Tommy Robinson – EU Elections

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions or even speak about Tommy Robinson on my site until the results of the election came in. The more oxygen he is given the more he claimed he is being silenced but somehow we all got to know what was happening with him over the past few weeks.

Milkshakes placed to one side for a moment I wanted to comment on his campaigning. He made many claims and counter claims which usually turned out to be false. He started his campaign not surprisingly asking for donations for a bus. In a video laughing like a demented hyena he claimed, “I just know the the reaction when this (the bus) rocks up in your city centres … I’m going to tell you about what’s going on in your cities … I am going to tell about what’s happening in your cities I am going to tell you about the corruption in your cities … I am going to name shame show people up with this new weapon.”

Tommy then goes on to explain that one donor has already given ten thousand pounds towards buying the vehicle and another that had donate half this amount. He explains that he wants to create ‘The Tommy Robinson Show’ where he will interview guests in this ‘mobile TV studio’ and people will be able to watch this from the outside on a large screen attached to the side of the bus.

We didn’t see this bus unfortunately throughout his campaign we saw a hired van with a screen on it but there was no sign of his bus. I might be wrong and unlike his supporters I don’t mind accepting if I got the information wrong. In this clip below we see the sheer bravado and arrogance of the man. ‘I am going to be your MEP’ as he bounces up and down like a petulant child. If you notice his body language he blocks the man who says ‘That’s not going to happy Stephen’ by turning his back towards him therefore unofficially cutting off his communication with the man he obviously doesn’t want to listen to or accept what he is saying.

Out of a possible 7.2m people who had voting right in the north west Tommy Robinson got a laughable 38k. After all the campaigning and complaining that he has been ‘deplatformed’ (in other words removed from three social media platforms). He is still on youtube but not able to make any money out of it and still has access to his website and emails sending out to people beginning for money.

The overall message that Tommy tried to bring to the north west was widely and rightly rejected. There is no place in any normal functioning democracy. We could even say that his sort of ideology has ‘no place in western society or culture’ a phrase he has used numerous times to claim about Islam.

People now should think long and hard about parting with their money to fund the politics of hatred.

 

Durham Pride – thoughts

Last year I wrote about Newcastle Pride and how I didn’t think it was my cup of tea. I returned to another Pride march this and this one took place in the City I was born – Durham. 

The pile of sick I stepped over in front of a Champagne bar in Durham might have been a foreboding to what I was going to experience throughout the day. I had travelled from my home into Durham city and made my way down to ‘The Sands’ which is a field next to the river Wear.

Durham Pride is in its infancy and we must take that into consideration. The fact that it was founded in 2014 and only has been running for 5 years makes us realise that this event does have a few problems and stuff that needs, in my opinion, ironing out.

I arrived about 2.30pm an hour and half after it officially opened to see some stall holders already starting to pack up. The event itself is only running for half a day from 1-6pm at The Sands. I thought it was a bit mean of those people who had decided to put their stall out to start dismantling things not even half way through the afternoon.

It was good to see organisations like Police, NHS and Samaritans get involved in promoting their cause and even local bus services had brought a vehicle designed in a LGBT theme celebrating pride.

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The music was okay I am not a huge fan of every song being the dance version of every hit you have ever heard. The queue for the bar was about ten minutes long and overall the prices where reasonable for this sort of event. The only thing that I thought was a bit steep was the price of a full bottle of wine at £18. Strangely I didn’t witness anyone take up this offer and people mainly stuck to pints or shots with a mixer.

At around 5pm people were leaving in droves and it was only when I was walking back to catch a bus home did I catch the headlining act (albeit via facebook live) of Sonique. They had decided to put her on about 5.50pm when the majority of the people had gone home.

I think overall people were happy with the event. It’s manly attended by the 16-30 crowd which is great if you are that age, but someone who is knocking on the door of middle age and reluctant to go inside, it does make me feel that once you have passed the milestone of thirty in gay terms you are in retirement.

There was nothing I could see for people past thirty we all aren’t interesting in drag queens and repeating infinitum the mantra that we are ‘having a good time’ at the host requests.

This for me is where Pride events fall down. The ageist opinions of not just the attendees but the mindset that people in organisation make invisible those who have experienced the 80s and 90s and have the grey hair to prove our non-existent status in LGBT world.

Good points – young people ready to embrace their sexuality and others willing to support them

Bad points – 15 toilets for 25 thousand. Not enough variety of food. Stalls packing up way before the end.

