Monday, 29 June 2009


I found this posted today on the Internet and thought it appropriate to paste it onto my blog.

We, a group of Iranian bloggers, strongly condemn the violent and repressive confrontation of Iranian government against Iranian people's legitimate and peaceful demonstrations and ask government officials to comply with Article 27 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution which emphasizes "Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam."
We consider the violations in the presidential election, and their sad consequences a big blow to the democratic principles of the Islamic Republic regime, and observing the mounting evidence of fraud presented by the candidates and others, we believe that election fraud is obvious and we ask for a new election.
Actions such as deporting foreign reporters, arresting local journalists, censorship of the news and misrepresenting the facts, cutting off the SMS network and filtering of the internet cannot silence the voices of Iranian people as no darkness and suffocation can go on forever. We invite the Iranian government to honest and friendly interaction with its people and we hope to witness the narrowing of the huge gap between people and the government.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009

One can only greet the death of singer Michael Jackson at the age of 50 with genuine sadness, but without extraordinary surprise. Given the entire set of circumstances, it was never going to be clear how his saga might end. Sadly individuals like Jackson who enjoy immense celebrity and success in America so often pay a terrible price.

A great many people around the world are understandably moved by Jackson’s death. After all, he was one of the first global performing superstars and reportedly sold some three quarters of a billion albums worldwide. Those who enjoyed his music and dancing, and also perhaps felt sympathy for his obvious personal traumas, will respond with spontaneous emotion.

The opposite must be said about the reactions of entertainment industry moguls and the media, along with—ludicrously—various political figures (from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Germany’s economy minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the Philippines’ former first lady, Imelda Marcos). Here financial (and even political) calculation and cynicism vie with one another.

Jackson’s death at a rented home in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon produced a massive burst of interest on various online services, as well as a surge in sales of his music. The cable television channels and Internet news outlets can talk of little else. MTV reported Friday that “Jackson’s music managed to fill every slot in Amazon’s Top 15 best-seller list and occupy half of iTunes’ Top 20 downloaded albums and singles.”

It is not doing recording industry executives, a notoriously predatory breed, any particular injustice to suppose that Jackson’s death was immediately looked upon in certain circles as a golden opportunity to improve this year’s tumbling compact disc sales (analysts forecast that overall music sales in 2009 will be $23 billion, down 16 percent from 2006).

In an official statement Sony chief executive officer Howard Stringer—whose company owns the rights to Jackson’s best-selling music—called the singer “a brilliant troubadour for his generation, a genius whose music reflected the passion and creativity of an era,” while Bloomberg wire service noted that Sony “may boost revenue through a rebound in sales of the late pop icon’s CDs and DVDs.” A Deutsche Bank AG analyst in Tokyo, however, poured cold water on the excitement, pointing out that the contribution to the company’s overall earnings brought about by Jackson’s passing “will be limited and won’t likely impact Sony’s share price.”

As for the mass media, at the time of Jackson’s 2005 trial in California on charges of child molestation, the various news outlets highlighted each salacious detail and speculated in the most lurid fashion about his private life. His acquittal on all charges was met by a collective groan of disappointment from the tabloids and the media generally. The prospect of Jackson sentenced to prison offered simply too many opportunities for further publicizing and exploiting his humiliations.

Following his death, the Los Angeles Times noted: “The tabloids that had baited Jackson mercilessly when he was alive, dubbing him ‘Wacko Jacko’ for his erratic behavior, increasingly strange looks and accusations of child molestation, were suddenly effusive in their praise of a man ‘who provided the soundtrack to a billion lives.’”

One of the most repugnant offenders in all such cases, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun in Britain, for example, pontificated Friday: “He fought off his accusers, but his health was broken and his fortune destroyed. Let us remember today the Michael Jackson the world loved: The child star of the Jackson Five whose talent, charisma and charm captivated the world. ...

“The whole world was his stage and the whole of mankind his audience. Those lucky enough to have seen him will never forget it. Those with his records—and can there be anyone who hasn’t got his records—will play them today and weep.”

Such was the corrupt, hypocritical environment in which Jackson operated and that effectively destroyed him. It would seem imprudent to separate his death, whatever its immediate physiological cause proves to be, from the immense strains in his life. A professional entertainer for 40 years, endlessly pursued by the media, hounded by scandal, under great pressure to make a successful comeback, Jackson—whose health had not been good for years—succumbed on the eve of a grueling series of 50 concerts in London, scheduled to extend from July until March 2010.

