The Nether-World

March 11, 2007

Light Posting

Filed under: Bliar, Democracy, Media, Terrorism, Torture, UK Politics, US Politics — netherworld @ 11:33 am

Apologies for the scarcity of posts here of late. I’ve been a little busy with a few things, but hopefully ‘normal’ service will be resumed sometime soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of things I’ve been writing over at Blairwatch to keep you occupied.

Firstly, it seems that Tony Blair’s statement about him knowing nothing about Extraordinary Rendition and CIA black sites is a load of bollocks (yes, I thought that would surprise you). What seems to be emerging is that he is not only complicit in this programme but actively participating in it. We now learn that that America and Britain asked Poland to host a secret CIA gulag and Blair requested that the Polish Prime Minister to keep this secret from his government. Nice eh?

Secondly, tonight (March 11) the first part of Adam Curtis’ new three-part documentary, “The Trap – What Happened To Our Dream Of Freedom?” is being shown on BBC 2 at 21:00. This will be well worth watching. It is about freedom and how the concept of freedom seems to have changed since the Cold War and how that change came about. As Britain and America go around the world ‘liberating’ oppressed people, and as they try to ‘liberate’ us from the old bureaucracies of the past, they replace what was there before with a strange kind of freedom which bears little resemblance to the freedom we knew before. This series examines how this came to happen and looks at the mechanisms behind this paradox which is, in effect, the losing of our freedom in the name of freedom, replacing it with a new form of social control which entraps us all.

Adam Curtis has generously agreed to do an interview with Blairwatch next week and in order to prepare for it, I managed to get the first two installments of this three part series and I was blown away by what I saw. So I posted a synopsis of the first episode here for those who will be unable to catch the program. I’ll post a synopsis of the second episode once the first has been screened.

Lenin’s Tomb and Ten Percent have also posted stuff about it and from those sites I’ve found reviews of the documentary in The Guardian and Socialist Worker.

Back soon hopefully.

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February 25, 2007

The February Stop The War Protest In London

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Democracy, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 3:40 am

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All in all, the Stop The War protest was a fun day out as well as a serious exercise in democracy and (it seems) the only way to get heard these days. I emerged from Hyde Park Corner tube station into pouring rain thinking that it would be as miserable an experience as the tube journey (no Northern or Victoria lines so the Piccadilly line was very overcrowded). Anyway the weather cleared up shortly after I met up with Rachel and the rest of the day was very pleasant.

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It was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a very large demonstration, there were hoards of people at Speakers Corner and the march didn’t get started until about 1:30 PM and people were still arriving. We positioned ourselves close to some excellent drummers to keep our energy up and we were entertained by some performers dressed in funky day-glow skeleton costumes, a bit like a 21st Century Danse Macabre I thought, only funnier.

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The route the march took was down Park Lane then down Piccadilly into Haymarket and finally into Trafalgar Square for the rally. That short distance took over two hours which should help give an idea of how many people there were. Sky News was apparently reporting ‘several hundred people’, I heard that the police said there were 10,000 protesters while the organisers claimed 60,000 (George Galloway said it was 100,000). From the ground it was impossible to tell but based on previous demonstrations I guessed (and this is just a guess) between 40,000 and 50,000 people turned up. Both Rachel and I had the foresight to take our hip flasks with us. Mine had Cognac and Rachel’s had whiskey and when you’re shuffling along a few swigs definitely helps. We also had whistles so we could contribute to the drumming and chanting.

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Meanwhile, back at Blairwatch H.Q., Tom had the good idea of live blogging the event, the plan being that I’d send pictures from my camera phone and he’d put them on-line. So I put away my digital camera and tried taking pictures on the mobile. I then spent what seemed like the best part of an hour fiddling with the settings in previously unseen menus because although my phone has a nice 1.3 mega pixel camera, you can’t send any picture via MMS which is more than 100 kb in size. Luckily Rachel came to the rescue and sent a steady stream of photos to Blairwatch with her phone until I sorted mine out.

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Trafalgar Square was totally packed when we arrived and it was very difficult to move about. However, we did eventually manage to find a way to the top of some steps where we watched some of the speeches. The best speech by far was that of Mark Thomas.

 

George Galloway too made a rousing speech. The organisers had erected a large video screen so even at the distance we were at, we could see whoever was speaking. The sound was very clear too, so well done to the organisers for that.

 

When Yvonne Riddley started speaking we took that as our hint to call it a day and locate a nice cosy pub for some refreshment (after a bit of a search we settled on Le Garrick and very nice it was too). After that it was time to brave the tube again and it was even more crowded than before.

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I didn’t watch any news reports on television about the event but you can see the BBC report on-line here. You can also see more photos on my Flickr site. Hopefully the demonstration succeeded in showing the Government just how much opposition there is to the Iraq war and to the renewal of Trident. I hope it also sent a warning to Blair about involving himself in the coming war in Iran. The people are no longer buying the bullshit he’s been peddling and they are sick of the continuous wars that will be his legacy.

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Anyway it was a fun way to make the point, all the more so by having such good company.

