Monday, 27 December 2010
This brings me on to my second point. Many of those witnessing the British media’s biased coverage of the protests responded by alleging that the majority were protesting peacefully but an aggressive minority just went out to cause violence and attack police officers. This is wrong on two counts. Firstly, almost all the cases of violence and rioting at these protests were caused by the tactics of the police officers; what started as a peaceful and even jovial protest ended with hatred being poured at coppers all around- and they were all around, because of kettling. Secondly, if everyone protested like these people seem to want them to (i.e. following all police orders, not causing much disruption and certainly not pulling up any political trees) what would that achieve? What did the ‘Not in My Name!’ protests, where no-one did more than chant and walk in line where they were told to by the authorities, accomplish? Nothing tangible whatsoever; British troops were still sent on illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New ‘Labour’ simply gave lip-service to the views of the majority and still completed the latest task ordered onto this country by America, providing more evidence for the UK being the 51st state. It is also interesting to note that the biased media coverage is a milder form of that which the people had to suffer during Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, where the British media actually edited footage of the police attacking miners who were protesting, and the miners retaliating, to make it look like it was the other way around. While there were no edited pieces of footage played to my knowledge at the 2010 protests, the newspaper reports falsely made it sound like a group of anarchist were simply going out to attack police officers, who responded in kind.
Kettling is an illegal tactic, officially called ‘containment’, and its supposed effect is to calm down the protesters, which is absurd in the extreme; would you calm down if you had riot police keeping you in a horrendously confined space for seven, eight or nine hours, not letting you eat, drink, move or go to the toilet? No, of course not; it would breed resentment and anger, which is exactly what happened. Even worse, this is exactly what the police want to happen, as it gives them an excuse to use the kind of tactics advocated by more simple minded people (and the delightful Miss Theresa May) to quash protests. In the long run, this allows them to create an atmosphere where people are afraid to protest against the government that is supposed to represent them- a totalitarian state. But we MUST not let that happen. I wouldn’t like to meet the person who remains apathetic, or even positive, towards the police after being made to wet themselves in the middle of a packed group of people in central London; believe me, that happened to some of the protesters, who’s reactions to this are fully justified, as they are being treated like animals- like scum- by yet another arm of the fascist British state, the police. Not only is direct action morally justifiable, it is also the most effective way to make changes. The horrific poll tax was beaten by fighting back against the police, smashing things, burning things and blowing things up. Women acquired the right to vote in a similar manner. Would those criticising the London protesters also have condemned the Suffragettes in a similar manner? Even more shockingly to some, tactics such as covering your face so you can’t be identified are not exclusively the actions of protesters against the establishment. In the 1980’s, where the police were really going out looking for a fight, they took the numbers off their uniform, meaning that they too were free of the risk of being identified. Whatever the police do in the future protests- in January and in March around the time of the upcoming general strike- we must not get put off, we must not give in. We must keep going back and fighting for our basic human rights; the moment that attendance at big protests goes down or these events get more placid, that is when the capitalist state and the police have won.
The reason the government and police can get away with such tactics is because they slip under the radar of the majority of the population and are taken for granted, or even deemed as a positive thing by people who don’t understand their full effects. Take one example aside from kettling and violent police tactics: protests have to follow a pre-assigned route, like some grisly parade, with police on either side, hemming everyone in. That’s normal, right? Of course not! The police are stopping people from entering many plots of public land; why is this viewed as normal, as acceptable? Certainly, it is the rights of population to use public property and go wherever they want to on public land, even within the capitalist system. Yet it has slipped into the consciousness of the British population that it is the police’s right to stop people from going somewhere, just because they feel like it. A similar thing can be said to New Labour’s law of detaining supposed ‘terrorist’ suspects without charge. But that’s OK, isn’t it? Terrorists are a threat to national security! But not only is the term ‘terrorist’ subjective, as one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but these aren’t proven terrorists, these are people the state has decided, for whatever reason, to brand with that label. Detaining them is as unlawful as holding all those innocent people in Guantanamo Bay. And we all know that the British government’s record at recognising terrorists isn’t the best- take the case of Jean Charles De Menezes, not to mention Harry Stanley, who was shot dead outside an East London Pub after police mistook a table leg he was carrying for a gun. And those are just the tip of the iceberg! I won’t go into this in more detail, as this article is about the student protests, but these are more examples of our basic civil liberties being retracted as this country lurches closer and closer to being a fully fledged police state.
