Saturday, 31 August 2019

Belfast's 'Stop the Coup' debacle

Across the United Kingdom there have been thousands of people out protesting against Brexit.  They may argue that it is about the length of the prorogation of Parliament, that few extra days, but it is  really about Brexit.

There have been sizable crowds in London and some of the cities in England today though other protests have been rather poorly attended.

So how did Belfast fare?  I was waiting for the BBC and Sky to provide coverage of the Belfast demonstration, which started at 10.00 am at the City Hall.  However Belfast didn't seem to feature.  Instead I had to rely on the Press Association and newspaper websites and they did provide helpful reports with a few photographs and several interviews.  

The first thing that struck me was the dismal turnout which was described as 'dozens'!  The highest estimate appeared to be the one quoted by the Irish Times reporter, which was 'around 100'.

'Dozens!' I said to myself, 'dozens!'  After a Liberal Democrat MEP telling us ,a few days ago that Brexit would lead to 'unprecedented violence' and after all the outrage from the Alliance Party, the SDLP and Sinn Fein, I was expecting thousands on the streets.  But all they got was a few dozen and here's the photograph from the Press Association to prove it.

Brigitte Anton

Well they were right there, dozens it was!  So what about those interviews?

Brenda Gough from West Belfast, 'one of those who had promoted the event', was interviewed and said, 'We no longer have democracy because elected representatives of the people of the UK have been told they will no longer be able to speak for their electorate.'    Sorry Brenda but is Parliament not sitting next week?

Susie Burlace (46) from England edits a health journal and has been living in Northern Ireland for seven years.  Later she said, 'Good turn out at Belfast City Hall.'

Dr Brigitte 'Gitty' Anton (52) (pictured above) is from Frankfurt in Germany but has lived in Northern Ireland for 31 years.  She was there with her EU flag and a T-shirt with the message 'B....x to Boris'.  A former vice-chair of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, she stood for the Northern Ireland Assembly in South Belfast in 2016 and polled just 246 first preference votes.  As she has a PhD in modern history and as she is from Germany I would have hoped that she might not go down the road of  comparisons with the Nazis but she did.  She drew parallels between the prorogation of Parliament and Nazi Germany.

Patrick Yu from the Council for Racial Equality was there too as was Londoner Rob Stead, who said he and his wife had'fled' England to move to Northern Ireland because they were so dismayed by the Brexit vote.  In fact his wife is studying at Queen's.

Graham Glendinning (49), a software worker from Holywood, said, 'If they go ahead with no deal, it's war and peace for us.'  I'm not clear as to what he meant by that but that's what he  said.

The media coverage given to such protests is out of all proportion and where they get a dismal turnout it gets glossed over.

Monday, 3 June 2019

The BBC, the Trotskyist and 'toxic politics'

Image result for chris nineham

This morning, as US president Donald Trump arrived in the United Kingdom, the BBC Breakfast programme reported that there would be tens of thousands of people out on the streets of London to oppose his visit.

They also interviewed Chris Nineham who was identified on screen as being from the 'Together Against Trump campaign' and who denounced the 'toxic politics' of Donald Trump.

I must confess that I was unfamiliar with the name Chris Nineham but he came across as an articulate individual, probably in his late 50s, and that is how most viewers would have seen him.

However there is a lot more to Chris Nineham than that.  The son of a professor at Oxford University, he was educated at Westminster School which sits in the shadow of Westminster Abbey in London and is one of the most expensive independent schools in Britain.  

In spite of this rich and privileged background he embraced the politics of the far-left and was a member of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party until he resigned in 2010.

Since then he has been a leading member and spokesman of several front organisations and he is vice-chair of the Stop The War Coalition, an organisation that was set up by the far-left, including members of the Socialist Workers Party.

In case there is any doubt about his own politics, Chris Nineham is a far-left political activist and author.  He has written several books on Marxist politics as well as contributing articles to the far-left Morning Star newspaper.

One of his books, Capitalism and Class Consciousness, explores the ideas of the Marxist Georg Lukacs and another is titled How the Establishment Lost Control.

As regards the Middle East. Nineham was filmed speaking in Strasbourg in 2009.  On that occasion he told his audience:
The resistance of the Lebanese people, led by Hezbollah, and the heroic resistance of the Palestinians in Gaza has, um, constrained and demoralised the Israeli project.
Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organisation and so when it comes to condemning 'toxic politics', Chris Nineham is in no position to criticise anyone.  Most people would regard support for Hezbollah as fairly 'toxic'.

Image result for chris nineham george class consciousnessNineham has also been challenged about the way in which the far-left protests against America while remaining silent about Russia.

So the articulate middle-aged man whom the BBC interviewed today is not merely a spokesman for 'Together' Against Trump'.  

He is a life-long far-left political activist.

The BBC aspires to fairness and transparency so surely it is time for the BBC to consider how it describes such activists and how it interviews them.  

There are two sides to this debate and if there is to be scrutiny of Trump there should also be scrutiny of the protestors.

Viewers have a right to know who is being interviewed and the far-left, whether Marxists, Trostkyists, Stalinists or whatever should not be allowed to hide behind the name of their latest 'front organisation'.

Friday, 31 May 2019

When is a QUB professor a 'nationalist' professor?

Yesterday I was invited on to the Talkback programme on Radio Ulster to discuss Nicola Sturgeon's call for another independence referendum in Scotland.  

