Thursday, 31 May 2012

Julian Assange and the Left's silence on womens' rights

Harriet Harman: click for homepage

After the last General Election, David Cameron announced a "limited extension" of anonymity for those arrested on suspicion of rape but not charged. Harriet Harman, former Equalities Minister, voiced her disappointment over "a very powerful message to juries in rape cases" that the alleged attacker’s rights trumped the victim’s.

Julian Assange (New Media Days/Peter Erichsen): click to read more

Fast-forward to the announcement that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault against two former Wikileaks volunteers.

The women told the Daily Mail they wouldn’t have brought charges had Assange had an HIV test, given his disdain for condoms. However, one tells a disturbing story: that Assange initiated sex while she was asleep. One very positive movement on the part of judges is their acceptance that if a woman cannot say "yes", then the answer is "no".

But where was Harriet Harman’s women-friendly voice since December 2010, when Julian Assange was the subject of a European search warrant? One which was for alleged rape, not Wikileaks-style freedom of expression?

Wikileaks’ modus operandi is central to understanding the Left's silence. In publishing governmental secrets it pursues an anarchist agenda which has left-wingers salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. It’s more than academic: last January Wikileaks kicked off the Arab Spring when revelations toppled the Tunisian government; then Libya fell, then Egypt, with the current massacres in Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood waiting in the wings throughout.

So watch out for character-assassinations upon the women who have dared to accuse this "god of the left of sexual assault.

Emily Davison: click to learn more

Watch also for a re-evaluation of the sacrifice of Emily Davidson, who threw herself under King George V’s horse in 1913 in the name of universal suffrage. If a woman’s right to ownership of her body still depends upon how others perceive her attacker's character, was dying for a cross in a box really worth it?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Monday, 28 May 2012

groundbreaking interview shows Asians will not be silenced

Tommy Robinson: click for interview in Asian Tribune

Over the weekend, an interview with English Defence League members and its founder Tommy Robinson (right) emerged that was groundbreaking, for two reasons.

Firstly, the interview was with the Asian Tribune. This might not seem earth-shattering to some, especially Asian EDL members. To others, however, Asians appear increasingly sinister because journalists (with honourable exceptions such as Melanie Phillips) refuse to recognise the child-grooming gang crisis for what it is, branding all Muslim paedophiles "Asian".

Secondly, the conclusion of the interviewer – Glen Jenvey – was that the EDL "was not racist as I had met both black and Asian members". The problem is that many black and Asian members cannot make themselves known because of risks from the communities they live in.

This last point is key to understanding the threat that some organisations feel the EDL poses to them. For example, while the fraudulently-named Unite Against Fascism caricatures us as a band of Breiviks, their real fear is that we are a diverse and inclusive organisation promoting the equality of all before the British law. As such, we threaten those whom UAF exists to protect: predatory male Muslims.

Sayeeda Warsi: click for an example of the witchhunt

Consider Baroness Sayeeda Warsi’s present trial by media. What this is really about is that she is one of the few Westminster politicians to speak out about Pakistani men grooming children for sex.

And, crucially, she’s a Muslim. As long as the dominant mode of Islam in Great Britain benefits predatory males, its being reimagined by those it oppresses – all of us, but principally Muslim women and children – endangers it.

The UAF and its founders, including Warsi’s boss David Cameron, are committed to silencing this threat. Which is why Cameron and the UAF are driven to distraction by the thought of Asians buying into the EDL, which is not racist, not violent, AND WILL NOT BE SILENCED!

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click to go to the original article in Asian Tribune

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Eurovision 2012: Graham Norton's BNP remark spoils the show

click to go to Englebert's website

Many acts in Eurovision 2012 that were probably discreetly told not to win because there was no money to stage the 2013 contest, but I’m sure Engelbert Humperdink wasn’t one of them. So it was disappointing to see him come second last – but nobody can say that he didn’t belt it out like a good’un.

