Friday, 28 January 2022

NOCTURNA - Daughters of the Night (Scarlet Records)

Something a little different for the weekend as another record arrives from Italy but this band Nocturna actually hail from the Lebanon which can't have been an easy place to form and perform a death metal band. However this debut album proves that metal in all it's forms can appeal to everyone around the world.

  • Grace Darkling - lead vocals 
  • Rehn Stillnight - lead vocals 
  • Antares - bass 
  • Hedon - guitar Deimos - drums
You can find out more about the band from their 

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Open letter to Gwent Police ‘How is quantifying men’s fatal violence against women offensive?’

According to Gwent Police these anti-domestic violence stickers are offensive. Since when has campaigning against male violence bee offensive given not just the wide spread scale of it but also the increase during the lock-down. One wonders about the motives of whoever made any complaint in the current climate whereby there has been bullying and censorship against women activists and their organisations.

This is a story that not only raises concern about women's rights but everyone's right to free speech. Saying women suffer from domestic violence would only be offensive to the perpetrators one would think.

Femicide Census have sent the following letter to Gwent policed and have raised a legal team to fight their corner

Dear Chief Constable Pam Kelly and Superintendent Vicki Townsend,

We write from the Femicide Census, the UK’s only resource documenting the number of women killed by men. Our research has been used by the Home Office and the police, for example, when state bodies need to cite data on women killed by men. This is because the UK government and state agencies fail to collate this data.

On 25 January 2022 we were alerted via Twitter to an incident where we understand a woman was arrested by Gwent police for ‘displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ after putting up posters, referred to by Superintendent Vicki Townsend as ‘offensive material’. In particular our attention was drawn to one poster that read ‘3+ KILLED BY MEN EACH WEEK – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE KILLS.’

It is unclear from communications from Gwent police why that particular poster that contains this statement constitutes ‘offensive material’ or is ‘threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’. However, it is of great concern to us if this statement has led to an arrest, both for the woman concerned and as well as our organisation and all the journalists and other bodies that use our data, which effectively states the same thing: that women are killed by men.

Femicide is internationally recognised, and although definitions vary, all are based on the premise that a woman is killed because she is a woman, and the killing in most cases is perpetrated by a man or men.

Within the UK we have used the term over the 8 years that the Femicide Census project has been in existence and used it within numerous reports and countless newspaper articles and interviews. Our research has shown that over a ten-year period a woman was killed by a man every 3 days. This includes women killed by current or former partners, sons, other family members, acquaintances and strangers.

This statistic was repeated by DCC Maggie Blyth, the National Police Chief’s Council Lead for Violence Against Women and Girls in the Foreword to Policing Violence Against Women and Girls – National Framework for Delivery: Year 1 “In the UK, a woman was killed by a man every three days on average between 2009 and 2019”. We understand this framework sets out how all police forces, including Gwent, are expected to combat men’s violence against women and girls.

While we do not use the statistic ‘3+ women a week are killed by men’ as used in one of the apparently ‘offensive’ stickers, this is because our data relies upon convictions for killing, or where otherwise men are held legally responsible and takes an average from data collated over a 12-year period. However, our figures fluctuate each year so in 2010, and 2011 and 2018 for example over 3 women a week were killed by men from our own data. In addition, the statistic used by the woman you have arrested could include a number of different variables which would make the statement factually correct every year: where there is a body but no perpetrator has been arrested, or where the woman is missing presumed dead. There are also ‘hidden homicides’ where suicides, falls from heights or overdoses, for example, mask intentional killings. Given that statistically women commit far fewer murders than men, and even less murders of other women, there is a near certainty that these other women were killed by men.

All of our data is based on FOI requests to every police force in the country including your own. Gwent police have responded to our request every time. This is why we know that 85 women were killed by men in Wales from 2009 – 2020, 53 killed by a partner or former partner and at least 16 women were killed by men in the area covered by Gwent police alone. We should also point out that thankfully, not one trans person has been killed in Wales over the past 12 years since our data set began.

We are at a loss to understand why the true nature of men’s fatal violence against women could constitute ‘offensive material’ by stating facts of that violence. And particularly given these facts have been used nationally by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its own violence against women and girls delivery framework that Gwent police itself should be implementing.

