Sunday, 25 April 2010

MEA management - dimmer switch fitted as standard

Ever wondered how serious a publicly run agency with responsibility for energy supplies is on the Isle of Man?
On the evidence of a short encounter with one yesterday, the answer is ‘not very’. In fact, while I used to think 25 watt was just a rating on a light bulb I now think it is a warning that should be tattooed across the foreheads of MEA (Manx Electricity Authority) management.
While in Douglas yesterday we looked for something fairly simple – an energy efficient lightbulb to use in a lamp with a dimmer switch. And on Strand Street there’s a shop called ‘Bright Ideas’, supposedly the MEA advice point for those trying to do the right environmental thing around the home.
They didn’t have any. In fact, they didn’t have many low energy light bulbs or other energy-efficient devices at all, and neither do any of the local branches of the MEA, which is why we had to ask at this ‘specialist advice centre’ in the first place.
Their sole suggestions for stockists were a home improvement centre hated by environmentalists in an out of town retail park only reachable by car, and one private shop 15 miles further south from Douglas. As my wife said, the Manx government seriously expects that, in order to save the energy from one standard light bulb, people should make a private car round trip of up to sixty miles.

Harry Taylor, Harry Taylor, Taylor Taylor, Harry Harry

A while back I posted on Harry Taylor, a joker who taped religious cartoons from Private Eye on the walls of the ‘prayer room’ at John Lennon Airport.
Harry so upset the hyper-sensitive zombie worshipper who minds this slur on Lennon’s name that he ended up in court, on three charges of ‘causing religiously aggravated harassment.’ I think that might be ‘talking sense to spookchasers’ to the rest of us.
After just 15 minutes ‘deliberation’, a loaded jury (all swore on the Bible, so hardly tried by his peers as the law demands) found him guilty. And yesterday sentence was passed - or at least, some prat in a silly wig got malevolent.
Harry got a suspended six month prison sentence for two years, a five year ASBO, an order to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and £250 costs.
You can read a local report at to find out more.
Terry Sanderson, from the National Secular Society, was quick to explain why this misjudgement sends us back to the Stone Age and sets yet another dangerous precedent when he commented:
"The six month sentence may have been suspended, but it is still totally out of proportion for what Mr Taylor did. The professional 'offence takers' in religious communities will now feel that they have a strong weapon to use against anyone who is critical or disapproving of them. It is, in effect, a blasphemy law that covers all religions and is much more powerful than the one which was abolished two years ago."
But I’m also intrigued in the report that the judge:
“… imposed the Asbo, which bans Taylor from carrying religiously offensive material in a public place.”
Now, for one thing, if he’s saying Harry shouldn’t walk about with a Koran or a Bible that might be a relief. In fact, can we demand that Asbos are passed immediately on all the wild-eyed lunatics who, for example, tried to drown each other on Peel Beach at Easter?
For another, how does material from a magazine on open sale at one place in the airport miraculously become ‘offensive’ when it is read in a hang-out for the superstitious elsewhere in the building. That sounds barmier than transubstantiation.
And is this really a victory for the Deluded Herd, and their continued demands for the ‘right’ to a privileged existence which no-one else may mock or question? Do all religions have the right to express themselves in a public place anyway?
Tell you what, let’s test that fantasy.
Imagine a bunch of saffron robed, tambourine-bashing folk with funny haircuts turn up at John Lennon Airport and start dancing around singing the following catchy ditty:

Harry Taylor, Harry Taylor,
Taylor Taylor,
Harry, Harry.

