Posts Tagged ‘Grant Shapps’

Guy Debord’s Cat on the Tory Bullying Scandal

May 2, 2017

Buddy Hell over at Guy Debord’s Cat also posted a piece about two weeks ago, asking what has happened to the Tory bullying scandal. The Cat begins

As the Crown Prosecution Services prepares to announce whether it intends to prosecute over 30 Tory “individuals” (sic) for failing to correctly declare elections expenses during the 2015 General Election, it’s worth remembering the other scandal into which the Tory Election Expenses Scandal is interwoven. That scandal is the Tory Bullying Scandal.

It is worrying that for more than a year the entire story has gone quiet. Indeed, a current government minister, a former minister and the party chairman are entangled in its web. A party worker actually committed suicide after a campaign of bullying and intimidation, and a sitting MP was blackmailed for having an affair.

The Cat provides a handy list of the salient facts. These include the following points

In 2014, Mark Clarke was appointed director Conservative RoadTrip2015 by Grant Shapps, the then party chairman. This organization, bussed activists around the country to key marginals. RoadTrip2015 is at the heart of the Tory Election Expenses Scandal.

Clarke threatened to blackmail Robert Halfon, MP over an alleged sexual infidelity.

Elliott Johnson, a young party activist committed suicide after being bullied by Clarke and Andre Walker, whom he regards as a friend. Walker himself was covertly recorded on a train plotting to smear Alison Knight, the deputy leader of Windsor Council with an associate. Walker also claimed to be Johnson’s lover.

There was considerable overlap between Thatcherite group, Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Conservative Future (youth wing), RoadTrip2015 and Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF). It was revealed that Clarke had sexually assaulted several female members of YBF. This forced Donal Blaney, the YBF’s leader to cancel their annual conference. Blaney was also forced to resign from CWF.

The internal Tory Party inquiry found there were 13 alleged victims. The same inquiry, conducted by Clifford Chance, concluded that senior party figures were “unaware” bullying was taking place. Elliott Johnson’s parents condemned the inquiry as a “whitewash”.

The Cat also notes that Clarke and friends also plotted to take over the Corporation of London and that he and Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley, the former MP for Cannock Chase, also worked together in an organisation dedicated to smashing the unions. He speculates that the links between the various individuals involved suggests that the bullying also included several members of Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Association.

Apart from Clarke and his cronies, in December 2015 it was revealed that Lucy Allen, the Tory MP for Telford, had left bullying messages to one of her workers on the answerphone. She also added the words ‘unless you die’ to a message from someone criticising her for wanting to bomb Syria. Despite this, Allen has never been investigated.

The Cat concludes

This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of Downing Street. But why has this story gone so cold? Could it have something to do with the Conservative Party’s internal inquiry, dubbed by some as a “whitewash”? The corporate media dropped the story soon after the inquiry. Yet questions about bullying in the Tory Party and the connection between RoadTrip2015 and the Tory Election Expenses Scandal persist. Will we ever get to the truth?

He also adds an update from a report in the Guardian, which states that the Tories have not handed a report on the allegations to the cops, despite repeated calls for them to do so.

Just like they haven’t handed over a report into their electoral fraud.

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/whatever-happened-to-the-tory-bullying-scandal/

This also has a link to the Guardian’s article on the scandal.

Somehow I’m not surprised that this scandal involved the party’s various youth sections. Some of us can still remember the uproar in the 1980s when the Nazi sympathies of the Union of Conservative Students came out, including their commitment to racial nationalism, their bullying of Tory ‘wets’ during a conference at one British university, their condemnation of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, and how they used to sing ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’ to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.

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Vox Political: Tory Partisanship at the Beeb and Andrew Neil’s Interrogation of Tory Bullying Witness

February 7, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political on Friday posted this piece about Andrew Neil’s treatment of one of the witnesses in the Tory bullying scandal: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/05/tory-bullying-inquiry-witness-bbc-complicit-in-bid-to-defame-me/. Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the Tory thinktank, the Bow Group, was invited on to Neil’s programme, the Daily Politics. Ostensibly this was to discuss vote-swapping between the Conservatives and UKIP. When he got there, however, he found himself being questioned about his own character, and accused by Neil of being a ‘Walter Mitty character’. Mr Harris-Quinney has taken the step of writing a letter of complaint to the Beeb about his treatment. He believes his treatment was part of a campaign of intimidation against him arranged by one of Grant Shapps’ aides.

Mike in his article makes the point that the bullying scandal has proven very damaging to the Tories, and that this incident disproves the claims that the BBC is left-wing, or biases against the Tories, particularly as Andrew Neil is a fervent Tory supporter.

This episode would seem to bear out Mike’s observations, and show just how far the Tory factionalism within the BBC goes. It’s not just rabid support of the Tories, but a determination to do the Whip’s and the government’s dirty work of keeping dissident elements that might harm the party in line.

The Bankers’ Party of True Working People (Rich Bankers)

May 13, 2015

Yesterday on the new, Cameron trotted out once again the line that his party was ‘the true party of working people.’ It’s the same line that was trotted out a few years ago by Grant Shapps, alias Mr Green. It’s supposed to appeal to the working classes, to show that the Tories actually represent their interests and aspirations, rather than the doctrinaire demands of elite Socialists like Ed Miliband.

