Monday, February 22, 2010

"Bullygate", a shady saga

Kudos to David Lindsey for seeing through all the hogwash about Brown the so-called "bully".

As David said on his blog:

What sort of Prime Minister would you prefer? And I wonder at anyone who has never had a boss who shouted and swore a bit. Fleet Street is clearly not as one tends to think it is. Then again, perhaps they assume that no one else has had these experiences, since that would make them the same as everyone else?

I quite agree with him. Far rather a boss who bawled you out with some choice Anglo Saxonisms but allowed you to shout back at him in equally fruity language than some nasty snide sod of a manager anyday.

As insider #2 puts it:

Yes, Gordon has a temper. But in all honesty it is no worse than working in a newspaper office or a TV newsroom.

He will erupt more than most people do but I certainly don't remember it as a place of fear and loathing. But just like a media news editor, he would occasionally shout, “What the f*** is all that about?”
There's one really good thing about the man, which is that you are allowed to shout back without it being held against you. But shouting does not happen every day. It's not like he wanders around seething all day.
As for bullying, that's utter bollocks. Can he have a violent temper? Yes, he can. Can he also be very kind? Yes. The idea that we were waiting for him to explode is nonsense.
There was not a blame culture. If you were in the room when something went wrong, he would shout but I never heard him say, “it's all your fault”. It always ended up with him blaming himself.

And before you start thinking it, the insider isn't the only person to have defended Gordon either. So has Peter Watt - no Brown fan, he - on Newsnight last night, noting that the language used to describe Brown is "a bit strong". Quite so. One of the chief rhetorical culprits in this sorry story is the word "abuse". Abuse is one of those vague and not easily defined words which means child rape at one extreme to something as minor as swearing at the other and everything else in between.

And then there's that curious character, the appropriately named Christine Pratt, founder and spokesperson at large for the National Bullying Helpline, who popped up just when the story might have started to go cold with her strange tales of terrified Number 10 staff ringing her helpline. Lindsey is bang on the money when he says:

Deafening silence from the usual critics of fake charities about the National Bullying Helpline, whose income in 2007 was a mere £1,818, with expenditure of £852. The figures for 2008 are 207 days overdue. In 2007, £1000 was raised by CLM Solicitors and Monahans, £200 by BNY Mellon Asset Services, and around £600 pounds from all other donations. Ann Widdecombe is a Patron, though one does have to wonder for how much longer after today's breach of confidentiality. And the helpline refers callers to a human resources consultancy run by Christine Pratt and her husband.

Yes, this looks like a very shady saga indeed.

Hellooooo Upekha

Caught ya eyeballing this blog in the morning.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CPS oversteps its mark, decriminalises assisted suicide - report

Assisted suicide is to be decriminalised by the back door, according to this report in the Telegraph.

Whatever you think of this particular issue - and I'm with the man who is almost always on the side of the angels, Gorgeous George, myself - for the CPS to do this is a total outrage.

Parliament, composed of at least one chamber of democratically elected, accountable politicians should have the job of making laws and parliament alone.

It should not go without comment that this has happened following an extremely emotive, some might say irresponsible campaign by certain lobby groups - yes, unelected, unaccountable lobby groups - such as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (DiD).

And it should also not go without comment that this story demonstrates just how dire the situtation is for the Catholic Church and Pro Life groups in British politics.

I'll tell you frankly that many of the reasons they're in dire straits are their own. The Catholic Church doesn't just make the unforgiveable mistake of not recruiting the brightest and the best - I can tell you now, the hot politically-engaged zeitgeist-surfers de nos jours are not going to be found on their politicians internship project - it does even worse that that: it appoints people who are totally unsuitable and yes I am talking about Sir Fancy Pants God calls me God or whatever Stephen Wall calls himself these days.

Pro Life groups have allowed themselves to be dominated by the hair-brained schemes of a certain Contessa and as with the Abortion Act seem to have failed to spot the crucial social trend which make demands for assisted suicide more likely, ie a population which is living longer than ever before and thus showing an increasing prevalence of age-related diseases. And the message, what is the message, the tone, the feeling, Pro Life groups give off on this? Probably that they're pro-suffering. That should not be the way it is. Pro Life groups should be getting across the idea that they are pro life, pro people and pro progress. Well, they should have been working on that years ago.

My message to pro life groups is simple and stark: reform or die.

