Archive for July, 2016

Vox Political on the Unresignation of Sarah Champion

July 26, 2016

Mike posted up another interesting piece yesterday evening, reporting that Sarah Campion, a former member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, who had resigned as part of the Blairite coup, has changed her mind. She was formerly in charge of preventing child abuse and domestic violence. Although she is currently on a foreign trip at the moment, she is expected to return to the shadow cabinet.

Mike states, rather magnanimously, that this shows that there were some people on the plotters’ side, who were motivated by more than selfish interests, and have the courage to reverse their decision when they realise that it is wrong. He also states that the fact that Corbyn has shown himself willing to take her back, reflects well on the head of the Labour party. He has shown that he is serious about promoting unity and reconciliation in the Labour party.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/25/labour-reacts-as-champion-unresigns/

Not all of Mike’s readers agree with his positive appraisal of Champion’s character, with some finding her actions purely opportunistic. I think this incident does, however, still reflect very well on Corbyn for the above reasons. I also think that he’s probably far more sincere in his desire to promote unity and harmony than the Blairites. They seem to be motivated purely by spite and vengefulness, with an implacable desire to purge their opponents from any position of power, no matter how conciliatory they may be to them.

Vox Political Apologises! Owen Smith Did Not Buy Twitter Supporters

July 26, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece from Mike, over at Vox Political, who reported that Owen Smith’s Twitter storm of supporters over the weekend weren’t genuine supporters, but people, whose support he’d purchased from various dodgy internet companies. For a moment, it looked like Smiffy had resorted to the same tactics other dodgy individuals use to buy ‘likes’ on Facebook. Now Mike confesses that he was wrong, and duly apologises. But this doesn’t make Smiffy look much better.

Mike quotes James Earley, an expert on such matters, who says that the messages of support Smiffy got didn’t actually come from any human supporters whatsoever. Nor any mechanical supporters either. They came from bots, programmes set up to spam accounts and redirect their readers to specific websites. To get past the spam filters, these programmes are disguised as humans, and monitor and alter their messages according to whatever’s being discussed on the Net, so that it looks like it might just be from a human. Earley states that mostly, these programmes are entirely unconvincing, but very occasionally, they are good enough to fool you into thinking your dealing with a human on the other end of the line.

This is what appears to have happened here. The tweets Owen Smith had from followers giving their support weren’t from him or his supporters,but were from daft computer programmes instead, trying to get you to follow them to buy, well, if it’s the usual rubbish that gets caught in the spam filters, it’s knock-off watches, Viagra and penis enlargement.

Correction: Pretence of support for Owen Smith WASN’T from purpose-built Twitter accounts; it’s WORSE than that!

This sort of makes Smudger look a bit better than the previous story, as at least he wasn’t buying votes, even if the support he got was nevertheless still fake. But he still isn’t any more popular.

As for the bots, I really do wonder what Alan Turing would make of these machines. Turing was the pioneering computer scientist, who designed the famous test to see if a computer was genuinely intelligent. He ruled that if you were linked to a computer through a teleprinter, and held a conversation with it through a keyboard, but could not tell whether or not you were communicating with a machine or a real person, then the computer had shown that it had real artificial intelligence.

In fact, the Turing test fails as an indicator of genuine intelligence of the part of the machines. They are programme to respond in certain ways, and give answers that simulate intelligence, but the computers themselves have no understanding really of what they’re saying. It’s just automatic mechanical functions. I wonder, however, if the great man would have also been dismayed by the fact that the simulation of intelligence modern machines were being given, weren’t to push forward the frontiers of science and the scientific and philosophical understanding of intelligence, reason, and sentience, but to sell people tat. It’s like finding out that someone really has built an army of Terminators, but instead of lethal killing machines, they’re all dodgy spivs. ‘I’ll be back…with the dodgy Viagra knock-offs.’

Pamphlets Written Against NHS Privatisation and Austerity

July 26, 2016

Yesterday I added a new page to this blog giving a few brief details about five pamphlets I’ve written on various subjects. I wrote them to get the information about some of the most pressing issues I’ve discussed on this blog out to a wider readership. I wanted to have something I could physically give to people if they asked for information, such as at demonstrations. They’re only short leaflets, produced on the computer and printer at home, and folded over, but I hope they do the job. They are the following:

Medieval Science Pamplet Pic

The Advancement of Learning: Science in the Middle Ages, A5, 14 pp.
This is based on a talk I gave at Uni, and an article I put up on this blog, to show that, contrary to the received wisdom, the Middle Ages was also a period of great scientific and technical discovery, and that from the 12th century onwards scholars took a positive interest and delight in the scientific endeavour.

