Posts Tagged ‘Housing’

Greens Take Hotwells Ward to Become Biggest Party on Bristol Council

February 3, 2023

Yesterday there was a local election for the ward of Hotwells and Harbourside in Bristol. I had an invitation from the local Labour party to help them campaign for it, but circumstances prevented me from physically going and I do not believe in phone banking. Anyway, the results are in. It was won by the Green party, who took it from the Lib Dems by 26 seats. This is quite ironic, as in the last election the Lib Dems only won that ward by the same number. This victory now makes the Greens the largest party in the council, though I gather that none of them have an overall majority.

Hotwells is one of the city’s historic districts on the banks of the Avon running through the city, and where Bristol’s harbour was before it was abandoned in the 70s and the port moved to its present location at Avonmouth. It’s a mixture of retail, office and residential buildings, including some dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when it, along with Clifton, were the city’s spa districts. Some of the housing is very modern and upmarket, while there are also a couple of 60s/70s brutalist tower blocks. It’s also the location for one of Bristol’s private schools, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital. It’s population also includes lecturers and academics from Bristol university, which is literally just up the road in Clifton. Just across the river are a couple of converted tobacco bonds, one of which now houses the city’s archives while another is, or was, the site of a green technology centre.

Bristol is quite a green city. Under the Labour mayor, Marvin Rees, the local authority’s put in a number of new cycle lanes and in that part of the city you do see people pedalling away, including women with their children in trailers behind them. The council has also announced other plans for developing a local green economy, including a clean air zone which has caused controversy in recent weeks because of the way it affects traffic.

Bristol Live reported that the new councillor, ‘ 24-year-old Cllr McAllister, who works in legal services, said his party was now preparing to take power in Bristol.

He said: “Successive Conservative-led governments and our Labour-run council have left our residents feeling frustrated — whether it’s through botched consultations on new developments, repair works to public throughways going on for years, the cladding crisis, or even threatening to take away our library.

“There’s never been a more vital time to speak up for our communities, and that is exactly what I’m going to do from now on. The Green Party is now the biggest group in the council, with 25 councillors, and I recognise the weight of that responsibility. As a team we are putting together our programme so we are ready to run this city from next year.

“In the meantime, I think that the city council’s current leadership has a responsibility as well — they have to now recognise the mandate that the Green Party has. I’m really looking forward to getting on with the job and representing this amazing community with the commitment and enthusiasm that it deserves.”’

See: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/greens-win-bristol-election-race-8106783

He undoubtedly has a point about local service. Roadworks with the attendant diversions have been going on in Temple Meads for many years now, as well as in the rest of the city. And the council is considering closing Bristol Central Library and moving it to another location. Rees has also made decisions that make little sense, and have ignored the wishes and opinions of local people. The city wishes to build a new, top-level stadium. The ideal location would be Temple Meads, because it’s the site of the railway station and is a very short drive from the motorway. Rees decided against that, ruling instead that it should be build in Patchway, a district miles away in the north of Bristol. He also upset the local people in Hengrove and Whitchurch in his plans for the redevelopment of Hengrove Park. This was to be the site of new housing, but locals objected because there were too many homes planned and no amenities. They voiced their complaints to Rees, who politely met them. They also submitted them, and their alternative plans, to the relevant supervisory authority, who ruled in the favour. But Rees ignored them, and bulldozed his plans through.

But some of those 26 voters may also have been swayed by national issues. I’ve got very strong reservations about the Greens’ social policies. I’ve got the impression they’re very woke. It was the Green-led local authority in Brighton and Hove which caused controversy a couple of years ago by teaching Critical Race Theory in its schools. In Bristol, former Green councillor Cleo Lake put forward the motion calling for the payment of reparations for slavery to all ‘Afrikans’. In Scotland, it seems to be the Greens behind the Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age of consent for children to identify as trans to 16, cut back on the amount of time a transperson would have to live as a member of the sex they wish to transition to. As well as the policy that has seen dangerous biologically male rapists locked away in women’s prisons.

