Posts Tagged ‘Hilary Benn’

Jimmy Dore on a Healthcare Rally on Hollywood Boulevard

January 19, 2017

According to polls, over half of Americans now want a single-payer healthcare system. One fifth of Americans would be unable to afford private healthcare insurance without Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But Donald Trump wants to repeal Obamacare and privatise Medicare and Medicaid, the state healthcare system that exists to pay for the medical treatment of those Americans too poor to afford private health insurance.

In this clip from the Jimmy Dore Show, the comedian goes to Hollywood Boulevard, where protestors are holding a demonstration, ‘Our First Stand’, demanding single-payer healthcare, and talks to some of the people there. The demonstration’s on both sides of the street outside the famous Chinese Theatre, and the protestors are a mixture of Asian Americans and Whites. One of the ladies he talks too is an Asian woman, who tells him how her husband has a congenital heart condition. Thanks to this, before the passing of Obamacare, they found it extremely difficult to get health insurance. Now she and he are frightened that Trump’s threatened repeal with leave him without it, as well as millions of other Americans, who are similarly affected. She is also concerned and upset that Congress just doesn’t seem to understand the needs and wishes of ordinary Americans like her.

He also talks to a White woman, who agrees with him that none of this would probably have happened if Hillary Clinton had won. Trump’s victory has galvanised people to protest. But like the young man Dore talks to at the beginning of the clip, she recognises that the corporatist Democrats are part of the problem. She was one of Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and she is aware and angered by the way his campaign for the presidency was blocked and defeated not by the Republicans, but by Killary and the section of the Democrat party that care more about winning big donations from the big corporations and representing them, than working for Mr and Mrs. Average Joe and Josie.

The crowd has placards saying ‘Medicare for All’, and one guy has a sign emblazoned with ‘F*ck Big Pharma’. It’s a slogan with which Dore fully approves, and he stands next to it to show his support and get it on camera. The crowd are all shouting slogans like ‘Healthcare is a right, not a privilege’.

This isn’t just an American issue. We’re faced with the same kind of situation in Britain and particularly in England. The Tories and New Labour have been trying to privatise the health service gradually since Thatcher won the general election in 1979. 55 out of 166 local health authorities now have problems finding beds, thanks to funding cuts imposed by Jeremy Hunt and his mistress, Theresa May. More and more vital NHS services are being rationed and contracted out to private healthcare providers. People are suffering because of cancelled operations, difficulties reaching the doctor, and long waiting lists.

All manufactured to give private healthcare providers access to a lucrative market that has previously been tied to the state.

And if Thatcher, Major, Blair, Cameron and May get their way, we will have the same problems over here. Private healthcare is massively expensive and very inefficient, whatever tripe the Tories, BUPA, Virgin Healthcare or Circle Health try to tell you. In America, up to 40 per cent of a company’s budget may go on administration. Pretty much like it was in the private hospitals in this country before the NHS. Private healthcare only works for those who are fit. For everyone else, especially those with congenital conditions, like the husband of the lady in the above video, it’s exorbitantly expensive. Private hospitals are smaller than state, and the private healthcare industry in Britain depends massively on state support.

There are demonstrations in this country against the Tory privatisation of the NHS. But we also need to bear in mind that, just like the corporate wing of the Democrats worked to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign, so the Blairites in the Labour party, led by John Mann, Hilary Benn and the rest of them, have tried to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership with the connivance of the mainstream media. Corbyn has made it clear he intends to renationalise the NHS, in contrast to the Blairites, who have tried so hard to privatise it.

Support Corbyn.

Clear out the Blairites.

To save the NHS, May and Hunt must resign.

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Why Are the Tories Demanding Assad’s Overthrow?

November 9, 2016

I’ve posted up a number of pieces recently arguing that the real reason the US and its allies are demanding the removal of Syria’s president has nothing to do with any concern over humanitarianism, the killing of civilians or his personal dictatorship, and everything to do with backing a gas pipeline proposed by the Qataris, which would pass through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey and then into Europe. Apart from being immensely profitable, the scheme also has the geopolitical advantage, from the standpoint of the West, of harming the Russian natural gas company, Gazprom, and Russia itself, which currently exports 70 per cent of its gas to Europe.

Britain is backing the US in this through the ‘special relationship’ which has been a feature of Anglo-American relations since the Second World War. Radio 4 once broadcast a programme on the memoirs of a senior British diplomat to the Land of the Free, who recalls how he was bluntly told to ‘get up the Americans backside and stay there’. This is all about currying favour with the Americans in order to ride on their imperial coattails now that we have declined as an imperial power.

