Posts Tagged ‘Angela Eagle’

Wirral In It Together on the Non-Disclosure of Police Findings in ‘Brickgate’

January 14, 2017

I had this kind comment by Wirral In It Together about my article reporting on ‘Brickgate’. This was Angela Eagle’s spurious claim that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn had thrown a brick threw her office window. Not only had Mike over at Vox Political and myself covered it, I also recall seeing Wirral In It Together’s blog posts. Here he adds a few more details on how the police’s conclusions had to be kept back for legal reasons, with the result that the press were given the freedom to repeat Eagle’s lie.

Wirral In It Together writes

Have just found your excellent articles on this subject. You may or may not know that I blogged on it also. I also complained to IPSO which was not upheld. I made an FOI request to the police where the information needed to be basically dragged out of them. They found almost immediately after the incident that although the brick was found on site, there was no conclusive evidence that it was used to break the window, but couldn’t release this information for fear of adversely impacting on the ongoing investigation. So the media jumped in and smeared, with Angela Eagle and her press person Imran Ahmed’s loyal assistance.

Here’s a link to a Twitter moment with all the info I posted, collected in one place: https://twitter.com/i/moments/808788741477302272

Why I Didn’t Buy ‘Private Eye’ Yesterday

September 3, 2016

I regularly buy Private Eye, but for the first time in a very long while, I didn’t buy it. I’ve put up a couple of pieces here talking about the very pronounced anti-Corbyn bias there is in the magazine. The ‘In The Back’ section, and its predecessor, ‘Footnotes’, before that exposed the privatisation of the NHS by the Tories and Blair, along with the sell-off of the buildings owned by the Tax Office, the transformation of the schools into increasingly expensive academies and the privatisation of the Royal Mail. The magazine has also attacked the Work Capability Tests, benefit sanctions and workfare. This has all been excellent, but I’ve found this outweighed in recent weeks by the space it gives the Blairites to smear the Labour leader, with no attack on them. There’s a regular strip, ‘Focus on Fact’, which is supposed to expose the dirty dealings of Corbyn and his supporters. This mostly seems to be a rehash of events 30 years or so ago in the 1980s. There have also been pieces attacking The Canary, and smearing the various YouTubers, who didn’t buy Angela Eagle’s lie about the Corbynists throwing a brick through her constituency office window. The Eye attacked them as ‘conspiracy theorists’.

This fortnight’s issue had on its cover a piece about ‘Traingate’, with a headline about Corbyn lying. Now I might be wrong, and the magazine could have been making a critical comment instead about how Corbyn was maligned by the papers yet again, when they reported Virgin Trains’ claim that there were spaces available for him to sit. But I didn’t think so at the time. It looked to me like another in the magazine’s long list of smears. And so I didn’t buy it. I spent part of the money I’d saved instead on a big bar of chocolate. And very nice that tasted too.

Corbyn’s really our only hope in the Labour party of undoing the harm done by nearly forty years of Thatcherism, and particularly all the evils the magazine has done so much to investigate and expose over the years. But Hislop has decided instead to throw his lot in with the corporatists and profiteers, who oppose him. Some of this might be due to the magazine’s links to MI5 through Auberon Waugh, as described in a piece in Lobster many years ago, ‘Five at Eye’. Corbyn opposes the current military build-up on the borders of Russia and the Ukraine. He also talked to the Republicans in Northern Ireland in an attempt to find a peaceful solution, just as he went to Israel to talk to the Palestinians. All actions which currently undermine British foreign policy, which is pure neoliberal corporate imperialism, not so different from what Hobson described over a century ago in his Imperialism, and by Lenin in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. But this makes him a threat to the British state, and particularly its role in supporting Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And so no effort is being spared to destroy him, including hit pieces in the Eye.

My refusal to buy Hislop’s dangerously biased magazine yesterday on its own will have absolutely no effect whatsoever. Indeed, the magazine over the years has taken a kind of perverse pride in offending readers. Its letters page over the years has often been filled with angry readers deeply outraged about their treatment of some issue or another, and cancelling their subscriptions. The most notorious example of this was their cover criticising the mixture of hysteria and voyeurism amongst the crowd at Lady Di’s funeral. To balance the negative correspondence, the Eye also prints letters supporting the controversial piece. Again, there was no shortage of them when it came to Di’s funeral.

If enough people stop buying the magazine, it might have some effect even then. All the newspapers’ profit margins are under attack from the rise of the new media and telecommunications generally, and I doubt that Private Eye is an exception. Though even there, I doubt it will do much harm. As I said, the Eye has always taken a kind of pleasure in outraging and alienating its readers. Nevertheless, it might be vulnerable if enough left-wing readers do it. My guess is that despite the magazine and its founders being very middle class establishment, most of its readers are probably left-wing. It ran a piece a few years ago about a proposal in parliament to give a vote in support of the Eye. Very few Tories gave their support; more Lib Dems did, but most of the votes came from the Labour party. Perhaps if enough left-wingers recognise its pro-corporatist Blairite bias and stop buying it, that might nevertheless shake Hislop up a bit.