Before Christmas, my friend Paul Saville was detained by police on trumped up charges of affray (in truth, all he did was stroke a police horse). He was denied two of the three meals he has a right to by law, the right to a solicitor and a phone call. The Guardian article about the incident can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/26/student-protester-stroked-police-horse This is an example of the police not allowing people their basic human rights. In Nazi Germany, the people had no rights, which was why it became a brutal totalitarian state. We are much nearer to that here than most people think, especially if Theresa May manages to bring water cannons, police dogs and rubber bullets to future protests like she wants to. What we can definitely be certain of is the notion that Britain is a ‘free’ country, hasn’t been accurate for years. To launch a successful revolution, the support of at least one of three groups is required: the police, the army or the overwhelming majority of the population. As the first two are looking increasingly unlikely (though not impossible) the need to educate people and bring them into the burgeoning movement becomes even more pronounced. This goes beyond student politics. This is about our basic human rights. One solution: revolution.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
However, this is not the worst occurrence since that fateful Friday night, when it was announced that Gordon Brown would be resigning from the post of Prime Minister. They have already shown themselves to be horrifically undemocratic, changing the law from the approval of 50% of MPs being required to trigger a general election, to 55%. Considering that 47% of MPs in the House of Commons are Conservatives, this means that, even if every single MP, from every other party, requested a General Election, this would only amount to 53%, not enough to result in an election. Forget the media’s hysteria about Brown’s supposed clinging on to power, within days of taking office, Cameron has already severely trumped it. William Hague might argue that this achieves ‘stability’, he might point to the 5% pay cut MPs have taken since Cameron took office, but the reality of the situation is that these actions are undemocratic and dictatorial. Add this to the fact that the new Equalities Minister, Theresa May, has an atrocious record on homosexual and transgender rights, and it is fair to suggest that, as in the Johnson Mayoralty of London, this Conservative administration has already made quite a controversial and unwanted splash, less than a week after taking office.
The aforementioned ‘selling out’ of the Liberal Democrats is illustrated perfectly by one particularly agreement they have made with the Conservatives. Traditionally a party against nuclear power and Britain’s nuclear ‘deterrent’ (a contradiction in terms in my opinion), the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, has agreed that nuclear power plants will still be built, so long as public money is not spent in doing it. Not only does this lessen the role of the state in controlling what goes on in this country, allowing private investors (i.e. the rich) a free rein to do what they like, but it also doesn’t address the primary issue. Whether or not it is public money that is used to build the nuclear plants, the fact remains that they will still be being built, something the Lib Dems are supposedly against. Why exactly have they got themselves into this alliance with the Tories, when the Tories are one of the parties it is hardest to equate Lib Dem policies and values with? The protests outside Lib Dem Headquarters illustrated just to what extent the party’s core support (in which I do not count myself) is against the current state of affairs. I would suggest that this is positive, because, the sooner this coalition falls apart, the sooner there will be another general election. Personally, I think that, when that day comes, Labour will win the most seats, but probably not an overall majority; they will then form a much more comfortable coalition with the Liberals, hopefully leading the Tories to another extended spell in the wilderness.
Firstly, it’s hysterical that, in the ‘If you’re in England, speak English’ groups, the entire population appears to have a ridiculously poor grasp of the language.
“Cumon Dont You Just Hate It Wen foreigners Come To England And Speak Their Own Language!”
Ignoring the awful grammar and the random tendency to Capitalise The First Letter Of Every Word, which meant that it probably took whatever degenerate wrote this about three hours to manage it, this is a recurring theme in groups like this. Personally, I feel such ‘logic’ is deeply flawed. I agree that anyone who goes to live in a particular country should, in an effort to blend in with the locals, learn to speak the language, but I wouldn’t extend that to attempting to stop these people from speaking another language, even in public. The supposed reasons for this leave me in hysterical laughter; usually the reason given is because they might be plotting something. Well, so might someone speaking in code, but we don’t harass everyone on public transport who we don’t fully understand the words of!