But they also have great economic and welfare policies. As I posted a few days ago, I caught their party political broadcast the other night, and they said all the right things when it came to the NHS and the utilities: they want them renationalised along with a proper welfare state. Brilliant! These are the policies that Jeremy Corbyn put forward in his brilliant manifesto, and which Starmer promised to retain. Until he dumped them during a policy review. A few years ago the Greens were gaining on Labour in Bristol before Corbyn became leader, and I have no doubt that some of that was due to the Blairism of Miliband’s leadership.

The Bristol Live report speculates that the victory could mean trouble for Labour in the local elections here in 2024. That’s a real possibility. Novara Media has put up a video today in which Michael Walker and Dalia Gebreal discuss the failure of the Labour leadership to voice support for the strikers. There has been no messages of support from their front bench and Starmer has been going around sacking those that have stood on picket lines. On the other hand, when asked about this, the local MP for Bristol south, Karin Smyth, said quite rightly that the party still defends the right to strike and gave some reasonable objections to MPs standing with the pickets. But it still looks to me like Starmer not wanting to be seen backing strikers and alienating all the Tory and Lib Dem voters he wants to atract.

The Greens have won by a very narrow majority, which could vanish come 2024. But it’ll be very interesting to see how well they do and how the local Labour party responds to their challenge.

Yiddish Workers’ Song

November 25, 2022

This is a real piece of forgotten Jewish working-class culture. I’ve put up a number of Socialist Jewish songs and anthems in Yiddish and Hebrew, including the Communist Internationale and the anthem of the Russian/Polish Bund. The Bund were the mass Jewish socialist party in Poland, fighting for the rights of Polish Jews who strongly rejected Zionism and wished to live in peace and equality in their native country with their gentile Polish compatriots. This song, Dem Arbeters Lid, ‘The Workers’ Song’, from Jane Peppler’s channel on YouTube, is characteristically Jewish but also strongly internationalist It says at one point that ‘race and nationality mean nothing to you’. It comes from the Jewish Labor Movement, which I would imagine is the American Jewish socialist movement, as shown by the thumbnail of a picket line of lady tailors on strike. It’s composer, Louis Gilrod, used as the tune the American song ‘The Mother of the Girl I Love’. It’s in Waltz time and reminds me very strongly of Edwardian British parlour songs.

It opens by describing the exhausted, penniless, ‘self-enslaved’ Jewish workers toiling as tailors. Their children are naked and their wives sick and weak. But they will bring about a new social order in which they will be free and there will be no rich and poor. These are sentiments that would no doubt leave the British Jewish Labour Movement, now a part of the Labour party, screaming in fury along with some of the other Blairites. Because somehow, some of them have got it into their tiny minds that socialism is anti-Semitic because it’s against capitalism. Presumably the Blairite moron who said this Radio 4 didn’t realise that by equating capitalism with Jewry she had just expressed the same views as Hitler and other grotty fascists, such as our own wretched Oswald Mosley. The picture of the squalor and poverty of the workers in the garment industry is absolutely accurate. Many, perhaps most of the Jewish immigrants to America were Yiddish-speaking Romanian fleeing persecution in that country. They were dirt poor, living in poorly furnished, overcrowded tenements, sometimes even just occupying stairwells. Many of the women were poorly paid workers in the garment industry. One of the most horrific disasters that hit the New York Jewish community in this period was a fire that broke out in one of the upper stories of one of the clothing factories. This resulted in tens, perhaps over a hundred dead. some of the women were killed because there were no adequate exits, and so leapt to their deaths. As for the myth of Jews sticking together against gentiles, the factories’ owners were also Jews who lived in the affluent districts uptown with their gentile neighbours.

