Archive for February, 2016

Private Eye from 2006 on the Failure and Dysfunction of the Freedom of Information Act

February 28, 2016

Private Eye in its issue for the 6th to 19th January 2006 published a long article on how the Blair government’s Freedom of Information Act actually didn’t do what everyone expected, and lead to great openness and freedom of information from government. I’m posting it up here as it shows how there’s always been a problem using the Act to get information, as Mike and so many of the other disability activists have found out for themselves, trying to get information out of Ian Duncan Smith’s DWP. Here’s the article:

How FOI Doesn’t Work

“The culture of secrecy in Whitehall, and beyond, is cracking open,” announced Lord Falconer in the Guardian last week, reflecting on the first anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act.

“We have seen real change … We seek to achieve across the whole public sector a new culture of openness, fully embedded in each and every public authority, where information is made available to the widest possible audience at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Oh yeah? This has hardly been the experience of Private Eye and its readers of the last 12 months.

The law allows the government 20 working days (about a month) to respond to a request under the act, but it may judge that one of 24 exemptions (including some very broad let-outs such as the potential to harm “policy development” and the country’s “economic interests”) allows it to withhold the information.

Most exemptions only apply if disclosure would not be “in the public interest”, and once a suitable exemption has been found the government has another month to ponder this question. If the request is for something it doesn’t want to give up, after a couple of months (or longer: delays are common as there is no penalty for missing the deadlines) it will conclude that the public is better off remaining ignorant.

Anything but the most uncontroversial request can be rejected on these grounds and as a result many Whitehall departments refuse more than half the requests they receive. The Treasury is the most secretive, coughing up what it’s asked in just 26 per cent of cases.

To challenge a rejection you first have to ask for an “internal review” by the department that has just turned you down, which is when the snail-like pace decelerates. When the Eye recently complained to the Information Commissioner that a review by HM Revenue and Customs had taken almost three months before reaching the predictable conclusion that the reviewer’s colleagues had been right to block the request, the commissioner’s office replied that “there is no statutory time within which a public authority must complete a review. There is therefore no further action we can take…”

After several months, if you’re lucky you’ll reach the stage where the commissioner can consider your case. The Eye’s latest referral was met with the response that a “case resolution team” will be in touch “to explain how the refusal to disclose information … will be progressed”. Action at last? Not quite. “Due to the volume of complaints we are receiving [the backlog is over 1,200] at present it may be up to two months before you hear from us.” And that’s before the “case resolution team” even starts to think about it.

When the act came into force last year, the Department for Constitutional Affairs set up a “Freedom of Information Users group” for those such as journalists, academics and other researchers to comment on how the government answers requests. But when author and FoI campaigner Heather Brooke, one of the runners-up in last year’s inaugural Paul Foot Awards – asked the DCA for a list of members of the group, she was told the list was secret – as are the criteria on which members are selected.

There is no application process, so those picked get on only at the behest of civil servants and special advisers – the very people most opposed to FoI in the first place. “We have identified those contacts we deem most appropriate whom we believe will make a significant contribution,” said Rob Murphy, of the DCA’s Information Rights Division.

So who are these “contacts”? Even the chosen ones cannot be named, says Murphy, because they must first be cleared with ministers. How rigorous such an FoI “users group” can be, when it is micromanaged at every level by civil servants, is unclear. But at least the DCA was able to tell Brooke, who has written a book on FoI and makes frequent requests for information to government departments, one genuine nugget about the list. She isn’t on it!

Twelve months ago Lord Falconer wrote of his new act: “The real test is whether there is a change in attitude across the public sector during the next few years, and whether communication between the state and its citizens is strengthened.” So far the test has been dismally flunked.

So the Freedom of Information Act was always half-hearted. Nevertheless, it was a genuine achievement of Blair’s period in power, and did a little to attack the endemic culture of secrecy around British government. Now Cameron wants to end even that. According to the Conservatives, you should only use the Freedom of Information Act to understand how a decision has been made, not to question the decision itself, or the process by which it has been reached. Blair’s government was profoundly authoritarian, but it made a gesture of opening up government. This government is merely authoritarian, and while it still wants to retain a façade of openness, is determined to close even the minuscule crack in the edifice Blair and co opened.