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Milkshakes – Farage and the far-right

Tomorrow people will vote in European Elections something we shouldn’t have been a part of due to the UK supposedly leaving the European Union. 

In the previous few weeks of campaigning we have seen high profile incidents where MEP candidates have had milkshakes thrown at them. Some have seen as a childish pranks and others have classified it as ‘domestic terrorism’. What ever your views on this doesn’t take away the real issue people should be talking about. Why are they people being covered in fast food drinks?

Far-right commentators are quick to blame ‘militant far-left agitators’ and see it as a divisional argument where two sides of a political debate are waring for attention and support. This divisive tactic for me makes people believe that there are competing enemies ready to defend their beliefs and use varying methods of protest. I think there is a simpler point that’s being made.

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People are utterly fed up of hearing hatred and vilification of various communities and minorities. Conspiracy theories are now so engrained in some that they have become part and parcel of everyday life. In a blog post last year I wrote about how the conspiracy theory is the new religion. We have accepted revisionist history lessons as if they were fact. Happy to embrace far-right tropes such as ‘Islam isn’t a race therefore it’s not racist to criticise it’ (or demonise an entire religion).

As I explained about confirmation bias we look for possible information to back up our own beliefs without actually thinking rationally about a situation or event. We are constantly on the search for material that panders to our own fears and prejudices. For example, say I am afraid of spiders I see a story about a man who was hospitalised due to a bite from a spider on holiday and we confirm in our minds the reasons that we hate spiders, and don’t read the rest of the story that explains the man was hospitalised due to the wound being infected, rather than the actual spider bite. The danger doesn’t come from the spider but the infection that is caused and could have happened in any other way in which skin is broken and allowed germs breed and spread.

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I try to look at a situation rationally and objectively. See the reasons behind someone’s actions. I don’t follow any religions and dismiss conspiracies and theories not facts. The recent increase in measles is without a doubt down to parents listening to lies that vaccines cause autism. They don’t. There is no proof just one discredited medic with an opinion.

These theories that can spread quickly over social media and they become irrational when parents are willing to endanger their own children but not getting them vaccinated against deadly but treatable diseases. Rational thought is dismissed and science thrown away. If make this rational statement on social media I can guarantee within a few minutes I will have someone popping up on my timeline to argue the case that the ‘conspiracy’ is true and vaccines are bad for the world.

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For me Farage is the arse-end of politics. He has used the theory of leaving the EU as a basis of political debate and whether you agree with him or not, it is clear the far-right xenophobes have latched on to believing that if the UK does eventually leave then the freedom of people to come in to the country will some how be immediately stopped – it won’t.

I know all those who voted to leave the EU aren’t racist but all the racists voted to leave.

Brian Harvey – East 17

Brian Harvey was extremely famous in the 1990s he had a string of hits with a band called East 17. Then after one interview the dream he was living all came crashing down.

Over the years I have followed Brian Harvey’s story. In the 90s I loved their music and bought a couple of their albums. It was just throwaway pop music that didn’t have too much meaning and shouldn’t be taken too serious or literally. In the last decade though, Harvey’s life in my opinion spiralled out of control. There was no solo career and the vain attempts at restarting the original line-up of the band fell at the first hurdle as they couldn’t even rehearse together without arguing or eventually turning into a punch up.

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It was Brian and other band members lack of disciple (by turning up to crucial meetings an hour late) that cause the tensions in the band. These men weren’t boys any longer and people don’t put up with bad behaviour when you are trying to restart a career. No excuses you get yourself there on time just as you would for interview for a job.

In the latest chapter Harvey was ranting online about his problems and threatening self-harm. This isn’t a second hand interpretation but a sad reflection on a video that is still posted to his YouTube site.

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In my opinion he is suffering from a persecution complex the idea that there is a shady underworld out their calculating and plotting to bring him down. There is no doubt in the last decade we have see terrible practices of the now defunct News of the World and their appalling phone hacking scandal that eventually forced its owner to close the newspaper down.

Harvey still believes there are people out there plotting to bring him down because of his knowledge of the phone hacking scandal. He describes in a video that his ex-manager had him sacked in the 90s and deliberately targeted Harvey because of the things he knew about Tom Watkins. In fact it was Harvey’s reluctance to continue churning out pop music for teenage girls and his desire to be a credible R&B singer that made people realise they had enough.

