Posts Tagged ‘Andrea Leadsom’

The Tories and the War on Drugs

June 16, 2019

There’s been some amusement to be had this past week with various leading Tories coming out and admitting to having used drugs. Michael Gove confessed to having snorted cocaine, and Rory Stewart admitted that he’d smoked opium once, 20 odd years ago, when he was backpacking around Iran. It was at a wedding. He claimed that it couldn’t have affected him much, as he was walking 25 – 30 miles a day. My guess is that in reality he’d have been stoned out of his tiny patrician brain. It’s generally the lean, fit people, who are most affected by intoxicants, as you can see by all the tales about champion marathon runners and other athletes, who become massively drunk when they celebrate with half a pint of booze afterwards. Then there’s Paul Staines of the Guido Fawkes blog. He hasn’t come out of the stoner closet, but he was notorious as a Libertarian for taking and advocating DMT as a mind-expanding drug. My guess is that he’d need it. As a member of an organisation that was so right-wing, it invited the leader of one of Rios Montt’s death squads from El Salvador to be their guest of honour at their annual dinner, Staines would need some powerful hallucinogenics to convince himself he was a decent human being.

Boris is also widely suspected of having done drugs, and it’s almost certain that the allegations are true, and of continuing to use them. But he hasn’t confessed to it. When asked whether he had at a press conference about his candidacy for the Tory leadership, he brushed the question aside by claiming that he thought the British public were more interested in what he intended to do as politician than whether he took illegal substances. He might be right for some people. We’re so used to public figures, like actors, rock stars and other media celebrities, coming forward to admit that they took drugs some time in their lives, that it almost seems unremarkable. In some parts of the entertainment industry, it’s even to be expected, as with tales of pop musicians, which have become part of the general pattern of rock excess. However, Boris’ own political career isn’t any recommendation for him as Prime Ministerial material either. He’s been so egotistical and massively incompetent that many people would have to take large amounts of illegal chemicals to be persuaded otherwise.

Author’s impression of Theresa May with potential voter.

There’s more than a little fun to be had out of all this furore. Some wag with a better grasp of video editing than yours truly could provide us all with a laugh by cutting their speeches with bits from notorious films about drugs from the past. Like the 1950s anti-cannabis film, Reefer Madness, or David Cronenberg’s ’90s flick, The Naked Lunch, based on the notorious book by William S. Burroughs. This latter film is roughly based on Burrough’s own life, and is about a pest exterminator, who gets high on the ketamine he’s using to kill the insects. As the drug takes effect, he hallucinates that he’s some kind of SF spy, and has to make his report to Interzone before flying to Morocco after accidentally shooting his wife while they were playing William Tell. The hallucinations include the hero seeing everyone in a bar as mugwumps – humanoid lizards – and a gay talking typewriter-beetle. You could have some fun showing Boris sitting down to type his statement for the leadership election, but showing the hands of Cronenberg’s hero typing away at the beetle creature. Though as the beetle-typewriter then goes on to declare how wonderful homosexuality is, this scene might not be appropriate. The Tories have declared themselves at ease with the gay community, and no-one could ever accuse Boris of it. Another excellent film candidate for mixing with the Tory leadership speeches would be Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. Which also has a bar full of hallucinatory lizards, bats coming down out of the desert sky, and Richard Nixon erupting out of a TV set, amongst other bizarre visions.

But there’s also a very serious side to all this. The great commenters on Mike’s blog, when he covered this story, made some very good points about these people’s hypocrisy. They’ve all done drugs, and got away scot-free, in contrast to more ordinary users, who’d been to jail. One commenter told how he had a friend, who now suffers from PTSD because of what he’d experienced in prison after being convicted of a drugs offence. And the whole affair also seems to me to be a replay of a similar scandal back in 2004, when a number of other Tories confessed to having used cannabis.

The furore was started when Anne Widdecombe announced that she wanted harsher sentences for drugs, quite at variance with the party stance on the issue at the time. A number of Tories then came forward to announce that they’d taken it. Matthew Parris then gave his view about it all in an article he wrote for the Spectator. One Tory revealed that he had smoked cannabis at Oxford. This didn’t shock Parris, who was far more outraged by the way the august gentleman had consumed it. Parris declared that he could have been smoking cowpats for all he cared. What offended him was that the pretentious so and so had put it in his pipe. He smoked a pipe! It’s something you can imagine Rees-Mogg, the MP for the 18th century, doing. If he were inclined towards the substances used by Thomas De Quincy and Coleridge, of course.

