London

Book Review: Governing Compact Cities: How to Connect Planning, Design and Transport by Philipp Rode

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/06/2018 - 8:57pm in

In Governing Compact Cities: How to Connect Planning, Design and TransportPhilipp Rode looks at the integration of urban planning, city design and transport policy that has enabled the development of sustainable and compact cities, focusing on the cases of London and Berlin. While the book is a dense read, Paulo Rui Anciaes recommends it as an important contribution to the study of urban governance that offers rich insight into the evolution of two successful European cities. 

If you are interested in this review, author Philipp Rode will be launching his book at the event ‘Governing Compact Cities’ at LSE on Monday 18 June 2018. Further information on how to attend can be found here

Governing Compact Cities: How to Connect Planning, Design and Transport. Philipp Rode. Edward Elgar. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Philipp Rode’s new book, Governing Compact Cities: How to Connect Planning, Design and Transport, looks at the institutional arrangements that enable sustainable cities. It starts with the recognition that in many cases, sustainable cities are also compact cities, characterised by mixed-use neighbourhoods and by transport systems oriented towards public and non-motorised modes of transport. But cities in countries with similar income levels can be at different stages of densification and motorisation. There are sprawling cities in North America and the Gulf region where up to 90 per cent of trips are still made by car, and other cities (mostly in Western Europe) that are re-densifying and where car ownership and use have started to decline. Demographic and social factors alone cannot explain these differences – urban policy and governance must also play a role.

There is some research on ‘what to do’ to achieve compact cities (for example, regenerating decaying central areas). But this book brings new knowledge by addressing a different question: that of ‘how to do it?’ In London and Berlin, the two cities studied in depth in this book, the ‘how’ involves a greater integration of urban planning, city design and transport policy, involving policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders working across sectors and different geographic and time scales.

This is material that could reach a wide readership, including people with different backgrounds and interests, such as public policy, transport, urban planning and sociology. But the book is a dense academic treaty that some may find difficult to navigate. Readers have to wait until page 32 to view the first results of the research in London and Berlin, after a jargon-dense introduction and an (interesting and informative) overview of urban density and sustainable transport trends around the world. But 25 pages later, we are back to the theory in Chapter Three, a long discussion of planning and policy integration.

The bulk of the empirical analysis of London and Berlin is in Chapters Four and Five, which can be read independently as they are self-contained units, almost like extended academic papers. The research is based on document analysis and twenty interviews with key stakeholders in each city, including several political and administrative leaders/ex-leaders. In these chapters, we find some interesting insights about how the two cities evolved since the 1990s towards more integrated urban governance.

Image Credit: (Les Haines CC BY 2.0)

Both cities have evolved towards an ‘X-shaped’ type of governance (represented in a nice diagram on page 220), which is characterised by horizontal integration across sectors at the city level and by less integrated structures both at the national level (responsible for defining budgets and legal frameworks for the different sectors) and the local level (responsible for implementing the projects).

In both cities, the integration at city level materialised through a combination of hierarchy and networks. Urban and transport policymaking were concentrated within a large organisational unit (the Greater London Authority in London and the SenStadtUm in Berlin) that develops a strategic vision for the city and has a clear leadership (namely, the Mayor of London and the Senator for Urban Development in Berlin). This was complemented with increased communication and collaboration between practitioners in the public, private and third-party sectors – what Rode calls ‘networked technocracy’.

This integration within and across institutions takes time between the establishment of new mechanisms and their translation into different policies on the ground. In the case of Berlin, some of the ideas for increased integration that were first developed in the early 1990s were only implemented as concrete policies ten years later. This underscores the need for integration across time, ensuring the continuity of processes and of working relationships within networks. The book also shows that the development of a new policy agenda (such as that of the compact city) may not be enough to achieve integration, which often occurs as a part of broader institutional changes occurring at the same time. In Berlin, this happened in the context of Germany’s reunification and in London as part of the New Labour political momentum of the late 1990s.

But there are also several differences in the way the cities achieved integration, with Berlin relying on a greater degree of concentration of powers in high-level institutions and London dependent on coordination between separate institutions. For example, in Berlin, the strategic and implementation powers regarding transport are concentrated in a single organisation, meaning the coordination between urban and transport policy can be done ‘in house’, while in London they are split between two (related) organisations, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London, which requires effective communication and relationship-building between teams and individuals in both. In another example, Berlin has a joint institution dealing with issues that cut across the administrative borders between the city and its hinterland, while in London this is done through coordination between the city government and surrounding local governments, facilitated by the national government.

Overall, this is not an easy book to read as it remains at a conceptual level from start to finish – it is a rare case when the book becomes somehow more academic than the original PhD thesis. Personally, I enjoyed reading the book, because it adds detail to a similar project I am working on looking at the shift towards more sustainable transport policies in London and Berlin (and another three cities) over the last decades. But I recognise that not all readers will have this motivation.