The other person in the studio, apart from the presenter, William Crawley, was Colin Harvey, who is a Professor of Law at Queen's University.

I was introduced as a 'unionist analyst' and Colin was introduced as a Queen's University law professor.

I have no objection at all to being described as a 'unionist analyst' because I am a unionist.  However I did wonder why Colin was not described as a 'nationalist law professor' from Queen's.

I didn't raise the point at the start of the programme but it arose fairly naturally during the discussion in the context of some remarks he made about Scotland and the Irish Republic.  Here's the exchange:

Nelson McCausland: I listened carefully to what was said there by Colin and Colin is indeed an academic but I put in front of it the word nationalist.  He is a nationalist academic, because he is a civic nationalist.  I'm sure you'd agree with that Colin?

Colin Harvey: I have a very clear view about debates about the constitutional future of this island.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

Colin Harvey: I am an academic.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

William Crawley: But you want a border poll.

Colin Harvey: I've put out a rational evidence-based case why that should happen.

William Crawley: Would you campaign?  Would you champion voting for a United Ireland in the context of a border poll?

Colin Harvey: I think ultimately that the best constitutional outcome for the island of Ireland in the longer term is the unification of the island.  

It took some time and a series of questions to get there but eventually Colin Harvey confirmed that he is indeed an Irish nationalist who wants a border poll and would campaign for a United Ireland.

Now Professor Colin Harvey has previously self-identified as a 'nationalist' by signing two 'open letters' sent by 'civic nationalists' to Leo Varadkar and by his association with Think32, which promotes the 'reunification of Ireland'.  He has spoken at their events and written for their blog.

Colin Harvey was keen to say, 'I am an academic' but he is surely a 'nationalist academic'.

Fairness and transparency are values to which the BBC aspires and in the era of the 'academic activist' it is important that listeners and viewers are made aware of the particular position of  academic contributors who are also political activists.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

'A human being with potential'

Related imageIn the Daily Telegraph today (21 May) there was an article on abortion by the journalist Tim Stanley.  

He was writing in the context of the recent vote by the Alabama legislature to introduce a law prohibiting abortion, except in the situation where the mother's life is in danger.  It was an interesting article in which he made a number of good points and demolished some of the myths that have been peddled by the pro-abortionists.

Moreover I was particularly taken by his observation that the pre-born child is not a clump of cells but 'a human being with potential'.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Australian prime minister and the book of Jeremiah

Scott Morrison 2014 (cropped).jpg

So the opinion polls were wrong in the Australian federal election and even the exit polls got it wrong.

They predicted a win for Labour but with 70% of the votes counted the Liberal-National coalition has won or is ahead in 74 seats, looking for 76 to give it a majority.  Meanwhile Labour is on just 65.  

This should see the Liberal leader Scott Morrison back into office as prime minister.

Morrison is a Christian and in his maiden speech in February 2008 he said:
Australia is not a secular country - it is a free country.  This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose.  Secularism is just one.  It has no greater claim than any other on our society.  As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion not freedom from religion.  I believe the same is true in this country.

So what values do I derive from my faith?  My answer comes from Jeremiah chapter 9:24, 'I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.'

During the debate on 'same-sex marriage' in Australia he spoke out in favour of traditional marriage and voted against 'same-sex marriage'.

I was struck be his reference to the Word of God as shaping his world-view and setting his values.  We need more Christian politicians with the courage to express their faith in the 'public square', and we need our churches to be with them, alongside them, speaking the truth in love.

Monday, 13 May 2019

In April and May of 2016, articles were posted on the defendant's Facebook page and a blog maintained by him which were seriously defamatory of the plaintiff. These posts alleged that the plaintiff had been guilty of inappropriate conduct of both a personal and professional nature. Whilst the defendant did not post these articles, he did provide a link to one of them on his Facebook page. He accepts that there was no truth in any of the allegations and imputations contained in them and regrets that they were ever posted. Accordingly, the defendant apologies unreservedly to the plaintiff for the fact that such articles were posted on his Facebook page and blog and, as a mark of his regret, shall be making an agreed donation to a mutually agreed charity.’

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Phil Kelly - Labour's 'Marxist Irish Republican'

Phillip Kelly from the NI Labour Party said Mr Corbyn's re-election was 'positive news'.
Phil Kelly (Labour commentator)
On a couple of occasions I have been invited on to the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster and found myself debating some subject or other with Phil Kelly who is usually described as a 'commentator'.

He is a member of the Labour Party and was formerly chairman of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

I was interested therefore to read about him on the Open Democracy website and here is how he describes his personal and political background.  He was addressing a DiEM25 Festival for Debate event in Sheffield and introduced himself by saying:

I was born in Belfast.  My parents came from the red white and blue side of the divide.  But long before I was born they rejected their communal identities and embraced Marxism and became proud Irish Republicans.  My teenage rebellion was merely to be more Marxist, more republican than my parents.

So after a lifetime of activity on the fringe, intellectual eft, when I decided to join a political party, which would a Marxist, Irish Republican choose?  Well. I joined the UK Labour Party.  I joined to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, as I believe a movement built around the politics of Corbyn can be transformative not just for you here in the UK, but for the people of Ireland and all of Europe.

[DiEM25 is the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, which was launched in 2015 by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Croation philosopher Srecko Horvat.]