Anti-Academy Pamphlet Pic

Academies: Failing Schools for Corporate Profits, A5, 14pp.

This traces the history of academy schools right back to their origins as City Technology Colleges, a Thatcherite policy set up under Kenneth Baker, which was terminated because it was a failure. It was then revived as City Academies by Tony Blair in 2000, before being renamed as just ‘academies’. It argues that they’re a form of educational privatisation, they don’t raise standards, and are taking the country back to a period before the 1944 Education Act that made universal secondary education free and universal.

Anti-NHS Privatisation Pamphlet pic

Don’t Let Cameron Privatise the NHS, A5, 10pp.

This gives a brief history of the governments’ attempts to privatise the NHS gradually from Maggie Thatcher onwards, culminating in Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act, which threatens to completely privatise it. It also reproduces the arguments against the private healthcare system that Thatcher and Tony Blair wanted to introduce made by Robin Cook in a Fabian pamphlet published in the 1980s. A longer pamphlet on the same subject is also in preparation.

Anti-Work Test Pamphlet pic

Stop the Work Capability Test – Before More People Die, A5, 6pp.

Short leaflet describing the introduction of the Work Capability Test, the flawed models of sickness on which it’s based, and the assumption behind it that most people claiming long term sickness or disability benefit are malingerers. It attacks the commercial interests behind it – it was drawn up on the advice of Unum, an American insurance company that was prosecuted in the Land of the Free for not paying out on its insurance schemes, and was labelled a ‘disability denier’ by the American authorities. This scheme is scientific nonsense, designed to enrich corrupt private corporations and has led to suffering and deaths of the people, who have been thrown off their benefits as a result.

Empowering Precariat Pamphlet pic

This briefly discusses Guy Standing’s idea that a new class has arisen, the precariat, and his recommendations for ending their poverty. The precariat are those people, who have become less than citizens, through having the rights taken away through punitive employment legislation and welfare cuts. They are often highly educated individuals, forced to accept work below their educational qualifications, simply to make ends meet. They are trapped in a series of low paid jobs, interspersed with periods of unemployment. This is a result of flexible employment policies, such as zero hours and short term contracts. They are forced into poverty through welfare cuts, benefits sanctions, and workfare. This class also includes migrant workers, who travel around the world in search of work, and find themselves similarly trapped in poverty without the rights of their host nation’s citizens. Standing’s recommendations for ending their poverty include restoring citizenship, giving migrants and the unemployed the same rights as fully employed citizens, and ending the sanctions system, workfare and the work capability tests.

If you’d like any of these pamphlets, go to the page for them and use the contact form there. Or simply get in touch using the comments below, and I’ll get back to you. If you only want a single issue of any of these pamphlets, let me know, and I’ll post it to you free of charge.

Guy Debord’s Cat on the Posturing of the Blairites

July 25, 2016

Like just about everyone, who really wants the Labour party to mean something, and represent the interests and ideals of working people, rather than just be an imitation of the Tories, Guy Debord’s Cat is losing his patience with the antics of the Blairites. He put up this very short piece, in which a Labour right-winger goes from a simple statement that they merely want to be the responsible party of government to accusations of harassment and bullying when their position is simply questioned by a member of the public.

See https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/a-typical-conversation-between-an-ordinary-citizen-and-a-labour-right-winger/

This is very much how many of us see them, and their attempts play the victim when their own bullying doesn’t get them their way. It’s too bad the Blairites in Progress and Saving Labour haven’t yet cottoned on to how poisonous and ridiculous they look. Though unfortunately, I don’t think that would stop them even if they did. True egomaniacs, it’s everyone else who’s wrong, and the glorious mechanism of the free market, private industry, cutting away welfare to make the poor, sick and disabled starve, according to the sacred teachings of Maggie Thatcher, must in no way be questioned. They work. Even when it’s obvious to everyone that they don’t.

