Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category

Mad Right-Winger Alex Belfield Calls for the Revival of Working Men’s Clubs

August 3, 2021

Certain commenters on this blog have described Alex Belfield as my favourite right-winger. Well, he’s not quite that, but I do admit, I watch his videos, which may not be a good thing at all. Belfield is, I’m fairly sure, a working class Tory. He talks about how he comes from a pit estate and inveighs against the way the White working class has been neglected by liberals in the BBC and politics. Who, as he sees it, all read the Guardian, eat oysters like Naga Manchetti, for whom he seems to have a particular dislike, and are determined to push ‘box-tickers’ like gays, the ‘ambivilacious’, by which he means trans and non-binary people, and folks of colour over ordinary working people. His audience is very much the same type of people, who formed UKIP’s constituency: working class Whites in their fifties and over, who feel left behind by the mainstream parties.

There is a genuine issue here. Tony Blair and his successors abandoned the working class in the pursuit of middle class votes and Tory swing voters. At the same time, they retained and promoted minority rights and issues, loudly supporting multiculturalism, feminism and gay rights. The result was that a large section of the working class has become alienated from the Labour party, with many socially conservative older members attracted to right-wing organisations and individuals like the Kippers, Nigel Farage and Belfield. About a decade ago, the BBC put on a series of programmes about race and contemporary racial politics in the UK. One of those was a documentary asking if the White working class was being written out of contemporary politics. The trailer for this showed a man, in stereotypical working class clobber, having words written in black on his face until he gradually became invisible. I think it’s a fair question, and the Labour left is serious about tackling this alienation within an anti-racist framework by working hard for all members of the working class. That’s the best way of fighting Fascism and right-wing populism. But the voices, who are most vocal about defending the White working class are people like Belfield.

And these are people whose political and economic views are actively hostile to working class interests.

Belfield in many ways is a case in point. A few days ago he put up a video lamenting the state of the country. He was particularly concerned about the NHS and the massive waiting lists that have emerged due to Tory maladministration. The Health Service, he declared, was no longer fit for purpose, and would and should be scrapped. He wants it sold off to private administration. In fact, it’s the Tories’ piecemeal privatisation of the NHS that is responsible for waiting lists and poor service, and this will only get worse as they hand over more of it to their noxious backers in the private sector. And if the NHS is sold off completely, it will be transformed into a for-profit service, funded by private medical insurance like America’s. The result will be disastrous. Thousands of people will die and go without the medical care they need because they won’t be able to afford it. Already GPs’ surgeries, that have been handed to private healthcare suppliers, have been closed and their patients left without their traditional doctors, because these surgeries haven’t provided as big a profit to their owners as they’d like.

By championing the NHS’ privatisation, Belfield is most definitely working against, not for, his working class viewers and listeners.

He’s also concerned about the lack of opposition to Boris Johnson from the Labour party. He has a point, although it seems to come from his opposition to the lockdown and frustration that all of the parties are supporting it. Looking at the recent dismal election results for Labour, Belfield had a few suggestions of his own how the party could win back votes. Instead of concentrating on issues no-one’s really interested in, like trans rights, Labour should go back to talking to its traditional working class supporters, and start listening to them and take on board the issues that matter to ordinary people. These are bread and butter issues like healthcare provision, jobs and getting enough money to put food on the table. I agree, although I do think that the debate over trans rights is immensely important, if only because of the massive expansion of the number of young women and girls now self-identifying as trans. Labour should be fighting for better healthcare, combatting unemployment and poverty.

But this means a wholesale rejection of Tory and Blairite neoliberalism, a neoliberalism Belfield supports.

It means kicking the parasites out of the NHS and renationalising it. It means restoring the welfare state, so that the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed are given enough to live on. It means ending the wretched gig economy, including fire and rehire and zero hours contracts. And it definitely means an end to the wage restraint which has seen working people effectively take a cut in wages, while the salaries of the elite become ever more obscenely bloated.

Belfield also clearly misses the decline of traditional working class communities. And this is where he got really interesting. He wanted the return of the old working men’s clubs.

Now I actually agree with him there. Traditional working and lower middle class communities had a solidarity and ethos of mutual support that has vanished as society has become more individualistic. Thatcherism, and it’s Labour party variety, Blairism, partly drew on the decline of the British working class. As more people moved out of the working class into the lower middle class, taking up white collar jobs and buying their own homes rather than living in council estates, the right became convinced that working people were no longer a political force. A few months ago I found a video from one of the right-wing political sites on YouTube, in which a pundit blandly declared that Labour was doomed when working people moved away from their traditional working conditions. When they stopped living in back-to-back housing, for example. I disagree. More people may have moved into the lower middle class, but very many of them still have the views, aspirations and desires traditionally associated with the working class. It doesn’t matter that many of them are now office workers – working conditions in many offices and call centres is as ruthlessly exploitative as Victorian factories. See books like White Collar Sweatshop. Working people, whether labourers or office clerks, still want job security, protection from zero hours and exploitative short term contracts. They want proper sick and maternity pay. They also want proper wages that will support them and their families. They also want and deserve proper NHS treatment, a working welfare state and public utilities that are owned and operated by the state for the good of the British people, not for private, foreign investors.

Which are all Corbynite policies.

The right in America and Britain has benefited from the decline in traditional working class communities. One book I read attacking the Neocons, Confronting the New Conservatism, argued that the neo-Conservatives had been successful in gaining public support because of the social atomisation that came from the decline of working class institutions. The decimation of the trade unions and other working class institutions meant that many working people only met collectively with others when they went to church. And the ‘White flight’ of White working class people to the suburbs away from Black communities in the urban core meant that Black and White Americans were separate and divided, and so the right could play on White racial fears.

This atomisation would be reversed if working class institutions, like the old working men’s clubs, came back.