Nope? Thought not!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

More government mugs on drugs

Ah well, even as the UK and Manx governments introduce a pointless ban on one ‘legal high’, the market has moved on (see, for example
For the benefit of public sector drones, I think you’ll find that’s called ‘market research’. Businesses in the real world do it all the time. What’s known in marketing as ‘SWOT analysis’ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Basic FE college stuff for business studies kiddies, but harder than rocket science, apparently, for bumbling public sector and ‘third sector’ parasites who live off the taxes of others.
There’s a really, really simple point here which the clueless anti-drug industry is missing. Drug dealers weren’t flogging legal highs, innovative and quite legal small businesses were.
The folk behind such initiatives are well used to thinking on their feet, for example to avoid being overtaxed or burdened with long term liabilities. They spot new trends and jump on while they’re rising, they jump off well before flat-footed government employees create obstacles or the market in last year’s novelty item collapses. These are not thugs sleeping with a sawn-off beside the bed to see off competitors; they’re embryonic Richard Bransons.
Which makes it all the funnier to see our local drug czars continuing to pimp the fundie product of Christofascist ‘family values’ cults (see under the pretence of ‘educating parents’.
Can I just make another simple observation on this?
In my entire experience of life - in numerous UK inner cities - I have never heard of a drug dealer brazen enough to claim his product offered life after death. And I have never heard of a junkie dumb enough to believe it.
Evangelical Christianity? Now THAT is a drug industry that needs some serious investigation if civil servants and small town politicians need a point to their lives. A scam run by the totally unscrupulous, patronised by the totally clueless.
And while we’re looking at ‘government mugs on drugs’, try for some views from the UK libertarian community.
Even wilder is , where I saw something I wouldn’t believe possible. A Texan Republican talking sense about drug issues.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Spreading the hate, or the Isle of Marmite

I think the Tourist Department is missing a trick.
On 29th March, Marmite unleashed a spoof election campaign featuring the Love Party and the Hate Party, running in tandem with what passes for a chance for Brits to choose their next oppressor, complete with smarmy party leaders, unlikely election promises and what have you. See for a brief idea, and for an example of one party line.
Now when I saw the latest Hate Party telly ad I could have sworn they were threatening, if victorious, to ban Marmite-lovers to Guernsey. Bit rough I thought, and anyway, the Isle of Man already has past form running internment camps where Mosleyites were treated as royalty, while black International Brigade veterans and Jewish refugees were treated like scum. We also have current form on locking up minority religion remand prisoners from the Asian and Indian subcontinents (before deporting them quietly without so much as a court hearing) and pretending asylum–seekers don’t exist, so why not us?
But as it happens, the Hate Party are only threatening to round up Marmite stocks, not Marmite-eaters. Even so, it seems to have stirred up Guernsey residents (see ).
Mind you, if the idea is to regard Marmite as a pollutant, even the combined ranks of Manx treehuggers and their greenwashing government and corporate sponsors cannot deny that the Isle of Man has pollution problems already. In fact, in less literate parts of the island, major pollutants actually get elected.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Gita Saghal in her own words

Further to the Gita Saghal story, a statement by Gita has appeared in a Standpoint article by Nick Cohen.
I assume Cohen picked it up from an agency, as I can’t imagine any reason why she’d give it exclusively to one journalist if she wanted genuinely interested people to know (rather than apologists for military action in the Middle East), and as it’s also appeared elsewhere I reprint in full below. For anyone who needs Cohen’s take on the issue in full, you can find it at .

She says:

