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Sunday 30 September 2012

Anti-Free Speech Meeting at Labour Party Fringe

It has been announced that elements of the anti-free speech Far Left will be holding a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester on Tuesday evening. Gathering beneath what it terms “the antifascist flag”, UAF will be bringing together a range of individuals who will be discussing how to make political capital out of manufacturing a phantasmogorical “fascist” threat in Luton specifically, England more widely, and Europe generally. To date, they have been highly successful in raising funds from innocent trades unionists through invoking the spectre of a non-existent recrudescent fascism, and in order to legitimise their ongoing existence and continued funding it is necessary for this bogey to be kept alive in the public's, or at least the Labour Party’s, imagination.

Kelvin Hopkins, MP for Luton North, will be making the most brazen bid for Muslim votes by inveighing against the evils of “the racists and fascists of the English Defence League in his Luton constituency”, whilst other veterans of the cause will include the previously convicted Weyman Bennett, as well as a number of current and former Labour MEPs. Although there are certainly minority elements within the EDL that have caused violence at some of their demonstrations, violence and threat are inherent within UAF’s modus operandi, as most recently demonstrated by the decision to cancel a debate between Stephen Lennon of the EDL and representatives of the Muslim Debate Initiative at London’s Conway Hall that was scheduled for 4 October. In a post on their blog, the Muslim Debate Initiative (MDI) made it clear that it had been cancelled not because of any perception of potential violence from the EDL or from Muslim objectors, but because of the threat from so-called “anti-fascists”. The MDI blog reports the decision relating to the cancellation as follows:
Conway Hall, has decided based upon advice from the Police, and under pressure from various anti-fascist organisations and at least one MP, that the event may put the public at risk to public health and safety concerns under the current climate. Despite the security procedures of MDI within the building, the Venue Director was concerned about the safety of attendees outside the hall when going to, and leaving the event. Therefore, Conway Hall has informed Muslim Debate Initiative that for the time being, they will have to cancel the hire of the hall to MDI for this public event.
The MP concerned was Frank Dobson. Contrary to the assertions of UAF and its ideological confederates, it is not some phantom “Far Right” that we should fear with respect to our liberties, but the very real and influential Far Left of which it is a part. Reading the jubilant piece relating to the forcing of the cancellation of this debate on the UAF website, one is met with the following startling passage:
We believe the EDL is a fascist organisation. Fascism stands for: the total annihilation and mass murder of its opponents including trade unionists, liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists, Jewish, Muslim, black, Asian, lesbian, gay communities and other large sections of humanity. It also stands for war, the destruction of all democracy and freedom. History shows this is what happens when fascism gains power.
Is this what the supporters of UAF truly believe? Does the quote above strike you as having been penned by someone with a rational perspective fully apprised of the facts, or by someone suffering from a paranoid set of delusions? The question is superfluous. UAF is a dangerous anti-democratic campaign group that employs PC anti-racism slogans to mask its SWP-driven agenda. Any decent delegates at the Labour Party Conference this week would be wise to give this thuggish fringe a wide berth, and thereby avoid complicity in manufacturing unnecessary social conflict. 

UAF's Weyman Bennett: arrested for conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Saturday 29 September 2012

Video: Police and EDL Clash

Why did some members of the EDL clash with the police in Walsall today? This was idiotic behaviour on the part of those who engaged in it.

EDL Walsall Demonstration

The EDL has held a demonstration in Walsall today. It cited the following reasons for holding the protest in this West Midlands town:
We are going to Walsall,‭ ‬not to protest about Muslims or even Muslim violence,‭ ‬but to protest about Islam,‭ ‬an ideology that denigrates non-Muslims and places them lower than animals and sees non-Muslim women as targets for grooming and sexual exploitation.‭ ‬We are going to Walsall because the West Indian community is suffering even more attacks‭ ‬every day‭ ‬on their community than the white community of the town.‭ ‬The very same people who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistani/Muslim community to fight down the far-right National Front and their racist attacks.‭
We are going to Walsall to show our support for the West Indian community,‭ ‬to protest the vile ideology of Islam that is splitting communities and breaking down social cohesion.‭ ‬Other ethnic communities,‭ ‬black,‭ ‬white,‭ ‬Afro-Caribbean,‭ ‬European all seem to get along together and have been doing so for many years.‭
Admittedly, this is only an excerpt, and there is far more on the EDL website here.

According to the Birmingham Mail, there have been confrontations between the police and demonstrators in Walsall today, but as is normal in the reporting of EDL demos, the identity of those clashing with the police is not made clear, for the report mentions "two rival groups" that the police were attempting to keep apart. Central News confirmed the customary presence of a counterdemonstration - this time held under the banner of 'We Are Walsall' (WAW) - which is in effect a front group for the SWP-dominated UAF. Many well-meaning individuals may well have been caught out by this strategy and lured into joining the counterdemonstration without being aware of the background agenda of the SWP. The local Labour Party also threw its backing behind the WAW initiative, with the police allotting them a spot to demonstrate some half a mile from the location of the EDL static protest. Whether or not WAW has attracted violent 'antifa' and anarchist elements as in Bristol this summer has not been confirmed, although one tweet by someone calling themselves ST3-walsall claimed that four Muslims got through the police lines and set off fireworks.

Information on numbers attending either of the demonstrations is currently lacking, but the police confirmed that a total of 28 arrests were made, some for throwing missiles which included bricks, bottles and planks. The affiliation of those arrested has not been divulged. The short video posted at the end of this piece appears to have been taken by an observer on his phone, with the EDL hoving into view in the ninth second. It is of rather poor quality, and does not allow for an estimate of the numbers to be made. However, a BBC report states that the EDL managed to draw about 1,000 supporters and the opposing demonstration circa 500. In the last couple of demonstrations held in Walthamstow and Bristol, the EDL contingent had only numbered in the low hundreds and had been significantly outnumbered by their opponents, so this turnout provides something of a fillip for the protest group. Unusually, the BBC refrained from dubbing the EDL "far-right" in its online report.

EDL in Walsall

'Vibrant' UAF counterdemonstrators (peaceful looking, aren't they?)