I also believe that the Tory party, if not the British political class as a whole, has personal, vested interests in the scheme. As a recent book revealed, a considerable number of MPs hold directorates, often in multiple companies, so that parliament is effectively dominated by corporate interests. During the Lib Dem-Tory coalition, over 90 Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs held directorships or senior positions in private healthcare companies, which explains why they have been so enthusiastic about its privatisation. British governments have also been keen to promote the British arms industry to foreign customers, including despots, and Private Eye has run any number of articles in the past commenting on the revolving door between the arms manufacturers and senior civil servants and politicians in the MOD.

And I now have absolutely no doubt that the same is true of the petrochemical industry. George Galloway was accused of being paid for his support of Saddam Hussein in barrels of Iraqi oil. He denies this, and to my knowledge the accusation has not been substantiated. But I do remember Private Eye running a feature on the various British MPs, who had commercial interests in one of the nastier Gulf Arab states after they went on a jaunt there. And if memory serves me correctly, long ago Ian Hislop also tackled another Tory MP about his connection to the Middle Eastern oil companies on Have I Got News For You.

I don’t know for sure, but I very much believe that many of Theresa May’s MPs also stand to profit personally from the pipeline. And it also wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the Blairites in the Labour party also didn’t have shares and directorships in the very same companies. This would explain New Labour’s enthusiasm, as well as the Tories’, for overthrowing Assad.

These people are calling for the war to be expanded into Syria, at the risk of escalating the conflict and provoking war with Russia, to enrich themselves and their bloated corporate donors. They don’t care about democracy, freedom or peace. They are only interested in sending our brave, young people to fight and die for their own profit.

Video of DPAC’s Westminster Bridge Protest against Benefit Cuts

September 11, 2016

This is another video I found on YouTube, this time of the protest DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) held on Wednesday, which closed down Westminster Bridge. It shows them moving along one of the roads to the Bridge and then crossing it with their banner proclaiming ‘No More Deaths From Benefit Cuts’, and chanting the same. One of the organisers, a large lady in a motorised wheelchair, gives a ‘hello’ to Theresa May, pointing out that she is now in Prime Minister’s Questions. She then reads out a message from another woman, Chrisman, who couldn’t be there, about the death of yet another disabled person, a man, who was put on the work group, despite the fact that he was so ill he could hardly walk. Apart from the speaker, several of the protesters are in motorised wheelchairs. There is a group from a women’s disability organisation, Winvision, which is for women with invisible visible disabilities. Someone else is banging a drum, and there is also a man carrying around a fake coffin, obviously to symbolise the huge numbers of people that have been killed by New Labour and Tory benefit cuts.

The video also shows the rozzers turning up to tell the protesters, who sat down on the Bridge to hold their protest, that they are causing an obstruction. They don’t want to arrest them, but if they continue, then the police will do so. Several people were arrested, including one young man, who is seen being taken away with a police officer holding both his arms.

Mike over at Vox Political blogged about this protest earlier this week, and I also wrote something. DPAC have been very active campaigning against the cuts for quite a few years now. While I’ve no doubt that travellers on the bridge were cussing them that morning, DPAC had every right and reason to protest. The work capability test and the cuts to benefits are forcing millions into mass poverty. Mike spent something like two years fighting with the government to get the figures for the number of people, who have died as a result of being found ‘fit for work’. I’ve forgotten the precise figure, but it’s several thousand. And well over 500 people have died of starvation, or killed themselves in despair, after being thrown off benefit. These victims have included an elderly couple, a young mother, and a diabetic man. Stilloaks over on his blog has compiled a comprehensive list, with accompanying biographies, of the victims.

The government’s repeated refusal to give the correct figures for the numbers of people, who’ve died and their suppression of repeated internal reports showing that their policies are literally killing thousands has given many disabled people, carers and ordinary members of the public the impression that the government is consciously committing mass murder comparable to the Nazis’ campaign against the severely disabled in Germany. Mike over at Vox Political has called it ‘chequebook genocide’. Jeffrey Davies, one of the commenters on this blog, has referred to it as ‘Aktion T4’, using the Nazi codename for their mass murder of the disabled.

The work capability test was introduced by Tony Blair and New Labour, using a scientifically discredited model of disability, under the explicit view that people claiming disability benefit and long-term sickness were ‘malingerers’. Blair and Brown should also share some of the blame for these deaths. Ed Miliband told his shadow cabinet that they should abstain on a vote on benefit cuts, so the Labour party wouldn’t be attacked by the press for being soft on welfare scrounging. Jeremy Corbyn gave his support to the protesters. Owen Smith, unsurprisingly, refused.

