What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the category “Protests”

I’m Proud of The BBC – Are Labour???

Back in 2010, Mitch Benn – a comedian and songwriter of nearly godlike genius if you ask me, had his biggest hit so far with “I’m Proud of the BBC”, extolling the very real benefits that we all gain from auntie.  Newsround, Newsnight, iPlayer website – the list went on and on. And it hit a chord with listeners and viewers across the nation.

Well, we’ll know what we had if we lose it. The recent reshuffle was nothing more than another stacking of the deck against public service broadcasting as we know it. True, Mr C has moved on, but the tune remains the same – beggar the Beeb, and give a helping hand to Fox – sorry, Sky News.

Does it matter? Well yes it does. Every Government since Harold Wilson has accused the BBC of bias against them, and many have threatened to emasculate the corporation. As part of the fall out of the Hutton Inquiry, the last Labour government may just have started the process. However it was not irreversible, and we are now in a much more dangerous situation.

After all of ten minutes thought, The Coalition decided to cut funding via a freezing of the Licence Fee, then to stop funding The World Service via the Foreign Office. Yes, our Government took one ;look at our greatest soft power asset and said ” fuck it”. And fuck it they have.

As jobs are lost across the corporation, Unions are leading a campaign to stop the cuts – UNITE, BECTU, EQUITY and others, posing an alternative to the cuts – savings on top salaries, and a proper, forward looking policy.

 So where are the Labour MPs? Who is standing up for one of our great national institutions? One that unites us all much more than lousy weather, class snobbery and football? They, shamefully, seem as quiet as the grave, and I call that an outrage of the first order.

 Maybe it is simply an unwillingness to talk about shared culture, or to sound anti- big business. Maybe this is some kind of twisted revenge for Paxman, The Today Programme and trying to be unbiased in its foreign coverage. I don’ honestly know, and if these are the reasons, it must stop now.

Just look at the people throwing mud at the BBC – The Daily Mail, Express, Murdoch, the Tory right and any weirdo who read Ayn Rand and never grew up…

Carlton TV gave us David Cameron, whereas the BBC has given us:

Round The Horne, Miranda, Who Do You Think You Are? The day To Day, Nigella, Panorama and Bagpuss, I Claudius, Absolutely Fabulous!

Sherlock, Fireman Sam, Bruce Forsyth and The League of Gentlemen, The Thick of It, Jeremy Hardy Final Score, everything on BBC Four…

And something that can never be replaced – Sarah Jane Smith – did I mention Doctor Who? 

 

 

apologies to Mitch Benn, hope he doesn’t mind…

 

 

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Defending Offence: A reply to a writers’ question (1)

The reason I have not gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel the real that someone will slit my throat…

(Grayson Perry, quoted by Nick Cohen, pp 50 “You Can’t Read This Book” 2012)

…I worked on this opera about Jerry Springer. And, um, we got accused of being blasphemous, which was, came as a genuine surprise, ’cause it honestly had had really good reviews in the Church Times and Catholic Herald when it first went out in the theatre. So it was kind of weird, it all came a bit out of nowhere. We got 65,000 complaints when it went out on television. The BBC executives that commissioned it had to go into hiding, with police protection. And me and the composer were going to be taken to court and charged with blasphemy. But at the end of June, the High Court threw the case out on the grounds that it isn’t 1508.

(Stewart Lee,transcript from his show “90’s Comedian”, published in 2010, “How I escaped my certain fate…”)

Since its publication, “You Can’t Read This Book” by Nick Cohen has become one of the most important publications of the of the decade for anyone who sees free speech and free thinking as vital to the progress of humanity. After publication, there have been many reviews, mostly positive, of a book that takes an overview of the state of play for anyone who wants to tell truth to power, or simply be well informed. Having divided his arguments into three sections – “God”, “Money” and “The State”, Mr Cohen then rounds on the forces that he sees as being the enemies of truth.

With the lamented early death of Christopher Hitchens, Cohen is perhaps the best contemporary western journalist and essayist we have nominally on the left. I consciously say “nominally’, as he has been alternately the darling and the whipping boy for certain parts of the left liberal commentariat for much of his career. Oh how they loved his well researched attack on Blairism in “Pretty Strait Guys’, and how they pilloried him for his support for the destruction of the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein, even if it meant supporting an unpopular war. Yet the fair weather friends of the far left, and their careless parrots within the wider currents of mainstream left/liberal thought would do well to cast aside prejudice and read a passionate, well researched and and literate defence of basic freedoms that without which, no truly liberating progress can come about.