It is crucial that women identify and name the violence than men perpetrate against us. It is women mobilising against men’s violence against women who have led the global movement against sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution, FGM, stalking, image-based abuse and femicide. Men’s violence against women includes harassment and causes alarm and distress to women. We ask you to focus your attention on the perpetrators of men’s violence against women rather than the women who campaign against it.  

Further info: 

Twitter:  FemicideCensus

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Labour Party NEC Report: Luke Akehurst (Labour First)


Note to readers: When I make an error it's always best to own up to it and not try to cover up anything. In a rush to get out news about Labour's National Executive Committee I didn't check the re-post of Ann Black's report which in fact referred to the NEC meeting last November. 

I apologise unreservedly to readers and if Ann Black does produce a report I will make sure it is posted with an explanation of my error.

Luke Akehurst: NEC Report – 25th January 2022

The January NEC meeting was mercifully short compared to some recent ones, at “just” five and a quarter hours.

Keir and Angela had to send their apologies due to the urgent statement about Ukraine in the House of Commons.

There was a poignant moment at the beginning of the meeting when obituaries to recently deceased comrades included former party Treasurer and Unite Deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey and Leo Beckett, much-loved husband and adviser to our NEC colleague Margaret and a formidable political operator in his own right.

We heard an update on implementation of the EHRC report. The new Independent Review Board, which reviews NEC disciplinary decisions, is now set up, but the recruitment process for the new Independent Complaints Board (ICB) is still being finalised. The new independent disciplinary process will therefore be up and running in March. The EHRC has moved Labour from monthly to quarterly reporting, and if all goes well the final monitoring point will be December 2022.

Anneliese Dodds updated us on work she is leading on tackling Islamophobia.

David Evans apologised that the Forde Report had been delayed again. A letter from Martin Forde states clearly that there has been no political interference and the delay is because the report is still being written. We were told it has been very nearly finalised.

Tom Webb, Director of Policy and Research, introduced a paper on The National Policy Forum (NPF) – pathway to the manifesto. This set out the framework and timetable for NPF activity in 2022 and 2023. There will be elections for new NPF reps in the summer. The September NEC will agree procedural guidelines for the final stage NPF meeting, which will be held in Q4 if a May 2023 election looks on the cards, or in summer 2023 if a later election seems more likely. A decision on this date will be taken in May. Six new policy commissions are being set up, to reflect the six themes of the Stronger Together policy review. These are listed below with their co-convenors:

1. Better jobs and better work – Rachel Reeves MP and Andy Kerr

2. Safe and secure communities – Yvette Cooper MP and James Asser

3. Public services that work from the start –Wes Streeting MP and Mark Ferguson

4. A green and digital future – Ed Miliband MP and Margaret Beckett

5. A future where families comes first – Bridget Phillipson MP and Diana Holland

6. Britain in the world – David Lammy MP and Michael Wheeler

Gavin Sibthorpe of the GMB was elected as the new Co-Convenor of the Joint Policy Committee.

David Evans gave his General Secretary’s report and made the obvious point that everything the party did was focused on the marginal constituencies needed to get us to 326 seats in the Commons. For the May elections there were target local authorities that aligned with parliamentary marginals. These would be challenging elections with a difficult base line for Labour. Pleasingly, more people are out campaigning and making more canvassing contacts than in recent years. Membership is now 434,000. That’s similar to late 2019 and not the haemorrhaging being speculated about on social media. In fact, membership has had an uptick in recent weeks due to the bad news afflicting the Tories. The cyber incident meant Member Centre is down so staff have had to develop work arounds and manual processes. A large number of join requests are being processed manually.

David reported that the Organise to Win restructuring had achieved 66% of the cuts in spending required to balance the budget. Staffing had been reduced by a net 60 posts (some new posts had been created in the regional hubs), without any compulsory redundancies. Non-staff costs were being reduced. The Party was on track for a balanced budget and a war chest for the General Election campaign.

