Thursday, 29 May 2008

Buffoon Barnbrook's Blogging Bonanza

In recent weeks I’ve been impressed, if not a little obsessed, by the continued steam of stupidity appearing on the blog of Nadine Dorries. I must admit that it has become an entertaining part of my daily routine, even if this does leave me a little ashamed.

However, I’m pleased, (alarmed), to see that an even bigger buffoon has entered the blogging world. Step forward Mr Richard Barnbrook – BNP London Assembly member.

It’s been widely reported this week that Barnbrook now has a blogging profile on the Daily Telegraph website, even so I was a little late in getting chance to look at it following my failed attempts to get Marriella Frostrup to agree to marry me whilst at the Hay Festival.

Ballet loving Barnbrook has only had chance to post a few blogs so far – however, I’m sure you’ll all agree that he’s obviously started in the way that he means to go on. For example; take two of his chosen topics: ‘Lilly Allen and the BNP’, and the tour de force that is ‘Blame the Immigrants’.

The latter is a hate filled rant that is simply abhorrent. However, as a supporter of free speech, I do feel that groups such as the BNP should be given a platform to air their views; to suppress them only makes their case stronger. One could argue that a national newspaper should not be allowing individuals such as Barnbrook the opportunity to air such disgraceful views – one only has to look at some of the comments from his supporters to see what the true views of the BNP faithful really are.

What really is disgusting is Barnbrook’s behaviour following the tragic death of Robert Knox in Sidcup. In front of his own camera crew and speaking in front of a group of the victims friends, Barnbrook said that:

“This is a sickening situation and it is primarily down to people coming to this country... the majority 75% (of murders) are done by ethnic minorities and when only 33% come from ethnic minorities, the figures speak for themselves."

Coming after the half-crazed rant on his blog, it seems that there really are no levels to which the BNP won’t stoop in order to gain publicity.

Barnbrook even gives out what is supposedly his own mobile phone number so that supporters can contact him if they want to attend a meeting outside City Hall.


Barnbrook is an idiot, but he’s also a dangerous idiot. The way to fight the BNP is not to censor them; this will only play straight into their hands.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Madness of Queen Nadine

I have a confession to make – being a committed atheist makes this a hard thing to do; but a confession it is none the less.

Even here ensconced in Hay on Wye, attempting to appear far more intelligent than I could ever hope to be, I find I’ve become obsessed by the ever more crazy outpourings of Nadine Dorries.

Today’s news from Nadine really caught me by surprise. Apparently, she’s been in contact with various leaders from the Muslim world, who, like her were horrified by the abortion bill result this week.

Now, perhaps this is just a little bit too bloody obvious, but do you think that these Muslim leaders would be just as horrified if they knew who Nadine’s partners in crime were!?!? Now, I’m not sure, and this is only a slim chance; but do you think they’d have a problem supporting an MP who openly has the support of a group who describe Islam as a ‘false religion’…

Mmmmm, I wonder…..

Deluded is not the word…..

Friday, 23 May 2008

Nadine Dorries - Humility Personified

Nice to see that every fundamentalist Christian’s favourite stooge – Nadine Dorries, has been crowing on about the Crewe and Nantwich by-election result.
Funny that, as I’m sure Cameron would hate that sort of triumphalism.

Poor Nadine’s mood must have improved over the last 24 hours – as she now seems to be full of goodwill for all around her!

“Congratulations Edward, the warmest welcome awaits you. What a stonking, amazing victory that was.”

“How incredible is Eric Pickles? What an amazing man.”

“Did you see David Cameron? He was bursting with energy and pleasure and goodwill to all men.”

Nadine’s own personal supply of goodwill does not however stretch to my favourite old teacher – Jacqui Smith. Not only has she had to suffer a brutal assault at the hands of the Police Federation this week; now Nadine has also got it in for her.

“The ridged look on Jacqui Smiths face gives me huge pleasure.”

“She is possibly the most arrogant and least pleasant of all the Labour women. There will be no seat turning from red to blue which will give me as much pleasure as that one.”

Steady on Nadine! Baring in mind some of the people you’ve been spending time with recently, I really don’t think you should be passing judgement on your fellow MPs.

Still, at least her Christian values come shining through in the end!

“PS I haven’t been triumphant or complacent in this blog have I?”

Oh, Nadine!!!!

Can’t see the Dunwoody for the trees

Battered, bruised and humiliated – but enough of my private life; it’s safe to say that last night did indeed turn in to a long, dark night of the soul.

