Janine's blog

It's official: McDonnell to challenge for Labour leadership

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 07/14/2006 - 11:50

John McDonnell announced his candidate for Labour Party leader today. His statement is included at the end of this post, and he has launched his campaign website.

Notably, his statement emphasised that this is a serious candidature, and that supporters will be 'out on the stump' from September onwards.

Abortion time limits: Is the right wing winning the argument?

Submitted by Janine on Sun, 07/09/2006 - 12:20

Each week's Hackney Gazette asks a random selection of residents their views on a particular question. In the last-but-one issue, it was "Should the time limits for abortion be reduced?".

As everyone knows, Hackney residents are left-leaning, tolerant, liberal sorts, and almost always give left-leaning, tolerant, liberal sort of answers to the Gazette's vox-pops. Yet pretty much all of them said they would support a cut to 20 weeks.

Splitters!

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 07/08/2006 - 11:03

The best hope for re-founding a genuine working-class party in Britain lies in splitting current Labour Party - separating the dreadful, anti-working class Blairite clique from the remaining socialists in the Party and from its trade union base. The left part of the split could join with socialists and unions currently outside Labour. That seems to me a much more likely scenario to work towards than either 'reclaiming' the Labour Party, or bolting together a new workers' party from the bits and bobs outside Labour.

Men Crap, Women Good

Submitted by Janine on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 11:34

Not in general, of course (that would be sexist), but in England's international football teams.

Hat tip to Ben for this link to the England women's unstoppable progress towards the World Cup finals in China next year. Along the way, England have beaten Hungary 13-0, but also seem to share the men's team's expertise at drawing with Sweden.

Corporate Killer Claws Back a Few Bob

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 07/05/2006 - 15:39

Today, esteemed representatives of the the wig-and-gown brigade ruled that Balfour Beatty should have its Hatfield crash fine cut.

£10m was disproportionate, apparently, because it was more than Railtrack's £3.5m fine. No-one appears to have suggested that Railtrack's fine could be increased to restore 'proportion' between the two firms.

Socialist Worker on Hamas

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 07/03/2006 - 15:48

I am alarmed by an article in the new Socialist Worker about Hamas and its victory in the Palestinian Authority elections. Explaining the background to the election victory, and interviewing Musheer al-Masri, the Hamas MP for the northern Gaza Strip, what is remarkable about the article is that it is entirely uncritical of Hamas. Going by this article, you’d think that Hamas was a laudable national liberation movement, which does good community work and runs local councils ‘efficiently’.

England Out of the World Cup

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 07/01/2006 - 20:45

The pundits have thus far interpreted the game. The point, however, is to win it.

For sixty minutes, England appeared to have a strategy of losing the ball as soon as they reached the final third of the pitch. Then a petulant lad thought it was acceptable to push your opponent in temper. (Just like a petulant predecessor did with a kick against Argentina eight years ago.)

From then on, England decided to play their best football of the tournament until the final, and then the very final, whistle, whereafter they fluffed the penalty shoot-out and exited the tournament.

State Racism Kills Again

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 06/30/2006 - 13:42

Yesterday, the Report was published into the appalling death in Feltham Young Offenders' Institution of Zahid Mubarek. Zahid was murdered by his racist cellmate Robert Stewart, but as his family's spokesperson pointed out at yesterday's press conference, this was an institutional murder by a prison system which didn't seem to see the problem in putting a racist in a cell with an Asian teenager.

Run a Mile

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 06/28/2006 - 14:56

BBC TV is plugging the Sport Relief mile. Among the array of sporty types encouranging us to canter for charity, one said, "If you can't run just one little mile for Sport Relief, you should be ashamed of yourself."

Excuse me, but what?!? There are plenty of people who can not run a mile because of genuine health reasons. And there are others who spend their time equally, or more, productively in the fight against poverty and disadvantage. They have got nothing to be ashamed of, unlike Sport Relief and the BBC for broadcasting this nonsense.

Iraq Union Solidarity Conference

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 06/27/2006 - 20:42

There's a conference this Saturday, which introduces itself thus: Iraq Union Solidarity has joined together with Solidarité Irak (France), the Worker-communist Party of Iraq, and the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, to sponsor a conference to discuss and coordinate international activity in solidarity with the workers' and women's movements in Iraq.

Two marketing ploys that annoy me

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 06/20/2006 - 20:51
  1. Bottled water is good for you.

    "Drinking eight glasses of Aqua water a day is good for you." I don't recall the exact brand name, but that is definitely what the label told me.

