Posts Tagged ‘Food Banks’

Sturgeon’s Not Responsible for Kids Queuing for Soup: The Tories Are

January 27, 2023

That Preston Journalist, whose real name, I am assured by the great people who comment here, is Ashley Kaminski, put up a genuinely heart-breaking video last night. People had been queuing outside a soup kitchen in Glasgow. Among the adults were ten children, including a babe in arms. Kaminski thought that this was terrible, as he should. He’s an avowed opponent of Nicola Sturgeon and all her works, dubbing her ‘McKrankie’ after her supposed resemblance to one half of a double act back in the 1980s. From the tone of his piece, he clearly wanted to blame her, but couldn’t quite. It was wrong, he said, whoever was responsible.

Okay, I don’t know what powers the devolved Scots parliament has, especially regarding welfare policies. I am sure that many Scots voted SNP, not because they wanted independence, but simply because they wanted a proper welfare state, something that wasn’t being offered by Jim Murphy’s Scottish Labour party. But this scandalous situation has been around far longer than the SNP’s administration, and it afflicts communities right across Britain. In Scotland there was a parliamentary inquiry into food banks a few years ago. One of those speaking before the committee was a volunteer, who described the intensely dispiriting deprivation and poverty he saw as he did his job. And I can remember putting up a 19th-early 20th century poem about children queuing outside a food kitchen. It’s disgusting that Britain has returned to such levels of poverty.

But Krankie isn’t responsible. The Tories are. They’ve insisted on wages so low working families can’t make ends meet, and cut welfare payments again and again, all with mantra of encouraging ‘welfare scroungers’ to look for work, making work pay and all the other nonsense. They’ve also introduced benefit sanction after benefit sanction, all with the same intention. It also helps to fiddle the unemployment statistics, as if they’re off the DHSS’ books, they aren’t counted as unemployed.

It’s possible that Sturgeon’s policies aren’t helping the situation north of the border. But the ultimate blame lies with the Tories, and it started when Ruth Davidson, the head of the Conservatives up there, was in power. And Sturgeon definitely isn’t responsible for it down south in England and Wales.

The Tories are. It started under Cameron.

They’re starving children.

Get them out!

Reform Party Promising to Protect British Freedoms against the Government, the EU and Unelected Organisations

January 20, 2023

Okay, I just found a brief video on YouTube, posted eight days ago, on Nick Buckley’s channel. Buckley’s a former police officer and campaigner against knife crime, who’s appeared a couple of times on the Lotus Eater’s channel. I wasn’t surprised then, when he posted this video interviewing Richard Tice about Reform’s ‘Eight Principles’. In the video, however, he only talks about four of them. These are largely about protecting British democratic rights against the threat of the state and unelected organisations and quangos. According to Tice, Brits are aware that they’re born free and have inalienable rights unlike in the EU. Thus, Brits are able to whatever they like unless prohibited, while in the EU they can only do whatever the EU tells them to.

The irony about this is that the idea that humans are born free comes from a continental philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau has been condemned as one of the founders of totalitarianism. One Conservative American group made Rousseau’s The Social Contract one of the most evil books of all time alongside Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin included him among his Six Enemies of Freedom and the Lotus Eaters have also put out videos attacking him. But Rousseau’s book begins with the words, ‘Man was born free yet everywhere he is chains.’ The idea that you should be free to do whatever you want unless the law says otherwise, I think comes from John Locke a century before, and is the foundation of modern liberal ideas of freedom. However, other European philosophers also had views similar to Locke’s, that the state should be limited to the role of a night watchman, in the sense say that it should protect its citizens’ lives and property, but otherwise not interfere. This is the view expressed by the German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt in his Grenzen Der Wirksamkeit der Staat – ‘Limits of the Effectiveness of the State’. I don’t know what the underlying philosophy of government of the European Union is. I suspect there isn’t one beyond harmonising various trade and other regulations between member states and allowing for the movement of labour and capital. The original intention was to create a united trading bloc to preserve western European economic independence from America or communist eastern Europe. The Eurosceptic right has frequently ranted about the EU being some kind of totalitarian state with comparisons to Nazi Germany and communism, but I’ve seen no evidence to support it. And rather than limiting freedom, I think the EU believes it is actively creating and nurturing freedom in its member states. Such as when it condemns Poland and Hungary for their legislation banning homosexuality and gay rights.

Now let’s go through the principles as explained by Tice and Buckley in the video.

  1. The state is our servant not our master.

I don’t believe any believer in liberal democracy, whether of the left or right, would challenge this. The only people who would are either Fascists, following Mussolini’s pronouncements that the individual is nothing before the state, followers of Hegel’s dictum that ‘the state is the divine idea as it exists on Earth. We must therefore worship the state’ and supporters of Soviet Communism before Gorby’s brief reforms. However, in the context of Reform, a party of the right, it seems to me that this is yet another bland statement intended to justify further privatisation and the expansion of the power of private industry and the destruction of the welfare state against working people, the poor, the unemployed and disabled.

2. Lend us your power and we’ll give you back your freedom.

This could be said by just about any political party, even those which were real enemies of freedom. Hitler, in one of his rants at Nuremberg, declared ‘Everything I am, I am through you. Everything you are, you are through me’. The Nazi party anthem, the Horst Wessel song, also has lines about German freedom. Hitler also talked about preserving freedom through separating the different spheres of party and state and preserving private industry, though in practice under the Nazi regime the party and state apparatus were intermeshed and private industry ruthlessly subordinated to the state. Mussolini also made speeches about how the freedom of the individual wasn’t limited under fascism, except in certain ways, all of which was equally rubbish.

