Category Archives: Equality

The Government’s game is control, not equality

Is Trevor Phillips the right person for leading on equalities? From the Government’s point of view it appears yes regardless what those o9n the receiving end of discrimination might feel. He’s just the right person if his masters say “jump” he will say “how high?” So he keeps the job.
Questions are now being asked about Phillip’s competence after the resignation of a number of Commissioners. Trenchant comment from Diane Abbott asking about the matter of delivering to the black community only serves to underline the criticism. Does this Government want to deliver becomes the question. The answer seems to be that it is interested in control to ensure that the status quo remains. After all most of those suspected of terrorism today are from the black community – it seems in their view. You’d think Harriet Harman might know better, but then there has been little evidence of that.

Continue reading

It’s the anti-terror legislation which frightens me most, never mind the “terrorists”

With Bush and Blair gone (well I haven’t heard a murmur from Bush but Blair keeps cropping up like a jack-in-the box and I suspect has a considerable malign influence on all of this) I hope from what people have said that the “war on terror” had matured. Now the British government has revived it with a vengeance and a price tag to boot.
Hazel Blears (an arch-Blairite) is mixing it with Muslim communities deciding who or who not to talk to. If she doesn’t like the answer she moves on to someone else who might say what she wants to hear. When Brown first met Bush he seemed to be going out of his way to change things with the recognition that vilifying the whole Muslim community was likely to be counterproductive. But here we are again.
There’s a proposal to track everyone and everything on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. No doubt someone will be reading this blog. I was born the same year as Winston Smith, 1941, but it’s taken a little longer than Orwell envisaged as 1984 to reach this state.

Continue reading

Mikey Powell 6 years on

6 years after Mikey Powell’s still unexplained death in Handsworth following the attendance of police there is still no answer to why he died. The following are questions that the family want answered:
Mikey died on 7th September 2003, in Handsworth, Birmingham, UK. He had been arrested outside his mother’s house in the Lozells area of the city.
Recent News
As we approach the long awaited inquest, here are some of the issues we’ll be putting to the coronor:
This is a fairly basic response as I still haven’t had time to go through all of the papers circulated after last months meetings:
Some of the things (in brief) as notes for concern from me (Mikey’s cousin) are –
Initial police attendance
• Concern that the initial response to Mikey was aggressive and it appeared that there was little attempt to calm him down. That response in turn triggered an aggressive response from Mikey which only served to escalate the problem
• None of the initial attending officers considered the families concerns about his ‘state of mind’
• We felt that the officers attended in ‘Lozells mode’, assuming the worst case scenario from the onset, and that this almost guaranteed that the encounter and approach by attending officers would be ‘full-on’ and unnecessarily harsh
Police car driving at Mikey
• The ‘justification’ for driving at Mikey only became apparent following a leaked (and highly contentious) report to the local press that the officers thought Mikey might be carrying a gun
• Again, it is an easy scenario to ‘sell’ to the reading public given gun related incidents in the area in the months prior to Mikey’s death. Would this ploy have been adopted if the police were called to an incident of similar nature in a more affluent area of the city?
• I’m unclear whether the police have ever confirmed whether prescribed procedure was followed by the officers who claimed to have see a ‘possible’ gun (for all the deadly consequences that could have implied); and I don’t believe that in such situations that it is standard practise to drive a car at some one suspected of having one.
CS gas and batten beating
• There has always been dispute about the issue of battening and how many times Mikey was struck, but it has always been our position that use of batons was not justified as Mikey did not pose a major physical threat.
• Even at the point of initial contact I recollect that Mikey would have been outnumbered by the attending officers anyway. Also there were family members present whom could have had a calming influence on him had they been allowed to
The Custody Suite
• Of course the biggest issue for us on this matter has been the CCTV footage, and more significantly a) it’s poor quality and b) the use of secondary audio equipment
• Custody suites can be likely places to capture evidence (both in relation to detainees and police officers), this was clearly the case with Mikey and other notable cases such as Christopher Alder. It really is unacceptable that the police, one of the biggest institutions in the country, cannot provide equipment that is fit for purpose
• It is our understanding that West Midlands stations are now strongly advised not to have secondary audio equipment where CCTV is in operation, but I don’t believe this to be mandatory (Joyce may have a view on that)!
• During the trial it seemed obvious that the officer on duty at the desk was unclear about how (or indeed who) to call for emergency aid, which raises serious training and competency issues in my mind
• Personally I feel that if the police medic felt qualified enough to ascertain that the injuries sustained by Mikey outside Aunties house did not warrant hospital treatment, how then did he fail to notice Mikey’s deteriorating condition at Thornhill Road and therefore failing to get timely assistance that may have saved his life.
Tippa Naphtali
Watch this group and the Mikey Powell Campaign website for news:
many thanks to all supporters!