And then again, perhaps not. But speaking for myself, I decided yesterday I was sick of its lies and smears, and passed over it at the magazine racks. You make your own decisions about supporting the magazine or not.

Vox Political on the Vacuity of Owen Smith and the Strategic Silence of the Blairites

August 20, 2016

Mike has put up a couple of very chilling articles about Paul Mason’s speculation of where the anti-Corbyn rebels in the Labour party will try to take the coup next. Mason points out that they are largely silent in defending or promoting Owen Smith. He notes that Smiffy was one of those Labour politicos, who sounded left-wing when their real political views were on the right – neoliberal economics intended to keep the Labour party under the control of big finance, the big pharmaceutical companies and the merchants of death. He goes on to state that at the Gateshead and Doncaster hustings, both broadcast by the Beeb, it became evident that Smiffy doesn’t believe in anything. There was no clear indication when he became converted to soft-left Corbynism, but without the unpleasant bits challenging capitalism and big business left out. He speculates that Smiff, and Angela Eagle before him, is only there as a kind of placeholder, to remove Jeremy Corbyn and the Corbynites from control of the Labour party, after which the resources of Progress, Saving Labour and Tomorrow’s Labour will be used to bring the party once more under corporate control.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/20/paul-mason-on-the-silence-of-the-blairites/

Mason goes further and suggests that the next phase of the coup will come after the special conference on the 24th of September. The Blairites are formulating new polls to show that the public prefers Theresa May to Jeremy Corbyn. They will then draw up a list of constituencies which they claim will be lost to Labour come a general election. This will be conveniently leaked to their friends in the right-wing press. Then the bullying and intimidation of Corbyn by Labour’s backbenchers will begin anew, with Smith smiling approvingly, but not taking part, and making disapproving noises occasionally castigating such intimidation. They will then start more legal actions to get their grubby mitts on the party’s name and assets. This is what the establishment of Saving Labour and Tomorrow’s Labour is for. By Christmas, Mason predicts, they will have engineered a split in the Labour party to remove Corbyn’s 300,000+ supporters. As for Smith, he will be discarded. They never took him seriously, and he was never anything more than a tool to prise Corbyn out of office.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/20/is-this-the-blairite-battle-plan/

This is just purely destructive, but it shows the power of corporate big business in New Labour. It also shows, as Mike points out, the sheer irrationality of the Blairites that they are prepared to purge the majority of the party’s members, and even sabotage its electoral chances, just to keep control. It doesn’t matter how many times the accusations of anti-Semitism and misogyny are refuted, they keep being repeated. Just like Goebbels demanded they should be in his strategy of using the one big lie.

This is disgusting, and shows why the Blairites themselves should be removed from power. They should never have been given it in the first place.

Vox Political on the Unreported Bullying by the Blairites

August 20, 2016

Mike yesterday also published an excellent piece supporting an article by Rachel Heeds in the Huffington Post. Heeds had writing an article about the bullying of Corbynistas by the Blairites. She talks about how, far from seeing violent racist thugs at Momentum rallies, she has just seen normal people talking and discussing. Occasionally the discussion gets heated, but she’s never seen anyone storm the stage or hurl abuse. As for Momentum supporters, many of them are ladies of a certain age more likely to bake cakes for events in support of Corbyn than anything remotely violent or abusive.

But the Blairites have resorted to abuse and bullying in order to shout down their opponents. Mike states he’s suffered from it in the last few days. I know other people, who’ve also commented on the sheer venom and scatological abuse directed at Corbyn and his supporters on social media. But Tom Watson has done nothing. Indeed, he and the other Blairites in the Parliamentary Labour Party have taken the lead in hurling this abuse, through the hysterical accusations of Trotskyite infiltration. Heeds has also talked to Corbyn supporters, who have been left seriously distressed by some of these allegations, including those in the Mirror about ‘Gulags’, and Mark Foster’s splenetic denunciation in the Mail Online last Sunday about Momentum as a gang of Nazi stormtroopers.

One of those left distressed and upset by that article is Rachel Nesbitt, the other of the Facebook page, Jeremy Corbyn’s Terrible Thugs – #Thuginistas. Nesbitt is Jewish, and part of the distinguished Horvitz family, a group which played a leading role in European Judaism for centuries. Like very many British Jews, she also lost family members during the Holocaust. Now she finds herself smeared as the very people, who murdered her family, by Foster. You don’t need much imagination to sympathise with her deep outrage at this vile smear.

And all this is done to shut down debate, by people who are accusing Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters of doing so.

See Mike’s article http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/19/labour-party-bullies-like-tom-watson-and-michael-foster-must-not-be-allowed-to-win/ and following the links to Heed’s piece in the Huffington Post.