I had no real intention to add to the pean of praise heaped upon his latest work, yet in a reply to a post I made on the 18th, I found myself reaching for my copy once again. Jaime Lynch Staunton, a writer and blogger asked the question:

Who is being cowardly and subservient to religion? How?

To do Jaime justice, I will divide my answer into two sections, and two posts

WHO…

In 1989, one of the great English Language novelists of modern times published his latest work. As in previous works, it was an exploration of themes close to his own experience as an immigrant from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. Salman Rushdies’ “The Satanic Verses” was attacked by fundamentalist clerics in Iran (a dictatorship had previously praised his earlier work), and the Ayatollah Khomeni pronounced a fatwa upon him, his publishers, and booksellers worldwide. Numerous attacks on bookstores and translators ensued or we threatened, most notably in Japan in 1991, the murder of an academic translator, and in Italy the stabbing of another. To their great credit, both the British Government and the publishing industry stood firm, and Rushdie has so far eluded his assassins.

There was a backlash, aided and abetted by those who should, and did, know better. Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester South, came to the fore in this country calling for the book to be banned, in effect asking that Britain follow the lead of Apartheid South Africa. Predictably enough, Norman Tebbit weighed in, to kick an opponent when he was down. More disturbing was the response of some other western authors…

Most bizarre of all though, was the noise by a number of eminent writers and authors. John le Carre’, John Berger, Roald Dahl, Hugh Trevor-Roper, and others began a sort of auction of defamation in which they accused Rushdie variously of insulting Islam, practising Western-style cultural colonialism & condescension, and damaging race relations.

(Christopher Hitchens, in “Unacknowledged Legislation, Writers In The Public Sphere”, Verso, 2000. pp.127)

Rushdie even managed perhaps the greatest feat of ecumenicalism, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Vatican, and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel all issuing statements to the effect that the main problem with the fatwa was not the actual death threat, but the blasphemy committed by the writer.  George Bush the first refused to follow in the footsteps of Vaclav Havel and Irelands’ Mary Robinson in upholding the international promise of the US constitutions’ First Amendment. Germaine Greer defended the rights of book burners everywhere, to her shame.

Eventually, the fatwa was lifted, as part of the ongoing diplomatic efforts of Iran to gain better relations and recognition in the west. Then in 2007, the now Labour Government gave Rushdie a Knighthood for services to literature. Again various radical Islamist organisations claimed offence. Predictably, many on the right criticised the award being given to a writer so firmly opposed to “Mrs Torture”, yet even some of them defended his right to write what he thought, notably Boris Johnson and Peter Hitchens, whilst claiming his work to be “unreadable”. In the same edition of the BBC programme “Question Time”  the daughter of Vera Brittan and Liberal Grande Dame Shirley Williams could not bring herself to support the appointment, saying that it was ill-timed, begging the old partisan question “if not now, when?”.

Now, with the murder of an American Diplomat and staff in Libya, apparently over manufactured offence caused by a grubby little film, and the French call to leave muslim countries over some cartoons, Mr Rushdie has become the subject of another well-funded fatwa bounty.

But of course, this is only one man, and one book. Hilary Clintons response to the supposed “offence” caused by the film “The Innocence of Islam” speaks volumes:

…our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”

No British Foreign Secretary could say the same without contradiction on each point – historical, legal, and practical.

In December 2004, a crowd of up to 1,000 Sikhs protested outside Birmingham Repertory Theatre, some stormed the building, stopping the first performance of the play “Behzti (Disgrace), by the female British Sikh writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. The play explores themes of abuse and hypocrisy within the Sikh community, and is set in a Sikh temple. It is, very obviously, a work of fiction. The play was cancelled after two days of negotiation involving the police and local dignitaries.

The leader of this self-appointed group, Mr Sewa Singh Mandla justified his actions thus:

In a Sikh temple, sexual abuse does not take place, kissing & dancing do not take place, rape doesn’t take place, homosexual activity doesn’t take place, murders do not take place

As reported in The Sikh Times, Steven Glover, writing in The Daily Mail expressed “a degree of sympathy” and found it “hard not to admire” the protesters. It was perhaps no surprise that the Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham, in the person of Archbishop Vincent Nichol would make common cause against free thought in these words:

Such a deliberate, even if fictional, violation of the sacred place of the Sikh Religion demeans the sacred places of every religion. 

