" Madam Miaow Says

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Reggie Yates Race Riots USA review: white liberal Guardianista requires smelling salts

Reggie Yates: Race Riots USA review

BBC3 Tuesday 29 Sept 2015

There's a lot of shark-jumping going on down Fleet Street. You may have observed the liberal press laying into the resurgence in progressive politics of late with a hysteria largely missing in action when it comes to the current assault on the poor, about which they are remarkably sanguine. I haven't seen such a screeching mess since the Mogwais were last fed after midnight.

Bankers break the economy and lie about Libor; the top percent double their dosh since the crash while the poor are driven to debt and suicide to better recapitalise the system. However, it's not the brutal transfer of wealth from poor to rich that's driving them to frothing fury, but Jeremy Corbyn's vest. How dare the new Labour leader lack vanity, have principles and, at long last, give hope to the weakest after three and half decades of Thatcherism?

When the oppressed and their champions mount a challenge, the liberal press turn out to be not quite so liberal after all. Just as the French government put their war with Prussia on hold in 1871 to team up with their 'enemy' to massacre the Paris Communards, you can barely squeeze a cigarette paper between the Guardian and their New Statesman stablemates on one side, and the Daily Mail et al on the other when it comes to maintaining the status quo (emphasis on status. And privilege.)

It's crept into every nook and cranny of the culture like the noxious diesel fumes invisibly killing us while someone makes a profit.

And lo, black Londoner Reggie Yates makes a thoughtful piece about the killings of black men by police in America — Race Riots USA — and what is the Guardian's chief concern? "Yates can’t seem to decide if he’s supposed to go with the poker face or let rip with his own opinions." Or as the headline has it, "an impartial observer's indignance leaks through." (Did they mean 'indignation', by any chance?) Uppity Reggie! Heaven forfend that a journalist is able to tell this story from the inside out like a human being, not a robot. What does he think this is? Jezza's vestgate? He's reasonable, puzzled, enquiring and moved rather than the easy-to-dismiss raging black man some of the media might prefer.

In case that didn't convince you to move along, nuthin' to see, the Guardian chips away with the flimsiest justification: ' ... “It could have been me” pronouncement while a driver holding a “Reggie Yates” sign meets him at the airport and takes his bags to the car. It confuses his status: is he the inquisitive everyman, there to guide us through the subject, or a celebrity who doesn’t carry his own bags?'

Perhaps it shows him as an ordinary dude who has booked a cab to meet him at the airport and, as is common practice, the driver's waiting with a hand scrawled sign of his passenger's name. It begins the story with his arrival and makes the point that he is from the outside ... and yet not.

Unarmed men and women are being murdered by white police and will never receive justice because of the colour of their skin, a skin they share with Yates. Some 176 in one year alone. Neither are women and children safe: a pregnant woman thrown to the ground; a bikini-clad adolescent manhandled by a cop at a pool-party; the boy with a toy gun shot dead; the teenager killed in the back of a police van. And still they keep on coming.

It is a scary, distressing and enraging catalogue of horrors. But the author of the Guardian review is most concerned about Yates getting above himself at the airport. Such was her snide hostility that I thought this couldn't possibly be a white writer as any halfway competent editor would have spiked such naked spite by a representative of drearily dominant whiteness, and that this must have been written by one of the house slaves. But no, Julia Raeside is white. And protecting her patch.

It is a bullshit piece. Obtuse, deliberately not understanding the issue. How could a journalist write something so hostile, so blatantly ignoring what Yates has done here? He's taken us into the belly of the beast and introduced us to its ugly complexities so effectively that, despite herself, Raeside almost praises him, but then catches herself and has another snipe in parentheses:
'When the rally is approached by two young black men, one in a Peace & Unity T-shirt, both of them filming with their phones, the unease is palpable. But a quick intervention by Yates (he gets away with a lot here by having a camera crew in tow) begins a dialogue between a blonde woman and the T-shirt pacifist, in which they largely agree on the need for cooperation.'

Yates also performs a fine journalistic function (unlike Raeside) in revealing that filthy lucre, not just blind prejudice, plays a key role in the collective tragedy that is Black America. The police force, which is around 94 per cent white, pays for itself with the fines on the Ferguson community, which is 70per cent black. Some of the people dragged into court owe five thousand dollars in what is an institutional shakedown with menaces. And on the day that Yates visits the court, they are all black. See what happens when you have a service based on profit? Which brings us neatly full circle to Jeremy Corbyn and yet more reason Labour must make the crucial challenge to austerity, exclusion and privatisation.

How often do you see a black person in Yates's position with a VOICE, who isn't a white person's stereotypical creation? The Guardian piece, people of colour, is the slap down you get for doing white folks' job and doing it well. Can't have young black people inspired like this. They might start demanding equal rights and opportunity. By the way, I'm delighted to note that Reggie and I went to the same school: Central Foundation Boys (in Old Street) and Girls (Spitalfields).

One question I would like answered is whether this wave of killings of unarmed black men and women has risen since Obama became President. His ascent to power seems to have driven Republican whites mad and you wonder if, unable to reach the interloper in the Oval office, the grim truth is that any black person will do.

