Tag Archives: Sunny Hundal

The end of Liberal Conspiracy

This morning Sunny Hundal, the Editor of the left-wing blog Liberal Conspiracy, announced that after 8 years of blogging he was no longer going to be up-dating the site.

Over the last few years, Liberal Conspiracy was kind enough to publish a series of my articles. These included:

Liberal Conspiracy has given me a platform to write about issues that I am passionate about. It also provided me with a wealth of interesting articles to read and learn about.

It will be missed.

In an industry that focuses so much on negative attacks and smears, I thought it only right then to publicly thank Sunny and everyone else over at Liberal Conspiracy for everything they have achieved over the last 8 years. They have often provided a positive left-wing alternative voice in opposition to the dominant mainstream media of the day. As I said, this will be missed.

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Labour’s long-game – political suicide?

On this morning’s Today programme, the Labour Party member and Liberal Conspiracy Editor, Sunny Hundal, explained why Labour had no recognisable policies by saying that the Labour Party were playing “the long-game”.

He suggested that Labour were stepping through clear, tactical steps and that “of course” they wouldn’t be splashing policies around this far off from an election.

This argument from Sunny has two disastrous conclusions for Labour.

If, as Sunny suggests, Labour are playing the waiting game to woo voters closer to the general election, the obvious question is why are they not concerned about the up-coming European elections, or all the local elections that have come and gone. Should they not be trying to win these elections?

Suggesting that Labour is playing the “long-game” is synonymous with saying, “Labour has a complete disregard for local and European elections….we only care about Westminster”.

If however, Labour is not playing the “long-game” like Sunny suggests, the crux of the Today programme’s questioning remains – is it not problematic that no-one knows what post-New Labour stand for? How do you expect to win an election when no-one knows what your party stands for and think that the leader doesn’t hold sufficient leadership qualities?

Which is it Labour – a disregard for anything outside of Westminster, or a floundering party with no recognisable policies?

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The removal of ‘insulting’ from Public Order Act is a victory for free speech

This article was written for Left Foot Forward.

Rowan

MPs have confirmed that the word ‘insulting’ will be removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

This is a major victory for an unlikely alliance of free speech campaigners including The Christian InstituteThe National Secular Society and Rowan Atkinson.

Last month the home secretary Theresa May announced that the government was ‘not minded to challenge a House of Lords amendment removing the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

In the past Section 5 had been used against street preachers ‘insulting’ homosexuals and LGBT activists ‘insulting’ religious groups.

As Rowan Atkinson commented, “The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult”

This change in law is a victory for freedom of speech in the UK.

There remains, however, an important limiting role for the law to play. That role is to provide protection to those who are victims of threatening or abusive behaviour.

In 2011 I blogged saying that, “We all hold the right to live without fear or intimidation. This has to be legally separated, however, from being ‘insulted”.

The distinction has finally been acknowledged by the government and the change in the law later in the year is now just a formality.

It is worth noting, though, that even with this change in law, the discussion about what constitutes threatening behaviour compared to ‘insulting’ behaviour will remain. There is a considerable grey area around what the law should interpret to be ‘threatening’ and what it should view as merely ‘insulting’.

For example, ‘My Tram Experience’ – a video showing a vile torrent of racist abuse on a south London tram – sparked two very different interpretations.

thought her behaviour was threatening and therefore called for her arrest, while bloggerSunny Hundal argued that she was simply being insulting.

With the change in law however, the police are some way towards having a clear distinction to follow. We are no longer asking them to be the judge of what behaviour is deemed ‘insulting’, at least.

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Dear Dave, The Olympics has nothing to do with the ‘Big Society’

Games Makers – having fun

Whether you like it or not, you are now a symbol of volunteering, a community spirited nation – a ‘big society’ if you will.

If you mix volunteering with community spirit and sprinkle on top some hideous corporate sponsorships, what do you get? Games Makers, and according to Cameron, “[an] expression of the Big Society in action”.  McDonald’s helpfully pointed out that we are all (even the helpless small baby staring blankly) ‘making the Games’ – we are all the Big society.