Of course, I should not have to remind any reader of the actions of Christian Voice over “Jerry Springer – The Opera”, the protests and threatened protests that forced 9 theatres to pull out of the nationwide tour, the level of threat which sent BBC staff into hiding…

The cumulative effect of these and others religious protests and threats has been, in one writers’ words to “internalise the fatwa”, so that many artists and writers self-censor, much as most did under the great dictatorships of the twentieth century. In the end, all authority, secular and religious, relies more on “the policeman in your head” rather than the policeman on the street. Although there are policeman out there, ready to pounce whenever one transgresses the shifting boundary of “offence”.

In the light of past scandals, the Arts Council is, as in the case of “Jerry springer” much less likely to grant money to any production that could cause offence to be manufactured. It is not hard to find a local politician, of any party, who will readily give voice to any loud “community” based campaign against whatever is seen as against any particular religion. The over used word “respect” is now the mantra when it comes to deeply held beliefs – as if simply believing something deeply enough makes it impossible to challenge. The Commission for Racial Equality conflates religion with race regularly, as do many others, which is insulting on both levels, if you think about it.

So, Commissioning Editors, Publishers, Producers as well as writers all tend to shy away from the new religious taboos – finding much more comforting and safe ways to shock us – a “Booky-Wook” here, a “Little Britain” there, but please, don’t offend the clerics too much eh?

 

The Crime of Barbarity

Since 2001, Great Britain, along with 43 other countries has commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day today, January the 27th, which is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. It is one day out of 365 on which we are supposed to contemplate the meaning of that over used word Genocide.

In keeping with todays theme I would like to consider the roots of our understanding of this modern term, coined back in the 1940s to describe the determine attempt by the Ottoman Empire to wipe all traces of the Armenian people from the globe. Death marches, massacres and infanticide were used from 1915 to do this, as Armenians, being Christian, were seen as potential traitors by the Muslim “Young Turk” movement that ruled in Constantinople.

With the break up of the Empire in 1918, and with eyewitness accounts published in the USA and Germany, this awful history was laid bare. Yet ethnic cleansing carried on in the Balkans and Middle East – the rape of Smyrna as the new state of Turkey looked to delete historic Greek communities from the map, & vice versa. The efforts of British client state the Kingdom of Iraq to wipe the Assyrians out in 1933, these led the Polish Jurist Raphael Lemkin to coin the term “Crimes of Barbarity”, subsequently renamed Genocide in 1944, with reference to the murderous policies of both Germany and the Soviet Union.

Lemkin had tried, unsuccessfully during the 1930s to get The League of Nations to declare Crimes of Barbarity unlawful, and to bring those responsible to account. Finally, with the advent of The Atlantic Charter, and of The United Nations, his hour came; on the 9th December 1945, the General Assembley of the UN passed  “The Convention on Punishment for the Crime of Genocide” –

…Any of the acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:

  • Killing members of a group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to them 
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part

…& much more besides.

This Convention has not prevented Genocide, but it has allowed those responsible to be tried – whether Serbian Warlord or Cambodian Communist, your crimes will be found out, and you will be tried.

We must sadly remember that today many more do go unpunished – the destruction of Grozny, those Bankers who had done so well out of the Milosivic regime, a certain ex foreign Secretary from the Major years, those statesmen who watched and did nothing whilst tragedy unfolded in Darfur.

On Armistice Day, we pay tribute and say “We Will Remember Them”  perhaps today of all days, our motto should be “We Will Not Forget”

MORE WEDDINGBALLS…

Everyone wishes Kate and Wills a wonderful day, and long, happy marriage. My auntie will be up from Cornwall on the big day, to celebrate with the millions who wish to celebrate with the happy couple.

Yet see how quickly apoplectic our ever loyal (bugging aside) media have become when it comes to the very thought of a small expression of free speech on the big day…

Camden Council have refused permission for a street party next Friday, perhaps the only council in England to do so. The party, organised by the pressure group Republic, was meant to be perhaps the one place in London on the 29th where those who are against the idea of monarchy (not the monarch herself) could gather and celebrate all that makes them proud of Britain in their way. Camden is nowhere near the procession, nor within yelling distance of  the great and the good.

