Archive for the ‘European Union’ Category

End Workfare Now! Part 1

June 20, 2017

This is the text of another pamphlet I wrote a year or so ago against the highly exploitative workfare industry. As the pamphlet explains, workfare, or ‘welfare to work’, is the system that provides industry with cheap, unemployed temporary labour under the guise of getting the jobless back into work by giving them work experience. If the unemployed person refuses, he or she is thrown off benefit.

These temporary jobs go nowhere, and it’s been proven that the unemployed are actually far better off looking for jobs on their own than using workfare. And it’s very similar to other systems of supposed voluntary work and forced labour, such as the labour colonies set up in Britain in 1905, the Reichsarbeitsdienst in Nazi Germany, and the use of forced labour against the ‘arbeitscheu’ – the ‘workshy’, as well as the compulsory manual labour required of all citizens in Mao’s china during the Cultural Revolution, and the Gulags in Stalin’s Russia.

Mike over at Vox Political has blogged against it, so has Johnny Void and the Angry Yorkshireman of Another Angry Voice, and many other left-wing bloggers. It’s another squalid policy which New Labour and the Tories took over from Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to get rid of the work capability tests. I hope also that under him, the Labour party will also get rid of this vile policy, so that big corporations like Poundland and supermarkets like Tesco’s will have to take on workers and pay them a decent wage, rather than exploiting desperate and jobless workers supplied by the Thatcherite corporate state.

End Workfare Now!

Workfare is one of the most exploitative aspects of the contemporary assault on the welfare state and the unemployed. It was advocated in the 1980s by the Republicans under Ronald Reagan in America, and in Britain by Thatcher’s Conservatives. In 1979 the Tory party ranted about the need to ‘restore the will to work’. Geoffrey Howe, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, declared that ‘The Government and the vast majority of the British people want hard work and initiative to be properly rewarded and are vexed by disincentives to work’. At its heart is the attitude that the unemployed should be forced to work for their benefits, as otherwise they are getting ‘something for nothing’. Very many bloggers and activists for the poor and unemployed, including Vox Political, Johnny Void, Another Angry Voice, and myself have denounced it as another form of slavery. It’s used to provide state-subsidised, cheap labour for big business and charities, including influential Tory donors like Sainsbury’s. And at times it crosses the line into true slavery. Under the sanctions system, an unemployed person is still required to perform workfare, even if the jobcentre has sanctioned them, so that they are not receiving benefits. Workfare recipients – or victims – have no control over where they are allocated or what jobs they do. The government was challenged in the courts by a geology graduate, who was forced to work in Poundland. The young woman stated that she did not object to performing unpaid work. She, however, had wanted to work in a museum, and if memory serves me correctly, had indeed got a place at one. She was, however, unable to take up her unpaid position there because of the Jobcentre’s insistence she labour for Poundland instead. A young man also sued the government, after he was sanctioned for his refusal to do 30 hours a week unpaid labour for six months for the Community Action Programme. The High and Appeal Courts ruled in the young people’s favour. They judged that the government had indeed acted illegally, as the law did not contain any stipulations for when and how such work was to be performed.

Iain Duncan Smith, the notorious head of the Department of Work and Pensions, was outraged. He called the decision ‘rubbish’ and said, ‘There are a group of people out there who think they are too good for this kind of stuff .. People who think it is their right take benefit and do nothing for it – those days are over.’ This is rich coming from IDS, who was taking over a million pounds in farm subsidies from the EU. Eventually, Smith got sick of the criticism he was taking for the government’s welfare policies, and flounced off early in 2016 moaning about how unfair it all was that he should get the blame, when the notorious Work Capability Tests inflicted on the elderly and disabled were introduced by New labour.

Those forced into workfare are in no sense free workers, and it similarly makes a nonsense of the pretense that this somehow constitutes ‘voluntary work’, as this has been presented by the government and some of the participating charities

The political scientist Guy Standing is also extremely critical of workfare in his book, A Precariat Charter, demanding its abolition and making a series of solid arguments against it. He states that it was first introduced in America by the Republicans in Wisconsin, and then expanded nationally to the rest of the US by Bill Clinton in his Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. It was part of his campaign to ‘end welfare as we know it’. Single parents receiving social assistance were required to take low-paying jobs after two years. Legislation was also passed barring people from receiving welfare payments for more than five years in their entire lives.

David Cameron, unsurprisingly, was also a fan of the Wisconsin system, and wanted to introduce it over here. In 2007 he made a speech to the Tory faithful at the party conference, proclaiming ‘We will say to people that if you are offered a job and it’s a fair job and one that you can do and you refuse it, you shouldn’t get any welfare.’ This became part of Coalition policy towards the unemployed when they took power after the 2010 elections.’ Two years later, in 2012, Boris Johnson, speaking as mayor of London, declared that he was going to use EU money from the Social Fund to force young adults between 18 and 24 to perform 13 weeks of labour without pay if they were unemployed. In June that year David Cameron also declared that there was a need to end ‘the nonsense of paying people more to stay at home than to get a job – and finally making sure that work really pays. Ed Miliband’s Labour party also joined in. Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, declared that

Labour would ensure that no adult will be able to live on the dole for over two years and no young person for over a year. They will be offered a real job with real training, real prospects and real responsibility … People would have to take this responsibility or lose benefits.

This was echoed by Ed Balls, who said

A One Nation approach to welfare reform means government has a responsibility to help people into work and support for those who cannot. But those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as such – no ifs or buts.