It’s one thing to expect a defeat, but even I was shocked by the spanking we received last night. To lose the seat was bad enough, but to see such a massive swing towards the Tories confirms my worst fears as to just how unpopular Gordon Brown and the government really are amongst a section of traditional Labour voters.

We really must now finally wake up and realise that not only have we lost those Tory voters who were happy to support Blair in the absence of a credible Tory leader, but that we are also losing traditional, long term Labour supporters from all parts of society.

This wasn’t just about voters wanting to give the government a damn good kicking; I’m worried that there are now actually Labour supporters who feel that they would be better off under a Conservative administration.

Of, course, this by-election has been a fairly easy process for the Tories – after all, we’ve done most of the hard work for them by being so bloody inept. One must also look at a poorly conceived and run campaign, which unfortunately dominated the headlines, taking away any serious message that Tamsin would have been able to put forward. The Tory campaign team couldn’t believe their luck; such is the hatred for Labour at this present time, they found it easy to fight a campaign without actually having to say much in the first place.

However, in saying that, I still feel that too much has been made of any potential fall out from a negative, childish and ill thought out campaign. The facts are simple; the large turnout shows that suburban Tory supporters are now coming back out to vote for Cameron; this coupled with the ever increasing amount of pissed off Labour supporters now switching to the Tories could well spell disaster, and as some are now saying shows a real change of tide in the countries political landscape.

As for the Lib Dems, I had expected a section of the Labour vote to transfer to them as a form of mid-term protest, (looking back - I wish it had!), however, this didn’t occur. It now seems as if they also lost votes to the Tories, something that I’m not awfully surprised by. Still, this does not bode well for their chances at the general election.

One thing I would say however is how much dignity Tamsin showed last night following her defeat. I’m sure many of us were very moved by her speech, and I hope that the party can show a bit more of the fight and commitment to socialist values that were not only showed by her late Mother, but by her also.

More to come when I’ve had chance to recover and get rid of my Tory induced hangover……

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Vote Comrades, Vote!!!

Well the day of the Crewe and Nantwich apocalypse has finally arrived. For days now the dark clouds of defeat have been gathering over one of the few openly socialist homes in north Worcestershire, (mine in case you wondered!).

It’s been hard to escape from the general vale of gloom and despair closing in on my small group of remaining party supporters. However, like a true pessimist, I’ve been doing my best to prepare for anticipated spanking that we are due to receive today. These preparations have mainly involved purchasing large amounts of very cheap and very nasty wine – at least I think it’s wine, it did come from my neighbours shed, so one can never be sure. I’m sure I caught him cleaning his paintbrushes with it the other day. It also seems to serve as a wonderful deterrent to over curious cats.

However, like an unexpected late night phone call from the girl you really fancy at work, I’ve woken up with a fresh sense of hope and optimism this morning. Now, I can assure you dear readers that this doesn’t happen too often; perhaps just once a year, and only on days of the week beginning with a ‘T’.

So, even though the odds are stacked against us; even though the campaign and been a disgrace and a bloody shambles; Labour supporters MUST get out there and vote today.

Like me, there are a lot of Labour supporters in Crewe who are thoroughly pissed off with the party. You can almost smell the sense of betrayal in the air, and it stinks; however these people must think very carefully about where they place their votes today.

Make no mistake, things are very bad right now, and it looks as if they could get a hell of lot worse by this evening. Even then, from a personal level, the thought of Labour supporters voting Tory is beyond my comprehension. This is something that I could never, EVER dream of doing; to be honest the very thought of it disgusts me!

Various sources tell us that the Lib Dems will benefit as a result of the governments retreating support. Now, I would admit that I’ve voted Lib Dem in the past; in fact I did a few weeks ago at the local elections. This is totally different though.

By switching to the Lib Dems, the only thing that will be achieved is a Tory victory. Lets be honest here - there is a far greater chance of Scarlet Johansson phoning me this afternoon and inviting me out for dinner then there is of the Lib Dems winning this seat. In their heart of hearts they know this – one only had to see the Cleggster at PMQs yesterday - he didn’t even mention the by-election.

So, if I could speak to the Labour supporters in Crew today, I would urge them to get out and vote – I know the outcome looks bleak, but we must stick together. If we have any hope of fighting back, then we have to start now, before it really is too late.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Dial 999 – Jacqui Smith Assaulted!

I’m concerned to note that my old economics teacher, Ms Smith has been severely assaulted, battered and bruised… Somebody really should call the police to report this heinous crime.