A strong technical submission had been made to the Boundary Commission on the new parliamentary boundaries. Reselection trigger ballots had started, and six MPs had already been reselected, with another 50 processes underway. 350 people were being trained by the Future Candidates Programme. The new selections paper would deliver excellent candidates.

The party was implementing an action plan on diversity and inclusion.

Work on implementing the Liverpool Report is progressing well, led by Sheila Murphy, who is working to set up campaign structures and improve governance and probity measures in the City Council Labour Group. The number of complaints about members in Liverpool is falling.

I asked for a clear statement that we would have nothing to do with pacts, deals or alliances and that we were focused on winning a Labour majority government. I was pleased that both David and Shabana Mahmood, the National Campaign Coordinator, confirmed that and said there would be no deals with any other party and we would stand in every seat. Decisions about targeting resources would be driven by our own priority of getting a majority Labour government, not what other parties were up to.

After David’s report, we dealt with the papers on the new system for parliamentary selections. The NEC will longlist candidates in each constituency, in order to both increase diversity and help underrepresented groups get a shot at standing, and to carry out due diligence and remove unsuitable candidates before the process, rather than have to get people to stand down once they are selected and the media exposes things from their past. There will be a spending cap (£1,000 in the smallest CLPs up to £3,500 in the largest) for the first time, and a far shorter process, lasting only five weeks. Both measures are aimed at making the process more accessible to people with less money and time.

A range of amendments had been tabled. Some were withdrawn, and many others accepted by the staff. Ann Black wanted an even lower spending cap of £500 but didn’t persuade any of the rest of us of this. However, Ann’s proposal to limit nomination rights on the party, as opposed to affiliate side, to geographical branches, and not allow the new equalities branches (Women’s branches etc) to nominate was passed by 19 votes to 13. There was a unanimous vote to require a minimum of 50% women to each shortlist, rather than the “gender balanced” shortlist proposed in the original paper, which would have reserved half the places on the shortlist for men. We couldn’t reach a consensus on whether membership lists should be provided to all longlisted candidates or only to those who have been shortlisted, so this will be resolved after the meeting.

We then heard a report on elections from Elections Director Morgan McSweeney. He warned that the Tories could swap leader and call a very early General Election. He had been interviewing the Labour directors and campaign coordinators of every General Election campaign from 1987 to 2019 to learn what had worked and what hadn't. But he said the nature of the competition had changed dramatically. In the 1960s 87% of voters stayed with the same party in every General Election. In the 1980s 79% still did. But in the four General Elections from 2005-2017 only 40% of voters stayed with the same party in all four. Volatility has become huge, so whereas campaigns used to be focused on turnout they now have to be focused on persuasion. The party has invested in dashboards so that data can be tracked very closely, and in a big overhaul of digital campaigning. The local elections are only 100 days away, but Morgan elaborated on David’s figures about doorstep activity and said canvassing stats showed higher activity than in any year since records had started being kept in the same format in 2016. He concluded that this was encouraging but there was a lot more to do, with Saturday's national campaign day on the cost of living being a key member mobilisation date.

Chief Whip Alan Campbell MP then joined us to report on Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the PLP. He said Jeremy had been suspended on 18th November 2020 regarding a breach of the PLP Code of Conduct regarding his remarks following the publication of the EHRC Report on antisemitism. Alan’s predecessor Nick Brown had written to Jeremy on 23rd November 2020 and published the letter due to the intense public interest in the case. The letter asked Jeremy to

1) Unequivocally apologise for his comments about the EHRC report

2) Comply with a request to remove or edit his Facebook post about the EHRC report

3) Agree to cooperate fully on the party’s implementation of the EHRC recommendations

As yet, Jeremy has not done any of these three things. Alan said he was happy to meet Jeremy to receive his answers.

Ian Murray of the FBU and Nadia Jama then moved a motion calling on the on the Chief Whip to review his decision and arrange for the Parliamentary whip to be immediately restored to Jeremy Corbyn. This was defeated by 23 votes to 14 with one abstention.

