Monday, 1 September 2014

Panic Not, The Artists Will Save Us!

Music and art have always been a vehicle for political protest: from Bob Dylan and Bob Marley to Billy Bragg.
Now a new group of British artists and musicians are hoping to use art, song, theatre and words, as well as social media, to combat the coalition's austerity agenda.
Oooh, oooh, wait….

*fetches popcorn*

OK, hit me!
Created specifically to campaign against the government's cuts to public services, charities and the creative industries, the Artists' Assembly Against Austerity, launching today, is a grassroots alliance of more than 200 creative artists.
Signatories include actor, Maxine Peake, fantasy author China Miéville, poet and writer Blake Morrison and artist Peter Kennard.
Riiiight, so that’s a whinging Northern bint off the TV, a noted socialist and occasional figure of fun at David Thompson’s blog, someone I’ve never heard of and … someone else I’ve never heard of.

Wow! Bringing out the heavy battalions there…
"The coalition's austerity measures are a violent programme of cuts," says Season Butler, a writer and academic at Goldsmiths, University of London and coordinator of Artists' Assembly Against Austerity.
"The cuts are affecting artists as much as they are the public – many artists rely on benefits. Cuts to education mean it's harder to find work as an art teacher. Artists have been a bit shy recently of working on social justice issues but, now, we're seeing more come out in opposition to the broader austerity programme."
If artists were any good, why would they rely on benefits? Ergo, this ‘art’ isn’t the sort of stuff anyone wants to pay for…
Katherine Araniello, a performance artist with spinal muscular atrophy, is angered by the austerity programme. "As a disabled person who relies on government-funded income, I am appalled by the benefit cuts," she says.
"Someone like me requires 24/7 support. My funding hasn't kept pace with inflation for the past five years – I'm having to pay my care workers at the minimum wage."
Newsflash, sweetie, my pay rises haven’t quite kept up with inflation, and I’m doing something people will pay for! Why should you be different?
"My art is about what capitalism does to your heart, and the inner child in you," says Rob Montgomery, whose works was recently displayed at the Louvre."
I guess I’ve figured out why no-one wants to pay for it…
On a practical level, the Artists' Assembly will challenge the government's austerity agenda through online activism, marches and art.
"We're not going to tell artists to make certain pieces of art," says Butler."That will be their choice. But art can be a powerful tool for social justice."
There’s certainly a lot of tools involved…

Then Let’s Reintroduce Consequences…

The Guide Dogs charity, which helps blind and visually-impaired people, said more Londoners were calling their helpline to report being hit or involved in near misses. The most dangerous incidents involved cyclists riding on pavements or skipping red lights at pedestrian crossings, the charity said.
Which are a menace enough for those of us with 20/20 vision, but there’s special pleading to be done!
The Cycleyes safety campaign, launched today, is backed by London’s biggest bike rights group, which said cyclists have a “duty of care” to look out for others.
And a goodly number will heed that. But there are those that won’t, because there are simply no consequences for not doing so:
Deborah Persaud was hurled to the ground by a cyclist who was riding on the pavement. Ms Persaud, a civil servant who is partially sighted, suffered a damaged shoulder and hip in the collision as she walked home from Highbury tube station. The force of the collision left her sprawled on the pavement.
Not just physical damage, either – a significant amount of property damage:
To add to her trauma, Ms Persaud said the male cyclist then tried to ride off and only stopped when she called the police. Ms Persaud said she was left shaken, her dress was ripped, the contents of her handbag spilled everywhere and her mobile phone smashed.
And what happened to the cretin who caused this? Was he arrested? Why, no:
Islington police said the cyclist “was spoken to regarding his future conduct and warned by police” .
That’s it? That’s all? What, is this another Rotherham? Was his surname Bin Peddelin…?

"...."you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"..."

...and that weathervane that is the press has finally realised which way the wind of public opinion is blowing:

Vastly more sympathetic headlines than those during the ridiculous manhunt, eh?

And before I turned in last night, the commenters on Sky News (Hazel Blears was one) were ripping into the police both UK and Spanish, for separating the family from their child, putting them in handcuffs and searching the grandmother's flat (For what?) and anything else they could think of. They are, of course, responding to public opinion too, as petitions are launched and people outraged at the lies and obfuscations write, text and call their MP..

If the police thought that clutching the frail body of the dying child of desperate parents to their bosom would erase the stain of Rotherham and prove that they do indeed care more for children's welfare than for their own careers, they have badly miscalculated.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Post Title Of The Month

A pithy one from the Landlady herself:

Quote Of The Month

Fahrenheit 211 is not impressed with the fragrant Teresa:
"I predict that these measures announced by the Home Secretary will amount to piss and wind and that various human rights lawyers are, as I write, already working out just how to drive a coach and horses through them.
Nothing, nada, zilch is the only way I can describe what will be the ultimate results of this announcement by the Home Office."

Post Of The Month

Peter Risdon gets a letter...

"We couldn't be under that system any more."

