Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Bastani, Srikasthan and Nunns On Starmer and How to Remove Him

October 4, 2021

Here’s another interesting video from the Labour left and those with similar views I found on YouTube. Staged as part of The World Transformed, it’s of a debate between the awesome Aaron Bastani, Gaya Srikasthan and Alex Nunns in front of an audience on whether Starmer should go, and if so, how. In actual fact, as they say from the start, there is no disagreement between them and their audience that Keef Stalin should get the push. What is up for debate is how this is to be achieved.

Bastani begins by a complete demolition of Stalin’s career as leader and his attempts to project an image of being a trustworthy politician. He isn’t, not remotely. Stalin has broken every pledge and promise he made. And it was always clear to members of his constituency that he was hard right by the awful company he kept. This is going to rebound on him with the public. Bastani makes the case that there are three kinds of people: those who tell the truth; those who lie, but don’t claim to be telling the truth; and then there are those who lie but claim to be honest. The self-acknowledged liars are Berlusconi and Boris. Those who claim to tell the truth include Stalin and Hillary Clinton. And the public dislikes these liars more than they do crooks like Berlusconi. It is possible that people will become so disillusioned that Stalin will be forced out. Unfortunately he could be replaced by somebody as bad, like Lisa Nandy, or worse, like Wes Streeting. Much of this debate concerns the way Starmer has rigged the constitution to make it extremely difficult for a left-winger to become leader ever again. But the overall message is not to be too disheartened. Even with the motions passed, things haven’t gone all Starmer’s way at conference. One of his gerrymandering motions was rejected. Another barely scraped through. It would have been rejected if some of the people, who have left the party, had remained and voted against it. Even after Stalin’s purges.

The message from the speakers is that left-wingers should remain in the party to fight from the inside. But they need to organise. People should join momentum and their unions, and especially get on the Unison link with Labour. Nor should they be too worried about the leadership. Jeremy Corbyn gave socialists hope, but Bastani states that Labour hasn’t been a socialist party since 1951, and hasn’t been social democrat since the 1970s. Corbyn himself offered less in the way of socialism than the 1970s state. Towards the end of his time as leader Corbyn was making concessions in his negotiations with industry, and Bastani feels that if he had got into power, socialists would have been disappointed. But he also points out how the leadership can change rapidly. Only a decade ago, it seemed that Ed Miliband was the best you could get as Labour leader, and the next one could be just slightly left of him. And then Corbyn’s election changed the situation completely.

When it came to questions from the audience, one woman rather loudly and in my view, angrily told them that in their dismissal of the candidates for the Labour leadership they were being misogynist in omitting various left-wing female MPs. She also ran an ‘activists’ corner’ in a pod cast, Not the Andrew Marr Show, and suggested the speakers and perhaps other Labour members should do the same, and invited Bastani to appear on hers sometime. Another member of the audience wondered what should be done to help Black and Asian members, who had been the most consistent voters and supporters of Labour. They and the panel pointed to great Black politicians, such as Dawn Butler, the importance of Black leadership programmes and said that they needed the support of White allies. On a similar issue, another audience member denounced Stalin’s purge not only of socialists, but socialist Jews.

When it came to supporting left Labour politicians in other constituencies, one man said it was useless sending donations through regional office, ‘because we know what’s done with them’. He suggests instead that people should become treasurers of their local constituency party, suggest that it pairs up with that of a left-wing MP, and then send the donations directly.

They also recommend that left-wing members should concentrate in building up their local constituencies, many of which are still left-wing despite Keef’s purges. They should also look outward to forge links with the public. And most of all, they are not to be too disheartened. Srikasthan states that instead of concentrating on one leader, she sees a roomful of leaders. She also makes the point that she has worked with indigenous people elsewhere in the world, who are suffering real repression and persecution. This isn’t like the situation in Jakarta, where people are being rounded up by the authorities.

The talk therefore gives hope for changing the current dire situation in the Labour leadership, though I would have liked more detailed suggestions on how to organise to overthrow Stalin and his corrupt, anti-democratic NEC. The attitude is that the Labour party isn’t completely lose yet, and the left can make gains by supporting the Green New Deal and particularly issues with the soft left. But I think this will be a very hard struggle and I am not entirely sure if it will be successful in rescuing Labour from the right. But Srikasthan makes a very serious point when she says that neoliberalism has failed, and in the coming decades with the climate and other crises there will only be two alternatives: socialism and extreme nationalism. We are very much back in the situation H.G. Wells confronted, that the world was in a race with catastrophe.

And the only choice is civilisation, proper socialism, or barbarism.

No, Europeans Didn’t Introduce Ironworking to Africa during the Slave Trade

October 2, 2021

I have several times posted about and reposted some of the videos made by Simon Webb of the History Debunked channel. Those I’ve reposted are usually criticisms of Black Lives Matter or falsehoods repeated as truth in Black history. I’ve said that Webb should be taken with caution as he’s a Telegraph-reading Tory. Where he quotes historical and mainstream scientific texts, I think he’s correct. But occasionally he comes up with falsehoods of his own which show he needs checking. Yesterday he put up a video on the transatlantic slave trade and how it benefited west Africa. Now he’s right that the slave trade did bring some benefits to west Africa. The African states who supplied the European slave merchants, Dahomey and Whydah, for example, grew extremely rich. Duke Ephraim of Dahomey had an income of £300,000 a year, and the abominable trade plugged Africa into the wider global economy. According to mainstream academic historians, it introduced modern commercial methods into Africa and allowed capital accumulation.

But Webb seems instead to make a very curious claim. Noting that the Black African professionals people may meet tend to be Nigerian or west African, Webb says in this video that its because Europeans brought iron working and civilisation to Africa. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Webb claims, most buildings were made of mud. Bronze was used for decoration – I assume here he’s talking about the Benin bronzes, sculptured heads what were produced as shrines to the king’s spirit. But iron was unknown. This is bizarre, as it’s very much not the view of conventional historians and archaeologists.

I looked in Colin McEvedy’s The Penguin Atlas of African History (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1980) to see when sub-Saharan African entered the Iron Age. He notes on page 30 that iron-working communities emerged around Nok in what is now Nigeria c. 202 BC. Iron-working also existed in Nubia by AD 200. C. 200 AD is started reaching the rest of Africa as the Bantu peoples expanded east and south, pp. 34, 36. I don’t actually know why Webb should think that they only developed iron working with the slave trade. I think it perhaps comes from the fact that Europeans did trade iron bars for slaves. These were made into objects called manilas, shaped like bracelets. A few of them are on display in the slavery gallery in Bristol’s M Shed. Webb has said that metallurgical analysis has shown that some west African artefacts now at the centre of demands for repatriation, were ironically made using metals that could only have been introduced by European traders. I’ve no doubt this is true, but it doesn’t contradict the fact that Africans were perfectly capable of producing iron for themselves. It may just indicate that Africans were willing to import European iron because it may have been cheaper, better or more easily accessible than that domestically produced. Just a Britain now imports cars despite having a domestic car industry.