Sayeeda Warsi embraces the OIC

The recent appointment of ‘Baroness’ Sayeeda Warsi to the post of Minister for Faith and Communities served as a reminder of one of the significant flaws in the current democratic system in the UK: an unelected and unaccountable House of Lords. The fact that Warsi is a member of the second chamber has enabled Cameron to bestow upon her ministerial responsibilities, and for Warsi to make policy without any democratic mandate. This represents the very worst sort of tokenism and ‘positive’ discrimination, yet it is not this in itself that prompts the writing of this piece today, but rather what Warsi has signed with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The National Secular Society notes that Warsi has this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the UK and the OIC at the UN, which declares that the two will “work together on issues of peace, stability and religious freedom.” Those of you who are aware of the activities of the OIC, will know that this body of 57 Muslim states is attempting to introduce a global blasphemy law which would make it illegal to criticise or to satirise Islam in any country. Knowing of the penalties imposed by Islam for blasphemy, this is a chilling and deeply worrying prospect, as is the fact that this seemingly is not a matter of concern for Warsi. Moreover, as well as being Minister for Faith and Communities, Warsi has also been given an influential role as Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that makes her "the lead minister responsible for Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central Asia, the UN, the International Criminal Court and the OIC". Given her domestic and foreign affairs briefs, she could perhaps be more appropriately dubbed the Minister for Internal and External Muslim Affairs, for this is, in effect, what she is.

Responding to Warsi’s signing of the MOU with the OIC, National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson stated:
We are all for co-operation between nations to try to foster peace and understanding, but the concept of 'religious freedom' is one that the OIC has distorted to mean restrictions on free expression.
We hope that by signing this document the UK will not in any way compromise its commitment to human rights – particularly the human right to free speech. The British Government has been steadfast in its opposition to the OIC's blasphemy proposals up until now. We hope that this document will not change that in any way.
Sanderson also noted how blasphemy laws were being used in some OIC states to “suppress Christianity and other religions in a brutal and merciless fashion” and singled out Pakistan for particular criticism on this score, whilst noting that in Egypt accusations of blasphemy were being employed to destroy political opponents.

As Warsi is a Pakistani Muslim who has made clear her distaste for secularism, should we not possess legitimate concerns about her warm embrace of the OIC? That she possesses political office of any sort is not only an indication that our democracy is in need of democratisation, but that if it is not reformed our basic freedoms and liberties could be imperilled through the actions of appointees such as Warsi who hold values clearly at variance with those that we have long held dear.  

Sayeeda Warsi: in favour of a global blasphemy law?

Friday 28 September 2012

Video of Bradford Muslim Protest

It would seem that rather than the thousands of demonstrators anticipated, only a few hundred turned up in Bradford's Centenary Square this afternoon to protest against the making and screening of the film 'Innocence of Muslims'. This does credit to those who were not lured into this pointless demonstration against freedom of expression by the Bradford Council for Mosques. However, is it not striking that in the video below, the speakers address the crowd not in English, but in Urdu? Could there be any clearer demonstration that they are not part of our society, given that they share neither our values nor even our language?

The protest appears to have been peaceful, but caused some disruption to local bus services. 

Protesters show their disapproval (courtesy of Calendar)

Oldham and Bradford Mosques diverge on protest strategies

Whereas the Bradford Council for Mosques (BCM) has backed a call for a demonstration against the film 'Innocence of Muslims' which will take place this afternoon, the Oldham Mosques Council (OMC) which represents the 35 mosques in the town, has taken a different view, calling upon Muslims in Oldham not to take to the streets. The BBC reports that the OMC held "an emergency meeting" following a protest in Manchester last Saturday, during which Muslim groups called for the imposition of "new blasphemy laws". Although the OMC takes the same line as the BCM with respect to the film and blasphemy against Islam, it wishes its members to lobby MPs and MEPs to impose restrictions on freedom of speech and expression instead of appearing in strength on the streets. Will Oldham's practising Muslims follow this advice?

The OMC stated: "The video represents a new insult, provocation and incitement to religious hatred against Islam and Muslims, which could damage world peace." What the OMC omits to mention though, is that the only threat to world peace on this score would emanate from doctrinaire Muslims. Although Oldham may not witness an unwelcome street protest by Muslims today, it is sinister that the intent of the OMC, which represents the majority of practising Muslims in the town, is demanding that our freedom of speech and expression be done away with. Such views are not compatible with the survival of a free and civilised society, and we must make it clear that we reject their demands totally. If any MP or MEP should seek to pander to their demands, do not vote for them, and make your condemnation of their stance known.

Despite the OMC's recommendations, the video below shows that a few dozen Oldham Muslims decided to stage a demonstration anyway. As in Bradford, their language of choice was not English.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Bradford’s Muslims to protest on Friday

A fortnight after Bradford’s Centenary Square hosted a protest against drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere in Muslim majority countries, another will be held this Friday, this time against the video ‘Innocence of Muslims’. Quite why Muslims will be gathering in Bradford to voice their strong distaste for a video produced in the USA by a shadowy figure overseeing a cast, who were apparently unaware of the ‘plot’, or indeed the subject matter of the film in which they acted, is baffling. What are they protesting against? Why in Bradford? Why in England? What, after all, has anyone here to do with the video in question? The answer to the latter of course is this: nothing. What can such a protest achieve? Likewise, nothing, other than to clearly demonstrate that each and every individual participating in this forthcoming protest holds values utterly incompatible with a free and open society; in other words, they are protesting against the values that we hold dear. 

The Telegraph and Argus today reports that the turnout is expected to number in the thousands, and that it has gained the backing of the Bradford Council for Mosques, with its General Secretary Zulfi Karim being quoted by the paper as follows:
“During the protest we will be letting the American ambassador know of the feeling of Muslims around the world and here in Bradford and to show that we are one voice.
“A lot of people out there are very unhappy and feel we need to come together to talk and protest about this film that insults our faith.
“We will also be calling for the lobbying of government and embassies to support us in our demand for respect for our faith.” Mr Karim said the idea of the protest had been put to the vote at an emergency meeting called on Monday night by the Council For Mosques.
“It was the community’s call,” he said.
What clearer message could there be, given that it comes from the man who speaks on behalf of Bradford’s 86 mosques, that the majority of practising Muslims in the city do not believe in freedom of speech and expression, and instead wish to impose penalties on those who are seen to criticise or to slight their ‘religion’? By making such an overt and heavily politicised statement upon a peripheral matter – an appallingly made video that most of us would never have bothered to watch, if it were not for the irrationally violent reaction that it elicited – those who protest will reveal themselves to be innately undeserving of trust from their non-Muslim neighbours. It also seems rather telling that members of Zulfi Karim's "community" are moved to protest by this film, yet not by the crimes of the Muslim paedophile street groomers of Rochdale, Bradford, Rotherham, Keighley and elsewhere. Why is it the case that this predominantly Pakistani Muslim phenomenon does not cause such upset and disquiet? A bad video in itself harms no one; the systematic targeting, sexual abuse and pimping of underage English girls on the other hand, is quite a different matter.