This came at the time the government was considering changing its policy towards drug abuse. Much had been in the news about the success the Scandinavian countries, Portugal and Switzerland had achieved in their battle with illegal drugs, in contrast with Britain’s failure to combat or contain its growing drugs problem. These nations had a softer approach to tackling drug abuse. Addicts were treated not as criminals, but as sick people, who needed to be helped. But this was too namby-pamby for Widdecombe and those like her. Parris wrote that this had also been the policy in Britain, and had been giving positive results. But it all changed with the election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan wanted a war on drugs, and as American’s ally and the Special Relationship, we had to follow suit. The result was harsher sentences for drug offences, which actually had a negative effect on what they were trying to achieve. Treating drug addiction as a sickness makes sense, as no-one wants to be sick so they seek help. Criminalizing it, however, gives it a kind of glamour. You ain’t sick, you’re gangsta! Public enemy No. 1. And so far from deterring people from using drugs, the policy actually helps to promote it.

And then there’s the racism of the War on Drugs. Hillary Clinton deliberately played on White American fears of Black criminality when she announced Clinton’s new, tougher policies on drugs back in the 1990s. She talked about ‘superpredators’ – at the time, a term that was only used about Black men. The laws were also framed so that it targeted Blacks rather than Whites. Although studies have shown that Whites are just as likely to use drugs as Blacks, the majority of those arrested and convicted are Black. And I suspect that the situation is similar over here. Certainly it’s been clear to me from talking to Black friends that they believe that Blacks suffer disproportionately harsher punishment than White drug abusers. I know many Blacks, who won’t touch the stuff, and they make the point very clear to Whites trying to encourage them to do so.

It seems very clear to me that we need a return to a saner, more effective drugs policy. One that discourages it as it helps the victims by treating it as a disease, rather than giving it a spurious glamour it doesn’t deserve by criminalizing it. A policy that punishes and cures White and Black equally, instead of playing to White fears and racism.

But for me, the most toxic drug not mentioned in the Tory leadership contest is Conservatism. This has destroyed whole communities, and comprehensive wrecked Britain, creating poor healthcare, unemployment, despair, depression and general poor mental health, all while fostering racism, bigotry and bitter resentment against the poor, disabled and marginalised. It has done this while creating illusions of prosperity and national greatness. It’s time it was stopped. The pushers of this vile drug – Johnson, Gove, Leadsom and the rest of them – should be properly punished by losing any and every election they take part in. And the literature that encourages this vile drug – the Times, Torygraph, Mail, Sun and Express, should be binned at once and readers should turn to proper news outlets.

Only then can we look forward to a saner society, less afflicted by drugs.

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Tories Don’t Believe that Muslims Are British

March 8, 2019

Here’s another damning story from Zelo Street about just how rampant islamophobia is in the Tory party. Naz Shah has called for a parliamentary debate about it, given its scale and the report about it by the All-Party Parliamentary Group and its definition of islamophobia. Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, responded by saying that it was a good question, but that she – Shah – should seek an adjournment and perhaps consult her colleagues at the Foreign Office about a definition of islamophobia. Leadsom seemed blissfully unaware of the implication of her comment: that she and the Tories didn’t believe Muslims were British.

This naturally provoked a strong response from Shah and Sayeeda Warsi, the Muslim peer, who has raised this issue. Shah asked when attacks on British Muslims were a foreign issue. Warsi tweeted

“Wwwwwhhhhhhaaaaaatttttt? @andrealeadsom … British Muslims are errrrr British  … What is wrong with some of my colleagues … We are in a hole …..stop digging!”

Owen Jones and Rachael of Swindon also posted tweets expressing their shock at Leadsom’s comment, and what it showed about the Tory attitude to Muslims, subconsciously or not.

Leadsom then ran for the spin doctors, and Channel 4 News has subsequently reported that when she made the above comments, she thought that Shah was asking for a global definition of islamophobia, not a British one. As Zelo Street drily writes ‘A big boy did it then went away’.

