All entries for November 2004

November 28, 2004

Why are the government letting the Tories create the political landscape?

According to something I heard on the radio today when I was half-asleep, the Tories are currently doing worse in the polls now than they were just before the 2001 election under William Hague. Yet still, the government are relentlessly trying to prove that they are every bit as true-blue Tory as the Tories. Why? What are they worried about? They harp on about 'choice' when what they should be concentrating on is ensuring that local hospitals, schools, etc. are good quality; they try to prove how exceptionally tough they are on crime and 'anti-social behaviour' (which sounds like a very Maoist, Cultural Revolution phrase to me); they go on about 'security,' in whose name they propose to introduce even more draconian and proscriptive legislation; they bend the knee to the White House in the most disgusting and subservient fashion imaginable; and they fear the Tories in the Lords so much that they have spent much of the past eight years trying to formulate a policy which means that they don't actually have to ban fox hunting (which was only frustrated when their own MPs showed more backbone than usual and put their foot down).

Have Blair and the Labour party actually deviated so far from their roots that they actually believe in this stuff, or are they still so paralysed with terror at the thought of losing their precious power that they will do anything to keep it and think this is the way to do so? For me, the Labour party will never go far enough to the left, but they are currently such a long way to the right that the entire discourse in British politics has become confined to a tiny strip of ground far removed from much of the population. This, not a cynical media or a wave of apathy, is the reason why so many people are turned off politics.


November 26, 2004

Vote, vote, VOTE!

Writing about web page http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/portal/voting

You're probably sick of this by now, but there are only four hours left for you to vote in the Union elections and referenda if you haven't already done so. Polls close at 9pm and I gather we have a fair chance of reaching the quorum, so get voting if you haven't already; otherwise various people will end up being appointed by a few of us at Council next term rather than by students at large.

VOTE


November 22, 2004

Update on

Follow-up to Open letter to Simon Lucas from Luke's blog

According to a press release on the Union website, this debate will now go ahead (Wednesday, 6pm, H0.51) – they still moan about 'ill-informed speculation' though, which I think is a bit off really. Anyway, if you want to express any thoughts on this or any other issue, Union Council will be meeting on Thursday, 7pm, S0.21 – there will be a motion on this specific issue up for debate.

November 21, 2004

Open letter to Simon Lucas

Writing about web page /rlewis/entry/the_big_bad/

Well, as people seem to be posting their correspondences here with regard to this subject, I thought I'd post mine.

"From: Arts Faculty Councillor 6 Sent: Fri 19/11/2004 17:26
To: Simon Lucas – President
Cc:
Subject: "Israeli Apartheid" debate

Dear Simon,

I was concerned to hear today that the Union has stepped in to prevent the debate on "Israeli Apartheid" scheduled for next Wednesday from going ahead. There are several ascpects to this decision which I find troubling given the Union's status as a democratic institution.

1.) Why was this decision taken in such a way that no one knew about it until afterwards? This debate was scheduled before the last Council meeting as, if you look at the minutes, you will see a reference to it in questions to officers. Why, therefore, was it left until the week before the debate was due to take place at a meeting no one knew about? As a consequence of this, there is no opportunity for a democratic body to scruitinise the decision before next term unless a motion were to be accepted at the next Council meeting as emergency business. Such an action has the unmistakable feel of cowardice.

2.) I cannot see any reason for the suppression of this debate. Leaving aside the fact that this is a university and is therefore meant to be a place where such issues can be discussed without fear of a few people deciding to shut the meeting down, I cannot see any part of Union policy which gives Sabbatical Officers or the Executive the power to stop a non-banned organisation from having a meeting unless that activity is illegal. It is the prerogative of democratic bodies and not of Union officers to ban organisations which, it would appear, is the de facto upshot of your actions in this case.

3.) It makes a mockery of our "no-platform" policy if it is expanded to cover events and groups it was not originally designed to target. To the extent of my knowledge, the group in question is not designated by the Union as a 'racist or Fascist group,' and attempts to put them on the same level as the likes of the BNP, Combat 18, and the National Front, are not only a deep insult to those who are concerned about the treatment of the Palestinians, but also make our attempts to deal with genuine racists that much more difficult.

Could you please tell me the circumstances in which this decision was made, and from what policy, regulation, or Constitutional Appendix you derived the authority to make it? Could you also please tell me why this meeting was not publicised beforehand so that people who were concerned on either side could come and make representations? The lack of this last makes it difficult for any officer to profess the democratic character of the Union when small groups of individuals can make such contentious decisions with such ease and in such secrecy.

I hope to hear back from you soon.

Luke."