And as so much of the hate against the poor, the unemployed and the disabled for being on benefits is driven by the vile right-wing press in this country, we should also have no hesitation in blaming Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, his proprietor, Lord Rothermere; Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express and his editors; and Rupert Murdoch and the editors of the Scum and the Times, for their part in causing the organised deaths of so many vulnerable people. Thanks to their hysterical lies and abuse, the majority of people in this country really believe that the majority of people on benefits are frauds, despite the fact that the real figure, as revealed by the government itself, is just 0.67 per cent.

May and the Tories should not be in government, and Smudger, Bomber Benn and the rest of New Labour should not be in any positions of power in the Labour party. If there was any justice, those responsible for this toxic policy and the deaths it has caused should be in the dock being prosecuted for their crimes against humanity, as should Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond, Rothermere and their assembled hacks as their willing collaborators.

Secular Talk on Poor Americans Now Using Pet Antibiotics

September 7, 2016

This is a story from another side of the Pond, but it’s relevant because it shows the kind of horrific medical system that the Blairites and the Tories are introducing over here through the destruction of the NHS. In this piece from the atheist/ secularist news channel, Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski comments on a story in Raw Story from a report from a respected medical journal, The Journal of Antibiotics. A survey was done of 400 people in Houston, Texas, asking them how they obtained their antibiotics. These were people, who needed the drug, not those who did not. Kulinski is very clear to dispel this possible misunderstanding, as the overprescription of antibiotics is a separate issue. It’s responsible for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is a serious threat to health around the world.

This is about people, who genuinely need the drug. It investigated how people obtained it, when they could no longer afford it. About a quarter had saved up supplies of the drug. Another 12 per cent talked about getting it from friends or relatives. And 4 per cent took pet antibiotics. As Kulinski points out, animals metabolise drugs in a different way. This shows how desperate the poor are in America when they can’t afford healthcare.

Kulinski describes this disgusting state of affairs in justifiably strong language. He points out how its shows the twisted attitude of the country’s political elite, who have been bought by the corporations. Many Americans can’t afford medicines. The country’s infrastructure is falling apart. In some places there isn’t any clean water. But the country has spent $7 trillion on the Iraq War. It’ll be paying it off until 2053. $80 billion has spent bailing out the banks. $4 billion or so was given by the government to the oil company, ExxonMobil, to help with their research and development, despite the fact that this is one of the richest companies in America. He makes the point that America can afford to spend all this money on pork barrel projects for companies, and making wars on ‘Brown people’ who have never invaded us. But somehow it can’t afford to spend money on healthcare, despite the fact that singlepayer is actually cheaper than the insurance system already in place.

Nearly all of these criticisms can be directed at our parliament, and our politicos in New Labour and the Tories. Blair was all too eager to invade Iraq as George Dubya’s poodle. We’re sending our sons and daughters to fight and die in a country that never attacked us, despite all the spin and lies about how Hussein was in league with Bin Laden, and ready to launch weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes notice. And Blair and the Tories are selling off our healthcare system, so it won’t be long before we have people in this country saving antibiotics, or using stuff that’s been prescribed for their dogs and cats. We’ve already seen 4.7 million of us forced into food poverty. That’s people, who don’t have enough to eat, or don’t know when or where their next meal’s coming from. But we have more than enough money to support the Iraq War, and for Cameron, May and Bomber Benn to talk about attacking Syria. We’ve more than enough money to spend on Trident, a weapon system we don’t need, which will set us back trillions. And despite the spin, the majority of jobs it’ll create are in America. And apparently we’ve got enough money to go threatening to start a war with Russia, despite the fact that Putin isn’t a threat, and the people being genuinely persecuted in Ukraine is the ethnic Russian minority.

Oh yes, and as someone who believes in socialism and the trade unions, I have difficulty in understanding why I should be called upon to support a war for a government that includes Nazis and brutally attacks trade unionists. That’s right – the coalition currently ruling the Ukraine includes the Nazis from the Pravy (Right) Sektor. When I say ‘Nazis’, I mean Nazis. The real thing. People who wear the insignia and regalia of the auxiliary SS units and nationalist organisations that collaborated with the invading Nazis during the Great Patriotic War. Unreconstructed anti-Semites, who revere the memory of those responsible for the Holocaust and the pogroms against Jewish Ukrainians. During the ‘democratic’ demonstration that ousted Yanukhovych from power in Maidan Square in Kyiv, a group of these attacked a group of trade unionists, throwing several of them out of the upper floors of one of the buildings into which they’d fled. Red Ken in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, condemned the way the West had recruited Nazis, including participants in the Holocaust, as part of the global campaign against Communism. And he’s right. We shouldn’t have recruited them and given them sanctuary, and we shouldn’t be supporting a bunch of Nazi collaborators now.

This is what British and American politics has degenerated into. We’re bankrupting ourselves for wars against people, who’ve done us no harm, while denying our own people healthcare, food and clean water. All for corporate profit.