Promoters insisted that Jackson undergo “a series of rigorous medical check-ups” before agreeing to the shows, undertaken in part to help the singer extricate himself from what were reported to be hundreds of millions of dollars in debts. Typical of the macabre and ruthless atmosphere surrounding Jackson, British bookmakers William Hill offered only 1/8 odds that he would show up for his first scheduled performance. Los Angeles publicist Michael Levine, who once represented the performer, told a press conference: “A human simply cannot withstand this level of prolonged stress.”

Over the course of his life, various processes came together to seal Michael Jackson’s fate. In the first place, of course, there was his immense talent. It is very difficult at this point to get behind the self-serving media frenzy and hyperbole and reconstruct an accurate picture of his gifts. Video of his audition for Motown Records in 1968, when Jackson was 10 years old, suggests the kind of popular musical prodigy he was. As a commentator notes, Jackson “dances, he shimmies, swivels and backslides across the floor in a blur of independently operating limbs, triumphantly demonstrating that the human body can be an instrument, not just a dumb appliance” (Guardian).

Growing up in the industrial town of Gary, Indiana, Jackson absorbed the music and feeling in the air, and enjoyed commercial possibilities made possible by the struggles and sacrifices of the civil rights movement, as well as African-American performers of previous generations.

Coming from a difficult family background, “Jackson was swept up by the American entertainment industry’s bone-crushing machinery—and not, given his psychic vulnerabilities, at the most propitious moment.

“Jackson’s greatest individual success coincided with the Reagan years in the US, a period in which many in America put the radicalism of the 1970s—their own or other people’s—behind them and concentrated on the business of becoming wealthy. Selfishness, hedonism, individualism, greed were given pride of place. Jackson was a phenomenally gifted singer, dancer and songwriter, but the ability to say something with one’s music is not inborn nor the product even of incessant rehearsing and parental pressure.

“The Jackson 5 arrived on the musical scene and at Motown, in particular, in a period of widespread protest. The record company, owned by Berry Gordy, a fervent believer in ‘Black Capitalism,’ had not been spared contact with radical currents.

“In 1971, Gordy and singer Marvin Gaye clashed over the latter’s desire to record ‘What’s Going On,’ an anti-Vietnam War song. Gaye, whose cousin had died in Vietnam and whose brother had served three tours there, wondered out loud at the time, ‘With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?’ Other black performers such as Stevie Wonder recorded songs highly critical of Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. Curtis Mayfield was an outspoken opponent of war and racism.

“The Jacksons, through no fault of their own, served as one of the music industry’s antidotes to all that with what became known as ‘bubblegum soul.’ Jackson broke with his childish musical persona in the late 1970s, but there is no need to overestimate his achievement. He demonstrated extraordinary skills, but the content of his songs never rose to notably insightful and certainly not oppositional heights. In the media discussion about Jackson, one always has to distinguish between the appreciation of his genuine gifts and the far greater awe with which journalists and industry insiders regard his sales figures and accumulation of personal wealth.”

This is not to diminish the brilliance of Jackson’s dancing and performing, which perhaps reached its height in the 1980s.

Jackson was also the beneficiary of relatively new technologies and formats: the music video came to prominence in the early 1980s with the launching of MTV (Music Television), the cable television network. In 1983, the nearly 14-minute video for his song “Thriller” was released, at an unheard of cost of half a million dollars. The album “Thriller” went on to sell an astonishing 109 million copies, making it the bestselling such compilation of all time.

To the entertainment and media world such stratospheric success signifies both money and blood. On the one hand, of course, CD and DVD sales, live performances, endorsements, publicity deals, and all the rest generate huge profits for the conglomerates, which exploit and feed off the genuine talent of individuals such as Jackson and many, many others. Years of effort, vocal or compositional skill, conscientiousness, generosity, humanity, whatever the performer brings to his or her music, is valuable to the industry only in so far as it brings in money.

On the other hand, celebrity itself plays an important and unhealthy role in the US. In a country where only the most constricted official debate takes place over vital issues (between right-wing and other, even more right-wing conceptions) and political life is almost entirely scripted, a voyeuristic fascination with the lives of the wealthy and famous helps fill some of the void and also diverts the attention of the population from its real needs and interests.

