Archive for May, 2016

Dennis Skinner on Ending Exploitation by Private Employment Agencies

May 31, 2016

I little while ago this evening I put up piece detailing Dennis Skinner’s own proposals for improving Britain in his book, Sailing Close the Wind. One of them was to end private employment agencies, and get back to using Jobcentres to notify people of available work. He gives a bit more information about his opposition to private employment agencies, which actively discriminate against trade unionists and, he argues, promote racism against foreign workers.

After discussing his success under Gordon Brown’s administration in creating an industrial estate that could provide 6,000 jobs, Skinner goes on to write

All the growth, however, has to be accompanied by a totally new employment strategy. the Labour government has to get rid of zero-hours contracts and agencies that exploit the workers and effectively outlaw trade union membership, refusing to hire anybody who joins a union. Let us get back to the days when the Labour Exchange or Jobcentres provided people with work, and employment agencies didn’t short-change and abuse people. Men and women today are worried about being undercut by foreign labour. The real problem is that agencies act as middlemen, taking a cut of wages. When I worked in the coal mines in the late 1940s, Poles and Ukrainians were employed in nearly every pit. They were regarded as displaced persons after the war. I can’t remember any serious objections. And why not? Simply because a) they were not employed by agencies, b) they were paid the same wages as us and c) they were all members of the NUM or the appropriate trade union! Today these lessons should be learned and practised in every private or public firm in Britain. (pp. 55-6).

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Dennis Skinner’s Personal Recommendations for Improving Britain

May 31, 2016

The veteran Labour MP and trade unionist, Dennis Skinner, also makes some political recommendations of his own in his autobiographical Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences, published two years ago in 2014. He summarises his plans, saying

So I’m fighting for a new Labour government to axe the bedroom tax, save the NHS, cut fuel bills, created jobs for the young and raise living standards. My personal manifesto will be to the left of that of the party but I’m committed 100 per cent to the election of Labour candidates across Britain. (p.313).

As for the proposals themselves, he writes (headlines in bold are mine)

I’ve a few suggestions of my own to boost Labour’s popularity and beat the Tories.

End Privatisation

To start the ball rolling we should end expensive privatisation instead of paying a fortune to contractors such as G4S, Serco and Capita that make a mess of services in the process. It’s time we got back to publicly run, publicly owned services provided in the public interest.

Nationalise the Railways

On the railways, the £900m surplus on East Coast trains, operated publicly after the private sector crashed twice, shows us the way ahead. Instead of boosting Richard Branson’s profits, a nationalised railway could make a profit and generate the cash to improve every station in Britain.

A ‘Robin Hood’ Tax on City Speculators

If we want extra money for the National Health Service and social care, we should levy a Robin Hood tax on speculators in the city. Directing the funds raised directly to health and care, including help for the mentally handicapped, rather than to the Treasury, would be immensely popular. We could start with a low rate and increase it when the tax proves to be popular, as I’m sure it will be, by emulating the one per cent National Insurance rise for the NHS when Gordon Brown was Chancellor.

Scrap Trident

Scrapping Trident would free up billions of pounds for a massive house building programme so everybody has a roof over their head and nobody is homeless. The position on council house sales has to change or local authorities won’t build houses if they know they must sell them cheaply after a few years.

End Nuclear Weapons, Restore Local Democracy

The savings from defusing nuclear weapons can also help save local democracy. Councils are being swamped by central government. Powers are either grabbed by Whitehall or transferred to unelected quangos. Ever since the Clay Cross rent rebellion, Whitehall has dictated to communities. We need to reverse the trend.

Nationalise the Utilities

On the question of the utilities – gas, electricity, water – this is the moment to start taking them back into public ownership. We took control after 1945 and right up to Wilson’s final government, when he nationalised aerospace with a majority of only three, public ownership was advanced. To cap energy bills is a good idea but a better plan is to control utilities by restoring public ownership in Britain of firms that are currently owned in France, Germany and almost every country on the globe.

Spend More on Education; End Privatised Schooling

Spending on education more than doubled under the last Labour government, which was impressive. let’s stop the growth of faith schools and misnamed free schools – tax payers fund them so they’re not free – by enhancing the powers of local authorities to champion the education of every single child.

Raise Minimum Wage

We need to end the pay freezes. The people that are carrying the burden of the bankers’ ramp are mainly workers at the bottom of the scale. The Living Wage shouldn’t be optional. Everybody should get it. But let’s not stop at £7.65 an hour outside London and £8.80 in the capital. The trade union campaign for 10 an hour should be Labour policy. A decent day’s work deserves a decent day’s pay.

Ban Zero Hours Contracts

We should introduce legislation to outlaw zero hours contracts and private employment agencies. Playing off worker against worker, ferrying into Britain cheap labour to undercut employees, is poisoning community relations. Sticking 10, 12 or 15 eastern Europeans into a house then deducting large sums form their earnings is in nobody’s interests except cowboy employers. Reasserting the role of Jobcentres as local labour exchanges will improve wages and conditions.

Increase Trade Union Rights

Trade union rights must be strengthened significantly, including the abolition of sequestration. Industrial action requires two sides to be involved in a dispute, yet it is union funds that are seized. Rebalancing employment rights in favour of workers and unions is essential if we are to build a fairer economy.

Abandon Tory Obsession with Fiscal Restraint

And we must escape the dumb economic mantra about balancing the books. There would have been no Spirit of ’45 if Clement Attlee’s goal was to balance the books. There would have been no NHS, new Welfare State, new council houses and unemployment wouldn’t have dropped to 440,000 in 1950, after only five years of the finest Labour government ever. In fact the finest government ever.

We need spending to get people to work and the economy growing. You don’t need a crystal ball to see where we should be going. We can find the way ahead by reading the history books. (pp. 309-12).

He states that they’re not just his ideas, but have been discussed for the last 10 or 20 years in the Bolsover constituency.

I have some caveats. I don’t like the attack on faith schools, having been to an Anglican faith school myself, and I don’t share his euroscepticism. But other than that, I think he’s absolutely right. Thatcherism has done immense damage to this country. Now, after thirty years of it, it is long past the time it should have been discarded.

Ken Livingstone on Perestroika and Industrial Democracy

May 31, 2016

This morning I put up a piece about how Mikhail Gorbachev, the very last president of the Soviet Union, attempted to regenerate Soviet Communism by introducing industrial democracy and strengthening trade unions as part of Perestroika. Ken Livingstone devotes an entire chapter of his book, Livingstone’s Labour, on Perestroika, including a few paragraphs on worker’s control. He writes

So far the reformers around Gorbachev such as Aganbegyan have stressed that as the economy is modernised the workers must be protected from cuts in their standard of living. that is why he emphasises the strengthening of social provision such as housing, health and education. He has also spelt out the intention to keep rents low and to ensure that when price reform comes there must be compensation to protect living standards. He argues that there must be increased investment in new technology but makes the following innovative condition:

The distinctive feature of this reform is industrial democracy moving towards self-management … this will involved [workers] in determining the enterprise plan, the allocation of resources and the election of managers. It is a revolutionary programme. There will be much opposition, especially from management… This can only be overcome because the … driving force is political openness and democratisation.

