Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

Another Step on the Road to Fascism as Raab Plans Attack on Judges’ Independence

October 19, 2021

Mike’s put up a chilling post about the Tories’ latest attack on our civil liberties. It starts with a tweet from Paul Delaney stating that Dominic Raab plans to set up a mechanism in the UK’s human rights act which would ‘correct’ rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Delaney concludes ‘We live in dangerous times as Fascism looms large’.

Yes, we do. As Mike points out, this means that if the government does not like the decision made by human rights judges here in Blighty, he will override them. Raab has tried to excuse this attack on the judiciary by stating that it will somehow strengthen democracy by stopping ‘judicial legislation’. But as Mike explains, the judges don’t actually make laws. They simply apply them, and stopping them from doing so breaks the law. He goes on to explain

You see, so-called “case law” – legal precedents set by judges – are only examples of the way the law should be interpreted when applied to particular situations, to be followed if such situations arise again in order to avoid contradiction and confusion. They are not situations in which judges take legislative power for themselves and Raab is lying by suggesting that.

Mike’s article also contains a tweet from Nafzir Ali, explaining that the Human Rights Act is British law, enforced by British judges in British courts. We already have a mechanism for overriding it – legislation. It is dishonest to blame foreigners for it, and challenges to government are part of the basis of democracy.

Jonathan Jones, the former head of the government’s legal service, stated that as parliament was already able to do this, it seems that Raab is attempting to enable ministers to do so without parliaments approval. Mike’s article also quotes Cambridge professor of public law, Mark Elliott stated that giving ministers the power to overturn judicial decisions simply because they didn’t agree with them cut across ‘principles that are the fundamental components of the rule of law.’ Mike’s article goes on with this quotation:

“If that is what is in contemplation, then that is profoundly problematic,” said Prof Elliott. “Indeed it turns constitutional principle on its head.

“Ministerial power to do this would itself be deeply troubling. It would reassign a basic judicial role – interpreting the law – to ministers.

“Ultimately, this all strikes me as part of a project to enhance executive supremacy by treating courts, whether foreign or domestic, as unwelcome interlopers.

“And yet all of this masquerades as an attempt to protect parliament. The reality of this executive power project, as we might call it, is that it will be the executive that is the principal beneficiary of such changes, and the loser will be basic standards of good governance.”

Mike calls this what it is: Fascism. It resembles the Nazis’ attack on the independence of the judiciary during the Third Reich.

The entry ‘Justice in Nazi Germany’ in James Taylor’s and Warren Shaw’s A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988) has the following passages. These show how the Nazis also attacked the judiciary in order to subordinate to their control. While much of this is far more extreme than what Raab is currently proposing, I’m including it here as a warning of where this ultimately leads.

Hitler’s revision of the laws of Germany did not affect civil laws, such as those on wills, torts, commercial contracts, but criminal law was massively restructured. By 1945, 43 crimes carried the death penalty. Judges who did not conform to the practice of Nazi justice were removed from office; only conformists survived. Their role was to maintain not ‘the state’ but the Nazi view of the state, preserving the existing volkisch (traditional ‘Aryan’ and Germanic) elements, punishing anything like anti-Nazi behaviour and getting rid of any obstruction to the Party’s will. Prosecution lawyers were given added powers and importance in court, while lawyers for the defence were weakened… To ensure the operation of Nazi justice, from 1942 judges and prosecution were allowed to confer without any defence lawyer being present.

From March 1933 Special Courts (Sondergerichte) were set up to try political offences without a jury. In 1934 the People’s Courts (Volksgerichthofe) were established to try cases of high treason, but with a jury drawn exclusively from Nazi party members. This was the court over which the vicious Roland Freisler presided in Berlin and which condemned those accused of complicity in the July 1944 bomb plot.’ (P. 198-9).

As Mike has also pointed out, this has been coming for a long time. The Tories have been stirring up hatred of the courts when they have dared to rule against them. Remember the Heil’s headline labelling the judges who upheld Gina Miller’s challenge to Brexit as ‘Enemies of the people’. That could have come direct from the Nazis, Italian Fascists, Stalin or any of the other totalitarian monsters. The independence of the judiciary has been a vital part of the British constitution with its origins going right back to the founding legal theorists of the twelfth century. It, and parliament, are part of what has made Britain a democracy rather than an absolute monarchy or dictatorship.

And now Raab plans to destroy this bulwark of British freedom. And he’s justifying it by claiming it’s all being done to protect our sovereignty from those evil Europeans. Just as Priti Patel is claiming to be protecting us from the threat of illegal immigration by planning to grant officials immunity from prosecution if they push the channel migrants back out, or don’t rescue them, and someone dies.

The great Tony Benn pointed out that before the Tories start taking away the rights of the settled population, they always begin with immigrants. It’s because they can count on a good reception from the right-wing press by dressing it up in nationalist garb.

But Raab’s attack on the European Court of Human Rights is just a pretext and the beginning. After he’s passed this nasty piece of legislation, he’ll be coming for more British freedoms.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/19/fascism-looms-as-raab-threatens-to-correct-court-judgments/

Foreign Countries Able to Threaten British Energy Supply Because of Thatcher’s Privatisation

October 11, 2021

The Beeb has caught the Tories lying again. Not that it’s anything remarkable. Mike’s shown in an article a few days ago that Johnson’s speech at the Tory conference was just one lie after another. It would be more remarkable if he actually told the truth for once. But this time it’s Kwesi Kwarteng, who for some reason I’m always tempted to call ‘Queasy’, who’s told the porkies. He said he’d been in talks about the coming massive price rises for energy with Rishi Sunak. The Beeb checked and no, he didn’t. Well, as Bill Hicks used to say, ‘colour me ‘surprised”. But in many ways the most important point in Mike’s piece was further down, when he states that the ability of foreign government to pull the plug on our energy goes back to Thatcher and her privatisations. Mike writes

This has been a long time coming – and some of us have been warning about it, every step of the way.