“On Friday 9th April, 2010 Amnesty International announced my departure from the organization. The agreed statement said, ‘due to irreconcilable differences of view over policy between Gita Sahgal and Amnesty International regarding Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners, it has been agreed that Gita will leave Amnesty International.’
I was hired as the Head of the Gender Unit as the organization began to develop its Stop Violence Against Women campaign. I leave with great sadness as the campaign is closed. Thousands of activists of Amnesty International enthusiastically joined the campaign. Many hoped that it would induce respect for women’s human rights in every aspect of the work. Today, there is little ground for optimism.
The senior leadership of Amnesty International chose to answer the questions I posed about Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg by affirming their links with him. Now they have also confirmed that the views of Begg, his associates and his organisation Cageprisoners, do not trouble them. They have stated that the idea of jihad in self defence is not antithetical to human rights; and have explained that they meant only the specific form of violent jihad that Moazzam Begg and others in Cageprisoners assert is the individual obligation of every Muslim.
I thank the senior leadership for these admissions and for their further clarification that concerns around the legitimization of Begg were of very long standing and that there was strong opposition from Head of the Asia programme to a partnership with him. When disagreements are profound, it is best that disputes over matters of fact, are reduced.
Unfortunately, their stance has laid waste every achievement on women’s equality and made a mockery of the universality of rights. In fact, the leadership has effectively rejected a belief in universality as an essential basis for partnership.
I extend my sympathies to all who have fought long and hard within Amnesty International to match the movement’s principles with its actions. I know many of you have been bewildered by this dispute and others deeply shamed by what is being done in your name. You may have been told that that debate is not possible in the middle of a crisis. I agree that there is indeed a crisis and that the hardest questions are being posed by Amnesty International’s close human rights allies, particularly in areas where jihad supported by Begg’s associates, is being waged.
I am now free to offer my help as an external expert with an intimate knowledge of Amnesty International’s processes and policies. I can explain in public debates, both with the leadership and inside the Sections, that adherence to violent jihad even if it indeed rejects the killing of some civilians, is an integral part of a political philosophy that promotes the destruction of human rights generally and contravenes Amnesty International’s specific policies relating to systematic violence and discrimination, particularly against women and minorities.
During these last two months, human rights gains have been made to defend the torture standard and to shame governments who have been complicit in torture through their ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policies. But the spectre that arises through the continued promotion of Moazzam Begg as the perfect victim, is that Amnesty International is operating its own policies of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’
So I invite you to join me as I continue to campaign for public accountability at this moment, which comes but rarely in history, when a great organisation must ask: if it lies to itself, can it demand the truth of others? "

Gita Sahgal
Former Interim Head of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Unit, Amnesty International

For what it's worth, I don't see this as a reason for anyone to stop supporting Amnesty, and I certainly won't. It's simply another of hundreds of conversations people to whom Amnesty's work is important have with each other. Any member of a local group, or who's ever attended a national AGM and seen the staggering range of 'special interest' groups trying to thrash out some common line, knows that.
In my experience Amnesty is the only campaigning organisation of size with a membership crossing all manner of social groups and views which isn't solely led from the top by a professional clique whose first (or only) aim is to perpetuate a crisis long enough to get a career out of it. Most of the effective work, and decision-making, is taken at grassroots by ordinary members who often hold conflicting views yet agree a middle ground to get stuff done.
The only walkout in recent years I know of was the closing of all UK Amnesty local groups affiliated to Catholic schools or colleges. That was done on direct orders of the bishops, and ultimately the Vatican, because they couldn't bully Amnesty into taking a pro-life line which would have negated the rights of others (and women in general). It was opposed by almost all the individual members of those groups, who just found other local groups where religious bigots could not interfere.
The current issue, while unfortunate, is simply not on that scale, and not even irreversable given enough grassroots pressure, say at the next UK AGM.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Amnesty doesn't always do the right thing