It is not only academic economists who talk like this. I was struck by the enthusiasm and pleasure with which Vadim Zagladin, the Head of the International Department of the Central Committee, described how a Siberian shoe factory, which had been facing closure, had been taken over by the workers. The products of the factory were notorious for falling apart within days of purchase but the Central Committee had agreed to give the workers a last chance to improve their shoes before closure. Once the workers took control their first act was to sack the incompetent managers. They then turned the business into a dramatic success within two years. Now the factory is expanding and their shoes are in demand all over the USSR. Even more innovative is the workers’ proposal to issue ‘shares’ in factory-not to investors, but to their customers who would then be in a position to exercise real consumer power. (Pp. 205-6).

Livingstone also explains that the Perestroika movement was divided into two camps, with a right-wing that favoured something like Thatcherism, and a left, which included Gorby himself, that wanted to protect the workers as much as possible. He stated

In the first place, the perestroika movement is split into two quite distinct camps (it is the failure to understand this which has led so many We3stern observers to talk so inaccurately about the reintroduction of capitalism). there are those like Nikolai Shmelev and the technocrats Lisichkin and Popov whose arguments are similar to those of Thatcher that the economy can be reformed by the creation of a poll of unemployment which will act as a spur to increase productivity. They argue that Soviet society must be led by an elite and that the welfare state is a ‘survival of feudalism’.

The other faction inside the perestroika movement is that of the democratisers. Typified by the economists Aganbegyan and Zaslavskaya, this faction believes that the economy can only be modernised by democratising Soviet society from the grass roots upwards. Most important of all, they see the way to improve the economic performance of the USSR is by introducing democratic rights at work so that the workers elect their managers. At every stage Gorbachev has thrown his weight behind the democratisers and against the elitists. As he wrote in his book Perestroika (1987)’There was opinion…that we ought to give up planned economy and sanction unemployment. We cannot permit this… since we aim to strengthen socialism, not replace it with a different system … Furthermore, a work collective must have the right to elect its manager.’ (P. 204).

Livingstone was aware how radical Gorbachev’s reforms were, and that there were many who wished them to fail so that they could introduce unemployment:

The excitement with which progressive Central Committee members like Zagladin recount each successful experiment in workers democracy is an indication of just how much is riding on the hopes of the reformers that democracy from below will be the key to the modernisation of the Soviet economy. If they fail the conservatives will be waiting in the wings to try the ‘spur’ of unemployment.(p. 206).

By ‘Conservatives’, Livingstone means the traditional managerial class of party functionaries and civil servants.

This passage is interesting, as it shows how well-informed Red Ken was about the Soviet Union and perestroika. He was well aware, for example, that the restructuring of the Soviet economy would result in 16 million jobs being lost, and acknowledged that this would present a serious problem. In the event, Gorbachev’s radical proposal to transform Soviet industry into co-operatives was abandoned, and they were transformed through the voucher system into straightforward capitalist enterprises. The result was chaos and the complete meltdown of the country’s economy under Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, corrupt incompetent, who was useful as a stooge to the Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs then in the White House and Downing Street.

This also explains one of the quotes the Scum attributed to Red Ken in their campaign against Labour in the 1987 general election. The rag produced a page of photos of various Labour MPs and activists, with a radical quote from each underneath the photo to scare people. Under Diane Abbott they placed the words, ‘All White people are racist’. With Red Ken they placed a line about how he wasn’t in favour of the army, but a corps of soldiers to defend the factories. Looking back now, it seems quite unlikely that those quotes were even true, especially Ken’s, except perhaps at a time in his early career when he, like many left-wingers, was far more radical. But his interest in perestroika, and the reintroduction of industrial democracy, also showed how much of a threat he was to Thatcher and her programme of grinding the workers down any way she could.

Norman Finkelstein on the Media Lies of the Israel Lobby

May 31, 2016

I would like to drop blogging about Israel and the Palestinians for a bit, having posted a number of articles about them over the past few days. However, just as I think I’ve said enough about the subject for now, something else crops up.

Porky Scratchings Zionist Trolling

On Monday Mike posted up a piece about how somebody calling themselves ‘Porky Scratchings’ and declaring themselves to be a Zionist, had slandered him on a Twitter as an anti-Semite. This was simply because Mike has published many pieces disputing and refuting the charges of anti-Semitism made against members of the Labour Party. These charges are obviously wrong and should be deeply shameful for the people who made them. Those accused, like Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walter, are not certainly not Jew-haters, but principled people who have criticised Israeli’s barbarism towards the Palestinians. In addition to his slander, Porky Scratchings tried to lure Mike into writing something anti-Semitic. When Mike disappointed him, Mike’s Twitter account went down. Somebody had tried to hack it. Twitter had frozen it, and advised Mike to change the passwords. I blogged yesterday about how Mike is certainly not either racist or anti-Semitic, and further pulled apart Porky Scratchings utter lack of logic. Commenting on the incident over at Mike’s blog, Florence said that she believed that Porky Scratching was not some isolated troll. Instead, he looked like a paid interrogator. This sounds likely and it fits with the cyber-attack. The accusation of anti-Semitism brought against Jackie Walker ultimately came from a Zionist cybergroup, who based it on remarks she made on her Facebook page comparing the enslavement of Black Africans to the Holocaust and Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. Walker’s father is a Russian Jew, her partner is Jewish, and one of the friends she was talking to is also Jewish. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist. By any reasonable standard, the accusation is risible and should be laughed out of court, along with the fools who made it. But it seems clear from this that the Israel lobby is engaged in cyber espionage and warfare. And it seems from Mike’s experience with Porky Scratchings that if the Israel lobby can’t find any quote from you they can reasonably claim is anti-Semitic, they will hack into your account and invent one. And as this video with Norman Finkelstein shows, unfortunately the Israel lobby has long history of outrageous, unchallenged lying.

The Lies of the Israel Lobby

Finkelstein here lays into several falsehoods that are manufactured and deployed by the Israel lobby. These are that the conflict with the Palestinians are based in ancient, Biblical feuds; that the experience of the Holocaust was unique, and so normal standards do not apply to Jews in their treatment of the Palestinians; that there is a massive revival of anti-Semitism and rise in assaults on Jews, and concludes with a discussion of the sheer mendacity in Alan Dershowitz’s In Defence of Israel.

Arab Opposition Not Biblical, Based on Zionist Colonisation in 19th and 20th Centuries

The video begins with him saying that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not based on the ancient struggles between Israel and the surrounding Canaanite and other states in the Bible, nor in some thousand-year old antagonism between Arabs and Jews. It is simply resistance to the attempts of the Zionist settlers in Palestine to take over their land and expel the indigenous peoples. He states that this is just obvious common sense when applied to every other nation, but it literally jumped off the page at him when he read Benny Morris say it in his book in the 1980s. Morris has since become very right-wing in his attitude to the Palestinians, but that doesn’t change the value of the remark. He compares the situation to the resistance the Amerindians put up to White colonisation in America. He states very clearly that, unless you’re very PC, it’s recognised that the Amerindians were very brutal in their assault on Whites. They killed women and children. Nevertheless, they did so not because they were inherently anti-White, or motivated by some anti-Christianism, but because they were defending themselves and their homeland from subjugation and dispossession.