Hmmmm, we might have a small problem there, seeing as the vicious attack was in fact carried out by the police; in particular by Police Federation chairman Jan Berry.

One thing I will say in support of Jacqui – it takes a certain amount of ‘balls’ to sit there and take such a verbal bashing – especially when you’re in the wrong.

Ms Berry is spot on with most of her comments:

"Your decision not to honour the pay award was a breach of faith. It was a monumental mistake, and I don't say this lightly when I say you betrayed the police service.”

The government seem to still be living under the delusion that the Police in this country would not seriously consider strike action, or indeed act upon it. Perhaps ten years ago that may have been true. However, we live in different times, and the public perception of the government is that they no longer care about the poorest or low paid in society. Now, this is obviously rubbish, however, the one thing you should avoid at all costs is to piss off key groups of public sector workers, who play such a vital role in the running of our country.

The True Horror of the Paul Weller Haircut

So, I was sat at home last contemplating making an effort to do some much needed housework and awaiting news on the abortion bill – as you can tell just another normal evening in my increasingly middle aged world!

It’s at times like this that you need something to stir you from your self inflicted lethargy – a shock to the system, and by God I got one whilst watching Jools Holland on BBC2.

Now, I love Mr Weller; I would consider him to be one of the greatest songwriters that this country has ever produced; I’ve even been buying his records for nearly twenty years now.

However, nothing prepared me for the shock of his latest coiffure. However hard I tried, I just couldn’t take me eyes of it. Paul was playing some songs from his excellent new album; I kept trying to listen, I really wanted to listen – but I couldn’t, the hair had me transfixed.

Never before has the sight of a mop of silver hair made me think that I really should go and mop the kitchen floor. The sense of horror and despair that I felt throughout the rest of the night cannot be put into words!!

Please Paul, I’m coming to see you play live later this year – please, for my sake and for your own dignity, cut your hair!!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Dispatches - In Gods Name (Channel 4)

As MPs voted last night on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, it has been rather disturbing to watch as a ground swell of Christian Fundamentalists attempt to hijack the debate for their own means.

My worst fears were confirmed last night whilst watching an excellent episode of the programme Dispatches on Channel 4. In case you missed it, the episode – In Gods Name, was compelling viewing, and should hopefully serve as a warning to those who fail to see the dangerous and insidious nature of their various activities.

What really impressed me about the documentary was the way in which the programme makers simply allowed those being interviews to give their opinions, no matter how offensive, without resorting to sensationalist reporting.

As far as faith goes, I would consider myself to be a committed Atheist; however I choose not to condemn or ridicule those who do have a religious faith of any kind. It is an individuals right to practice their own religion and to worship as they see fit; however, this must go both ways.

The heavy handed tactics of those who see it as their place in life to force their Christian views upon those non evangelicals has always made me feel very uneasy.

For example, I feel we have to question why we have government regulated and approved, (independent), faith schools in this country, as featured in the programme. These children are being taught a hard line, almost fundamentalist version of Christianity. At one point, I was amazed to see a young girl sitting a science test, where one of the questions being asked was “In how many days did God create the Earth?” This is a science test we’re talking about here, not a religious education lesson.

Even more worryingly, this was followed by a fourteen year old girl at the school confirming that she thought that the Earth was somewhere between six and ten thousand years old!?! A quick look at her text book confirmed that this is the kind of information that these children are being taught to believe.

Is it me!?!? Perhaps I’m being too judgemental here? Surely it’s wrong for us to be allowing children to be taught this bunkum? Can it be right for children to be taught that the Bible should be taken quite literally as Gods word? The obvious and only answer to this must be a resounding NO…

It was fascinating to see the different lines of attack from within the fundamentalist community. Some prefer a more direct approach – openly spouting their vile anti-Islamic and homophobic views in public; for example at gay pride events, or on sites where proposed Mosques are due to be constructed. What is more worrying are the more professional and media savvy groups such as the Lawyers Christian Fellowship; represented during the programme by Andrea Minichiello Williams – their public policy director.

Now, Andrea is a self confessed fundamentalist; and as such it is disturbing that along with the LCF she has free access to lobby various members of the House of Lords and Parliament.