One of the worst hypocrites in this bullying is Angela Eagle, who stood up and stated that ‘we need a kinder, gentler style of politics’ while spouting the lie about Corbyn supporters shoving a brick through her constituency office window. There’s also more than element of hypocrisy in Foster’s vile smear about Momentum supporters being Nazis. There’s the obvious fact that Momentum supporters aren’t anti-Semites, and Corbyn’s supporters include many Jews and people of Jewish heritage. Mike also covered a piece by the Skwawkbox, which did a point-for-point rebuttal of Foster’s allegations, starting with the fact that he had walked calmly through a Momentum demonstration for quite a long time before anything happened. If they Momentum really was a hard-right organisation of Jew Haters, quite simply he wouldn’t have been able to do this. The real Fascist organisations are violent thugs, many of whom have committed murder. They have absolutely no qualms about attacking and savagely beating trade unionists, Jews, Blacks, Asians and Leftists when- or wherever they find them. If Momentum were like them, Foster wouldn’t be able to walk around them for five minutes before the abuse, threats and violence started.

But there’s another issue surrounding Foster’s slur. Foster has accused other Jews of being Nazis, which is exactly the same accusation that was leveled at Red Ken. Leninspart was accused a few years ago, if you remember, of anti-Semitism because he had allegedly compared a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard. I’ve read accounts of the incident by others outside the Right-wing media, which recited this allegation. I’ve forgotten the details, but it’s not quite like they portrayed. Livingstone isn’t an anti-Semite. I’ve made this point again and again. You only have to read his condemnation of racism, and the British state’s active recruitment of Nazis, including those actively involved in the Holocaust and pogroms, in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, to see that. And the same accusation has been made against Jews and people of Jewish heritage like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and now Rachel Nesbitt, either personally or simply because of their membership of Momentum.

But Foster has not been accused of anti-Semitism for his allegations like Livingstone, or the Jewish people he smeared. This shows very clearly the hypocrisy and double standards of the Blairites and right-wing media. It’s disgusting, and shows once again why these papers and broadcasters can’t be trusted.

In Defence of Left-Wing Anger

August 17, 2016

I’ve been meaning to get this off my chest for a little while now. One aspect of the anti-Corbyn Labour MPs that really annoys me is the hypocrisy that comes with their constant playing at being the victims of terrible abuse by Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn. Every so often they make pleas for political discourse and exchange to be made kinder or more genteel, while showing precious little of such qualities themselves. Jess Philips, according to the Groan, is having a panic room installed at her constituency office. But Mike’s already stated that she herself is an abrasive character online. This doesn’t justify any threats against her, but it doesn’t make her quite the innocent victim she claims either.

I’ve reblogged a video several times made by a couple in Angela Eagle’s constituency pointing out that Eagle’s story about the brick being thrown by Jeremy Corbyn supporters through her constituency window is a load of hogwash. It begins with footage of Eagle giving her story to the press. She concludes by saying that ‘We need a kinder, gentler style of politics’, before turning smartly on her heel and marching off, surrounded by her aids. This little piece has infuriated me ever since I’ve seen it. Firstly, it seems more than a little imperious. It’s bit of ‘I, the Great One, am speaking. Mortals listen!’ I also object to it on the grounds that it seems to be trying to deny the fact that her critics and opponents just might have entirely justifiable reasons for their anger. She seems to want to have the kind of exchange where everything is calm and mild. Now this is the kind of exchange I prefer. I honestly don’t like abuse and trolling. But on certain issues, if people do become abusive, it can be because the issue they’re discussing has all too real implications and consequences for them.

And many of the policies enacted by the Blairites have had terrible consequences for Britain as a nation, and specifically for the poor and working class. Let’s go through them.

Firstly, Blair took Britain into an illegal war in Iraq. The country had not threatened us, and at the time we invaded, Saddam Hussein was pretty much a joke to the rest of the Middle East. He was a thug, but he was contained. And the country over which he ruled was relatively prosperous, and with an advanced welfare state and educational system, at least for the region.

This has all changed. A quarter of a million Iraqis have died, and the country degenerated into a bloodbath of competing factions. Their economy has been wrecked, and ISIS and related death squads have terrorised its population. Our squaddies have been sent to fight and die, not to keep the world safe, but to produce even greater profits for the oil companies and American multinationals wishing to get their mitts on the country’s appetising state industries. Domestically it reinforced the view of many Muslims that the country was being targeted simply because it was Islamic. So it’s increased more racial and religious friction and intolerance over here. Is the Iraq invasion a good reason for people to get angry. Yes.

Then there’s the privatisation of the NHS. Blair, Brown and the others in New Labour took over the Private Finance Initiative and massively expanded it as official labour policy. They also began to split up the NHS into different commissioning groups, with the intention of creating competition. These commissioning groups were to provide healthcare not only from the NHS, but also from private healthcare companies. Hospitals and doctors surgeries have been taken over by private hospital chains. More than half of all hospital treatment is now commissioned from private healthcare providers. The ‘walk-in’ centres, or polyclinics, that were set up were also intended to be privately run. New Labour took as their care model a private American company, Kaiser Permanente. These policies have been taken over and further extended by the Tories after they won the 2010 election. Now it’s almost set to be totally privatised. Frankly, this makes me absolutely furious.