To this, I received an automated response:

"From: Simon Lucas – President Sent: Fri 19/11/2004 20:24
To: Arts Faculty Councillor 6
Cc:
Subject: RE: "Israeli Apartheid" debate

Dear member,

The Students’ Union have asked the Friends of Palestine Society to postpone their event until security and safety criteria have been met. We seek to ensure that all events run by any part of the Students’ Union are safe for our members to attend and participate in.

The Students’ Union regrets that it is unable to reply individually to all emails and phone calls on this matter. We will inform our membership of any further developments through our website: www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk"

The Union seems to have shot itself in the foot here, as, by simply resorting to the same auto-response to every e-mail, they a.) do not respond to all the points raise, and b.) make it seem as though it it not for us to question the enlightened decisions of Union officers. My major worry here is the way in which this was done; this debate was scheduled weeks ago, yet it was only stopped less than a week before it was due to happen and after anything could actually be done to scrutinise the decision. If you want to ask questions in person, Union Council is meeting on Thursday at 7pm in S0.21 (Social Studies). Everyone is welcome to come along and to ask questions about this decision and any other concern you may have.


November 17, 2004

Disgusting racist abuse during England match

I don't know how many people were watching the England friendly against Spain (never was there a less apt description); however, anyone who did cannot but have noticed the sickening abuse from the crowd whenever a black England player took the ball. I don't know if they thought that making monkey noises was clever (or why they thought it was acceptable), but it did show an extremely ugly side of human nature which, to be honest, sometimes makes me ashamed to share a continent with the offendors. It's evident that something has to be done to stamp out such a foul practice.

Yours,

Outraged of Earlsdon.


Someone please kill me

After several false starts, I've finally succumbed to one of the many cold/'flu-like viruses which seem to be striking people down across campus like the grim reaper during the Black Death. This also seems to be a particularly nasty strain (or it's just affecting me more than usual). Any sympathy/well wishes will be gratefully received, or, failing that, a packet of Tunes or whatever the fuck they're called. Anyway, I'm off to die quietly in a corner.

November 15, 2004

US application of death penalty at 30–year low

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1351530,00.html

Apparently, the application of the death penalty in the US last year fell to 144 people in 25 states. Now, whilst this is still 144 people too many subjected to such an abhorant practice, it is, hopefully, a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this year, the number of people subjected to judicial murder will also fall, and so on, and so on, until this despicable practice falls into disuse and is consigned to the dustbin of History it has for too long evaded.

Tower of London safe even if ravens leave

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1351360,00.html

Apparently, even if the ravens leave the Tower of London, the kingdom won't fall. Now, whilst that may be somewhat disappointing for we republicans (and that's 'republican' with a small 'r' rather than a large one), as it seems to mean we're stuck with the House of Saxe-Coburg Gotha for the forseeable future, it does raise an interesting point about folklore. According to the article linked above, there have only been ravens at the Tower since the 19th century, and the myth that they are somehow bound up with the fate of the kingdom also dates from that time. I'm actually quite surprised that the fact that what we all thought was some sort of ancient tradition is actually some sort of Victorian romance has come as a shock to so many people – are there really any such 'traditions' which aren't Victorian inventions? Given that reality seldom owes very much to the romantic notions of many people today, why should History be any different? Events which were actually documented were too unglamourous, so the Victorians embroidered them with romance. Why does this surprise people? One must only look at the literature of the early 19th century (and into the middle in the case of poetry) and the architecture to detect a culture obsessed with the neat, the linear, and the romantic – is it any wonder that the view we have inherited from them is neat, linear, and romantic? I'm more surprised by the fact that such a quaint little bit of hokum as the raven myth was taken seriously for so long than that it turns out to be the romantic fantasy of some 19th-century antiquarian.

November 14, 2004

Accomodation woes

It seems to be de rigeur to moan about accomodation, so here's my contribution. I'm living this year in what is effectively a small hall in Coventry which is formed by three houses knocked together. So far this week, we've had problems with the plumbing, the boiler, and the internet access; with this last having occured at sporadic intervals throughout the year. Twice, people have broken in, including one armed with a knife. The light on the corridor outside my room has gone, and as far as I'm aware, it's one that is the responsibility of the University to replace – in the meantime, it's pitch-dark outside my room at night. I'm beginning to wonder what will happen next: will the roof start leaking? Will the windows fall out? Will the whole place fall down around our ears?

November 12, 2004

Mindless game competiton

Okay, so in moments of boredom, I'm sure we've all succumbed to temptation and played Minesweeper. So, what are your best scores? I'll set the ball roling with mine:

Beginner: 2 seconds
Intermediate: 29 seconds
Expert: 91 seconds


November 2004

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