Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg’

Open Britain: Tories Using Brexit to Scrap Laws Protecting Consumers, Workers and the Environment

January 20, 2023

Here’s another update on the Tory attack on democracy, this time using the pretext of Brexit to scrap up to 4,000 British laws protecting ordinary Brits and the environment against big business exploitation.

‘Dear David,

The Brexit campaign did not end when the UK left the EU. High priests of the cause, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, continue to influence government priorities and push damaging legislation such as the Retained EU Law Bill.

They say that the Retained EU Law Bill is a simple administrative tool to tidy up UK law following our messy departure from the EU. But the truth is altogether more sinister.

What that Bill actually does is give government ministers powers to scrap up to 4000 perfectly sensible UK laws that enforce environmental standards, protect workers’ rights and help consumers hold big business to account…and all without any further reference to our elected representatives in Parliament.

This Bill is a blatant attempt to further entrench the interests of big business over those of ordinary people and the environment. No wonder they are attempting to rush it through at an indecent pace; it would never pass proper democratic scrutiny.

The fact of the matter is that the Brexit purists in this Sunak government don’t care about democracy. They are only interested in delivering for their wealthy paymasters (spoiler: that’s not you and me), and if that requires them to pass regressive legislation behind a smokescreen of anti-EU sentiment and dangerous xenophobia, then so be it.

They will do anything to perpetuate the illusion that Brexit is something other than a cruel ruse carried out on behalf of the elite beneficiaries of a harsh economic model that puts excessive profits first and people and the environment last.

The Retained EU Law Bill demonstrates the general recklessness of the ongoing Brexit project. Ministers are taking ‘Henry VIII’ powers for themselves and have imposed a deadline of December 2023, beyond which any of the laws on their list that have not been given a reprieve will simply fade into the ether.

Consumer protections…gone. Workers’ rights…gone. Environmental standards…gone. For the Brexit puritans, this would be a proud victory; for the British public, an abject and undemocratic disaster.

By taking this approach, government ministers are effectively cheating Parliament, and therefore the British people, out of our right to scrutinise the laws we must live by. Sunak is effectively placing critical elements of Britain’s future in the hands of a minority of Brexit radicals. No one voted for that, and we should not accept it.

It’s no secret why he’s doing it, either. This Sunak government is so weak that it cannot do anything without the agreement of their most radical faction: those who were never going to be satisfied with Brexit and who want to push this country further into the realm of right-wing extremism. (Just this week, the cranks in that faction forced the government to table an amendment to the Online Safety Bill that would make it illegal to share videos of small-boat Channel crossings if they were presented in a “positive light”. Wow!)

It’s important to remember where all this started…in the poisonous Brexit referendum campaign. There is a direct line between the lies and fear-mongering of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in 2016 and the Conservative playbook in 2023. Unfortunately for us, neither of those two charlatans shows any sign of going away. Almost everything Farage says these days suggests he is planning to unleash another wave of Brexit-level political chaos in the coming elections. And just last week, we saw press reports that Johnson received a record-smashing £1,000,000 donation from a wealthy Brexiteer, which some have speculated could fund a campaign to retake Number 10 if/when the Conservatives take a kicking in May’s local elections.

All of this demonstrates why Open Britain’s fight against the “Farage-isation” of UK politics has never been more important or more urgent. We’re determined to ensure that these political wreckers can never exert their will over us again.

Despite their self-congratulation and the symbolic victories they claim, the Brexit campaign has achieved nothing positive for the people of this country, especially the most vulnerable, who endorsed it with the hope that it would improve their lot. As elections approach, we must all resolve to use our democratic power to put this dangerous ideology to bed once and for all.

The Open Britain team

PS – A quick reminder that we and a number of partners in the democracy sector are working to put pressure on Labour to commit to making the changes we need to renew our political system. You can help right now by signing our joint petition here to get Keir Starmer to support proportional representation.

This is all deeply alarming, though not entirely unexpected. We warned a few years ago that the Tories wished to replace EU, or EU inspired human rights legislation with a British Bill of Rights, which would be far weaker.

Going through this, I found the legislation banning people from sharing videos of the channel migrants particularly pernicious. I’d seen something about this in the titles of videos from various anti-immigrant groups and people on the web. The impression given was that the government was doing this to stop people knowing about the large numbers of migrants crossing the channel in order to protect the migrants themselves and the supposed official policies protecting and encouraging them. But according to Britain, this is absolutely not the case.