THIS is an actual quote: “I'm sick of foreigners talking then laughing, like they're laughing at you and you have know idea what they said”
“remember that we are english by the grace of god,”
No, officially, we are not English at all, there isn’t even a country called England. We are not British by the grace of God either; we are British because we happened, by nothing more than blind chance, to be born here. Or, of course, because we moved here and got a passport. But don’t tell that to the population of those groups, they won’t like it!
“Our current government is more willing to put every other country before that of the English.”
Is this person seriously suggesting that the government elected to look after the interests of this country in particular (a concept that I, incidentally, I am against at any rate) actually looks SPECIFICALLY AFTER THE INTERESTS OF EVERY OTHER COUNTRY INSTEAD? The entire concept is laughable. The reality of the situation is that, instead of just saying ‘f*** everyone else-only the British matter’, this government is, to a small extent, recognising that everyone matters and, in a situation relating to immigration, both sides must make compromises and respect the other.
“Our own skilled unemployed struggle for employment whilst company’s employ foreign labour to replace them.”
Really? Most of the people in these groups cannot even manage to tie their own shoelaces, let alone do something that could cause them to be branded ‘skilled’. Likewise, throwing around the word ‘great’ all the time actually shows their insecurity. I do not feel worthless when I recognise that the place I have been born is no more or less great than any other; the population of this country has, in the past, done positive and negative things for the wider world.
“As Britons, we have our own culture”
Actually, we don’t have one culture; we have many here in Britain. I do not have the same culture as the next person who was born here, and so on and so on… So, the notion that immigrants bring a culture that is foreign and dangerous to ‘our own’ is completely incorrect, because there are many currently present in the first place, so what is the problem with adding a few more?
“If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.”
This quote probably requires one of the shortest responses. It is simply untrue. Aside from the fact that, as I have already illustrated, there is no ‘our culture’, 45% of people in this country officially do not believe in God. We are one of the most atheist (but not yet secular) countries in the world. Any other completely rubbish statements these people see fit to make?
“We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change,”
I was laughing pretty hard when I looked at all these and I hope they gave you a chuckle too. The overriding message to take from this is, before you start bitching about how people do not speak English, learn to speak English yourself. Before you complain that immigrants are ‘taking our jobs’, acquire some skills that make you more qualified to do those jobs than the immigrants. Because, if these people who are more qualified than you are as dreadful as you say they are, what does that make you?
Saturday, 20 February 2010
It may be a statement that is unpopular, even shocking. The very thought of voting for the current, neo-liberal Labour Party feels as uninviting to some as voting for the neo-liberal Conservatives currently in opposition. These natural and understandable inclinations are especially strong among the Labour Party's areas of core support, namely
1: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson. The Mayor of
2: Nicholas Winterton
Over recent years, the Conservatives have tried to shed their ‘Nasty Party’ image. Of course, this is merely an attempted illusion, a whitewash over the real nature of the party: one that cares only about perpetuating and defending the class system, trying to allow those who can afford it to prosper and simply leave those who can’t, through no fault of their own, out in the cold to suffer. They claim to be against big government because it interferes in people’s lives, when they would be better off left alone. But once again this proves they only care about the middle and upper classes, those wealthy enough to look after themselves without state support. For the working class majority, this state ‘interference’ is actually a powerful tool to help them survive, and it is very welcome. A prime example of the fact that the Tories will never ever shed this image, no matter how hard they try is of Nicholas Winterton (no I don’t care that he’s been knighted), MP for Macclesfield. He is one of the Members of Parliament who are stepping down in disgrace at the next election, following the Expenses Scandal. Recently, he was quoted as saying that he was angry that MPs weren’t automatically allowed to travel first class on trains. Attempting to justify this, he said that MPs were simply a “different type of person” than those who travel in Standard Class. A vote for the Tories at the next general election is a vote for this kind of snobbery, which tries to separate people because of their social class, not something they have earned, thus widening the gap between rich and poor.