Whilst disturbing, it was less of a surprise to find out how closely the LCF have been working with the one and only Nadine Dorries. In fact, it transpired that Andrea has been working as a key member of the Dorries abortion campaign to reduce the abortion limit to twenty weeks – although as any liberal thinking person knows, their key objective would be to make abortion illegal in this country. So, with that in mind, let’s just think about this for a moment; what we have is an elected Tory MP receiving help, advice and backing from a group whose policy director not only admits to being a Christian fundamentalist, but also claims that Islam is a false religion. We could also mention that she is a homophobe who when asked estimates that the Earth is probably about four thousand years old, and rejects scientific evidence with regards to carbon dating.

So, we have to ask ourselves, should an elected member of parliament be associating in a professional capacity with a group such as the LCF?

When confronted with Andrea’s particular brand of Christian beliefs. Nadine didn’t seem unduly concerned. Then again, I wasn’t particularly surprised by this – her main areas of support obviously come from various parts of the wider Christian community. This iuncludes another organisation involving Andrea - Christian Concern for our Nation - their website makes interesting reading...

I think that serious questions need to be asked with regards to the levels of influence that groups such as the LCF have with our elected officials. Hopefully, documentaries such as this will help to open the debate with regards to the growing influence of Christian fundamentalism in this country.

Monday, 19 May 2008

George Bush - Comedy Genius

I’ve realised over the weekend just how fortunate we are to be in the midst of such a golden period for piss poor political memoirs. Forget all about loyalty, self-respect, or God forbid honesty; our three favourite literary titans have been sticking the knife in quicker then
Jack the Ripper on a quiet night out in Whitechapel. Of course, my personal award for such gross crassness can only go to one person, and that person is everyone’s favourite “socialist” Cherie Blair.

Obviously, the press has been full of obnoxious quotes from this tome of shit all weekend, (also known as “Speaking for my Bank Account”). It would be far, far too easy to mention the slightly disturbing contraception equipment episode – however, the thought of this is so horrible that one wonders if she carries a very small member of Opus Dei around in her luggage at all times – just in case…..

However, my favourite quote so far refers to Gods representative on Earth – George W Bush.

We’re indeed so very fortunate that our Cherie is such a fantastic ‘judge’ of character, otherwise we might have overlooked the following valuable piece of information:

“George is actually a very funny, charming man with a quirky sense of humour. No one can say that he doesn’t have a sense of humour.”

Well, thank you so much for pointing this out to us all Cherie. All this time I’d just assumed that Bush was just a war mongering, dangerous, Christian fundamentalist, idiotic buffoon. It just goes to show how easy it is to misjudge someone – with this in mind; here are a few of his more hilarious ‘quirky’ jokes….

"The regime . . . has aided, trained and harboured terrorists, including operatives of Al Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfil their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other."

Oh, George!!! Stop it!!!!

"Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. We also know that Iraq is harbouring a terrorist network, headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner."

PLEASE STOP!!! You’re killing me!!!!

Q) What’s the first sign of madness?

A) Suggs walking up your driveway……..

That really is enough.........

Misappropriation of Llamas spells disaster in Crewe and Nantwich

Loyalty is an admirable quality; but as we all know, loyalties can be tested, and God knows my own personal loyalty to Labour has been stretched to breaking point during he past eleven years.

Our campaign in Crewe and Nantwich, (note: I still use the word ‘our’ – I’ve not been able to sever all links just yet), has been nothing short of disgraceful. To sink to such lows not only brings further shame to Gordon Brown, it’s also a complete insult to the voters in the area.

When the government is prepared to insult voter’s intelligence in such a crass, pathetic and xenophobic manner, you really do begin to wonder just how far they are prepared to go between now and Thursday.

The shameful nature of Labours character assaination of Edward Timpson on grounds of class, money and privilege could be considered a good enough reason for Labour voters to transfer their support. This not only shows how desperate and out of touch the party have become, but also show their utter contempt for the voters and the political system in general.

Playing the race card during the campaign has not only been irresponsible, it is also abhorrent. It’s one thing to concentrate your campaign on class – it’s quite another to suggest that the Tories are against ID cards for foreign nationals; especially as it is common knowledge that they are against ID cards FULL STOP! This is scaremongering more fit for the pages of the Daily Mail, rather than from the government allegedly running the country.

Those responsible for the planning and running of the campaign are not fit to serve in public office in any shape or form, and should be thoroughly ashamed of their actions. If, as is expected we lose on Thursday, it would be refreshing to see Dunwoody apologise for the dirty and cheep way that the campaign has been handled.

As for the Tories, it’s been all too easy for Cameron to pour scorn upon the ‘class war’ tactics of Labour. Not only will this by-election effectively come down to a referendum on Gordon Brown; it’s also allowed the Tories yet again remain unchallenged with regards to matters of policy. So, once again, Cameron is allowed to continue Brown bashing; more language from the playground signifying absolutely nothing.