The Tories really are getting desperate. Sunak is flailing around with no new ideas against a wave of strikes which have popular support. Hence the attempts to make the right to strike all about illegal, and repeal EU legislation in order to appease the Brxiteers. People like Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

We have to stand firm and get them out.

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

December 29, 2022

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

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

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

The British Empire

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

Britain and Slavery

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

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

Black Overrepresentation on TV

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

Blair Not Responsible for Mass Immigration

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

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

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

The Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

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

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

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

Mass Immigration Not the Cause of NHS Crisis

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Cassetteboy’s Foul and Funny Satirical Assault on the Tories and the Christmas Charts

December 26, 2022

Okay, I said that as it was the Christmas season, I wanted to leave politics and post different, lighter material. But this latest video on YouTube from the audio satirists of Cassetteboy and the Kunts is far too good to ignore. And so I feel myself reacting to it a bit like Dave Allen on his Christmas show in the ’80s. The great Irish comedian said, ‘The producer said to me, “Dave, it’s Christmas, so leave religion out of it.”‘ He then looked at the audience, letting than sink in for a moment, before ending, ‘Well, I would, if I could….’ A few years ago there was a campaign to embarrass the Beeb by everyone playing Rage Against the Machine with their expletive-filled lyrics in order to get it to No. 1 at Christmas. The track would be far too strong for the Beeb, who wouldn’t want to play it but would be faced with the problem of not wanting to ignore it either. Something similar was going on in the minds of Cassetteboy when they put together this festive assault on the Tories and their wretched legacy of incompetence, poverty, mendacity and greed.

The song begins in a suitably seasonal way by singing about the 12 years of Tory rule like the 12 days of Christmas, and how terrible it has been for the country. It began with Dave Cameron, who introduced austerity, but party before country with this Brexit vote and then ‘shat the bed and ran away’. This continued with Tweezer, who couldn’t sort Brexit out despite her thin red lines, then Boris Johnson who lied to get himself elected and partied while everyone else was in lockdown. Then we get to Liz Truss, who killed the Queen before being given the heave-ho and finally Rishi Sunak. Along the way there are clips of other Tory ministers, edited to make them say how terrible they are, including Jacob Rees-Mogg. The refrain is ‘F*ck the Tories’. It ends with the message that the individual Prime Ministers may differ, but they’re all the same really.

The video came out a week or so ago. I don’t think it’s got to No.1, but it’s crude, vulgar and entirely accurate. I hope it gives everyone a bit of fun during this ‘orrible Winter of Discontent.

Starmer Brings Back Labour Plan to Abolish House of Lords

December 13, 2022

Last week it was revealed that Keir Starmer intends to abolish the House of Lords. Before I go any further, I should say that I have no idea what he wants to replace it with. I caught a few seconds of a video put up by GB News or one of the other god-awful right-wing YouTube channels of a Starmer being laid into on this issue by Peter Hitchens. From the few seconds I saw, Hitchens was accusing him of wishing to make all the members of the upper house appointed by the Prime Minister. Hitchens stated that this would be undemocratic, which is absolutely right, if true. But the debate is also more than a little familiar. Back in 1986 or 87 the papers carried reports that the Labour party then wanted to abolish the House of Lords. I think they also plans to reform the House of Commons to make it more democratic, which would have involved giving more power to the speaker. Then there were Tony Blair’s reforms in the late ’90s and early part of this century.

Blair took on the objection to the House of Lords that it was an unelected, undemocratic anachronism. It is. It is, or was, a remnant of feudalism, the old medieval grand council in which the king or the prince was advised by the kingdom’s great lords. It goes all the way back to the witangemot, the council of wise men, in Anglo-Saxon England and similar feudal assemblies in the Carolingian Empire and other states on the continent. Such an assembly is outdated and against the basic principles of democratic representation. On the other hand, it had the advantage of being cheap. Or so I heard it said at the time these reforms were being mooted. The other argument, put forward by really reactionary Tories, was that the hereditary peers deserved the place because they were better fitted to it through centuries of breeding and education. Which is the old Tory argument that all the great civilisations had an aristocracy that cost them an election in the early part of the past century. I don’t think it’s a vote winner, but I’ve no doubt that Jacob Rees-Mogg probably believed in it. He started his career as an aspiring MP campaigning for the seat of a Scots fishing town. He proudly announced that he was standing on a platform of trying to convince the local people that an unelected, hereditary upper house was actually a great institution. Obviously he didn’t succeed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the SNP vote didn’t increase in that constituency as a result.. Blair reformed the House partly by appointing some of its members, and subsequent Prime Ministers have done the same, so that the number of peers is now 800-odd, far more than the House of Commons and even the governing political assembly of the Chinese Communist party. The peers get an allowance for turning up, and so there have been scandals and accusations that many of them just stick their head through the door long enough to claim their cheque before zooming off to business elsewhere. And the opposition objected at the time that Blair’s reform was hardly democratic. He was denounced as a new Cromwell, who was packing parliament with his supporters, just as England’s Lord \Protector and the butcher of Ireland had done during the Interregnum.