3: Recent Tory comments on Education:
It is well known that the more right-wing parties favour privatisation over nationalisation, valuing supposed monetary prudence over the actual quality of the service provided. The privatisation of hospital cleaning services started by the Conservatives (and, admittedly, continued by this ‘Labour’ government) has given rise to the current MRSA superbug, not to mention hospitals actually becoming extremely dangerous places to visit for the healthy, let alone for the gravely ill. So it won’t come as too much of a surprise to you that the Conservatives want to bring the unwelcome influence of private, profit-making companies into the field of education as well. Yes, you heard correctly, the Tories want to turn schools into profit making companies, once again attempting to make money, this time at the expense of the future of this nation and of the world. Likewise, it wasn’t a huge shock that Chris Woodhead, controversial former head of the National Curriculum Council has backed the idea, even going as far as stating that these schools should be free of the government and the national curriculum altogether- basically they should copy independent schools. As is typical of the Tories, they are favouring an environment where people are forced to fend for themselves, even when they are clearly incapable of doing so, over one where the state helps in any way- they see that as ‘big government’. To judge whether such plans for schools are wise ones, the most suitable people to ask are those involved in the sector- teachers. It is important to note that, as stated in a recent survey for Ipsos MORI, 25% of teachers would still vote Labour, a majority of 7% over the Conservatives. It is vital that we realise that they know best about the educational future of our children, and that we follow them on this decision. If we let the Tories into power, they will destroy our education system, just as they did our hospitals and our manufacturing industry.
4: Margaret Thatcher
Seeing as we just talked about destroying parts of the country, this makes for a very neat transition into my final reason why even socialists who are disillusioned with Labour should vote them in, in May, to keep out a potential Conservative government. That reason is simple: Margaret Thatcher. It is quite amusing to note that Thatcher, in a public survey about past British Prime Ministers, received the most first preference votes- that is, the most people thought she was the greatest ever Prime Minister (there are obviously a lot of people out there who don’t think about anyone other than themselves). It is also interesting to note that she received the second most LAST preference votes, behind only Gordon Brown- which, in itself, I find rather disappointing and unfair. The most pressing reason why we should all work as hard as we can to keep the Conservatives out is the simplest. The last thing we want is to go back to the dark days of the 1980s, with the poll tax, the tearing apart of communities and strikes galore caused by a government that simply didn’t care about anyone other than the aristocratic elite. Lets just say that the Labour posters that contain a mixture of Cameron’s face and Thatcher’s are very accurate.
I’m urging all Socialists out there to, just this once, put the fact that the Labour party hasn’t been in touch with its roots for at least 60 years behind you. It is vital to vote pragmatically and tactically to prevent further damage to this country and keep Cameron’s Tories from getting into power. New Labour may not be an actual Labour party, but it is far better than what we could suffer if we make the wrong choice in May.
Sunday, 31 January 2010
This page was inspired by the following video on YouTube (part of the 'F*** Fox News' series). Take a look and subscribe to 'C0ct0pusPrime'- he's rather good and isn't afraid to say what anyone who reads this page is thinking.
The video features Fox News' Glenn Beck's patronising, dim-witted and condescending views on attempts to take prayer out of American schools. The first of many major mistakes he makes in this attempt to, once again, slur atheism is that he alleges that to remove God from the American Constitution and the state school system is enforcing atheism on the population. This is utter nonsense. Anyone living in a country with a constitution (or a variation forthwith) is forced to state that they believe in God. For people who actually believe in God, this is fine, as it is reflecting their beliefs anyway. However, for those agnostics or atheists in somewhere like America, they are forced into, on the surface at least, believing in God. This is an example of religion being enforced on the people.
