Saturday, 26 February 2011

prisoner number 746

the UN threaten ICC war crimes trial for Gaddafi

I make no apology for continuing in the same vein in my posts here. The current situation in the Middle east and the knowledge that my government has been and is partly responsible for the obstruction of progress to democratic reform in the region haunts me.

While it is clear there is a huge swathe of people in the country who appear to have little or no interest in any of this, I believe there is a larger group who care passionately about the rights and legitimate struggle of repressed people. I believe this group can look beyond the garden fence and see that it is time to change the political structures of our own nation so that, at least we do not benefit from the subjugation of people who's aspirations for a decent quality of life are the same as ours. Isn't time for a thorough Spring cleaning?  

Last night I watched one of the saddest television news items I have ever seen. Orla Guerin, of BBC News, interviewed Saad Iqbal Madni, an Islamic scholar and famous reciter of the Koran, about his being tortured and falsely imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
Every other night Saad Iqbal Madni wakes up screaming. For more than five years the Pakistani Islamic scholar was Prisoner Number 746, one among many of the disappeared in Guantanamo Bay.

This story is pertinent to the ongoing concerns of the British people with regard to UK Government sanctioning and involvement of torture of suspected terrorists. This story made me cry. It is a story of modern barbarism administered at the highest level and it is wholly unjustifiable.
The interview speaks for itself and it is clear that the UK government of the time was involved in the so-called extra ordinary rendition, interrogation and subsequent torture of this man.

Click on link below for the full story :
It has become clearer than ever that UK Government licensing and promotion of the UK arms trade is having a hugely detrimental effect on the peoples we see trying to begin the process of change towards civil, democratic government in their countries.

The UK is culpable for it's self serving support of tyrants like Gaddafi. The UK has been exporting teargas, rubber bullets, water cannon and small arms to Libya and other countries in the region for years. The licences stipulate that the materials are only to be used in defence and not to suppress the people. The items exported cannot be described as for defence. They are regularly used to quell civil unrest in all of the Middle Eastern countries where the people are fighting for their freedom at this time.

The UN has discussed the possibility of Gaddafi and family members standing trial at the International Criminal Court. This might not be so easy as China will oppose this and the USA has not signed up to the ICC treaty for fear that it might be used against their soldiers.

Cameron is currently currying favour with potential arms buyers. They do this in your name and I wonder how much this matters to you. If you care I beseech you to act against the practice of UK sanctioned torture and the arms trade to dictators. There are many of ways in which we can let the UK government know this must stop NOW!

freedom and peace

Friday, 18 February 2011

in the movement of the new reality

Rosa Parks
February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005

American Civil Rights Campaigner

"The only thing I am tired of-
is tired of giving in".

Across Italy this week 1 million women marched against Berlusconi the Italian Prime Minister. It seems the idea that a mass of connected people can bring about real and significant change in their own lives is being tested around the world. Information technology is facilitaing an unstoppable sharing of political ideas, awareness and hope.

For those of you who are not familiar with the 38 degree petitions site the 38 degrees represents the angle necessary for a landslide. Very appropriate for the text below. This text was sent to me, as I am sure it was to all who signed, THE SAVE OUR FORESTS petition at

From 38 degrees
WE'VE WON! The government has just confirmed they're totally scrapping the forest sell-off. The phoney consultation has been cancelled. The sinister legal changes to pave the way for privatisation have been dropped.
We did this together. Next time someone tries to tell any of us that signing petitions or emailing our MPs doesn’t work, we’ll know exactly what to say: “People power does work. Just look at the Save Our Forests campaign”.
Over half a million of us can feel very proud of what we've achieved together today.

Other uplifting news is that the Arabian revolution is spreading fast with Bahrain being the latest nation to rise up. Of course it will be a hard road. Of course people will be hurt. Of course this is always tragic but, how can we not admire their courage and support them? The people are being hurt systematically by state systems that torture any one who dissents and that crush all opposition even when protest is peaceful.
The people have chosen to risk the hurt that might come to them in their struggle to improve things for them selves and their children. The Independent headline for Saturday the 19th of Feb states “They didn’t run away. They faced the bullets Head-on”. It seems that the majority of protesters are willing to sacrifice a great deal, even their lives, for a chance to have what we have by right. The police fired on young children in Bahrain and Libya today.

ln all of the civil unrest across the Middle east the violence has not been initiated by the pro democracy protesters but came from the government thugs. Just as it was that the kettling in Parliament sq and the thuggish elements of the Met police officers precipitated the violence at the Demo over Student fee increases. Of course there is no like for like comparison possible with the struggle in the Middle East but there are similarities. There were no bullets fired in Westminster though a disabled man was dragged from his wheel chair by police, a young man who was behaving peacefully had his skull cracked by police and I witnessed far more assaults on peaceful demonstrators by the police than the other way around.