Not long ago I blogged on the suspension of one of Amnesty International’s leading advisors on womens rights (see 'Amnesty, the Taliban and womens rights - getting the balance right') and mentioned a petition to get them to see sense.
Though the petition was signed by numerous academics and womens right activists from around the world, and taken up in the UK by groups like Women Against Fundamentalism and Southall Black Sisters, it hasn’t worked.
Gita Saghal and Amnesty have parted, and I suspect she was pushed rather than jumping. There’s a story on it at .
As some of the right wing drivel in the comments section shows, the worst UK victims of her departure will be those Amnesty needed to support most. Women around the world facing male violence, and nearer home especially lesbians, gays and abused women who might have been safe if only the UK’s racist mess of an asylum policy worked as it should.
I cannot believe Amnesty screwed up this badly. As it happens, I also don’t think the UK should have caved in to CIA thugs who snatch and torture UK citizens to fit racist myths used to perpetuate the US war industry. But a personal friend, currently writing a Ph.D. around whether Islamism is one of the new religious varieties of fascism (and also a hardcore anti-fascist rather than the wishy washy UAF variety) has convinced me we should be wary of Moazzam Begg and his Cageprisoners group.
Without doubt, serious Amnesty membership has problems. I’ve had my own - airy-fairy liberals who only want to back safe celebrity victims and think pointing out unpleasantness gives the general public ‘negative vibes’, faith organisations who tried to dictate local group policies at my old college or more recently.
You end up wondering if your limited time could be more profitably used elsewhere. Which is a shame, because even as you wonder some poor sod somewhere is having their fingernails pulled out or their relatives bumped off to shut them up, and then you worry some more that you might have stopped that.
I don’t know the answer either. But I’m mad at Amnesty’s kneejerk, play safe bureacrats for making me reconsider membership of the group I used to be proud my daughter first played a part in when, aged two, she drew a picture used for a greetings card sent to an Iranian trade unionist.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

(Morning) Service as normal with the temperance nazis

Having gone to bed far later than is good for an over-the-hill hellraiser I missed the first part of The Big Question on the Beeb this morning, and only had time to laugh at clueless faith junkies for 25 minutes.
The question I did catch concerned drinking and driving, or more exactly if people should be allowed to drink any alcohol at all and then drive a car. Such is the power of temperance nazis that Campbell had problems finding anyone brave enough to say responsible adults should be able to do so in moderation.
The two gents who did were a journalist from a car magazine (and not of the Clarksonian variety) and a libertarian whose name I didn’t catch - I think a Libertarian Party speaker but possibly Libertarian Alliance as they once expressed somewhat determined views in a press release on this topic.
The journalist, reasonably I thought, said a law which treated some serious inebriate who kills while driving his Jag at speed through a built up area and a responsible citizen who has a pint of mild with a family Sunday lunch in a country pub then drives home safely in exactly the same manner is (a) bonkers and (b) bad for business and leisure interests.
The libertarian said, in essence, that drink driving laws don’t work and we’d be better off encouraging a culture in which people take personal responsibility for their actions. He also pointed to the experience of Sweden, where the permitted alcohol level is far lower yet the figures for drink-driving deaths are far higher.
As I wasn’t in the room, I could then laugh my socks off as a broad cross-selection of fanatical halfwits tried to outscream each other. Two of the loudest were the Catholic Herald’s most notorious ex-editor and that black lady vicar from Hackney who Lambeth sends whenever Anglicans need to look all-inclusive on the telly.
Funny thing is, I suppose they were both on the panel to stop it looking like the senile godbotherers who cynics like me snigger at before they even open their mouths.
Earth to Nick Campbell – you’re not fooling anyone, son. Give up now.
More seriously, it did highlight the fact that the deluded herd are easily fooled by any old emotional tosh, not just that nominally concerning their imaginary mate, and that even those with expensive educations start screaming in dissent before, not even during or after, a contrary argument has been offered or the evidence has been heard.
Sad, isn’t it? But also another reason why I think it is right to highlight not only the freethinking but also the libertarian aspects of topics I raise, and to look at ways of doing so which draw from both traditions rather than slip unconsciously into the secular methodism which, in my view, holds us back.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Childcare handbook, fit only for morons and spookchasers

