Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday Agreement’

Jeremy Corbyn Blasts Universal Credit

October 23, 2018

As Mike has described in detail on his blog, Universal Credit is set to increase the misery of millions more people across the UK when it is rolled out across the country. Various Tories have made gestures of opposing it, but as Mike also explains, you can’t trust any of them. When Tory rebels have their bluff called, or the government offers just a token gesture to placate them, they immediately show their true colours: blue, all the way through. They automatically give in. And the Tories making noises about opposing it are doing no more than that: making noises. Heidi Allen made a great show of weeping in parliament at one woman’s description of the hardships she had suffered due to Iain Duncan Smith’s wretched brainchild. But when Labour made a humble petition to have all the documents published, which the government has not released on the effects of Universal Credit, Allen voted against it with the rest of the Tory party.

Hypocrites to a man and woman.

The Labour party is genuinely critical of Universal Credit, and will do something about it. And in this video, Jeremy Corbyn attacks it and reveals some of the changes he intends to make. He also talks about the mess Brexit has created regarding Northern Ireland and the open border with Eire. It’s from the Daily Heil’s channel on YouTube, but they seem to be letting him speak without misrepresenting him. Corbyn made the comments to them when he appeared in Bristol, and gave his opinion that British schoolchildren needed to know the complete history of the British Empire, and what it had done to the subject nations and peoples.

The video shows Corbyn getting out of his car in front of Bristol Cathedral and the city’s Central Library before going into City Hall, where he watches a video on the Empire. It then moves to him standing outside, with College Green and Park Street, including the Lord Mayor’s chapel, as his backdrop. He says

Three million families are going to be worse off by about fifty pounds a week from Universal Credit, 2.7 million more families will be forced into Universal Credit next year. So immediately we will say ‘We will stop this process and we will make sure that no-one is worse-off under Universal Credit. The experience of Universal Credit has been that the majority of people are considerably worse off, many forced into debt due to delays in payments and many, particularly in the private rented sector, property or home is put at risk because of it. This has got to change very, very rapidly. I raised it yesterday with the Prime Minister the question of the poverty that’s come about because of austerity and because of University credit.

He goes on, but it’s obvious there’s been a cut at this section of the interview.

Well, it would cost in the sense that we’re cutting benefits by Universal Credit, we would be maintaining existing levels of benefit immediately.

There’s then a question from the interviewing journalist, who asks about ‘those savings being built into projections of the country’s (path?)’

Corbyn replies that
That is the problem. The savings that are built in are at the expense of the poorest in our society.

Then comes the inevitable question: ‘so how will you pay?’

Corbyn replies

We’ll pay for it by increasing income from corporate taxation and the wealthiest in our society. We would not be taxing the lowest paid and medium income groups.

Another cut, then

I think it has to change, I think the system has to change dramatically and we will be using a more comprehensive system on this, but essentially our benchmarks would be: nobody should be worse off, nobody should have their homes put at risk because of Universal Credit.

Another cut, then

Well, I think it’s a very real threat, and the DUP are obviously speaking up for their own constituency on this, and indeed there is a great deal of unity on this amongst all political parties in Northern Ireland across all the political divide on having an open border with the Republic, obviously open trade and therefore a customs union within the European Union which reflects that, and I think their position is very real. We will judge this government against the six tests that Keir Starmer has laid out for us and we will vote accordingly in parliament, but we cannot support chequers.

Another cut, then Corbyn concludes

The government has had more than two years to negotiate this and still hasn’t made any progress on it. Quite simply there has to be open trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and that has to be the basis of any agreement.

Mike today reported that the DUP were threatening to vote against Tweezer and with as many as 40 other Tory MPs. May was seen blustering in parliament when it came to questions about Northern Ireland. She declared to do that Brexit was ’95 per cent complete’. Among the many excellent Tweets Mike has put up about this issue, from Clare Hepworth, David Lammy, Corbyn and Steven Swinford was a nice rebuttal from Dan Lewis, the NW Chair of the CWU. He reminded everyone that the Titanic also successfully completed 95 per cent of its journey.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/10/22/so-much-for-her-1bn-bribe-dup-turns-against-may-and-joins-the-eurosceptics/

Tweezer and her disgusting party are a menace to the British people. The poverty foisted on us through austerity and Universal Credit is killing people. And their debacle over Northern Ireland risks one of the essential pillars of the Good Friday Agreement. And if that goes, then the province really could return to murderous chaos.