HIs claim that Africans also built in mud is also questionable. They certainly did in west and other parts of Africa, so that it’s largely true. The city of Whydah was built of wood, and the Dahomeyans certainly used mud brick to build their towns. But the Islamic states of the Sahara, including Nubia, built in stone. And the Swahili were using coral blocks to construct their cities from the 9th century onwards, roughly as the same time when the ancestors of the Shona built the fortress of Zimbabwe.

This seems to come from Webb’s view that Africa didn’t produce any real civilisations. This was very much the view of 19th and early 20th century historians. On the other hand, one commander of the West African Squadron, Captain Denman, testified to parliament that the mass murder of slaves by one of the African cultures was remarkable, given that the people there had made such progress in the arts of civilisation. Which shows that at that time in the 19th century, not all Europeans thought Africans were uncivilised savages.

I think its undoubtedly true that Europeans introduced modern science and technology to Africa during colonialism, even if this was to exploit the countries and their peoples. They also benefited from the introduction of modern education and literacy, when it was available. If Nigerians are more prevalent among Black African professionals in Britain, it may well be due to a number of factors that have little to do with the slave trade. It may simply be that Nigeria is a richer country than many other African nations, and so has a larger middle class able to afford an education. It also possesses its own university, though I don’t know if it has a medical faculty. It is certainly more populous than some African countries, with a population of about 100 million. It may also have stronger ties with the west and particularly Britain, so that it’s people go here rather than to France or Portugal, the other African colonial powers.

It is therefore far more likely to be due to the education, science and technology introduced to Nigeria and west Africa during colonialism, and the enduring ties with Britain forged during this period, that have led so many west Africans to migrate here rather than the slave trade. Which certainly did not, in any case, usher in the Iron Age in Africa.

Tories Planning Possible Temporary Nationalisation of Energy and Railways

September 28, 2021

This is very, very interesting. After Conference voted yesterday for the nationalisation of the electricity companies, it seems that the Tories are considering a similar measure, if only as a temporary solution to the energy crisis. Johnson’s government is considering intervening to ensure that no customers are cut off as firms fail. According to the Independent, the business secretary, Kwesi Kwarteng, is not only holding talks with the energy companies and has spoken to Ofgem, the energy regulator, he has also indicated that he is prepared to appoint a temporary administrator for firms the government may take into public ownership as a temporary solution to the crisis.

And the government has also taken over Southeast Trains. Well, the government has been briefly taking over failing train companies for the past ten years or so, because John Major’s privatisation of British Rail is a far greater disaster than anything served up in the former company’s cafes. This latest nationalisation is also going to be temporary, but it shows how much of a failure privatisation has been. The only solution is to nationalisation the utilities permanently.

But Starmer’s Labour leadership really doesn’t want to do that. Mike’s article quotes a tweet by the mighty Aaron Bastani parodying a statement by the ghastly Rachel Reeves as saying that it’s not the right time for nationalisation and that the demand for it is ‘ideological’. As Bastani says, it’s precisely the moment. And as Mike says, it shows that Labour is now more right-wing than the Tories. He goes on to say:

‘Reeves made herself and her boss sound like idiots – which, of course, they are.

Their protestations – her yesterday (September 27), him on Sunday (September 26) – weren’t pragmatic, no matter how often they tried to shoehorn that word into their comments.

They were ideological – exactly what Reeves and Starmer were trying to deny.

But it’s a stupid ideology.

Starmer’s entire policy is: butter up the business bosses. He is convinced that if he sucks up to the fat cats, they’ll support him into government after the next election. He is wrong for a very obvious reason.

Business leaders really are pragmatic. They can see that Brexit has created serious issues for the energy firms, for fuel supply and in other areas due to knock-on effects, and they acknowledge that their firms would be better-off under government control for the duration of the problem.

In other words: by lurching leftwards towards privatisation, Boris Johnson has done the right thing.

And where does this leave Starmer (and Reeves)?

Absolutely nowhere. Not only are they out of touch with party members; they are out of touch with the entire United Kingdom.

Absolutely. I remember talking to a co-worker years ago when the Financial Times was still a Liberal paper. It had run an article which definitely supported a publicly-owned NHS. I found this odd considering that the FT is the paper of financial capitalism, and so I’d expected it to be in favour of privatisation. My co-worker explained to me that the firms supplying the NHS would not want the Health Service broken up, because dealing with a single, large company is much easier for them.

There was absolutely no opposition from the Tories when Labour nationalised electricity in 1945, or indeed any of the utilities, because they knew very well it made absolute, perfect sense. It was nonsense having Britain’s electricity produced by a number of separate, competing companies.

And Ken Loach’s magnificent documentary, The Spirit of 45, shows that the same problems existed when the railways were split up into different companies. The trains running from the different companies along their separately owned pieces of track frequently intersected with each other and caused delays. And the first thing that was got rid of after nationalisation was the massive clearing house which consisted of well over a hundred different clerks passing chits to each other. These were representatives of the different railway companies passing notes billing each other for the use of their different pieces of track and train services.

Privatisation is a mess. It doesn’t work, and has been repeatedly shown not to work.

But Starmer and the appalling Reeves don’t want to admit that. Part of this comes from the fear they’ll get from the right-wing press, with whom Starmer is desperate to ingratiate himself. And much of it is ideological. I can remember a piece by Brian Gould in one of the left-wing broadsheets back in the 1980s talking about how he tried to argue with the-then Labour leadership that free market economics was not the solution. But it was pointless. Their eyes were all aglow with the light of the religious convert. Starmer is the heir to Blair and Thatcher.

And Thatcher’s privatisations were also considered bonkers at the time. I’ve been told that the orthodox view taken by economists in the 1970s was that, while free trade and private industry worked perfectly well in many sectors, it could not be applied to the utilities. Thatcher’s privatisations were a shocking divergence from mainstream economics, whatever nonsense the Tory press and media talked boosting them. As for Monetarism, Robin Ramsay, the main man behind conspiracies ‘zine Lobster, has said that when he studied economics in the 1970s Monetarism was considered so ludicrous and stupid lecturers hardly considered it worth mentioning. Monetarism noisily died the death in the 1990s, with even the Daily Heil publishing articles arguing it was a failure.

Starmer and Reeves are well out of touch. Now is exactly the right time to demand nationalisation.

But they’re too blinded by Thatcherism to realise this. Or perhaps it would be better to use a phrase of the Iron Lady’s about her opponents: they’re ‘frit’.

Thatcherism is a failure. It’s pure Zombie economics. It should have died years ago, but it’s kept stumbling on by right-wing politicians like the Tories and Starmer out of a mixture of ideology and desire to benefit the rich rather than the working class.