The Origins of the Different Moral Standards Claimed by Zionists

He states that the attitude that Jews are not subject to the same moral constraints as others first appeared in 1967, with the Jewish rediscovery of Israel. This was the time when the Holocaust industry first got going. As for the allegations that there is a rise in anti-Semitism, he states that every ten years there is a new piece on ‘the new anti-Semitism’ in the media. It ultimately goes back to a 1974 article by the joint heads of the Anti-Defamation League, with the title ‘The New Anti-Semitism’. And what was it about? The musical Jesus Christ Superstar. They claimed it was anti-Semitic because it made Pilate sympathetic to Jesus, and put the responsibility for His crucifixion on the Sanhedrin. The film was directed by Norman Jewison, who wasn’t Jewish, but was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was now, in Finkelstein’s words, the new Hitler. And then the charge that there was a new anti-Semitism appeared again in another article written by the heads of the ADL again in 1982. And its appeared regularly every ten years or so ever since. He compares the attack on Jesus Christ Superstar with the recent controversy over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Lies about the Rise in Anti-Semitic Attacks

He then lays into recent article which claimed that there was a rise in assaults on Jews on campuses throughout the US, after a report in one of the newspapers that a Jewish student at Harvard had been assaulted by an Arab. He rang up the universities, and contacted the Hillels. These are the Jewish representatives on campus. There had been no rise in attacks on Jews. And Harvard and its Hillels stated that the attack reported in the papers had not occurred. So he phoned up the journo who wrote it, and asked her where she got it from. She got it from Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Robertson is right-wing televangelist, who like so many of them says things that are just outrageous and sheer bonkers. Secular Talk has taken a number of pot-shots at him over the years, because of some of the terrible things he’s said. These have included advising men on when it’s Biblically permissible for them to cheat on their wives, and to hit their kids if they say they’re atheists. So not exactly a reliable or unbiased source. Furthermore, if you look at the official statistics, you find that actually there was less anti-Semitism in 2004, presumably when the video was made, than 13 years previously 1991.

Anti-Semitism Allegations Made to Attack Critics of Israel

Finkelstein states clearly that most of the allegations of anti-Semitism are directed at criticisms of Israel, and its treatment of the Palestinians. Where there are genuine anti-Semitic comments made, they’re usually a result of the above. And not surprisingly, says Finkelstein. Israel is the Jewish state, and all the Jewish organisations support it, so it isn’t surprising that Jews become the subjects of hostility for its actions. He compares this with the growth of anti-Americanism around the world, which was a response to American atrocities committed during the Vietnam War.

Dershowitz and In Defence of Israel

As for Dershowitz’s book, In Defence of Israel, Finkelstein states that it’s so bad, he doesn’t think that Dershowitz either wrote or, before he debated with him, had even read it. Whole sections of it are plagiarised. He uses uncritically the work of Joan Peters, who argued that there were no Arabs in Palestine until the Jewish settlers arrived. Finkelstein states its a lie, concocted from a very selective use of Ottoman (Turkish imperial) sources. She also alters and amends these texts to suit herself as well. And when he isn’t plagiarising, he’s simply making stuff up. For example, he talks about the case of a Palestinian who was shaken to death in Israeli custody. All the doctors and physicians, who examined the case concurred that this was the case. Dershowitz, however, states that an independent body concluded that he had died of a pre-existing condition. This is simply not true. Dershowitz, or rather his ghost writer, simply made it up. And nowhere in the book does Dershowitz cite or quote any of the recognised human rights bodies – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN. He doesn’t for a very good reason. If he did, he’d have to alter the book and change its title to The Case for Palestine.

Finkelstein states that for most cases of pseudo-scholarship, all you have to do to tell it’s wrong is to look at the author’s biography, what organisations they belong to, and who’s publishing it. But this simply isn’t the case by the stuff churned out by the Israel lobby. It’s published by very reputable publishers, its authors often hold prestigious academic places – Dershowitz himself is a professor of law, and the head of a law department at one of the US universities.
And these books and their lies are given very good reviews by the papers and literary journals. For example, he said that after he debated Dershowitz, there was a bit of back forth between him and others about the book, and one of the journos wrote something about it. And then the book received four and five star reviews from papers like the New York Times.

Israel Lobby’s Attitude to Truth that of Revolutionary Communists

So why do they do it? Finkelstein states that they’re motivated by the same attitude as some revolutionary Marxist organisations: that it’s true, if it serves the cause. Finkelstein was a Maoist in the ’60s and ’70s, and used to know a member of the Vietnamese Communist party. In the ’70s there was some debate over whether The Diary of Anne Frank had actually been written by her, or was really the work of her father. Finkelstein states that in 1978 he asked his Maoist mentor about it. He said, ‘It’s true, even if it isn’t’. In other words, if it serves the cause, then it’s true, even when it’s a lie. And these lies serve the Israeli cause.

Here’s the video.

Finkelstein’s detailed exposition here of the sheer mendacity of the Israeli lobby and the deep complicity of the mainstream media, who automatically repeat it without even bothering to do the most basic checks for factual accuracy, is astonishing. These are people, who lie without any qualms, destroying their lives and reputations of decent people, including many active, proud, observant Jews, without any conscience whatsoever. This explains how it is that one of their trolls tried to bait Mike into saying something anti-Semitic, and then tried to fabricate something when Mike didn’t.

This shows that the Israel lobby are liars, and it’s long past the time they were called out, exposed, and discredited for their lies, along with the mendacious and compromised media that repeats and supports them.

Mikhail Gorbachev on Worker’s Control in Perestroika

May 31, 2016

One of the most interesting aspects of Gorbachev’s plan to restructure the Communist system in Perestroika was the re-introduction of workers’ control. Lenin briefly introduced this after the Bolshevik coup of 1917, but it was reversed when it was found that, contrary to Bolshevik expectations and dogma, the workers couldn’t manage industry on their own. Lenin himself was fiercely autocratic and intolerant, and the Bolshevik monopolization of power offended not only liberal democrats, but also other committed Marists, like Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg, who wrote articles denouncing it. Much of the intolerance and oppressive nature of the Soviet system came directly from Lenin and his doctrine of ‘democratic centralism’. This was the dogma that once the leaders of the Communist party had made a decision, no further discussion was permissible, and their commands should be carried out with any further debate or protest. Nevertheless, Gorbachev harkened back to Lenin and his supposed espousal of democracy in order to invigorate the moribund and sclerotic Soviet system. The reintroduction of workers’ control was part Gorby’s wider programme of democratizing Soviet society.

In his 1987 book, Perestroika: New Thinking for our Country and the World (London: Collins) Gorby writes

We are taking a new view of the correlation between one-man management and the participation of work collectives in handling production tasks. this is a topical issue. There will be no progress without workers’ involvement in management through the corresponding mechanisms – at the work team, factory shop, plant and integrated works level. Furthermore, a work collective must have the right to elect its manager. And the latter receives the right to one-man rule on behalf of the collective, uniting everybody by his willpower.

