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How to talk to an anti-migrant Brexiteer

Post-referendum, I'm interested by the notion of a "post-fact society", and how we deal with it. Here I am only dealing with the issue of immigration, rather than other arguments for or against the EU.
 
Firstly a couple of caveats:
 
1. People believing stuff despite all credible evidence is not remotely new.
 
2. Many Brexit voters were suffering from a lack of that well-researched evidence from a CREDIBLE source, a result of the severe democratic deficit which has opened up. Immigration as a cause of their problems, though untrue, is a kind of "common sense" explanation, which the austerity policies of neoliberal economics post-2008 are not. And given the level of mendacity in the Leave campaign, it's hard not to invoke Godwin's Law and quote Joseph Goebbels on the power of the repeated lie. So there's a case for arguing that people were misled as to the facts, or disinclined to believe them, rather than merely ignoring them.
 
Racism should be dealt with forthrightly and we all need to hyper-vigilant at this time. We need to call out colleagues by using the racist word. We absolutely need to report all incidents by anyone in the course of their work to their employers, and follow the report to a satisfactory outcome. "Passer-by" incidents need calling out at the time, and the police informed if appropriate, as just happened in Manchester.
 
But how do we now deal with friends, acquaintances or family who aren't espousing racism, but think there is a problem with immigration, despite a host of research showing no such effects? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff counsels that we should not attempt to argue over the "facts". Here is a video on how to talk to climate change deniers that I made with campaigner George Marshall, whose methods, dealing with the feelings rather than the facts, are I think completely transferable. The end of the video has a quick check-list to commit to memory:

Have I Been Censored By The BBC?

BBC Worldwide have taken down from YouTube a video I made 7 years ago at the time of the first bombing of Gaza. It features the late Tony Benn's magnificent indignation at the BBC's refusal to show the Gaza charitable appeal.  Takedowns of news clips, especially a blacking out of the video in all countries, are unusual these days. Most copyright disputes on YouTube are now settled by leaving the video up, banning adverts by the poster and/or reserving to the copyright holder the right to put ads themselves. The video is available again, if only temporarily, while I dispute the claim.

 

Here is my dispute:

"The subject of the video is to criticise the censorship of a charitable appeal by the same broadcaster that has made the copyright complaint. This is a legitimate and fair exercise of free speech, and satisfies the conditions for fair use. The video is not monetized, and therefore non-commercial, it is from a factual work (a news broadcast), and the amount used is only sufficient to show the indignation of the guest of the show in question at the censorship of the material. The ability of BBC Worldwide to profit from the sale of this 7-year-old news broadcast of an interview with a now deceased politician must be very small, and in any case is not impeded by the clip's being cut into this video critique. It would be perfectly appropriate for BBC Worldwide to exercise its right to prevent the monetising of the video, which in any case we as producers have never done, but to take it down is an attack on free speech. Prior approval of the copyright holder for a usage which so clearly criticises that same copyright holder would clearly be impossible to obtain, and therefore the principle of fair use has been applied for this non--commercial work, for which there many precedents, not only deriving from the statutes governing YouTube, but also from UK case law regarding the public's interest in critical material."

I have won such copyright disputes before. The US legisIation permits re-mixing for critical purposes - it's fairly well established. Might there be some other motivation for the takedown? Could it be Benn's comment: "Let me be clear about this. People will DIE because of what the BBC has done"? Other BBC news clips on YouTube (unedited, without any critique, so straightforward "steals") have been left unmolested, including one of the same clip I have used. Is the BBC's problem precisely that their clip is contextualised, edited together with the aid appeal they censored, plus a devastating orphan's story from Gaza?

Watch this space.

Hilary Benn's speech was pants (don't believe the media)

Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn's speech in the House of Commons in favour of bombing Syria has been praised as much by conservative opponents as by his allies. As Sam Kriss said today in Vice magazine: “The reviews are pouring in, as if this were a West End musical instead of the overture to a massacre. "Truly spellbinding", the Spectator gushes. "Fizzing with eloquence", gurgles the Times. "Electric", gloops the Guardian. The Telegraph's Dan Hodges, who can reliably be called upon to provide the worst possible opinion at any given time, goes further. "He did not look like the leader of the opposition," he writes. "He looked like the prime minister.""

The Spectator magazine went so far as to publish the full text for us to ogle at. Here is my quick dissection of his scandalous, tub-thumping, murderous imperialist rhetoric.

BENN: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Before I respond to the debate.... (CUT patronising encomium to Jeremy Corbyn)
Now Mr Speaker, we have had an intense and impassioned debate and rightly so, given the clear and present threat from Daesh, the gravity of the decision that rests upon the shoulders and the conscience of every single one of us and the lives we hold in our hands tonight.

RH: And as his master Mr Blair would have said: we feel the hand of history on those same shoulders that reach down to those oh so conscious hands. But at least Blair had a bit of self-awareness, and prefaced it by saying "now is not the time for cliches").

BENN: And whatever decision we reach, I hope we will treat one another with respect.

RH: Because when you're discussing whether we should dice up kids with shrapnel, the most important thing is to be polite.

(CUT... complimenting a long list of other people who made speeches - who does he think he is, the PM? Oh. I see now!)

BENN: The question which confronts us in a very, very complex conflict is at its heart very simple. What should we do with others to confront this threat to our citizens, our nation, other nations and the people who suffer under the yoke, the cruel yoke, of Daesh? The carnage in Paris brought home to us the clear and present danger we face from them. It could have just as easily been London, or Glasgow, or Leeds or Birmingham and it could still be. And I believe that we have a moral and a practical duty to extend the action we are already taking in Iraq to Syria. And I am also clear, and I say this to my colleagues, that the conditions set out in the emergency resolution passed at the Labour party conference in September have been met.

RH: They definitely haven't. Conditions 1 and 2 have not been met, and with conditions 3 and 4 it is too early to tell.

BENN: We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council Resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states to take all necessary measures to redouble and co-ordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Isil, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.
So the United Nations is asking us to do something. It is asking us to do something now. It is asking us to act in Syria as well as in Iraq. And it was a Labour government that helped to found the United Nations at the end of the Second World War. And why did we do so? Because we wanted the nations of the world, working together, to deal with threats to international peace and security – and Daesh is unquestionably that.
So given that the United Nations has passed this resolution, given that such action would be lawful under Article 51 of the UN Charter – because every state has the right to defend itself – why would we not uphold the settled will of the United Nations, particularly when there is such support from within the region including from Iraq. We are part of a coalition of over 60 countries, standing together shoulder-to-shoulder to oppose their ideology and their brutality.

RH: This is a highly complex legal area, and while it is a “clear and unambiguous” call to take action against ISIL/Daesh, Resolution 2249 does not invoke Chapter 7, which mandates military action.  Some lawyers believe the self-defence argument, used repeatedly by Benn, can only be used if there is a real and imminent threat, not merely an intention or an unspecified threat some time in the future.

BENN: Now Mr Speaker, all of us understand the importance of bringing an end to the Syrian civil war and there is now some progress on a peace plan because of the Vienna talks. They are the best hope we have of achieving a cease-fire. That would bring an end to Assad’s bombing, leading to a transitional government and elections. And why is that vital? Both because it will help in the defeat of Daesh, and because it would enable millions of Syrians, who have been forced to flee, to do what every refugee dreams of: they just want to be able to go home.
Now Mr Speaker, no-one in this debate doubts the deadly serious threat we face from Daesh and what they do, although sometimes we find it hard to live with the reality. We know that in June four gay men were thrown off the fifth storey of a building in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. We know that in August the 82-year-old guardian of the antiquities of Palmyra, Professor Khaled al-Assad, was beheaded, and his headless body was hung from a traffic light. And we know that in recent weeks there has been the discovery of mass graves in Sinjar, one said to contain the bodies of older Yazidi women murdered by Daesh because they were judged too old to be sold for sex.
We know they have killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia, 224 Russian holidaymakers on a plane, 178 people in suicide bombings in Beirut, Ankara and Suruc. 130 people in Paris including those young people in the Bataclan whom Daesh – in trying to justify their bloody slaughter – called ‘apostates engaged in prostitution and vice’. If it had happened here, they could have been our children. And we know that they are plotting more attacks.

RH: The attacker in Sousse, Tunisia had never been abroad, and was radicalised in Tunisia itself. In the case of the Russian airliner which came down over Sinai, Benn is getting ahead of the evidence. Egyptian authorities are still examining the black box and trying to recover data from the voice recorder. While security experts think that a missile from an ISIS-related group in the Sinai is unlikely, there are still three extant possiblities: a bomb planted on board, technical failure, and human error. If it were a bomb on board, it suggests again an attack from someone based in the local country, most likely on the airport staff. The ISIS group based in the Sinai claimed the attack was "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land”. So how does Benn think that launching similar attacks in Syria will make Britons safer? As we already know, the attackers in Paris were from Belgium and France, again observing the killing of Muslims in Syria and Iraq, and seeking revenge.

BENN: So the question for each of us – and for our national security – is this: given that we know what they are doing, can we really stand aside and refuse to act fully in our self-defence against those who are planning these attacks? Can we really leave to others the responsibility for defending our national security when it is our responsibility?