NHS Doctors Now Required to Ask Patients to Use Private Health Insurance

September 7, 2016

I’ve been putting off looking at some of the NHS stories Mike’s posted up over at Vox Political, on the grounds that the Tory and New Labour privatisation of the Health Service makes me both extremely depressed and absolutely boiling mad. But the issue’s far too important to leave alone.

Today Mike posted up a little snippet from The Canary, which reported that NHS chiefs are now asking doctors to politely ask their patients if they have private health insurance. If they answer ‘yes’, the doctor is supposed to gently remind them to use it. The Canary states that this signals the end of the NHS, and universal free healthcare.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/06/theres-a-question-doctors-are-now-being-urged-to-ask-patients-and-it-signals-the-end-of-the-nhs-the-canary/

Absolutely, and it’s what over three decades of right-wing administrations have wanted going all the way back to Maggie Thatcher. Despite her protestations in her autobiography, she really was considering privatising the NHS. She discussed it with the cabinet and Douglas Hurd, nearly provoking a rebellion. This wasn’t because her cabinet believed in the NHS. They just saw the writing on the wall and knew that if she went ahead, that would be the end of the Tory party at the next election. She also decided against it after she sent her private secretary, Patrick Jenkin, to the States. He came back and told her precisely how dreadful the American system was.

Nevertheless, she still stated that she wanted a greater role for private medicine, and enacted policies designed to encourage people to take out private health insurance. She wanted 25 per cent of the population to have it, and was disappointed when very few in actual fact did so. Amongst the newspapers pushing this policy was the Express, which published a long piece raving about how those with such insurance should have tax cuts in its Sunday edition.

The privatisation of the NHS continued with the Tories’ introduction of the PFI and the expansion of the scheme and break up the NHS by Tony Blair’s New Labour. Hospitals have been taken out of the bureaucratic structure of the NHS and encouraged to become self-financing. They’ve also been handed over to private management, and the clinics and walk-in centres set up by New Labour were also intended to be privately managed. Well over half of all operations are now carried out by private healthcare firms. The Care Commissioning Groups, which were introduced with loud noises about giving doctors the power to run their own practices are able to commission private healthcare firms to contract for services, and can themselves raise money through private finance. This was taken over by the Tories, and has been expanded even further. At the last parliament, I reposted a meme that showed just how many Tory and Lib Dem MPs had connections to private healthcare firms hoping to profit from the demise of the NHS. It was a lot – about or over 100, if I recall correctly. The Angry Yorkshireman and Mike have also reported comments by Jeremy Hunt, the current health minister, and other Tories attacking the NHS. Hunt, or one of them, has described it as ‘an abomination’. My guess is that this anger probably comes from the Tory hatred of having to pay for public services, which they almost personally resent as the state forcing them to pay for someone’s else’s benefit. I also believe they despise it because it’s a state-run service, and so excludes them for profiting. It’s why Peter Lilley introduced the Private Finance Initiative all those decades ago when John Major was in power: he wanted to find a way to open up the NHS to private investment.

And now New Labour and the Tories are moving another step closer to the final privatisation of the health service. This is being done through a manufactured financial crisis. Blair and Brown did much damage to the NHS, but when they left office it was in budget and did not need further reform. That has changed, due not least to Jeremy Hunt. Even now, Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis in their book, NHS-SOS state that the problem isn’t that the NHS is underfunded – it’s that NHS funds are being squandered and misdirected due to the introduction of private enterprise into the service. The bureaucracy in these firms and their shareholders profit, while soaking up money that would otherwise go to providing services.

The privatisation of the NHS is a national scandal. There are activist groups pledged to defending it, like the NHS Action Party and doctors’ groups and organisations. These and their on-line addresses can be found in Davis’ and Tallis’ book.

At one time the assaults on the NHS would have resulted in a wave of strikes, public protests and demonstrations. But the Tories have all but destroyed the unions, and cowed the public with a mixture of massive debt and job insecurity. And it’s going to get worse when Brexit takes effect.

Don’t let the mass media deceive you with the pro-Tory, pro-New Labour bias. When you read the papers attacking Jeremy Corbyn and praising Theresa May, just like the Beeb does on TV with Laura Kuenssberg, remember that these are the policies Smith in the Labour party, and his backers Benn et al, and the Tories stand for. Corbyn has said that he wants to renationalise the NHS, and that’s too much for the Tories and Blairite corporatists. These people should be thrown out of power as quickly as possible, before more people die or are harmed by their greed and mendacity.