At the time I remember there was an anti-ecstasy campaign aimed for teenagers because of the death of school girl Leah Betts who had died after taking an E. It seemed strange now before social media but it was a radio interview Harvey gave that said it was okay to do E as he had in one night and driven home that caused outcry and his immediate dismissal from the band. The public might not have taken their music too seriously but Harvey’s words meant a lot especially if they were listened to by impressionable young teenagers.

Harvey’s apology and retraction did nothing to quell the anger and his fate was sealed. It is now he’s claiming he is all part of a conspiracy and others too as well as a manager are out to silence him.

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I think there are loads of changes he could make to stop the cycle of persecution complex but then I am not a trained psychologist. Harvey wouldn’t make any money from the youtube videos as they aren’t receiving enough views to generate the revenue he claims he is relying (one assumes) on Employment support allowance as he has will have declared himself unfit for work. I only know this sort of side of things as I spent a year claiming this after my mother passed away.

Whatever your opinion of Brian Harvey I am sure that we can agree that he shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘some nutcase’ but genuinely needs help and a powerful intervention. He should find another focus in life that brings him joy not something that continually contributes to his low self-esteem and poor mental health.

People should remember the name ‘Jack Renshaw’

This is one hideous character I think you should remember and this post will explain why I think you need to remember the name Jack Renshaw. 

After the New Zealand Mosque there was a concerted effort not to mention the right-wing terrorist by his name thus giving him no power or status in the light of the terrible attack carried out.

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The crimes for which Jack Renshaw has been convicted of were of stirring up racial hatred against Jews calling for the mass genocide of the people. For this crime he had been sentenced to three years in prison. It is alleged that Renshaw had been part of a group, National Action, that had been banned in 2016 as they spread ‘anti-semitic, homophobic and racist’ views.

I remember seeing him on an advert for the BNP in 2014 when they were campaigning votes in elections. I have written before about the dangers of far-right groups and how they have had people trying to justify their vile views on social media and in 2016 said that I was despondent that people still don’t realise how radicalisation of young minds whether it be for ISIS or far-right groups can lead to serious violence.

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You should remember the name Jack Renshaw as he is an example of how hatred can turn into something extremely serious and sinister. Renshaw believed that he would be justified in killing a local MP in the same manner of Jo Cox the MP who was brutally murder by the far-right activist, Thomas Mair in 2016.

Renshaw planned to even be killed by the police if necessary if they surrounded him at the time. All of these threats were real as he had been previously convicted of grooming two teenage boys. His internet history had show he had made searches for gay porn and stated that he wasn’t gay but a heterosexual virgin who didn’t believe in sex before marriage.

Whatever Renshaw’s sexuality we do know that he’s been convicted of grooming children for sex. His warped ideology sent him down an extremely dangerous path and for his confession of planning to kill a MP and the policewoman who had investigated him for these crimes his sentencing will take place in May 2019 at the Old Bailey.

Renshaw is the example of a dangerous mind warped by conspiracy’s and lies. His hatred for certain religious groups is abominable. In my opinion he should be made to go through a de-radicalisation programme just as those who are convicted of carrying out terrorists attacks in the name of ISIS and other hate-filled groups.

Vigil for the victims of New Zealand attack

Sometimes you feel helpless when bad things happen thousands of miles away. I felt I needed to show solidarity with those who are suffering.

In the days after the Christchurch killings I felt utterly helpless. In the past when I have seen such suffering I have been able to help by sending to money to those who need it. This time is different as how can you let people know that these people are not alone and we won’t sit silently allowing such hate and evil go unnoticed.

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I follow a north east group which protests against racism and those who chose to stir up hatred within the entire country. They felt it was necessary to hold a vigil for the people who have survived the massacre in New Zealand.

It was amazing to see so many gather in St Nicolas’s Cathedral, Newcastle. It isn’t surprising but very sad at the same time that we have witnesses the rise of hate-related incidents in this country and it parts of the world. People’s inability to leave in a harmonious way has led us into some terrible times.

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The rise in social media and people sharing unsavoury views about certain groups has led some in our society to have views which I think are plainly warped. Their views about the Muslim community has been distorted by those who have played a dangerous divisive game for years. Spreading lies and mistruths for their own agenda.

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Thank goodness now the social media companies have started to crack down on those who spread hate. The main ones have put the brakes on those who spread hatred. They have decried their so-called action as attempt to ‘silence’ and ‘censor’ them. This only plays into the hands of the supporters as it gets them angry even though there are thousands of other ways in which hatred can be spread throughout the world.