What Paul Foot said

"It has been a long tradition in the labour movement that arguments between socialists should be conducted openly and should not, except in extreme circumstances, be tested in the courts by the libel laws.

"Hence this appeal to anyone in the socialist and labour movement who would like to express their disapproval of pursuing political arguments through the law courts."

He was speaking about the libel action brought by Quintin Hoare and Branka Magas against Bookmarks Publications Ltd, Alex Callinicos and ... er, somebody called Lindsey German in 2003.

Given her own experience, I'm sure Lindsey would take a very dim view of anyone who made even the most cursory reference to libel in a political dispute.

See the rest here

Hat Tip: The peerless Madam Miaow, who has this to say to anyone shocked by this bust up: See, I told you so.

Any guesses where these quotations came from?

"we ... propose that the crime of incest [should] be abolished".

"... in cases of parent-child incest, undue pressure to consent could be placed on the child who is economically and emotionally dependent on the older party ... this is just the sort of situation where bringing in the law could do immense harm to the child, the father and the rest of the family."

"Where the child was a willing partner in the sexual activity, the strength of prejudice surrounding the case and the visible psychological effect on the defendent (who may have been a friend of the child) will be highly disturbing."

"In their report for the Institute of for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency, Gibbens and Prince make the point that isolated events are unlikely to have any profound effect on a child who would probably soon forget about their experience if it were not for the significance given to it by parental concern and legal proceedings."

"Virkkunen (1975) studied a group of 64 peadeophiles and reported : 'Aggressive behaviour was not as a rule a characteristic of these offenders; on the other hand they seemed to be in a pronounced manner gentle, fond of children and benevolent.' "

"Parents, police and layers find it hard to believe that the child may actively seek the sexual relationship. Bender and Blau (1937) report: 'This study seems to indicate that these children undoubtedly do not deserve completely the cloak of innocence with which they have been endowed by moralists, social reformers and legislators ... frequently we considered the possibility that the child might have been the actual seducer, rather than the one innocently seduced.' Other researchers (Gibbens, Virkkunen) agree that the children often take the initiative; some of them have sexual experiences with several adults."

"There are many cases where the victim does no appear to suffer from any obvious psychological distrubance until after the case has come to court. It is often the publicicity in the local press and the reaction of neighbours that is most damaging to the whole family."

"Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage...A large number of people (one researcher estimated it to be about one third of all children) have one or more pre-pubertal sexual experiences with an adult. So at least some of the readers of this report should ask themselves whether their early sexual activities with an adult have resulted in any unfortunate after-effects."

"This suggested change in the law is merely a palliative. The real need is a change in the attitude which assumes that all cases of paedophilia result in lasting damage. The present legal penalties are too high and reinforce the misinformation and prejudice. The duty of the court should be to inquire into the all the relevant circumstances with the intention, not of meting out severe punishment, but of determining the best solution in the interests of both child and paedophile."

"For any paedophile to defend himself it is necessary for him to disown his lover in court. Any hesitations in so doing are immediately seized upon by the prosecution. Any indication of support on the part of the defendent for children and for the validity of child adult sexual relationships will immediately begin to add months, if not years to the prospective and rather inevitable sentence ..."

"The law's non-recognition of child sexuality is carried one step further in the police questioning of children. Quite apart form using sophisticated methods of terrorising children inside the nick and feeding them a series of lies (see Roger Moody's case), the police use a type of 'verbals' especially designed to confuse children as to their real meaning so as to get them to sign 'confessions'. This is done a) to obtain untrue statements b) to break down the resistance of children who do not want to betray their lovers or friends."

They're ashes for Ash Wednesday, you twit!

It's happened to me more than once. Someone says to you, what's that mark on your head? Have you had an accident with the photocopier or something? No, dumbo I've been smeared with lenten ashes. Why didn't I have the sense to get a fringe this year?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coming back home

Phil BC, that is. Back home to the Labour Party, having left the former Millies who are the Socialist Party of Britain, not to be confused with the Socialist Party of Great Britain which is a very different kettle of fish. He's got a very well-written and not a little poignant post about it here.

Welcome back, comrade.

The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold.