I don’t think they could be called ‘working men’s’ clubs, not after the progress of feminism. Working people’s clubs, perhaps? It may not be possible to revive them, as it would mean taking on the aggressive individualism that has advanced over the last century, as well as reviving community entertainment and participation so that it could compete with TV, computer games and the internet. But if it could be done, it could very well lead to a very strong revival in working class consciousness. A working class consciousness that would be shared by the lower middle class.

And that could very well scupper all the Thatcherite and Blairite bilge of the last forty-odd years.

Which would be very upsetting for Tories like Belfield.

Let’s do it!

Private Eye: Starmer Appoints Pro-Tory Supporter of Middle Class as Head of Strategy

July 21, 2021

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye for 23rd July to 5th August 2021 has a very ominous piece, ‘Keir Review’, reporting that Blair Stalin, I mean, Keir Starmer, has appointed Deborah Mattinson as his new head of strategy. The satirical magazine reports that when she previously held such a post advising a Labour leader six years ago, she wanted him to hold a review into the party’s economic performance, headed by a Tory, and to go after middle class swing voters. In other words, it was more Blairism after Blairism had failed with the election of David Cameron instead of Blair’s chancellor and successor, Gordon Brown. The article reads

Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s new director of strategy at Labour, has the job of relaunching his ailing leadership. The last time Mattinson advised a Labour leader in 2015, offers some clues of what’s to come: back then she wanted the party to have a review of its economic performance that would be “headed by a Tory”, and to start focusing more on the middle class.

Mattinson is a “public opinion” specialist who has worked for the party on and off since the New Labour years. She and her company, Britain Thinks, specialise in focus groups: the company has lucrative contracts with the Home Office and does opinion research for McDonald’s, Capita and Virgin Money. She will be stepping aside from her role there to work for Labour.

Starmer’s appointment of Mattinson is part of his attempt to rejuvenate his leadership with what is briefed as an undefined but “bold” new direction. Her previous political prescriptions were certainly bold, but were not popular with the party.

After Labour lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, Britain Thinks produced a report for acting leader Harriet Harman called Emerging from the Darkness, advising how the party could recover from the defeat. The private report, which was leaked to ITV News, advised Harman to pull sharply to the right after the failure of Miliband’s modest move left.

One piece of advice was to commission an independent review of Labour’s economic performance in government “ideally headed by a Tory” – which Labour would publish because the party had to start “atoning for the past”. Mattinson also advised that Labour needed to “be for middle-class voters, not just down and outs.”

The report was based on conversations with focus groups of swing voters, relying on their opinion to form policy rather than just test potential messages. Harman did appear to follow the report’s logic, instructing Labour MPs not to oppose the government’s welfare bill or limiting child tax credit to just two children – decisions that were deeply unpopular in the party.

MPs, members and voters await the new direction the focus group guru will take Labour in now.

Basically, it’s going to be more Blairism: a return to neoliberal policies, the use of focus groups to test the popularity of policies, a concentration on the middle class to the neglect of Labour’s traditional base in the working class and absolute determination not to oppose Tory policies but to copy them. And her contempt for the working class is shown very clearly in the reference to ‘down and outs’. It comes after the massive success of Jeremy Corbyn in winning back Labour members and the popularity of his traditional Labour policies – a mixed economy, strong welfare state, renationalised NHS, powerful trade unions and strengthened workers’ rights – showed how bankrupt Blairism was. Under Blair, the party had been haemorrhaging members and the number of people who actually voted for it was lower than under Corbyn. Blair beat the Tories only because they were actually less popular than he was.

But all this has changed. It ain’t 1997 and these policies won’t work against a revived Tory party. Quite apart from the fact that they’re noxious policies that run directly counter to the Labour party’s whole raison d’etre. It was set up to defend and fight for working people, not abandon them and side with the employers and landlords who exploit them. But Starmer clearly hasn’t learned this lesson. Either he’s stupid and fanatical, pushing a set of policies long after they’ve been proved to be wrong and disastrous, or he’s deliberately trying to destroy the party. Either way, there’s a simple way to revive the Labour party:

Get the noxious Tory cuckoo out!

Labour Anti-Semitism: Blairite MP Neil Coyle Demands Expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour

July 20, 2021

I put up a post yesterday about Keir Starmer’s plans to purge four left-wing groups from the Labour party – Resist, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt, the Labour in Exile Network and Socialist Appeal. He and his fellow Blairites despise Labour Against the Witch-Hunt and the Labour in Exile Network because they challenge the lie that the people purged from the party were anti-Semites. They weren’t. Many of them were Jewish, like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, and were very firmly anti-racist with a firm commitment to combating real anti-Semites and Fascists, such as Marc Wadsworth, a Black anti-racism activist who worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews to fight BNP anti-Jewish attacks in the Isle of Dogs. The real reason they were purged was that they were socialists, who wanted a return to the mixed economy of the post-War consensus, a nationalised NHS and a welfare state that genuinely supported the poor, the unemployed, the disabled and elderly. They were targeted because they supported Jeremy Corbyn’s superb programme and, like him, they were opposed to Israel’s brutal dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, or defended those who did. Mike was smeared as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier because he wrote a document showing that Ken Livingstone was perfectly correct when he stated that Hitler initially supported Zionism.

The left-wing members of Labour’s NEC are determined to stand against the proposed purge. They fear it is an attack on Labour democracy and will lead to further purges and the erasure of the left-wing and Bennite traditions in the party. I believe very strongly that they are correct. As news of the proposed purge broke, various noxious MPs came out howling for the expulsion of other Labour party groups. One of them was Neil Coyle, who demanded that Jewish Voice for Labour should also be expelled along with other groups because they were ‘Communists’.

Not far enough. JVL should be gone too. And other outright Communists who have their own political party/ies they can ruin.

Mike in his great article about this latest piece of factionalism from Starmer points out that this anti-Semitic.

“There’s no reason to suggest that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) are Communists. Or that any of the organisations Starmer will purge are “poisonous”, “toxic” or “warped”.

But it is easier to persuade doubters with emotive language than it is to actually provide a reasoned argument for the unreasonable thing Starmer is about to do.