3. People are free.

This means, as he explains, that people naturally hold certain rights and liberties that should always be protected and defended. These include freedom of speech, religion and conscience. This does not mean that certain types of speech have no consequences. I interpret this as meaning that he feels that people can say what they want, but people are also free to express outrage and take action against others for offensive or dangerous speech that is not otherwise banned by law. Tice goes on to say that in practice, while people believe in this principle, they negotiate to give up a certain amount of this freedom with the state.

I think here he means particularly the legislation on hate speech, which in his view prevents proper criticism of certain protected groups in order to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so on. He has a point, as opponents of gay rights, who have made their opposition very clear in speeches, often quoting the Biblical prohibition against it, have been arrested. In Scotland Maria Miller, a gender critical woman, was arrested for hate speech simply for putting up stickers with the slogan ‘Scots Women Won’t Wheesht’, meaning that they wouldn’t be silent, in her campaign against the proposed gender recognition legislation north of the border. In my opinion, arresting someone for saying that goes beyond a concern about stirring up hatred against trans people into active attempts to police thoughts and opinions about trans rights.

But there are good reasons behind the legislation banning hate speech. In the case of racism, it’s to prevent Nazi groups stirring up hatred against vulnerable minorities like the Jews, people of colour and gays, all of whom have been or are targets of abuse and physical assault.

4. National Sovereignty

This means protecting British traditions, institutions and culture from enemies both external and internal. The external foes include the EU. The internal threats to British tradition and democracy are unelected pressure groups and organisations. These include big tech and companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook. This is a fair point. These organisations can and do censor material posted on their platforms. The right have been complaining about their posts disappearing or the algorithms governing their availability in searches being altered so that they become invisible, but the same censorship is also inflicted on the left. If Tice and his crew get the chance, I’ve no doubt they’ll demand greater freedom of speech for their supporters while maintaining or even strengthening the censorship against their opponents on the left.

Other threats, unsurprisingly, are the European Union, while among the unelected organisations wielding power he puts the environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Tice states that a few years ago Greenpeace published their manifesto for Yorkshire, which was a diatribe against the car, and therefore, in his view, an attack on the automobile industry in west Yorkshire. One of the accusations the extreme right is throwing at environmental groups is that they wish to ban cars and private transport as part of their plan to establish Green Communism. He also includes Stonewall and the massive influence it wields, although no-one has elected it. There is a problem with Stonewall in that the advice it has been giving to companies, the government and the civil service has been wrong. They deliberately gave a wrongful interpretation of the legislation covering trans issues which was very much what they wanted it to say, not what the law actually did. As a result, a number of groups cut their connections to the organisation.

But unelected groups like Greenpeace, Stonewall and so on acquire their power through possessing, or being perceived to express, expertise and competence in particular issues. In the case of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, it’s the environment. Amnesty International is respected because of its thorough investigation and documentation of human rights abuses, even though governments may pay no attention to its findings. Stonewall is taken notice of because it speaks, or claims to speak, for Britain’s gays and articulates their concerns and recommendations to combat prejudice.

Even in the 19th century governments had to pay attention to popular protest organisations, such as the massive abolitionist campaign against slavery, the Anti-Corn Law League set up by Cobden and Bright to have the corn laws repealed so that the price of grain would fall and working people able to feed themselves. There was also the anti-war protests against the Crimean War led by John Bright and others. There are problems with unelected groups exercising power beyond their competence or suitability, but modern governments have always had to deal with organised groups. Tice’s singling out of the environmental groups and Stonewall seems to me to be as much to do with a hatred of their views – the Brexiteers are full-scale behind the right of private industry to trash this country’s green and pleasant land – than with their supposed power outside of the formal sphere of elections. I doubt that Reform would ever go as far if they were in power, but it reminds me more than a little bit of Mussolini’s statement that there should be ‘nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’, and similar bans on private quasi-political organisations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

But what you’ll also notice is that these principles tell you absolutely nothing about how Reform as a party intends to act on them, except by reading the lines. What does Reform intend to do about the health service? Not said. I suspect, in fact, that as a party of the right they’ll want to privatise even more of it. What about the welfare state and the scandal of millions of people using food banks? No answers there, either. I suspect, however, that in practice you’d get more mantras of encouraging people to be independent, find work and so on, coupled with rants about welfare scroungers. What about industry? Again, the reality is almost certainly that they want more deregulation. Well, we’ve had four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and deregulation, and the result is the mass poverty and failing economy we’re now experiencing. Industry should be acting for the good of society and its employees and not just shareholders and senior management. This means limiting economic freedom, but as the Liberal journalist J.A. Hobson said, in order for the mass of people to be free you need to limit the freedom of the rich. Which is obviously toxic to the Conservatives and other parties of the right.

To sum up, what Reform seems to be doing with these principles is to try to position themselves as defenders of traditional British liberties against the threat of the evil EU and pesky Green and gay groups. But this hides an illiberal ideology that views such groups as somehow subversive, would probably remove the obstacles against real, dangerous expressions of racial and other prejudice, and which would promote the interests of private industry against ordinary Brits.

We can’t afford to be taken in by sweet words hiding their true intentions.