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A Pro-Nazi Bristol Tory MP

February 28, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece about a pro-Fascist piece written by a Conservative MP in the pages of the Daily Mail back in the 1930s, praising Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, and the organisation’s supposed parentage in the Conservative party. The Tory urged that relations between the two organisations should become closer. This was in ‘Gracchus” book, Your MP, which also included a variety of pro-Nazi speeches and sentiments by the Anglo-German Fellowship and the Link, interwar organisations that had been set up to foster good relations with Nazi Germany, whose members naturally included pro-Nazi businessmen and Tory MPs.

One of the Tories quoted in the book as praising Hitler and urging peace with the Third Reich was the MP for Bristol West, C.T. Culverwell. The book states

His speech in the Munich debate “gave the greatest satisfaction in Berlin.” (6.10.38, Evening Standard). He said: “I ask those who hate Hitler … what has Hitler done of which we can reasonably complain? … Let us try to forget his misdeeds of the past, and the methods which, no doubt we all of us deplore, but which I suggest have been very largely forced upon him.”

A year later, when we had been at war with Hitler for twelve weeks, Mr Culverwell asked for a “peace by negotiation…. The only chance of secure and enduring peace is by negotiation, and the only opportunity is now, before the war is intensified.”

He deplored the possibility of a British victory because “the most likely result will be a strengthening of Russia, and the spread of Communism westward. I can even visualise our troops fighting side by side with the Germans to defeat the Bolshevist menace.” (30.11.39) House of Commons). (p. 13).

In the event, the victory of the Allies against Nazi Germany did lead to the spread of Communism into Eastern Europe, though mercifully it didn’t lead to the shame of British troops fighting alongside Nazi forces against the Russians. And yes, Stalin’s dictatorship and the rule of his puppets in the former Soviet bloc was horrific. It was rather less horrific than what Hitler had planned for them, however. After the Fuehrer had exterminated the Jews and Gypsies, he would have worked the Slavonic peoples of the conquered eastern territories – Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Belorussians and Great Russians – to death as slave labour. He makes this very plain in his Table Talk, where he also talks about sending in Jewish salesmen to supply them with contraceptives so they don’t breed.

I put up this piece as it’s an example of how the Tory extreme Right even got as far as my home town. It makes you wonder just what other dirty secrets the local Tories have buried away in the Constitutional clubs.

The Young Turks on the Racial Fears of Confederate Trump Supporters

February 28, 2016

The Young Turks sent one of their reporters to cover a Confederate rally in South Carolina. In this video, the people he interviewed expressed their fears that unless Trump was elected, there would be an ethnic cleansing of Whites in the US. They wanted the borders secured, with one person saying that even if it Trump did nothing else, it would be great if he closed the border and built the wall against Mexico. They were afraid of immigrants from the various war zones around the world. One man said that they had seen rapes and killing and other atrocities, and so ‘who knows what’s in their heads’. Another person stated that if the borders weren’t closed, then there would be domestic terrorism, bus bombings and civil war. They believed that by promoting ethnic minorities and seeking to find solutions to their grievances, the Democrats were victimising Whites, and pointed to all the Conservative college professors who had supposedly lost their jobs. They did not see the Confederate flag as racist, and felt that Black Americans had been misinformed about its historical significance by race baiters. As for gay rights, one man also stated that gays were now superior to heterosexuals under the law, as assaults on gays had been made a special crime, but not assaults on heterosexuals. This was undemocratic. And they also doubted that Barack Obama was born in the US.

On the Youtube page for the video, there’s this piece adding further information on the background to the video, the views of the Confederate supporters and the reasons why the Confederate Flag was removed.

A commemorative event hosted by advocates for the Confederate flag and the Confederate narrative of American history turned into a rally for Donald Trump on the day of the Republican primary in South Carolina.