Forced Labour for the Unemployed in History

Standing traces the antecedents of workfare back to the English poor law of 1536 and the French Ordonnance de Moulins of twenty years later, which obliged unemployed vagabonds to accept any job that was offered them. He states that the direct ancestor is the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, the infamous legislation that, under the notion of ‘less eligibility’, stipulated that those receiving support were to be incarcerated in the workhouse, where conditions were deliberately made much harsher in order to deter people from seeking state
support, rather than paid work. This attitude is also reflected in contemporary attitudes that, in order to ‘make work pay’, have demanded that welfare support should be much less than that received for paid work. This has meant that welfare payments have become progressively less as the various measure to make the labour market more flexible – like zero hours contracts – drove down wages. The workhouse system was supplemented in 1905 by the Unemployed Workmen Act, supported, amongst others, by Winston Churchill. This directed unemployed young men into labour, so that they should not be ‘idle’ and be ‘under control’. Nor were leading members of the early Labour party averse to the use of force. Sidney and Beatrice Webb, two of the founders of the Fabian Society, were also in favour of sending the unemployed to ‘labour colonies’, chillingly close to the forced labour camps which became such as feature of the Nazi and Communist regimes. Weimar Germany in the 1920s and ’30s also developed a system of voluntary work to deal with the problems of mass unemployment. This was taken over by the Nazis and became compulsory for all Germans from 19-25 as the Reicharbeitsdienst, or Imperial Labour Service It was mainly used to supply labour for German agriculature. Because of its universal nature, the Reicharbeitsdienst had no stigma attached to it, and indeed was seen as part of the new, classless Germany that was being created by Hitler. In a speech to the Service’s workers, Hitler declared that there would be no leader, who had not worked his way up through their ranks. Much harsher was the Nazi’s treatment of the serially unemployed. They were declared arbeitscheu – the German word, which forms the basis of the English ‘workshy’. These individuals were sent to the concentration camps, where they were identified with a special badge on their pyjamas, just like those marking out Jews, gay men, Socialists and trade unionists, and so on.

Liam Byrne also harked back to the Webbs to support his argument for workfare as Labour party policy. He stated

If you go back to the Webb report, they were proposing detention colonies for people refusing to take work … All the way through our history there has been an insistence on the responsibility to work if you can. Labour shouldn’t be any different now. We have always been the party of the responsibility to work as well.

The Workfare Scheme

The result of this is that many unemployed people have been placed on the Mandatory Work Activity – MWA – scheme, which requires them to perform four weeks of unpaid work for a particular company, organisation or charity. The scheme also includes the disabled. Those now judged capable of performing some work are placed in the Work-Related Activity group, and required perform some unpaid labour in order to gain ‘experience’. If they do not do so, they may lose up to 70 per cent of their benefits.

This has created immense fear among the unemployed and disabled. Standing quotes one man with cerebral palsy, who was so afraid of being sanctioned for not performing the mandatory work, that he felt physically sick. Mental health professionals – psychiatrists and psychologists, have also released reports attacking the detrimental effect the stress of these tests are having on the mentally ill. So far they have estimated that upwards of a quarter of a million people with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety have had their condition made worse – sometimes very much worse – through the stress of taking these tests.

The system also affects those in low-paid part-time jobs or on zero hours contracts. These must prove that they are looking for more working hours or a better paid job. If they do not do so, they may lose benefits or tax credits. In 2013 the Tory-Lib Dem government made it even harder for people to claim tax credits by raising the number of working hours a week, for which tax credits could not be claimed, from 16 to 24.

The Ancient Near East’s Influence on Roman and Ancient Greek Law

June 3, 2017

I’ve written several pieces about the possible origins of western democracy, not in ancient Greece and Rome, but in the ancient Near East. Early civilisations like Sumeria and Mari had popular assemblies and councils of elders, which voted on issues, while the karem, or chamber of commerce, also influenced royal decisions. Apart from being of interest in itself, the existence of these institutions in the political systems of the ancient Middle East, is something of a challenge to people like Boris Johnson. Johnson’s a public schoolboy, and so is steeped in the Classics. As shown in his TV series a few years ago about the splendour of the Roman Empire, he seems to believe that everything great and noble in the world came about through ancient Rome and its predecessor, Greece.

Looking through the Oxbow Book Catalogue for Autumn 2015, I found this entry for Raymond Westbrook’s Ex Oriente Lex: Near Eastern Influences on Ancient Greek and Roman Law (Johns Hopkins University Press, HB £38.50). This says

Throughout the twelve essays that appear in Ex Oriente Lex, Raymond Westbrook convincingly argues that the influence of Mesopotamian legal traditions and thought did not stop at the shores of the Mediterranean, but rather had a profound impact and the early laws and legal developments of Greece and Rome as well. A preface by editors Deborah Lyons and Kurt Raaflaub details the importance of Westbrook’s work for the field of classics, while Sophie Demare-Lafont’s incisive introduction places Westbrook’s ideas within the wider context of ancient law.

As I said before, perhaps if there was great appreciation of the achievements of the ancient Near Eastern world, and the debt that the modern West owes to its civilisations, there would be greater reluctance amongst the political and military class to invading and destroying these countries.

The Iraq invasion created the chaos that spawned ISIS, which, along with al-Qaeda and the other Islamist groups in the Middle East and Africa, have destroyed millennia of culture and history, as well as butchering those regions’ people.

But the Americans and British have also done their share of cultural vandalism. Nicholas Wood and Annabelle Pellens in their book The Case Against Blair, describe how the Americans levelled the ancient city of Babylon in order to use it as military base.

Now imagine the sheer outrage from Classicists like BoJo if the same thing was done to the ruins of Athens. Not that Greece isn’t seeing it’s ancient heritage destroyed by Neoliberalism, as museums are closed, archaeological sites looted and antiquities sold off due to the EU’s austerity programme. And for all his avowed enthusiasm for the Classical world, I haven’t heard BoJo speak out against that, either.