RH: As shown above, the argument for bombing Syria for the sake of self-defence and national security is completely specious. FFS, do we really need to repeat the security services' conclusion that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 substantially increased the risk of terrorist attack, as tragically proven on 7/7? Surely everyone knows that? Surely Benn himself knows that? I'm beginning to think he's a bare-faced liar. He can't possibly be that stupid.

BENN: And if we do not act, what message would that send about our solidarity with those countries that have suffered so much – including Iraq and our ally, France.
Now, France wants us to stand with them and President Hollande – the leader of our sister socialist party – has asked for our assistance and help. And as we are undertaking airstrikes in Iraq where Daesh’s hold has been reduced and we are already doing everything but engage in airstrikes in Syria – should we not play our full part?

RH: Britain's ruthless pursuit of imperial interests in the Middle East is as historic as France's, so within Benn's imperialist conceptual framework, this makes perfect sense.

BENN: It has been argued in the debate that airstrikes achieve nothing. Not so. Look at how Daesh’s forward march has been halted in Iraq. The House will remember that, 14 months ago, people were saying: ‘they are almost at the gates of Baghdad’. And that is why we voted to respond to the Iraqi government’s request for help to defeat them. Look at how their military capacity and their freedom of movement has been put under pressure. Ask the Kurds about Sinjar and Kobani. Now of course, air strikes alone will not defeat Daesh – but they make a difference. Because they are giving them a hard time – and it is making it more difficult for them to expand their territory.

RH: This is a completely separate argument, and should be made in the style: although it increases the risk for UK citizens, it is our duty to stop the expansion of ISIL/Daesh in Syria and Iraq. Benn muddles them up.  When you're voting to kill people, you can't write something that reads like a last-minute student essay, to be ripped to shreds by your tutor. In any case, the extent to which bombing is effective is disputed, and may have been lied about by the US government. In July 2015 there was an unprecedented mass whistle-blowing from the US intelligence community (“Intelgate”), where “more than 50 intelligence analysts at Centcom have formally complained that reports on the Islamic State and the Nusra Front — Al Qaeda's Syria branch — have been repeatedly altered by senior intelligence officials to fit with the Obama administration's insistence that the US is winning the war against the two militant groups.” I wonder where Benn is getting his information.

BENN: Now, I share the concerns that have been expressed this evening about potential civilian casualties. However, unlike Daesh, none of us today act with the intent to harm civilians. Rather, we act to protect civilians from Daesh – who target innocent people.

RH: Given ISIL/Daesh's modus operandi in towns and cities, hiding in tunnels and bunkers or among civilians, this is meaningless and heartless rhetoric. He also callously ignores the pleas from civilians in Raqqa not to bomb published on Sunday in The Observer.

BENN: Now on the subject of ground troops to defeat Daesh, there’s been much debate about the figure of 70,000 and the government must, I think, better explain that. But we know that most of them are currently engaged in fighting President Assad. But I’ll tell you what else we know, is whatever the number – 70,000, 40,000, 80,000 – the current size of the opposition forces mean the longer we leave taking action, the longer Daesh will have to decrease that number.

RH: Here Benn culpably narrows the range of numbers for anti-Daesh Syrian rebel forces. Robert Fisk on Monday wrote: “At one point last week, one of Cameron’s satraps was even referring to this phantom army as “ground troops”. I doubt if there are 700 active “moderate” foot soldiers in Syria – and I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70 – let alone 70,000.” Benn has himself become a satrap in selecting the figures he has, and by using the ridiculous term "ground troops". If the number is 70, should we bomb ISIL/Daesh strongholds in the hope of preserving 30 or 40? How would bombing have this effect? The reality is that so-called “moderates” have been cooperating with Islamists in Syria for some time, and in some cases converting to their side.

BENN: And so to suggest, Mr Speaker, that airstrikes should not take place until the Syrian civil war has come to an end is, I think, to miss the urgency of the terrorist threat that Daesh poses to us and others, and I think misunderstands the nature and objectives of the extension to airstrikes that is being proposed. And of course we should take action. It is not a contradiction between the two to cut off Daesh’s support in the form of money and fighters and weapons, and of course we should give humanitarian aid, and of course we should offer shelter to more refugees including in this country and yes we should commit to play our full part in helping to rebuild Syria when the war is over.
Now I accept that there are legitimate arguments, and we have heard them in the debate, for not taking this form of action now. And it is also clear that many members have wrestled, and who knows, in the time that is left, may still be wrestling, with what the right thing to do is. But I say the threat is now, and there are rarely, if ever, perfect circumstances in which to deploy military forces. Now we heard very powerful testimony from the honorable member for Eddisbury earlier when she quoted that passage, and I just want to read what Karwan Jamal Tahir, the Kurdistan regional government high representative in London, said last week and I quote: ‘Last June, Daesh captured one third of Iraq over night and a few months later attacked the Kurdistan region. Swift airstrikes by Britain, America and France, and the actions of our own Peshmerga, saved us. We now have a border of 650 miles with Daesh. We’ve pushed them back, and recently captured Sinjar. Again, Western airstrikes were vital. But the old border between Iraq and Syria does not exist. Daesh fighters come and go across this fictional boundary.’ And that is the argument Mr Speaker, for treating the two countries as one, if we are serious about defeating Daesh.

RH: There is actually a well-known political division between the government in Iraqi Kurdistan quoted by Benn and the Kurds of the YPG currently fighting ISIL/Daesh in Syria. The YPG consider the Iraqi Kurdistan government to be pro-imperialist, whereas they are anti- all imperialist forces, be they Turkish, Russian, US, British or French, and favour a non-sectarian, radically democratic communal state. Benn does not mention them.

BENN: Now Mr Speaker, I hope the house will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the House. As a party we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have – and we never should – walk by on the other side of the road.
And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice.

RH: The Labour Party has definitely not always done that, but let that pass. This is perhaps the most spurious part of Benn's speech. The dubious, and neo-conservative, political science which equates radical Islamism (itself a number of different ideologies) with the European fascist movement is much derided. As security expert Daniel Benjamin wrote: "there is no sense in which jihadists embrace fascist ideology as it was developed by Mussolini or anyone else who was associated with the term." Back in 2008, US federal agencies stopped using the term “Islamo-fascism”, as it was considered offensive, pejorative and confusing. Why is Benn still clinging to this old canard?

BENN: And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight.
[CHEERS]”

RH: And why, might I add, were so many Labour colleagues persuaded by this? Is it not their job to research an issue as important as raining bombs on other people, so they could be well enough informed to reject this drivel?

The Love Children of Mystic Mogg

Private Eye used to have a column called "Mystic Mogg" reporting the hilariously erroneous predictions of William Rees-Mogg, sometime editor of The Times. I suspect this kind of journalistic aberration occurs when their analysis of what is happening is subverted by what they wish would happen. There was a splendid instance this week, when apocalyptic predictions across the media of a Labour vote collapse in Oldham West and Royton were embarassingly contradicted by the actual result (a 7% swing to Labour). Here are some of my favourite gazes into the journalistic crystal ball, which turned out to be more of a hallucinogenic disco ball.

The ever-reliable left-hater, Dan Hodges from the Telegraph on November 21st:

"The word among Labour MPs is that their party is in trouble in the Oldham by-election. One northern MP said: “The white working class vote is haemorrhaging. And it’s haemorrhaging in our heartlands. We’re reaching the point where you’re going to see double-digit constituencies drifting into recount territory.”

But readers of this blog will be accustomed to hearing that the so-called liberal press is more extremely anti-Corbyn. Rafael Behr in the Guardian excels himself:

"Labour will probably cling on in Thursday’s byelection. But the party’s troubled relationship with its northern heartlands seems to be on the rocks......Hopes that Corbynism might be the adhesive reconnecting a dislocated core to the party seem misplaced. It feels more like a catalyst for decline, another iteration of tin-eared disregard for local sensibilities – distinct from Blairism only in the sense that they are opposite sides of one Islington coin."

This is only some of the bile in this sadly unprophetic article.

Ian Warren in the Guardian on 1st December: "I have identified three distinct groups that will decide this byelection on Thursday – and it doesn’t look good for Corbyn." Ian's distinction is that he is director of an election analysis consultancy. I hope this article is added to his CV.

I'm a big fan of the experts, and there are none better than Rob Ford, research fellow at Manchester University's Institute for Social Change, in the Guardian: "Labour has good reason to feel nervous about its poll test in Oldham" he pontificates on 28th November, but the rest of his "analysis" sounds more like Armstrong and Miller's desperate royal correspondent: "Low turnout and Tory recruits can narrow the gap, but a Ukip win would also require large numbers of voters to switch from Labour to Ukip." No shit, Rob! By the way, Rob Ford is the co-author of a dodgy book arguing that UKIP was more of a threat to Labour than the Tories, which maybe explains his psephological errors, as dissected by Richard Seymour.

Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail on 3rd December was also hedging his bets: "...there is no doubt that its whopping 14,738 majority, won just seven months ago at the General Election by the late Michael Meacher, will be slashed.....a tropical heatwave would not avert this slump in Labour’s appeal."

Now begin the surreal. The Daily Mirror's Dan Bloom, who prepared his readers for Labour's demise with the headline "Dark Night of the Polls for Jeremy", had to refute himself a few hours later: "Jeremy Corbyn has defied his critics in spectacular fashion as Labour won a thumping victory in his first ballot box test." Throughout this "turnaround" in elite expectations, a notable feature has been a lack of humility about previous mistakes.