The suggested alternative was to transform the upper house into a senate like America’s. It would still have the duty of checking and amending legislation, but would be elected. According to Private Eye, there was no real enthusiasm behind this idea. People didn’t want to have to go through another round of elections, and the lack of popular support for such a chamber would mean that only mediocrities would serve in it. This must have been the view of the powers that be, or something similar, because the plan seems to have vanished soon after.

.I believe that the current House of Lords needs to be cut down, and no, I don’t want membership of the House to be by prime ministerial appointment. But I also don’t see any point in reforming it radically. The precise nature of the House of Lords doesn’t actually bother me to anywhere near the extent that this country needs a return to the social democratic consensus pre-Maggie. Privatisation has failed, and the Tory welfare reforms are leaving people cold and starving. We need to renationalise the utilities and the railways, as well as the NHS, which should be properly funded. We needed to reverse the destruction of the welfare state so people aren’t left dependent on food banks and private charity to feed themselves if they’re unemployed or disabled. And we need to make sure working people are paid a proper wage for exactly the same reason, not to mention nationalising the energy companies so that people pay less for the fuel and electricity bills and aren’t faced with the decision whether to heat their homes, pay the rent or eat. All this is far more pressing and important than tinkering with the constitution.

But I think the mooted reform of the House of Lords is another example of Starmer wishing to emulate Blair. And Blair wanted to make Britain more like America. But our political system is different. It’s parliamentary, not presidential, and that does apparently affect the results of Blair’s reforms, including his changes to the judiciary. There’s a very interesting video of David Starkey explaining this, put up by the New Culture Forum. Starkey is, of course, a terrible old reactionary while the New Culture Forum are the cultural wing of the Institute for Economic Affairs, a right-wing Buxton Street think tank that wants to privatise everything Thatcher, Major and Blair haven’t already sold off, including the NHS. But Starkey makes a very good case for the incompatibility of British and American constitutional systems.

But most of all I’m afraid that this constitutional tinkering is in lieu of practical policies, that will make a real difference to Britain’s poor and working people. Such as the return to proper, socialist, or at least social democratic politics. Blair changed the constitution, but didn’t change Tory government policies. He just carried on with them once he was in power. In fact, he ramped them up and went much further in the privatisation of the NHS than the Tories had dared.

And I’m afraid Starmer will do likewise.

Trev Describes the Personal Effect High Energy Prices Have on Him

November 24, 2022

Yesterday I put up an episode of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, in which an attempt to steal the crown jewels was thwarted by the police and the Beefeaters. The thieves were caught, and their leader revealed to be a computer. This was captured when it was down during a power cut. Trev, one of the great commenters on his blog, posted this remark describing how we don’t have electricity cuts just yet, but the high prices are leaving people like himself cutting back. Trev wrote

‘That’s great. I remember Potty Time and the power cuts. Now we still have power (for now) but can’t afford to use it. I’m only putting heating on for about an hour in a morning but in the evenings I’m wrapped in blankets and a wooly hat trying to keep warm. It’s not good. I don’t qualify for any of the discounts because the electricity account and bill are in the landlady’s name, and I don’t get the right Benefits to qualify for Warm Home discounts or Cold Weather payments (when they are due).’

This is what millions of people are being faced with, due to the greed of the energy companies, fully support by Sunak and the Tories. The energy companies’ vicious, exploitative avarice was even defended by Jacob Rees-Mogg back in the summer. It’s why we need to get the Tories out and Labour in, hopefully to do something that will really benefit the British public on this and other issues.

Open Letter from Hope Not Hate for Tories to Expel Former Fascist Local Councillor

November 16, 2022

I got this email from the anti-racist, anti-religious extremist organisation Hope Not Hate asking people to sign an open letter calling for the Tories to expel a local councillor, who used to be a member of the Mosleyite fascist group, the New British Union. It runs

Dear David,

Last night we broke the news that we’ve discovered a Conservative Party councillor with a worrying fascist past. 