It’s long past time that a halt was called to imperialism, neoliberalism, and the destruction of the world’s cultures, and the massacre and exploitation of its peoples.

John Pilger: What Did Theresa May Know About Manchester Terrorists?

June 1, 2017

Now for a very serious question, amid all the hilarity surrounding Theresa May’s craven cowardice at the Leaders’ Debate yesterday. Earlier that day, veteran human rights journalist, John Pilger, had written a piece on the Counterpunch site asking what May knew about the Manchester bomber and his fellow terrorists.

He pointed out that Salman Abedi and his family had been members of a Salafist (Muslim fundamentalist) terrorist group, the LIFG. These people were such a threat, that they had all been subject to control orders. When demonstrations broke out in the Libya against the dictator, those control orders had been lifted so that the terrorists could travel to Libya to overthrow Gaddafy, just as other Salafist groups, trained and supplied by Britain, and reinforced with the SAS, rose up against him. Britain and America also began a bombing campaign in support of the rebels.

Britain gave its military support because of a spurious claim by the Salafists that Gaddafy was about to start a massacre of his opponents on a scale comparable to the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.

Parliament subsequently held an inquiry, which concluded that David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, had led this country into a war on ‘erroneous pretences’.

Pilger places the actions of the security and intelligence services using the Manchester terrorists and others like them to overthrow Gaddafy in the context of western imperialism. Britain and the West had allied with the Salafists and intolerant Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia as a way of combating secular Arab nationalism. Gaddafy was deemed a threat because he wanted to abandon the petrodollar, substituting instead an unified African currency based on gold. He also wanted a common African bank and work towards economic union between poor nations with valuable natural resources.

And additionally, Libya possessed valuable oil fields.

The Manchester boys were no strangers to attempting to overthrow Gaddafy. In the 1990s they had made a series of attempts to assassinate him with covert British support.

After overthrowing Gaddafy, the Salafists moved south to attack Mali. Obama, who was the principle force behind the western support for the rebels, took the opportunity to send US forces into Uganda, South Sudan, the Congo and the Central African Republic. The London Chamber of Commerce staged a massive arms fair, at which British merchants of death boasted about the market for their wares in the Middle East. And last month Theresa May was in Saudi Arabia again, trying to sell them British arms, arms that have been and are being used to kill innocents, including children, in Yemen.

He makes the point that the Manchester bombing was another case of imperial blowback, in which the terrorists the West have trained and used to overthrow secular and progressive Middle Eastern regimes then return to attack and kill America, Britain and the other western countries.

Just like Blair was warned would happen prior to the disastrous, illegal invasion of Iraq.

Pilger also makes the point that Abedi’s connection to western backed Salafist terrorism is being denied. The official line is that he was a ‘lone wolf’ and petty criminal.

And critically, the FBI warned Britain that the terror cell of which he was a part was looking for a ‘political target’ in Britain.

Pilger writes

‘The unsayable in Britain’s general election campaign is this. The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist, are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy.

Critical questions – such as why the security service MI5 maintained terrorist “assets” in Manchester and why the government did not warn the public of the threat in their midst – remain unanswered, deflected by the promise of an internal “review”.

The alleged suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was part of an extremist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by MI5 for more than 20 years.

The LIFG is proscribed by Britain as a terrorist organisation which seeks a “hardline Islamic state” in Libya and “is part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by al-Qaida”.

The “smoking gun” is that when Theresa May was Home Secretary, LIFG jihadists were allowed to travel unhindered across Europe and encouraged to engage in “battle”: first to remove Mu’ammar Gadaffi in Libya, then to join al-Qaida affiliated groups in Syria.

Last year, the FBI reportedly placed Abedi on a “terrorist watch list” and warned MI5 that his group was looking for a “political target” in Britain. Why wasn’t he apprehended and the network around him prevented from planning and executing the atrocity on 22 May?

These questions arise because of an FBI leak that demolished the “lone wolf” spin in the wake of the 22 May attack – thus, the panicky, uncharacteristic outrage directed at Washington from London and Donald Trump’s apology.’

‘In 2011, according to Middle East Eye, the LIFG in Manchester were known as the “Manchester boys”. Implacably opposed to Mu’ammar Gadaffi, they were considered high risk and a number were under Home Office control orders – house arrest – when anti-Gadaffi demonstrations broke out in Libya, a country forged from myriad tribal enmities.

Suddenly the control orders were lifted. “I was allowed to go, no questions asked,” said one LIFG member. MI5 returned their passports and counter-terrorism police at Heathrow airport were told to let them board their flights.’

‘In London, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs was staged by the British government. The buzz in the stands was the “demonstration effect in Libya”. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a preview entitled “Middle East: A vast market for UK defence and security companies”. The host was the Royal Bank of Scotland, a major investor in cluster bombs, which were used extensively against civilian targets in Libya. The blurb for the bank’s arms party lauded the “unprecedented opportunities for UK defence and security companies.”’

‘The spin is back, not surprisingly. Salman Abedi acted alone. He was a petty criminal, no more. The extensive network revealed last week by the American leak has vanished. But the questions have not.

Why was Abedi able to travel freely through Europe to Libya and back to Manchester only days before he committed his terrible crime? Was Theresa May told by MI5 that the FBI had tracked him as part of an Islamic cell planning to attack a “political target” in Britain?’

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/31/terror-in-britain-what-did-the-prime-minister-know/

Abedi’s attack in Manchester was made easier by May’s decimation of the police, armed forces, border guards and emergency services. She warned that this would harm intelligence gathering and damage national security. She airily dismissed these criticisms as ‘scaremongering’.