The Tories privatised the energy suppliers on the promise that prices would stay low and systems would improve, in order to stay competitive. Instead, prices quadrupled and control of the new companies was bought by foreign firms, many of them wholly-owned by the governments of EU nations.

And then the UK left the EU, annoying those governments.

And now we are facing the threat of being deprived of our power supply.

It would not be possible if the UK had retained control of its own energy supply. But that’s another truth you won’t hear from Kwasi Kwarteng.

This is presumably why the Americans don’t allow foreigners to control their utilities. And it is, obviously, a major argument in favour of keeping them nationalised. But as we’ve seen, national security means zero to the right if they can sell a vital part of Britain’s industry or public infrastructure to any foreign government or country that wants it.

They’re only interested in it if they can use it to smear the left as commies or Trotskyites, like Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn.

Brexit Britain’s Collapse also Reveals Failure of Free Market Capitalism

September 26, 2021

I wonder sometimes if the Communists and Trotskyites didn’t throw in the towel too soon. They were always looking for the collapse of capitalism, and while that didn’t happen and probably won’t, they would have realised that Thatcherism, at least, isn’t working and made real efforts to make the British public realise it. Communism collapsed with the velvet revolution in eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the countries of the former Soviet bloc threw off their chains and embraced democracy and free market capitalism. Francis Fukuyama declared that it was ‘the end of history’. Liberalism in the broad sense of the mixture of liberal democracy and capitalism, had seen off its rivals and would now reign supreme and unchallenged as the global ideology bringing peace, freedom – both political and economic – and prosperity to everyone.

But it hasn’t worked out like that.

Thatcher’s privatisation of the public utilities here in Britain haven’t brought the necessary investment these sectors needed. As Ken Loach’s superb documentary, The Spirit of 45, makes very clear, the power, water and railway industries are natural monopolies that need national planning and support. This has been particularly shown time and again in the management of the railways. Major’s privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s and its breakup into separate companies resulted in a spate of horrendous train crashes. Insult was added to injury by the rail companies passing the buck and accusing each other of responsibility for the disasters. As a result, the company owning the railway network itself, Railtrack, had to be renationalised in 2002. Privatisation did not work. And it has continued to fail with the private railways companies. Several have had to be taken back into state administration after providing poor service. However, this has always been excused as a temporary measure and the government has insisted on finding some other private company to run those services afterwards. After a series of such failures, this strategy now looks more than a little desperate. It’s an attempt to fend off the obvious: that private enterprise isn’t providing a proper, decent rail service and the only way to run it properly is to renationalise it.

It is very much the same with the government’s part-privatisation of Britain’s schools. Declining standards in state schools led Thatcher to experiment with privately-run schools outside the control of Local Education Authorities. These were then called ‘city academies’. They were another failure, and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, was forced to wind them up quietly. Unfortunately, Tony Blair thought it was a wizard idea and it became a major part of New Labour education policy. Simply called ‘academies’, these schools would be run by private companies. Some of these would specialise in particularly subjects, such as Maths and science. Expertise from private industry would ensure that standards would be high, and they would provide a powerful incentive through their competition for the remaining state schools to improve their performance. Except that didn’t happen either. The academies don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools once the massive difference in funding is taken into account. An academy may receive tens of millions of funding compared to a fraction of million that the Local Education Authority receives to spend on all the schools it runs. Furthermore, many of the academies have only been able to maintain their high standards through being highly selective about their intakes. Pupils that may not reach the marks demanded by the schools, including those with behavioural problems or who come from poorer families, are often excluded and expelled. Educational performance and standards in many academies has been so abysmal that the chains managing them have collapsed and the schools once again taken into public administration. But private enterprise under the Tories cannot be allowed to fail, and so we had the grim spectacle a few years ago of Nicky Morgan, the Tory education secretary, repeatedly not answering the questions on the Andrew Marr show why the government was pushing ahead with turning schools into academies when just a little while ago 25 academies had had to be taken over by the government again.

Now, thanks to a mixture of Brexit and global problems elsewhere, the gas industry is in crisis. There are shortages of gas, a number of the smaller companies have already collapsed and customers are being faced with sharp price rises. Novara Media have even said that the government has admitted that if there are severe problems with the major gas suppliers, then they will have to be nationalised.

Gas, like electricity, should never have been privatised in the first place. When it was initially privatised, the company was not split up into separate, competing companies and so it was able to dominate the market as a private monopoly. Now some of those companies are suffering because they are unable to cope with free market conditions. This says to me very much that Jeremy Corbyn was right – that the public utilities need to be publicly owned and rationally managed as part of an integrated system. This is another point that Ken Loach’s documentary makes very well.

And Brexit has created further problems. The establishment of a customs border with Eire overturns one of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and so threatens to return Northern Ireland to sectarian violence and chaos. There is a shortage of CO2 as a result of which some foods and other goods may suffer shortages. And there may be further shortages, including petrol and other fuels, because Brexit has also resulted in fewer haulage drivers. Some are even now predicting a new ‘Winter of Discontent’, like that in 1979 that resulted in the defeat of the-then Labour government and the election of Maggie Thatcher.