It is no longer surprising that the tyrants and despots get the tools and the resources for their vicious work supplied by nice little democracies like ours. This is evidenced by the current out cry about the supply of arms and riot gear which is being used by the ruling regime in Bahrain right now.
It’s time for change. The signs are all around. People have had enough of this hypocrisy and want real change. Here in the UK the fight must be primarily for preserving the services vital to those most vulnerable and the basic rights of all in the UK but we also have to stop the ConDem from allowing the arms trading with despots to continue. That old chestnut that some one will sell them the tools of repression if we don’t is no justification for the UK’s trade in arms and riot gear to the dictatorships of the world. One nice Norfolk farmer makes and sells gallows to Iran. How does he get the export licence?

In my opinion the only way to be sure we can rid ourselves of this stinking trade is to get rid of the ConDem and to send a message to the next government that we want them to be better, decent, fair, just, egalitarian, open, transparent and compassionate. I don't want the right to run riot in the streets. I want the poor and the vulnerable to be cared for not attacked as is and will continue to be the case as a result of the vicious Con Dem cuts.

They need to know we will be watching and waiting to see if they do what is needed and that we will not allow their dysfunctional governance to continue . Idealistic, naïve? If two million people march in London on the 26th of March then that could be the beginning of real change. Any little mob bent on violence would not have much impact among such numbers and the Police cannot kettle 2 million of us.

Regarding other people’s reluctance to participate and the arm chair commentators, I say this. Every one must decide what is right for them selves according to their conscience. I respect that this is your right. I respect the views of the pacifist and conscientious objector. I would defend their right to free choice and acknowledge they are often prepared to work just as hard as the next man or woman for the common cause, as long as it does not involve them in committing violence. I think they deserve our full respect.
By contrast it is galling to me that there are millions of anti trade unionists who never joined a union but still benefit from agreements negotiated by a union, with out their involvement. Often they do nothing until it is their neck on the line. Then when they belatedly adopt a self interested militancy they expect the benefits of our Lefty support and usually get it.

I must have heard most of the reasons for none participation. I know a man who has physically abused most of the women in his life, at some point, yet he professes a non-violent philosophy as his reason for not marching. There are those who claim to have done their bit already and there are those who just can’t be bothered.

When I was at school and a bunch of us were in trouble it was often with justification though not always. I got used to looking around to find my erstwhile comrades had disappeared when the time came to make our defence.
When I first worked in a factory, as a comparative youngster, I complained that the safety guards for the machinery only came out of their boxes when the Factory Inspector visited. Many of the men I worked with backed off from the issue as soon as our boss, the Fat Controller flexed his muscles. I remember the women machinists did not back off so easily. They suggested I wore a hair net to avoid being sacked for having long hair, as a result of my protest, and I did.

So, I am used to the vagaries of the support one can expect in this life and I take it where I can. I have had plenty in my life and for this I am very grateful.

These are the days of change whether we are ready or not and whether it is comfortable or not. This is our chance to shape the future of this nation and how it is regarded by the rest of the world. You can be sure I will play my part for as long as I am able. My dad marched with a placard in protest outside the school my brother was unfairly expelled from. He would have had some things to say about the state of the nation. My mom would revel in the opportunity to join and participate in the movement of the new reality.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

strat love


I first saw her one sunny Saturday afternoon in Royal Leamington Spa. She was as beautiful as summer and I immediately fell head over heels in love with her. The classic American beauty stole my heart and I had to have her.
I had just purchased a second hand Hohner Telecaster in Sunburst from Rentons in Leamington just opposite what we called the bridges. This was where the grand Georgian buildings gave way to a more recent Victorian and Edwardian architecture. It was the rougher part of town.