Let’s take the Work Capability Test. This was adopted by Blair and co. because they uncritically swallowed the Tory rubbish about most disabled people, the long term sick were malingerers and scroungers. They took over a tick-box questionnaire approach to examining people’s health pioneered by Unum, an American health insurance company that was guilty of some of the biggest insurance frauds prosecuted by the American state. The questionnaire used, and its underlying assumptions, are scientific nonsense. The policy is so notorious, that Atos decided to throw in the towel early, and were released from their contract a year before it was due to expire.

But the policy goes on, and it has had terrible real world consequences. Seriously ill people have been thrown off their benefits, and in some cases, have actually starved to death through lack of an income. Those with mental health problems, like anxiety and depression, have become worse, often much worse. As an example of how farcical this is, you consider some of the worst incidents, where people terminally ill in comas have been told they should find a job. Or when an amputee was asked when they expected their limbs to grow back. People are suffering and starving because of this. This isn’t a case of abstract policy, an interesting intellectual puzzle, which has no clear consequences for people’s lives. It makes a different over whether people are actually able to put food on their tables, or have a roof over their head, or can live out their lives with dignity.

It’s the same with the issue of benefit sanctions. Thanks to them, and the flexible employment policies Blair and Brown were so keen to employ, there are about 4.7 million people living in ‘food poverty’ in this country. There are cases where mothers are starving themselves, because it’s the only way they can afford to feed their children. And I can remember an incident I read on one of the other blogs, about how people in one town came to the aid of a young man, after he broke down in tears outside the Jobcentre, because they wouldn’t help him. As with the Work Capability Test, this is an issue that all-too real consequences for millions of people. And when nearly five million are going hungry in the fourth richest country in the world, you bet people have a right to be angry.

You can expand this to include the way the treatment of jobseekers has been deliberately made as humiliating and degrading as possible, with the imposition of workfare, capitalist forced labour brought to you by Sainsbury’s and the myriad other firms using it to cut down on labour costs. This was introduced as part of Margaret Thatcher’s return to ‘Victorian values’, which in this case meant the same values on which the workhouse system was established. The DHSS and the Benefits Agency always had an element of danger with them, because claimants naturally got angry with the state bureaucracy that could deny them money. People are left angry, despairing and furious with their treatment by the Jobcentre. But they also have a right to direct this rage at the politicians, who created the system.

And here New Labour have also shown themselves to be despicable. Cameron introduced workfare, but Ed Miliband ordered his cabinet not to oppose it, in case the Labour party should be seen to be soft on ‘benefit scroungers’ by the Tory press. Again, people have a very definite right to be angry.

I also think part of what makes me angry about Eagle’s behaviour, is her manner. It’s as if she seems to be completely insulated from the grim reality of the suffering New Labour have inflicted. She sounds to me like a bureaucrat or manager, completely obsessed with administering the policies that have been set, and getting irritated because somebody, somewhere, has had the temerity to object to it. I’ve remarked before that many of the Blairites seem to come from affluent, privileged, middle class backgrounds. My guess is that they genuinely don’t appreciate the harm they’re doing, because they’ve never experienced it themselves. They’ve only ever seen these policies from the vantage point of people, who’ve taken on the task of carrying them out. And they find it confusing and intensely infuriating when the masses don’t just accept what’s being done is for their good.

I am not saying that people have a right to abuse politicians or Jobcentre staff, or threaten them, let alone attack them or try to damage their property. I am very definitely against all of that. But people do have a right to be enraged at what has been done to them by the Thatcherites, both in the Tories and in New Labour.

And anger, as John Lydon sang, is an energy.

The gaol should now be to use this anger, this resentment against an unfair and deliberately cruel and exploitative system, to argue, research, expose and organise and keep the pressure on relentlessly to overturn these policies.

Vox Political: Corbyn Critic Has Panic Room Installed at her Office

August 17, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece from the Guardian, reporting that the Jess Philips, a Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, has had a panic room installed at her constituency office. She states that she does not feel welcome by large swathes of people in the Labour party, and stated that she would struggle to stay in the party if Corbyn won again, unless something changes in the way people were treated online, in the streets and our security. She later denied that she was planning to quit.

Mike in his comments to the piece wondered who’s paying. He made very clear that no one in a job that doesn’t involve risks to their life, like MPs, should have to fear for their lives. He also makes it clear that he wouldn’t threaten her, or would want to follow through on any threats she had received. But he makes it clear that she is a vocal critic of Corbyn, and a very abrasive character, as was evident from her Twitter feed. Which meant that he was also sick of her unparliamentary behaviour.

