UK Local elections and the Pirate Party UK

06/03/2012

Local elections take place soon, and the Pirate Party UK are planning to field candidates in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.  It’s a pity they can’t stand in more places, but the party is still new, small, underfunded, and most people probably don’t know what the party stands for anyway.

This is just a quick post telling you about the preliminary plans.  I don’t know anything myself yet, other than what was in an email I received earlier.  Rather than harp on about stuff I’m clueless about, I’m just going to reproduce here the message I got.  As the elections draw near, I will post more info.  In the meantime – the email:

It’s local election time again in the UK and we are looking forward to getting the Pirate Party message out. We will be standing 8 candidates across three UK cities; Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. We will be working hard for the next 58 days to talk to as many people and deliver leaflets to as many homes as possible. We will also be running events and stalls in these areas to ensure that people know who we are and that we are there for them. *Get Involved* At the moment we have our 8 candidates, 3 coordinators and a small national team ready to work together to make this happen, but we still need your support. If you are lucky enough to live near to (or are able to travel to) one of the cities where we are running candidates you can get involved directly. You can help us canvass and run stalls, or be at the end of the ‘phone if a member of the public wants to talk to us. If you are a photographer, videographer, blogger or musician you can help us put together media for the campaigns. If you can help, please get in touch with the relevant coordinator at either edinburgh@pirateparty.org.uk, glasgow@pirateparty.org.uk or manchester@pirateparty.org.uk. We hope to have at least 30 activists out ready to help our candidates in each area and we can only do that if you get involved now and give us some of your time. If you have time and want to do something we can find something for you to do. We will also be running a training session in Manchester over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of March. This is open to anyone who would like to attend and will be covering all aspects of how we run elections, both through practical exercises and discussion. There will also be plenty of time to socialise and get to know other members of the party. *Help online* Even if you don’t live near one of these cities, we still need your help. The national campaigns team is in need of anyone who has time to help us put together leaflets, posters, website content and deal with a huge amount of admin work – everything from dealing with local press through to arranging events and helping collate statistics. We need your help in making sure that the local teams have the time to get on with talking to and working with the public, rather than spending it on things that can be done away from the front lines. If you are willing to help us by doing any of this, please get in touch with campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk and tell us what you can do. *Raising Money* If you don’t have time, you can still support the party by donating money or renewing your membership if it has lapsed. Elections are expensive and our funds are limited; every pound that you can donate to us will be put to good use. We will be spending money on everything from posters, leaflets and election specific material through to maintaining our web sites and VOIP lines. The more money we have available to spend, the more people we will reach and the more chance we will have for success. You can donate at https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/Donate – A full breakdown of election spending will be made public at the end of the election and, if I have the opportunity and the volunteers to do it, I will try to give a weekly breakdown of spending so far on the Pirate Party wiki. If you aren’t close to an area in which we are standing or don’t have the time or the money to support us in this campaign, you can still help by spreading the word in social media, telling your friends and family what we are doing or even encouraging them to join or donate to the party. You can also join us on irc in #ppuk on irc.pirateparty.org.uk (or uk.pirateirc.net) or by using our web client here https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/party/chat/ *Contact details for this election:* Nominations Officer: Phil Cooke (p.cooke@pirateparty.org.uk) Central Campaigns: Andy Halsall (campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk07505 111705) Central Press: Harry Percival (press@pirateparty.org.uk0161 987 7880) Edinburgh – edinburgh@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://edinburgh.pirateparty.org.uk- 0131 546 4803 Phil Hunt: Edinburgh Morningside Ward Steven Bathgate: Edinburgh – Southside Newington Ward Glasgow – glasgow@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://glasgow.pirateparty.org.uk0141 815 1803 Laura-Anne Riatch: Coordinating Andrew Paliwoda: Hillhead Ward Rob Harris: Anderston/City Ward Finlay Archibald: Govan Ward Manchester – manchester@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://manchester.pirateparty.org.uk0161 987 5944 Jack Allnut: Coordinating Tim Dobson: Ancoats & Clayton Ward Loz Kaye: Bradford Ward Maria Aretoulaki: City Centre Ward 2012 will be a good year for the party; we are more prepared for these local elections than we have ever been, we have great candidates and good solid teams of people supporting them. All we need to do now is to work hard and pull together to get the best results possible. Thanks and we all look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

 


UK government say unemployed must do “unpaid work”… but where’s all this work going to come from?