More depressing news of the Manx Kinderstasi posted last night at and .
Note in particular that:
"The Parenting Network is an interagency group made up from representatives from the Department of Education, Social Services, CAHMS, Alcohol Advisory Service, Health Service, The Children’s Centre, Mother’s Union and Care for the Family."
That’s probably all we need to know to be worried.
Fundamentalist nutjobs, Anglican busybodies who haven’t been near a child since the Blitz, Social Services where nobody except a couple of £100K parasites actually work directly for the government, a Department of Education which hasn’t been politically overseen by a graduate in a decade, ‘charities’ which create moral panics and pass off small town chunterings as ‘research’ to justify more public subsidy…….what more do you need to know this mob aren’t fit for purpose?
Along with a Childrens Bill which introduces high-handed police and legal tactics not seen since the Diplock Courts (Northern Irish court procedures during the Troubles - so extreme even apartheid-era South Africans looked on with envy - involving prosecutions without juries made on the basis of allegations by individuals who could not be identified or cross-examined) all decent Manx parents and their children are under attack from the State.
We are being told how to bring up our kids by dangerously deluded, superstitious numpties who no sane parent would even allow into the same room as a child. They keep tabs on our kids from birth, tittle-tattle amongst themselves in private, keeping their cretinous allegations in records we have no right to see but which can be used to put our kids in care, where they would have even less rights than they did before the State’s previous screw-ups led to a double murder in a secure unit run by faith-biased incompetents…..
Just how much more will it take before Manx parents tell these plonkers, very, very forcefully, just where to get off?

Mephedrone madness

Our misgovernors put out their latest twaddle on mephedrone recently at , though curiously it took until yesterday to make it onto local community news bulletins like Manxnet.
As a committed libertarian it goes without saying I ignore such nonsense on principle. I never take a blind bit of notice of any law concerning matters that responsible consenting adults should make their own minds up about.
Never have, never will. Period.
What annoys me more is the stupid, tabloid and drug czar career-driven panic around it. Yet again, in a Guardian piece by a former UK government drugs advisor yesterday (see ) it was pointed out that, contrary to the growing tabloid hysteria, nobody has died directly from Mephedrone use.
They have died from other health problems while taking it, or from the combined effects of drug and alcohol cocktails including it. As with Ecstasy, where people die of exhaustion or lack of water in a nightclub where the bottled variety costs more than a pint of bitter in one of those old-fashioned pub thingies (which the young no longer go to because they don’t exist or are full of geriatric Torygraph readers).
In other words, dumb, unhealthy people do dumb things and drop dead afterwards. Their choice. Sad, cruel, Darwinian even, but not my business, not your business and definitely not the state’s business. Another drone didn’t turn up for underpaid drudgework on Monday, another student failed to graduate and spend decades paying off a student loan working in a call centre.
And the government’s problem is…....... a written off investment?
Well it wasn’t their investment, or their choice, it was ours, and as far as I can see the only folk creating about it are (a) people with a career interest in a moral panic and (b) people who live off public money and never even tried to better themselves. Same thing really.
What makes it worse is that criminalising what was, previously, at least a substance available from high street retailers in relatively standardised form means it will, in future, be controlled by criminals. Who will cut it with any white powder or cheaply available illegal drug to hand and….. well, kill people.
In other words, as a result of government incompetence and careerist anti-drug specialists, kids who previously experimented with something dodgy to play the rebel without high risk now have to go to the criminal community. And if they’re offered something cheaper, but nastier, they will probably take it.
Wow, aren’t you glad the folk we pay to look out for our kids are so bright!
Actually, when it comes to the Chief Minister and his numbskull ‘drug task force’, I’ll be glad if they ever learn to walk without scraping their knuckles.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The weak-minded are a long time in Manx politics