It will be interesting to see just how big any potential swing to the Tories will be. To hear long term Labour voters considering switching to Tory always saddens me – vote Lib Dem for Gods sake!!

Talking of the Lib Dems, it’s a great shame that so much of the media coverage has been so taken up by the continued brouhaha. I would have liked to see them be able to take advantage of Labours ineptitude and the Tories lack of credible ideas.

The result on Thursday could be very close; a Tory win could hasten the end of Brown, whilst a Labour hold would be a serious knock to Cameron’s progress in the North of England. If the unexpected does happen, and Labour actually wins, expect Toy voices across the country to chime out that they didn’t actually expect to win a safe Labour seat in the first place – no matter how unpopular the government actually are.

Oh, and as for those poor Llamas - Timpson doesn’t actually own any. Yet another Labour cock up….

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Death of New Labour

Another week goes by and it seems that we’re another week closer to Druggy Dave Cameron taking over as the Supreme Leader. Hang on a minute though. I can’t quite believe that I’ve just said that, let alone let the thought enter my embittered mind.

It’s a painful and sad fact to accept, but I can’t hide from the truth any longer. New Labour is finally dead, and we’ve two years to wait until the machine is switched off for good. Two long years until the most disadvantaged in society are put of their collective misery.

From various blogs and commentators this week I’ve read news about the Brown and Labour fight back. This has manifested itself in a serious of measures and proposals designed to woo back those who were furious about the 10p tax rate balls up. All well and good, and whilst it is only right that a Labour government should help those of us who are less well off, or on low wages – the majority of help following the new proposal will go to the middle income families.

Once again, a short term plan designed for short term gain – a cynical ploy prior to the Crewe and Nantwich by-election next week; and one which will not fool the voters.

The parties standing in the country is now so low, that I find it hard to see what, if anything could bring around a reversal in fortunes for the government, short of an economic miracle.

Brown will soon find himself in an impossible position; such is the disdain that large sections of the public have for him – an actual achievements are ignored because it’s very east to blame Brown for everything that goes wrong. A general malaise has set in due to the continued turmoil and ineptitude.

There are those who feel that the part has moved too far to the right, (myself included), in an attempt to capture the hearts and minds of middle England. I’m proud to be a socialist, and to see ones party become almost unrecognisable does not sit easy with me, or with the core support of the party throughout the country. This is the real problem that Brown faces – how on Earth can he win back this support, and convince those who rightly feel betrayed that he is still the man to run this country?

Would a change of leadership help at this point? No, this would be suicide, and would turn a probable election defeat in 2010 into a massacre. The process of removing Brown and electing a new leader is a longwinded and cumbersome process. Of course, the main point here is the question of who would actually put themselves forward? So, with this in mind it seems unlikely that the coup de grace will happen anytime soon. However, it is almost certain that Brown will be bloodied further by both the Crewe result and vote on 42 day detention, (although it seems, as reported in today’s Guardian, a climb down of some sorts now seems to be on the cards).

The Crewe and Nantwich result will really show just how decimated support for the government has become in what should be a safe Labour seat. The party’s behaviour during the campaign has been nothing short of shameful – and to see Charles Clarke defending their tactics on Newsnight only makes matters worse.

I’ve come to the regrettable conclusion that the best thing for the party would now be a spell in opposition – too many Labour MPs and ministers who entered parliament with the rise of Blair have no idea how to act during the hard times. The early success of New Labour has left us with a group of MPs who are so out of touch with the public that it’s completely pathetic.

A spell in opposition would give the party time to regroup and rediscover its heart and core values. As I mentioned – New Labour is dead, and we need to move forward and learn from the mistakes of the past eleven years. However, one should not assume that a Tory victory in 2010 will lead to years in the wilderness. The Tories can not, and should not be trusted. The party may like to come across as family friendly and promoting opportunity for all, however the truth might prove to be very different. In Cameron, they have a slick leader, who, to be frank has more front than Woolworths – talks the talk, but can he back it up with firm policies?

I doubt it. This is the party that opposed the introduction of the minimum wage, yet still claims to be on the side of the low paid.

As for myself, at the recent local elections, I voted Lib Dem. This is the second time in recent years that I have taken that decision. How I would vote in a general election remains to be seen. The recent behaviour of the government goes against the very core of my political beliefs. It has always seemed unthinkable to me that I could ever transfer my support to another party, however, this is the decision that many traditional Labour supporters now face.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Is this the best we can do!?