Nonetheless, those readers who are willing to take an abstract, high-level view of things will learn much about how institutions work and shape urban and transport policies in two successful cities. The book is an important contribution to the study of urban governance and offers rich information to those interested in how London and Berlin evolved from car-centred to more sustainable and compact cities. But the main value of the book is to individuals involved in urban governance in rich cities that are still at the car-centred stage and in cities that are rapidly growing bigger and richer and where there is still a choice of pathways, some more sustainable than others.

Paulo Rui Anciaes is a researcher at the Centre for Transport Studies, University College London. He completed his PhD at the Department of Geography and Environment of the London School of Economics. Paulo blogs about Community Severance and Alternative Environmentalism and contributes to the UCL Street Mobility project blog. Read more by Paulo Rui Anciaes.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

 


Far Right Watch Explain Why Tommy Robinson Is Not a Martyr for Free Speech

Last month, Tommy Robinson, or to give him his real name, Steven Yaxley Lennon, was arrested and jailed for contempt of court. Robinson is the former leader of the Islamophobic EDL, and has also been a member of PEGIDA UK, as well as the BNP. He’d been covering the trial of a group of Pakistani Muslims in Leeds on the internet outside the court. Robinson already had a suspended sentence for doing the same thing about a year ago in Canterbury. The rozzers swooped, Robinson pleaded guilty, and is now enjoying a holiday at her majesty’s pleasure.

His supporters have gone berserk, claiming that he’s been persecuted for his beliefs and that this is a serious breach of free speech by the multicultural establishment to protect Muslims. They’ve also been on the internet claiming that this is all part of the establishment’s campaign to make Whites extinct through immigration and racial mixing. The Islamophobic Dutch politician, Gert Wilders, who is himself no stranger to prosecution for racism, has condemned Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment. As has Pauline Hanson, the head of the minuscule Australian anti-immigration party, the One Nation Party. Hanson runs a fish and chip shop in Western Australia, and she’s made herself president for life of her outfit, so there are definitely no overtones of Fascist dictatorship there.

Last Sunday, 4th June 2018, Robinson’s supporters held a rally in London demanding his release. This has alarmed anti-racist activists and organisations. Hope Not Hate have released a video telling the truth about Robinson and what he really stands for and why he was jailed. As have Kevin Logan, the male feminist and anti-Fascist, and Far Right Watch. RT also covered the demonstration, and their short clip shows some of Robinson’s supporters trying fighting or attempting to fight the police.

Far Right Watch are an unpaid, volunteer group of nine people dedicated to exposing Fascism and the Far Right on the internet. In this video, which is about 28 minutes long, they answer five questions about Robinson and bust seven myths about him.

They start out by making the point that Robinson is a racist, and has been a member of a series of racist organisations, including the BNP. He’s also a criminal, having been convicted 12 times of various offences, including fraud. They go into great detail, including citing the official court document explaining to Robinson why he is being jailed, showing that his arrest is certainly not political censorship but was done as part of the ordinary legislation designed to give defendants a fair trial.

They point out that under English law since the 13th century, a person is innocent until proven guilty. This is unique to English law and the legal systems that are derived from it, and it’s a cornerstone of British justice. Robinson broke that in his coverage of the case, because his commentary on the trial assumed that the men being tried were guilty.

This is serious because it threatened to prejudice their trial, meaning that if the judge considered that the accused couldn’t get a fair trial because of Robinson, the trial would be abandoned or the accused acquitted. And if the accused were guilty of the heinous crimes with which they were charged, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice. Hence the mass of legislation surrounding the reporting of criminal cases which bind real journalists.

Robinson also violated accepted journalistic procedures by broadcasting live. When the professional broadcasters cover cases from outside a courthouse, it’s always recorded, and the report is then examined by legal experts to make sure that it complies with the law. Robinson did not none of that. He had no control over what was occurring, and was simply filming events as they happened. Furthermore, there were other people also coming to court for their trials, and his cavalier contempt for the law could have placed their cases in jeopardy.

His followers have also claimed that Robinson was all right to present his commentary on the case, as it was over. This video reveals that it wasn’t. The case Robinson was covering was only one of a number of trial, which were ongoing. They have also claimed that the ruling of contempt of court doesn’t apply to him, because he was outside the courtroom. That isn’t the case. The documents state that Robinson was still subject to the laws about contempt of court because he was still in the precincts of the court. Mike, who is a professional journalist, and who knows the law, told me that the precincts of the court are wherever the judge decides they are. So that excuse for him doesn’t hold up.

As for Robinson’s swift arrest, it’s so fast because he was given a 13 month suspended sentence for doing the same thing in Canterbury last year, which he didn’t contest. This sentence would immediately have started the moment Robinson broke the law again, regardless of any additional sentence he would be given for this offence. And while the speed of his arrest is unusual, it’s not unknown. Plus the fact that Robinson actually pleaded guilty to contempt when he was tried for it, so there’s absolutely no reason for the whole process to be prolonged with a lengthy trial and prosecution.

The video also makes the point that Robinson’s own interest in the trial was cynically racist. He wasn’t interested so much in the welfare of the children these people are accused of violating and exploiting. He was only interested in it as a way of generating further hatred against Muslims. He hadn’t covered a string of similar trials up and down England and Wales, for the simple reason that the paedophile gangs being tried in these cases were all White. Just like he also wasn’t interested in talking about Jimmy Savile or the allegations against the former Tory leader, Edward Heath.