There was more Euro-mediocrity than usual, probably because of the aforementioned fiscal diffidence. But Ukraine’s entry was reassuringly nuts, and I hope the Buranovskiye Babushki – the Russian Grannies – manage to rebuild their village church, destroyed by Stalin. Turkey eschewed its usual belly-dancers for a testosterone-charged piece about piracy in what looked unsettlingly like a declaration of intent.

Eurovision winner Loreen: click for website

Sweden’s techno entry didn’t float my boat, but as the only performer who met Azerbainjani human rights activists, perhaps Loreen (right) deserved her victory.

However, Britain’s TV host Graham Norton spoiled this year’s contest for me. Co-host Leyla Alieva had been good enough to go up to speak to Engelbert in the Green room and ask how he was. Then British fans did the same as those of any other country, ie raised the national flag and cheered. Norton’s summary of the report was, "there’s the British contingent – they sound like a BNP rally".

click for BBC1 Eurovision coverage, narrated by graham Norton

Norton (left) thus revealed himself as a leftist BBC toadie, totally unlike his predecessor, Sir Terry Wogan. In comparing flag-waving patriots to racist extremists, especially as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee approaches and Union Jacks proliferate, he himself flies the flag of middle-class internationalism so necessary for success in the contemporary BBC.

click for BBC Radio 2 Eurovision coverage with Ken Bruce

Concerning Britain’s ranking, radio Eurovision commentator Ken Bruce (right) hit the nail on the head: "as long as voting for each other’s neighbours goes on, can we do much better than [second place]…the UK must question if it wants to be in the UK in the future".

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click for BBC1 coverage of Eurovision 2012 - Graham Norton's BNP comment starts at 1.00.00 (exactly 1 hour in)

Click for BBC Complaints

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Theresa May has great goals - which will she try to achieve?

read the Telegraph's interview with Theresa May

In Theresa May’s statement that the Government will put emergency measures in place to stop incoming migrants should the Euro collapse, she admits something long suspected: Great Britain is full up.

That's unfortunate - we've historically sheltered people fleeing from oppressive regimes. Take, for example, the predominantly Hindu Gujuratis expelled from Uganda in 1972, whose hard work and traditional family values made them valuable role models.

But the Daily Telegraph’s two articles paint different pictures of what Mrs May wants. In the first, she is presented as wishing to "curb an influx of Greeks and other European residents" should the Euro collapse; in the second, an interview, she says that she wishes to "create a hostile environment for illegal migrants…access to financial services is part of that".

click to read about Rowan Williams' Sharia law row

Is the last part a reference to Sharia finance? If so she won’t find me complaining, but she will have to deal with the Muslims imported for votes by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and just starting to dismantle the Sharia legal system, adopted into British law with the support of outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (left), will be like cleaning the Augean stables.

I believe that should Greece go up, Greek patriots of diverse ethnicities will stay and form a resistance to the EU as they so ably did to another fascist colonialist power 70 years ago.

click to read concerns about the Golden Dawn at the Jewish Journal website

But what about Greece’s illegals, especially Muslims, who last year rioted for better living conditions? If they should flee the country’s resurgent neo-nazi Golden Dawn (right) and head west instead of back through Turkey, do Italy, France and the UK take them in as people fleeing oppression?

Different people will have different opinions on this. But Labour’s placemen in the civil service and unelected authorities who policed the dismantling of our borders have rendered the question redundant.

We’re full up.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Monday, 21 May 2012

support Engelbert first, then let's get out of Eurovision

Engelbert for Britain! Read more at Digital Spy

On 1 March, the BBC announced that Engelbert Humperdinck would be representing the UK at the Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan. And now he’s been asked by the BBC documentary strand Panorama whether he should be attending the contest due to Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses, which were publicised when Nicki and Ell won last year.