At the same time, however, popular frustration and discontent do not disappear. The general public’s attitude, nourished by the media, toward “celebrities” often veers between uncritical admiration and resentment. The tabloids, talk shows and “entertainment news programs” manipulate these sentiments for their own purposes. The unfortunate athlete, pop star or movie performer who falls from grace may find him or herself demonized in a truly monstrous manner.

For someone like Jackson, gifted but also psychologically deeply troubled, to be violently jerked around—adored one day, ridiculed and despised the next—must have been particularly distressing. This is a man who, according to his own words, lived for his performances on the stage and for the adulation of anonymous masses of people.

Now, the giant media and entertainment machinery will try and extract what value it can from Jackson’s death, while keeping its eyes open for its next victim.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Wage Slaves

The Socialist Worker 20th June, carried a half page report with the headline 'conference calls for united battle for jobs', and the slogan 'fight for the right to work'. It reported that 300 trade unionists, students and unemployed came together in London to build a united response (front) to what they say is a crisis that threatens millions of people with unemployment, job insecurity, low pay and poverty.
When I read the report not only did I feel the déjà vu of having been here before, some words of William Shakespeare came to mind:

"False face must hide what the false heart doth know."

I remember back in the 70s that it was not only the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) who were attempting to lasso and catch the unemployed, but organizations such as the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) and Militant Tendency, and the latter which unfortunately I happened to be a member of, were all at it. The SWP must have been the most successful what with its right to work marches from one end of the country to the other. I even vividly remember on one occasion attending a meeting that was addressed by Paul Foot who made some joke about Michael Foot his uncle who at the time was the Minister of Employment in Harold Wilson's last Labour government, Paul suggested that he should be called the Minister for Unemployment. Interestingly some time before the Wilson Governments, Foot a writer and journalist drew attention to the early Liberal influences on Wilson that were supposedly formative. Foot contrasted what he saw as the idealism of his uncle, who had abandoned the Liberal Party to join Labour (this is the real joke) because he wanted to abolish capitalism, with the alleged complacency of Wilson, whose failure he said, to make the switch indicated that he had no such mission.

Talking of missions, it is only too obvious that today the SWP and probably Militant who have re-named themselves inappropriately the Socialist Party of England and Wales, will try to attempt to kraal the unemployed into their pen, because, to them it's a numbers game and nothing more. The so called delegates at the right to work conference and according to the report seemed to deliberate on recent Trade Union disputes and occupations, with little mention or reference made to the hardship endured by those on the receiving end of both benefit cuts and the intensity of strong arm persuasion to apply for low pay jobs, this includes sanctions, a mechanism of social control used to enforce the systems standards namely ensuring that the unemployed are made to jump through hoops so as to provide capitalism with it's cheap labour requirements. Then there's the recent New Labour overhaul of the whole benefits system travailing currently through Parliament. The "work for benefits" scheme contained in the legislation would force long-term unemployed people (disproportionately with disabilities, ethnic minorities and, increasingly, lone parents) to work for their benefits. This workfare scheme would oblige claimants to work for £1.73 an hour.
The government initially said the prime aim of the scheme was to offer work experience to assist people getting back into employment. Yet work experience schemes already exist on a voluntary basis, and a Works and Pensions Department study found evidence that workfare schemes do not increase the likelihood of finding work. James Purnell, the recent work and pensions secretary, conceded that a central objective of workfare is to discourage fraudulent claims, yet benefit fraud is officially at its lowest level to date, with the investigation system successfully reducing fraud by 66% since 2001.
The bill also renews New Labour's obsessional targeting of lone parents. As soon as a lone parent's child reaches the age of three they will become a jobseeker and lose benefits unless they take part in work-related activities. This is despite the government acknowledging the widespread lack of both job opportunities and adequate childcare.
Privatisation dogma is also at the heart of the bill. Private companies and voluntary sector organisations are to be handed contracts for providing services to the unemployed, with jobcentres not allowed to bid. To date, 33 out of 34 contracts have gone to private sector companies, and so the reality is that the new contracts will be awarded to large private corporations.
These companies were attracted by the prospect of profit calculated according to the number of people they placed in work. But the recession and the prospect of Large-scale unemployment threatens their profit margin and so they are frantically renegotiating the terms of the deal, insisting on at least double as much money up front. Despite this, and despite leaked reports showing the public sector outperforming its private competitors two to one in getting people into work, the government charges on bullishly with its plans. In the SWP article there is no mention of any of this instead the buzz wards and uttering's emanating are struggle, rank and file organisation,demanding to be treated with dignity and respect and the like.