Media Suggests New Farage-Led Party Could Challenge Tories with 25 per cent of the Vote

November 15, 2022

I’ll believe it when I see it, but that was what the headlines said on two videos I found on two right-leaning channels on YouTube yesterday. I think one was GB News, which in some cases is so right leaning that it’s actually fallen over. Farage has been making noises about a political comeback and was reported as recommending that the various fringe right-wing parties like Reform and Reclaim should unite to challenge the Conservatives. Because apparently the Tories aren’t the Tories anymore, and Rishi Sunak is following socialist policies. This comes from the bonkers Brexiteer right, the kind of people who declare that the Nazis and Italian Fascists were socialists because they started out on the left and were all in favour of state control. Which conveniently ignores the fact that both parties were nevertheless frantic supporters of private industry – Mussolini even included it as one of the fundamentals of the Fascist state. I wonder what they would have made of Harold Macmillan, who supported the social democratic consensus and memorably described Thatcher’s privatisations as ‘selling off the family silver’. ‘Supermac’ widened access to the universities so that people from more ordinary backgrounds could attend and expanded the construction of council houses, though these were poorer quality than those built by Labour under Clem Attlee. Presumably he was a socialist too? The Lotus Eaters have also got in on that act and were pushing David Kurten’s Heritage Party as ‘the real Conservatives’. Yeah, David Kurten, whose name reminds me of Peter Kurten, the gay serial killer of 1920s Germany, dubbed the something-or-other vampire or werewolf, because he drank his victims’ blood. Obviously, the only thing Dave has in common with that monster was the surname.

I’m sceptical of all this. I think Tice and Fox are too possessive of their own positions as leaders of their respective parties, and I can’t see them merging for the same reason other small parties on the political fringes, like the NF and BNP, seem to fragment into ever smaller political sects, due to personality clashes and differences in doctrine and strategy. Besides which, Farage has had his day. He was never elected to parliament despite his many attempts, did absolutely nothing as an MEP except collect his paycheque and moan, and jumped ship from UKIP, leaving it to sink under the inspired leadership of Gerald Batten.

As for 25 per cent of the British electorate voting for them, this reminds me of one of the stats the Independent reported back in the ’90s. This claimed that a poll had found that a majority of Brits would vote for a far-right party. In fact, the closest the BNP ever got to sweeping into power was in 2007 and it imploded under massive public criticism soon after. Before then I think it had never got more than 2 per cent of the vote. The prediction of a new, even more right-wing party challenging the Conservatives seems very much like that prediction. Though the Tories themselves are now horrifically right-wing, no matter what the demented Brexiteer right may think.

38 Degrees Launches Cost of Living Catastrophe Map

October 17, 2022

I got this email from internet democracy site 38 Degrees earlier this evening.

BREAKING: the Government has ripped up their disastrous mini-budget – and now they want us to pick up the pieces. [1] They’ve put our livelihoods, our homes and our futures on the line with their reckless plans, and turned the cost of living crisis into a catastrophe. [2]

But with no sign of the rescue plan we’ve needed all along, we need to show them the price we’re paying. And we’ve got just the thing.

So we’ve just launched a HUGE, ambitious new project: the cost of living catastrophe, mapped.[3]Our interactive map spotlights more than 1,000 stories from across the 38 Degrees community – and the country.These are the real lives behind this catastrophe.

This is what the map looks like

Together, thousands of us have forced the Government into the biggest U-turn we’ve ever seen – but we can go further. [4]If all of us share this map far and wide, we’ll put the stories behind this catastrophe front and centre, so journalists, MPs and the Governmentwill have no doubt that we need a proper rescue plan for the country.

So, David, will you help keep up the pressure on the Government by sharing our cost of living catastrophe map – and show the real price of this crisis?

Twitter is the best way to ensure as many MPs and journalists see this map. Just click below and retweet the 38 Degrees tweet or – if you can – ‘quote tweet’ it and share your own cost of living story. You could even tag your MP!

SHARE ON TWITTER

If you don’t have Twitter, you can share on Facebook or WhatsApp instead.

SHARE ON FACEBOOK

SHARE ON WHATSAPP

Or, if you don’t use social media, will you consider chipping in so we can help share it via online and offline ads.

Thank you for being involved,

Flo, Angus, Matt, Jonathan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] BBC News: New chancellor reverses ‘almost all’ tax measures 
The Telegraph (paywall): Energy price cap could be torn up under plans considered in Whitehall
[2] BBC News: What was in the mini-budget and what has changed?
The Independent (paywall): Kwarteng confirms further cuts of up to £18bn for public services
Sky News: Cost of living: More mortgage products now on offer – but interest rates continue to rise
[3] 38 Degrees: The cost of living catastrophe, mapped 

I’ve absolutely no problem with posting this on social media. The Khazi may be gone, but Liz Truss and her Tory hordes are still in power, and people are still hurting. And they don’t care about the poor – only about the rich, and getting re-elected.

