What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “Free speech”

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?

 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The freedom to think what you like, and to express those thoughts, whether in print, on film, in speech or art without fear of censorship, imprisonment, torture or death. That to me is what free speech means.

Why is this so hard for some religious people to understand? My advocacy of evolution, or of Atheism come to that, should hardly cause a believing Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Sikh or anyone else much heartache, other than perhaps regret that I may be punished at some future date by their respective deities.

In the space of barely seven days we have seen blood shed against a pretty bad film  (by all accounts) that has offended some clerics in the middle east who have not seen this film. We have seen some christians in The Hebrides protesting that an award-winning evolutionary scientist and author is coming to their book festival in Lewis. And once again, a wealthy muslim fundamentalist organisation has put a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie.

These despicable acts of repression have been met with hand wringing by those on the liberal left who still have the decency to object to the curtailment of our freedom of conscience, which is after all enshrined in the U.N. Human Rights Charter. Yet outside of novelists and media types, where are the big battalions of politicians willing to defend our right to be offended? Who will stand up for the individual who dares to say what they believe to be true, even if they are mistaken?

Politicians of left and right keep as quiet as the grave, not daring to say a word to power.

Defence of each of the three subjects does not mean that you agree with any of their arguments, or like their work, or want to invite them to tea. What it does mean is that you are willing to defend their and your right to liberty of thought. There is no argument that can be made for the fanatics and fundamentalists who, like wealthy libel lawyers, infest the earth with one purpose – to shut you up and keep you ignorant. No argument citing “cultural sensitivities’, “provocation”, “islamophobia” or “atheist fundamentalism” can hold any sway when the shedding of blood of people with absolutely NOTHING to do with film production takes place.

There is no justification valid under the Sun for any of the actions that have taken place – it is not “western imperialism”, “cultural imperialism” or any other such nonsense that idiots of the western far left and despotic clerics of the middle east parrot to stock outrage.

This is a sad state of affairs for anyone to observe. We need to be stressing that religious tolerance, a keystone of our society, in no way means a cowardly subservience to religion.

Boris Bloggers carry on regardless…

Well, you couldn’t make it up…

…or could you?

Well, today has been mixed in terms of news for Labour and Ken Livingstone, firstly some of the prominent Jewish Labour supporters who signed the leaked letter to Ed Miliband a few weeks ago have now posted an open letter on blogspot supporting Ken, and pretty much damning Mel Philips and andrew Gilligan.

Read it here: http://jewishlabouractivists.blogspot.co.uk/

I pretty much agree with everything posted above, and have indicated my support in the comments page.

The bad news was this morning’s ComRes poll for ITV Daybreak, which has given Mr Johnson an eight point lead across London. Ulp!!! Or as Johnson would say, “lawks!”.

However, there are a number of glaringly odd figures within the ComRes detail, for instance Ken getting 100% support in Kensington and Chelsea, or Johnson leading in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. Let me just say that I would love Labour to win in Kensington and Chelsea, however I suspect that George Osborne’s neighbours (well, those that aren’t non-dom) won’t vote Labour any time soon. Labour List goes into more detail about this here:  http://labourlist.org/2012/04/a-poll-with-holes/

Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to have a look at our old friends blogging for Boris, and as usual I was not disappointed:

A quick look at the Boris Johnson fan  sites today confirmed that they are still as strange as ever, none more so than the frankly hilarious CYBERborisjohnson, written by Angie, or Angelneptunestar to give this one-time knitting magnate her other alias.

As with a number of other sites, such as “The Wonder of Boris Johnson”, the monomania seems to reach new levels of hysteria – you could almost imagine that mop-topped Boris was leading his very own Fab Four out on stage, deafened by the weeping & screams of such ardent fans to run through his greatest hits once again. And, to mirror those heady days of BritPop, the fans need a rival to hate – step forward London Labour’s answer to Blur, Ken Livingstone.

In recent weeks, Anne Sykes at “The Wonder of Boris Johnson” has pretty much posted a collection of  pro Boris pictures interspersed with insults aimed at Ken & demands to “Vote for Boris!” So not much that is too current here, and, lets face it, its fair enough that a Johnson fan blog would err, back Boris. 

 Ms. Neptunestar over at CYBERboris.com has taken another path, and is pretty strident in her advocacy, not only of Boris, but also that Ken is a fascist stooge/red/just plain evil guy.

