Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Real Steampunk Inventions from the Pages of ‘The Engineer’

May 29, 2017

I’ve posted up several pieces this weekend about some of the real inventions of the Victorians, and how they have inspired and resemble the science and machines of steampunk Science Fiction. This is a branch of SF, which imagines what would have happened had the Victorians invented space travel, computers, time machines and were able to journey to parallel worlds. One of the founding works of the genre was William Gibson’s and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, which was set in an alternative Victorian Britain, which had entered a steam-driven computer age after building Charles Babbage’s pioneering mechanical computer, the Difference Engine of the title.

Some of the most amazing examples of Victorian and Edwardian engineering and technology can be found in the pages of The Engineer. This was the industry’s trade magazine, founded in 1856 by Charles Healey. In 1976 the magazine issued a glossy book celebrating the history of the magazine and the legacy of its founder. The book said of him

Healey has been described as a man of great strength of mind and character who always had ‘a smile, a question, and a penetrating look’. He had financial interests in railways in the Bourdon gauge, and among his many friends were leading men in railway engineering including Robert Stephenson, Isambard Brunel, and Sir William Fairbairn. But there is no evidence Healey used his editorial pages to promote his financial interests.

The magazine’s purpose, as it confessed in January 1916

was to spread the gospel of engineering. ‘Whilst engineering knowledge was the possession of but few men great progress was impossible, and it is the object of the paper to expand and distribute technical and scientific information. In so doing so it may fairly claim to have been a factor of no little importance in the great developments that have taken place during the late 60 years.’

And the magazine celebrated the practical work and achievements of engineers over the more abstract theorising of scientists. The book states

The Engineer pointed out that men of abstract science had done something, ‘but not much for us’. While applied science ‘has done for the physical world everything which science so far provide capable of accomplishing at all – railroads, manufactories, mines, the electric telegraph, chemical factories. And by who is it applied? Why the civil engineer, the mechanical engineer, the mining engineer and the shipbuilder who himself represents an important branch of engineering.

‘The wide earth over, we find the engineer working on principles, dealing with physical truths, using the investigations of those who have preceded him as stepping stones to knowledge, and leaving behind him through each generation mementoes of his labours. Mementoes, the result of a perfect acquaintance with such physical truths as men of the most exalted intellects have discovered-mementoes which will endure when the existence of the “leading journal” has become a matter of history’.

The ’70s were a period of economic depression, and part of the purpose behind the centennial volume was to counteract the mood of the times and inspire a new, fresh generation. The magazine declared

Today, when the economy is depressed, is an opportune moment to produce a book which will remind industry of its glorious past and act as a spur to project it into the future. It will also remind engineers and manufacturers of the power, grace and majesty of engineering.

Very much the same could be said today. Later this week, one of the topical issues programmes on Radio 4 will be discussing Britain’s critical lack of engineers, and asking how more young people can be persuaded to enter the profession. I’ve said in my previous blog posts that one way could be to link it to the interest people have in restoring and repairing motor vehicles, and the cyberpunk milieu of Science Fiction enthusiasts, who design fashions and exotic machines for this Victorian technological age that never was.

Much of the material in the book is about industrial machines and processes, which to most lay people, myself included, probably isn’t that interesting. Such as various types of manufacturing machines, industrial smelters, metal and chemical refining processes, pumping engines and so on. There’s also a chapter on railway engines, which is clearly of interest to steam enthusiasts and the people, who played with Hornby Railway sets when they were children.

But the machines and buildings I find the most interesting, are where the Victorians’ ideas prefigure those of modern technology, both real and in the imagined worlds of SF.

In architecture, the magazines shows two designs for a colossal tower for London, that was intended to rival the Eiffel tower in Paris. One of these shows very clearly the influence of the French structure.

Another was more straightforwardly British in design. Except for its size. It was going to be 1,240 feet.

We’re almost looking here at the soaring tower blocks of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, or indeed, Judge Dredd’s Megacity 1.

Instead of a channel tunnel, a massive bridge was proposed to span La Manche, and link Britain to France.

And to warn ships of dangerous rocks and water, they also designed a floating lighthouse.

As well as normal railways, they also designed an overhead railway and rainwater collector.

The book also showed contemporary illustrations for the steam carriages and buses that were being developed in this period as the first precursors to modern vehicles driven by the internal combustion engine.

This included the Randolph Steam Coach of 1872.

Other vehicles included Goodman’s velocipede of 1868, which could reach the amazing speed of 12 mph, and the Liquid Fuel Company’s steam van of 1985, which was entered in a competition the magazine ran for road carriages.

There was also an illustration of a one horse power road steamer, which could carry two people.

It also included the schematics for another vehicle, the Serpollet Steam Phaeton of 1891.

From this, it looks like a budding car enthusiast could possibly build one of these machines, in the same way people also build their own custom cars, and cyberpunk inspired machines like the one I posted up yesterday.

A Mr Nairn, an engineer from Leith in Scotland, also published his design in 1870 for a three-wheeled steam omnibus.

There was also this illustration of an early motorcycle, Duncan and Superbie’s bike of 1894.

and an early car, Panhard and Lavassor’s two-seater from 1894.

And to show that waiting at traffic lights were also a blight that afflicted the Victorians, there’s an illustration of the traffic signals at Bridge Street in Westminster in 1868.

The Victorians and Edwardians were also experimenting with new ways to move vehicles across ground, such as caterpillar tracks. These included traction engines, such as Ingleton’s Automatic track of 1868. This was engineered to allow the tracks to be raised when the engine reached the end of the field, and needed to make a tight turn.