As for Wilders and Pauline ‘President for Life’ Hanson fulminating against his arrest and sentencing as a travesty of British justice, or words to that effect, the same laws against contempt of court are in force everywhere, including the Netherlands and Australia. So if Robinson had broken the law in those countries, as he has here, he’d still have been jailed.

In short, Robinson is in no way a martyr for free speech, as the document outlining the reasons why he has been jailed states very clearly. This wasn’t about politics. It was about justice, giving the accused a fair trial, under laws which go all the way back to the Middle Ages. It was definitely not about protecting Muslim paedophiles, or the elites advancing the cause of ‘White genocide’ or any of the stupid and vile conspiracy theories that the Far Right may choose to believe or make up about it. And Robinson himself is hardly a high-minded, principled political activist. He’s a convicted criminal and a racist, who knowingly violated the law in order to generate more anti-Muslim hatred.

Radio 4 Programme Tomorrow on Tweezer’s Planned Sale of Citizenship to Millionaires

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/06/2018 - 6:15pm in

Mike’s already blogged about this issue, showing how it reveals the Tories’ fawning over the rich, who are pushing property prices up in London, while blocking the skilled immigrants from coming to Britain that this country really needs.

File on 4 tomorrow, Sunday 10th June 2018, at Five PM, is ‘Citizenship for Sale’. The Radio Times describes the programme thus

The UK offers residency in exchange for an investment of £2 million – or for £10 million, the possibility of citizenship within two years. Across the world countries are vying to attract the super-rich through these schemes. But do they deliver any real value? And are they being used by criminals? Alys Hart reports.

RT: One Year Since Snap Election, 365 Days of Shambles

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 6:30pm in

This is another short video from RT, that terrible Russian propaganda network undermining righteous Conservative Britain and making us all like Putin. At just over two minutes long, it catalogues some of the failures of this government since they called the snap election last year.

These are:

The dodgy deal with the DUP, which May concluded in order to support her minority government. The video states that most people were left unimpressed by the £1 billion deal.

Hindering Brexit talks, policy and approval ratings.

Grenfell Fire, which left at least 72 people dead. The video shows the angry crowd of local people, that formed to protest at Theresa May when she decided to visit the scene.

Brexit negotiations – May has suffered 15 defeats from the Lords over her EU withdrawal bill. The party has been rocked by revolts, and the continued delays have made the public apathetic.

Crime rates – for the first time ever, London has surpassed New York City in murder rates. More than 60 moped crimes are reported per day in the capital.

It’s not an exhaustive catalogue of the government’s failures, but it is a damning one. Get them out!

Book Review: Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary Space by Debra Benita Shaw

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 6:34pm in

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In Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary SpaceDebra Benita Shaw examines the disciplinary control and classification built into the design of the contemporary city and explores practices of posthuman resistance, from squatting, dumpster diving and protest to parkour. This book provides excellent insight into how urban space can both stabilise and disrupt notions of ‘the human’ and other dominant ideologies, writes Hannah Spruce

Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary Space. Debra Benita Shaw. Rowman & Littlefield International. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Who is the contemporary city designed for? And how do posthuman subjects disturb this design? These questions are central to Debra Benita Shaw’s Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in the Contemporary City Space, dividing the book into two parts: ‘I: Political Anatomies of Bodies and Cities’ and ‘II: Monsters in the Metropolis’. Part One explores who exactly the city is designed for. Shaw explains how architectural spaces such as hospitals, museums and art galleries intersect with scientific discourses to naturalise Eurocentric, humanistic understandings of ‘the human’. Part Two explores posthuman urban resistance by examining how squatters, dumpster divers, protesters and practitioners of parkour, among other ‘monsters’, resist the regulation, surveillance and humanism which is otherwise designed into urban spaces.

Shaw establishes that her posthumanism stems from the view that ‘who ‘‘we’’ are […] is not to be taken for granted’ (7). Her posthumanism ‘does not refer to what comes after the human’ (often, but not always, termed ‘transhumanism’), but is rather a theory and praxis which recognises an ‘imperative to deconstruct the premises which have sustained the myth of androcentric humanism and its associated political structures’ (44). The human, she argues, is an ‘aspirational category, an ideal caught up with transcendence and the realisation of an exclusive form’ synonymous with Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic sketch, Vitruvian Man (184). These ideas of humanism and transcendence are integral to her exploration of city space. Through a focus on the ways that Western aspirations regarding human perfection are built into the architecture of the city, Shaw interrogates how urban structures can incorporate and reinforce the racist, classist and sexist hierarchies of Eurocentric knowledge systems.