Vox Political on the Fake Twitter Accounts for Owen Smith

July 25, 2016

Here’s another interesting piece from Mike. It seems that on Sunday night, Smiff and his supporters tried to organise a mass posting of Tweets in support of him. Except that it didn’t quite work. As with nearly everything the Blairites do, fakery was involved. Among the Tweets in his favour were those from ‘bots and fake accounts. See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/25/fake-twitter-accounts-create-pretence-of-support-for-owen-smith/

This follows the long, long list of lies that the Blairites have told to smear Corbyn and his supporters. It also seems to be a trick they learned from David Cameron, if memory plays me right. He, or one of this ministers, was also caught buying fake followers from firms in Pakistan to show his massive support in Britain. The Tories are, of course, inveterate liars, who are constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. So, it seems, are the Blairites.

Vox Political on More False Claims of Abuse and Intimidation against Corbyn

July 25, 2016

Mike on Saturday put up another piece on the antics of the Blairites trying to accuse Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters of harassing and intimidating them. On Friday, Paula Sheriff and 43 other female Labour MPs sent a letter to Corbyn demanding that he act against groups that they claimed were intimidating them in his name. They also criticised John McDonnell and other Shadow Ministers for attending rallies were bullying was rife or quietly condoned.

The women behind the letter gave no evidence that the people involved in such campaigns against them were supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, or even members of the Labour party. As for their claims of bullying and intimidation, Corbyn himself has been making appeals for reconciliation. The personal attacks and criticisms come from the Blairites – Owen Smith, Angela Eagle and the Blairistas. And their tactics of abuse and misrepresentation have become so bad, that the Corbyn camp has drawn guidelines urging their supporters to have nothing to do with the Blairites, because they will mock and attempt to twist their words so as to misrepresent them.

Mike states that he can confirm these tactics are being used, because people have tried it on him. As for their demands, Mike reports that Corbyn is quite happy to hold meetings with women in the Parliamentary Labour party. He has also already issued statements condemning threatening behaviour. As for bullying at rallies, Mike states very clearly that it is difficult for him to control some of it, when it does not come from his camp but the Blairites themselves. Such as that ‘Eradicate Blairite Scum’ T-shirt, produced by Anna Phillips, of the Blairite pressure group, Progress, and her pet PR stunt organiser, Lewis Parker. This was the occasion where a threatening slogan was used on a T-shirt, as Madam Sheriff claims. Mike asks rhetorically whether those responsible for the T-shirt have come forward. Obviously, they haven’t, nor are they likely to.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/23/is-there-any-evidence-at-all-to-connect-threats-of-abuse-to-labour-mps-with-jeremy-corbyn/

All this reminds me of the tactics Mussolini used to try and justify Italian imperialism on the international stage. The Fascists claimed that Italy was a ‘proletarian nation’ that was being discriminated against by the other European powers, who were preventing it from acquiring the empire it so richly deserved. Apart from Ethiopia, and North Africa, Musso also had his eye on Nice in France, Greece and Albania. Before he finally launched his invasion of the last two, the Duce made a number of inflammatory speeches claiming that Italy has a right to them. When the Great Powers, France and Britain, told him precisely where he could go, he then made a series of new speeches complaining about how poor Italy was being bullied by France and Britain. Even though the ranting and aggressive militarism was all coming from him.

So it is with the Blairites. In fact, there is something very childish about the way they behave. It all reminds me very strongly of school bullies. You know, the type that liked to punch people from behind, and then run away screaming for miss the moment they were accused. Or would issue a stream of insults, challenging you to a fight, but demand that you should hit them first, so they could say you started it. And if you weren’t drawn, they’d then start yelling that you were obviously a coward and afraid of them. It’s all at that level.

And several of their demands actually look to me like a way of trying to close down democratic debate through the back door. Let’s take their demand that people should stop demonstrating in front of constituency offices, because they and their staff feel threatened. The most logical place for a demonstration against an unsatisfactory politician is in front of their office. Now this should be done without personal threats or abuse. But it should be a perfectly legitimate form of the right to demonstrate. It only becomes harassment if threats and insults are made. I would argue that demonstrations, simply as demonstrations, only constitute harassment if they are made outside the person’s home, or that of other members of their family. The Blairite ladies are here using the precise logic that has seen Cameron’s government crack down on the right of the public to hold demonstrations. These can now be banned by the local authorities if they feel they constitute a ‘nuisance’. Not if they may lead to public order problems, like possible rioting or fighting, but simply ‘nuisance’. It’s part of the same desire to find ‘soft’ reasons for limiting public expressions of disapproval, and so maintain the image of overwhelming public support.