Laura Pidcock and Nadia Jama then moved a motion trying to reopen the question of the four organisations proscribed in July 2021 and to re-examine what constitutes “support” for these organisations and to cease the “retrospective application of this rule”. Executive Director of Legal Affairs Alex Barros-Curtis said the principles of natural justice were applied to these cases. Members were served with a notice of allegations and their response to these allegations was considered by the NEC panels looking at these cases. On 20th July 2021 four organisations had been deemed to be in contravention of Labour’s rules and support for them was deemed incompatible with Labour’s aims and values. The party is entitled legally to disassociate itself from organisations and people it considers inimical to its aims and values. The motion was defeated by 20 votes to 14 and the meeting came to an end.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Labour To Win: Vote for these NEC Candidates!

Our NEC members, Luke Akehurst, Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan have been working hard for you on Labour's National Executive Committee. With the Labour Party's best interests in mind, and eyes focused on delivering an accountable and winning Labour Party, they have ensured that their work is responsive to the needs of mainstream members and focused on a smooth-running NEC. Abdi Duale and Jane Thomas are standing alongside them as experienced Labour Party campaigners who are passionate about making sure Labour wins in every region and nation.

  • Luke Akehurst is a current NEC member, and is a Co-Director of Labour to Win and Secretary of Labour First. He is a party activist in Oxford and and was previously a Councillor for 12 years and Chief Whip in Hackney, and a parliamentary candidate in Aldershot and Castle Point. He is an experienced NEC member, having topped the poll in the 2020 NEC ballot and previously served on the NEC from 2010 to 2012.
  • Johanna Baxter is a current NEC member and lives in Scotland. She is a proud trade unionist and works at one of Labour's affiliated unions leading the negotitions for local government workers across Scotland. She is an experienced and energetic NEC member and the current Vice Chair. She has sat on the NEC since 2020, and before that from 2010 to 2016. She has also been a CLP representative on the Scottish Executive Committee since 2016.
  • Gurinder Singh Josan from the West Midlands, is a current member of the NEC. He has sat on the NEC since 2020 and was recently elected as Chair of the NEC's important Disputes Panel. He is a Director and Trustee of the anti-extremism charity HOPE not HATE and is a founder of Sikhs for Labour.
  • Abdi Duale is a former Labour Party organiser and a member in London. He works in housing for a Local Authority and is on the GMB Young Workers Committee.
  • Jane Thomas, from Yorkshire, is formerly Chair of Sheffield Hallam CLP, and was previously a member of Labour's Yorkshire Regional Board and the National Policy Forum. She has been a parliamentary candidate in Keighley. She was also a Director of South Yorkshire Women's Development Trust, a former university lecturer and has more recently been involved in pro-European and Devolution campaigning.
  • Re-elect Luke Akehurst, Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan, and elect Abdi Duale and Jane Thomas for an experienced NEC that will put Labour back on the path to power.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Stop the War Coalition backs Russian Aggression.


Last week as the crisis in the Ukraine deepened and it looked like Russia was preparing a second invasion of their neighbour (Putin previously invaded and annexed Crimea) I posted a comment to the leader of the StWC Lyndsey German. It was a very simple and I would have though uncontroversial request about when the anti-war movement would be organising a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy.

I got no reply not that I expected one. When I queried the actual Stop the War Facebook and Twitter accounts as to whether both Lyndsey German and John Rees their leaders still worked for the gay hanging clerics TV Channel Press TV I got blocked. You can read from that what you will....

However given that  the thoroughly misnamed Stop the War Coalition failed to organise demos against Russian bombing of Syrian civilians or even against Assad's brutal dictatorship outside the Syrian embassy one has to seriously consider whether these people are actually against war at all.

Their Leaders German and Rees are not pacifists in any shape or from. After being expelled from the far-left Socialist Workers Party they set up the albeit tiny Counterfire organisation which promotes Lenin's violent revolutionary politics.

In yet another mealy mouthed statement they blame the West for daring to allow an independent country like Ukraine to choose who it wishes to ally with and Britain (who have 100 soldiers in country) as warmongering when  The Russia and have lined up 100,000 troops plus thousands of fighting vehicles on the border.