Posthuman Urbanism is also wonderfully alert to the ways that posthuman theory can be, and often is, used to critique social Darwinism. Shaw provides an excellent outline in Chapter One, ‘Darwin’s Monsters’, in which she illustrates how the discourses of evolutionary-based sciences have been spatially structured into the architecture, organisation and functions of ‘cultural’ institutes in urban centres. Shaw demonstrates how in the nineteenth century, when London’s Natural History Museum was opened to the working classes, the new exhibits on human evolution spread ‘sanctioned forms of knowledge’ (108) about racial hierarchies from the museum to the street. The museum, asserts Shaw, operates as a transcendental space which elevates the European man over and against the foreign ‘Other’ through the structure of the museum exhibit.

Image Credit: (– HOGRE – CCO)

Moreover, by adhering to the museum’s architecture of engagement, which regulates the movement of the working classes through the museum and enforces a specific way of understanding the exhibits, subjects are granted a humanistic theory of man which they can take to the street to wield upon the urban public. By drawing on the flâneur, a figure who strolls through the city observing and assessing the masses, Shaw argues that the museum equipped working-class citizens with a new lens: that of the nineteenth-century gentleman who catalogues the urban crowd through evolutionary taxonomies. According to Shaw, the sanctioned knowledge of the museum allowed the working classes to classify and differentiate the public according to a scientific morphology which naturalised racial hierarchies. In this analysis, Shaw recognises how city spaces operate as disciplinary sites which educate citizens in humanism and what it means to be human.

In ‘Metropolitan Others’ (Chapter Two), Shaw discusses the concept of cyberflânerie. The flâneur, she argues, migrated to digital space in the late twentieth century to surf the web through online ‘voyages of discovery’ (80). Shaw expands on the concept, which she credits to William J. Mitchell, by reconnecting the cyberflâneur to urban material space. The cyberflâneur, she claims, is ‘alive and well and is a significant feature of the way that urban and digital spaces merge and interact’ in the twenty-first century (89). Shaw focuses here on the popularisation of image-sharing social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat. By leisurely meandering through and gazing on these apps, the cyberflâneur traverses digital urban space to pass comment on the material world. Critically, asserts Shaw, the cyberflâneur may use digital space to recirculate ‘oppressive racial meanings’ (89) that dominate outside of digital space. This has the effect of expanding, intensifying and reproducing the reach of Eurocentric racisms and humanism. Shaw’s focus on the cyberflâneur usefully relocates a perspective on digital space to consider the ways that cyberspace and urban space interconnect.

Part One of Posthuman Urbanism ends with an exciting prospect: a manifesto for a contemporary posthuman politics. Posthumanist scholars frustrated with posthumanism as ‘mere theory’ may be interested in taking up Shaw’s call to develop posthumanism from a critique of biopower to a deliberate and active political strategy. Through the concepts of ‘dark space’ (spaces which resist the panoptical gaze of the state) and ‘junkspace’ (liminal, disciplinary spaces like shopping centres, supermarkets, hotels and airports), Shaw outlines how posthuman bodies can accelerate the process of repurposing urban space for left-political means. As an example, Shaw draws on the tactic of ‘civic swarming’: a posthuman urban response to police kettling (a tactic of constraining protesters through police barriers to incite agitation and violence and also to render the ‘ugly crowd’ visible through police helicopters). Civic swarming involves using knowledge of urban space, so that posthuman bodies, free of riot gear and equipment, can move agilely through city space to resist the police kettle and avoid the visibility of the crowd (132).

In Part Two, through vignette-like chapters, Shaw focuses principally on posthuman subjects who are active, able-bodied and economically privileged agents, political or otherwise, like urban explorers and Occupy activists. In other words, these subjects choose their posthumanity. While this is a useful mapping of how these bodies interact with the city, missing from this section is a posthuman praxis for urban subjects who are forcibly expelled from the category of ‘the human’, and with this, from homes, occupations and urban space. Without such a politics, Shaw’s posthuman manifesto for ‘queering space through living differently’ (186) risks being read as a utopian dream for the economically and physically able. While her posthuman praxis would benefit from further inclusion, it would do her scholarship a disservice not to mention that Shaw does acknowledge that the majority of her posthuman subjects are privileged citizens who live differently by choice.

That said, one of the unique strengths of Posthuman Urbanism is how Shaw draws on her experiences in twenty-first-century London as an academic, activist and participant in the social centres movement (which involves adapting and utilising abandoned buildings as community spaces). In doing so, Shaw introduces a welcome autoethnographical perspective to the field of posthumanism, making her book a critical contribution which articulates a posthuman praxis where most offer only theory.

Posthuman Urbanism will be useful to students and scholars concerned with how city spaces and architecture include and exclude certain subjects through designing operations like separation, classification and disciplinary control. It is relevant to those occupied with the intersections of cultural geography and ideology, providing excellent insight into how humanism and urban space interact to stabilise the idea of the human as well as how posthumanism can disrupt the symbiotic relationship between urban space and dominant ideologies.