Then raise the scarlet standard high
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

Fowards ever backwards never says London for a secular Europe as Valentine's Day anti-Catholic protest bombs

Non-event of the weekend had to be the anti-Catholic anti-Pope protest by London for a Secular Europe, a coalition of nutcase anti-religious groups and, unfortunately, the saintly Peter Tatchell, who shouldn't be mixing with such strange people. Luckily for the master meeja tacticians at Catholic Communications Network, the demonstration of enormous opposition to the Papal visit turned out to be a damp squib with a cluster of cranks turning out on a drizzly February day to make their point to a few disinterested pigeons and startled tourists on the piazza. The organisers numbered the demonstrators as around the 200 mark so it's a fair bet that they somewhat fewer than that in total. No shows included secularist idol, Maryam Namazie who was probably busy broadcasting thrilling Hekmatist propaganda to the world's freedom loving peoples.

Not that Eccleston Square's crack press team can afford to maintain their complacency about this - my source on the Westminster scene, the ever reliable Mr Grumpy O'Moody gave me the impression that the ganzer machers in the press office were bathed in their usual serene indifference to national events when I asked how the prospect of a bunch of wild-eyed loons parking themselves outside the cathedral chanting anti-Catholic slogans was going down.

Quite what it would take to lift the press office, which experiences every day as a slow news day, out of its catatonic state, I don't know. Come September's Papal visit and an attention-seeking wingnut may hurl flourescent condoms at the pontiff during a Mass which might - I stress might because nothing is certain in sleepy official Catholic circles - prompt the Westminster spin-meisters to do some bog-standard reactive press work.


Rumblings of discontent about the Catholic Education Service - when are there not? - this time because it turns out that the government's sex-"education" guidelines weren't Balls but Stannard's. The CES's uniquely awful press releases - it's rumoured that the great galumphing Oona insists on writing them herself - are the bane of every Catholic hack's life. Just look at these examples typical of the CES's snoozeworthy style.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Joanne Cash

From one end of the political spectrum to the other. There's been a lot of chatter about "Cameron Cutie", Joanne Cash in the press recently since she emerged victorious in a dispute at her local Conservative Party. Call me Dave refused to accept her resignation as Westminster North candidate and I don't blame him one bit, for the winsome ski-jump nosed Joanne is a woman of rare brilliance.

I saw her in action last January when she was a barrister on the winning side of my friend Austen Ivereigh's libel trial. One the final day of the trial, the jury rightly returned a verdict that Austen had been libelled by the Daily Mail. Sweet victory! But just as our minds were turning to champagne bottles, the Mail's QC, Mark Warby rose to his feet with a sneaky application for Austen to pay costs on the grounds that the Mail had offered him a settlement of sorts, which didn't include an apology, at some point in the past.

Outside court all was confusion as Austen's legal team went into a huddle of urgent sotto voce discussion. "It's the most iniquitious thing I've ever heard," fumed Joanne before launching into rapid-fire disquisition of Warby's move, ticking off relevant legal precedents on her slim, elegant fingers. Then away she flew back home to her computer, weighty legal tomes and the composition of a water-tight case for Austen. The following day Mr Justice Eady threw out Warby's application for costs, of course he did and the Mail was landed with a £3million bill. Only then would the Stakhanovite Joanne have permitted herself to relax, perhaps with a glass a mineral water. Chic, stylish, passionate yet serious-minded, Joanne Cash radiated star quality even in the fusty environs of the Royal Courts of Justice. It's such a dreadful shame she's a Tory.

Oh yes, on the off-chance that he's reading this, I'm waving coquettishly at the scrumptious James Quartermaine, another brilliant member of Austen's tip-top legal team.

"When Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline, when he is in the minority he is against it"

I resigned on Wednesday on my way to a Stop the War public meeting in Newcastle which I had been asked not to attend by the Central Committee ... I found this unacceptable. For the convenor of Stop the War to be stopped from speaking at a STW meeting by the party leadership would not be understood or agreed in the wider movement and I thought it would damage the SWP in the movement locally and nationally. I therefore asked if I would be subject to discipline if I went and if I was being instructed not to go. Although no firm answer was given, it was clear from correspondence with the National Secretary that the CC 'reserved the right' to take action against me.

I believe the CC was wrong in the particulars of this case, but that this reflected a more general political error.

