Wednesday, 30 October 2013

an international anthem for those who love their country

The civilised world has defeated communism in all but name – the Chinese government’s attempts to disguise the fact that communism is unworkable are increasingly lame, and nobody now seriously doubts that the regime in North Korea revolves around a strange god-emperor cult. (But doesn’t that also describe the worship of Lenin, Stalin and Mao?)

So it’s time that The Red Flag was taken by people who love their country, however they might describe themselves, as a reminder of the victory and a solace for the struggles to come. The following verses are sung the the tune of The Red Flag.

Replace "My country’s" with your own country, or keep the original on occasions where more than one flag is flying. There’s only one verse and chorus – who knows more than this in the original?

My country’s flag is flying here
And in my heart I’ll shed a tear
For those who in her colours fell
Their tales forever we will tell.

While with our minds and on the streets
There’s no surrender to defeat,
Let cowards flinch and traitors jeer
My country’s flag’s still flying here.

Gerry Dorrian

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Democracy as such cannot confer any benefits upon the citizen and it should not be expected to do so. In fact democracy can do nothing – only the citizens of the democracy can act (including, of course, those citizens who comprise the government). Democracy provides no more than a framework within which the citizens may act in a more or less organised and coherent way.

This may seem a strange thing for the person who wrote The Open Society and its Enemies during World War II to say. However, in that work, Popper presages Winston Churchill’s bon mot that "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried".

Churchill was speaking after the electorate gave him "the order of the boot" in 1945 and might be forgiven for a dash of rancour, but he identified a key element of democracy: all its stakeholders must be prepared to accept outcomes they disagree with.

An occasional plebiscite is no panacea for our problems. For example, immigration still besets the UK despite a party traditionally tough on immigration leading the Coalition. In fact nearly all politicians fail to act as citizens of a democratic nation, regardless of whether they agree with what the bulk of the people demand.

Those individuals and groups who have exercised their right and their duty to "act in a more or less organised and coherent way" concerning immigration and national identity have been damned by the unelected Establishment, which tolerates only views it agrees with, as fascist and racist (add any derogatory "ism" of your choice). Elected politicians of all political hues, with depressingly few honourable exceptions, collude with and even contribute to the smearing.

Is this merely democracy delivering results we disagree with? Well, with most of our rules coming from Brussels and merely being ratified (as opposed to voted upon) by the European Parliament before incorporation into our law, there’s minimal democracy happening. If we can expect no benefits to arise from the mere fact that our government is democratically elected, what can we expect in democracy’s absence save more of what has always accompanied contempt for common folk, witness the Peasants’ Revolt, the English Civil War and the Regency Riots?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary

Monday, 28 October 2013

Quitting the English Defence League: when Tommy met Mo

click to watch on I-player

Quitting the English Defence League: when Tommy met Mo is a documentary about Tommy Robinson’s move into Quilliam, the anti-extremism group.

Since it was a BBC documentary I had low hopes for imparitality, so was dumbfounded to see Tommy his views freely throughout.

The journey – the term speaks volumes about I’m a Celebrity’s impact on broadcasting – started in the company of Mo Ansar, who once agitated for the EDL to be banned. Ansar’s diversionary tactics on explosive Koran texts, such as cutting off the hands of thieves, being shot down by two eminent Koran scholars was amazing TV.

Maajid Nawaz: click to learn more
One of these scholars is Maajid Nawaz (right) of Quilliam who, like Tommy, receives multiple death threats. He and his companion supported Tommy against Ansar in that the phrase "all your right hands possess" from the Koran refers to concubinage, including sex slaves.

Through Nawaz, Robinson spoke to a group of Muslim women who proved as heterodox as any group from any religion. While Ansar was the first in the documentary to speak of “reformed Muslims”, but it was the Koran scholars who gave the notion legs by identifying the disconnect between scriptures over a thousand years old and a pluralist, liberal society where everybody has rights, including people like homosexuals who are executed in Iran.

