Recent Articles



Xinjiang is burning. Will anyone care?

by Alan Thomas     July 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

One of the world’s least-known and yet most obvious cases of the oppression of a minority group by a powerful state, China’s brutal hegemony over the Uyghur people of Xinjiang province, should be more widely known to western progressives.

It isn’t, partly because of the effectiveness of the Chinese state in blacking out mainstream media coverage of the region, but also because of residual left-wing quietism when it comes to criticising a stalinist state: one could safely assume that there would be far more banner headlines if the oppressor state involved was the USA.
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Time for an Election

by Alan Thomas     May 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

The papers today are carrying stories stating that a clear majority of the public want an early general election. This is of course completely unsurprising in light of the avalanche of scandal that there has been over recent weeks, and the pathetic reaction of MPs to it. People want to exercise the one democratic control that they have over their politicians – the right to throw them out at the ballot box.

What has been surprising though, is the reaction of the liberal political classes to the call. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s performance on Thursday’s Question Time was a case in point. Not only did she oppose calling an election, she did so on the grounds that such was people’s “anger”, they might “vote to spite”, and return BNP MPs to Westminster!

It is, of course, highly unlikely that the fascists could corral enough votes even in their strongest Westminster constituency to win an FPTP election. But even that isn’t really the point.

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Why I’ll be voting Green on June 4

by Alan Thomas     May 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

It is widely held that Euro-elections are little more than an expensive white elephant, a charade conducted in order to put various failed and eccentric politicians on the gravy train to the continent. This year, however, they have taken on a new importance as there is a very real possibility that the fascist British National Party could gain representation for the first time at a European level. Voters are turning away from the established parties in droves, and I believe it is likely that the rise in support for the minor parties will prove to be understated on the day.

Tories have an easy if rather peculiar alternative in the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and that group’s support is rocketing predictably. For disaffected Labour voters however, the choice is not so easy. Those on the left who half-heartedly call upon people to vote for “the political expression of the working class” are wasting their time, and in any case are selling people a turkey. The idea of asking the working people of the UK to vote for a party that has overseen their houses being reposessed, their jobs being lost, their children being sent to war and their public services being privatised, has me reaching for the sick bucket. I cannot conceive of the thought process that allows people to continue reciting the same tired old doctrines about “historic ties to the labour movement” which lead them to call for a Labour vote. In any case, the electorate are not going to listen on June 4.
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Open borders, not just amnesty, for migrants

by Alan Thomas     May 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Yesterday there was a rally in central London called by the Strangers Into Citizens campaign, a coalition with an apparently bedazzling array of backers from the unions, parliament and from (largely religious) community groups.

Its aim was to call for a one-off “earned amnesty” for migrants who live and work in the UK without legal status, and who have been here for over 4 years. But there is a sting in its tail.

The campaign argues that there is a strong case for such a legal change.
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The wrong kind of nationalisation

by Alan Thomas     January 28, 2009 at 8:00 am

What does a charity do? It used to be the case that charitable organisations, along a rather old but not dishonourable model, subsisted from donations and did “good works” independent of the state and public services. Increasingly, especially in services dealing with vulnerable people, that is no longer the case. Let us take a classic example – the funding of organisations which in one way or another house and support vulnerable homeless or ex-homeless people. 

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Jewish Voice for Peace statement on Gaza attacks

by Alan Thomas     December 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Statement taken from the JVP site which is here. Jewish Voice for Peace is an organisation seeking to build cross-border solidarity for peace in Israel and Palestine. Amongst other activities they have organised support for the Shministim, young Israelis who were prepared to refuse to fulfil their military service in the occupied territories (thus several were jailed), who are latter day heroes in my view.

Jewish Voice for Peace joins millions around the world, including the 1,000 Israelis who protested in the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. We call for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli.

Israel’s slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world. continue reading… »

Let them eat solar panels

by Alan Thomas     December 21, 2008 at 5:51 pm

It was with not a little sadness and familiarity that I read Catherine Bennett’s article in today’s Observer, in which she vocally opposes the idea of a government bail-out for Jaguar Land Rover. It is not so much her opposition to the terms being discussed (I would support an all-out nationalisation rather than the usual cash-injection bailout that has been mooted), but rather an aspect of her reasoning, which is at issue.