I wrote an angry piece about it at the time Shapps first used it, making the statement that there was about the same amount of truth behind it as that Nazi’s inclusion of the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Workers’. It was all propaganda, designed to give a populist appeal to a party which hated Socialism and the Trade Unions, and which represented the interests of the middle classes against the working class.

Unfortunately, there are some people, who will be taken in by it. The same people, who decided that Maggie was really working class, because of her tales of living above her father’s shop. I know people, who blandly believe that the NHS was set up by the Tories, rather than as it actually was, by Clement Atlee’s Labour party. These are probably the same people, who believe the Tories’ propaganda that they will find another £8bn for the NHS, rather than selling it off to their friends.

What actually came across most strongly was that this was a party of the usual Tory demographic – toffs, bankers and the minions of big business. Covering the new Tory cabinet ministers bustling to work, the BBC showed Javid, intoning that he was ‘the son of a busman’. This piece of working class cred was then qualified with what Javid actually does. He was, reported the Beeb, ‘an investment banker’. Ros Altmann, the new pensions minister? Banker. Lord Freud, another Tory stalwart, and the one who claimed that the working class should be more flexible than the upper classes as ‘they had less to lose’ from the recession? Banker. George Osborne? Toff and banker.

One of the major weaknesses of British politics is that ever since Thatcher, economic thinking has been geared to the financial sector, rather than manufacturing. One of the few high-ranking Tories under Thatcher noted that Thatcher had no idea how keeping the pound strong harmed British manufacturing by making our goods more expensive. The authors of Socialist Enterprise, as well as Ken Livingstone and Neil Kinnock, before he rejected Socialism for fundamentalist free trade, all recognised that the British financial sector was geared to overseas investment, rather than supporting domestic industry. They wanted to reform the financial sector so that it channelled more investment into the UK. The presence of so many bankers in the Cabinet represents the continuation of the present economic orthodoxy, so that we can expect British domestic industry to decline, no matter what the Tories will scream about being the party of business.

During the Revolutions of 1848, the revolutionaries in France, to show that they did represent the workers, included one – Albert – in their government. it was a token gesture, and the administration eventually fell. But it was there. There was not one solitary working man or woman in the Cameron’s new cabinet. Javid’s background is working class, but he long ago left that behind him.

There is actually no-one in the cabinet, who has actually done any kind of manual work, or who is a lower middle class employee, and certainly none from any working class organisations, such as the trade unions, which the Tories desperately wish to destroy. Cameron’s party is certainly not a party of ‘true working people’ by any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve no doubt, however, that some people will believe them, taken in by Javid’s supposedly blue-collar background, and Cameron’s endless refrain that ‘we’re all in this together’. The slogan’s empty, except for the way it reinforces the Tories’ anti-welfare policies. They claim to represent the ‘true, hardworking people’, who are threatened by the unemployed, who are, of course, all idle scroungers. It’s designed to play on the class insecurity and petty vindictiveness of a certain type of voter, who feels threatened by those just below them, and who feels they are already given too much. The average Daily Mail and Express reader, in fact, though the same line permeates the Sun, Star and Sport as well.

This needs to stop, and stop now. It needs to be shown to be the lie it is, a lie to justify putting further cuts and pressure on the working class, and demonise the unemployed under they’re starved to death under sanctions. We want a proper government representing the working class, with its members drawn from that class. A party, that believes in giving ‘hard-working people’ a living wage, proper free healthcare, and support to the unemployed, who are not idle scroungers.

A party, in other words, which is everything Cameron and his toffs and bankers aren’t.

At Last! Vox Political Wins Legal Challenge to Force DWP to Release Death Numbers

May 4, 2015

I’m afraid I’m a bit late covering this, for which I duly apologise. Mike over at Vox Political has finally won his appeal before the Information Commissioner for the DWP to release the stats for the number of people, who have died while claiming Invalidity Benefit and ESA between November 2011 and May 2014.

Mike’s article reporting his victory, Victory for Vox Political: DWP ordered to give details of benefit-related deaths, states that the government now must release the figures within 35 calendar days of April 30th. The statistics must also be broken down into the following categories.

◾Those in the assessment phase,
◾Those who were found fit for work,
◾Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
◾Those who were placed in the support group, and
◾Those who had an appeal pending.

The Information Commissioner ruled

“It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.

“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.

The decision notice continued: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.

“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”

Mike describes what initially moved him to campaign for the release of the information – an interim government report in 2013 Incapacity Benefit (Deaths of Claimants), which contained information on 10,000 + people, who had died. The report claimed that the amount they had been claiming was sufficient to give them sufficient to live on. Mike states he was sceptical, as there was later information suggesting that many had died because of unsympathetic treatment by a government determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter how many casualties this would incur.

He describes the considerable difficulty he had in obtaining the information from the DWP, including their ruling that his request was ‘vexatious’. The DWP can still appeal the decision, but Mike believes that this would be unsuccessful. When he was first turned down by the Information Commissioners, they stated that they were sympathetic to his case. It was that comment that convinced him that a second attempt would be successful.