Elections of economic managers are direct democracy in action. Initially people were frightened by this, claiming that we had gone too far, that things could come to a bad end. But those who reason that way forget the main point, that common sense always prevails. Group interests, a practice of covering up for one another, will somewhere make themselves felt. But basically everyone wants his work team, factory shop, enterprise, collective or state farm to be headed by dependable, intelligent managers capable of leadership, of opening up vistas for improving production and life. Our people understand this, and they certainly do not need weak management. They need people who are talented, considerate, yet demanding in a fair way.

People want to see changed attitudes on the part of the plant manager, shop superintendent and foreman. People expect a moral example and they expect it particularly from their superiors. There are several such examples. Where there is a good manager, there is success. He takes care of people. Everyone wants to talk with him. He need not raise his voice in giving out orders. He may look quite ordinary, but he sees and can explain everything. It is now extremely important to be able to explain the situation. People will agree to wait if they see why some of their demands cannot be satisfied fully right away. (Pp. 103-4).

The former General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party also wanted to restore greater powers to the trade unions. These did not have the same roles and responsibilities as western trade unions. As the Soviet Union was a workers’ state, the Communists reasoned that trade unions should have no power to block or interfere with the authorities, who were the workers’ representatives. Nevertheless, the Soviet system granted them vast powers. The were to be consulted on economic planning, and the sacking of employees was only legal if the union had been consulted. The trade unions were also given the responsibility for running the health, medical and leisure programmes in Soviet plants, factories and industry. Gorbachev was concerned that the trade unions were acquiescing too much to the demands of management. He wished to alter this situation by giving them the power to represent the workers’ interests against management as well as improving healthcare and leisure at Soviet workplaces. He wrote

What our country is undertaking and the issues it is tackling implies a re-evaluation of the role of trade unions in social affairs.

It should be said first and foremost that our unions are a formidable force. No labour law can be drafted unless endorsed by the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. On all questions concerning labour laws, their enforcement and the safeguarding of the working people’s right the trade unions have the final say. If a manager fires a worker without asking the union for approval, a court of law automatically makes the decision invalid without any deliberation, inasmuch as the trade union has not been consulted for its opinion. No economic development plan, for one year or five years, is submitted to the Supreme Soviet unless approved by the trade unions. When the plans are in the making, the trade unions participate as well at all levels.

Social insurance, the running of sanatoriums and recreation resorts, tourism, physical training and sports, and the rest and recreation of children are all the responsibility of the trade unions. Consequently, they wield real power. But, all, over the past few years there has been less trade union activity. On some issues, they have yielded their prerogatives to economic managers, while not enjoying some rights effectively enough.

So, having set about restructuring, we saw that the work of the trade unions could not be termed satisfactory. During my trip to the Kuban region, I reproached trade union leaders for pandering to managers, sometimes going so far as dancing to their tune. I asked them whether it was not high time they took a position of principle, and stood up for working people?

The new role of the trade unions in conditions of perestroika should consist primarily of giving a stronger social orientation to economic decisions, offsetting technocratic encroachments which have become widespread in the economy in the last few years. this means that the trade unions should be more active in elaborating the social sections of economic plans, and, if need be, setting forth and upholding their own alternative proposals.

Trade union committees should have teeth, and not be convenient partners for management. Bad working conditions at some enterprises, a poor health service, substandard locker rooms- trade union organisations have got used to all this. but Soviet trade unions have the right to monitor managerial compliance with labour contracts, the right to criticise management, and even the right to demand that director who fails to comply with the legitimate interests of the working people be removed from office.

It would be wrong to think that under socialism the working people do not need any protection. They should be protected even more, for socialism is a system for the working people. Hence the tremendous responsibility of the trade unions. All Soviet society is vitally interested in more vigorous work being undertaken by the trade unions. (Pp. 113-4).

All this was discarded during Yeltsin’s administration, when the economy was privatised and the voucher system introduced, which transformed the co-operatives Gorby had been setting up into bog standard capitalist enterprises. If Gorbachev had been successful, he would have created a democratic Socialist state, very close to the vision of the ownership of the means of production by the workers themselves that motivated Socialists as far back as the Owenite John Francis Bray in the 19th century. While not demanding the abolition of capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang states in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, that in countries where there is state interest in industry, or workers’ representatives on the boardroom, firms actually do better than when left simply to managers and shareholders. But unfortunately, that it what we are left with after thirty years of Thatcherism. And its continuing and accelerating under Cameron.

We need a change. British trade unionism needs to be revitalised, and we do need workers’ representatives in our boardrooms. As for Thatcher, her ideas were always bankrupt. They should have been thrown out before she ever took office.

Dennis Skinner on Cameron and Osborne

May 30, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has published pieces on the number of Tories now demanding a no-confidence vote in David Cameron. These include ‘Mad’ Nad Nadine Dorries and Bill Cash, while other opponents and Tory MPs questioning his ability include Andrew Bridgen, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel. Which is somewhat ironic, considering that all of them are either incompetent or frankly dangerous, and should be kept well away from political office themselves.

See Mike’s articles http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/29/will-the-eu-referendum-be-camerons-waterloo/

Conservative civil war: Clarke bashes Boris, Cash lays into Cameron

Mike in the last piece reports that 72 per cent of voters in Telegraph poll, as of 4 O’clock today, May 30th, wanted Cameron out of office.

So let’s add a bit more fuel to the flames, shall we?

Dennis Skinner in his book, Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences has a few things to say about Cameron and Osborne – about their vacuity, short-tempers and marked lack of intelligence, and his personal tussles with them in the House. Here’s his description of them, and one of his stories about how he engaged them in a struggle of wits.

David Cameron and George Osborne are a couple of posh boys who get angry when you don’t show them the deference they think they are entitled to by birth. You could see Cameron was ambitious the moment you clapped eyes on him. the friendly smile is deceptive. Everything about how he dresses, carries himself and opens his mouth speaks of ambition. Dodgy Dave was a new MP and had only been in the Commons a couple of years when Iain Duncan Smith, enduring a torrid time as leader of the Tories after 2001, appointed Cameron as shadow deputy leader of the House.

On Cameron’s second week in the post Eric Forth, his line manager as shadow leader of the House, was away, so the new boy was pun charge at Business Questions. the beauty of Business Questions is we may ask for a statement or debate on any topic under the sun. I uttered a few words of mock greeting as Cameron stood there terrified, his hands gripping the despatch box, looking for all the world a lost young gentleman. Cameron tried to explain the Shadow Leader of the House was away but mixed up his words and said the Shadow Deputy Leader was absent. You’ve a split second to heckle. ‘he wants the top job already,’ I shouted and we laughed to take him down a notch. Cameron appeared embarrassed. You always remember a debut, it’s a big moment no matter what you do. He won’t forget he stumbled.

I described Cameron as a media creation on Radio 4’s Week in Westminster in late 2005 when he was running for the top job, and nothing I’ve seen or heard since has made me change my mind. He was elevated on the back of a puff of wind and lacked the substance of David Davis, the Tory he beat. The figure the Conservative Party could’ve picked and overlooked in successive contests was ken Clarke, who was easily the best candidate.

