Posts Tagged ‘Alex Belfield’

No, Belfield – It’s Not Diversity that’s Wasting Money in the NHS!

September 20, 2021

Alex Belfield, the mad right-wing radio host, is a very strong and outspoken critic of diversity. He bitterly attacks the affirmative action policy in which members of minorities are promoted despite the lack of talent in its name. Following the right-wing press, he’s been especially attacking June Sarpong, a former comedian who is now head of diversity at the Beeb on a salary of £230,000 a year. He’s also a critic of the NHS and says very openly that it should be privatised in order to improve service. Today he released another video commenting on the news that an NHS trust somewhere in the country had set up a head of diversity on another immense salary. For Belfield, this was just more anti-White discrimination and a complete waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

I think what’s driving the establishment of such posts in the NHS is the fact that members of ethnic minorities have been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus. There have also been reports that Black mothers suffer more from complications in pregnancy than Whites as well as a feeling among ethnic minority NHS staff that they have been left particularly exposed and vulnerable to Covid. I think there have also been stories that Black medical staff are not promoted as much as Whites. It seems to me that the establishment of this post is an attempt by the NHS trust to show that it is taking these concerns seriously and is doing something to correct them.

The official’s salary may well be inflated, but it’s not posts like that which are wasting money in the NHS: its the privatisation Belfield is so ardently championing.

One of the points made in Ken Loach’s excellent film, The Spirit of ’45, is the massive growth in administration cost due to the Tories’ and Blair’s policy of privatisation. When the NHS was wholly nationalised, administration amounted to only 6 per cent of NHS expenditure. A few years ago this had doubled to 12 per cent. According to consultant radiologist and anti-privatisation author and campaigner Jacky Davis costs are now heading up towards the levels of the American private healthcare system, where they account for 18-25 per cent of expenditure.

Privatisation is not bringing costs down. It is driving them up, for poorer services.

But you won’t hear that from the Tories or Alex Belfield. Like Sargon of Gasbag’s little mate Callum, they will talk about nebulous ‘waste’ in the NHS and single out diversity officials.

But the diversity officials aren’t a drain on NHS funds. The privatisation they demand is.

If you want a return to better healthcare, ignore Belfield, ignore the Lotus Eaters and the Tory papers. Get the Tories out, and the Blairites out of Labour.

And demand a fully nationalised NHS!

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

September 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosie Duffield Making Up Stories about Abuse from Trans Activists

September 20, 2021

Readers of this blog will be very aware of my position on the trans ideology. I believe the ideology is immensely harmful, causing psychologically vulnerable people to believe falsely that they are of the wrong sex. The process of medical transition is long, expensive and very often difficult and there may be serious complications that permanently impair the life of the person undergoing it. At the same time the idea that anyone can validly claim to be a member of the opposite sex simply by saying they identify as that gender has made biological women vulnerable to sexually predatory biological men, who have gained access to female-only spaces. There have been a spate of rapes and sexual assaults in Californian women’s prisons, thanks to legislation backed by Biden granting trans-identified men the right to be housed in them. At the same time transwomen may still retain biological advantages over born women in sport which makes them competing with them unfair. And Trans Rights Activists can be violent and abusive. They do post abuse and threatening imagery against their opponents online, and gender critical feminists – termed TERFS by their opponents – have been assaulted. At a recent demonstration in Spain by feminists protesting against their government’s self-ID bill there were three squads of riot police sent in to protect them against assault by militant pro-trans activists. Eventually so many of trans activists appeared in such a aggressive mood that the police advised the women to leave for their own safety.

Now Rosie Duffield has appeared in the Sunset Times to claim that she’s not appearing at the Labour party conference due to threats from trans activists and LGBTQ+ Labour.

Despite my opposition to the trans Ideology, I have to be fair. It seems that no such threats have been sent to Duffield. She has not produced a single threatening tweet to support her claim.

As Mike points out, it seems she’s copying the tactics of Luciana Berger of smearing her opponents in the party with false claims of abuse. Berger a few years ago claimed that she had received anti-Semitic abuse from Labour party members. It was a flat-out lie. She had received abuse, but it all came from the usual source – the far right. Duffield is a right-winger, and so Starmer has taken the trouble to check her welfare, something I doubt he would do for anyone on the left who had suffered abuse.

Duffield, of course, has form when it comes to trying to get left-wingers and Corbynites thrown out of the party. She marched with Ruth Smeeth in the ‘lynch mob’ of right-wing female Labour MPs in support of the fake anti-Semitism allegations against Mark Wadsworth.