But if May was told by MI5 that Abedi’s terror group were looking for a target in Britain, then this makes May, in my opinion, culpably negligent for not placing him and his gang under greater scrutiny. Quite apart from using them as part of another imperialist war of aggression.

Jeremy Corbyn has made it very clear that imperialist aggression in the Middle East does not justify Islamist terrorism. But he has pledged to restore Britain’s police and armed forces, border guards and emergency service, so that they can give us better protection.

And he does recognise that the western invasions of the Middle East are not solving the problems of global terrorism, and that another approach is needed.

We need Corbyn’s wisdom. We won’t see any such insights from Theresa May, who will just bring more wars, and more domestic terrorism created by these wars. All so that she and her paymasters in the arms industries can sell more of that ‘wonderful kit’ Cameron lauded when he visited an armaments factory in Lancashire.

Vote Labour on June 8th, and do something to stop more deaths.

Amber Rudd’s Closing Speech On the Leader Debate – Like a Rory Bremner Impression + Soundbites

May 31, 2017

Okay, I confess, I didn’t watch the leader debates on BBC 1 this evening, as I afraid it would annoy me. I did, however, catch the closing speeches from Plaid Cymru, the Lib Dems and Amber Rudd. The Lib Dems made the entirely valid point that Theresa May was not the ‘strong and stable’ leader she’s claiming to be, because she wasn’t there.

Exactly true. May does not like meeting the public. When she does, it’s all very carefully stage-managed. They’re held on private premises, and tend to be invitation-only, so that the proles don’t show up and ask awkward questions.

When she does try meeting the public, she’s either met with a barricade of closed doors, as she was in Scotland, or else is booed out and by angry locals, as she was recently at a housing estate in Bristol.

Corbyn, by contrast, is given a rapturous welcome by people, who genuinely want change and an end to Tory austerity, cuts to public services, the dismantlement of the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS.

Standing in for May was Amber Rudd, whose final speech, minus the soundbites, sounded like Rory Bremner’s mickey-take of Tory leader Michael Howard back in the 1990s.

So what was Rudd’s final argument for voting Tory?

Well, she claimed that a vote for any other party than the Conservatives would let Jeremy Corbyn in. She sneered at the other parties as ‘the coalition of chaos’, and claimed that May is the strong leader Britain needs to negotiate a good Brexit and deliver a strong economy.

In other words, as Max Headroom used to say, ‘more…of the same’. It was the same tired old clichés and outright lies: ‘coalition of chaos’, ‘strong and stable’, ‘Brexit’, ‘strong economy’. You could probably play a form of bingo with the Tories, in which you have a card marked with these clichés and soundbites. First person, who crosses all of them wins the right to buy something nice to get over the horror of having to listen to more Tory bilge.

Let’s deal with some of these claims. The French Philosophical Feline, Guy Debord’s Cat, has knocked flat the Tory rhetoric about a ‘strong economy’. He points out that when they say they’re going to create one, it clearly implies that we don’t have a strong economy already. And we clearly don’t, because otherwise we would have money being poured into the NHS, people would not be forced to use food banks, public sector workers would not have their wages cut year on year, and people would have other jobs available to them than those which are only part-time or short-term contracts.

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/the-strong-economy-soundbite/

As for the ‘coalition of chaos’, this goes back to the old Tory lie that Labour would form a coalition with the Scots Nats. As Corbyn himself said yesterday that it ain’t going to happen, no matter what Nicola Sturgeon may say, this has been blown away.

But if you want to talk about a ‘coalition of chaos’, how else would you describe the Tory-Lib Dem coalition of David Cameron and Nick Clegg? Cameron very effectively weakened the Union by calling the referendum on EU membership, in a bid to silence the Eurosceptics in his party. The result is that England largely voted to Leave, while the rest of the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, wanted to Remain.

This means even further divisions between the constituent nations of the UK itself. And in Northern Ireland, that division is potentially lethal. It was a condition of the 1990s peace agreement that there should be an open border between Ulster and the Republic. If the UK leaves the EU, then it could mean the imposition of a border between the North and the rest of Ireland. And that could mean a return to real chaos and bloodshed.

Nobody in Northern Ireland wants a hard border. That was shown very clearly this morning when the Beeb’s breakfast team interviewed a load of Ulster politicos on the beach at Portrush, except for the Sinn Fein candidate, who was in his constituency office. All but one wanted the border to remain open, including the spokesman for the UUP, while the Sinn Fein candidate wanted Ulster to have a special status within the EU to guarantee the open border.

So congratulations, Cameron and Clegg: You’ve come just that bit closer to destroying the 300-year old union between England, Wales and Scotland, and the almost 200-year old union with Ireland, or rather, with the small part of Ireland that wanted to remain British after the establishment of Eire.

And her cuts to the police, the emergency services, the border guards and the armed forces have led to chaos in this country. They weakened our security, so that it was made much easier for the Manchester suicide bomber to commit his atrocity.

And that isn’t all. The Tories have caused massive chaos in the NHS through their cuts and piecemeal privatisation; millions are living in poverty, thanks to benefit cuts and sanctions, stagnant and falling wages, and zero hours contracts.

As for May being a strong leader, well, no, she isn’t that either. Mike’s put up a post pointing out the number of times she’s made a U-turn. The most obvious was her decision to call a general election, after telling everyone she wouldn’t.

She has also, very manifestly, failed to get a good deal for Britain on Brexit. Despite her waffle to the contrary, when she turned up in Brussels, the rest of the Euro politicos all turned their backs on her. She also showed that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing a little while ago by repeating endlessly the oxymoron, ‘Brexit means Brexit’, and then looking down her nose at the questioner as if they were thick when they tried to ask her what that nonsense meant.

