Owen Smith warns against mistaking Jeremy Corbyn’s mass movement for a mass movement

Today our political correspondent, Captain Kiddem, interviewed Owen Smith, about his chances in the Labour leadership election.  Here is the transcript of the Captain’s interview:


C.K.:  Mr Smith, how can you maintain that you are more electable than Jeremy Corbyn, when Mr Corbyn is attracting massive crowds to his rallies all around the country whereas at your own rallies, everyone seems to be on first name terms?  You must also acknowledge that under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, membership has soared to almost 600,000.  Isn’t that an indication of Mr Corbyn’s massive popularity?

O.S: “You mustn’t mistake mass rallies for a mass movement, or massive popularity for people wanting to vote for you.  That’s the old hic haec hoc fallacy.  Real popularity is when people don’t like you at all but still vote for you. ”

C.K.: “So what, in your view would constitute a mass movement?”

OS: “When I’m leader, there will be 12 million members in the Labour Party.”

C.K.: “That’s a twenty-fold increase. Isn’t that a bit unrealistic?”

OS: “Not at all.  In fact when I become Prime Minister, there will be 44 million Labour Party members.”

CK:  “That would be the entire electorate!”

OS: “Yes, that’s right.”

CK: “That sounds a bit like a one party state!”

OS: “Yes, I suppose so but when everybody is a member of my party and votes for me, there won’t really be any need for the other parties, will there?”

CK: “And will you change the title of Prime Minister to ‘Supreme Leader’?”

OS:  “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that but it’s not a bad idea!  It does have a certain ring to it!”


Notes for Angela’s Campaign

My name’s Angela  and I’m ever so ‘umble and working class. My mum was a seamstress.  Her name was “Little Nell”.  My dad was a printer.  His name was Uriah and he was ever so ‘umble too.  I’m a real working class Yorkshire lass and learned  how to say “There’s trouble at t’mill” and how to suck up to the bosses at an early age.  I was the first of my family to wear shoes and to go to University and get away from the riff raff.  I went to Oxford to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics but they made fun of me and bullied me because I am a strong gay woman.  That’s probably why they only gave me a second class degree.  Anyway, my mum was a seamstress and my dad was a printer.  Sorry did I say that already?

I became an MP in 1992, when the local favourite was excluded from the shortlist.  It’s disgusting that Jeremy bullied the NEC into not excluding him from the ballot for the leadership contest!   Jeremy’s a very nice man, but he’s not a leader.  I am because I’m my own woman and strong and did I mention gay?   I wish he would stop sending his followers out to bully me  just because I’m a strong woman and gay and I’m a leader and he’s not.  I cried when he made me resign by not resigning!

When Tony was leader, I was in the government and voted for all the stuff that Tony liked.  Poor Tony has been through the mill (or should I say through t’mill?) and people should stop bullying him just because he caused years of death and destruction in the Middle East.  Anyone can make a mistake!

Labour needs a strong woman like me as leader so that Labour can get back into government and show the working class that we know what’s best for them.  So, join the Labour Party and vote for me as leader because I’m a strong gay woman and my mum was a seamstress and my dad was a printer and I’m ever so working class and ‘umble  and did I mention gay?

Quantitative Easing for the People (apologies to Roddy Doyle)

– Yeh know this Quantive Easing for the people that yer man, Jeremy Corbyn is on about?
– Yeh, what about it?
– Well; we can’t just print money you know!
– No, we can’t but the treasury can, the banks can.
– Yeh, but that would cause inflation and then the price of everything would go up and the value of our savings would go down and that.
– You’ve got savings?
– Naw, but you know what I mean.
– Are you doing a degree in economics or wha?
– Don’t be daft. But I read the papers.
– You don’t believe the shite you read in the papers, do you?
– Nah, of course not. But still, you can’t just print money, can ya?
– What’s Quantive Easing then?
– I dunno, some kind of jiggery-pokery they do to balance the economy, I think.
– What would you say if I told you that Quantitative easing is just that – printing money?
– Wha?
– And then pumping it into the financial sector to keep the markets from collapsing and to protect the dividends of all those rich shareholders.
– Wha?
– And that £375 billion has already gone into Quantitive easing?
– I’d say, fuck that! Quantitive Easing for the people!

