Saturday, 28 March 2009

Round-up: The Complete Jesse

Rev Jesse Jackson had a full schedule during his whistle-stop tour on the campaign trail ahead of the G20 meeting of global political leaders.

He started the day with a visit to the Lewisham City Learning Centre in inner London, where he met children participating in BBC's School Report project and was interviewed for BBC Online's Five Minutes feature.

After that he hotfooted his way to Westminster where he gave evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee about the subject of youth crime. Questions ranged from his views on weapons, to drugs and violence in the media.

Strikingly, Rev Jackson testified in contradiction of prevailing orthodoxy on all these issues.

He argued in florid language that law enforcement is inconsistent as it is primarily directed at suppressing those from poorer backgrounds and that tough punishment actually perpetuates social disadvantage.

He dismissed Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies, saying that far from being effective longer jail sentences enable inmates to learn "jail culture while trapped inside their walls".

He went on to contrast the problem of violent crime in the US and UK, where banning guns and knives are respectively the topic on the minds of legislators and the chattering classes.

Most controversially Rev Jackson also derided the assertion made by Reading West's own Labour MP, Martin Salter, that the media exerts total control over the minds of people (which will have irritated the Mr Salter after he campaigned forcefully in favour of a ban on violent imagery) and refuted a follow-up by the chairman of the committee (Labour MP for Leicester East, Keith Vaz) by stating that if there is in fact a link it is a more complex interplay of economics and environment.

Jim Sterling and Francis Sykora don't hold back in their contempt for Labour's position.

Game Politics provides a transcript and a video link for the record.

Guardian sketchwriter Simon Hoggard also covers the events from the Wellington Room in Westminster Palace, and you can almost hear him rolling his eyes and crossing his arms at the flawed political spectacle (at least from a Labour party perspective).

Daily Mail sketchwriter Quentin Letts is even more scornful. But in a polite way, of course.

By the evening however, Rev Jackson had adjusted his message to suit the desired political message of his host and his handler as he accompanied Keith Vaz and Martin Salter to the main set-piece rally at the heart of deprived West Reading.

Over 1,000 people were bussed in to pack the Globe Church on Portman Road for an event which was designed to send 'a message of hope, inspiration and encouragement' to the faithful.

Ayesha Sohpal, daughter of the Chairperson of Reading Council of Racial Equality and former Labour Mayor of Reading, Rajinder Sohpal, describes the intoxicating atmosphere in the hall.

BBC Berkshire provides detailed excepts of Rev Jackson's speech.

Martin Salter concentrates on himself by publishing his own speech. With no apparent trace of irony he managed to say:
"For the rich and powerful, for the vested interests and those who represent them - activism is threat, something to be constrained and controlled."
As part of the mutual backslapping of the organised events Rev Jackson awarded Mr Salter the Labour Party's 'Diversity Champion Award'.

After this it was back to London where Rev Jackson was awarded the 2009 Global Diversity Award in a ceremony where he was also reunited with Stuart Lockwood - Rev Jackson had been instrumental in negotiations helping to secure the release of the then 5-year-old when his family was taken hostage by Saddam Hussein following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991.

The final word goes to Reading Evening Post reporter Chine Mbubaegbu, who loses her perspective as she gets starstruck by the fame of the man and credits him with the efforts of millions of individual heroic actions by unseen, unnamed and unrecognized people in their own lives.

She says "meeting the 67-year-old was like meeting Superman".


Update: Jane is speechless and gobsmacked simultaneously.

Ian Thorpe is amused by the incomprehensible evangelism and asks why midnight basketball, when you can have midnight cricket?

1 comment:

  1. Salter's Nuremburg? He should be so lucky!


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