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The evening was a peaceful reflection where there were members representing a number of faiths, including those from the Jewish and Roma communities, came together as one. As someone with no faith I still strongly believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with those in a minority who had suffered in such a way.

Dipu Ahad is a Labour councillor in Newcastle and was the person who introduced some people to speak about the attack in New Zealand. It was heart-warming to hear of the generosity of those who had reached out to the community on the other side of the world. As I said at the beginning of this post I certainly felt helpless at being unable to share my sympathies with those who were hurting but after this evenings vigil I felt I was able to give my support to the victims of hate and violence.

New Zealand Mosque Attack

My heartfelt sympathies go out to the friends and family of this despicable crime. New Zealand and other decent countries deserve better than this awful tragedy. 

I watched carefully the response of people from all side of the political spectrum. It was incredible to see the wonderful response of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden.

These sort of crimes could happen anywhere in the world. The fact that it happened in New Zealand was appalling as they had been immune to terrorism on the scale that has been seen other countries around the world.

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The different between other terrorist attacks was that it was carried out by a white supremacist someone who believed that his race is better than others and those people who were killed somehow deserved it.

Like others who have murdered in the name of an ideology the terrorist had to be radicalised a word that is often used to describe the process of someone turning from a normal human being into a cold mass murdering killer. I wrote a blog post in 2017 about how people become radicalised into becoming terrorists and it is often a long process that has taken place over time where people will look for answers to complex problems.

People will want to know the reason why the terrorist did what did and why he thought carrying out such an atrocity was the right thing to do. He will try to promote his cause in court and claim his a soldier in some sort of war. We often put ourselves in the position of the person carrying out the crime and wonder how and why they could carry out something so despicable.

These sort of actions don’t happen over night they aren drip-fed through media, television and news outlets that often portray immigrant communities in a negative light. We know there are bad people in all races not all are perfect we all have problems to contend with whether it is illegal drug trades, knife crime or domestic violence. Each community has its own share of problems.

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Just as the Islamic community now is being blamed for terrorist groups like Isis people believe in conspiracy theories repeating by far right agitators like Tommy Robinson. These sort of conspiracies are extremely dangerous. At the turn of the 20th century there was a publication printed called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it was the ideas that somehow the Jewish people should be regarded with suspicion as they were seen as some sort of threat to world order and that they were the ones who wanted to over all control and domination.

The same lies is being spread by those on the far-right and those who choose to demonise all immigrants as bad people. This is how people like the terrorist become radicalised in the first place.

I always like to think I am a free-thinker. I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god but I do believe religion and political ideologies can have a strong influence on someones beliefs, and actions. Sometimes those actions have catastrophic consequences.

I want a life with compassion, hope, love, justice and hopefully peace.

 

 

Mum – Mothering Sunday 19

When someone dies people are on an edge mentioning the person who has passed just incase you might upset the person. It’s a natural response because you don’t want to feel you have upset them.

The month of March is a difficult one for me in the middle is mum’s birthday and around a week or so later is mothers day. It used to be a time when I would cook food or take mum out for the day and we would spend happy times with each other.

Now she is no longer around I try to spend these days thinking about the good times especially the last ten years of her life when we were particularly close.

It is 25 years in July since my father died and when I eventually met up with some friends on a summer camp a couple of weeks later I could tell people were a little nervous around me. I told people then and tell people now I don’t mind talking about what happened and I don’t mind being asked questions. I might get a little upset but that not because you asked the question or I was offended just a little pain recalling information and sad thoughts. We tend as human beings to limit our pain whether it’s numbing it with alcohol, drugs illegal or otherwise to reduce the hurt. Slowly coming to terms with this loss is all part of the grieving process and allowing ourselves to get emotional.

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The people I say that we should watch out for that don’t show their emotion and I mean those who say that they aren’t upset or hurting inside. Bottling up emotions is dangerous for health both mental and physical. It will eat away at you for a long time and eventually you will reach a point when you might not able to handle that emotion in a safe and stable manner.

Girls and women in general are much better at accessing emotions as they talk to each other about them and process them in a more manageable way. Blokes on the other hand are crap with their emotions unable to talk your way out responses become violent and the person on the receiving end becomes a victim.

So we have another mothers day which I won’t ignore I won’t go overboard and build a shrine either but I will have moments when I can remember the good times I had and that’s what I have to take with me.

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Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!