She also demanded that Chris Williamson should be found guilty and thrown out of the party when he was hauled before the NCC’s kangaroo court.

And Mike points out that she smeared victims of her own abuse.

She is deeply untrustworthy and this looks like another lie made up by a right-winger to smear the left.

But unfortunately it’s a lie that the right-wing press and media are all too keen to hear. Alex Belfield has been pushing it this morning.

Duffield’s behaviour not only shows the sheer mendacity of the Blairites, it also shows their complete absence of any positive policies. They say nothing to oppose the Tories, because they support Tory policies and want to steal their voters. They want to turn Labour into a second Tory party, and to do so wish to suppress and expel the left.

But having nothing positive to offer themselves, all they can do is smear and expel them with lies and falsehoods.

Spectator Promoting French Anti-Immigrant Writer

September 8, 2021

Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday reporting and commenting on the Spectator raving about a French anti-immigration author, Eric Zemmour, whose views could fairly be said to be far right. Zemmour has been prosecuted three times for racial hatred. He has described young male migrants from Africa and the Middle East as ‘killers and rapists’ and written a book, The Suicide of France, lamenting the abandonment of traditional French values to Islamism. He also laments the great replacement of the indigenous White French by Muslim immigrants, rails against the foreign powers he sees dominating France, from the EU to Germany, and defends the collaborationist leader of Vichy France, Marshal Petain. The ‘great replacement’ is the vile conspiracy theory that holds that the Jews are deliberately importing non-White immigrants to destroy the White race. If Zemmour was anyone else, he’d probably be denounced as an anti-Semite. But he’s of Algerian Jewish descent, and according to the Speccy a hatred of Muslims is ‘hardly unique’ among Algerian Jews, who were forced out of the country when it gained independence. This still doesn’t mean that a respectable magazine should be publishing him then.

Zelo Street concludes

“What Jonathan Miller means by comparing Zemmour to Tucker Carlson is the amplification of mere bigotry – in both cases, explicitly or implicitly against Muslims – into the Great Replacement theory. The only novel element of Zemmour’s take is that he is Jewish, and the child of immigrants – but still riding a trademark white supremacist bandwagon.

On being called out for promoting such bigotry, Andrew Neil will tell his critics that they should consult Nelson, as he’s the editor, and decides what goes in the magazine. Nelson, in turn, will snootily brush off any criticism as “just something on Twitter”.

Once more, the Spectator has been caught promoting bigotry. And that’s not good enough.”

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/spectator-promotes-foreign-criminal.html

All the French peeps with whom I’ve talked about Petain cordially and absolutely hate him and his vile regime. This was a regime that collaborated with the Nazis and their persecution of the Jews. There do seem to be problems with some immigrants and rape. Earlier this week Alex Belfield reported that the course immigrants are given on integrating into British culture includes training them against sexually assaulting and raping British women. But obviously that does not mean that all Muslim and African immigrants are such a threat.

Zelo Street describes the Spectator as ‘increasingly Alt Right’. I don’t think you can doubt it when it promotes someone like Zemmour, who is planning a ‘piratical’ challenge next year in the French presidency campaigns, and who would also like to be on GB News.

But we should also be asking where the Board of Deputies and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism are about this issue. They’re nowhere to be seen. With his views on the Great Replacement, Zemmour could be regarded as genuinely self-hating. But they’re silent. Yet when someone on the left criticises Israel, they fall over themselves screaming that they’re an anti-Semite, especially if they’re Jewish.

The Spectator is promoting people with extreme right-wing views, views which the Board of Deputies seems to feel is acceptable because he’s not attacking Israel. Which shows that the Board is not only biased, but completely unfit for purpose for defending Jews against real anti-Semitism.

Zelo Street Destroys the Lies about Biden Abandoning Equipment to the Taliban

September 3, 2021

Yesterday I put up a piece about mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield suggesting that Biden may have deliberately left billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including planes, to the Taliban in order to form the pretext for another war. Belfield and his supporters seem to have bought wholesale a pack of lies about the value of the military equipment left behind, This originally came from Donald Trump and his supporters, but has since been spewed up again by Nigel Farage. Farage also seems responsible for the comparison between Biden’s abandonment of military equipment and the British at Dunkirk, who, he claims, spiked all of the military equipment they left behind. But this is also untrue. Zelo Street has put up an excellent piece demolishing this falsehoods. First of all, there’s this piece from Historic UK about the abandonment of military equipment at Dunkirk:

Between 27th May and 4th June 1940, nearly 700 ships brought over 338,000 people back to Britain, including more than 100,000 soldiers of the French Army. All heavy equipment was abandoned and left in France, including over 2,000 pieces of artillery and 85,000 motor vehicles. Also left behind were more than 440 British tanks that had been sent to France with the [British Expeditionary Force]”.