Hannah Spruce is a doctoral student in the Department of English and Centre for American Studies at the University of Leicester. Her research interests include US and Canadian women’s writing, posthumanism and the medical humanities. You can follow her on Twitter @h_spruce.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Justice for Marc Wadsworth Tour Begins Next Tuesday

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/05/2018 - 3:43am in

Tony Greenstein, the veteran Jewish anti-racist, anti-Fascist and anti-Zionist, has today announced on his blog that the ‘Justice for Marc Wadsworth’ Tour begins next Tuesday, May 15th at the Indian YMCA in Fitzroy Square, London. Wadsworth is the Black anti-racist campaigner, who was thrown out of the Labour party by a kangaroo court on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism because he criticised Ruth Smeeth, the Blairite MP, after she passed on information to a Torygraph hack.

Wadsworth has not only campaigned for Blacks and Asians, including arranging for the parents of Stephen Lawrence to meet Nelson Mandela, he also had the law on racial harassment changed in concert with the Board of Deputies of the British Empire in the 1990s after a series of anti-Semitic attacks following the election of the BNP’s storm trooper, Derek Beacon.

It’s a farcical travesty that Wadsworth’s even been accused of anti-Semitism. Just as it has been for all the others, including Mike, who have been so smeared and libelled simply for opposing the Blairites or criticising the Israel and the Israel lobby. Or merely defending those who have.

On the stage with him is the comedian Alexei Sayle, who’s Jewish, and Jackie Walker, one of the leaders of Momentum, who was also smeared as an anti-Semite after she criticised the Israel lobby. Walker’s Black, but her father’s Jewish, she is a practising Jew, her partner’s Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. For most of us, this makes the charge of anti-Semitism ridiculous. But not to the Blairites and their allies in the Israel Lobby.

The tour is being put on by the groups Grassroots Black Left, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Jewish Voice for Labour.

Go to Tony Greenstein’s page at http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/marc-wadsworth-tour-begins-next-tuesday.html for more details.

The Social Hierarchy that Makes Prejudice towards Some Minorities More Acceptable Than Others

Way back on April 23rd, Mike also wrote an article commenting on the near complete media silence over islamophobia in the Tory party, contrasting this with the furore over the supposed anti-Semitism in Labour. Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi had appeared on Robert Peston’s programme to state that islamophobic incidents and rhetoric were almost weekly occurrences in the Tory party. The only news outlet that reported Warsi’s statement, which not even Peston himself commented on, was RT. Which shows just how much we need the Russian-owned broadcaster and supposed ‘propaganda outlet’ to correct the massive bias in our own media.

Aleesha, a Muslim female blogger and political activist, who talked about the massive increase she’d seen in Tory islamophobia, but which went unnoticed and unremarked by the media, and which no one was condemning or acting against. She discussed the vehemently islamophobic comments of the Tory MP, Bob Blackman, Zac Goldsmith’s campaign for the post of mayor of London against Sadiq Khan, and the official EU Leave campaign, which said that Europe has an ‘exploding Muslim population’.

Aleesha further asked

“Why is nobody acting? I have been blocked by Tory councillors and Tory MPs when I call islamophobia out. Why are these MPs and councillors supporting islamophobes? It makes me think that the Tory party has an actual problem with islamophobia, not to mention the dozens of times I’ve been religiously abused by Tories.

“Are we just going to ignore it? When will we give these cases the rightful outrage? Islamophobia is absolutely normalised in British politics and nobody is really doing anything about it. The silence from our politicians shows their inability to act and their legitimation/endorsement of these views. Are we going to act, or are we going to do nothing and let MPs like Bob Blackman host more extremists in Parliament?”

Mike ended his article by referring back to Baroness Warsi’s comments, and concluding that the real reason islamophobia is being ignored is because the Tories love it.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/04/23/sick-of-labour-anti-semitism-lets-talk-about-tory-islamophobia-instead/

As Mike has pointed out repeatedly, racism of all types, including islamophobia, is far more prevalent amongst the Right, including the Tories, than the Left and the Labour party. But the media aren’t commenting on it, and are playing up the supposed anti-Semitism in Labour for purely political reasons. They fear Corbyn’s Labour and its programme of ending neoliberalism, renationalising the NHS, part of the electricity grid and the railways, and restoring the welfare state. The Blairites in the Labour party and their allies in the Israel lobby also despise him, not because he is an enemy of Israel, but because he demands dignity and justice for the Palestinians. This also attacks traditional geopolitics in the region, where the West has supported Israel and Saudi Arabia against Russia and the surrounding Arab nations. As a result, the Tories, the media, the Israel lobby and the Thatcherite Labour Right, the Blairites, have all seized on the spurious allegations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters as a way of trying to unseat the Labour leader and marginalise and expel his supporters.

There are also a number of reasons why islamophobia is far also far more acceptable than other forms of racial prejudice. Colour prejudice is one factor. Most Muslims in this country are Black or Asian, and Muslims may also be seen as more foreign than other ethnic groups because historically they lay outside and beyond the European Christian mainstream. While there have been Muslim communities in parts of Europe, like Spain, the Balkans and Russia and the Baltic states since the Middle Ages, they were always marginal communities outside the European mainstream. Europe in the Middle Ages was Christendom. Muslim Spain was part of the Islamic world, as were the Muslim communities in the Balkans which were established after the region was conquered by the Muslim Turks. The Ottoman Turks were an aggressive, expansionary threat to the European Christian states up until the late 17th century. The massacres of Christians carried out by the Ottomans at the end of the 19th century, when the Greeks and Serbs fought their wars of independence, became notorious, and so contributed to this stereotype of Islam as an innately hostile threat. At the same time, the massacres carried by Christians against Muslims was little reported and did not provoke the same outrage.

