Wednesday, 30 April 2008

My weekend

As I've mentioned already, I stayed in Westminster on Friday for Private Members Bill debates, but headed off to Bristol late-ish Friday evening, for two events on Saturday.

The first was great - a rally organised by the Bristol Zimbabwe Association, which included a march around Colston Parade, lots of singing and dancing (though not by me) and some very cute kids. The event was organised by Forward Maisokwadzo, chair of the BZA, (what a great name for a campaigner - Forward with Forward!). I was particularly pleased to see a couple of constituents who I'd met at a recent surgery; they'd fled Zimbabwe because of their involvement with the opposition MDC and told me they'd just got leave to remain, which was great news.

Next on the itinerary was a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign conference, at which I was a speaker, along with Ilan Pappe, a Jewish (but pro-Palestinian) academic. Profoundly depressing. Life is too short to re-run all the arguments here, but basically most of the audience seemed to be saying that the only solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is to overthrow international capitalism and defeat global imperialism. Which of course is obvious, and we should have thought of it before, and now that we know we can start the ball rolling immediately and sort everything out in a matter of months, if not weeks. Plus lots of predictable Government bashing and a wilful refusal to acknowledge that any Labour MPs might actually agree with them. Just to give one example - after the two speeches, and a whole series of questions, one member of the audience demanded to know, quite aggressively, whether we supported a Palestinian state, and if not, why not? He'd obviously not been listening to a word either of us had said (I'd been talking about a two state solution, the road map, 1967 borders, the illegality of the Israeli wall and settlements) or, more probably, was determined to see us as 'the enemy' and didn't want to hear anything which might have confounded his expectations. I tried suggesting that it might be better if we discussed ways forward, that it might be worth trying to work with sympathetic politicians rather than waiting for the revolution, but was just met with more heckling.

The best bit though (and I don't mean best at all, of course) was when I was taken to task for having supported the anti-Mugabe Zimbabwe rally earlier. Apparently what is happening in Zimbabwe is all down to British imperialism and we are denying African people their democratic right to be governed by the leader of their choice, i.e. Mugabe. I kid you not. (This was on the very day when it was announced that Mugabe's attempts to rig the election recount had failed).

The same guy had also been handing out pro-Mugabe leaflets at the Zimbabwe rally. I was with my constituents at the time, the ones who'd fled Mugabe's regime and had just had their asylum claim accepted. And they were being told by a white middle-class CPGB member that he was fighting British imperialism on behalf of the Zimbabwean people.... Words fail me.

All in a day's work of course. And then my car broke down on the motorway and after a long saga involving three different AA vehicles, an AA relay driver who insisted he had to take a 45 minute break (yes, I know, I support the working time directive, but not at that precise moment), and lots of time spent sitting on the hard shoulder and at two different service stations, I eventually arrived at my friend's 40th birthday party in St Albans gone midnight, only to find that what was supposed to be a salsa/Latin/ swing evening had been hijacked by someone called DJ Brian who was playing Lionel Ritchie's "Dancing on the Ceiling". He then played Bryan Adams. The day could, however, have been worse. At least I missed Shania Twain.


Anonymous said...

As a service to your readers - and being something of a connoisseur on these matters - I think it needs to be pointed out that the CPGB you refer to is the CPGB (Marxist-Leninist) who do indeed take this deranged position on Zimbabwe.

This is as opposed to the slightly larger (and arguably slightly less deranged, although still completely potty) CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) - publishers of the must-read Socialist Workers Party-bashing 'Weekly Worker'- who have not as yet come out in support of Mugabe as far as I know. Although, it perhaps should be added, they're not exactly short of remarkably dumb anti-imperialist foreign policy positions all of their own.

The CPGB (M-L) and CPGB (PCC) should also not be confused with the CPB, publishers of the 'Morning Star, whose membership contains fully paid-up loons like Stop the War Chair Andrew Murray and CND Chair Kate Hudson. They too, in a rare outing for common sense among their ranks, do not support Mugabe (as yet).

If further evidence was required of the fact I don't get out very often, I could go on to explain the detailed differences between these parties ... But I think I'll save it for another time.

And, by the way, Lionel Ritchie knows how to hold a tune ...

Kerry said...


I was rather impressed until that last sentence...

I could allow you "Easy" and "Sail On" at a push, but if you're getting into "Three Times a Lady" or "Hello" territory, that's another matter altogether.

The Bristol Blogger said...

Apart from a few early Commodore gems like 'Machine Gun'and 'Brickhouse'; the aforementioned 'Easy' and a sneaking liking for 'All Night Long' up until that diabolical faux-Latino middle eight (Yeah! Jambo Jumbo!), I was never very impressed by Ritchie until I saw him on Fame Academy (I'm digging myself in deeper here aren't I?)

He was drafted in one day to give the useless wannabees some singing lessons and, it has to be said, the boy's got a remarkable voice. Hear him unaccompanied and you soon realise why he's sold millions of records and is worth a fortune.

On a more serious note, I see your new friend Pappe has been making a few waves this week after giving an interview to'National Zeitung', newspaper of German Neo-Nazi party, the Deutsche Volksunion.

But don't worry, because we've been assured now by Pappe that it was all a silly mistake that anyone could have made (even a leading academic at a Russell Group university apparently)

Kerry said...

The Bristol Blogger watches Fame there's a revelation!

"Easy" has a great guitar solo.

Isn't that the problem with a lot of great soul voices these days - the material? No doubt if Lionel (or, while we're on the subject of Fame Academy, Lemar) had been around in the days of Holland-Dozier-Holland, or Norman Whitfield/ Barrett Strong, or in Stax and Atlantic's heyday, they could have made some great records. Something went wrong in the 80s when things got far too smooth and over-produced (Luther Vandross, Alexander O'Neal et al).

On the subject of Ilan Pappe - the interview's in German, so I can't comment on what he said, but it obviously undermines his credibility on Israel-Palestine if he, even inadvertently, allows it to be used by such people.