Coyle’s tweet is anti-Semitic. JVL argues that the purge of Labour Party members on grounds of anti-Semitism is false – from a Jewish standpoint. Coyle is therefore prejudiced against these Jews because they are Jews, which is the classic definition of anti-Semitism. And Starmer is perfectly happy with that, meaning that he is also an anti-Semite, notwithstanding his familial connections to Judaism.

Absolutely. The malignant and intolerant ultra-Zionist right of the party despise Jewish Voice for Labour because they stood up for Corbyn, and denounced the attacks on the Palestinians. The Israel lobby is particularly harsh on Jewish critics of Israel, because they visibly contradict the lie put into Israeli law by Netanyahu that Jewry and Israel are synonymous and the Jewish state has the support and affection of the world’s Jews. Hence, Jewish critics of Israel are smeared as self-hating, anti-Semites and reviled as ‘traitors’ and ‘kapos’ – the last a reference to the officials in the Warsaw ghetto to whom the Nazis delegated the responsibility of selecting the victims destined for Auschwitz and the other murder factories.

Coyle’s own comment, however, is extremely close to real Nazi anti-Semitism.

The Nazis railed against ‘Jewish Bolshevism’, considering that Communism and ‘Marxist’ socialism, along with capitalism, liberalism, democracy and trade unions were all part of the overarching Jewish conspiracy to enslave White gentiles. They also claimed that Jews were disproportionately represented in the Social Democrats, the German equivalent of the British Labour party, and these socialist Jews were working to reduce the number of ‘Aryan’ members of the Reichstag as part of their insidious conspiracy. While Coyle isn’t a Nazi, his comment contains many Nazi tropes. If it came from a Corbynite group, they would be accused of anti-Semitism and expelled. But Coyle is safe because of the partisan bias of the NEC and because his noxious comment is directed against socialist, genuinely anti-racist Jews.

But it is a form of anti-Semitism, and racism in the party against Blacks and Muslims has risen under Starmer, whose followers in the NEC were responsible for the racist bullying of Black MPs and activists such as Diane Abbott.

The four groups Starmer wants to purge are not a threat to the Labour party. Starmer and his supporters in the NEC are, and it is they who should be purged and expelled as Thatcherites and racists opposed to genuine Labour values and policies.

Alex Belfield Attacks Rishi Sunak Cutting Miners’ Pensions

July 5, 2021

More from the person Gillyflowerblog, one of the great commenters here, has described as my favourite right-winger. Belfield is definitely a man of the right with some appalling views, and many of my commenters understandably can’t stand him. But here he says something that should be coming from the left. Rishi Sunak has decided that he’s going to cut miners’ pensions by £14 per week in order to save £1 billion. And Belfield begins his video by saying he’s never been so appalled. He attacks Hancock for channelling government money and support to his friends in the hospitality industry, but the government is now saying that they can’t afford to support the people who did one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth.

Belfield makes much of the fact that he grew up in a pit village. He remembers the ’80s and ’90s and how those years tore communities apart, between scabs and strikers, people who did one thing and those who did another, simply to put food on the table. That’s why he’s a fan of the film Brassed Off, because it feels so raw and captures that period so well. Miners were killed not just by accidents but also through the stuff they inhaled that damaged their lungs. Many of those, whose pensions will be cut have already died. He makes it very clear that he despise this move to cut the pensions of men, who worked extremely hard and suffered much to feed and light this country.

This, however, is what corporatist capitalism is. It’s been described as ‘socialism for the rich’, as government aid is removed from the poor and needy, and given instead to the rich and greedy in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and so on. And the government is four-square behind it. I can also remember the miners’ strike, and my mother told me today of something her mother said about remembering the miners in the Bristol area marching through town begging when they were striking, because they were so poorly paid. Yes, Belfield is an appalling right-winger, but when he attacks the government for their attacks on working people, I’ll put it up regardless. It doesn’t matter if it comes from left or right, within reason. If it’s correct, I’ll reblog it.

But if Belfield’s correct this time, then I do wonder what Starmer’s position on this is. He should be condemning it, but he’s a Blairite, who’s afraid of offending all those middle class people on the right he wants to appeal to. So will keep silent, and once again betray the working class by not speaking up?

Cartoon Kayfabe Reviews Book on the Art of Jack Kirby

July 5, 2021

This is one for all the comics fans. Jack Kirby is one of the truly great figures in American comics. With Stan Lee he created some of Marvel’s best known and most beloved comics characters, like Captain America. Kirby grew up when the immigrant Jewish community in New York was still poor and rough, and like many other similar communities, riddled with gangs. Kirby said he came from the type of background where the best job a man could aspire to was being a mechanic, and I think he was seen as being a bit odd for wanting to be an artist. Nevertheless, he managed to realise his ambition and get away from the gangs, although he also said that part of him enjoyed running with them. 5′ 2” and pugnacious, he wasn’t averse to stepping up to the challenge if someone threatened him. The famous cover of Captain America beating up Hitler was published before America entered the War and upset the American Nazi party. One of the Hitlerites came into the hotel where Kirby was staying at the time, demanding a word with him. To the consternation of his workmates, Kirby got up and went down ready to sort the man. But by the time he got down to the lobby, the Nazi had departed. Probably luckily for the Nazi. Nevertheless, the fear of Nazi reprisal was so strong that Stan Lee and Kirby were both given FBI protection for a time.

One of the book’s editors/producers is Eastman, of Mutant Ninja Turtles fame, and the book is an overview of Kirby’s long artistic career, from when he was just starting out as an aspiring artist to his retirement. I was never a great fan of Kirby, as although he could do cosmic like no one else could, drawing huge, awesome machines and men and women like gods, I didn’t think he could draw the ordinary human form very well. But the book shows that he was actually a very good naturalistic artists with fine sketches of the major figures and celebrities of his time. One of whom was Adolf Hitler.