I'm not sure whether to compare these people to Chamberlain or Lord Haw Haw, perhaps they are a bit of both but the StWC is only against the West defending itself and their allies. Russian Imperialism and expansionism is excused along with Iranian aggression. They are not to be trusted.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

BATTLE BEAST - Circus of Doom (Nuclear Blast)

The Finnish Metal band Battle Beast have just released their sixth studio album Circus Of Doom on Nuclear Blast records.  A powerful album with solid vocals from lead singer Noora Louhimo who joined the band back in 2012 after the original lead singer left.

Battle Beast never fail to disappoint with their professionalism and there are plenty of entertaining videos featuring their music to be found on You Tube if you are not familiar with them. They are one of the few European bands that seem to get airplay of stations like Planet Rock during the day time.

This is the third of their albums I have picked up and highly recommend this and Battle Beast's previous three albums which I either have or listened to. These albums can be obtained via Amazon in the UK.

The current line up is:
  • Juuso Soinio – (rhythm guitar)
  • Pyry Vikki – (drums) 
  • Eero Sipilä – (bass, backing vocals) 
  • Janne Björkroth – (keytar, backing vocals) 
  • Noora Louhimo – (lead vocals) 
  • Joona Björkroth - (lead guitar, backing vocals )
There are a lot of good bands on the European Metal scene and it's worth exploring their output on You Tube.


Nuclear Blast Records page:

Friday, 21 January 2022

Far left form electoral alliance against Labour


It seems that the various organisations that have been either formed out of the Corbyn movement and one pre-existing group have decided to form an electoral front to challenge the Labour Party. An announcement was made on twitter that the Breakthrough Party, Northern Independence Party, Left Unity and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition have signed a "memorandum of understanding" about future electoral strategy.

The "largest" and longest established element is the TUSC which is run by the remnants of the Socialist Party that survived a world wide split let alone internal ruptures in the UK losing the bulk of it's international and several hundred of it's English membership. The SP also lost most of it's experienced cadre inside the civil service union PCS which they had de-facto control of with Mark Serwotka for years.

The TUSC is financed in part by the RMT union which broke with the Labour Party under it's late General Secretary Bob Crow. Also participating in an extremely limited form was Resist the group founded by Chris Williamson a former Labour MP who was expelled from the Party. He provided just 4 candidates. Whether Resist (which has a active membership of barely three figures) is actually part of this arrangement at this time is not known.

Williamson has been seen to have engaged in a political love affair with the notorious Tony Greenstein (who has also been kicked out of Labour and either reigned from or expelled from every other party he's been involved in) has established his own political party Socialist Labour Network which also has around a hundred or so members. 

The Breakthrough Party is a small group of youth activists who were disillusioned by the Corbyn projects failure and lay claim to having one Parish Councillor who defected to them from the Labour Party.

Left Unity is a tiny group led by the Ken Loach a rabid anti-Zionist another extremist kicked out of the Labour Party. The group once debated a motion that called for "critical support for ISIS that emanated from one of it's more deranged activists. I recall one delegate insisting on singing her contribution to their founding conference streamed on line some years ago. Although the comrades clapped, the embarrassment of many attendees and those watching on line was more than apparent.

The Northern Independence Party are one of the odder outfits who included another former Labour MP, Thelma Walker who lost the plot. They seek an independent north as their name suggest and use a Whippet as their symbol though some wags refer to them as "the Weasels.

NIP tried standing Thelma Walker as their candidate in the Hartlepool by-election but failed to complete their registration papers with the Electoral Commission forcing her to stand as an Independent. She managed to get 250 votes (0.8%). 

Oddly the leader of NIP one Philip Proudfoot lives in that well known northern town Brighton. Could he get further down sarf one asks!

It's always interesting to see these tiny groups talking about "unity". You'd think these comrades would practice what they preach and form one organisation but the trouble with these cults they all have leaders who think they should be in control. The "political gangsterism" of the Socialist Party and some of the RMT's activists is well known.

The other point to note is that all these groups keep mentioning the thousands of members who have left the Labour Party yet don't stop to notice how small they are both organisationally and politically. The far-left of today turned to banal hive-mind cultism during the Corbyn era and lack the critical intellectual ability to recognise their own tomfoolery.