Prior to the event, Pastor Michael Reed placed Donald Trump yard signs in the ground outside the South Carolina capitol building in Columbia. And, during a program of speeches from the capitol steps, William Carter, editor and publisher of The Conservative Action Report, announced his paper’s endorsement for Mr. Trump.

The event took place on Feb. 20, 2016 as Republican voters were going to the polls the choose a presidential nominee. It was also the first Saturday following the 151st anniversary of the burning of Columbia, many say, at the hands of General William T. Sherman’s Union army.

The grievances of Trump voters at this event mirrored the concerns expressed by Trump voters in Northern states, focusing on things like “political correctness,” terrorism, and immigration. However, we found a deeper sense of white racial anxiety here, expressed with stronger language than what we’d heard in New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Whereas northern Trump supporters feel that the unfair treatment of white Americans can best be summed up with the term “political correctness,” this group preferred the term “ethnic cleansing,” perhaps because of the bitter fight last summer that led to the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds. A state senator named Rev. Clementa Pinckney had been the target of a white supremacist terrorist who gunned down the senator, and 8 of his parishioners during Bible Study at the Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. When it was learned that white supremacy had motivated the killer, and that he saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of his hatred, Sen. Pinckney’s colleagues in the Senate authored legislation to remove the flag from the state capitol grounds.

@EricByler @JordanChariton

Secular Talk on the Iranians Raising the Bounty on Salman Rushdie by $600,000

February 27, 2016

Private Eyatollah

The cover of Private Eye for Friday 13th March 1989. If you can’t read the caption, one mullah is saying to the Ayatollah, ‘Have you read the book?’. He replies, ‘Do you think I’m mad?’

Kulinski in this clip discusses a report in the Guardian that a group of 40 newspaper and other media companies in Iran have clubbed together to raise the money offered under their government’s fatwa for killing Salman Rushdie by a further $600,000. The fatwas was imposed way back in 1988 by the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, for Rushdie writing the book, the Satanic Verses, which the Ayatollah considered blasphemous against Islam. Kulinski points out that it hasn’t just been Rushdie whose life has been put in danger by the fatwa. The book’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Kirigashi was fatally stabbed in 1991. That same year, the Italian translator, Ettore Caprioli, was also the victim of a stabbing, though mercifully he survived. Aziz Nessin, the Turkish translator, survived an arson attack on an hotel in which 37 other people died in 1993. William Nyegard, the Swedish translator, was also attacked in 1993. He was shot three times in Oslo, though thankfully he too survived. And last year, 2015, Iran withdrew from the Frankfurt book fair because they had announced that Rushdie was speaking.

Kulinski states that the Iranians have the attitude that they’re being oppressed, because of their offence at Rushdie’s book. He points out that for civilised people, the solution to such a difference of opinion is to argue about it, and then move on. He states very strongly that the reason why the Iranians aren’t doing this is because they know their arguments are weak. This is why they have to force it on children when they’re young. He also points out that the younger generation in Iran is also disgusted by this. Iran is a very young country, and most of them are much more liberal than their elders. ‘Tick tock,’ he says, ‘the clock is ticking. Times running out for you.’

I’m reblogging this as there’s much more going on here than simply a revival of anti-Rushdie feeling in Iran. In fact, the evidence points the other way. If these media companies have decided to band together to add even more money to the fatwa, then it shows very effectively that few people in Iran are interested in killing the author. Again, thankfully.

The book has been a source of tension between Islam and the secular West almost from the first. Not all Muslims are as extreme as the Ayatollah, but many, perhaps the majority, do resent what they see as an attack on their religion. The book’s Islamic opponents have also pointed out that Viking Penguin was also ambivalent about publishing the book. The publisher’s advisors told them three time that it would result in serious trouble, including mass protests. These were eventually ignored and overridden. Roald Dahl, the renowned children’s author, speaking on Radio 4 several years ago, also felt that the book should not have been published given the hatred and violence that this had caused. He did not consider it great literature, and felt it should be pulped.