Right-Wing YouTubers Ignore Serious Issues at Labour Conference to Concentrate on Race and Personalities

September 28, 2021

I’ve said several times that as the failure of Thatcherite free market capitalism increases, the Tories will try to divert attention away from it by concentrating instead on issues of race and immigration. And this is has happened in the shape of the right-wing YouTubers Alex Belfield and Sargon of Gasbag and the Lotus Eaters. For example, the privatisation of the utilities ain’t working. This is why Jeremy Corbyn in his brilliant 2019 manifesto argued for their renationalisation. Just over 50 per cent of the British public agree with the renationalisation of the electricity companies with only 14 per cent opposing. Keir Starmer is one of those, as he tied himself up in knots on the Andrew Marr show this Sunday denying that he had ever said he was in favour of nationalisation while he very much had talked in favour of common ownership in his campaign to become party leader. Mike in his piece about it asked what common ownership meant if not nationalisation. Well, there are other forms of social ownership, such as municipalisation. When Blair dropped the commitment to nationalisation – Clause IV – from the Labour constitution back in the 1990s, his apologists stated that it didn’t mean that other forms of common ownership would be ruled out and specifically pointed to municipalisation. On the other hand, people have said that despite these arguments, it was very clear what the removal of Clause IV meant: the end of Labour as a socialist party and a commitment to private enterprise. Conference challenged that as well when they voted overwhelmingly for return of the electricity companies to state ownership.

This is clearly an embarrassment to Starmer, especially as the motion was passed not just by the traditional Labour left, Corbyn’s supporters, but also by members of the party’s right. Which means that people across the party have woken up and realised that the private ownership of the electricity sector isn’t working.

So, how are popular right-wing YouTubers like Belfield, who makes much of having 300,000 supporters, and the Lotus Eaters responding to this decision? Well, from what I can see, they ain’t. Instead Belfield and the Lotus Eaters are making much of the statement by one of the hosts at the Conference yesterday that too many white men were putting their hand up, and that this didn’t represent the diversity of the people in the hall. Belfield and the Lotus Eaters both extensively discuss and criticise diversity and racial issues. Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, is an avowed anti-feminist. You’ll remember that he gained notoriety a year or so ago over a tweet he sent to Jess Philips telling her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her.’ I think this is quite deliberate. They seem to be trying to appeal to the same constituency as UKIP, of which Sargon was briefly a member and which he helped to destroy. When he joined, everyone who didn’t have such strong views about race or migration immediately denounced his recruitment and left. Academic studies of UKIP, such as for example the book, Revolt on the Right, have found that the party’s core supporters were socially conservative older White men of 50 +, who felt left behind by Blair’s multicultural Britain. At the same time, the core supporters of the Republicans and especially Trump in America were supposed to be angry White men. Which explains why Belfield and the Lotus Eaters have seized on the statement by a conference host which sought to minimise them.

When not exploiting the call for fewer questions from White men, Belfield has been playing up personalities. Keith Vaz has returned, and this has been criticised by Belfield after reports of bullying by him. Belfield also attacked him for supposedly looking the other way when Asian workers in Leeds were being paid starvation wages by their Asian employers, a situation also ignore by Black Lives Matter. It’s a fair point, although the local Labour MP has pointed out that she repeatedly tried to get something done about it but was ignored by the local council. He also repeated the criticisms of Angela Rayner for calling the Tories ‘scum’. Well, it is unparliamentary language, but Nye Bevan, the Labour politico who set up the NHS and welfare state, famously called the Tories ‘vermin’. He was angry about the real poverty and suffering their policies had caused, and to which we’re returning thanks to Cameron’s, Tweezer’s and Johnson’s determination to drag us all back to the Victorian age. And then there’s Claudia Webbe, who stands accused of using misogynistic language against someone and threatening to attack them with acid. This is serious stuff, but it’s a distraction from the serious point that a majority of the party at Conference has decided that electricity privatisation is a failure. This is a direct assault on Maggie, and so can’t be tolerated.

The fact that Belfield and the Lotus Eaters aren’t arguing against electricity nationalisation, which they would have done at one time, shows that part of the Tory media realises very well that it isn’t working. They still support it, but have no arguments for keeping it in private hands.

So all they can do is make personal attacks and hope people will ignore the rest.

Brexit Britain’s Collapse also Reveals Failure of Free Market Capitalism

September 26, 2021

I wonder sometimes if the Communists and Trotskyites didn’t throw in the towel too soon. They were always looking for the collapse of capitalism, and while that didn’t happen and probably won’t, they would have realised that Thatcherism, at least, isn’t working and made real efforts to make the British public realise it. Communism collapsed with the velvet revolution in eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the countries of the former Soviet bloc threw off their chains and embraced democracy and free market capitalism. Francis Fukuyama declared that it was ‘the end of history’. Liberalism in the broad sense of the mixture of liberal democracy and capitalism, had seen off its rivals and would now reign supreme and unchallenged as the global ideology bringing peace, freedom – both political and economic – and prosperity to everyone.

But it hasn’t worked out like that.

Thatcher’s privatisation of the public utilities here in Britain haven’t brought the necessary investment these sectors needed. As Ken Loach’s superb documentary, The Spirit of 45, makes very clear, the power, water and railway industries are natural monopolies that need national planning and support. This has been particularly shown time and again in the management of the railways. Major’s privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s and its breakup into separate companies resulted in a spate of horrendous train crashes. Insult was added to injury by the rail companies passing the buck and accusing each other of responsibility for the disasters. As a result, the company owning the railway network itself, Railtrack, had to be renationalised in 2002. Privatisation did not work. And it has continued to fail with the private railways companies. Several have had to be taken back into state administration after providing poor service. However, this has always been excused as a temporary measure and the government has insisted on finding some other private company to run those services afterwards. After a series of such failures, this strategy now looks more than a little desperate. It’s an attempt to fend off the obvious: that private enterprise isn’t providing a proper, decent rail service and the only way to run it properly is to renationalise it.

It is very much the same with the government’s part-privatisation of Britain’s schools. Declining standards in state schools led Thatcher to experiment with privately-run schools outside the control of Local Education Authorities. These were then called ‘city academies’. They were another failure, and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, was forced to wind them up quietly. Unfortunately, Tony Blair thought it was a wizard idea and it became a major part of New Labour education policy. Simply called ‘academies’, these schools would be run by private companies. Some of these would specialise in particularly subjects, such as Maths and science. Expertise from private industry would ensure that standards would be high, and they would provide a powerful incentive through their competition for the remaining state schools to improve their performance. Except that didn’t happen either. The academies don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools once the massive difference in funding is taken into account. An academy may receive tens of millions of funding compared to a fraction of million that the Local Education Authority receives to spend on all the schools it runs. Furthermore, many of the academies have only been able to maintain their high standards through being highly selective about their intakes. Pupils that may not reach the marks demanded by the schools, including those with behavioural problems or who come from poorer families, are often excluded and expelled. Educational performance and standards in many academies has been so abysmal that the chains managing them have collapsed and the schools once again taken into public administration. But private enterprise under the Tories cannot be allowed to fail, and so we had the grim spectacle a few years ago of Nicky Morgan, the Tory education secretary, repeatedly not answering the questions on the Andrew Marr show why the government was pushing ahead with turning schools into academies when just a little while ago 25 academies had had to be taken over by the government again.

