Tuesday, 4 May 2010

CiF All Pluckered Up

The intention had been to do a bit more posting about the highs and lows of the mighty CiF, but there only seem to be lows at the moment.

For some reason which has never been explained - probably because the words could never penetrate the shame and blame - The Guardian chose to use Pluck for the software to drive the heroic pages presenting its face and persona to the online world.

For some days now, the site has been working above and beyond its normal clunky self - which is to say that it has pretty much collapsed into a shivering heap which squeals when kicked.

So, it has seemed kinder to leave it to its own private grief and failure.

Apart from the fact that it also tends to crash browsers as soon as you open a page.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Big It Up For AllyF

Following Gordon Brown's comment about an old woman (Gillian Duffy) being a bigot and the media and electoral hand-wringing and recriminations which have been the result - along with throwing away an election which was otherwise almost in the bag for New Labour[!] - we may as well kick things off here with a post from AllyF of CiF fame.

There is  some background to this story on CiF in terms of an article published to which AllyF commented as follows:

29 Apr 2010, 1:17PM 


So here's what I want you to do. The vast majority of you will know an immigrant: they might be a close friend, they might be the girl who makes your decaf skinny latte in the coffee shop, they might be a colleague. I want you to go up to that person and ask them what it's like being an immigrant in the UK. Even if you think you know them really well already, you probably have never thought or talked to them about these things. How does it feel to be so far away from home? To leave your life behind and start again from scratch? To be in the middle of a general election where you have no voice? Why did they come here? What do and don't they like about Britain? What's it like where they come from? Be nice and polite, approach them carefully, explain that you are trying to educate yourself, to understand and to become a better person. Listen. Don't judge. Maybe you'll learn something.

Milena, much like you describe, I am seething with anger right now. But for rather different reasons. I don't want to be deleted, so I am going to try my hardest to be painfully polite here.

I live in an area of inner city Manchester that is very similar to the area Gillian Brown lives in nearby Rochdale. We have had strong immigrant communities for decades. Our children go to very mixed schools and play with each other, our friends and neighbours are variously white British, black, Asian, Irish, Chinese, African and European. We befriend each other, frequent each others' shops, businesses, takeaways etc etc etc. We chat to each other in the queue for Netto. Many of us date each other. Mixed relationships are very common. The last time the BNP put up a candidate for the council they got about 50 votes here.

We muddle through, and we get on with each other.

Over the past 5 years, our community has been rapidly and dramatically transformed. Within a square quarter mile around a thousand East European Roma have moved in. They have become the single largest ethnic minority almost overnight in our particular neighbourhood. It has caused both practical and emotional turmoil for many people. We are a very tolerant, diverse community. There has been no rioting, no firebombing, no racist graffiti. We've been generally welcoming and friendly to individuals.

But again and again, I have heard my neighbours say things like 'where have all these Eastern Europeans come flocking from?' It's a genuine question. People cannot understand why they are here, why they have come to this country and in particular, why they have come to our neighbourhood. They just genuinely don't get it. Nobody thought to warn us it might happen. Nobody bothered to explain.

I can understand you feeling hurt by what happened yesterday, but don't you dare tell people like Gillian Duffy to educate themselves. Don't you dare tell people like me to 'educate ourselves.' Don't tell us to 'talk to immigrants' as if we've never met an immigrant in our lives before.

And above all, don't you dare tell people like my friends and neighbours, someone like Mrs Duffy, to become a 'better person.'

How dare you?

How fucking dare you?


Later, after various exchanges, AllyF posts this over on WADDYA:

1 May 2010, 3:29PM 


Personally I'm not remotely interested in discussions about 'indigenous people' in a UK context. Of course indigenous Europeans, but they are not facing any kind of existential threat, and it is ridiculous of the BNP et al to talk in those terms. But I appreciate that I wasn't part of that particular conversation.

I'm fascinated, though, that you think I've been 'pandering to the right.'

My concern is that some of the most impoverished, marginalised and deprived communities in the country have found themselves facing further disadvantage and upheaval because they have borne the immediate costs of a neoliberal economic policy - importing cheap labour to drive down production costs. As I said earlier, I agree that immigration is a good thing, but it brings both benefits and costs. The benefits have been shared around the nation, but the costs have been disproportionately borne by the poorest and most disadvantaged (of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds).I'm calling for consideration and support for those communities, such as proper funding for local schools and medical services which have been stretched beyond breaking point by a sudden, unbudgeted spike in demand due to an immigration-related population bubble. Please explain how that is pandering to the right?

My other concern is that when one person affected in this way asked a question about it to the Prime Minister, she was branded a bigot for no reason other than that she had raised the question. Even after Gordon Brown and every Labour Party MP had retracted it, apologised, and agreed that there was nothing bigoted in her comments, many people on Cif (ATL & BTL) queued up to insist that she was a bigot all along. I'm concerned that this is nothing to do with her actual words, and much more to do with a deep-lying contempt for the working class. Pandering to the right?

Above all, I was extremely angry that Cif commissioned an article in which a writer was highly patronising, condescending and rude about an elderly working class socialist, telling her, and people like her, that she should "talk to an immigrant" in order to educate herself and 'become a better person'. Pandering to the right?

In a nutshell, my opinion is that this fiasco has highlighted a grotesque contempt felt by many of the political and intellectual elite, especially among New Labour and the bourgeois left, towards working class people, including many people that I live alongside, work alongside, and count as my friends. But if I object, I am pandering to the right. .

Anyway, on that note, I'm going to ban myself from discussing this further, because having been called right-wing, racist, a fraud, a liar and compared to Enoch Powell, and frankly I'm tired of having to defend myself. But after the weekend I'm going to contact the Cif editors with an idea how we might take this further.

It's been an experience.


So, let's take this as a starting point for what should be a regular look at what is happening at The Guardian, especially on the funny, clumsy, sometimes interesting, generally chaotic, bizarre, weird, infuriating and very occasionally enlightening pages of CiF and let's see if anything comes of AllyF's contact with the editors.

Monday, 15 March 2010


The Guardian's Comment is Free website has been making it perfectly clear for a long time now that it hates having anything to do with the filthy scum who provide it with free content below the line.

This is the chance for people to have their say beyond the reach of the moderators and the editors.