Simon Webb Attacks Secret Magistrate Courts

January 15, 2023

Webb also put up another piece yesterday, which also looks remarkably left-wing. He was attacking the secret magistrates’ courts, which according to him now handle half the country’s court cases. These deal with minor offences like speeding and parking fines. However, they meet in secret, and journalists, the defendant and their defence counsel are not present. The accused simply gets a form through the post asking them how they plead. Webb makes the point that this is against the British tradition of open justice, that not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done. It’s why there are public galleries in courts and their doors were flung open in court cases. These courts date from 2015, and Webb fears that although they only deal with minor cases at the moment, they will expand to include more serious cases later on.

This is interesting. I had no idea these courts existed though I was aware that Cameron had set up a system of secret courts, at which the defendant may not know the identity of his accuser or hear the evidence against him, and from which journalists are also barred, if it was deemed necessary for reasons of national security. I blogged against this, as did many other left-wing bloggers, because it is too much like the travesties of justice described by Franz Kafka in his novels The Trial and The Castle, and which became a terrifying reality in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. My guess is that Cameron probably set them up in order to clear a backlog of minor, civil offences that had been building up. But I do agree with Webb that there is a danger that this system will expand and become a serious threat to British justice. After all, the food banks were originally set up to cater to illegal immigrants after Blair passed legislation stating they were no longer eligible for benefit. These have now massively expanded due to the Tories’ attack on the welfare state and determination to keep workers’ wages well below the level of inflation at literally starvation level. For all the right’s boasts about defending liberty and democracy, they hate independent, impartial justice and I can easily see this system expanding to cover criminal cases under some pretext or other.

Richard Tice Claiming that Immigration Responsible for Low Wages, Not Thatcherism

January 3, 2023

I just caught the headline of a video on YouTube, which I think was posted by GB News. They’ve been plugging Reform’s head honcho, Richard Tice, who has been claiming his party would beat the Tories and Keir Starmer at the next election. I’m doubtful of that, as no matter how Tice may talk the party up, Reform is basically the reheated leftovers of UKIP. And despite the way Farage and his party were hailed by the media as a threat to the mainstream, traditional parties, like the SDP in the 1980s it significantly failed to break the mould of modern politics. Indeed, UKIP imploded when Farage bailed out and he was replaced by Gerard Batten, who invited far-right YouTubers Mark Meacham and Carl Benjamin to join. All the genuinely anti-racist members left, the Swindon branch protested against Benjamin being appointed their candidate for the parliamentary elections and the Gloucestershire branch broke away altogether.

From the headline it appears that Tice is now blaming low wage immigration for keeping wages low. He may have a point, in that plentiful unskilled labour means that employers don’t have to worry about offering high wages to attract workers for those jobs. But this seems to be part of a general Brexiteer, right-wing accusation that elite liberals are in favour of mass immigration as it provides them with a source of low paid labour. You find this attitude stated every so often, but there’s never any evidence cited for it, and I’ve never come across it from the left. I have come across the assertion, stated in a book published nearly 20 years ago attacking the Neo-Cons, Confronting the New Conservatism, that the Neo-Cons of both the left and the right are in favour of affirmative action programmes, so long as they don’t affect their children. I’ve also seen the argument that immigration is good for the country because on average immigrant workers pay more in tax than they take in benefits – contrary to what you’d hear from the right – and so support the state and welfare system with their taxes. Also, they do the jobs White British tend not to want to do.

So if immigrants aren’t responsible for low wages, who is? Easy – Margaret Thatcher and the Tories. Thatcher preached wage restraint and freezes in order to keep inflation low. This is leading to millions of working Brits, of all colours, now earning literal starvation wages, well below the rate of inflation. Many families are only keeping their heads above water through food and warm banks, where they have a choice between eating, heating their homes or paying the rent or mortgage. The Tories in particular have offered pay rises well below the inflation rate, so that they are in fact cuts. Hence the current wave of strikes as workers are fed up with it. Also, the 19th century classical economists from whom the Tories take their ideas recommended that the government should keep ‘a reserve army of the unemployed’ in order to keep wages low by providing a ready source of labour. I’ve got a feeling Blair and Gordon Brown had much the same idea when they talked about the need to keep the labour market fluid.

It is Thatcherism that’s really responsible for the mass impoverishment of this country’s working people. Tice is merely trying to divert attention away from this by playing the race card against immigrants. Don’t vote for him, and don’t vote for the Tories.

Simon Webb’s Speech to the Traditional Britain Group: A Critique

December 29, 2022

One of the great commenters on this blog asked me the other day if I’d watched Simon Webb’s speech to the Traditional Britain Group, which has been posted up on YouTube. Webb is the man behind History Debunked, in which he criticises, refutes and comments on various historical myths and distortions. Most of these are against Black history, as well as racial politics. Occasionally he also presents his opinions on gay and gender issues. Like other YouTubers and internet commenters, you need to use your own discretion when watching his material. Sometimes, when he cites his sources, he’s right. At other times he’s more probably wrong. As much of his material is against mass immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and he believes that there is a racial hierarchy when it comes to intelligence, there’s some discussion of the man’s political orientation. He’s definitely right-wing, reading the Torygraph and attacking Labour as ‘high spending’. But it’s a question of how right-wing. Some people have suggested he’s English Democrat or supports a similar extreme right fringe party.