One example of this is Helen Pidd, who benefits from local knowledge by being the Guardian's Northern editor in Manchester. She was cringe-makingly racist about Asian voters in Oldham, and then failed completely to retract anything, keeping in sync with the Blairites'  "despite Jeremy" argument: "The message from the leadership came after Corbyn’s critics, who had predicted a narrow win for Labour in the byelection, were confounded by the scale of McMahon's victory. Shadow cabinet ministers had predicted a collapse in the white working class vote, with many of those voters turning to Ukip." She modestly fails to mention her own role in this error. Amusingly, when Corbyn visited after McMahon's victory she tweeted the name of the constituency as Oldham West and Royston, unconsciously linking it to the League of Gentleman's Royston Vasey, a fictional northern town of feral grotesques. Sometimes I have the feeling that middle-class journalists project their own unacknowledged prejudices onto an image they have of a racist, ignorant white working class. "Jeremy Corbyn, never 'eard of 'im." "But he's on every leaflet UKIP pushed through your door." "Oh, ah thought that were Father Christmas."

David Cameron's 12-point plan for bombing Syria

David Cameron's 12-point plan for the bombing of Syria, as approved by Cabinet today:

1. Bomb the enemy.


2. Backtrack a bit, and explain who the enemy are. They are ISIL militants. They are not the forces of Assad (that was 2013), though they may be bombed again in the future. They are not members of the Free Syrian Army or any other "moderates", if they exist.


3. Don't bomb any "moderates". Despite the fact that "moderates" often become hardline Islamists or work with them, we will have no trouble deciding who is who.


4. Reassure the public that no civilians will be killed. Our 1000lb precision bombs mean that any militant who tries to hide in a group of civilians or deep in a bunker will be taken out, and he alone.


5. Persuade the public that our contribution on top of US, French and Russian bombing will be the turning point in the Syrian civil war.


6. Make an infographic which clarifies the difference between good bombs (ours, French, US) and bad bombs (Russian, ISIL suicide bombs).


7. Fight the argument that all these bombs could raze Syria to the ground with maps, eg showing that the Golan Heights are really quite high.


8. Don't help the Kurds too much. They're commies in conflict with our friends the Turkish government.


9. Pretend that the pleas from civilians in Raqqa not to bomb them do not exist.


10. Use the phrase "stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the French" in every media interview. If a journalist mentions Saudi Arabia, change the subject.


11. Appoint Lord Chilcott to lead a public inquiry into the legality of the bombing, to be completed sometime after our death.


12. If there is a terrorist attack on UK soil, say the solution lies in monitoring Muslim children more closely, further invading the privacy of UK citizens, and return to point 1.

Open Letters to Liz Kendall

An open, if rather personal, letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz


You don't know me, but I see you alone in your beige and featureless office, and listen to you struggling to form sentences without having the courage to actually say anything, and I know you're not a happy person. And I think you need somebody. And if you want to call it a friend, you can call it a friend. You and I may be very different politically, for I am supporting your rival Mr Corbyn, but I strongly believe that what unites us as human beings is much stronger than what divides us. When I saw that shot pull out to reveal no personal effects whatsoever to leaven the drabness, only a similarly beige map of the UK, I knew this was a cry for help. And if I can help, I will.


Yours kindly


Richard​

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My second open letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz

I'm sorry to write to you again so soon, but I watched your video another time, and it struck me that we may share something. That at a deep level those words you are tapping into your product-placement computer all mean nothing to you, as they do to me, and to so many of the unkind commenters on the film. I seriously advise you to get away from your keyboard in that depressing room. I know it's hard to face up to the fact that you won less than one in twenty CLPs, and I'd like to share that I also know how hard it is to be ignored. Often I write on facebook expecting likes and shares, but am only met with silence. Maybe we should both just stop doing it. There's a big world out there, Liz, where you wouldn't have to try so hard not to talk about policies. If I see you in another of these desultory promos, without even a radio for company, I'll know you haven't taken my advice, but please give it some thought.

Very best wishes

Richard

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My third open letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz

I hope you'll forgive me for yet another letter, but I wanted to temper the negativity of some of my earlier comments. Although we are poles apart politically, as I support the front-runner for Labour Party leader Mr Corbyn, I wanted to say that I find you a lot more honourable than your rival Mr Burnham, for instance over the Tories' Welfare bill. He said he opposed it, but nevertheless abstained, which seems to me dishonest, whereas I know that you do not oppose welfare cuts for the poorest at all, and would vote with the Tories if you were allowed. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to guess that you see yourself as doing for the Labour Party what Margaret Thatcher did for the Tories. But I think we all know that's not going to happen, and I think you should therefore leave that computer alone and get out a bit more. You could try going to one of Mr Corbyn's rallies, and get energised by the young people clambering up the windows to catch him speak. But that may be a bit close to the bone. How about a salsa class (a lot more lively than that sub-Philip Glass music on your video), or a friend of mine swears by tantric yoga? Another lonely friend joined a skiffle band, and has never looked back. You wouldn't need to know how to play anything exotic like the washtub bass or the cigar-box fiddle - a normal guitar would be fine.

Yours ever

Richard

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Open Letter No. 4 to Liz Kendall

Dear Liz

I'm writing to you again because a couple of things have been troubling me, and as ever I have some suggestions I hope you may find helpful. Firstly, I do wish the dinosaurs from Old New Labour such as Messrs Blair, Straw and Campbell would actively distance themselves from your campaign. It can't help for you to be associated with these yesterday's men, especially as many people think they are war criminals who should be arraigned at the Hague. I feel that if they want to campaign for the leadership, they should run themselves, rather than tarnishing your campaign.
Secondly, I hope you don't mind me asking, but I have a friend who is a big fan of the great stage and screen actress Felicity Kendall, and we wondered if you two were in any way related. Who can forget the delightful comedy "The Good Life"? In any case, I'm upset to hear that the opinion polls don't look very good for you, so I wondered if you'd considered leaving politics like Mr David Miliband did when he lost to his brother Ed. If so, with your origins in the great town of Watford, a career in suburban situation comedy might be ideal.

Best wishes in these difficult times

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 5:

Dear Liz

Let's forget about this terrible video for a moment, with its complete absence of policy. I prefer to blame your communications team rather than you personally. For I know you do have quite specific policies, even extending as far as foreign affairs. I have to say, though, that your desire to remove Parliament's ratification of statehood for the Palestinian people I found really shocking. Again, Mr Corbyn has a distinct, even unfair, advantage here, as he has many Israeli and Palestinian friends. I can only think that you've never been to Gaza. I have, and I can tell you it is an unforgettably tragic experience, which I'm sure would cause you to revise your current policy if you witnessed it. I know you're very right-wing, Liz, but surely that's not the same as being cruel to these suffering people. Or is it? Please please reassure me on this matter.

Yours anxiously

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 6:

Dear Liz

I can no longer forbear to comment in detail on the video attached, which completely fails to promote you as potential Labour leader. I am a film maker myself, so offer my skills to suggest improvements. In the strangely inert dialogue scene between you and your computer (strange, that is, after the film "Her"), a great opportunity was missed. Why oh why did we not see some moving images on the screen for you to relate to? Maybe a jolly montage of white working class people NOT on benefits, such as plumbers or taxi drivers, but definitely not electricians, who tend to be committed trade unionists. Or you could have gone the full "Tessa Jowell", with her vision of "One London", everyone from mansion dwellers in Kensington to flat dwellers in Newham (as long as none of them claim benefits). Technically you would have to exclude bankers from this sequence, as they are the largest recipients of state aid, but I leave that as your call. I'm sorry that now we need a bit of film theory. If this is too high-falutin, please pass it directly to your comms team. The crucial concept is Lacanian suture, whereby viewers are "stitched" into your story and ideas by editing, by the juxtaposition of images. Here there was a golden opportunity to achieve suture in a single image, such as Professor Slavoj Zizek finds in the work of Polish master Kieslowski. You could have been reflected in the screen, as a ghostly presence in the lives of all your subjects. Thus as viewers we would have been stitched into your fantasy of power at any cost, and you could have won by a landslide. As it is, all we remember from the sequence is that infernal Apple logo, which makes you appear to be merely a servant of big Capital. Please tell me that isn't so. And Liz, change your comms team!

Best wishes as ever

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 7:

Dear Liz

I wanted to clarify something in my last letter, as I fear you haven't replied yet to any of my letters because I've inadvertently offended you. When I referred to your "fantasy of power at any cost", I did not mean this in the popular sense of that word. I did not mean that in your wish to be Labour leader you were what people call a "fantasist", rather I meant it in the Freudian sense where fantasies are positive. As Dr Freud himself said, we "cannot subsist on the scanty satisfaction which (we) can extort from reality." He added that the energetic person is "one who succeeds by their efforts in turning their wishful phantasies into reality." Whether that will prove to be the case for you in the coming election is, I regret to say, rather doubtful. I only wish that you had appeared more "energetic" in that awful video, instead of looking like a late-night internet surfer, which always has a rather depressive air. I'm sure I too would be a more productive person if I didn't find myself writing to you in the early hours of the morning. I'm sure we can stop doing this if we try a bit harder, Liz. We could make a pact.