As for Farage’s estimate of the value of the equipment Biden left behind, the true figure is $82.9 billion, and that covers all expenditure since the invasion, according to a fact check by the Washington Post.

The $83 billion figure – technically, $82.9 billion – comes from an estimate in the July 30 quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)”… “For ALL SPENDING on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund sine the US invasion in 2001”.

And the equipment left behind was spiked. Zelo Street quotes CBS News

 “In the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. ‘demilitarized,’ or rendered useless, nearly 170 pieces of equipment in Kabul, according to the head of U.S. Central Command”.

General Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie in a press briefing Monday announcing the completion of the withdrawal from Afghanistan said the U.S. on its way out of Hamid Karzai International Airport destroyed up to 70 MRAPs and 23 Humvees – military vehicles – and 73 aircraft … ‘Those aircraft will never fly again,’ McKenzie said. ‘They’ll never be able to be operated by anyone. Most of them were non-mission capable, to begin with, but certainly they’ll never be able to be flown again’”.

As for the helicopters,

A video posted on Twitter Monday showed members of the Taliban walking into the airport looking at the defunct equipment left behind … ‘I would tell you that they can inspect all they want. They can look at them, they can walk around, but they can’t fly them,’ Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told CNN in an interview Tuesday morning”.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/nigel-farage-afghan-lies-busted.html

Farage has been lying again, and his and Trump’s lies have been swallowed by peeps like Belfield, who are starting conspiracy theories. I am not saying that the military-industrial complex won’t start looking to find ways of starting another war with Afghanistan. I think it’s all too likely. A left-wing Labour online rally a few months ago against imperialism warned that the neo-Con warmongers were trying to come back, and they do have their sights set on a few more countries. I’d say that one of them is definitely Iran.

But Biden leaving intact military equipment behind isn’t part of these schemes.

Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start

September 2, 2021

For some the catastrophic departure of the western armed forces from Afghanistan has been almost unimaginable. This is not surprising, as successive governments have been telling us for years that the Taliban had been successfully contained and victory was only a few months away. They find it particularly incomprehensible that the US and western armed forces were so unprepared for the Taliban’s reconquest of the country, that President Biden has left 73 military planes and $80 billion worth of kit behind in the scramble to get out. One of these is the mad right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host, Alex Belfield. In the video below, Belfield wonders if all that military equipment has been deliberately left behind to be taken and used by the Taliban, in order to provide the pretext for more wars. He sees this as part of an overall strategy by out governments to keep us afraid. One of these ruses has been, so he argues, the Coronavirus. He seems to follow here the line of some of the sceptics that Covid doesn’t present a real threat, but has just been used by the government in order to justify a totalitarian seizure of power through the lockdown.

Belfield’s been sceptical about the Coronavirus and the lockdown almost from the beginning. His argument is usually that the lockdown is doing more harm than good to the economy and to the health, mental and physical, of the British people. He’s right in that clearly people’s businesses and wellbeing is suffering, but is completely and utterly wrong about lifting the lockdown and letting the disease take its course and carry off whoever it may.

But I can’t say that his paranoia about the US leaving behind so much military equipment is unwarranted. The American and British public were miss-sold the wars in the Middle East. We were told we were freeing Afghanistan from a brutal theocratic tyranny and defending America and ourselves from future terrorist attacks. We weren’t. The troops were sent in to secure the country so that an oil pipeline could be built, one which Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban to build. The Taliban had pulled out, and so the NeoCons were looking for an excuse to invade. This came along in the shape of 9/11.

Ditto Iraq. We were informed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t. Hussein had led a largely secular regime, which was cordially hated by bin Laden and his Islamist fanatics. We were told that the invasion would liberate the Iraqi people from Hussein, who really was a tyrant. But the invasion wasn’t about granting a grateful Iraqi people democracy. It was about Aramco, the joint Saudi-American oil company seizing the country’s oil reserves and the western oil companies grabbing its oil industry. Other multinationals, such as Haliburton, which employed various members of Bush’s family and cabinet colleagues, seized its state industries. Meanwhile the country descended into sectarian violence and chaos, the secular state and the feminism it promoted vanished, and the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – hired as part of the peacekeeping forces ran amok with drug and prostitution rings. They also amused themselves by shooting ordinary Iraqis for sport.