Mike states that it’s possible she won’t last till the end of the week. I hope so. And if she’s pushed tomorrow, it won’t be too soon.

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Stella Creasy Attacks Government over Abortion and DUP

June 8, 2018

This is another great video from RT, although it’s only 47 seconds long. It’s of the Labour MP Stella Creasy tearing into the government for their refusal to allow the women of Northern Ireland vote on the issue of abortion, because of their need to retain the support of the far right DUP.

Creasy begins her speech by asking if the government will really require rape victims to come forward to give evidence in open court, in order to get an open declaration and force them to act. She then asks whether they, as MPs, responsible under the Good Friday Agreement for the human rights of all citizens in Northern Ireland, are going to pretend that they’re doing their job if they allow the government to go through with this. She states that the women of Northern Ireland deserve better; they deserve control over their bodies, they do not deserve to be forced to go to court to talk about these issues in order to get the government to listen.

And then the punchline: They deserve the kind of control that Arlene Foster has over this government.

More Lies and Bilge from Boris: Hard Brexit Will Not Mean Hard Border in Northern Ireland, Because Camden and London

February 28, 2018

I lost patience with Boris Johnson a very long time ago. As one of the columnists in the I wrote a week or so ago, Johnson’s a politician, not anyone’s gaffe-prone friend. Quite. He’s a ruthless politician, and his image as some kind of lovable oaf, or so he imagines himself, is a weapon he wields in order to gain a popular following. He’s a very nasty, ruthless intriguer, as shown by the way he started out supporting ‘Remain’, and then jumped ship and stabbed David Cameron in the back. He would undoubtedly argue that he did so because he was persuaded by the ‘Leave’ campaigners arguments. To me it just seems to me that he changed his views quite cynically because he though that the Leavers offered him a better chance of getting the top job.

As for the gaffes, there’s nothing cute or amusing about them. If they only embarrassed Johnson, it would be a different matter. But they embarrass the country, make international tensions worse, and have seen years added to an innocent woman’s jail term by a tyrannical regime, in the case of the British Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, accused of spying by the Iranians. She wasn’t. She was visiting her Iranian family for the New Year. But that didn’t bother Boris and his mate, Michael Gove, who immediately shot their mouths off and gave the Mullahs more ammunition with which to persecute this poor woman. There is nothing remotely cute or funny about the incident, which on its own clearly shows Johnson’s complete lack of competence to serve as Foreign Secretary.

Now BoJo has opened his mouth once again, to claim that Brexit won’t lead to the return of a hard border between Ulster and the Republic. Why? Because there’s a border between Camden and another part of London, which millions of people pass through every day, and they are not stopped or inconvenienced by a hard border with checkpoints. The government just takes the money from the costs of their transport.

Johnson’s remark has been widely ridiculed for the obvious reason: the border between Camden and the rest of London is absolutely not like the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. Camden and London are both in Britain, unless Johnson has plans otherwise. It is not an international border, while the border between Ulster and Eire is.

And the danger with Brexit is that if there isn’t a very carefully negotiated open border between the two parts of the Emerald Isle, the Good Friday Agreement will collapse, and we will once again be mired in the bloody conflict of the Troubles, which took so many lives and maimed and ruined so many others. I was at school during it, and can remember the IRA’s bombing campaign over here. The last thing I want is a return to the murder and killing.

And I’m heartily sick of Johnson’s lies and the sheer rubbish he spouts. He lied repeatedly about Britain’s contribution to the EU, claiming that after Brexit it would go to the NHS. It didn’t, and Johnson was there spinning madly, trying to get out of the fact that this lie was spread across the sides of buses across the country. Then a month or so ago, he revived the lie again. And again.

I don’t know if he honestly believes this latest piece of rubbish, or if it’s a very cynical piece of rhetoric intended to win people over to his side. Because Boris is media celeb, who’s been on Have I Got News For You, and so it must be true. In some ways, it doesn’t matter, because if Johnson does get his way with a hard Brexit, we will see a hard border in Northern Ireland, and that will lead to increased conflict between Nationalists and Loyalists. If it doesn’t automatically lead to outright violence.

