Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Smash The BNP

It is time for the local elections in many places in the UK on Thursday 1 May an event that will pass many people by. The turnout in local elections is often so low that the elected representatives may only have 10-15% of the electorate voting for them. Obviously the local issues don't worry them, which is a worry as our local councils have a large influence on our lives. Our local council's offer (or don't in many cases) the services that we all consume. The national politicians are very often out of touch with the population, the outrageous 10% tax removal is a case in point. Local politicians however are usually from the local area and although a fair proportion of them are self important arseholes they do enable us to have a say in affairs that effect us directly.
In my area I have had leaflets from the Tories who, quite remarkably still get in time after time despite being a council that shuts theatres, stops funding to libraries, doesn't give a hoot about the state of the roads, spends thousands of pounds on a big piss up for council staff and then moans about the fact that they have no money for essential services and who, in the last three years has dug up the high street seemingly every three months or so and for no apparent reason. I have had a leaflet each from two independents (one of whom is a sitting councilor) who just slagged each other off. It seems that they are having a private battle in public (which clouds the issues that they are supposed to be addressing). The most disturbing leaflet I received and one which both angered and sickened me was one from every bodies favourite fascists the British National Party.
Their manifesto is confusing. They have pledged to collect rubbish on a weekly basis (which happens already) and they have promised to stop they influx of immigrants. Now I am no political student but last time I saw I Southend on Sea hadn't declared UDI and we do not have a border with the rest of Essex. How would they propose to stop immigration into Southend?
The BNP claim not to be a racist party yet they ban any one who isn't white from joining their party (although why anyone would want to join is beyond me). They try to be 'respectable' but still peddle extremist views, although they dress them up. They claim that they are 'victims' of a leftist conspiracy and that lies have been spread about them. Yet countless BNP members including leader Nick Griffin have been jailed for either racist attacks or spreading racial hatred. They are a very dangerous organisation who claim that they are the real champions of the 'indigenous British population' (i.e. anyone who isn't white). What this means is that anyone who doesn't support them and who values democracy, freedom and equality for everyone is their enemy. They hark on about Muslims, Poles and Czechs but they would soon include disabled people, Lesbian, Gay and Transsexuals and trade unionists. They hate but claim to love this country. A rich and diverse country that has a fine history of welcoming people of all races and creeds here.
Please, please use your vote on Thursday. I don't care who you vote for but stop the Fascist BNP.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Portishead - Hammersmith Apollo 10 April 2008

Just after Tronik Youth's marvellous remix of Joy Division's 'She's Lost Control' faded away (which to my ears seems to have influenced Portishead's new single 'Machine Gun')Portishead took to the stage. They haven't released an album since 1997's 'Portishead' so news of a tour and a third album 'Third', to be released at the end of the month, has revitalised the interest in the band. Portishead have always been hard to categorise. Indie kids (and Indie adults) love them and they are the dance crowds favourite chill-out band. Their music is dark, moody and atmospheric and uses samples and programming and Adrian Utley's amazing guitar work. However it has always been Beth Gibbons vocals that have given the band such a distinctive sound.

Right form the first few bars of the first song it was clear that Portishead were going to be special tonight and although a few technical problems with the dj's decks forced them to leave the stage for about five minutes after 'Mysterons' they delivered in spades. The new songs are noticeably harder than the moody trip-hop of 'Dummy'. Eighties style synth sounds and percussion have given them a more industrial sound. The overall mood is still dark though and Beth Gibbons pours out emotion in her vocals. She has an amazing ability to sound like several different singers in one song. At times she sounds like Billie Holiday and at one stage during an amazing rendition of 'Wandering Star' she sounded like Edith Piaf. The new material bodes well for the new album but it was the material that they played from 'Dummy' that got the crowd going. 'Roads', 'Glory Box' and 'Sour Times' along with the aforementioned 'Mysterons' (with added Mysteron lights Captain Scarlett fans) and 'Wandering Star' were perfect. The gig closed with Beth jumping down into the pit to hug, kiss and shake hands with the front rows of the stalls. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. It was a fantastic night and well worth waiting 13 years for.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Glory Box

Tomorrow I get to see the fabulous Portishead for the first time. They haven't released anything since there second studio album some 11 years ago so it is all very exciting. Their debut 'Dummy' is one of my very favourite albums of all time and still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end with its brilliance. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the year.
I can't wait.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Tibet.

The Olympic Torch is making its way over approximately 84 000 miles to China in time for the 2008 Games in Beijing. The torch is meant to symbolise unity, friendship and peace. When China were awarded the Olympics there were eyebrows raised throughout the world. Why were China, who do not allow there citizens a vote, who do not allow any dissension at all in fact, be allowed to host the greatest sporting event on the planet? China has an appalling human rights record against its own citizens and this has troubled many people. China has promised the rest of the world that it will improve its human rights record. It also promised that it would open dialogue with Tibet about some kind of self determination. They promised this as part of the deal in getting the games and so far there seems to be no evidence that things have changed in the slightest. In fact when the Tibetan people took to the streets recently the Chinese sent in the troops and crushed any rebellion. If this is improving things I'd hate to see them clamp down.

So the events on the streets of London yesterday and on the streets of Paris today (and I have just heard on the BBC that the French authorities have cancelled the torch procession because of the demonstrations) have met with my full approval. It filled me with pride that so many people took to the streets to stand up for an oppressed people. The media of course, has focused on the few people that committed civil disobedience by trying to disrupt the torch's progress. Some commentators, stand up Duncan Goodhew, ex-Olympic swimming Gold Medalist, have chosen to label these protesters criminals. He told BBC News 24 viewers that the torches progress was being spoilt by people partaking in criminal behaviour and the protesters were violent. I would beg to differ. There was definitely no violence in any of the protests. If you view the footage of the protester who tried to grab the torch from Konnie Huq you will see he did not try to barge her over or push her to the ground, all he did was try to take the torch from her. I would agree that the protesters who set of the fire extinguisher were a bit misguided and shouldn't have taken that course of action but the protesters did not hurt anyone. The other protests we saw were merely people wanting to stand in the way of the torch. They were unceremoniously bundled, rugby tackled or thrown to the ground by several burly policeman. Standing in the way of something is not, in my opinion, criminal behaviour. In fact a senior Metropolitan Police officer stated that the thirty-five arrests were for 'minor public order offences'. Not exactly the violent protests that Mr Goodhew would have us believe. He may have in fairness said what he said in the heat of the moment, but as an ex-Olympic medalist I would have preferred him to think about the Tibetan peoples plight instead of sport for a change.

There was another thing that worried me (surprise, surprise from ranty boy). The 'Torch Attendants' that ran along with it along the route. Who are these people? We were told that they are the guardians of the torch, why then did they look like Chinese secret service men? What are we doing allowing that kind of security for a bloody torch. I can understand if Hu Jintao, the President of China, came to these shores that he might have a secret service present, but there is no need for it with a torch. They were not needed and just looked menacing.

Yesterday was important because it raised awareness of the Tibetan people cause. I hope the protests continue. I also hope that the Olympic Games are a success and that sportsman taking part will be aware that the people of Tibet are being oppressed. The Dalai Lama has stated that the games should go ahead and we should remember that. The protests recently are not about cancelling the games or calling for a boycott but rather about stopping China using the games as propaganda that they believe in peace and unity. The world should know about what is going on in Tibet and in the puppet regime in Burma and remember that whilst watching the games.

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