As for her statement that a vote for any other party meant that Labour will get in, Rory Bremner sent that one up on his show, Bremner, Bird and Fortune. This featured the great impressionist posing as Michael Howard, the then leader of the Tory party, and saying into the camera ‘Vote Conservative. If you don’t vote Conservative, Labour will get in.’

And that was, pretty much, all that the Tories could really offer that time.

And, as I saw tonight, that’s pretty much all Amber Rudd and the Tories have to offer now, except for two soundbites.

It’s a threadbare argument, and they know it. That’s why they have to attack Jeremy Corbyn personally, just as the Tories back in the 1990s tried to frighten people with images of Blair as some kind of horrific, demonic beast.

Don’t be fooled.
Don’t let the Tories’ campaign of chaos plunge this country into more bloodshed, poverty, starvation and death.

Vote Labour on June 8th.

Biased BBC Savages Corbyn over Woman’s Hour Slip of Childcare and Brexit

May 30, 2017

I’m writing this up because I’ve just had all I can stomach from the biased BBC and its blatant partisanship against Jeremy Corbyn and in favour of Theresa May. As Mike has already blogged, Jeremy Corbyn was asked on Woman’s Hour about how much his plan to give free childcare for children between the ages of two and four would cost. The Labour leader had forgotten it, and so the interviewer, Emma Barnett, pressed him on this point. Mike states that the Beeb has been making much of this, running it on their website and discussing it on the Daily Politics.

It has also been played up on this evening’s Six O’clock News, where George Alagiah and John Pienaar have been gloating about it. They’ve played the interview as if it was a triumphant ‘Gotcha!’, with Barnett asking how the public can trust him with their money if he doesn’t know how much this will all cost. Alagiah and Pienaar were saying pretty much the same thing themselves, with Pienaar commenting that Corbyn would need to convince more people.

Pienaar did cover the loud welcome the Labour leader was given when he went to meet his supporters, but he sneered that it couldn’t be worse (than the Woman’s Hour interview) and declared that he needed all the friends he could get.

The programme then moved on to the Tories, where it was all about Theresa May’s claim that she was the best person to negotiate with Europe, and then if Corbyn goes into negotiate, he will be ‘naked and alone’. This was then followed by a vox pop with two ladies with Brummie accents saying how impressed they were with Theresa May, because everything she did was wonderful, and they didn’t like Corbyn.

At that point, I gave up. It was one of the worse, most blatantly biased pieces of journalism I’ve seen outside the Tory press.

And many people have been similarly unimpressed. Mike over at Vox Political has reblogged some of the Tweets people have put up condemning the Beeb for the handling of the Woman’s Hour interview. They’re worth reading, as they rightly point out that Corbyn and the Labour party have costed their proposals. It’s the Tories, who haven’t. Owen Jones commented that the press is rewarding the Tories for insulting the electorate by not costing their proposals, while ‘Isobel’ commented that this was ‘typical Woman’s Hour, insulting women and children just to get at Corbyn. She also made the point that the programme apparently had the attitude that only good Tory women listened to their programme.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/30/bbcs-shame-attack-on-corbyn-over-womans-hour-interview-is-crushed-by-the-public/

Alagiah and Pienaar made much of the Labour leader’s failure to provide the costing for childcare, citing that it showed that Labour didn’t know how the extra money would have to be raised through new taxation. This shows where the real anxiety comes from.

Yes, folks, we’re back to the Tory scare tactics that Labour is going to grind ‘hard-working’ people down with a massively increased tax burden.

In fact, most people won’t be paying any new taxes. The only people who will, will be the extremely wealthy earning over £80,000.

People pretty much like upper 25 per cent of the population, who have done extremely well from the Tories, and from the poverty, insecurity and hunger they have inflicted on the other 75 per cent of the population. That means top earning BBC producers and presenters. Such as, I’ve no doubt, George Alagaiah and John Pienaar.

As for Theresa May being a tougher, better equipped negotiator for Brexit than Corbyn, don’t make me laugh! Mike also reblogged this little piece of damning judgement from Ian Dunt of the politics.co.uk website.

“So what can we learn about May’s negotiating tactics over Brexit from the way she has handled this election? She makes spur-of-the-moment decisions for which she has not prepared. She is a control freak who receives too little advice from outside her immediate circle. She pays insufficient attention to limitations in her operational capacity. She does not stress-test ideas before implementing them. When the ideas then fall apart she quickly capitulates, but even then is unable to halt the bleeding. She U-turns in a way which maximises the humiliation but does not close down the issue. She makes promises which will do little to benefit her but which make her disproportionately vulnerable in other areas. She diminishes her reputation with the very people she most needs on side in order to placate those who she already has on side. She adopts a strategy upon which she is unable to deliver.”

See:http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/30/if-jeremy-corbyn-went-alone-and-naked-into-brexit-negotiations-hed-still-be-better-dressed-than-theresa-may/

In fact, it’s very clear that Theresa May is nothing like a good negotiator. Remember when she turned up at a Euro meeting, and they all snubbed her? And she has absolutely no clue what she thinks she can achieve, or at least she didn’t. For some time when asked about Brexit all you got was waffled about how she would try to get the best deal for Britain – as if nobody else would have the same objective – and then follow it up with the mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’, repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

What makes this all worse is Pienaar’s sneer about Labour promising us all ‘nice things’. No, John – Labour’s proposals aren’t about ‘nice things’, as you so patronisingly call them. This is about issues of life and death.

Let’s put some stats to this.

