Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

The Stoke-on-Trent Central By Election


I’ve long had a rather furtive desire to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party. Probably a frivolous idea and a wasted vote, but there you are. As they only seemed to stand in by elections, and there was never one where I lived, I never got the chance.

Until now. My MP, Tristram Hunt, having been re-elected in 2015, recently fucked off to a new job at the V&A. At last, here was my chance… but no. Stoke-on-Trent has the dubious name as the capital of Brexit, with the strongest leave vote in the country. It’s not the first time Stoke has had dubious political distinction: a few years ago, the city elected 9 BNP councillors. In the 2015 election, UKIP came second to Labour, and they clearly fancied their chances in the by election.

I loathe UKIP. For all their pose as the new party of the working class, they’re made up of, in former PM Cameron’s words, fruitcakes and loonies. They’re more right wing than the Tories. I’ve never understood working people who vote Conservative, and working people voting for UKIP are turkeys voting for Christmas. And their candidate in Stoke Central, the new leader Paul Nuttall, was especially contemptible.

First, there were allegations that the address he gave on his nomination was false: it was an allegedly empty property in Stoke ( ; then there was his claim that he lost friends in the Hillsborough disaster, later revealed to be untrue; he couldn’t name a single one of the six towns when asked; and his election slogan to be defending the NHS was undermined by earlier statements that he thought the NHS unfit for purpose and that should be privatised ( All in all, a wholly unsuitable prospective MP.

The pundits were predicting a close contest in Stoke. I certainly didn’t want a UKIP MP, especially someone like Nuttall, so I could not in all conscience vote for the Monsters. The most likely to defeat UKIP was Labour, and this time at least, in contrast to Hunt, their man was local. So he got my vote. Not out of any conviction, it was purely tactical. If the polls had suggested an easy Labour hold, my vote would have gone elsewhere.

As someone who identifies as left-wing, and who is, according to the Political Compass Test, a left libertarian, Labour should probably be my natural choice. My problem is with their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. When he first stood for the leadership, I paid my three quid and voted for him. He seemed to be something hopeful, something different and left wing, a break from the near Toryism of the Blair years.

By the time of the second leadership election, my enthusiasm had markedly cooled. Partly his poor performance and incompetence, but I was alarmed when I came across footage of him describing his “friends in Hamas and Hezbollah”. Friends in terrorist organisations? Really? However much he might sympathise with the plight of the Palestinians, the founding charter of Hamas calls for the obliteration of Israel, and is virulently anti-Semitic. (more details here: Some of the stuff Hamas et al come out with could have been written by Hitler. And Corbyn calls himself an anti-fascist. Admittedly, he has since expressed some regret at this, but it strikes me as half-hearted (

Even though Labour lost the other by election in Copeland, I’m sure Comrade Corbyn will stay as leader. As long as this incompetent fool remains, I won’t vote for Labour. I did so this time tactically to keep UKIP out.


But Me No Buts: Je Suis Charlie


Some responses to the horrific events in Paris last week were sadly all too predictable. On the one hand, politicians speaking warm words about defending freedom of speech, while at the same time saying the police needed even more powers; and on the other, people saying “yes to freedom of speech, but…” No. But me no buts. This was cold blooded murder, and no qualification can ever justify it.

To say this suggests that the journalists asked for it, deserved it even, and that the violence meted out to them is entirely understandable. The journalists should have been more responsible and not provocative. This is shameful, and demonstrates the stupidity of such people. It’s up there with saying a woman deserved to get raped because she was wearing a short skirt. No.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that must be protected. Protected from governments using terrorism to justify further erosions of civil liberties, and from the morbid sensitivity that is now so widespread: the easy readiness to be offended and demand that things you don’t like are banned. Allowing this to happen does the terrorists work for them. People need to wake up.

Cynicism Rules


What happened last week in Woolwich was a brutal and revolting act. However, I’m disgusted by the breathtaking cynicism of the government in using this as an excuse to force through the communication bill (aka the snooper’s charter). It’s vital for national security and for our protection, they say. Yes, in just the same way that I.D. cards were: they have them in Spain and it didn’t prevent the Madrid bombings.

I find this cynicism utterly repellent, and I think it also dishonours the memory of Lee Rigby. Each time a terrorist outrage happens, the government take advantage of public disgust to introduce even more anti-democratic and intrusive measures. I have said it before and will repeat it here: our freedoms are being steadily eroded in the name of security. These freedoms have been hard won over centuries, and are too important to be casually cast aside. They are what set us apart from the terrorists. We should be clinging more tightly to our values not throwing them away. That is doing the terrorists’ work for them.

This can be demonstrated by the Abu Qatada case. A vile preacher of hate who should have been deported long ago. However, the fact that this has been taken through the courts shows that our way is superior: we have given him due process of law. This is only right. It shows we are better than the terrorists. We should remember this as we let the government cynically abandon our freedoms. Yes, we are letting it happen. Wake up Britain, and complain. While you still can.

Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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