It must be lonely for Allan Bell in the Council of Ministers. In fact, he probably finds it difficult enough being a Manx politician who can count to ten and spell his own name.
Most Manx readers will immediately know what I mean, but for everyone else, this ( ) is Allan Bell talking about the long overdue Civil Partnership Bill he pushed to a second reading last week.
And this ( ) is some turnip-munching throwback who, after causing international embarrassment as Education Minister, then failed as the minister responsible for traffic jams and is now (for some reason nobody except another turnip-muncher squatting in the Chief Minister’s office can fathom) being allowed to run the Health Service.
Yes, world, we really do have it this tough. We really do have politicians in charge of an entire Ministry of Transport who, elsewhere, couldn’t even get a job filling in potholes. And you think Uganda has problems!
For the record, as for some reason an insightful piece on the second reading of the Civil Partnership Bill by Adrian Darbyshire in the local press hasn’t made it to the IOM Newspapers website (Update – there now at ) , the voting was 19/3 in favour of the Bill. The three dullards who voted against were the aforementioned turnip-muncher plus John Houghton and Geoff Corkish, none of whom have a sparkling record on such matters.
It will be no surprise to anyone that they claimed to be protecting ‘family values’ and traditional Christianity. I think it might be nearer the truth to regard them as simple bigots who, unfortunately, got voted in because they stood in constituencies where literacy is so basic that many voters only communicate with the world verbally and probably don’t even know which name they put their X next to.
In passing, I also think it safe to say that even on the Isle of Man only two types of nominal Christian still oppose civil partnerships. One are outright bigots who hide behind faith. The other are sheep-like dullards who prefer to have mystical leaders tell them what to do rather than use faith as a means to think for themselves and explore the world.
Once you realise that the tactics used by seriously homophobic Christians (i.e. random Biblical quotes wrenched out of context instead of serious textual analysis followed by discussion with other serious, and fair minded, believers) are exactly those used a century ago to oppose mixed race marriage and half a century ago to oppose equality for women the rest is clear enough.
We should not waste further time on these chumps. But we should make sure they are no longer in any position to harm humanity.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Five questions for Easter TV

As those desperately flicking through the TV channels for wholesome holiday programming will have noticed, the Beeb is inflicting more than the usual holy madness on us this Easter.
One lowlight will be an ‘investigation’ of Christian ‘persecution’ in the UK by Nicky Campbell tomorrow night.
This is all kicked off by the recent extraordinary, and I would opine dishonest, whinings of George Carey, the last Archbishop of Canterbury to be directly appointed by a Prime Minister against Anglican wishes back in the days when Anglicans had some moral backbone, because Thatcher didn’t want an earnest herbert in a dick-shaped hat going on about poverty, injustice, striking miners and all that.
The Anglicans must have got the message, as ever since they’ve voluntarily appointed numpties who would so rather hang on to undemocratic privilege and public cash that Blair and Broon never need to slap them down. Sure, they make token grumbles about Iraq or Afghanistan, but have they ever refused MOD cash paid to Anglican chaplains or stopped the Church Commissioners investing in the arms trade?
Yeah, whatever…anyways….
It seems even the decent end of the Christian community are tired of Gormless George and his whines, judging from an item on Ekklesia by Jonathan Bartley entitled Five questions for assessing Nicky Campbell’s documentary on ‘persecution’ of UK Christians.
Bartley is the reasonable Christian who sometimes guests on Big Questions, Campbell’s Sunday morning BBC One religious discussion programme. They need one sometimes, as otherwise it would be a complete freak show, the televisual equivalent of seeing chimps tug their todgers at the zoo (or, for Manx readers, a normal morning in the House of Keys or Legislative Council).
After asking Campbell what’s planned, Bartley doubted the programme will be balanced, and worries in particular that the approach will be historical, while it should, as he puts it so eloquently: “address the context of post-Christendom – which is neither secularisation, nor post-Christian - but which is crucial to understanding what is going on.”
He mentions Ekklesia’s own work on the topic, which sounds much more worthy of serious analysis (even by godless heathen) and suggests five questions for viewers to consider while watching.
These are:

