ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘New Labour

Modems and Scraps.

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Just a few scraps that occurred to me, the Beeb has a good post on how older technology is helping Egyptians organise after the State clampdown:

“Fax machines, ham radio and dial-up modems are helping to avoid the net block imposed on Egypt.

On 27 January, Egypt fell off the internet as virtually all international connections were cut following an order from the government.

But older technologies proved their worth as net activists and protesters used them to get round the block.

Protesters are also circulating information about how to avoid communication controls inside Egypt.

Call charge

Dial-up modems are one of the most popular routes for Egyptians to get back online. Long lists of international numbers that connect to dial-up modems are circulating in Egypt thanks to net activists We Re-Build, Telecomix and others.

Dial-up numbers featured heavily in Twitter messages tagged with hashes related to the protests such as #egypt and #jan25.

ISPs in France, the US, Sweden, Spain and many other nations have set up pools of modems that will accept international calls to get information to and from protesters. Many have waived fees to make it easier for people to connect.

Few domestic lines in Egypt can call internationally to get at the modems, however. The Manalaa blog gave advice about how to use dial-up using a mobile, bluetooth and a laptop. It noted that the cost of international calls could be “pricey” but said it was good enough for “urgent communication”. The advice was posted to many blogs, copied and sent out by many others.

We Re-Build, which campaigns for unmonitored internet access around Europe, said it was also listening on some ham radio frequencies and would relay any messages it received either by voice or morse code. ”

Elsewhere, the ever useless Labour leader, Ed Miliband, is profiled:

“Labour leader Ed Miliband has revealed he was a “bit square” as a youth, eschewing drugs and under-age drinking.

In a GQ magazine interview with Piers Morgan, he said his greatest talent was being “good at the Rubik’s Cube”.

Asked if he had ever been in a fight, he said: “Well, I may have been hit a few times. I went to a tough school.”

Mr Miliband, 41, added that he would not bow to pressure to marry his partner, Justine Thornton, with whom he has two children.

He also refused to “boast about my sexual prowess” when questioned about his romantic history.”

Are you still using Internet Explorer? A very bad idea as the Beeb explains:

“Microsoft has issued a “critical” warning over a newly-discovered flaw in Windows.

In a security advisory, the company warned of a loophole that could be used by malicious hackers to steal private information or hijack computers.

The bug potentially affects every user of the Internet Explorer web browser – around 900 million people worldwide.

Microsoft has issued a software patch to defend against attacks, and said it was working to develop a long-term fix.

The security advisory, which was published on Friday, details how the vulnerability can be used to manipulate users and take over their machines.

Although the flaw is actually inside Windows itself, it only appears to affect the way that Internet Explorer handles some web pages and documents.”

Please, oh please, try Chrome or Firefox instead, better still go for Linux.

Update 1: Here’s the Egypt Resource Page at We Rebuild which is full of interesting stuff.

Written by modernityblog

01/02/2011 at 07:37

Useless New Labour, the Tories And Workfare.

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Despite impressions to the contrary New Labour is still very much alive and kicking in Ed Miliband’s Labour Party.

This is evidenced by their inability to tackle the Tories head-on over their workfare scheme.

Any other party would have highlighted the inadequacies of Iain Duncan-Smith’s proposals and been able to show the callous pennypinching authoritarian nature of the Tories, but not Ed Miliband’s frontbench mediocrities.

Instead Gang Miliband concede the Tories’ arguments from the outset, Douglas Alexander admitted as much on Sky News arguing Labour had similar policies (the difference being apparently “real” jobs) that were “backup by real sanctions”.

So Alexander and the Labour Party don’t mind penalising the poor, as the Tories are doing, they’re just arguing over a few details, he says as much in a Guardian interview.

Britain faces one of the most ideologically twisted governments since Thatcher’s time, and in many ways they are pushing through measures that only Margaret Thatcher could salivate over, yet their political opponents, in the form of the Labour Party, can’t muster cogent arguments or real opposition to them.