Story from today's Mirror. I know we need all the help we can muster in Crewe, but must we continue with the 'Tory Toff Timpson' angle? It's all a bit pathetic really.

Tory activists for by-election hopeful Edward Timpson have undermined his claims he is more than just a rich toff - by canvassing in a £50,000 Bentley.
Four campaigners for wealthy Crewe and Nantwich candidate Timpson were spotted on a council estate climbing out of the luxury motor carrying pamphlets and blue Conservative balloons.
One onlooker said: "So much for modesty and saving the environment with such a gas guzzler. The Tories must think we are really green to believe them."
Timpson, 34, a barrister whose family have earned millions from a shoe repair chain, has been accused by his Labour rival Tamsin Dunwoody of being "some rich kid who probably hasn't even visited Crewe station".

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Case for a Secular State

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the very start – I don’t care about what you personally believe in. I don’t care what religion you follow, or how strong your faith is.

To be honest, it doesn’t bother me if you were to worship a flying rhino, with eight pink legs that can speak French – although, actually, I might come along to see that.

What I do care about is the way that religion is taught to young people around the world and in the UK. Let’s go back in distant time to my childhood; I grew up in a fairly normal, working class family, where my Mother tried to raise me as a Christian. I was sent to the local Church of England school for the first seven years of education – a traditional religious upbringing where you don’t even question your faith or religion – you just accept it. Now, as I grew older, I did begin to question the facts about religion, and soon realised that it wasn’t for me at all – but at least I was left to make that choice of my own free will.

I strongly believe that it wrong for us to have state faith schools in this country – regardless of the religion involved... To my mind, any form of what I would class as religious indoctrination is wrong, and in some cases harmful. I think that it is perfectly possible to raise ones children in a responsible, kind and moral manner; without the need to force your religion upon them at an early age. Let them learn and then make their own minds up when the time is right for them.

I think we could have a more inclusive and fair society if we could manage to raise a generation of children not divided by religious dogma. I don’t think you can separate the rise of evangelical Christianity from the various other extreme forms of faith.

Last night Channel 4 aired a programme called Jesus Camp – it might have been a repeat as I seem to have missed it the first time around. Every so often, I’ll sit and watch something that will infuriate me so much that I’ll just unleash a stream of abuse at the television. My neighbours must, on occasion think that I’m out of my mind.

However, in this case I feel that my anger was justified! The programme featured the ‘Kids on Fire’ summer camp - where children, some as young as five or six, are preached to, taught to fear sin and how to serve the Lord. Now, far be it from me to comment on how other people raise their own children – but let’s be honest, anyone who puts their own children through an ordeal such as this isn’t fit to be a parent in the first place.

Jesus Camp left me dumbstruck. All of these children appear to come from loving families; however they all gave the impression of being brainwashed. I don’t know about you, but I find it slightly creepy to see a nine year old girl evangelising about God, and in the process sounding like a thirty year old. The methods used by the teachers at the camp were more then questionable - shouting at small children and telling the about the evils of sin is not the way to raise your kids.

It’s not right to tell children for example that homosexuality is evil and wrong, that they’ll go to hell unless they follow the word of the Bible to the letter, and most worryingly of all – that they should be prepared to lay down their lives for Jesus, should it be required.

I don’t think that politics and religion should ever mix in a modern society – the rules at Jesus Camp are different though. At one point a life size cut out of George Bush is placed in front of the children – they are then asked to pray for him and his government. Personally, I think they should be praying for the rest of us instead.

The good news is that the camp has now closed.

By all means teach children about religion in school; but teach about multiple faiths. Help them to understand the backgrounds of different faiths and cultures – in effect make it a part of school history lessons. Let them grow up happy without the burden of religion on their shoulders.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What a Clunker

In a break from my normal Sunday morning routine, I took the slightly unwise decision to haul myself from my drunken slumbers to monitor Gordon Browns vital signs during his interview on the Andrew Marr Show....

I have to say that on this basis the future doesn’t look good…

Now, I would hate for people to think that my private life is so grim that I spend the early morning hours thinking about Gordon. That being said, I was fascinated to how our not so supreme leader would come across following last weeks kick in the balls at the local elections. Would he, as I hoped, come out fighting, admit past mistakes, and actually give the public some hope and confidence that he actually intends to take his head out of the sand and do something about it. Or, as I expected, would we hear the same old tired platitudes that we’ve been hearing from embarrassed looking ministers since last Thursday?