James Galway to be denied the Freedom of Belfast

Flute bandHundreds of well known flute players who learnt their trade in the flute bands of Northern Ireland have decried Sir James Galway’s recent remarks on the political situation in Northern Ireland and have signed a petition demanding that Belfast City Council refuse to Grant Sir James the honour of the “Freedom of the City of Belfast”. The Freedom of the City is one of the highest honours that the Council could bestow on a flute player, second only to the honour of being allowed to march through Ardoyne. The petitioners, who are flutists from some of the most prestigious orchestras of the world, including the LSO, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, are particularly upset at the implication of brainwashing made by Sir James.

Mr Bert Wilson, first flute for the well known Portsmouth Sinfonia and spokesperson for the petitioners, said,
“There was no brainwashing. Jimmy Galway is having a laugh. None of us, Jimmy included, would have went on to have the successful careers that we did without the training we got in the Loyalist flute bands – not that you need to know how to march in a symphony orchestra. But James Galway never could have got to the level of Annie’s Song without having had years of practice playing the Sloop John B. He should be grateful to the Loyalists of Ulster for training him up with Protestant values instead of running us down, the Lundy! I blame them Free State boys that he’s hanging out with now for brainwashing him with Republican ideas, the Chieftains I think you call them. I sincerely hope that Loyalists the world over will be deleting Annie’s Song off of their ipods. No Surrender!”

The work of the Portsmouth Sinfonia can be heard here: http://tinyurl.com/cmv4l6f

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ISIS deny links to ISLAM

I have received the following via the good offices of WickedLeaks. It appears to be a draft of a press release from ISIS.

“Press release from the Caliphate”

Following the gross misrepresentations in the Western press, the ISIS high command would like to make it clear that the Charlie Hebdo operation had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam but was solely a response to US foreign policy. The two fighters shouted “We have avenged the profit” NOT “We have avenged the Prophet (pbuh)”. ISIS is committed to ending United States interference in the middle-east and the protection of all middle-eastern citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs. ISIS is committed to equal opportunities and welcomes recruits from all faiths or no faith! LGBT also welcome! A commitment to defeating the Western imperialist Zionist dogs is the only prerequisite. Own weapons a bonus but not essential. Training given. GSOH not required. Come and join us and see what a friendly bunch we really are!

In order to promote inclusivity, we will be replacing our trade mark slogan of “Allahu akhbar” and invite entries to our New Slogan competition. The prize for the winning entry is seventy-two virgins.

It has also been suggested to us that we cease our practice of beheading infidels as a form of execution (as it may be seen as a “cruel and unusual” form of punishment) and switch to a more humane form like the electric chair or lethal injection as practised in the USA. However, beheadings are frequently practised by our mutual friends, the Saudis and the Americans have no objection to it so why the fuss?

Ireland experiences serious outbreak

Hand-wringingHospital ER departments in Ireland have recently encountered a huge increase in hand injuries caused by what medical experts have described as a major outbreak of hand-wringing. Leading hand surgeon, Richard Sullivan is not optimistic: “We’ve not seen the like of this since the Ryan report when we saw a high incidence of hand-wringing related injuries particularly amongst the clergy. I would go so far as to say that it is the fastest growing work related injury amongst men of the cloth and we could be looking at a major outbreak. We have identified bishops, priests and nuns as the high risk groups but it’s now affecting lay people as well.”

According to the well known social anthropologist, Gunter Schnell,  “Ireland has a long history of hand wringing, usually accompanied by cries of  ‘Ochone’  and  the ancient practice seems to be gaining in popularity, although these days it is more like to be accompanied by SMS messages and ‘Tweets’ of ‘O.M.G.'”.

Fr. Seamus Ó’Kee, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Tuam refused to comment on whether the outbreak had any connection with the recent revelations about the 796 infant bodies allegedly interred in a septic tank at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home run by the Bon Secours order of nuns. He also denied saying, “That would be an ecumenical matter” and went on to say that the best form of relief could be achieved by joining the hands together in prayer.  It is understood that a fund raising campaign has been instigated to raise funds for the  benefit of  sufferers of this debilitating ailment and contributions should be made via your local parish priest.

It is not clear at this stage, whether members of the Dáil Éireann and the Garda Síochána have been affected by hand-wringing injuries or whether they are under doctor’s orders to avoid such injuries by sitting on their hands.