And I don’t take seriously the Blairite’s claims that there is somehow a culture of misogyny under Corbyn. A year or so ago he was being ridiculed for suggesting segregated, women-only railway carriages might be a solution to the problem of sexual assaults and rape against women on the trains. His opponents rightly pointed out that wasn’t the answer, and that women should be safe regardless of where they were. Absolutely. But Corbyn’s answer, although extreme, showed that he took the issue very seriously indeed. In many ways, it reminded me of the controversies over Ken Livingstone’s GLC over the way they funded radical feminist, gay and anti-racist groups.

This is yet another bullying attempt by the Blairites to play the victim and smear their opponents. All such antics are doing is revealing quite how childish and bullying Smiff, Sheriff and the Blairites are.

Seema Malhotra’s Claims of Bullying, While Squatting in Someone Else’s Office

July 25, 2016

Mike also posted another piece commenting on the false claims of harassment and intimidation by Seema Malhotra, the former Chief Shadow Secretary to the Treasury. Malhotra claimed that there had been a campaign of harassment against her, culminating in aides from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell entering her office without her consent on the 13th and 15th of July.

She would indeed have a case against Corbyn and McDonnell, if the office was hers. But it wasn’t. She resigned on June 26th, and was expected to have left the premises. She hadn’t, and so, under the terms of the act, was squatting. She was occupying a space that she neither owned, rented, or had lawful reason to use. McDonnell explained that the offices had been entered, because they didn’t expect her to be there. Malhotra herself says that the aide, who entered the office was surprised to find a member of her staff there.

Mike suggests that the only reason Malhotra was still in the office, was so that she could contrive an incident, which she could then claim was an act of bullying by McDonnell and Corbyn.

See Mike’s article http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/23/did-nobody-tell-seema-malhotra-that-squatting-has-been-illegal-since-2012/.

This is very plausible. From the first, the Blairites have been inventing false allegations of bullying against Corbyn and his supporters. There were the accusations of anti-Semitism, which were factually wrong, and risibly directed against people, who were Jewish or Black and personally deeply involved in campaigning against anti-Semitism and racism. Then there was the T-shirt with the slogan ‘Eradicate Blairite Scum’, which was actually manufactured not by a Corbynite, but by a Blairite and her pet ‘PR and Media Guru’. And after that Angela Eagle falsely claimed that someone from the Corbyn camp had thrown a brick through her office window. Except that they hadn’t. It had been thrown through a different window in the same building, a building that she shared with a number of other organisations. It was also in an area which suffered frequent acts of vandalism. There was no evidence linking Corbyn or his supporters to the crime, except in the imagination and mendacious tongue of Eagle.

Owen Smith, Eagle and the other 172 Blairite MPs, including Malhotra, are starting to resemble the villain from the first Dirty Harry movie. This is a truly heinous individual, who tries to have Eastwood’s hard-bitten cop removed from the investigation, by deliberately staging an assault on himself, and then claiming that Harry did it. Of course, this all ends with Eastwood’s character uttering that speech about not knowing how many bullets he’s fired – five or six – and then saying, ‘Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya?’

The Blairites are like the murderer in the movie, fabricating attacks on themselves in order to play the victim falsely. It’s time this charade stopped. Mike states that if Malhotra was still occupying her office in order to interfere with Labour party business, such as obstructing its use by Corbyn and his supporters, then she should face an inquiry and possible disciplinary action. He’s right. These antics have gone on long enough. They’re not impressing anyone, and the more they go on, the less credible they seem. Except to the Tory press and media, with whom the Blairites evidently want to ingratiate themselves.

Owen Smith’s Rhetoric of Domestic Abuse

July 25, 2016

Mike also put up another piece on Owen Smith rhetoric and demeanour as he launched a campaign against misogyny, following the comments of one of his readers, who had been a victim for ten years of domestic abuse. Owen Smith pledged Labour to a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on misogyny. To show the current double standards in the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn was vilified when he promised that Labour would end workplace discrimination.

In fact, as Mike shows, Smiff himself has previous on what some would regard at sexism. He told one of the female regulars on Question Time that she was only there because of her gender. But Mike’s female commenter picked up on the language he uses to denigrate and demean Corbyn. She states that after undergoing a 12 week course to deal with the effects of the decade-long abuse she suffered from her partner, she found that Smiff fits the profile of one type of domestic abuser: the headworker. This is the person, who constantly wears down his victim’s sense of self-worth, by telling them that they’re worthless, and using that insult to justify his assaults on them.