This, of course, is wrong, as the hypocrites at Fox News apparently fail to realise, as it enforces religion on the population, not allowing those who would not believe in supernatural beings to hold their own beliefs. However, what these so-called 'journalists' suggest is that to take 'under God' (or a related phrase) out of the constitution would be forcing atheism on the people. This, again, is completely untrue, as, in a country which doesn't mention religion in its constitution, state or laws, people who are religious are still allowed to believe in God and worship freely. Likewise, people who don't believe in such things are also not penalsied for their beliefs. Taking talk of 'God' out of constitutions doesn't force anyone who would believe in God not to, it simply ensures that those who don't believe in God don't have their views and beliefs forcibly changed. It is rather hypocritical of Fox News, after all their comments about 'free speech', to support a system that doesn't allow atheists to be atheists.
If the American constitution (or that of any other country) was altered to say something along the lines of 'God doesnt exist', then THAT would be enforcing atheism on the people, and that, of course, is wrong. However, that is the opposite equivalent of what most countries' systems do now, so maybe those religious crackpots, fascists and zealots over in the grand old US of A deserve their comeuppance, even if it is only temporary- then we can concentrate on getting a system in place that doesn't enforce any values or beliefs on anyone.
This isn't a phenominan limited to America, though, for the Christian world at least (though I hate that term for obvious reasons, as no countries should have any religion assigned to them, as this enforces it on the populus) America is the worst offender. It is the same problem visible in Britain's schools, and one that has recently come to a head in places like France- having religion as part of the state enforces it upon even those impressionable children who wouldn't otherwise believe in God, and forcibly changes their viewpoint. Surely anything that warps the minds and views of people at such an impressionable age must be evil, whether it is meant with good intentions or not. Enforcing atheism on children would be exactly the same. If religion and God is removed from the school system, it doesn't enforce atheism on a single person, and it allows those who will believe in God to do so freely, with those who don't also allowed to believe what they believe. Parents can also enforce their views on children- and frequently do- but that would be something much harder to stop.
People may say that we can't know that God exists, but, in any other walk of life, when there is no evidence for something (and the Bible, with all its moral stories, is not evidence for the existence of God any more than the Harry Potter books are evidence for the existence of wizards) we assume it doesn't exist, so why should that be any different for religion. We don't KNOW FOR SURE that Santa doesn't exist- he may just be lurking around the corner- and we don't KNOW FOR SURE that there isn't one black swan among all the white ones that has simply stayed away from all humans, but we consider ourselves to know they don't exist because there is no evidence for them. This, of course, is a philosophical viewpoint, and is where people who say that there is no evidence against God completely fall flat- there is no evidence against ANYTHING apart from mathematical impossibilities. In the rest of life, we take a lack of evidence for something's existence to be evidence against, so why should religion be any different?
Last of all, the prize-moron Beck even suggests, in the above video, that atheists "worship brooms". Is this the reliable source you want delivering your news and current affairs?
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: One of the major replies I got about this message was about C0ct0pus himself; yes, he swears a lot, but he does choose worthy targets, and he does make very good points!
After years and years of grossly misinformed people claiming that immigrants (usually written as 'immigrunts' as they can't spell...) "taking their jobs" or "being in their country", one of the myths surrounding this has been well and truly dispelled by a study carried out by the Independent. Aside from the obvious questions of why this has taken so long- in which time such ridiculous beliefs and opinions have become well and truly entrenched- this is a fantastic development for all concerned, especially the innocent victims of such ignorance.So often I have heard people saying that (white) English people have been randomly turfed out of their own houses with very little notice, in order to make way for families of immigrants who have about eight children. I have always known that almost all of these claims would turn out to be completely untrue, as there would be scant logic in it were it to actually happen, and therefore there is no reason for it to happen.
Finally, such uneducated opinions have been dispelled by a study by the Independent. The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that, of all the people searching for, and living in, housing afforded to them by the government, only 1.8% had moved to the UK in the previous five years. That means that over 98% had lived here for over five years. On top of this, 87.8% were UK born, presumably with most of them as British citizens. So the myth that immigrants get fast-tracked onto the housing and benefit systems seems even more ridiculous than it already did.