Trailer for Candace Owen’s BLM Documentary

October 9, 2022

I know there’s a danger of this blog just repeating stuff from the right, and that it’s not reciprocated on their part. But I do feel that I should promote some of their material when it’s correct. And in this case, I think Candace Owen’s take on Black Lives Matter, or at least it’s American incarnation, is entirely correct. Owen’s is a Black Conservative activist, who has said some monumentally stupid stuff in the past. A few years ago, came over here to launch Turning Point UK with another, White American conservative active, Ben Shapiro. Turning Point UK is the British subsidiary of the American right-wing activist group, Turning Point. It’s supposed to be converting British yoof to conservatism, but as far as anyone can make out, it’s impact over here is marginal. It looks like a scheme to get the right-wing public over the Pond to give donations to Turning Point in the mistaken belief that they’re spreading the right-wing gospel of private enterprise and saving us from Communism and the welfare state.

As the press conference for the launch of Turning Point UK, Owens and Shapiro were keen to defend nationalism. Someone therefore naturally raised the question of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. No, said Owens, Hitler wasn’t a nationalist because he wanted everyone to be German. But his policies would have been perfectly all right if they’d been confined to Germany.

This is monumentally stupid.

Hitler and his thugs were definitely nationalists. They said it openly, and it was in the name of their damnable party: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. And he didn’t want everyone to be German. Rather, he wanted the Germans to be dominant, ruling people in Europe, and especially over the remaining Slav populations after eastern Europe had been conquered and peoples like the Czechs had received the same treatment as the Jews. And no, the suspension of democracy, imposition of a one-party state, persecution and annihilation of the Jews, Gypsies and other peoples deemed ‘subhuman’ and the eugenic murder of the disabled, the incarceration of neurotics, the long-term unemployed and homosexuals and all the other horrors of the Third Reich would not have been acceptable if he’d confined it just to Germany.

But I think she had done something positive this time in turning her jaundiced eye on Black Lives Matter. They were responsible for many of the protests-cum-riots that broke out in America and elsewhere around the world following the death of George Floyd. Although that was the immediate cause, behind it was the issue of the continuing poverty, unemployment, low academic performance, crime and despair of Black America. They demanded for immediate, radical action against the systemic racism they saw as the cause. They received millions in donations from ordinary people and corporations. But that money was swallowed up by the leadership, as they gave themselves millions to purchase luxury housing and pay their relatives hundreds of thousands for services provided. And the Black people on whose behalf they claimed to be campaigning didn’t see a penny. Owens and her film crew went out to find the truth of what was going on. The result is the documentary, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold, premiering on the Daily Wire, a conservative channel.

The trailer shows Owens talking about how she got interested in it and says that BLM got $80 million in donations. I thought the number was higher – $90 million or over. It shows the incriminating tax invoice, that shows what the money was spent. This doesn’t mention they multimillion dollar houses but does mention transgender events or people and various types of sex worker, which I hadn’t heard about before. It shows her talking to Black people in some of the areas devastated by the rioting, who state they never saw any of the money and things are worse than before. Here’s the video

Black Lives Matter have tried to spin the anger and investigations as attempts to discredit them by the right, big corporations and the White system. In fact, I understand it started when the movement’s employees started getting hit with demands that they weren’t to disclose information about the charity’s affairs to lawyers and the people in the impoverished communities, who expected to be receiving money from them, wondered why they weren’t. And many Blacks, not just Conservatives, despise them not just for their corruption, but how they exploited real Black death and poverty simply to enrich themselves.

The organisation is Marxist, with extreme doctrines demanding the abolition of the traditional western nuclear family and seems to be following Critical Race Theory in regarding all Blacks as oppressed, and all Whites as oppressors – a divisive, nonsensical and racially vindictive doctrine. I very much believe that thanks to them and other organisations pushing the woke nonsense, race relations have got worse. I know this comes from the conservative right, but I think they were absolutely correct in exposing the organisation and its corruption.