I’m afraid to say it was the latter. Brown looked uncomfortable and embarrassed, and as usual tried to look for holes in the ‘slick salesman’ style of Druggy Dave and his Eton chums.

It would be obvious to even an inanimate object that Brown doesn’t possess the most outgoing and gregarious of personalities – he even admitted as much to Marr. The one thing that Brown should stop being concerned about is personality - I honestly think that the general public don’t give two figs about this. What we want and need is a PM who we trust; a real leader who can get his polices across to the country. Stop worrying about what the Tories are up to – we don’t want to see more cat fighting between you can Cameron; what we want to know is was you intend to do about the mess we’re in.

However, despite all that has happened, and against my better judgment, I still find myself rooting for Brown – the clunking underdog. Now, this may come down to the very large working class chip residing on my shoulder, but I could never contemplate showing support for Cameron; and I’m yet to be convinced by Nick Clegg.

Despite being taken apart by Marr, I still feel that the basic socialist principles of Brown are still in tact. I believe him when he tells people that he wants to live in a country of opportunity for all. When Brown tells us that he entered politics because he wants to rid the country of injustice and create a fair society – I still believe him. Brown needs to be stronger then ever, have courage in his convictions and win back the core Labour supporters who deserted the party last week.

The odds are against this happening, and in the very near future Brown needs to have set out a plan for not only the long term future of the country, but also policy idea to assist the people in the this country who find themselves suffering......

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Modernism: Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances (first posted 2007)

I read a brilliant blog recently by Dayo, a true music enthusiast. He has such a great musical knowledge that I admire, and I always try and follow up his on his selections.

In this particular blog, he talked about a music scene which came out of the disco and soul scene of the late 70s. As well as talking about the music, he also described the whole scene; the music, clothes, hair styles, magazines, TV shows etc the whole lifestyle.

Check out this blog and others here:

Dayos words got me thinking about Modernism; the movement that can trace its background in the UK back to the end of the Second World War.

When a lot of people think of modernism, or the "mods", there is every chance they automatically think of scooter riding lads in the 60s, fighting on beaches and listening to the Who.

They'd be wrong.

Modernism comes in many forms, but one aspect always rings true - its about moving forward; never looking back. Of course, the key themes are always the same: a love of fashion, music and working class style. It also continues to this day. It didn't end in the 1960's.

Each generation that comes along brings with it their own music and style; your average person on the street would never be aware that this was even happening until its become part of the mainstream.

By the time the public became aware of the mods in the early 1960s it was all over for the true modernists the whole point was to be different, exclusive and part of something new.

Bands such as the Who were never mods, they were marketed as such, but they were never really part of that scene and to their credit they never actually said that they were. Bands like the Action and the Small Faces were different - working class lads who loved American soul music and clothes.

The real mods however were never into bands like the Who: they listened to soul music - period.

The original mods had moved on by the time these bands appeared, they had no wish to be part of the media circus and marketing exploitation that followed. Another thing to remember is that these kids were getting older the mods were young by the time you reached twenty you would have probably been classed as over the hill.

So there we go some people think that mod died in the mid 1960s, but as I mentioned, it continues to this day in different guises always with the same principles.

The skinheads and suede heads of the late 1960s and early 1970s were mods. Instead of soul they were listening to ska and bluebeat and they adapted the fashions they were wearing.

Other movements sprung up during the 70s, the most famous being the Northern Soul followers. Again, black American soul being the music of choice, the clothing adapted for dancing all night.

Through disco and soul came the casuals - adding exclusive sportswear labels into the mix.

All these underground groups in their own way come from the mod tradition.

The first time I became aware of this would have been in the late1980s when acid house kicked off. For a while it seemed as if we were part of something secret and special; for a start this new music had appeared that seemed to be made just for young people like us. House music hadn't entered the mainstream at this point, it was still underground, the exclusive preserve of those in the know.

Like Dayo mentioned in his blog, we also had our own fashions, hairstyles, fanzines and magazines.

For a while it was fantastic, however, things change; an underground movement becomes part of the mainstream culture, and before we knew it house music was everywhere; becoming more commercial and pop orientated as time continued.

A lot of my friends jumped ship at this point, and some stuck with it through the horrible commercial records and super clubs of the 90s. Or, moved onto the grunge guitar bands like Nirvana.

The drum and bass and garage scenes carried this tradition on further toward the end of the century.