Andy Weatherhead (formerly Andrew Beadle) represents the ward of Hythe West on Kent County Council. But as recently as 2014, he was a member of the fascist group the New British Union where he’d held the positions of Business Officer and Policy Officer.

The NBU is full of nazis and violent bigots. They are fascist revivalists who proudly display pictures online of members wearing pre-war fascist uniforms and openly try to emulate Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. One member of the group, Clive Ceronne, was even jailed for an arson attack on a mosque in Gloucester.

Tory councillor Andy Weatherhead wrote several blogs on the NBU website under a pseudonym. In them, he published deeply antisemitic passages, including criticising the government for “appeasing the British and International Jewish lobby, whilst allowing the British people to be feed [sic] lie after lie through the Jewish controlled Press and Media.”

Weatherhead’s NBU activity did not end there though. In 2013, he attended an NBU demonstration outside the Greek embassy in support of the Greek neo-nazi Golden Dawn party. Golden Dawn members were often accused of violently attacking immigrants, ethnic minorities and their political opponents. 

David, it’s simple. Andy Weatherhead is not fit to hold political office. 

And this is where you come in. Will you join other HOPE not hate members in calling for Andy Weatherhead to be permanently expelled from the Conservative Party?

EXPEL THIS TORY COUNCILLOR

This isn’t the first time that HOPE not hate has exposed elected officials with dangerous far-right beliefs. Last year, we discovered Tim Wills, a borough councillor in Worthing, West Sussex was an active supporter of the UK’s fastest-growing fascist threat, Patriotic Alternative. 

HOPE not hate supporters contacted Conservative Party Chairs asking for them to remove Wills and eventually, after immense pressure, he resigned.

Together, let’s drive out hate from our communities.

In solidarity,

Gregory – Researcher at HOPE not hate’

I’ve signed the open letter because the NBU really does seem to be exactly as they describe it – an attempt to revive Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. They even wear a uniform rather like Mosley’s Blackshirts, albeit the colour looks like very dark blue rather than black and have insignia very like Mosley’s black lightning bolt. Weatherhead also seems to be someone who really does believe all the real poisonous anti-Semitic conspiracies, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if he was a Mosleyite. Mosley denied he was ever anti-Semitic, but it was clear from his actions and general attitude that he was. He also changed the name of the BUF when he was trying to ingratiate himself with Hitler to the ‘British Union of Fascists and National Socialists’. Nazism is, by definition, anti-Semitic, and the Golden Dawn racist thugs. He’s definitely the kind of activist David Cameron made so much noise about expelling the party. And somehow, I’m not surprised that he also used to be UKIP, despite that party also stating that they would not accept former members of the far right into the party. It’s possible that Weatherhead might have changed his attitudes towards race and human rights since he left the NBU, but that’s highly debatable considering how many real islamophobes and anti-Semites were found on internet groups supporting Rees-Mogg.

JOE’s Satirical Parody of the Tory Government as the Zombie’s from ‘Thriller’

November 1, 2022

JOE is another YouTube channel that cuts the speeches and pronouncements of politicians and celebrities to make them appear to say stupid things as satire. It was Hallowe’en yesterday, so they’ve created this suitably seasonal musical parody. In this clip, they send up the Tory government by having Jacob Rees-Mogg intone a twisted version of Vincent Price’s spoken words in the 1980s Michael Jackson hit, ‘Thriller’. This shows the Tories rising from the graves as a true Zombie government, who have trashed the economy, jacked up mortgages, devastated people’s pensions. Jeremy Hunt is once again a psycho who will make more cuts to the NHS than Norman Bates. And Liz Truss is Chucky, the killer doll.

Open Britain on Why We Need a General Election

October 24, 2022

I got this email from the democracy activist group Open Britain describing how we dodged a bullet with the withdrawal of Boris Johnson as candidate for the leadership contest and calling for a general election. It runs

‘Dear David,

It has been a rollercoaster of a week for that group of Conservative MPs still blindly loyal to Boris Johnson.

It started with a spark of hope at the idea that their disgraced hero might return early from his Caribbean holiday and retake his ‘rightful’ place at the top of government, following the early demise of Liz Truss. (None of them was asking why he was holidaying while Parliament was sitting, how that was serving his constituents, or indeed why he so enthusiastically endorsed Liz Truss in the summer.)

From there, the storyline followed a typically Johnson-esque arc.

We saw attempts to titillate the press with ‘will he, won’t he’ briefings. We saw bombastic messages of support from the usual crowd of cronies. We saw attempts to manipulate our view of reality with statements that sounded like lies and, ultimately, we saw it come to a juddering halt with nothing to show for it all.