All this came after even more revelations of Tory racism and bigotry. Such as the fact that they had just reinstated a councillor responsible for a series of anti-Muslim tweets, who had made racist comments about Diane Abbott, and who had called another councilor an orangutan. And as this is all going on, Racists4ReesMogg keeps find more racist, islamophobic and anti-Semitic material amongst the Tories.

Which might explain why they’re desperate to distract everyone by pointing to all the supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

See: http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/

Theresa May and the Faux-Feminism of the Tories

July 10, 2016

Okay, it appears from the latest developments in the Tory leadership contest that their next leader will not only be a woman, but probably Theresa May. May’s currently, I think, the Home Office Minister. Another Tory authoritarian, she’d like the spooks to have access to all our telecoms information to stop us joining ISIS and abusing children. Or at least, that’s what she says. Either way, she represents the continuing expansion of the secret state and its determination to pry into every aspect of our lives. Just in case we’re doing something illegal. In the polls Thursday night or so she won something like 144 votes compared to Andrea Leadsom’s 86 and Michael Gove’s 43. There was a shot of her at one of the party rallies, which showed Ian Duncan Smith, the former Minister in Charge of the Murder of the Disabled looking up at her with the same kind of rapture you see in pictures of Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg as he introduces Adolf Hitler.

May as the Modern Thatcher

The papers on Friday were full of the news of her probable victory. The Torygraph ran the headline, ‘If you want something said, go to a man. If you want something done, go to a woman’. Presumably this was a quote from May herself, trying to position herself as a go-getting woman of action, ready to sort out the mess the men have left. It’s also intended to get her support from Britain’s women. Look, she and her PR gurus are saying, I represent all the women in Britain, and their drives and frustrations in trying to get the top job. And I’ve done it, and, so vicariously, have Britain’s women through me. Vote for me, and we’ll sort Britain out again. The Mirror summed up her probable victory with the headline ‘Another Thatcher’.

That’s true, and it looks very much like the Tory party is trying to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s victory way back in 1979, and the thirteen years of flag-waving, prole-bashing that unleashed. Thatcher was Britain’s first, and so far, only female Prime Minister. Her election was instrumental in getting the Tories female support, and presenting their agenda of poverty, welfare cuts, joblessness and general immiseration as somehow empowering and progressive. It presented a faux-feminist veneer to what was an acutely traditionalist party. Thatcher did not see herself as a feminist, but nevertheless, her lackeys in the press ran features on her deliberately aimed at women and gaining their support. When she was ousted, Germaine Greer, who had been bitterly critical of her time in No. 10, wrote a piece in the Groan ‘A Sad Day for Every Woman’. And this propaganda line continued with other female Tories afterwards. I can remember a piece in the Mail on Sunday discussing what politics would be like in a female dominated House of Commons about the time Virginia Bottomley joined Major’s cabinet. It imagined Britain as an anarcho-capitalist utopia, where everything was privatised, and instead of the police neighbourhoods hired private security guards. And it ran the notorious factoid that’s been repeated and debunked ever since: that managing the country’s economy was like running a household. Women, so the article claimed, automatically had a better understanding of how the economy should be run through their role controlling the household budget. It’s actually rubbish, as the Angry Yorkshireman, Mike over at Vox Political and a number of left-wing economists and bloggers have repeatedly pointed out. For example, when budgeting for a household, you try to avoid debt, or pay it off as quickly as possible. But no-one has wanted to pay off the national debt since at least the late 18th century, and governments contract debts all the time with the deliberate intention of stimulating growth, as well as having the ability to manipulate circumstances in ways that the average householder can’t. They can, for example, affect the economy by setting the value of their currencies in order to promote exports, for example. The Japanese have deliberately kept the Yen weak in order to make their exports less expensive and so more competitive on foreign markets. They can also alter, or affect exchange rates to control public expenditure outside of immediate state spending. Ordinary people can’t do any of this. But nevertheless, the lie is repeated, and as we’ve seen, believed. A little while ago a man in the audience at Question Time challenged one of the politicos there with not running the country properly. He claimed it should have been obvious to anyone who’s had to run a household. Or possibly their own business.

Women Suffering the Most from Tory Misrule

In power, Thatcher – and the Tories’ policies in general – have hit women the hardest. Women tend to work in the poorest paid jobs, those least unionised, and so with the fewest protections. They are also more likely than men to be active as carers, with the immense responsibilities and pressures that entails. The Tories’ austerity policies have seen more women laid off, and more suffering cuts to hours and pay, with worsening conditions. These have been inflicted on male workers and carers as well, of course. I personally know blokes as well as women, who’ve been put on zero hours contracts, of have had to fight battles with the DWP to get disability benefits for their partners. Women haven’t been solely hit by any means, but they have been especially hit.