Well what can I say, but only that I've seen it all before, and yes there's to be a demonstration over jobs at this years Labour Party conference held in September, with the delegates at the Right to Work conference electing a steering committee to mobilise for the protest and initiate Fight for the Right to Work meetings in cities across Britain. As I write this, words are travelling and bouncing around in my head; fight, right, work. When slavery came to an end, did the slaves protest, did they demand the right to be slaves.Then why oh why are we wage slaves demanding to be wage slaves?

Planet of the Apes

The very word 'law' would you believe is Danish, it was left behind by the Vikings and supplanted the original English word "ae" or the Anglo Saxon world "doom" and Latin rival "lex".

Our governments and courts set our laws, the general rules in society. But when the new law gets out there into the wild, sometimes it doesn’t exactly apply or always serve justice. These senses come through in that famous quote from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist where a henpecked Mr. Bumble, when told

“the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.”
“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass- a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor…”

The phrase “the law’s an ass” may have been made famous by Dickens, but it appeared back in the 1650s in a play called Revenge of Honor, so the feeling of injustice wasn’t new even in Dickens’ day. And the same tone from the Devil’s Dictionary:

Once Law was sitting on the bench,
And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
“Clear out!” he cried, “disordered wench!
Nor come before me creeping.
Upon your knees if you appear,
‘Tis plain your have no standing here.”
Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
“Your status? – devil seize you!”
“Amica curiae,” she replied -
“Friend of the court, so please you.”
“Begone!” he shouted – “there’s the door -
I never saw your face before!”

The best saying and my own favourite is: One law for the rich and another for the poor.

One law for the rich and another for the poor
1830 Marryat King's Own

"Is there nothing smuggled besides gin? Now, if the husbands and fathers of these ladies,—those who have themselves enacted the laws,—wink at their infringement , why should not others do so? There cannot be one law for the rich and another for the poor."

The Spectator 1913

"The idea prevails abroad that there is one law for the ‘rich’ Englishman and another for the ‘poor’ ...

For weeks now the honourable members of parliament, our law makers have demonstrated that there is indeed just one law for the rich and privileged in our society, albeit in this case the guardian, protectors of the system that we all have to live under,uniformly managed in the interests of capitalism and the profit ethos by one party or the other on a rotation basis not too unlike the wild boar on the open skewer a roasting. The goal is to manage the system that serves and sustains the capitalist organisation of the world. All the main political parties compete against one another for that coveted distinction, which they will say is to lead the nation.

The whole business about MPs'expenses has exposed parliament and it's party representatives as nothing more than self-seeking money grabbing chancers. The growing insular-ism of MPs is always liable to distract them from their first purpose, to represent voters. The House of Commons in all its Gothic grandeur, tends to encourage a dangerous nostalgia, self-importance and detachment. This is an impression that I arrived at when many years ago along with my sister, we enjoyed a tour of the commons chamber, I remember my sister decided to try the the chamber seating out for comfort, just in front of one of the dispatch boxes, and was duly reprimanded by an attendant, what a spoil-spot, many a dishonest backside has since afterwards sunk into it's green leathered upholstery and, I do suppose it makes commonsense for it to be tough and durable, if not hard-wearing,thinking about it.

Coming back to my intended thread, the expenses claims, have projected our MPs into new perceptions in the public eye, for the first time probably in living memory, the outrage and discontent is almost universal, as more of the public come to hold MPs in complete and undulated contempt, and who can blame them when many are struggling to hold on to jobs, homes and a diminishing standard of living. Is it not surprising that many see the quality of MPs declining, how can they help create a better world, when so many are associated with sleazy activities. Jeremy Paxman put it best when he said:

"In much of the popular mind, politicians are all the same. They're a bunch of egotistical, lying narcissist who sold their souls long ago and would auction their children tomorrow if they thought it would advance their career. They are selfish, manipulative, scheming, venal. The only feelings they care about are their own... they are not people you want your son or daughter to marry."

In 1997 New Labour and Tony Blair swept into power with a determination to change the rules, the late Robin Cook as leader of the House pushed forward bold proposals to limit the hours and and reschedule summer brakes supposedly to provide a more efficient and voter-friendly legislature. Well I think we can argue what in fact has been achieved, is the complete diametrical opposite. The legalese style of Parliamentarians suggests that it's institution has become nothing more than and as always, a rubber stamp on a planet run by apes, with short tails or non at all.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Patricia Hewitt and Charitable Activities

Former Labour cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt who is to stand down at the next election, has just landed a nice little job when she departs from the House of Commons.The former health secretary has been appointed senior non-executive director on the board of BT, giving a thrums up to the saying, if you can't beat them, then join them.