There are over 100,000 people in this country, who have to use food banks. Whatever lies Dominic Raab and Tories like him spew, they don’t do it because it’s free food. They do it because if they don’t, they die of starvation.

And there is something deeply wrong in this country, when nurses have to use it. Well, Andrew Neil asked May about this, and it was damning that she didn’t have an answer except, ‘There are complex reasons’.

And 600 or so people have died of starvation after being thrown off disability benefit through the heinous work capability tests. They have been the subject of artworks, very moving videos on YouTube, and commemorated by Johnny Void, Stilloaks, Vox Political, and so on. Mike a few days posted a piece about a disabled man, who took his own life after the DWP told him his benefit had been overpaid, and he was due to be investigated for fraud.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/24/grandfather-took-his-own-life-because-dwp-said-hed-been-overpaid-but-wouldnt-reveal-the-amount/

As for the NHS, the Tories are starving it of funds and privatising it piecemeal, making sure more services are commissioned from private healthcare companies, and more hospitals turned over to them to run. Because they’ve been following the standard line of privatising it by stealth since Maggie Thatcher. Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt were both enthusiasts of private healthcare, as are many of the Tories.

And if you want to know how well private healthcare performs, you only have to see the American system, where 50 million people couldn’t get proper insurance coverage and 30,000 people die ever year because they can’t afford the doctor’s and hospitals’ bills.

And it was very, very much like this in Britain before the Nye Bevan and Clement Atlee set up the NHS.

So if you want more poverty, more starvation, and people dying because healthcare has been privatised, and they can’t afford whatever it is they’re being charged by Unum, Circle Health, Virgin Healthcare and Bupa, then vote Tory.

If, however, you want people to have proper education, proper healthcare and be able to go home at night secure in the knowledge that they’ll have something to feed themselves and their children without relying on charity, then you have only one choice.

Vote Labour.

As for Pienaar and Alagaiah, I’m sick of them. They’re now as bad as Laura Kuensberg. With this disgraceful hatchet job, they’ve shown they’ve thrown away any pretence at objective journalism long ago.

Vox Political and Eoin Clarke Refute Smears of Tory Warmongers Against Corbyn

May 27, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political has produced another excellent blog post utterly demolishing the lies of the Tory warmongers that Jeremy Corbyn supported IRA terrorism, and that his election would somehow leave Britain more vulnerable to atrocities such as the one on Monday night in Manchester.

His piece contains a graphic by Eoin Clarke showing that far from supporting terrorism, Corbyn consistently condemned paramilitary violence and sincerely looked and worked for peace in Northern Ireland. As such, he was respected not only by the Republicans but also by Loyalists.

Clarke’s graphic states, for example:

* In November 1994 Corbyn signed a parliamentary early day motion condemning the Birmingham Pub Bombings committed by the Provisional IRA.

* The same year, Corbyn held several meetings with four Loyalist leaders to discuss the release of Neil Latimer, a member of the UDR, and to be informed that October at the Labour Party’s conference of the ceasefire the following week.

* In October 2015 Ian Paisley’s wife told the Belfast Telegraph that she found the Labour leader courteous and polite, and thought he was a ‘gentleman’.

* In February 1987 the Times apologised to Jeremy Corbyn. Murdoch’s British ‘paper of record’ had smeared him by claiming that he had not phoned the police to warn them of a suspected Provisional IRA terrorist in London. In fact Corbyn had.

* In August 1988 the Irish Times hailed him as ‘a tireless campaigner for the Irish.’ Corbyn had worked to the quash the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, and reopen the inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

* Corbyn in fact only ever met Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after Adams had been elected to parliament, 14 years after the commencement of the Troubles, in Adams’ capacity as an elected MP. He did, however, oppose Thatcher’s ban on broadcasting the voices of elected Sinn Fein politicians, and was keen that Adams’ constituents in West Belfast should not be silenced.

* When Adams visited Westminster in 1996, Corbyn was only one of a number of Labour MPs, who met him. The meetings were solely concerned with reviving the IRA ceasefire. This was achieved several months later. And Bill Clinton, who was then president of the US, had the previous year invited Adams to the Whitehouse. As Clarke’s graphic points out, this places Corbyn’s meeting with Adams firmly within the context of wider attempts by politicians to secure peace in Ulster.

Clarke does admit that there are two incidents, which are controversial, and do require an explanation.

* Shortly after the Brighton bombing of the Tory conference, Corbyn and other MPs met Republicans in Westminster. Corbyn’s motive for doing so was to end the strip searching of female prisoners on remand. However, Clarke states that the meeting was insensitive and wrong.

* In May 1987 Corbyn stood for a minutes’ silence to show respect for eight people, who had been killed by the British armed forces in Northern Ireland at a meeting of Irish sympathisers in London. Although one was entirely innocent, seven were members of the Provisional IRA. The circumstances of their deaths were unclear, and they may have been the victims of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. The European Court ordered the payment of £10,000 each to the eight victims’ families.

* As for Adams himself, Clarke states that it was the Tory government, who began talking to him eleven years before Corbyn became an MP. Adams had been released in prison for the secret talks the Conservatives were holding with Irish paramilitaries following the deaths of 476 people in 1972, the worse year of the Troubles. This was revealed in MI5 files released under the 30 year rule. The files also showed that the Tories considered that Adams genuinely wanted a ceasefire and an end to the violence, and that his answers to questions were ‘reasonable and moderate’.

So while Corbyn did meet with Gerry Adams and other Irish Nationalists, he also worked with Ulster Loyalists. It certainly appears from this that Corbyn wanted to find a fair, peaceful solution to the violence and hatred in Northern Ireland.