Now, thanks to a mixture of Brexit and global problems elsewhere, the gas industry is in crisis. There are shortages of gas, a number of the smaller companies have already collapsed and customers are being faced with sharp price rises. Novara Media have even said that the government has admitted that if there are severe problems with the major gas suppliers, then they will have to be nationalised.

Gas, like electricity, should never have been privatised in the first place. When it was initially privatised, the company was not split up into separate, competing companies and so it was able to dominate the market as a private monopoly. Now some of those companies are suffering because they are unable to cope with free market conditions. This says to me very much that Jeremy Corbyn was right – that the public utilities need to be publicly owned and rationally managed as part of an integrated system. This is another point that Ken Loach’s documentary makes very well.

And Brexit has created further problems. The establishment of a customs border with Eire overturns one of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and so threatens to return Northern Ireland to sectarian violence and chaos. There is a shortage of CO2 as a result of which some foods and other goods may suffer shortages. And there may be further shortages, including petrol and other fuels, because Brexit has also resulted in fewer haulage drivers. Some are even now predicting a new ‘Winter of Discontent’, like that in 1979 that resulted in the defeat of the-then Labour government and the election of Maggie Thatcher.

I remember the petrol crisis of the ’70s, when OPEC suddenly raised oil prices and there were queues at petrol pumps. Just as I remember how Ted Heath’s dispute with the coal miners resulted their strike, the three-day week and power cuts. It got to the point that by the middle of the decade the right were expecting a Communist takeover and the end of civilisation as we know it. There were supposedly private militias being formed by bonkers right-wingers while parts of the establishment wanted to overthrow the minority Labour government in a coup to be replaced by a kind of coalition government composed of representatives from all the parties. Well, that was what the Times discussed in its articles. The security services, however, were forming plans to round up trade unionists and left-wing politicians and activists and intern them on a Scottish island somewhere. The editor of the Mirror went to Sandhurst to interest them in overthrowing the government but was met with a no doubt polite refusal. I think he, or one of the other plotters, even went as far as Paris to see if that old Fascist, Oswald Mosley, would be interested in leading the new government.

All that has been used in the Tory myth that socialism doesn’t work, and only creates the economic and political chaos that helped bring Britain to its knees. Chaos that was only ended by the glorious reign of Maggie.

Except that these problems look like they’re coming back, and this time the fault is Brexit and the free market.

I think Boris will be able to find temporary solutions to alleviate, but not cure, some of these problems. He has, for example, introduced new legislation to encourage lorry drivers from the continent to come over here. But the underlying structural problems remain. The only way to solve them is through nationalisation.

The Labour party is in an excellent position to drive this home, at least in the case of gas. Even if it doesn’t go that far, it should still be landing hard blows on Johnson and the Tories because of Brexit’s massive failures. But Starmer isn’t doing that. Instead, as Zelo Street pointed out in a piece published a day or so ago, the Labour leader is more intent instead on destroying democracy in his party as part of his war on the left.

Which is why I’m almost nostalgic for the old Socialist Workers’ Party. They’re still around, rebranded as ‘the Socialist Party’, but they’re nowhere near as active as they were. Whenever there was any kind of crisis or major issue you could count on them turning up with their megaphones and copies of their newspaper to harangue the masses and demand further action against the problem. Unfortunately, in many cases the Socialist Workers’ Party were the problem. They colonised left-wing issues in an attempt to turn protest groups into front organisations, which they could then use to produce further discontent. Rock Against Racism collapsed when the SWP took over the leadership of that organisation, formed to protest against the rise of Fascism. They were also busy infiltrating the Labour party and other left-wing parties here and abroad with the intention of radicalising them. I think the eventual hope was to create some kind of mass revolutionary movement. It didn’t work, and has only resulted in purges, such as that of Militant Tendency by Kinnock in the 1980s. In fact, the policy has helped strengthen the right in the Labour party, as they smeared Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as Trotskyite infiltrators as the pretext for their continue purge.

The Trotskyites lived, however, in the firm belief that capitalism would eventually fail. Well, it isn’t doing that now, but it should be abundantly clear that Thatcherite free market capitalism isn’t working. The SWP would have realised that and tried to get the message across. The Labour left, which isn’t remotely Trotskyite, realises too that Thatcherism isn’t working. Their solution is simply a return to the mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. This wasn’t perfect, but it operated far better than the free market shambles we have now. And no, mixed economies are not ‘Communist’, ‘Trotskyist’ or ‘far left’. The real Communists and Trotskyists hated it as a form of capitalism, just as they hated reformist socialist parties like Labour.

But Starmer’s leadership is pledged to propping up the same wretched free market capitalism. Which is why I really feel there should be a mass movement driving home the point, again and again, that Thatcherism is ideologically and economically bankrupt. It is doing nothing but producing chaos in the economy and industry, and poverty and starvation to Britain’s working people. And this poverty will get worse. This is why I’m almost nostalgic for the wretched SWP, as they would have been determined to drive this home. And who knows? Perhaps if they behaved like a reasonable party, they might have gained further support and forced the Labour party to rediscover its socialist heritage in order to head off a challenge from real Communists.

Starmer’s 11,500 Word Vision: Blairism Rehashed

September 24, 2021

Last week people were commenting on an 11,500 word piece Starmer had written laying out his vision for the Labour party. There was a rumour going round that it was going to 14,000 words, but mercifully we’ve been spared that. I think Novara Media put up a piece suggesting that it would be 14,000 words in which Starmer says nothing. This would be the same nothing that he says to voters and with which he criticises the Tories. He has precious little to say to them. When questioned a while ago on whether Labour had a particular policy in one specific area, the Labour person questioned replied that they did, but that it was secret. Now it seems Starmer does have policies of his own. He has written that he is not in favour of nationalisation, but that government should be ‘a partner to industry’.

This is Blairism. Blair had Clause IV, the clause in the Labour party’s constitution committing it to nationalisation, removed in the 1990s. Instead, Blair promoted various public-private partnerships with business in public works projects, the building and management of hospitals and health centres and so on. This was Tony’s big idea. The result was the corporatism that mars public administration in America and Britain. Government functions were outsourced to companies like Serco, G4S and Maximus, managers and chief officers from private companies were appointed to government bodies, often those that regulated the very industries from which these officials were drawn. NHS privatisation moved into a higher gear and expanded further than the Tories had pushed it, and schools were handed over to private academy chains.