Hewitt was quoited in the press as saying that the decision to stand down was a difficult one and that she categorically denied that it was in any way linked to the MPs' expenses scandal.

Hewitt said she wanted to spend more time on 'work' and charitable activities related to India. When you think about it, this is not a bad move by Patricia, as BT long ago moved call centres operations to India, at a cost to UK jobs.
Indian workers serving UK customers are often given accent training, and taught about pubs, football and running story lines in popular soap operas, to be able to hold conversations with British customers. So Hewitt, I'm sure will be of grate help to this large company which relies upon remote transactions and will dump more workers and hire a cheaper labour force overseas. Hewitt is likely to receive more than £100,000 when she takes on the new role next month, and if she can't make ends meet well then there will always be part time consultancy work, I hear that pays good!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

One in Ten on the Dole...

The unemployment figures having been released yesterday, seem no longer to command any prominence in the wider media and press, or at least that's what it seems to me, more coverage was given to the bizarre and outlandish collection of hats, showing up on the heads of the brave, rich and foolish at Royal Ascot. In the meantime back in London male unemployment has hit new heights, one in 10 men are on the dole for the first time in a decade. The figures show that London's poorer areas are faring worst. In Hackney and Shoredicth 10.1 per cent of men and 7.4 per cent of the total population now depend on £64.30 a week jobseekers' allowance. The figures came on the day that the national total hit 2.26 million, a rise of 232,000 and the worst tally since the end of 1996 the year before New Labour came into being.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Martin Bowing Out

English snobbery can do a Morris dance of delight at the political demise of the Speaker, Michael Martin;wrote George Galloway about his old friend and outgoing speaker of the House of Commons, who today presided over his last session of questions to the Prime Minister before bowing out, with all benefits such as a generous pension and probably elevation to the House of Lords. So what is condescending or snobbish about this? It's not were you came from that matters, but in the case of Martin who he supported in siding against his fellow workers!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Will of the Ayatollah and his Ruling Class!

If I was a citizen of Iran the likelihood is that, I would probably be in big trouble with the Imams and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for the title that I've given this piece in regard to the presidential elections in Iran. As I write Muhmoud Ahmadinejad is said to be heading towards a landslide victory in the country's presidential election, whilst his challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi has alleged irregularities, at one point he even claimed victory himself.
I've not paid any real detailed interest towards this election, only glancing at the headlines over last few weeks during the campaign run. However I've taken an interest because the results are said to lay claim to a turnout of 84% of Iran's 46 million eligible to vote, this being a high percentage of the voting population, requires further investigation and consideration.

All four candidates—Ahmadinejad, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) Mohsen Rezaei, ex-prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi—have longstanding ties to the Iranian political establishment and were vetted by the unelected Guardian Council. The Guardian Council or Guardian Council and also Council of Guardians is an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Iranian constitution calls for the council to be composed of six Islamic jurists, "conscious of the present needs and the issues of the day to be selected" by the Supreme Leader of Iran, and six jurists, "specializing in different areas of law, to be elected by the Majlis from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power," (who, in turn, is also appointed by the supreme leader). It is charged with interpreting the Constitution of Iran, supervising elections of, and approving of candidates to, the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis (Parliament), and "ensuring ... the compatibility of the legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly [i.e. Majlis] ... with the criteria of Islam and the Constitution", i.e. deciding whether to veto laws passed by the parliament

The Council has played a central role in keeping only one interpretation of Islamic values from influencing Iranian law, as it consistently disqualifies reform-minded candidates—including the most well-known candidates—from running for office and scraps laws passed by the popularly elected Majlis (parliament). When the 2009 Presidential election was announced, the popular former president, Mohammad Khatami, would not discuss his plans to run against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the Council may disqualify the Muslim cleric as it has other reformist candidates on the grounds that they were not dedicated enough to Islamic values. It has also increased the influence the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (an ideological fighting force separate from the Iranian army) has on the economic and cultural life of the country.

