Posts Tagged ‘Lib Dems’

Chumbawamba Sing Their Farewells to Maggie Thatcher

May 6, 2022

Okay, I’ve put up a series of left-wing and socialist music videos over the past couple of days laying into the Tories and other right-wing pundits and blowhards like Piers Moron and ‘Depeche Toad’ Farage. The results of the council elections are coming in, and it seems the Tories haven’t done terribly well. Not as disastrously as I’d like, but they’ve lost several councils to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. And I thought I’d rub it in a bit further with this musical reminder that Maggie is no longer with us. This is a performance by the pop band Chumbawamba singing their song anticipating Thatcher’s death, ‘In Memoriam – So Long So Long’ at a concert in Bedminster, one of Bristol’s suburbs, way back in 2009. It was put up on Random Planet’s channel on YouTube in 2013.

The song was written and performed before Thatcher’s death and the band were going to release it as an EP. Hence they ask people not to put it up on YouTube just yet, and also give instructions on how you can order it directly from them. As the performance is over a decade old, it’s doubtful this arrangement is still working. You can, however, hear the full EP on YouTube as well. This includes a short piece in Spanish which is supposed to be General Pinochet’s regards from beyond the grave, as well as Frankie Boyle’s joke that when Thatcher dies, the Scots are going to dig a hole so deep they’ll be able to hand her over to Satan personally. It’s an interesting piece musically. It’s jazz-inflected and actually really laid back, for all that it’s celebrating Thatcher’s demise.

Thatcher’s long gone, but unfortunately Thatcherism still remains a force in British politics as zombie economics – a doctrine long shown to be dead and useless, but which is still propped up into a kind of ghastly semblance of life by right-wing politicians and the media. It’s about time it was laid to rest as well.

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.

My Email to Bristol Green Party about Their Slavery Reparations Motion on the Council

February 26, 2022

I’m still furious about the motion for the payment of reparations for slavery to Britain’s Black community which was passed last year almost unanimously by Bristol council. It was introduced by Cleo Lake, the then Green councillor for Cotham, a ward in the northern part of the city, and seconded by Asher Craig, the deputy leader of the council and head of equalities for the city. All the parties of the left supported – the Greens, Labour and Lib Dems. It was only opposed by the Conservatives, who said it was well meant. In many ways it was a continuation of the affirmative action programmes giving aid to Black communities. It was very definitely not, as the proposer stated, a hand-out to individuals but finding to Black organisations to create prosperous, self-sustaining Black communities.

My problem with this is the connection to slavery. This is a more complicated issue than simply rich western Whites dragging Blacks off to oppression and forced labour in the plantations. Slavery existed in various forms in Africa long before the arrival of Whites in the continent. Black states, some of which had slave populations of 75 per cent, preyed on each other, and sold them to outsiders like the Arabs. They were also enslaved by the Turkish empire and Christian Abyssinia. From east Africa they could be exported overseas as far as India, where Bengal had been a major slave trading centre since the 14th century and Indonesia. At the same time, the Barbary pirates, Muslims from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, raided Europe from Spain and Italy to Britain, Ireland and Iceland, carrying off 1 – 2/12 million Whites. But this isn’t mentioned in school history and, although there are an increasing number of books about it, I doubt very many people are aware of it. In America and Europe the global nature of slavery is played down so that the focus is almost wholly on Black transatlantic slavery.

This is understandable as slavery is held to be the ultimate source for the continuing problems of the Black community – unemployment, drugs, crime, racism, poor academic performance and marginalisation and alienation from mainstream society. But the result has been a gross simplification of the historical reality. Critical Race Theory, which developed from Marxist legal scholarship in the 1970s, simplifies the racial situation in the west into oppressed Blacks versus privileged Whites. All Whites benefit from the dominant position in society, even if they despise racism. And all Blacks, regardless of socio-economic status, are oppressed. Lake and Craig’s proposal follows this logic by demanding such payments for all ‘Afrikans’, thus making White collectively responsible for slavery, even when it was others that were really responsible.

I’ve written to Lake and Craig about this, and got no reply. Last Sunday I sent an email to the Green party in Bristol about it. I got no reply to that either. I don’t think they’re capable of defending their position. Or just arrogant and ignoring me as one of the ‘little people’. Here’s the email.

‘Dear Sir,

I am writing to you now to express my grave concerns about last year’s motion in the city council, proposed by Cleo Lake, then your councillor for Cotham, and seconded by Labour deputy leader and head of equalities Asher Craig, to pay reparations for slavery. I have absolutely no objection to the practical form these reparations were to take, which was in fact to be funding to Black led organisations to create prosperous, sustainable Black communities. I am very much aware of the poverty and marginalisation experienced by the Bristol Black community, and do support initiatives to improve their conditions. And it is, of course, entirely natural and appropriate that this should be guided by the community itself. But I am very concerned about the way this funding was linked to the reparations movement and the decision that it should apply to all ‘Afrikans’. This showed, at best, a poor understanding of the history of African slavery. At worst it appears to be anti-White, separating Bristolians into good, virtuous, persecuted Blacks, and evil, persecutory Whites, who should feel guilty for the crimes of the ancestors, according to the principles of Afrocentric history and Critical Race Theory.