Well, the system ain't finished with you, Mr King...
In the video, Mr King told how they had wanted to leave the hospital because the NHS could not fund the proton beam treatment that they wanted for their son.
'We couldn't take it any more - not knowing and not being able to question anything in fear that they say, "Sorry Mr and Mrs King, emergency protection order, you're no longer allowed in the ward",' he told the camera.
'Under that stress, our son has grade four brain tumour, we couldn't discuss or question them at all in fear that our son would be in that ward all day long by himself without his parents being able to come in.
'We couldn't be under that system any more. I was going to get the money to pay for the proton beam therapy but they have prevented that now because the Spanish police are involved and I can't do want I wanted to do.'
Does that spell it out for everyone sufficiently?

For all those people who carped and cavilled and sanctimoniously declared 'A child's life is at stake!', as if that meant we shouldn't dare question the state which only has our best interests at heart, because we are stupid sheep who should never seek to exercise free will if that free will might not be in complete accordance with the state's will?

The NHS didn’t want them to get treatment in Marbella. And they successfully suborned the police to ensure that that happened.

And now they plan to extradite the parents, so they won’t even be able to stay by their terminal son’s bedside, an act of such monstrous, stubborn & wilful cruelty that I've now got even more reasons to be ashamed of my country.
Mr and Mrs King's hearing - which will be closed to the press and public - may take place as early as tomorrow.
The couple are expected to oppose extradition so defence lawyers can then argue at a new hearing they should be released on bail for humanitarian reasons.
If they oppose extradition, the extradition judge would have to decide whether to release them on bail or remand them in custody.
It's up to you, Spain. Are you going to show the compassion and humility that the UK can't seem to muster?

Sunday Funnies...

We could be doomed...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kier Starmer Almost Avoids Mentioning The (‘Asian’) Elephant In The Room…

The Jay report’s description of the collective political and leadership failures in Rotherham as “blatant” could not be more stark. Accountability is of course important, but we are fooling ourselves if we think this child abuse scandal is all about individual failings and that the dispatch of key individuals is a sufficient response.
Dunno about that, Kier. Depends on how many scalps we claim, and how far ranging we make it, doesn’t it?
At the heart of the problems identified by the report, the commissioner’s reports and the work I did as director of public prosecutions in issuing new guidelines on prosecuting child sexual exploitation in 2013 is a deeply embedded cultural issue about how we deal with vulnerable victims.
‘We’..? Don’t you mean, how you, the establishment, the lawmakers, the state, carry out that function?
First, the majority of victims do not report what is happening to them to the relevant authorities.
And those that do are ignored. So let’s concentrate on those first, eh? Then maybe the others might come forward.
The second feature common to cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation is that when individuals do pluck up the courage to come forward they are often met with a wall of disbelief.
Well, maybe that’s because some of the accounts are indeed unbelievable, and some of the people themselves are seriously doubtful, as Anna Raccoon has exhaustively chronicled.

But so what? Should we suspend all disbelief now?
A 2002 Home Office research report into activities in Rotherham, which was “suppressed” because senior officers did not believe the information in it, recorded that the police were reluctant to respond to missing person reports. They saw them as a waste of time and regarded the young women concerned as “deviant” or “promiscuous”, and took the view that if the young people concerned were not prepared to help themselves, no further action should be taken.
And I can see how some of the elder teenagers could be viewed in this light, but some of the victims were as young as 12. 12
We need raw honesty about the cultural change required in relation to vulnerable victims. We have allowed a series of myths and stereotypes about how “real” victims behave to creep into our institutions and our decision-making.
Always the opportunist, eh, Kier? Desperate to push your agenda and happy to use any opportunity to do so, no matter how inappropriate.
The case for some form of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse backed up by criminal sanctions is also overwhelming. The need for such a scheme is at its most acute where there is a conflict of interest between reporting and some other interest, such as reputation, risk of exposing previous failed responses or fear of being clear about the ethnicity of the perpetrators.
Ahhhh, you were doing so well up to that bit!

And have you checked with Hugh Muir that it’s OK to even suggest that this might have been a factor? 

Denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Suzanne Moore Knows Who’s To Blame For Rotherham…

No, silly, of course it isn’t Pakistani & Kashmiri Muslim sex offenders, not politically-correct police or complacent public sector workers, perish the thought!
I had wanted to stay in social work, but after a placement answering calls on what was known as the frontline I realised that most of my work would be sorting out emergency payments for food and heating. People needed money, not cod psychoanalysis.
It was also obvious that social work systems were not only failing, but under attack. First they came for the social workers (bearded do-gooders), then they came for the teachers (the blob) … this is how neoliberal ideology has been so effective in running down the public sector.
I’m only surprised she didn’t drag in Thatcher – surely someone somewhere in lefty-land has by now?
The running down of children's services to a skeletal organisation in an already deprived area is spelled out in the report, which talks of "the dramatic reduction of resources available
By 2016 Rotherham will have lost 33% of its spending power" compared with 2010. Buckinghamshire, by contrast, will have suffered a 4.5% reduction.
Strange that they seem to have plenty of money to afford a ‘Casual Ecology Officer’ and to run a huge staff dealing with all the favoured lefty issues, eh?