The leadership's error was compounded by its reply to my resignation, when it glossed over these issues to assert that I resigned because I disagreed with the leadership and because of my membership of the Left Platform. That is simply untrue, and there is no logic in their statement that my resignation invalidated what I said at conference. I resigned because of their actions which I believe did a disservice to the movement. The assertion that there was no question of discipline is not true: the correspondence speaks for itself, as does the National Secretary's reply to my resignation letter.

Some people have said to me that such political differences should not need to result in resignation. However there are two other issues here. One is the abandonment of the methods of building pioneered by Tony Cliff, following Lenin and expressed most clearly in his 'Lenin: building the party'. Talk of bending the stick, seizing the key link in the chain or indeed polemical debate is frowned on in the present climate, and is definitely not practiced by the leadership. That it strikes me is a serious retreat from how we have built for all my political lifetime.
The second issue is the internal regime, which has deteriorated. There have been more expulsions and 'offers you can't refuse' in the past year than at any time since the 1970s. Any national meeting now seems to be open season for personal attacks on Left Platform members. The disputes committee session at conference was effectively an attack on me by leading members, even though I had been accused of no offence. The only LP member on the disputes committee was not allowed to attend the session, despite the fact that she had written a minority report ...
A leadership often not confident of its political arguments has resorted to gossip, innuendo and moralism. One of the claims about me was that I was 'standing by my man' because I agreed with John Rees politically. I wouldn't insult even a bourgeois politician with that. Again, my record should speak for itself. However, I have felt politically curtailed in recent months: all LP members who submitted journal articles had them rejected; none of us are ever commissioned to write reviews or articles in publications; I was not asked to speak at the women's school, despite having written and spoken more on theoretical questions on women than anyone else in the party. STW was not asked to speak at the RTW conference, despite backing it. Now the leadership attempting to curtail my STW work is a demand too far.
Lindsey German

Some of the most swivel-eyed Reesites of two or three years ago have become the most vitriolic anti-Reesites of today. On the other hand, there were quite a few people in the Left Platform who were not personal worshippers at the shrine of the Power Couple, but just happened to agree with them. This included, for instance, people whose centre of activity was Stop The War, and who did feel that the leadership was winding STW down. The concentration of minority supporters in STW, including its national leadership, raised the possibility that it could become, or be seen by the majority as, what in Maoist parlance would be called a factional headquarters. Certainly, the North East organiser (who, not so long ago, would have regarded criticism of Lindsey German or John Rees as a serious disciplinary offence) appears to have treated it as such.

So, on the formal question of discipline, Lindsey disobeyed a direct instruction from the General Secretary, which in SWP terms didn’t leave her a leg to stand on. From a political point of view though, instructing the STW convenor not to attend an STW event because the people organising it were no longer members of the SWP (although they were members in good standing until very recently) does not look very good, and is not made more attractive by the fact that Lindsey herself would have been quite prepared to use that sort of pretext against dissidents in the past.
Which brings us to the schadenfreude issue. Lots of people don’t like Lindsey. In particular, lots of ex-members don’t like Lindsey, because the number of expulsions she was involved in runs easily into three figures. It wasn’t entirely unknown for Lindsey to instigate somebody’s expulsion at CC level, then sit on the Control Commission that would confirm the expulsion. Those with long enough memories will recall Lindsey’s role in the closure of Women’s Voice, where she operated as Cliff’s battering ram, being sent on a tour of the branches to make sure they voted the right way. (If they voted the wrong way they’d be rewarded with a return visit.) In that instance, she managed to browbeat the SWP Gay Group into voting for the closure of WV, only to be closed down themselves immediately afterwards. At the centre, she had a reputation for extreme personal hostility to anyone who crossed her. So we’re not talking about an innocent abroad here.
"Splintered Sunrise"

Lindsey German is a long-standing former CC member who has herself been on the control commission. She understands party discipline very well, and what was asked of her was no less than what she would have asked of any other party member. The people pretending to be scandalised on her behalf don’t sufficiently take the point that Lindsey would be the last person to be surprised by this.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lindsay German resigns from SWP?

It's not April Fool's Day.

Can this really be true?

Hunger Stike at Yarls Wood; allegations that women have been subjected to racist abuse and mistreatment

There's a hunger strike on at Yarls Wood, not that you'd be aware of it if you relied upon the mainstream media for your news, preoccupied as it is by such vital issues as the latest twists in Jordan's love life.