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More Bloggage and some nice pictures over at Lenin’s Tomb. There are also good reports from The Disillusioned Kid, The Heathlander and Devises Melting Pot. If I find any more reports I’ll post the links. Feel free to let me know in the comments of any more reports.

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February 21, 2007

Parliament Under New Labour

Filed under: Bliar, Democracy, Gordon Brown, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 4:46 am

The recent resignation of Labour MP Alan Simpson from Parliament, is a loss to British politics. The Labour party now has even fewer politicians with the conviction to stand up for its principles. When I read the reasons Alan Simpson gave for his resignation, I was reminded of some of the things Tony Benn said when he retired from Parliament in 2001. There is a similarity in their statements and the reasons given are a damning indictment of what Parliamentary politics has become under Nu Labour.

Tony Benn on his retirement from Parliament:

It is difficult to get this [the issues Benn had pledged to fight for that brought him into conflict with his party] across inside parliament at the moment because politics is reported in such a shallow way… The issues that face us are difficult, challenging and interesting—and the level of political discourse is shallow, abusive and personal…

I am not retiring from politics, but I believe the work that needs to be done now to rebuild the Labour Party is best done from outside. If you are in parliament at the moment you are asked to do a lot of things that run absolutely contrary to the pledges I gave my constituents and to my own convictions. All progress has always come from outside parliament.
Source

Alan Simpson MP on the announcement of his resignation from Parliament:

“I never went into Parliament to have a career. I went in to change the world. I’m leaving because I still want to change the world, and I don’t think you can do that in this Parliament,” he said. In a letter to his Nottingham South party, he said: “My worry is that it has become a comfort zone in which MPs are paid more and more to stand for less and less…

“There are good people in the Parliamentary Labour Party; just not enough of them. Many MPs complain of a government that no longer listens to the party, but they dutifully walk through the division lobbies to vote for whatever regressive measures Downing Street asks for. At times I feel that colleagues would vote for the slaughter of the first-born if asked to.”

Mr Simpson is giving up a relatively safe Labour seat with a majority of more than 7,000 at the last election. Asked why he does not stay and fight, he said: “Because I don’t think the changes are going to be driven inside Parliament. There is a desperate short-termism that consumes you. Parliament is dominated by playground games: who’s gang are you in?

“I think the danger is that Parliament becomes a politics-free zone, where people are more interested in their careers than the issues that really matter to people outside. People position themselves around loyalty and career opportunities and the debate is arranged around short-term options – should we lock up more prisoners, not should we be looking at alternatives to prison?”
Source

If politicians of conviction feel that they can no longer fight for the issues they believe in inside Parliament and think they have a better chance of affecting change from outside, what does this tell us about Nu Labour and our Parliamentary system at the moment? And what danger does this pose for the future? For me this highlights an urgent need for change in our political system. Perhaps things might improve once Tony Blair has left office but I doubt Gordon Brown will be much different. As Alan Simpson says:

Choosing between Blair and Brown is like choosing between Saddam and Uday … They’re as bad as each other.

Another interesting quote from Tony Benn illustrates part of the problem with Nu Labour:

It’s very interesting to me that some ex-communists in the Labour party have been able to shift from Stalin to Blair and it hasn’t been much of a shift… the shift from Stalin to Blair is a minor adjustment.

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December 21, 2006

Mass Lone Demonstration and Carol Service

Filed under: Civil Liberties, Democracy, Protest — netherworld @ 8:42 am

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The last Mass Lone Demonstration of 2006 was as much fun as the others I’ve attended only much, much colder. It really was freezing but that didn’t stop a bunch of die-hard democracy fans assembling in Parliament Square once again to make a mockery of the idiotic SOCPA law which forbids protest in the vicinity of the Prime Minister’s office without written permission from the police which has to be obtained a week beforehand. There was the usual amusing array of diverse protests; from “Fair Pay For Elves” to my own “Stop the Surveillance Society”.

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After protesting for an hour, we gathered under the statue of Winston Churchill to break the law by singing Christmas carols, an event organised by Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads. Veteran peace protester Brian Haw was presented with a new and more powerful loudspeaker and then the singing commenced in candle light, and very tuneful it was too. Pausing only briefly for some mince pies, we sang:

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away In A Manger
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Deck The Halls
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • The First Noel
  • Joy To The World
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
  • Amazing Grace
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Silent Night

Christmas carols aren’t usually my sort of thing but this was really quite charming and it again highlighted the utter stupidity of a repressive law. A collection was made for sick children in Iraq and we also had a minute’s silent reflection. The police were nowhere to be seen. Obviously they decided to keep an even lower profile than they did last year.

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By eight o clock it was all over and we took our frozen bodies down to the Red Lion to thaw out before moving on to another pub to continue the festivities. Among the revellers were Rachel, Gareth from D-Notice, the Disillusioned Kid and of course Tim. As soon as they post something on the Mass Lone Protest, I’ll link to it. You can see higher resolution versions of these photos here and Gareth has some more over here. I expect Indymedia will have some more pictures soon.

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*UPDATE*

Here are the links to the reports from some of the other bloggers who attended:

If I find any more I’ll update this post again. Oh, and we managed to raise £85.93 (and 70 euro-cents) for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

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