Me? Well, I moved onto hip hop, soul and jazz always looking for new things to listen to, always trying to discover new music wherever in the world it came from. Now, in 2006, I think that my musical tastes are probably the most eclectic that they've ever been and I hope that continues.

I dont know where the mods are today in society? I dont know where that next group of brilliantly dressed, stylish kids are going to come from; or what music they're going to be listening and dancing to?

I've always thought in recent years that the modernists of today were listening to more leftfield, electronic music and listening to DJs such as Gilles Peterson.

One thing is certain, they're not the people going to mod revival nights, dressed in their mohair suits and looking like extras from Blow Up.

A quote from the great Norman Jay sums things up perfectly:

"You never look backwards at that age. What for? This is what is happening now; you need the music to go with the lifestyle, to go with the attitude."

"Forwards. No looking back"

Post Election 'Blues'

For those of us on the left, it’s been a rather disheartening week to say the least. As with many other parts of the country, my local council has now turned a rather nasty shade of blue. As a result, I have now taken to my bed with a large bottle of something strong...

I could be there for quite a while.

Even though the local election results this week were not exactly unexpected, the sheer volume of the Tory swing has been nothing less than devastating to Labour; and coupled with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, it is going to be increasingly hard to see or imagine just how Gordon Brown can recover in time for the next general election.

In trying to come to terms with this huge shift in public opinion, it only makes matters worse to hear various Labour ministers being trotted out to remind us all that it was not only a ‘very bad night’ for Labour, and that in future they were going to ‘listen more’ to the public.

Time is fast running out for a government already in freefall, and yet they don’t seem to have grasped the basic problem – the fact that due to unpopular government policy and general ineptitude they are losing their core support in the country – those traditional Labour voters who feel so betrayed that they feel compelled to transfer their support. It could be argued that in some cases this was a mid-term protest vote, and that these voters will revert back to their normal voting patterns come the general election. However, it seems more likely that unless drastic action is taken, then these key votes will be lost for the foreseeable future.

There can be no doubt that there are people in this country today who feel betrayed, financially insecure and let down; and one shouldn’t under-estimate the ramifications of long-term Labour voters switching their votes to other parties.

Since 1997, the move by Labour to the centre ground and the attempts to woo Tory voters has left traditional Labour voters wondering where the hell their party has gone to. Regardless of Browns other blunders, the decision to play politics with Cameron and Osbourne, and a misguided attempt to attract floating Tory votes has been a amazing miscalculation; just how many low / middle income, working class voters are ever going to be in the position to worry about the inheritance tax threshold? You ignore your bread and butter support at your peril – the government has been foolish enough to do this, and as a result may well pay the ultimate price in two years time – a return to opposition.

Another, far more worrying result of the shift in support has been the growing support for the far right BNP. Just a few miles north of Worcestershire, (where I live), in Birmingham and the West Midlands, the BNP fielded candidates in many of the contested areas. Upon reading the areas election results, I was shocked and depressed to discover the amount of votes recorded on Thursday. Even though the amount of actual seats won was minimal, in may cases they managed to finish in the top three – more often then not at the expense of the
Lib Dems. This is a very worrying trend, and one that seems to be reverberating throughout various parts of the country. One only has to look the London Assembly elections, where Richard Barnbrook, an odious little fascist, now has a seat. He also managed to attract 69,710 votes in the Mayoral election.

So, where in the community are the BNP gaining this support? With all the will in the world, it would be a far cry to change the disgusting views of the BNP hard core support. What we need to address are those people, possibly supporters of the other three main parties who have perhaps voted BNP for the first time. This takes me back to an earlier point – these are the people who feel so disenfranchised with mainstream politics, that they felt the need to look toward the BNP. As so often seems to be the case at the moment, immigration is obviously key issue to these voters – and from here on in the government and other main parties need to be exlplicitly clear about policy going forward. The debate has for too long now been hijacked by the tabloid and right-wing media – ramped up stories being drip-fed to angry people who are only too ready to accept these stories.

There can be no doubt that the three main parties, both on a local and national level, must now work together to address this problem, by doing all they can to stem the tide of discontent, therefore brining these voters back from the brink. The situation is clear – if those of us in the majority fail to do all that we possibly can to fight the rise of the fascist right, (however slow it might seem); then they will continue their insidious rise in our local communities. Our main parties must now do all they can to counteract the policies and views put forward by the BNP, in the hope of reducing their support. This can only be achieved through honest and open debate, without the need for short-sighted groups and individuals to hard back to the gisgraceful words of Enoch Powell forty years ago.