He is highly suspicious, however, of the delay in releasing this information. He feels it has been done for political reasons, as if the true number of deaths of people on Invalidity Benefit and ESA were made known – and these could be as high as 60,000 – it may deter many people from voting for the Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators. He then questions the validity of an election result if the details of the numbers of people dying while claiming benefits is not known.

The article’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/05/01/victory-for-vox-political-dwp-ordered-to-give-details-of-benefit-related-deaths/. Go there for more information.

It is a great victory for Mike, after his long struggle trying to get this information out the DWP and the serial liars Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVile and the public school bullies and thugs. They have indeed tried nearly every trick in the book to avoid releasing these figures. And it hasn’t just been Mike requesting them – many others have too, and been given the same feeble excuses, or simple flat denials.

And I’ve no doubt that Mike’s right when he says that the release of this information has been deliberately delayed until the very last minute in order to save the government from embarrassment. Others have been given the same treatment and shown the same attitude when making different, but similar requests for government information that should be freely available. Johnny Void and the other anti-workfare campaigners have tried to get the DWP to release details of the firms, that have enrolled on the scheme to use such forced, unfree labour. The DWP have turned down his and the others’ requests for the information flat. Why? Because they actually admit that if they released the information, it might stop people from using the firms involved. They would then be forced to pull out, and the scheme would fail.

Which also shows that the Tories and Lib Dems have absolutely no shame, and freely acknowledge that the scheme is unpopular, and wouldn’t go ahead if people actually knew more about it and the firms backing it.

It also shows the absolute contempt Cameron, Clegg and their oligarchic clique have for public opinion, despite all the mouthing they have done about democracy and expanding choice. They despise the poor and weak, and sneer at any genuine concern for them by the opponents of their exploitation.

In the case of the information on the number of deaths due to their benefit reforms, they have a bit more self-awareness, and realise that adopting the same attitude would just spread contempt and disaffection for them and their policies. So they have simply resorted to excuses such as the information wasn’t ready yet; or it didn’t need to be released right now, because it was already being prepared for publication in due course. Of course, their first, and risible response was simply that it would take too long, and the request was ‘vexatious’. By which they meant it wasn’t genuine, and was just done to cause trouble.

It’s a good excuse, as it does recognise that the request was made in order to question and challenge the welfare reforms and the policy of sanctions that forms a part of them. It also tries to dismiss this, as not being a serious request. There’s no need to take it seriously or release the information. It’s just some troll causing trouble for the fun of it. Now get back to work.

But it is a serious request, no matter how badly Cameron, IDS and their circle have tried to shrug it off. It’s good that Mike’s now got a ruling in his favour, but it is also marred by the fact that this information probably won’t be released in time for the election.

Apart from Mike’s success in finally getting a positive court ruling, I’m also touched and heartened reading and hearing about the many messages of support he’s had from people reading his blog. A huge number of people all across the country have wanted this information to be released, and are glad that someone is campaigning against the policy, even if it’s only in a small way.

You can see just how many people back the critics and protestors against the Coalition’s attempts to degrade, humiliate and destroy the very poorest sections of society reading the comments not just on Mike’s blog, but also over at Tom Pride, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Disabled People Against Cuts and so many others.

In the run-up to the election, the government will trying telling everyone that their policies are wonderful, and have almost unanimous support. They’re even manufacturing letters from business and charity leaders to present this mirage. There has also been comments posted on left-wing blogs supposedly by welfare claimants, saying how wonderful and positive the government’s policies have been and how they’ve worked for them. These have also looked suspiciously like fakes coming from someone at Tory Central Office. Particularly now as Wikipedia has accused Grant Shapps, AKA ‘Michael Green’, fraudster, of editing his Wikipedia entry and those of this political colleagues.

Go and read the comments on Mike’s and the other blogs to see how far this piece of spin very definitely does not correspond to reality. Despite their lies and spin, the Tories know very well how unpopular their policies are with the very people they’ve inflicted it on. Hence the attempts to shut them up by denying them information on just how destructive and pernicious these policies are.

Grant Shapps Accused by Wikipedia of Making Political Alterations

April 22, 2015

Also in today’s Indie was a story about Grant Shapps, who has been accused by Wikipedia of altering and editing the entries on the on-line encyclopedia about himself and other politicians. These were to make them more favourable to him and other members of the Conservative party, and more negative about their political opponents. Wikipedia’s editors said that the alterations were either done by Shapps, or by someone acting on his behalf.

Shapps, as you might expect, has denied this.

My guess is that Wikipedia’s probably right. Apart from the fact that they’d have a bit more information that might help them to identify some of the people making alterations to their encyclopedia, Shapps has got previous for misleading the public. He was after all running a highly dodgy business offering to tell you how to get rich quick under the false name of Mr Michael Green. This is fraud under the meaning of the act, yer honour. He also lied, and claimed that he had stopped trading under the name when he began his parliamentary career, when this was exposed by one of the papers.

And it also isn’t as though the Tory party isn’t above rewriting the past when it suits them. about a year or so ago the press revealed that the Tories were so embarrassed by the all the broken promises they had made in the run-up to the 2010 election, that they had started erasing them from their website. Fortunately, someone else had come along to take screenshots of them, thus stopping this latest Orwellian manoeuvre from the party of Thatcherite Big Brothers.