Whereas The Telegraph and Argus has been keen to highlight the costs associated with previous demonstrations by the EDL in the Bradford area, for some reason, it makes no reference to the additional expense that will be engendered by this pointless and provocative protest against freedom of expression. Irrespective of the content of the film, or the agenda that its maker may have possessed, the video therefore deserves to be watched as a matter of principle, simply to assert that we will not submit to the backward and irrational demand for the global application of a Muslim blasphemy law. With such caveats in place, feel free to ‘enjoy’ the video below.

Madonna backs ‘Muslim’ Obama

As a rule of thumb, celebrities are not renowned for their intellectual abilities, and fewer celebrities are better known than Madonna. Many enjoy her music, but as for her intellectual faculties, it is best left to the reader to judge how acute they may be. Like it or not, such public figures wield a surprising degree of influence over the impressionable minds of their fans, and she possesses a considerable number of the latter. What she says therefore, irrespective of the merits of the words that she speaks, can be adjudged to be, to some extent, of note.

Earlier this year, Madonna courted controversy by performing in Israel against a back-projection showing Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed upon her forehead. This, not unnaturally, caused a degree of justifiable irritation on the part of Madame Le Pen, given its baseless and defamatory nature. Now Madonna has chosen to make another political statement, but this time pertaining to electoral politics in the USA where she last night publicly declared in favour of Obama’s presidential candidature. Before an audience of whooping and adoring fans she described Obama as “a black Muslim in the White House”, and stated that they had “better vote for fucking Obama, OK?” More whoops ensued, and nobody raised any objection to her description of the President as “a black Muslim”, although he himself has averred that he is a Christian. She later tried to wriggle out of this apparent gaffe by stating: 
If you would to hear her ‘eloquence’ in action before her fans, then watch the video below. Alternatively, if you are not inclined to waste the best part of three minutes, do not bother.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

EU Referendum Blog issues final ‘Harrogate Agenda’

In July, a group of bloggers met in Harrogate to discuss the drafting of a charter of demands akin to that forwarded by the Chartists in the 1830s and 1840s, with a view to enhancing the democratic accountability of national and local government in the UK following the erosion of public confidence in both that has been witnessed in recent years. Today, Richard North of the EU Referendum blog, posted the proposed final wording of their six demands – reproduced below – which the group intends to approve this autumn. Their clear intent is to make government more accountable to the citizenry and to place additional restraints upon the potential abuse of power. Such goals are commendable. With respect to the specific demands, points one, two and six appear sound and unproblematic, yet points three, four and five, whilst in some respects superficially appealing, could pose particular problems.

Point three, with its proposal for the direct election of prime ministers by the public, brings to mind a presidential rather than a parliamentary system, and thus raises questions about how this would mesh with the formulation of party manifestoes and offering the electorate a clear choice (although it must be conceded that in recent years genuine choice has been sorely lacking). Its intent is said to be ‘to enable separation of power’, but surely a more effective means of ensuring a separation of powers would be to retain a House of Lords – perhaps renamed as a Senate – containing elected representatives with a clearly defined role in scrutinising legislation? Whereas an elected Senate would play a subordinate ancillary role, would there not potentially be greater room for a clear clash and potential deadlock between a directly elected Prime Minister and Parliament, each believing themselves to possess a legitimate popular mandate? Furthermore, running a discrete campaign for the election of a Prime Minister would entail additional considerable expense: how would the necessary funds be raised and what limits, if any, would this place upon the type of candidate able to enter the electoral fray? The current system may be deficient, but the suggestion of a directly elected Prime Minister as part of the remedy does not appear convincing.

Point four certainly makes sense with respect to any constitutional changes and international treaties, but could it really function effectively with respect to ‘all legislation’? Do citizens wish to be encumbered with having to scrutinise the minutiae of each piece of parliamentary legislation and either giving or withholding their assent? There may be a certain proportion of the population to whom this would appeal, but even for those of such an inclination, would they have the time to participate in a meaningful fashion? This seems doubtful.

The general criticism made with respect to point four applies to point five: who would have the time or the inclination to engage meaningfully with this? Moreover, how would the circle be squared with respect to the general propensity of individuals to wish to gain something for nothing, or for someone else to pay for the projects or services that they hold dear? Governments should be held to account for their budgetary expenditure and the electorate should have the right to limit the extent to which the former can borrow money, including through dubious measures such as PFI, but how would the business of government and the provision of services be able to function were the electorate to repeatedly reject proposed budgets as unpalatable? The principle of imposing accountability for public spending and limiting the extent to which this power could be abused is a sound one, but how could that be made to work in a practical fashion?

Overall, the Harrogate Agenda contains much that is positive that would contribute towards remedying the democratic deficit in this country, but at present, it is not clear how some of the proposals would work in reality.

1. the people are sovereign: the sovereignty of the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland shall be recognised by the Crown and the government of our nations. The people in their collective form, by giving their consent, comprise the ultimate authority of their nations and the source of all political power;

local democracy: the foundation of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall become constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to the national government;

elected prime ministers: to enable separation of power, prime ministers shall be elected by popular vote; they shall appoint their own ministers, with the approval of parliament, to assist in the exercise of such powers as may be granted to them by the sovereign people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; no prime ministers or their ministers shall be members of parliament or any legislative assembly;

all legislation subject to consent: no legislation or treaty shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no legislation or treaty shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people;

no taxes or spending without consent: no tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express permission of the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a properly authenticated budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures;

a constitutional convention: Parliament, once members of the executive are excluded, convenes a constitutional convention to draw up a definitive codified constitution for the people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which shall recognise their sovereign status and their inherent, inalienable rights and which shall be subject to their approval.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Charlie Hebdo and the Hysteria of Islamists

Once again, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has fallen foul of the Islamists by publishing cartoons of Mohammed, leading to the usual threats and security alerts that attend any slight to the fragile sensibilities of ‘the devout’. This is not the first time that it has been targeted, for back in November last year its decision to publish a special issue entitled Charia Hebdo which contained many cartoons of its ‘guest editor’ Mohammed, led to its offices being firebombed. Both incidents highlight a phenomenon first generated by the Danish Jyllands-Posten furore and its publication of a number of Mohammed cartoons in 2005.

Charlie Hebdo published a fresh set of cartoons this week as a response to the violently febrile reaction to the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film that has been witnessed across much of the Muslim world and amongst some Muslims resident in European states. These reactions serve to illustrate the ugly domineering impulse that lies at the heart of Islamic doctrine, and it is of course crucial that we tackle this challenge in an appropriately robust fashion: we must not cave in to Islamist threats, and their demands to restrict freedom of speech and expression in our nations; blasphemy is no offence.