"1. Will the claims of ‘persecution’ be properly scrutinised? There has been so much misinformation about what local councils, hospitals, schools and other bodies have been doing/saying. The claims make great headlines, but upon further scrutiny – including talking to the bodies involved - the claims often have little substance. There are certainly disagreements, but they are often of a different nature to the way they are being presented. Will the documentary interview the public bodies involved and get the story from their perspective? (It is sometimes the case that the people involved in the bodies are themselves Christians).
2. Will there be a proper account of why some Christians feel marginalised? Specifically, will the context of post-Christendom be taken into account? The churches have had centuries of special privilege, with Christianity being a dominant narrative. Religion is relocating and finding a new place in society. This is making many Christians feel unsettled and making others fearful. This is being fuelled by many of the reports in the press and media.
3. Will the documentary scrutinise the work of pressure groups like the Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship, Christian Concern for our Nation and the Christian Institute, who have been feeding the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph with stories, sometimes with dire consequences? Will there be examination of their ideology and what is driving their efforts, which we have suggested involves a radicalisation as a response to post-Christendom? Will the links to what is going on in the US also be made?
4. Will the documentary look at mediation efforts to sort out the disputes? What has often been happening is that positions quickly become entrenched and there is little chance of amicable resolution following misunderstandings or mistakes. This is often because pressure groups get involved and raise the stakes, giving stories to the media. I know for a fact that the documentary makers spoke to a top QC who is not just an evangelical Christian, but one of the most experienced commercial mediators in the country.
5. Will the documentary primarily frame the debates as a simplistic conflict of rights, or accept that the situation is far more complex? Will it bring in different Christian perspectives which do not see this primarily as about one person trumping another?

Are Christians Being Persecuted? is on BBC One at 10.50pm on Easter Sunday, and Bartley’s Ekklesia piece is at for those who want to see the argument in full.

Where have all the loonies gone?

Walking down Strand Street, our capital’s main shopping area, yesterday I couldn’t help thinking something was missing.
Small town adolescents in no brand hoodies desperately trying to look menacing – check.
Chainsmoking wideloads in jogging pants being pulled by asthmatic Staffies – check.
Drunks arguing with their reflections in cheap bar windows – check.
Pensioners still looking for proper local shops that vanished before the 1990 ’redevelopment’ – check.
The rich – not there, but nobody with money shops locally anyway so that wasn’t it either.
No, couldn’t put my finger on it until I got home and found on the Radio Cowshed website.
Of course – swivel-eyed lunatics quoting the Bible and crossing themselves while walking past the Ann Summers window display –THAT’S what was missing!
Well, now we know where they were. We might even feel grateful to an apprentice of Uganda’s second best known son (after Idi Amin) for keeping his fellow Sentamunatics off the streets for at least an afternoon.
Curious, of course, that he chose St. John’s Church, next to the Tynwald Field, and not the Cathedral. Apart from being used once a year as part of the Tynwald Ceremony it remains empty - another national mausoleum maintained at public expense. Also, interestingly, it is not a clergy appointment under the control of the Bishop or Manx Diocese. In fact, a moderate vicar who used to run it as part of a trio of sleepy village parishes used the fact that his was a Royal Appointment to defy both when the Diocese was in particularly right wing hands.
It might be that any Manx Christian aware of the early ill-treatment and continued anti-semitism experienced by World War Two refugees would feel uneasy at a histrionic evangelical Easter marathon being held in the Cathedral in the midst of the Anne Frank exhibition. Probably not though; few study their own history and even fewer have social consciences – otherwise they’d also have felt guilty hosting the exhibition.
Or was this a sly way of trying to place Anglicanism at the heart of Manx life? If so, are we supposed to conclude that a three hour sobfest held smack bang in the local BNP heartland and only attended by slack-jawed yokels was also indicative of Manx culture? That would be so depressing it should necessitate a national day of repentance.
Also dismiss any claims which might be made in coming days that this was a national gathering of the Christian community.
For the record, at 12 noon I was at a gathering in Douglas which only began when folk who had been at church services around the town that morning arrived, including key members of the island’s ecumenical organisations. None of them went on to St. John’s, so whatever went on wasn’t regarded by Churches Together in Mann as a vital show of strength.

