Writing on the Wall

Writing on the wall

The work of God?

New Labour’s encouragement of religious schools is nothing new, but it was still something of a shock to discover that Ruth Kelly, the newly-anointed Education Secretary, is receiving “spiritual guidance”, as she puts it, from Opus Dei. She can’t be a proper member, because she is a woman.

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Writing on the wall

Welcome to Ruritania

A big stir was provoked in Mediaworld last week by the news that Charles Windsor, aka “the Prince of Wales”, and his partner, Camilla Parker-Bowles, are to marry in the spring. For a few days all other news, even the crisis in Iraq and the imminent General Election, was driven out of the papers. There is, to paraphrase Macaulay, nothing so ridiculous as the British press in one of its periodic fits of sycophancy.

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Writing on the wall

One step forward

New Labour is trumpeting the raising of the minimum wage above five pounds an hour for the first time. “Over 1.5 million working people are better off” they say, and the unions are reportedly pleased as punch.

Splendid — but we seem to remember this was a union demand as far back as 1997. And the Minimum Wage still falls far short of what the TUC estimates people need to live on.

So why are the TUC so happy? They are like a dog that wags it’s tail when it gets kicked because at least its master/mistress is paying it some attention.

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Writing on the wall

Pope Idol

Karol Wojtyla, alias John Paul II, supreme caudillo of the Catholic Church, finally popped his clogs last week. He has gone to the great Vatican in the sky to hobnob with the other dead Popes, a pious collection of poisoners, adulterers, thieves, warmongers and dictators. Not to mention the Protestant church leaders — Luther the anti-Semite and Henry Tudor the serial wife-murderer…

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Writing on the wall

Privatising the vote

It’s only once every four years that we get a say in how the country is run, so you think the powers that be would run the election efficiently, wouldn’t you? Well, no. The ease of committing postal voting fraud is now well known, with reports of thousands of postal votes suddenly appearing from small areas. But even the most basic mechanics of voting were sometimes screwed up.

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Writing on the wall

African partnerships

Paul Wolfowitz, the new head of the World Bank and prominent neo-con has given support to Blair and Brown’s idea of massive and increased aid to Africa. He pledged to persuade Bush of the necessity and justice of this plan. He also said that “there were real partners [in Africa] with whom the west could work.”

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The writing on the wall

Stone the gays, says Ken’s friend

According to al-Jazeera, the Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has called for Crown Prince Tameem of Qatar, who lives in Britain, to be stoned to death for being gay. [According to a statement from Ken Livingstone's office - see below - the report is untrue, and the call to kill Tameem came from another cleric].

Al-Jazeera quotes Dr Qaradawi as saying: “The scholars of Islam, such as Malik, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried.”

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Writing on the wall

THEIR DISASTER RELIEF, AND OURS

The gross neglect and incompetence with which the US government responded to the New Orleans disaster is now well known. It is equally notorious that this has more than a little to do with the population of New Orleans being 67% black and 40% illiterate, with more than 30 % living below the poverty line; and even more to do with the Bush regime’s laissez-faire capitalist dogma, which can no more cope with natural crises than it can with market crises.

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