Monday, 9 March 2020

Tweets about 'free speech' and Trevor Phillips



(I'm not in the Labour Party) Trevor Phillips has been free and is free to say a whole raft of things about Muslims. An organisation or institution is free to say that it doesn't want someone who writes what he writes as a member. The IHRA code works in the same way.

There are two different areas that govern free speech: the law and the noise of the mass media. The second has decided that the Trevor Phillips case is a breach of free speech and implementing the IHRA code and the 'Ten Pledges' is not a breach of free speech.


Very interesting that 'free speech' is suddenly an issue again. When the IHRA code was argued about, various people said that it raised 'free speech' questions. The fact that they did raise it, 'proved' that they were antisemitic. Apparently. Interesting topic is 'free speech'.

As only certain news stories gain prominence then there is also 'free speech in reverse' e.g. how little attention is paid to things e.g. why we haven't had the Arcuri report.

If anyone reading this sees or hears on the media the question of the IHRA code or the 'Ten pledges' being raised as part of the 'free speech' issue, could they please tweet it to me?

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Now it's me, raised eyebrows, and the Jewish Chronicle...



The Jewish Chronicle on me being affirmed by Show Racism the Red Card as a judge of their children's poetry competition says:

"The choice of Jewish children’s author Michael Rosen, another well-known defender of the Labour Party against antisemitism allegations, raised eyebrows."

This is an important point. Presumably, the Chronicle's journalists have been out and about doing eyebrow checks, going up to people and saying,'Excuse me, have you heard? Michael Rosen has been chosen by Show Racism the Red Card as a judge of a children's poetry competition!' And then they stand back to see if eyebrows are raised.


Then again, I'm not sure whose eyebrows were raised. The article doesn't specify. I mean i know people who have at least one eyebrow raised all the time. Like the Everton Football Club manager, Ancelotti. Would that count? Or does the eyebrow have to go up?

Even so, who are these eyebrow raisers? And when do they get to take their eyebrows down? In my experience, I've found it hard-going standing about keeping your eyebrows raised. Is there a qualifying time? Do you have to have your eyebrows raised for a minimum length of time for it to count as raised? Or can a quick eyebrow flip - up-down - count too?

Anyway, please can you go out today and say to someone, 'Michael Rosen is a judge of children's poetry for Show Racism the Red Card' - and see what happens to the eyebrows?

Get back to me. Let me know how it goes on the eyebrow front. It's a big thing, eyebrows.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Teachers: some great notes for 'The Missing'


Hello teachers.
If you have my book 'The Missing' and are reading it with your pupils you may want to use some wonderful notes written by Nikki Gamble from Just Imagine. You can get the notes from:



They are also available from the following websites:
Just Imagine
Reading Agency
Schools Library Association
Read for Good 
TES
And Roving Books have hard copies.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Grand old Duke of York - English test paper

The grand old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill
and he marched them down again.

When they were up, they were up.
When they were down, they were down.
And when they were only half way up,
they were neither up nor down.


1. How many men did the Duke of York have? (ten thousand: one mark)
2. Where did he march them ? (Up to the top of the hill and down again: two marks)
3. Where were they, when they were up? (Up: one mark)
4.  Where were they, when they were down? (Down: one mark)
5. Where were they, when they were half way up? (Neither up nor down: one mark)
6.  Write down the order in which the Duke of York marched his men. (Up then down: two marks)
7. Why did the Duke of York march his men up? (To get to the top of the Hill: two marks) 
8. Why did the Duke of York march his men down? (To get to the bottom of the hill: two marks) 
9. What does 'neither up nor down' mean?  (Only half way up: one mark)
10. Why did the Duke of York do all this? (Not possible at this stage to assign a mark to this question.)

Monday, 27 January 2020

The Guardian has a go at the Labour Party on Holocaust Memorial Day

Here is a paragraph from today's Guardian editorial for Holocaust Memorial Day:

"In Hungary, the prime minister, Viktor Orb├ín, has pursued a prolonged dog-whistle campaign against the Jewish philanthropist George Soros, whose arguments in favour of accepting Muslim migrants from the Middle East have been presented as “endangering the Christian culture of Europe”. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Labour party’s failure to effectively combat the use of antisemitic tropes by some members led to a breakdown in its relations with the Jewish community."


This leaves out:
1. The person who has repeated the Soros trope in Britain is Rees-Mogg. Not only 'repeated'! He directed his comments to two Jewish MPs, Oliver Letwin and John Berkow. 

2. Tim Montgomerie, Johnson's aide at the time, said that the UK should have a closer relationship with Orban who not only plays the antisemitic card but also has racialised IVF treatment in what must be one of the first official government pronouncements in Europe of racialised eugenics since the Nazis. 

3. Dominic Cummings (Johnson's adviser) has twice picked out Goldman Sachs as a special example of what's wrong with the EU and its financial arrangements identifying the bank having 'fingers in every pie'. By selecting a bank that was founded by Jewish financiers, I suggest that this is deliberate dog-whistling in order to racialise Cummings' real or phoney objections to international finance. We should remember that whatever arguments that we have with international financiers it's not the ethnicity or religion of the financiers that is the problem. 

4. And if we're talking about the failure of dealing with 'antisemitic tropes', Johnson himself has never had to answer for the fact that he platformed and edited 'Taki' a self-identifying antisemite when he, Johnson, was editor of the Spectator.

5. The Guardian has conceded here that the long and the short of the Labour antisemitism crisis is the use of antisemitic tropes. Is that it? Well, if that's the case, how does that distinguish the Labour Party from the rest of society? UK society and culture and politics is full of antisemitic tropes. My thought has always been: if we are combatting antisemitism but only combat it in the Labour Party, we are not combatting antisemitism, we are combatting the Labour Party. And that's precisely what the Guardian has done on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Holocaust Memorial Day song for children


Each year Holocaust Memorial Day has a theme. This year it’s ‘Stand together’. I work closely with schools in Cambridge doing poetry, song, drama and documentary, doing a variety of story-telling, poetry performance, getting the children writing and performing too. This is all under the auspices of Professor Helen Weinstein and ‘HistoryWorks’. This year they asked me to write lyrics for three songs, one for Primary, one for Secondary and one for the Community.

Here are the lyrics for the primary song. Hundreds of children will sing this in the Cambridge Corn Exchange on January 26:


A child wanders through the ruins

A family fears a knock at the door

A grandma looks for her old home

They know they didn’t start this war



We are better

when we stand together

When we stand together

We are better



The child is ours, we must make it safe

The family’s ours, we must hear their call

The grandma’s ours, we must find a home

We know we have to stand with all



We are better

When we stand together

when we stand together

we are better







The music is here:

https://audioboom.com/posts/7470401-we-are-better-when-we-stand-together-singing-guide-by-bethany-kirby-composer-for-historyworks?playlist_direction=reversed

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Oh dear, I shouldn't have been at the vigil

Over the last 60 years I've been on hundreds of demonstrations in support of people or in solidarity with them and then last week along came an issue where I was actually demonstrating on behalf of myself: the antisemitic daubing in Hampstead - about two miles from where I live.

I now find that instead of being told that this or that issue (as with the last 60 years worth of demos) was not really my issue and that it was e.g. a matter for the government to decide which country to invade or it was a matter for the police to decide which group of fascists could walk down which street, this time I find that there are people saying that I wasn't entitled to be at this demonstration because it wasn't really to do with me. This seems to be because the graffiti (apparently) wasn't attacking me, it was attacking them.

I had no idea that antisemites were so careful and nuanced in their choice of Jew.