To test this analysis, Mike supplies a sample of Smiff’s comments about Corbyn, to see if they fit this profile. They do. They are all just remarks about how useless he is, and how unfit he is to lead the party, without any substance behind them. Mike also checks to see what personal smears Corbyn has cast over his opponents: precisely none.

This bears out Mike’s commenter’s observations.

See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/23/headworker-owen-smith-resembles-domestic-violence-perpetrator/

I wonder how far this culture of New Labour bullying is the creation of Blair, Brown, Campbell and Mandelson. Blair’s coterie was notorious for their determination to micromanage everything they could to make the Dear Leader appear popular and acclaimed, and ensure that MPs and officials were properly compliant and ‘on message’. When they went ‘off message’, as Claire Short did on numerous occasions, then they went on the personal attack, briefing against them.

I also wonder how far this is due to a general culture of bullying within a middle class marked with a very strong sense of entitlement. David Cameron, for example, claimed that he wasn’t a toff, but a member of the ‘sharp-elbowed middle class’, who were determined to get all they could. It was a risible claim, as Cameron is demonstrably a toff. He can’t remotely be described as ‘middle class’, except in so far as that term also describes the haute bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, this is a class that feels that it has an absolute right to rule, and to bully those it considers a threat. You consider the sheer venom Peter Lilley, the former Tory Secretary of State for Welfare, and the right-wing press has for ‘benefit scroungers’. The signing-on at the Jobcentre Plus for Jobseekers’ Allowance, the Work Capability Assessment and Workfare are all forms of bullying, set up to degrade and intimidate the unemployed claimant so that they only sign on if desperate. It’s explicitly based on the Victorian doctrine of least eligibility espoused by Thatcher as one of her ‘Victorian values’. Thatcher’s regime also saw the rise of ‘macho management’, in which company officials bullied their staff in order to get their absolute obedience and raise standards. Allegedly. Thus, a couple of managers appeared in Private Eye for threatening to hang a member of staff at a branch of Asda. And I was told by a former journalist on one of the Bristol papers that the editor there would call people into his office every morning to criticise them. This was all done for no reason, except that it was supposed to make them ‘better journalists’.

That type of management went out with John Major. But I do wonder if it hasn’t left its mark in the bullying psychology of New Labour, and their absolute determination to hang on to power. New Labour won its electoral victories by appealing to middle class swing voters. Blairite MPs still talk about ‘aspirational voters’, even though for the bulk of Labour supporters this is not an issue. They just want to survive unemployment, zero hours contracts and workfare. The Tories have survived and gained their votes partly by playing on status insecurity in parts of the working and lower middle classes. They exploit the fears and snobbery of the wealthier sections of these social classes against those below them. And so you have the Tory rhetoric about ‘hardworking people’ who want to make life more miserable for the unemployed, as they don’t want to see their closed curtains when they go to work. This was reflected in the pledge of one London Blairite MP that Labour would be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories if they got into power.

That kind of rhetoric alienated Labour’s core voters, who have now returned with Jeremy Corbyn. And the entitled Blairites can’t stand it. So to hang on to power they have gone back to a Thatcherite culture of middle class bullying and abuse to keep these awkward proles in line, and stop them losing the favour of the ‘sharp-elbowed middle classes’ with whom they wish to ingratiate themselves.

Owen Smith: Coward and Bully

July 25, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political posted an excellent demolition a few days ago of Owen Smith’s claim that there is a culture of bullying in the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn. Mike points out that many of the accounts of bullying that Smiff claims occurred, are actually false – like the accusations of anti-Semitism and racism. Among those smeared were, ludicrously, Jewish and Black Labour activists with a very proud history of activism against racism and anti-Semitism. And then there’s Angela Eagle’s lie that a brick had been thrown through her office window, when in fact it was a completely different window in the building she shares with several other offices. It’s in an area that has suffered frequent vandalism to nearby buildings and structures. The only difference this time was that Eagle thought she could make political capital out of it.

Mike points out that Smiffy is in no position to make accusations of bullying against anyone, as he himself tried to bully Mike and one of his great commenters, Liza Van Zyl. Van Zyl attended a meeting in Pontypridd in March last year at which Smudger was a guest speaker. She’s a Labour activist, and asked Smiffy why he was promising to repeal the bedroom tax, but not the Work Capability Assessment, which had actually killed many more people. Smiff replied that it was because he didn’t want the Labour party to be accused of being soft on welfare scroungers by the right-wing press.