The post of Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) was created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the highest ranking political and religious authority of the nation, in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists.
More powerful than the president of Iran, the Leader appoints the heads of many powerful posts - the commanders of the armed forces, the director of the national radio and television network, the heads of the major religious foundations, the prayer leaders in city mosques, and the members of national security councils dealing with defence and foreign affairs. He also appoints the chief judge, the chief prosecutor, special tribunals and, with the help of the chief judge, the 12 jurists of the Guardian Council – the powerful body that decides both what bills may become law and who may run for president or parliament.

So today Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims a landslide victory in Iran, but his opponents protest,the electoral authorities declared the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the victor in a fiercely fought contest for Iran’s presidency. His claim to a 65% landslide appeared to bury the hopes of the main challenger, Mousavi, a liberal whose campaign gained rapid momentum in its last days, inspiring huge, boisterous street demonstrations. The two other contenders trailed far behind in the official count, with barely 3% of the vote between them. All three challengers disputed the still-inconclusive result, which came as a crushing disappointment to the many Iranians dismayed by Mr Ahmadinejad’s religious conservatism, populist economics and combative foreign policy. Mr Mousavi’s camp, citing private opinion polls, had placed their candidate well in the lead as polls opened on Friday morning. Voting was extended into evening hours to accommodate a record turnout among the 46.2m registered voters, and shortly after polls closed Mr Mousavi called a press conference both to confirm his advantage “by a wide margin” and to protest alleged irregularities in the voting.

The Tory (usual crap) shadow foreign secretary William Hague has already voiced his concern over allegations of vote-rigging in the Iranian elections, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner and there have been clashes between demonstrators and riot police in Tehran today.

Extracts From the Guardian Website:

"Riot police on motorbikes used batons to disperse Mousavi supporters who staged a sit-in near the interior ministry, where the results were announced. Up to 2,000 Mousavi supporters erected barricades of burning tyres and chanted "Mousavi take back our vote! What happened to our vote?"

Reporters saw police attacking the demonstrators, and several protesters were carried away. The BBC showed footage of police attacking protesters, some of whom threw stones at the officers.

In another main street of Tehran, about 300 young people blocked the avenue by forming a human chain and chanted "Ahmadi, shame on you. Leave the government alone."

Mobile phone text messages were jammed, and news and social networking websites – including the Guardian, the BBC and Facebook – as well as pro-Mousavi websites were blocked or difficult to access.

"The election was a game and full of lies," shouted one protester. "We can not do anything here," said another. "We can not believe the results and they are unacceptable."

Mousavi appealed directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei but the country's supreme leader today threw his weight behind Ahmadinejad, urging the other candidates to support the president."

In an ominous sign, the political chief of the Revolutionary Guard, General Yadollah Javani, warned this week that there would be no colour revolutions in Iran—referring to the US-backed political movements in countries like Lebanon and the Ukraine. “There are many indications that some extremist [reformist] groups, have designed a colourful revolution ... using a specific colour for the first time in an election.... Any movement for a velvet revolution in Iran will be nipped in the bud.”

Friday, 12 June 2009

Fighting in a sack!

So the infighting within the Labour government reached stalemate on Monday after a group of so-called rebels with a dispute, turned challenge, encouraged for weeks by the capitalist media, (The Daily Telegraph) failed in an attempts to force Prime Minister Gordon Brown to stand down as party leader.

"Just last night I woke from some unconscionable dream
And had it nailed to my forehead again
To keep this boat afloat
There are things you can't afford to know
So I save all my breath for the sails."

Brown easily defying brushing off his opponents at a specially convened meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. He did so primarily by threatening MPs (members of Parliament) with the prospect of an early election having to be called if he was deposed.

"But you'll find those lingering voices
Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice
And make a moron out of you
Walking a bridge with weakening cables
Huddled up in fear and hate because we know our fate
And it's a lot to put us through."

Though this is not required constitutionally, Brown’s replacement would find it extremely difficult to avoid a general election. Brown became an unelected prime minister when Tony Blair gave up the post, and having a second consecutive unelected Labour prime minister is considered politically untenable.

"Most ideas turn to dust
As there are few in which we all can trust
Haven't you noticed I've been shedding all of mind?
So let's abandon that track
And leave our fathers fighting in a sack
Cause we are way too wise-assed for that."

With the party in a state of despair, having just recorded its lowest vote since 1910.In Sunday’s European elections, efforts to secure the backing of 70-plus MPs for a leadership contest failed miserably. Nevertheless, factional conflicts still rage and Brown is fatally wounded. Most commentators predict a resumption of hostilities at the party conference in October...we'll see!