Ideological purity has never achieved anything.  They will simply try to devour each other as the whole history of left-wing extremism has illustrated.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Ex-Labour hard-left launch Socialist Labour Network


It seems that the remnants of the organisations formerly known as Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW) and Labour In Exile (LIE) have decided to form a new organisation outside the Labour Party. They announced on Twitter tonight:

Socialist Labour Network is a group formed by the merger of Labour Against the Witch-hunt and Labour in Exile Network. SLN will continue to resist the witch-hunt of socialists from Labour and provide a forum for members to stand in solidarity. Join us & grow the socialist network.

They couldn't call themselves the Socialist Labour Party because old King Arthur (Scargill) owns the rights to that name and is registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission standing candidates with money that no one knows the origin of. Apparently they will be announcing a new logo soon. 

The SLN had their launch meeting last Friday where they were addressed by Ian Hodson the General Secretary of the now disaffiliated Bakers Union (which was supported by their activist caste but no member vote was taken). They announced it's remit as:

Socialist Labour Network aims to unite socialists unfairly suspended, expelled, or resigned in dismay from the Labour Party.

Clearly membership of the group should lead to automatic expulsion of the ever diminishing band around Greenstein and his deluded followers. Given the love affair between the vile one and his counterpart  Williamson in Resist it's surprising that they just didn't merge all their groups into one. This would have at least a three figure membership, however the hard leftists all need their positions from which to preach and pontificate their tomfoolery.

Talking of pointless debates it seems Tony Greenstein the SLN's new Fuhrer figure and Jack Conrad of the now rapidly declining Communist Party of Great Britain (Weekly Worker) are having a mass debate to the observant disciples of both groups this Friday. I'll be washing me hair others may wish to head down the pub and leave the deluded comrades to their incestuous dialogue.

Meanwhile Terry Deans self confessed Marxist Gardner (nope me neither) thinks the SLN beckons:

The unity of all socialist groups is the irresistible force that cannot be defeated

From memory and experience if there's one thing we can all be sure of, the words "unity" and "Socialist groups" have never gone together and never will.

Another amusing if hopeless development by some of the worst of the left has to offer.

Monday, 17 January 2022

The Blackburn Mosques conducts "damage limitation" after praising memory of local terrorist

It was bad enough reading about the disgusting attack on innocent worshippers at the Texas Synagogue without having to hear in the Daily Mail attempts by his family to attribute blame on everybody but their evil son. They attacked the USA for letting him, for allowing him to get a gun and the words "mental" and "health" raised their head as usual whenever one of these attacks take place.

Let us be clear. Akram did not act alone. So far two others have been arrested in this country and hopefully whoever supplied him with a gun in the USA will follow.

My only sympathy goes to the individuals who were held hostage by this political terrorist whose choice of a synagogue was clearly racially based which suggests there remains a lot of work to be done in the Muslim community not just about extremism in the form of fundamentalism which frankly isn't much of a jump from so-called "conservative Islam" that dominates much of their community in the UK but also the prevalence of antisemitism.

The original post put up by his Mosques praised the memory and wished him entry into paradise a clear message of support for this Jihadist action but they were soon forced to back down when the consequences of their statement became apparent.

They then published a "disclaimer" saying this had been a "standard" template that had been used which show but since when did such "templates" include statements about "rumours" when by the time Akram's name was released his crime was clear?

Now the Mosque has made the following statement claiming all religions blah, blah  peace..yeah right. Too little too late.

Frankly the Security services of both this country and the USA should be thoroughly investigating this Mosque, it's leadership, sermons, preachers and congregation.

Friday, 14 January 2022

The Searchers -Tana French (Penguin)


Finally got around to reading the third thriller from the "Richard & Judy Book Club" and once again this was from an author that I am familiar with. I have previously read The Wych Elm & In The Woods both of which were good novels. In fact this novel reminded me of The Wych Elm as the author builds a world into which the reader is drawn long before any kind of mystery appears.

In this case the move by Cal Hooper a former Chicago cop to the backwoods of the Irish Republic builds a picture of a rural way of life that allows the scene to be set for the inevitable disappearance and possible murder. There's plenty of village characters to meet. The dodgy farmer next door, another who thinks aliens are maiming his sheep, the nosy shopkeeper and a local eligible lady.