I started wondering how far the installation of the panic room represented genuine fears, and how much it was all part of the theatre of victimhood the Blairites have been acting out every since they rebelled. We’ve had Angela Eagle claim that a brick was thrown through her office window, when it wasn’t. A brick was thrown, but it went through the window of shared staircase. There’s nothing to connect it to any Corbyn supporters. We’ve seen people from the Portman PR heckle Corbyn at a gay rights demo, and then claim that this represents popular feeling against him. And then there were the inflated stories about Corbynites hold demonstrations outside other anti-Corbyn MPs offices, when they were simply marching past. And it just seems to carry on. And as Philips is an abrasive character, there is a part of me that thinks she’s brought it on herself. She’s shown a willingness to gratuitously insult and upset people – I assume. I’m not on Twitter. And if she does that, then perhaps she shouldn’t be too surprised at the consequences, particularly as she must be aware that there are some very dark parts of the internet. Again, this makes me wonder how genuine her supposed fear is. After all, if the abuse she’s receiving is bad, you wonder just how much worse the abuse far more famous trolls like Louise Mensch and Katie Hopkins are getting from the people, who loath and despite the rubbish they mouth. Hopkins herself goes out deliberately to upset and offend, and has caused numerous scandals and outrages. But I haven’t heard of her claiming that she fears for her safety. Quite the opposite. Hopkins seems to be one of those vile people, who thrive off any abuse they get, which is why I don’t want to give her any publicity. But at the same time, she’s a national figure while Philips, I suspect, is still quite obscure to most people.

So while part of me feels guilty about the blaming the victim, I do wonder how far she genuinely fears for her life, and whether this is just another stunt at fake victimhood to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

Private Eye Smears Critics of Angela Eagle’s Smashed Window Claim

August 13, 2016

As well as sneering at Corbyn for not having resigned, and left the way clear for the Blairites to continue their destruction of the welfare state, the NHS – they want to privatise that too – and the working class – Private Eye also got very snooty in its issue for the 5th-18th August 2016 about Corbyn supporters not taking Angela Eagle’s story that they’d broken the window of her constituency office. In a piece entitled ‘Shaken & Stirred’, the Eye fully backed the claim that the Corbynistas were responsible for the broken window, and for harassing Eagle generally. They also claimed that the internet peeps, who actually investigated it were ‘conspiracy theorists’ and called the ‘Truthers’, comparing them to the paranoids, who believe that it’s really the Americans, or Mossad, or whoever, who were really responsible for 9/11, rather than Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, backed by senior members of the Saudi government.

The Eye writes

Shortly after Labour leadership challenger Angela Eagle’s constituency office was vandalised, a “window truther” movement sprung up amongst more fervent Corbynistas.

This centred on a YouTube video which purported to prove that since the brick in question had actually landed on a shared staircase rather than the room her staff actually worked in (and where they had to disconnect the phones due to a torrent of abusive calls), Eagle was lying about the incident and “twisting reality to suite [sic] her own political agenda. The theory quickly gained ground online, alongside various “false flag” conspiracies that even had the MP lobbying the brick herself to discredit the saintly Corbyn.

On 22nd July the beleaguered Eagle spoke to the Daily Telegraph about the hostility she was facing, and said of Corbyn: “He has been stirring, he needs to be held to account.” Questioned on BBC Five Live that morning, the Labour leader was quick to deny it all. “I deeply regret the language that Angela is using,” Corbyn sighed. “As soon as I heard about the brick that was thrown through part of the building where her office is I called her…”

No stirring there then!

To which one could add: no lies and bias from Private Eye either. I’ve put up one of the videos that was made by the ‘window truthers’. Rather than being ‘fervent’ or wild-eyed fanatics, as the Eye would have us believe, they seemed entirely rational. For a start, they pointed out that the brick came through a window onto the building’s staircase. The Eye’s article states that the brick landed on a shared staircase, but does not correct the claim that it came through Eagle’s window. It didn’t. This is misleading. Other people, who lived in the area have pointed out that it’s actually prone to a high level of vandalism. Eagle saw no reason to comment on any of this, despite the fact that incidents had already occurred near the building. Neither did the Eye. We also have only Eagle’s claim that the Corbynistas were responsible. And she is, in my opinion, a proven liar. She claimed that she was subject to harassment at a meeting of her constituency party in Wallasey, including homophobic abuse. People, who were there, including the mother of a woman in a same-sex marriage, noted no such thing. She has offered no evidence that the brick was thrown by a Corbyn supporter. And nor do we have anything but her word, and that of the Eye, that the phones in her office had to be disconnected because she was receiving a ‘torrent of abuse’. She’s lied before. Without corroborating evidence, I see no reason not to view that as another lie.

They also insinuate that Corbyn was stirring when he phoned Eagle up about the incident. But we only have the Eye’s word on that. They don’t tell us what he actually said. He could have phoned to deny the incident and expressed his sympathies for her. We simply don’t know, as the Eye’s article doesn’t tell us. Probably because it doesn’t support their story that it was all due to Corbyn and his incitement of the mob. So more lies and half-truths.

