Thursday, September 27, 2007

Politics and football

Obviously a story that involves politics and football is going to interest me. So the news that prospective Arsenal chairman Alisher Usmanov is the centre of a political storm about gangster capitalism in the ex-USSR and censorship on the web really got me going.

Apparently Mr Usmanov used to be a gangster - or as they say on Have I Got News For You, Mr Usmanov allegedly used to be a gangster. He served a jail term in the old Soviet Union but he is claiming that, in effect he was a political prisoner and that he was pardoned by Gorbachev.

Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador in Alisher's home country of Uzbekistan, begged to differ and said so on his blog.

But Mr Usmanov is a billionaire and they don't take kindly to people saying things like that about them, so his lawyers started threatening people and Craig's hosting company pulled the relevant post and now seem to have shut down his entire blog. The lawyers also sent threatening letters to every media outlet that they could think of, so you won't read about in the papers instead have a look here.

The whole thing has backfired as blogs across the globe have carried the stories:

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene, Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke (224), , Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly’s Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty’s Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody’s Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica (251), Back off, man…, Dan Hardie, Krusenstern, Brendadada, Freace, Boriswatch, Fork Handles, Chris Applegate, Christopher Glamorgan, West Virginia Rebel’s Blog, Instapundit, Powerpymes, iDiligence Forum, Gizmotastic, Demos, Gary Andrews, Neweurasia , Never Trust a Hippy, sub specie aeternitatis, Bananas in the Falklands, The Sharpener, Virtual Light, Stu News, Scraps of Moscow, Danivon, As A Dodo, La Russophobe, PJC Journal, Mick Fealty’s Brassneck, dead brains don’t dance, A Comfortable Place, Bamblog, Robert Amsterdam, The Customer, No Longer at Ease, Rachel-Catherine, Humaniform, Mike Rouse, Chesus Yuste, anticapitalista (292).

Surely some mistake

Gordon Brown said in his Labour Party Conference speech that, “human rights are universal and no injustice can last forever.”

Hold on can this be the same Gordon Brown who is leader of a party that wants to lock up people for almost two months without charge? It would appear so.

Obviously human rights are only universal outside Britain , for more details on how the UK disregards human rights have a look at the Amnesty International report

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Which side ar you on

Billy Brag once sang:

This government had an idea
And parliament made it law
It seems like it's illegal
To fight for the union any more

He then asked

Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?

Well maybe someone should send a cd of the song to ALP leader Kevin Rudd because it’s clear from his latest policies announcement on industrial relations that he isn’t on the side of the unions or Australian workers.

By his own admittance, AWAs mean lower wages and fewer benefits for workers, but he then says that people will have to stay on them for up to five years. Now given that parliamentary terms are only three years in Australia , that means anyone who has signed an AWA in the last two years will still be on it at the time of the next election (2010). A liberal victory then would mean the reintroduction of AWAs and hey presto Labor’s promise to scrap AWAs turns out to be nothing of the sort.

The most frustrating thing about this is that scrapping AWAs and the Liberal’s work choices is a vote winner. Rudd isn’t doing this to win votes, he is doing it because just like Blair he is a representative of big business and not the workers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bang goes the pension

Why would a socialist be concerned about the stock marketing going into free fall? Surely I should be jumping up and down at the though of City Fat Cats loosing billions and forming an orderly queue for the nearest available window ledge?

Well unfortunately, as this article from the Guardian reports the plunge in the stock market has sent UK pension funds back into deficit, to the tune of 15 billion pounds.

This will be the excuse for another attack on final salary pension schemes (where a worker’s pension is based on their final salary), with companies forcing staff into defined contribution schemes (where the pension is based on the investment returns from the worker and employer’s contributions).

In a moment of uncharacteristic honesty, bosses at my previous workplace said the move from a final salary scheme to a defined contribution scheme transferred the financial risk from the employer to the employee. Many people who are in defined contribution pension schemes are about to find out exactly that, as the value of their pension plummets in line with the fall in the stock market.

It’s also interesting to see how supporters of the free market react when the sh*t hits the fan. We have the new President of France saying that market freedom did not mean the "law of the jungle". Unfortunately, it does.

Finally, if you want some light relief from this doom and gloom read the wonderful Daly Mash’s take on the stock market slide

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An unhelpful article

As a socialist, I’m completely opposed to all forms of discrimination. I have been an active anti-racist and even have a conviction for helping to drive the BNP from Brick Lane in the early 1990s.

I’m also a Rangers fans and I’m the first to admit that my club has a problem with a section of its support who continue to sing sectarian songs. I spend hours on Rangers forums arguing against people who still think it's ok to shout about Fenians and FTP. But I recently came across an article about sectarianism at Rangers by Mike Smith that really annoyed me

It is completely one-sided, there is no acknowledgment that the sectarian divide is an every day reality in Scotland or that members on both sides are guilty of offensive behaviour. Everything is the fault of Rangers and their fans. Nothing they do is good enough and everything they do is wrong.

There isn’t even a mention of Celtic in the article. No mention of the fact that their fans regularly sing songs in support of the IRA but Rangers fans are chastised for sing song about protestant paramilitaries. Why is one worthy of comment and the other not?

Rangers are chastised for not doing enough to tackle sectarianism among their fans but no mention is made of the club banning fans from Ibrox for sing offensive songs and stopping supporters’ clubs that won’t cooperate with the club in tackling offensive behaviour receiving tickets for away matches.

The club is also attacked for having a union jack displayed at the main stand. Now as a Scottish nationalist I dislike the butchers apron as much as the next person but at present Rangers are still a British club, so what is wrong with them flying their country’s flag. I mean if it is ok for the a Scottish Prime Minister of the UK to call for the Union Jack to be flown from public buildings what is wrong with a football club following his lead. Here once again we have no mention of the fact that Celtic fly the flag of the Irish Republic. Again why is a union jack at Ibrox worth comment but a tricolour at Celtic Park isn’t?

And that is why this article is really dangerous the bigots among Rangers fans will seize on it and say: “We told you that if we gave in on sing the Billy Boys and F*ck the Pope they would want us to stop singing God Save the Queen and carrying Union Jacks.” The author plays into the hands of the very people he is supposed to be opposing and makes it harder for the people who are actually trying to combat sectarianism.

Mike finishes by asking: “How would an [English] Premiership team be treated whose fans repeatedly engaged in racist chanting and singing?” Well maybe he should also ask the question: How would people react if schools in England were racially segregated? Because it is a sad reality that schools in Scotland are segregated along religious lines. That is one of the reasons that sectarianism is still a major problem