All the very best

Richard​

---------------------------------------------

Open Letter No. 8

Dear Liz

I apologize for returning to the subject of that misguided video, and I promise I won't mention it again. One of the most disturbing aspects of it, though, is how the producers have no idea how to make you shine when moving. Instead you lurk in the shadows, behind the door, facing away from us. It reminds me of the grainy photos of the murder in Antonioni's 60s masterpiece "Blow-Up", but unfortunately I'm not sure whether you're the killer or the corpse. Killer, I hope, because although, as you know, I want Mr Corbyn to win, rather like the 35 MPs who originally nominated him, I'd like there to be a contest. Do you have the instinct, Liz? Aspiration may not be enough, as suggested by this scurrilous satirical site.

If I were directing you in a video, Liz, I would try a much more dynamic scenario. You can't beat the cinematic masters of the 70s, so maybe we could get you out of that computer chair and give you a (female?) friend, walking down the street, with you talking fervently, like in early Woody Allen. Something like this:

LIZ: (gesticulating madly) I mean, he's antIE-nooclear, he's so 80s my mother gets her shoulder pads out of the trunk when he's on TV. ETC
(Can you do a decent Brooklyn accent?).

These ideas are just early drafts, Liz, and we're only brain-storming here. But I'm sure I can do better for you than your current comms team. I would even offer my services for free.

Yours hopefully

Richard​

--------------------------------------------

Open Letter No. 9:

Dear Liz

In my last letter I suggested a video campaign where you walk down the street dynamically like Woody Allen, putting the world to rights, with a girlfriend at your side. I just found out that you and Ms Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, are drinking pals, even "bezzies". I read this in a newspaper, so it must be true. I was thinking she might be ideal to be your foil in these scenes. She could be your "Annie Hall", if you like. I am a bit concerned, though, that her tilt-headed, slacker hipster style might put you in the shade. We may have to dress her down a bit, though probably not as far as Mr Corbyn. On the other hand, to quote my friend Barry Watt, "Has anyone ever mastered the art of the empty platitude better than Stella?" Come on, Liz, you're not going to take that lying down, are you?

As ever, working to lift your campaign

Richard

-----------------------------------------

Open Letter No. 10:

Dear Liz

I have to confess I'm having second thoughts about the "street-talking" scenario, with or without your charming hipster friend Ms Creasey. It's time we admitted it. We have a major image problem. I don't mean you, perish the thought, any more than the rest of your New Labour comrades. I just mean that Mr Corbyn is quite brilliant at images which resonate with the public. How can any of you compete with that speech he made atop a fire engine in Camden. It said "open air", "spontaneous", "unguarded", "on the level", and "too popular for a mere hall". It also associated him with one of the strongest trade unions, the FBU. Perfect! So let's forget trying to make you into a motor-mouthed nebbish. That was silly. What resonant image could you have, which would work for your voters? How about Queen Boudica, repelling the migrant hordes? I like the idea of you as Labour's warrior queen. The problem which is always at our backs, however, is that Mr Corbyn does all of this without spin doctors or image consultants like me. So we need to do something "authentic". You'll need to cast off everything you've learnt of the dark arts of Mr Campbell, who has schooled young MPs such as you and Stella in the art of caution, vapidity and the infamous "triangulation". And I need to learn how to write "authentic" without inverted commas. Stella and her infernal "irony" can't help us now. Over to you, Liz. Give us the real you. I mean, nothing too scarey for either middle England or for the core voters. Something we could "focus-group". Omg, I'M doing it now. I'll just shut up for a while.

Your retiring helper

Richard

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Open Letter No. 11:

Dear Liz

I'm not just shocked, I'm angry. First of all, they spread a rumour about you, that you were having a relationship with a recently divorced fellow MP Mr John Woodcock. My reaction was incendiary:
1. Who cares?
2. Why is it appropriate for a female candidate such as yourself to suffer this tittle-tattle?
Was this coming from the campaign team of Ms Yvette "I'm a Mum, so I understand your problems" Cooper (barf), trying to take you out of the running because you are single? They deny it, but it must have come from somewhere. We know it didn't come from Mr Corbyn's campaign, because he famously "doesn't do personal". It reeks of the rancid legacy of New Labour, where Blair's people would brief against other ministers, and Brown and Blair would brief against each other. Liz, I only ask, is this what happens when politics is replaced by politicking? I'm so sorry that you should have been similarly traduced.

But even worse was the reaction of Mr. Woodcock himself. He replied that such claims were "not true, have never been true and WOULD NEVER BE TRUE”. Never say never, John. What can you mean? I'm sorry, Liz, I know I'm rather old-fashioned, but I think he's a cad, and in a bygone century I would have challenged him to a duel.

In your defence

Richard

--------------------------------

Open Letter No. 12:

Dear Liz

OK, we've got a problem. I wouldn't be a friend if I didn't tell you that your BBC interview today was a car-crash. I'm sorry, but saying that "we must support the disabled, but we must support ordinary people as well" has wound up a lot of folk. People with disabilities have responded "How dare she say I'm not ordinary!" and the able-bodied have responded "How dare she call me ordinary!". Oh dear. If you'll allow me, I think I've got a solution. It's no good sitting on it, hoping it'll go away. We need to respond now, so I've written you a small, concise retraction (sometimes we just have to do that).
"I realize I could have been misunderstood when I spoke about the disabled today on BBC News. I did not mean to imply that there was any conflict between the interests of people with disabilities and those of the rest of the population. I do not for a moment accept this false argument used to divide people by the Tories. I have always supported disabled rights both in my constituency and in the wider society."
How about it. Liz? Press release it now, and we will have achieved the desired "damage limitation". I know you will say that arguing that to give equal opportunities to the disabled requires state aid makes you sound a fulminating Marxist extremist like Mr Corbyn. But I think we need to recognize that the whole discourse has moved left because of his campaign, and there just aren't enough die-hard Blairites remaining for you to win like that. Disabled people and the unemployed can't easily be blamed for the deficit any more. Get the statement out, Liz, or the kind of picture you see here will continue to shoot around social media:

Yours urgently

Richard

----------------------------------

Open Letter No. 13:

Dear Liz

I'm obviously upset that you didn't take my advice to clear up the matter of you seeming to discriminate against people with disabilities and thinking that everyone else is "ordinary". You actually did the next best thing by appearing on the World At One, which under the stewardship of the redoutably reactionary Martha Kearney, is one of the safest media ports for right-wing views to go unchallenged. So let's move on.


We need to think of other ways of bolstering your flagging image. In fact, I'm sorry to say, we need to talk about clothes. This may sound a bit rich coming from a guy who has dressed for years like a slightly sinister 1940s detective. But the point is that here again Mr Corbyn is trouncing his opponents with his now famous "Oxfam-chic", which plays very well with the growing constituency of artists in my part of East London. And, you know, by his not giving a f***. There was a time when a workerist cap indicated a Trotskyite "Dave Spart" you wouldn't want to get caught in a lift with, but now it's just so hip. And his beard will attract all the hipsters in my area, because for them, you know, that is SO political. Anyway, the fact is that the New Labour merchant banker suit just won't cut it any more. It provokes reactions of distrust, disgust, and "What the f*** did you do with my pension?" Your rival Ms Cooper has bagged the "mumsy" look, which is rumoured to be a kind of kid-scoring competition with you (Cooper 3 Kendall 0). Outrageous! Mr Burnham is always well turned-out, but when he opens his mouth you realize he's that Liverpudlian estate agent you met, a bit out of his depth, and battling to keep his job. How would you break away from the Blairite sharp-practice suit, Liz?

Sartorially yours

Richard

------------------------------

Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 14:

Dear Liz

I hope you don't think I'm being presumptuous, but I do wish you'd take my advice occasionally. I warned you about that dreadful sequence in your Open Letter to the Labour Party, the one where you smile at the computer screen, and the screen doesn't smile back. Well, now you've only become a twitter meme! #WhatisLizLookingAt

And I told you to apologize about the disabled vs ordinary people cock-up when you had the chance, and now you've provoked an e-petition. So it's no longer just me asking you to retract, at the last count it's 1,828 people.

I have to confess, Liz, I got sucked into signing it myself.

Yours apologetically

Richard​

---------------------------

Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 15:

Dear Liz

I'm glad to hear that you're proud to join "The Resistance", led by those fearless guerrilla fighters Mr Chuka Umunna and Mr Tristram Hunt. I know you will lead a courageous rearguard action if Mr Corbyn wins, as bookmaker Paddy Power is certain he will. You know I liked the idea of you as Labour's warrior queen, but if my man Mr Corbyn wins, it will no longer be possible for you to wield your battle-axe in public on the fields of middle England. You will have to go underground, with only the mewlings of the conservative and liberal press, and old-fashioned, non-social-media broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky, to support you. By the way, I don't think Mr Umunna's earlier withdrawal from the leadership contest, which some people saw as cowardly, should count against him. Then he was facing only the British press, whereas now he fights for the soul of the Blue Labour Party itself. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

But once again, I offer some advice. Is "The Resistance" really the ideal name for your group? OK, it's better than the earlier attempt, "Labour for the Common Good", which sounds like a particularly uninteresting meeting of the Cooperative Society. But the problem with "The Resistance" is that it evokes the fight of the French resistance in World War Two, and however much Mr Corbyn is attacked across the media, no one has yet suggested he's a Nazi (I am treating Cathy Newman's attempt for C4 to frame him as a supporter of holocaust deniers as, erm, exceptional journalism. Yes, that's the word - exceptional).