As Tommy identified, we need to ensure that moderate Muslims, who are indicted as apostates by jihadis who can justify their judgement from the Koran and Sharia, are heard. So, I wonder, after future jihadi outrages, will the BBC and other channels continue to give extremists like Anjem Choudary a voice in the name of impartiality? Or will it eschew extremists and air the views of ordinary Muslims as oppressed by jihad as us? It seems Tommy’s not the only one at a crossroads.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Quitting the English Defence League: when Tommy met Mo - bbc I-player until 4 November 2013


"The Government should ban the EDL - HM Government e-petition, created by Mohammed Ansar (closed with 6,448 signatures)

BBC, ITV and Channel 4 face Ofcom probe over decision to interview hate preacher Anjem Choudary after Lee Rigby's murder - Daily Mail

Surat An-Nisā' Sura 4 of the Koran (Surat An-Nisā or The Wonen), mentions "all your right hands possess" severalk times.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Crime of Father Amaro

Eça de Queirós: red more at Britannica

The Crime of Father Amaro, by José Maria de Eça de Queiroz (right), was translated magisterially by Margaret Jull Costa from the 1880 edition, released at the end of a complicated publication history.

The tale of a priest seducing a woman was highly controversial in Catholic Portugal, but unfortunately sounds pedestrian today.

Eça de Queiroz presents no glib jibes or caricatures. The titular priest was himself presumed by relatives to be seminary fodder and only realised once there that he had sleepwalked into a profession which precluded marriage. He typifies, in Eça de Queiroz’ words, "the man eternally excluded from feminine dreams, the neutral, melancholy creature who prowls the shores of sentiment like a suspicious intruder" and in his innocence can’t believe his luck when he and the prettiest girl in the village – Amélia, herself kept naïve by institutions that allow no middle ground between virgin and whore – develop a neotenous adolescent crush.

The emotional coin of adolescence has limited currency in adult bodies, but Eça de Queiroz treats Amaro’s struggles with compassion and insight.

Up to a point.

The point is where Amélia’s fiancée drunkenly assaults Amaro, having divined his intentions towards her. His punch is ineffective, but the priest colludes with the community in painting João as a heretical thug and driving him out. Just as Aeneas is no longer heroic after ignoring the gods with his naturalistic marriage to Dido, so Amaro’s heretofore juvenile blunderings no longer power a comedic tale with a tragic core. The polarity gradually changes until it seems tragedy must suffocate comedy in its inexorable momentum towards a horrific outcome.

The turbulent political backdrop was but a prologue to the next bloodsoaked century; but for me the operative part of Amaro was the emotionally and morally stunting effects of compulsory priestly celibacy, which continues to produce tragedies from the same template.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Thursday, 24 October 2013

human trafficking: 3 cases showing why patriots oppose open-door immigration

Not long before the 2010 general election, I attended a meeting for domestic violence liaison workers in East Anglia at which a straw poll was taken on whether the Oakington Immigration Detention Centre should be shut, as was being advocated by Cambridge’s MP, Julian Huppert.

Every single liaison worker there, the general mood being vaguely left-of-centre, said they wanted the camp to remain open, because otherwise vulnerable people – mostly women and children – would be exploited and possibly abused; ie trafficked.

As recent child grooming trials show, victims of this vile trade are often trafficked internally; but many are also brought in and their abusers are enabled by Britain’s immigration laws.

Three cases in particular serve to illustrate this: I chose them because they are the most recent three I became aware of.

People who stand for unchecked immigration label their opponents as swivel-eyed racists and far-right activists, but the most cursory look over just these three examples given above shows that a major part of the reason we oppose open-door immigration is that the door is open also to traffickers. Stop the traffic: guard the door.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Deaf girl tells court of "decade of rape and beatings" - The Telegraph

Somalia: girl trafficked into UK for organs harvesting - Somaliland Sun

Sex worker who helped jail gang behind brothels to be deported - Human Trafficking Foundation

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

(2)The difference between a democracy and a tyranny is that under a democracy the government can be got rid of without bloodshed; under a tyranny it cannot.