I remember the petrol crisis of the ’70s, when OPEC suddenly raised oil prices and there were queues at petrol pumps. Just as I remember how Ted Heath’s dispute with the coal miners resulted their strike, the three-day week and power cuts. It got to the point that by the middle of the decade the right were expecting a Communist takeover and the end of civilisation as we know it. There were supposedly private militias being formed by bonkers right-wingers while parts of the establishment wanted to overthrow the minority Labour government in a coup to be replaced by a kind of coalition government composed of representatives from all the parties. Well, that was what the Times discussed in its articles. The security services, however, were forming plans to round up trade unionists and left-wing politicians and activists and intern them on a Scottish island somewhere. The editor of the Mirror went to Sandhurst to interest them in overthrowing the government but was met with a no doubt polite refusal. I think he, or one of the other plotters, even went as far as Paris to see if that old Fascist, Oswald Mosley, would be interested in leading the new government.

All that has been used in the Tory myth that socialism doesn’t work, and only creates the economic and political chaos that helped bring Britain to its knees. Chaos that was only ended by the glorious reign of Maggie.

Except that these problems look like they’re coming back, and this time the fault is Brexit and the free market.

I think Boris will be able to find temporary solutions to alleviate, but not cure, some of these problems. He has, for example, introduced new legislation to encourage lorry drivers from the continent to come over here. But the underlying structural problems remain. The only way to solve them is through nationalisation.

The Labour party is in an excellent position to drive this home, at least in the case of gas. Even if it doesn’t go that far, it should still be landing hard blows on Johnson and the Tories because of Brexit’s massive failures. But Starmer isn’t doing that. Instead, as Zelo Street pointed out in a piece published a day or so ago, the Labour leader is more intent instead on destroying democracy in his party as part of his war on the left.

Which is why I’m almost nostalgic for the old Socialist Workers’ Party. They’re still around, rebranded as ‘the Socialist Party’, but they’re nowhere near as active as they were. Whenever there was any kind of crisis or major issue you could count on them turning up with their megaphones and copies of their newspaper to harangue the masses and demand further action against the problem. Unfortunately, in many cases the Socialist Workers’ Party were the problem. They colonised left-wing issues in an attempt to turn protest groups into front organisations, which they could then use to produce further discontent. Rock Against Racism collapsed when the SWP took over the leadership of that organisation, formed to protest against the rise of Fascism. They were also busy infiltrating the Labour party and other left-wing parties here and abroad with the intention of radicalising them. I think the eventual hope was to create some kind of mass revolutionary movement. It didn’t work, and has only resulted in purges, such as that of Militant Tendency by Kinnock in the 1980s. In fact, the policy has helped strengthen the right in the Labour party, as they smeared Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as Trotskyite infiltrators as the pretext for their continue purge.

The Trotskyites lived, however, in the firm belief that capitalism would eventually fail. Well, it isn’t doing that now, but it should be abundantly clear that Thatcherite free market capitalism isn’t working. The SWP would have realised that and tried to get the message across. The Labour left, which isn’t remotely Trotskyite, realises too that Thatcherism isn’t working. Their solution is simply a return to the mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. This wasn’t perfect, but it operated far better than the free market shambles we have now. And no, mixed economies are not ‘Communist’, ‘Trotskyist’ or ‘far left’. The real Communists and Trotskyists hated it as a form of capitalism, just as they hated reformist socialist parties like Labour.

But Starmer’s leadership is pledged to propping up the same wretched free market capitalism. Which is why I really feel there should be a mass movement driving home the point, again and again, that Thatcherism is ideologically and economically bankrupt. It is doing nothing but producing chaos in the economy and industry, and poverty and starvation to Britain’s working people. And this poverty will get worse. This is why I’m almost nostalgic for the wretched SWP, as they would have been determined to drive this home. And who knows? Perhaps if they behaved like a reasonable party, they might have gained further support and forced the Labour party to rediscover its socialist heritage in order to head off a challenge from real Communists.

Resign! Recording of Interview with Evans Suggests He Deliberately Stripped Corbyn Supporters of Their Rights

September 26, 2021

Depressingly, David Evans won the vote about remaining Labour’s general secretary, and so will stay to continue his and his fellow Blairites’ wretched purge against socialists and critics of Israel. But further evidence has emerged that these purges really are politically motivated, and are all about getting rid of Corbyn’s followers. The group Red Collective put up an audio recording, which Mike has reblogged on his article about Evans’ winning the vote. In it, Evans says that they were concerned that Corbyn was overshadowing the rest of party, and so they decided to strip members of their rights. He waffles about how this didn’t come easy to him, as he believes in freedom of expression. I doubt that. I doubt that very much, as he and the NEC have been suspending people for too long and for too little for this to be remotely credible. It’s simply a mantra he and other authoritarians say to stop people accusing them of being dictatorial, intolerant authoritarians.

The recording strongly suggests that Evans and his followers have been deeply involved in an organised campaign to subvert Labour party democracy, acting from factional interests against the left. If there was any decency still left amongst the party’s bureaucrats and leadership, this should cause serious questions to be raised about Evans’ suitability to remain as General Secretary. Mike has also said that it is actually a resigning issue. I agree, especially as there are now concerns that the election that confirmed Evans as General Secretary may have been rigged.

Unfortunately, standards in public life have fallen to such an extent that those officials and government ministers responsible for the most appalling incompetence, maladministration and corruption remain in office. Which is how Boris still remains as our blustering, grasping and utterly inept Prime Minister as Brexit Britain collapses from food and petrol shortages.