Even after petrol began to supersede steam in the early 20th century, some firms were still experimenting with caterpillar tracks on the new petrol-driven tractors. The photo below shows the caterpillar tractor and train produced by the Holt Manufacturing Company of Peoria in America.

In some cases, the search for alternative means of locomotion went so far as reinventing the wheel. In 1909 Diplock patented a design for putting ‘walking feet’ on a wheel.

This is interesting, as H.G. Wells’ The Land Ironclads was about warfare conducted using machines some have seen as predicting the tank. The land ironclads of the title, however, are much more like contemporary naval vessels. They are long, contain rows of snipers along their sides. And unlike tanks, they walk across the ground on mechanical legs like vast, mechanical millipedes, somewhat like the Walkers in Star Wars, but with more legs.

The Victorians were also keen to solve the problems of ships navigating shallow waters. Bourne’s Steam Train, proposed in 1858, attempted to solve this problem through using the paddle wheels as terrestrial wheels, allowing the vessel to climb over sandbanks, and the engine could be geared down to provide more power.

It struck me looking at this that if it had been developed further, you’d have had amphibious landing craft like the DUK of World War II.

This was also the age in which people were making their first attempts at flight. One of the bizarre vehicles featured in the book was Carlingford’s aerial chariot of 1854. This was launched from a pole ranging from 6 to 9 feet in height, carried forward by a falling weight. This was like the Wright Brother’s early planes. Unlike the Wrights’, the aerial chariot didn’t have an engine and the pilot tried to crank the propeller by hand.

The magazine also published illustrations of the British military’s experiments with balloons in 1874.

As well as wings, engineers were considering more exotic methods of flight. In 1916 there were a series of designs for planes held aloft by spinning discs. Looking at them, it is hard not to see them as the first predecessors of the helicopter.

As for balloons, this led to the development of dirigibles like the Zeppelin, a 1923 design for which was also published in the magazine’s pages.

Petrol driven cars and motorbikes are now ubiquitous, though there is still great affection and interest in vintage, veteran and historic road vehicles. One businessman in Leckhampton, one of the suburbs of Cheltenham, proudly displayed his early motorcycle from about the time of the First World War in his shop window.

The steam vehicles weren’t as efficient as modern petrol and diesel vehicles. They also faced stiff political opposition from traditional, horse drawn vehicles. Nevertheless, you do wonder what Britain would have been like if these machines had caught on to the point where they were the preferred method of transport, rather than horse-drawn carriages.

And these carriages, and the other machines and designs shown above, still have the potential to fire the imaginations of fans of historic technology, steam enthusiasts, and Cyberpunks. And perhaps, if more people saw some of these machines and their designs, some of them might try to make some of them. This would not only bring them to life, but also possibly inspire more people to take an interest in engineering and the great heritage of invention.

Zionist Collaboration with Nazi Germany: Tony Greenstein’s Refutation of Anti-Semitism Smears against Livingstone

May 24, 2017

Back in April, Tony Greenstein wrote a series of articles about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in support of Ken Livingstone. Livingstone, along with too many others, including Mike, has been smeared as an anti-Semite because of his criticisms of Israel and Zionism. Livingstone when he was leader of the GLC was notoriously anti-racist, and his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, not only shows his very firm support for ethnic minorities, it also heartily condemns the British state’s recruitment of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators as part of their strategy to undermine and contain Communism during the Cold War. Those given sanctuary in Britain, often in the mining industry, were men, who had actively participated in the Holocaust and the pogroms against the Jews in eastern Europe. They had committed some of the most heinous and sickening crimes against humanity.

But no matter. Livingstone was smeared as an anti-Semite, because he had dared to say that Hitler had briefly supported sending Jews to Israel.

He had. This was the Ha’avara agreement. It was an early pact with the Zionist leaders in Palestine to smuggle Jews there as part of their efforts to build the future Jewish state. Hitler only supported it from expediency. He was never a Zionist, but he did want to expel the Jews from Germany using any means he could.

Nevertheless, the Ha’avara agreement is a documented historical fact. And Greenstein in the article below shows that it was a hardly a secret. The Nazis had a medal struck to commemorate Baron von Mildenstein’s diplomatic visit to the Zionist authorities in Palestine. Von Mildenstein was head of the Jewish desk of the Gestapo, the infamous Nazi intelligence agency. The medal bore the legend

‘Ein Nazi Faehrt Nach Palastina Und Erzaehlt Davon in Angriff’.
This roughly translates as ‘A Nazi Travels to Palestine and Tells the Story about it in the Angriff. Angriff, which means ‘Attack’ in German, was one of the Nazi newspapers, along with the vile Der Sturmer.

On their side, the Zionist press ran a cartoon of a depressed Adolf slumped at his desk, drunk, and with a gun in front of him. One of his brown shirts is seen bursting into the room, waving a piece of paper. The caption, in Hebrew, reads ‘Don’t worry Hitler, the Jews of Palestine are helping you’.

Greenstein’s article also shows the cover and discusses the contents of a book on the Ha’avara agreement, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Nazis and Jewish Palestine, by the right-wing Zionist historian, Edwin Black.

He also shows up the hypocrisy of the Daily Express attack on Livingstone as an anti-Semite, when that paper, along with the Daily Mail, was venomously pro-Hitler. There’s a photograph of the front page from 1933 with the vile headline ‘Judea Declares War on Germany – Jews of all the world unite in action’. This laid the blame for the Nazi persecution of the Jews firmly on the victims themselves, and was repeatedly used by the Nazis in their propaganda, citing it as proof that they were attacking the Jews for reasons of self-defence.