The outrage caused by The Satanic Verses is also a major cause of the current surge of anti-western and Islamist Muslim activism. Outrage at the book prompted Muslims to band together for pretty much the first time in protest, organising demonstrations and book burnings. And the preachers of hate used it as a pretext to attack Britons and British society in general. I can remember Kalim Saddiqui speaking in his mosque on a documentary shown late at night on the Beeb, The Trouble with Islam, in which he described Britain as ‘a terrible killing machine’ and stated that ‘killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ When the documentary-makers picked him up on this, he blustered that it was about the Satanic Verses, which had been published in preparation for a ‘holocaust of Muslims.’ He was, of course, talking poisonous rubbish.

In fact all the people I know, who’ve actually read the book, tell me that it’s not actually blasphemous. I know a lecturer in Islam, who actually got his students to read the book when he was teaching in Pakistan. They’d been talking about how the book was blasphemous, so he asked them if they’d read it. When they said they hadn’t, he asked them if they would, and gave copies to them to read. They carried them home in brown paper bags so no-one would see them. When they’d read the book, he asked them again if they thought it was blasphemous. They said, ‘No’.

There were very cynical, political reasons for the Ayatollah’s decision to put a price on Rushdie’s head. He was afraid he was losing Iran’s position as the premier Islamic revolutionary regime to others, like Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya. In order to try and whip up some more popularity, he resorted to that classic Orwellian technique: the five minute hate. This is the episode in Orwell’s classic 1984, where ‘Big Brother’ orchestrates a wave of hatred against a traitor figure for about five minutes. It’s very, very much like the way Stalin whipped up hatred in the Soviet Union against Trotsky, who was accused of all kinds of treachery and perfidy against the state and its people. Khomeini was doing the same here, but with Rushdie as the hate figure.

The fatwa didn’t work as well as the Iranians hoped it would, though I have Iranian friends who feel that the Satanic Verses was deliberately published by the British government to sever relations with Iran. After about a decade or more, the Iranians announced that, while the fatwa couldn’t – or wouldn’t – be lifted, they weren’t going actively going to enforce it.

Then a few years ago, more money was placed on the price. This was after the rioting around the world against the film, The Innocence of Muslims, which was a genuinely blasphemous attack on Mohammed. The film, however, was the group of expatriate Egyptians and nothing to do with Salman Rushdie. Again, it looked like a cynical attempt by the Iranian revolutionary authorities to gain some kind of political advantage, which they felt they had lost.

And now this. And everything about this says exactly the same to me: that this is nothing but a cynical attempt to exploit Rushdie’s notoriety to marshal support for the regime. Except that I don’t know how successful they’ll be. Not very, is my guess. They weren’t before, despite the vicious attacks on Rushdie’s publishers and translators. After all, they had to drop it as a dead letter for several years. And Kulinski is right about the Iranian population. They are on average very young. Most of the population is under 30. This generation doesn’t remember the Shah or the Islamic Revolution, and Rushdie to them is nothing but decades old news.

Now I don’t share Kulinski’s atheism. I think that people have the right to bring their children up and have them educated in their faith, and I don’t see it as brainwashing. But I do share his feelings that if the Iranians are resorting to violence, or advocating it, then it does mean that they don’t have confidence in their own ability to confront and overcome Rushdie in the realm of ideas. Which is itself astonishing, considering the rich heritage of Islamic philosophy. But then, I don’t think combating Rushdie’s ideas are what the fatwas is intended for. As I said, I think it’s an appeal to raw emotion simply to bolster the regime.

