Friday 25 April 2014

Decline of the Co-Op

There is some irony - and sadness - that after over a century the Labour Party is ditching the Co-Op bank.
Ironic because it all started to go horribly wrong for the Co-Op bank when they enthusiastically embraced the values of New Labour.  Corporate acquistions, speculative investment and the employment of degenerate executive reptiles were all entirely consistent with the New Labour vision.

 It's all a very far cry from the values that led a group of working people in Rochdale who came together in 1844 to create a business that shared profits and provided a honest service at fair prices to its members.

Naively I have always felt a sense of loyalty to the Co-Op bank. Back from my time as a student in the 80's when having a  Barclays account was seen as tantamount as financing the apartheid regime, to the time when I had some savings from redundancy to invest in an ISA which was at least vaguely 'ethical'.

Of course I knew that in the modern age,  all of this was  bollocks really - a moral fig-leaf that couldn't really disguise the ugly aspects of banking. The recent decay of the Co-Op has just meant that the fig-leaf has slipped a bit more ...

Thursday 10 April 2014

Police fail again at latest Broadwater Farm fit-up.

It speaks volumes that many of us are no longer surprised at police racism and corruption - but we can still be surprised at their crass stupidity in so readily exposing themselves.

The harassment of the Steven Lawrence campaign, the knee-jerk lying after the shooting Jean Charles DeMenzes, the insensitivity to the family after the shooting of Mark Duggan, even the farcical cover-up following 'pleb-gate' - the Metropolitan Police time and time again demonstrate a staggering inability to learn from their mistakes.

So why following a prolonged and highly publicized miscarriage of justice that wrongly imprisoned three young men  almost thirty years ago over the killing of PC Blakelock in Tottenham - did  they think they would have another go?

From the start the trial of Nicky Jacobs was a farce. Three witness who the police freely admitted had been offered immunity, paid and 'looked after'. A witness apparently borrowed from the cast of a bad 70's sitcom  who actually said under oath that he thought 'all Black men looked the same'. And another witness who confidently gave an account of the murder in completely the wrong part of the Broadwater Farm estate. And all of this after god-knows-how-much preparation and grooming on the part of the police, at god-knows-how-much cost to the public. 

And by the way, the people of Tottenham who have now been given another legitimate reason to distrust the police are also a part of this 'public'.

Monday 7 April 2014

Pickles lectures on tolerance

That unlikely self-appointed champion of tolerance and  ironically titled 'Communities Secretary' Tory Eric Pickles has said that militant atheists need to be more tolerant.  

'This is a Christian country with an established church and atheists just need to get over it' - he says in a characteristically conciliatory response to people who have quite reasonably tried to prevent local councils having prayers at their meetings.

Now I am a pretty tolerant for a militant atheist - I mean some of my best friends are believers. And I acknowledge that of all the challenges to peace justice and the pursuit of happiness that mankind faces in the early 21st Century religion is but one of many. In fact with the collapse of anything like social democracy these days, it seems to be left only too often to church leaders to mildly question the worst excesses of unfettered market forces.

But after a weekend spent in which I self-indulgently watched the wonderful 1970 'Cromwell' movie (a chap who was hardly a stranger to strong religious belief himself) championing the essentially individual and private nature of conscience and belief, it is simply unbelievable that we are still arguing about the separation of church and state.

Especially when we are arguing with a man like Pickles who looks like he would have been so at home as a bloated bigoted and corrupt Tory squire.