Much of the article is devoted to refuting the claims of Professor Rainer Schulze, a German historian, who had weighed in against Livingstone a year earlier on this issue. Schulze claimed that Zionism and Nazism did not share the same goals. But as Greenstein shows, they certainly shared some.

For example, the Zionist newspaper, Judisches Rundschau carried an article on its front page supporting the infamous Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jews of German citizenship. He also notes how prominent Zionist organisations, including Mapai in Palestine, and Jewish organisations that had been dominated by them, such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, actively campaigned against the trade boycott of Nazi Germany. Greenstein also quotes other historians of the Third Reich, and even Reinhard Heydrich, writing in the SS newspapers, Die Schwarze Korps, that the Nazis were keen to promote Zionism amongst German Jews.

Moreover, in June 1933 the German Zionist Federation sent this memo to Hitler claiming that that they and he had similar interests. This said

On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race… fruitful activity for the fatherland is possible. Our acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we don’t wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we too are against mixed marriages and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group…. Boycott propaganda… is in essence fundamentally unZionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build.

He also quotes other Zionist leaders, like David Ben-Gurion, who stated very clearly that they only supported the emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany if they came to Palestine. As for the transfer agreement, by which Jews were allowed to send their finances to Israel, the Zionists made it very clear that this was about securing investment for the future Jewish state. The survival of the people, who sent it, was much less of a priority.

Greenstein also refutes the Zionist claim that describing Israel as a colonialist settler state is somehow horribly anti-Semitic, simply by showing how the Zionist leaders described it as such themselves. Herzl described it as such in a letter to that most notorious of British colonialists, Cecil Rhodes. And Vladimir Jabotinsky also described the Jewish settlement of Palestine, and the consequent forcible expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians, as ‘colonial’.

Greenstein concludes

There isn’t even one instance of any reference to a ‘national liberation movement’ in the writings of the founders of Zionism. Zionism only became a national liberation movement when colonialism got a bad name! Today’s Zionists have decided to disguise what even the Zionists themselves used to admit was a colonialist movement in the apparel of the oppressed in order to deceive the innocent. Rainer Schulze’s history lessons are in reality an act of deception.

Rainer Schulze finished his article by indulging in a piece of straw man rhetoric:

‘Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.’

That is, of course, true. But no one has claimed that they shared common goals. Clearly the Zionists didn’t support the mass genocide of European Jewry. Marshall Petain collaborated with the Nazis but that doesn’t mean he supported the aims of the Nazis. He collaborated because he didn’t want a Nazi occupation of France. When a weaker party collaborates with a stronger party they rarely if ever share the same goals. Unfortunately Professor Schulze, having very little knowledge or understanding of the topic he wrote about decided to engage in an old debating tactic. Attack something your opponent hasn’t said!

http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/ken-livingstone-faces-labours-star.html

This effectively refutes the main charge of anti-Semitism against Ken Livingstone, though the terror of Maggie Thatcher and the Jewish Labour Movement has said other things since, which are not supported by historical fact.

It also helps to clear Mike of the libel against him, as Mike also did not say that Hitler was a Zionist. In fact, the woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism itself tacitly recognised that fact in its article against Mike, as it deliberately misquotes him and accuses him of saying things he never said.

Mike, and those he defended, are not anti-Semites. They were decent men and women. Some of them were Jews, and the gentile friends of Jews, who had dedicated their careers to fighting racism in all its forms, including anti-Semitism. Many of them had suffered real, anti-Semitic attacks themselves, or had close family who had.

It is a disgrace and complete travesty that these people should be so smeared. It is not Mike and people like Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and many, many others, who have lied and misused history. It is the Zionists of the Jewish Labour Movement and their allies in the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. They are the real hate-mongers in this.

Tories’ IRA Smear on Corbyn Shows Even Greater Desperation

May 22, 2017

The Tories must be getting very desperate indeed with this one. After Labour jumped in the polls last week to close the gap between themselves and the Tories down to 9 points, their lapdogs in the media decided that it was time once again to raise the spectre of Jeremy Corbyn’s support for fairer conditions for the Roman Catholic people of Northern Ireland and negotiations with the IRA.

Yesterday, Sophie Ridge of Sky News asked Corbyn about his membership of the editorial board of a magazine, which published an article praising the IRA bombing of the Tory conference in a Brighton hotel in 1984.

If she was hoping to catch him out, she was severely disappointed. Corbyn replied quietly and clearly that he didn’t write the article, and wasn’t on the editorial board. He admitted reading the magazine, and contributing articles. When she tried pressing him on how he could possibly write for such a magazine, he states that he didn’t agree with that article or many others, but there were others, which he did. He then expressed his wholehearted support for the 1994 peace agreement. He also made the point that there were many things on Sky, which he didn’t agree with, and which Ridge herself probably didn’t either. But that doesn’t mean not engaging with these issues. He stated that it’s sometimes good to read articles with which you don’t agree. ‘Sometimes’ he said, ‘you might learn something.’

To watch the video, see Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/21/latest-bid-to-smear-jeremy-corbyn-fails-dismally/

Now today both the Torygraph and the Daily Heil lead with the same accusation that Corbyn supports on the IRA on their front page. That they should do so is not even remotely surprising. Both newspapers have the creeping horrors of the Labour leader. The Torygraph was one of the newspapers that tried to make the most out of the smear that he was a Trotskyite, while the Daily Mail can always be relied on for bug-eyed anti-Labour propaganda, especially if you can squeeze in a mention of the IRA.