There is also the legacy of British imperialism, and its conquest of part of the Dar al-Islam in the creation of negative views of Islam and its peoples, followed by the continued instability of the region after independence. The result has been that Islam and Muslims have continued to be seen as a threat completely opposed to Europe and the West. The stereotype has been reinforced by the rise of militant Islam following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Islamist terrorism and highly emotive campaigns by some Muslims in Britain, such as the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the controversy over the Satanic verses, and the marches and demands for Pope Benedict’s death after he quoted a medieval Byzantine emperor’s negative comments about Mohammed.

And added to all this is Huntingdon’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ thesis, which stated that after the collapse of Communism, there would be an inevitable conflict between the West and Islam. Huntingdon’s idea has been taken up by very many on the right, from the Republicans in America to UKIP, the Fascist and Nazi right in Britain and Europe, and now, it seems, a very large part of our own Conservative party.

But a few years ago, one right-wing writer also offered his own views on why prejudice against some minorities was more acceptable than others. He wrote

‘Is there, in effect, an unofficial pack of equality Top Trumps cards? In egalitarian Britain, who has the best minority credentials? They could go something like this:’

He then laid his scheme of how these cards would look as follows:

LESBIANS AND GAYS
Media Connections 9
Victim Status 4
Rarity Value 3
Fear Factor 6
Political/financial clout 8

MUSLIMS
Media Connections 4
Victim Status 6
Rarity Value 4
Fear Factor 9
Political/financial clout 4

JEWS
Media Connections 9
Victim Status 8
Rarity Value 6
Fear Factor 5
Political/financial clout 10

DISABLED
Media Connections 2
Victim Status 9
Rarity Value 8
Fear Factor 1
Political/financial clout 2

GURKHAS
Media Connections 7
Victim Status 5
Rarity Value 6
Fear Factor 9
Political/financial clout 4

TRANSSEXUALS
Media connections 1
Victim Status 3
Rarity Value 10
Fear Factor 2
Political/financial clout 3.

So who was the terrible person, who compiled this league table of marginalised groups? Well, actually it was Daily Mail sketch writer Quentin Letts, in his book Bog Standard Britain: How Mediocrity Ruined This Great Nation (London: Constable 2009), pages 115 to 117. They’re in the chapter ‘Bum Rap’, where he comments on the way the vile homophobia of some Caribbean rap lyrics are apparently considered acceptable, when Lynette Burrows was reported to the cops for homophobia when she questioned on the BBC the right of male gay couples to adopt baby girls. He concluded on this issue that

… it is hard to escape the conclusion that the police leave rap music alone because it has more minority value than the gay people it so charmlessly attacks. Lynette Burrows was collared because she was an easy target and because she was one of the majority. The rappers are more frightening and they have the political Scotchguard of victimhood.

But you could use his grading of the comparative power and victim status of various minority groups to argue that anti-Semitism is far more unacceptable than other forms of racial prejudice, because Jews have a greater victim status and political and financial power. If this came from someone on the left now, they would almost certainly be libelled as an anti-Semite. But there has been no such outcry against Letts. And I hope there isn’t, because I don’t believe he has written anything anti-Semitic.

There is some truth in what he writes, as the majority of Westerners are acutely aware of the long history of persecution the Jews have suffered in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust. Jews are also generally more integrated than some other groups, and Brits have a more positive attitude towards them. Only 7 per cent of Brits in polls say they are anti-Semitic. Many leading businessmen and media figures are Jewish, though this certainly does not mean that the vile conspiracy theories that claims Jews control business and the media are anything but murderous lies. And the anti-Semitic smears of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and the Jewish Leadership Council carry weight, because they are part of the Tory establishment.

Against this, there are still anti-Semitic attacks and harassment. Nazi groups, like the banned National Action in England and the Alternative Fuer Deutschland in Germany have made terrifying speeches calling for the murder and extermination of Jews. And many of those libelled by the Blairites, the Tories and the Israel lobby as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews, whose only crime is that, like their gentile anti-racist friends and comrades, they support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left.

Real, murderous anti-Semitism, like other forms of racism, still exists, and Jews have given their support to other marginalised groups suffering racial abuse in the West. The ADL, the American Jewish organisation dedicated to tackling anti-Semitism, for example, also came out in support of Muslims against Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Thus, for a variety of historical, social and economic reasons, prejudice against some minorities, such as Jews, is far less acceptable than others, such as Muslims. But racial prejudice generally is far more common in the Tory party, and the current attacks on anti-Semitism in the Labour party has far more to do with politics than real anti-Semitism, as shown by the fact that so many of those smeared are genuinely anti-racist and Jewish.