In Germany, the Pro-Deutschland movement has expressed its desire to publicly screen the ‘Innocence of Muslims’, causing some disquiet amongst the German authorities and sections of the media that have wheeled out the usual demonising ‘racist’ and ‘far-right’ labels to apply to the group. In Russia, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov called for Google to block Russian web access to the film’s Youtube site, threatening to curtail its freedom to operate in the country from November if it failed to do so. Rostelekom, one of Russia’s biggest internet providers, blocked access to Youtube in a number of Russian regions last night, and Yaroslav Nilov, Chairman of the Duma Committee on Social and Religious Organisations, has called upon the Ministry of Culture to ban screenings of the film in Russia on the basis that this would constitute “incitement to religious hatred.” He noted that Russia had a Muslim population of 20 million. The reaction of these influential Russian politicians seems to have been born out of a combination of a desire to appeal to the growing number of Muslim voters in the country, and of fear.

It is time that mainstream broadcasters and politicians in Britain and other European nations stopped pretending that these violent outbursts, threats and intolerance are not connected to Islamic doctrine, which is incompatible with a modern, civilised political and social worldview. In our countries, Muslims should not only be seen to respect our right to freedom of speech and expression and to acknowledge the supremacy of secular law, but they should also give active support to these principles. If not, then they should give serious consideration as to where they ought to live: is it to be here, or somewhere more conducive to their mental and cultural universe, such as their ancestral familial homeland(s)? The recent violent reactions to the ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and Tom Holland’s ‘Islam: The Untold Story’, have followed swiftly upon the anniversary of 9/11, which makes it apparent that all of these attacks upon freedom of expression are part of a wider Islamist political agenda.

Given this reality, how can anyone still give credence to what is printed in the pages of The Guardian upon such matters? That paper, and the BBC, to name but two influential players in the mass media, ought to offer us an explanation as to why they have systematically distorted reporting about Islamic issues so as to provide Islamic doctrine with a veneer of respectability, helping to embed it within our country and to facilitate its spread. We never wanted it, and we certainly do not need it. Now is as good a time as any to make this fact crystal clear.

Charlie Hebdo's latest cover


Tuesday 18 September 2012

Time to cast off "The White Man's Burden"

The Daily Telegraph has run an article in which Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, a significant donor to the party, has called upon the Government to revise its international development strategy and to cut the foreign aid budget. He notes that at a time when other budgets are being reduced significantly and public services are being cut at home, there can be no justification for such largesse with taxpayers’ money. Whereas the international development budget stood at £7.8 billion in 2010, it will rise to £11.5 billion by 2015.

Although such an approach may curry favour with political elites overseas, it understandably raises the hackles of many voters at home. Clearly, a radically new approach to overseas aid needs to be adopted in which the budget is cut back to the bare minimum, with aid being limited to emergency assistance in disaster situations; specific tightly controlled projects aimed at reducing the birth rate in recipient states and general advice on establishing good governance, democratic accountability and effective tax systems. Without reducing the birth rate to sustainable levels in those countries whose populations are exploding and tackling the endemic corruption of many states, no amount of money or assistance will make an appreciable positive impact upon the lives of their people. Once governments become truly accountable for the welfare of their own people, they will have to act to improve their lot or face the consequences. As matters stand, many corrupt governing elites find it easier and more convenient to mask their own corruption by blaming their economic woes upon an “exploitative West” or the “former colonial powers”. It is time to stop subscribing to this narrative and to jettison this politically correct version of “the white man’s burden”. 

Monday 17 September 2012

Tony Blair on 'Innocence of Muslims'

Tony Blair appeared on this morning's Today Programme on Radio 4 to speak about the violent reaction of many Muslims to the film 'Innocence of Muslims'. For once, he appeared to be genuinely discomfited: voice croaky and quavering and stumbling for words. He struggled to find a politically correct way of explaining the situation, yet reluctantly had to concede that the violence had something to do with Islam, although he termed it "a wrongheaded view of religion". However, on a more encouraging note, although rubbishing the film for its poor production values and content, he did not call for its censorship or wider restrictions on free speech, which is something that the OIC will surely press for afresh following this outbreak of violence amongst Muslims across the world.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Plaid Cymru and Welsh Devolution: Good for Wales?

Plaid Cymru’s annual conference came to an end yesterday with the party declaring that it would focus on achieving a “Green New Deal” for Wales. Whatever the merits of such a goal, one thing remains clear: Wales is not performing well economically and is overly dependent upon the public sector; it requires new productive investment to provide jobs and wealth, but is Plaid the party to deliver this? Being a self-declared Welsh nationalist party, it would not be unnatural to think that it should seek to pursue the best policies on behalf of the Welsh people, but does it? It has certainly been losing support, as illustrated by the National Assembly for Wales election results last year where it slipped from second to third place behind the Conservatives.

Welsh devolution: lacking legitimacy?
The devolutionary settlement imposed by Labour and maintained by the Cameron administration has added an additional tier of bureaucracy to Welsh government and the delivery of public services. Devolution itself was passed by a hair’s breadth, with 50.3% of those participating in the 1997 referendum voting “Yes”, and 49.7% “No”. Turnout was low at 50.1%, so the new constitutional arrangement was actively endorsed by only one quarter of the Welsh electorate. This can hardly be adjudged to have provided a clear democratic mandate, given the significant implications of the vote. In 2011 another referendum took place, this time upon the question of whether the National Assembly for Wales should possess direct law-making powers which superficially delivered a clearer result than in 1997: 63.5% voted “Yes”, and 36.5% “No”. However, the turnout in 2011 was a meagre 35.4%, representing 22.5% of the Welsh electorate, an even lower proportion than in the 1997 referendum. Taking this into account, both devolution and the strengthening of the National Assembly’s law-making powers lack a clear democratic mandate, and the results of the second vote could be said to have been significantly influenced by the desire of Welsh voters to wrest power from Westminster during a period of Conservative dominated government, given that in 2010 26 of Wales’s 40 MPs were Labour.

Devolution and Language Policy: Cultural and Economic Aspects
That many in Wales wish to preserve the Welsh language as a facet of their identity is understandable, and what happened historically, when Welsh schoolchildren were often punished for speaking Welsh in the playground, was clearly wrong. As one of the Celtic languages which were once widespread across much of Europe but are now confined to some of its western fringes, Welsh is a part of the European linguistic heritage worthy of preservation. That said, the manner in which some advocates of Welsh have in recent years sought to revive the fortunes of their flagging tongue cannot be viewed in such a positive light: compulsory Welsh-language medium teaching in a number of schools (particularly in Gwynedd) and legislation stipulating Welsh language proficiency for job applicants in the public sector and the “fully bilingual” provision of public services are heavy-handed measures that possess significant drawbacks. There is a difference between preserving and promoting Welsh, and imposing it. These measures impose Welsh, irrespective of whether or not this imposition is desired by the majority of Welsh residents.