There are also serious allegations about the racist abuse and mistreatment of those incarcerated as you will see by reading the following press release from the Black Womens' Rape Action Project:

URGENT Women on Hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood being beaten by guards

Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway were they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women. As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing.

According to women on the other wings all movement has been restricted – even those not on the hunger strike are not getting any food including diabetics who urgently need it.
Hunger strikers want to speak to the press and get the truth out about the protest.

They are protesting at the length of time they have been detained – one woman who cannot speak English, has been held for over two years. Their demands include: an end to the “degradation and humiliation of detained/foreign nationals during deportation by detention staff and escorts during flights”; an end to the Fast Track for asylum seekers which denies fair decisions, the restoration of full legal aid and access to independent legal advice for everyone who is being detained.

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project which is supporting women on hunger strike said “Over 70% of women in Yarl’s Wood are rape survivors, many are sick and vulnerable. Why are they being punished for raising serious injustices? This “kettling” tactic has been thoroughly discredited, women should be allowed back into their rooms immediately, there should be an immediate investigation into what has happened and any guard found to be responsible for injuring women must be sacked immediately”.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ali Dizaei, what to believe? Who to believe?

Two different interpretations of the Ali Dizaei story.

First, Andrew Gilligan:

Ali Dizaei: A defeat for the race-mongers

With Commander Ali Dizaei’s conviction for perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office today, the Met has finally rid itself of its single most destructive officer. Many Met chiefs – and many anti-racism campaigners with impeccable records – believe that at least some of what was described over the last few years as the Met’s “race problem” was in fact an “Ali Dizaei” problem.
Dizaei, they say, used his office in the Met’s Black Police Association (BPA) to shield himself from the consequences of his own criminality. Any investigation of him was denounced as racist – and he also wound up other black officers, including the former assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, to press sometimes over-egged grievances so he would not be alone in the firing line.
The Met does, I think, still have a real problem with race. There has been a remarkable lack of black officers promoted to senior roles, a number of troubling discrimination cases and settlements, a tendency for black recruits to leave sooner than whites. Black Londoners are significantly less satisfied with the Met’s service than whites.
But black officers have been badly served by the BPA, and by their most senior standard-bearers, such as Ghaffur and Dizaei. There’s increasing evidence that many realise this – the association’s founding chairman, David Michael, for instance, has denounced the way that the BPA’s decisionmaking became dominated by a small group around Dizaei.

Second, Vikram Dodd
The case against Commander Ali Dizaei
On a summer night in July 2008 ...Dizaei and his wife, Shy, went to Yas, a Persian restaurant in west London run by an old friend of his.
The 47-year-old Scotland Yard commander and his wife left the restaurant and went to their car, where they sat talking to the restaurant owner, Sohrab Eshragi, through an open window.
During their conversation, 24-year-old Waad al-Baghdadi, a website designer, crossed their path.
There was no dispute that a row broke out, but it was for the jury to decide what was said by whom, whether the police officer used his position to bully Baghdadi or whether the web designer had threatened Dizaei and his wife.
The criminal case against Dizaei boiled down to one question – whether the jury believed the word of a senior police officer or that of the man he arrested.
The crown's case was presented by one of Britain's top criminal prosecutors, Peter Wright QC ...
Wright told the jury Dizaei had engaged in "wholesale abuse" of his powers by bullying, threatening and intimidating a man in the culmination of a personal vendetta.
He said Dizaei had falsely arrested Baghdadi, claiming he had threatened him and stabbed him with the end of a shisha pipe during a scuffle.
Furthermore, Wright said a medical examiner called in by police concluded that the injuries suffered by the officer were more likely to have been self-inflicted.
The crown said its case was supported by CCTV footage and other evidence, and Wright told the jury: "These are allegations, we say, that involve the wholesale abuse of power by a senior police officer for entirely personal and oblique motives."
In the witness box, Baghdadi claimed that, when he came across Dizaei and his wife, he talked normally. But he said the officer had become enraged, left the car and squared up to him on the pavement.
He told the jury Dizaei had challenged him to a fight and then ordered him to leave the restaurant after he had gone in for a meal.
Baghdadi said he had left but then called 999 before staying in the area.
Then Dizaei drove up and proceeded to arrest Baghdadi, during which time he was alleged to have told him: "I'll fuck your life."
CCTV footage of the scene showed parts of the incident but, in the absence of eyewitnesses, the only direct evidence that Dizaei had made any threats came from Baghdadi.
The web designer told the jury he saw Dizaei as a gangster "like Tony Montana", the mob boss from the film Scarface.
Set against this was evidence from the officer's wife that Baghdadi's verbal tirade had left her terrified and that he had said he would "extract the money out of your throat".
The restaurant owner told the jury Baghdadi was "a crook basically", adding: "His history ... everybody knows he's not a good gentleman."
Eshragi said that, far from Dizaei intimidating Baghdadi by ordering him out of the restaurant, he had urged him to ask the web designer to leave because he feared a fight might break out.
"I was worried about this man [Baghdadi]. He was in a fight before and disappeared before the police arrived," Eshragi said.
The crown's claim that Dizaei had wounded himself, for which it relied on a police doctor, was challenged by Dr Nat Cary, one of the country's leading forensic pathologists who has worked on many high-profile cases including the death of Benazir Bhutto and the case of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who died at last year's G20 protest.
Cary said the claim was based on a "fundamentally flawed approach" to forensic medicine.
"He [Dizaei] alleges he has been poked with the shisha pipe," he said. "In my view, that's consistent [with the injuries]."