17/11/2010

For years the Conservative Party have wanted to force unemployed people to “earn” their benefits by doing unpaid work.  And finally (in a coalition government with the Lib Dems, strangely enough) it seems they are going to achieve their goal.

The Work and Pensions Secretary (and failed former party leader) Iain Duncan Smith has announced in a white paper that he wants the unemployed to undertake unpaid work or lose benefits, dressing up these draconian plans as a necessary step to cut welfare costs as well as to break what the government is calling the “habit of worklessness”.  The government are trying to suggest that people prefer to live in poverty on the derisory Jobseeker’s Allowance (£51.85 a week for those under 25 and £65.45 for those over 25 – what riches!)  rather than take a job.  And this crazed plan is apparently going to end the “culture of dependency”.

What IDS has neglected to tell us is where exactly this unpaid work is going to come from.  The plan glosses over this detail, saying that “charities, voluntary organizations and companies” will provide these jobs.  This totally ignores the fact that voluntary organizations don’t want people to work for them reluctantly – people who volunteer to work for nothing do so because they want to help the organizations in question and the quality of their work is therefore much higher than what will be done by those who are there under duress.  And as for the companies who will provide the unpaid jobs: if there is work that needs to be done, why haven’t these companies already employed workers to do them?

This plan is an outrageous attempt to provide the Tory Party’s corporate allies with a way to get around the minimum wage.  Instead of advertising these jobs to willing workers who would, by law, be entitled to a living wage, these companies will fill the posts with people who will have to work for nothing.  How the hell can the Tories and their corporate friends get away with this?

And why are the Lib Dems going along with this?  After the destruction of the traditional Labour Party by Blair and his “New Labour” lackeys, some of us thought that the Liberal Democrats were the only progressive party left.  But now they’ve joined the Conservatives in coalition government, we can see Nick Clegg and his colleagues for what they really are: just Tories under a different name.

Democracy in Britain has been dying for many years.  Now it has been shot in the back of the head and buried in an unmarked grave.  We desperately need to take back the power that is rightfully ours.  But the ballot box will get us nowhere.  We must use alternative methods to rid ourselves of the greedy and evil men and women who claim to rule in our name.

 

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Is Hamas a terrorist organization? Funnily enough: no.

31/03/2010

My recent post on the documentary film “Children of Gaza” has provoked a couple of comments from someone calling him/herself “Facts First” (both to the post referred to above and an earlier one also about the Israel-Palestine conflict). While “Facts First” is most eloquent in his/her support for Israel and dismissal of Hamas, he/she has basically restated the US and Israeli position that Hamas is a terrorist organization and has no legitimacy as a government. This has persuaded me that I need to state the truth about Hamas’ legitimacy both in the Palestinian territories and the wider world.

In 2006, Hamas beat its opposition party Fatah in a free and fair election. This resulted in Hamas forming a government with Fatah. Unfortunately, supporters of both parties continued to fight each other.

As well as this factional conflict, Hamas’ position as a legitimate government partner was undermined by the USA and EU’s refusal to recognize a government that contained Hamas – their view is that Hamas is a terrorist organization and therefore unqualified to govern.

Matters came to a head when Fatah seized control of the West Bank territory and Hamas did the same in the Gaza Strip. Israel and Egypt, with US and EU support, then imposed a political, economic and humanitarian blockade on the Gaza Strip, again because Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Many critics of Hamas, including the US, the EU and “Facts First” make much of Hamas’ terrorist status. They tend to claim that Hamas’ status as a terrorist organization is a fact.

They are wrong. It is simply their opinion that Hamas are terrorists. There is an equal argument that Hamas is a legitimate political party qualified to govern the Palestinian territories.

For instance the Council on Foreign Relations says of Hamas:

Is Hamas only a terrorist group?

No. In addition to its military wing, the so-called Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas devotes much of its estimated $70-million annual budget to an extensive social services network. Indeed, the extensive social and political work done by Hamas – and its reputation among Palestinians as averse to corruption – partly explain its defeat of the Fatah old guard in the 2006 legislative vote. Hamas funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. “Approximately 90 percent of its work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities,” writes the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz. The Palestinian Authority often fails to provide such services, and Hamas’s efforts in this area—as well as a reputation for honesty, in contrast to the many Fatah officials accused of corruption—help to explain the broad popularity it summoned to defeat Fatah in the PA’s recent elections.