And finally, there’s the small issue of the name the Eye deigned to call those people, who had the ghastly temerity to challenge Eagle’s line about the brick: ‘window truthers’. I don’t know anyone who’s called them that. It looks very much like a term either the Blairites or Private Eye has pulled out of their rectums to smear them.

So the article’s just a mish-mash of half-truths and insinuations, intended to discredit Corbyn in the Blairite’s favour. One upon a time the Eye was a critic of the Blairites, and their campaign to privatise education, the Health Service, and cut the welfare state and inflict workfare. Now it appears that they’ve changed their view slightly, and want to support on the spurious grounds that they’re the best chance against the Tories. Except they’re not. But the increasingly establishment Eye ain’t going to tell you that.

Here’s the video I put up a few weeks ago taking down her lies about the window. Watch it, and judge for yourself whether it’s the truth or not.

Losing Patience with the Anti-Corbyn Bias in Private Eye

August 7, 2016

I’ve finally lost patience with the persistent bias against Jeremy Corbyn in Private Eye. I read the magazine regularly, and much of it I agree with and admire. It has over the years published some superb pieces attacking privatisation, the dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS, and the persecution of the severely disabled by Atos and its successor Maximus. It has also shown itself quite willing to challenge British foreign policy. For example, it has published numerous pieces rebutting official claims that the Libyans were responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, and instead pointed the finger at Syria, who were not accused as George Bush senior needed their help during the first Gulf War. It has also done admirable work defending the bereaved relatives in the Deepcut inquiry, challenging the official story that all of the victims committed suicide and attacking the Army’s and police’s apparent cover-up of what looks very much like murder on an army base that was out of control, with rampant bullying and the sexual abuse of female squaddies.

And yet, despite all this, the magazine has joined the rest of the press pack in attacking Corbyn as ‘unelectable’, mocking, smearing and denigrating his leadership at every turn. For the past few weeks, it has been running a strip, ‘Focus on Fact’, which appears to have been written by the Blairites, and mostly revisits spats with Jeremy Corbyn and the extreme Left back in the 1980s. They’ve also published other pieces firmly showing their pro-Blairite bias. For instance, in this fortnight’s issue, there’s a piece defending Angela Eagle’s claim that Corbynistas threw a brick through her window, and attacking the good folks on the internet that have attempted to refute it as ‘conspiracy theorists’. They’ve also decided to criticise Corbyn because – gasp – he’s dared to appear on RT and Press TV. I intend to blog more deeply about both these issues. However, for now I’ll just say that the story about the brick thrown at Eagle’s office is false. It didn’t come through her window, and the area is marked by vandalism. There’s no evidence linking it to the Corbynites, and the entire accusation just comes from Eagle. As for RT and PressTV, this is more or less a return to the ‘red baiting’ of the Thatcherites in the 1980s, when they attacked Ken Livingstone and his group as Communists. This included members of the left-wing Tribune group, who had written articles for Soviet and Marxist magazines, but were themselves not Communists. RT stands for Russia Today, and is the Russian state broadcaster, while PressTV is run by the Iranian state. Both of these are extremely authoritarian countries which are notorious for their persecution of independent journalists. But I’ve used material from RT, because it gives a genuinely left-wing perspective on politics and events in America and the West, such as American imperialism and the exclusion of radical voices from official American politics. Very few others broadcasters are going to discuss these issues, with the noble exceptions of internet programmes like The Young Turks and Democracy Now. They put on the stuff that you won’t read about in our papers, or see on BBC TV, and increasingly not on Channel 4.

So what has prompted the Eye to attack Corbyn? I can’t be sure, but it strikes me that it’s probably due to the very upper middle class background of the magazine itself, and the fact that, despite its excellent record in many areas, none of its founders were in any sense radicals. Peter Cook, Willie Rushton, Richard Ingrams and John Wells were all stout fellows, but they were very ‘establishment’. They were public schoolboys, a point I can remember being made by the panel at an event on the late Peter Cook one year at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. John Wells, who in my opinion was one of the funniest of British comedians and comic actors, was the former French teacher and headmaster of Eton. You don’t get much more establishment than that. I once heard Humphrey Carpenter describe Auberon Waugh as a ‘Tory anarchist’, presumably meaning he that he was instinctively a man of the Right, but was also acutely aware of their stupidities and failings as well. I think this characterisation probably applies much more to Peter Cook. Cook seemed to me to be resolutely cynical in his politics. When he was at university, he joined all three mainstream political parties so he could laugh at them equally. By contrast, Waugh, who also wrote columns for Private Eye, always struck me as just a sarcastic right-winger sneering at the Left. Ingrams was notorious for having a bitter hatred of gays. After leaving the editorship of Private Eye, he founded the Oldie, a magazine for the elderly. I asked my mother once if she’d read it. She had, but didn’t like it, declaring it to be ‘snobby’. The only genuine left-winger on the team was Paul Foot, and he fitted in because he came from the same privileged background, and had the same very upper-middle class tastes in food and drink as the rest of them.