Mike’s piece also includes a short video, running just under a two minutes, by the Labour MP Chris Williams. Williams points out that 14 years ago in 2003, Corbyn had warned that ‘the Iraq war will set off a spiral of conflict that will fuel the wars, terrorism and misery of future generations.’ He also warned several times that police cuts would leave the country more vulnerable to terrorism. He also warned that intervention in Libya would lead to it becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. He also objected to selling arms to Saudi Arabia for the same reason. Williams states that Labour has a crystal-clear policy to make Britain safer, unlike the Tories. They intend to undo the cuts to the police force, and have the longer term goal of rethinking this country’s foreign policy. This means not sending more of our courageous young men and women to die in wars no-one invited us to take part in, and destabilising countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. And Williams asks his viewers to challenges the Tories, the rich, the media magnates and the cheerleaders for these wars in voting for Labour. New approaches and responses are required following the evil terrorist atrocity in Manchester, and Labour has precisely done that.

Mike also includes a wonderful little video of Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy refuting Michael Fallon, the Tory defence minister. Guru-Murthy quotes Boris Johnson at him. Boris had said that the Iraq invasion didn’t create the problem of Islamist terrorism – the attack on the Twin Towers occurred before that – but it did sharpen their resentment. Fallon then attacks the quote, believing it was said by Jeremy Corbyn. When Guru-Murthy points out it’s by Johnson, he then flails around trying to claim that it shows that Johnson really concurs with him, that this does not explain terrorism. But the Channel 4 newsman goes on, and quotes Boris as saying that you can’t disagree with the nay-sayers, who say that the invasion has increased Islamic resentment. Even after he’s been told, Fallon continues to state that he’d have to see what Boris Johnson really says for himself, and denies that Britain’s foreign policy explains away terrorism.

Mike comments drily if there’s anyone, who doesn’t agree with Jeremy Corbyn? (Apart, obviously, from Michael Fallon).

And at the very top of the piece is a quote from the former director of MI5, Theresa Manningham-Buller, that the Iraq invasion ‘undoubtedly increased the terrorist threat in Britain’.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/27/dont-believe-the-warmongers-on-jeremy-corbyn-get-your-story-straight/

So Jeremy Corbyn was right about the Iraq invasion. He’s been right about the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi in Libya, and he was right about the cuts to the police force. And he is very right to demand a ban on arms sales to the Saudis.

And while two of his actions in support of the Republicans in Northern Ireland have been insensitive, he is not a supporter of terrorism, as the Scum, Heil and Torygraph would have us all believe.

Go to Mike’s blog and read and watch the full article. Eoin Clarke’s information about Corbyn is in the form of a graphic, so that you can post it elsewhere on line to refute the Tories and their stooges, who still continue with their smears about the Labour leader.

And if you really want to see a just end to the violence in the Middle East, and a sensible policy to eradicate Islamist terror in this country, then vote Labour on June 8th.

If we don’t, if we continue to follow the Thatcherite warmongering of Blair, Cameron and May, it will only lead to worse violence and terror in the Middle East and at home.

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!.

UKIP Wiped Out at Elections, but Threat Remains

May 6, 2017

One of the few good things about the elections results was that the Kippers were thoroughly annihilated. I think they lost all their council seats. I’m not really surprised. After the Leave campaign won the referendum last year, they’re ‘rebels without a point’. They were a single-issue party, who won what they were campaigning for. All that’s left of them is a legacy of racism, misogyny and bigotry.

With UKIP more or less wiped, it looks like their supporters and members are going to head back to the Conservative party. And to be fair, not all Tories are happy. One member of the party in Cheltenham yesterday Tweeted that ‘all the swivel-eyed loons will be coming back, and this time they’ll be worse than ever’.

So the Tory party, already with an ugly racist fringe, will get even more so.

Worse, Farage himself endorse Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections. David Lawrence, a researcher with the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, has published an article about this on Hope Not Hate’s webpage. Apparently the Fuhrage has made that decision after originally rejecting the Front National because of its Nazi origins. He said in a Telegraph interview that the party’s origins lay in Vichy France, but had embraced Marine Le Pen – metaphorically – because she had rejected its anti-Semitism, and made it a Eurosceptic party far more like UKIP.

Lawrence’s article quotes Cas Mudde, a leading scholar of populism, who states that the Front National is the unofficial leader of the European radical right. And Lawrence also points out that, while Farage and UKIP officially kept away from the Fascist, behind the scenes they had extensive links with various far right organisations and Holocaust deniers. Paul ‘Eddie Hitler’ Nuttall, for example, had close personal ties with the Sweden Democrats, another racist party, who in 1996 passed a resolution stopping their members from wearing Nazi costumes to their meetings.

The article also notes that Leave.EU, run by UKIP’s donor Arron Banks, has also been openly campaigning for Le Pen for several months.

As for Farage, the former generalissimo of embittered Little Englanders is expected to join the Patriotic Alliance, a new far-right group set up by Banks, which is expected to be launched this autumn.

See: http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/05/04/im-supporting-marine-le-pen-farage-backs-radical-right-candidate-french-president/

Tories Accuses German Newspaper of Spreading ‘Alternative News’ over Brexit

May 4, 2017

The Tories are busy trying to build up Theresa May as ‘strong and stable’ in her negotiations with the EU. But the Europeans themselves have quite a different perspective. The I today has a story about May attacking the EU for leaking news in order to undermine her position. And yesterday, one of the papers – it was either the I or the Metro – reported that the German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, was publishing ‘alternative news’ leaked from the EU, which contradicted the claims May herself was making.

‘Alternative news’ sounds to me very much like ‘alternative facts’, which was the phrase Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s spokespeople, gave to the clearly bogus rubbish she was spouting on behalf of her master.

