A few days ago when I signed this petition the number of signatures was at less than 10,000 – as you see, the signatories have blasted past 120,000, and if David Cameron upholds his own policy on petitions (as he failed to do in the past over the NHS) Parliament now needs to consider this for a debate.
Aylan Kurdi is the small child who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and whose photograph, dead, is on so many newspaper front pages today. Aylan was three: Galip, his five-year-old brother, and Rihan, his mother, also drowned. The only survivor was his father, Abdullah.
I hope Abdullah’s permission was obtained by each of the newspapers who chose to highlight the refugee crisis with the body of his dead child. I cannot imagine, I cannot begin to conceive, the hell of suffering and loss Abdullah Kurdi is in, to lose your children and your partner in a desperate effort to escape with them to a safe refuge.
One of the commonest distortions of the resolution Amnesty International voted on this August is that Amnesty want to make sex work a human right.
What Amnesty International resolved to do
develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.
I’d say this distortion from “protect the human rights of sex workers” to “sex work is a human right” was bizarre, except that I have seen similar distortions before, when Amnesty finally agreed that in a very limited set of circumstances (such as pregnancy caused by rape, especially in a war zone) they would treat access to abortion as a human right, and that they would treat healthcare – medical support of a girl or a woman who’s had an illegal abortion and needs treatment – as a human right. That got distorted too.
So, Amnesty International are taking the position that sex work should be decriminalised, in order to protect the human rights of sex workers.
I don’t believe the Labour Party administration are rigging the leadership election to keep Jeremy Corbyn from winning. I don’t think that’s what they’re trying to do, and I don’t think they’d succeed in doing it if they tried. I think Jeremy Corbyn’s likely to win: if he loses, it won’t be because of the Labour Party’s purge of voters.
We’ve seen in the US since Bush was awarded the victory in November 2000, that a determined group of people with the power to have hackable e-voting machines built and installed, the power to ensure legal investigations are only used against the opposition, the power to shut down voter registration for the opposition, and of course the power to “cleanse” electoral rolls of voters likely to choose your opponent, can deliver victories for the Republican Party: the outright vote-fixing may be mathematically detectable.
I don’t think that’s what’s happening in the Labour leadership election.
On 29th November 2013, a photojournalist on a rescue boat in the Aegean Sea took the photograph below of Rukhsan Muhammed struggling to keep her child Mirwan alive. Later, the photographer sold the image to Anadolu Agency (a state-run press agency in Turkey) which licenced it to Getty Images:
Rukhsan Muhammed, one of the passengers of the boat carrying Syrian refugees to Greek Islands fights for her life after the boat sinks at Aegean Sea near the coastal city of Balikesir, in Turkey on November 29, 2013. Rukhsan Muhammed told a new aspect of her family’s dramatic escape, to Turkish authorities during her appearance in court this week. She explained that following the accident she used her suitcase as a means of life preserver to keep her 1,5 years-old child, Mirwan Muhammed, from drowning. But despite of all her efforts her son fell off the suitcase and got lost amongst the waves.
I haven’t written anything about the Hugo Awards on this blog, despite having a vote at the 2015 Worldcon, because the extraordinary mess that a few hundred people made of a popular-vote award really seemed to have nothing to do with UK politics, which is, mostly, what I write about here.
The Hugo Awards are a set of science-fiction awards nominated and voted for by members of the World Science-Fiction Society (WSFS) annually, and presented to the winners at the World Science-Fiction Convention (the Worldcon). Any paid-up member can nominate any eligible work: the works that receive the most nominations are short-listed (generally five works to a short-list, though a tied vote can give six to a short-list). Any paid-up member can vote for any or all of the works short-listed in any category, and the work that receives the most votes wins the Hugo Award for that category. They’re called Hugo Awards after Hugo Gernsback, who is generally acknowledged to have founded modern science-fiction.
The goal of the Hugo Awards is for fans to choose the best works published over the previous two years.
Since Monday I’ve been working on a three-part response to Louise Mensch’s blog of Saturday night.
- Part 1 deals with Mensch’s distorted and dishonest assertions about Corbyn’s views on ISIS, and questions her claims of his involvement with CEC Australia.
- Part 2 deals with Mensch’s declaration that Corbyn must account for attending commemoration events for Deir Yassin, any and all encounters with his constituent Paul Eisen, and whether an audience member is responsible for researching the political beliefs of a jazz saxophone player who is said by Mensch to be “one of the world’s leading anti-Semites”.
- Part 3 deals with the theological and geopolitical complications of Stephen Sizer’s opposition to the anti-Semitic beliefs of John Hagee, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, about Israel: Jeremy Corbyn’s defense of Sizer for posting a Facebook link: and briefly with Dyab Abou Jahjah.
Jeremy Corbyn is a backbencher Labour MP who was elected to Islington North in 1983. He has won every election in his constituency since then: he’s been in Parliament for 32 years. Most MPs have to travel back to their constituency at the weekends and somehow make time for a family life: MPs in a London constituency have more time to go to meetings and events. Jeremy Corbyn has been, everyone says, a very active MP. So how many people has he met in 32 years as an MP?
Without knowledge of Corbyn’s desk diary over the past thirty-two years, it is impossible to say, but, as a low-ball speculation, if Corbyn had been invited to speak at thirty events each year, where he was on a panel to speak with at least three other people, with an audience of fifty or so, over thirty-two years he would have been on the same panel as 2880 people, and 48,000 people could say “I was at such-and-such an event with Jeremy Corbyn”. That is an intentionally low guess: I think it likely, especially as Corbyn became known as a left-wing MP who consistently opposed the Iraq war, that he would have been invited to far more events than a mere thirty a year: and certainly many Stop The War events in London had audiences of far more than 50.
Last Friday night Louise Mensch – New York’s Sun on Sunday columnist, inveterate Twitterer, blogger, and occasional guest on Have I Got News For You, had an embarrassing incident involving a sewer, a screenshot, and a search mistake, detailed in part 1.
Mensch then took less than 24 hours to write a long blog of recycled smears and rage about Jeremy Corbyn on the Saturday night after her Twitter fail: part 2 is here.
The third part of this debunk deals with Mensch’s assertion that if out of the thousands of people Corbyn has met in the course of his work as an MP, even two are anti-Semitic, Corbyn must himself be tainted by association with those two and needs to explain himself.
In effect, when you think about the numbers involved, this kind of smear answers itself. As Owen Jones notes in the Guardian today:
The Labour leadership frontrunner, Jeremy Corbyn, has been a long-term supporter of the Palestinian justice movement. He could not possibly have known the personal backgrounds of every individual who has joined him at the many rallies he has attended over the years. Some of these people were antisemitic. And while the vast majority of people involved in the movement are – like myself – driven by a passionate support for self-determination, there is a minority that indulges antisemitic tropes. These ideas have to be defeated.