Ian Hislop, the current editor, is no different. He’s very public school, and his father was some kind of army officer or colonial administrator in Nigeria. And he also shares other parts of the accepted political wisdom. A few years ago on Have I Got News For You he declared that, regardless of the attacks the Tories were getting for their austerity policies, Labour would also be required to cut spending on the welfare state. This is very much the standard view, which is also followed slavishly by Beeb broadcasters. The Kushners attacked it, and the media consensus surrounding it, in their book Who Needs the Cuts?, which contains numerous examples of BBC broadcasters and journos uncritically repeating what is basically Neoliberal propaganda. Hislop wasn’t mentioned, but he was clearly another who had uncritically accepted this view.

And Corbyn isn’t the only Left-wing politician to be have been unfairly attacked by the Eye. Tony Benn was regularly pilloried as a ‘swivel-eyed loon’, despite the fact that the people, who knew him said that he wasn’t a fanatic, but a thoughtful man who carefully considered what the people around him were saying and consulted their opinions before reaching a decision. But the received, Fleet Street wisdom in the 1970s and ’80s was that Benn was a fanatic and a madman.

As was ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone. Livingstone was also attacked as a ‘Communist’, despite the fact that he wasn’t. He used them, and occasionally used the same type of language, but wasn’t, in fact, a Marxist. But hasn’t stopped the Eye from calling him Ken Leninspart. And most of what Livingstone talked about in his interviews with the press when he was head of the GLC was boringly mundane. However, this was routinely ignored, and the only parts of the conversation – which in actual fact were only very small parts of what he said – which were printed and repeated were those which presented him as an extremist – profoundly anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-gay. Which was too much for a Britain that was much more traditional and conservative in its attitudes towards race and gender than today. This was a time when the Black and White Minstrels were mainstream TV with a mass audience, despite being based on 19ith century parodies of Black, slave entertainment.

Benn and Livingstone were both attacked by the media because they were left-wing Socialists. Benn advocated extending nationalisation to a further 25 companies, as recommended in a report by his own party. One journo for the Sunday Times said that this was probably the reason why the press hated him, because editors and proprietors feared that eventually he would nationalise them. And ‘Red’ Ken was similarly reviled because he was in favour of industrial democracy and worker’s control, which shocked and outraged the media. The press did not, however, try to refute their ideas, and so took the tactics of sheer ad hominem abuse. My guess they were afraid to, because either they couldn’t, or they were afraid that simply discussing them would make them popular with the proles.

And I think this is true of the press today and its attacks on Corbyn. They’re motivated by the same fear of genuine Socialism after the neoliberalism and privatisation of the Blairites. And this terror is shared by Hislop and Private Eye, which despite its subversive tradition of satire and exposing abuse of power, isn’t really a radical magazine. Hislop and no doubt many of his contributors come from the upper middle classes, which own industry and continue to expect to take a leading role in British government and society. Jeremy Corbyn threatens them, just as Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone did before him. And so Private Eye joins in the abuse sneering and smearing him.

May Refuses to Release Rape Figures at Detention Centre for Commercial Reasons

July 31, 2016

This shows the hollowness of the Tory Claims that somehow they are pro-feminist, and that the installation of Theresa May in No 10 is somehow an advance for this country’s women.

Mike yesterday put up a piece reporting that the Independent had made a request for the official figures of the number of rapes that had occurred at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where immigrants are held while their cases are decided. The Indie noted that many of the women held their had been fleeing rape and war in their countries of origin. The detention centre is operated by Serco, one of the government’s favourite outsourcing contractors, along with G4S. Current legislation means that public bodies have to disclose information when it is in the public interest. But the Home Office turned down this request for information as it would harm the commercial interests of the companies running the centre.

Mike asked the obvious question: When did it become acceptable to use ‘commercial interest’ as an excuse to hide rape?

The question is rhetorical. Of course it isn’t. Mike makes the point that the framing of the request for information makes it clear that it has gone on more than once. he also states that as May was the minister in charge of the Home Office, she has the overall responsibility for what occurred there. And if she is indifferent to the crimes and abuse that happened there, what does this show about her concern for the rest of this country’s population?

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/30/when-did-it-become-acceptable-to-use-commercial-interest-as-an-excuse-to-hide-rape/

The Conservative party has repeatedly used the excuse of ‘commercial interests’ to justify their refusal to release details of the failures of private government outsourcing companies, including private hospitals and clinics. I distinctly remember Mike reporting a few years ago on the way requests for information on the standard of care at the private hospitals and hospital management companies contracted in to perform operations and manage PFI hospitals as part of the government’s privatisation campaign, were similarly turned down for the same reason. Yet similarly confidential information about the costs of running public hospitals were to be given to private companies. This was a naked display of the government’s intention to privatise the Health Service, by giving every advantage to the private sector, while covering up their failures. It is exactly the same here.