Tory Feminism only for the Rich

But I’ve no doubt that the Tories will try to hide all that, and positively divert attention away from it, by pointing to the success of May in finally getting to No. 10. It’ll be presented as another crack in glass ceiling preventing women from getting the top jobs. I’ve also no doubt that there will be some noises about making sure that business, industry and parliament becomes more representative of the country. There will be loud announcements about getting more women into parliament, on the boards of business, and in male-dominated areas such as science and engineering.

But this will all be done to give power and jobs to women from May’s background: well-heeled, well-educated middle class public school gels from Roedean and the like. Rich, corporate types like Hillary Clinton in the US. It isn’t going to be for women from council estates and comprehensive schools, ordinary women working back-breaking jobs in factories, as care home staff, nurses, cleaners, shop assistants, office workers and the like, all of whom are increasingly under pressure from the government’s austerity programme. They, and the men alongside whom they work, doing the same jobs, aren’t going to be helped by the Tories one little bit.

The Thin Veneer of Tory Liberalism

May’s faux-feminism is part of a general thin façade of progressivism, which the Tory party occasionally adopts to promote itself. Cameron came to power pretending to be more left-wing than Tony Blair. When he took over the Tory party, he made much about shedding the party’s image of racism and homophobia. He cut links with the Monday Club, went around promoting Black Tory candidates. Gay MPs were encouraged to come forward and be open about their sexuality. In power, he ostentatiously supported gay marriage, presenting it as Tory victory, even though it had practically already been introduced by Tony Blair in the guise of civil partnerships. Cameron and IDS wanted to be seen as liberal modernisers. But all their reforms are extremely shallow, designed to disguise the rigidly authoritarian and hierarchical party underneath. A party determined to make the poor as poor as possible for the corporate rich.

Generational Differences in Voting

Looking through the stats with friends on Friday, it seems that there’s a marked divergence in political attitudes between young women, and those over 55. The majority of women over 55 tend to vote Conservative, according to the stats. I know plenty who don’t, and so this can be challenged. My guess is that, if this is accurate, it’s probably due to the fact that women generally haven’t worked in the kind of manual trades occupied by men, which require considerable solidarity and so have produced strong union bonds, like mining, metal work and so on. It’s also possibly partly due to the prevailing social ideology when they were born. There was a marked lull in feminist activity between women finally gaining the vote in 1928 or so and the rise of the modern women’s movement in the 1960s. During those forty years, the dominant social attitude was that women should concentrate on their roles of wife and mother. Many firms in this period would not hire married women, a practice which caused immense hardship to women, and families generally that needed two incomes to make ends meet. Also, generally speaking, support for the Tories is higher amongst pensioners.

Younger women are more likely to be left-wing and socialist. If correct, this generally follows the trend of the younger generation being more idealistic and progressive than their elders.

I hope that despite all the pseudo-feminist verbiage and lies the Tories will spout from now onwards, trying to make themselves more presentable to the nation’s female voters, women will recognise them for what they are, and vote them out. As soon as possible.

Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind on the Incompetence of the Tory Leadership Candidates

July 7, 2016

Michelle sent me this link to the news footage, in which Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind make unguarded and highly indiscreet comments about the challengers for the Tory leadership, including Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. Among the various unflattering comments, Clarke said he was glad Gove got rid of Boris Johnson, but thought that if Gove got in he’d have us fighting three wars at the same time. He though Leadsom was wrong in thinking we’d have a glorious future outside the EU, while Theresa May was a ‘difficult woman’, but then, he said to Rifkind, ‘you and I both worked for Margaret Thatcher.’

http://news.sky.com/story/watch-ken-clarke-ridicules-tory-candidates-10423744

Clarke’s right, far more than he knows or would agree to. All of the candidates for the Conservative leadership are appalling – extreme rightists, who do want to privatise the health service, destroy the welfare state, and return this country to the sweatshop conditions of the Victorian factory masters. They would wreck this country’s economy even further than Cameron and Osborne already have, all the while praising each other to the rafters for making Britain more competitive and entrepreneurial. It’s a race where they’re all equally wrong, and ideally should all lose.