In fact, the political cretins running the Labour Party have been outflanked on the Left by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Who would have thought it, and I say this through gritted teeth, Rowan Willams makes some penetrating points:

“People who are struggling to find work and struggling to find a secure future are – I think – driven further into a downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair, when the pressure is on in that way.

“People often are in this starting place, not because they’re wicked, stupid or lazy, but because their circumstances are against them, they’ve failed to break through into something and to drive that spiral deeper – as I say – does feel a great problem.”

One final thought, I remember Thatcherism first time around.

I wasn’t in Britain all of the time, but when I was I noticed a change, a perceptible shift, there were many more people living on the streets, sleeping rough, more beggars, more destitution, an increased climate of fear and the introduction of security guards where you never saw them before.

I suspect that Britain under Cameron’s Tories will make Thatcher’s time seem like halcyon days.

That’s how bad it will get, and Ed Miliband’s pathetic Labour Party need to accept their part in allowing it to happen.

Update 1: What we mustn’t forget is that the Tories are only really implementing a New Labour policy, albeit in their own inequitable way.

Who can forget the contemptible James Purnell ?

“James Purnell was accused of introducing a version of the American “workfare” today after he published plans to ensure that most benefit claimants are preparing for employment.

The work and pensions secretary said that under the proposals in his white paper on welfare reform “virtually everyone” claiming benefits would have to do something in return for their money.

Unveiling the plans in the Commons, Purnell said that most people on incapacity benefit would be required to attend job interviews and the unemployed would be expected to do four weeks’ full-time activity after a year out of work. Pilot schemes would require them to work full time for their benefits after two years.”

Update 2: Diary of a Benefit Scrounger has a heart felt post:

“And “Puff!” there go another 2.6 million voters Mr Alexander. Maybe a few more activists like me. Because if there is anyone in society you should be protecting, anyone Labour should instinctively know they should protect, anyone that needs you and our party desperately today, it is these sick and disabled and frightened people.

Admit you got it wrong on ESA. Take the hit. Come up with solutions and most of all, do what you claim you will do and LISTEN. Now, before it is too late – or give up the name Labour and all it stands for.

In the end, you see, there will be no-one left. No-one who believes you are any different to the Conservatives. No-one who doesn’t expect you to let them down on every promise, just as the LibDems have. I heard it every day of the campaign. “they’re all the same, they’re all the same THEY’RE ALL THE SAME.” The words should ring in your ears, you should not need suggestions for government when people up and down the country are suffering and frightened.

By all means support the “Squeezed Middle” but if, in the process, you decide the rest are all “Feckless Poor” then admit you are, in fact, Tories. Make the same dazzling conversion on the Road to Damascus that has overcome Mr Clegg and leave Labour to her true supporters.

And to Ed Miliband I say – You are not Labour. I am Labour and so are the millions of people who came out to vote for and canvass on behalf of our party on May 6th. You represent us, you do not decide to mould us in your image. You decide on policy with us in mind, not with one eye on the Daily Mail, and one eye on the opinion polls. Do what is right and the votes will follow. Most of all, reshape my party, our party so that I don’t hear that endless refrain on the doorsteps next time “They’re all the same.”

I, and other bloggers, politicians, journalists and charities will make this an issue. We will campaign with every ounce of strength until this terrible, terrible removal of ALL benefits from the most vulnerable people in society is reversed and ESA is overhauled. It would be a dreadful state of affairs if Labour are not there, campaigning with us, side by side, if they choose this issue to prove once and for all, that they really are “all the same.”

Update 3: Sue Marsh’s post is cross posted on the Labourlist, it will be interesting to see if the penny drops within the Labour Party, on how they are viewed from the outside, as basically useless and not much better than the Tories. I am not optimistic.

Update 4: Left Foot Forward is uncritically pushing Douglas Alexander’s guff.

Update 5: Flesh is Glass’s musings on the Big Society are worth a ponder.

Update 6: Chris Dillow displays his usual thought manner:

“If we take this as a measure of those who really don’t want to work, then “workshy scroungers” represent a mere 6.8% of the claimant count, 4.1% of the LFS measure of unemployment, and 2.1% of the wider unemployed (which adds the economically inactive who‘d like a job to the LFS measure of unemployment.)

