago with a priest belonging to a religious order. In that discussion I was urged to write down what I, child of a Jewish family, had learned about the Jewish people since such knowledge is so rarely found in outsiders. A variety of other duties prevented me from taking up this suggestion in earnest at that time. Last March, when our national revolution opened the battle on Judaism in Germany, I was again reminded of it. In one of these conversations by which one seeks to arrive at an undestanding of a sudden catastrophe that has befallen one, a Jewish friend of mine expressed her anguish: "If only I knew how Hitler came by his terrible hatred of the Jews."
She had her answer in the programmed writings and speeches of the new dictators. From these sources, as though from a concave mirror, a horrendous caricature looked out at us. It may be that it was sketched in honest conveiction. Possibly, the specific traits may have been copied from living models. But does having "Jewish blood" cause an inevitable consequence in the Jewish people? Is Judiaism represented only by, or even, only genuinely by powerful capitalists, insolent literati, or those restless heads who have led the revolutionary movements of the past decades? Persons whose reply to that question will be in the negative can be found in every stratum of the German nation. These persons, having associated with Jewish families as employees, neighbours or fellow students, have found in them such goodness of heart, understanding, warm empathy and so consistently helpful an attitude that, now, their sense of justice is outraged by the condemnation of this people to a pariah's existence.
But many others lack this kind of experience. the opportunity to to attain it has been denied primarily to the young, who, these days, are being reared in racial hatred from earliest childhood. To all those who have been thus deprived, we who grew up in Judaism have an obligation to give our testimony.
What I shall write is not meant to be an apologia for Judaism. To develop the "idea" of Judaism and to defend it against false interpretation, to present the content of the Jewish religion, to write the history of the Jewish people - for all this, experts are at hand. And anyone desirous of instruction along these lines will find a broad selection of literature available. I would like to give, simply, a straightforward account of my own experience of Jewish life as one testimony to be placed alongside others, already available in print or soon to be published. It is intended as information for anyone wishing to pursue an unprejudiced study from original sources.'

Edith Stein: Intellectual, nun, saint 1891-1942

Thanks to the wonderful Jackie Parkes for reminding me that yesterday was the feast of Edith Stein, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Edith Stein was born on Yom Kippur, 1891 to an Orthodox Jewish family. As an adult she converted to Roman Catholicism and became a nun. In 1942 along with her sister Rose, she was transported by the nazis to Aushwitz where she was murdered. Her last reported words to her sister were, "come, we go for our people."
In 1987 she was beatified by His late holiness, John Paul the Great and canonised in 1998. A year later along with Saints Catherine and Brigid she was declared Patron Saint of Europe.
Stein's life story is that of a very modern saint. In her teens she left school and became an atheist. She returned to her education some years later with a deeper seriousness of purpose and studied philosophy with the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl. Husserl himself said Stein was the best doctoral student he had ever had, high praise indeed from the man who taught Martin Heidegger.
In 1921 Stein was inspired to convert to Roman Catholicism after reading the autobiography of another intellectual saint with Jewish ancestry, St Teresa of Avila.
Stein's doctoral dissertation is tantalisingly entitled "On the problem of empathy". Years later she would write her own autobiography reasoning that German gentiles would empathise with Jews if they knew more about them.
The efforts of Stein and other people of goodwill proved sadly inadequate to the task of halting the murderous nazi juggernaut. Rather, history's judgement seems to have justified Trotsky's famous, unsparing dictum that the only way to debate with a fascist is to acquaint his head with the pavement. Nonetheless, in recent times, Stein's approach has been taken up by anti-racists who think that contact with people from different cultures will overcome racial prejudices.

Galloway to challenge Fitzpatrick

After weeks of speculation George Galloway has finally announced that he'll be challenging transport minister, Jim Fitzpatrick for the Poplar and Limehouse seat.
Dolphinarium is looking forward to a suitably bitter and filthy election campaign.