There exists a clear linguistic divide in Wales between the predominantly English-speaking south and east and the Welsh-speaking north and west, and it is in Gwynedd that support for the promotion of the Welsh language is at its strongest. The 2001 census showed that 69% of Gwynedd’s population spoke Welsh, with this figure rising to 88.6% amongst the 3-15 age group, the latter higher percentage presumably being the outcome of the imposition of Welsh-medium language schooling in the local authority. In 2004, only 21.7% of the population of Wales claimed to be “fairly fluent” in Welsh, with only 57% of these (12.4% of the population) claiming to be “fluent”. Given the modest levels of Welsh language competence in the country, the legislation connected to the promotion and imposition of Welsh does not appear to be in proportion to the demand, and in South Wales these measures elicit a considerable degree of popular apathy or outright opposition owing to their unnecessary nature.

Welsh has been accorded the status of an “officially recognised language”, and in 2011 the Welsh Language Measure came into force which stated that Welsh must be treated on an equal footing with English. Further legislation is being prepared with respect to its implementation in 2013 which stipulates the provision of “fully bilingual services” with onerous obligations being imposed upon not only public services, but also private sector businesses in receipt of more than £400,000 in public funds. The BBC reported that this legislation “means a Welsh speaker could expect to receive correspondence and phone calls in Welsh, along with accessing Welsh-speaking doctors and carers” and that non-compliant firms “would be fined” up to £5,000. In effect, this new language legislation will mean that the majority of Welsh residents will be disqualified from applying for a wide range of jobs in their own country because of discriminatory language legislation which will debar them from the public sector and many roles in the private sector. Moreover, this will impose considerable unnecessary costs to both public services and private business at a time of economic hardship. These measures are neither good for the Welsh economy nor the Welsh people; their application outside of majority Welsh-speaking areas is particularly inappropriate, and they should be abandoned.

Although Welsh should be offered as a subject in schools, it should not be the medium of instruction, for pupils would be better off using English which opens up greater opportunities for them across the country as a whole, rather than restricting their horizons only to Wales. Moreover, the situation in North Wales is such that many families attached to the armed forces have had to take the extraordinary measure of sending their children to private schools because the state sector provides only Welsh-medium teaching. Across Wales, approximately one quarter of pupils attend Welsh-medium schools.

Welsh language policy could also act as a brake upon inward investment to Wales, with companies unwilling to incur the additional costs that it imposes. Plaid Cymru therefore, by pushing this largely undesired linguistic policy, is harming the economic interests of Wales as a whole, and the individual job prospects of the majority of Welsh people by excluding them from particular posts which are being reserved for Welsh speakers. This is the true face of discrimination in Wales today, which is being justified through reference to the fictitious ‘needs’ of non-existent Welsh-speaking monoglots. Nonetheless, the South Wales Police Authority is pressing ahead with a ‘Welsh Language Scheme’, so funds that could have been put to use in support of policing are in effect being diverted into an unnecessary aspect of cultural policy, for South Wales is not a Welsh-speaking region.

Perhaps one reason why there has been a reluctance for political parties to challenge Welsh language policy, is the fear of potential violent opposition to such a stance occasioned by the example of the terrorist campaign waged by a small band of militants calling themselves the Sons of Glendower (Meibion Glyndŵr), who in the 12 years following 1979 were responsible for 228 arson attacks. Although that campaign was specifically directed at English second-home owners and estate agents, presumably, such people could be sufficiently motivated to engage in acts of violence to preserve policies favouring the promotion of the Welsh language.  

Plaid Cymru does not offer the people of Wales what they require. Welsh voters are currently in the unfortunate position of finding themselves without a viable political choice, with there being no party that will offer to repeal the discriminatory and economically damaging Welsh language measures that are being imposed. Moreover, they are not being offered the opportunity to vote for the dissolution of the National Assembly for Wales, and thereby benefiting from the considerable savings that this would entail. However, it is the intention to make such a political choice available in the near future, and if you would like to become involved, your are more than welcome to do so.

Property destroyed by Meibion Glyndŵr

Saturday 15 September 2012

Eric’s in a pickle with the National Secular Society

An article by Eric Pickles in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph afforded him the opportunity to revel in the canting sub-Dickensian persona that we have all come to know, but not necessarily to love. The object of his ire on this occasion, inexplicably (from a rational perspective) has not been, for example, the group of people who recently issued death threats against Tom Holland for his documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’, but the National Secular Society and the “aggressive secularism” that he claims it embodies. When did you last hear or read a news story about “aggressive” secularists threatening to kill or maim someone because they happened to disagree with their perspective, or to back up objections to an historical documentary with threats of violence? Secularists campaign both for freedom of religion and, even more importantly, the right to freedom from it; beyond that, their political beliefs are disparate.

Warsi and Pickles “do God” (or Allah in the case of the former), which is a great pity; for we would all benefit from rather less faith, and more scepticism. Pickles opens his piece with a specific appeal to what he perceives to be the merits of Christianity and its role in shaping “the heritage, morality and public life of Britain”, claiming that it is “the Christian ethos has made Britain so welcoming”. He echoed with approval David Cameron’s assertion that “we are a Christian nation – and should not be afraid to say so”; all very flattering, if you happen to be a Christian that is.

Elsewhere, Pickles asserts that there should be a greater involvement of Christian organisations in public life and the formulation of policy; he claims that “faith communities” stand for “integration” and “tolerance”, providing all with the same basic “moral compass” (one, it would seem, that almost always points East rather than North) and thus bind society together; he wishes to see religion challenge “moral relativism”, and for “aggressive secularism” and the “intolerant National Secular Society” to be confronted. He even manages to shoehorn a negative reference to the European Court of Human Rights into the article, thereby injecting a little cod nationalism into the tenor of his piece.