So, given that Mr Corbyn is closer to being a communist than a fascist, shouldn't you be called "Samizdat" or "The Dissidents" or something? The "Alexander Solzhenitsyn Appreciation Society" is too long, but you know what I mean.

Ever yours

Richard

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Open Letter No.16:

Dear Liz

I'm in a bit of a panic, actually, and I wonder if you could help me. I know that normally I'm trying to assist you, but this is an emergency.
Many many friends have been excluded from voting in the leadership ballot, and they all seem to have one thing in common. They all wanted to vote for Mr Corbyn. People included in the ‪#‎Labourpurge‬ include longterm full party members and ex-local councillors, in other words people with much better qualifications than me. So let me make my case to you. Labour is the only political party I have ever belonged to. I left in 1994 when Mr Blair became leader, but I found his government a mixture of the good (the minimum wage, tax credits) and the awful (PFI and the invasion of Iraq). I never rejoined until now, but that was partly because I couldn't afford the suit. I've always voted Labour. And I've never been a stand-up comedian, because they seem to be the most suspect. But there seems be a kind of Blairite Stasi, sorry "rigorous checking regime", excluding people for dissident facebook posts and tweets. It all sounds a bit like China in the 50s, when Mao Zedong announced "Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom" to encourage critical thought, then purged and arrested anyone who came forward. My fevered brain is now imagining that Mr Corbyn may in fact be a stalking horse to root out all the remaining socialists in the party.

So I'm announcing a change of heart. I've decided that I've so enjoyed our conversations, albeit they've been rather one-sided, I'm going to vote for YOU. I've decided the party needs modernising to attract aspirers who live in your home town of Watford, people who like their local Indian restaurant, but for whom that's quite enough, thankyou very much. Furthermore, I really hate the films of notorious Trotskyite Ken Loach, and would much rather watch Downton Abbey. Liz, if I have any trouble with my vote, could you possibly put in a good word for me?

By the way, just checking, this ballot is SECRET, right?

Yours paranoically

Richard

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Open Letter No. 17


Dear Liz


I hope you're holding up as we reach the fag-end of this tiring campaign. I know it must be hard. In the Sky debate, Mr Corbyn gained over 80% in their viewers' poll, so that must seem like a nadir. But I want to bolster your spirits a bit. You came second! Let's ignore the fact that you only got 9.1%. You were twice as popular as Mr Burnham, and now the attention of all three of you must be focussed on what happens after the leadership election. It's a shaky launching pad, Liz, but like other viewers, I thought you came over as more honest and straight-talking than either of your Blairite rivals. Let's move on, as Mr Blair himself said about the Iraq war.


I think you should continue to emphasise the gulf between you and Mr Corbyn, as Mr Burnham's attempt to face both ways seems to be so much spin he must be dizzy. One of the most crucial fora for political debate these days is that focus for middle-class anxiety and prudent shopping, Mumsnet. They asked you all for your favourite book, and Mr Corbyn gave a most un-focus-grouped answer, James Joyce's “Ulysses”. This will be because, once again, he doesn't give a f*** what people think, and just answers honestly. For the rest of us, though, “Ulysses” is one of the those books that most of us pretend we've read, like Woody Allen's Zelig. (If you remember, Zelig's clinical need to conform starts with him pretending to have read “Moby Dick”.) Your rivals' choices were incredibly dull: Ms Cooper's “Middlemarch” is middle-brow for middle England, and Mr Burnham completely copped out with the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Nothing can be made out of nothing, Andy. But Liz, I have to say I found your choice of Hemingway's “The Old Man and the Sea” a bit disappointing. I hope you don't mind me asking, but was this an O-level set text for you at school, as it was for me? Anyway, it's just a bit too literary to contrast enough with Mr Corbyn's Joycean modernism. I'd suggest something much more popular. “50 Shades of Grey” is probably a bit risqué, and for the uninitiated might sound like a book about the Parliamentary Labour Party. Jeffrey Archer is possibly too Tory even for you, and frankly is just too awful. Bridget Jones I always found a bit wet, but what about something of that ilk? Sophie Kinsella's “Confessions of a Shopaholic” would have a positive underlying economic message. Or how about going further down that line with some proper “shopping and f**king”. Julie Burchill's “Ambition” would show that you were a lot more than merely damp New Labour aspirational. And Liz, I've got a lot more sub-literary suggestions. Just let me know if you need any more help.

With my Booker Prize specs on.

Richard

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Open Letter No. 18

Dear Liz

I enjoyed your final speech today, where you did the superb "triangulation" of arguing for party unity while at the same time trying to kick Mr Corbyn in the teeth. He seems to be quite a stoical type, so I don't think you should stress about any real harm done. There was a nice hint of self-criticism too, where you wondered if you'd been too harsh on Labour Party members who think the party is here to represent the poor. As you know, I'm rarely shy to offer my advice, so I do question if your emphasis on foreign policy was really necessary. You have views for instance on the Middle East which would make a number of Tories blanch, but above all, you know, I don't think the voters care very much.

When we sum up the campaign, it's probably best if we put the politics and those dull debates to one side. Instead, let's look at the positive. We can see that both you and Mr Corbyn have been much hipper and more street-wise than the rather strait-laced Ms Cooper and Mr Burnham.
What do I mean? Well, Mr Corbyn has his own Latin following here in London, and here he is playing the congas, seemingly not as a photo-opportunity, but just because he enjoys it:

And the latest version of your letter-writing video is so much better than the first, now you've re-worked it with one of your favourite rappers:
 

Liz, we can finally put that ill-fated letter to bed with the words of the great Eminem: "It was probably a problem in the Post Office or something."

Signing off, I can only adapt his words a bit: "I got a room full of Jez's posters and his pictures, man, but I'm your greatest fan. Anyways, I hope you get this, ma'am. Hit me back, just to chat, only yours, your biggest fan. But the problem is, Liz, #JezWeCan."

Richard

 

Why piracy is the vanguard of capitalism

I'd like to tell you a story about a friend of mine who committed a petty crime, and thus unwittingly found himself at the cutting edge of helping the entertainments industry renew itself in the digital world. Really. Let me explain. He was sitting with his 5-year-old son in a greasy-spoon cafe in Bethnal Green, east London, when a guy comes in offering pirate DVDs. My friend is not interested in Jackie Chan (he'd rather watch the Romanian New Wave / take an overdose of painkillers, take your pick - some would say the effect is similar). But the canny salesman immediately brandishes Toy Story 3, and the boy's eyes light up. As a single parent on a low income, my friend has not been able to take his kid to see the latest Disney blockbuster. So, while he does not believe the guy's claims that it's "100% quality", he takes a punt on it for the measly sum of £2. Screening it at home later, it's clear it isn't DVD quality, and it has Chinese sub-titles, but it's perfectly watchable, and he and his son enjoy the toys' antics very much.

At this point cue Arnold Schwarzenegger on a motorbike in that risible anti-piracy commercial that sometimes interrupts your DVD viewing pleasure, and ironically also stars Jackie Chan. "Copying is theft" is their menacing message. Wrong, Arnold. If I steal your bicycle, that's theft. If I copy your bicycle, you stlll have a bicycle, though in your case it would be a gas-guzzling, planet-fucking humvee, which I wouldn't touch in the first place. Does film copying threaten jobs? This is the classic "lump of labour" theory, that if jobs are lost in one industry there are no new jobs in any others. Computerisation has ended type-setting, but graphic designers have taken their place. I can also think of a few economies the film industry could make without it affecting anybody. In 2001, Schwarzenegger himself was paid an astonishing $30 million to be a monosyllabic killing machine in Terminator 3. Regarding income from copyright, recent research from the University of Uppsala showed that only 2% of spending on media and culture in Sweden went to artists for copyright. Income for creators from copyright is very low, and they would be much better off selling directly to consumers online. Meanwhile artists make the vast majority of their income from non-copyright sources, such as gigs.

My friend's pirate DVD almost certainly came from a website called TV Shack, which by coincidence was the previous week raided in New York by the FBI. All the press reports quoted the availability of Toy Story 3 on its website as a motivation for the raid. The technologically-backward Feds may sadly have thought that they had cut off TV Shack's illegal trade. In fact opened a few hours later from a Chinese address, and it took several more months of no doubt expensive cat and mouse to take it down again. Why are such public resources being thrown at trying to preserve an antiquated business model?