Kirby seems to have worked at anything and everything to pay the rent. At one time he was an artist on the Disney cartoons, drawing the figures for the moments between the main action. But he was learning all the time and ambitious, looking for new and better jobs and taking with him the skills he learnt. During his comics career he not only worked on superheroes, but also cowboy, commando and romance comics, turning to these parts of the industry when the superhero genre was decimated by the moral panic of the 1950s. He also did his patriotic duty and served in the army during the Second World War, and this fed into the war strips he drew afterwards. The self-portraits Kirby drew of himself before and during his army years show the immense change armed combat had wrought on him. Before he enters the army he’s clean cut, but afterwards he becomes more lined and grizzled. He shows the same effect on soldiers on the cover of one of his war comics. This features a man writing a letter home to his mother, saying that the invasion of Europe was just like a day at the beach. The man’s face betrays otherwise, and Kayfabe and his companion note the 1,000 yard stare. Apparently when the servicemen wrote home, they really did describe the War in those terms as they obviously really didn’t want to cause their families to worry about them.

Kirby’s final years were overshadowed by a quarrel with Stan Lee over who created the Marvel characters, with Kirby claiming that he was the real creator of some. He left Marvel and carried on working long after he should have retired on strips like Devil Dinosaur. Towards the end of his career it looks like this amazing artist was being helped by others in the studio. But in his prime Kirby was extremely prolific. At his height in the 40s-50s he was producing a hundred pages a month. I think that’s why his human forms are so sketchy – he was churning them out and an incredible rate, too fast for very naturalistic art, simply to put food on the table for himself and his family. He also incorporated many of the latest developments in popular art into his comics, like pop art and black light, in order to connect with readers and appeal to their changing tastes.

One of the most remarkable episodes in his career was the use of his concept art for an abandoned film project as cover for a CIA operation to rescue the hostages in Iran. Kirby had been hired to work on a film version of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Although the film wasn’t made, the CIA used the art as part of the cover for their operation, which was that they were film makers seeking to make an SF film in the country.

Kirby was indeed one of the giants of the comics industry, and Kayfabe’s review of the book, which I think came out in the ’80s or 90s, is an excellent review of his long and amazing productive career. The characters he and Lee created still continue to enthral readers across the world, and, I hope, to inspire future generations of comics artists and creators.

History Debunked on the White Slaves of Early Modern Scotland

June 21, 2021

This is another video from History Debunked’s Simon Webb. I’ve put up a number of his videos because they seem to contradict and refute some of the falsehoods deliberately being told about slavery and the maltreatment of Blacks in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. I’ve made it very clear that I despise Black Lives Matter, but I fully recognise the reasons behind their anger. As a community, Blacks do suffer from poor educational achievement, poverty, a lack of career opportunities, drug abuse and the violent criminality that goes with it. I know from talking to Black and Asian friends and relatives that there is real racial discrimination out there, including the threat of genuine Nazi violence. What I object to is some of the glib assertions and false history that has been added to genuine fact and the one-sided presentation of these problems. It’s simply an historical fact that slavery has existed in very many societies right across the world. It existed in Africa, and the Black slaves we acquired during the days of the transatlantic slave trade were purchased from powerful African slaving states like Dahomey, Whydah and a number of others. Black Africans were also enslaved by Muslim Arabs, Turks, as well as Indians and were exported from east Africa as far as modern Sumatra and Java. One historian of slavery has remarked that it has been so prevalent across the world, that what is remarkable is not that White Europeans practised it, but that White Europeans and Americans abolished it. But slavery is increasingly being presented as something that only White Europeans and their colonies did to Blacks.

In this video Webb talks about a form of slavery practised in Britain from the late 17th century to the end of the 18th century, which I doubt few people know about. It was the enslavement of White Scots people to work in their country’s mines and salt pans. The law, Anent Colliers and Salters, was passed in 1660 and was designed to stop shortages of labour in the coal mining and salt-making industries. The salt was produced through boiling seawater in vast pans. These were large parts of the Scots economy at the time, and the law was intended to stop workers in those industries going off and seeking gainful employment elsewhere. The law bound the miners and salters to their masters, who were given the power to beat them, whipping those who refused to work, as well as the right to sell them to other owners. They could not look for other jobs or even leave the area. In 1661 the law was extended so that the masters could forcibly conscript into their employment tramps and vagabonds. And there were harsh punishments for runaway miners. When one owner put up a mine for sale, as occasionally happened, the men were listed alongside equipment and livestock like the pit ponies. In 1701 Scotland passed what was dubbed ‘the Scots Habeas Corpus Act’, which prevented Scots from being imprisoned without cause. But it specifically excluded the workers in the above industries. In 1775 legislation was passed emancipating colliers and salters, but it applied only to new workers. It contained a ‘grandfather clause’, specifically excluding previous workers. It was only in 1799 that a law was passed freeing all miners and salt workers north of the border. He explicitly states at the end that the moral of all this was that slavery was not something that was done solely to Blacks. It was also done to Whites and continued until a few decades before the emancipation of all slaves.

As with all of his videos, I think you have to be aware of his personal bias. He seems to be a Telegraph-reading Tory, and some of what he says is incorrect. He has said that Britain never advertised for Caribbean workers, but this has been contradicted by several of the great commenters here, who remember just such appeals. In my understanding, he is wrong in what he says about the Mansfield judgement banning slavery in Britain. The judgement was issued by Lord Mansfield on a case brought before him by the Abolitionists on behalf of a slave, James Somerset. Somerset had been sold to another master, who wanted to take him abroad, which Somerset didn’t want to do. It’s like the later Dredd Scott in America. Webb claims that the judgement did not rule against slavery, only that slaves couldn’t be taken out of the country, because Mansfield had no power to pass judgement outlawing existing forms of British slavery such as that of the miners and salters.