Did I mention puppies? It's all there are Trey appears on Cal's doorstep wanting something but keeping a distance until one day kid asks Cal to use his skills to trace a missing brother. At first reticent the retired cop muses and decides to help leading to local secrets being exposed and some dodgy characters are encountered.

Trey comes from a local troublesome family and Brendan is one of those Irishmen who thinks he's got the gift of the gab as they say as he tries to better his life before disappearing. What has Brendan done. Where has he gone. This book weaves a mystery in a village that keeps the reader gripped to the very end.

Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, 10 January 2022

BLIND GUARDIAN - Deliver Us From Evil (Nuclear Blast Records)

Every so often I come across a new band that catches my ear so to speak and though they may be new to me and other British Rock fans this German band has been around since 1984. I rather liked their new single (released last year) Deliver us from Evil which I found whilst exploring You Tube.

Their record company Nuclear Blast has a number of class acts that I've listened to and sometimes purchased in the past. This single is an import and arrived at 8AM this morning via Royal Mail Parcel Force unexpectedly.

This being a single rather than an album contains just three tracks including their version of Merry Xmas Everybody which will be familiar to all Slade fans. Not bad but nothing beats the the original.

Their current line up consists of: Hansi Kursch (lead vocals), Andre Olbrich (lead guitar, backing vocals), Marcus Seipen (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) Frederik Ehmke (drums), Johan van Stratum (bass) 

Blind Guardians twelfth studio album is due for release in September 2022. 

Official Website:

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Pakistan’s longest serving blasphemy convict has been given death sentence


Please Note:
This article was originally received as an e-mail from the British-Asian Christian Association with a request to share. As a committed secularist I am happy to oblige. This case illustrates why religion and the state must always be kept seperate. The persecution of Christians in so many Muslim countries, especially Pakistan continues not only to give cause for grave concern but is woefully and perhaps wilfully ignored by so many in the political community.

Fears that Zafar Bhatti, Pakistan’s longest serving blasphemy convict could be the first ever to be lynched have increased after a judge increased his sentence from life imprisonment to death.

Judge Sahibzada Naqeeb Shehzad, of Sessions Court Rawalpindi made this ruling despite clear evidence of the innocence of Zafar Bhatti.

Hopes of Mr Bhatti’s release rose when evidence submitted by British Asian Christian Association’s (BACA) solicitor Naseeb Anjum was said to be weighty by the Judge on 16th December 2021 (click here).

However after arguments were heard on 24th December 2021, the District Judge nonchalantly ignored this evidence as she raised the quantum of punishment for Mr Bhatti on 3rd January 2022.

Please sign our petition (here)

Pakistani pastor Zafar Bhatti (56 yrs) has been incarcerated in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Central Jail since July 2012, when police charged him with the offence of sending blasphemous text messages. He is now the longest serving blasphemy victim in Pakistan having overtaken Asia Bibi as Christians continue to have a torrid time in Pakistan.

On 3 May 2017, Pastor Zafar was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy, a charge he adamantly denies. Rather peculiarly Pastor Zafar’s conviction occurred despite the mobile phone in question not being registered to his name. Learn more and view timeline (here)

Since December British Asian Christian Association, has taken over the case of Zafar Bhatti after an appeal for his release was dismissed by previous solicitors and the window for an appeal to the Supreme Court missed.

BACA also inherited a judgement made by Lahore High Court in October calling for the District Court to review their earlier judgement. They sought that Pastor Zafar’s sentence be increased from a life to death sentence, which is mandatory for section 295C of Pakistan’s Penal Code under which Pastor Zafar was convicted.

On 16th December 2021, Advocate Naseeb Anjum raised serious questions about the conviction of Zafar Bhatti, after points were raised by BACA’s team. Judge Shehzad, iterated to the opposing advocate that the questions were weighty and asked for answers to them to be submitted at the next hearing. This gave BACA, Pastor Zafar and Nawab Bibi some hope for leniency. You can read our submitted questions (here)

24th December, the judge heard the argument of Advocate Muhammad Yasir, the complainant counsel. He simply reminded the judge that the hearing was focused on the severity of the punishment and not the conviction itself, which he argued had been deliberated on at length and a decision made to reject the previous appeal. Judge Shehzad, agreed with his sentiments and gave a date of 3rd January for a final decision.