In essence, Pickles seeks to make a special case for Christianity in particular, and religion in general, to take an interfering role in policy; he seeks to portray Christianity in Britain as being somehow embattled and persecuted, whereas the facts are rather less lurid. As for him claiming that “faith communities” assist in the “integration” of different groups resident in this country, this flies in the face of reality, for these faith identities are by definition rigid and separating: they exist to differentiate believers from unbelievers, and the transgression of these boundaries is not looked upon with favour by ‘the faithful’, whatever their creed. The National Secular Society quite rightly states:
The idea that dwelling on the very issue that divides us most– religion – somehow brings communities together is the biggest lie peddled by these governments [i.e. those of Blair, Brown and Cameron].
With Pickles still in post as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Sayeeda Warsi recently appointed as Minister of State for Faith and Communities, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of having advocates of God and Allah pushing their unwelcome personal religious agendas in high office. These divisive posts need to be abolished, and religious belief or lack thereof, left to the conscience of the individual and divorced from matters of state. It should not be the business of government to nurture religious difference, or to offer special recognition to so-called “faith communities” and their associated pressure groups, for such a policy, which has allowed for the teaching of anti-science in a number of state-funded schools, is having a damaging impact upon both our intellectual life and general public culture, not to mention social cohesion.

Pickles is wrong, and it is time that he found himself another job. As the proverb goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”; and it would seem that the “good intentions” of the faithful in this case, are energetically propelling us down this road, albeit one that ends not in the spiritual hell of the religious imagination, but a temporal one here on Earth. 

Eric Pickles: which Dickensian character does he most resemble? 
Answers below please.

Friday 14 September 2012

Bradford: 2,000 in Pakistan Protest

BBC's Look North reports that this evening some 2,000 demonstrators have gathered in Bradford's Centenary Square to protest against US drone strikes in Pakistan. Speeches have been given by, amongst others, George Galloway, Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley, and a representative of CND. The Telegraph and Argus states that the organisers justified the demonstration on the grounds that British intelligence had assisted in the planning of the drone attacks; they anticipated a turnout in the region of 5,000. Imran Khan also sent a video message to the protesters.

Galloway will presumably be hoping that his appearance this evening will divert attention away from his recent comments relating to what he termed "bad sexual etiquette" and "window lickers". Amongst the general public these have done his somewhat dubious image no favours whatsoever, but will they bother many of his "devout" male constituents? The latter, at a guess, will probably be more concerned with whatever he said tonight about a country far away that has no links with native Bradfordians. At least we can be thankful that thus far this evening, they have not resorted to the violence displayed by their co-religionists in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Tunisia using the pretext of an American film about the life of Mohammed. I have seen some bad films in my time, but the experience has never moved me to attempt to storm embassies and murder ambassadors; a few shakes of the head and critical exclamations have sufficed.

UPDATE: The following morning, the estimated number of protesters was stated as being "hundreds" by The Telegraph and Argus rather than the 2,000 reported by the BBC. On Friday 28 September, Centenary Square will host a protest against the film 'Innocence of Muslims'.

Imran Khan addresses the Pakistani masses from his Bradford telescreen

Protesters milling around


Thursday 13 September 2012

Channel 4’s Submission: ‘Islam: The Depressingly Familiar Story’

Since the article below was written, it appears that Channel 4 relented and went ahead on Thursday night with the repeat showing of 'Islam: The Untold Story'. Whether or not the broadcaster will now ignore the threats and reinstate the special screening and attendant debate at its headquarters, remains to be seen. 

The decision of Channel 4 to pull a repeat showing of Tom Holland’s Islam: The Untold Story from the schedules is a depressing one, underscoring a growing and worrying trend in our country today expressive of an aggressive religious obscurantism articulated by resident Islamists. The broadcaster received circa 1,200 complaints about the programme, with the decision to cancel its repeat being explained as follows:
Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD.
Moreover, The Daily Mail reports that a further screening at Channel 4’s London HQ later this month, that was to be accompanied by a debate, has been cancelled owing to security fears. The two decisions, although in some respects understandable, amount to an effective surrender to the Islamists who issued the threats, demonstrating that a small and violently-inclined minority can have a hugely negative impact upon our public and intellectual life, which surely raises the question: why is it that we are constantly being told that all immigration ‘enriches’ us, when quite clearly some of it does not, and instead constitutes a direct threat to our way of life? With Channel 4’s announcement coming on the anniversary of 9/11 and Islamist mobs storming the US embassies in Libya and Egypt on the same day, the reality of the world around us teaches that Islam – in its literalist forms – is not something to be “celebrated” or  “respected”, but something to be wary of and abhorred. We do not share values with these people; rather, our values are diametrically opposed. To its discredit, the BBC has not even reported this story, possibly out of cowardice, but more likely out of its deep-rooted aversion to criticising any facet of Islam or Muslim behaviour.

As is to be expected of The Guardian, a paper that masquerades as ‘progressive’ but in fact provides active protection for, and propaganda on behalf of, the fastest growing anti-rational ideology in Britain today – Islam – its coverage of the story – penned by Ben Quinn – offered no support to Holland, or to the principle of free speech and academic enquiry, whilst simultaneously affording uncritical prominence to a tweet made by Inayat Bunglawala in which he described Holland’s analysis as constituting “bizarre conjecture about Islam’s birthplace”. Seeking to ascertain the facts – so far as they can be ascertained – regarding the origins of Islam and the alleged historicity of its founding figure, does not strike me as “bizarre”, but rather as the correct approach to the subject. Only one of the “faithful” and “devout”, such as Bunglawala, who has swallowed Islamic doctrine and tradition wholesale, could find anything “bizarre” about Holland’s salient observations regarding the absence of contemporaneous sources testifying to the existence of Mohammed, both inside and outside of the Muslim world.

This, of course, is not to say that he did not exist as a historical figure, but that if he did, it is peculiar that he left no trace in the historical record. As such, he may be no more historical a figure than Woden in the Anglo-Saxon historical tradition. However, whereas my doubt with respect to the historical reality of Woden does not cause any existential disquiet to me as an Englishman, the suggestion that Mohammed as a historical personage may not have existed, does not appear to be as phlegmatically received by the greater part of Muslims. Then again, my doubting in the existence of Woden does not entail any threat to my Englishness, whereas if a Muslim were to doubt the existence of Mohammed and his ‘divine’ mission, this would threaten the very basis of their faith and identity itself. It is a matter that could cause some believers to lose their heads, as quite clearly, a number have on this occasion; whipping themselves up into an hysterical state of offence, complaining about Holland’s treatment of their religious tradition, and even going so far as to threaten his physical safety. How peculiar it is that we constantly hear Muslim voices stating that we “should respect Islam”, for respect cannot be demanded, but can only be earned; threats of violence and demands for the silencing of rational critics of dogma and its negative associated cultural practices, deserve not so much our respect, as our contempt. 