The vast majority of unemployment – over 9-10ths on this reckoning – has nothing to do with people not wanting to work, and everything to do with a lack of demand for labour.

And this is where that rightist trick (or error) enters. They mistake small truths for large ones, and use the small truth to obfuscate the big one. So, the truth – that a few of the unemployed don’t want to work – is exaggerated and used to hide the bigger truth, that the vast majority of unemployment has other causes. “

Phil Woolas, Corrupt Practices.

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I have never had any time for New Labour or that string of Labour MPs who gladly voted for the Tory-lite measures they wanted to push through, still even Phil Woolas stands out amongst that pack of chancers, opportunists and political nonentities.

Woolas is positively reptilian.

Fortunately, his misconduct during the General Election has been highlighted in a recent court case:

He concluded: “The consequence of our finding that the respondent is guilty of an illegal practice with regard to the statements we have referred to is that, pursuant to section 159(1) of the Act, his election as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth is void and we have so reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“We are satisfied that the statutory penalties for the illegal practices committed by the respondent are both necessary and proportionate, having regard to the seriousness of the statements made with regard to the petitioner’s alleged attitude to the Muslim extremists who advocated violence.”

The judges made no reference to the sanctions on Mr Woolas, although it is thought he could be barred from public office for a period of time. ”

Personally, I would put Phil Woolas in a pillory and pelt him with rotten fruit, that’s what he deserves for his activities. He’s got off very lightly, so far.

Also, it is hardly surprising that Woolas is ranked as one of the more authoritarian figures within new Labour, as a brief extract from his voting record indicates:

Freedom of Speech No
ID Cards Aye
90 days detention Aye
Abolition of Parliament Bill Aye
Trial without a Jury Aye
MPs’ Expenses (FOI exemption) Aye
Control Orders Aye
Extradition Act 2003 No
Government intervention in collection of evidence No
DNA database Aye

The Guardian has more on the full judgement and Woolas.

See the Torygraph for Woolas’ gaffes.

Update 1: Phil, the Labourite cover it too.

Update 2: Adrian Windisch has a Green’s view of things.

Update 3: Political Betting ask the question, when Woolas was appointed to the shadow front bench, Is this the new leader’s first big mistake?

Update 4: Political Betting has more coverage:

Will tomorrow be Woolas’s last day as an MP?

Will the Woolas case change the way elections are fought?

Update 5: The Guardian has a good slide show of Woolas’ election propaganda, I think anyone remotely objective would see the problems with it.

Written by modernityblog

05/11/2010 at 18:36

I Hate The Tories.

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Hate is probably too mild a word, continual loathing, utter contempt, I am with Nye Bevan on this:

“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. “

I thought it would be helpful to get that out of the way, so readers know where I am coming from.

Bearing in mind I am not particularly interested in the domestic political scene in Britain, it seems timely with recent events to discuss some of the ongoing issues.

New Labour have finally left power, after 13 years and whilst I don’t think it would have been as bad as 13 years of the Tories it certainly is nothing to shout about, if you were looking at it from a moderately social democratic point of view, let alone the socialist one.

Blair and Brown managed to obtain power and keep hold of it for 13 years, no mean feat, but it is what they did with that power that is truly important.

Over time they adopted many Tory policies and attacked the weakest in society, not something they should be proud of. I will let others heap disapproval on them, my view is good riddance to rubbish. I will not mourn them, after what they did to the Labour Party.

But the prospect of a Tory government is focusing our minds and Blair/Brown are history, and you have to wonder what David Cameron will get up to, even if he is slightly shackled by Clegg and Co.

Some people have suggested that David Cameron is a one nation Tory, etc., which seems to me to be more wishful thinking than reality.

Cameron adopted this pose not because that is what he believes, but rather he knew that appearing as an arch Thatcherite head-banger would not achieve much and could relegate his party to the political doldrums, if not history.

Cameron is competent enough at PR, but the Neanderthals in his party are a different matter.