The other day he gave a speech at the Traditional Britain Group, which is a particularly nasty set of rightists within the Conservative party. There was a scandal a few years ago, you’ll recall, when Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up at one of their dinners. Mogg claimed he didn’t know how far right they were, but was shown to be somewhat economical with the actualite when someone showed that he’d actually been warned against associating with them. They are fervently against non-White immigration and some of them have a dubious interest in the Nazis and the Third Reich. I’ve also been told that their members include real Nazis and eugenicists, which is all too credible. They also want to privatise the NHS. I found this out after finding myself looking at their message board a few years ago. They were talking about how they needed to privatise the health service, but it would have to be done gradually and covertly because at the moment the masses were too much in favour of it. Which has been Tory policy for decades.

Webb’s speech is about half and hour long, and takes in slavery, White English identity and how Blacks have taken ownership of the subject so that it’s now part of theirs, White guilt over it and the industrial revolution and how White Brits are being made to feel ashamed of imperialism. He also blamed Tony Blair for mass immigration and claimed that it was due to this that the health service was collapsing.

The British Empire

He started off by saying that when he was young, everyone believed that the British Empire was a good thing and that we had brought civilisation to Africa and other parts of the world. I don’t doubt this. He’s older than me, and so I can believe that the received view of the Empire in his time was largely positive. Even the Labour party broadly supported imperialism. Its official stance was that Britain held these countries in trust until they were mature enough for self-government. This has changed, and there is a general feeling, certainly on the left, that it’s something we should be ashamed of. But this has come from historians and activists discussing and revealing the negative aspects of colonialism, such as the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples, enslavement, forced labour and massacres. The end of empires tend to be particularly bloody, as shown in the various nationalist wars that ended the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and the French possession of Algeria. Britain fought similar bloody wars and committed atrocities to defend its empire, as shown in the massive overreaction in Kenya to the Mao Mao rebellion. Jeremy Black, in his history of the British Empire, also argues that support for the empire fell away from the 1970s onwards as British youth became far more interested in America. I think the automatic condemnation of British imperialism is wrong and one-sided. It’s also somewhat hypocritical, as the same people condemning the British Empire don’t condemn other brutal imperial regimes like the Ottomans. It’s also being used by various post-colonial regimes to shift attention and blame for their own failings. But all this doesn’t change the fact that some horrific things were done during the Empire, which politicians and historians have to deal with. Hence the shame, although in my view there should be a space for a middle position which condemns the atrocities and celebrates the positive.

Britain and Slavery

He then talks about how slavery is now identified solely with Black transatlantic servitude. But he argues that the White English can also claim slavery as part of their identity. He talks of the first mention of the English in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, when pope Gregory the Great saw some English children for sale in the slave market in Rome. Asking who such beautiful children were, he was told they were Angles. At which Gregory punned, ‘Non Anglii, sed angeli’ – ‘Not Angles but angels’. At the time of the Domesday Book 10 per cent of the English population were slaves. And the mob that tore down Colston’s statue in Bristol were unaware that the city had been exported English slaves over a millennium before. These were shipped to the Viking colonies in Ireland – Dublin, Wexford and other towns – from whence they were then trafficked internationally. Slavery existed long before Black transatlantic slavery. The first record we have of it is from 4000 years ago in the form of document from the Middle East recording the sale of slaves and pieces of land. While they weren’t aware of transatlantic slavery at school, they knew slavery existed through studying the Bible. The story of Joseph and his brothers, and the Israelites in Egypt. But slavery has now become identified exclusively with Black slavery and is part of the Black identity. It’s because we’re supposed to feel guilty about slavery and feel sorry for Blacks that Black people over overrepresented in adverts, on television dramas and even historical epics, such as the show about the Tudors where half the actors were Black.

Webb is right about slavery existing from ancient times. There are indeed documents from the ancient near eastern city of Mari in Mesopotamia recording the sale of slaves along with land and other property, as I’ve blogged about here. One of the problems the abolitionists faced was that slavery existed right across the world, and so their opponents argued that it was natural institution. They therefore also claimed that it was consequently unfair and disastrous for the government to abolish it in the British empire. He’s right about Pope Gregory and the English slaves, although the word ‘Angli’ refers to the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that settled and colonised England with the Saxons and Jutes after the fall of the Roman Empire. Angles in Anglo-Saxon were Englas, hence Engla-land – England, land of the Angles, and Englisc, English. Bristol did indeed export English slave to Ireland. Archbishop Wulfstan preached against it in the 11th century. We were still doing so in 1140, when visiting clergy from France were warned against going for dinner aboard the Irish ships in the harbour. These would lure people aboard with such promises, then slip anchor and take them to Ireland. The Irish Vikings also imported Black slaves. One chronicle reports the appearance of a consignment of blamenn, blue or black men in Old Norse, in Dublin. David Olasuga has also claimed that they imported 200 Blacks into Cumbria. Bristol’s export of White English slaves is mentioned in a display about it in the city’s M Shed Museum, which also contains the statue of Edward Colston. I do agree with Webb that there is a problem with popular attitudes towards slavery. Its presentation is one-sided, so that I don’t think many people are aware of it and its horrors outside the British Empire, nor how White Europeans were also enslaved by the Muslim Barbary pirates. I very strongly believe that this needs to be corrected.