Friday, 2 April 2010

April Foolishness

I know yesterday was April Fools Day, but some of the joke items on the Manx government news were pushing it.
Take the press release (see ) on a ‘regeneration seminar’ which was, so we’re told, “organised to support the work being undertaken to enhance Island communities and stimulate fresh economic growth.”
I particularly enjoyed:
“Andrew Davison of English Heritage and Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage, shared their thoughts on heritage-led regeneration, while members of the Douglas and Ramsey Regeneration Committees delivered an overview of the projects they are currently progressing.”
Douglas Regeneration Committee – that would be the gang of self-interested developers desperately trying to stop Tesco expanding and, in the process, providing goods at prices comparable to the UK, as opposed to an automatic 25% mark-up and a lemon-sucking yokel telling you to take it or leave it (in the rare instance that they even had it in the first place). Ramsey Regeneration Committee - that’s half a dozen well meaning evangelicals with brooms and black plastic bags, and much as I like one or two of them as people that really should be a Degeneration Committee, as all we’ll have left soon is a collapsing pier with the ruins of a town attached if they don’t stop nostalgia tripping.
And as for Manx Heritage….. this would be the government quango which blocked an efficient traffic scheme in Peel (once the island’s most self-sufficient and friendly traditional community) in order to deliver punters direct to their overpriced heritage attraction, which nobody went to and which didn’t even employ locals. This would be the government quango now trying to pass off that total destruction of a town as an excuse to further publically subsidise the main ghetto of a dying (but still over-privileged) Christian denomination.
Peel, these days, is such a dump that, compared to the squabbling, evangelical flat-earthers, even the drug dealers seem like paragons of virtue who only want to run an honest business (see, for example ).
Then there’s the equally hysterical report which claims our feckless SS oberfuhrers impressed a British-Irish Council meeting with their tales of Third Sector enterprise (see if you dare, and collapse laughing).
In a depression, how can the Manx public pay a buffoon close to £150K per year to spout crap like:
“The Isle of Man found the turning point in the value of the joint work across BIC members was when jurisdictions showed not only their “flagship” projects but also those where participants were struggling to find solutions and sought experience and advice of international colleagues.
For example, when the Isle of Man facilitated a study visit focussing on partnership within the Third Sector and with Government, it led to a multi analysis of the critical factors required to develop such partnerships effectively and successfully. As well as gaining valuable lessons for the island’s benefit, it has been interesting to see the impression of the island from the large adjacent countries change as they have gained ideas from the innovations and partnership relationships we have developed with the Third Sector here. This is reflected in having more than our fair share, relative to our size, selected as good examples in the report.”
It’s also worrying that the junior political incompetent present says:
“We learnt (particularly from Scotland) of the potential of Third Sector organisation in business development, job and wealth creation and the expansion of enterprise. This has helped us adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to the development of commercial aspects of Third Sector Organisations and will help us to focus on supporting social enterprises.”
For those who don’t follow Garry Otton’s excellent Scottish Media Monitor (see links on right), it may be of interest to know that a few months back he dug up numerous cases of Scottish churches fiddling public grants, charity exemptions and misuse of planning permission. For example, letting out a development of luxury flats at humungous rents to wealthy young business types, but maintaining that the project (heavily subsidised through grants) was actually a charity providing reserved housing for church workers and not a business.
This even before we get to the increasingly obvious problems of the Scottish government cost-cutting by hiving off social work (youth, education, housing, foster care, etc. etc.) to homophobic, racist and sexist bigots, who then maintain they can’t act with the basic humanity expected of proper public servants because their invisible and imaginary friend wouldn’t like it.
The Isle of Man is fast turning into a community where things happen that would even embarrass Ugandans, so I have to suggest it is a mistake to further emulate Scottish policies born from a century of sectarian mistakes.