Tom Holland

Tuesday 11 September 2012

No Respect from Salma: Yaqoob quits

Not so long ago, George Galloway was cresting the wave of media popularity born of his spectacular success in the Bradford West by-election, but this evening he may be a little crestfallen following the resignation of colleague Salma Yaqoob. Not only has she resigned as Leader of Respect, but she has left the party altogether. This move, it seems, has been precipitated by Galloway's recent notorious comments about "bad sexual etiquette" in connection with the rape allegations made against Julain Assange. Yaqoob issued a statement on the Respect Party website that read:
It is with deep regret that I have decided to resign from Respect. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down. I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close.

I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect. The policies we have fought for need to be voiced as loud as ever in opposition to a political establishment that remains out of touch with working people.

I would like to thank everyone in the party for their support over the years; I wish everyone the very best for the future and in those common struggles for peace, justice and equality that I am sure we will all continue to be involved in.
Other than Galloway, Yaqoob was the most publicly visible member of Respect, and quite where her resignation leaves the party is an interesting question. According to The Telegraph and Argus, Galloway himself is tomorrow due to address an all-female audience in the form of the Bradford Muslim Women's Council, which should, given recent events, lead to some interesting questioning. It would seem that Rula Lenska's pussy won't be purring by this time tomorrow evening. Another question begs to be answered: will Yaqoob join the Green Party? In terms of policy, it would seem a natural fit for her. Wherever she goes, The Guardian will obligingly swoon about her every move.

Rula Lenska's Pussy

Sunday 9 September 2012

The Green Party (“Green” as in Naïve)

Widespread disaffection with mainstream political parties appears to have caused many people to despair of party politics altogether, but for some, they have posed themselves the question: “Where can I find a new political home?” Many have yet to move beyond this stage, for they have not seen anything that appeals to them; but, at a guess, a natural political home for some grassroots Liberal Democrats, disgruntled at their party’s partnership with the Conservatives, could lie with the seemingly cuddly Green Party. Not only are members of the two parties said to share a penchant for sandals, but also a passion for open borders, multiculturalism and reducing our standard of living through radically increasing the cost of the one thing upon which modern life and conveniences are dependent: energy.

This weekend sees the Green Party hold its annual conference in Bristol, its yearly opportunity to enjoy a fleeting moment in the media spotlight (or preferably, candlelight derived from non-tallow based sources), following its canny move of changing Leader one week in advance of the gathering and thereby providing an extended period of media coverage. Gone is Caroline Lucas, replaced by former Guardian Weekly editor and ex-Aussie Natalie Bennett. It is therefore unsurprising to find that her former employer is offering the Greens - a 'new force on the radical left' - considerable coverage and support, in which it becomes evident that most of Bennett’s political flak seems to be directed towards the LabourParty, whose voters she seeks to court.

Although the Green Party is still relatively small, possessing in 2010 a membership of 12,768 (I hesitate to refer to “national membership”, for as you will see below, Greens really don’t like the word “national”, considering it to be a ‘nasty’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘racist’ term), it did manage to win two seats in the EU elections in 2009, and Caroline Lucas succeeded in taking the party’s first Westminster seat the following year in Brighton Pavilion. In 2009, its size and degree of electoral success were roughly on a par with that of the BNP (which subsequently went into terminal meltdown), but unlike the BNP, the party has always enjoyed a degree of sympathetic media coverage, which, owing to the radically destabilising nature of its policies were they ever to be implemented, it really does not merit.

The Greens, somehow, have come to be thought of as the ‘nice’ party, and their general philosophical stance – anti-Western, anti-national and anti-science – has for some inexplicable reason been deemed to be acceptable; an acceptance indicative of a strong current of generalised cultural masochism and misplaced ethnic and national ‘guilt’ that has polluted mainstream thought and discourse in Britain today. If one song could be said to encapsulate Green Party sentiment, it would be John Lennon’s tuneful but rather sickly Imagine; a song justly parodied, owing to Lennon's and Ono’s lifestyle, by a certain Reg Dwight, who was moved to write:
Imagine six apartments
It isn’t hard to do
One is full of fur coats
The other’s full of shoes
Anyway, I digress. Returning to the Green Party, it would be a great pity if voters were to remain ignorant of its actual policies rather than its cuddly-sounding name and image, and were thus to mistakenly lend its candidates their votes. People need to be made aware of what it actually stands for, which really is not very pleasant at all; moreover, in reality it is not very “Green”, for the policies that it advocates would lead to a significant deterioration in our environment at home, as well as our general standard of living.   

There are many things deeply wrong with the Green Party’s approach and policy platform, but two key aspects of its policy work strongly against preserving the environment: its advocacy of an open borders policy and ongoing mass immigration coupled with an unwillingness to recognise that only the economically undeveloped peoples of Africa, Asia and elsewhere can solve their own problems of overpopulation and resource depletion through the widespread use of contraception. The Green’s immigration policy for Britain would be a disaster. Taking into consideration the massive strains already placed upon national infrastructure, housing, social services, water and food supplies and our countryside by our ineffective immigration regime, consider the implications of the following statements taken from the Green Party website:
The Green Party reaffirms it's commitment to a liberal immigration policy. Everyone is equal no matter what the colour of their passport. The Coalition's policy of introducing an immigration cap restricts people's rights based purely on their nationality, harms the economy and is not conducive to a free and happy society. The Green Party is in favour of a real review of border controls that takes in the full benefits of immigration and stops treating those who are not native to the UK as a problem.
Green Party Policy Statements
MG300 We will work to achieve greater equity between the UK and non-Western countries. In step with this, we will progressively reduce UK immigration controls.

MG405 Migrants illegally in the UK for over five years will be allowed to remain unless they pose a serious danger to public safety.

MG420 We will resist all attempts to introduce a 'barrier round Europe' shutting out non-Europeans or giving them more restricted rights of movement within Europe than European Nationals.

MG102 We are aware that, in the 21st century, there is likely to be mass migration of people escaping from the consequences of global warming, environmental degradation, resource shortage and population increase.

MG430 We will produce and implement contingency plans for the future financial and other support of environmental migrants. We will encourage such planning by international agencies, non-governmental organisations, other countries, the European Community and local government.

MG103 The Green Party recognises the contributions made by many migrants to their recipient area or community. We value the cultural diversity and intercultural awareness resulting from both temporary residence and migration.

MG205 Migration policies should not discriminate directly on grounds of race, colour, religion, political belief, disability, sex or sexual orientation. Preference should not be given to those with resources or desirable skills.
When it comes to nationality policy, its objectives are chilling:
NY100 Over the last decades, British nationality law has been used to restrict the number of Black people having the right to live in the UK while maximising the opportunities for white non-residents with British ancestors to retain this right. The Green Party believes that such nationality laws must be reformed.