And Mike posted a little piece a little while ago also suggesting the Tories were behind attempts to hack into left-wing blogs and websites in an attempt to take them down.

Given all this circumstantial evidence, I’d say that Wikipedia are almost certainly right. If it isn’t Shapps himself, it’s certain one of his minions. It shows the totalitarianism at the heart of the modern Tory party: no independent sources of information are allowed. All must conform, by hook or by crook, to the diktats of Tory Central Office. Which by their behaviour should now be renamed the ‘Ministry of Truth’.

Private Eye on the Fall in House Building under Grant Shapps

April 22, 2015

Last week’s Private Eye also report the massive fall in the number of houses built under the Conservatives. This was going to be particularly embarrassing for them. They confidently predicted that both Labour and the Tories would now promise a huge increase in house building, while accusing the other of having the poorer record on the number of homes actually built.

This was going to be particularly embarrassing for the Tories and Grant Shapps. Six months after the 2010 election, Shapps, or ‘Michael Green’, as he is known to some of his business clients, had been asked at a meeting of the local government committee ‘Do we take it that success for this government, when you are eventually judged on your record, will be building more homes per year than were being built prior to the recession, and that failure will be building less?’

Shapps answered in the alternative. “Yes. Building more homes is the gold standard upon which we shall be judged. The idea is to get a system which delivers housing in this country.”

The number of houses completed in 2007 before the recession, according to the Eye, was 177,000. The number of homes built in 2010 was just 107,000. In the last twelve months the number of houses that have been built is just 119,000.

Britain now has the lowest rate of house building since the 19th century. And it’s fallen dramatically under the Tories, despite Shapps stating it was to become their ‘Gold Standard’.

And with the numbers of homeless rising to horrendous levels, Shapps can’t even claim to have ‘delivered’ homes to people either. Not when 90,000 families are homeless, including 40,000 children, as reported by Private Eye in this blog, and Mr Void, and so many other bloggers.

Those few homes the Tories are building aren’t aimed at the hoi polloi, but the ‘buy to let’ market and the rich. They have no interest in tackling homelessness or supplying genuinely affordable housing. It’s why they should be resoundly turfed out of No. 10 in May.

Desperate Tories: Grant Shapps Attacks Miliband for not being Businessman

February 16, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has this story about the Tories getting testy over Ed Miliband’s plans to boost small and medium businesses, Perhaps the Tories have all caught ‘foot in mouth’ disease at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/02/16/perhaps-the-tories-have-all-caught-foot-in-mouth-disease/. Grant Shapps, the Tories’ chairman, has poured scorn on Ed Miliband’s ability to run the economy, because he has never run a business.

As Mike and the commenters on the BBC’s website have pointed out, this is a bit rich coming from Shapps. Shapps has indeed run his own business, but not necessarily under his own name. His trading names have included ‘Mr Green’ and ‘Mr Shepard’. This is, of course, fraud.

As George Osborne, before he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer, the scion of the Baronet of Ballymoney had the exciting, dynamic post of folding towels in Harrods.

So these two senior Conservatives ain’t prime examples of successful, reputable business then.

Obama Also Not Fit for Leadership, ‘Cause Not Businessman

As for the jibe, this isn’t original either. It first emerged, like much of the Tories’ vile policies, amongst the Republicans in America. It was a sneer aimed at Obama, when he ran against Rand Paul. The Repugs despised the Senator from Chicago because he was a ‘community organiser’. Rand Paul, on the other hand, was a businessman, and therefore far superior.

Social Darwinism and Class Prejudice

This actually tells you much about the Social Darwinist assumptions of modern American – and British – politics. The Nazis also praised and supported the business elites, as they were obviously biologically superior to the rest of the German population. Far below them were the biologically inferior, who included not only those considered racially inferior like Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, Poles and Russians, but also the disabled and the unemployed.

Now the British and American Social Darwinism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not recommend their extermination. It did, however, argue for the sterilisation of the disabled and mentally handicapped, as well as, at one point, the unemployed if they sought poor relief. The attitude was also used to block welfare and health and safety legislation by big businessmen, on the grounds that if workers suffered from illness or work-related sicknesses, it was down to poor heredity rather than the constitution of society.

The same attitude is very much on display here. Obama didn’t run a business – he just looked after deadbeats. Miliband can’t run the economy! He’s not a genetically superior member of the business class.

This Social Darwinist attitude to the inequalities of the British class system is very much alive. One of the most viewed pieces on this blog is a post I wrote about the weird eugenicist views of Maggie’s mentor, Sir Keith Joseph. Joseph looked set to become leader of the Tories until he caused a massive storm with a Social Darwinist rant about how unmarried mothers, and other members of the underclass, were a threat to the British national stock.

It was an extraordinarily offensive rant, made all the more surprising coming Joseph, who as a Jew should have been very well aware of the dangers of this kind of reductionist, pseudo-scientific biology.

The Biological Superiority of the House of Lords

The same class prejudices re-emerged again back in the 1990s when Blair was reforming the House of Lords. One of the reforms was the proposed abolition, or reduction in the number of hereditary peers. This produced a storm of outrage from Conservatives, one of whom argued that the hereditary peers should be left alone. They were, he argued, biologically superior to the rest of us proles and tradesmen, because centuries of breeding had prepared them for position in government, to which they were also best fitted through their education.

