my post on that topic has had some Twitter action over the weekend. Read it here, or read Patrick Hayes saying some related things here. The decision was preceded by a whole raft of Budget decisions designed to shift more wealth from the working and out of work poor to the very rich, more proof that this Coalition government has declared class war.
The IFS have analysed the likely impact and found that people within "safe" limits will pay "£40 and £71 extra per year for their alcohol if they buy their drink from supermarkets and off-licences" and that this figure holds whether you're rich (and won't notice it) or poor (and will). Another finding is that "The policy could also lead to substantial transfers of revenue to the alcohol industry." Of course, the drinks industry does not donate money to the Tories. On the other hand, as Carl points out, it will also benefit community pubs, which are closing at a scary rate, which is probably true, but not a big enough benefit to offset the offensiveness.
Talking of Patrick Hayes, I think Sarah supplied my favourite-est ever comment ever on my cheap booze post, asking if someone had Spiked my drink.With that in mind, I enjoyed this post by Ophelia Benson on Brendan O'Neil on gay marriage. Best bit:
And Brendan O’Neill, who is a coal miner from the very rudest part of Glasgow, knows this because coal miners have a Deep Instinctual Knowledge of elite-formation and cultural signifiers, which they adeptly turn into think-pieces for scrofulous little outlets like Spiked.Londonism/KenWatch
London elections coming in May - the first major elections since Cameron took the reigns - should be an opportunity for the capital to pass judgement on the vile Coalition government. Instead, the media, parties and candidates are doing their best to ensure the election is all about personalities, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to stomach giving my vote to Ken Livingstone. Here's some reading on that: Andrew Gilligan on Ken's Islamophilia; A letter from Jewish Labour supporters; Jonathan Freedland says I've backed Ken Livingstone for mayor before, but this time I just can't do it; Atul Hatwal on Livingstone's crumbling Labour flank; Dan Rickman is Ken's last Jewish supporter; Jim on Ken's criminal communalism and oppurtunism.
About the best case for voting Ken I've come across (and it's a damning one) is from Jim Denham:
Two bottom lines: vote Labour. And expel Livingstone from the Party.
If poor Eric Joyce can be expelled simply for getting pissed and punching a few Tories, then surely Livingstone’s blatant antisemitism should be sufficient to get him booted out.
I’ve campaigned and voted for candidates as bad as Livingstone before: Liam Byrne for one. Voting Labour is a class duty, not a petty bourgeois choice. But that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate whatever the Party machine serves up. Miliband’s defence of the racist Livingstone is disgraceful. Livingstone must be expelled.
But until he is, we must reluctantly vote for him, as the official Labour candidate.Anyone got any better reason?
Faith and reason, tolerance and terror
excellent post about this, written on the occasion of the wonderful Peter Tatchell's receipt of the Secularist of the Year award. Relevant reading: Anne Marie Waters on middle clas feminists and Sharia law, Rupert Sutton on faith-based homophobes on campus. In my last post, I already mentioned Sunder's excellent review of DV8's Can We Talk About This? (more reviews here), but read it now if you didn't then.
Nick Cohen's piece above, Ophelia Benson says "That guy on the scooter in Toulouse? I’m betting he’s not a reader of Richard Dawkins." She wrote that before we knew who the shooter was, and I guess she was proved right. A lot of nothingness has been said about the shootings by a lot of people, including those (like me) who sprung to the conclusion that the shooter must be a white racist, as well as those who have spoken since the perpetrator was identified. I have to confess that part of me was hoping the shooter would be a white racist. We don't need any more provocation for anti-Muslim racism, I thought. I'm ashamed of that reflex now.
Jim Denham and Nick Cohen said sensible things about this. Read them. Here's the key bit from Jim's post:
But we on the left – and, especially, that section of the left that was inclined to put the killings down to the “political context” – now have some explaining to do. As the simplistic "It is no coincidence that Sarkozy’s racism has been followed by one of the worst racist attacks in France in a generation” explanation has been blown out of the water, we are now obliged to offer our more considered analysis and explanation, in the light of what we now know.
I am not the first to note that when a terrorist is a white neo-Nazi, the liberal-left will focus on his ideology, beliefs and any evidence of a supportive mainstream discourse. However if a terrorist is an Islamist, the same people focus exclusively on his grievances and deprivations. Here’s a particularly crass example, all the more unpleasant because it doesn’t even mention antisemitism as a factor in the equation. Note, also, that the (non) ”explanation” given in this dreadful little piece of hackery and insult-to-the-intelligence, could have been wheeled out just as well, had the perpetrator been a member of the white far-right.
The problem with much of the “left”, when it comes to Islamist terrorism, is that they (the “left”) deny any autonomy to the perpetrators. Unlike white far-right terrorists, Islamists are not (it would seem) thinking individuals, autonomous actors, motivated by any coherent ideology. They’re merely victims who react to external forces – racism, “islamophobia,” alienation, poverty, imperialism, etc, etc. The “left” (or at least, a large part of it) effectively infantilises these people, denying them even the perverse dignity of being responsible for their own actions, and of having their own internally coherent political agenda. And that is, ultimately, a form of racism in itself.The bottom line is that Islamism is one of the most, probably the most, pernicious ideologies in existence today, and combating it, by any means necessary, is surely one of the most, possibly the most, urgent task we face.
This remains true, even if we can - and must - qualify this in several ways. As Ed Husain and Rabbi David Meyer have eloquently noted, we must not let Toulouse intensify Muslim/Jewish antagonism. And we mustn't take our eyes of the threat posed by violent anti-Muslim bogotry. In Sunder's review of Can We Talk About This? he mentioned "the central importance of the symbiotic relationship between Islamist and populist far right extremism, each giving its purported enemy the recruiting poster slogans to demonstrate the conspiracy that they must fight, furthering their mutually beneficial mission of polarizing the public debate into a foundational clash of civilizations." And it is also worth noting (as Jim does) that Islamism is a form of far right politics too. But still...
I guess this topic is relevant to the previous three. A recent ADL poll suggests the extent of antisemitism in the UK, and its recent growth, with dual loyalty accusations and the alleged connection to finance capital among the themes. Along with the "avenging Palestine" motivation of Mohamed Merah and any number of examples from the most recent CST incident report, it is clear that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are close relatives, one often serving as the alibi or the vehicle or the vector of spread for the other.
Lots of interesting material on Contested Terrain at the moment, including the stuff you might miss in the top right, such as Lipstadt on Eichmann’s Antisemitism and Arendt and Claude Lanzmann interview in The Guardian, as well as the material from Shift. Here's a prescient anticipation of the Occupy movement, from my comrade SL at his new unpronounceable blog. And IWCA on deglobalisation.
Image credits: Dirt cheep beer from Cooking Lager; Ken Livingstone and al-Qaradawi from Andrew Gilligan; Faith and Reason from Haunted Timber; People march through the streets of Paris on March 19 after the Ozar Hatorah Hebrew school shooting, from MSNBC..