Wednesday, 22 February 2017

”The sun still shines.”

I've written previously here on the perilous and even frightening times we live in  To recap in the last few months we've seen a UK exit from the EU as a result of a campaign based largely on lies, xenophobia and a nascent and ugly British chauvinism. We've seen a President elected in America on a platform based almost entirely on lies, xenophobia and promises that on times have bordered on fascism (promises we are now seeing in action And we are presently seeing the prospect in France and the Netherlands of the election of politicians from parties whose past leader called the holocaust "a mere detail of history" and whose current leader describes people from north africa as "scum" So all in all this a very trying time for those of us with a world view based on tolerance, compassion and a commitment to social and economic justice.

But however grim things might appear at present we should take care not to despair - these forces of darkness wont always be in the ascendant. And as always happens with neo fascist movements their mask will slip and their full hideousness will be revealed, and we can be sure they will then be held to account for the violence, hatred and fear they have encouraged and spread. As an incredibly brave young woman - executed 74 years ago today by arguably the cruellest political regime in human history - reminded us as she went to her death "Sonne scheint noch" (The sun still shines).

Friday, 10 February 2017

Today's 'Alt Right' are the Old Far Right

This week Channel 4 news screened a report on the British Alt Right - the kindred spirits of America's infamous 'Alt Right' ie white supremacists and other assorted neo fascists who flock to internet sites like Breitbart and who salivate at the hateful rantings of the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos In one sense the channel 4 report was revealing because it showed british devotees of the Alt Right openly expressing admiration for Hitler's Mein Kampf and their adherence to a form of politics which emphasis the primacy of skin colour above all else.You would have thought that these 'wunderkinds' might have been savvy enough to realise that openly expressing admiration for a racist mass murderer like Hitler or promoting an ideology based on racial identity on a major british news programme isn't the best way to build popular support.

But in another sense there wasn't anything in Channel Four's report (uploaded below) we havent seen or heard before. Substitute 'Judaism' for 'Islam' and 'master race' for 'white civilisation' and these foot soldiers of the British Alt Right are saying exactly what the Nazis used to say in the 1930s and what the neo nazi british national front were saying in the 1970s and 1980s. In other words today's Alt Right are Nazis pure and simple, and they should be treated accordingly.

UPDATE : The Anti Fascist organisation Hope not Hate has unearthed more details on the links between US white supremacists and the Alt Right in the UK

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A ray of light amid the gloom

Well they say every cloud has a silver lining and as disastrous as the vote to leave the EU may prove to be for many parts of the UK - my home country Wales included - one welcome consequence of Brexit is the threat it may pose to the proposed Wylfa B nuclear reactor on Anglesey. I looked at the reasons we should be very concerned about plans for new nuclear power stations on Anglesey and at Hinkley point in an earlier post :

But on Tuesday BBC Wales reported "Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert. Prof Dr Glyn O. Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd. The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved. Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom "will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK" as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland."

"They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern," he said in an interview with BBC Cymru Fyw."If that link is cut and we can't keep the connection, then I can't see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about."He said training is "crucially important" to staff the next generation of plants, and that doing so is dependent on "working with other people"."I don't see cutting ourselves off through Brexit bringing any new jobs. It just means that you cannot use other people's resources."

Now as well as highlighting the problems brexit might pose for Wylfa B Prof Williams comments are also important for another reason in that if the proposed nuclear reactor is so dependent on a workforce from EU member states to function it raises serious doubts made by backers of nuclear power that Wylfa B would bring a 'jobs bonanza to the area'. Indeed it's looking increasingly as if the promises of local jobs in north wales made by the UK energy department and Wylfa B's parent company Hitachi are about as genuine as the promises made by the leave campaign during the EU referendum. Hitachi of course also gave assurances about radiation levels at their Fukushima designed plant not being dangerous

On Saturday 11 March 2017 a conference entitled 'Green Nuclear-Free Wales, A United Welsh Front against Nuclear Power' will be taking place at the National Library, Aberystwyth. Further details can be found here

And sticking with the theme of bogus promises i notice that as i type this piece the Bill to invoke Article 50 has passed through the Westminister Parliament without a single amendment being accepted by the May government. Now after the referendum result and the resignation of David Cameron Theresa May and her new foreign secretary (boris johnson) and her new brexit secretary (david davis) made great play of saying they would protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK and incorporate EU directives on workers rights and environmental protection measures into british law following Brexit. Yet this week when they've had the opportunity to make such promises concrete they have ensured tory MPs have voted down all such amendments guaranteeing these things.