This second of Karl Popper’s liberal principles – liberal in the traditional philosophical sense, not the modern socialist outpost sense – may strike a chord in relation to happenings in the US where concerns about enormous government purchases of ammunition are fuelling concerns in some quarters about the Obama government’s dedication to the democratic process.

The principle is a step forward from the view that a democratically elected government is ipso facto democratic. Allied observers, for example, might have deduced earlier that Hitler, elected in 1933, had no intention of going for re-election. Once he arrived at that view his government was no longer democratic; it might not have been democratic on the night of his win.

Wisdom concerning Hitler tends to be garnered through hindsight. The majority of Egyptian voters, on the other hand, appear to have perceived very quickly that Mohammed Morsi’s regime had an agenda to close down the country’s incipient majority in the name of jihad, and removed the elected tyranny by force.

Coming closer to home, we come to a question that may in future years become a smoking gun when assessing British politicians’ dedication to democracy. Was Tony Blair aware of the extent of voting fraud when campaigning for what became his 2005 victory? It was postal votes being fiddled, and in terms of raw numbers there were six times more postal votes than the size of Labour’s victory: but a case, of course, remains to be proven. But if Blair knew, Labour’s 2005-2010 government was a dictatorship.

And according to Popper’s second principle, if there was no way of removing the 2001-2005 government peacefully, it was a tyranny.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary


Why Does Obama need 1.6 billion bullets? Alex Jones' Info-Wars

Did Labour win the 2005 general election? 300 words

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

"I am Malala"

click for reviews of 'I am Malala'

The book’s full title says it all – I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.

Malala describes a childhood in Mingora in the Swat valley – once known as Pakistan’s Switzerland for its ski resorts – that was idyllic despite its poverty. The human story of her upbringing is a universal one – she comments that although her family were poor, her mother’s door was always open; I remember my mother saying the same thing about her own upbringing. The story of mothers selling their traditional gold wedding bangles reminded me of my grandfather and his peers selling their WWI medals to feed their families.

Then the Taliban came, dispensing jihad through its main delivery system, sharia law, itself dispensed through the barrel of a gun. She describes the suffocating nature of the burka, a garment which is alien to Pashtun culture.

Her shooting and subsequent hospitalisations in Islamabad and Birmingham are well-known and, at 16, her determination to see that girls have the right to education worldwide shows she has more fire in the belly than generations of coddled British feminists. Their silence in the face of Muslim girls being subjected to FGM and being removed from education, in Britain, condemns them. Malala, nowever, is a living sign that jihad and sharia by no means constitute the natural habitat of Muslims, and I wish her well.

As soon as I finished the book my wife snatched it and my daughters have dibs: it’s a book that demands to be read, and I predict that demand will be satisfied. How about putting it on the National Curriculum?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Click to go to Malala Fund, for education for girls worldwide

click for reviews of I am Malala

The mystery of the missing Muslim girls - Fran Abrams, The Independent

British girls undergo horror of genital mutilation despite tough laws - Tracy McVeigh and Tara Sutton, The Guardian Malala Yousafzai's desire to learn shames our schools - Allison Pearson, The Telegraph

Friday, 11 October 2013

Citizen Khan series 2

click for Citizen Khan homepage

It’s not clear whether Adil Ray, creator of Citizen Khan, intended the multitalented Bhavna Limbachia to be the star of the show in her role as daughter Alia, but that series two kicks off with a story centred on Alia shows he knows it now. The result was a comedic tour de force as Mr Khan leaves aside his naked ambition to become Sparkhill Muslim community’s most renowned leader and finds himself unintentionally integrating to get his supposedly observant daughter into a Catholic school. In a scene that I think will make TV history we see Alia convert a hijab into something not unlike a nun's wimple, perhaps making the point that the first garment is not a million miles away from the second.