Video Shows Humans Prefer to Be Served By Humans, Not Machines

September 15, 2022

I found this video on Carl Vernon’s channel on YouTube. I don’t usually watch his material as I got the impression, he’s another right-winger who likes to laugh at the left. But I agree wholeheartedly with this. It begins with a Tweet from a woman called ‘Shawty’ saying ‘I want to applaud every soul who silently and quietly said NO in Bradley Stoke Tesco yesterday, who took the time to queue and be served and not be forced to the new self serve’.

The video shows a long queue of ordinary people standing to be served by a human and very definitely not going for self-service.

Bradley Stoke is a small town in south Gloucestershire in the wider Bristol area. Back in the 1980s there was a scandal as the builders of the new houses there used too much sand and not enough cement in the mortar, so that you could literally push walls over with your bare hands. But I absolutely approve of this video and Shawty’s tweet. Self-service tills aren’t for our convenience. They’re just a means to boost profits by not employing people.

Michael Eavis Donates Land and Funding for Social Housing

September 2, 2022

Maximum respect to Michael Eavis, the man behind the Glastonbury festival. My mother takes the People’s Friend, and according to that ancient and venerable magazine, Eavis has donated land and promised to pay for the tools and material for the construction of 20 social houses. These are to go to locals who are being priced out of the housing market.

This is a serious issue in Somerset and many other rural areas, as houses are bought up by wealthy outsiders either moving permanently to the country, or picking them up as holiday homes. There’s a desperate need for social housing about the country as whole, as I don’t need to tell anyone reading this blog. It’s therefore really great news to hear that Eavis has stepped in to do his bit for his community.

If only others were the same, but somehow I doubt that another Somerset magnate, Jacob Rees-Mogg, will do anything similar any time soon.

Academic Historian T.O. Lloyd on British Immigration Policy After World War III

August 8, 2022

I’ve turned to T.O. Lloyd’s Empire to Welfare State: English History 1906-1985, 3rd edition (Oxford: OUP 1986) to try and make sense of Simon Webb’s claims that the Windrush migrants weren’t invited here, but were merely taking advantage of cheap cabins, and that London Transport appealed to Caribbean bus drivers to migrate in order alleviate political unrest in Barbados and Jamaica. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything about these claims one way or another, but the history, published as part of the ‘Short Oxford History of the Modern World’, does contain some interesting snippets of information about immigration policy in this period. For example, he writes of the the wave of immigration in the 50s

‘Citizens from Commonwealth countries had always been allowed to enter England freely, but they had not made much use of this right before the 1950s. Citizens of the white Commonwealth occasionally came on shorter or longer visits, but nobody took any notice. In the fifties a flow of West Indians, Indians,, and Pakistanis began to come to England. From the economist’s point of view the country seemed to have found a fund of labour to draw on in the way West Germany drew on East Germany and Italy, or France and Italy drew on their underemployed agricultural labour. This development was not welcomed by the people who found themselves living near the immigrants. Occasionally it was suggested that immigrants took low wages and undercut the market rate, and it was sometimes said they were violent and noisy. While some of them were bachelors earning more than they had ever earned before, behaved as might be expected, most of them were quiet people with fairly strict ideas about family life. The hostility to them came simply from a feeling that black men were undesirable, just as Irish Catholics had been though undesirable in the 19th century and European aliens had aroused hostility earlier in the 20th century because they were different. The shortage of housing made matters worse; the immigrants were blamed for it, and then were blamed for living in slums. The Immigration Bill was welcomed by public opinion although it was condemned by a good deal of the Conservative press and by the Labour party. It allowed immigrants to come if they had certain skills, or if they had relations in the country, or if they had jobs waiting for them. The sentiment of liberally minded people was against the Bill partly on grounds of humane feeling and partly to promote economic growth., but most of these humane and tolerant people did not understand that other people, who were relatively uneducated and unaccustomed to novelty suffered real problems when immigrants came and lived near them.’ (p. 199).

Lloyd also writes about the shortage of labour created by the national plan of 1964, and the effects this had on immigration policy. It’s a lengthy passage, but I think it’s worth reproducing in full.