Once again Boris has opened his mouth, and the consequences of what he plans are horrific. He’s incompetent, a liar, and a ruthless self-publicist. And others are paying dearly for his so-called ‘gaffes’. And I’ve had my fill of him. Get him out of government now, before his stupidity leads us back to the horrors of sectarian violence. His stupidity has already got one innocent woman spending more years in jail. If he’s in charge of Brexit, it could end with nothing less than mass murder and assassination.

TeleSur English on Police Violence and State Repression in Catalonia

October 2, 2017

This is another short video from TeleSur English. TeleSur, I think from its logo is a South American broadcaster, which covers issues relating to the continent, Central America and the Caribbean. As so much of the continent was colonized by the Spanish, it’s only natural that the station should also be covering the terrible events now unfolding in Catalonia.

The video’s just under two minutes long, and show the police charging the protestors and those Catalans, wishing to exercise their democratic right to vote. It also includes testimony from the protestors themselves, who states that the police charged them, and that grandparents, women and children were crying. The police also fired rubber bullets, and the video shows some of the wounds inflicted by them. They also forcibly broke into polling stations, burned and destroyed ballot boxes and arrested volunteers working there. The video states that this was after a vicious campaign by the Spanish government against the referendum campaign. The video ends by asking if this is the end of democracy in Europe?

That last is a good question. Mike has also put up an excellent article this evening commenting on the brutality and assault on democracy this constitutes. He makes the point that this is how an undemocratic government, like May’s, hangs on to power. May is rigging parliament so that the Tories dominate parliamentary committees, despite the fact that they have lost their majority. And you do have to wonder if May wouldn’t send in the cops and the army to behave excellently like this against the Scots or Welsh if they dared to vote against remaining in Britain. And this isn’t even a question regarding Northern Ireland. The province has been under military policing during the terrorism and violence that the Good Friday Peace Agreement was supposed to put an end to. Of course May would have no qualms about sending in the army and the cops if the people of Ulster looked like they wanted to leave Britain. And that would include the whole people of the Six Counties, not just Roman Catholics and Nationalists, if the Northern Irish people felt that they would be better off being independent or negotiating some kind of deal to join Eire, rather than chance their economy and prosperity with a Britain outside the EU.

I don’t think it’s the end of democracy in Europe. But it is extremely ominous.

Republican Ted Cruz Wants Increased Police Patrols in Muslim Areas

March 26, 2016

It’s not just Trump who is promoting a very anti-Muslim line in America. It’s also Ted Cruz, another far-Right Republican. Over on The Young Turks they’ve actually been debating who would be worse for America – Trump or Cruz. While Trump’s been talking about banning Muslims from entering America, for example, Cruz has actually been doing it. He’s behind a law to prevent, or at least limit, further Muslim immigration.

After the terrible attacks in Belgium this week, Cruz got up to recommend that there should be increased police patrols in Muslim areas. The Young Turks naturally took a dim view about that. Cenk Uygur, one of the Turks’ anchors, who is himself of Muslim Turkish heritage, said that while they were at it, why not move Muslim communities somewhere else, and create a ghetto. He was, of course, being bitterly ironic, but his attack does voice fears that what Trump wants is internment camps for Muslims after the Trumpenfuhrer stated that Muslims should be forced to carry identification documents. And now it seems, Cruz holds similar views on policing Muslims.

Such a policy would be both nasty and counterproductive. Nasty, because it criminalises millions of ordinary people, who aren’t terrorists, don’t sympathise with terrorism and have nothing to do with terrorism, simply because of their faith.

