If you follow me on Twitter, you know I am normally a huge fan of the BBC Question Time watchalong on Twitter: even when I detest one, some, or all of the panel. (Given the panel still unfortunately includes David Dimbleby, one man is invariably detestable.)
Tweeting / reading Twitter #BBCqt while watching BBC Question Time turns it from a solitary anger to a group sport.
Last Thursday I switched on the tv a few moments late, and George Galloway was speaking. He came to the end of whatever he had to say, and the audience cheered him.
The court declared that the Department of Work & Pension’s workfare scheme was unlawful, because it was not being operated as described.
Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, Esther McVey – every Minister involved has claimed that there is no question of JSA claimants being forced to work for commercial organisations against their will by having their benefits sanctioned if they refuse a placement.
This was evidently not true – many people sent on workfare said it was not true, though only Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson so far have been brave enough to take the DWP to court.
The court decision yesterday proved the Ministerial and DWP claims untrue and therefore unlawful, and yet the Department of Work and Pensions claim they won (and also said they were going to ignore the court’s decision to deny them leave to appeal).
Another question that should be asked is: can it be shown that Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, or Esther McVey, have misled Parliament in giving evidence that has now been proved untrue?
So if the court found what they were doing to be unlawful, how could they have “won”? [As we find out in March: because they intend to pass legislation to make their unlawful actions retrospectively lawful.]
Yesterday in Ireland 25,000 people [or 15,000] gathered to support the important ethical principle that when a woman in Ireland needs an abortion, she should have to go overseas. (Rumours that Ryanair was one of the major donors to “Vigil4Life” unconfirmed.)
This well-funded “vigil” was in response to the Irish government’s announcement that they would legislate for legal abortion in Ireland where the woman would otherwise die. Savita Halappanavar’s parents have said they would welcome the law that would have saved their daughter’s life to be named after her.
The prolifers in Dublin were so confident of the ethical case for outsourcing all abortions overseas at the patient’s expense that they did not stoop to lying about it:
Seven thoughts about abortion:
- All prolifers I’ve ever discussed abortion with, live in countries where women have access to safe legal abortion.
- No prolifer who’s ever given me their views on abortion has had any informed views on what would happen if women in their country no longer had access to safe legal abortion.
- The best person to judge if an abortion is necessary is almost invariably the woman who is pregnant.
- In the rare exceptions to point three, the better judges of whether an abortion is necessary have medical training and are medically responsible for the health and wellbeing of the pregnant woman as their patient.
- No woman who knew she needed an abortion ever refused to have what she needed.
- No man who cared for a woman ever wanted her to be hurt or die doing without what she needed.
- Prolife arguments for making abortion illegal are never about preventing abortions: only about making abortions more difficult, expensive, and dangerous.
Abortion was decriminalised in England, Scotland, and Wales in 1967. No one much younger than sixty can have direct personal memories of what it was like to live in a country where the law said that unless a girl or a woman was going to die when she was forced to have the baby.
In June 2012, Cardinal Brady – who in 1975 had let a child abuser loose to prey on further victims – publicly if not very personally apologised:
Cardinal Sean Brady has said it is “a matter of deep shame” that the Catholic Church did not always respond properly to victims of child abuse.
The Catholic primate of all Ireland was delivering a homily at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
He said he wanted to ask for the forgiveness of abuse victims.
He said the church had “first betrayed their trust and then failed to respond adequately to their pain”.
I stopped updating my first post about the Maldives two months after I first posted it. I kept fearing I would hear, next, that the President who stepped down rather than make use of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) violently against civilians, had himself been killed.
Mohamed Nasheed, who was his country’s first democratically elected leader, has become a tireless advocate for both environmental action and free elections — two political efforts he ties together.
On 10th December, The Hindu published an interview by telephone with ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, then speaking from Kulhudhuffushi, part of Thiladhunmathi Atoll, in the northern part of Maldives – that is, as The Hindu observes “not far from Indian territorial waters”.
“Nothing short of early elections is acceptable to the MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] … We are very confident that if there is a free and fair election and if I can contest, we will win it handsomely,”
In a telephonic interview, Mr. Nasheed said he was running for presidency again. “The MDP has decided that I should run and the primary has given me an overwhelming support. But there have been so many politically motivated attempts to bar me from contesting because the opposition is fair clear that they will not be able to win against me. We have a lot of support in the country. The violent repression against people has made people look towards us. And I think that the three-and-a-half years of our government we have been able to bring about a lot of transformation of the country and we feel that people like it,” he said. Getting the financial system back on track, reducing reliance on indirect taxes and levy of direct taxes, and putting in place an enormous social protection programme were among his main achievements as President.
Few things annoy me more than a person who has never been in a difficult situation claiming that they know what they would do if they were. Examples: a person who has never experienced real poverty claiming that they know they would manage their money better than those wastrels on the dole; a person who has never been tortured bragging that they would never betray their side no matter what; a person who has never been under fire/in a war zone declaring that they wouldn’t experience post-traumatic stress disorder; a person who has never needed an abortion claiming they’d never have an abortion no matter what their need.
We know that whether a woman identifies herself as prolife or anti-abortion, and whatever the rules of her faith or her claimed principles, when women need abortions women have abortions if they possibly can. Making abortion illegal or expensive, the goal of the prolife movement, does nothing to prevent abortions: the only thing that’s shown to be effective in preventing abortions is free access to contraception, with strong encouragement to use it. Universal access to contraception is never a goal of the prolife movement: indeed, prolifers tend to be found on the side of pharmacists who don’t want to provide women with contraception.
Yesterday was the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which begins the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign worldwide.
By Friday 23rd November, MPs will have to decide whether the UK should be in defiance of an ECHR ruling or David Cameron.
David Cameron says:
“no-one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government.”
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, a QC who sits on the Commission on a Bill of Rights, said
offering a ban was merely political posturing, and it was inevitable prisoners would get the right to vote.
Asked if the Government would have to the vote to prisoners in some form, he told The Daily Telegraph: “Of course – either that or we are in the same position as in Greece under junta. Greece had to leave the Council of Europe.
Please note that it’s not even a question that “all prisoners must have the vote” – it’s perfectly legitimate to ban some prisoners from voting. Continue reading
Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman who was part of the Stonewall riot that began the modern LGBT rights movement in 1969:
In 1969, the night of the Stonewall riot, was a very hot, muggy night. We were in the Stonewall [bar] and the lights came on. We all stopped dancing. The police came in.
They had gotten their payoff earlier in the week. But Inspector Pine came in-him and his morals squad-to spend more of the government’s money.
We were led out of the bar and they cattled us all up against the police vans. The cops pushed us up against the grates and the fences. People started throwing pennies, nickels, and quarters at the cops.
And then the bottles started. And then we finally had the morals squad barricaded in the Stonewall building, because they were actually afraid of us at that time. They didn’t know we were going to react that way.
We were not taking any more of this shit. We had done so much for other movements. It was time.