It’s been said that America is a ‘warfare state’. That is, its military-industrial complex is so pervasive and powerful that its entire economy is geared to and depends on war. It was suggested years ago in one of the publications of the old Left Book Club, as I recall, that this is deliberate. American political ideology rejects Keynsianism, the economic doctrine that maintains that the state should interfere in the economy through welfare spending, public works and so on to stimulate it. American political culture, on the other hand, rejects this in favour of laissez-faire. But the American economy still needs government intervention, and the only way the American state can do this is through war and military spending. Hence the continual need to find new wars to fight. First it was the Cold War, then the War on Terror.

I tend to believe in ‘cock-up’ rather than conspiracy – that the world is the way it is because of the incompetence of the authorities, rather than that there is some overwhelming and all-pervasive conspiracy against us. This does not rule out the fact that real conspiracies by the intelligence agencies, big business and various covert political groups really do occur. My guess is that the armaments left behind in Afghanistan are there as a result of incompetence rather than a deliberate plot to produce more war and international instability for the benefit of the war profiteers.

But after the lies that have sustained two decades and more of war and occupation in the Middle East, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true.

We Own It Rally for NHS This Saturday in London

September 2, 2021

‘We Own It’ are a pro-NHS group fighting the health service’s deliberate underfunding by the Tories and its piecemeal privatisation. I got this email from them yesterday telling me that they’re launching a press campaign and organising a rally. They’re encouraging people with experiences of waiting lists or having to pay for private treatment to share their stories with them. They will put them up on their website and intend to share those stories with the press. Their rally is set for midday Saturday opposite Old Palace Yard near parliament. The email runs

“Dear David,

Since we first got in touch with you about the launch of our waiting list campaign nearly a month ago, waiting list figures in England have already increased by 200,000. 

5.5 million patients in England alone are currently waiting for treatment. And the figure is also rising across the UK. The number of people on waiting lists is increasing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, reaching record levels in some places.

We know you love our NHS – it’s one of the best things humans have ever created. And our NHS staff are phenomenal. They’ve worked tirelessly to carry us through the pandemic. 

But they’re also working flat out to tackle waiting list numbers that were already too high even before Covid. 

Because the government has been cutting the vital funding our NHS needs for 10 years – while handing over ever more cash to the private sector.

So together it’s time we raise the alarm! We need to ramp up the pressure on the government and call on them to give our NHS all the funding and extra capacity it needs to care for people urgently and rebuild for the longer term. 

We can do this by sharing your stories with the press to show the human impact of being on a waiting list to access care or being forced to spend savings to go private.

Your story could have the power to make the government change their minds and give the NHS the funding it needs.

We’re talking to journalists right now who want to give you a voice by publishing your experience in the national press. If you have a story to tell, you can follow this link for more information on how to share it with us.

Many of you have already shared your experiences of being on a waiting list or paying for private treatment – thank you. We’ll be putting your stories up on our website soon. If you’re also happy to have your first and last name and a photo of yourself passed over to journalists, we’d love it if you could give us permission to share your details.  

We’re also hosting a rally on Saturday, September 4th in London to launch our campaign for the funding our NHS needs to tackle waiting lists and we’d love if you could join us:

12-1pm, Saturday 4th September – Opposite Old Palace Yard, Parliament, Westminster, SW1A 0AA 

If you’re based in London or able to travel there, and would like to share your story of being on a waiting list or having to pay for private care on the day, let us know by replying to this email – we’d love you to be able to tell your story at the campaign launch.

We’ve also got an action planned in Edinburgh – if you’d like to join it, let us know by replying to this email. 

If you’re not able to attend an action in person you can find out how you can get involved wherever you are in the UK here

Solidarity, 

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Anna and Zana – the We Own It team”

If you’re able and willing to help with this campaign, I’d encourage you to do so. One of the reasons our response to Covid has been so disastrous is because the cuts to NHS funding have left a shortage of acute care beds compared to other countries, such as Germany. I also noted an article that appeared in the press a few months ago reporting that the NHS was no longer the 1# health service in the world, but had dropped to 4#. This is no accident. As Mike has said time and again, the Tories are deliberately underfunding the NHS in order to transform it into a second class service, hoping that anybody who can will go privately. The contrived failure of NHS care also provides them with a convenient excuse to hand over more of it to the private sector, the same private sector that is responsible for the shortages and substandard care.