So why would the Iranian state and authorities need this renewed campaign against Rushdie? It might be because the young general is much less religious, and more secular. Atheism is expanding across the Middle East, including Iran. This is pretty much what you’d expect when religion, or indeed any ideology, becomes oppressive and the source of violence instead of peace and prosperity. Christopher Hill, in one of his books on what he called the English Revolution, his term for the British Civil War notes that the religious violence in Britain in the mid-17th century led to a similar growth in atheism and unbelief. And Iran many people resent their lack of political and social freedoms, and the immense corruption of Islamic clergy, who have enriched themselves through backhanders from commerce, industry and control of the bonyads, the religious trusts, which manage about 50 per cent of the economy, including the oil industry. All this growth in atheism is very, very clandestine. Atheism and apostasy are capital crimes in many Islamic countries, and so people have to be very careful about who they talk to about this issue. Even social media is very carefully monitored. ISIS in Syria kept the facebook and twitter accounts of a female anti-Islamist activist open long after the woman herself had been captured and murdered by them, as a honey trap to catch other anti-Islamist dissidents. And Nokia sold software across the Middle East to the despots and autocrats enabling them to hack into people’s mobiles in order to spy on them. So it’s still incredibly dangerous. Nevertheless, atheism and general disaffection against these regimes is growing. So I’m very sure that the Iranians have raised the fatwa bounty once again, because they hear the ticks of the clock sounding out the final moments of their regime only too well.

Corruption and the Sale of Tory Seats in the Early 20th Century

February 27, 2016

From contemporary political corruption in America, to political corruption here in Britain. In the early 20th century parts of the Conservative party were scandalised by the cynical way safe seats were sold to the highest bidder by the local Conservative associations. These charged for the time exorbitant fees to prospective candidates. ‘Gracchus’, the pseudonymus author of the anti-Tory book, Your MP, devotes a whole chapter to the corrupt sale of seats, and the massive preponderance of the rich in the Tory and National Liberal parties. However, this passage in particular on pages 27 to 28 makes the point.

Now we go deeper still: we find one of our witnesses, one of Major Patriot’s Tory colleagues, saying that “it is lamentable that Tory seats should be sold to the richest candidate.”

And, turning back, we find a reference to a “financial burden not within the capacity of all” potential candidates (East Toxteth), and another M.P. complaining that “a married man with an income of £2,000 a year” cannot afford to be an M.P. (Spelthorne).

There is plenty of evidence on this. P.W. Donner (Basingstoke) was reported by the Morning Post, 28.6.35, to have said that he “had been forced to leave Islington, his present constituency, on the grounds of health and economy. The Hampshire Executive (of the Tory Party) had asked him for a subscription less than half what he was now paying in Islington.”

The Hon. Quintin Hogg (Oxford) wrote in the Nineteenth Century, January, 1934, that “the local Tory associations are rotten to the core”. In one agricultural constituency, he wrote, prospective Tory candidates have been informed they need not apply unless they can subscribe to the organisation the fantastic sum of £3,000 per annum.

In a northern industrial city, £600 a year is the least annual subscription that the Association will consider.

According to the a valuable study recently published, Parliamentary Representation, by J.F.S. Ross, the average amounts of election expenses for contested elections in 1935 were in round figures:

Conservative candidates……£780
Liberal candidates. ………£520
Labour candidates…………£360

One Conservative candidate, Mr. Ian Harvey, published in January, 1939, a memorandum headed “A Plutocratic System,” which goes so far as to state that “in nearly every case” (when candidates for Tory seats are chosen) “the question of finance is of primary importance.” He estimated that men “have always an excellent chance of being adopted “if they are willing “to pay all their elections expenses (anything between £400 and £1,200) and to subscribe between £500 and £1,000 (a year) to the local Association.”

The Federation of University Conservative Associations, meeting in London as Mr Ian Harvey’s memo was published, passed unanimously a resolution deploring the influence on the choice of candidates of “considerations of personal fortune”.

In the book by Mr Ross there are further examples, from Frome in Somerset, Hendon, and the University of London Conservative Association. Mr Ross calculates that only one person out of each 1,150 of the adult population has the income necessary to have “an excellent chance” in Mr Harvey’s phrase, of being adopted as a Tory M.P.

When Mr R.A. Brabner, (Hythe) was chosen as candidate, it was stated in the London Press that he “will pay £500 a year to the Conservative Association, and his election expenses. That is a fairly moderate contribution for a safe seat near London” (Evening Standard, 27.6.39).