Black Overrepresentation on TV

I don’t think it’s guilt over slavery alone that’s responsible for the large number of Black actors being cast on television, particularly the adverts. I think this is probably also due to commercial marketing, the need to appeal to international audiences and attempts to integrate Blacks by providing images of multiracial Britain. Many adverts are made for an international audience, and I think the use of Blacks has become a sort of visual shorthand for showing that the company commissioning the advert is a nice, anti-racist organisation, keen to sell to people of different colours across the world without prejudice. At home, it’s part of the promotion of diversity. Blacks are, or are perceived, as acutely alienated and persecuted, and so in order to combat racism the media has been keen to include them and present positive images of Black life and achievement. There are organisations dedicated to this task, such as the Creative Diversity Network, as well as systems that grade companies according to how they invest in multicultural enterprises, such as television and programmes with suitably racially diverse casts. Webb has himself talked about this. He’s also stated that Blacks are disproportionately represented on television, constituting only 6 per cent of the population but a very large proportion of actors in TV programmes and adverts. This might simply be because other, larger ethnic groups, such as Asians, aren’t so concerned with entering the entertainment industry and so aren’t represent to the same extent. Hence, Blacks sort of stand in for people of colour as a whole. As for adverts, I’ve also wondered if some of this might be purely commercial – a concern to sale to an emergent, affluent, Black market, perhaps. It also struck me that it might also be a make work programme. As I understand it, there are too many drama graduates for too few roles. This is particularly going to hit Blacks and other ethnic minorities because Britain at the moment is still a White majority country. There have consequently been demands for colour blind casting, as in Armando Iannucci’s recent film version of Oliver Twist. A year or so ago one Black actor announced that there should be more roles for Blacks or else they would go to America. As for the casting of a Black woman as Anne Boleyn, this seems to follow the theatre, where colour blind casting has existed for years. I think it also follows the tacit demand to create an image of the British past that conforms to modern multicultural society rather than how it really was. And some of it, I think, just comes from the feeling that as modern Blacks are as British as their White compatriots, so they should not be excluded from appearing as historical characters who were White. I think these considerations are just as likely, or more likely, to be the causes of the disproportionate number of Blacks appearing on camera than simply pity for them as the victims of slavery.

Blair Not Responsible for Mass Immigration

Now we come to his assertion that Blair was responsible for mass immigration. When he made this declaration, there were shouts, including one of ‘traitor’. I don’t believe that Blair was responsible for it, at least, not in the sense he means. The belief that he was, which is now widespread on the anti-immigrant right, comes from a single civil servant. This official claimed that Blair did so in order to change the ethnic composition of Britain and undermine the Tories. But did he really? This comes from a single individual, and without further corroboration, you can’t be sure. In fact Blair seems to have tried to cut down on immigration, particularly that of non-Whites. In order to dissuade people from coming here, he stopped immigrants from being able to apply for welfare benefits. The food banks now catering to native Brits were originally set up to feed those immigrants, who were no longer eligible for state aid. I also recall David Blunkett stating that they were going to cut down on immigration. The Guardian also accused Blair of racism over immigration. He had cut down on non-White immigration from outside Europe, while allowing White immigration from the EU and its new members in eastern Europe. The right had also been concerned about rising Black and Asian immigration for decades, and in the 1980s Tory papers like the Depress were publishing articles about unassimilable ethnic minorities. This started before Blair, and I don’t think he was deliberately responsible for it.

But I believe he was responsible for it in the sense that many of the migrants come from the countries Blair, Bush, Obama and Sarco destroyed or helped to destroy in the Middle East, such as Libya, Iraq and Syria. Blair had made some kind of deal with Colonel Gaddafy to keep migrants from further south in Libya, rather than crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. This was destroyed when Gaddafy’s regime was overthrown by Islamists. The result has been the enslavement of Black African migrants, and renewed waves of refugees from North Africa fleeing the country’s collapse.

He also stated that the industrial revolution, which was something else that was traditionally a source of pride, is now considered a cause for shame instead. Britain had been its birthplace and given its innovations to the rest of the world. However, we are now expected to be ashamed of it through its connection to slavery. The cotton woven in the Lancashire mills came from the American slave south, while sugar came from the slave colonies of the Caribbean. We’re also supposed to be ashamed of it because it’s the cause of climate change, for which we should pay reparations.

The Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

Okay, I’ve come across the claim that the industrial revolution was financed by profits from the slave trade and that it was based on the processing of slave produced goods. However, this is slightly different from condemning the industrial revolution as a whole. You can lament the fact that slavery was a part of this industrialisation, while celebrating the immense social, technological and industrial progress itself. After all, Marx states in the Communist Manifesto that it has rescued western society from rural idiocy. The demand that Britain should feel ashamed about the industrial revolution because of climate change comes from Greta Thunberg. It is, in my view, monumentally stupid and actually shows an ignorance of history. It’s based on an idealisation of pre-technological societies and an idealisation of rural communities. It’s a product of European romanticism, mixed with contemporary fears for the future of the planet. But the agrarian past was no rural idyll. People in the agricultural societies before the urbanisation of the 19th century had very utilitarian attitudes to the environment. It was a source of resources that could be used and exploited. The nostalgia for an idealised rural past came with the new generation of urban dwellers, who missed what they and their parents had enjoyed in the countryside. And rural life could be extremely hard. If you read economic histories of the Middle Ages and early modern period, famine is an ever present threat. It still was in the 19th century. The Irish potato famine is the probably the best known example in Ireland and Britain, but there were other instances of poverty, destitution and starvation across the UK and Europe. Industrialisation has allowed a far greater concentration of people to live than would have been possible under subsistence agriculture. Yes, I’m aware that overpopulation is a problem, that industrial pollution is harming the environment and contributing to the alarming declining in animal and plant species. But technological and science hopefully offer solutions to these problems as well. And I really don’t want to go back to a subsistence economy in which communities can be devastated by crop failure.