George Monbiot on the Media’s Responsibility for the Disastrous War in Afghanistan

September 7, 2021

This is a really excellent video from Double Down News, which shows you why the left-wing, alternative news and comment channels and blogs on the Net give you a better idea of what’s going on than the mainstream news. Not least because, as author, Guardian writer and green campaigner George Monbiot shows here, the mainstream media are conscienceless propagandists.

He points out that while Biden and Raab are taking the blame for the west’s collapse and withdrawal in Afghanistan, they aren’t the politicos primarily responsible for it. Yes, Raab is useless and shouldn’t have been on holiday when it all happened, and as for Biden, well, there’s no good time to lose a war. But the real responsibility for this debacle lies with the men who started it: George Dubya Bush and Tony Blair. And the media was solidly behind them. This wasn’t just the right-wing media, like that owned by Rupert Murdoch, but also the left. People like him who spoke out against the war were reviled and denounced as somehow on the side of the Taliban in an atmosphere that resembled the war fever of the First World War. He discusses the reasons why this was so, as well as attempts to present the war as somehow a war of liberation on behalf of Afghan women. And it covered the war without really showing the effects and destruction it was wreaking on the country’s people. One reason the media went along with it was because of their links to the military-industrial complex. But much of it is because the media thrives on spectacle, and war, with its lights and explosions, is a powerful one. The media’s attention is also short-term. It promotes one cause for a short while or one issue before dropping it and moving on to the next one. Monbiot states very clearly that we were lied to about the invasion of Afghanistan and the media was instrumental in the promotion of these lies.

Stylistically this resembles some of the great documentaries produced by Adam Curtis in the 1990s and 2000s. It contains much archive footage, including film from the First World War, as well as of ordinary Afghans in their damaged and wreaked homes. It also has shots of Murdoch and some of the other TV journalists celebrating the war for all they were worth. Thus there’s that infamous piece of footage where Geraldo Rivero raves when a bomb is dropped on the Taliban, and another piece where CNN anchors watch a bomb explosion through plane gunsights, proclaiming it to be the sight of ‘freedom’. One former member of The Young Turks really tore into that journalist for his glorification of death and suffering.

And Monbiot is exactly right when he says that the left-wing media were also complicit in the warmongering. They were. The Groaniad backed the war, and one of its hacks wrote a book promoting the new, nation-building imperialism. But, as Monbiot points out, they are now strangely silent about the role in the creation of this tragedy.

Blair seems to be trying to make a comeback, giving his opinions on everything from Brexit to Jeremy Corbyn over the past few years. I caught a glimpse of a piece on the internet newsfeed today which suggested he’d been giving his informed views on the dangers of extremism and islamophobia. Islamophobia is on the rise, and a large part of it was the strains and tensions created by Blair’s war. Some parts of the Islamic community became radicalised as they believed it was a war against Islam, while many ordinary Muslims simply became disaffected because of the invasions of their homelands. And as Monbiot also points out in the video, Blair and Bush hardly understood the country they were invading and had no exit strategy. Indeed there were claims that it would all be over by Christmas, just like the First World War. No-one should take anything Blair says remotely seriously ever again. Blair lied, people died.

And with very few exceptions, he was helped by the mainstream media. The people who are not telling you that the responsibility is also anyone’s except theirs.

Bristol South Labour Party’s Motion Demanding Action and Leadership from Starmer and Dodds

June 19, 2021

Mike has put up a chilling post this morning revealing a hidden truth about the recent Lib Dem by-election victory in Amersham and Chesham. They won not because there is actually a revival in that awful party’s fortunes, but because of tactical voting and the almost complete collapse of the Labour vote. Labour got only 622 votes, 1.6 per cent of the total, and lost their deposit. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that it’s because of Keir Starmer’s abysmal leadership. He has spent all his time and energy as leader persecuting the left, all under the specious pretence of fighting anti-Semitism. He has broken every one of the promises he made to support Labour’s genuinely popular manifesto commitments. These were for nationalised utilities, a renationalised NHS, a proper welfare state, and strong unions and workers’ rights. He showed his contempt to the party’s Black members through his offhand, lacklustre support for Black Lives Matter and by refusing to investigate or punish the bullies responsible for the racist abuse and treatment of Diane Abbott and other Black MPs and activists. And more significantly, he has done precious little to attack the Tories and hold Boris Johnson accountable for the deaths resulting from his bungled Covid policy, the corruption which has seen the Etonian fraud grant government contracts to his friends’ companies, the continuing assaults on democracy and free speech, the absence of any genuinely beneficial trade deals for Britain as a result of Brexit, and the descent into rioting and unrest in Ireland.

All of these issues are open goals. But I’ve seen precious little comment from Starmer on any of them. One internet commenter has already posted that Cummings seems to be doing more damage to the Tories than him. And I agree.

As a result, Bristol South Labour party passed a motion Thursday night to invite Anneliese Dodds down to the constituency to hear our concerns about the lack of leadership. It’s an amended motion. The original explicitly called upon Starmer to make his presence felt and start showing that Labour had good, viable policies. This was altered because some members felt that Starmer was already doing something towards this with his policy review.

“Social Change Motion

The dark days of WW2 exposed a desperate need for radical social change in Britain.  The Labour Party took on the challenge and delivered the miracle of our Welfare State.