Anyway, two days after laughing at Woody and and his anthropomorphised mates, my friend is in a toy shop, wanting to buy something for his boy. He lights on a Toy Story lego set, which he would never have bought without them having seen the film. And later that week, the boy needs a new schoolbag, and he rejects the usual superheroes, and happily goes for more Toy Story merchandising. So it's not that my friend does not consume products which profit mega-corporations. It's just that £20 for a one-off cinema trip could be much better spent. When 5-year-olds like a film, they want to see it ove and over (and not only they, says the author, who makes sure he sees Hitchcock's "Vertigo" in a state of awed reverie every year). We have a video projector at home, a large white wall, and a decent throw for the beamer. How much better it is for us to watch a film like that in multicultural London, where we can turn on the DVD sub-titles for viewers whose first language is not English, and can pause and fetch a beer at will. Is it possible that cinema is, in the words of my wise old lecturer Dr Roy Armes, "the last of the nineteenth century theatrical entertainments"? At the beginning of the 20th century, should we have protected blacksmiths by banning cars?

Now, Disney executives, let's "do the math". Simply put, because of my friend's terrible crime, he has put more money into your already loaded pockets. And let's see who else he might have helped. The guy who sold it to them might have been a pawn in a global mafia involved in drug-dealing and the trafficking of women into prostitution. I say might, because this is a claim made on the Home Office website, not a very reliable source, and they give absolutely no evidence to support it. But it is true that activities which should be legal, such as the buying of recreational drugs, are through being made illegal, thrown into a criminal underworld which presumably does some really bad stuff. But let's imagine for a moment that our seller is a cottage industry. He's doing a serious day's work. The costs up front: blank media 20p, a laser-copy cover 20p, and a subscription to the website source, which is the only way of getting a whole copy. Then he has to hawk it round East London under constant fear of arrest. Alternatively he could rely on state benefits. Is that what you prefer?

I am also pleased that TV Shack got some money, because serving popular content costs a sum probably not covered by the advertising revenue, and they were providing a very valuable service to people who are too poor for the cinema or the cable package. And, finally, everyone is a winner in this situation, including Disney themselves.

So why this war on piracy? And a war it is, with profoundly undemocratic and unworkable legislation being passed with minimal scrutiny in a number of countries at the behest of corporations such as Disney. The most notorious are the "three strikes and you're out" laws in France and the UK, where households could lose their internet connections because of allegations of illegal downloading the copyright-holders do not have to prove in a court of law. What motivates this attack? Corporate greed? Surely not. It makes no economic sense. There's a strong body of evidence to say that so-called "illegal downloaders" spend more on cultural products than people who never do this, and that they do this because they try out the products themselves beforehand, and then rush out to buy them for a friend's birthday. Is it instead a question of control, of power? For these old mega-corporations, the horizontal democracy of the internet can seem a very scarey place. Digital information just wants to be free, a fact that must strike terror to companies grown complacent with the idea that people must consume what they produce in whatever way the producers choose.

And finally, back to my friend. He is a bit embarassed and ashamed about his dodgy deals in downtown Hackney. He's really not sure he should be doing this. You see, as a man of the left, he is aware of old Uncle Walt's ugly history of McCarthyite witch-hunting and union-bashing. He has also read about the way that Donald Duck was used to inculcate selfish individualism in Latin American children. In the end, though, he is happy to say that on balance he can justify tipping money into Disney's pockets via its merchandising. You see, he really admires the films, and his son adores them. Hence the lego-set and the schoolbag. But pay to see an unknown film in the cinema he doesn't even know that his son will enjoy? Come off it, Mickey!

Attack Palin for her politics not her idiocy

I'm happy to risk being accused of not having a sense of humour when I say I wish we'd stop mocking a person like Sarah Palin for her ignorance and stupidity.

OK - so this time she talked of "our North Korean allies", and the reason this is funny is obviously that Stalinist, anti-imperialist, vituperative North Korea is the country in the world LEAST allied with the United States. But the less amusing side of this is that an appalling number of Americans have no idea even where the Korean Peninsula is. George W. Bush was famously revealed as having zero knowledge of foreign affairs, and won a second term as President (we know he  didn't win the first one!), despite all the mockery by people smarter than him, and even BECAUSE of it.

Palin's ignorance makes her appealing to large numbers of voters. She is one of them. In mocking her, we mock all those people who don't know how many sides a triangle has, think Iran is where Australia is, and that the US should next invade Italy.

Sorry to be po-faced, but this level of ignorance is tragic, not comic. And in laughing at it we make Palin's Presidency more likely, not less.

Egyptian trade unionists' declaration 19 Feb 2011

Note: no url source for this, but it looks genuine......

 

Egyptian independent trade unionists' declaration


Cairo, 19 February 2011


Revolution - Freedom - Social Justice

Demands of the workers in the revolution

O heroes of the 25 January revolution! We, workers and trade unionists
from different workplaces which have seen strikes, occupations and
demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of workers across Egypt during
the current period, feel it is right to unite the demands of striking
workers that they may become an integral part of the goals of our
revolution, which the people of Egypt made, and for which the martyrs
shed their blood. We present to you a workers' program which brings
together our just demands, in order to reaffirm the social aspect of
this revolution and to prevent the revolution being taken away from at
its base who should be its beneficiaries.

The workers' demands which we raised before the 25 January revolution
and were part of the prelude to this glorious revolution are:

1. Raising the national minimum wage and pension, and a narrowing of
the gap between minimum and maximum wages so that the maximum is no
more than 15 times the minimum in order to achieve the principle of
social justice which the revolution gave birth to; payment of
unemployment benefit, and a regular increment which will increase with
rising prices.

2. The freedom to organize independent trade unions without conditions
or restrictions, and the protection of trade unions and their leaders.

3. The right of manual workers and clerical workers, peasant farmers
and professionals, to job security and protection from dismissal.
Temporary workers must be made permanent, and dismissed workers to be
returned to their jobs. We must do away with all excuses for employing
workers on temporary contracts.

4. Renationalization of all privatized enterprises and a complete stop
to the infamous privatization program which wrecked our national
economy under the defunct regime

5. * Complete removal of corrupt managers who were imposed on
 companies in order to run them down and sell them off.
* Curbing the employment of consultants who are past the age of
 retirement and who eat up 3 billion of the national income, in order
 to open up employment opportunities for the young.
* Return to the enforcement of price controls on goods and services in
 order to keep prices down and not to burden the poor.

6. The right of Egyptian workers to strike, organize sit-ins, and
demonstrate peacefully, including those striking now against the
remnants of the failed regime, those who were imposed on their
companies in order to run them down prior to a sell-off. It is our
opinion that if this revolution does not lead to the fair distribution
of wealth it is not worth anything. Freedoms are not complete without
social freedoms. The right to vote is naturally dependent on the right
to a loaf of bread.

7. Health care is a necessary condition for increasing production

8. Dissolution of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation which was one of
the most important symbols of corruption under the defunct regime.
Execution of the legal judgments issued against it and seizure of its
financial assets and documents. Seizure of the assets of the leaders
of the ETUF and its member unions and their investigation.


Signed:
Employee of the Meteorological Office, Ahmad Kamal Salah
Health Technicians Union, Hossam Muhammad Abdallah Ali
Nurse, Sayyida Al-Sayyid Muhammad Fayiz
Al-Fayyum Sugar Refinery, Ashraf Abd al-Wanis
Omar Effendi Department Store, Abd-al-Qadir Mansur
Future Pipes Co, 6th October City, Hafiz Nagib Muhammad
Egypt - Helwan Textiles Co., Muhammad Hassan
Tora Cement, Mahmud Abd-al-Munsaf Al-Alwani
Egyptian Commercial Pharmaceutical Co., Ali Mahmud Nagi
Hawamidiyya Sugar Refinery, Omar Muhammad Abd-al-Aziz
Egyptian Pharmaceuticals, Muhammad Galal
Suez Fertilisers Co., Shazli Sawi Shazli
Military Factory No.45, Muhammad Ibrahim Hassan
Military Factory No. 999, Wasif Musa Wahba
General Transport Authority, Gamil Fathi Hifni
Cairo General Contractors, Adil Abd-al-Na'im
Al-Qanah Rope Co., Port Sa'id, Ali Hassan Abu Aita
Information Centre, Hind Abd-al-Gawad Ibrahim
Information Centre, Hamada Abu-Zaid
Information Centre, Muhammad Khairy Zaid
General Authority for Cultural Centres, Hatim Salah Sayyid
National Postal Authority, Muhammad Abd-al-Hakim
International Ibex Co., Ahmad Islam
Military Factory 99, Tariq Sayyid Mahmud
Military Factory 999, Nabil Mahmud
Trade unionist, Mahmud Shukri
Military Factory 999, Ahmad Faruq
Military Factory 999, Osama Al-Sayyid
Future Pipe Industries, Yasir Al-Sayyid Ibrahim
Tannery workers, Mahmud Ali Ahmad
Future Pipe Industries, Abd-al-Rasul Abd-al-Ghani
Omar Effendi Department Store, Ali Al-Sayyid
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU), Kamal Abu Aita
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU), Ahmad Abd-al-Sabur
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU), Salah Abd-al-Hamid
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU), Mahmud Umar
Worker, Khalid Galal Muhammad
Petrotrade Co., Muhammad Zaki Isma'il
Suez Canal Co., Saud Omar
Suez Fertilizers Co., Kamal el-Banna

Welcome to our world of mash-up!