Nearly a quarter of a million of us applied to volunteer at the Olympics (240,000). Out of these 70,000 were selected based on criteria such as a ‘can do attitude’ and being ‘inspirational’ (I wish I had applied now just to have been in the interview, “So Steve, can you give me an example of when you have been inspirational?”).

I wish to take nothing away from the Games Makers though; they have been a great success.  I take my hat off to you all. What I wish to raise here is what, if anything, Games Makers have to do with Dave and Ronald.

Like the weather and other events that have got literally nothing to with politics, politicians have been falling over themselves to associate themselves with this unprecedented wave of positivity associated with the Olympics.  Cameron cannot help himself but to talk about the Big Society. Before the Games even started he commented, “these Games are the biggest and most tangible expression of the Big Society in action”.

I don’t want to poop on Cameron’s party here, but is it not possible they volunteered because they like sport and/or wanted to be involved in a once in a life time event like the Olympics? Just wanting a little bit of fun without much commitment?

Sunny Hundal the Guardian columnist, got a wee bit of a Conservative backlash earlier when he tweeted, “Chances of Olympics volunteers becoming school sports volunteers wildly optimistic. Most did it to get into watch Olympics”. Ooh the skeptic. It makes sense though, doesn’t it?

40% of those who applied to be volunteers had never volunteered before. Something about the Olympics made people give up their time in a way that the WI, Amnesty International or their local youth club didn’t.

Conservative Dan Hannan MEP however was having none of it. He tweeted back to Sunny in a flash saying, “The ones I’ve spoken to were doing it from sheer decency”.

It rather begs the question though, if this ‘sense of decency’ was enough to inspire them to volunteer why had it never ‘inspired’ them in the past. There is no shortage of very ‘decent’ organisations that are desperate for ‘decent’ volunteers.

Like a one night stand the appeal of the volunteering at the Olympics is simple, it is fun and lacks any real long-term commitment.

Without taking anything away from the volunteers, they are certainly not the foundation building blocks for which to construct long-term social projects. They are there for a quick slap and tickle and then they will be back to their 9-5.

In short Dave, I am afraid the success of the Game Makers has nothing to do with your conceptual Big Society and it has everything to do with the excitement of hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Oh and Ronald, you and your friends over at Big Mac HQ, you have nothing to do with sporting excellence either. You’re as transparent as the grease soaked wrapper of one of your burgers.

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Why Sunny Hundal has got it wrong on “my tram experience”

“My Tram Experience” is an ugly snippet of life in the UK. It is an example of unashamed racism that we should all be eager to condemn. Sunny Hundal (editor of Liberal Conspiracy and comments is free columnist) was quick to join in this condemnation, that was until he saw the ferocious backlash from the tweeting masses.  In Sunny’s words, “Piers Morgan was calling for the woman to be deported, some asked for her to be locked up, while others said her child should be taken away. And those are only the printable responses”.

First on Twitter and then through a comments is free article Sunny made a valuable effort to counter this moral outrage. I won’t try and simplify his arguments but suggest you read his article in full here.

His argument though has a series of holes. Firstly, he claims the law is “an overbearing ass”. Which is true, and it is why I commented that I support this government’s move to remove word ‘insulting’ from the Public Orders Act. In light of this, I would be happy with a law that protects people from “threatening or intimidating” behaviour – not simply ‘insulting’. Sunny it would appear is not.

Sunny seemed to suggest that it was OK to be intimidated and threatened in public. I could not disagree more.  I think it is right and proper that victims of aggression be afforded the protection of the law in such a situation. In this specific circumstance, the woman was clearly intimidating. Sunny’s argument that because she was sat down she didn’t pose a threat is a weak one. This argument would suggest you cannot be verbally intimidated. This is clearly not the case. Shouting “fucking paki” in the face of a Muslim (intimidation does not need to be accurate or PC) or “fucking fag” in the face of a gay man is verbal intimidation. To suggest otherwise is to undermine the terrible experiences that people have to endure on a daily basis.