Most of the years since then have seen a Tory hegemony; the last decade in particular has brought about a devastating erosion of all our public services; the crisis today is scarcely less urgent than that of 1945. Just as during the war, the Covid pandemic has thrown into harsh light how grievous the levels of need have become – in health, education, housing, social care and now, of course, climate change.  The whole country is witnessing this and is desperate for signs of future hope and change.

Hope can come only from a Labour Government in power with a bold and radical agenda for change.  We know, however, that to achieve this will require extraordinary action – not only an inspired and inspiring manifesto but an imaginative co-operation within the parties of the Left.  Clearly. some form of PR will be necessary if the Tories are to be held in check in the long term.  Equally clear is the need for Labour to stop its factional infighting and concentrate on winning the next election.  

Our Leadership’s current policy of holding the Government to account for its handling of Covid and for its many other failings is right and necessary but it is nowhere near sufficient to the country’s needs.  The time for radical change is now.  The country is ready to listen now and it is high time for it to hear what the Labour Party stands for.

The path to victory in 2024 must be opened up without delay.  This branch therefore calls upon our Leadership to set aside their present caution – and reliance on focus groups -and respond to the country’s urgent needs.

Action: to invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.

Amendment to add: Action: Invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.”

The motion shows the depth of concern Bristol South CLP has with the lack of action and leadership on Starmer’s part. Some of those who actively campaigned during the council elections said they were told by people on the doorsteps that they were voting Green, because they didn’t know what Labour stood for. The party has some excellent Green policies, but these haven’t been sufficiently communicated to the public.

I honestly don’t know what would come of inviting Dodds down to hear the concerns of the constituency party. Given the highly authoritarian and dictatorial leadership style, precious little. It seems that Starmer’s and the party bureaucracy’s response to criticism is to suspend the critics. But they and Starmer are leading the party to disaster. He can’t blame Corbyn, or the continuing power of the left. Labour’s poor showing in the elections is due to him and him alone.

He should now either start showing real leadership and demonstrably oppose Johnson, or he should leave and make way for those who will.

Labour suffers worst by-election result in party’s history. Will Starmer accept the blame? | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Right-Wing Internet Host Belfield Now Pushing for NHS Privatisation

May 7, 2021

It’s now the morning after the council and elected mayoral elections that were being held up and down the country yesterday. And to no-one’s surprise, Labour lost the Hartlepool bye-election to the Tories. The media commenters have identified Brexit as the cause of the defeat. For those of us on the left of the party, Brexit was a major factor, but it was also partly due to the shoddy, ineffectual leadership and arrogance of the current leader, Keir Starmer. Starmer parachuted into Hartlepool his preferred candidate, a Remainer, over the heads of local Labour party members, activists and supporters. Mike on Vox Political predicted that this would lead to defeat, and so it did. Because of this, the right-wingers on the Net were putting up videos stating that Labour was insulting Hartlepool’s working people. This was further compounded by the fact that Starmer has been such an ineffective opposition leader, that some people didn’t know who he was. Mahyar Tousi, one of the Brexiteers with arch-Thatcherite views, included a clip from Sky News on his video about Labour in Hartlepool yesterday. This showed Starmer earnestly talking to people. The presenter then stopped a passing woman and asked her if she knew who that man was over there. She didn’t. The presenter told her it was Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party. The woman still didn’t know. So much for Starmer’s glittering leadership.

And it was also yesterday that right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, put up a video openly calling for the NHS to be handed over to private management. This isn’t the first time he’s done this, and I doubt that it will be the last. He’s already put up videos with titles like ‘Private NHS Now’. Belfield is vehemently against the lockdown, which he feels is unnecessary and actually harmful, as it has prevented the elderly in nursing homes being visited and comforted by their relatives. It has also created another crisis in the NHS, as the concentration on the Coronavirus has meant routine operations, examinations and treatment have been postponed to the point that waiting times have increased. Highly vulnerable people, like those suffering from cancer, are going untreated.

This is a terrible problem, and much of it, like the grotesque mishandling of the Coronavirus crisis that has seen well over 100,000 die from the disease, can be put down to Boris Johnson’s ineptitude and his cavalier disregard for human life over the economy. Plus the way the NHS has been run down, starved of funds and partially privatised over the past ten years.

But not to Belfield. The ginger-headed man with the tiny man-sausage, as he has described himself, knows better. He put up a rant yesterday claiming that it was all due to increased bureaucracy and ‘box-ticking Celia Imrie types’. Belfield has a feud going with the BBC, and he never fails to include jabs at that organisation. I don’t know whether he has anything against Celia Imrie, or whether it’s just he’s using the kind of parts she’s played as an example of a certain kind of fussy, totally unnecessary management type. You know, the sort of people the Golgafrinchams put into an ark to send into space and crash on Earth on the grounds that they were ‘a bunch of useless bloody loonies’ according to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The solution, according to Belfield, is for the NHS to be handed over to private management.

This is no solution, as it is private management that has created this situation.

Jacky Davis and Ray Tallis have comprehensively shown in their book, NHS – SOS, that private enterprise is very definitely not as efficient as state healthcare. It’s actually more bureaucratic, as the US private healthcare companies can spend as much as 40-50 per cent of their income on management and legal issues. A book I bought a few years ago discussing the privatisation of healthcare in places like Canada as well as Britain found that the privatisation of parts of the health service over here had actually increased costs by 6 per cent. Parts of the NHS are being handed over to private management, and the effects are not good. Private enterprise is all about profit, not service, and so we’ve seen the private healthcare chains close down doctors surgeries even though they were needed by local people who were then left without a local GP. At the same time, Tory MPs have been demanding the levying of payments for users of certain NHS services, which are supposed to be free at the point of service.