This has been a massive failure. Tens of schools have had to be taken back into public administration thanks to the failure of the private companies running them. Academies are no better educating their charges than state schools once the far greater expenditure on academies is accounted for. Hospital, GP and other medical services are being cut so the private firms providing them can make a profit. The construction companies with whom Blair5’s government went into partnership to build the country’s infrastructure, like bridges and so on, have gone so regularly over budget that the entire PFI scheme under which they are given contracts has been criticised by the Office of National Statistics as a colossal waste of money. And at a local level, ordinary communities saw their traditional shops closed down by local authorities in favour of the big supermarkets despite the opposition of ordinary people.

The private firms running the utilities are not providing the investment these sectors need. Several of the railway companies have had to be removed from running the trains in their areas and the service taken back into public administration, for example.

Thatcherism is, as one Australian economist described it, ‘zombie politics’. It’s dead and should have been buried years ago, but still lurches on, supported by a neoliberal elite, including the Blairites in the Labour party.

Starmer has nothing to offer but more of this unappetising stuff warmed up. It’s yesterday’s economic left-overs, which were foul and indigestible then, and even worse now.

The only alternative is the socialism Corbyn championed – nationalisation of the utilities, a strong welfare state and the restoration of power to the unions. Everything Starmer hates.

Which is why Starmer must go. He’s an ideologically bankrupt, dictatorial non-entity, who has nothing to offer but more Toryism and Blairite despair and exploitation.

NHS Privatisation: Do You Want to Pay the Equivalent of $200 to See a Doctor?

September 20, 2021

This comes from a video on YouTube I was watching the other day. It wasn’t about health services except that at one point the person talking mentioned that where she was – America – you have to pay $200 simply to see a doctor. And that’s before he treats you or gives you medicine.

At a very rough estimate, that’s about £130 or so. Very roughly, and I might be wrong.

But it used to be like that over here as well before the establishment of the NHS by the 1945 Labour government. And people suffered and died because they couldn’t afford to pay for it. I’ve been watching Ken Loach’s excellent film on the establishment of the British welfare state, The Spirit of ’45. This is another flick I fully intend to blog about in due course and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the origins not just of the welfare state, but of the mixed economy that gave us jobs and prosperity for thirty years before the election of Thatcher. And it clearly shows as well how and why capitalism is failing but still being pushed, and why we must never allow the NHS to be privatised. It mixes archive footage from the period, including speeches by Clement Atlee, Nye Bevan, George Lansbury and others with filmed interviews with politicians, activists, writers, union representatives and ordinary working men and women. These include not only the awesome Tony Benn, but also Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist who co-edited NHS: SOS against the privatisation of the NHS with Ray Tallis. Doctors appearing in the film explain that before the NHS was established, you had to pay half a crown simply to see the doctor. Very poorly paid workers, like agricultural labourers, could be paid five shillings a week. If they fell ill, one of those shillings would be taken in doctor’s fees. And doctors employed debt collectors to get money owing from patients, who’d paid on credit.

This is what is going to happen if Johnson and his jackals privatise the NHS.

I mention this because there was a news report last week that more people are taking out private health care. This is not by accident. It is a deliberate Tory policy. Thatcher would have liked to have privatised the NHS, but she was prevented by a cabinet revolt. Patrick Jenkin, her private secretary, had visited America and was shocked by the American private healthcare system. Unable to get her way, Thatcher instead aimed to get a certain percentage of the British public to take out private health insurance.

As Mike has pointed out again and again, the way the right prepares industries for privatisation is by starving them of funding until they are near collapse and then claiming that privatisation will provide more investment and improve services.

And this is what the Tories have been doing since they got into power eleven or so years ago. The NHS is in crisis with cancelled operations and treatment due to priority being given to combating the Coronavirus. But the Tories never waste a crisis, and they are using it to demand further privatisation. The mad internet radio host, Alex Belfield, released a video last week yet again demanding the privatisation of the NHS because of the crisis and the suffering it was causing his listeners, some of whom had relatives die as a result.

I have every sympathy for them. But the truth is that people are suffering and dying not because of any inherent fault of the NHS but because it is deliberately being run down so the Tories can privatise it.

Boris and his cronies would like to take us to a completely private healthcare system, financed through private health insurance. And if that happens, people will once again have to pay money simply to see a doctor.

And so we come back to the question: do you have the equivalent of $200 to see a doctor? Because this is what it’s going to cost you if Johnson and the private American healthcare companies that want a bit of NHS action get their way.

Alexander Bogdanov, Soviet SF Writer and Originator of Fully Automated Luxury Communism

September 18, 2021

One of my friends gave me a copy of A.M. Gittlitz’s I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism, for which I’m really grateful. It’s fascinating! Posadism is a weird Trotskyite sect, founded by Posadas, the nom-de-guerre of Homero Cristalli, an Argentinian Marxist. They were hardline Marxists, joining other Communist and Trotskyite guerrillas fighting a war against capitalism and Fascist oppression across Latin America and Cuba. From what I remember from an article about them in the Fortean Times, they also looked forward to an apocalyptic nuclear war that would destroy the capitalist nations and allow the workers of the world to seize power. This is frightening, as any such war would have destroyed the planet or at least killed countless billions and sent the survivors hurtling back into the Stone Age. Unfortunately, it was also shared by Chairman Mao, who really couldn’t believe why Khrushchev hadn’t launched a nuclear attack on America during the Cuban missile crisis. Khrushchev was certainly no angel. During Stalin’s reign he was responsible for organising purges of dissidents in Ukraine and when in power led a brutal crackdown on religion that sent thousands of people of faith, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, shamanists to the gulags. He was also responsible for creating the system of curtained shops which served only members of the Communist party. But in refusing to start a nuclear war, Khrushchev helped save the world and showed himself a far better man than Mao.

But Posadas also had some other, rather more eccentric views. He believed in establishing contact with intelligent aliens and also believed dolphins were another intelligent species with whom we should establish real, meaningful contact and understanding. A college friend of mine told me that they wanted to make contact with aliens because of their belief in the inevitable victory of Marxism. If there were alien civilisations, they reasoned, they would have achieved true, Marxist socialism and could therefore help us do the same. It sound completely bonkers, but they took their views on dolphin intelligence from the scientist and psychologist John Lilley. Many others shared their views. I have a feeling that dolphins feature in several of Larry Niven’s novels as intelligent creatures with whom humans have a relationship as equal species. To help them interact with us, they have been given artificial arms and mobile pods containing the water they need to support them.