Now clearly, the good Tory, who made that argument, probably hadn’t seen, and certainly wouldn’t have liked, the 1970s British film, The Ruling Class. This starred Peter O’Toole as a mad lord, who believes he is Jesus. Toole’s character then becomes villainous when he is cured. At one point the character has an hallucination about going into the House of Lords. The members of the august House are shown as cheering, cobwebbed corpses and skeletons. It was an image that I can remember from my childhood, when it shown on Nationwide all those decades ago, when they were similarly debating the issue of the House of Lords.

Economy and Society Has Sectors, That Cannot Be Run for Profit

In fact, the argument about business leadership providing the best people for the government of the country falls down on simple facts that Adam Smith, the founder of modern laissez-faire capitalism, himself recognised. States provide services that are absolutely necessary, but don’t in themselves generate a profit. Like the judicial system and the transport network. You can’t run the courts like a business, no matter what bonkers Anarcho-individualists like Rothbard and the Libertarians believe. Nevertheless, you need judges, lawyers and courts to provide the security of property that makes business, and indeed civil society, possible.

It’s the same with roads. Roads were run for a profit at the time Smith was writing through the turnpike system. Nevertheless, Smith argued that roads could be a problem to run as a business, and therefore could be best left to the central government as the organisation best suited to maintain them. While they would be a drain on the nation’s resources, good roads were absolutely vital, and so the economy, and therefore British society as a whole, benefited.

Welfare Spending and Unemployment Relief Stimulate the Economy

Similarly, Obama may not have been a businessman, but his work as a community organiser clearly benefited his constituents, who had not been as well served by private enterprise as they needed. And by improving their material conditions through political action, the economy also benefits. This was one of the reasons FDR in the 1930s adopted the minimal provision of unemployment relief in America. If workers actually have enough money to help through unemployment, the amount they spend stimulates the economy still further and actually helps beat the recession.

The Nation of Shopkeepers, sacrificed to Big Business

Finally, you could also argue that Ed’s background outside of business actually makes him more, not less suitable to run the economy. It was Napoleon, who sneered at Britain as ‘the nation of shopkeepers’, and the retail sector is still one of the largest areas of the British economy. Thousands, if not millions, of Brits would love to run their own business. Maggie’s whole image as somehow ‘working class’, spurious as it was, was based on her being the daughter of a shopkeeper.

In sharp contrast to this, Tory policy has consistently favoured big business over the small businessman, making the dreams of hundreds of thousands of people, who aspire to be the next Arkwrights and Granvilles unrealisable.

Modern Big Business Practices Destructive

And the models the Tories have also adopted for big business have resulted in the destruction of much of the economy. Way back in the 1980s and 1990s, Private Eye ran a series about the multi-millionaires brought with much pomp to manage successful, blue chip companies, who then failed spectacularly. These superstar managers ran their businesses into the ground. In some cases, almost literally. Yet after decimating the companies and their share price, the managers were then given a golden handshake and sent packing. Only to be given a similar directorship at another company, and begin the whole process all over again.

As for privatised companies like the railways, they are now in receipt of vastly more public subsidies than British rail, and provide a worse service. The amount of rolling stock has been reduced and ticket prices increased, all so that a set of super-managers can enjoy a life-style of luxury, all while providing a service that is barely acceptable.

The scandals of the privately run care homes, which have been found guilty of appalling low standards of care, and the neglect and abuse of their elderly or handicapped residents, are also partly a product of the same commercial culture. Many were acquired by hedge fund companies, who have deliberately run up millions of pounds worth of debts for them as part of a tax dodge. The result has been a very parlous financial situation for the homes, resulting in little investment and bankruptcy.

Compared to this business culture, it could be said that Ed Miliband’s background outside it is a positive advantage, and gives him excellent credentials to run the economy.

In the ‘I’ Today: Grant Shapps Tried to Shut Down Left-Wing Blog

December 18, 2014

Here’s another instance of the Tories attempting to silence Left-wing bloggers and online critics. Today’s I newspaper for the 18th December 2014 has a story on page 4 about Grant Shapps being accused of trying to shut down The Political Scrapbook. Shapps used his lawyers to try to bully the blog, sending it three letters threatening to sue because of two stories it published about the Tory chairman. The same firm of lawyers acting for Shapps also sent a letter threatening legal action on behalf of another, unnamed Tory MP, who was also the subject of a blog post. Despite the threats, neither Shapps nor his unnamed colleague have followed up with legal action.

This isn’t the first or only time politicians, of both the Left, Right and Centre, have tried to close down their critics through threats of legal action. There have been any number of cases of it over the years, mostly from local authorities. The worst offenders have been Doncaster and ERYC councils, to name just two. These have mostly ended up in Private Eye’s ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column.

