Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Back in the eighties, a kind of inflation started taking place when describing musicians.  First we simply had stars. Then superstars.  Pretty soon we were talking about megastars.  I do not think we ever got as far as hyperstars, but if we had, surely Michael Jackson is one of the few who would have deserved this description.  How many people can bring down twitter and google on the news of their death?

Undoubtedly a musical genius, he will also be remembered for his overall strangeness and allegations of child abuse.  Having lost his childhood to the world of music, he spent his adulthood trying to regain it.  Perhaps this also expressed itself through his sexuality; certainly his actions always laid him open to criticism.

Hopefully, however, he will be remembered for his music and his worldwide appeal.  No-one could unite people through music quite like Michael Jackson.  His death is a real loss to many people across the world, and he will be sorely missed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Birmingham Stands Alone

So there we have it. A week ago today, the BNP gained two seats in the European parliament in their most high-profile victories to date. Despite getting less votes than they did in 2004, they gained a bigger proportion of the vote in the North West and Yorkshire & Humber to take the last seats, allocated by proportional representation, in both. I do not think we should be so sure that an increased turnout in future elections under a likely Conservative government will necessarily happen; both the North West and Yorkshire & Humber were part of the postal voting experiment in 2004 designed to increase Labour turnout. We may have to turn to the opposition to the BNP which exists in this country to get them out in five years and remove the stain of electing them sixty years after British troops landed in Normandy in an attempt to remove fascists from Europe. European elections will become more exciting than they ever have.

It was not all bad news, however, as BNP no 2 Simon Darby got nowhere near getting a seat in the West Midlands constituency. The sixth seat went to UKIP, with the potential seventh, should Lisbon be ratified, going to a third Tory. Next would have been the BNP, but the population in the region is not big enough for us to get any more representation. Perhaps we need a few more immigrants?

This leave Birmingham, unlike London, Manchester and Leeds, free of fascist representation at any level, which is quite funny given the national press have tended to think we are one of the most likely places to elect Nazis. Just like Britain in 1940, Birmingham now stands alone as a bastion of freedom in the fight against fascism. Let us not underestimate how much fascists can damage the reputation of a city. Richard Barnbrook, elected to the London assembly under PR with just over 5% of the vote, has undermined England's 2018/22 bid for the World Cup and potentially embarrassed the Queen by attempting to take Nick Griffin to Buckingham Palace with him; both a direct consequence of his election. If it had been any other city other than Our Glorious Capital! no doubt the press would have been sneering. Perhaps all future events to promote the country should take place away from London to stop this happening in future. All we need is a major city that has refuted fascism at the ballot box at every opportunity.

How about Birmingham?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Green Day?

On their website, the BNP have been talking up their chances of getting some seats in the European elections. Having analysed the local election results and assuming local votes will also translate into European votes (with a couple of other caveats), they believe they will get between 1 and 4 seats (one or two in the North West, one in the North East and one in the West Midlands).

For the West Midlands:

Average BNP vote: 12.6 percent. Result: One possible Euro BNP seat. (This result could be boosted by the fact that the best BNP-supporting areas in the West Midlands - Stoke, Sandwell, Dudley and others - did not have local elections on Thursday, meaning that large numbers of BNP voters are not reflected in this average figure.)
Leaving aside the facts that an increased UKIP vote, local votes do not necessarily translate into european votes and there were no local elections in BNP stronghold areas, the signs look ominous. Will the fascists really win four seats on the anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Fight them on the Beaches" speech?

Possibly not. I reported on the political betting website that turnout seemed to have been good in Sparkbrook, a predominantly Muslim area. This was despite the fact that Respect were not standing in the European elections and there was no council election (Respect have all three councillors in Sparkbrook). Newsnight also interviewed some Sikhs on election day who came out to vote to stop the BNP. Anecdotal evidence suggests that BMEs may have come out to vote in higher numbers in an attempt to stop the BNP.

The Green party may be key. Salma Yaqoob has called for Respect voters to vote for the Greens in the absence of a Respect candidate. The combined Respect/ Green total at the last European election would have beaten the BNP by .1%. The Green Party had "Say no to Racism" as their strapline on the ballot paper. I am pretty confident that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP will get one seat each in the West Midlands constituency, with the Conservatives getting two. I believe the final seat will be a tossup between a third Conservative, second UKIP, or maiden BNP or perhaps possibly Green. It will be very close. I just hope that people exercised their right to vote.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

We Will Fight Them at the Ballot Box

Thursday will see the 69th anniversary of one of Winston Churchill's most famous speeches. Thurday will also see the European elections takes place, with the big three parties bracing themselves for a kicking from the electorate due to the expenses saga.  One of the parties hoping to benefit are the BNP, who are tipped to win one or two seats in the North West and West Midlands constiuencies.   Readers of this blog will be under no illusions; despite its best efforts to clean up its image, this is still essentially a racist, fascist party. Don't believe me?  Take a look at its section 2 of its constitution:

Their leader, Nick Griffin, has continually denied the Holocaust ever took place, calling it the "Holohoax".

Recently, in guidance sent to his party members he claimed black and asian Britons do not exist;  the correct term for such people is "racial foregners".  The manual describes the BNP's "ultimate aim" as the "lawful, humane and voluntary repatriation of the resident foreigners of the UK".

There is absolutely no doubt that immigration is a big issue for people living in Britain today.  The question is, are the beliefs expressed above representative of what the British people think, or has the debate been hijacked by racists in an attempt to turn legitimate grievances against government policy into a wider attack on anyone who is different?

For quite some time I have believed there is a need for the immigration debate to be deracialised.  While I do not support them, I was glad to see UKIP park their tank on the BNP's lawn with this party political broadcast on Friday:

It is a question of space, not race, says television cook Rustie Lee on the UKIP European election leaflet.  It is more important than ever not to confuse race and immigration.  While the issues may be related, they are not the same.