This is all part of the long-time project of privatising the NHS, and turning it into a for-profit healthcare system like the American.

And Belfield is fully behind it.

Belfield likes to present himself as an ordinary working class lad without a degree, who’s despised by the middle class White liberals. His audience seem to be the middle aged, White working class, who feel left behind, excluded from political representation in favour of ethnic minorities. The kind of people, who voted for UKIP.

But these are exactly the people, who will suffer if Belfield’s political aims are realised. If Belfield and the other Tories have their way and privatise the NHS, it will be the working class – and that includes the White working class – who will struggle to pay for healthcare treatment. It’s already happening now, through hospital and GP closures due to private management. And thanks to the privatisation of the dentists, many people have been struggling for a long time to find dentists, who will take NHS patients.

Belfield may well be a working class lad, but his politics are those of the upper classes, who wish to impoverish and exploit working people.

And that means privatising the NHS, even, or especially, if it harms working people’s health.

They won’t care, so long as it turns a profit.

I’m not going to post his video, but if you want to see it, it’s on YouTube at Booze 🇬🇧 Disaster 🍻 Told Ya 🤦‍♂️ Chickens 🐓 Coming 🍺 Home To Roost 🍷 Price Of Last 14 Months – YouTube

Just remember, it is right-wing, pro-privatisation propaganda.

No, Starmer Is Not Going to Take Responsibility for Any Possible Labour Election Defeat

May 5, 2021

Mike yesterday posted two very ominous pieces about Labour’s prospects in the elections tomorrow, particularly in Hartlepool. Mike wondered if Labour were going to lose there because Starmer had parachuted in a right-winger, rather than stick with the candidate chosen by the constituency Labour party. A poll done with a very small sample of people has predicted that Labour will lose the election. I think that Mike’s almost certainly right. Labour’s election promises, as set out in their manifesto for the last election, were immensely popular. And they still are. One of the speakers at last Friday’s pre-May Day left-wing Labour rally on Zoom and YouTube stated that they’d done polls of the local electorate in Hartlepool. About 2/3 of those polled had supported two of the key promises made in the manifesto. One of these was for free broadband. If Labour does lose tomorrow, it will be at least partly because Starmer isn’t listening to traditional Labour members and supporters, but pushing the party further to the right and foisting right-wing candidates on them against their wishes.

In his other piece, Mike commented on Starmer’s statement that he would take full responsibility for any defeats. But when asked if he would resign, Starmer said, ‘No.’ This, to me, says that Starmer won’t. It looks like he’ll blame Corbyn and his supporters instead. He seems to have followed his statement that he wouldn’t resign by saying that the party faces an uphill struggle after its election defeat of 2019. Which means, I think, that he’s going to blame everything on the Labour left and its legacy, hang on as leader, and renew his purge of socialists and traditional Labour members and activists.

Labour didn’t lose the 2019 election because it was too left-wing, despite the massive smear campaign to paint Corbyn and his supporters as Trotskyites and Communists. It failed because of the massive smear campaign by the British Zionist establishment that accused Corbyn and his supporters of being anti-Semites when in fact they were simply critical of Israel’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians. This was coupled to the endless plotting and coups against Corbyn by the Labour right and the NEC and by the insistence of the Labour right that the party should commit itself to another plebiscite over Brexit. This upset the Labour voters, particularly in the north, who’d actually voted to leave Europe. Labour lost the 2019 election partly through the antics of right-wingers like Starmer.

But despite his words, Starmer isn’t going to take responsibility for his part in the election defeat. And I’m not surprised. No politician actually does so anymore. I’m sick of the various politicos and public figures, who declare that they take full responsibility for some disaster or failure, but then announce they’re staying in office. Without action, without resigning or making some other gesture of self-punishment, such statements are just empty words. But unfortunately such empty gestures have now become part of our increasingly rotten political culture.

If Labour does lose in the elections tomorrow, it will be most certainly because Starmer is responsible. Not Corbyn, Starmer. And he should go.

Retired Generals Call for Military Dictatorship to Save France from Islamist Terrorism

April 28, 2021

Here’s another landmark on the march of militant populism across Europe and the ominous threat of the return of real Fascism. Mahyar Tousi is a right-wing, pro-Brexit YouTube, who regularly denounces the left. Normally I wouldn’t watch his videos, but last night he posted a grim one which reported that a group of twenty former French generals had signed a letter, published in the right-wing news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, calling for a military coup if President Macron failed to stop the disintegration of France by Islamists. The first signature was that of Christian Piquemal, a former head of the French foreign legion. Macron’s government condemned the wretched letter and compared it to the failed military coup which tried to topple President de Gaulle during the Algerian war of independence sixty years ago.

The letter declared that France ‘is in danger. Several mortal perils threaten her. Even in retirement we remain soldiers of France and cannot in the present circumstances remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.’ According to its signatories, the country was disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of suburbs – banlieus – who were detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to the constitution’. They accused the government of sparking hatred because of the brutal police treatment of the Yellow Vest protesters two years ago. They warned that if nothing was done, there would be an explosion and then intervention by our comrades on active service in the dangerous mission of protecting our civilised values and the safety of our compatriots.’

