The success of the Viva Palestina convoy in reaching Gaza has made considerable impact on blogs around the world, for example Slugger has picked it up and Dandylion Salad, Rainbow Warrior, Pan African News Wire, Silver Lining Pacific Free Press, Lenin’s Tomb, Australians for Palestine , Desert Peace, War in Context and Mondoweiss. Even the notoriously Zionist Harry’s Place carries an article sympathetic to the convoy, although it makes some unfair criticisms of George Galloway. Amnesty International’s blog picks up the story here.
Another hot issue on the blogs this week has been the treachery by former Labour cabinet members, Patricia Hewitt and Buff Hoon against Gordon Brown. For example, Phil at AVPS, Susan Press, Harpy Marx, Though Cowards Flinch, Rupa Huq, Sam Tarry and a good summary by Sunny Hundal at Lib Con which points out that the hapless David Miliband is the main loser, as he managed to come over as both disloyal and indecisive. Left Foot Forward shows the polling evidence that 62% of the public think a leadership contest would be a distraction. Mike Ion on labourlist calls for Gordon Brown to use the opportunity to put clear red water between Labour and the Tories:
For example, he should reconsider the arguments for the windfall tax on the energy companies, act to end the anomalies in NHS provision between England, Wales and Scotland and make clear the government’s preferential option for the poor. History shows that the public trusts leaders who have the courage to lead. It is surely no coincidence that, in recent history, when the government has acted boldly on issues as varied as debt cancellation, the introduction of the congestion charge or smoking bans, public support has quickly crystallised behind it.
If Labour is to achieve a fourth term then its best prospects lie not in appealing to what it has done, not in defending the status quo but rather in campaigning against ugly realities of health and education inequalities and showing why these warrant further state action
There is of course an enormous amount of commentary at Slugger, which comes into its own at times like these. In the dead tree press, there were articles catching my eye from Mick, Malachi, David Gordon and David McKittrick; from Mark at the Beeb; and on the blogs, from Garibaldy, Jenny, Chekov, Jamie (I like the Tennessee Williams theme), Unity and Red Maria.
For those of you who like that sort of thing, there is a new kid on the block dedicated to discussing the SWP! I kid you not. It might be another nail in the coffin of the Weekly Worker.
Jacob at Third Estate suggests a new poster campaign for the Labour Party that is not exactly pitched to swing voters. This follows the spoof billboards at Lib Con. John Gray joins the fun, but it is Jacob’s idea I would recommend.
Events in Nepal are hardly noticed by the British left, but Splintered Sunrise over in Belfast reports the recent massive demonstration in Kathmandu, and the three day general strike, and provides useful background information. Elsewhere on Kasama blog, Alastair Reith debunks the myth that Nepalese Maoists are opposed to strikes. Strikes in Nepal, known as Bandh, are organised on a community basis rather than involving collective action in workplaces, and as such are enforced upon small businesses by political groups. Kasama has a very interesting film here of a Bandh in progress, and an interview (in English) with a young Maoist leader. As Alastair explains:
So when we talk about that brief (and yes, in my view, wrong) proposal by the Maoists to ban strikes it should be seen in this context. The reactionary parties were calling bandhs to undermine the government. These were having an effect on the country, which was just a total fucking mess. The economy was in shambles and there were shortages of all kinds of basic goods. So when the Maoists talked about temporarily banning strikes in some sectors, my guess is it was a ploy by them to prevent their political opponents from using their ‘unions’ to undermine the government and try and make the Maoists look bad by causing shortages and chaos.
Back in the UK, Tom has a useful article on pensions at labour and capital,and Stumbling and Mumbling points out that Waitrose has outperformed marks and Sparks, but the chief exec of Waitrose earns only one third of the M&S boss’s salary. So how can Sir Stuart Rose of Marks justify his wad? A national maximum wage would be a popular move, as well as just.
Bloggers just cannot help writing about blogging. Dave Osler responds to the criticism that he has received lately about his comments policy. Personally I think his comments threads are like a bear pit, and while we get criticised here for deleting people it is rarely on their substantive content, people are usually only deleted if they are either creating an intimidating atmosphere, or are disrupting debate. Bleeding Heart Show has an amusing article explaining that political blogging is a bit like a the confected fueds between rappers. Inspired by this perhaps Left Foot Forward have taken on the Notorious B.I.G.
Though Cowards Flinch is unimpressed by the new blog, Tory Stories, and points out that while Left Foot Forward is interesting, there is a question mark over their political effectiveness, or whether they really work as blogs as such.
Phil also recently wrote about political blogging, and Dave Semple did a run down of the blogs that impressed him in 2009, as did Bad Conscience. There is still a question mark over whether left and centre-left bloggers could challenge the ascendancy of Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes in the future. The interesting thing is that in terms of readers and hits, the big three of the hard left blogs, Socialist Unity, Dave Osler and Lenin’s Tomb are among the big boys and girls, all getting the same or more hits than labourlist, for example, but we have a lower profile because we don’t share the linky love. The model that the right wing and libertarian blogs have developed of linking to each other regularly has floated all their boats.
As I may have mentioned, I am speaking on blogging at the Progressive London conference on 30th January. That woefully bad writer, Ed West attempts weak satire about the event in the Telegraph blogs. You can book for the conference here, the other bloggers on the panel include Sunny Hundal — Liberal Conspiracy and Alex Smith — Labourlist.
And finally, check out this story on the Sauce, which explains:
Three years ago this month lawyers representing the then Home Secretary John Reid admitted in court that children had been held in detention centres illegally.
On January 26, 2007, the High Court ruled that the policy of holding children whose ‘appearance or demeanour’ suggested they could be over 18 was unlawful and Dr Reid’s briefs confirmed the Government ‘did not strike the right balance’.
So was Dr Reid chastened by the High Court drubbing. Apparently not, for the Airdrie and Shotts MP is now earning £50,000 year in consultancy fees from a company which makes its money from.. holding young children in detention.
The author and End Child Detention Now campaigner Clare Sambrook has revealedthat the serving MP is earning the tidy sum working for G4S, the company that runs Tinsley House Removal Centre near Gatwick airport.