Although the USA, the EU, Israel, Canada, Japan and others call Hamas a terrorist organization, there is not an international consensus on this matter. The United Kingdom and Australia consider Hamas’ independent military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to be terroristic, but accept that Hamas does have legitimacy. Norway is resolute in its position of recognizing Hamas as a legitimate party, and Russia also refuse to regard Hamas as terroristic because Hamas was elected democratically.

Considering the above facts, one has to wonder what exactly Israel was trying to achieve when it attacked Gaza in Operation Cast Lead, and with its ongoing blockade on the region. Israel claims its goal is to remove Hamas’ ability to operate as a terrorist organization. But this has involved the destruction of civil infrastructure in Gaza, including police stations, prisons, power and water supplies, roads, communications, commerce – and hospitals, schools and residential buildings have also been attacked. This all looks like an attempt to destroy Hamas’ ability to provide the services mentioned by the Council on Foreign Relations in the passage quoted earlier – and as no one else can provide those services, this means Israel is trying to destroy Gaza as a functional territory. Exactly who are the terrorists in this scenario?

“Facts First” has criticized my use of Wikipedia as a source of information on this subject. And I’m well aware of Wikipedia’s problems. But I think the article on Hamas is well researched, with a large and diverse number of references, and is very balanced in its presentation of the facts. In fact, I believe it is the article’s thoroughness and neutrality that makes “Facts First” dislike it so much – he/she would prefer to use US or even Israeli sources of information instead as they are more likely to present the “facts” the way he/she likes to see them. But don’t take my word on the Wikipedia’s Hamas article’s balance and thoroughness – read it and decide for yourself. And please, feel free to comment here on what has been said (and also what has not been said). All I ask is that you take “Facts First’s” pseudonym as advice: let’s stick to the facts rather than deal in opinion. And I contend that one simple fact is: Hamas is not a terrorist organization just because some governments think that’s so.


UK to ban the poor from owning dogs

01/03/2010

I’m a dog owner, and this story has really pissed me off! It appears that the UK government is considering law changes that will make dog ownership all but illegal for the poor!

The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been carrying out a consultation, ostensibly to see what legislative changes are required to improve control of dangerous dogs. A copy of the document has been leaked; and it seems that DEFRA are seriously considering the introduction of a “dog owner’s competency test”. As the paper spells out, establishing such a scheme would be very costly, and would be funded by charging a prohibitive fee for those taking the test and reintroducing dog licenses.

If you're short of cash you can kiss your puppies goodbye!


DEFRA haven’t responded to the reports, claiming they never comment on leaked documents. But it’s a fact that for some time now there’s been a concern about the ownership of pit bull terriers and other so-called “status dogs” amongst poor white males. This concern has been fuelled by a number of attacks, such as the case of John-Paul Massey, a four-year-old Liverpool boy, who died after being savaged by the family’s pit bull. There is a stereotype amongst the British tabloid press of young men roaming council estates with vicious pit bulls instead of knives and guns.

It is only a stereotype – there’s no real socio-economic link between poverty and dog attacks – but the tabloids have conjured up this image so often, there is now a very real belief among many people that the poor are using dogs as weapons. Now government spokesmen are talking in the same terms. And as a result of this “tail wagging the dog” mentality, some politicians are seriously thinking about banning the poor from owning dogs. Or at least introducing fees that will make dog ownership an expensive luxury.

Britain is well known to be a nation of dog lovers. Normally, the idea of pricing dog ownership out of the reach of the poor would be a ludicrous notion. But with a general election looming, and a hung parliament a real possibility, politicians of all parties are considering any idea that might win them a few votes. Remember when the Liberal Democrats used the spectre of racism to try and win votes in the east end of London? I’ll bet most of you never thought you’d see the day when liberals sided with the BNP, did you? So don’t dismiss the idea that desperate politicians will take pet corgis away from hard-up pensioners, in the name of clamping down on so-called “dangerous dogs”. We need to tell the politicians to keep their paws off our dogs! Or, never mind the pit bulls, we’ll bite the bastards ourselves!

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I took a quiz to see how I would vote in the US Presidential election (if I was an American)…

10/10/2008
You preferred Obama’s statements 100% of the time

Voting purely on the issues you should vote Obama

Who would you vote for if you voted on the issues?

Find out now!


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