"You might find some fools at your doorstep
Hustling the latest changes to the book
That's the strangest in an attempt to multiply
Marionettes on weakening cables
Huddled up with fear and hate
Because they know their fate and it's a lot to put them through."

Whatever follows, the events of recent weeks have revealed the full extent of the internal rot of the Labour Party and its complete transformation into a political creature of the financial oligarchy.

"We've taken on a climb
And it's long enough to put the best of us on our backs
Walking up a slide
And there are those we know who'd have us five miles off the track."

The in-fighting within Labour’s apparatus centred almost entirely on members of the cabinet and former ministers. Whether supporters of Brown or more closely associated with ex-Prime Minister Blair, they have all played a key role in implementing Labour’s right-wing, pro-business agenda for more than a decade. Not one of those in the forefront of this factional bickering opposed the Iraq war, the invasion of Afghanistan, or the raft of anti-democratic measures associated with the “war on terror.”

"But you'll find those lingering voices
Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice
And make a moron out of you
Crossing the brindge on weakening cables
Huddled up with fear and hate because we know our fate
And it's a lot to put us through."

Labour faces electoral oblivion precisely because millions of working people have turned their backs on the party in disgust. They did not vote Labour because they have concluded that it is no less a party of the financial elite than the Conservatives.

None of those who came forward to denounce Brown have even hinted at principled political concerns. Instead, their fire was levelled solely against his personal failings as a leader, while they urged a renewal of everything associated with “New Labour” in the “golden years” under Blair. Behind their reticence in detailing their own policy prescriptions is the fact that their agenda is dictated entirely by the right-wing media, such as the Daily Telegraph and, above all, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Though Brown was initially praised by big business for his readiness to provide billions to rescue Britain’s bankers, the economy has continued to slide further into recession and the pound has declined sharply on world currency markets. This has evoked increasingly strident demands for the imposition of austerity measures and savage cuts in public spending—measures which require the preparation of a major confrontation.

With Labour lacking any popular support and Brown seen as indecisive, the Conservatives under David Cameron have been praised for their commitment to the imposition of an “age of austerity.” Led by the Telegraph, a series of revelations of improper expenses claims by MPs have been utilised in an effort to discredit the government and force a general election.

There was seen to be little alternative, however, given that Labour still commands a significant parliamentary majority. Brown is not required to call an election until March 2010. To overcome this problem, measures were taken behind the scenes to recruit some within Labour’s leadership to the drive to oust Brown.

Faced with losing Murdoch’s backing, a section of the party was more than ready to respond. A campaign was launched, beginning with denunciations of Brown for his decision to raise the highest tax rate to 50 percent and continuing with a series of high-profile and carefully timed ministerial resignations that were meant to destabilise his premiership in the run-up to the local authority and European elections. Nearly every minister who resigned attributed sole responsibility for Labour’s massive unpopularity to Brown.

The degree of collusion with Murdoch was underscored by the departure of Works and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, whose resignation letter was leaked to the Murdoch newspapers, the Times and the Sun.

The problem for the conspirators was the dawning recognition within the Parliamentary Labour Party that they were being asked to commit political hara-kiri. This realisation ensured that no one, including the favoured replacement for Brown, Alan Johnson, was prepared to mount an immediate challenge. Johnson instead accepted the position of home secretary in Brown’s cabinet reshuffle, while telling the media that he would consider becoming party leader at a future date.

The most significant role in rescuing Brown was played by former Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. More than any other individual, Mandelson can claim to be the intellectual architect of the New Labour project. He understood that, whatever the illusions of the anti-Brown plotters, more was at stake than Brown’s premiership.

“New Labour is not about faces, it’s about policies,” he stated. Mandelson calculated that if Brown went under current conditions, the party itself would rapidly break up. Moreover, outside the narrow circles of Westminster and the media, no one believed that Brown was the sole architect of Labour’s ongoing crisis, and the party would have no real hope of recovering support under a new leader.

To prevent an immediate implosion and buy time in the hope of renewing Labour’s alliance with Murdoch and his ilk, Mandelson has stitched together a lose alliance of all those fearing a political shipwreck. His greatest success was to provide the necessary justification for the party’s supposed left wing to come to Brown’s aid.

All that was required was a vague pledge to delay the planned privatisation of Royal Mail, and only if bids fall short of expectations. The next day, the Communication Workers Union offered the government a three-month moratorium on industrial action, overturning the results of a nine-to-one ballot in London in favour of a strike.