Mike in his article also points out the immense hypocrisy in these very feeble smears. He states, quite correctly

For the record, Mr Corbyn had well-publicised talks with members of the IRA over several decades – while successive UK governments were doing the same, but in secret, while publicly claiming they never negotiated with terrorists. Who was more honest?

Maggie Thatcher initiated talks with the IRA soon after the bombing of Canary Wharf, I believe. And Mike’s quite right – the talks were extremely secret. All the while she and her government were talking to the IRA and Sinn Fein, the Leaderene was screaming at the top of her lungs that she wouldn’t negotiate with them.

Which proves the old age: ‘the Conservative party is an organised hypocrisy.’

In fact, Ted Heath had also tried negotiating with the terrorist groups in Northern Ireland back in the early 1970s when the bloodshed was just beginning. These collapsed through the intransigence of the Unionists. Heath was an awful prime minister, who tried to break the unions, and there have been allegations of paedophilia made against him since his death. But it’s a pity here that he didn’t succeed, as this would have prevented nearly three decades of murder and mutilation.

Counterpunch this morning published an article by Jamie Davidson about the allegations, and what they show about the Tory desperation to rubbish Corbyn. Davidson does not agree with Corbyn’s stance towards the IRA in the 1980s. He recognises the terrible injustices which the Roman Catholic population of the Six Counties suffered, and the way the Unionist domination of the province was secured through massive gerrymandering. But he believes Corbyn conceded too much to the IRA through supporting their goal of a united Ireland and his association with Sinn Fein. He also states that Corbyn supported the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence. I don’t know if the latter’s true.

But he states that these allegations surfaced yesterday when MI5 leaked a report to the Sunday Torygraph showing that they had kept a file on him because of his pro-IRA sympathies. Davidson states that this hardly singles Corbyn out as anything special, as vast numbers of people on the rest were under surveillance and harassment by the secret state and its allies. He makes the point that what has moved the Torygraph and the rest of the right-wing media to start making these accusations is the massive support large number of voters, even Tory voters, have for Labour’s polices, even if they don’t like the party’s leader. He writes

It’s also in this context that I found myself convinced to wholeheartedly back Corbyn as well as Labour today. It’s simply no longer practical to try to stay above the fray. What pushed me over the edge was yesterday’s report in the Daily Telegraph, leaked to them by an MI5 source, that the intelligence agency kept a file on Corbyn in the 1980s due to his IRA links. These links are, as mentioned, a matter of public record. There is no new information, besides the fact that Corbyn was under surveillance, which anybody who knows anything about British left-wing organisations and the scandalous level of harrassment they received from the state in the 1980s would have expected anyway. What is interesting and important here is the fact that an MI5 source felt the need to say this to the press at all. The Labour Party has trailed the Conservatives by double digits in every serious poll conducted since Corbyn became leader. The entire weight of the British media, both conservative and “liberal”, has been thrown behind the campaign to discredit not just Corbyn but the policies he supports, with great success. Though Labour has seen a bounce in the polls since the Prime Minister called a snap general election, as Corbyn has come into his own, campaigning amongst the public, while Theresa May has revealed herself to be by turns awkward, inept, vicious and deceitful, it is still inconceivable that the Conservatives won’t win and increase their majority on election day. So it is worth asking why anyone would consider it necessary to warn the public, again, about Corbyn’s past. The answer, I think, lies in that bounce in the polls.

He also talks about another piece of massive hypocrisy about which you’ll rarely hear the Tories reproached. Also in the 1980s, Maggie Thatcher supported the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, to the point of sending the SAS in to aid them.

That this kind of state power is never directed against conservative politicians probably scarcely needs to be said, but let’s explore it anyway. When Corbyn became an MP in 1983, at which point he already supported the IRA’s political aims, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Around this time, Thatcher was sending SAS squads to camps on the Thailand-Cambodia border, where they trained the exiled Khmer Rouge forces in laying mines and booby-traps in civilian areas. She insisted that the Khmer Rouge keep its seat at the UN as the official, internationally recognised government of Cambodia. By this point, the extent of the Khmer Rouge’s actions when they controlled Cambodia was widely known. Around a million people are thought to have been executed by the regime and another million killed by famine. I expect that I could stop 100 British people on the streets of London and tell them about the time that a Conservative Prime Minister supported a supposedly communist regime, thought to have killed two million people, and if I could count the number of people who knew about it on more than one hand I would be astonished. It simply isn’t part of the wider national discourse. Nor is her support for Saddam Hussein. Nor is the fact that the current Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has admitted that “the vast majority of these opposition groups [which Britain supports in Syria] are Islamist”.4

The very real anti-imperialist credentials of the Vietnamese communists constituted a potential disaster for western hegemony. Why Thatcher favoured the Khmer Rouge over the Vietnamese liberators of Cambodia should be obvious to anybody; given a choice between the two, a capitalist will always side with the worse of two “socialists”, in the hope of spreading news of the system’s inherent horrors as widely as possible. Readers must ask themselves why right-wing figures are permitted to take this stance without damage to their reputation, even after the true horrors committed by their chosen ally are known, while left-wing figures who gave the same ally the benefit of the doubt before the truth was known are condemned to eternal criticism. The truth is that the left is never permitted the defence of pragmatism when it comes to working with unsavoury characters towards a particular political end. The right always is. This disparity is accepted more or less wholesale in Britain, for reasons that aren’t necessarily to do gullibility. I think that the British people implicitly recognise that the hypocrisy at the centre of our political life is absurd, it’s simply that they quite reasonably expect better from Labour. The next step is convincing them to expect nothing from the Conservatives. (My emphasis).