Alia is, of course, a modern girl enjoying a modern life while letting her father believe she is a devout Muslim. I would identify the relationship between Alia and her father as the conjunctio oppositorum holding the show’s many hilarious expeditions together as two worlds are only just kept from colliding. In the second episode, however, Ray recontextualises this by having his mother-in-law bond with a British man who turns out to be gay.

Hilarity ensues; but the many popular comedies have an edge to them as well, witness Love Thy Neighbour and Till Death do us Part. Citizen Khan’s edge is the peripheral, mute chorus of neighbours who are unhappy, for example, that Alia comes back at all hours.

Ray airs the fears of Westerners of all backgrounds in comic, therefore safer, form, eg "we Pakistanis don’t have bridesmaids; in our culture, your bride becomes your maid". Will he let the chorus step out of the wings and put the views that shock us all in their mouths? Time will tell.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click to watch Citizen Khan S2E1: Alia's college - BBC i-player

Click to watch Citizen Khan S2E2: Naani's Day Out - BBC i-player

Thursday, 10 October 2013

God bless the EDL

The news of Tommy Robinson’s leaving the English Defence League has provoked a deluge of reactions, occupying all points between praise and outrage. And maybe the sheer amount of coverage is something we should look at as well as the direction of Tommy’s journey.

However the EDL emerges from this episode, I’m sure it will carry on, because patriots have arisen, made themselves known to each other up and down the country and beyond, and emerged energised. It has built up a head of steam that cannot simply dissipate.

Things previously unbelievable before 2009 have happened, such as:

  • Victims of child-grooming gangs are no longer being labelled as promiscuous or borderline racists on the grounds of their rapists’ and traffickers’ identities.
  • Politicians are not being seen as racists (except by the usual culprits) for concentrating on immigration.
  • Blue-collar concerns over national identity are being aired much more by the media, even by the BBC.

This has all happened because EDL members have taken all of these and more literally into the public square and have not let politicians forget the inconvenient truth that each one of us has a vote.

But the complex nature of public opinion and debate has also come to the fore, and the full veil is a case in point. Whereas opposition to this identity-smothering garment was initially sidelined as a fringe issue, because of patriots preventing it from dropping from debate the loudest voices now protesting against the full veil are Muslim women. And now the subject is out, bodies such as UKIP – which opposed the full veil under all circumstances – are engaging with its adherents and saying they’ll tolerate it in limited circumstances.

And all because the EDL have not surrendered to bullies, bottles and bricks any more than to far right infiltration – and undoubtedly will continue thus. God bless them.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Monday, 7 October 2013

Al Stewart, Dave Nachmanoff and Tim Renwick at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge

In the early 1980s, aged 17, I went to live in Italy with my head full of vacuum-packed pop. Very soon I met a friend who played me Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat album, which knocked the other music I was listening to into a paper bag. Stewart’s work introduced me to a new world of music that was all around but not necessarily making the Top Ten, and I’ve bought his back catalogue and followed his career since.

So when I saw the ad for Al Stewart playing the Cambridge Corn Exchange with Dave Nachmanoff, missing it was not an option for me or for my wife, who’s heard me raving about Al for many years and become a fan herself.

Dave Nachmanoff opened both sets: he didn’t so much play his guitar as sing to the accompaniment of a six-string orchestra, so I knew this was going to be a good night. One of his songs really spoke to both of us: how he had come to sing Freight Train onstage with its composer, the remarkable Elizabeth Cotten. I love songs that tell stories.

And that’s why I adore Al Stewart’s corpus of narrative songs, many of whose stories are historical. Flying Sorcery, for instance, is a meditation on the history of flight, while Palace of Versailles compares the 1789 revolution with the 1968 riots.

An unexpected guest was Tim Renwick, serial session player, Stewart collaborator and Cambridge resident. Although it was the first time he and Nachmanoff had been onstage together, the two swapped acoustic lead parts as if they’d been born playing together. Then came the curtain-closer: what else could it be? Year of the Cat!