Vox Political on the Lies and Pro-Privatisation NHS Policies of Heidi Alexander

August 21, 2016

Mike also put up a couple of pieces yesterday critiquing and criticising a piece by Heidi Alexander in Friday’s Graun claiming that she resigned from her post as Shadow Health Secretary because Jeremy Corbyn was constantly undermining her and going behind her back. He does so by pointing out the inconsistencies between her tale, and what she actually said at the time.

For example, in her article she talks about how delighted she was to receive Corbyn’s invitation to take the post. Yet at the time, he was also in the Daily Mail saying she would not back Corbyn, because he was ‘unelectable’. She then claims that she left the Shadow Cabinet because it was ‘chaotic’ and ‘entirely dysfunctional’. But the real reason was that she was profoundly ideologically opposed, no matter what she says about interesting bright people committed to the NHS and giving Jeremy Hunt a run for his money.

John McDonnell was suspicious of her. She wasn’t doing enough to support the junior doctors, nor to combat Jeremy Hunt’s Seven Day NHS policy. So he set up an advisory panel to look into her work. She claimed that she supported this, but wasn’t informed about it. When she found out, she quit. Others involved in the affair have quite different versions of events. Mike makes the point that it’s not pleasant having someone else scrutinise your work, but we’ve all had it done to us. It’s part of business. You also have it in academia and in publishing. If publishers think a book you’ve written needs some alterations, they tell you. This includes tenured academics writing technical papers for academic publications. Mike states that it’s significant that the advisory panel hadn’t met before she left.

Mike also makes the point that she was among the first to resign following Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn. He also points out that it’s hard to take her complaints seriously when she starts claiming that she wasn’t part of a coup, nor a plotter. She clearly was. As for her claim that Corbyn’s election would cause division, that’s exactly what she and the other Blairites have done. She states that when Labour members receive their ballot papers on Monday, they should carefully consider who would best lead the party. She now supports Owen Smith, yet Smudger had not put himself forward when she walked out.

Mike concludes that she’s simply a two-faced co-conspirator, who simply wanted Corbyn out so that she could further her own ambitions.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/20/lets-stop-heidi-alexanders-latest-silliness-right-now/

Following Heidi Alexander’s self-pitying moan in the Groaniad, the NHA – the National Health Action party put up a piece, ‘Bye Bye Heidi’, welcoming her resignation.

They state that they were hoping she’d resign, as she fully supported Simon Steven’s 5 Year Forward Plan for the privatisation of the NHS. The article quotes Dr Bob Gill, one of the executives of the National Health Action party, who met her twice. She said to him I believe Stevens has the best interests of the NHS at heart’. He goes on ‘A former UnitedHealth president here to complete the transition to an American style insurance system has her confidence. That says it all.’ She did not appear on junior doctor picket lines, nor even wear a BMA badge. He hopes that now that Blairites like Alexander are leaving the cabinet, Corbyn can appoint people, who actually want to renationalise the NHS and fully understand that it doesn’t have to be the private industry Hunt and Stevens want.

He states that the hospital closure plan is ready to be implemented. Hospitals and Accident and Emergency services are ready to be closed to pay off NHS debts. Dr. Gill states that Labour ought to be shouting from the roof tops about this. And with the right MPs in charge, may be they will.

See Mike’s article at:http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/20/bye-bye-heidi-nhaspace/

I think the National Health Action party has more than a little experience of dealing with privatising Blairites. I’ve got a feeling it was begun, at least according to Private Eye, when Blair tried to close a popular local hospital in the Midlands – I think it might have been Warwickshire, but I can’t be sure – in favour of a PFI deal. Local people and medical professionals tried to get their local councillor or MP to challenge the policy. They didn’t get very far, so one of the doctors stood as the party’s candidate. He won, defeated the Labour incumbent, and Tony got very cross.

In fact, much of the legislation the Tories have taken over and built on as part of their plan to privatise the NHS was started by Tony Blair, who wanted to remodel the Health Service on the type of ‘managed care’ practised by Kaiser Permanente and other American medical insurance companies. Hence I’m not remotely surprised by her comments about Stevens, an officer from an American insurance company, being placed in charge of the NHS’ privatisation.

The Blairites are disgusting, and the support of the supposedly left-leaning Groaniad for them, and by extension the privatisation of the NHS, is equally revolting. The time’s long past they were banished from the Labour party and national politics for good.

Vox Political: Bomber Benn Criticised by Public Over Civilian Casualties in Syria

August 21, 2016

Mike over in Vox Political put up another good piece about ‘Bomber’ Benn being taken to task by the great British public in Twitter for his wretched support for airstrikes against the terrorists in Syria. He made a speech declaring his support for such action in parliament late last year against the wishes of his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. In return, he got applause from the Tories, which should, as Mike says, fill him with shame.