See http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/22/red-terror-anti-corbynism-and-double-standards/

So the Telegraph and Heil are quite outraged at the thought that Corbyn might have supported negotiations with the Republican paramilitaries in Ulster, while quite unconcerned about Maggie’s real, material support of brutal organisation that murdered two million people.

This not only shows their hypocrisy, it also shows their willingness to support regimes responsible for death and suffering on an almost unimaginable scale, if this support is organised by a Tory heroine of free markets and destroying the welfare state.

50 + Tory Policies Are Uncosted, But Biased Media Will Not Ask Them About It

May 20, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political yesterday put up a piece showing exactly what voting for the Tories will mean – more poverty, more cuts, more privatisation, including that of the NHS. He also has a graphic that shows that, far from being the party of financial prudence and sound fiscal policy that they are always boasting they are, 50 plus of the policies in May’s manifesto have not been costed.

And the graphic lists them.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/19/this-is-what-voting-conservative-really-means/

But, as far as I’m aware, the Tories haven’t been asked about these. Nor about how they will finance schools, hospitals and other parts of the state infrastructure generally when they are making such savage – and unnecessary – cuts.

Buddy Hell over at Guy Debord’s Cat, has written a couple of pieces attacking the media’s bland, uncritical, and unintelligent assumption that the economic orthodoxy expounded by the Tories makes any sense, and does not deserve the same interrogation and critique that Labour’s policies do. He points out that most of the journos in the media seem to believe that national finances and the economy are the same as household finances, and points to an article by the Angry Yorkshireman, who has also attacked this myth.

The Cat writes

Television and radio hacks, and their commentator allies have accepted the Thatcherite logic of the market and the domestic finance analogy as fait accompli. For supposedly well-educated people, broadcast journalists have shown that they are neither capable nor willing to ask fundamentally straightforward questions about the Tories’ economic claims, and instead have focussed their attention on Labour’s mythologized economic incompetence. But the questions they ask are not intelligent questions and behind them is a discourse of mocking and sneering of anything that diverges even slightly from the orthodoxy.

We see this whenever a Tory politician talks about tax cuts, they are never asked “how much will these tax cuts cost”? Instead, their proposals are taken at face value and their tenuous claims to economic competence are accepted as axiomatic. Yet, tax cuts do cost money and the burden will always fall on the shoulders of those who are least equipped to deal with it. Tories will always claim that they have taken those who earn the least out of taxation altogether. No questions are asked if the richest will pay more or how libraries, schools and the National Health Service are to be funded when ever-decreasing amounts of tax are being collected by the state. Of course, Tory politicians know they will never be subjected to the kind of scrutiny reserved for Labour or even Green politicians (Andrew Neil is a possible exception). The deference with which most media journalists treat these puffed up charlatans is more sickening than eating ten Cadbury’s Cream Eggs in a single sitting and it’s getting worse.

He makes the point that the media’s double standards are shown by the different ways Diane Abbott and Theresa May were treated by the press and media when they appeared confused during interviews on particular questions. Abbott, you will recall, was pilloried by the press after she appeared unable to answer Nick Ferrari’s question about where the money would come from to fund more police officers when she appeared on his show on LBC.

But May was given a very different treatment when Andrew Marr asked her if it was right that nurses should have to go to food banks. Stumped for any kind of proper reply, she could only stammer out that there were ‘complex reasons’.

This is rubbish, and she knew it. But she could rely on the Tory lapdogs in the media not to press her on it, but instead to portray her as ‘strong and stable’. Which sounds to me exactly what various modish modern architects say about their ludicrous monstrosities, often way over cost and behind schedule, shortly before they unexpectedly fall down or have to be closed while major structural repairs have to be undertaken.

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/how-much-will-it-cost/

The Cat’s article also describes how May went ‘full Erdogan’ with the press during her visit to Cornwall, and has a link to a feature about this on the Cornwall Live website. May turned up to support the six Tory MPs, who hold all the seats in the county.

Erdogan is the current president of Turkey, who is rapidly trying to undo the decades of secularisation began with the Turkish nationalist, Kemal Ataturk. Instead of being the head of a modern state, which values free speech, a free press and the other marks of democratic society, Erdogan acts like he would like to be a new Ottoman emperor. Anything that even smacks of disrespect to his fragile, Trump-like ego, is banned and the person who produced it arrested and prosecuted by the rozzers. A few months ago a doctor found himself arrested and prosecuted for insulting the president, simply because he had retweeted a joke about him on his mobile phone.

The ladies and gentlemen of the media in Kernow also found themselves in a similarly tightly controlled environment. According to Cornwall Live, they were locked in a room and forbidden to film. They did ask some questions, and there were some photographs, including one of the locked door. Briefly glancing through the article, I got the distinct impression that May’s answers to questions consisted mostly of the same guff about being ‘strong and stable’.

http://www.cornwalllive.com/prime-minister-theresa-may-visits-cornwall-ahead-of-general-election/story-30306323-detail/story.html#kMAvlh8iYr7EHHod.99

May’s management of the press in Cornwall isn’t unique. Whenever she goes anywhere, the event is very carefully stage managed. Rather than meeting the public, these events are private, and the public are kept very far away from meeting her and asking any awkward questions.

As for locking the press and broadcast media in a room, this seems a very strong metaphor for the repressive state of Tory Britain anyway. Blair, the Tories and the Lib Dems all brought in legislation providing for secret courts, where you could be arrested and tried without knowing the evidence against you, who your accuser was, and with the public and press excluded, if this was all deemed necessary for national security.

Exactly like the perverted judicial systems of Nazi Germany and the Communist states of the former eastern bloc.