Stung by recent mishandling of student protests and peaceful occupations, not to mention the Inquiry into the G2o 2009 protests in which Ian Tomlinson was killed, The Met are looking forward to using draconian powers to stop anyone they don’t like the look of from going to the parade.

Hands up anyone who either A; Trusts their judgement?

or B; Believes that these powers will be suspended after the wedding? 

Westminster Council will try to use its powers to stop soup kitchen deliveries in the area at least 48 hours before, and will no doubt try to enforce this permanently. I doubt that Kate and William would see this as a fitting tribute – hungry homeless people, but there you go, its not their fault.

A tiny number of Anarchists may try to demonstrate on the day, apparently “spoiling it for everyone” by exercising their (and your) democratic rights. But hold on – we have a long tradition of protests at national events;

During George V’s Silver Jubilee, East London Young Communists hung a banner over the procession route proclaiming “Twenty-Five Years Of Hunger And War” – a fair point in 1935.

In 1977, The Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” reached number two in the charts, possibly number one if the conspiracy theories could ever be proved correct. I was six at the time, and busy waving the Union Flag and eating ice cream…

At the wedding of Charles and Diana, one left wing weekly had the headline “Big Ears Marries Noddy” – the best front page they ever had.

The Coalition are using this event to their own ends – the cuts are provoking a great deal of anger, so this wedding is being used as a cover to throw our liberties in the dustbin. No doubt this bunch of inadequates will also be using the week to push through nasty legislation that they know we won’t like.

The Tories used Andrew and Fergies’ happy day to get the Poll Tax on the statute books. 

The shenanigans surrounding this binge are evermore tawdry, and a day of happiness is being turned into a day of awkward shame by Dave, Nick and Boris. Thank goodness they will have no say in mine and Lady Ps…

Boris Pleases His Paymasters

Fans of Boris “bollocks”* Johnson must have been very pleased with his nonsense for The Sunday Telegraph decrying the TUC March and Ed Miliband.

Britains Berlusconi, the only Englishman currently involved in a love rectangle± (according to the Daily Mail), wrote a lengthy if predictable rant against opponents of The Coalition, bizarrely claiming that Ed would be “satisfied” with the results of the sit-ins and vandalism in the west end.

One of the victims of this, A famous Hotel, which is also owned by  tax-avoiders who officially live on a small Island off the coast of Sark. Who funnily enough, pay a certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson £250,000 a year to write this sort of trash. Johnson’s Mayoral salary is £144,000 – more than enough for a mortal, yet Boris describes his quarter of a million from the Telegraph Group as “Chickenfeed”.

One is reminded of Bill Hicks describing a pop star – “if money had a dick, this guy would be a flaming faggot…”, yet one blanches to use such homophobic language oneself, after all, thats what Boris is for…

No doubt his legions of fan will be happy to see him Jew-bashing in print, after all, we can’t leave this sort of thing to Ken can we?

Recently, our Ruling Joke has been involved in silencing peaceful (if scruffy) protests on College Green, backed Westminsters Tories in their attempts to close down Soup kitchens for the homeless, and has been castigated by the National Statistics Watchdog for his “misleading” (possibly “lying”?) use of  figures for his own ends.

So, how does the Boris fan feel? Over the moon and head over heels presumably…

* Bollocks – meaning “unworthy priest”

±What next? A Love Rhomboid?

PROTEST, POLITICS & OOH, VIOLENCE I GUESS…

LAST SATURDAY AROUND A QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE MARCHED PEACEFULLY THROUGH THE STREETS OF LONDON AGAINST THE COALITIONS CUTS PROGRAMME. Many more stayed at home, worried (if the twitter and facebook feeds are accurate) about Police “kettling” tactics seen over the previous few years.

Yet as far as the mainstream media is concerned, the story is one of “violent disorder”, of wanton destruction of property and mindless violence. Whilst I am more than happy to defend direct action by groups such as UK Uncut, who have kept tax-dodging companies in the public eye, it is impossible to defend groups such as the “Black Bloc”, the SWP and others who promote violence for their own ends, regardless of wider consequences.