The call for climate reparations, I think, comes from Ed Miliband, and in my view it shows how out of touch and naive he is. I have no problem the Developed World giving aid to some of those countries threatened by climate change, such as the Pacific islands which are threatened with flooding due to the rise in sea levels. But some countries, I believe, are perfectly capable of doing so without western help. One of these is China, which also contributes massively to carbon emissions and which I believe has also called for the payment of climate reparations. China is an emerging economic superpower, and I see no reason why the west should pay for something that it’s doing and has the ability to tackle. I am also very sceptical whether such monies would be used for the purposes they’re donated. Corruption is a massive problem in the Developing World, and various nations have run scams to part First World donors and aid agencies from their money. When I was at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum one of these was a scheme for a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan. The Pakistani government was calling for western aid to finance the project. Britain refused, sensing a scam, for which we were criticised. Other countries happily gave millions, but the dam was never built. All a fraud. I suspect if climate reparations were paid, something similar would also happen with the aid money disappearing into kleptocrats’ pockets. There’s also the problem of where the tax burden for the payment of these reparations would fall. It probably wouldn’t be the rich, who have enjoyed generous tax cuts, but the British working class through indirect taxes. In short, it seems to me to be a colossally naive idea.

But these ideas don’t seem to be widespread. When he announced them, there were shouts from the audience to which Webb responded that it was coming, and they should wait a few years. Perhaps it will, but I’ve seen no enthusiasm or even much mention of them so far. They were mentioned during the COP 27 meeting, and that’s it. Thunberg’s still around, but after all these years I think she’s somewhat passe. At the moment I don’t think these ideas are issues.

Mass Immigration Not the Cause of NHS Crisis

Now let’s examine his statement that it’s due to immigration that the NHS is in the state it’s in. This is, quite simply, wrong. He correctly states that while Britain’s population has grown – London’s has nearly doubled and Leicester’s grown by 30 per cent – there has been no similar provision of medical services. No new hospitals have been built. As a result, where once you could simply walk into your doctor’s and expect to be seen, now you have to book an appointment. And when it comes to hospitals, it’s all the fault of immigrants. He talks about a specific hospital in London, and how the last time he was in that area, he was the only White Brit in the queue. This was because immigrants don’t have GPs, and so go to the hospital for every problem. We also have the problem of sick and disabled people from the developing world coming to the country for the better services we offer. A woman from the Sudan with a special needs child will therefore come here so that her child can have the treatment it wouldn’t get in the Sudan.

I dare say some of this analysis is correct. Britain’s population has grown largely due to immigration. One statistic released by a right-wing group said that immigration was responsible for 80 per cent of population growth. It’s probably correct, as Chambers Cyclopedia stated in its 1987 edition that British birthrates were falling and that it was immigration that was behind the rise in the UK population. I don’t know London at all, and I dare say that many of the immigrants there may well not have had doctors. I can also quite believe that some immigrants do come here for our medical care. There was a case a few weeks ago of a Nigerian woman, who got on a flight to London specifically so that she could have her children in a British hospital. I think this was a case of simple health tourism, which has gone on for years, rather than immigration.

But this overlooks the fact that the problems of the NHS has been down to successive Thatcherite regimes cutting state medical care in Britain all under the pretext of making savings and not raising taxes. Thatcher closed hospital wards. So did Tony Blair, when he wasn’t launching his PFI initiative. This was supposed to build more hospitals, but led to older hospitals being closed and any new hospitals built were smaller, fewer and more expensive. Cameron started off campaigning against hospital closures, and then, once he got his backside in No. 10, carried on with exactly the same policy. Boris Johnson claimed that he was going to build forty hospitals, which was, like nearly everything else the obese buffoon uttered, a flat lie. And Tweezer, Truss and Sunak are doing the same. Doctors surgeries have also suffered. Many of them have been sold off to private chains, which have maximised profits by closing down those surgeries that aren’t profitable. The result is that people have been and are being left without doctors. If you want an explanation why the NHS is in the state it is, blame Thatcher and her heirs, not immigrants.

Conclusion

While Webb has a point about the social and political manipulation of historical issues like the slave trade and the British Empire, these aren’t the reasons for the greater appearance of Black actors and presenters on television. Blair wasn’t responsible for mass immigration, and it’s underfunding and privatisation, not immigration, that’s responsible for the deplorable state of the health service. But he’s speaking to the wrong people there anyway, as the TBG would like to privatise it.

I am not saying it is wrong to discuss these issues, but it is wrong to support a bunch of Nazis like the TBG, who will exploit them to recreate all the social inequality, poverty and deprivation of pre-modern Britain.

Desperate GB News Tries Red Scare Against Rail Union

December 16, 2022

Oh ho! The news team at right-wing news outlet must be scared. RMT’s Mick Lynch has been laying waste all before him in interviews and debates, and so the alternative to the ‘woke, wet’ BBC is falling back on the old Thatcherite tactic of crying ‘Communism!’ Looking through YouTube this morning I found a piece put by them asking if the RMT aren’t trying to bring down capitalism with an interview with a Soviet historian. Ah yes, we’re back to the old Zinoviev letter of 1925 or whenever, the notorious MI5 forgery which painted the Labour party as in league with the Soviet Comintern. Or to the 1980s, with Arthur Scargill as an agent of Moscow. We’ve already had Sunak’s government tell the nurses that they’re doing the work of Putin.

No, Mick Lynch isn’t trying to bring down capitalism. He’s just trying to get all his union’s members a fair wage, and proper management and investment of Britain’s railways.