Marine le Pen, the head of the National Rally party, has come out in support of a coup. Tousi calls this ‘a bit crazy, because France is still a democracy at this point’, and he doesn’t know why people are getting so emotional. His video also show a graph of the various parties’ support according to the opinion polls. These show Macron and Le Pen neck and neck at 26 per cent, Xavier Bertrand, an Independent centre-right candidate at 15 per cent, Jean Melenchon of the Far Left at 11 per cent, and Anne Hidalgo of the centre left at 6 per cent. The report on which Tousi draws for his coverage of the issue states that the generals’ letter has especial resonance following the murder a few days ago of a woman working in a Limousin police station by a Tunisian Islamist.

There are several remarks to be made here. There’s been much anti-Arab racism in France for sometime now, just as there’s racism here across the pond. About twenty or so years ago the Independent’s and I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown complained about the racism her family experienced when on holiday in south of France. However, she subsequently wrote an article several years later about how the situation had changed for the better when her family went back there on holiday. And a few years ago there was a series of mass protests under a slogan that translates into English as ‘Don’t Touch My Mate’ of White French young people attacking this racism in solidarity with their Arab friends.

I think the racial situation on the other side of the Channel has got worse due to recent Islamist atrocities, such as the attack in Marseilles a few years ago and the mass murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. The spectre of this attack returned a few weeks ago when a French schoolteacher, Thomas Paty, was murdered by an enraged Muslim for showing a classroom of children one of the blasphemous cartoons from Hebdo which provoked the attack. Paty was teaching a lesson about freedom of speech, and had warned his Muslim students that he was going to show the cartoon. If they were going to be offended, then they were allowed to leave the room. Some of them stayed, told their parents, and someone at the local mosque then put Paty’s details up on the Net. This prompted a raft of legislation against Islamist terrorism, and I’ve seen videos on YouTube claiming that, to show his defiance of the Islamists, Macron not only gave Paty a state funeral, but he had the cartoon displayed on public buildings. According to Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, and his mates over at the Lotus Eaters YouTube panel, the legislation provides for the deportation of the foreign-born parents of any child who protests over cartoons. If this is correct, then the French government is coming down very hard, and because of this there have been counterdemonstrations against the new laws by Muslims.

Many of the Islamist terrorists came from the banlieus. Muslims are generally underprivileged across Europe, and from what I was taught in geography while I was at school, the banlieus are grim places of tower blocks, unemployment, despair and nothing else. They don’t, or at least didn’t, have any basic services because their planners believed they weren’t necessary. Their residents could simply travel into the centre of town for whatever they needed.

The rhetoric about parts of France being detached and governed by dogmas against the constitution clearly mirrors the concern here in Britain and the rhetoric about the growth of parallel societies and Muslim ‘no-go areas’ governed by sharia law. Laicisme – secularism – is the official stance of the French state towards religion. It’s why the authorities there tried to ban the wearing of the hijab in school by Muslim schoolgirls. There are real issues about the rejection of French secular values in Arab and Muslim areas. A little while ago French television screened a documentary about the very strong pressure in these areas against women appearing in public and going to cafes. This disapproval even extended to western women living in those areas. The documentary followed the efforts of a group of female protesters to assert their right to go about in public and visit the cafes.

As for Marine le Pen coming out in favour of a dictatorship, she has just shown her true colours. the National Rally was originally the Front National, an avowed Fascist organisation, and her father, le Pen senior, made his living selling Nazi memorabilia. Marine Le Pen managed to win massive support for her party by dropping some of the Fascist symbolism and giving a more moderate, centre-right image. It was still anti-immigration, but a Black female rapper performed at one of their rallies on the grounds that she was still a patriotic French woman. And like UKIP and the former Brexit party over here, now Reform, it’s very much against the EU. It’s picked up much of its support from the elements of the French White working class, who’ve been left behind by neoliberalism and ‘centrist’ welfare cuts, and who also feel threatened by immigration and the European Union. The poor performance of the centre left in the polls also appears to bear out what I’ve heard and read elsewhere about the collapse of the centre left across Europe due to their embrace of neoliberalism. This could very well happen in Britain if Starmer and the Blairites keep their grip on the Labour party. The extreme right – the BNP, National Front and similar organisations – have all collapsed in Britain, or been banned as terrorist groups like National Action, although tiny little Fascist grouplets still remain. Nevertheless, the rise of National Rally in France does indicate that there could be space for a similar populist right-wing party over here.

Tousi in his video says that the generals’ letter is strange and wonders if Marine le Pen will lose or gain support by backing it. It’s a good question. Tousi says that Macron’s government has come under criticism from both the left and the right, and the generals’ complaint is that while Macron talks tough, and he hasn’t followed this up with action. As for supporting any kind of Fascist dictatorship, the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the Haute Vienne department of the Limousin provides a very stark, grim reminder of why no-one should. This was a village where all but 18 of its 660 inhabitants were butchered by the Waffen SS in June 1944 as a reprisals for kidnappings, attacks and sabotage by the resistance. It’s been preserved as a memorial. It’s a graphic reminder of the utterly horrific nature of Fascism – torture, mass murder and butchery on an industrial scale. Given the atrocities committed by the Nazis across Europe, and particularly in France and Poland, it astonishes me that any self-respecting French person or Pole could ever vote for or support such a party.

Hopefully no-one will take this call for a coup seriously and France will remain a democracy. But it does indicate that democracy is very fragile. And we have absolutely no reason to feel complacent over this side of the Channel. In the mid-1970s groups of politicians and industrialists, including the editors of the Times and the Mirror, wanted to overthrow Harold Wilson’s government and replace it with an emergency government or military dictatorship, to save Britain from the left and the trade unions.