However, slogging through the morass of rightwing coverage in the last few days, I have to say that it is in the main fraudulent in the extreme. We have the Boris standard beareres, Daily Mail readers, Cameroons and little Nickys brave souls all united in one assertion – that violence and politics do not mix. Ed Miliband made much the same point on Saturday as well. Yet we seem to be pursuing political goals in Libya by bombing airfields and targeting tanks in the desert. In case anyone is wondering, the RAF is indeed a violent organisation, well trained, and equipped to wreak havoc upon the Queens enemies.

“But” you say “thats different – the Forces are the legitimate source of violence within Britain, and are under control of our elected Government.” That, as far as it goes is true, but not the whole picture when it comes to political violence in British history.

There is no political party in British politics today that does not have its roots in violent conflict. Leaving aside the obvious candidates of the BNP and SWP, lets look at the mainstream parties;

The Scottish Nationalists trace their legitimacy back to Flodden, Culloden and are the first to raise the banners of ancient martial prowess when it suits them. Plaid Cymru hark back to Owain Glendwr – hardly a saint when it came to battle.

The Labour Party and the wider Labour Movement have a history that goes back at least to The Peasants Revolt, and traditions that encompass the Agitators , Levellers and Diggers of the English Civil Wars. The first shots of the modern class war were fired on Marston Moor. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we look to figures such as Thomas Paine, Feargus O’Connor, internationally, we admire Abraham Lincoln, Danton, Herbert, Clouseret and the men of The Eureka Stockade. Is it too much to note that all of these figures countenanced violence? Even the Suffragettes had a militant campaign.

The Liberal wing of the Liberal Democrats may only look back as far as John Stuart Mill, yet historically they are the heirs of The Whigs – themselves the heirs of the more conservative wing of the Parliamentary side during our Civil Wars. And the cheerleaders for Culloden and the Highland Clearances.

And The Tories. Historically born from the Royalist Rump a bunch of Cavaliers who were more than ready to do the Kings bidding. In the early eighteenth century, when out of favour, they had no scruple in giving military plans to the French Monarchy. They were happy to wage war on the American Colonies, invade revolutionary France, set off a bloodbath in Ireland. In the nineteenth, they were the party of both reaction at home, overseeing the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, and Imperialism abroad. In the early twentieth century, they were willing to bring the country to the verge of civil war over Ireland in 1914 “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right!” they cried. In the twenties and thirties, they flirted with Fascism, and in the nineteen seventies and eighties, they backed and supported the Juntas of Chile and Argentina in their anti-communist crusade. One Government minister gave a speech in Buenos Aires in 1981, stating that Britain and the  Argentina of  torture and the disappeared were united against the same enemies. In 1982, the good people of Port Stanley found this to be not quite the case…

…four miners died during the great strike of 1984/5. Shoot to kill. The Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1972 all these happened under Tory rule.

The Police are a (supposedly) accountable source of legitimate violence in our society, governed by its laws and customs.

For twenty-five years, middle England has been filling the seats of “Les Miserables” – a musical that makes heroes of the ABC Society – students who were willing to overthrow the state in 1830s France – do you hear the people sing..?

To deny that violence is part of politics is historically dishonest, and morally suspect – especially in the light of the events of the past few months. Whilst opposing those self-appointed guardians of “the revolutionary flame”, who have no interest in anything but furthering their agendas, regardless of real needs. I do not support the vandalism and barricades of last Saturday – yet I would like to see the whole picture. we already know that The Met like breaking heads and often arrest the wrong person. I also have no problem in general with non-violent direct action. I certainly question the wisdom of using such tactics on Saturday – it would have been better not to take the limelight away from mass protest.

Gandhi once said that “Poverty is the worst form of violence” and he had a point. Yet those who smashed windows on Saturday fundamentally missed the point, leaving all of us open to attacks from the hypocrites of the right.

CEASEFIRE IN LIBYA!!!

In the wake of last night’s U.N. security Council resolution 1973 ordering a No-Fly Zone to be implemented, Gadaffis Government has called an immediate ceasefire against the rebels. This is excellent news.

As so often in the last few months, events are moving too fast to keep up with everything, but with the threat of international action (France has pledged action within hours), the tyrant is shown to have little support, and few options if he wants to save his own skin.

Shame on Russia, China, Germany and India!