In the case of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, this is really rubbish. I used to buy it occasionally when I was at school doing German in order to improve my grasp of the language. I don’t think it helped, as much of it was waaay beyond my schoolboy abilities. It’s one of the German papers of record. It is, or it was, a broadsheet at the level of the Times and Telegraph, and like them it has a centre-right bias. This should be somewhat qualified, as I gather that, like the majority of other continental newspapers, it is not as barkingly right-wing as our press. I have a feeling it was a former reporter for the Allgemeine, who turned up a little while ago on one of the alternative news channels to talk about the nefarious antics of the American intelligence services in making the international situation much worse.

It is as far away from ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’ as you can get.

It also has a very good grasp of events over this side of the Nord See. I can remember being impressed by its coverage of the Tory party’s coup against Thatcher way back in the 1990s.

So if there’s an alternative between the facts as reported by the Frankfurter Allegemeine, and May’s ‘facts’, in my opinion you’re better off believing the German newspaper. It’s far more reliable.

As opposed to May and the Tories, who have a very long history of lying going back decades.

Five Reasons Why the Tories Should Never See Power Ever Again

May 2, 2017

This excellent video was posted on YouTube by Scot TV. I’ve no doubt he’s a Scots Nationalist, but it also holds true for the rest of Britain. He states in his explanation that an extra zero could be added to the five, but for the sake of brevity he’s leaving it to the lower number. Those five reasons are:

1. Tory election overspending. He notes that the charges have now been dropped, but about 20 or so Tory MPs are still being investigated.

2. The NHS. This is being starved of cash, so that patients are suffering appalling delays and a consequent disastrous decline in the quality of care. The NHS is at breaking point. Meanwhile, the Tories are privatising it by the back door. This part of the video shows headlines from various papers about the government selling off and handing over NHS hospitals and services to the usual private healthcare companies and outsourcing giants, like Circle Health and SERCO. There is also another funny segment from Jeremy Pie in which the comic reporter rants about how it isn’t outsourcing, it is straightforward privatisation. Pie makes the point that if the NHS needs money, then why can’t it simply be given it.

3. Benefit Cuts. This part of the video documents the terrible effect benefit cuts and sanctions are having on disabled people. It gives the facts and figures on the effects it has had on them. One of the clips is of an MP asking questions in the House about why disabled people are required to go through the Work Capability Tests, when so many – he gives the appropriate figures – die before, during and after the tests. He also shows the complete contempt the Tories have for those forced into misery by the tests, when Ian Duncan Smith didn’t have time to respond to questions about them, but very much did have the time to have his portrait painted. The video also correctly says that the attacks on the poor and disabled were so severe, that the UN was forced to intervene. He also give the sneering response from the Tories, where one snotty MP remarked that the UN rapporteur should mind her own business, just like he didn’t know about poverty in Costa Rica or wherever she came from. The video praises Dennis Skinner’s pointed remarks in parliament, where he called Cameron ‘Dodgy Dave’, and took him to task for having his mortgage paid for by the state while denying state help to others. The video calls this ‘a welcome poke in the eye’ for the Tories.

4. The Panama Papers. This was the scandal that erupted a few years ago when documents came to light showing how the Conservatives had moved their business dealings into offshore accounts in the Caribbean in order to avoid paying tax in the UK. As usual, this was mixed with contempt and sneering towards ordinary people. The clip shows the Tory MP, Alan Duncan, standing up on his hind legs in the House to attack their critics. They are, he claimed, moved solely by hatred of anybody who’s wealthy, and if people like them had their way, the House of Commons would be stuffed full of incompetents and mediocrities, who had never run a business.

5. Tory behaviour during the referendums. Here the video includes clips of the Tories, including David Cameron, once again scaremongering, with ‘Project Fear’ directed at the Scottish Nationalists in the referendum over Scottish independence, and then more of the same in the referendum over whether to leave the EU, with the Tories trying to scare people into voting Remain.

While I am a Unionist, who voted to Remain in Europe, I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of Scot TV’s reasons for kicking out the Tories and keeping them out. They did break the rules on electoral spending. They are deliberately running down the NHS so that they can privatise it by the back door. They are killing the disabled and the poor through benefit cuts. They do add insult to injury by sneering at those concerned with the poverty and suffering they inflict, at ordinary working people. And Ian Duncan Smith was vain. He was also cruel and cowardly, surrounding himself with armed guards when required to give his testimony to the parliamentary committee investigating his conduct. That was when he finally deigned to appear before them. And as Mike showed on his blog, Smith did his level best to stop the mortality figures ever getting out.

They are corrupt, with one set of standards for themselves and another for the poor. They see themselves as a favoured elite, who should be allowed to dodge as much tax as they can, while shifting the tax burden onto those who can least afford it. Half of all millionaires have actually done nothing to deserve their money, as it’s inherited. But they still see a system, that so massively rewards them while penalising the poor simply for being poor as just, and themselves as uniquely deserving their position and power. Hence Alan Duncan’s sneer about their critics being just jealous of the rich, and wanting to have parliament stuffed with mediocrities. It was the sneer of the Tory right in the 19th and 20th centuries, when they wanted to stop the working class getting the vote at all costs.

And even though I wish Scotland to stay in the Union, Scot TV is correct about the Tories running a dirty campaign of fearmongering during the independence referendum. They also ran a Project Fear campaign to get us out of Europe. The impetus for Brexit comes from the Tory right and UKIP, whose leadership are right-wing Tories. They want us to leave because they hate, loathe and detest the minimal rights granted to workers under the Social Charter.

The Tories are vile. They should be voted out and kept out. I urge people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to preserve what remains of the British welfare state, and renationalise the NHS.