Vox Political on the Private Police Force Now Being Unrolled by the Tories

Mike over on Vox Political has just put up a piece reporting and commenting on a private police force, My Local Bobby. This was first introduced in three of the wealthiest boroughs in London, and is now set to be unrolled nationally. He makes the point that we’ve known for a long time that the Tories have wanted a private police force. Now they look set to have one, while the real police are being run down and starved of funds and officers. He states that this looks like a protection racket to him, and asks what his readers think.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/08/private-police-or-protection-racket/

This another issue I really can’t let go. The Tories have been planning to set up a privatised police force since the late 1980s and early 1990s. I can remember Virginia Bottomley, one of Major’s cabinet, raving in the Mail on Sunday about how wonderful it would be.

It’s another idea that the Tories have taken straight from the Libertarians. It comes from the demented ideas of their leader, Rothbard, who would also like to privatise the courts. The Libertarians see themselves as Anarchists, though I think genuine Anarchists would vehemently dispute this. Especially as the Libertarians themselves have their own history of anti-Semitism. In the mid ’70s their journal in the states, run by one of the Koch brothers, ran an edition dedicated to denying the Holocaust. This included articles by some of the most notorious of the country’s real neo-Nazis. The purpose behind it was to attack Roosevelt. The Libertarians hate the minimum welfare state Roosevelt introduced with the New Deal. But Roosevelt is also popular for taking America into the War and helping to defeat the horrors of Nazi Germany. World War II is seen as a good war, because of the Shoah – the Holocaust. And so the Libertarians decided that to undermine the New Deal, they had to try and discredit Roosevelt generally. Thus the publication of the vile lies to try to convince people that the Holocaust never happened.

Then Ronald Reagan got into power, who supported the Libertarians. Finding themselves suddenly in the mainstream, they decided to bury their anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial to avoid this coming back to discredit them.

As for a private police force, there are several arguments against them. Firstly, justice must be the preserve of the state. Those who take the law into their own hands without the proper sanction of authority are vigilantes. And Fascist regimes have also incorporated right-wing paramilitary organisations as part of their police and military. The radical American journalist Chris Hedges, talked about how the Nazis did this with the SS. He predicted that Trump would do something similar with the paramilitary racist groups in the Alt Right, such as the violent, White supremacist ‘Proud Boys’. The private police here aren’t racist, but they are a private organisation carrying out police functions, and so somewhat like those predicted by Hedges. Which leads to the question: the Tories are deeply racist, as shown by Tweezer’s deportation of the Windrush migrants. How long will it be, if the Tories get away with this, before they start to give police powers to real, openly racist groups?

According to Mike’s article, these new private bobbies can use citizen’s arrests. Well, so can anybody. But the One Show a while tackled the issue, and it’s not as clear cut as it may appear. There are very strong legal restrictions on how they can be made. Put simply, you can only make a citizen’s arrest if there is a danger that the perp may escape before a real copper gets there. So these fake police are still dependent on the real thing.

Then there’s the argument from morality and efficiency. According to this scheme, you’re given the protection of this private police force, if you pay £200 a month. But what happens if not everyone in the area agrees to pay that, and some don’t sign up? Clearly, they don’t get police protection, which means they become at risk from crime. This is unjust. But it’s also a danger to the other residents. Say, for example, someone outside this scheme is murdered, and their home taken over by violent thugs. The private cops don’t move against them, because that person didn’t pay his £200 a month. But the occupation of his house by the gang also puts everyone else in the street or area in danger.

Private police are a rubbish idea. They don’t work and they’re immoral. Which is why this morally corrupt government backs them. This lot sound like a bunch of corporate vigilantes. And the fact that the scheme was tried out in three of London’s richest boroughs shows how classist this scheme is. The rich get policing, while the real police keeping the rest of us safe are deprived of staff and funding, making our streets much less safe.

Which is the Tories all round. It really is one law for the rich under them, and another for the poor.

Expelled Labour Anti-Racist Campaigner Marc Wadsworth Talks to Afshin Rattansi on RT

This is another great video from that notorious Russian propaganda outlet, RT, which shows exactly why we need the channel. It’s the only one allowing those smeared as anti-Semites from the Labour party to come on TV to give their side and their views.

In this clip, RT’s presenter for the ‘Going Underground’ programme, Afshin Rattansi, talks to Marc Wadsworth. Wadsworth is the veteran anti-racist campaigner, who was smeared as an anti-Semite by Blairite Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. He was then subjected to what can only be described as a kangaroo court, before being found guilty and thrown out.

Wadsworth here talks about how he formed the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991, and how he helped the parents of the murdered Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, meet Nelson Mandela. He states that this was a time when racism and Fascism were on the increase. Blacks and Asians had been attacked, the BNP had established a bunker, which they claimed was a bookshop, and then there was the murder of Stephen Lawrence. He was able to get Stephen Lawrence’s parents to meet Mandela through contacting expatriate members of the ANC, who were disgusted to find out that Black lives were just as cheap in London as they were in South Africa. The Anti-Racist Alliance itself had the support of MPs, Blacks, Asians and Jews, and was the largest Black led anti-racist organisation in Europe.

