The Ghost of Watt Tyler

Watt Tyler was one of the leaders of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt. He was a slain by the King’s supporters after drinking a jug of beer “in a very rude and disgusting fashion before the King's face.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wilby strikes back.....

The Catholic Herald is trying to silence critics of the pope. They are urging their readers to harass the editor of the New Statesman, Peter Wilby, after he published a mildly unfavourable story about the dead pontiff’s views on condoms (which I refer to in my last post).

But Wilby is not taking it laying down. In the current NS he says:

To maintain the flow of debate, NS readers may wish to comment on John Paul II's newly elected successor, Joseph Ratzinger. Homosexuals - described by the former cardinal Ratzinger as an "intrinsic moral evil" - may have something to say. So may Anglicans ("not a proper church"), devotees of rock music (a "vehicle of anti-religion") and women who aspire to become priests (banned "to protect true doctrine"). Views should in the first instance be addressed directly to Benedict XVI at the Vatican. But if you can't get through, Mr Coppen on 020 7588 3101 would no doubt be happy to pass on your opinions.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Excuse me for being disrespectful but I’m not shedding any tears today. The pope was a reactionary fool. His opposition to the Iraq war in no way excuses his bigotry ( remember some Tories and fascists opposed it for there own reasons). This seems to have been forgotten by some of my comrades. The worst offenders have been the Guardian (although Terry Eagleton had a good comment article) and the Observer - but Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker could only describe him as contradictory. Look instead at this story by Michela Wrong in the New Statesman:

While Pope John Paul will certainly go down in history as the pontiff who recognised the importance of the Church's third world constituency, his papacy also deserves to be remembered as one that helped keep Africa disease-ridden, famished and disastrously underdeveloped.

And she continues:

When I think of the Vatican's record in Africa, I think of its failure to acknowledge what happened in Rwanda, where priests and nuns not only led the death squads to Tutsi refugees cowering in their churches, but provided the petrol to burn them alive, took part in the shootings and raped survivors. Rwanda was Africa's most devout Catholic nation, and the role the Church played in condoning and fostering the Hutu extremism that climaxed in genocide is as shameful as its collaboration with the Nazis.

Before adding:

Back in the early 1990s there was a moment when, had African leaderships started talking openly about condoms, safe sex and monogamy, they could have weathered the coming Aids storm. Instead - with the exception of Uganda - they opted for silence and denial, not only doing almost nothing to educate the public but actively opposing efforts to prevent HIV infection. In this, they were egged on by the Vatican.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Help the Labour left by not voting Labour…

The Guardian notes today that the bigger the Labour majority – and lets face it they are going to win – the more likely Blair and his chums in the Labour party will get their way and privatise vast chunks of the public sector.

Tony Blair startled everyone and enraged his chancellor, Gordon Brown, last autumn when he declared he would stay until well into a third term. He will only be able to control when he goes if he pulls off the extraordinary feat of a third landslide. That would embed his pro-choice public service reforms. It would also mean the revolution in the party was virtually irreversible.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A few early morning few thoughts on Gorgeous George….

Last night it was a joy to watch Galloway embarrass Margaret Hodge on Question Time. Not only did he shut her up mid rant by accusing her of libelling him but he scored a direct hit by reminding the audience of her left wing past. She was reduced to smiling inanely at the camera.

But when asked about the case of Terri Schiavo he made his opposition to the right to die plain insisting she was starved to death. This is no doubt his sincerely held personal position but he was representing Respect which as far as I know has no position on the matter, and most members would probably be favour of the right to die in certain clearly defined circumstances.

I know Respect is a collation and all parts of the collation are free to express there own views – but as I’ve already mentioned he was representing Respect. It does not bode well for the future.

Of course this is not the main thing about his performance which was in other respects spot on.