A personal announcement on same-sex marriage

Wedding rings 2

Dear friends and readers,

Thankyou for your support and sympathy in this difficult time for Katie and I.

As you may already know, New Zealand’s parliament passed historic legislation this evening to legalise same-sex marriage; an act that cultural commentators have warned will irreparably destroy the institution of heterosexual marriage.

Katie and I have been in a loving, fulfilling relationship for seven years now – four of them as a married couple – but as of 11pm NZST we each experienced a sudden loss of interest, attraction and even basic human empathy with regard to one another.

We are therefore separating as of today, with a view to finding new partners of our own respective genders in order to comply with the spirit and letter of the law.

Since such marriages are reportedly intrinsically unsatisfying and inauthentic, my only consolation is that they are also poor environments for raising children due to their ‘party’ lifestyle and copious consumption of hard drugs.

Thankyou again for your kind words and support.

[In case it’s not abundantly clear, I’m kidding. Why not go read a serious critique though, courtesy of the Queer Avengers’ Beyond Marriage blog.]


SQUASH speaks out: how anti-squatting laws saw Daniel Gauntlett freeze to death

Above: Hove & Portslade MP Mike Weatherley, who told MPs the overlap between homelessness and squatting was a “myth”.

Following on from yesterday’s interview with the creator of Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet?, I’ve continued to try and get a response out of Tory MP Mike Weatherley, who authored the piece of legislation that made it a crime for Daniel and others to enter an otherwise unoccupied house. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet: a brief interview

Image by Aran Chandaran used under a Creative Commons license.

Some stories enrage you because there shouldn’t have to be anything more to say; no National Debate or serious frowny faces on Question Time. The HIV-positive asylum seeker and her 10-month-old child who starved to death in a Westminster flat last March. The teenager who set himself on fire in a council office in December after they refused to find him a home.

And now there’s 35-year-old homeless man Daniel Gauntlett, who died of hypothermia in Aylesford last week on the porch of an empty bungalow that he could not enter without facing arrest and a criminal record.

You can read the Kent Messenger’s original story by Chris Hunter here — but spreading equally quickly through Twitter, Facebook and the like is the savage fury of Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet?, an anonymous website launched within days of the report that directly links Gauntlett’s death to the legislation authored by Tory MP Mike Weatherley and passed into law last year that criminalised any act of squatting in a residential property, derelict or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Weak In Review: The Lib Dems’ Deal-breaker Is Just As You’d Expect

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg pictured with Zimbabwean PM Morgan Tsvangirai, described by US diplomats as a “weak and indecisive” figure providing political cover for a ruthless autocrat under a token power-sharing agreement.

[First published in The Morning Star, 19/01/13]

So the Lib Dems have finally drawn their line in the sand.

Not the regressive tax system they pledged to scrap, only to trade a mansion tax for a VAT hike; not the “fair chance for every child”, replaced with increasingly desperate child poverty and real-terms school funding cuts under the Pupil Premium; not the university tuition fees they vowed to wipe out, then trebled (and are now thinking of pledging to cut again). Not even hiving off the NHS and slashing its funding, generating broad revulsion and derision even in their own conference halls.

No, the Liberal Democrats’ first front-bench revolt in three years of coalition rule turned out to be a procedural bill that would diminish their own prospects for re-election — a decision that, like their leader Nick Clegg, somehow comes across as both cynicial and naively optimistic at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

Up Yours: Benefit uprating & the Westminster consensus of cruelty

[First published in The Morning Star, 12/01/13]

“These are not decisions taken lightly or easily,” said the devout Catholic millionaire as he clipped the jobseekers’ allowance to as little as £54 a week.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith inspired revulsion and ridicule this week with the welfare uprating bill — a euphemistic plan to deliberately starve vulnerable households over the next three years by restricting increases in a slew of benefit payments to just one percent, half the expected rate of inflation. But Labour’s principled opposition is not so principled as it seems. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t be fooled — Starbucks’ tax pledge loses a battle to win the war

[First published in The Morning Star, 08/12/2012]

Britain’s business editors were gobsmacked this week as coffee chain Starbucks, the very avatar of global capital, pledged to voluntarily increase its corporation tax payments.

“Starbucks will not claim tax deductions for royalties and standard intercompany charges,” managing director Kris Engskov said in an open letter.

“Furthermore, Starbucks will commit to paying a significant amount of tax during 2013 and 2014 regardless of whether the company is profitable during these years.”

But if Engskov was expecting an avalanche of excitable soundbites about “responsible capitalism”, he was sorely mistaken. Even Parliament’s most reliable neoliberals have held their tongues: possibly because the company also chose this week to slash paid lunch breaks and sick leave for its barely minimum-wage, non-unionised baristas, but more likely thanks to chief financial officer Troy Alstead’s contemptuous performance before MPs on the public accounts committee. Read the rest of this entry »

Crosby/Textor: David Cameron’s dark masters of dogwhistle politics


[First published in The Morning Star, 24/11/2012]

Britain teeters on the brink of a “triple-dip recession,” or what non-economists might simply call a depression.

The government’s reneging on council funding has slashed budgets in the most deprived areas by more than 14 per cent, with the promise of more cuts to come.

The cannibalisation of the NHS continues, an unregulated energy and housing market risks people dying in the cold in droves and the Tories’ latest sop to the reactionary law-and-order demographic – the police and crime commissioners – is seemingly the only thing less popular than their own coalition partners.

A lot could happen in the next two years, but none of it looks good.

Which is presumably why David Cameron’s office last week quietly hired Lynton Crosby of the notorious Australian firm Crosby Textor to coddle him all the way to 2015’s general election.

But Crosby Textor are more than campaign strategists. They are sorcerers, summoning humanity’s worst instincts seemingly out of thin air. Read the rest of this entry »