Her take on todays ComRes poll is not simply the expected crowing, but the bizarre assertion that Boris Johnson is on the verge of winning a desperate battle similar to Wellington’s defeat of the Maratha army at Assaye in 1803.  For those not versed in military history, I should explain that Wellington’s vastly outnumbered soldiers won a decisive victory, paving the way for the consolidation of the British Raj. Until a fortnight ago, it looked as if Boris would walk this one, so a struggle it may be, but Boris certainly isn’t the underdog.

I do wonder how many British Asians will feel about such a reference to British conquest? Hardly sensitive is it? I suppose that Angie does have a point, Johnson is indeed like Wellington in one way. Both men were right wing Tories who failed to turn their undoubted talents in their respective professions into proficiency in the  sphere of civil administration.  Wellington, pretty much the head of the Army until his death, was so reactionary that many of the disasters that befell our brave troops in the Crimean War can be laid at his feet.

Characteristically, Boris sites have ignored the open letter mentioned above, but they would do, wouldn’t they?

Still, back on April 12th, Angie enlightened us on the burning issue of the day, to whit which Greek Goddess would Ken be linked to? Well, its Eris, Goddess of Discord (naturally). Boris is apparently linked to Athena, Goddess of Tennis Players bottoms (equally naturally). It may be that in June she will be able to tell us whether the stars are God’s daisy chain or not…

 The usual guff about Livingstone is here in abundance – the guilt by association, the personal digs, I am sure this is all her own work, but if Linton Crosby is her neighbour, I would not be surprised. The one bright spot in all this black humour would be that people like Angelneptunestar spend so much time blogging, that hopefully they will forget to get the vote out…

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?

A BUDGET FOR WHO???

This weeks’ Budget, courtesy of the 14th Earl of Whyborne, has been lauded to the skies by the hard of understanding…

…Or as I like to think of them, Monetarists. The lack of imagination, and of any long-term goals other than dismantling the NHS, do not give me any confidence in Gideons’ old Maths Tutor. Then again, what should we expect from a man who dodges £1.6 million in tax whilst telling the rest of us to “pull together”?

Lets just examine a few measures here, for the sake of general interest…

  1. “The Sun Says Yippee! – 1p off fuel duty!” Yes, and there will be a rise of 5p in 2012.
  2. Tobacco duty up by 2% above inflation. Giving a welcome shot in the arm to the smuggling industry.
  3. An increase in Premiums Tax means that the cost of insurance rises – just as the Government wants us to take out private health insurance.
  4. A three year freeze in Child Benefit – so thats a decrease in light of inflation.
  5. The tax on Beer now exceeds £1.00 per pint. Britain’s vibrant Pub and Brewing industries salute you – not.
  6. National Insurance up 1% for us, but not for Employers.
  7. Personal Tax allowance up by £50 per month in April 2012. With the rises in the cost of living over the last twelve months, let alone the next year, this will at best give you £5 extra a month in your pocket.
  8. Council Tax frozen or reduced in EVERY English Council – regardless of the real needs of those communities.
  9. A return of the Enterprise Zone. Thatchers great sticking-plaster of the 1980s, that made little long-term difference to the areas blighted by her recession of the early 1980s. Anyone off to see Liverpool Garden Festival?

For this budget to work, the UK economy has to grow by around three percent each year until at least 2015. This is quite a lot, if we look at our history over he last forty years. It could happen, as the worldwide economy is tenuously starting to revive. Yet massive public spending cuts and redundancies will cost the exchequer dear, and reduce income from taxation – it could lead us into another recession, rather than digging us out of one.

And there is another point. Gideon and his gofer Danny Alexander have done precious little to curb the outrageous levels of  speculation in The City, nor have they come up with the kind of regulation needed to prevent, or at least limit the kind of crash we saw in 2008.

Long term, our economy is seriously unbalanced – with finance far too prevalent, and industry seen as a poor relation. Yet if we look at Germany, a country that actually still makes things and sells them, their recession is ending rather quicker than ours. This Budget does nothing to address this imbalance, nor do the Coalition partners seek to do so. Unsurprising really, when you think of all the ex-City men in the Cabinet…

 

So thats why I urge you all to march on Saturday for an alternative to this ill-considered schoolboy essay masquerading as a Budget.

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.


Murdoch is Bad News – Everywhere…

What with the dodgy dinners and phone-tapping, NewsCorp is not having a good time of it at the moment, but just in case you are one of those who feel “relaxed” about Murdoch wholly owning BSkyB, read this article in todays Observer – http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/30/frances-fox-piven-glenn-beck

 

Once again, Fox News personality Glenn beck has irresponsibly lead a witch hunt against a 78 year old academic – although he has not personally advocated violence against those he attacks in extreme language, his followers have no such qualms.