This is wrong. In every book I read it is stated that Lord Mansfield ruled that slavery did not exist under English law. This is correct. Slavery had died out in England by the end of the 12th century as the Normans banned it. The former slaves instead became villeins, serfs. The mass of English peasants were unfree. By law they could not leave the manors on which they were settled, their property was technically that of their lords, and they had to pay a fine compensating the lord for his loss when their daughters married. In addition to working on their own plots of land, they were also required to do labour service on their lords’ demesnes. Their property reverted to their masters on their deaths, so that their widows and children had to appeal to the lord to get it back. Meanwhile, the parish priest had the rest to take the deceased peasant’s best beast, meaning his best cow, ox or bull. It’s not as severe as chattel slavery, and serfs have certain rights, which slaves don’t. But sometimes, especially in the Russia as the tsars, the distinction between serfdom and chattel slaves is a fine one. Serfdom was abolished in France during the French Revolution. Other states, like Denmark and the German states, abolished it in the decades following and during the 19th century, as did Russia under tsar Alexander II.

In school we’re taught, or given the impression, that serfdom died out because of an acute labour shortage following the death of between a third and half of the European population during the Black Death in the 14th century. In fact what happened is that the Black Death commenced a long period in which serfdom began withering away as landlords began to compete amongst each other to persuade peasants to settle on their estates and commute labour services into money rents. But the process was a long one. The last serf died in 1645, I believe. In one of her programmes in which she visits various historic towns, Dr Alice Roberts, a former female star of Time Team, medical doctor, anthropologist and Professor for the Public Engagement with Science at Birmingham university visited one of the great cities of Norfolk. She learned there about a battle in the 16th century when the local peasants revolted against attempts to turn them back into bondsmen – serfs.

Furthermore, even if slavery was formally abolished in England and serfdom had withered away, it was still customary to purchase certain types of human being. Time Team’s Tony Robinson, also known as Blackadder’s Baldrick, described the appalling conditions suffered by 18th and 19th century mill workers in his series, The Worst Jobs in History. He trembled with raw, justified outrage when he told how millowners would to workhouses and orphanages to buy the children left there to use as their workers. Wives were also seen as the property of their husbands, and the traditional form of divorce amongst British peasant and working class communities was to take them to market to sell. It happened up and down the country, including Bristol, where you could get a reproduction of an advertisement for such a sale down at the Central Library. The transportation of certain criminals also acted as a form of slavery. The Monmouth rebels in the West Country, who supported the illegitimate Duke of Monmouth against James II, if they escaped hanging by Judge Jefferies were transported to Barbados, where they were sold to the planters for sacks of sugar. Irish rebels were also treated the same way. A friend of mine at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum, who was a staunch anti-slavery activist with a mixed-race African wife, told me how you could still see the former cabins occupied by the White Irish amongst those of the Black plantation labourers in Barbados and the Caribbean. The Irish cabins were patriotically decorated with shamrocks.

I think the Mansfield judgement only applied to English law. Scots law is different, because until the Act of Union in the early 18th century England and Scotland were different countries with separate parliaments and different legal systems. Since the 12th century, English law includes custom and precedent. A judgement passed on one case acts as the model for others in similar cases. Scots law is based on Roman law. As I understand, a judgement passed in one case is not automatically binding for similar cases. It can be used as the basis for a similar decision, but the judge is also free to disregard it and make his own judgement. Lord Mansfield’s judgement probably only affected English, and not Scots law. Nevertheless, it was highly influential in that during the 1820s and ’30s before the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, Black slaves in the Caribbean used it as the basis for their own efforts to gain their freedom. There were a series of slaves, like Grace James of Antigua, who had been brought to Britain, or English overseas territories like Gibraltar, by their masters. On their return home, they presented themselves to the Guardian and Protector of Slaves, the official charged with protecting the slaves from brutality and maltreatment, as free people of colour illegally held in slavery. Their owners naturally objected, claiming they were being robbed of their property. The colonial authorities appealed to the home government for guidance, and the diplomatic correspondence, as printed in the government’s blue books, included copies of the Mansfield judgement.

I also believe that the conditions for miners in the north of England was similar to those in Scotland. I think it may have been on Bargain Hunt, one of the Beeb’s early evening antique shows, or perhaps Great Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo, that they were in County Durham. The presenter was shown around the miner’s hall, the grand headquarters of the local trade union. He was told about the horrendous, oppressive conditions contained in the contract that traditionally had to be signed by every miner binding him to his master. These were only successfully fought and finally overturned thanks to union opposition in the 19th century. Which is another demonstration why we need strong, effective unions.

There was considerable sympathy for enslaved Blacks amongst working people, and particularly in Scotland. It’s been claimed that one reason for this was because of the enslavement of White, Scottish mineworkers. Thus the authorities and slave masters complained that there was too much sympathy for runaways among ordinary Scots, who were hiding and protesting them.

I think that possibly too little is known about serfdom and the traditional enslavement of Whites in Britain and Europe. Some of this might simply be due to the fact that most history is ‘history from above’, the actions of monarchs and great statesmen and politicians, rather than social history, or ‘history from below’. Another factor may well be the myth most Brits have grown up with – that Britain is the country from which freedom and good government flows. What isn’t appreciated is that every one of the freedoms we enjoy, and which are being stripped from us by the Tories, were hard won through the blood, sweat, toil and tears of ordinary folk and their champions.

It has led to a distorted view of history, the myth of ‘merrie England’ in which everything was somehow better in the old days, when lords ruled and the hoi polloi knew their place. It’s a view that the right do want to bring back. But a lack of understanding of traditional forms of British forced labour, that applied to Whites, has also contributed to the equally distorted view that slavery and forced labour is very much something that Whites inflicted on Blacks or other people of colour.

Both are wrong, and need to be fought.

Email from the Labour Party Asking Me If I Want to Be An MP

June 15, 2021

This will amuse you, but probably not a lot, as the late, great Paul Daniels used to say. I got an email from the Labour party last week asking me if I had ever considered being an MP, and if I had, here was the information about training and guidance sessions about the process of becoming one. Here are the relevant extracts, with personal information removed, of course.