Now there is that terrible image of a young boy, covered in blood, being taken away in ambulance. The footage shows the lad looking confused and horrified as he wipes his face, and his hand comes away bloody. Mike’s article has a cartoon from an Arab artist showing the results of our actions, whatever we do. If we continue hitting Syria and its people, it will result in more child victims, symbolised by this boy. If we leave, then it will result in an exodus of refugees, many of which will drown, like the boy, whose body washed up on the shore of Turkey a few months ago, to his father’s horror.

Someone on Twitter pointedly asked Benn to make a speech explaining how the bombing is going. This got the rather tetchy reply from Benn advising his questioner to go and ask Russians and Syrians. Though he did have the grace to admit that what was going in Aleppo was shocking.

Benn’s comments cut no ice with the crowd on Twitter, however. They told him very clearly that it was he who helped bring these horrors about by demanding an expansion of the wars in the Middle East into Syria. They also stated that the Russians are currently talking to the Turks about finding a way to stop the fighting.

Mike also makes the point that western bombing and fighting in the Middle East has only created a vicious cycle, which creates more jihadis, ready to rise up and create more atrocities. The people who suffer are the children of everyone involved. But it creates big profits for the arms manufacturers and military-industrial complex.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/20/bomber-benn-challenged-over-continuing-syrian-cataclysm/

This is just the latest vile policy from Hillary Benn. A few years ago, when New Labour was in power and trying privatise everything that wasn’t nailed, Benn turned up in the ‘In the Back’ section of Private Eye. He was one of a coterie of MPs and officials, who were turning the Commonwealth Development Agency, or whatever it was then called, from a charity into a for-profit company. The result was that a British government organisation that gave countries in the Developing World funds to promote their economy by establishing businesses, was going to concentrate instead on finding ways to get the maximum amount of profit from their already impoverished and seriously indebted clients. Once again, western money men were going to get rich from Third World debt. Partly thanks to Benn.

The truth is that Benn is, like his former master Tony Blair, a Neocon, who believes in the right of private companies to loot the world as they please, and in expanding western power through war and invasion. He should get on well with Shrillary Clinton, as she is also a full-on hawk, a corporate warmonger who has made it very clear that she support airstrikes in Syria. And the American atheist/ secularist news show, Secular Talk, has made it very clear that the cycle of violence described by Mike is very real. Secular Talk has even played a piece of a speech from one of the leaders of al-Qaeda, in which he urges the various jihadi factions to stop fighting each other and concentrate on killing the Americans instead. The man openly says that he’s afraid America will cut back its operations. If that happens, then the fragile unity which exists between the various jihadi groups around opposition to the America will fall apart, and they’ll start killing each other again. Kyle Kulinski, the show’s host, has said that the jihadis have told us in this video very clearly how we can defeat them: we do nothing. Mind you, to quote Tom Baker’s Doctor in the classic Who serial, ‘Warrior’s Gate’, it has to be the right kind of nothing. But if we scale back our operations, and stop killing civilians, then the jihadis will do our work for us and butcher each other.

But that’s not something either Bush, Obama, Hillary or Benn on this side of the Pond want to think about. Probably because it means less arms sales to murderous foreign despots, like the Saudis abroad, and less military expenditure at home, leading to a further dip in profits for the merchants of death.

Florence on the Fabians and the Labour Right

August 15, 2016

Florence, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted this comment on the links between the Fabian Society and the Thatcherite entryists on the Labour right.

The Fabian Society is a small group, they say dedicated to networking, I call it as a closed shop for privilege, the white middle class, and the political dynasties. The Fabian Society has also been spotted hovering in the shadows with the Blairites, such as Benn and Kinnock, and especially those who seem to be trying to redefine feminism to their own liking, Jess Philips, Jo Cox, Tessa Jowell, Hariett Harman, to name but a few in Fabian Women’s section. They run a mentoring programme, and in their own words,

“The programme has already delivered some incredible results for its 125 participants and the Fabian Women’s Network. Mentees have been selected or shortlisted as Parliamentary candidates, as candidates for the London and Welsh Assembly with brilliant support from other mentees. Many others were shortlisted. 27 women have been elected into local government positions and a number of women have gone on to become school governors and trustees on the boards of charities. The majority has gained promotion, been nominated for awards and written or spoken in national media.”