The Tories have particular form for this. It hasn’t just been The Political Scrapbook. They have also attempted to censor Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge. The tactics have included using the government’s legislation to save children from the threat of online porn to censor his site, because it contained ‘mature content’. Sadly for those expecting something like the kind of material published in Dirty Desmond’s more notorious papers, ‘mature content’ here meant dealing with the issues of adult politics, like poverty, hypocrisy, abuse, and corruption. They’ve also sent a couple of Daily Mail journalists to try and harass him and his friends.

Shapps is, of course, personally in no position to accuse anyone of illegality. He set up a company himself under the pseudonym ‘Mr Green’, which is fraud under the meaning of the act, yer honour.

It also shows the totalitarian mindset behind the Tory party. Despite trying to promote themselves as the party of individual freedom, they are doing all they can to suppress free comment and criticism. Not only are they trying to bully their online critics, they are also erasing from their website all the election promises they’ve broken in order to rewrite history. And the DWP under Major Chu-En Smith, MA (Failed), has consistently refused to release the details of the numbers of people who have died or taken their own lives after having been assessed fit for work by ATOS. Johnny Void has also published several pieces on his blog about the department’s refusal to publish the names of the firms involved in the workfare programme, out of fear that these firms would then become so unpopular that the policy couldn’t go ahead.

This is a totalitarian government that tries to shut down and close off criticism using every underhand method it can, led by people who are personally corrupt and amoral. Like Grant Shapps, who personifies much that is vile and despicable in his party.

Chunky Mark The Artist Taxi Driver Interviews Frankie Boyle

June 13, 2014

Earlier this week, I wrote about the late, great Bill Hick’s brand of highly political comedy, and how he used it as a weapon to attack everything he considered to be oppressive, stupid and malign in politics and popular culture. Hick’s comedic description of the Reaganite senator Jesse Helms as murderous child-killer now strikes me as a pretty good description of our own Iain Duncan Smith. Smith’s reforms are leading to mass starvation and despair, with an estimated death rate of about 220 per week, or three every four hours. I cannot, however, see RTU finally having his conscience catch up with him, so that he ends it all by cutting his wrists in a bathtub under a pecan tree, while investigators find the bloody skins of all the children he’s murdered up in his attic. He’s also very self-aggrandising and self-promoting, so I doubt very much he’d ever write a suicide note saying ‘I been a bad boy’ either.

I did, however, find this interview on Youtube between Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, and Frankie Boyle. Boyle is, of course, the comedian, whose remarks were so offensive he left the satirical panel show, Mock The Week, for his own late night show, Tramadol Nights, on Channel 4. Left-wing, outspoken, and with a seeming indifference or actual hostility to polite sensibilities and what is considered to be acceptable public discourse, Boyle shows himself in the interview to be intelligent, articulate and very well-informed, as well as political active for highly contentious and controversial issues. In the interview he discusses how he went on a hunger strike in support of Shakir Ahmed, a British internee in Guantanamo Bay, whom Boyle considers to have been wrongfully imprisoned. The conversation also touches on a number of esoteric, mystical subjects, like Vedantic (ancient Hindu) pantheism, Gnostic Christianity, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, semiotics and conspiracy theories, the MKULTRA mind control programme, and the Bilderberg group. Fans of a certain Galaxy’s Greatest Comic will also note the way he compares the situation in Gitmo, where people have been interned without trial on a tropical island, with a 2000 AD strip. Zarjaz!

Boyle Careful in Speech about Non-Western Societies, also Concerned about Women’s Role Models

For someone, who became notorious for his offensive humour, it’s interesting to note how careful and well-thought out Boyle actually is about what he says. For example, at one point he talks about ‘primal’ societies. This is the approved, ‘pc’ term for tribal cultures. Note he does not say ‘primitive’. One of the reasons the term ‘primal’ was adopted in preference to ‘primitive’ was to make the point that these peoples are not primitive, but have their own, often very sophisticated culture.

He is also very definitely not a misogynist. He describes Pippa Middleton and other, upper-class women like her, as essentially Stepford Wives, promoting notions of female passivity. He defends making jokes about ‘rape’ but arguing that it is absurd to make it off-limits for humour, and points out that it depends on the type of joke being made. He wanted to make jokes that stigmatise the perpetrator, not the victim, and contrasted proper jokes of this sort with the type of treatment that is considered acceptable. He specifically mentions here two-part drama series on ITV, which he describes as the lowest kind, and pop songs about ‘rape’ that rhyme it with ‘cape’. As for the abuse doled out to women on Twitter, he agrees that this is part of an extremely twisted, misogynist culture. He sees it very much as part of a general ‘rape culture’.

Growth of Culture Where Attacks on Disabled and Poor Permissible

It’s clear that Boyle believes that there should be no limits to comedy, nor what should be able to be discussed, joked about, lampooned and satirised, in order to attack the oppressive and vicious. He and Chunky Mark, discussing the government’s welfare reforms, are shocked that Grant Shapps can actually declare – without shame!- that he’s proud of putting 5,000 cancer victims on workfare. Boyle states that he believes the government can get away with this because there is a silence about discussing disability in our culture, and so they can get away with attacking and bullying the disabled.

He is, however, extremely sceptical about the way humour is being used in the West to attack and criticise authority. He believes that it is now acceptable to make jokes attacking austerity, because there is now no difference between parties so that it doesn’t matter if these jokes are made. He argues that it was New Labour that began the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under PFI, and that this had been going on for fifteen years with no pretence that anything different was happening. Thus, Cameron can state that he is not worried about getting votes because of his policies, because he knows that a few days after he announces a policy, Ed Miliband will appear on TV agreeing with him.