Do we really want this mans employer in sole charge of a large chunk of British Media?

Sexism in the Workplace and Free Speech

So, after the sacking of a couple of dunderheads at Sky Sports,  the focus has been placed on both Free Speech and on Sexism in the workplace.

About time too I would say, but what do the defenders of Grey and Keys really mean when they shout “Political correctness gone mad?”

An article in The New Statesman by an anonymous insider points to a culture of bullying and arrogance on Sky Sports’ flagship football programme, born of hubris and success. Read it at http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/01/sky-sports-keys-gray-melvin

After watching the video clips, it seems to me that there was certainly a problem here – Gray seems to be the alpha male, with Keys acting like his wingman. It reminds me of nothing so much as a bully and his creepy mate, you know the sort – you can find them in sports pubs across the land. They got found out, and now starts the bleating – “dark forces”, “genuinely sorry”, “a fine broadcaster”, and bizarrely from Giles Coren, “not in front of the ladies” – as if it is OK to behave like this at any time.

Working in The Hotel Industry, I can say that sexism in the workplace is alive and well, albeit mainly from the customers side. Yes, sad but true, female staff are still seen as legitimate targets for some sad men out there, who have not the wit to realise that the young woman in front of them is smiling because it is her job. Or that she is too young for them, or that she is not sexually available simply because she is serving them. Yuk. Guests from the Media,City, Estate Agents and Businessmen away from home being the worst offenders in my experience.(Anyone surprised?)

There is still a subtle sexism within the industry, and HR departments, however much they enforce the letter of the law, often ignore this, particularly amongst the low-paid. Which is ironic, as I have yet to experience a Hotel HR Department in ten years that didn’t have a majority of female staff and management.

The defence that this is merely Free Speech is not really an effective one here, to my mind. Of course, anyone should be allowed to hold any opinion, no matter how much I abhor it, yet in a civilised society women should expect to be treated with respect. “Banter” is only banter when both sides feel that they can win. I am by nature flirtatious, and enjoy the company of women, and, being English, enjoy a little bit of sauce.

At work, I tone this down,  and am careful not to overstep any mark ; self-deprecation is always good to use. I do not make crude and offensive remarks about anyone – they are not funny, they are not civilised. The notion that it is an exercise of Free Speech to harass female co-workers, to objectify them, and refer to them in dehumanising terms is simply sad.

Lets be clear here, Freedom of Speech means that you should be able to express what you believe. In a free society, Free Speech also means living with the results of your actions


Phone Hacking – The Scandal Spreads

Former Lib Dem MP Paul Marsden’s  questions as to whether his phone was tapped by the Trinity Mirror Group have led to the continuing Phone Hacking scandal being widened to potentially encompass the whole of Fleet Street – or at least the Tabloids, possibly a number of Broadsheets as well…

It also touches upon issues of Police corruption – were members of The Metropolitan Police Force (sorry, Service) on the payroll of one or more media groups? Where does this leave us as to the reliability of information received? Who are these officers, and will they be sacked and lose their pensions, as they rightly should? Why was Scotland Yard so tardy in bringing an investigation into this?

Scotland yard have reopened their investigations as of yesterday, citing “new evidence” that has come to light. This raises a few more points –

It is now impossible to claim that Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire were working alone – the new investigation includes notes from Mulcaire marked “For Ian” (presumable Ian Edmondson – just sacked by The News of The World), “For Clive”, and “For Gregg”.

Ex-MP Paul Marsdens request broadens this out to The Daily and Sunday Mirror – quite a reasonable assumption, given the prevailing atmosphere in Fleet street. According to the Independent today “If you ask any tabloid journalist, they will quietly say “everybody is doing it”…”

The key personnel in the frame now would be Rebekah Brooks (formerly Wade), Ian Edmondson,  Coulson, David Yelland, and Piers Morgan:

All of these august media operators learned their trade at News International under the fabulous Sun editor and grumpy rightwing git Kelvin Mackenzie.

The Christmas dinner soiree where James Murdoch met Ham-Face Cameron was at Rebekah Brooks’ Oxfordshire home, with Coulson in attendance .

Rebekah Brooks refused to attend a Commons enquiry into the press, and some members of the Committee claimed that they declined to have the Sergeant-At-Arms order her to do so, for fear of News International digging into their private lives.

The whole set-up stinks to high heaven…

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