I’d watched Cameron as shadow deputy leader of the House and at local government and education, and he never sparkled. When it suited him, he posed as the heir to Blair. He’s dropped the act now and come out as the child of Thatcher he always was. Cameron never had Blair’s ability or temperament, let alone the Labour politics. Blair never lost his temper at the despatch box. Unlike Cameron, who struggles to his under control.

The Cameron mask slipped when he called me a dinosaur. I’m no shrinking violet and if you dish it out some will come back your way. We used to sing as kids that sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt us. the trigger was relatively innocuous. I’d asked if Cameron would appear before Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into media standards, given he’d once employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as press adviser. Cameron replied he’d be delighted, then Flashman lost control of his short fuse and added:

‘It’s good to see the honourable gentleman on such good form. I often say to my children “No need to go to the Natural History Museum to see a dinosaur, come to the House of Commons at about half past twelve”.

I held up my hands and shrugged my shoulders, trying to look bemused rather than triumphant. Our side protested angrily. I could see most of the Tories were horrified, although there were a few laughing. Blair knew how to appear prime ministerial. Cameron is petulant. Paul Flynn, a Labour MP only a few years younger than me, raised a point of order immediately after Prime Minister’s Questions to ask if it was appropriate to criticise each other on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, disability or vintage. Another Labour MP, Brian Donohoe, proposed that the PM ‘should come back to this place and apologise to Dennis Skinner.’

I wasn’t the first MP to be looked at down Cameron’s nose. Dave the Sexist displayed a misogynist side in telling Angela Eagle, a member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, to ‘Calm down, dear’ and later played the innocent when the Michael Winner slogan was wrapped around his neck. I must be the only dinosaur to ride a bike 12 miles on a Sunday. Once again the postbag ballooned with letters and emails flowed into the inbox on my computer. there must have been 150 of them. Cameron’s rudeness had gone down poorly. One of the notes was from a vicar in Cornwall who accused the PM of lying to God!

I was evidently under Cameron’s skin because, a few months after the dinosaur jibe in January 2012, he snapped once more in the Commons. In answer to a question about whether Jeremy Hunt should keep his job as culture secretary over close links to Rupert Murdoch, the PM jumped off the deep end. He stupidly whined I had a right to take my pension and added: ‘I advise him to do so.’ History was repeating itself. The remark was widely condemned as graceless, the insult boomeranging on a haple4ss Cameron. It was more water off a duck’s back and Cameron could carry on undermining himself for all I cared. In fact it was best that he did. The penny must have dropped with him, however, and at the next Prime Minister’s Questions he apologised.

‘I deeply regret my last intervention, it was a bit sharper than it should have been. I hope he will accept my apology for that,’ Cameron said, before smirking a smarmy ‘He is a tremendous ornament of this House and always remains the case.’

It’s not an apology for calling me a dinosaur or giving me pension advice that I seek, but a resignation letter apologising for the pain and damage he has caused to millions of people with the austerity imposed by the ConDem coalition. The Tories imitate the extreme Tea Party in the US. What the Conservatives are doing to the disabled, unemployed, working poor and homeless is unforgivable. the destruction of the NHS, carved into bite-sized pieces ready for privatisation, is criminal.

George Osborne is Cameron’s partner in crime. Another of the Bullingdon snobs, Osborne is educated beyond his intelligence. I applied the description to Paul Channon, a millionaire minister in Thatcher’s time. it is even more apt for a chancellor of the exchequer clueless of life outside his gilded circle. His skin is as thin as Cameron’s, as I saw when he resented the reminder that he’d appeared in a newspaper photograph with a line of white powder and the dominatrix who sold sex and pain. These posh boys don’t like it up ’em, as Corporal Jones would shout. (Pp. 276-8).

Let’s hope it isn’t too long before we get that resignation letter from Cameron.

Ken Livingstone on How Nazism Discredited Post-War European Conservatives

May 30, 2016

‘Red’ Ken Livingstone in his book, Livingstone’s Labour, also has some very interesting things to say about how the capitalist classes’ deep involvement with Nazism and Fascism so discredited Germany and Italian Conservatism, that they presented themselves in a pseudo-Socialist guise after the War.

As regards the parties of the right, the creation of stable political structures was more complicated than merely rebuilding the economy and creating military alliances. The right-wing parties, and in a number of countries the bulk of capital, was deeply compromised by collaboration with Fascism and Nazi occupation. In the initial post-war period fight-wing parties had to pretend they were on the left – or at least not of the right. The West German Christian Democrats, in their 1947 programme, stated that the ‘capitalist economic system’ had not served the interests of the German people, and called for ‘a new order built right from the ground’ based on ‘an economic system of collective ownership’. Alcide de Gasperi defined the Italian Christian Democrats as ‘a party of the centre moving towards the left’. the Belgian Social Christian Party proclaimed itself as ‘an inter-class party, whose main objective was to achieve social and economic justice in a united, democratic Belgium’. (P. 175).

Both the Italian and German Christian Democrats were partly formed from the remains of the pre-War Roman Catholic parties, such as the Catholic Centre Party in Germany. These had been originally founded to protect Roman Catholics in the new countries which emerged after the campaigns of Bismarck, Garibaldi and Cavour. Wilhelmine Germany was the creation of Protestant Prussia, which fought a political battle with the Church – the Kulturkampf – over control of education, while liberal Italy was secular, often aggressively so. The Catholic Centre party had adopted some of the attitudes of Christian Socialism, while rejecting the class struggle and the abolition of private property. Clerics and activists for the party founded Christian trade unions and co-operatives. It was this, leftward element in these parties’ constitutions that they chose to stress to avoid condemnation as collaborators with Nazism and Fascism after the War.

And just as early post-War Conservatism tried to distance itself from Nazism and Fascism, so British Conservatives are very quiet about the support they also gave Hitler’s Germany and Franco’s Spain. Winston Churchill hailed Mussolini as ‘the Italian lawgiver’ in his History of the Second World War. Orwell in one of his books talks about the British stock exchange cheering General Franco, and ‘Gracchus’, the author of Your MP, lists the various Tory MPs, who voted against the welfare state and actively supported Nazi Germany.

This has nearly all been written out of history. The official hagiographies of Churchill present him as a fierce opponent of Fascism, even though he wasn’t. He merely objected to the Fascist countries threat to British power. And Thatcher’s 1987 party political broadcast for the elections featured images of zooming Spitfires and the rest of what the satirist Alan Coren dubbed ‘the Royal Conservative Air Force’ to hammer home the message of how patriotic and anti-totalitarian the Tories were.

Thatcher’s own assault on the trade unions and the working class, and the continued campaign by her successors, Major and Cameron, show that this is far from true. Cameron in particular is deeply authoritarian, and in favour of a pervasive government secrecy, in which the upper classes rule without restraint and the working class have to obey unquestioningly. And they were deeply concerned with the totalitarian project of controlling the past. Michael Gove, when he was education minister, wanted an official, pro-Tory view taught, and ranted about how misleading Black Adder Goes Forth Was, despite the fact that it was comedy, not fact. The totalitarian desire to control absolutely is still deeply ingrained in modern Conservatism.