British Satire and Romanian Comedy for State Propaganda

He also describes how shocked he was when a Romanian guide with whom he was working pointed out the similarity between a Romanian comedy programme and Britain’s own Have I Got News For You. The Romanian show featured a comedian, who started making jokes about the country’s minister of defence. The politico in question was actually in the audience at the time, covered in medals. And the comedian then went over to him for a bit of friendly badinage. Boyle says it was blatant propaganda, and when he remarked on it, his Romanian guide said, ‘But you have it in your country!’ When Boyle disagreed, the Romanian continued, ‘Yes, you do. It’s Have I Got News For You’. And Boyle states that when you see Boris Johnson on the programme, pretending to be a lovable oaf, and receives cheers and applause when it’s announced he’s going to be on there next week, that’s exactly right. ‘Satire should not be doing that’, he comments.

Scandals, Official Racism and Miscarriages of Justice Now Acceptable in British Political Culture

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also make the point about how British society has declined to the point where things, which would have provoked riots a few years ago, like the privatisation of the NHS and the racist vans, are suddenly possible. They criticise the public’s passivity in the face of the Health Service’s sell-off by the Tories, and discuss not just the racist vans encouraging immigrants to go home, but also the racial stereotyping of the Border Control Agency. They apparently stood at several stations in London, making note only of ‘people of colour’. He and Mark also discuss manifest injustice in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian student shot by mistake as a terrorist by the police. Despite the fact that many of the police officers committed perjury at the trial, they were not punished. Similarly wicked is the fact that it has taken over 20 years to break the silence surrounding Hillsborough and the authorities’ lies about that tragedy.

Media Bias Keeping Voters Ignorant

Boyle also discusses at length the problem of media bias. He defends the BBC, stating that there are some very good people in it, who do an excellent job by their standards, but its mixed in with their received class prejudices. He notes the way the Right-wing media have demonised nurses, teachers and firefighters. He also states that with the rape joke, he had 2,000 people laughing. The outrage there wasn’t public, it was that the TV companies were afraid of the outrage created by the media barons.

He also talks about the way the media shapes opinion by not reporting events and opinions. Mike’s covered this topic in his comment to his reblog of Inforrm’s review of The Knowledge Gap. In this case, it’s the way the media has omitted some of the real fears of the Iranian people. Chunky Mark states that he had an Iranian student, who told him how that country’s people were genuinely afraid of an American and British invasion. This is all too likely. Bush was banging on about the possibility of invading Iran when he was in office, and there were certainly protest meetings organised against it up and down Britain. Boyle points out that the Iranian government suggested that there should be a central bank of nuclear material, and that countries should be able to use it, after first getting permission from the controlling international authorities. This was turned down by America and Israel because they were for non-proliferation, which meant stopping other countries acquiring nuclear power.

Boyle is concerned about the way so little information now reaches the general public, because of the way the media is selectively managed. He states that a little while ago, the media used to talk about ‘low information voters’ when organising election coverage. These were people in the rural parts of America, who didn’t read newspapers or have the depth of knowledge to make an informed choice while voting. The term has now fallen into disuse, as so few people now have that depth of knowledge about politics that the media considers everyone to be a ‘low information voter’.

This selective reporting also extends to western environmentalists. Boyle points out that whereas a few years ago, the Green movement produced characters like Swampy, this is now absent from contemporary reporting. He feels it’s because the news corporations have learnt that if they concentrate on characters and personalities, like the above marshy gentleman, then the public will become sympathetic towards them. This is something the corporations wrecking our planet do not want.

British and American Exceptionalism and Imperialist Brutality and Exploitation

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also discuss and express their outrage at the way Britain, the US and their allies have slaughtered and exploited the developing world. For Chunky Mark, the banks, oil industry and arms industries are the motors of the economy, and so peace is definitely not something that their leaders want. Boyle here points out that Palestine is the test-bed for new military technology, which the Israelis then sell elsewhere. The full-body scanners now used at airports are an example. They also discuss the mining companies, and the murder, atrocities and misery inflicted on the developing world. Britain built its wealth through the exploitation of other nations when it was an imperial power. This has since changed, so that Britain is no longer an imperial power in its own right, but a client state of America. They also describe and criticise the exceptionalism that permits Britain and America to behave like this. Britain and America are terrorist states, but refuse to recognise this, as terrorism is only something that is done by their enemies. Boyle makes the point that when another country behaves like Britain or the US, it provokes an invasion. When we do it, it simply causes another meeting about the definition of ‘terrorism’. Boyle does not, however, blame the troops. He points out that there are some very good people in the British army. The atrocities and massacres come from the people who lead them.

Obama Greater Global Tyrant than Bush

Somewhat unusually, Boyle considers Barak Obama to be actually worse than Bush. Bush was constantly concerned to justify himself and win over the American public. Hence, he merely imprisoned people without trial in Gitmo. Obama is more credible than Bush, and so much more dangerous. He doesn’t stop at merely vanishing them into America’s gulag, but assassinating people without trial through drone strikes.