EDIT: even sweeter, this was filmed, directed and produced by Ruhi Hamid and produced by Kandise Abiola, two women of colour aiming to "reflect the mood of Ferguson ten months after the riots and protests that followed the fateful shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson."

Postscript: Julia Raeside thought it was a good idea to advertise her nasty clickbait piece with this tweet. I looked from Guardian to Daily Mail and back again and already it was impossible to tell which would look better in a cat tray.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Eggheads Against Jeremy Corbyn: right-wing academics phone it in to the FT

It's taken the right wing ages to muster 55 Jeremy Corbyn-bashing academics in the FT. (They include Alastair Milne, Professor of Economics at the University of Loughborough. Any relation to Seumas?)

I hate to mock the afflicted but they really are flailing like punch-drunks and have tacked together an argument most of us can answer in our sleep (hello, railways!).

It should be noted that while JC's People's QE's is far too good for the likes of us, Draghi is promising yet more money printing for the banks.

And I swear to you, the list includes a Ronald MacDonald.

For those of you with FT access, the comments are the best thing about this desperate gesture. For those without, here are the salient bits of the letter:

Corbynomics has not been thought through seriously

We wish to register our opinion that the economic policies sketched by Jeremy Corbyn are likely to be highly damaging, and send this message to counter the impression that might be got from the previous letter of “41 economists” that Mr Corbyn’s policies command widespread support in the mainstream of the discipline.

Renationalising industries is highly unlikely to improve the performance of its targets, and very likely, if history is anything to go by, to make things worse. If compensation is paid, it will be a waste of fiscal space, even unaffordable; in case it is not, it will be extremely damaging to the climate for enterprise in the UK as other companies fear the government would get a taste for it.

“People’s QE” would be a highly damaging threat to fiscal credibility, and unnecessary, since at this time of very low interest rates and tolerable debt/GDP public investment — in many areas much needed — can be financed conventionally. Figures put on money that could be found from ending “corporate welfare” and combating tax evasion are almost unbelievable and add to the sense that Mr Corbyn’s plans have not been seriously thought through.

Paul Levine
Professor of Economics,
University of Surrey
Tony Yates
Professor of Economics,
University of Birmingham
Wouter den Haan
Professor of Economics,
London School of Economics
John van Reenen
Professor of Economics,
London School of Economics
George Magnus
Associate, China Centre,
University of Oxford
Ronald MacDonald
Professor of Economics,
Glasgow University
Cristiano Cantore
Senior Lecturer in Economics and
Deputy Head of School, University of Surrey
Joe Pearlman
Professor of Economics,
City University
Kent Matthews
Professor of Economics,
University of Cardiff
Costas Milas
Professor of Economics,
University of Liverpool
Akos Valentinyi
Professor of Economics,
Cardiff University
Valentina Corradi
Professor of Economics,
University of Surrey
Alex Mandilaras
Senior Lecturer in Economics,
University of Surrey
Cian Twomey
Lecturer in Financial Economics,
National University of Ireland, Galway
Miguel Leon-Ledesma
Professor of Economics,
University of Kent
Alexander Mihailov
Associate Professor of Economics,
University of Reading
Peter Sinclair
Professor of Economics,
University of Birmingham
Christopher Martin
Professor of Economics,
University of Bath
Richard Disney
Professor of Economics,
University of Sussex and Institute for Fiscal Studies
John Fender
Professor of Economics,
University of Birmingham
Chris Florakis
Associate Professor of Finance,
University of Liverpool
Philip Rothman
Professor of Economics,
East Carolina University
James Foreman-Peck
Professor of Economics,
University of Cardiff
Juan Paez-Farrell
Lecturer in Economics,
University of Sheffield
Mike Wickens
Professor of Economics,
University of York
Michael McMahon
Associate Professor of Economics,
University of Warwick
Michael Ben-Gad
Professor of Economics,
City University
George Bratsiotis
Reader in Economics,
University of Manchester
Dr Rebecca Driver
Economist, Analytically Driven
Phillip Booth
Professor of Insurance and Risk Management,
Cass Business School
Theo Panagiotidis
Professor of Economics,
University of Macedonia, Greece
Ali Al Nowahi
Professor of Economics,
University of Leicester
Manthos Delis
Professor of Financial Economics and Banking,
Surrey Business School, University of Surrey
Martin Ellison
Professor of Economics,
University of Oxford
Christopher Spencer
Lecturer in Economics,
University of Loughborough
Alastair Milne
Professor of Economics,
University of Loughborough
Tom Holden
Lecturer in Economics,
University of Surrey
Patrick Minford
Professor of Economics,
University of Cardiff
Mark Koyama
George Mason University,
Washington DC, US
Ettiene Farvaque
Professor of Economics,
University of Lille
Stephen Hall
Professor of Economics,
University of Leicester
Stephen Wright
Professor of Economics,
Birkbeck College, University of London
Ray Barrell
Professor of Economics,
Brunel University
Ben Ferrett
Senior Lecturer in Economics,
University of Loughborough
Roy Zilberman
Lecturer in Economics,
University of Lancaster
Richard Dennis
Professor of Economics,
Glasgow University
Peter Doyle
Former senior manager,
International Monetary Fund
Todd Kaplan
Professor of Economics,
University of Exeter
Bob Rothschild
Emeritus Professor of Economics,
University of Lancaster
James Davidson
Professor of Economics,
University of Exeter
George Kapetanios
Professor of Economics,
Queen Mary College, University of London
William Tayler
Lecturer, University of Lancaster
James Malley
Professor of Economics,
University of Glasgow
Kitty Ussher
Managing Director,
Tooley Street Research
Geraint Johnes
Professor of Economics,
University of Lancaster
Ethan Ilzetzki
Lecturer in Economics,
London School of Economics