And Tory propagandists are already pushing for its privatisation. The mad right-wing radio host, Alex Belfield, has put up another video demanding the privatisation of the NHS following a radio he took from a listener who had suffered through being put on a waiting list. I have every sympathy for that listener, but privatisation is making waiting lists far worse. That is something Belfield definitely is not going to tell his fans as he rants against woke lefties and entitled, university educated whippersnappers. He makes much of being a working class lad from a pit town, standing against the middle class, Guardian-reading left-wing elite. But it’s only the left that’s fighting for the NHS against the middle- and upper class parasites urging its privatisation, a privatisation that will be disastrous for working class people.

And despite the cuts, Tory propagandists are still complaining about waste in the NHS. Earlier this week Sargon’s little chum on the Lotus Eaters channel, Callum, moaned about ‘state-mandated healthcare’ and waste in the NHS because the health service or one of the trusts was advertising for a diversity officer on a salary amounting to tens of thousands. They’d obviously like to get rid of such posts, and see it as an example of where money is being misspent in the health service. I can’t say I’m happy that there are such posts with such inflated salaries, but there are good reasons why they’re needed. This year there have been complaints that Blacks and ethnic minorities have received substandard service from the NHS, especially regarding pregnancy and maternity care. There have also been complaints that ethnic minorities don’t receive promotion as much as Whites, and that they have suffered through being deliberately placed in the frontline of fighting the Coronavirus without the support given to Whites. Furthermore, I doubt any private enterprise would react any differently to such complaints. Indeed, in contrast to the propaganda that private healthcare companies are lean, mean and efficient compared to the NHS, they actually have a bigger bureaucracy, partly to deal with such issues.

The Tories are using their underfunding to push through the privatisation of the NHS. We need to support groups like We Own It who are fighting against them.

Belfield Now Attacks Mental Health claimants for PIP

August 18, 2021

More grubbiness and moral squalor from Alex Belfield, who has been dubbed my favourite right-winger. Well, there is a kind of grim fascination from watching such figures. Today the mad internet radio host put up a video attacking articles in the Scots papers. These urged people to apply for PIP, and told their readers that if they did so, they could get an extra £608 per month. Belfield was outraged. The government was giving people money! Argh! He then went on a rant about, how it was right that people with genuine mental health problems should be properly supported, such payments shouldn’t be given to people, who were ‘a bit down’. And that, I’m afraid, is as far as I got before it got too much for me and I turned it off.

It’s classic Tory stuff, with a line that could come straight out of Tory central office and the pages of the Scum, Heil, Depress and the other rabid rags. Or Starmer’s office, given the way Blair Stalin is going. There’s a flat denial that they’re denying people the benefits they need with the cuts. No, all they’re doing is making sure that the money’s going to people who really need it. We’ve heard this bilge before. The Tories and then Blair have run this out as their excuse for cutting benefits ever since Thatcher marched into 10 Downing Street and started hitting the poor, the disabled and the unemployed with her handbag of mighty self-help. And the result is the massive growth in poverty, despair and hunger. That grinning abomination, Tony Blair, bought into the same lies. His work Capability Test was based on the erroneous assumption that a certain percentage of claimants for disability benefit must be malingerers. The result has been falsified test results, where the Department for Work and Pensions has decided to throw a claimant off benefit simply because they have a quota to fulfil. And as a result well over a thousand disabled people have lost their lives as the benefits they genuinely need have been cut off. This has included people with genuine mental health and other problems, some of whom starved to death. There have even been notorious cases in which the Department declared people, who were terminally ill, fit for work.

But the lie just gets repeated, along with mealy-mouthed excuses and apologies from the Department. And it’s lapped up by the narrow-minded, envious and bitter readers of the right-wing tabloids, who are constantly being told that the unemployed and disabled are somehow better off than them. Hence the Tories’ announcement under Cameron that they were going to make unemployment benefit even worse, so that people in work would be better off, as such people are offended by the sight of the curtains of the unemployed remaining closed all day.

As for the statement about depression, Belfield is talking utter nonsense. As anyone who has had it will tell you, it certainly is not a case of ‘feeling a bit down’. It is, as one scientist who had it after the death of his mother, ‘a malignant sadness’. It’s a feeling of deep, paralysing despair that really does leave people unable to work and find any kind of joy in life. But I doubt most people appreciate this, unless they have experienced it or know someone who has.