Van Zyl posted this on Facebook, and it was taken up by a journalist – Mike. At which point Smiff decided he was going to bully her and Mike for making him look bad. He threatened Liza with legal action, and tried the same with Mike. Liza was forced to give in, as she had no money to defend herself in court, and her Labour colleagues had sided with the Pontypridd Pratt in order to maintain good relations with him.

Mike didn’t fold, because he told Smiffy that not only did he have Liza’s testimony, he also had very thorough knowledge of the WCA, as he’d forced the government to publish the figures on the deaths it had caused.

At which point, Smiffy did what most bullies do when you stand up to them: he went away.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/22/heres-why-owen-smith-really-shouldnt-kick-up-a-fuss-about-bullying/

This tells you everything you need to know about Owen Smith. He’s a coward. He’s keen to bully grassroots Labour members, who don’t follow his every whim, but is desperate to appear presentable to the rich and powerful, the very people that are killing those the Labour party was founded to represent: the poor and working class. It also shows the culture of mendacity that exists in New Labour. When the truth is awkward, lie. Just like Tony Blair and his vile court lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction, in order to take us to war in Iraq.

Far from Jeremy Corbyn being responsible for bullying, it’s the Blairites, led by Smith and Eagle, who have presided over a culture of bullying and intimidation. They should stop. If they cannot, I suggest that they leave and find their true home in the Tories.

May, Smith, Trident and the Continuing Relevance of 80s Pop

July 23, 2016

In the debate over Trident the other day, both Theresa May and Owen Smith showed their utter willingness to incinerate hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in a nuclear war. Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, was particularly chilled by their readiness to do so without any apparent qualms or pangs of conscience. She wrote

It would seem there’s something dangerous in the water at Westminster! I couldn’t sleep after seeing the clip when May said “yes” without hesitation to the question of whether she would be willing to kill 100,000’s of INNOCENT men women and children! If anyone hasn’t seen this: https://youtu.be/zK4Z5ZF3jsshttps://youtu.be/zK4Z5ZF3jss

Then there is Owen willing to do so even if the count is in the millions and with a small smile on his face: https://youtu.be/o86kjk15j4E?t=22shttps://youtu.be/o86kjk15j4E?t=22s

It would seem the cackle of madness is drumming out most rational thought in the power house.

Absolutely. After he and Kennedy nearly destroyed the world in the Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev was very serious about the threat posed by nuclear Armageddon. On his goodwill visit to the West afterwards, someone made a joke about it. They were told by Khrushchev that the destruction of humanity was ‘no laughing matter’. The Soviet president also didn’t get on with Chairman Mao. Some of this was due to differences over geopolitical strategies, and attitudes to Communist doctrine. But Khrushchev was also appalled by Mao’s attitude to the nuclear stand-off. Mao really couldn’t understand why Khrushchev had pulled back, and felt that he should have nuked America when he had the chance. It’s an attitude to the extermination of the human race, or at least a sizable part of it, which shows what a genocidal maniac Mao was.

May’s and Smith’s comments are particularly frightening in the present climate, when prominent NATO generals are claiming that by May next year, Putin will have invaded Latvia and the Atlantic Alliance and Russia will be at war. I can remember the threat of nuclear incineration in the New Cold War of the early ’80s. That was terrifying, but it also called forth some of the greatest and most beautiful pop songs of that period, as our musicians added their voices to the call for peace and sanity.

One of them was Sting, and his piece ‘Russians’. Based on a piece by the great Russian composer Prokofiev, it has the lines ‘Do the Russians love their children too?’ and is a condemnation of the militaristic posturing by both America and the Soviet Union, and an eloquent plea for peace. The Soviet Union has passed, but unfortunately the song and its message still remain very relevant. I found this piece on YouTube of the great man singing it on Russian TV. The fact that the Fall of Communism has led to a thaw between the West and the former Soviet bloc is, to my mind, one of the greatest and most optimistic events of the post-War era. The fact that British bands were able to travel to Russia and perform, beginning with groups like the Clash and UB40, shows that military confrontation, sabre-rattling and posturing is far from the only foreign policy option. East and West can and do still meet in peace and friendship. Let’s hope our leaders don’t waste this situation, and annihilate humanity for the sake of military status. Here’s the video.