The most stupid assertion about immigrants? (I'm not making this up)... I have actually heard someone allege that they get given a house straight away, a job, food vouchers, a mobile phone and a leather jacket... WHAT???
As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing to say that Britain is only for the British, even before the above statistics were released). As anyone who knows me will realise, I am the least patriotic person in existence. We are all people. We all matter the same. We weren't put by a deity in a special place already earmarked England, because we were 'meant' to live there... this place is called England because the people living there (over time) decided to call it so. And those people are called English BECAUSE they live in England. It sounds extremely simple, but you would be surprised how many people don't even recognise that simple fact. Hopefully, most of you reading this blog won't need this additional help, but you can never be too careful... Basically my point is that we all have the right to live anywhere in the world... these aren't 'our' jobs or 'our' houses, or even 'our' country.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Originally, in reply to this article, one of the replies I got was from a very stupid BNP voter (what a surprise!), who didn't reply to any of my points, and simply abused me, saying I should move to Basra, despite the fact that I didn't talk about wanting to move abroad in my article, let alone there! Hopefully that doesn't reflect on the intelligence of my readership!
We've all heard it said... "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain when those in power do something you dont like" and "If you don't vote, you don't have a voice in how this country is run". But is this always the case? Is it even the case at all? Is it possible for a member of the public's choice not to vote to be their damning judgement on a system that has not only become counterproductive to its original intentions, but become a choice between parties which often espouse surprisingly similar values, often contrary to what each traditionally advocated.
Picture the scene. It is a scene being witnessed by many today- June the 4th, polling day for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)- you step up to your ballot paper and read the list of candidates. You'll see the Conservative nominations- a party vying with UKIP for the far right vote, which shows how far to the right Cameron's party has drifted, Labour and the Lib Dems drifting aimlessly into the centrist/centre-right slot that the Conservatives can still sometimes appeal to, the BNP, English Democrats, and Libertas filling a crowded far right, and Scargills Socialist Labour Party, The Socialist Party of Great Britain and No2Eu representing the far left, on top of countless independents and small parties. This is a mark of how much the three 'major' parties have drifted away from their core support, especially Labour. This has left a massive vacuum in the centre left, a spot Labour used to fill, but that New Labour began to dismantle from 1997 wth privatisation and alienation of core support.
So you are looking down your ballot paper and there is no candidates which properly reflect your own values. What best to do? To vote for the least of all the evils? Or to make a statement against all the candidates by defacing your ballot paper or not voting. Some may say that makes a mockery of the system. But is a system which encourages people to vote for someone simply because they disagree with them the least worth keeping and protecting? If there is noone you agree with, there is noone you should vote for, which is why, back in Tony Blair's Premiership, it was so important that John Prescott's plans to make voting compulsory were rebuffed- which of course they were.
These weren't the only of Prescott's plans that, had they gone through, would have made a mockery of Labour's traditional values and this party's claim to represent the working classes and underprivalaged in society. Under Tony Blair, Prescott also drew up schemes to outlaw striking, which would have been the final step of New Labour alienating the Unions. A positive can come out of Labour's expected hefty defeat at these European and local elections- it may force the Labour Party to take up a more traditional position on the centre-left of the political spectrum, thus appealing more to its core support and preventing Cameron's Conservatives from getting a sustained spell in charge of the country- something that would be a disaster from the entire world.
A poor voter turnout may not be a bad thing at forthcoming elections. It could represent people's distrust and dissatisfaction with the current system, forcing politicans to change. Here's hoping...
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: One of the most prominant features of the replies I got to this was a misinterpretation, based on an idea the article accidentally conveyed. It is true that a much better idea, and therefore what I am advocating, is spoiling the ballot paper, not simply not turning up to vote. If a large majority of the population fail to even submit a ballot, that makes it look like they are apathetic to who is in charge. If, however, you are, as many of us are, unhappy at all the choices given to us, perceiving them as being so similar to each other that it is barely worth choosing between them, then the best course of action is to submit a spoiled ballot paper. This avoids giving the false impression that the electorate is apathetic to politics, and conveys the true image that they feel none of the candidates truly represents them.