It’s counterproductive because such heavy-handed methods will only increase radicalisation, and very definitely not catch the terrorists themselves. Older Brits may remember a series of riots that shook Britain in about 1981/2 against Maggie Thatcher. These broke out in poor communities throughout the country, and particularly in Black and ethnically mixed areas. Among those affected were Toxteth in Liverpool, Brixton in London and St. Paul’s in my hometown of Bristol. The people in those areas have said since that they weren’t race riots, though that was how they were perceived at the time. Racial discrimination, and a lack of jobs and opportunities for Black youngsters, was certainly one of the causes of the rioting, as is stated in the Scarman Report. One of the newspapers has also described the riots as ‘a series of insurrections against the police’. Certainly there was a very heavy police presence in St. Paul’s. It was and is a high crime area, and one resident interviewed in the local media stated that there was a feeling at the time that ‘the police were occupying St. Paul’s’.

This is what will happen in America if Ted Cruz has his way and starts introducing a heavier police presence in Muslim areas. It will turn Muslims away from co-operating with the authorities and the police, and make violence and disaffection more, not less likely. And it won’t stop the real terrorists.

Now it’s true that so far, many of the Islamic terrorists caught have come from a network of organisations and mosques. But police are worried about ‘lone wolf’ attacks, where individuals seeming come out of nowhere to run amok. Several of the terrorists caught have been self-radicalised, through material they’ve read or watched on the interwebs.

When the IRA began their bombing campaign in Britain in the early 1970s, they had a very clear strategy to avoid detection. They deliberately avoided moving in Irish expatriate communities, visiting Irish pubs or community centres. They kept a very low profile in order to merge with the general British population. And this is what ISIS wants to do with their ‘lone wolf’ policies. Mercifully, the police were able to catch some of the terrorists, but over the years the IRA was responsible for a series of horrific attacks in Britain which left hundreds maimed and killed. And the presence of the British army in Northern Ireland, who had originally been called in because the RUC was too sectarian and brutal in its treatment of Roman Catholics, became a symbol of the British occupation of Ulster, as it was seen by Irish Republicans and some of those on the wider British Left. Now I wasn’t a supporter of the ‘Troops Out’ campaign, because before the Good Friday peace agreement was concluded it just seemed to me that without the army, the paramilitaries in Ulster, whether Republican or Loyalist, would just increase the violence exponentially until it became far more of a bloodbath than it already was. But there’s no doubt that the presence of the army was resented by many, possibly most, Ulster Catholics.

Cruz recommendation of increasing police patrols in Muslim areas is likely to repeat all the mistakes Britain made in policing Black areas in Britain. They will become a focus of hatred for American Muslims, just like many Roman Catholics in Ulster resented the presence of the British army. And like the IRA, the real terrorists will find ways of avoiding them. Cruz’s policy is worse than useless. It should be dumped, along with Cruz himself. America’s a great country, which deserves better than these intolerant buffoons.

Vox Political on the Sun’s Two-Faced Support for the Conservatives and SNP

May 2, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has written this piece, Manipulation (clumsy, obvious and failed), on the rabid support for the Tories and the SNP respectively in the separate editions of the Sun for south and north of the Border. For England and Wales, the Scum proudly proclaims Cameron as the political titan leading us all into a new age of prosperity, and saving us all from those dreadful people in the Labour party and SNP.

The Scottish Sun and Sturgeon as Star Wars Heroine

Viewers in Scotland have their own programme, as the TV broadcasters say. There the Sun has portrayed Nicola sturgeon as Princess Leia from Star Wars, offering A New Hope. Presumably this reference to Star Wars means that they hope her term as political titan (Scots version) will be followed by five sequels. This metaphor could be a very mixed message for SNP voters and Sun readers, if it’s remembered that despite the massive affection for the films by Star Wars fans all over the world, the last three were pretty much panned by the critics. The first of the sequels, The Phantom Menace, was accused of racism and homophobia. Jar Jar Binks, who was clearly intended by Lucas to be a sympathetic comic underdog, instead managed to annoy just about everyone. To the point that one group of fans released their own, bootleg version, The Phantom Edit, which had the character edited out completely.

And the three sequels chart the gradual corruption of Annekin Skywalker from promising young pilot, robot creator and Jedi apprentice, to the Sith lord of evil, Darth Vader. Which could be a metaphor for the corruption of British politics from the 1970s onwards due to the pernicious influence of one Rupert Murdoch. There is a Chancellor Palpatine, and he’s in charge of New International and Fox News. It’s so much easier than a high profile political post.