Course the likes of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Davis will still say these promises will be implemented after brexit, but given they ensured these amendments were voted down on the day they disgracefully dumped the 'Dubs scheme' i think we are entitled to be highly skeptical of these promises being fullfilled

And without any of these amendments being successful what we have in essence been left with is a hard brexit. A Brexit which takes us out of the single market and the customs union. A brexit which doesn't guarantee the rights of a single EU national living in the UK. A Brexit which offers no guarantee that EU directed employment rights and measures to protect the environment or even EU food standards will be incorporated into British law once the UK has departed the EU.

And despite the claims of the hard right now firmly in charge of the British Tory government there is simply no evidence to support their insistence that a rock hard brexit is what 17 and a half million people voted for on June 23rd. The only people advocating this sort of brexit during the referendum campaign were the Kippers and neo fascist groups like Britain First.The names of the 122 MPs who took a stand against this hardest possible of Brexits can be found here

Monday, 6 February 2017

Right wing bigots and Online trolling

I've written previously of my concerns about some aspects of social media, such as the way right wing and neo fascist forces are using social media to disseminate fake news ie tell lies and also the fact social media seems to bring out the worst in some people I publish here a worrying example of this disturbing trend in a recent screenshot from Facebook sent to me by a friend.

Now i've no idea who Veronica Jones is, other than i understand she lives somewhere in the UK and frequents the facebook pages of news outlets like The Mirror and The Mail. And while she obviously wont find herself being shortlisted for the Booker prize any time soon in reading the torrent of hatred and bigotry in her post you do have to have serious concerns about the mentality of an individual like this. And the worrying thing is Veronica Jones vile comment isn't an isolated example of the abuse you can find yourself subject to from some people for having the temerity to challenge their right wing and racist views. Anyone who has challenged UKIP members or Brexit supporters or Donald Trump enthusiasts online will tell you that there are plenty of people like 'Veronica Jones' out there.

And i was given a very stark reminder of this myself last week in the shape of a certain 'Sarah Svensson'. Sarah Svensson is a UKIP member based in South Wales who distinguishes herself by posting links to various facebook groups promoting the hate mongering of Milo Yiannopoulos and the 'Alt Right' website so beloved by white supremacists Breitbart Recently however Svensson plumbed new depths with remarks she made about the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.

As some readers might know last year Leanne was the victim of vile online attacks, attacks which included threats to rape her and calls for her to be shot Now given such horrific experiences Leanne quite understandably adopts a zero tolerance approach to online trolls and blocks such people from commenting on her facebook page.You might have thought then the appalling threats Leanne has suffered would have prompted UKIP members to moderate their vitriolic attacks on her somewhat - not a bit of it. When i reminded Sarah Svennson of the horrific abuse Leanne has suffered at the hands of online trolls, and pointed out she that she is perfectly entitled to take measures to protect herself from further harassment - such as blocking the worst offenders - Svensson responded with a remark so thoughtless and callous as to almost defy belief.

Saying Leanne should "stay off the frontline where it's safer to dodge the bullets" a few months after somebody was prosecuted for publicly calling for her to be shot must surely rank as among the most insensitive comments to appear on social media, and i think illustrates all too graphically what i've said previously about social media bringing out the worst in some people. Even more disturbingly however the comments i have highlighted in this post perhaps shows us what those like Sarah Svensson and Veronica Jones - and other right wing bigots like them - are really thinking.

P.S. since drafting this piece i've been informed - ironically by a supporter of Ukip - that 'Sarah Svensson' is a fake facebook profile. Her real identity is however known to me and i can confirm she is a prominent Ukip member in south wales. I hope she will have the decency to reveal her true identity before it is done for her.