“Are you a future Labour MP? Our candidates come from a broad range of professions, races and backgrounds, but they all start out as members, just like you, with a passion for their community and Labour’s values.

That’s why we’re inviting you to apply for our Future Candidates Programme – running from September 2021 to July 2022, ahead of Parliamentary selections beginning. This could be the start of your journey to represent your community in Westminster.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to apply – to help you put yourself forward, we have designed a series of application support webinars taking place in June:

Although the primary aim of the scheme is to encourage applications for Westminster seats – the programme will also explore with successful applicants other ways they can stand for elected positions on behalf of the Labour Party.

We’re committed to ensuring that our candidates reflect the full diversity of our society. Before applications open in July we have pre-application Zoom sessions for all members alongside dedicated sessions for young people, women, BAME, LGBTQ+ and Disabled members.

You can find out more about them here:


We can’t wait to see you on one of our webinars.”
The Labour Training Team

I’m too ill and weak to even consider becoming an MP, and, as someone who also suffers from depression and anxiety, I am certainly not mentally strong enough. Despite the low opinion most of have our elected representatives, I think that in general they do work extremely hard. I’ve heard of some of them working 60 hours weeks. I certainly don’t blame Nadia Whittome for taking time off due to damage to her mental health caused by her parliamentary work. Of course, Alex Belfield and the rest of them waded in to accuse her of being a ‘snowflake whipper snapper’, but I genuinely think that really dedicated MPs must be extraordinarily tough in their own way, especially when it comes from the abuse the get from members of the public. And I think that as a woman of colour, Whittome probably got more than her fair share.

I highly suspicious of this, as it looks like Starmer and the Blairite bureaucracy are simply looking for suitably right-wing candidates with which they can pack the parliamentary party, which is already stuffed to bursting with the blackguards. They certainly wouldn’t want me. Not only do I support Jeremy Corbyn and reasonable criticism of Israel, I also want to see a return to genuine Labour values and polices – a restored, confident, dignified and powerful working class, a proper welfare state that does exactly what it was set up to do, nationalised utilities and a renationalised NHS which delivers healthcare to everyone free at the point of delivery. I also want workers’ control, or a proper share in management and proper, powerful trade unions and employment rights. I want an end to gig economy. And while I despise Black Lives Matter, I recognise that in general the Black community is poor and impoverished, and has been particularly hard hit by austerity. There are real problems with British Islam, which in my view are being covered up and hidden, but Muslims, as a rule, also suffer from the same lack of education and employment opportunities as the Black community. And yes, I’m not impressed by Tommy Robinson, the EDL or the rise in Islamophobia. And I am not impressed by Starmer and his failure to deal with the racists who bullied Diane Abbott and the other Black activists and MPs.

I also suspect I’m too socially conservative for some of the hip youngster now running the party. I’d very much like a return to proper, two-parent families, with fathers keeping an active presence looking after their children. There’s a great deal of evidence showing that children from this background do much better than those from single parent families. I am not blaming single mothers – far from it. I really recognise there are good reasons why some have broken away from the fathers of their children. But I think that family decline has had a terribly detrimental effect on British society.

I am also an ardent opponent of the trans ideology. I don’t hate transpeople, and realise that there are also good reasons why some feel their only recourse is to transition to being a member of the opposite sex. But I feel it has become a pernicious ideology that encourages the transition of troubled people, particularly young women and children, for whom it most definitely is not the answer, and that there is a danger from trans-identified males in women’s spaces. This makes me an odious transphobe in the eyes of many, although I firmly believe that the science and stats are on the side of gender critical feminists, those dubbed TERFs.

I’m therefore very definitely the wrong type of candidate, which the cowering Blairite Starmer definitely wouldn’t want as MP.

History Debunked on Nigerian Statue Celebrating Black African Slave Trader

June 14, 2021

Quite honestly, I’m sick and tired of posting pieces about racial politics, especially from a perspective that could be seen as anti-Black. I’m very aware that, as a whole, the Black community in Britain is poor, marginalised and suffers from poor educational performance, a lack of job opportunities. And I’m very much aware of institutional racism. Black and Asian friends and relatives have changed their names from their exotic originals to something more White British to get job opportunities. I’m also very much aware how the Tories are exploiting the issues around Black identity politics to drive a wedge between the Black community and the White working class in order to dominate both and drive them further into poverty, starvation and despair. But these issues are important. There is a real strain of anti-White racism in what is now being presented as anti-racism post-Black Lives Matter. It’s in the shape of Critical Race Theory, which parents are challenging in American schools. It’s also in the bad, tendentious history pushed by David Olusoga. One of History Debunked’s videos is a debunking of the claim by Olusoga and Reni Eddo-Lodge about a supposed lynching in Liverpool. This was of a sailor, who was chased into the docks. But instead of the innocent victim of a violent and prejudiced mob, the Black sailor instead was a vicious thug, who was part of a gang that had started a fight with Scandinavian and Russian seamen, and who had responded to the intervention of the rozzers by shooting two policemen.

A few days ago Simon Webb, the main man of History Debunked, put up the video below commenting on a statue in Nigeria to Efunroye Tinubu. She was a merchant in the Abeokuta region in the 19th century who traded in tobacco and slaves among other commodities. Through this she became extremely wealthy, enough to acquire a private army and act as kingmaker in Nigerian tribal politics. She also has a square in Lagos named after. There is, Webb says, absolutely no shame about her and her wretched trade. Rather, I think the Nigerians are proud of her. And she had absolutely no qualms about selling Black peeps. When she was hauled before a court on a charge of slave dealing after selling a boy, she cheerfully admitted it, saying she had a large household that needed to be fed well. When we went to war against the Nigerian city states involved in the slave trade, she announced that she was prepared to do anything for Britain, except give up slaving.