Jacob Rees-Mogg endorsed Johnson as the only candidate who could unite the party…in a tweet that included the highly divisive slogan ‘Boris or Bust’.

Nadhim Zahawi did his best to conjure-up some semblance of statesmanlike credibility in his endorsement by harking back to his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer… a role he held for about five minutes in the dying days of Johnson’s premiership.

Nadine Dorries said some stuff too. I really like Boris…he’s better than anyone else at something or other…if you don’t vote for him, bad things will happen…yada yada. It was so inane, my brain has already scrubbed it…sorry.

We saw a concerted effort to use client journalists – and some others who should know better – to persuade people that he was closing-in on the magic number of 100 Conservative MP nominees, when all the evidence suggested he was a long way short.

And ultimately, late last night we saw Johnson selfishly dump on those most loyal to him by pulling out of the contest as they were doing their damnedest in the media to get him across the line. (In Nadim Zahawi’s case, it was literally minutes after the Telegraph published a gushing piece about how Johnson 2.0 would be different. The irony.)

So, we have dodged a bullet but we are not out of the woods.

At the time of writing, it looks like Penny Mordaunt is struggling to reach the qualifying threshold before this afternoon’s deadline (though she still might) while Rishi Sunak’s support approaches what many think an unassailable number.

Logic suggests that Mordaunt will spend the morning canvassing, find that she does not have the support, and withdraw, allowing Sunak to be crowned new party leader and Prime Minister before the day is out.

But that would irritate many in the party membership who want to have their say. And so there is a possibility that the party machine will engineer a situation where the two candidates are put to the membership but in a way that leaves no doubt about who the recommended candidate is.

For a party that says its priority is to re-establish stability as early as possible, that might turn out to be a brave decision. Sunak did not go down well with the membership last time.

We must wait and see.

Whichever route they choose, it is unlikely the Conservative Party will emerge without potentially fatal damage, inflicted by one internal faction or another.

AND whichever candidate ends up in Number 10, they will have no credible claim to a mandate for the kind of policies they are going to be implementing in the coming months. We absolutely must keep fighting for a general election. That is the only way we will be able to re-establish stability and certainty in government.

All the very best,

Mark Kieran
CEO, Open Britain’

‘Led By Donkey’s’ Potted Biography of the Horror That Is Jacob Rees-Mogg

October 23, 2022

I found this brief biography, ‘Who Is Jacob Rees-Mogg’ on the Led by Donkeys channel on YouTube. It covers Mogg’s life and career from his birth to today and shows exactly why he shouldn’t be anywhere near government – the greed, snobbishness, mendacity, duplicity and sheer governmental incompetence. Here’s a summary of its contents.

Mogg was born in May 1969 in London, the son William Rees-Mogg, the editor of the Times. He was naturally educated at Eton. In 1982, while he was a twelve-year old schoolboy, he was the subject of a French documentary as he was a financial trader and supporter of Thatcher. In one interview for the programme he said, ‘I love money. I always have done.’ When asked if he wanted to get married, he replied ‘No’, as he didn’t want to get divorced and his wife to get his money. In 1997 he campaigned for the Tories in the traditional Labour seat of East Fife. The image accompanying this shows him stepping over a fence looking exactly like John Cleese as the Minister for Silly Walks, but without the bowler hat. The locals were bemused by the fact that he was accompanied by his nanny, who was there to iron his shirts. 1998 – according to a biographer, his maid and his nanny took turns holding a book over his head at a picnic at Glyndebourne to make sure he didn’t get sunburnt. That same year he campaigned in the Wrekin, where he also lost. In 2006 he made a statement comparing people who weren’t privately educated and who never went to Oxford and Cambridge to potted plants and implied that they were incapable of writing an articulate letter. The next year, 2007, he and two of his friends set up Somerset Investment Capital. This committed itself to business ethics, but then stated that environmental, social and governmental concerns would not form the basis of their ethical policy.

In 2010 he finally succeeded in getting his wretched backside elected to parliament in the Somerset Northeast constituency. Three years later in 2013, Mogg distinguished himself by denying that workers have a right to a paid holiday. Then he took the decision to attend the annual dinner of the far-right Traditional Britain Group, despite being briefed about them by anti-Fascist organisation and magazine, Searchlight. He only decided to disassociate himself from them when they issued a statement denouncing Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, as a ‘monstrous disgrace’ and recommending that people like her should be asked to leave the country. He also described man-made global warming as ‘much debated’ – totally wrong, as the vast majority of scientists are convinced it exists. The next year, 2014, Mogg advises that humanity should adapt to rather than attempt to mitigate climate change. He also lies about a UN report, claiming that it states that if measures were adopted to combat climate changes today it would take hundreds or a thousand years to produce results. The report said no such thing. In March the same year it was revealed his investment company was making a cool £3million from mining and £2.4 million in oil and gas.