This was the first date of Al’s 2013-14 tour. If you’re able to catch him at any of the other dates, I thoroughly recommend that you do.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click for more details of Al Stewart's tour

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Tom Clancy RIP

Tom Clancy: click to learn more
Much of the comment upon Tom Clancy’s sad death seems to centre around, as the Telegraph puts it, his "gung-ho techno-military thrillers".

However, my own favourite among his thrillers was The Sum of All Fears, which tells the very human story of his serial hero, Jack Ryan, slipping into depression and alcohol addiction as his dream of a lasting peace in the Middle East is sabotaged by extemist Palestinian elements. (That the villains in the film were neo-Nazis shows the extent to which Hollywood, once having slavered at Hitler’s door, now protects his successors.) Clancy is often criticised for his "two-dimensional" characters and seems to hit back in this book with the character of Marvin Russell, a Native American psychopath – a swipe at shibboleths? – who is killed precisely because he is two-dimensional: in the words of his executioner, "there was something missing in this man".

Executive Orders, featuring Ryan as president, starts with a devastating 50-page character study of one of the few people qualified to do politics: one who didn’t want the job.

The death of an artist at the height of his powers guarantees his next work’s sales. Command Authority is expected to be a not-to-veiled analysis of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s past in the Cold War; a war which, he observed through his works chronicling its endplay and aftermath, elevated many but left many more broken.

It’s not clear that Clancy’s departure must needs be that of Jack Ryan and his "dark side" John Clark, but it’s difficult to see who could handle the characters with equal skill. In any case, one of Clancy’s quotes on writing comes back to me as his home country, with its federal government shut down, slides from tragedy into farce: “the difference between real life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense”.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

we rightly celebrate Stephen Lawrence's legacy: now what about Charlene Downes'?

click for Stephen Lawrence Unity Concert homepage
It was good to see the Stephen Lawrence Unity Concert, on the 20th anniversary year of his brutal murder at the hands of racist thugs. Doreen Lawrence (Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon), who appeared near the end of the concert, has patiently waited for justice for her son through a process that has, thank God, renewed black-white relations.

Would that all campaigns for a murdered child so electrified the media.

This is the anniversary year of another foul ethnicity-based murder; On November 2003 Charlene Downes, aged 14, was declared missing.

The case is depressingly familiar to those who have followed it and shocking to others for whom it is news.

Charlene Downes: click to learn more
Following Charlene’s disappearance the police investigated a Blackpool kebab shop and two of its workers - Iyad Albattikhi and Mohammed Reveshi (from Jordan and Iran respectively) – linking them to the grooming of up to 60 girls from the town. Albattikhi and Reveshi were secretly recorded discussing murdering Charlene; but despite this two trials collapsed and the pair were awarded compensation for having been prosecuted.

Mick Gradwell, a former chief detective superintendent with Lancashire Constabulary, later claimed that police were well aware of Blackpool’s grooming gang problem but "investigations were being hampered by political correctness".

I’m not the first to compare Stephen’s and Charlene’s killings; Telegraph writer Sean Thomas, praising the "remorseless, dignified campaigning" of Baroness Lawrence, then asked why Wikipedia had taken down Charlene’s page – following this the so-called encyclopaedia published a page called "The disappearance of Charlene Downes".

I wish Stephen Lawrence hadn’t been killed. I wish Charlene Downes hadn’t been killed. Maybe one day her mother will be ennobled and given help to start a Charlene Downes Foundation; but while British girls continue to be targeted on ethnic and religious grounds – even as Charlene’s relatives are prevented from raising awareness of her death – don’t count on it.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Click to watch the Stephen Lawrence Unity Concert on BBC i-Player until 8 October 2013

Stars perform in Memory of Stephen Lawrence -

60 girls groomed for sex at takeaway shops in Blackpool - Nick Collins, Telegraph

Mother of murdered girl ‘put into kebabs’ runs from court after gruesome testimony - Mail

The murder of Stephen Lawrence and the strange case of the missing Wikipedia entries - Sean Thomas, Telegraph

Charlene's gran upset by T-shirt ban - Julia Bennett, Blackpool Gazette