One of the underground poems written against the Communist dictatorship in Hungary describes the author looking down at his shoelaces. He still has them, so he can’t be in prison. It’s a succinct, poetic description of the lack of freedom the Hungarians endured in what was basically a Stalinist dictatorship following the quelling of their uprising in the 1950s.

Now have a look at your own feet. Well, we must be free, ’cause we’ve still got our shoelaces. But when May starts locking the press into a room, while her goons prevent her from being properly filmed, you wonder how long.

Chicago University Bans Alt-Lite Speaker for Incitement to Violence

May 18, 2017

There’s a grim piece by Simon Murdoch on Hope Not Hate’s site today, reporting that DePaul University in Chicago has cancelled an event by Gavin McInnes because of a speech McInnes gave at one of the unis in New York urging his supporters to use violence against left-wing protestors. The article also discusses the formation of a militant ‘Alt-Knight’ organisation by another member of the same far-right grouping, which also shows how the Alt-Right and its ‘soft’ counterpart, the Alt-Lite, are becoming just another form of the Klan.

McInnes is the co-founder of Vice and a host on Rebel Media, a far right platform. In his speech at New York University, McInnes told his audience

“We’re the only ones fighting these [protesters] and I want you to fight them, too […] When they go low, go lower. Mace them back, throw bricks at their head. Let’s destroy them.”

Last year, 2016, he also founded Proud Boys, a fraternal order for men, ‘who are unapologetic about creating the modern world.’ Initiation into the organisation consists of four stages, the last of which is a physically violence confrontation with the Left. McInnes told Metro that this means involvement in ‘a major fight for the cause’, saying “You get beat up, kinck [sic] the crap out of antifa”.

He also told Metro that “not only would [he] love to speak” with those who protest in disagreement of his views, but that he will also “get violent and beat the f–k out of everybody”.

Members of the Proud Boys were involved in the violence at Berkeley, which erupted when Anne Coulter was due to speak there. The order also has a more ‘militant’ wing, founded by Kyle Chapman, who goes by the name of ‘Based Stick Man’, with McInnes’ approval. This calls itself the ‘Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights’. Chapman himself was arrested after fighting a member of the public at a rally in Berkeley. Before that, he had also been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon at a Trump rally.

http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/05/18/rebel-media-hosts-speech-banned-statements-encouraging-violence/

It probably won’t surprise anyone to hear members of the far-right advocate violence against their opponents on the Left. It’s always been there, ever since Hitler founded the SA and then SS as the official paramilitary wings of the Nazi party, the squadristi of Fascist Italy, and the ‘Biff Boys’ of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Quite apart from the skinhead boot boys, who form the thuggish hard core of post-War Fascism in Britain, North America and Europe.

As for the Alt-Knights, the Hope Not Hate article states that it refers back to the ‘Alt-Lite’ movement of which McInnes and Chapman are members. Well, perhaps. But it also seems to be a nod to a much older, violently racist organisation: the KKK. The Klan’s full title, or at least one of them, was ‘The Invisible Empire of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’.

The Alt-Right has been described as the Klan with keyboards. Now it seems that the similarities with the KKK are becoming ever stronger and more blatant every day. The other day The Young Turks commented on a torchlight vigil organised by supporters of the Confederacy to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee by the town council of Charlottesville, Virginia. Among those protesting was Richard Spencer, the White nationalist, anti-Semitic founder of the Alt-Right. The protestors chanted ‘You will not replace us’, ‘Russia is our friend’, and ‘Blood and Soil’.

The presenters of the video, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, state that the comments by the protestors that it wasn’t a racist issue, is contradicted by Spencer’s presence. They also demolish attempts by the supporters of Confederacy, who have tried arguing instead that the American Civil War wasn’t about slavery. They point out that instead of northern liberals not understanding history, it’s really southern Conservatives, as if you look at everything the leaders and defenders of the Confederacy wrote, they made it clear that it was about defending slavery.

This is a sharp refutation of some of the propaganda coming out of organisations like the Von Mises Institute, named after another Austrian free trade economist, who scarpered to America to escape the Nazis, while sharing their hostility to socialism and the organised working class. This outfit has also tried to argue that the Civil War was really about trade tariffs between the South and the rest of the US.

What they don’t comment on, but which makes the racist overtones of the protest very clear, is one of the slogans the crowd chanted. ‘Blood and soil’, or ‘Blut und Boden’ in German, was one of the watchwords of the Nazi party. It was based on the pseudoscientific doctrine that national characteristics were determined by the environment and landscape of a people’s racial homeland.

Observers of Trump’s rise last year remarked on the Fascistic violence that broke out against people of colour and left-wing protestors at the Orange Generalissimo’s rallies. Trump himself in one speech actually urged his supporters to beat his opponents, promising to pay their legal bills if they did.
This development shows just how deeply rooted is violence in the far-right organisations that back him. And they also show how close these organisations are to the older traditions of violent racism in Nazi and Fascist paramilitary organisations and the weird regalia and ritual of the KKK.

