Twitter 1, BNP 0

My Twitter feed has been alive all day with news of, and activity around, the BNP’s planned hosting of an event in Polmont tomorrow at which party leader Nick Griffin was due to speak (thanks @vicki_jamieson). To their credit, @MacdonaldHotels – the owners of the venue – have cancelled the booking, leaving the BNP with nowhere to go.

Fuller details are contained over at Eric Joyce MP’s blog (hat-tip: @johannabaxter). Joyce is right to acknowledge the role of Twitter in mobilising anti-racists to put pressure on the hotel group concerning the booking – and this is self-evidently a tribute to the immediacy of the power in this direction of social networking. And a terrific achievement for anti-BNP forces it is, too.

But this is not the first time this has happened recently. The STUC has also taken on Best Western group over a booking it took for the BNP in Leicester (the STUC involved itself as a result of the work of Satnam Ner, a trade union activist from Prospect – the union for professionals). The STUC reports a positive outcome to its representations to Best Western over the event, as well as the likelihood of the continuance of ‘a good working relationship’ as a result of its actions. I’m not sure that Macdonald Hotels has such a working relationship with the STUC – but evidently the example set by STUC/Best Western is a strong one within the sector.

Such action take once is innovative; twice, then it has become a trend. Hotels across the UK not taking bookings from the BNP at all is the goal – and the mobilisation power of social networking means we’re one step closer to achieving exactly that.

Cheers all round.


Equality and the Budget

A brief word for the Fawcett Society’s day in court on Monday challenging the Budget on the grounds that the Treasury had not conducted the appropriate equality impact assessment – and that the Budget was, thereby, unlawful. The Fawcett Society is appealing for supporters to attend the Royal Courts of Justice, in the Strand, where the case is being held, to show their support for a judicial review of the Budget.

At a time when the ConDem’s true colours are being shown in the decision to hold s.73 of the 2010 Equalities Act in abeyance, thus allowing businesses the room voluntarily to decide whether or not publicly to disclose information on the gender pay gap in their own firms, the case is a timely reminder that not only is the Budget inimical to women’s interests, so is the coalition government. It seems increasingly the case that equal pay can only be delivered by greater transparency over pay decisions, but a government which is so evidently not committed to transparency is not only clearly in hock to business interests, but is also in no place to advance the equalities agenda.

Спасибо, г-н Блаттер. Ваши деньги в конверте

Gutted. Obviously.

Given the public desire for a hanging so as to allocate blame for the failure of the England bid, Panorama and the Sunday Times look to be first up against the wall. There are evidently a lot of angry people about – but the point of a free press is that it’s able to say what it wants to, when it wants to, even when it’s a bit uncomfortable. Which is kind of the point – and, I suspect, not quite the case in a couple of other countries I could name. Stories emerging about Blatter reminding FIFA executive committee delegates of the ‘evils of the media’ just indicates that there is something to hide and reinforces the view that Panorama and the Sunday Times were right to act as they did.

What is interesting in this context, however, was the decision by FIFA first not to declare the round-by-round voting details, just an overall winner, and then to decide to do so. I do wonder how much of a role in this decision was played by England coming, well, last out of four and a desire to stick one back: a sort of two finger salute in return for the two votes the bid won and the quickest possible early bath.

At least Russia does have a footballing tradition.

As for Qatar in 2022: a  country with no footballing tradition (and therefore no-one to bring the game to), where homosexuality is illegal (football doesn’t exactly have the best of records here but at least awareness of the need to do better for gay footballers is improving) and where games may well be played in 50 degree heat is clearly more than just a ‘high risk’; it should never have made it to the voting floor. Evidently, a somewhat naive view. Neither can I see the country’s success doing much for the environment: the stadia may be zero carbon despite all that air con and, while the need for mega blocks of construction only to dismantle the new grounds for export to developing countries has an appeal at one level – well, it would have won a few more votes – it does defeat the object of having something sustainable in place after the event. And just where is all that new transport infrastructure going to take people once the stadia have all been dismantled?

Football is an international game and the media frenzy is such that it probably increasingly doesn’t really matter where the World Cup is hosted (other than where respect for human rights is evidently lacking). Indeed, there’s probably some truth in the rumour that Sepp Blatter is, as I write, checking out NASA’s research into alternative biochemistry make-up to see whether Mars can host the World Cup in 2050. Only time will tell, but the desire to extend football’s influence into new places seems at this stage already to have reached its apotheosis with Qatar.

Final word to @kmflett:

England World Cup bid- Dave Cameron & Boris Johnson confirm that John Major’s King Midas in Reverse Syndrome is back.

Nice one!