Bandera and Ukraine: A reply from Chris Ford

Chris Ford of The Commune is an expert on all things Ukrainian. He's taken the time to write a pretty sharp critique of my post on Bandera. It's no small honour to get an expert's opinion of one's scribblings and even better if they throw in some interesting information, as Chris has. Chris's note is an appeal for a considered history of the Ukraine. He makes some interesting points which have caused me and I hope you, dear reader to think again. So here it is reproduced for your edification.

(NB: Chris refers to Khmelnytsky transliterated from the Ukrainian, whereas I spell the name Polish fashion, Chmielnicki. We are of course referring to the same historic personage, pictured above. I have kept the transliteration from Ukrainian in Chris's note.)

I do not agree with the comparison of Bandera to the revolution of 1648 at which Khmelnytsky was a leader, the events of that year were phenomenal and full of paradox. The military democracy of the Cossacks led a mass peasant revolt which overthrew the Polish colonial overlords who had introduced serfdom where it had never existed. Ukraine as a nation in many ways crystallized then, the peasants were betrayed by the elite, everything unraveled, there were vicious pogroms and it culminated in an alliance with Muscovy who slowly integrated Ukraine and turned it into a colony. Bandera was a very different phenomena and put simply without Stalinism there would have been no Bandera. In turn the movement he represented was transformed by the experience of the Nazis, the OUN of 1943 was moving in a very different direction. Bandera attacked the new turn as a concession to communism etc. Should he be made a hero of Ukraine? No. But equally the UPA should not be branded fascists; it wasn't that simple. The UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the OUP's military wing) was formed in direct reaction to fight the Nazis in West Ukraine. Ukraine is very divided over UPA; the right wing nationalists ignore the radical aspect of UPA and the Russophile Stalinists just shout about fascists. Yuschenko who has 3% in the polls has been entirely unhelpful.

The contribution on the blog about Volyn and the Poles is rubbish. It ignores the fact that the conflict in Volyn and West Ukraine with the Polish state had been going on since 1918 and arose again in the 1920s. It was similar to the conflict in Ulster. The Polish state refused to recognise this as Ukraine and even to form a united front against the common enemy in the war.
I do not think that Ukrainian nationalism is ultimately backward; there is big difference between the nationalism of a long oppressed people and that of dominant imperialists. Recall that Fanon once described anti-colonial nationalism as being itself a form of internationalism. The so-called turn to the right, which occured in West Ukraine only did so after the Stalinist famine etc. Various forces, notably Stalinists then portray all Ukrainian nationalism as Nazis etc, yet it should also be remembered that there was massive resistance against the Nazis in Ukraine.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Why Viktor Yushchenko should NOT have honoured this man

That's Stepan Bandera (pictured) who was posthumously honoured as a Hero of Ukraine, the country's highest award last month. Bandera (1909-1959) was a Ukrainian nationalist and leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

In many ways Stepan Bandera, who together with his organisation collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, reminds me of another key figure in Ukrainian history: Bohdan Chmielnicki. Like Chmielnicki, Bandera was hostile to Poles and Jews. During the war, his OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action for OUN during the war", in which the Policy Minority subsection read:

"Moskali (ie Russians) Poles, Jews are hostile for us and thus they must be exterminated in this struggle, especially those who would resist our regime: deport them to their own lands, importantly: destroy their intelligentsia that may be in the positions of power" … "so-called Polish peasants must be assimilated"… Jews must be isolated, removed from governmental positions, those who are deemed necessary may only work with an overseer... Jews' assimilation is not possible.”