Weak and Wobbly Theresa May’s Contradictory and Crap Housing Policy

May 15, 2017

The leak last Thursday of the Labour party manifesto, with its promise to nationalise the railways and parts of the energy network, clearly has rattled the Tory party. Mike over at Vox Political remarked that leak was probably intended to discredit these policies, but instead they have proved massively popular.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/11/labours-manifesto-approved-unanimously-by-nec-and-shadow-cabinet-after-leaked-version-wins-huge-public-support/

I’m not surprised. The Tory party, of course, started shrieking that this would drag us all back to the 1970s – actually not a bad thing, as Mike has also pointed out, considering that the gulf between rich and poor was at its lowest during that decade. The Torygraph also went berserk, and plastered all over the front page of its Friday edition a headline claiming that Labour MPs were ‘disowning’ it. I don’t know how true this was. It could be the Blairites trying their best to undermine their own party again, in order to shore up virtuous neoliberalism. Or it could be just more rumour and scaremongering put out, as usual, by the rag and its owners, the weirdo Barclay twins. The Telegraph has been in the forefront of the newspapers attacking Corbyn since he was elected to the Labour leadership. So many of its stories are just scaremongering or, at best, the fevered imaginings of a frightened capitalist class, that you can’t really believe anything the newspaper actually writes about the Labour party or its leader. Ken Surin, in an article for Counterpunch, quoted statistics by media analysts that said that only 11 per cent of reports about the party presented the facts accurately.

But the fact that the railways do need to be renationalised was ironically shown again that day, as a train I wanted to catch was delayed by 15 minutes. Because a train had broken down. The British taxpayer now pays far more subsidies to the private rail companies for a worse train service than in the 1970s. So once again, we’re back to showing that rather than being a decade of uniform disaster and imminent social collapse, it was better in some ways than the present.

So May has decided to unveil a few radical policies of her own. In order to counter Labour’s promise to build a million new homes, half of which will be social housing, in the next five years, May has announced that her government will boost the number of social housing being built, and included a special right to buy clause. Which sounds good, until you realise that they’re not going to release any more money for it.

Without that extra money, the promise is meaningless.
It’s more Tory lies.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/14/theresa-may-has-actually-announced-a-policy-and-its-rubbish/

The Tory party has absolutely no intention of building any more social housing. Mike has put up in his article a table of the Tories’ abysmal record on housing. These include a 43 per cent increase in homelessness, a 166 per cent jump in the number of people sleeping rough, private rents have gone up by over £1,700 since 2010, and the cost of owning a home for first-time buyers has risen by £65,000. But this won’t worry the Tory party, as 1/3 of them are private landlords. And I distinctly remember Johnny Void posting a number of articles about they sought to profit by the dearth of housing in London.

And this is quite apart from the fact that the Tory press, such as the Daily Mail, is aimed very much at the kind of people, who buy to rent, and endlessly applauds high house prices even though they make homes unaffordable to an increasing number of people in 21st century England. Of course they see such prices as a good thing, as it means even greater profits for them.

So they won’t want to undermine the housing bubble they’ve created, and cause prices to fall by building any more.

But they can’t be seen to be doing that, with Corbyn and Labour hot on this issue.

So they’ve concocted this rubbish, self-contradictory policy, hoping that people will be deceived by the meaningless promise. They hope people will remember the first part, and forget that without any more money, it won’t happen.

Don’t let them fool you.
Vote Labour for a decent housing solution on June 8th.

Vox Political Commenter on Pro-Tory BBC Bias on the Radio

May 8, 2017

Mike posted this little piece about the biased reporting of the BBC. This time it was on the radio and concerned the Beeb’s coverage of the Brexit negotiations with the EU. Steve Fox, one of the many commenters on Mike’s blog, told how he had been moved to write a letter of complaint to the BBC because of a piece by their reporter, Katia Adler. Adler had asserted that EU leaders are hoping for a “strong” leader to emerge from the UK general election, and that when “she” does, negotiations will be better.

As Mr Fox points out, the only ‘she’ in the election is Theresa May. So in effect, the Beeb was telling us that EU leaders are hoping that May wins the general election. And this is what Emma Duff from the Beeb’s complaint’s team, told him in their reply. They said that Katya was simply reporting her understanding, as European Editor, of the sentiments of leading European Union figures on this subject. This was followed by more verbiage about BBC reporters trying to be impartial and objective.

Mike concludes

Oh, so she was saying the European Union’s top brass want Theresa May to win the general election – but that’s not going to sway anybody voting in a poll that the same Theresa May wants us to think is about Brexit?

Give us a break, BBC.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/06/this-tale-of-blatant-bbc-pro-tory-bias-could-bring-tears-to-your-eyes/

This is one more incident to add to a growing pile of stories about the Beeb’s pro-Tory bias. We’ve had Laura Kuenssberg belittling and attacking Labour and Jeremy Corbyn at every turn, Nick Robinson carefully editing footage of Alex Salmond at the debates on Scots independence to make it seem that he didn’t answer one of the Macclesfield Goebbel’s questions when he did. And this all just seems part of general policy at the Beeb not to cover Jeremy Corbyn in particular in any positive or objective manner, but only to give him limited, negative coverage. It’s more Project Fear. Saville and Barry Kushner have described how the Beeb’s coverage of austerity never questions the need for it, even though it is not the self-evidently true solution to the debt crisis it claims to be. Indeed not. Rather than cut the deficit, it has massively increased it. Academics from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff Universities have shown that the Beeb’s more likely to show interviews with Tory MPs and financiers, than with Labour MPs and trade unionists when covering the economy. And those Tory MPs and bankers are also more likely to be treated sympathetically by the Beeb.

And Private Eye has been railing for years at the Beeb’s patronising attitude, which denies any kind of bias at the Corporation, even when it is blatantly obvious.

There has even been published an entire book about how the Beeb’s claims of providing public service broadcasting is a myth.

At the moment, the Beeb, like it’s counterparts in the Tory press, is trying desperately to tell us all the Corbyn is unpopular and unelectable. Don’t believe the lies. The Labour leader’s policies are sound, far sounder than the Tories, and he is massively popular at the grassroots.