Yet the flipside of this fantastic news can clearly be seen in Bahrain, where Saudi troops are brutally repressing democracy without any interference from any western leader. Perhaps there is just too much money at stake for Cameron and Co to notice the blood in Pearl Square?

Strange Days Indeed…

It is a strange time for looking at the world. As we sit here in our comfortable western world, Libyan freedom fighters are dying by inches in public. A coalition of the unwilling – comprising “anti-imperialist” far leftists, reactionary Muslim clerics and Bismarckian conservatives across Europe are contending that to do nothing is the finest of all options.

I find myself in agreement with anyone who proposes a no-fly zone at the very least. I never thought I would end up agreeing with David Owen, and to a certain extent David Cameron.

Unlike Iraq, there is a clear mandate from the oppressed peoples of North Africa and the Middle East. In Bahrain today, the Saudi occupation gathers pace. In the U.N, those sterling advocates of tyranny China and Russia stymie any meaningful action through the Security Council. Again, the West and Western Values lose ground to the vigorous Capitalist Autocracy model of the East. If we do not act now, and with great conviction, we stand to lose all hopes of influence across the third world, and we condemn its peoples to the whims of any dictator that Bejing fancies.

Most peculiar mama…

THEY’RE FIGHTING FOR PEACE, APPARENTLY…

Tough times ahead in Parliament square, as Mayor Johnson and  his Tory supporters at Westminster Council endeavour to throw the peace protest campers off, so that everything looks “nice” for the 2o12 Olympics.

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually disagree with Brian Haw and the various groups vaingloriously staking their claims to the moral high-ground via sleeping bags. However the not-so-happy-campers have become a modern landmark. They are a symbol of our freedom to think as we like, and to shake our fist at the politicians who so often ignore what we say.

Boris bloggers are often quick to harp on about his supposed support for “legal demonstrations” and free speech. Yet despite New Labour passing a whole law to get Haws off the green, the tents are still legal. This is simply another attempt to remake London in the image of Henley-on-Thames.

The irony is that the Peace camp may fold of its own accord – it is already split into two camps – one, the “official” camp is led, in Brian Haw’s absence by the strident antipodean Barbara Tucker. Mr Haw is in hospital due to serious illness, and of course we all wish him a speedy recovery, deluded though he is. A second camp, the “Peace Strike Camp” is led by Maria Gallestegui, and both sides are accusing the other of dirty tricks – Barbara Tucker has be filmed threatening legal action to get Gallestegui to leave, and there are accusations that the Peace Strike Camp is some kind of Police sting operation, backed by MI5.

Now time for me to ‘fess up – a few years ago I tried to question Brian Haws as to what he thought he was achieving, and why he had never condemned Saddam Hussein, and didn’t he think that sometimes intervention was justified? Resolutely, the great Peace Enigma stayed silent, staring ahead. I suppose it was the lack of adulation on my part, but no matter. Barbara Tucker the appeared from a tent and harangued me as a white racist, sexist imperialist pig, glorying in war, not fit to question the sainted Brian. More fool me for asking I suppose.

Yet although I have no wish for tea and scones with the lady in question, she does have the legal right to be there. I suppose that I have a tad more sympathy for Maria Gallestegui, who though equally wrong-headed, has possibly had to put up with the sustained abuse that only a zealot of Barbara’s ilk can bring to the party.


Strange…

Our recent victory against the Wooden Lady in saving our forests saw one thing come to light –

Amongst the myriad of organisations that were willing to put pressure on La Spellman, not to mention Dame Judy Dench, one pressure group, supposedly dedicated to the preservation of rural life and long-cherished rights was absent. Step forward The Countryside Alliance.

Sara Lee, the Alliances head of policy, emailed campaigners to say that they weren’t “in a position to sign the letter opposing the sale” – placing them somewhere to the right of  The Lady magazine, not actually normally seen as an Anarchist publication.

In fact, the Alliance said “in principle there could be huge potential benefits of managing woodland privately.”

Just so long as “existing rights of access/recreation, including sporting  rights” are “balanced against “significant revenue potential through the sell-off”.

So now we know, the Alliance, that made so much of being about “simple country folk”, not just big landowners and obsessives on horseback, is just about big landowners and obsessives on horseback.

What of Kate “tally” Hoey? The august head of this body? Was this really her life’s ambition? How sad.

Tally Ho, and toodle-pip!!

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