Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SWP Respect Petition

Chris Harman has finally been persuaded to add his name to the SWP's Respect petition - he's number 851 on the list - a whole six days after the petition was launched. The majority of the England-based members of ISJ's editorial board are conspicuous by their absence, bear in mind that in the hierarchical world of the SWP the ISJ is editor Harman's fiefdom. The petition has still not accumulated 1000 signatories. This is, to put it mildly, unimpressive and indicative of a party machine which is not as effective as its rivals on the left imagine.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Respect in meltdown

This is really one of those things one has to do: post on the George Galloway/Respect fiasco. By now we all know the story (indeed some of us have been transfixed by each successive plot twist in this soap opera) power struggle, critical letters, petitions, walkouts, whips being resigned etc etc. One can't comment on this without saying that when it comes to Respect exclusives, Andy Newman over at Socialist Unity is the undisputed master of the art. That boy has some excellent sources and he has consistently delivered some cracking scoops in the last few weeks, leaving the gossipy Weekly Worker trailing in his wake. Honourable mention also to Liam McUaid for some good stories.
A few observations of my own. First, notice Councillor Rania Khan's sly imputation of sexism on the part of Councillor Abjol Miah: "his inappropriate behaviour to women councillors in the group is disgraceful," she opined. How shall we put this, the tactic of accusing political enemies of sexist behaviour is not unknown in the SWP. Secondly, notice that a lot of the names on the SWP's Respect petition are from Respect supporters, not just Respect members, inflating the petition's size in a somewhat misleading fashion. Some signatories, undoubted paid up members of Respect hail from towns at which Respect is at best an SWP auxiliary.
Respect of course, is one of the wierdest political coalitions of all time. It is noticeable that significant numbers, including senior members, of the SWP have not signed the petition, despite repeated requests in Party Notes for them to do so. Could it be that they were never keen on Respect? Are levels of cynicism about the whole project that high, or are we to believe that Comrades Harman and Smith couldn't afford the £26 joining fee?

Odds and sods - Credit unions plus man has sex with bike

Some good news (and some justification for a New Labour government) : The government will ease restrictions on credit unions to encourage growth in the sector and ensure the public has a viable alternative to banks for loans and savings.

I find this story utterly baffling. A man has "sex" with a bicycle, ok so far, so normal, though I quibble over the phrasing (was the bicycle a willing partner? courted with flowers and candlelit meals? roughly seduced?). Anyway he does this in the privacy of his locked hotel room, then a pair of nosey-parkers use a masterkey to force their way into his room, catch him in flagrante delicto, then "extremely shocked" inform the hotel manager, who in turn informs the police. The man in question, the bicycle-seducer, a Mr Robert Stewart, was duly charged - and convicted - of a sexual offence involving an inanimate object. Stewart has also been placed on the sex-offenders' register. The preceeding two sentences, are, in fact, scandalous. Convicting a man, and worse, placing him on the sex offenders' register for having "sex" with a bike is bizarre. I very much doubt the bicycle was traumatised by the experience.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pharmaceutical companies, insulin and restriction of diabetics' choices

The free market in pharmaceuticals doesn't necessarily increase patient choice, as this piece from the ever interesting Dr James Le Fanu in The Daily Telegraph shows. Its about insulin, which used to be derived from pigs and cows until the 1980s when genetically engineered human insulin started to be produced. The snag is that the genetically engineered version doesn't suit all diabetics. Some - surveys suggest as many as one in four - have to use the older type of insulin. But guess what ...
"...This is likely to prove increasingly difficult as more drug companies switch to producing only the more profitable genetically-engineered forms..."
Not good enough, this aquatic creature says. Insulin is a basic need for diabetics. If drug companies stop producing it, the government must step in and if necessary produce it themselves.

Monday, October 08, 2007

China's Stolen Children


Worth watching tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm: China's Stolen Children, which shines a light on yet another tragic side effect of China's savage one-child policy - the booming trade in stolen children.

Incidentally, blind human rights campaigner, Chen Guangcheng, remains in jail after having tried to bring a class action lawsuit against the Chinese government for human rights abuses perpetrated in the course of its population control policy. Amongst other things, Chen uncovered cases of foetuses of up to 9 months gestation which were forcibly aborted.

Oh and guess who pays for the one-child policy? You do.

Funding for the one-child policy comes from UNFPA and IPPF which in turn are funded by the EU and the British government, in other words the taxpayer.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tony Benn wants to be an MP again


Oh for heaven's sake, will he never give up on his insane project to turn the Parliamentary Labour Party into a permanent Benn family reunion, with himself at the helm? One wag commented "I think he's mistaking Brown's call for a government of all the talents for a government of all the generations. Next they'll be putting a blastocyst forward for selection purely on the grounds that its a Benn."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

On the indoctrination of schoolchildren

First the bad news: a British judge has ruled that Al Gore's enviro-mentalist agitprop flick, An Inconvenient Truth, can - and inevitably will - be shown to 11-14 year olds during school hours. Now some good news: but in what was described as a "U-turn" the department for children, schools and families has offered to re-write its accompanying guidance notes for schools after Mr Justice Burton ruled that the film promoted "partisan political views".
The case was brought by father of two and Kent school governor, Stuart Dimmock, who, not unreasonably takes exception to children being fed this kind of mind-rotting rubbish at school. And so should anyone else who professes to care that children are taught how to think rather than what to think.
So where were these brave titans of liberal pedagogy, these fearless opponents of juvenile indoctrination? Where were the combined forces of Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society with their tub-thumping speeches and press releases assailing the corruption of young minds?
Answer: Nowhere to be seen.
For people who've made such a vulgar fuss about liberating children from what they call indoctrination, they've been noticeably quiet about this court case.

By their (in)actions shall ye know them
Their inconsistency is revealing of their true motives, which transparently have nothing to do with preventing indoctrination and everything to do with attacking the democratic rights of believers.

Back to it

So back to it, after the first run on a British bank in over a century. Rarely has the silly green insistence on a human contentment index rather than GDP growth as a measure of progress seemed like more of a frivolous frippery. Financial near misses like Northern Rock evoke spectral images of depression and mass immiseration, focusing minds on the things of real importance.