Which is what the Beeb and the press fear the most. It puts the lie to their claim pretensions to be opinion-formers that everyone should take notice of, and which brings in support from business and advertisers.

Don’t believe the Beeb. Believe in Corbyn!.

Middle Eastern Asylum Seekers Forced to Use Food Banks or Starve

May 8, 2017

I heard this from my mother after she came back from church yesterday. It’s one of those stories which makes you wonder what’s wrong with the people of this country. And the minister, who told it, made it very clear he thought something ought to be done about the poverty being inflicted on the poor and desperate right NOW.

One of the ministers at our local church also helps out at one of the city’s food banks. He told mum that one of the people, who is now forced to use it is a female asylum seeker from one of the war-torn countries in the Middle East. The woman was married with a husband and child, who she had left behind. Fortunately, when she arrived here she was able to claim benefits.

That is until she was joined by the rest of her family. This should have been a joyful reunion. Another family given sanctuary from fear and murder in Blighty. And I dare say for a time it was, until the DWP told the lady that, as her circumstances were changed, she was no longer entitled to benefits.

And so, like over a hundred thousand other people in this miserable country, she was forced to come to the food bank or starve.

The minister was upset and outraged by this obvious injustice. And it’s just one of a hundred thousand others. I’ve reblogged pieces before from some of the great sites and pages on the Web by people, who work in food banks, or who otherwise have contact with those who do, or are forced to use them.

The people, who come to them are genuinely desperate. They don’t use them, as the Tories have lied ad nauseam, because it’s free food. You need to be referred by your local jobcentre because you have no money. And thanks to the government’s determination to brand every job- and asylum seeker a potential scrounger, and throw them off benefits, an increasing number are. And all so the government can appeal to the embittered souls, who read the Daily Heil, and play up to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in this country.

Except, contrary to all the lies put out by the Tory press, these people aren’t taking our jobs. They do jobs we don’t want to do, as shown in the film, Dirty Pretty Things. Many of them are also highly educated people, frequently with technical backgrounds, whose skills this country needs.

They also are a net contributor to what remains of our welfare state. Immigrants and asylum seekers pay into through taxes and NI contributions, but are less likely to be on benefits than the traditional population.

As for the fears that we shall be overwhelmed with them, they impression I have had is that they really don’t want to leave the homelands. They have genuinely been driven out because of real threats against their lives and those of their families. When the wars in their native countries end, or the oppressive regime is overthrown, they’ll be only too glad to go back.

But you ain’t going to hear about this from the likes of the Scum, the Mail, and the Express. You’re just going to hear tales of violent criminals sponging off the system, or of militant Islamists trying to islamicize the place by stealth.

Not only is this playing up to the worst aspects of the national psyche, it also has a more obscure, but equally important role in promoting the interests of right-wing parties like the Tories and UKIP, before their decimation in the election last week. Playing on fears of immigrants helps divide the working class, just as portraying the rest of the genuinely poor and desperate as scroungers, and trade unionists as evil troublemakers determined to wreck the country. Since the collapse of Communism the Tories and their lickspittles in the press haven’t been able to claim that they’re all the tools of Moscow. this might come back, though, with the new Cold War and the determined campaign to blame everything on Putin. At the moment, however, they’re just content to harp on about the ‘Winter of Discontent’ and the ’70s.

And as they do, it helps keep working people from uniting with others, who are deliberately being kept poor and desperate so that May, and Blair and Thatcher before her, could give tax cuts and a supply of cheap, disposable labour to big business.

It’s time people saw through the lies and propaganda, and realised their common interests with the long term unemployed, the disabled, and asylum seekers, everyone who is sneered at and demonised by the Tories and the neoliberals in the Labour party.

We shouldn’t need food banks. We should have a decent benefit system, which gave people what they need to survive, and recognised that the people, who are out of work, have been thrown there due to a rigged economic system and collapsing jobs market.

Wishing All the Labour Candidates Every Success

May 4, 2017

This is just to wish all the Labour candidates standing in today’s local elections every success. May this be the first step in taking our country back from nearly four decades of Thatcherite privatisation, industrial decline and the victimisation of the poor and weak.

Vox Political’s Long List of Tory Lies

May 2, 2017

On Saturday, Mike posted a piece asking why anyone should believe the Tories about Jeremy Corbyn considering their long record of lying. He then gave a few examples, such as May’s promise that she wouldn’t call a snap election, her promise that she would seek an agreement with three other nations in Britain – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland before triggering Article 50 for Brexit; David Cameron’s pledge not to cut Child Tax Credits; the Tories’ promise that they wouldn’t increase NI contributions, and that they would reduce the deficit.

And those are all just starters. They come from a video about the Tories’ broken promises and flagrant lying, that is included in Mike’s article.

He also gives a few more example of Conservative mendacity, beginning with their lies to the rozzers about their election spending. They have also lied about not cutting the NHS, about helping people with disabilities – in fact, their lies, as repeated in the press, have helped fuel a 213 per cent rise in hate crime against disabled people, about the Trident missile test, their denials that their policies are actually causing a fall in British life expectancy.

The list just goes on and on.

And Mike also reblogs Eoin Clarke’s list of 30 U-turns the Tories have made since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party.

Mike’s conclusion is the obvious one: Despite all the ranting, the Tories are weak and liars.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/04/29/tories-lie-about-so-many-things-why-should-we-believe-them-about-jeremy-corbyn/

A few years ago I suggested that Ian Duncan Smith should really be called ‘Matilda’, after the lying heroine of the famous cautionary poem by Hilaire Bellocq, ‘Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes’. Etc. But this shows that the whole party should be called ‘Matilda’, given their own contempt for truth.