On 3rd January 2021, BACA’s team arrived at Rawalpindi in the early morning and collected Nawab Bibi for the court decision. However when they reached the court Judge Shehzad announced that the decision would be announced at 11pm in Adiala Jail before Zafar Bhatti, not in the court room. The BACA team were advised to return to Rawalpindi District Court at 2pm to hear the final decision.

At 2pm the team returned hopeful that the Judge would be favourable in consideration of the significant evidence of Zafar Bhatti’s innocence before him. But hearts were broken as Nawab Bibi and the rest learned first-hand that Judge Shehzad had ruled that a death sentence be imposed on Zafar Bhatti.

News of the decision broke Nawab Bibi who when she got home, became distraught and unable to talk, she cried endlessly fearful of the potential for Zafar Bhatti to be killed:

Nawab Bibi, spoke with us today, she describes her anguish:

“I was broken by yesterdays court decision.

“I could not stop crying and praying it was hard to take.

“I returned home empty handed.

“Real criminals are getting bails but our biased courts are still refusing to release Zafar”

Nawab has asked us to share this video today and asks Christians everywhere to pray for him and to ask global politicians to fight his case like they did for Asia Bibi:

Several attempts have been made to convert Zafar to Islam and have him set free on that basis. Each time Zafar Bhatti has outright refused to quit his faith.

Advocate Naseeb Anjum, has also spoken with us, he said:

“I was very much hopeful for the release of Zafar Bhatti.

“The judge has contradicted his own previous judgment awarded to Zafar Bhatti.

“He is not convinced of the penalty of death for Zafar Bhatti but has followed the directions of the High Court.”

He explained further:

“I have met Zafar Bhatti in jail and have explained the current situation of his case.

“Zafar Bhatti has confided in me and has said he is willing to face the worst.

“He knows he is innocent and God will have the final judgement.

“Zafar has signed the documents required to apply for an appeal against this judgement and a second one so we can appeal the original conviction.

“On Thursday, I shall go to Rawalpindi and submit his appeal in the High Court and will take the time to meet our brother and pray with him in jail also”

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said

“Pakistani courts continue to free murderers and rapists from jail especially those who pay a compromise payment.

“However, they have repeatedly refused Zafar bail or an acquittal when no evidence exists of a crime.

“The amount of hatred that has been generated against Zafar by extremists means he has does not have to attend court hearings as the state could not protect him.

“Today’s decision is serious – Zafar can now become the first person killed under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.

“The courts, the police the Government all seem hell-bent on killing an innocent Christian to appease Muslims who are still incensed at the freedom of Asia Bibi.

“Sadly the universal global condemnation by international governments concerned about Asia Bibi has not manifested in the same way for brother Zafar.

“Unless a concerted effort similar to that which manifested for Asia Bibi is begun by the west, we are looking at a very dire outcome.”

Mounting a defence against the death sentence for blasphemy and his bail is expensive. We need to cover £1000’s of legal fees, in addition to supporting his wife Nawab Bibi who has been under our care for 3 years. You can donate towards our work defending Zafar Bhatti and protecting his wife Nawab Bibi along with many other victims by using the many payment options found (here).

Please sign our petition (here)

Sunday, 2 January 2022

FROZEN CROWN - The Water Dancer (Scarlet Records)

It's been a while since I've posted and wish you all a belated Happy New Year.


Frozen Crown's album isn't new as such having been released in April last year but I only came across this excellent Italian Power Metal band last month and their CD likewise didn't drop on my doormat until New Years Eve.

Frozen Crown were formed in 2017 and Winterbane represents their third studio album after a personnel shake up last year. Frozen Crown consists of:

Giada "Jade" Etro – vocals (2017–present)
Federico Mondelli – guitars, keyboards, vocals (2017–present)
Fabiola "Sheena" Bellomo – guitars (2021–present)
Francesco Zof – bass (2021–present)
Niso Tomasini – drums (2021–present)

Here's a sample of their music. Worth a listen or two!

Website: frozen-crown