Webb uses her to attack the ignorance and hypocrisy of the present anti-racist iconoclasts, the people who tore down Edward Colston’s statue and wanted Rhodes’ removed, but say nothing about African participation in slavery and its memorialisation in statues like this. He is particularly scathing about David Olusoga, who produced the documentary last week on the Beeb about the controversy surrounding the felling of Colston’s statue. I didn’t watch it, but my parents did. According to them, Bristol’s elected mayor, Marvin Rees, came out of it very well. I’ve been extremely impressed with his handling of what is a very delicate affair, and I hope he seeks election as an MP. Olusoga comes in for criticism as he was born and raised in Nigeria, but while he’s glad that Colston’s statue was torn down, he has nothing to say about Tinubu’s.

There does indeed seem to be a concerted effort to blame the blame for the Black slave trade firmly on White Europeans and Americans. In Bristol this was shown by the motion proposed by Cleo Lake, the Green councillor for Cotham, and seconded by Asher Craig, Bristol’s deputy mayor, who is also head of equalities. This called for reparations for slavery to be paid to all ‘Afrikans’, including both Afro-Caribbean folk and Black Africans. I sent an email to both of them stating the objections to this, the foremost of which is that it was Black Africans that did the actual messy job of raiding and enslaving. So far I have received no reply. I doubt I ever will.

I think this attitude partly comes from W.E.B. Dubois, one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement. Dubois wanted equality at home for Black Americans, and freedom from European imperial domination for Africa. It was Dubois who first described the slave trade as a ‘holocaust’. In Britain, I was told when working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum that West Indians and Ghanaians didn’t get on, because the Ghanaians looked down on Afro-Caribbean people as the slaves they sold. This was certainly what Caryl Philips, the Black British writer, found when he visited Ghana a few decades ago, even though the country was trying to encourage western Blacks to migrate there.

I think the acceptance of the Black African participation in the slave trade is changing. A little while ago I posted a piece about a Ghanaian journalist and broadcaster on their television networks, who had made documentaries about this issue. I believe the traditional chiefs in both countries are coming under increasing criticism to acknowledge and apologise for their participation in the transatlantic slave trade. There’s also been friction in Ghana between Black Americans and Ghanaians about the memorialisation of the slave trade at one of the old slave forts. The Americans would like the whole building used as a monument to the slave trade, But the fort is the locus for a number of different social functions, including the local market and so the local peeps definitely don’t want this to happen.

Black African involvement in the slave trade was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary back in the 1990s, back when the channel was still worth watching. I think Tinubu was mentioned there. I recall there being some discussion about a female Nigerian slaver, who made the trip to antebellum America to negotiate slaves of slaves over there. This aspect of the slave trade had been withheld from the Black Americans, who came to visit the slave sites in West Africa. The result was literally shock and horror. Some of them reacted with screams, wails and tears, and you can understand why. All their dreams of Black brotherhood and common victimhood at the hands of White racists were suddenly dashed. I mentioned this one day at the Museum to a Black historian with whom I was working. He told me that in the Caribbean, their mammies told them very clearly who sold them to whom.

But it seems to be completely absent from the consciousness of Black Brits. When the BLM mob was tearing down Colston’s statue, a reporter asked members of the crowd how they felt about it. One of them, a young man, said simply ‘I’m Nigerian’. Of course, the answer to that is ‘But you sold them to us!’ But the reporter didn’t say that, and the Nigerian young man clearly didn’t connect his nationality to the sale of Black slaves to people like Colston.

I’ve posted pieces by History Debunked before, and the usual caveats apply. He’s a Torygraph-reading man of the right who believes in racial differences in intelligence. Some of his facts may well be wrong, such as his claim that the government didn’t encourage Black migration to Britain. But here he cites both an article on Tinubu on the website, The Black Past, and a book on her published in Nigeria by Oladipo Yemitan, Madame Tinubu: Merchant and King-maker, (University Press, 1987). I’m reasonably confident, therefore, that he has got his facts right.

I strongly believe that we should resist the oversimplification of the history of the slave trade into virtuous, wronged Blacks, and evil, racist Whites. All racism and enslavement has to be condemned, even if it makes the self-proclaimed anti-racists uncomfortable. If we are to have racial justice, it must be founded on good history.

Hooray! Murdoch’s Sun Is Now Worthless

June 13, 2021

The Sage of Crewe at Zelo Street posted a very encouraging piece yesterday about the value of the Scum as a going financial concern. The good news is, it doesn’t have one. It’s worth priceless nada, zip, zero. News Corp Holdings UK and Ireland, which oversees Newsgroup newspapers has posted its annual accounts up to June last year. And the company made a massive £201 million loss, despite cutting sales and marketing costs by forty per cent, and purging staff from 605 to 546. More than 80 per cent of the loss were one-off payments made to the phone hacking victims to stop their cases coming to court and costing Dirty Rupe and his gang even more. The wretched newspaper also made a payment to the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes last Thursday, who felt he had been illegally targeted by reporters wishing to out his sexuality.

The Groan, reporting on the Scum’s parlous accounts, as quoted and amended by Zelo Street, also said that

[News Group Newspapers] wrote down [the Sun and Sun on Sunday’s] value to zero. The £84m non-cash ‘impairment of publishing rights’ essentially means the publisher does not believe the titles will return to positive growth”.

Zelo Street commented

The Sun is no longer worth even publishing. Its continuing presence on news stands serves only as clickbait for other Murdoch group enterprises, and as a right-wing propaganda sheet. Many of those 546 staff are not receiving the obscenely inflated remuneration enjoyed by those at the top. But all are now candidates for the dole queue.

He also concludes that it raises questions about the viability of the rest of Fleet Street, as many of them were also involved in the phone hacking. He states that it may not signal the end of Britain’s free and fearless press, but you can see it from here.

See: Zelo Street: The Sun Is Worthless (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

This follows what Lobster and others have said about Murdoch’s other British title, the Times. It’s readership has fallen far beyond the figure at which any other paper would have been wound up. But because it’s Britain’s paper of record, it allows the grubby smut merchant a place at the cabinet table with our politicos. And so he keeps it going. I also suspect that the Scum and the Times will be kept going as tax losses for the rest of the Murdoch empire.