There was a brief resurgence of Posadism on the Net in 2016, and the book contains amongst its illustrations a number of memes posted by them. One contrasts the despair and defeatism of capitalism and the mainstream socialist parties with Posadism. It features a grey alien looking on accompanied with slogans like ‘Solidarity with the space comrades’ – not ‘space brothers’, note, like the old-fashioned UFO contactees talked about, but Marxist aliens determined to overthrow capitalism. Other slogans included ‘It’s Communism, Jim, but not a we know it’, clearly a parody of the famous line from Star Trek, ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it’. And there’s also a parody of one of the famous sayings of the Space Prophet himself, Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Posadist meme reworked this as ‘Dialectical Materialism so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic.’ They are also in favour of fully automated luxury communism. This is the doctrine, embraced by Yannis Varoufakis amongst others, that mechanisation will make most workers redundant. To prevent the immense harm this will do, the only choice will be for the state to take over industry and run it so that everyone has free access to goods and services. This got reworked in one of the Posadist memes as ‘Fully automated luxury gay communism.’ I have to say this sounds distinctly unappealing. Not because I’m opposed to gay rights, but because it sounds like only gays will be allowed into the new utopia. I hope if it comes, it will benefit everyone, whatever their sexuality.

In fact the idea of fully automated luxury communism and alien contact goes back a long way in Marxist history. Alexander Bogdanov, an early rival to Marx, wrote an SF novel, Red Star. Inspired by Tsiolkovsky, the Russian rocket pioneer, and H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, this was about a revolutionary from the 1905 anti-Tsarist uprising, who is abducted to Mars. Martian society is advanced both technologically and socially. All the factories are automated, so that goods are plentiful and money is obsolete, as everyone has access to all the goods and services they need or want. As a result, Martians share their possessions. What work remains is entirely voluntary, but done idealistically for the good of society. This includes young Martians donating blood to increase the lives of the elderly. (see page 5 of the above book).

As the Bard says in The Tempest ‘Oh brave new world that hath such people in it!’

Posadas was an eccentric with some extremely dangerous views, but some of his ideas aren’t so daft. If mechanisation proceeds, then I feel that fully automated luxury communism, or something very like it, will have to come into existence. It’s the only humane alternative to the grind mass poverty and despair depicted in dystopian SF stories like 2000 AD’s ‘Judge Dredd’, where 95 per cent of the population of Megacity 1 is unemployed and films like Elysium, where the world’s masses live in shanty towns, workers are exploited and disposable, and the rich live in luxury orbital colonies.

And serious scientists are still looking for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, following American astronomer Frank Drake and scientist and broadcaster Carl Sagan. Interestingly, the book states that Sagan, a Humanist and left-wing activist, denied being a Marxist. But he and his wife Anne Druyan smuggled copies of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, so that Soviet citizens could read its real, suppressed history. I think most SETI scientists believe that real aliens would probably be so different from us that their political and institutions may well be inapplicable to us. Nevertheless advocates of SETI believe that aliens may nevertheless be able to give us vital scientific information, including the cure of disease and how to extend our lifespan. It probably won’t be Marxism, but if the aliens do have something like it or Fascism, then these ideologies will become popular on Earth after contact.

Communist aliens sounds like a ridiculous idea, but until we make contact, we won’t know if there are or aren’t any.

As for the Martian society of Red Star, the absence of a money economy, the abolition of scarcity and work as a purely voluntary activity sound very much like the Federation in Star Trek. Thanks to contact with the Vulcans and other aliens, humans had overcome racism, poverty and starvation. People didn’t need to work, but they did so in order to better themselves. It should be said, though, that the series never openly advocated socialism. It simply said that ‘the economics of the future are different’ and implied that both capitalism and socialism had been transcended. Nevertheless, the parallels are so close that the far right, like Sargon of Gasbag and his fellow Lotus Eaters, have been moaning that Star Trek’s communist. I doubt it, not least because the actress who plays Seven Of Nine is married to a Republican politico. I think Star Trek is broadly liberal and presents an inspiring utopian society. One of the complaints about Star Trek: Picard is that it has now abandoned this utopian optimism in favour of portraying the Federation as a standard SF dystopia and that it’s liberal slant has become too shrill and intolerant at the expense of good stories, plots and characterisation. Utopias are unattainable, but we need them to inspire us, to show us that ‘another world is possible’ and that, in the words of The Style Council, ‘you don’t have to take this crap/ You don’t have to sit back and relax’. Or work yourselves to death to increase the profits of already bloated big business elites.

Apart from this, the book is also a fascinating look at the history of Marxism in Argentina and Latin America, and I intend to review on this blog when I finish it.

As for aliens, well, I’d rather we made contact with benign Space Comrades than the little Grey buggers that haunt our nightmares of UFOs, abductions and malign conspiracies at the moment.

And yes, the title very definitely is taken from the poster of a UFO hanging in Fox Mulder’s office in the X-Files.

GB News Interviews Graham Linehan

September 18, 2021

As I’ve said before, I’ve mixed feelings about the imminent demise of GB News. It is a right-wing news network, deliberately founded to provide an ‘objective’ alternative to the ‘wet, woke’, BBC with Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunset Times, Economist and head of the board that runs the increasingly far-right Spectator, as its main man. Well, the channel has failed to attract viewers, advertisers have been put off by what they see as its racist bias, and its main broadcaster now is former chief of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage. Neil has jumped ship like the proverbial rats and it’s highly debatable how long the channel’s investors will put up with it before they finally pull the plug. Plus Rupert Murdoch is planning his own rival in the shape of TVTalk. This won’t have the financial problems of GB News, because it’s going to be financed through subsidies from the other parts of Murdoch’s empire of filth. Which means that Britain could be getting a version of Fox News, a channel so untrustworthy and which tells so many lies that researchers found that people who took no news at all were better informed that viewers of Fox. Salvador Dali once said that he was intent on cretinizing the public. Dali was immensely talented, but greedy, treacherous, perverted and a supporter of General Franco. He died some time in the late ’70s or ’80s. But his mission to turn the west into a region of dribbling morons is being carried on by Dirty Rupe.

On the other hand, GB News does provide a valuable service by inviting guests to speak, who have been blogged or silenced by the other channels and media for their controversial views. These include critics of postmodernism, including Critical Race Theory and the transgender ideology like Helen Pluckrose. Another critic of the transgender ideology is Graham Linehan, the writer of such comedy greats as Father Ted, the IT Crowd, Big Train and co-creator of Black Books. In this interview with Andrew Doyle on GB News’ Free Speech Nation, Linehan talks about his activism challenging the transgender movement. He’s motivated by fear and outrage at the way he feels vulnerable people, especially girls and young women, are being misled into believing themselves to be transgender and the immense harm that such needless transitioning is doing to their bodies and minds. The puberty blockers not only halt the transition to physical adolescence but there is also evidence that it stops the crucial brain development that comes with it. The people given these drugs therefore stay locked in an emotional childhood. The double mastectomies performed on transitioning women leave the patient with no sensation in their chests. The use of male sex hormones causes the womb to atrophy and adhere to other organs, so that the transmen given these hormones often have to have hysterectomies in their 20s. He argues that there is no respectable science backing up the claims of the transgender movement, and that what science there that supports some of their claims comes from very small studies, and so is scientifically highly debatable.

