Monthly Archives: June 2011

Who wants Permanent War?

Make changes? “Yes we can” declared the new President Obama after the weary years of George W. Bush who embroiled the US in unending combat. Now he has been censured by the House of Representatives for embarking in one war too far. Libya.
Bush stated: “we will attack you if we believe you will attack us”, and Obama has endorsed such a sentiment. In UK Blair gave his full support and now Cameron appears even more gung-ho with “I’ll do the talking, you do the fighting” when defence chiefs wanted to know where the money was coming from in our supposedly straitened economy.
Where are the pressures to keep the bonfire alight. Here’s a suggestion. War is big business and governments have been in the habit of increasing the role of civilians in conducting their conflicts. Of course our elected representatives will fight for us won’t they? Not if the revolving door continues its merry way offering lucrative contracts to ex-politicians, government officials and army chiefs! How well the arms industry fared under Bush is not a secret.
Whereas there is clear opposition to Obama over Libya, where is such a restraint on Cameron and co? We understood the UN mandate for NATO action to be limited and certainly did not include “regime change”. To make their mark it seems that successive prime ministers since Thatcher have felt it necessary to be blooded using the Churchillian comparison. Blair outdid Thatcher in many ways like privatisation of public services. Her Falklands adventure pales into insignificance alongside Blair’s. Cameron still has a long way to go. God help us all.

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Labour vote declines in Handsworth Wood Ward

For the first time in many years I was not in Birmingham for the May elections. I was a candidate in the West of Scotland, so I took a trip to look around, including the Isle of Arran. I fitted in a trip here and to the Robbie Burns museum just out of Ayr.
Meanwhile I was missing out just what was going on in Birmingham, in particular Handsworth Wood Constituency. In contrast to West Scotland Labour was regaining ground in Birmingham, but in Handsworth Wood the candidate African Caribbean Paulette Hamilton found herself in a sectarian squabble. The Conservative candidate, Rabinder Singh Gill was a former Labour Party member who, having tried unsuccessfully to deselect Paulette, took his ball away and joined the Tories. The outcome was a victory for Labour, but with a hugely slashed majority for Labour against the marked trend elsewhere in the City. Cllr Narinder Kaur Kooner had previously won the seat with in excess of 6,000 votes whereas Paulette fell below 4,000 with Gill getting within a few hundred votes. How did this happen? Well supporters and family of Rabinder Singh who remained within the Labour Party put support for a Sikh candidate above support for Labour. I have it on good authority that one of the Labour councillors requested people to vote Tory. I wrote to Cllr Albert Bore, leader of the labour Group on Birmingham City Council about the matter. I left the Labour Party but had I done such a thing I would have been summarily suspended.
The influential group supporting all these sikh candidates is centred around the Nishkam Centre. This is promoting the first “Free” Schools in Birmingham and causing great concern in existing schools in the area. “Nishkam” I understand means “selfless”. Their leader is one Bhai Mohinder Singh, elected as leader in pope-like fashion. Instead of the Holy Book being the object of veneration, followers kiss his hand and even prostrate themselves in his presence. He also has the blessing of the Blair Foundation. As with other aspects of Blair’s activities it has the air of the bogus.This is most uncommon among Sikhs whose religion was founded on the basis of equality. Although the wider community who know about this are alarmed. The problem is that there has been a distinct lack of community consultation and the agreement for the new schools has come straight from government.
Dangers of sectarianism are evident where ever separate facilities are created. This has been avoided until a few years ago when the local labour paid officers felt they knew better than members of the local parties and began to dictate selection. Ian Reilly who I told to resign many times is still there and the results of his meddling are becoming apparent to the detriment of the community. He and his ilk work in rarified offices and do not know what is happening in the community. This hang over from the Blair era persists and undermines the democratic foundations of Labour.