This was despite the fact that a number of Jewish people took part in Bandera's movement including such prominent figures as Richard Yary and Valeri Dombrowski.

I suspect that Yushchenko's honouring of Bandera was partly due to personal reasons: like Yushchenko, Bandera was poisoned. Though unlike Yushchenko, Bandera didn't survive the ingestion of a toxic substance.

Nonetheless, the honouring of Bandera should cause outrage among people who care about Ukraine and its standing in the world. Ukrainian Jews were and are Ukrainian and their Ukrainianess should never be denied them.

Some 33,771 Kiev Jews were murdered in 1941 at Babi Yar as were many Ukrainian gentiles, including 621 members of the OUN. Honouring Bandera is an insult to those people and their families as well as being quite obviously an insult to those Ukrainians, there were over 2,000 of them, who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours during the Nazi occupation. In October, Yushchenko's wife, Katerina honoured them at Kiev's Halych Synagogue.

In her address Mrs Yushchenko said, "We, the Ukrainians and the Jews, for centuries lived together, fought together, achieved success together, cried for our losses together. It was a time of love and ordeal. And it was a time of true valor."

Speaking also of the Holodomor, the appalling famine Stalin unleashed on Ukraine in the 30s, at which time, incidentally, he was also busily smashing up the Communist Party in the Ukrainian SSR, she said: “I can relate to your striving to find, name, and celebrate people and preserve the memory about their deeds forever. We want to bring back the memory about every person executed by the hunger.”

Those fine words have been besmirched by her husband's actions in honouring Bandera.

Anti-semitism is a disease which has infected all Eastern European countries, it is not by any means a solely Ukrainian phenomenon. In Poland, thanks in large part to the inspirational example of our late and sorely-missed visionary Pope, John Paul the Great, there are increasingly determined efforts to root this canker out. In time we will see similar initiatives in Ukraine and hopefully, efforts to address anti-Roma racism in places like Romania and Hungary. This will necessarily involve free and frank discussions about Eastern European history - all of it, good, bad and ugly.

Those of us in the West who are the descendants of Eastern European emigres must support these efforts. And those of us who are believers should return to the jewels of our religions which enjoin us to welcome the stranger and love our God and our neighbours as we love ourselves. The rest is indeed commentary.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Now the National "Secular" Society tries interfering with the judiciary

It already has the British government jumping to its tune and a pliant media dutifully broadcasting its propaganda but still that's not enough for this dangerous organisation. Now it's demanding a supine judiciary which will do its bidding as well. Clearly there are no limits to its insane ambitions.

This should alarm anyone who believes in any kind of liberty at all. The National "Secular" Society is not a secularist organisation in any meaningful sense of the word. It is an anti-religious one with a strong streak of authoritarianism as this story demonstrates. It works to restrict the democratic rights of religious believers and routinely foments hatred against its targets in the most bigoted of terms.

One thing it won't do, however, is reveal its membership figures, which could be as pathetically low as 7000.

Well it should be required to. And then sent packing back into the 18th Century novel it crawled out of.

Welcome, Premier Radio listeners

This blog just got a shout out on Cindy Kent's Premier Tonight show by my friend Austen Ivereigh.

Austen, you're doing well. I'm loving the sound of Catholic Voices.

Cindy, great show.

Joanie, from York, you spoke earlier - you're a star.

Angela, you woke me up!

Leslie from Tyneside, you're fabulous.

Hello Paul. I love the Maranatha Community, good man.

Norma, last caller, you were great.
May the peace of Christ be with you all.

Pacem in Terris's Children

Who is she related to?

Does anyone know who Harriet Harman's famous uncle was and noted cousin is? A prize of a bottle of the finest wine in my cellar for the first person who answers correctly.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

You know your prejudices are getting the better of you

when you defend something so obviously patently madly unreasonable which would have awful effects on a group of people you dislike  - Moslems, say, or Catholics.

Either that or you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Oh shut up!

Champagne Charlie takes a break from haranguing the comrades and indulges in some distinctly unwise arguments.

