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Archive for the 'Politics' Category

July 16th will mark the thirtieth anniversary of a campaign supporting what became known as the 'Bradford Twelve'.

On that day in 1981 a dozen young Asian men from the United Black Youth League were arrested in dawn raids across the city and charged with conspiracy to make explosives and to cause explosions.

The case was set against a backdrop of racist attacks on black and asian communities in Britain, which the Police had done little to address.

The defendants asserted that "Self defence is NO offence" and the hearing of their case lifted the lid on racism in Britain at that time.

Shahnaz Ali was a teenage girl at the time and was very much involved in the United Black Youth League in Bradford. She was taken for questioning and came close to being charged with conspiracy herself.

Now a senior public sector official, Shahnaz looks back on those events with me, and describes what it was like to almost become the thirteenth defendant.

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Side two of the 1977 satirical political revue, "The Cuts Show" by CounterAct.

On this side: education and housing cuts; the climate of 'divide and conquer' (my cut's worse than yours); finding scapegoats among immigrant communities; the role of the press; and the capricious nature of investors.

This week Chancellor George Osborne unveils what are expecting to be massive spending cuts. Yet we've been here before...

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This coming week, on the 20th of October, Chancellor George Osborne will be unveiling the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review, and what’s expected to be the most savage cuts ever to public services in England.

In politics, however, things are seldom new. You just need a long enough memory to recall previous booms, cuts and recessions. And, as they say, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

For that reason this episode features a protest album that was recorded in 1977.

The Cuts Show, by “CounterAct” was a touring review made to educate people .. especially students .. about the public sector cuts being made at that time by James Callaghan’s Labour Government. The show was accompanied by a protest album .. omitting the show’s narrative, but including all the songs.

Listen carefully to the lyrics, because it’s all there .. the need to satisfy financiers, threats to welfare and health spending, education, scapegoating.. and more. The show was produced 33 years ago, yet it could have been today. It even features a nod to David Cameron's 'Big Society'

The performance was recorded at Riverside Recordings and featured Rich Armitage, Will Ashton, John Gill, Ruth Law, Chris Reason, Dave Simmonds, Steve Skinner and Caroline Stephens.

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Part Two of this personal narration of an account written in 1995, about coming out as a campaigner to organise 'fringe' meetings at the Labour and Conservative party conferences.

For more details and background please see part one.

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It’s nearly Party Conference season again. And it’s the first time with Conservatives in Government since the mid 1990's.

It may surprise some listeners to know that back in those days I was a Conservative Party activist. I was the secretary of an active branch of the party in Cheshire. And a regular attendee at party conferences.

I wasn’t “out” in those days. As a transsexual woman I had completed my social “transition” between genders many years before, and had settled into a quiet and discreet life among the well-to-do women who formed the backbone of a certain class of society in one of the Tory heartlands.

I didn’t advertise my transsexual history and, if anyone harboured any suspicions, it had never ever been mentioned.

All of that was about to change though. I had been a member of the campaign organisation “Press for Change” since shortly after it was formed in 1992. And now, because the campaign required visible representatives to put themselves forward on the public stage, I had taken the difficult personal decision to “come out”.

I had volunteered to organise and speak at two key events at the Labour and Conservative conferences in the first two weeks of October 1995.

This was momentous, life-changing stuff .. at least for me .. and so I wrote about it at the time. Fifteen years on, it’s therefore a good time to revisit those two weeks covered by The Diary of a Conference Campaigner...

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This is the second part of an in-depth interview with veteran Parliamentarian, Sir Gerald Kaufman MP.

In this episode Gerald talks about how he came to write for the groundbreaking satirical show, "That Was The Week That Was"; about scandals such as the Profumo affair; and his thoughts on where the last Labour Government went wrong.

For more details see the previous episode.

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It was the BBC interviewer Robin Day who once famously infuriated Tory Defence Minister John Nott by referring to him as a ‘Here today, gone tomorrow politician’.

The epithet stung perhaps because Day was reflecting a truism that seems even more relevant today than in 1982.

In truth, many politicians do have a short career in Parliament and are soon forgotten.

This is why those politicians with true staying power are so interesting to examine.

Sir Gerald Kaufman is one of the latter category.

Sir Gerald recently celebrated his 80th birthday in his Manchester Gorton constituency, flanked by crowds of loyal party activists and supporters who turned out for the occasion.

Though regularly offered a chair to sit down by well-wishers, the incredibly sprightly octogenarian politely declined -- remaining on his feet throughout.

The occasion also marked 40 years since Gerald had first won a seat as an MP. Only the Conservative Sir Peter Tapsell has served for a longer continuous period.

As an MP, Gerald served as a Junior Minister in Harold Wilson’s 1974 government and, was shadow Home Secretary, among other roles, during Labour’s opposition in the 1980‘s.

He also famously wrote for the ground breaking 1960’s satirical show “That was the week that was”, has written several books, and, as a Jew himself, is one of the leading critics of Israeli policies and the treatment of Arabs in Gaza.

In this first of a two part interview Sir Gerald talks about growing up in a working class family, his early career choices and close to Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the late 60's and early 1970's.

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