Richard Hering introduces our new multi-media "book" of the largest UK protest since 2003

"If I was going to start a news business tomorrow, I would start a business that was not designed to produce one new bit of news, but instead to aggregate news for individuals in ways that mattered to them." (Professor Clay Shirky - NYU)

Ten years ago, if faced, as on 26 March 2011, with the largest public protest since the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, I would have been out on the streets with my video camera, trying to capture a slivver of the excitement of that day. If I'd been well-prepared, I would have gained the trust of a direct action "affinity group" ready to do something really visual, and keen to get it seen. I would then have tried to sell this footage to the mainstream news in time for the evening bulletins, to get it watched by normal people, and to cover costs and possible legal expenses incurred by the protesters. And finally I would have lovingly crafted a short punchy film that told the story from our point of view. Capacity for social change: small.

Or else I would not have attended the protest at all, and would instead have been honing meticulous 2-page proposals for investigative documentary on Channel 4, which, if successful would send me on a long and arduous journey in return for a slot on primetime TV. Viewers: many. Personal prestige (awards etc): great. Capacity for social change: tiny.

But on March 26, I did not walk the streets of central London at all. Instead, Marc Barto and I sat scrutinizing the stream of data coming into our laptops in an improvised studio lent to us by the University of London Union. We were using the phenomenal new software Storify to compile a timeline of the day, as it happened before our glassy eyes. The latest tweets, newsy or funny or attitudinal, were carefully selected alongside the best photos, and the first videos to come in that really told a story. (These last mainly used visionOntv's video citizen journalist templates, made by members of the London Video Activist Network, guided during the day from the same studio space). Later we added an edited selection of eye-witness accounts, some by experienced journalists such as Laurie Penny of the New Statesman, and others by first-time writers being hosted by other blogs. We also added the higher-quality videos which take between a day and a fortnight to edit, such as Michael Chanan's "A Tale of Two Demonstrations" and our own Kayte Fairfax' and Shaun Firkser's brilliant "Anarchists Unmasked!" (I will review the video content from March 26 in a following article.)

The result is only one of many possible stories of this massive protest against the cuts. We have tried to reflect all points of view among the protesters, from those who marched and attended the rally in Hyde Park in the hope of challenging power through numbers, through to those who think that the only solution is deep systemic change. It puts both sides as the protesters debate the value of tactics such as damage to property. It excoriates the laughable coverage by the mainstream media. It is a genuine, multi-faceted, and multi-media, story from the grassroots, crowd-sourced from citizen writers, photographers, and film makers.

Welcome to our wonderful world of mash-up media.

 

Check out the March26 timeline here!

Got a Camera? Be a Reporter, Not a Spectator

Richard Hering and Hamish Campbell are checking on what you're doing with that camera:

We've all done it. Gone on a demo and taken an hour's worth of video, and the tape of it then languishes on a shelf slowly icing over with dust. Sometimes, but certainly not always, we even label it carefully, because one day we will definitely edit it into our award-winning activist documentary. Yeah, right.

The question is: why don't we do more with all the video and photos we take of every event in our lives? At any interesting action, a hundred people turn up with cameras. Sometimes there are more cameras than activists. What happens to all these pictures and footage? Mainly, if they appear at all, they go into a kind of flickr or youtube compost, waiting for someone, somewhere to grow something out of them. Or worse, they end up in the internet silo which is facebook, as part of your individual profile. I took these pictures, me, they're all about me. Not much desire for social change in that!

So what stops you, and we mean YOU, from doing something useful with your gadgets? How do you become a journalist instead of a by-stander? It's actually a lot easier than you think, but there are some rules.

Being a journalist simply means telling the story, and you don't need a degree course in media to do it.

There are three basic ways of telling the story, in ascending order of skill:

1. Shoot video of anything interesting, keep it short, and put the journalism in the title and description of the video and blogpost when you upload. Just tell us the 5 Ws: Who, What, Where , When and Why.

2. Think about your story, plan it and tell it right there on the spot, putting the story in the video as it is shot. Template 1 - the live editing one shot report.

3. Learn the skills, put 3 months' work in as a video apprentice and plan the story beforehand, so that you can easily edit the result in a few hours. Template 3

All of these need a level of commitment which clearly separates the reporter from the mere on-looker. But they are all things that can be done in your spare time. To make this a whole lot easier, visionOntv is organising the MAKING NEWS ROADSHOW, a citizen journalist training programme beginning in Liverpool on 17-19 June.

So what do you want to be today? A journalist or a spectator?

THOUSANDS PROTEST IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE

RALLY CALLS TIME ON DICTATORS IN SYRIA, EGYPT, BAHRAIN....

Activists from countries across the region took to a huge stage to share their stories of struggle and perseverance in the face of violent suppression. Speakers were there from Egypt, Libya, Syria, Palestine and Bahrain. The huge crowd was made up of trade unionists, students, Amnesty International supporters and other ordinary people from across the UK who gathered in a day of "solidarity and defiance".

visionOntv interviewed the activists:

The Graveyard of Boats - photo essay

Richard Hering and Takako Yamaguchi have been touring with visionOntv's Making News Roadshow in Japan, promoting video citizen journalism. As part of this they visited the area of the earthquake-damaged nuclear reactors. Richard's first article from the Roadshow follows:

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Near Minamisoma City, just 25km from the nuclear meltdown at the power plants of Fukushima, northeastern Japan, is a shocking sight. It's a classical painting gone wrong, where seascape and landscape have surreally combined.

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The tsunami carried these boats no less than five kilometres inland.

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The area is known locally as the "graveyard of boats". There are some 30 hulks here.

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Compensation from the authorities and from nuclear power company TEPCO has been marred by controversy. Application forms sent out to 60,000 households on September 12th are 60 pages long with a 156-page manual. (Earlier provisional payments were praised for their simplicity). The new claim forms, with one required for each individual in a family, also only cover the period to the end of August, with a new form being required for subsequent damages. "Is this some kind of harassment?" tweeted a recipient. (1)

In any case, compensation will not restart the fishing industry on this coast any time soon. The ocean around remains irradiated, including the vital frozen storage. So this is all that is left.

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Our guide, Tomoyuki Narasaki of the Japan Volunteer Centre, informs us that the tsunami wave also took 600 lives on this coast alone. On what was once a popular public beach, most of the sand was washed away. The force of the wave ripped up some of the some of the very solid stone steps which took sunbathers to the water and carried them far inland.

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The remains of a concrete bridge. Cars and other metal items lie in shredded and rusting heaps.

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We visit a closed primary school, whose playground has a huge pit in the centre, as diggers excavate the radioactive dust from it.

Narasaki-san introduces us to a project he manages, Minamisoma Disaster Radio. This citizen radio station broadcasts three times a day, including the latest radiation levels, and facts and opinions from listeners. He was our guide for what he ironically termed "disaster tourism". His guided tour will be published soon on globalviews.

Follow all coverage of the Making News Roadshow tour on the globalviews channel.

NOTES:

(1) http://www.majiroxnews.com/2011/09/14/tepco-blasted-over-60-page-compensation-application-forms/

Whose reconstruction? - the tsunami disaster one year on

One year on from the biggest earthquake to hit Japan, with media interest having dwindled, relief NGO Peace Boat has announced today that it will continue to work for the foreseeable future in the Tohoku area so devastated by the tsunami wave. Why?

When we visited the fishing town of Ishinomaki in September, we witnessed the hard work, and phenomenal organization, of Peace Boat volunteers and workers, still clearing debris from the beaches and serving hot food in emergency shelters.

Now their work has shifted to helping restore the infrastructure and to focussing on the long-term psycho-social problems of people who lost their homes and loved ones. As the emergency shelters closed, tsunami survivors have been rehoused far from their original homes, often isolated and left alone with their trauma. Just before our trip, one man in this situation in Ishinomaki committed suicide.

One local man, Konno Fumiaki, from Rikuzentakata, 60 miles to the north of Ishinomaki, commented:

"Unfortunately, in spite of the effort of our mayor and city authorities, one big flaw is there. That there is very little communication or consultation with the local population, who are dispersed in different parts of the city, and sometimes outside of the city, and that worries me so much. It seems that in spite of the enormous help from outside, our future planning is not going to be the planning made by the people ourselves, but a plan made by a few officials, and the outside agencies and the government and the companies and so on. so I am very worried that our town in the future may not be the town of our own. That concerns me so much."

The Fear of Working Class Power - Liberal journalists and Venezuela

Yet more counter-factual bile is spewing out of the traditional media, and especially the liberal media, on the occasion of Hugo Chavez' death. So I re-publish this article written at the time of the Venezuelan Presidential elections in October 2012:

 

Most journalists work for companies whose purpose is very well described in Patrick Chalmers' article News to Make the Rich Richer. Based on his 11 years' experience as a journalist for Reuters, this article introduces the broader themes of his excellent book Fraudcast News. Ownership, who pays, news sources, editorial ideology, and journalists' fear all contribute to the distorting lens.

The immediate aftermath of another election in Venezuela is a perfect opportunity to count the cost of corporate media mis-reporting. This article will analyse the reporting of some journalists of the supposedly liberal media in the UK. But following Patrick's lead, let's look first at Reuters.