The excuse that the information must be protected for reasons of commercial confidentiality while the state’s must be public is easily dismissed. If a private company is performing work for the state, then it effectively becomes part of the res publica, and it is in the public interest to examine how efficient and trustworthy that company is, for exactly the same reasons governing the release of information about public bodies. Part of the rationale for employing private companies is that competition leads to higher standards than possible in a bureaucracy. But competition depends on there being competitors, who are aware of the faults of their rivals, and can correct these to offer better services.

The fact that the Tories don’t want to release such information suggests that they’re not interested in genuinely promoting competition. They’re just interested in promoting private companies. It also suggests that the supposed superior performance of the private sector is a myth. If the number of rapes in Yarl’s Wood detention centre was actually lower than those in state management, then I don’t see how there could be any objection to releasing them. It also suggests to me that, outside of the usual recidivists, there are no other outsourcing companies bidding to take over such services. The government has got to stick with Serco, or G4S, or whoever, because nobody else is going to do the job, and if they go, the whole project fails.

This is exactly similar to the government’s promotion of private healthcare and privatisation of the NHS. Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis in their book, NHS-SOS make the point that there is no market for private healthcare in this country, and that private hospitals themselves aren’t efficient compared to state healthcare. The result is that the government, in the form of New Labour and the Tories, has had to resort to continuous intervention in order to do so. And it’s very obvious that’s also the case here.

Private healthcare doesn’t work, and the NHS should be renationalised.
Private prisons and detention centres don’t work, and should be renationalised.

As for what the government’s refusal to release figures specifically about the incidence of rape shows about May’s feminism, it shows that she has little interest in women’s welfare, or at least, in the welfare of women who don’t belong to the upper and upper middle classes. Rape, and violence against women in general, is the quintessential feminist cause. Yet here, May shows that she has no interest in combating it, if it means that her precious companies don’t make a tidy profit. Capitalism first, women’s safety second. After Angela Eagle’s leadership campaign collapsed, one of the female hacks in the I newspaper lamented the absence of strong, charismatic women in the Labour party, and pointed to the Tories’ election of May as their second female prime minister. But this ignores the fact that Maggie Thatcher did not see herself as a feminist. Her public persona was so aggressively masculine that one of the feminists in the Observer dubbed her ‘the best man in the Tory party’. Much the same has been said recently about Hillary Clinton, who is as aggressively militaristic as any of the male hawks with which she surrounds herself. And the same is true of Theresa May. She represents the ability of middle and upper class women to break through the glass ceiling and take senior positions in politics and management. But she has no interest in protecting the interests, rights, dignity and welfare of the people below her, including women.

Mike says of this incident that it’s about time the honeymoon with her was over. I agree. She will do nothing for the poor, and vulnerable, and will just carry on with Cameron’s policies. The fact that she is a woman is merely a piece of liberal camouflage hiding the harshly, exploitative Tory policies underneath.

More Lies from the Blairites: The Truth about Conor McGinn’s Claim He Was Attack by Female Thugs

July 30, 2016

On Wednesday, Mike put up another piece from The Canary, a pro-Corbyn blog, which exploded another lie from the Blairites about how they were being attacked and victimised by Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. McGinn, the Labour MP for St. Helen’s North, had reported several women to the police, claiming that they had ransacked his office and threatened him to the extent that he was forced to approach the police for protection. He also published a version of the incident on the Politics Home page.

The reality of the incident, from the women McGinn accused, is very different. They were accused of threatening the MP because they caught him in appalling deceit, and dared to challenge him about it. And far from them threatening him, it would appear from their account that it was they who felt threatened and intimidated.

As they ladies themselves and witnesses tell it, they had turned up on the 7th of July at Century House to attend a meeting of the Constituency party in St. Helens, which they had been told was going to be about a vote of confidence in the Labour leader. They came independently, and none of them knew each other. They were directed up to the appropriate room, which was locked. When they knocked, all the lights went out. They knocked again, but there was no response, and so they went down and asked security. They couldn’t give them an answer either, so the women left the building.

They went over to the Town Hall, and tried that too. It was also locked. After waiting an hour, they saw McGinn and a group of men leaving the building, laughing. Two of the women went over to challenge him about it. McGinn was with six other men, who were extremely patronising.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/27/the-embarrassing-truth-about-mps-claim-he-was-attacked-by-corbyn-supporters/

From this, it would appear that McGinn is another Blairite, who started telling porkie pies to disguise the fact that he was caught lying about the location of the meeting, which was held behind closed doors, in order to get the result he wanted. The remnants of New Labour in Progress, Saving Labour and the rest have shown themselves to be consistently deceitful, using lies, PR stunts and smears against their left-wing opponents. McGinn has shown himself in this as more than willing to use the same tactics. Rather than showing Jeremy Corbyn as unelectable and unfit for government, McGinn, Angela Eagle, Owen Smith and the rest have shown themselves to be completely unsuited for government office. They lie to the British public to smear Corbyn, and they will lie to the British public if elected to government to protect the corporate interests they serve. They should reconsider their place in the Labour party, and resign if they cannot serve their leader or the vast majority of the party’s members.