Posts Tagged ‘Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation’

Spokesman Pamphlets on Blair, the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ and the Iraq Invasion

September 14, 2016

Spokesman, as you’d expect from an organisation that’s part of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, also publishes a couple of pamphlets on Tony Blair and the Iraq invasion. One is The Dodgiest Dossier, whose blurb states

This publication brings together for the first time all the leaked memoranda about the British Government’s decision to go to war on Iraq, plus the Attorney General’s legal advice.

You can read the full text of the revealing memorandum about preparations for war on Iraq, dating from July 2002, (which) was leaked to the press in the days before the 2005 General Election.

That’s 80 pages in lengths.

Rather shorter is Ken Coates’ Not Fit to Be a Prime Minister? That Interview and a Commentary by Ken Coates. The blurb for this states

In September 2007, John Humphrys interviewed Prime Minister Blair at length about his decision to go to war on Iraq. In his inimitable way, the Today presenter said:

‘If your judgement is wrong on this – let me put this very bluntly, you wouldn’t be fit to be Prime Minister …’

Ken Coates provides a commentary on the facts that underlie this memorable exchange.

Blair’s judgement was wrong – horrifically, catastrophically wrong, and Humphrys, for all his other faults, was right: Blair wasn’t fit to be prime minister. I don’t know how useful these pamphlets will be, considering the new information available and the Chilcott Inquiry’s report, which states very clearly that Blair misled parliament in order to get the war he wanted. They do show that at the time there was considerable scepticism about the war and the spurious pretext on which it was founded.

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Book Attacking the Myth of Labour’s Defeat in the Winter of Discontent

September 14, 2016

Spokesman Books, the publishing arm of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, have also produced an edition of What Went Wrong, edited by Ken Coates. This book critically examines and refutes as grossly oversimplistic the myth that the Labour party lost the 1979 election because of trade union militancy during the notorious ‘Winter of Discontent’.

The book, with an accompanying blurb, is listed on their webpage at http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/acatalog/Michael_Barratt_Brown.html

I might have to get this one at some point, because, as the blurb itself says, it is very much ‘conventional wisdom’ that James Callaghan’s government fell because of the militant strike action by the trade unions. It’s brought up repeatedly by the Tories and the right-wing press whenever the unions are discussed or defended, along with comments and verbiage about not going back to the bad old days of the 1970s when Britain was held hostage by the union barons. And so forth.

Much of today’s problems can be traced back to the complete reverse. Thatcher broke the unions, and the result has been decades of poor wages at or below the rate of inflation, poor working conditions, and the creation of the ‘flexible labour market’, set up to make it easier for firms to sack people. Blair’s New Labour was as complicit in all this as the Tories. It was Tony Blair, who threatened to cut the party’s ties with the unions if they blocked his voting reforms. The result is 4.7 million people in Britain in ‘food poverty’, and hundreds of thousands only surviving through food banks.

Advocates of trade unions have pointed out that in companies where there are unions, not only do the workers enjoy higher wages and better conditions, the companies themselves are better run. Which is also an argument for worker’s control. It’s also an argument you are definitely not going to hear from the Conservatives or Smudger and his Blairite friends.

While I don’t want the country to suffer from frequent strikes, as they did in the 1960s and ’70s, we definitely do need more union power, not less.

Spokesman Book on Selecting and Reselecting MPs

September 13, 2016

A number of constituency Labour parties are considering deselecting their MPs, following their attacks against Jeremy Corbyn. Spokesman Books, the publishing arm of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, have a 16 page pamphlet, How to Select or Reselect Your MP, by David Osland, in their ‘Socialist Renewal’ series. ‘Socialist Renewal’ is the campaign to reinstate Clause 4, the clause that demands the nationalisation of industry, back into the Labour party constitution, after it was removed by Blair in 1994.

The pamphlet’s blurb reads

‘You may very well be entirely satisfied with your Labour MP, should you be lucky enough to have one. And that’s exactly how it should be. Work hard to ensure that she or he is returned to parliament at the next general election, hopefully with an increased majority. Britain needs a radical Labour government that will transform the country permanently for the better.

But if you are reading this, chances are either you are not entirely happy with your Westminster representative’s performance, or you know or suspect that your Constituency Labour Party will need to choose a new candidate next time round, for any one of a range of reasons …

Labour Party members do have the right – under the existing rules, as they stand – to seek to put a new candidate in place, through the designedly opaque and little-understood mechanism known as the Trigger Ballot.

The cost of the pamphlet is listed at £4.00.

See: http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/acatalog/Socialist_Renewal.html