Twitter Bigot Falsely Accuses Vox Political Writer of Anti-Semitism For Criticising Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 30, 2016

I suppose it had to happen. The grotesque abuse of allegations of anti-Semitism is now so widespread, and so promiscuously used, that even those seeking to defend those accused of it are now themselves being accused. And Mike over at Vox Political has now joined their numbers.

He reports that yesterday, somebody on Twitter calling themselves ‘Porky Scratchings’, using a picture of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter from the Alice in Wonderland film, accused him of anti-Semitism. Mike was anti-Semitic, according to this idiot, because he rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism against the various members of the Labour party. Porky Scratchings, then departing from most reasonable standards of logic, attempted to support this accusation by arguing that if Jews said someone or something was anti-Semitic, then it was. Mike refuted this by arguing that something was not anti-Semitic, if it was true. He also accused Porky Scratchings of racial supremacism in his turn, as he was trying to argue that Jews had a right to use double standards when it came to defining who was anti-Semitic. Mike also stated that he was ending the conversation.

At that point, Mike’s Twitter account went down, and Mike was then told that somebody had tried to hack in. It had therefore been frozen, and Mike was requested to change his passwords.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/29/wow-did-vox-politicals-writer-just-endure-an-anti-gentile-attack/

So it looks very much like Porky Scratchings, really he wasn’t going to get anywhere with Mike, threw a strop and tried a bit of cyberwarfare.

This is risible and grotesque, as are the accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour party members. Mike has always been anti-racist, anti-Nazi and very definitely not any kind of anti-Semite. It was Mike, brought me back from a College trip to Berlin a book from a exhibition on the Gestapo, SS, and Reich Security Service Headquarters in the city, which documented their crimes against humanity when I was studying it at Uni.

Terror Topography

On his site, he has put up numerous pieces attacking the Right for racism. In one recent piece, he reminded everyone how the Tory MP, Gulzabeen Afsar, had said that she would not serve under ‘that Jew’, when Ed Miliband was campaign to be PM. Miliband’s Jewish, and Afsar’s comment is clearly anti-Semitic. Mike was outraged not just at the comment, but also at the leniency with Zabar was treated by the Tories. She simply issued an apology, and the Tories then claimed it was all over. Which is precisely what they aren’t doing with the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/remember-when-tories-practised-anti-semitism-rather-than-hypocritically-complaining-about-it/

Mike also recently reblogged a piece from Pride’s Purge, about how one of the Nazi grouplets tried to set up a stall in Leicester to persuade people to join the ‘Leave’ campaign on the EU. This group is Britain First, which most definitely is anti-Semitic. One of the drawings the group has produced, which Pride’s Purge did not reproduce, shows a stereotypical kneeling Jew being shot through the forehead from behind. The fact that Mike reblogged this story attacking those nutters should be enough to show that, whatever his views on the anti-Semitism allegations, he isn’t a Nazi or anti-Semite, as Porky Scratchings has alleged.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/nazi-sympathiser-working-for-vote-leave-campaign-prides-purge/

The post about Britain First, on which Tom Pride drew for his piece about them trying to attach themselves to Vote Leave, including their vile cartoon, is at the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism website, Hope Not Hate. See http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/insider/something-very-unpleasant-attaches-to-vote-leave-campaign-4891

None of this should really need to be said. There is ample evidence enough on Mike’s own website. But this isn’t about history or attacking real, genuine anti-Semitism. The character of the accused show this. Red Ken has been accused, yet Ken Livingstone’s administration when he was head of the GLC was reviled by the Tory press and media because of its firm stance against all forms of prejudice, including racism. I’ve put up pieces from his book, Livingstone’s Labour, in which Marxist-Leninist Newt Fancier clearly condemns racism, including anti-Semitism, and attacks the post-War US and British authorities for dropping charges and actively recruiting Nazi war criminals in the Cold War campaign against Communism. Jackie Walker, one of the others accused, is of mixed Black and Jewish heritage. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist thrown out of America for campaigning against the oppression of Black Americans. Her father was a Russian Jew, who would therefore have been well acquainted with real, brutal anti-Semitism. She herself actively campaigns against racism, and her partner is also Jewish. As for Naz Shah, she has the support of her local synagogue. The real crime of the above it isn’t anti-Semitism; it’s simply that they dared to criticise Israel for its barbarous oppression of the Palestinians.

This is about the Israel lobby trying to deflect criticism and international outrage against its occupation of the West Bank, its bombardment of Gaza and its seventy year long project of expelling the indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. And those who criticise this policy in America have also been accused of anti-Semitism, even when they manifestly are not. Like former President Jimmy Carter, and the head of Obama’s Jewish Outreach Campaign. This lady was not only Jewish, but she was also a very active part of her community. It didn’t matter. She was still dismissed on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism.

Norman Finkelstein, who has done so much to document and raise awareness of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian and other Arab nations, has stated that these accusations are wearing very thin. The accusations of Holocaust denial, or moral complicity in the Holocaust, have been overused to such an extent that he says, ‘We’re all Holocausted out’. And the same is true of the allegations of anti-Semitism. Just how seriously the majority of young American Jews took it can be shown by the fact that when Carter came to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish uni in the US of A, Carter got 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students before he even spoke. And when it was Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of them walked out before he had opened his Neo-Con gob.

So those making the accusations are becoming increasingly isolated and impotent. Hence the shrill accusations and petulant foot-stamping.

Now let’s go through some of the issues raised in Mike’s argument with Porky Scratchings. Firstly, Mike is entirely right that it is not anti-Semitic, or indeed prejudiced generally, to use facts and historical truth. For example, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery produced by the Tsar’s secret police, are anti-Semitic because it’s an enormous lie, produced with the object of provoking hatred. The Protocols purports to be the notes of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their plans for world domination and the enslavement of Gentiles. No such meeting took place, or has ever taken place. The Protocols were written by the Tsarist Okhrana to drum up support for their persecution of the Jews in Russia.

It was not anti-Semitic to point out that in 1995, the Republican Party in America and Israel’s Likud party jointly produced a plan for the invasion of Iraq, an illegal invasion that was eventually carried out by George Dubya, and which 70 per cent of Jewish Americans under 35 oppose.

It is similarly not anti-Semitic to compare the enslavement of Black Africans, the Holocaust and the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, as Jackie Walker did. These were all terrible crimes against humanity, which were and are all too real.

Now there’s the matter of the subjective nature of Porky Scratching’s argument about what constitutes anti-Semitism. Porky Scratchings states that it’s only prejudice, if the offended person believes it is. He cites the example of a female victim of sexual harassment. If the woman was offended, then it’s sexual harassment. But this flies in the face of accepted standards of truth and justice. These are notions which depend on objectivity. Just because someone is offended by something, doesn’t mean that it’s a case of prejudice or injustice to mention it.

To give another example, much of the bitter hostility towards Britain in Iran is due to our maltreatment of the country during imperialism, our domination of their oil industry – it was completely owned by us as British-Persian Oil, and our toppling of Mossadeq, the Iranian Prime Minister, in 1957 when he nationalised it. Now the chants of ‘Death to Britain’ by the Mullah’s legions is clearly anti-British. However, it would not be anti-British for a delegate from the Islamic Republic to discuss Britain’s exploitation and abuse of his country and its people if this once again became an issue, such as perhaps an unfair trade deal. Or if he were trying to explain to a Western audience just why the Islamic Republic will not allow westerners to own its industries.