Rattansi then asks him about Amber Rudd, the deportations and his expulsion from the Labour party. Wadsworth states that his father was one of the Windrush generation. He was an RAF volunteer from Jamaica, who paid his own passage of here in 1944 to help Britain fight the Nazis. After the War, he then made his way back here, to help this country rebuild. Wadsworth says that his father’s dead now, but if he were alive, he’d be appalled at the way they were treated, and the way his son has been treated.

Rattansi then asks him how long he’s known Jeremy Corbyn. Wadsworth states that he’s known Corbyn since he was first elected as an MP in 1983, when he was a campaigning trade unionist. Wadsworth also discusses how he was one of those involved in the movement for Black sections in the Labour party, which led to the election of the first Black Labour MPs, including Bernie Grant and Diane Abbott. This was a landmark moment, as up till then parliament had been all White, as White as that of South Africa.

He and Rattansi also discuss how Wadsworth was influential in changing and drafting the law on racial harassment in concert with a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. This was after a series of battles with the BNP on the Isle of Dogs after the election of Derek Beacon, when Jews were being attacked.

As for the kangaroo court that found him guilty of anti-Semitism, he states that his legal team had entirely disproved the charges against him, and that the court couldn’t even give him a definition of anti-Semitism, and had to take legal advice part way through. He found this very disturbing. He says he’s been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from thousands of people, and that polls show most people think he’s innocent. He states that this is the Blairites trying to hold on to power, and that if they get away with throwing him out, they’ll be able to throw out anybody. It could be Jackie Walker next, or Ken Livingstone.

Rattansi tackles him on why no Labour figures have publicly defended him. Wadsworth states that he had received the support of high-ranking Labour MPs, naming them. As for the reason they haven’t publicly come forward, this is because Jeremy Corbyn is under siege by the Blairites. 172 MPs signed a ‘no confidence’ motion against him, which is 95 per cent of parliamentary MPs. They’re afraid to speak out in case the right-wing press jump in and try to use their defence against them and the wider Labour party.

Rattansi mentions that Wadsworth isn’t just concerned with racial justice, but also with class. Wadsworth states that he left the Labour party because of the invasion of Iraq. He rejoined when Corbyn became leader. He states that we need to back Corbyn in this battle for the soul of the Labour party, if we wish to have genuinely socialist, internationalist, anti-war Labour party.

At the end of the programme their subtitles giving dates from a ‘Justice for Wadsworth’ tour, beginning in London. You may wish to stop the video at that and make notes of the dates.

Wadsworth is clearly a man of deep conviction and integrity, and it is an utter travesty that he has been so foully smeared as an anti-Semite when he is clearly very, very far from it. As are so many others.

As for his story about his father serving in the RAF, and then coming back to Britain after the War to help in our reconstruction, Wadsworth’s father was by no means the only one. The book Under the Imperial Carpet, which discusses various incidents in Black British history, has a chapter on the many West Indians, who, like Wadsworth’s father, came to this country during the War to help us. These people were so well received that they came back here after the War expecting the same treatment. Sadly, they weren’t, and found instead bitter racism and resentment. Rudd and Tweezer’s deportation of this generation and their children is another vile chapter in this story of hope, racism and disappointment and maltreatment.

Wadsworth and everyone else falsely accused of anti-Semitism should be cleared and reinstated as members of the Labour party immediately.

The deportations must stop now, and those deported returned to their homes and families in Britain. And Tweezer should resign or be thrown out for her role in drafting the legislation used to persecute them.

And Ruth Smeeth and the other Blairites are utterly despicable, and should be deselected.

Sam Seder’s Majority Report on Stefan Molyneux’s Toxic Hatred of Women

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/05/2018 - 4:25am in

One of the speakers at the far right ‘free speech’ rally in Whitehall tomorrow is Stefan Molyneaux. Molyneaux’s a libertarian with a bitter hatred of Islam, and is one of the major figures in the antifeminist men’s rights movement. British male feminist and scourge of racists and fascists Kevin Logan has a video on him as part of his series on misogynists, ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’. In this video from Sam Seder’s Majority Report, one of Seder’s fellow hosts talks about a disturbing rant from Molyneux they’ve been sent from a listener.

It’s truly scary. In it, Molyneux tells one of his listeners that he is right to blame his mother for the bad treatment he had from his father, because women love, marry and procreate with stupid and evil men. He then goes on to blame women for just about all the evils of the modern world, including nuclear weapons, national debt and genocide.

The presenter also points out that Molyneux and the people, who follow him up, also seem similar to the mass shooter Elliot Roger. Roger was frustrated at not being able to get a girlfriend, made a video in which he also ranted about girls and women choosing bad men over a ‘gentleman’ like him, and then went off on his shooter spree to kill a few women, and the men, who attempted to defend them or simply got in the way. These people really believe that women are only there for their sexual pleasure.

It says very much about the type of people speaking at the rally tomorrow, which include Tommy Robinson of the EDL and Lauren Southern, that Molyneux’s with them. Quite apart from Molyneux’s own libertarianism, which would have everything privatised and the welfare state utterly destroyed.

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