Mr Renton, as we up and coming twangers called him, was a true gent. Yes, he ran his business much like others but he had a real feel for the needs and circumstances of his customers. Not once did he seem put out by the young bloods with their ever growing locks, even when we filled his shop on a Saturday afternoon to chat and admire his stock. It was the best music shop for miles. There was another music shop around the corner but it wasn’t funky and it never had the selection of most wanted guitars that Mr Renton had. Previous to the Hohner Tele I had a shorts scale Futurama in their version of Fiesta Red. I loved it and of all the guitars I’ve had it is one I wished I’d kept.

Any way the Tele seemed a better buy so I traded the Futurama in for it. Two weeks later the love of my life appeared in Renton’s shop window. She was so evocative of the time. Red and gorgeous with a strange extra switch to combine pick ups. Not so long ago I asked my guitar man if he thought it should be replaced or even removed. He looked at me in horror and shook his head gravely. “Leave everything as it is” he pronounced.

Back then images of the 1962 Fender Stratocaster filled my head so that at times I could hardly think of any thing else, except Howling Wolf and girls.The sleek looks of the American beauty with the patented body cut away convinced me I had to have her.

My dad had the metal bridge cover of the Tele re-chromed at his work place. Because of this the very kind Mr Renton allowed me the full price back against the Strat. In the end I paid £50 for her. It was a good investment though that wasn’t a consideration back then. Now even after yours truly has bashed her against Marshall Stacks, played her hard for 40 years and had her re-finished twice, she is worth thousands. I’ve toyed with the idea of selling her and buying a couple of new Yank Stratocasters but it would be a wrench.I used to lean the strat some where in my bedroom so that it was the first and last thing I looked at before sleeping and waking. Yes! I was obsessed.

This was the model of guitar that Hank Marvin played and later Jimi Hendrix and a long list of axe wielding luminaries. Many years later I was to meet Hank at Abbey Road Studios during the mixing Of Apache Drop Out. He found the whole thing very amusing and told me he would have lent me the echo unit he used on Apache if he'd known about the project. Unfortunately the very great Jerry Lordan who wrote Apache hated our mash up of Marvin and Beefheart. Later the track would be re-released on a magazine sampler of “mash up” tracks. It was labelled the very first of it’s kind.

This guitar was played by Eric Clapton at the Round House in Chalk farm London. It was a jam session after our gig there. I remember my mum grabbing me by the arm and asking me “Who is that guy playing your guitar”? I think she thought he hadn’t even asked, which of course he had. When I told her who he was she let it go. I had visions of her jumping up on stage to snatch it from him. She was quite capable of doing it.

Years before the band moved to London some of the guys brought John Mayalls Blues breakers back to our house in Warwick after their gig in Birmingham. I was in bed and the guys woke me up to announce we had V.I.P. guests. After break fast Peter Green tuned the action on my beloved axe. He was so nice and very helpful. Years later our paths would cross at Buxton Festival and others. Later that week Vic Unitt, our guitarist suggested that our name, The original Road Runners, was old hat. It was decided we would now be The Edgar Broughton Blues Band.

The current livery of the 1962 Strat was painted by Dean Colman a graffiti artist A.K.A. Zeus. Dean is now regarded as an important international contemporary artist. I was Dean’s youth worker for about three years.

Dean on a boat he painted in Norway

          1971                   1962           
So what are the qualities that gave the vintage Red Fiesta Fender Stratocaster it’s allure? The sculptured body is unique and anatomically perfect. The pick ups were hand wound by Leo Fender or one of his disciples. The patented tremelo offered a wide range of possible pitch bending opportunities. It stays in tune reasonably well. Most important of all it has a very versatile range of tone possibilities. From Marvin to Hendrix the sounds it can produce seem almost infinite.
This guitar featured heavily in the contemporary music of those days. The great guitar driven songs and instrumentals that were beloved of Fun fair goers and coffee bar cowboys was the soundtrack to my teenage life. This was a time when all of my school exercise books had a drawing of a Fender Stratocaster on the cover.
I have played many different guitars over the years but I always feel properly dressed when I have a Fender Stratocaster hanging around my neck. My 62 Strat has been a good servant and still is though she is retired except for very special occasions.
Recently I bought a Cliffy Biro, (I know that is not their name), Simon Neil Signature Strat in fiesta red. Can’t say I like their tunes much but the guitar rocks. It’s a Squire version of the great marque, I do love a bargain and at £260-00 it is a snip. She looks beautiful with aged fittings and superb electrics and plays well straight out of the box. I won’t have to worry about taking this guitar on the road where as taking my vintage Strats on the road is a big risk.