Under Tony Blair, New Labour passed a number of laws further defining and outlawing hate speech. This was criticised by the Conservatives in this country, just as the Republicans attack similar legislation in America, partly on the grounds that it left too much to the perception of the offended party. If somebody believed they had been the victim of a racial slur, they were, even when they weren’t.

One of the victims of such an attitude was a Black White House aid under Obama. He worked for the US Treasury, and was accused of racist abuse by another Black government official because of a remark during a discussion about funding. The budget for some aspect of US state spending was considered too parsimonious by the man’s accuser. The man responded by saying, ‘No, I’m not being too niggardly.’ He was then prosecuted for using a racial slur. But he hadn’t. ‘Niggard’ comes from the Middle English term, nig, which simply means a miser. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘N’ word.

Or consider the case of the exasperated Jewish student, who was sued for racial harassment by a group of Black sorority girls at his university. This poor fellow had been revising ready for an exam the following day. Unfortunately, the sorority girls were just outside his window. They were loudly celebrating something, and he couldn’t concentrate. So he lost his patience with them, and shouted out, ‘Shut up, you water buffalo!’ So they sued him for racial abuse. Members of the academic staff solemnly stood up at what was basically his trial, to testify that the water buffalo was an African animal, and so the Jewish guy must have been prejudiced. Water buffalo ain’t. They come from Indonesia. At the time this case was reported in the Financial Times, the maligned student was trying to defend himself by saying that ‘water buffalo’ was his translation of the Hebrew behema, ‘beast’, which has no racial connotation.

So you see how dangerous it is to use definitions of abuse and prejudice, based simply on perception and feeling, rather than actual fact.

Finally, Mike states that Porky Scratching’s double standards on the issue of anti-Semitism – it’s anti-Semitic only if Jews say it is, whatever gentiles believe – shows that Porky Scratchings is himself bigoted against gentiles. In this case, Porky Scratchings has by his behaviour tried undermine something Jews have been trying to dispel as part of their campaign for emancipation and freedom to participate in their country’s national life as fellow citizens. In the 1920s at least some synagogues in Germany dropped one of the lines in the service, as it was feared this gave the impression that Jews believed they were superior to them. They did not wish to give any support whatsoever to anti-Semitic impressions and misperceptions.

Mike isn’t an anti-Semite by any measure. But I think he’s right about Porky Scratchings’ own bigoted views. And it’s a disgrace that Porky Scratchings holds them, after so many people, Jews and Gentiles, have struggled for so long against bigotry and prejudice.

Dennis Skinner on the Battle of Orgreave

May 30, 2016

Skinner Book Pic

Mike last Thursday put up a piece reporting that an all-party parliamentary group had demanded that Theresa May open an inquiry to reveal what really happened during the Battle of Orgreave in the Miner’s Strike. The MPs signing the demand include Sir Peter Bottomley, who was Employment Minister during the Strike, Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP’s parliamentary group, Tim Farron, the leader of the Lib Dems, and much of the parliamentary Labour party, including Jeremy Corbyn.

The Battle of Orgreave was one of the most violent confrontations during the Miner’s Strike, when 6,000 police from all over the country charged the strikers on horseback, arresting 95 of them. However, the men were later freed after the trial against them collapsed.

Mike, however, remains pessimistic about ever getting the truth out of Theresa May.

See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/will-we-get-the-facts-about-orgreave-from-someone-like-theresa-may/

Indeed. This is a government that utterly despises any kind of transparency and democratic accountably. Mike has described at length, and ad nauseam, the way Ian Duncan Smith and the DWP tried to block at every turn the requests from him and other bloggers and disability activists for the release of the official figures showing how many people had died after being declared ‘fit for work’ under the assessment system. This is a government that has reviewed the Freedom of Information Act itself to tighten it up to prevent the release of any information that may be embarrassing, uncomfortable or just plain awkward for the authorities. They have even declared that Freedom of Information Act requests should only be made to understand why an official decision was made, not to challenge it.

It is a deeply authoritarian attitude. They take it as their right to govern, and the public’s duty to obey unquestioningly. The Daleks would be proud.

I’ve been reading Dennis Skinner’s autobiography, Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences (London: Quercus 2014). The notorious and celebrated ‘Beast of Bolsover’ comes from a mining background, and entered politics through his activity in the NUM – the National Union of Miners. He has always campaigned vigorously on their behalf, as well as those of all working people. He was a staunch supporter of the Miner’s Strike, organising much public support for the strikers. And as you’d expect, he has some very harsh and very pertinent things to say about Thatcher. He also gives his view on the Battle of Orgreave, the violence inflicted against the miners by an out-of-control police force, and the gross distortion of justice and attack on the working class it represented. He writes:

The police state imposed by Thatcher abused miners as the enemy within. Striking miners were stripped of civil rights, victims of summary justice. the courts were a tool of her oppression. Strikers were barred from picket lines and jailed on the uncorroborated testimony of police officers who made it up as they went along. It broke my heart to see miners trickle back to work towards the end, starved and beaten.

We suffered a strategic defeat in the June of the British Steel coking plant in South Yorkshire at the Battle of Orgreave. In hindsight, the field wasn’t an easy place for us to make a stand with a mass picket. the ground was too open, and there were few choke points where we could stop the convoys of lorries. the police in riot gear, with their dogs and mounted cavalry, lined up in their thousands. It was as if they wanted us there, coppers shouting mockingly ‘See you tomorrow’ when they went off a night. We were well and truly battered by the police. Some of the coppers were out of control, bashing anybody in reach. Mounted officers rode their horses at miners and used batons as swords. To escape being trampled under the hooves I climbed up a young tree, the sapling’s thin branches straining and threatening to drop me into the path of the cavalry. It was like a scene from a massacre in a Wild West film.

Orgreave confirmed the BBC was part of the campaign against the miners because the film broadcast on TV was reversed and it was forced to apologise after the strike, which was too late. The BBC showed the miners throwing sods of earth at the police and then the police retaliating but it had happened – and was filmed – the other way round. The BBC lied just like the Tory government.

The police would boast about overtime and taunt workers who’d not been paid a penny for months by waving £10 notes in front of them. I gave all my wages to the NUM, every penny in that year. I’d done the same in the 1972 dispute. I was seen as a miners’ MP and had been elected to Parliament only a couple of years before. In ’84 I was talking to NUM officials who’d said they wouldn’t be paid. ‘What about you, Dennis?’ they asked. My answer was: ‘I’m going to do what I did in 1972.’ I didn’t want to do anything else. (Pp. 203-4).

The hostility of the police was frightening, officers breaking the laws they were sworn to uphold. They were emboldened by immunity. Heads of miners were cracked and men wrongly arrested in their thousands. thatcher turned Britain into a police state. (Pp. 204-5).