Linehan is also concerned about the way sexually predatory men may claim to be transwomen in order to get into a position to abuse women. One example of this is the recent Wi spa incident, where a Black woman complained about a naked man in the women’s area. Although this was dismissed by pro-transgender activists as a hoax, further witnesses have come forward. And the perpetrator himself had multiple convictions for indecent exposure as well as burglary. He also talks about the way the Girl Guides have extensive, rigorous rules protecting girls and women if men go away with them, but these rules are somehow relaxed with transwomen, as if all such people were equally safe and nice. He draws a comparison between the paedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. For nearly a century, the priesthood were a protected caste. As a result, paedophiles could join the Roman Catholic clergy confident that they would be protect from prosecution. Transwomen in his view now form a similarly protected class who are somehow held to be immune from any wrongdoing.

Linehan has, unsurprisingly, been accused of transphobia, which he denies. He states that there are transpeople who support him, and says he has met more transpeople through his activism than possibly his critics. He certainly does have his supporters in the trans community, several of whom have appeared on his YouTube channel, The Mess We’re In. As for the position that transwomen aren’t women, he points out that there are transwomen like Debbie Hayden and Blair White who don’t describe themselves as women. He believes that in the coming years we will see a growth in the number of detransitioners, former transpeople who have found that transitioning has not cured their problems with gender identity and expression.

Linehan also views the trans movement as acting against gay people, particularly lesbians. He has spoken about Pride rallies, where much has been said about trans people, but lesbian women aren’t mentioned. He views the trans ideology as a new kind of conversion therapy designed to stop children from being gay. In his view, homophobic parents are putting gender non-conforming children – kids who play or adopt the dress of the opposite sex – forward as transgender out of the fear that they may be gay. They can’t handle that, and it’s easier for them to accept that they are really people of the opposite sex stuck in the wrong body. He’s particularly convinced of this since he heard a joke going round the Tavistock clinic, one of the main transgender clinic, that if they continue transitioning people, soon there won’t be any lesbians left. He also talks about how many gay people are worried about the way the main gay organisations, such as Stonewall, have thrown all their weight behind the trans ideology. They are afraid that when the transgender craze finally breaks and the bankruptcy of the ideology is finally revealed, then ordinary gay people will suffer because of the strong support organisations like Stonewall gave it.

He also talks about the attempts trans rights activists make to silence their opponents. He describes the abuse gender critical feminists receive and the refusal of TRAs to engage in any kind of dialogue with them. He states that a group of gender critical peeps wrote a letter to one of the papers requesting their opponents to tone the abuse down a bit. Not only was this polite request refused, but one of the signatories, a gay man, suffered attempts to wreck his career simply for signing the letter. James Dreyfus, a gay actor, who has appeared in the comedy programmes The Thin Blue Line and Gimme, Gimme, has also suffered from this. Dreyfus has played the Master in one of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays. Yet his gender critical stance has resulted him being airbrushed out of a list of actors who have played the Doctor’s arch-enemy. Trans Rights Activists refuse to appear on programmes or platforms with people like Linehan, stating that they will only debate the issue with trans people. But there’s silence from them when transpeople come forward, who oppose the ideology. They don’t want to debate them either. Linehan has said that the reason one very prominent feminist academic has refused to debate the issue on television is because this woman would be unable to credibly explain how Eddie Izzard is a woman in the same way as people’s mothers.

And Linehan has also suffered for his gender critical feminist views. His own career is comparatively safe, though he mentions that there is one episode of the IT Crowd that the broadcasters tried to censor. This was about one of the characters falling in love with a transwoman. It’s held to be transphobic, but he points out that the joke is actually that the transwoman, although identifying as female, still behaves like a man. Which makes her the ideal partner for the other character, who is quite blokey. His wife, however, suffered far more from attempts to wreck her career, simply because she was married to him.

I realise that this is a very, very, emotive and controversial position, but I strongly believe critics of the transgender movement like Linehan, Kellie-Jay Minshull and others, absolutely deserve to be heard. What should matter in a debate like this is reasoned debate, backed by scientific fact. But I don’t see this coming from the Trans Rights Activists, many of whom, Linehan alleges, really aren’t transgender. Instead I just see abuse, including horrific death threats and violence. For examples of this, go to the Women Are Human site.

I am aware that there are supporters of the new transgender ideology who read this site. I appreciate their fears and their views, and really don’t want them to feel excluded or vulnerable. I repeat: I don’t want to see anyone persecuted, discriminated against or victimised because of their sexuality or sexual orientation. I appreciate that there are people for whom transitioning to the opposite sex may be the best treatment for their condition. The statistics for the number of transpeople murdered in Britain is actually very low – perhaps about three in the last decade or so. It’s far lower than the murders of other demographic groups. But I do understand transpeople’s fears of violence against them. Way back in the 1990s there was a small press magazine for transpeople, Aeon: The Magazine of Transkind. This covered issues such as anti-trans violence. I definitely do not, in any way, support such violence against anyone because of their gender presentation or identification. I am also acutely aware that transgender people are definitely not all paedophiles, rapists or sexual predators, and don’t want to see them tarred as such because of those that are.

But there are real issues surrounding women’s safety, their ability to participate in women’s sports against transwomen, who may have a physical advantage from their former male physique and development. I think there is a problem with psychologically vulnerable young people, particularly girls, being misdiagnosed and put on the track for transition when it is medically inappropriate. One of the other issues Linehan and the gender critical feminists raise is that there are all kinds of medical complications with gender reassignment. It is difficult, painful and expensive, and can lead to poor health for the rest of the life of the transman or -woman. They feel that people with gender dysphoria – the medical term for dissatisfaction with one’s gender identity – are being miss-sold gender reassignment surgery as a cure for this problem when it may not. There are problems with the TRA claim that without surgery, trans-identified people will commit surgery. However, some transpeople have committed surgery, possibly because they have found out that it is not a cure for their problems.

This has certainly happened. Years ago there was a report in the papers about the discovery of the body, police had initially believed, of a young woman. Forensic investigation, however, revealed that this individual was a transwoman. From what I remember of the case, she had drowned herself, leaving a suicide note that read that she now regretted transitioning and wished she could turn back. It’s a tragic case, and I hope whatever side of the debate you’re on, we all agree that everything should be done to stop transpeople, or anyone else, taking their life for whatever reason.

These are vital issues, but any criticism of the trans ideology is being blocked and silenced. North of the border the Maria Miller, a gender critical feminist, is being prosecuted for hate speech because she put up stickers saying ‘Scottish women won’t wheesht’ – a Scots term meaning ‘shut up’ or ‘be silent’ – and a looped ribbon which her opponents claim is a noose. The SNP have also gone further and banned demonstrations outside the Scots parliament after the mass demonstration by Scots women and their male supporters a week or so ago. Every attempt is being made to silence gender critical people through the accusations that they are hateful and transphobic. The LGB Alliance, which believes trans is a separate issue and the gay organisations should return to fighting for gay rights, has been accused of being a hate group.