The general public are advised that the only proven means of averting hand-wringing injuries is to keep the hands busy.  Among suggested activities are writing or emailing your T.D. or signing petitions about the issues that are likely to trigger hand-wringing episodes.  Studies show that sitting on your hands has no efficacy beyond the placebo effect and could in fact exacerbate the condition.    Contact with high risk groups is also to be avoided.

Land of Saints and Scholars?

One would imagine that news of a mass grave of 796 children, whose short lives and untimely deaths have gone unremarked upon for decades would warrant exhaustive media coverage and provoke widespread public outrage and calls for a full-scale public enquiry. Devil the bit! Despite the front page article in the Irish Mail on Sunday on 25th May, there seems to have been little media interest in this story in the last week.

The unmarked mass grave, located on the site of a former home for unmarried mothers, run by the Bon Secours order from 1925 until 1961, was previously thought to have been a graveyard for unbaptised babies or famine victims. In the course of her research into the home, local amateur historian and genealogist Catherine Corless discovered the death records of the 796 children. Whilst the Western Health Board could provide her with no information on the daily running of the place, evidence from death certificates shows that the causes of death included malnutrition, measles, convulsions, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia.

Apart from irishcentral.com, the little coverage that has emerged seems to be focused on the proposal to erect a plaque or memorial at the site of the grave (it was, in fact, a disused septic tank).  For examples, see here and here.

The remains of the 796 children, inmates of a former Bons Secours home for unmarried mothers between 1925 and 1961, were in fact discovered as long ago as 1975 according to this report by RTE, entitled “Campaign under way to commemorate babies at Tuam home”. The same report also mentions that, “It’s understood that a small financial donation has been made by the Bon Secours Sisters to help the community build a memorial”. I call this adding insult to injury

It’s a sad and telling indictment of Irish society when the response to this outrage is the desire to put up a plaque. I’m not suggesting that the supporters of this plaque do not feel compassion for the suffering of these children. However, that these unfortunate children were buried in unconsecrated ground would appear to be of more significance than the brutal realities of their brief lives. Such is the power of religious indoctrination. The circumstances of their burial (in an unused septic tank) speaks volumes about their perceived value in the eyes of those entrusted with the care of these children. They must have been viewed as sub-human, a distasteful, dispensable but nonetheless lucrative commodity.   The nuns were well remunerated for the care of these innocent unfortunates whose only sin was to be born out of wedlock.

In an RTE interview, Fr Fintan Monaghan, Secretary of Tuam Archdiocese says, “I suppose we can’t really judge the past from our point of view and from our lens but all we can do is to mark it appropriately and make sure that there is a suitable place here where people can come and remember the babies that died here”.   No, we can judge and we must judge and if a memorial plaque is all we can do, it should be a memorial to the death of compassion and common decency in Ireland.

We owe these children and the mothers who bore them much more than a plaque. We owe them a full scale independent public enquiry with extensive powers to subpoena witnesses, scrutinise records, to exhume and forensically examine remains and to freeze financial assets. The R.C. church should bear the financial cost of the enquiry as well as any compensation claims that might ensue. We owe it to these children, to their mothers, to the survivors of these institutions, to ourselves and to future generations to leave no stone unturned in our examination of these crimes against humanity. Questions need to be asked and answered. Why is this tragedy only coming to light now when the remains were discovered in 1975? Why is there virtually no coverage of it in the media? What of the other mother and baby homes? Are we going to wait for another mass grave to be discovered before we look into the records of other such institutions?

Donal O’Keefe in this article in thejournal.ie describes Ireland as a “country utterly corrupted by its own twisted version of Catholicism”. But it was the version of Catholicism inculcated into people from an early age by priests, nuns, bishops etc. – in short by the authorized and ordained representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church always has and still does come down very hard on any deviation from the party line. For example, liberation theology in south America was vehemently opposed by the Catholic hierarchy, who saw it as communism.

No, this was no “twisted version of Catholicism”. This was a culture that was the inevitable result of submission to a church that teaches that sex outside the prescribed parameters is sin, obedience to authority is a virtue and thinking for oneself is anathema. In this mindset it’s not a huge leap from believing that children born out of wedlock are the product of sin to the conclusion that they are the spawn of the devil. Moreover, clerical abuse of children is not a phenomenon unique to Ireland. A Google search for “clerical abuse of children” returned 10,400,000 results.

Please, let us have no illusions. The country was indeed corrupted but like sufferers of Stockholm syndrome did we not collude with our oppressors in our own corruption? And isn’t it time we stopped?