But this is highly encouraging, if alarming for the old media and the lamestream reporters, who lament the passage of the days when they could form public opinion and who are now complaining that public opinion is more fragmented and polarised than ever. Yes, there’s a problem there, but the lamestream media is responsible for maintaining a corrupt and highly exploitative neoliberal economic system which is ruining our country and driving its people further into poverty and despair. And there has been no greater supporter of the Thatcherite consensus than the Scum. It’s run, written and edited by post boys pretending to be working class to get Britain’s working people to vote against their interests. And it has always been extremely racist. About two decades or so ago Private Eye carried a piece about yet another judgement by the Press Complaints Commission as was about the wretched paper’s racism, that said that there had been 19 such judgements against it. And this is quite apart from the attacks on Scargill and the miners’ during the miners’ strike and the smearing of the Liverpool fans after the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

The Scum always was morally worthless. Now we know its financially worthless too. If you want real news, start looking at Novara Media, the Canary, the Skwawkbox and other left-wing news sites. And if you want informed comment, then it’s Zelo Street and Mike’s blog over at Vox Political, as well as Another Angry Voice. You know, all the people the Scum and its mates would describe as evil Commies or anti-Semites because they supported Corbyn or otherwise challenge virtuous capitalism. They’re worth reading.

But the Scum is worthless. It’s time it was wound up, and the rest of the right-wing press likewise.

See: Zelo Street: The Sun Is Worthless (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Starmer’s Wrong: Transpeople Are Not Marginalised and Self-ID Is a Danger to Women

June 13, 2021

It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for Stonewall. Having put their whole weight behind the campaign for trans rights, they now find themselves facing serious opposition and questioning at last. Various universities and organisations have found that the advice Stonewall has given them is misleading and may actually be illegal. The gay rights activist group was informing its clients that certain types of criticism, which are actually legal and protected, constituted hate speech and was illegal. An increasing number of gays and lesbians are also upset with the organisation’s almost exclusive focus on trans issues. Many lesbians resent the intrusion of biological men into their exclusive spaces – there have been complaints that the majority of lesbian pubs and clubs, at least in Canada, have closed down. There is pressure upon lesbians to have sexual relationships with trans identified men, and if the lesbians turn them down, then they are accused of being ‘transphobic’. There is also particular concern that butch lesbians, and feminine gay men, are being wrongly put under pressure to identify as trans and transition, while in reality they are simply butch lesbians and feminine gay men. As a result, a number of gays and lesbians have left Stonewall and similar organisations for organisations like the LGB Alliance, which concentrates solely on gay rights and excludes trans issues.

Earlier this week Benjamin Cohen, CEO of Pink News, was interviewed by Radio 4’s Simon Fanshawe about trans rights. He faced polite, but difficult questioning, something Cohen clearly wasn’t used to. All he could do in response was flail about flinging accusations that somehow Fanshawe was homophobic or transphobic or something, and point to his own minority position as a gay, disabled Jew. Which really isn’t relevant to the topic in hand.

The day after, Starmer came out to support trans rights and said he would support self-ID. Trans people were the most discriminated people in the UK, according to him. This is simply wrong. I doubt very much that trans people are any more discriminated against than the rest of the population. A year or so ago the trans lobby was agitating for a ‘trans day of remembrance’ in respect of all the trans people that have been killed. Except no trans people, or nearly no trans people, have been killed in Britain. They stats they use to support the claim of hundreds of trans people being massacred come from Latin America, where most of the victims are sex workers. Furthermore, transpeople, at least in America, aren’t poor and marginalised. Karen Davies, a Black anti-trans activist, posted a video citing a sociological study of the American trans community, which found them to be overwhelmingly White, extremely affluent, and very well educated. 13 per cent of them have Ph.Ds, as compared to one per cent of the general American population.

Where they are arguably discriminated against, there are very good reasons for doing so. Most transwomen – about 70% – 90% – retain their male genitalia, which is clearly an issue when it comes to transwomen being given access to women-only spaces, like toilets, changing rooms, rape crisis centres, women’s shelters and prisons. This issue is exacerbated further by research showing that sexual fetishes, like transvestism, tend to cluster. Transwomen don’t conform to female patterns of criminality, but male, and convicted transwomen may have a number of other paraphilias such as exhibitionism, sado-masochism and paedophilia. There are therefore extremely good scientific, criminological reasons why transwomen should not be housed in women’s prisons. They may constitute a danger to the female inmates. And indeed, despite the lies utter by Stonewall that nothing of the type has happened, women prisoners have been raped by biologically male sex offenders, who have been sent to women’s prisons because they have claimed to identify as women.

Here’s a couple of videos from Karen Davies again as she cites the sociological research into the transwomen and paraphilias/sexual fetishes.

More disturbing is the evidence from psychiatrists and law-enforcers that certain trans identified men have been getting sexual jollies from being in women’s spaces for a very long time. Be warned – this is sexually explicit.

I realise that this will upset some of the readers and commenters on this blog, who will feel that I am spreading hate and prejudice.

This is very definitely not my intention. I am certainly not trying to smear transwomen as a whole as dangerous sexual predators and I condemn utterly any attack or abuse of them simply for being trans. I believe totally that they should have the same respect, employment and educational rights and opportunities as everyone else.

What I don’t believe in is allowing trans ideology to prevail over fact when it comes to the safety of women and girls. And unfortunately this is the case, and will be the case, if self-ID is accepted and predatory and extremely dangerous trans-identified men are allowed into women’s spaces.

Starmer is here, quite simply, wrong. His promotion of self-ID has led many gender-critical women to leave the Labour party and tear up their membership cards. Yes, transpeople should have a place in the Labour party, and their rights should otherwise be guarded and promoted.

But they are not marginalised, they are not poor, and the promotion of the trans ideology is harming women, and vulnerable gays and lesbians.