I am planning a trip to Leamington later this year to meet up with some old mates for a jam around new material. I am planning a show in the area called Bring it on home after the Sonny Boy Williamson / Brownie McGhee song, if all goes well.
I shall take the Squire Strat to visit the place her big sister came from and to fill my old stamping ground with the Fender Strat sound of yours truly.


Forest sell off
The People 1 - Con Dem 0


Friday, 11 February 2011



Nothing endures but change.

Heraclitus,Greek philosopher (540 BC - 480 BC)



•Monday 14th February Valentines Day Rally: We love our Public Services. Downing Street 5pm-7pm with Bob Crow, John McDonnell MP, Ruth Serwotka Steve Hart – sponsored by SERTUC and Unite (London and Eastern Region).

•Tuesday 15th February Mass Lobby of Parliament Tell MPs: Hands off our homes, our benefits and our rights. Rally in Central Hall Westminster and mass lobby of Parliament. 12-4pm. Called by Defend Council Housing.

•Wednesday 16th February COR Public Meeting Goldsmiths College with Caroline Lucas MP, Tariq Ali and Clare Solomon

•Wednesday 16th February COR Public Meeting with Keep Our NHS Public Conway Hall WC1 with Dr Jacky Davis, Wendy Savage and John Lister. More info.

•Thursday 17th February Birmingham Against the Cuts Public Meeting. 7:30pm at The Council House. Cllr Salma Yaqoob, Respect Caroline Johnson, Unison Paul Mackney, former General Secretary UCU and others…

•Saturday 19th February Mass leafleting for March 26th demonstration – stalls throughout the country.


Hoax - Apology and retraction.

You will have noticed that the previous post has been deleted.
The content of the post was sent to me in good faith and I published it here
with out fully checking it. The email sent to me, on which my post was based, was a hoax. I apologise unreservedly for posting some of it's content and for any upset this caused.

The good news is that the 8 yr old Iranian kid depicted having his arm crushed by the wheel of a car, as punishment for stealing bread, was part of a street theatre group. He hadn't stolen any bread but was "earning his bread". I have seen a picture of him later laughing and smiling. His arm was not damaged.

The images of  the real horrors of Iranian punishments such as hanging children and stoning girls and women are vivid enough. There is no need to fabricate evidence against the cruel regime. How ever, I feel particularly bad about my mistake on this occasion because, I am always concious of the need to try to create balance and accuracy in what I post here.

Finally, I am relieved this was a hoax, after all. Be assured I will do every thing I can to ensure this does not happen again.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Listening to Obama declaring US avowed intent to support the legitimate rights of assembly and the democratic principles where ever people are struggling to attain them, it seemed to be a worthy and honourable thing he was trying to achieve but one sensed the real self interest behind the words. He was speaking of the aspirations of the Egyptian people currently engaged in their struggle against the Mubarak regime.

History records American foreign policy in parts of South America where the USA changed its mind as to which political group it wanted in power. So the once detested left wing guerrilla group became the preferred party and US sponsored violence was employed to oust their former political friends in government.

Saddam Hussein was another one time friend who had served his usefulness. Eventually it was the US that urged the people of the marshlands in the south of Iraq to rise up against Saddam. They did so but without US intervention or support, they were slaughtered in their thousands.

Obama needs a friendly power in the middle east to help support the interests of the US and the State of Israel. Even though the USA repeatedly urge moderation and justice from Israel, in its dealings with the Palestinians,
nothing much changes.

So what would you do if you lived in a country where:

1. The poor and the vulnerable are massively unequal in society.

2. The government takes care of the interests of the rich as a first priority.

3. The government opposes the use of torture of any kind and yet turns a blind eye to torture carried out, in its own name, when it is expedient.

4. Where a million people might march against a war and go away with nothing.

5. Where the government purports to support the rule of law and human and civil rights and yet finds a justification for it to make illegal war.

6. Where civil protest is acceptable providing it is toothless and obedient.

7. Where, in partnership with its allies, it trades with the worst offenders against human rights for purely fiscal reasons.

8. Where the structures that provide social care, education and health care can be sacrificed for profit.

9. Where the people must go without because of the greed and ineptitude of the ruling classes.

10. Where the rights of the people are continually diminished as the rights of the state are expanded.


peace and best wishes for those opposed to the continuing rule of Mubarak