It was sad to see the oppression on Panorama: Eurovision's Dirty Secret, especially the chap who was detained by police merely for voting for the country’s rival for the land of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ominously, there were reports of a wave of sabre-rattling over the region after the win.

congratulations! Cliff Richard, winner of Eurovision 1968

This isn’t the first controversial Eurovision; in 1968, General Franco bought votes throughout Europe, forcing Cliff Richard into second place with Congratulations.

Given that Spain is one of the Big Five that fund Eurovision (along with Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany), it would have been difficult for the European Broadcasting Union to kick the country out, fascist or not.

But can’t the EBU learn from its mistakes?

Queen pictured on The Game in every sense in Argentina, 1981

Azerbaijan is another fascist country, and shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the contest in 2008. The administration will use Eurovision as propaganda, just as the Argentinian junta did with the 1978 World Cup and 1981 Queen concert, mounting the Falklands War as a last attempt to distract Argentinians from its abuses the next year.

A Eurovision official told the documentary that the EBU had to play by the rules. But there’s the rub: the rules, when dealing with a country that can produce victories of over 90% for the ruling party with every plebiscite, are meaningful only to the patsy that plays by them.

I hope Englebert belts it out for Britain. After the contest, and whatever bloody epilogue might ensue in the region, perhaps the Big Five could secede from the EBU and mount a song-contest where nobody legitimises far-flung tyrants?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click to go to Panorama: Eurovision's Dirty Secret at the BBC website

Look up Azerbaijan on the CIA Factbook

Saturday, 19 May 2012

John Barnes: if race doesn't exist, what's racism?

Former England footballer John Barnes may have a point when he claims that negative images of black people in the last 200 years were generated to give intellectual weight to the slavery industry. Personally, I’m glad we’re coming to accept that race is a chimera.

But there’s been no parallel deconstruction of the notion of racism, still seen as discrimination visited by white people upon others whose skin-colour is different. While there’s enough of that, the concept is open to partisan manipulation by those who feel that being non-white absolves them of becoming what they behold. So we have, for example, Ken Livingstone’s former race advisor Lee Jasper stating that "black people cannot be racist".

This exemption from racism is something that Labour MP Diane Abbott obviously buys into, but it has to be said that there are white people who would like to control what views black people are allowed to hold: thus we saw Rochford and Southend councillor Dr Blaine Robin suspended from the Conservative Party in 2011 for attending an English Defence League demonstration.

Kipling: read about Baa Baa Black Sheep on Britannica Online

One of the writers Barnes has it in for is that shibboleth of the Left, Rudyard Kipling – witness the repeated attacks on his Baa Baa Black Sheep, whose inspiration was not race but his feeling of being treated as "the black sheep" of the family he was living with when attending school in, ironically enough, Southend. But Kipling’s works are complex and nuanced: contrast his pre-emptive attack on multiculturalism in The Stranger at my Gate (quoted in a comment on the Casuals United post on Barnes) with the final stanza of his famous poem on the sacrificial heroism of a Muslim Bhishti water-bearer -

Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Friday, 18 May 2012

Emergence: a future history of Facebook?

Emergence: click for synopsis and extract

Bob Ellis says of The Social Network that it is "today’s Citizen Kane", and I agree.

If The Social Network is today’s Citizen Kane, then Ray Hammond’s Emergence is a history of whoever might base their empire on the business principles pioneered by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, who has just floated his brainchild on the world's stock markets.

Orson Welles couldn’t have written Emergence: not for lack of imagination but of vocabulary. As a character says in Emergence, we can only describe something new by saying what it isn’t – "horseless carriage"; by using a visualisable metaphor, eg "iron horse"; or resigning understanding as in "magic lantern".

The cyber-oligarch is Thomas Tye, about whom I can say little for fear of ruining your read. We are in the middle of the 21st century, which isn’t that far away in time, but as far away in technology as 2000 was from 1950…or is it?

BBC and Coronation: click to learn more

In 1950, people were tied to the radio, as much as they would be to the TV when the Queen’s coronation popularised the technology in 1952. In Emergence people can get their news virtually instantly, but their drive to do so is the same as that which fires newspapers, radio, TV and the town crier: what’s going on?