Not bad for a society with only 6,000 members in total. A lot of influence for the few. Don’t get me wrong, women’s mentoring to prepare for public life is great, it’s just that an awful lot of the “parachuted” or more correctly imposed New Labour candidates into winnable Labour constituencies proves there is a link between THIS Fabian programme and the actual elected MPs, notably those who are very vocally anti- Corbyn and anti-Socialism. This also shows how far the webs reach between the PLP problems, and the disconnect with the actual membership and in the country. The graduates of the programme seem to know very little about the Labour movement or socialism, it’s aims and more about neo-liberalism as a “good thing”, and of course Corbyn as democracy as a “bad thing”.

https://fabianwomen.org.uk/fabian-women-mps/https://fabianwomen.org.uk/fabian-women-mps/

The source of Fabian Society funding also bears some inspection, where there are a number of corporate donors and sponsors are powerful lobbyists for corporate interests, and not known for their support for socialist ideals- such as Barclays and Lloyds banks, Bellendon PA (political lobbyists) the Portman Group (lobbyists for the drinks trade), Sanofi – a large pharmaceutical, and so on.

http://www.fabians.org.uk/about/how-we-are-funded/http://www.fabians.org.uk/about/how-we-are-funded/

This is depressing. The Fabians have always had a reputation for being ‘milk-and-water’ Socialists, but I used to have far more respect for them than I do today. I was briefly a member of the society back in the 1980s, when I felt I had to do something to stop the rampant privatisation under Maggie Thatcher. My great-grandfather had been a member, and I was impressed with the intellectual work they’d done. This was a time when there was still a variety of opinions in the Society. Indeed, one of the sources I’ve used for my blog posts and pamphlets against the privatisation of the NHS was a Fabian pamphlet by Robin Cook against it. It’s not just from Florence that I’ve heard about the Fabians forming part of the network of Blairite groups. A friend of mine also remarked on it, with the suggestion that if Corbyn wanted to destroy the Blairites, he could do much by simply expelling the Fabians.

It’s a profoundly depressing development for the organisation of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, and, briefly, H.G. Wells. The Webbs did much to promote Socialism in Britain, and their report on the state of British healthcare laid some of the foundations for the development of the NHS decades later. It’s now become a mouthpiece for the corporate shills trying to privatise everything, and break up that greatest of British institutions.

Chunky Mark: Stop Trident

July 19, 2016

This is yet another rant from the Chunky, Taxi Driving Artist. It’s his considered thoughts on yesterday’s vote about Trident. I should have put it up then, but I’m just getting over a cold, and frankly, was just too drained of energy to do very much. So here it is today, one day late. My apologies.

He begins by quoting Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, who said that today Britain could join the multitude of other countries in rejecting Trident in favour of peace, or could spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a missile system that could never be used. He describes Trident as ‘a cold war relic’, and states that it sends a message to the world that security is only possible through the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. MPs, he argues, should be making a stand against Trident, especially in view of austerity, and the destruction of our welfare infrastructure and communities. He notes that Jeremy Corbyn has said he’d vote against Trident, and in favour of unilateralism. He asks how it is that Britain can sign up to the non-proliferation agreements, and yet support Trident. This is, he says, an opportunity to show leadership in the world. He states that the Chicken Coup – Owen Smith, Angela Eagle, Hilary Benn, Chuka Ummunna and Liz Kendall will all be voting for Trident. It’s why the media, the Tories and New Labour are all out to get Jeremy Corbyn. But it’s not about him. It’s about his political ideology – anti-war, anti-Trident, anti-Armageddon. He notes that the guid folk of Scotland oppose Trident. 57 out of 59 Scottish Nationalist MSPs are against it. The Scots are against it because of the way nuclear vehicles were passing through Glasgow on their way to the base at Faslane at night. And Trident’s sheer cost is unjustifiable. He also goes off on a rant about our supposedly highly educated MPs voting in parliament today, and apparently seeing nothing wrong in giving the nuclear codes to Donald Trump, as required by law if that maniac wins the US election. He talks about the absolute destruction wreaked on both sides if nuclear missiles are used, and says that this is supposed to be a deterrent. It’s only a deterrent, because it hasn’t happened yet. But if it does happen, we won’t be around to know the argument was lost, as it only needs to happen once. He states that the movement against Trident is a real movement for change, and a progressive alliance between peoples, who believe that another world is possible.

There’s a lot that can be said about this piece, and again, the Chunky One is right. Trident’s cost in an age of austerity is unsupportable. It will be born, not by the rich, who are having their taxes cut, but by ordinary people, and especially the very poorest at the sharp end of the benefit cuts. Lobster has published a number of pieces of the years, one of which I blogged about, on the way the arms industry and Cold War is a massive scam to channel funds into the weapons manufacturers as a way of covert government spending to boost the economy. I say covert, because the government’s real intention is to boost the general economy. America is anti-Keynsian in it’s economics, and so this can’t be done through direct spending on infrastructure or welfare, as in other nations, but through Cold War expenditure on an already bloated armaments industry. One of the characters, Ostrander, accurately summed up the situation in an episode of the X-Files twenty years ago: ‘The business of America, Mr Mulder, isn’t business; it’s war.’