‘The point at which the planners had most clearly not accepted the constraints of reality was the supply of labour. They had accepted a target of expanding the national income by 23 per cent by 1970s, which meant a rate of growth of a fraction under 4 per cent, but their figures showed that to do this about 200,000 more workers were needed than seemed likely to be available. The prices and incomes policy was intended to check the tendency to inflation that had persisted in the economy ever since Beveridge’s definition of full employment – more vacant jobs than workers to fill them – had been tacitly accepted, but no incomes policy could prevent a rise in wages if there was a steady demand for 200,000 workers than could be found. Employers would naturally bid against each other, by offering higher wages or fringe benefits. If it was carried out, the National Plan would reproduce the very high level of demand that had existed under the 1945-51 Labour government, without the stringent physical controls that had been available just after the war. The government had in 1964 forbidden further office development in London, but in general it was ready to operate the economy with very little compulsion. This may have reassured economists that effort could not be diverted into the wrong channels by government decree, but it did leave open the possibility that a shortage of labour would lead to large wage increases.

More workers could easily have been found: Commonwealth citizens from the West Indies, India, and Pakistan were ready and eager to come. During the election the question of Commonwealth immigration had been lurking just below the surface, but the results suggest that the Labour party lost three or four seats on the issue in areas where there had been a certain amount of immigration and where local conditions of life were generally unpleasant enough to make the voters want to blame somebody. The bad housing conditions in Smethwick or Slough were not the fault of the immigrants, but the inhabitants thought differently and were influenced by the slogan ‘If you want a nigger neighbour, vote Labour’.

Tension and dissatisfaction over immigration rose after the election, with some Conservatives suggesting that their party ought to take a more determined stand against immigration than it had done in the Commonwealth Immigration Act. The government decided that it could not hold the existing position, and issued a White Paper indicating the way it would interpret the Commonwealth Immigration Act in the future. The policy laid down was decidedly more restrictive than in the past, at least so far as entry to the country was concerned; the White Paper also suggested ways in which the immigrants might be cared for more effectively once they were inside the country, and legislation against discrimination in public places was passed. Some people argued that legislation was not the best way to deal with the problem, though in fact other countries faced with the same situation had, in the end, fallen back on legislation after feeling at first that there must be less formal ways of acting.

The White Paper stated that no more than 8,500 Commonwealth immigrants, of whom 1,000 would be from Malta, were to be allowed work permits every year. All questions about freedom of movement and Commonwealth solidarity apart, this closed one of the ways in which the labour shortage revealed in the National Plan might have been made up. Rapid economic growth has, more often than not, been associated with rapid increase of the working population; there was no underemployed rural population in England to draw into the economy, as there was in the countries of Europe that had been thriving since the war, but an inflow of people from the underdeveloped parts of the Commonwealth might have enabled the economy to grow as intended. Public opposition to immigration was not inspired by a conscious choice between growth and keeping England white, because most of the people who opposed immigration did not realize that they had such a choice before them, but this was the effect of the policy in the White Paper.'(pp. 397-9).

These passages don’t say anything about whether there was a labour shortage in the immediate aftermath of the war, which immigrants from the Caribbean came to fill. But it does say that there a labour shortage created by the 1964 National Plan, which was prevented from being filled by opposition to immigration.

I looked through the book to see what sources Lloyd used for the pieces on immigration. In those chapters, he seemed to have relied on Paul Foot’s Race and Immigration in Britain of 1964.

There might be more information in more recent treatments of the issue, like Bloody Foreigners: Immigration and the English.

PoliticsJoe Video Showing the Sheer Dementedness of Liz Truss

August 7, 2022

PoliticsJoe posted this video on YouTube yesterday. Its title declares that its about ‘Just Liz Truss Being Fully Mental’, which I supposed is one way of describing some of the antics and pronouncements of this contender for the Tory leadership. It consists of a series of clips, not edited together to have her singing a stupid, satirical song about herself, as PoliticsJoe has done, but something just as damning: it shows some of her deranged political statements, together with her failing to answer tough interview questions about her broken promises and falsehoods from people like Andrew Neil. And mixed in with that is previous footage from years ago of her speaking at a Lib Dem conference when she was a young activist with them.