There is, as most readers here will know, a long-standing fault line between green and left-wing politics, which has never been fully resolved. On the left, the vast majority of us (myself included) acknowledge the reality of environmental issues such as climate change, species decline or pollution, and we would seek political action to support these problems. Similarly, most (though not all) greens would count themselves as part of the progressive wing of politics, having long ago and rightly dispatched most of the misanthropes and population bombers who infested their movement in the 1970s. However the two movements have never fully married, for all of this apparent convergence, and periodically we see why.

Just to give one anecdotal example, I can remember attending a No Sweat gathering a couple of years ago, where an academic whose name I forget was giving a lecture on the immediacy of the climate crisis. He made, and kept returning to, the point that many of the world’s industries are environmentally unsustainable and will have to change if the crisis is not to become a calamity. This point is plainly true. However I raised the “then what” question, to which he did not appear to have (or want, or indeed think it particularly important to have) an answer. What, I asked, would he suggest as an alternative mode of employment for a coal miner in West Virginia who had never known anything other than the coal industry since he was young. “Well, he’ll have transferrable skills”, came the answer. Like what? “Digging”, the definitive answer delivered with a shrug to suppressed giggles among the assembled audience.
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Reds under the bookshelf?

by Alan Thomas     December 16, 2008 at 12:11 am

Scary Commies at the Staggers!This is a strange one. I hadn’t noticed until earlier today, but apparently the Continuity Eustonites have a bee in their collective bonnets… about two book reviews in the New Statesman. Whilst Eustonalia afficionados will be familiar with their having chosen odd demon-figures to rail at in the past (my personal favourite was Amnesty International, that fearsome institution whom the Eustonistas felt the need to target for reasons I never was bothered to fully fathom), even by their standards this is pretty weird.

According to David T’s original post at Harry’s Place about it, there would seem to be two articles that have upset them. One is a review of Richard “Lenny” Seymour’s book “The Liberal Defense (sic) of Murder” by somebody whom I’d never previously come across called Owen Hatherley. The other is Seymour’s own review of Chris Harman’s “A People’s History of the World”. I have not read either book, and I have no immediate intention of doing so; therefore I cannot know whether either Seymour’s or Hatherley’s reviews are fair and accurate, although I would hazard a guess that both are essential at-length regurgitations of the SWP’s line on the topics that they cover. Put them on somebody else’s Christmas list please, I would prefer a decent bottle of wine.

So, what’s the biggie?
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Did I miss Hug-A-Racist Day?

by Alan Thomas     November 22, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Hate Speech isn't Free Speech!!By far the most joyous and comical news in this past week has been the serial online publication of the BNP’s membership list. Fascists across the country have been crapping themselves at the prospect of being called to account for their views, especially if they work in “sensitive” jobs such as police, doctors or teachers. The list is now in the posession of all of the national media, as well as (one imagines) all of the major anti-fascist groups in the UK, as well as that of various people who’ve published it on the internet.

What has surprised me, has been some of the commentary about this from liberal and left-wing bloggers. I can obviously understand that there are legal concerns about publishing the list, and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to face prosecution for having revealed the list in public. continue reading… »

Clinton rages into the night as Democratic race ends

by Alan Thomas     June 1, 2008 at 11:39 am

The Democratic Party’s rules and bylaws committee yesterday effectively ended the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

For those of you who don’t know, the Obama campaign agreed to a compromise whereby the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan would be seated, but with half a vote each. In the case of Michigan (where Obama did not appear on the ballot paper) the impressive 40% of ballots which were cast for “uncommitted” delegates will instead be allocated to delegates for Obama, presumably on the basis that these ballots were cast as “anyone but Hillary” votes.

Given that due to deliberate breaching of party rules aroung the timing of primaries these states were originally barred from voting at all, by consent of all the candidates including Clinton, it would seem that this is extraordinarily magnanimous on the part of the campaign that has legitimately won within the rules.
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