The same inquisitive newspaper noted, about Lt.-Col. F.G. Doland (Balham and Tooting(, that his is “an expensive seat to fight. The Conservative candidate’s election expenses are between £700 and £700 … I understand that the Conservatives expect their candidates to find this money out of their own pockets, and, in addition, to provide a ‘subsidy’ of about £600 a year” (13.7.36).

Sir Derek Gunston (Thornbury), one of the very few Tory M.P. on the Executive of the League of Nations Union, spoke more recently on the subject of “purchasable seats’:

“Rich, safe seats, with ample resources that could be tapped, are too lazy to make the effort so long as they can find rich men who, while willing to go through the mill of fighting an election, are nevertheless prepared to pay for a safe seat. In practice you find the able but less well-off candidates fighting the hopeless seats. It is the rich, safe seats which demand the highest contributions (Evening Standard, 2.10.41).

Let us try to be clear what all this evidence amounts to. it does not mean that every Tory buys his seat. It means that enough of them do so to matter a great deal – to matter so much that very many other Tories protest, are uneasy, try to get the matter altered. (But do not succeed in doing so).
(My emphasis).

It therefore comes as no surprise that 95% of MPs are millionaires. Nor is it surprising that contemporary grass roots Tories complain about being sidelined in favour of rich donors. This type of corruption also became endemic in New Labour, when various businessmen ostentatiously switched from the Tories to Labour, and then were parachuted into safe Labour seats in preference to the local parties’ preferred candidates. And there has always been an element of corporate corruption in politics, where Corporations have bought influence by contributing to party coffers. It’s rife within the modern parties, and particularly the Conservatives, where the Tory party conference was largely funded through sponsorship and donations by rich corporations seeking a slice of public contracts. For example, Jeremy Hunt last year moderated a discussion about the future of the NHS in a talk sponsored by a private healthcare firm.

While the effective sale of Tory safe seats may not exist, or proceed in quite the same form, this passage shows how cynical the Tories were in choosing the richest as their preferred candidates, and the influence money could get you in the party.

Hillary Clinton Sold Arms to Saudi War Criminals

February 27, 2016

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece about Cameron’s visit to a BAE aircraft factory in Warton, Lancashire, in which he boasted about selling ‘brilliant things’ to Saudi Arabia. He felt this was a matter of pride. Mike pointed out that in fact it was a disgrace, as these weapons are being used by the Saudis to kill civilians in what the United Nations has described as possible war crimes.

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski similarly marks out Hillary Clinton for criticism and opprobrium. Clinton, as Secretary of State, approved a $29.4 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia, which supplied them with American arms, including warplanes made by Boeing. These have been indiscriminately used by the Saudis in Yemen, to kill civilians as well as military targets. 2,800 civilians have been killed. Among the casualties have been rescue workers and taxi drivers, for example. The places hit have included three hospitals run by Medecins Sans Frontieres, a wedding hall, and a chamber of commerce. The Saudis aren’t targeting just Houthi rebels, but are actively engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Shi’a Muslims.

Clinton pushed very hard for the arms sales, and the reasons weren’t just because the Saudis were America’s allies. Both Boeing and Saudi Arabia made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and Boeing has also financially supported Hillary’s current presidential campaign. Kulinski states that Hillary’s probably the worst candidate, as she has multiple fronts for corruption. Donors can give directly to her campaign. She also raises money through her Super-PAC. Neither of these are particularly remarkable, as many other politicians have them. Bernie Sanders does not, to his credit, have a Super-PAC. Hillary has got an income through speech-making. He states that Clinton will give a speech to Goldman Sachs telling them they’re oppressed, take $675,000 for doing so, and then, of course, once she gets in the White House, of course she’s going to be returning the favour. She also has another income stream from the Clinton Foundation, which takes not only money from rich corporate donors, but also from other countries and governments around the world. Including what Kulinski describes, entirely justifiably, as ‘the Salafi terror state’.