The younger Truss seems like a normal, sane, politically idealistic and passionate human being. She praises Paddy Ashdown and the political potential and right to self-government of the British people. A self-government that is being denied by the monarchy, whose abolition she demands. It’s a very radical proposal, and one which you tend to hear from those further left, such as the left-wing of the Labour party. But by the time she’s a Tory MP and cabinet minister, she’s been transformed. The eyes have got madder, though not nearly as bog-eyed as Nicky Morgan, and the voice has taken on a harsher edge, so that at one point she did sound a bit like Anne Widecombe. And instead of radical democratic change, she was wibbling on about having secured a prize deal for exporting pork to China. Just like she steered through a deal to export cheese to Japan, where most of the country is lactose intolerant. And other great results for Brexit.

What should really bring her down is her lies and broken promises. She’s asked by Neil how many of the 200,000 social houses she declared she was going to build were actually put up. She can’t remember. Neil tells her that it’s not hard to know how many: zero. And the end of the video shows her being patiently asked by a female journo about various promises she made when she was in office, one after another, all of which she broke.

This is the woman now trying to get her backside into No. 10, and in many ways a true protege of Boris Johnson and the Tory machine. A woman who ditched democratic idealism for class reaction, Brexit and just telling one lie after another, while gripping desperately at the tiniest success in the Brexit negotiations in order to show it as some kind of magnificent success for Britain.

The Tories are destroying the British economy, and have only succeeded in making this country’s great people desperately poorer. Brexit has actively damaged our industry, agriculture and even the financial sector, which the Tories and New Labour have favoured so much. And Truss has been a vital part of all that under Johnson and before.

Johnson out!

Truss out!

Sunak out!

Tories out!

Bristol and Labour’s Elected Mayor, and the Arguments Against

April 26, 2022

On the fourth of May parts of the country are due to go to the polls again. These are mostly council elections, but down here in Bristol it’ll be for a referendum on the system of elected mayors the city has had for the past few years. At the moment the elected mayor is Marvin Rees for Labour. His predecessor, Ferguson, was supposedly an Independent, but he had been a Lib Dem. He personally promoted himself by wearing red trousers, even at funerals when he toned the colour down to dark claret. His first act was to change the name of the Council House to City Hall for no real reason. His administration was responsible for running through a programme of immense cuts. He intended to make £90 million of them, but told Bristolians that they shouldn’t be afraid. He also turned down grant money from central government to which the city was qualified and untitled. I heard at a meeting of the local Labour party that he left the city’s finances in a colossal mess, and it has taken a great effort for Marvin’s administration to sort them out.

The local Labour party has thrown itself four-square behind the elected mayoralty. It’s being promoted in the election literature from the party, boasting about how, under Rees, 9,000 new homes have been built, green power and other initiatives invested in. The opposition parties, by contrast, have wasted council taxpayers’ hard earned money on trivialities.

I think the party is also holding an on-line meeting tonight to convince members that the system of elected mayors is a positive benefit. Speakers include Andy Burnham amongst other prominent politicos. One of the claims being made is that elected mayors are democratic and transparent, whereas the previous committee system meant that decisions were taken behind closed doors.

But I am not convinced by any means that the elected mayoralty is a benefit.

Bristol South Labour MP Karin Smyth has stated that she is also no fan of the system. She has made it plain that she is not criticising Marvin’s administration, and is very diplomatic in her comments about his predecessor. But she has described the system as ‘too male’ and believes that the city should go back to being run by the council, whose members were elected and in touch by their local communities. The anti-male sexism aside, I agree with her. There have been studies done of business decision-making that show that while a strong chairman is admired for leadership, collective decision-making by the board actually results in better decisions. And one criticism of Rees’s government in Bristol is that he is not accountable to local representatives and has zero qualms about overruling local communities.

Here’s a few examples: a few years ago there were plans to build a new entertainment stadium in Bristol. This was due to be situated just behind Temple Meads station in an area that is currently being re-developed. It’s a superb site with excellent communications. Not only would it be bang right next to the train station, but it’s also not very far from the motorway. All you have to do if your coming down the M32 is turn left at the appropriate junction and carry on driving and your at Temple Meads in hardly any time at all. But Marvin disagreed, and it wanted it instead located in Filton, miles away in north Bristol.