In 2015 he stated his opposition to gay marriage and followed this in 2016 with a statement backing Donald Trump, who was then running a very racist, sexist and bigoted campaign. A year after that, in 2017, he revealed that he had never changed a nappy despite having six children. He also lied again, this time claiming that Labour had deliberately not told people they could get help from food banks. He also said that he thought the idea of people giving to these charities was ‘uplifting’. This was much mocked at the time. It is uplifting that people are willing to give to them, but utterly despicable that they have to exist in the first place. He also still opposed marriage equality and abortion in all circumstances as well as the morning after pill. Thus, he suffered no little embarrassment when it was revealed that he had investments in a company producing a stomach pill widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. He also had shares in a company producing drugs for legal abortions in India. He sold these shares, but retained those in tobacco, oil and gas companies. He also met Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, a journalist for the far-right news outlet Breitbart, discussing how the right could win both in American and Britain. This segment has footage of the torchlight fascists marching in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. In 2018 it was revealed that Somerset Capital had also invested in Sberbank, a Russian bank that had been sanctioned by the EU since 2014 because of the Russian occupation of Crimea. It was also revealed a year later in 2019 that he’d made £7 million in profit from the Brexit vote. But backing Brexit didn’t stop him establishing two funds in Dublin to take advantage of the fact that it was still in the EU while London was not. Somerset Capital was paying him £15,000 per month and he owned 15 per cent of the shares. His firm was managed by subsidiaries operating perfectly legally in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Going back to the far-right, in 2019 he retweeted a comment by the leader of Germany’s Alternative Fuer Deutschland. He was also interviewed by Trump-supporter James Delingpole for Breitbart. The ousting of Tweezer by Johnson that year was also due in no small part to his machinations and that of his European Research Group. He also chose to show precisely what he thought about a debate on Brexit by lying down and appearing to go to sleep on the hallowed green benches of parliament. He also implied in a radio interview that the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they were too stupid to leave the building. He then mysterious vanished from the campaign trail, suggesting that his aides had advised him to lie low for a while. When a voter did try to ask him about his comment, he fled.

This year Truss made him Minister for Brexit Opportunities, despite profiting from investments in a Russian gas company, whose chair was one of Putin’s chums. He did, however, promise to divest himself of these investment after the invasion of Ukraine. Truss then appointed him Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He backed the disastrous minibudget to the hilt, which has resulted in catastrophic mortgage hikes and the reimposition of austerity. Rather than accept responsibility, he blamed the mess on the Bank of England. The video ends with a young female journalist at the Financial Times describing this as ‘bollocks’.

This is who is now in government. And he’s only just down the road from me in Bath and Northeast Somerset. Uuurgh!

And after watching that video, here’s something that might cheer you up. Mogg’s frank statement that he loved money made me think of the Flying Lizard’s cover of the Beatle’s class, ‘Money’. Here it is, also from the TopPop channel on YouTube.

Sketches and Cartoons of Truss and Cabinet

October 20, 2022

One of the things I’ve been doing over the past couple of days is making straight and satirical sketches of our former Prime Minister and her cabinet of horrors. I was going to wait a while until I had worked out a few more ideas for cartoons, but after today’s news of Truss’ resignation, I thought I’d better put them up while they’re still relevant.

And as Truss has finally given in and resigned, I thought this piccie of her being dragged off by the mental health experts would be the most suitable. If you can’t read it, the caption reads, ‘They’re Coming To Take Her Away’.

Then there are these sketches of Truss as the latest incarnation of Pinhead from the Hellraiser 2022 film, and Therese Coffey as two characters from the 1984 version of Dune: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, a man so fat he needs implanted anti-gravity devices to get around and has a horrible skin disease on his face; and a guild navigator, who are so mutated that they are carted around in large, enclosed vehicles.

Then there are these sketches. One is Coffey again, this time depicted as a Lovecraftian horror, and the other is of Jeremy Hunt. And I intend to send him up later.

And lastly there’s this one of Jacob Rees-Mogg. This is also a preparatory sketch for another cartoon.