In defence of Jeremy’s 9/11 tweet

It seems that everyday the papers are filled with an “Outrage”. Since it’s September it’s the beginning of the “Ban the poppy/Christmas” outrage bus, but it’s now at the point where an “outrage” is simply something as innocuous as a tweet*.

Take for example the “outrage” over a tweet Owen Smith sent back in April:

Yea it’s not exactly up there in terms of funny but at the beginning of September the Corbyn supporters found it and latched onto it as an example of how sexist and misogynistic Owen is. The Gobstopper is obviously a reference to shutting Sturgeon up especially since it was the campaigning for the local elections (one Labour did exceptionally well to avoid a total collapse/ won more than anyone ever has hail Corbyn!) so in context it’s hardly up there with something like this, which by the way is a perfect example of being a sexist waste of skin:

Now for something I never thought I’d do with less than a week until the election results are due, I’m about to defend Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m not a fan or Jeremy anymore and my reasons are scattered throughout this blog and twitter. It all started on Sunday, a day when campaigning across the board ceased to remember the events of September 11, 2001. Amongst the posts from politicians expressing sorrow and remembrance was this from Jeremy:

It’s an inevitability that anything Jeremy was going to post that day was going to be leapt upon his past associations and comments, not to mention his Director of Communications being the person who immediately blamed the US and once said the murder of Lee Rigby wasn’t terrorism because he was a soldier (then there’s the praising Stalin stuff) meant that it was going to be open season. Naturally a lot of people were annoyed that he had shoehorned some anti western sentiment into a sombre moment or that he was using it to score cheap political points (the irony of then using Jeremy scoring cheap points, to score cheap points was immediately lost)

But here’s the thing.

Is it really *THAT* offensive or outrageous?**

Many think that it simply wasn’t the right time to mention the aftermath of 9/11 but then they can never answer the question “then when is?” without giving the same answer “anyday but this”. The problem is I fundamentally disagree. In the 15 years since 9/11 we’ve went to war in Afghanistan, thrown lives and resources trying to bring order to a land that proved the downfall of the greatest empires in history, we’ve left behind a broken country in Iraq, where lawlessness, sectarianism, and now ISIS which rose from the ashes of the insurgency in Iraq controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. There’s been attacks in London, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Tunisia, Bali, Baghdad, Mosul, Moscow, Kenya, Texas, Boston, Cologne, and many of which have their origins in the aftermath of 9/11.

Then there’s the argument of “Think about their families” well what about the Familiy of 13 year old Mohammed Tuaimanor the families of those killed in Yemen when a drone strike hit a wedding ceremony?

I think the issue is this has resulted in a war that hasn’t ended. In 3 months when people stop to remember the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor people will be thinking about the attack, the loss of life and some will think about what happened after, the remembering the victims in the aftermath comes in May and August with VE and VJ day. A day when we stop, fall silent and remember those who died in the battles that followed (for Americans at least.) There’s no single moment in the War on Terror where we can stop and think of everything that has happened after, there’s no VGWOT day.

I think it’s also important that we do remember the aftermath, how as a people once the dust settled we began to fight back, badly. 15 years and the only notable victory was the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan is slowly falling back into the hands of the Taliban, Syria and Iraq are on fire, Libya is a mess, Egypt is in the middle of a brutal crackdown. If we don’t stop to remember what happened and what came next we’re bound to make the same mistakes, we relegate the “War on Terror” as a separate beast to 9/11 and disassociate what we’ve done after as a response to it. We doom ourselves to forget the lessons and if it were to happen again we’re bound to make them again.

As James Joyce wrote in ‘Ulysses’ “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

At the end of the day Jeremy is vehemently anti-war, he was well within his rights to highlight what came next, we should never forget 9/11, the peaceful bright morning shattered by the sound of jet engines.

*As a caveat I’m not saying that all tweets aren’t worthy of outrage, I mean Donald Trump’s feed is testament to just how awful it can get and the less said about Katie Hopkins the better.

** It’s not like he wished his enemies a happy 9/11, I mean you’d have to be a grade A asshole to do tha- DAMMIT DONALD!



The Brand delusion

What to say about Russell Brand that already hasn’t been said (criticism from the Sun aside)

Well I feel I should lay my cards out on the table. I’m not a massive Brand fan, I loved him in ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshal’ and ‘Get him to the Greek’ and I respect him when he mentions drug abuse treatment. However for the most part I find him shallow, annoying and sounding like a first year Politics student who swallowed a thesaurus. Now his book ‘Revolution’ has been thoroughly deconstructed by people far better than me, and with more free time clearly. Usual criticism of the book is that it is devoid of content, riddled with factual errors and a waste of trees so bad it could be considered eco-terrorism.

Of course there is always more to this, for one it’s long been suspected that Brand didn’t write it and that accolade goes to Johann “I’ve changed” Hari, a man who would find impersonation very easy. Of course this makes it hard for the usual suspects on the Brand Bandwagon, take for example the Guardian.

The guardian must have struggled with this, for one they have an unhealthy obsession with Brand (although they seem to have flavour of the weeks anyway) Nick Cohen brilliantly reviewed the book here, but naturally it was a bit negative so what to do, especially since the comments from the readers went in a different direction.

Well they assembled a sort of bizarro avengers including Owen “Misinformation” Jones and a few other “of our young writers” the end result isn’t a surprise, they found ‘Revolution’ to be “a hopeful handbook of new ways of thinking.” While not agreeing with his call to “Not vote” (a message I hope returns if he decides to run for office.)

What annoys me isn’t Brand per se, I find him tedious yes, would I actively go out of my way to say, push him in a fountain?
probably not. My issue is with the media’s reaction to Brand, and the mentality of some of his followers.