What’s going on in Emergence is something that Hammond reveals with the epic sensibility of a Tolstoy and a sense of dramatic irony that would turn Aeschylus green. So it’s all the more surprising to find that Emergence was written in 2001, when many of Hammond’s predictions that are in the early stages of R&D now hadn’t been thought of.

If you want to see how Facebook could turn out, you might want to read Emergence.

Facebook and hubris?
If you want to inform yourself about how the successor to Facebook almost certainly will turn out, you must read Emergence.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Rebekah Brooks is right: her arrest was weak

Rebekah Brooks has stated that her arrest is the result of a "weak and unjust" decision. History will judge on the arrest’s judicial propriety, but I couldn’t agree with her more on the “weak” part.

Brooks, as well as both Richard and James Murdoch, appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee nine months before being called to the Levenson enquiry. The reversal of the special access Murdoch’s editors were said to have to 10 Downing Street was ironic and possibly deliberate, the hacking scandal having been fuelled by celebrities and mushroomed to politicians and relatives of murdered children.

To appreciate why newspaper executives are being ordered to report to the Parliament of Great Britain, we need some backstory. On 8 April 1992 in the British general election, the Sun published a graphic of Labour Neil Kinnock’s head inside a lightbulb above the headline "If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights". When John Major’s Conservative victory was confirmed the next day, Saturday’s headline was "It’s the Sun Wot Won It!"

click to read Murdoch testifying on his most infamous headline

Since then, conventional wisdom has it that the party backed by Murdoch’s papers will win a general election, witness the elections of Blair and Cameron. And this is what the fuss is all about: the emergence of the British electoral system from the dead hand of what was effectively a privately-owned intelligence state.

That’s why America, Australia and India, just to name three, are watching; people round the world want to see if the blossom of nation-state democracy can survive the choking nettles of new modes of fascism that eschew political apotheosis for the puppetmaster’s prerogative.

And that’s why Rebekah Brooks’ arrest is weak. Rupert Murdoch should be in her place, in a cell, awaiting trial for treason.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Monday, 14 May 2012

"the bevvy": Scotland fiddles with prices as England watches

click to go to Glasgow's People's Palace homepage

I took this photo on a visit to Glasgow. The poster hangs over an exhibition in the city’s People’s Palace marking Glaswegians’ ambivalent relationship with "the bevvy", whose price the Scottish Executive plans to raise with a minimum price on units of alcohol bought in shops and off-duties.

If I were Alex Salmond I’d concentrate on home-made and smuggled drink, but the Daily Mail’s Simon Richards hits home when he says the Executive includes all Scots in a "'we are all guilty' society". Alternatively, cracking down on the law-abiding is easier, and maintains the illusion that we don’t live in an out-of-control society.

Richards continues: “"politicians] penalise those living on much less money than themselves by increasing the price of one of the few pleasures ordinary people can still afford...making little old ladies suffer when they buy their weekly bottle of sherry, alongside the hardened drinkers who need medical help".

Working in the addictions sector in Scotland, I saw that if somebody’s drive to obtain alcohol by definition rules their life, they’ll go on pouring their and society’s capital out for it.

read more about Last Orders on the History Today website

Ominously, History Today’s Last Orders demonstrates a historical precendent when the 18th-century Government taxed gin punitively to decrease Londoners’ calamitous consumption: drinking increased as the poorest sought solace in back-street "hooch".

Alcohol use is too complex a phenomenon to just whack with a big stick. Where’s the carrot?