Continue reading

Being Black in Britain still damages your health

Whenever you approach the statutory health services they say how well they are doing in working with the community to tackle seemingly intractable problems in health and wellbeing. The alarming figures for mental health are not going away and if you’re from the black and minority ethnic communities services are not meeting needs by a long way.
In response to this voluntary organisations have set up services. However with the demise of grant giving in favour of commissioning many are struggling and going to the wall. The Government has made enough noise about the need to target this section of the community setting up the Delivering Race Equality agenda. However the report below indicates little is changing.
Commissioning has mushroomed and a new breed of commissioners are legion. They seem typically complacent to justify the position they find themselves in. That is they are handling dwindling resources so their main function is to act as gatekeepers. This effectively ensures that not much can happen to make much difference.
A project was set up in BIrmingham and the West Midlands earlier in the year to address the problem that small organisations have in competing for commissions. Personnel from CSIP commended the proposals but commissioners have declined to meet us to discuss a way forward.

Continue reading

What Obama can do – and what he can’t

I found this story in the Guardian food for thought. It’s one black American considering what’s in store for his new born son. Chances of young black people ending up in prison or being shot remain significantly higher than for white people.
While his initial thoughts were that if Obama gains power it would give a message that the sky was the limit for his son. However what was the likelihood that the situation would be turned round for the many?
In the UK the prospect of a black Prime Minister remains remote. Black MPs report the daily round of racism. Here too young black people have a much higher risk of ending up in prison or suffering from mental health problems. A conference in London marked ten years since the David “Rocky” Bennett report – a name that goes alongside Stephen Lawrence. Have lessons been learned? Well reports are legion saying the same thing but in practice statistics indicate the situation remains stubbornly fixed.

Continue reading

Cllr John Lines

John Lines is a prominent member of Birmingham City Council, in fact he is Cabinet Member for Housing currently. Today’s “Iron Angle” in the Birmingham Post (21/6/2008) illustrates why he shouldn’t continue to be a cabinet member, or to hold public office at all. The following is a report from Defence Management which reports Line’s vile message:
From: 23rd January 2008

Birmingham Tory slams asylum seekers

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
“While British soldiers and Gurkhas may struggle for support from a government that overlooks the significance of their contribution, many immigrants who sneak into the UK get preferential treatment, according to Conservative Birmingham City councillor John Lines.
Talking to about housing services for former members of the armed forces, the cabinet member for housing was highly critical of the government’s treatment of veterans and ex-Gurkhas in particular and suggested asylum seekers got a much better deal.
Lines said: “We do not afford them [Gurkhas] citizenship. We pay them a pension to go back to Nepal. Yet some scallywag, some scumbag can jump on the back of a lorry, come over under the tunnel and never expect to work a day in his [expletive] life. And if he’s been here for a time waiting for a decision, we give him automatic British citizenship. The world’s gone [expletive] mad.”
Lines’ comments come at a time when Tory party leader David Cameron is looking to stamp down on outspoken remarks and give the party a softer image on immigration and asylum seekers.
But this is not the first time Lines has expressed such views. In May 2006 he ordered the removal of TVs from council houses allocated specifically to asylum seekers. He said that taxpayers’ money should not pay for a luxury many people cannot afford.
And in June 2005, Lines wanted to stop a grant to Birmingham’s Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT) which provides legal assistance and other services for asylum seekers.
• Gurkhas who have left the British Army after 1 July 1997 are eligible for indefinite leave to remain, which allows them to stay in the UK forever. Most refugees discovered at the border are held in detention facilities while they await a hearing. If they are granted asylum, refugees are usually granted further or indefinite leave to remain. After a few years they are allowed to apply for citizenship.”

Continue reading

Saint Enoch

It seems to have become fashionable of late to canonise Enoch Powell drawing on the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. The BBC put out a “white season” to be trumped by Channel 4 who use Rageh Omaar to front their series. Not quite sure what message was intended when the programme was advertised with a park full of dogs peeing and defecating all over the place. Maybe it referred to Powell’s reference to the white pensioner who had shit posted through her letter box allegedly. Whatever the immigrants were to blame.
The programmes were high on sensationalism but short, very short, on analysis. Plenty of people sounding off on prejudice, which certainly accords with Powell. Rageh Omar’s incredulity was stretched when he found that not only whites, but black people had prejudices too. Nothing said about the manipulation of labour by those wanting the cheapest possible source and the consequent exploitation. Nothing said about government policy supporting this.
Recently it has been announced that settlers from the Asian Sub-continent may have rights curtailed or removed. The length of stay for visitors would be reduced from 6 to 3 months while £1,000 would be payable for each visitor. Lord Goldsmith has further recommended to Gordon Brown that these without British passports should lose the right to vote. No spouses under 21. Enter a new workforce from Eastern European countries with full voting rights and no such restriction.
So don’t blame the victim. If the Tiber is going to foam with much blood it’s idiot politicians who are causing the problem. Migrant labour is coming because people are doing jobs that no one else wants to and at very low rates of pay. In rural areas crops don’t get picked anymore. Birmingham people used to take their holidays down in the Worcestershire countryside and help with the harvest. Farmers have had competing supplies of labour and have gone for those they are able to control and exploit the most.