Tories: Cuts Can’t Be Savage, Because No-One’s died in the Street

February 15, 2015

Chris-Skidmore_288556k

Chris Skidmore MP: The b*stard responsible for the above quote.

Be warned about this one: it’ll make you really sick and furious. It’s another piece from Private Eye for the 4th to 17th October 2013, this time from the magazine’s ‘HP Sauce’ column. It reports how members of the Tories’ ‘Free Enterprise Group’ dined out at the Conservative conference that year at the largesse of SAB Miller, a beer company eager for avoiding paying tax.

Aren’t they all?

Much more infuriating is the blasé attitude of the Tory diners themselves to the effect of the cuts, and the complete disconnection from the way they were killing people. Here’s the story.

Conference delegates in Manchester frustrated by David Cameron’s coalition compromises could find a more red-blooded Conservatism at the jam-packed fringe meeting of the Tory “Free Enterprise Group”.

MPs Kwasi Kwarteng, Andrew Leadsom, Chris Skidmore and Dominic Raab talked about the really vigorous cuts they want. Skidmore claimed existing cuts weren’t really “savage” because “no one’s lying dead in the street”, while Raab recommended halving the number of government departments ” because existing cuts were only “relatively modest”.

There was some debate about whether proper free marketeers should be tougher on tax-avoiding, monopolist, “too big to fail” corporations that push around governments, but generally MPs and delegates were less keen on this argument. Perhaps this was just as well; the event was sponsored by beer firm SAB Miller, which paid for the room and supplied many bottles of its own Peroni beer to lubricate the free marketeers’ fervour.

PS: SAB Miller is very keen on avoiding tax, with damaging effects – a 2010 report from charity Action Aid accused the brewer of avoiding £20m of tax per year in Africa alone thanks to its offshore subsidiaries.

Skidmore and the rest of the ‘Free Enterprise Group’ clearly don’t know, and worse, don’t want to know, the devastation their nasty views have caused. Stilloaks and numerous other bloggers have put up a list 45 people, who are known to have either starved to death or committed suicide thanks to the government’s benefit cuts.

There has even been an artwork, War Minister, created by an artist to commemorate the victims. This is a portrait of Iain ‘Underpants’ Duncan Smith, composed of photos of the victims. It’s a powerful and moving piece, which Tom Pride has put up on his blog.

Going further, Mike over at Vox Political, Tom Pride and Johnny Void also recorded the deaths of two men after they were sanctioned by Ashton-Under-Lyme jobcentre. One of the men was homeless.

So, Skidmore, people really are lying dead in the street thanks to your policies.

This is the reality of the current Tory government – people who don’t know, and frankly don’t care, how many ordinary people die, so long as enterprise is free and profits are big. For them.

Vote them out at the next election.

From 2013: Employment Agencies Shifting Employers’ NI Payments to Employees

April 18, 2014

This is another story from Private Eye for 1st – 1th November 2013.

Andrea Leadsom [Image: The Independent].

Andrea Leadsom, the Tories’ City Minister, who also avoids paying tax through offshore accounts.

Supply and (Tax) Demand

It isn’t only offshore payroll firms that are avoiding paying employer’s national insurance contributions for supply teachers – though these are the ones being “actively pursued” by the taxman. If MHRC looked closer to home, it would find that onshore, UK-based companies are also avoiding employer’s NI liabilities by making teachers pay them instead.

Many employment agencies insist workers are paid through umbrella companies, which process their pay and promise benefits for the country’s 40,000 plus supply teachers. But payslips and other documents seen by the Eye suggest the biggest winners are the agencies and the umbrella companies, which can save as much as £62 from a teacher’s £600 weekly wage through the NI payments loophole.

It’s all perfectly legal, but the taxman is losing millions thanks to the arrangement. but who has signed dispensation agreements with umbrella companies saying they don’t need to show receipts? Step forward, HMRC!

Private Eye has covered numerous cases of tax avoidance by the rich, which have shifted the tax burden firmly on employees and the poor. Mike over at Vox Political has blogged today on how the Coalition’s City Minister, Andrea Leadsom, has also used a offshore accounts to lessen her tax bill. This really is a government that, in the words of the notorious ‘Mayflower Madam’, believes that ‘taxes are for little people.’