    And yes, it's true. But only inasmuch as drinking eight glasses of any clean water is good for you - including other brands, and including the stuff that comes out of the taps free of charge at the point of use.

  2. Free delivery.

    Yes, the curry house does free delivery! Huraah! And it also offers a 10% discount for collection! Another hurrah!

Bambery and Zinoviev

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 06/14/2006 - 09:46

Yesterday, I stumbled across this interesting description of how the Communist International started to go wrong: "By the early 1920s the revolutionary wave which had swept Europe had ebbed. In these circumstances Zinoviev turned away from seeking to build independent working class strength, as Trotsky continually argued was the way forward, and looked instead to alliances with other elements. This had disastrous results."

Other 'Arf on the Telly

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 06/03/2006 - 19:02

My partner, John Leach, will be appearing on BBC1's Politics Show tomorrow, discussing the woeful consequences of Tube privatisation. John is the London Transport workers' representative on the RMT National Executive, and will hopefully stick the boot into the profit-grabbing infrastructure consortia.

Read about the programme here and tune in at 12 noon!

For your amusement

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 05/31/2006 - 23:34

Allegedly, the following is the transcript of an actual radio conversation in October 1995, between a US Navy ship and the British authorities, off the Scottish North coast. The transcript was apparently released by the MoD on 10/10/95.

BRITISH : Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid collision.

US Navy : Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

BRITISH : Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Rights for Great Apes? Janine Mon, 05/29/2006 - 14:09

I recommend this excellent, thought-provoking article by Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer in Saturday's Guardian. His argument is that great apes are so close to humans in evolution, and share so many of our traits - long-term relationships, self-awareness, bereavement, communication skills, intelligence - that as human society, we should declare that they have rights, and protect them from abuse of these rights. Commenters might try to unconvince me, but for now, I'm convinced.

Two things that are annoying me at the moment

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 05/16/2006 - 15:41
  1. Dry gardening magazine articles.

    Like this one. And adverts. And even a bloody Mayoral campaign.

    Fair enough if you just want a nice garden that you don't have to be arsed to water too often. But this is being marketed as the latest weapon in the war against climate change.

Wise Words from Yoda and Dumbledore Janine Sat, 05/13/2006 - 22:14

As requested, here is the speech I made to close AWL conference a couple of weekends ago ...

As you know, I and Charlie McDonald are standing as Socialist Unity candidates in Hackney Central ward in next week's Council elections.

I want to tell you about the area, and about some of the issues - not because I think there is anything special about Hackney (although there is!), but because you will recognise these issues from where you live and work.

Back on Patricia Hewitt's waiting list

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 21:50

No food and drink frorm midnight last night. Checked in at Bart's 7.30 this morning. Chat with surgeons. Paperwork. Observations. Nap. Read paper. Sudoku. Start re-reading Lynne Segal's classic 'Is the Future Female?'. Watch Aussie soaps. Time passing. Hungry, thirsty.

4.30pm. Operation cancelled. The bloke who was first on the slab this morning turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, and the docs have run out of time.

Hackney Central election result

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 05/05/2006 - 15:41

A really good result for us in Hackney. I got 260 (11%), Charlie got 161 (7%). I beat the Tories. Full result below.

We have held up the socialist vote from four years ago despite the sad demise of the Socialist Alliance (and despite extensive gentrification of the ward, and the Labour council not making any cuts this year).

Moreover, we met loads of good people, and plan some good follow-up in the area. Oh, and I think comrades who canvassed really enjoyed themselves too!

Galloway: Anyone But Labour?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 05/02/2006 - 13:52

Thanks to Jim for passing on this woeful snippet.

Today's Metro News carries a "60 Second Interview" with the Gorgeous One. The final question is "How can a Metro reader make the world a better place?", to which he replies:

"The most immediate thing is to vote for anybody but Tony Blair on May 4th. If Blair can claim a victory, you'll have him for the next three and a half years and we will get everything we fear and more. If, however, May 4th is a disaster for New Labour, they will have him out by the end of summer and that's a prize worth fighting for".

Sorry for the silence

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 04/26/2006 - 10:20

Whoops, not posted anything on the blog for a whole month! Simple reason - busy with the election campaign in Hackney Central. I was going to provide a commentary on it as it went along, but it always seems better to be out there campaigning than in here blogging about it!

No doubt I'll do a lengthy retropsective once it's all over.

Straight after that, I'm having an operation on my eye. Hopefully, I'll get a couple of posts in during the next few weeks, then normal service should resume mid-May.