Continue reading

Parliament’s “dirty little secret”

It comes as no surprise to hear that black mps find Parliament “riddled” with racism and sexism. The real shock is that it remains so hidden in a culture of denial. It is a real problem for the British that it has been put about for so long that they are about tolerance and fair play that it becomes impossible to understand or believe that discrimination exists. That is unless you are a black MP and Dawn Butler, member for Brent South, has spoken out. Why others don’t speak out is not so much of a mystery when you consider that patronage and privilege plays such a part in getting on. Many prefer to keep their heads down and play the system. Ms Butler makes the point that she has to “pick her fights” because discriminatory acts and behaviour are so common place.

Continue reading

Media coverage of Israel and Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace sent the following concerning the way that the media and political leaders have treated news about Palestine and Palestinians in a completely different way to Israel and Israelis.
David Cromwell works with a British organization called Media Lens.
What is Media Lens? – Here is part of their self description.
“Media Lens is a response based on our conviction that mainstream newspapers and broadcasters provide a profoundly distorted picture of our world. We are convinced that the increasingly centralised, corporate nature of the media means that it acts as a de facto propaganda system for corporate and other establishment interests. The costs incurred as a result of this propaganda, in terms of human suffering and environmental degradation, are incalculable.”
Media Lens “recommend(s) Herman and Chomsky’s “propaganda model of media control” as a basis for understanding the manner in which truth is filtered from, rather than consciously obstructed by, the modern media system.
They quote historian Howard Zinn, who has written::
“Society has varying and conflicting interests; what is called objectivity is the disguise of one of these interests – that of neutrality. But neutrality is a fiction in an unneutral world. There are victims, there are executioners, and there are bystanders… and the ‘objectivity’ of the bystander calls for inaction while other heads fall.”
In the essay below, Cromwell contrasts English media attitude towards Palestinian victims of Israeli violence, with its attitude towards Israeli victims of Palestinian violence. Just like in the US, Israelis fair much better, both in newspapers coverage, and in BBC broadcasts.
Racheli Gai
David Cromwell: Israeli Deaths Matter More
March 12, 2008
The horrific shooting of eight young people at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem last Thursday was followed by saturation media coverage. International statesmen lined up with condemnations of the attack and condolences for the victims and their families.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced: “This is clearly an attempt to strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process.” (Jon Smith, Press Association, ‘Brown: massacre “strikes at heart of peace”‘, March 7, 2008)
Foreign Secretary David Miliband described the slaughter as “an arrow aimed at the heart of the peace process so recently revived.” (Donald Macintyre and Eric Silver, ‘Massacre in the heart of Jerusalem’, The Independent, March 7, 2008)
The Guardian’s front page declared: “the descent into violence in the Middle East accelerated last night” in a “dramatic escalation”. (Rory McCarthy, ‘Eight dead as gunman hits Jerusalem religious school’, The Guardian, March 7, 2008). A Daily Mirror headline read: ‘Kids Murdered In The Library’ (Allison Martin, March 7, 2008). The Telegraph asserted that the attack “is likely to be remembered as the moment the Middle East peace process died.” (Tim Butcher, ‘Hopes of peace in the Middle East are blown away in a hail of bullets’, Daily Telegraph, March 7, 2008)
The contrast to reactions to the killing of over 120 Palestinians, including many women and children, in occupied Gaza the previous week could hardly be more striking. On one day alone, 60 people died in a hail of Israeli firepower using F-16 planes, Apache helicopter gunships, tanks, armoured bulldozers and ground troops.
No Western leader was heard condemning the Israeli assault on Gaza as “an attempt to strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process.” To our knowledge, no reporter suggested that “the peace process” had now “died”. No headlines screamed of Palestinian babies “murdered” in their beds. In short, news reports from the Gazan bloodbath typically lacked the anguished details and tone that suffused the reporting from Jerusalem less than a week later.
Nor was there the same heightened pitch and intensity of news coverage following Israel’s deadly ‘incursion’ into Gaza in mid-January. 17 Palestinians were killed in one day, and around 50 injured, while President Bush was visiting the region. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said:
“Al-Jazeera, ‘Abbas: Israeli raid “a massacre” ‘, January 15, 2008; “Our people cannot keep silent over these massacres. These massacres cannot bring peace.”
But for the Western media the massacres that really matter, the ones which “strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process”, are those inflicted on Israelis.

Continue reading