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Cat conversation on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership contest

Madam Miaow of Cats for Corbyn translates:

"Waddya think of this leadership contest?"
"It don't half exposes the contradictions in the bourgeois democracy."
"Ya reckon?"
"Just a bit!"
"They really don't want the one with the beard to win, do they?"
"The one with the eyelashes fancies his chances."
"I don't. He's deader than that mouse you found."
"At least the mouse didn't beg for his life the way eyelash boy did."
"The little one looks like she'd confiscate your bikkies given half a chance."
"And the other one would rub your nose in your own poo if you even looked at her funny."
"Better than rubbing it in her poo, for which I hear she has form."
"Beardie would give you the prawns off his own plate. 'Stroo!"
"Let's go and rub ourselves against his legs."
"Okay but try not to trip him up. No point doing their job for them."
"Race ya. Last one on his lap's got fleas!"
'C'mere. You need a wash first. You always show me up."

Monday, 24 August 2015

Poem for Jeremy Corbyn: Labour Pains by Anna Chen

No slouching towards Westminster by JC.

Here's my poem about the current welcome rush to the heart and head. I guess that makes me a Poet for Jeremy Corbyn too.


We snapped on a light
and in the glare all was laid bare.
Suddenly Yvette Cooper wasn’t so super,
Kendall won’t mend anything at all
‘cause Liz fights tooth and claw for biz.
As for principles, Andy says burn ‘em.
But the latecomer nails jelly to the wall,
walks tall among the fallen,
cuts a swathe through those in thrall
to the false gods in the shopping maul.
Looking like Santa, cast as Satan,
working like a dynamo, everybody’s smitten.
Bottle what he’s made of, someone nab the patent,
before the bloody Blairites get their twisted knickers straightened.
Groping in the gloom we’d forgotten how to stand,
the air up here so fresh and clean, the view they tried to ban.
Blinking in the sunlight, nerves and sinews flex,
this is how hope feels, it’s betterer than sex.
A pole star restored, a fiery dawn,
this way something bright is born.

Anna Chen
3rd August 2015

Anna Chen's collection of poetry, Reaching for my Gnu, is published by Aaaargh! Press

Margaret Thatcher Died at the Ritz (2013)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Chopsticks At Dawn on BBC Radio 4 Extra, Thursday 2nd July

My programme, Chopsticks At Dawn, about chinoiserie clichés in music, is on tomorrow BBC Radio 4 Extra & iPlayer.

It's on four times: 6:30; 13:30; 20:30 and again the next morning at 01:30, so no excuses.

First broadcast 2010 on BBC Radio 4.

Produced by Chris Eldon-Lee and Mukti Jain Campion for Culture Wise.
With musicologist Dr Jonathan Walker

Chinese decorative arts are revered in the West. From Willow pattern dinner plates to the Brighton Pavilion, their designs are regarded as beautiful and sophisticated. But for the past two centuries European composers and musicians have had no qualms about mercilessly parodying what they thought of as 'Chinese tunes'.

As a girl growing up in Hackney, the opening orientalised-flute strains of the 1970s pop record Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas were enough to send future comedian Anna Chen running for cover.

The same cliches haunt Turning Japanese by The Vapours, Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie And The Banshees and David Bowie's China Girl. They have all followed a pattern set by Claude Debussy, Malcolm Arnold, Albert Ketelbey and Lancashire Linnet George Formby, who were equally guilty of taking Chinese musical motifs and mangling them - or simply making them up!

How did this mocking abuse of a handful of venerable Far Eastern notes begin?

Musicologist Dr Jonathan Walker accompanies Anna on a historical mission, picking out examples on the piano and explaining why and how our western ears hear certain note configurations as "oriental" - from Chopsticks to Chopin.

They explore the pentatonic scale that chartacterises so much Chinese music, delve into the story of the Opium Wars which triggered a deep British disrespect of Chinese musical culture and unveil the earliest dubious examples of Chinoiserie in Western Music.

And we hear from a new generation of British born Chinese musicians who are putting right the discordant wrongs of the past 200 years.

Chopsticks At Dawn
Producer: Chris Eldon Lee
A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Austerity, economics and a sense of proportion ...

... instead we get lies, damned lies and government spin. A simple placard tells us what the forces of ehvul and their media wing don't want us to know.