Take for example the issues around the new era estate in Hackney, London. This is the story about an estate that was bought by a US firm Westbrook Partners who planned to refurbish the estate and hike rents from around £800 to £2000. Now this is a story that has been going on since March when Westbrook bought the estate. Now it’s worth noting that there were protests and 38 degrees were involved pretty much from day one. It was making news. However in marched Brand at the request of one of the organisers of the protest.

From then on the story the media picked up on wasn’t the shameful way this estate of 90 families were being treated, it was Russell Brand. The Sun leapt on him with the venom normally reserved for Paedophiles, or Ed Miliband.

We know something about being hypocrites
We know something about being hypocrites

Channel 4 gave up on journalistic standards and the golden rule of Journalism “Don’t be like the f*cking Sun” and decided to question him about his own house, because (and this is the rare moment I defend Brand) that is somehow relevant, because they clearly aren’t aware of Brands own background which isn’t exactly silver spoon.

The good news is Westbrook transferred ownership of the property to a social housing agent who has promised not to raise rents for a year and then assess the levels based on affordability (although a little piece of me still thinks we’ll be reading about Hoxton in a years time, pessimism prevails)

So this brings me to Act 2 of the Media Vs Russell Brand. Now the dust is settling how did they respond to the news that the residents prevailed. Well the Guardian went with the story, and mentioned Brand briefly, the Independent (whose demise will be welcomed since it’s been going downhill at great speed) went with the narrative the Brand saved it in the same way the US claim to have won WW2. The Metro (DM but free) went with “Did Russell Brands revolution work?”

Russell brands admirers however went with this being a massive victory for Brand, not for the residents, 38 degrees, or any of the local and national figures who spoke out. But Brand.

The truth is really, it was all of those things. Brand did bring a bit of attention to the campaign, although mostly so the media could get their claws out and savage him (for example there were more stories about C4 questioning his house value than the reason he was actually in front of the press. The reason wasn’t important he was just with the residents handing over a 38,000 signature petition) but his involvement came a bit too late for him to take the lion’s share of the credit, 38 degrees petition undoubtedly did some good, the protests at westbrooks london office would have also had an impact. Sidiq Khan, Labour and City hall calling on a reversal of the decision and the NY mayor lambasting Westbrook for their work in New York also added fuel.

But the real winners weren’t Brand, Khan, Labour or 38 degrees. It was the 90 residents of the estate who can after 9 months sleep in their houses free of the worry that they’ll be forced to move from their own homes, some of which they have lived in for decades. The losers though, have to be the media, they had a chance to help those residents, most didn’t until the prospect of settling a few scores got in the way.

As an aside it’s worth mentioning this, when “Brand’s” book was published a group I admin at over on Facebook were obviously mentioning it every 20 seconds (much to my protest) one person who never wrote or contributed chimed in saying Revolution was a serious book, full of good ideas and we should all read it and learn from it like she did.
She couldn’t answer one question about the book, or respond to criticism over the Book or Brand. Instead just went into personal attacks how we were just slaves to the system, anyway, it eventually came out that she hadn’t read the book beyond the first few pages so she got more and more personal until as admins we took the decision to remove the thread and her.

We thought that was the end of it but then some eagle eyed member saw her post in a Brand group that we were all fascists clamping down on dissent and opposing views, it had nothing to do with the drivel she was spouting or the personal attack. This is the sort of person who polluted the Hoxton stories on the Guardian for ignoring the contribution of the saviour and are claiming he won it single handedly.

So the problem isn’t really Brand, it’s the media who fawn attention/ attempt pathetically to discredit a man who doesn’t take that much effort to do that and the fanboys who think he’s the Moses coming down from the mountain.
When in fact as anyone who watched Brand on Question time knows, he’s a charlatan, a man who makes a lot of noise but lacks substance who until this week probably realised he was in way out of his depth and in the real world, it takes more than a cheeky laddish personality and a vocabulary Dr Johnson would be envious of.

How not to have your company act on social media

Social media, you either get it, or you’re a politician (more on that later.) It’s no surprise that in this age of Twitter, Facebook, LinkdIn and like the forgotten bastard child, Google+. With our lives becoming even more linked to these sites there is little surprise companies want to be involved more. For example a personal Favourite Airfix on Facebook uses theirs to broadcast news such as new releases and it’s also a good place to show off your creations.

Other companies use them more as an extension to their customer helplines, for example the local bus company flash important updates and field a rather basic helpline service, to everyone it’s a very vital service and generally a good thing.

The same cannot be said for the other local company. Yes the company Arriva also runs services, and on one occasion the bus was on time, sadly this was before the invention of camera’s so cannot be confirmed. Arriva’s Facebook page resembles the buses, they’re rude, loud and are quite crap. A simple question about a timetable change results in staff members shouting at the public to “learn to drive then, Simples.” In any other company that would result in a stern talking to. Added to this is the fact the company hiked the fares up 5% and withdrew a lot of services. Now I could understand the fare increase if I saw where it was going. The buses are past it, the drivers clearly aren’t getting new uniforms and the fee’s to charm school were obviously a waste.

Arriva’s defence on this is “they were mentioned on the website and on facebook” failing to acknowledge that the increases weren’t advertised on the buses themselves, and from what I see the main users of the bus service are- how to put this nicely- of a certain age where gizmos and doodads are beyond them.

Arriva really screwed the end game on this. Bringing in sweeping changes without proper notice and relying solely on Facebook to advertise these changes that effect every user of the service. Couple that with the rather cowboy attitude of the “Arriva Bod” (A person more concerned with 3 points won by Newcastle United than the questions from a mother who’s child was stranded) means that Arriva are at least remaining consistent with their level of service. Which is next to 0.