Horrendous as GB News is, I believe it is performing a vital service by allowing people like Helen Pluckrose and Graham Linehan to speak. This is a service that should be done by the BBC as the country’s public service broadcaster. But it isn’t. Linehan has pointed out that the Corporation backs the trans ideology to the extent that one of its children’s programmes presented a White, heterosexual couple as a pair of lesbians on the grounds that the male partner was trans-identified. He has become so disgusted with the Beeb that he has joined the right-wingers demanding the cancellation of the license fee. As for himself, he and Doyle have crossed swords in the past, though the discussion on here is entirely amicable. Linehan states that the debate is tribal, and that before he got involved in it he believed that everyone on the right really was evil. But after coming into contact with them, he finds that they are not. It’s just a different view of the world. Well, in the case of some Tories, that’s definitely the case. But I still believe that Therese Coffey, Esther McVey, Iain Duncan Smith and their ilk, who have been persecuting the disabled, the unemployed and the poor are genuinely evil, and don’t simply have a different opinion. Not with the number of people their policies have killed.

Controversial as they are, programmes and videos like this are an argument in favour of GB News. I’ve no time for the standard media rhetoric about how neoliberalism is absolutely correct and anyone challenging it, like Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, are evil Trotskyites and communists. That’s all over the media, including supposedly left-wing papers like the Groan and the Mirror. But the culture war issues cut across political boundaries and are the best argument for the channel’s continuation. But it’s these issues that are alienating the younger staff and causing them to leave.

I’m no fan of GB News nor the horrendous Farage and Brillo. I don’t think it’s remotely a loss to British broadcasting that the man who has no problems with Taki writing horrendous anti-Semitic screeds and praises the neo-Nazi Greek Golden Dawn in the pages of the Spectator. But I am afraid that dissenting voices that genuinely need to be heard will be left without a platform when it goes.

And I am very much afraid of Dirty Rupe’s planned replacement.

Gove’s Old Speeches Show His Real Views of Racism, the North and Homosexuality

September 15, 2021

The Independent dug up a few of Michael Gove’s old speeches in which he expressed opinions that really should cause him considerable embarrassment. Should, but probably won’t, as this government seems to be impervious to any kind of shame or guilt. One came from a speech he made as president-elect of Oxford University’s debating society in 1987. Speaking for the motion ‘This house believes the British Empire was lost on the playing fields of Eton’, Gove used the term ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ for Black people. This caused a member of the audience to shout ‘Shame!’ I know it was a different time then, and racist jokes and material were more acceptable then than they are now, but times were changing. Racist language like that wasn’t acceptable.

He also had similarly grotty views on the north, celebrating Thatcher’s humiliation of the region and its people:

 “We are at last experiencing a new empire, an empire where the happy south stamps over the cruel, dirty, toothless face of the northerner. At last Mrs Thatcher is saying I don’t give a fig for what half the population is saying, because the richer half will keep me in power. This may be amoral. This may be immoral. But it’s politics and it’s pragmatism”.

The happy south? I live in Bristol, and I don’t recall this bit of the south being at all happy under Maggie Thatcher. Not when there was rising unemployment, St Paul’s exploded into riots along with Brixton in London and Toxteth in Liverpool, cuts to unemployment benefit, the ending of student grants, the introduction of privatisation into the NHS, cuts to education budgets so that many schools didn’t have the funding to repair decaying premises and so on. Presumably by ‘happy south’ Gove is talking about those rich areas inhabited by himself and his extremely wealthy and complacently happy chums.

He also made a number of, er, forthright comments about homosexuality. He said that gays thrive on short-term relationships and praised Thatcher’s policies as “rigorously, vigorously, virulently, virilely heterosexual”. To be fair, the Observer, writing about the rise of AIDS amongst American gays, stated that most relationships between gay men were short-term and rarely lasted a year, in contrast with the much longer-lasting connections between lesbians. I’m not sure whether this is still true. As for Thatcher’s policies being ‘heterosexual’, there’s nothing heterosexual or otherwise about privatising everything that wasn’t nailed down and looking forward to selling off the NHS and ending the welfare state, because the poor should look after themselves. On the other hand, Thatcher did try to stop the promotion of homosexuality in schools with the notorious Clause 28. This resulted in massive protests by gays and straight people, who feared it would be the start of real persecution, including incarceration. He also claimed that John Maynard Keynes was also a ‘homosexualist’. I’ve heard those rumours too, and to be fair, I think some of them come from gay rights campaigners. Keynes did have close relationships with men, but he was also happily married for 20 years to the ballerina Lydia Lopokova. Of course, it could have been a ‘lavender marriage’ designed to hide his real sexuality, but it’s doubtful. And in any case, what Keynes did in private with consenting adults was his own business. What matters is his ground-breaking economic theory, which has lasted a dam’ sight better than Thatcher’s wretched Monetarism. Gove’s allegations of homosexuality looks a bit like an attempt to discredit the theory by making insinuations about the man.

But it seems Gove’s own sexuality may also be open to question. According to Zelo Street, there was a recent piece in the Spectacularly Boring in which Mary Wakefield, Dominic Cumming’s wife, says that David Cameron was worried that Gove and Cummings were having an affair. Now there would be a ‘gruesome twosome’. She dismisses the idea, stating that it’s all rubbish but the rumour mill goes on. The Street, however, is not so sure, and convinced that at least one of the newspaper groups knows the truth. He urges them to come forward with it, as we’re now in the 21st century. Except for the Tories, of course.

Ah yes, the Tories and homosexuality. I remember how, under Thatcher and Major, it seemed that every week a Tory MP or cabinet minister would have to resign due to extra-marital shenanigans. Gay rights activists took particular delight in outing vociferously anti-gay Tories, who were then caught with their male lovers or rent boys. This reached the point under Major that Private Eye joked that when he talked about going ‘back to basics’, what he really meant was ‘back to gay sex’. And if it wasn’t homosexuality, it was old-fashioned heterosexual adultery with mistresses and prostitutes.

The remark about ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ is the kind of racist comment that has caused Tories to resign in the past. I doubt it will do that to Gove because of how long ago it was made. Gove’s comments about homosexuality also seem to be par for the course in a certain section of the Tory party. Despite David Cameron promoting openly gay Tory MPs, Boris Johnson himself managed to upset the gay community by calling them ‘tank-top wearing bum-boys’. Well, I remember back in the 1970s it seemed everyone was wearing tank-tops, so it wasn’t only gays who were fashion victims.

I suspect if any of his comments does any damage, it should be that about the north. Because that shows the real hatred and contempt metropolitan Tories had for Britain’s former industrial heartland.

And that hatred and contempt is still there, despite the Tories having somehow convinced the northern working class to vote for them.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/michael-gove-and-homosexuailty.html