The price-hike will print money because use will not fall in inverse proportion – so why not use the extra revenue to bring down the taxes on drinks in pubs? Surely the best way to control drinking is to move it back into pubs, where the landlord faces losing his licence if he doesn’t apply some sort of brakes? As England watches Scotland’s war on the bevvy, I hope this is the lesson she learns.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

radicalisation in Cambridge: where to go for advice?

click to go to the Cambridge News webpage

The Cambridge News reported recently that the Muslim Council of Cambridgeshire (MCC) hit out after monies to prevent radicalisation of Cambridge residents by fundamentalists were handed to Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The vice-president of the MCC, Mizra Baig, asked: "Please tell me honestly: do you really think that a young Muslim who is already thinking of committing a suicidal activity would go to the CAB for advice?"

I’m sure the answer would be no; but surely a wannabe suicide bomber wouldn’t seek anti-radicalisation advice from anybody?

suicide bomber Mohammad Asha: read more at the Daily Telegraph

This isn’t an academic question, as Cambridge’s Islamic communities have already produced two terrorists: Dr Mohammed Asha (left), who is believed to have inducted Dr Bilal Abdulla into the city’s Hizb-ut Tahrir group, where Abdulla was radicalised and subsequently mounted a suicide attack on Glasgow Airport.

Radicalisation in Cambridge was again put on the agenda by moderate Muslims, who were "appalled" when the Islamic Society was addressed by Dr Haitham al-Haddad, who advised students to "prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world".

And I’m willing to believe that the MCC is composed largely of the more moderate among Cambridge’s 7,000 Muslims. For example, they advised their members not to join a UAF counter-protest when the EDL marched, after a blind man had been thrown out (illegally) of a café because of his guide dog.

But we're all prisoners of our assumptions: one of the MCC's is that "the spate of violence in the name of religion that has plagued the comity of nations is a phenomenon that is to be deliberated upon by the Muslims themselves". In other words, "it’s our business, mind your own" – the position of the apartheid-era South African government.

So I would recontextualise Mr Baig’s question: would somebody worried about an individual being radicalised go to the Muslim Council of Cambridge?

Fred Redman
300 words

Sunday, 13 May 2012

UK aid to India: eugenics raises its racist head

The UK Government, it seems, is up to the old racist tricks that have occupied Western administrations since the dawn of eugenics. A report claims that UK aid money is being used to fund forcible sterilisation of Indian women.

Three things occur to me. The first is to ask whether Indian politicians learnt nothing from the Emergency, when coerced sterilisation was a major factor in bringing down Indira Gandhi’s first administration at the conclusion of the Emergency in 1977.

The second is the shocking sexism, if not misogyny, visited on young and mostly poor women. It doesn’t take medical training to see that during a vasectomy you don’t have to invade the body further than the scrotum; but to sterilise a woman involves breaching then stitching the abdominal wall, almost certainly leading to infection when conditions are unhygienic. This, again, fuelled the anger of the Emergency.

Rukhsana Sultana: read more at India Today

The third consideration concerns ethnicity. In the newscast embedded above, I didn’t see any women in burqas, only saris. Whereas during the Emergency Rukhsana Sultana (right) demanded 300 sterilisation certificates from a group of Muslims who petitioned her to stop their houses being demolished, I wonder if the then-minority Muslim position that they should take the chance to outbreed Hindus, Sikhs and Christians will assume the status of a war-cry at the hands of Salafites and others of their ilk.

Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception: read a review

Globally, there is only one dependable contraceptive: rising standards of living. Matthew Connelly reports in Fatal Misconception that when Planned Parenthood went into Central America, they found birth-rates already decreasing because of increasing prosperity. Shrewd management of the riches India already has could easily better the lot of all her children.

But do you think population control only blights faraway lands? Look at the Mail’s sinister headlines today: "NHS…using terminations 'as another form of contraceptive’".

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

where's the entertainment value in rape?

click for a discussion of this image on the Feministing community

If you find this image uncomfortable or even disturbing, there’s hope for you yet. I found it forwarded from a Facebook group called SickAndTwistedDotCom, which otherwise posts funny pics, inspirational messages and assorted lolcats.

