Religion: Keep it out of schools.

The other day I walked into one of my schools for a regular tt coaching session and what was I confronted by? A hall half full of kids being drilled into the wonders and joys of the perennial Christmas Carol. Hark the herald angel sings, glory to the new born king. I recognised the words because I'd had them drilled into me during my own school days some fifty years ago. It was a particularly incongruous scene because at least half the students were from a Muslim background. It felt wrong and not just because of any Muslim sensibilities. After all these years it was the same old story. Someone, somewhere seemed to think that rolling out the Christmas agenda was a form of upholding British values. On this, I must tell them, they are misguided. So much nonsense has been uttered on this spurious topic of British values, but the reality is  they don't, per se, exist. What does exist, are the half-formed, half-forgotten remnants of the European Enlightenment which had at its core, the separation of Church and State. I say half-formed because western nations seem to uphold this concept in a most haphazard and very uneven way. France and the US are probably the most zealous in implementing this core principle but Britain's policies, of all the Anglo-Saxon nations, are probably the least robust. Britain continues to finance its existing religious schools and is bending over backwards to expand the religious sector. Furthermore, successive British governments have allowed religious indoctrination to creep in through the backdoor in what is left of the state comprehensive sector. A few carols may seem like a bit of harmless Christmas fun, but the wider implications are anything but harmless.

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Syria: Puppets and warmongers exposed. Raan Oosha

Contrary to what the mainstream media would have us believe, Jeremy Corbyn's first few months in charge of the Labour Party has been a resounding success and some of the seeds that he is presently sowing may well, if nurtured, yield handsome fruit in the years to come. Of course, the media has done its absolute best to undermine the man with subtle and not so subtle barbs of every conceivable nature; to his character, to his principles, even to his dress code and how low he bows. At every opportunity they have tried to belittle and demean him. He's been lambasted as a coward, a communist and completely out of touch. The list of his character and political failings seems endless. But Corbyn's great success has been his quiet ability to expose those in the Labour Party machinery that are indeed cowardly in their convictions and sycophantic in their attitudes to both big business and the corporate media.

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Why Jeremy Corbyn's election could spell disaster for the Labour Party

If you posed the headline above as a question, most people would probably reply with the assumption that Corbyn is considered unelectable and Labour would be similarly unelectable with him at the helm. But that's not the disaster that I am talking about.


Single elections are rarely that important in the long run. The Tories were eviscerated in 1997 but eventually they could only profit from Labour's move to the right (or centre as Blairites like to say). In 2010 the Liberals won enough seats to enter government for the first time in 100 years (or first time ever if you refuse to draw a line connecting the Whigs and the Lib Dems). Five years later, that decision has turned them into an electoral irrelevance. A situation that seems set to last for the foreseeable future.

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Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby, Penguin, London 1992

It would be seriously remiss of Sporting Polemics not to review this one, even though it has been around for nearly twenty five years. The category of classic is heavily overused these days but in its own unique and particular way I think Fever Pitch can rightly claim that epithet. In an age of relentless atomisation and the accompanying alienation, this little tale of football tribalism and personal obsession, is perhaps more apposite than ever. Families, local communities and entire national, class and religious affiliations are crumbling in front of our very eyes. So it is little surprising that fanatical sporting allegiance should step forward to fill the void. Hornby's Fever Pitch is not only funny and poignant but sociologically spot on.

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ISIS: Mirror image of western neo-colonialism

