Just a quick note to congratulate Iraq war protester Brian Haw. According to capital news website Londonist, yesterday saw his 3,000th day of continuous protest against the invasion.
3,000 days ago today, Brian Haw left his Redditch, Worcestershire home and took off for London, where he parked himself across the road from the Houses of Parliament and began a one-man anti-war protest. It was June 2001, and Haw was protesting against British and American sanctions on Iraq; September 11th, the deployment of troops in Afghanistan, the Iraq invasion of 2003 and the global marches against it, the July 2005 bombings, all were mere glints in the eye of suicidal madmen or hubristic politicians. It’s difficult to overestimate how prophetic Haw’s protest was.
I for one salute his tenacity.
This week in the Guardian’s diary column Esther Addley is standing in for Hugh Muir, and she’s chosen a book of the week, True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation, by Chris Horrie and David Matthews.
Very unpleasant trends are emerging in two vignettes that paint Tory activists as racist and anti-Semitic. Who knew?
The first scene takes us to Richmond:
during the election campaign of 2005, when the book’s undercover authors were canvassing for the local Tory candidate against the Lib Dems’ Susan Kramer. Given a telephone cold-calling script, they were puzzled to find instructions to tell voters that Kramer was an “outsider” and, perplexingly, Hungarian (Kramer was born and raised in London). Why? “She’s a Jewess,” said a party activist, “but we aren’t allowed to say that. We get told off if we say that. So all we can say is that she got off the train from Hungary.”
And then in the London mayoral campaign, we have a charming anecdote:
[Ray] Lewis insisted he had a good idea of what the new job would involve, “which is more than you can say about Boris!”, before doing an impression of his new boss: “Crikey, Ray! What are we going to do? Gosh! Crumbs! Have you got any ideas? Golly!” Cue raucous hilarity, topped only when Lewis joked about a conversation about the local Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey, who was also present and, like Lewis, is black. “I’ve just been speaking to a lady and she asked: ‘Which one is Shaun and which one is Ray – it’s hard to tell you apart.’”
The book is available on Amazon – and if you use this link you’re helping raise funds for the Liberal Democrats: True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation. Perhaps a kind reader out there would care to buy a copy and review it for us in greater detail?
As the Guardian reports:
Damian Green, the Conservative frontbench immigration spokesman whose arrest during a Home Office leaks inquiry sparked a parliamentary storm, has won a four-month battle to have his DNA, fingerprint and police records destroyed.
The Metropolitan police told Green’s lawyers he is to be treated as “an exceptional case”. His DNA sample and fingerprints, taken when he was arrested, will be deleted within “a number of weeks”.
Meanwhile, for everyone else in Britain, different rules apply, despite a clear ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.
To Green’s credit, he does not want to be a special case: “I want every innocent person who has been arrested and whose records are being wrongly held to be treated the same as me.”
Last week I was up in Durham on a singing week in the Norman cathedral there. While I was there, I took the opportunity to meet with a group of local Lib Dem campaigners for the latest in our LDV interviews.
In Durham, they’re smarting from local government re-organisation; still proud of what Lib Dems achieved whilst running Durham city council; champing at the bit to build more social housing; and adamant the Lib Dems should not resile from their commitment to abolish tuition fees.
Hear all that and more by clicking play below (or here if you are reading this syndicated somewhere else). You can also download it for use with your MP3 player. Why not listen to the conference next time you’re out delivering leaflets? If you use iTunes you can search the podcast directory for Lib Dem Voice; for other podcast software, you can use this RSS feed of LDV’s audio content.