Just where is the entertainment value of rape? Given the above pic, with the motto "I can run faster horny than you can scared", that’s basically what we’re talking about, right? Commenting on the image last year, the Feministing community advises that one repeat ten times, "rape jokes are never funny.

Kenneth Clarke: click for transcript of 'serious rape' remarks

Besides humour, rape seems to be present through large swathes of the entertainment industry. In Straw Dogs, for example, we see "a dangerous endorsement of the male 'rape myth' that women secretly enjoy being raped" – did this myth underlie Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s (right) comment about "serious" rape, indicating that some rapes are less serious than others?

A form of rape that was, until recently, surrounded by a common-sense firewall is paedophilia; but recently Channel 4 not only showed but repeated Ricky Gervaise’s video Science, in which he tells two jokes about paedophilia. I complained about this and Channel 4 didn’t want to know, ditto the Culture and Media Select Committee. Following the beachhead created by the sexualisation of children, are we now seeing the commercialisation of rape?

I don’t know why SickAndTwistedDotCom posted this particular picture, which left me feeling dismayed and depressed. Could it be that we as a society are so inured by sexual images in “lads’ mags”, on catwalks and in (young) girls’ magazines that the poster(s) failed to see anything offensive in it? If so, we need an urgent re-education in the hard-won rights of women to own their bodies and their dignity. I started my own re-education by "unliking" SickAndTwistedDotCom and switched to Lolcats. How will you start yours?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

EDL 3rd birthday demo, Luton: picture this

I had expected the usual pictures of English Defence League "violence" on the UAF website, on the basis that a picture paints a thousand words. The thing is, the UAF wants also to dictate the words that the picture speaks: this to me is fascism.

go to 'I have a dream' text and video at Huffington Post

Sometimes, however, words are worth a thousand pictures – for example, Martin Luther King’s (right) "I have a dream" speech; and it is much harder to dictate the pictures that these words form in each individual’s mind.

So I’d like to pick out three themes from the speeches at the EDL’s third birthday march at Luton on Saturday 5 May. Picture as you will.

  • EDL founder Tommy Robinson, his latest beating by thugs visible on his face as the price of our fragile freedom, spoke of the "outstanding" Muslim individuals and businesses that he encountered and frequented daily.

  • He added that the many brown and black faces visible in the crowd were better signs of barriers being broken down than any number of resolutions.
  • He told of how he had helped organise people of all ethnicities on the main housing estate into a committee to sit down and thrash out their problems around a table in reply to exhortations to do this instead of demonstrating by Hazel Simmons, leader of Luton Borough Council; and of how a team of policemen had been ordered to go from door to door to cancel the meeting once councillors realised how big this was going to be.

It was interesting to see that, on the Luton Borough Council’s webpage, Hazel Simmons criticised the EDL for marching in Luton "so soon after their previous protest" 15 months ago. On the other hand, Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Richer chose to criticise the UAF for trying to break out of its allotted marching area. Picture as you will.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Friday, 4 May 2012

beast priests have a powerful enemy

click for Seán Brady's statement on Brendan Smyth

Pressure mounts on Cardinal Seán Brady (right) to resign over his part in the case of beast priest Brendan Smyth in 1975. But beyond the Mail and the recent BBC This World documentary on the subject, paedophiles in the Roman Catholic Church have a more implacable enemy: Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI.

In 1985, in a little-publicised move, Cardinal Ratzinger persuaded the then Pope to prevent America from moving alleged paedophiles outside the US. Over the next decades as hush-money emptied the coffers, affected US dioceses started to file for bankruptcy. It was a powerful lesson.

Shortly after relocating from Munich to Rome in 1982 Ratzinger was given access to details outlining the true extent of the paedophile scandal in the RC Church and commented on the "filth" within the church. The chronology is now generally recognised by church papers, but following John Paul II’s death in 2005, as Ratzinger emerged as a favourite, the quote was released to Catholic papers as if he’d just said it, the inference being that he’d been referring to his competitors. Knowing his views on beast priests, was a faction in the Papacy moving to keep Ratzinger off St Peter's chair?