'I was going to blog on the folly of the proposed British bombing of ISIS, but having recently read two articles in The Guardian, one by a Jurgen Todenhofer 27/11/15 and the other by regular columnist, Seamus Milne written way back in June of this year, I decided there really was nothing else substantive I could profitably add. Instead I would content myself with highlighting the key points of their arguments, adding the odd emphasis here and there. When the British State has such a monopoly on the prevailing narrative, it is so refreshing to know that there are other people are out there, even if in a relatively tiny minority, who share your views. Without coming across a few like-minded souls one is in danger of fearing for one's political sanity. Thank the gods for the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Seamus Milne. To my logic, dropping yet more bombs on the countries of Middle East has to be the most insane idea since Langley thought that arming, training and financing the Afghan mujahedeen would bring peace and harmony to that war weary nation. As for dropping bombs as a way of defeating a determined and ideologically coherent enemy, Cameron and Co might care to reflect on the fact that the US and its allies dropped more bombs on Vietnam and Cambodia during that barbaric, twenty year imperialist war than they did during the entire Second World War and they still lost! Furthermore, Nazi saturation bombing of British cities during WW2 did not break Britain's resolve, if anything it strengthened it. Have these privately educated, Old Etonian Oxbridge graduates learned nothing from history? Every sane, secular and rational person would want to see the speedy and total elimination of the ISIS creed and its foot-soldiers, but trying to bomb them into submission will simply not work.

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Paris terror: The blowback continues. Editorial


It is often said that our great cities are humanity's greatest achievement. I can warm to that concept. Teeming with a multitude of cultural wonders and, in any single day, billions upon billions of everyday interactions, our cities truly are a wonder to behold. Sure, they have their downsides; vast inequalities, polluted and congested streets, some unsavoury anti-social and outright criminal behaviour and a seemingly ever present shortage of affordable housing. But the fact that millions of citizens, increasingly from very diverse backgrounds, rub along together with a minimum of fuss and bother, gives one a little hope for our collective future. And then comes along a bunch of hot-wired jihadists and everything we take for granted is in ruins. But our western cities are not the only marvels of mankind. Baghdad, Tripoli and Damascus are also, in their own distinctive way, great cities and today, they too lay in ruins.

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Don't Buy The Idea That Heathrow Expansion is Good For The Nation. Simon Jenkins

'Sporting Polemics, rightly or wrongly, hasn't always been complimentary to Mr Jenkins. A little too willing to accommodate the excesses of corporate Britain. A little too ready to turn a blind eye to the real nature of corporate globalism. But in his latest opinion piece on airport expansion, despite his trademark pro- capitalist sentiment, he makes some very salient points. The essence of his argument can be summed up by his concluding paragraph which unambiguously asserts that the only real motivation for Heathrow expansion is one of corporate profit. Here is Simon Jenkins in his own words;

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Suffragette: Confronting The Patriarchal State

Strange how in every movement for social progress, be it worker's rights, childrens rights, gay rights, womens rights or the rights of national self-determination, the British State is always on the side of reaction. I've tried to think of an exception but I just can't think of one. Whatever the century, whatever the issue, the image of baton wielding thugs in uniform comes to the fore. And so it was for the Suffragettes who had the temerity to demand something so subversive as the right to vote. And the film, Suffragette, although not a particularly great piece of cinema, is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than to be reminded of the essentially reactionary nature of the British State and the special bodies of armed me that are there to protect it.

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London Fields, Martin Amis, Penguin, London 1989

This is a black hole of a novel. Dark matter for sure. Even the humour, of which there is aplenty, is of the dark variety. All the basest human instincts are on show here; lies, deceit, betrayal, violence, and ultimately murder. Yet every now and then some light shines through and when it does the whole bleak world that Amis so brilliantly creates comes to vibrant life. He's a clever fellow is our Mr Amis. Damn clever. Too clever in many ways, or at least too truthful. Who wants to see the human condition revealed in such harsh tones? Even we Marxists have our limits. But Amis just doesn't care. He lays it all out without the slightest consideration for human sensibilities. He offers us his dark insights on everything from pornography, masturbation and death. And when I say death I don't just mean a paltry little individual death. No, Amis has a much bigger canvass. He's meddling with the death of everything; of love, of literature, of the planet, of God, of science, and of the universe itself. I found myself hating and loving this novel in equal measure and I'm sure Amis would me more than happy with that state of affairs.

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The New Enlightenment


We're living through a second brutal dark age

With renewed bigotry, superstition and terror.

And if you thought we're on a preordained, exponential path of progress

Then I suspect you might be making a fundamental error.


