Netstorms is an evolving set of ideas, conversations and projects that are personal, political or professional.

Just over two weeks ago. I was elected Secretary for the Wall End Ward of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). Last Thursday, I attended my first CLP AGM. I was shocked by the blatant disregard for courtesy, democracy and fairness throughout the proceedings. I wrote the following on Facebook:

I’m not feeling good today, about myself or my part of the world. Last night I attended the AGM of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). My first, as I was elected secretary of my ward just two weeks ago. We were presented with a short agenda and a list of nominees to be officers and delegates. Apparently there had been nominations from the 10 constituency wards that had been presented but were considered invalid so, with 5 exceptions, the list consisted of nominations from branches the GMB union affiliated to the CLP.

Challenges were made and questions asked, through points of order, concerning the legitimacy of the proceedings including the status of the Chair and other officers as delegates. These questions were brushed aside in a meeting that became increasingly tense as the challengers persisted. An explosive moment came when one challenger was asked by the chair if he wanted the CLP to become like than of Tower Hamlets. The challenger asked if he was being asked that question because he was Asian. He was promptly shouted at by others in the meeting and was asked to withdraw the remark. He did this but tried to continue with his objections. The Chair at the suggestion of the Mayor ruled that the meeting should move immediately to elections. There was a vote on this by show of hands where only those in favour were asked to show their hands. There was no count of hands and looking around the room it was unclear to me whether more than half the room had their hands up but the motion was passed, albeit to loud objections.

The Chair then said that only those nominees on the printed list would be standing for election and that there could be no nominations added from the floor. There were objections to this and the meeting was becoming increasing angry. The Chair went through the list and confirmed nominations unchallenged. I don’t know what happened with the four LCF (Local Campaign Forum) positions where more than one candidate was listed as the meeting was very noisy and my anger was bubbling over. It was at around this point that I walked out of the meeting shouting my objections that this was undemocratic and the people sitting and approving it should be ashamed of themselves.

When I am in the throes of ‘righteous anger’ my voice projects well so what I said will have been heard. I am mostly perceived as calm but outrageously unfair and bullying behaviour sends me up the wall and over the edge. But there is nothing righteous about anger even though my perception and position may be clear and correct. Ends do not justify means and angry old men do not look good. I cannot wholly regret my outburst but I will not repeat it as it does me no good and is bad in principle. If it becomes necessary I will withdraw rather than become enraged.

After leaving the meeting I went to a local pub with other ‘dissidents’. Even those who were much more experienced that me said that it was the worst meeting that they had been to. It was utterly clear that candidates supportive of the standing regime had been railroaded through. It is clear too that the process by which this happened is unsupportable. This should be obvious simply from the list of nominees almost entirely nominated from the (unnamed) branches of a single trade union. That list should be all that is needed to mark the whole proceedings as undemocratic, unfair and illegitimate.

I am grateful to have received very supportive comments from many people on this.

The picture of Michael Gove reminded me of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E Newman, I searched for images to confirm the resemblance but didn’t expect to find anything quite so eerily similar.

Hands up in surrender? She says “The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over”. I have no idea whether Theresa May means it or whether Trump means it but this is like murderers saying that they’re not going to murder anymore. It’s a confession. Not a statement of regret or an admission of guilt but a confession that their states have been complicit in sowing chaos and destruction that has resulted in the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands and the undermining of their security and wellbeing. Trump and May might blame previous administrations but they are representatives of a rabidly murderous system whose crimes are obvious to anyone who looks even a little under the lies and distortions of a western media that has largely acted as the propaganda arm of a rapacious Anglo-American empire.

Story in The Duran.

It’s been said that situation in Syria is complex and that there are no ‘good guys’ and I understand that there is corruption and lies on all sides. This however does not mean that all sides are equally corrupt or that they lie equally. More importantly it does not mean that their actions are equally harmful to ordinary people. If I were, for example, a Syrian woman I would much prefer to live under a Ba’athist dictatorship where I wasn’t able to publicly criticise the president but could drive, be educated for any role, practice any religion, show my face and hair as I pleased rather than under a Wahabbist caliphate where I could do none of these things and still not be able to criticise the leadership. It is for this reason that many, I would say the majority of, Syrians support their government and it is why I also support them and their allies rather than the ‘armed opposition’. Although there are complexities there are also simplicities.

I know that not only the mainstream media lies and I try to assess both mainstream and non-mainstream news and commentary by looking at source, internal consistency, evidence and context. One of my main concerns is that we are bombarded with propaganda and do not treat all sources with sufficient scepticism. It is the special power of the mainstream media that makes them deserving of more criticism not their special mendacity though of course there are sources in the mainstream and the non-mainstream media and among politicians that we will trust more than others.

Among the sources that I trust with regard to reporting on Syria are independent journalists Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley, Church of England priest Andrew Ashdown, RT reporter, Lizzie Phelan and researcher Tim Anderson. Truth to be told, I greatly admire these people.

With regard to politicians, I cannot say that I trust any of them. But what is of importance with regard to Syria is not the moral rectitude or democratic credentials of Assad and Putin versus those of Obama, May, Hollande etc. What matters is the degree to which they are helping or harming the Syrian people and in the evidenced judgement of those individuals I have named, it is Assad and his allies who are currently working for the good of the Syrian people while the rebels, foreign mercenaries, and their US, UK and regional backers are working to harm them.