He makes the point that the Saudis are indeed an Islamic fundamentalist terror state. They are very hard-line, fundamentalist Muslims, who share much of their interpretation of Islam with ISIS. And they have actively funded Islamist terrorism. Private emails leaked from when this deal was finalised in 2011 show Clinton and her supporters hailing the deal as ‘good news’ and ‘not a bad Christmas present’.

Kulinski therefore makes the excellent point that Hillary has no business whatsoever stating that ISIS is the major threat to America, when she has sold arms to Saudi Arabia, itself an oppressive Salafi regime, and which has funded terrorism, including 9/11.

The Young Turks Show Trump Is Not Self-Financing His Campaign

February 27, 2016

Yet more on Donald Trump, I’m afraid. In this piece from The Young Turks, John Iadarola show how Donald Trump is very definitely not self-financing his election campaign, as he and his agent, Corey Lewandowski, have claimed ad nauseam. Trump has spent $17.7 million of his money on his campaign, but other donors have contributed $7.5 million, almost 30 per cent of the total. And Iadarola also presents a graph showing that 68% of Trump’s money also comes from loans, which he intends to pay back once he’s won the election.

And finally, Iadarola makes the point that whatever Trump says about not accepting money from rich donors, he is still part of the problem. The reason why donations from wealthy corporations, industrialists and capitalists are resented is because it buys them influence. Donald Trump doesn’t quite need to go so much to wealthy donors, because he is a rich capitalist and industrialist. So he himself is part of the corruption of the American political system.

The Tories’ Re-Writing Savile Out of Their History

February 27, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has this little piece about the way the Tories are trying to edit history in order to remove their party’s endorsement of Jimmy Savile. Certain photos of him canvasing for the party, and meeting the Tory great, if not good, are being removed from their website. Just as they did with all their election promises a few years ago, so no-one would see how many they’ve actually broken.

One of the photographs is this one, which is itself very damning:

SavileThatcher

Go read Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/27/it-seems-the-tories-are-trying-to-rewrite-their-own-history-again-so-please-share-savile/, and see another of Savile with a Tory campaign slogan plastered all over his car, and a very interesting letter to one of the papers pointing out the Tories’ hypocrisy in trying to link Savile with the NHS, while at the same time they fully supported him, and Ken Clarke gave him the keys to Broadmoor to molest the female inmates there.

1930s Tory MP Writes in the Daily Mail about Conservatism and the BUF

February 27, 2016

It’s very notorious that the Daily Mail was solidly behind Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in Britain, and Adolf Hitler in Germany, at least initially. Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge about a year or so ago dug out a whole tranche of quotes of columns from the Heil celebrating and promoting the Blackshirts and the Nazis, while at the same time warning of the impending threat from Jewish immigrants and asylum seekers. This was in response to a hit-piece in the newspaper attacking Ed Milliband’s father, the Marxist academic Ralph Milliband, as ‘the Man Who Hates Britain’. For all that he hated British capitalism and its institutions, Ralph Milliband was a patriot, who fought for his adopted country in the war. As opposed to the father of one of the journos on that esteemed organ, who seemed to have enjoyed a somewhat quieter, less riskier life as its sports correspondent.

And some Tories were also very outspoken in their support for Mosley and the Blackshirts. Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas Moore was the Tory MP for Ayr Burghs. He was also a member of the notorious Anglo-German Fellowship, an interwar organisation consisting of Nazis and British, largely aristocratic, Nazi fellow-travellers, promoting peaceful relations between Britain and Hitler’s Germany. On April 25, 1934, Sir Thomas Moore published an article in Heil praising Mosley’s thugs. He wrote

Surely there cannot be any fundamental difference of outlook between the Blackshirts and their parents, the Conservatives? For let us make no mistake about that parentage … It is largely derived from the Conservative Party … surely the relationship can be made closer and more friendly?

He also praised the BUF squadristi for their ‘pride of race, love of country, loyalty’ and stated that the briefest study of the movement and the most casual examination of its members satisfy one of that it is largely derived from the Conservative . This is perhaps natural for the instincts are the same, loyalty to the throne and love of country.