No, the nurses aren’t doing Putin’s work. They’re trying to get a living wage for their members. What they aren’t telling you on the news, or at least, I haven’t seen it, is that a quarter of NHS trusts now have food banks for the nurses. Abominable. And they want proper management and funding of the health service.

This means reversing privatisation in those industries.

But this isn’t Communism. It’s not total nationalisation of the economy, or the transformation of Britain into a one party state.

It’s common sense.

38 Degrees Petition to Get Jeremy Hunt to Provide Free School Meals to Children on Universal Credit

November 25, 2022

I got this message yesterday from the internet petitioning organisation objecting to Jeremy Hunt’s apparent refusal to provide free school meals to four-firths of a million children on Universal Credit, but who currently don’t qualify for free school meals. I’ve signed it, and if you feel as strongly about it as I do, I hope you’ll do the same. Because this is obscene. Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, and millions of working people and children are going hungry. They have to use food banks to stave off starvation, and now there are warm banks to make sure they don’t die of hypothermia because they can’t afford to heat their homes. Marcus Rashford, God bless ‘im, managed to shame them into providing fee school meals to deprived kids during the holidays. And they hate him for it. They published hit pieces afterwards lambasting him for being rich and having more than one house. Guess what? That’s irrelevant. The Fabian Society rejected class war, and so, I think, did the Labour party in general. They fought for the working class but saw socialism as such an eminently reasonable social system of society that everyone would benefit. This is where Labour differs from Communism. The only people who are fighting a class war, and exploiting class resentment, are the Tories in order to keep the workers firmly in their place.

‘Dear David,

800,000 vulnerable children are going to school hungry and missing out on free school meals – yet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say about it in last week’s budget. [1] He’s happy to leave hundreds of thousands of families, on Universal Credit but not eligible for free school meals, to struggle to feed their kids. [2]

David – we won’t let the Government get away with this. Our petition to expand free school meals is over 90% of the way to 100,000 signatures – but your name is missing. [3]

We MUST push this up the Government’s agenda if we’re to protect families struggling this winter. [4] That’s why we have BIG plans to expand this campaign – and it all starts with ramping up names on this petition and handing it in to Rishi Sunak to put child hunger firmly on his radar. As for the next stage of the campaign… watch this space!

So David, will you add your name to show Rishi Sunak he can’t get away with letting kids go hungry?It only takes a few seconds to sign!

I’LL ADD MY NAME

I’m not signing because…

It feels like we’re getting close to a breakthrough, David. Supermarkets, local councils, and celebrities are piling on the pressure to expand free school meals. [4] But time and again, the Government has failed to give critical support to families most in need – which is why we need your name, and your support.

So David, will you sign today to urge this Government to expand free school meals and keep this country’s children fed?If each of us reading this signs, we’ll smash the 100,000 target!

I’LL ADD MY NAME

I’m not signing because…

Thanks for all you do,

Flo, Tash, Siobhan, Angus and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Guardian: ‘It would mean so much’: parents on the need to expand free school meals 
The Independent: Feed the Future: Jeremy Hunt ignores pleas to expand free school meals in autumn Budget 
[2] See note 1.
[3] 38 Degrees: Rishi Sunak: don’t let kids go hungry by ditching the free school meals expansion! 
[4] Evening Standard: UK supermarkets join calls for expansion of free school meals 

Our Nurses Are Striking against Real Starvation Wages

November 25, 2022

According to the news, the NHS nurses are going on strike on the 15th and 20th of December. I don’t want the nurses to strike, but I don’t blame and absolutely support them. Or rather, what I should say is that I don’t want the nurses to have to strike. Because I don’t believe they have a choice. I went to one of the fringe Labour meetings online a few weeks ago. I can’t remember whether it was organised by Arise or the Labour Assembly Against Austerity. Not that it really matters. One of the speakers was a medical professional or activist with the NHS. And what she said was really chilling. One quarter of the country’s NHS trusts – I don’t know whether this is Britain as a whole or just England – were running food banks for their nursing staff. For the nurses! And we have student nurses considering dropping out, because they can’t afford to feed themselves and study! And that obese abomination Therese Coffey wanted the NHS budget cut further. Like all the other right-wing Tories, including Farage, who boast about they’re going to cut waste. The Irish vlogger, Maximilien Robespierre, asked in one of his videos whether she was the most odious Tory politician. She had responded to an interviewer’s question by saying that if nurses didn’t like it, they should look for work elsewhere. It’s the standard Tory answer that you hear trotted out whenever there’s a strike. Presumably Coffey thinks we could get more poor immigrants to work for cheap wages to replace them, as one of these horrors suggested we could do to plug the labour shortage in other industries. I’m sick of Coffey, sick of Hunt, and sick of the Tories full stop.

Defend the NHS!

Pay nurses a living wage!

Tories out!