Excellent, that means the Orwellian civil liberties-abusing disgrace which is the Equality Bill is doomed. It will die a slow death in the court of public opinion and the politicians who have promoted it will fade away.

(The picture depicts my good self enjoying a night on the tiles with those well known hellraisers, Mac Mclernon, Fiorella and His Hermeneuticalness).

God Bless the Chief Rabbi

Lord Sacks says some very intelligent things here.

When Christians, Jews and others feel that the ideology of human rights is threatening their freedoms of association and religious practice, a tension is set in motion that is not healthy for society, freedom or Britain. Rather than regard the Pope’s remarks as an inappropriate intervention, we should use them to launch an honest debate on where to draw the line between our freedom as individuals and our freedom as members of communities of faith. One should not be purchased at the cost of the other.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Has anyone ever had the following bright ideas?

Like starting up a group called Atheists for Religious Freedom?


Real Secularists Against Oppressive Orwellian Equalities Legislation?

No Going Back to the Gulags! For Religious Freedom NOW!

Apparently His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI may be facing protests organised by the bigots from the National Secular Society when he visits this country next year.

I think it's high time that we organised a counter-protest, don't you? We could carry placards bearing funky slogans, huge banners depicting gulags with the legend "NEVER AGAIN" painted on them in vivid colours, shout ourselves hoarse and then retire to a hostelry feeling very good about ourselves.

I'm ready to bellow through my cattlehorn in the direction of Titus Oates anyday.

Father Ray Blake is bang on the money

Barckley, if you're reading this, how can you defend the Equality Bill?


Since when is it Labour Party policy to force the Catholic Church to ordain women, married men or even people in adulterous relationships?

Over to you.

Stephen Hughes' commitment to human rights and equality

Once again, for those of you who don't know this: in October 2008, the European Parliament rejected Amendment 134 which would have prevented the EU from funding countries and programmes which perpetrate human rights abuses like forced abortions and coercive sterilisations as part of a population control policy.

Some 20 British MEPs voted against the amendment including:

Stephen Hughes (Labour).

There are some people - and believe me, I don't say this lightly - whose words and actions are literally nauseating.

Stephen Hughes can prate about equality to his self-righteous heart's content. Millions of Chinese women would vomit if they heard them.

Oh liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!


John Allen, All Things Catholic, National Catholic Reporter, On 20th July 2007

One under-40 Catholic priest I know, in this case a Canadian though he might easily be European, tells me that among priests of his generation, it's taken for granted that some may go to jail for defending Catholic teaching on sexuality. It's reminiscent of the way Catholic priests in Eastern Europe used to realistically accept that some of them might end up in Soviet gulags.


Equality Bill threatens integrity of the priesthood, bishops tell Harman

By Simon Caldwell 11 December 2009

Equality minister Harriet Harman will ban the Catholic Church in Britain from insisting that priests remain celibate single men, the bishops have said.
Church leaders will be powerless to stop ordained priests from marrying women or entering into same-sex civil partnerships under the terms of Miss Harman’s Equality Bill.
Bishops would be unable to stop their priests from having sex change operations, living openly promiscuous lifestyles or engaging in any other activities seen as a legitimate form of sexual expression.
Richard Kornicki, a former senior Home Office civil servant who serves as parliamentary coordinator for the bishops, said the Church could also be open to prosecution for sex discrimination if it turned away women or sexually active gay men who presented themselves as candidates for the priesthood. “The Government is saying that the Church cannot maintain its own beliefs in respect of its own priests,” he said.
But if the Bill became law and the bishops defied the Government and stepped in to discipline errant clergy they could not only be sued for sexual discrimination but, in the worst-case scenario, they could also face imprisonment, unlimited fines and have Church assets sequestrated.

Memo to Stephen Hughes MEP

We're not going to back to the gulags.

We're not accepting priestesses unless and until Peter's successor does

You won't force me to accept babyfathering priests - EVER

The state does NOT share in the apostolic succession.

We won't accept any restrictions on our democratic religious rights.

Is that clear or is that clear?

This is what a statist and an authoritarian looks like

Stephen Hughes MEP.

You're a Catholic, are you, Stephen Hughes? Since When?

You sound more like a bigot to me.

And by the way, since you claim to be a Catholic, when was the last time you voted against population-control policies, eh?