Murdoch, the SNP and a Tory Victory

Mike makes the point that the Scottish Sun’s support of Sturgeon and the Scots Nationalists is a marriage of convenience, intended to ensure that the SNP destroy Labour in Scotland, and curtail wider support for Labour in the rest of the UK, thus ensuring an overall Tory victory. Mike writes of the Murdoch press that

They reckon that, with this pluralism, they can encourage enough Sun readers to vote Tory in England and Wales, while the Scots have been primed to vote SNP already – locking Labour out of office and putting Cameron back into Downing Street.

Rupert is banking on Labour sticking to its refusal to work with the SNP, leaving the way open for another Conservative-led Coalition government. That way, we can all look forward to another “It’s the Sun what won it!” headline in the south, and a “Never mind!” sop to the Scots, who’ll be locked into the union but with no say in anything that happens – because they voted for nationalism.

Voters in Scotland may find it hard to square the right-wing rag’s support for the SNP with that party’s own claim to be left-of-centre – but then, the SNP has found it impossible to square its claim that voters should avoid voting Labour in Scotland so the SNP can do a deal with Labour after the election, or to justify its refusal to ask voters south of the border to vote Labour (John Swinney refused to do so – what – seven times on a TV news report). The reason is that the SNP needs a strong Tory performance in England and Wales, otherwise Labour won’t need to make a deal with anyone. It’s a completely contradictory position that Nicola Sturgeon and her gang have glossed over with repeated – and often false – attacks on Labour.

The Sun, and Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism

In fact, this isn’t the first time the Sun has adopted a contradictory stance, supporting both Unionism and nationalism according to which side of the Border its editions are aimed. The Sun also has an edition for Eire, as well as a separate version for Northern Ireland. The actual content for both versions is put together in Wapping, and this has had highly amusing consequences when things have gone wrong. Such as an incident back in the 1990s, when someone pressed the wrong button, sending the contents of the two papers to each other. The result was that readers in Eire, suddenly found that the paper’s editorial stance had changed from being highly supportive of the Good Friday agreement to rabidly hostile. Loyalist readers north and east of the Border were also left wondering why the paper had ditched its opposition to the peace process, and was now supporting a united Ireland. Outrage and complaints followed.

Murdoch, Alex Salmond and the SNP

In Scotland, the SNP has been very careful to solicit the support of the Murdoch press. Alex Salmond himself met the Dirty Digger personally at least 12 times, more than the other leading politicians. All British politicos have in the past been very careful to get the power of the press on their side, including and especially Tony Blair. Salmond and Sturgeon have been no exception. The advantages to both parties are obvious. The SNP gets the support of the press, while Murdoch acquires sympathetic political support for his media empire. Remember: Murdoch is terrified about losing a fraction of his grip on the British press following a Miliband victory. As I’ve posted a few moments ago, he has told his journalists that his entire media empire is in jeopardy and could be ended if Labour gets in.

This support is not given freely. It’s very much a poisoned chalice, and the prices is high: continued support for Murdoch’s policies. Blair bought Murdoch’s loyalty as part of the New Labour project. This was his attempt to recreate the Labour Party as a centre-right, neo-liberal party with a slightly more benign attitude to welfare and workers’ rights than the Tories. And throughout his administration, Blair was always worried about his latest policies would be received by Murdoch, and the other press barons like Dacre and Richard Desmond.

Writers and commentators on Murdoch himself have stated that the press baron has pursued a consistent political line. He has always demanded privatisation and deregulation, including that of the NHS, attacked trade unions, workers’ rights and demanded savage reductions to welfare benefits and the infrastructure of the welfare state.

He is not a suitable bedfellow for the leader of any self-respecting left-wing party, whether Labour or the SNP.

I’ve no doubt that both Salmond and Sturgeon feel that gaining Murdoch’s support for the election need not lead them into further political indebtedness, or allow him to influence the rest of their policies. They’re wrong. The fact that Salmond met him so many times indicates how dependent he feels on gaining Murdoch’s support. And Murdoch will play on that.

Just like Palpatine does to Annakin Skywalker in the Star Wars sequels.

To go back to the Star Wars metaphor, Murdoch does not offer A New Hope, but The Revenge of the Sith.