I’m not presenting Ratzinger as a saint – the Vatican's equation of homosexuality with paedophilia> will live in infamy. But he has struck blows against beast priests in the US, Ireland and the powerful Legionaries of Christ, any one of which could be seen as marching on Moscow.

But clerical abuse doesn't happen in a vaccuum: for instance, social workers in Glasgow knowingly returned fleeing children to abusive nuns in Nazareth House and later claimed they’d had nowhere else to put the children. When the media gives equal weight to the enabling of abuse by social workers and others (such as Margaret Hodge), their pursuit of a then junior player might seem less ideologically fuelled.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Thursday, 3 May 2012

vote 2012: democracy loses

Richard Taylor is that rarest of creatures: a genuinely independent political commentator. The conclusion to his article about why candidates for council elections in Cambridge weren’t canvassing in some areas should shock:

I am wondering if the major parties essentially giving up on all but a few wards and by doing so are to all intents and purposes agreeing among themselves who ought be elected in many parts of the city.
click to find out what Baroness Wrsi really said

So my ears pricked up when, during the BBC’s coverage of the council elections, Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi (right) remarked on the "interesting" fact that the fall in BNP candidates nationally matched the rise in UKIP candidates "almost exactly". A UKIP spokesman later said she’d suggested a link between the two, but she hadn’t gone that far, as you’ll see if you follow the link above.

I understand her unwillingness to commit. After the 2010 General Election she was the only politician with the chutzpah to accuse Labour of benefitting from electoral fraud in three constituencies, denying the conservatives victory, and was gagged by David Cameron.

Electoral irregularities are on the agenda right now as an investigation gets underway into voting fraud in Tower Hamlets, where police were called to a polling stations after Green candidate Chris Smith said he’d been threatened by a Respect activist. Respect is, of course, the party of George Galloway, the recently-elected MP for Bradford West, where allegations of electoral fraud have also been made.

If the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dems are carving up wards between them like drug-dealers putting dibs on an inner-city housing estate, they deserve what they get when parties like the BNP and UKIP practice a bit of Realpolitik of their own. But the real loser of this election, decided on the lowest turnout for a decade, is democracy.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

did the Luton terrorists get their toy car idea from the BBC?

According to the Daily Mail’s Chris Greenwood, the four terrorist suspects arrested in Luton last week got their ideas from an Al-Qaeda publication. But were they also inspired by something closer to home?

click to read more about James Burke on TV Cream

On Saturday 21 April, BBC2 aired TV 73: The Defining Shows. One show included was The Burke Special, hosted by James Burke (right).

The particular episode that presenter Mark Lawson focussed on concerned the IRA. Burke had persuaded the British Army to fly over a small part of a haul of arms captured from the IRA, including automatic rifles and a hand-held rocket launcher, and these were frightening enough. Then, crucially, Burke turned to explosives, and showed how a radio-controlled car could be used to detonate a bomb from a distance.

Gayle Rivers' The Specialist: click to find out more

It is, of course, entirely possible that the BBC is innocent, and that older Al Qaeda members who used to be in the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) got the idea while dealing with their opposite numbers in the IRA: former SAS officer Gayle Rivers stated in his 1986 book The Specialist that the IRA, the PLO and Basque ETA used to traffic arms to each other to frustrate investigations of where they came from. Might ideas also have been exchanged?

The toy-car incident may have happened before TV 73 was aired; so then why, when 70s nostalgia is so big, can you view episodes of BBC2’s The 70s for 3 weeks while TV 73 has been taken off i-player? In addition, there’s no mention of the car in the BBC’s web article, and I heard no mention of Luton at all on Radio 2’s news this morning.

In any case, whether or not the BBC’s broadcast of Burke’s explaining how a radio-controlled car could set off a bomb inspired the Luton terrorists, could showing that clip when the country is at unprecedented risk of terrorism really be called responsible broadcasting?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words