Then there’s the matter of the house building at Hengrove Park. This is another issue in which Rees deliberately overruled the wishes of local people and the council itself. Rees decided that he wanted so many houses built on the site. The local people objected that not only was it too many, but that his plans made no provision for necessary amenities like banks, shops, doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies and so on. They submitted their own, revised plans, which went before the council, who approved them. If I remember correctly, the local plans actually conformed to existing planning law, which Marvin’s didn’t. But this didn’t matter. Rees overruled it. And I gather that he has also done the same regarding housing and redevelopment in other parts of south Bristol, like nearby Brislington.

Rees definitely seems to favour the north and more multicultural parts of the city over the south. And I’m afraid his attitude comes across as somewhat racist. South Bristol is largely White, though not exclusively. There are Black and Asian residents, and have been so for at least the past forty years. Rees is mixed race, but his own authoritarian attitude to decision making and the reply I got a few years ago from Asher Craig, his deputy-mayor and head of equalities, suggests that he has little or no connection to White Bristolians. When I wrote to Asher Craig criticising her for repeating the claim that Bristol was covering up its involvement in the slave trade, despite numerous publications about the city and the slave trade going all the way back to the ’70s, in an interview on Radio 4, she replied by telling me that I wouldn’t have said that if I’d heard all the interview. She then went on about the ‘One Bristol’ school curriculum she had planned and how that would promote Blacks. It would be diverse and inclusive, which she declared was unfortunately not always true about White men. This is a racial jibe. She may not have meant it as such, but if the roles were reversed, I’m sure it would count as a micro-aggression. And when I wrote to her and Cleo Lake, the Green councillor from Cotham, laying out my criticisms of her motion for Bristol to pay reparations for slavery, I got no reply at all.

A few years ago I also came across a statement from a Labour group elsewhere in the city, stating that Blacks should ally themselves with the White working class, because they did not profit from or support the slave trade. This is probably true historically, but it also reveals some very disturbing attitudes. Support for slavery has become something of a ‘mark of Cain’. If you have an ancestor who supported, you are forever tainted, even if you are the most convinced and active anti-racist. And Critical Race Theory and the current craze for seeking out monuments to anyone with connections to the slave trade, no matter how tenuous, is part of an attitude that suspects all Whites of racism and tainted with complicity in the trade, except for particular groups or individuals. It disregards general issues that affect both Black and White Bristolians, such as the cost of living crisis and the grinding poverty the Tories are inflicting on working people. These problems may be more acute for Black Bristolians, but they’re not unique to them. Working people of all colours and faiths or none should unite together to oppose them as fellow citizens, without qualification. But it seems in some parts of the Labour party in the city, this is not the attitude.

Rees’ overruling of local people in south Bristol does seem to me to come from a certain racial resentment. It seems like it’s motivated by a determination to show White Bristolians that their boss is a man of colour, who can very firmly put them in their place. I may be misreading it, but that’s how it seems to myself and a few other people.

Now I believe that, these criticisms aside, Rees has been good for the city. He was very diplomatic and adroit in his handling of the controversy over the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue, despite the obvious disgust at it he felt as a descendant of West Indian slaves. But Rees ain’t gonna be mayor forever. Indeed, he has said that he isn’t going to run again. There is therefore the distinct possibility that his successor won’t be Labour. And then there’ll be the problem of opposing someone, who always has the deciding vote and can overrule the decisions of the council and the rest of his cabinet.

The people of Bristol voted for the system following a series of deals between different parties to get control of the council, where the individual parties by themselves had no clear majority. It convinced many people that the system allowed them to get into power over the heads of the real wishes of Bristol’s citizens. Now the Lib Dems and the Tories are demanding an end to the system. It’s clearly a matter of self-interest on their part, as obviously they are trying to abolish a Labour administration and the system that supports it.

But I believe that on simple democratic principles the elected mayoralty should go and the city return to government by the council.

Oh yes, and they should start calling it the Council House once again, instead of continuing with Ferguson’s egotistic name for it.