NY300 We will work to create a world of global inter-responsibility in which the concept of a 'British national' is irrelevant and outdated.
The Green Party wishes to eradicate not only the nation-state, but also any natural common affective bonds of culture and kinship. Although it also portrays itself as being in favour of women’s rights, it, like the rest of the hard Left of which it is in reality a part, shows itself to be in league with a certain misogynist and anti-rational creed named Islam. Speaking at the Muslim News Awards in April 2007, Green Party Principal Speak Dr Derek Wall stated:
Islamic teachings work in a holistic system which recognises the interactions between the diverse areas of life and society such as economics and health, peace and conflict, within which environmental care is also integrated.
The emphasis on spiritual development, on our relationship with the world around us, means Islam has many things to teach the environmentalist movement.
There is a strong concern with environmental protection and sustainable stewardship in the Koran, which has something to teach all of us Muslim and non Muslim alike.
If you have ever considered voting Green, I hope that after reading this small selection of Green Party policies you will desist from doing so. If you are genuinely interested in conserving our environment, protecting our countryside and following a sustainable economic and demographic policy that does not entail destroying your standard of living, a new political party will be launching very soon that will have such concerns at the heart of its mission. For more information, return here in the weeks ahead. 

The Greens are waiting with arms wide open, just as in The Camp of the Saints.

The Green Party: recycling bad ideas

Saturday 8 September 2012

Stunning Arrogance

The statement below has been taken from the website of a body calling itself the Association of Non Stun Abattoirs (ANSA):
ANSA (Association of Non Stun Abattoirs) was formed to represent the voice of the halal meat industry. The association aims to create and raise awareness of the halal industry according to the teachings of the Quran and the prophetic tradition.

The ANSA logo will give the consumers assurance that the meat they will be consuming is truly halal and is ritually halal slaughtered according to Islamic principles.

From ANSA’s mission statement, one could be excused for thinking that it is an organisation based in Pakistan, but sadly, this is not the case, for it is based here in the UK.

Many of us eat meat, and many do not, but even for those of us who do, it would seem perverse if anyone were to suggest that we should do anything other than minimise the suffering and distress of animals in the slaughter process; it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the most humane slaughter methods available are employed. Animal welfare standards in the UK are generally of a high standard, considerably higher than in many EU countries, which can at times place our farmers at a competitive disadvantage; however, this piece is not going to argue for a reduction in these standards, but rather to defend them, and to outline the case for ensuring that there are no exemptions from their application.

There may, given the specific historical, geographical and climatic contexts in which halal and kosher slaughter arose, have been some original rational basis to the dietary taboos of the religious ideologies that demand such practices, but that basis has long since gone: there is no rational reason why either Muslims or Jews should object to the stunning of livestock before slaughter. Only individuals of a literalistic scriptural bent within either of these religious traditions, or out-and-out sadists, could surely maintain that superfluous pain and distress should be inflicted upon an animal, simply to satisfy the arbitrary demands of ‘authoritative’ texts irrelevant to contemporary realities.

A basic principle of law in a modern state is that it should be applicable equally to all of its citizens, with no individuals or groups being accorded special rights or exemptions. The principle of “one law for all” is a sound one, and when it comes to questions of animal welfare, it should not be the case that livestock consumed by literalist doctrinaire Muslims or Jews should be afforded lesser protection than those consumed by everyone else. To the animals, it matters not what set of beliefs the slaughterman holds, but that their deaths be as swift and as devoid of suffering as possible. It is not the feelings of the religious that should be taken into account, but those of the animals destined for the table, for in their deaths, the latter suffer rather more distress than the inflexible dogmatists would suffer in being denied the right to practice their rites.   

A chance to change the law with respect to religious slaughter comes our way in the near future, for the National Secular Society (NSS) notes that the current EU Welfare at Slaughter Directive 93/110 is due to be replaced in January next year. Although the new Regulation 1099/2009 will allow for exemptions for religious slaughter to continue, it also offers the opportunity to end them. The NSS is thus urging people who oppose this practice to write to their MPs in an effort to have their opinions taken into account in the Westminster consultation exercise that will take place in the coming months. NSS blog contributor Stephen Evans has written an interesting piece about this, linking it to ANSA’s recent campaign involving incorrectly labelled ‘halal’ meat in Birmingham. ANSA of course, was not outraged by the fact that halal meat is routinely sold unlabelled to unsuspecting non-Muslims, but by instances in which pre-stunned meat was labelled as ‘halal’. ANSA, clearly, is a deeply reactionary Islamist outfit as can be seen from its website, that is intent upon campaigning for increased cruelty in animal slaughter.

What hope do we have of the law being changed so as to be both consonant with animal welfare and the principle of “one law for all”? Judging by recent experience, the prospects do not look overly hopeful. Earlier this year for example, Shipley MP Philip Davies sought to introduce a ‘Food Labelling (Halal and Kosher Meat) Bill’, but it was blocked by 73 votes to 70. The bill in itself was highly moderate, for it did not propose a ban upon either halal or kosher slaughter, but merely that meat produced using these methods should be clearly labelled as such, so that those of us who object to these slaughter techniques could avoid it. Nonetheless, the majority of MPs could not even be bothered to vote either way with respect to this perfectly reasonable suggestion, and the bill was defeated. MP Gerald Kaufman should be ashamed of his key role in sabotaging Davies’s bill, for it would have in no way infringed upon his ability to purchase kosher meat. Kaufman was quoted in Mancunian Matters as stating:
This has profound connotations of religious feelings and I would be letting my own faith down, my family, I would be letting my many, many good decent, fine religious Muslims in my constituency down if I did not state my total opposition to this Bill.
Despite the inarticulacy of Kaufman’s intervention, and the absence of any underpinning logic for his position, other than brazen politicking for the Muslim vote and his personal adherence to the dead letter of scriptural dogma, it was his position that won the day. This, and a number of other instances, demonstrates an uncomfortable reality: MPs and parliamentary candidates are, as a rule, highly responsive to Muslim demands because Muslims, generally speaking but with some exceptions of course, act as a highly volatile bloc vote, that can swing results in certain constituencies. If therefore, you should reside in a constituency where there are a significant number of Muslims, it is unlikely that your MP will be receptive to your plea to ban religious slaughter. For all of the protestations of the multiculturalists and advocates of mass immigration, this is the end result of their policy: not ‘enrichment’, but the growing power of dogmatic and vocal minorities to impose their backward beliefs on a more advanced society and culture; reversing our advances in animal welfare, and generating a climate of fear amongst potential critics of this regression, who wish at all costs to avoid being labelled ‘racist’.

Honouring religious Slaughter: Gibson’s Aztec take on Mayan History