Criticism of SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems; Scotland Should be Independent, Best Party Green

Boyle is also outspoken in his views about Britain’s domestic politicians, and the institutions that support them. He describes London as a gigantic tax haven, which sucks in illegal money from around the world, citing the book Treasure Islands on the role of these places in the global economy. He and Mark both attack Tony Blair for his morally corrupt business interests around the world. He is dismissive of Ed Milliband, and notes with sardonic humour the absurdity of the Lib Dems, who have now started talking about what they would be able to do, if they weren’t in power. Boyle is unusual in that he supports Scots independence, but not the SNP. He states that it’s absurd that Scotland should be ruled by a completely different centre of power 500 hundred miles away, whose culture and interests are so markedly different. He believes that the SNP and Alex Salmond, in their heart of hearts, don’t actually want independence, just ‘autonomy max’, but within the framework of the British state. That’s why he believes the ‘Yes’ campaign is so lacklustre. He suggests that what should happen is that the Scots should vote ‘Yes’, then stop voting for the SNP altogether, and go and vote for someone, who would create the socialist republic the country needs. Like the Greens, who have a genuinely alternative agenda. It’s a point that has been made by the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice. And, of course, he is highly critical of the monarchy and its role in preserving Britain’s class structure. He’s also suspicious of Snowden’s revelations of mass NSA snooping. Not because they aren’t true, but merely because they’re being released now. So do the authorities want us to believe we’re being monitored in order to keep us in line. This might be a bit too paranoid. But even so, as someone once said, ‘Even paranoiacs have enemies. They just don’t know who they are’. Another conspiracy watcher also one observed that whatever you think they’re doing to you, the reality is far worse than you image.

Boyle’s views are controversial, and I know there are those, who take exception to his criticisms of the Labour party. Kittysjones in her blog has made the point that Labour aren’t as Right-wing as has been claimed. The interview was clearly filmed some time ago before Milliband began making some of the more radical promises that will undo much of the Tory programme. Nevertheless, it’s stimulating and worth listening to for the depth of knowledge and a different perspective Boyle brings to these issues. Like Hicks, Boyle is a comedian with a point. Not just a joke-blower being pointlessly offensive.

Immigration, the Conservatives and the Nazis

February 28, 2014

In my last blog post, I discussed Grant Shapps’ attempt to rebrand the Tories as the ‘Workers’ Party’, and pointed out that this was exactly the same tactic the Nazis adopted in their attempt to win German workers away from the ‘Marxist’ socialism of the SPD – the German equivalent of the Labour party, the Communists, trade unions, Anarchists, Syndicalists and other genuine working class and socialist organisations.

Looking through the Nazis’ 25 point party programme, drawn up in 1920 by Hitler, Gottfried Feder and Anton Drexler, I found another similarity to the Nazis in the Tories attitude and policies towards immigration. The Nazis were, of course, bitterly hostile to non-German immigration. Point 8 of the party programme stated ‘Non-German immigration to be stopped.’ Point 4 of the programme stipulated that ‘Citizenship to be determined by race; no Jew to be a German.’ Point 5 demanded that ‘non-Germans in Germany to be ‘only’ guests and subject to appropriate laws. Point 8 made it very clear that the Nazis wanted ‘non-German immigration to be stopped.’

Now opposition to immigration does not necessarily make anyone a Nazi. Global mass immigration has become a very controversial topic, and while many people would like to see an end to mass immigration to the UK, extremely few would wish to see the rise of racism and the growth of Fascist or Neo-Nazi parties to any kind of electoral strength. All the political parties are under pressure to cut down on immigration to the UK. What struck me looking through the Nazis’ policies towards combatting non-German immigration was its virtual identity with those of Cameron’s Conservative party in Point 7 of the party programme. This stated

The livelihood of citizens to be the state’s first duty. Should the state’s resources be overstretched, non-citizens to be excluded from the state’s benefits.

The Coalition has clearly decided that the state does not have a duty of care towards its citizens in its policy of savage cuts to the welfare state that now sees about a quarter of all British children in poverty, and 80,000 children homeless last Christmas. This has been done, however, on the pretext that such cuts were necessary in order to cut the budget deficit. They have further spuriously claimed that their reforms will lift even more citizens out of poverty. Go over to Vox Political and look at today’s post Iain Duncan Smith’s new plan to prolong child poverty, which I’ve reblogged here today.

The Tories have, however, stated that they intend to exclude immigrants to Britain from state benefits. Foreign migrants to Britain may not claim Jobseeker’s allowance for at least six months, and there are extremely controversial plans to exclude illegal immigrants from being treated by the NHS. Furthermore, there have also been proposals that foreigners resident in the UK should have to pay for their medical treatment.

All this is very much in line with the above Nazi policy. So much so, that you could be forgiven for being afraid that points 4 and 5 would also be implemented.

As for Point 8, the Tories aren’t opponents of all immigration. As has been shown by the sale of very expensive home in London to rich businessmen and professionals, mainly from the Far East, the Tories don’t object to immigrants if they’re rich. It’s only the poor they dislike. But here they appear to be non-racist, as they hate the British poor as well.