It’s possible that following the Hillsborough inquiry, that has exonerated the Liverpool fans and put the blame on the stadium, the company operating it and the police, we might see justice in this area too. But I doubt it very much. Hillsborough was a terrible accident. The massive use of disproportionate force by the police to break the miners was a deliberate policy by that Tory idol, Maggie Thatcher, about whom no evil must be spoken. She did it deliberately to break the miners in retaliation for the way they had overthrown Ted Heath a decade earlier. Her policies are synonymous with the Tories, and the Tories cannot criticise and will not criticise the Leaderene. We need and deserve an unbiased report into Orgreave. But I very much doubt we will ever get it under this mendacious, deceitful and deeply secretive government.

Ken Livingstone on the Rehabilitation of Fascists to Protect Capitalism

May 29, 2016

Ken Livingstone has always been a fierce opponent of racism in all its forms. He makes this very clear in the chapter ‘Labour Should Have Listened to Black People’ in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour. He states clearly that all forms of racism, whether against Blacks, the Irish, or anti-Semitism, are the worst form of reaction and should be fought against. His anti-racism and anti-Fascism are made even clearer in the chapter, ‘Made in the USA’, which is about how the US gained economic and political hegemony over Europe from the end of World War I as part of its campaign to halt the advance Communism. Leninspart is justifiably outraged out how, at the end of World War II, America and the Western powers began to rehabilitate Fascists and Nazis as part of this global power struggle. He writes

The policy of reviving capitalism in Germany, as well as the attitude taken towards Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, by the United States and Britain required the rehabilitation of Fascists. This was made simpler by the fact that most Allied leaders, contrary to their claims, had not objected to Fascism as such. What was unacceptable was fascism which threatened Britain and US interests. The US banker Morgan had financed Mussolini’s Italy and Churchill had summarised his attitude towards Mussolini in his History of the Second World War:

He was, as I had addressed him at the time of the fall of France, the ‘Italian lawgiver’. The alternative to his rule might well have been a communist Italy, which would have brought perils and misfortunes of a different character both upon the Italian people and Europe … Even when the issue of the war had become certain, Mussolini would have been welcomed by the Allies.

In line with this attitude, Adenauer, the United States choice to lead West Germany, was perfectly prepared to consort with Nazis. As Walter Laquer Smith admits in his pro-cold War Europe Since Hitler:

While Adenauer’s anti-Nazi record was above reproach, he was less than scrupulous in the choice of his closest collaborators: there could be but one opinion about the career of men like Oberlander and Globke in the Nazi era, but the former was dropped only after protests from all sides and Globke, a lawyer who had provided the official interpretation to the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws of 1935, remained for years the Chancellor’s close associate and confidant, despite heavy pressure.

Similar policies of rehabilitating ex-Fascists were pursued in the other ex-Axis states. In Italy, out of 800,000 pre-liberation civil servants, many of whom had been members of the Fascist Party, no more than a few hundred were removed from their posts. An amnesty was granted in October 1946 after which only 3-4,000 Fascists and war criminals remained in prison. The surviving Fascist dictatorships of Franco and Salazar were propped up by the United States. The support later given by the United States and Britain, to regimes such as that of South Africa, Pinochet in Chile, and Stroessner in Paraguay had its direct forerunner in the support given to rehabilitating European Fascists.

He goes on to describe how Britain and the US were deeply implicated in this odious policy.

The problem for the USA and Britain in this policy was that the war had been fought under an anti-Fascist banner and the majority of the population of Europe was strongly anti-Fascist. For that reason much work of rehabilitating Fascists and war criminals had to be done under cover and its truth is coming out only today. Ed Harriman has been prominent in exposing this and it is wroth quoting at length from his article in the New Statesman and Society of 5 August 1988:

The first to champion this dubious cause [of protecting war criminals] was Hector McNeil, the Labour government’s man at the United Nations. At the UN General Assembly’s second session in 1947, Soviet, Byelorussian, Ukrainian and Yugoslav delegates taxed McNeil to explain why Britain was sheltering war criminals in displaced persons camps in Germany … ‘In the town of Hoxter in the UK zone of occupation lives the butcher of the Byelorussian people, … Rodoslav Ostroski’, charged a Russian delegate … Ostroski … the Nazi-groomed ‘Fuhrer’ who press-ganged 60 battalions of his countrymen into fighting, and killing, for the Nazi cause. The liquidation of Jews in Byelorussia … was by then well known. Yet McNeil was unmoved. In 1961, Soviet authorities charged three Estonians with organising the mass murder of some 120,000 Jews, prisoners of war and other ‘untermenschen’ … in Estonia. Two pleaded guilty and were shot. The third, Ain Mere, was then living in Leicester. The Soviets said Mere was the Estonian police boss under the Nazis who personally ordered prisoners to be exterminated in the Jagala concentration camp, and joined the local SS. The Soviet request for his extradition was refused. ‘My record was checked when I came to England over 10 years ago,’ Mere told The Times. The Foreign Office reply was to inform the Soviet government that Britain did not recognise Estonia as part of the Soviet Union.

Harriman notes:

In 1945 the Joint Intelligence Committee declared that the Soviet Union, not Nazi Germany, was Britain’s prime intelligence target … In the perverse logic of the spying world, there were few better sources for this than the Gestapo, which had devoted enormous resources and considerable vigour to liquidating communist suspects. The united States government now admits that Gestapo agents and their files were avidly sought be American intelligence. In 1983 the US Justice Department published a hefty report spelling out exactly how the Americans recruited one such agent – Klaus Barbie [the Butcher of Lyons] – and then gave him a free ride to South America. The appendix of the US report explains that before the Americans bagged him, Barbie was being recruited, in 1945, by a pair of ex-Nazis working as agents for Britain’s SIS, a Dr Hoffman and his superior, a man called Markus. Markus had been aide-de-camp to SS Intelligence General Walter Schellenberg, who set up a network of spies and saboteurs amongst Soviet collaborators… Shortly after the war Markus became the mayor of a small town in the British zone in Germany and, according to US documents, ‘was given the task of forming for the British a network of agents in Germany’… Prosecutions of war criminals quickly became an embarrassment to [the Labour] Government. They impeded the cold war… Churchill was one of the first to call for an end to war crimes investigations … Shortly afterwards Churchill made a much publicised donation to the support fund for Nazi Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, who was being 5ried in Hamburg for murdering prisoners of war on the eastern front. Proceedings against Manstein’s fellow officers had already been dropped by British prosecutors on grounds of the defendants’ ‘poor health’. In 1941, in the Crimea and short of food, von Manstein had ordered: ‘The Jewish-Bolshevik system must be wiped out once and for all… especially in the occupied cities, a large part of the population will have to starve.’ By 1952 Manstein was a free man serving in the West German army. The UN War Crimes Commission was quickly wrapped up. Prosecutors such as Gerald Draper found their efforts thwarted. the British and American authorities were not cooperative. General Lucius Clay declared that as of the end of 1947, no more suspected war criminals would be handed over for prosecution from the American zone in Germany. The British followed suit. (Pp. 170-2).

These are clearly not the words of someone who denies the existence of the Holocaust, let alone an anti-Semite. Rather they show that Leninspart was acutely aware of the horrific reality of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews, and was rightly revolted by the way his country’s leaders and the US, including the Labour, had protected Nazi war criminals as part of the Cold War against the USSR. And just as some members of the Labour party were involved in this, so was that great Conservative hero, Winston Churchill.