We have to fight Fascism wherever we find it. And we need to take seriously the fact that it always presents itself as defending society from the absolute forces of evil.

If it rises again in France, how long before the sound of jackboots marching will be heard in Britain.

Oradour-Sur-Glane as it is today following the Nazi Massacre of its people. From Richard Harper, Abandoned Places – 60 Stories of Places Where Time Has Stopped ( Glasgow: Collins 2014) 68-71.

I’m not going to link to Tousi’s video, as he is a man of the right, but if you want to see it on YouTube, it’s title is ‘Retired Generals Call For Military Takeover In France’

Election Promises of Labour and TUSC Candidates in Bristol Mayoral Elections

April 23, 2021

Down here in Bristol we not only have elections for the city council looming, but also for the elected mayor and police and crime commissioner. Because of health issues, not just my own but also other members of my family, we’ve arranged to have postal votes. The ballot papers arrived the other day, and enclosed with them were booklets produced by the local authority explaining the voting procedure, answering various FAQs and giving policy statements and promises from the candidates. Not only does Bristol have a Labour candidate, the present elected mayor Marvin Rees, but there’s also one from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Tom Baldwin. Here’s their election promises from the booklet for the mayoral election.

Mayor Marvin’s runs

Delivering for Bristol

Building a City of Hope

It is an honour to serve as Mayor of Bristol, the city I am proud to be from and where I am bringing up my family.

Together we have led Bristol in the face of the pandemic, economic downturn, social change and instability, and climate change, with the added uncertainty of Brexit. Many of us have experienced real loss this year, as people have come together like never before to support each other.

Working with partners all over Bristol, we are building a city where nobody is left behind underpinning our ambition with compassion and our commitment to sustainability. We are focused on protecting and creating jobs, and delivering for residents, we are creating jobs by bringing employers like Channel 4 to our city, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into Bristol, and delivering our mass transit system.

Together, against the odds, we are making a difference.

On 6 May, we are proudly standing on our record of delivery – including all our 2016 pledges and more. With your support, we can all keep building a more sustainable, inclusive, and ambitious Bristol: our City of Hope.”

There then follows a list of what Labour has already achieved.

“9,000 new homes, tripling affordable house-building, rough sleeping down 80%

12,000 work experiences and £9m for south Bristol construction skills centre.

99 new biogas buses, RPZ fees frozen, 75 miles of segregated cycleways

Kept all our libraries and children’s centres open

Building new schools, creating mental health training and free breakfast clubs

Best core city for recycling, deep-cleaned 700 streets, planted 60,000 trees

Won Channel 4 relocation, invested in sport and leisure centres – giving control to communities”

This is followed by his promises for the future

“Building our underground, with free travel for apprentices and students

Protecting jobs and building a living wage city

Investing £1 billion in clean energy and doubling our trees

Investing in more schools and quality work experience

Building 2,000 new homes a year – 1,000 affordable

Investing in social care, helping older people stay in their homes.”

The pages for Tom Baldwin of the TUSC state has the statement ‘TUSC Against Cuts’, and then proceeds as follows:

“Tom says: “The pandemic has exposed the huge injustices and the divide between workers and big business. We’ve had to fight for our safety as the bosses and government put profits first. Now we have to fight to protect jobs and services as they try to make us pay for the crisis.

Bristol needs a mayor who will stand up for ordinary people. I stand for a socialist society run for people not profit.”

‘The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition organises to give a voice to working-class people who have been abandoned by the main parties. It includes the RMT union and the Socialist Party, of which Tom is a member.

Tom is 37 and lives in Aston. He is an active trade unionist and campaigner.

Bristol needs a fightback

Defend jobs and services – Vote Tom Baldwin

A Socialist mayor for the millions, not the millionaires

If elected Tom will…

  • Build a mass united struggle of workers and young people to win back the council funding taken by the government.
  • Reverse all cuts to council jobs and services, move budgets based on Bristol’s needs.
  • Oppose and reverse outsourcing and privatisation.
  • Never increase council tax, rents and charges faster than wages rise
  • Push for a publicly owned, top quality and affordable public transport network, run for need not profit
  • Address the housing crisis by building thousands of council homes and capping private rents
  • Defend the right to peaceful protest
  • Fight for decent jobs. Support all campaigns to protect safety, jobs, pay and conditions, including strike action by workers
  • Stand for jobs and homes for all. Oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression and division.
  • Only take the average wage of a worker in the city, not the inflated £79,000 mayoral salary.’

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As you know, I despise Keir Starmer and his continuing destruction of the Labour party, including the purge of left-wingers and socialists, in order to turn it into a Blairite neoliberal party. I’ve also got criticisms of the way Marvin Rees has run the city, but in general I think he’s done a good job and has been a far better mayor than his predecessor, ‘Red Trousers’ Ferguson.

I’ve been told by some of the great peeps on this blog that the TUSC were formed by the people in the Labour party, who were thrown out for opposing Blair’s cuts and policy changes, though I’ve also heard that the Socialist Party is the former Militant Tendency, a group that infiltrated and tried to take over the Labour party in the 1980s. But their policies are what the Labour party should be standing for. The mayoral elections are run according to proportional representation. I would therefore urge people to consider giving the TUSC their second vote.

If more people vote for them, to the point where it’s a significant number, perhaps the leaders of the Labour party will take note, and move the party further to the left. Or it will encourage the present Labour left to continue the struggle against the Blairites by showing them that real, socialist policies are popular and can win.