Mandelson has been proclaimed first secretary of state. Although only an honorific title, it implies that he stands above all other members of the government, outside of the prime minister. Nothing more completely gives the lie to the claims that Brown is somehow to the left of his opponents than the elevation of Mandelson—the man who declared that New Labour was “intensely relaxed” about people becoming “filthy rich.”

Mandelson is needed as a semi-Bonapartist figure in order to prevent the Parliamentary Labour Party being torn apart by its warring factions. But this is a conflict waged by uniformly right-wing elements, competing for the political favours of the super-rich. This alone ensures that Labour’s meltdown will continue to gather pace.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Benefit thieves all

Wipe-out is the only description best to some up what the Labour party suffered nationally at the polls Thursday last in the local government elections.

As if local government had any real power in the great scheme of things, powers having been eroded over the course of the last twenty years and have left some councils like my own Newham (elections next year)run by a directly elected mayor. In Newham we have Sir Robin Wales, he is a Labour mayor or rather a 'New Labour' mayor, praised on many occasions for running it's flagship authority.
Recently Sir Robin wrote in the fortnightly Newham Mag, that's sent out to all residents in the borough: "The behaviour of some MPs over their expenses has unfortunately cast a shadow over all politicians. Just like you, I'm fed up with the way in which people from all parties have manipulated the system to enhance their own personal lifestyles at the expense of the taxpayers."

During the 2004/2005 financial year, Sir Robin's Mayor's Allowance (Band 5) was: £69,792. So four years on one can only presume that it's more and, add to that Travelling Allowances: The reimbursement of actual travel costs incurred whilst undertaking duties outside Newham.
Subsistence Allowances: The reimbursement of actual subsistence costs incurred whilst undertaking duties outside Newham. This allowance is limited to a maximum daily rate of £25.70 for meals and a maximum overnight rate of £102.75 for accommodation. So all in all this is a tidy little packet, a nice little earner for anyone fortunate to be on the gravy train, and not bad Sir Robin, easy money obtained with a minimum of effort. So it seems to me that when Sir Robin argues in regard to the expenses outrage that it is irresponsible along with greed practised by a privileged few, he is not only being hypercritical but belligerent in tone to those of us who suffer low incomes or try to make ends meet on unemployment benefit. Remembering that this Mayor said; people in Newham struggled to get out of bed by 11am as they were so used to being unemployed and he was "sick" of seeing large numbers of people wasting their lives on unemployment or incapacity benefits, this says's it all about the managers of capitalism locally in Newham, they are the same as them at the top of the rotten tree.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

USA on the up!

The US unemployment rate climbed to 9.4 percent in May, the highest level in more than a quarter century, according to statistics released by the Department of Labor on Friday. The jobless rate jumped by a half a percentage point over April, as employers shed 345,000 positions overall.

Over 14.5 million US workers are now officially unemployed. Seven million of these, or 4.5 percent of the workforce, have been without work for 15 weeks or longer—the largest proportion of the workforce since before 1948, when the government began tracking the figure. The official US jobless rate does not include those forced to work part-time, “discouraged workers” (those no longer actively seeking work), and other “marginally attached workers.” Adding these categories, the jobless rate now stands at 16.4 percent—the highest figure since at least 1994, when the Labor Department began to track the statistic. A staggering one of every six American workers is now unemployed or underemployed.

Poisonous Team

It's been choppy sea's recently for Gordon Brown and what's left of his government after all the too do about MP's experiences, and now a day after the local elections we have the spectacle of ministers right-wing Blairite's attempting to bring down Brown.Throughout the day ministers to-ing and fro-ing from Downing Street have dominated the news headlines, professing their loyalty to the prime minister, as he seek's to isolate ex-work and pensions secretary James Purnell who resigned from government last night as the polls closed.

In the past month Brown has been attacked by an unlikely combination of Joanna Lumley, who was on the side of so-called public opinion over the Gurkhas, and Blairite's such as the then Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, and Charles Clarke. Damian McBride, the Brown aide forced to resign after being caught disseminating smear stories about Tory politicians, Mr Clarke said he was not a "lone gun" but part of a "poisonous team". The illation was clear. Mr Brown was part of the poison.

Friday, 5 June 2009

A Spoon Full of Suger...

Business tycoon Sir Alan Suger has been appointed by Brown an "enterprise czar" in the reshuffle, he has backed Brown saying: "We are in an emergency situation as far as the economic conditions go...

What next or who next Simon Cowell?

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