Since the collapse of the twentieth century experiment in socialism

With equality and global brotherhood as its imagined creed

We have succumbed to the ideology of individualism

Which turns out to be nothing but a fig leaf for corporate greed.


The natural dialectic between cooperation and competition

Has been cynically twisted in favour of the latter

Never-ending wars between regions and religions

Divide and rule, while the elites grow grotesquely fatter.

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The Corbynista Revolution: Women On Top.



Apologies for the headline but as the polemical war rages, even left-wing bloggers sometimes have to resort to cheap journalistic tactics in order to gain attention in a very crowded blogosphere. But behind this tacky tabloid heading is a very serious point. Corbyn was quickly lambasted for having a male dominated top table. All the so-called big hitters in Corbyn's shadow cabinet were men. It was something the Tory press immediately jumped upon hoping to wrong foot JC at the earliest moment. But what the Tory press and Corbyn's own detractors within the Labour Party did not pick up on was the highly competent female academics that have been invited onto John McDonnell's economic advisory committee. Alongside Thomas Piketty, David Blanchflower and Joseph Stiglitz comes Ann Pettifor, Marianna Muzzucato and Anastasia Nesuetalova, all of whom have made their mark by critiquing the politics of austerity and advocating something a darn sight more human. Here are their credentials.

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Nuclear Contamination: Another Atrocity Hidden In the Small Print.

Apparently today at the Labour Conference, Jeremy Corbyn was defeated in his effort to ban nuclear trident weapons. The reason so I read, is because unions say it will threaten jobs. Now I understand that these are difficult times - no one wants to lose there job,  particularly in the midst of an on going global recession. But when your job is building nuclear weapons, common sense and the greater good must prevail.

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Jeremy Corbyn The Criminal

Blair and Bush led the West to an illegal war against Iraq

And a quarter of a million Iraqis directly perished in the inferno.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn is deemed to be the criminal

And their attacks on him continue, both direct and subliminal.


Anglo Saxon banks both sides of the pond recklessly speculated with our money

And tens of millions subsequently lost their homes and livelihoods.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn is deemed to be the criminal

And his policies are declared dangerous and abominable.

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Mr Corbyn, Watch Your Back

Teflon Tony thinks he's got it all wrong. Conservatives think he's dangerous. The Labour establishment are mortally afraid of him. The Lib Dems conspire to belittle him. Those political elite types, straight from university having never held a real job, are campaigning against him. The mainstream press are digging the dirt on him. The BBC are trying to trip him up on every interview. Across the ocean, the bastion of political hypocrisy, are routinely denouncing him. And of course the landed and knighted gentry in this green and pleasant land are quaking in their designer boots.

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All Hail The Bearded One, Chris Mullin, The Guardian, 15/9/15


Chris Mullin is at it again. Having imagined the fate of a radical left-wing Prime Minister way back in 1982 in his novel, 'A Very British Coup', Mullin now dares to imagine the first 100 days of a Jeremy Corbyn Government. It's a clever and imaginative piece that has Corbyn surviving all the usual establishment traps and coming out a respected and even well-loved Prime Minister. Of course, Mullin is only imagining the first 100 days. After that, Mullin choses not to predict. writing, 'How long the honeymoon would last was anyone's guess'.

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Corbyn and Contradictions.


The old contradictions haven't gone away. At the heart of everything is that most stubborn of all contradictions, that between the private ownership of the world's wealth and the socially created nature of that wealth, creating a situation where a relatively tiny handful of multi-billionaires have gained control over the world's resources and industries while an increasingly impoverished global population grimly toil just to survive. In various forms, this contradictory situation has been around for millennia, stretching back to the dawn of slave owning society, through the feudal epoch and then into the highly dynamic capitalist era. This dialectic between the private ownership of socially produced wealth has been around for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking that this is the natural order of things. It permeates everything and seems to forever frustrate any qualitative advance in how we humans organise ourselves. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory will very likely drag this contradiction into the full light of day.

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