Reform Party Launch Attack Ad against Tory ‘Consocialists’

November 20, 2022

Mad ultra-brexiteer Mahyar Tousi is highly delighted with the latest promotional film from Richard Tice and the wretched Reform Party. He showed it on one of his videos earlier today or yesterday. The film shows a hammer striking a piggy bank with the message that pensions are being hammered. It then talks about how Brits are being hit by Tory austerity and that the country is paying the price for 12 years of failed Tory policies. This is because Rishi Sunak and the rest are ‘Consocialists’. The Reform Party, however, offer growth and prosperity based on lowering taxes and eliminating waste. But note the contradiction – lowering taxes and cutting waste is Tory policy, and it translates into lowering taxes for the rich and cutting services, particularly the welfare state. So, what’s all this bilge about ‘Consocialists’? I can only think it’s because when Covid hit, suddenly the Tories had to put cash into the economy to support the businesses that were closed and the people that couldn’t work due to the lockdown. And the Tory hard right, which includes Tousi and the others the ad is aimed at, have bitterly resented it ever since. I think if they’d had their way, they wouldn’t have initiated the lockdown but carried on with the nonsense about herd immunity. Which means letting the old and weak die in order to allow the rest to become immune to the disease. But the nonsense of ‘Consocialism’ also harks back to Farage nonsense about ‘Liblabcon’ and how they were all the same, with only UKIP being different.

No, the Tories are not socialists. They have cut welfare provision to the point where, for many of the most vulnerable people, it no longer exists. That’s why people are being forced to use food banks. The Tories fully support private industry and are covertly trying to privatise the NHS and convert it into a system of private healthcare funded through private health insurance like America’s. They were also behind the privatisation of the utilities, which has been a disaster. Privatisation has not brought greater investment, just further cuts to services in order to boost boardroom pay and shareholder dividends. As for tax, they have cut taxes – for the rich. These are all policies that Tice and his vile crew will follow if in they get into government. And the results will be the same: abysmally poor public services, mass poverty and ill health with a privatised health service.

The Tories and Reform are just two branches of the same party. Don’t vote for them.

38 Degrees Petition Against Liz Truss Enjoying PM’s Perks and Appointing New Peers

October 28, 2022

I got this petition early today from internet democracy group 38 Degrees. One of their community, Vicky Ropner, has put up a petition calling for Liz Truss to be prevented from enjoying the perks of ex-prime ministers. These include the ability to appoint new peers to the House of Lords. Truss was only Prime Minister for three months and was simply too disastrous as premier to enjoy these benefits. I completely agree and have very definitely signed it. It is grossly unfair that she should enjoy the privilege of elevating her cronies when her wretched policies have resulted in horrific levels of inflation and increased mortgage rates. Not to mention something like a quarter of this great nation’s children relying on food banks and people having to use ‘warm banks’ to keep warm ’cause they can’t afford to heat their homes.

No to perks for Truss.

And definitely ‘No’ to the Tories.

Here’s the petition

‘Dear David,

Liz Truss left her position as Prime Minister after being in the job for less than 2 months. [1] But despite being in the job for such a short amount of time, she could still be allowed to put through a resignation honours list and choose people to promote to the House of Lords. [2]

That’s why Vicky, a 38 Degrees supporter, set up a petition demanding Truss is denied the privilege. She believes an “incompetent and disgraceful” Prime Minister should not get such rewards.

Recently, the House of Lords Appointments Committee – who decides whether or not approve new members of the House of Lords – rejected a number of nominations, and spoke out against unsuitable candidates being put forward. [3] Huge public pressure could convince them to step in and stop Liz Truss’ honours list being approved.

So, if you agree with Vicky and believe a Prime Minister forced to resign after just a few weeks should not be allowed to reward their friends with jobs for life in the Lords, can you sign the petition today? [4] It only takes 30 seconds, and we’ll hand the petition in to those in charge in the next few days!

“Campaign created by Vicky Ropner

Sign the petition

To: The Conservative Party, Parliament and the House of Lords Appointments Commission

What: Liz Truss and the Conservative party need to realise that the public mood is for her to leave quietly without an honours list or any other perks of the job. She has been an incompetent and disgraceful Prime Minister.

Why is this important: Liz didn’t even last 3 months, there is no other occupation that would grant you anything for that, no honest one anyway. Instead she fell at the first hurdle, making huge and avoidable mistakes because of her arrogance. Consequently the people of the UK experienced even more worry and suffering.

It now must be made law that a PM that resigns or is forced to go before a year has passed, has no rights to the perks of the job after leaving. It is insulting and ridiculous that she should be able to set her friends up in the House of Lords, receive severance pay and other perks after being such an appalling PM. She blamed circumstance and not herself. She chose such an appalling cabinet that wasn’t fit for purpose.

She managed one thing, she attended the Queen’s funeral, even Larry the cat could have managed that if they’d provided a comfy enough chair!

Stop this nonsense NOW!

Read more…

Sign the petition

Thanks for being involved,

David, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

PS. Not everyone reading this email will agree with the concept of the House of Lords at all, but one thing we can all agree on, is it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. So we should be able to expect representatives in the House of Lords to be chosen because they want to do the best for our country, not because of who their mates are.

PPS: Vicky Ropner started their petition on the 38 Degrees website.

With 38 Degrees anyone can start their own campaign with the click of a button. But that’s just where your journey begins. Creating a petition, then sharing it with friends and colleagues, can soon give you a groundswell of support. Perhaps you’ll end up changing something really important.

Use this link to get your campaign started today, it takes just a couple of minutes and we’ll support you every step of the way: https://link.38degrees.org.uk/start-campaign.

NOTES:

[1] The Guardian: Liz Truss resigns as PM and triggers fresh leadership election
[2] Evening Standard: Outrage as Liz Truss gets a resignation honours list
[3] Yahoo!news: Four of Boris Johnson’s peerage nominations ‘rejected by Lords watchdog’
Times [Paywall]: Lords watchdog snubs Tory peers
Times [Paywall]: Stop nominating unsuitable peers, Tories and Labour told
[4] 38 Degrees: Liz Truss should go without an honours list or any other perks!