And he wasn’t the only Tory MP who approved and defended Mosley. During the debate in parliament on Mosley’s interment of the first of December, 1943, Grenfell, a Labour MP, called Mosley a ‘proved enemy of the state’. The Tories’ response were cries of ‘No, no’, and ‘Not proved’. And when Grenfell asked ‘Does anybody are to stand up and say he was not an enemy of the state?’, one Tory MP, Commander Bower, the Member for Cleveland, did indeed do so, saying, ‘I do.’

From ‘Gracchus’, Your MP (London: Victor Gollancz 1944) 47, 48.

The Anglo-German Fellowship and its related organisation, The Link, were ultimately marginal organisations on the Tory fringes. But this certainly shows how far some members of the Tory party did sympathise with Hitler and Mosley. And I’ve no doubt that its an aspect of Tory history they want to suppress in order to promote the image that it was only under Churchill and the Tories that Britain stood to defeat Nazi Germany.

Vox Political on Cameron’s Boasting about Selling Arms to Saudi Arabia

February 26, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has a report from the Guardian about Cameron boasting about his arms sales to Saudi Arabia on a visit to the BAE Systems factory in Warton, Lancashire. He did so on the same day that the European Parliament voted for an arms embargo because of the country’s indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen. Mike in his comments says that Cameron simply doesn’t appear to understand why selling arms to these people is wrong. It is, according to Mike, the most indictment of him.

David Cameron boasts of ‘brilliant’ UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Mike’s right: this is truly scandalous. The Saudi regime has been condemned by a number of international bodies for its bombardment in Yemen. This has included the indiscriminate killing of civilians in what has been cautiously described as possible war crimes. In addition to killing Houthi rebels, the Saudis have also targeted Shi’a mosques, destroyed four hospitals operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres. They’ve also destroyed factories and even taxi drivers. The weapons dropped include cluster bombs, which remain to kill and mutilate in former war zones long after the war has actually stopped. They’re still a real problem in the former Yugoslavia, where people are still being killed and maimed by them, or at least they were a few years ago, long after the war in Bosnia and Kosovo officially ceased. International observers have stated that Saudi Arabia’s campaign in the Yemen looks very much like an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Shi’a. By selling the country arms, Cameron is making Britain complicit in their crimes against humanity.

And Saudi Arabia has also funded terrorism, including al-Qaeda and ISIS, under its head of intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal. They’ve had something of a volte-face since then, after ISIS told the Saudis that they were next and issued an ultimatum urging its people to rise up. Nevertheless, we have no business arming a state which, while claiming to represent peace and stability in the region, actually gives aid and succour to our enemies.

The arms trade to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere is extremely lucrative. I’ve blogged elsewhere that Cameron has sold weapons to autocratic states, and countries like South Africa, which have neither need for them, nor the ability to maintain them properly. It’s simply Cameron lining the pockets of the ‘merchants of death’.

Most telling is the childish joy in which he described the arms and warplanes sold as ‘brilliant things’. It reminds me of a spoof of a NATO general way back when I was a lad in the early 1980s. It was on a sketch show called End of Part One. That particular skit was about a British general going to buy nuclear warheads, rather like a young boy trying to buy fireworks, and saying really childish comments like, ‘I want that one. It goes ‘whizzzzzz”, and throwing a tantrum when they don’t have those he wants in stock. The sketch was directed at Britain’s military establishment at the time when Thatcher’s and Reagan’s new Cold War was at its height, and there were real fears that a nuclear war was about to break out. CND was on the rise again, and so the sketch attacked Britain’s generals and its supposed nuclear deterrent as literally puerile warmongers, intent on seeing big bangs without any thought of the consequences, the mass death and mutilation these weapons cause. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the sketch, as it seemed a mite too simplistic. And besides, it simply wasn’t funny or very subtle. On the other hand, it does describe part of Cameron’s attitude and rhetoric here.

David Cameron boasts of ‘brilliant’ UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Cameron’s a disgrace, a wannabe dictator over here, and the enabler of autocrats and dictators around the world through the arms trade.