Belfield is pushing the dangerous nonsense of Tories against those who genuinely need proper support. His statement that he’s in favour of getting proper support to those who need it cuts no ice. People with mental health problems and other disabilities aren’t getting the support they need, thanks to Tory cuts.

And the result is misery, despair, starvation and a nation on food banks.

No Return Invasion of Afghanistan

August 15, 2021

According to mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, parliament has been recalled to discuss the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Belfield made it very clear that we should not go back there. This was a country whose culture and way of life we would never understand. Four hundred British squaddies have already died during the invasion and occupation, and besides, we’ve too much on our plate here at home with domestic crises like the Plymouth mass shooting, rampant knife crime in London and the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel in dinghies and other flimsy craft. I agree with him, but partly for reasons that are very different from his.

Firstly, like the invasion of Iraq, the British and American public were deliberately deceived about the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, the invasion was an appropriate response to al-Qaeda’s attack on America in 9/11, although it was planned and executed by the Saudis. And there is very strong evidence that the responsibility for the atrocity goes all the way up to the highest levels of the Saudi state. But the American neo-Cons had been planning the invasion years before. They’d been in talks with the Taliban over the construction of a new oil pipeline to run through the country, allowing them to get around the Russian affiliated pipelines in the region. These talks stalled and eventually failed. So George Dubya Bush and his friends in big business got together and planned an invasion, waiting for a suitable opportunity to arrive when they could launch it. The liberation of the local people from a deeply repressive, bloodthirsty Islamist regime was never the real, primary objective.

As for Afghan society, this is a deeply conservative, tribal culture. The Taliban have their roots in their traditional way of life and particularly the very traditional Daobandi movement in Islam that stretches across into Pakistan and India. Hence, although extreme, the Taliban will appear to many Afghans to be fighting for their traditional values and society against those imposed upon them by force by the western invader. They have also been given support, supposedly, by elements within the Pakistani military. The Pathan tribe, I believe, form the core supporters of the Taliban, and their tribal territory extends across the border into Pakistan. They thus receive cross-border support from their fellow tribesmen over there.

Besides which, I don’t believe that the western occupation has done much to win hearts and minds. Hamid Karzai’s government was massively corrupt, and this corruption extended all the way down to the local level, where the police and government officials tried to find every way they could extort more money out of the ordinary citizens. The drone operations in the region have also done much to generate discontent. I recall reading cases where wedding parties were slaughtered in anti-terrorist drone strikes. However, instead of only killing the terrorist targeted, they also killed innocent people who just happened to be present.

A second invasion of Afghanistan would also be extremely expensive. And as this is a Conservative government which is already protesting about the expenses of dealing with the Covid pandemic, the funding for it would be through further cuts in welfare spending and the privatisation of whatever’s left of the state infrastructure. Which means the NHS. This will mean more poverty, starvation and misery for Britain’s great working people, and poor health as more services are given to private healthcare providers. Who will start cutting their provision so they can make a profit.

The Taliban are a deeply unpleasant organisation and their attitude towards women is particularly misogynistic. There have been reports that wherever they have taken over an area, they have gone to the local mosques to compile lists of the unmarried girls. These are then forcibly married, even though they may be barely into their teens. They do, however, have an age limit of 12. When the Taliban were in power, women were not expected to leave their homes except when they had. If they were out of the house, they had to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. This meant that they had to be silent. I’ve read reports in the papers of Afghan women, who’d lost limbs during previous fighting, being beaten because their artificial legs made a noise. And this is apart from the ban on art, music and television, the restrictions on non-Muslim religions, the closure of football stadiums and their conversion into arenas for mass public executions.

Our invasion and attempts at nation-building have failed, and there are dangers in this. Al-Qaeda were encouraged to launch their attack from Afghanistan on 9/11 because of the success the Mujahideen had achieved fighting the Soviet occupation, although much of that was due to covert funding from the West and Saudi Arabia. I am very much afraid that with the withdrawal of western troops and the fall of the democratic Afghan government, the Taliban or some other Islamist terror group will similarly feel empowered and that they can launch another attack to destroy the west.

But Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’. We found it impossible to occupy the country in the 19th century, as did the Russians a hundred years later. Any further invasion is likely to fail again. As repulsive and dangerous as the Taliban are, we should not go back. We would not be helping its people, only the oil industry and big business who seek to exploit it. And the costs of the occupation would be borne in the lives and limbs of the servicewomen and men sent out to fight, and by Britain’s working people as the government slashes more services.

We should not go back to invading countries simply to make massive multinational corporations even more obscenely rich.

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!