This has to be separated off from simply holding unpleasant views. I can write all sorts of rubbish, as can our friends in the BNP.  Their views play into a dangerous culture of hatred but should not be outlawed. My views play into a dangerous culture of self-righteous woolly lefties but should certainly not be outlawed. When I start sitting on trams and screaming abuse at anyone who reads the Daily Mail –that’s when my views become intimidating and are illegal. This is an important distinction.

Sunny asks in his article, “Do you really want to give police the willingness to arrest people simply for having an argument?” The answer is clearly no – but I do want to be protected from intimidating behaviour.

Secondly, he suggests the law does not help us challenge the wider problem of racism. Again, I would broadly agree – it is a blunt tool at best. What it does do however, is provide victims with recourse to justice. It can (or at least holds the potential to) give the victims as sense of closure. Although rock against racism (and the plethora of other social movements which have successfully changed attitudes) is as important as ever, suggesting a victim of race hate crime should go to a rock concert or join hope not hate is simply not sufficient. Victims, rightly or wrongly, look to the law to feel justice has been done. We have a responsibility to provide victims with the appropriate legislation. When Sunny point to the Race Relations Act and that it has only had a handful of prosecutions, we know this is a failure of the system and that legislation, not because the crimes are not being committed. The state has let down those who the Race Relations Act was designed to protect.

Finally, Sunny comments, “My fourth argument is simply this: I would rather a world where such incidents didn’t exist but the world will never be perfect. I would much prefer such racism to be open and visible because there are still far too many Westminster commentators who think racism is a thing of the past.” Again, I agree, but this does not mean we have to encourage it! I would rather these issues were in the open – but I am not going to put on a racist poetry evening for racists to come and express themselves at. In the same way, when a racist has clearly broken the law I am not going to go out of my way to argue they shouldn’t be arrested. For some reason Sunny will.

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Do you have an opinon about the BNP?

Do you have an opinion about the BNP? If so lets hear it…no qualifications needed.  Literally anyone can say anything.  Stupidity is no restriction and badly thought out views are welcome.

If you quickly have a look around cyber space you will find lots of badly thought out opinions when it comes to the BNP.  They are not reserved for the likes of amateur bloggers such as me.  Lots of public figures have been out and about stating that they don’t like the BNP.   Even Pete Doherty hates the BNP (http://www.nme.com/news/pete-doherty/45098).  Can you imagine the situation?… A young male is angry and alienated and is considering joining the BNP.  Just at that crucial moment however, he stumbles across Pete Doherty, the moral guru of a generation and sees the light! Another soul is saved by Doherty.

Just in case you cannot be bothered to trawl your way through all these opinions, the BBC has served its purpose as a public service and provided a nice over-view. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8321627.stm.  This way you can be sure lots of people agree with you when you tell the BNP to go f*ck itself and such forth.

If however, you feel like me, and share Mitchel and Webbs concerns (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyl9wltqQZ4).  Then please stop filling cyber space with nasty drivel about the BNP.  Yes we know that they are a racist party; even Nick Griffins mother in law says so (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6431159/Nick-Griffins-mother-in-law-says-the-BNP-leader-is-a-racist.html).  We know that their party is based on a core membership of some nasty characters. 

This is blog is simply a plea.  There are a few really well thought out responses to the BNP.  An example being the recent Quilliam foundation report that can be found at: http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/images/stories/pdfs/in_defence_of_british_muslims_09.pdf or a guardian article by Sunny Hundal  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/19/bnp-nick-griffin-question-time.  Use your cyber space time wisely and get people to read and think.  Do not spend your time entrenching others engrained forms of hatred by ranting about how you would smash Griffins face in if you saw him.  If someone raises questionable views then challenge them but do not waste your time reiterating the anti-BNP message to no-one.  There are lots of people more qualified than us to do that.  Let’s try and rise above it.

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