Sure enough, in the lead-up to the Venezuelan Presidential election, which pitched socialist incumbent Hugo Chavez against candidate of the right-wing coalition Henrique Capriles, Reuters followed the meta-narrative of the vast majority of the corporate media. They constantly insisted that the election was closely fought, right up until election day, when Chavez actually won by a whopping 11%. This depiction of a tight race was despite most opinion polls showing Chavez with a double-digit lead. A cursory research would have told a half-decent journalist that the solitary polling organisation that showed Capriles to have a lead, Consultores 21, has an abysmal record in previous elections. In 2004, 2006, and 2009 this poll underestimated Chavez' vote by between 10 and 13 percentage points, well outside the acceptable margin of error. And again this time, Consultores 21 underestimated Chavez' vote by 10%. They are nothing if not consistent. Of course for US media organisations, that makes this poll "respected", "reputable" and "well-regarded" (in the words of the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and the Washington Post respectively). But why are the reporters of Reuters not more sceptical? Patrick Chalmers answers this well. But I believe there is another factor.

In the almost universal disparaging of Bolivarian socialism in the media of the US and UK, one of the most interesting phenomena is the intense involvement of liberal newspapers and news outlets. The Guardian's Rory Carroll is notorious. For him, Venezuela is always on the point of infrastructural collapse, while Chavez is a waning force. His recent headlines included "A strongman's last stand" and "People's hero in final showdown". Chavez was described as "Banquo's ghost". Given the opinion polls cited above, was the apocalyptic tone justified? His reports are also peppered with the kind of factual errors which always chime with the opposition's narrative of an authoritarian populist demagogue. I felt roused to challenge Carroll, using the feeble means of twitter, over his claim that Chavez' election victories were "not always fair". Jimmy Carter, after his long experience of monitoring democratic elections, for which he won a Nobel Prize, said “the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world” and that Chavez has always won “fairly and squarely”. No response of course came from Carroll, so I ask again. What is it that you know, Rory, that Jimmy Carter doesn't? The overwhelming tone of all of Carroll's pieces is an obsession with the figure of Chavez himself, not the Revolution he has led into being. His post-election piece is headed "Hugo Chavez: a victory of enduring charisma and political mastery". Note how Chavez' voters, the Venezuelan poor, are, according to Carroll, voting for him because of his charm and Machiavellian skills, not because of their empowerment through communal councils, the free health clinics and universities, the new housing, or the massive reductions in poverty.

The Independent newspaper reporter Jim Armitage, however, makes Carroll look like a Chavista sympathiser. Here we have unsupported references to human rights abuses, defamation of oil workers, the casual, and again unsupported, claim of privations, and the cheap and gratuitous reference to Ken Livingstone. If you are astonished by the tone of the unfactual hack piece in the link, it's worth noting that the supposedly liberal Independent has a long history of this kind of coverage.

But one thing connects Carroll and Armitage. When I wrote that I would analyse their coverage, I meant it in an almost psychoanalytic way. Their patronising of and disregard for the poor majority seems to me to involve the same hysteria that Carroll ascribes to Chavez' voters. They both profess to support a mildly social democratic system of social welfare, as avowedly did Chavez' so soundly beaten rival Capriles. In other words, they think the elite should deign to alleviate the worst excesses of capitalism. What troubles them beyond their being able to deal with it rationally is the idea of the poor majority taking power. For this presumption on the part of the working class, and their vision of a society that goes beyond welfarism to socialist democracy, the poor deserve to be mocked or sidelined or ignored. Why do Carroll and Armitage not celebrate the Bolivarian revolution's reduction of poverty by half, instead of putting it in parenthesis, or treating it as an electoral bribe? What is the mixture of hatred and fear that motivates them to write such shoddy journalistic bile? The fact that the Guardian and Independent commission and print it shows us the dark, inhuman heart of liberalism.

The Shack-dwellers movement: using democracy to replace capitalism

The problem is capitalism, but what, for the poorest people on the planet, are the solutions? This was the constant theme when the Anarchist Bookfair on October 27 2012 was addressed by Lindela Figlan from the South African Shack-Dwellers Movement (Abahlali baseMjondolo - AbM).

The AbM grew from the discontent of poor shack-dwellers with the neo-liberal policies of the African National Congress government since 1994. Since foundation in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban, it has won victories over land rights and infrastructure, while remaining fiercely independent of both politial parties and NGOs. This grassroots movement is famously democratic, and as such reminded me of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST), with whom they are linked. Currently they are organising popular assemblies for decisions to be made, a parallel political structure from the grassroots. Their leaders are unpaid, and Lindela describes them as "servants of the people". Everything the movement does seems designed to contrast clearly with the kleptocratic corruption of the post-apartheid political system.

Their door is always open for meeting with politicians, but, Lindela says, rather than come imposing their own agendas, the politicians must listen to the democratically-decided demands of the shack-dwellers.

The movement's radicalism has provoked violent repression, with arrests and torture common, and there have been  cases of armed raids. Lindela himself sleeps in a variety of places for his personal safety.

Answering a question about the role and threat of NGO involvement, it was clear from his reply that the movement has no delusions about help offered. Lindela described how one NGO bussed in AbM activists to a meeting with the NGO's donors, but afterwards refused the movement's request for modest help to organise a march. He made an analogy: as long as your car (the movement) keeps travelling, the dogs (the NGOs) run after it barking, but if it stops, they cock their legs against it. He contrasted the canine NGOs with War on Want, who had listened and responded to their needs.

The AbM is in no way a single-issue movement. They recognize, for instance, that new housing projects are not enough. As Lindela explained, if a person gets a new flat, but can't eat, they then sell the flat for a fraction of its value to put food on the table. So Abahlali baseMjondolo is adamantly anti-capitalist, arguing for a complete transformation of society from the bottom up.

For more information: http://abahlali.org

Catch the DATES of Lindela Figlan's UK TOUR here

How to break the Chinese and Vietnamese firewalls

OR How piracy is the greatest spreader of culture in history

I am currently in teeming and steamy Hanoi, surely one of the greatest cities in the world, having taken the epic sleeper train up from Da Nang in central Vietnam. Yesterday I lighted on an old quarter bookstore (not more than a table on the street) with a very shrewd and discerning selection of English language books. There I found a copy of Jonathan Neale's excellent "People's History of the Vietnam War". Astutely the old lady running the store suggested to me Graham Greene's classic "The Quiet American" to go with it, but I had just finished reading it. Glancing at Jonathan's history, the misspelt cover pages and scanned text showed me it was a pirate copy, which I'm sure would be a great delight to the author, even more if it was in Vietnamese. I couldn't check that yet. This is not an article to discuss the pros and cons of copyright protection so I will simply state that I consider file-sharing to be the most vital disseminator of culture in the world. My own use of it is fairly prolific, though probably not by ths standards of teenagers I know. Torrents found through pirate bay furnish our fortnightly film club of deeply obscure art movies, and the magnificant aaaaarg.org gives me more serious food-for-thought reading matter than I can ever get through, and helps impoverished doctoral students the world over. Downloading from spotify and youtube allows me to consume music on my smartphone whenever I travel. This activity is made more fun by the ferociously concerted attempts of a few corporations to alter the very nature of the internet in order to protect their sadly outdated business models. The resulting game of cat and mouse is frequently absurdly unequal, like watching repeated episodes of Tom and Jerry. When ISPs were forced to ban pirate bay by a daft court judgement, it took me two minutes to find a proxy, and pirate bay's traffic rose with the publicity.

So much for the corporate-sponsored legislative firewalls. Here in Vietnam there is a state-sponsored firewall no less absurd and meretricious. In Da Nang we can't get facebook (no tragedy for me), but can get the BBC. In Hanoi it's the reverse. (I shoud point out that I do not use the BBC for its news, which is as unreliable as any corporate media's, but for its excellent football coverage at what is a crucial juncture of the season for the Gunners.) A quick and simple installation of the excellent anonymity network Tor, gives me a blow-by-blow account of the Arsenal's battle for a Champions' League place. In the lobby of our hotel yesterday I met a young Chinese woman despairing at the blocking of the Zuckerberg empire in her home country. She said that people in China paid for a service to get round the Great Firewall (a VPN?). With something as important for human rights as internet freedom, trust someone to try to make money out of it. I suggested Tor to her as a free alternative. The Chinese authorities are continually trying to block Tor, but bridging apparently makes this much more difficult. For further information, see this excellent article.

Meanwhile, I must go out and buy a beautiful wooden birdcage in Hanoi's bustling markets, though not of course to house a bird. For someone who opposes corporate and state attempts to cage the internet, that might be considered hypocritical.....

Bigot sorry for “historian” claim

 

Professor Niall Ferguson apologized today for having pretended that he was a serious historian.

“When I look back at the books I have written, I can now see that they are a collection of reactionary prejudices masquerading as well-researched historiography” he said.

 

Professor Ferguson made his name by arguing against the prevailing historical views on for instance the First World War and the British Empire. “I mean, to hold that the slaughter of World War One was justified, or that the Empire was of huge benefit to Johnny Native, how could anyone believe that?” he joked.

 

Secondary school history teacher Jack Williams commented "To be honest, it's a liberation. I don't need any more to explain to a class of students from all over the world why an established author thinks Britain civilized them."

 

Ferguson admitted that he had been attracted by the fame of other television “historians”. “I saw David Starkey able to strut his bigoted stuff all over the media on the basis of some crap pop-historical bios of the kings and queens of England, and I was jealous. I mean, as a poof, he doesn't care about the future, so how could anyone trust him with the past?”

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