However, it’s hard to see what even an arch Thatcherite would do nowadays as New Labour did most of it already. There are few government ventures to privatise, even less to sell-off to, effectively, buy votes.

Still, the Tories will probably attack the Welfare State, trying to enrich themselves and their friends in the process.

I suspect for a few months the Tories and the Lib Dems will get their way, but hopefully Labour could make an effort to move back to its origins, even slightly, and then outflank both of these parties from the Left, as there will be an election probably within a year.

It would be good if the Labour Party could return to its social democratic roots, aim for a punchy manifesto with commitments to renationalise the railways, etc and other public services which have suffered under privatisation.

Whatever Labour decide to do they should be prepared for a quick election as I doubt Cameron, or the bunch of second raters he has on his front bench, will be able to cope with the stresses and strains of real government.

There’s another election coming soon enough!

Written by modernityblog

11/05/2010 at 21:00

MPs With Bell Towers.

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Once the Labour Party became home for careerist Tory MPs then anything is possible, but in the past could you imagine Labour MP with a stately home? Or better still a bell tower?

That charming Oxbridge chappie, Quentin Davies is the culprit.

More frivolous claims (or genuine mistakes if you believe comrade Davies) from MPs can be found here.

I wonder if comrade Davies even knows the words to the Red Flag?

Written by modernityblog

11/12/2009 at 05:08

Labour’s Achilles Heel.

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Politicians and politicos often live in a bubble, of their own making, where outside perceptions are frequently disregarded and they begin to believe their own spin.

I think it is partly a problem of incumbency and in part the arrogance of power, so it is with new Labour and the NHS.

Mike O’Brien, health Minister, has been keen to disregard and poo poo a new report on health safety in the NHS. But even if he were telling the truth the perception of the British population of the NHS has changed in the past 12 years, new Labour saw to that.

The implementation of market reforms, taken over from the previous Tory administration and management by top-down statistics, have altered the NHS, hospitals and the public’s perception of it. This is evidenced by the MRSA scandal and the inability to keep hospitals clean after in-house services were privatised and when cack handed managerial targets become the norm.

More from the authors of the report:

“However less positively the Guide found that 12 trusts significantly underperformed across these safety measures, seven trusts are not compliant with National Patient Safety Agency alerts and that 5024 people admitted with low risk conditions died in hospital last year (848 under the age of 65). Although it is inevitable that some patients with these conditions will die during or after treatment, comparing rates between hospitals and investigating those deaths that do occur are useful ways of identifying failings in patient safety.”

And when new Labour loses the next General Election, and that ushers in a nasty and vicious Tory government, then new Labour will have only themselves to blame, only themselves and their spin and BS.

Update 1: The Guardian has more on the NHS lottery:

“For Adrian Underwood, it began with a terrifying loss of movement down the left side of his body. A hospital scan in Nottingham identified a benign tumour that if untreated would eventually crush his brain. Yet no one told him about it.

More than 50 miles away in Solihull, Jenny Morgan sat in A&E for 90 minutes after suffering a stroke, before deciding to leave so she could “die at home”. Half-blinded and in excruciating pain, she later returned, only to be told the stroke unit was full. And on a ward in Essex, Gillian Flack found her severely disabled son drenched in urine and no nurses in sight. That night Kyle Flack, 20, suffocated after getting his head wedged in the metal bars of the hospital bed. “You think hospitals are safe,” said his 54-year-old mother, her voice trembling. “But if I had never taken Kyle to hospital he would have been alive.”

Her son died at Basildon University Hospital, where a report last week revealed evidence of dozens of patients dying needlessly in filthy conditions.”

Written by modernityblog

29/11/2009 at 14:53

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Royal Mail Dispute.

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I heartily recommend CWU TV and their recent clip on the strike. [The downloaded file looks like a PHP, it isn’t, just rename to *.flv and play with normal media player or VLC]

CWU TV is available on YouTube too.

The main union web site is here.

Also, see Keep The Post Public.

Written by modernityblog

22/10/2009 at 04:32