These missiles aren’t going to keep us safe, and by their presence are encouraging more countries to acquire nuclear weapons themselves. This is also partly because of the different fates of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea. Hussein didn’t have nuclear weapons, despite all the allegations and ‘dodgy dossier’. He was invaded and overthrown. North Korea does, and hasn’t.

Way back in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher ran a series of simulations to see what would happen if the country suffered a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The simulations showed that the country would be destroyed, especially its major cities. Thatcher didn’t want to hear that. She wanted the British public to be reassured that Blighty would still remain safe and sound, and so started interfering with the simulations to get the results she wanted. Eventually they were abandoned, as the amount of distortion they suffered in order to give the results Maggie wanted to sell increased nuclear spending to the British public made them useless.

And there have already been three times, when the world teetered on the edge of thermonuclear Armageddon. That’s three time too many. We need desperately to get rid of Trident, and take the first step in encouraging other nations to do the same. We need to stop this new arms race, before it’s too late.

Chunky Mark on the Very Undemocratic Labour Coup

July 16, 2016

Blair Purge Cover

Here’s another video from Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver. In this one, Chunky Mark delivers his rant, which is nevertheless very acutely observed, on the Labour coup. He describes why the coup plotters hate Jeremy Corbyn, and how absolute undemocratic they are.

He observes that the right-wing – the Tories and the media didn’t want Corbyn from day one. The Labour MPs hated his anti-war stance, including his rejection of Trident, his rejection of austerity, his support for building ‘not-for-profit homes’, nor for standing up for free education and holding the wretched vulture capitalists to account. The Right and the Labour MPs hate everything he stands for and his supporters. And the forthcoming Labour election, the Chunky One declares scathingly, is a fraud.

He states that the coup started with the resignation of Hilary Benn, but Angela Eagle had already bought and paid for a website with the title ‘Angela Eagle for Leader’. The Coup Plotters have raised the membership fee from £3 to £25, and excluded 130,000 new members. The NEC – the head council of the Labour party – has also banned constituency parties from holding meetings. They’ve suspended the largest local Labour party, that of Brighton, and launched an algorhythm to search social media to make sure that Labour party members do not use words like ‘traitor’. If they do, they are suspended. Corbyn’s supporters have been denounced as ‘Trots’ and ‘rabble dogs’.

Chunky Mark says that somebody observed that they’re living under a Tory government, they didn’t vote, going through a Brexit, that they didn’t vote for, and have a Tory prime minister, that nobody voted for, but that’s democracy. Now the one person, who could be democratically electable, has to be voted for again, because the Labour MPs don’t like him, and want to get rid of him. Chunky Mark rightly points out that we should be fighting the current, extreme Right Tory government, which is attacking people’s rights. The Labour Coup, however, have sent this country backwards. He states that the Coup Plotters’ dream seems to be to suspend the membership, leaving only the Labour MPs and their donors. He quotes the journalist, John Harris, who said, ‘There is a fetid cloud of acrimony over Labour, and it is the reek of death.’ The Chunky One observers that the plotters would rather see people’s vision of an alternative, better world die than attack the status quo. It’s all gerrymandering, backed by lies and smears. The massive increase in membership fee discriminates against the low waged, the unemployed, students and the elderly.

This is the Labour election fraud.

Chunky Mark’s right. This is the parliamentary Labour party, the official Labour party wedded to Tony Blair’s neo-liberal vision, the ‘New Labour’ that came into being with the removal of Clause 4, the article providing for nationalisation of the means of production, trying to defend itself from Old Labour, now that the neoliberal vision is being increasingly found to be bankrupt. New Labour came to power impressed with Thatcher’s popularity, and convinced by her own threadbare ideas. State control and planning was rejected, along with all but a minimal welfare state. The rich, private industry and the media barons were to be courted and won over, as without them, Labour, it was held, was unelectable. And besides, only private industry knows best how to run the economy.

Except that it’s become blindingly evident that they don’t, and more and more people are aware of this. But it runs against everything the Blairites have instilled in the party for the last quarter of a century. And I wonder, in some of this, how much simple careerism plays a part. There was already a revolving door between business, senior civil servants and ministers under John Major. It became wider, and even more sleazy and corrupt under Blair. And now MPs see the promise of a nice, lucrative career in the industries they helped to privatise, and win government contracts after their parliamentary careers have ended, disappearing.

Berthold Brecht once remarked of the East German Communist party, when they clamped down on their people after they dared to demand democracy, that the Communist party had voted democratically to dissolve the people and elect another. This is what an authoritarian and careerist Labour party machine is trying to do to its membership. They want to destroy the party, rather than see themselves and neoliberalism and its horrors fail.