In fact Black Africans were enslaving other Black Africans long before the transatlantic slave trade, and continued to do so long after Britain had officially banned the slave trade and slavery itself. The proportion of slaves varied from state to state from around 30 per cent to as high 75 per cent. In west Africa the principal slaving nations were the Ashanti, Dahomey, Whydah and Badagri. In east Africa they included Abyssinia and the Yao, Marganja and Swahili peoples. These states became extremely rich through the trade in human suffering. Duke Ephraim of Dahomey, for example, raked in £300,000 per year. Black Africans were also enslaved by the Islamic states, such as the Turkish empire in north Africa and the Sultanate of Oman one the east coast. Black Africans were exported to the Middle East, India and south-east Asia. If reparations are to be paid to all ‘Afrikans’, then this means also paying them to the descendants of those who enslaved them and profited by selling them to Europeans and Americans.

There is also the additional problem in that many of these states were paid compensation and subsidies by the British government to support them economically after the loss of such a profitable trade. But I see no awareness of this in Lake’s motion. An additional problem is that some of these states have no remorse over their ancestors’ participation in the abominable trade. There are statues and streets named after Efroye Tinobue in Nigeria, a powerful female merchant who became a kingmaker in Nigerian politics in the 19th century. But she was also a slaver. There is a very strong debate in Nigeria and  Ghana about the role of the chiefs in the slave trade, and Liverpool’s museum of slavery was widely praised by some Nigerians for including their role. But there seems to be little knowledge or engagement with this fact. Nor do Lake and Craig show any awareness that White Bristolians were also among the Europeans enslaved by the Barbary pirates. In the 16th century five ships were taken from Bristol harbour, and in the 17th they briefly established a base on Lundy. But councillor Lake seemed unaware or unconcerned about this.

I realise that this comes from the belief that the transatlantic slave trade is the direct cause of the inequalities experienced by the contemporary Black community, but I fear that this the proposal has grotesquely simplified the historical reality. I am not sure how many Bristolians are aware that other nations were also involved in the slave trade, like the Spanish and Portuguese. It seems to me that the call for payment of reparations to all ‘Afrikans’ makes Bristol responsible for African enslavement carried out by other nations.

And I am very concerned about the racial politics involved the call. It seems to be strongly influenced by Afrocentrism, which holds that Whites are inferior, and intrinsically more cruel and exploitative than Blacks, and that slavery did not exist in Africa before the appearance of Europeans and Arabs. It also seems to partake of Critical Race Theory, which also considers that all Whites are privileged racists, even when they oppose racism. This has become very topical in recent weeks with the report that Brighton and Hove council, led by the Greens, has voted to include it in their school curriculum.

I very much regret that for these reasons I find Councillor Lake’s motion deeply flawed and simplifying history to a grotesque and racially divisive degree.

I know that the motion was proposed and passed a year or so ago. But I have written to both Councillors Lake and Craig about this, and so far not received a reply from them. And I believe this issues has not gone away but has increased with the debate over the teaching of British history and Critical Race Theory.

 would be very grateful, therefore, to hear your views and explanations in answer to my concerns. You may contact me at my email address —-

Yours faithfully’,

Never Mind Jess Phillips, How Much Are Tory MPs Paid on HIGNFY?

February 8, 2022

As readers of this blog will know, I have very little respect for Labour MP Jess Phillips. She’s a dyed in the wool Blairite, who was very open and unambiguous about her hatred of Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader. She said she’d like to ‘stab him in the front’, a remark about which she was naturally questioned a few years ago when she appeared on Have I Got News For You. She’s another Thatcherite, who apparently believes that privatisation have been wonderful for the national utilities and that life must be made even harder for all those feckless people out of work because they were laid off, are long term sick or disabled. The only aspect of her that strikes me as being at all left-wing is her feminism, for which she has had more than her fair share of abuse on line. This included Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, now of the Lotus Eaters, sending her a text informing her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’. But now I feel I have to defend her, as she’s been targeted by mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield over the amount of money she was apparently paid for appearing on Have I Got New For You.

Belfield has put up a video claiming that she was paid £15,000 at the rate of £5,000 an hour, for three hours work. He seems to have lifted this story from the Heil, which I gather has been the source of so much of his content. Belfield was annoyed that she was receiving this money on top of her MP’s salary. He felt she should have considered this simply as part of her outreach work as an MP, and just been paid expenses only.

This looks to me like a bit of tit for tat because of the way Tory MPs have particularly come under criticism for raking in the money from their second jobs. This is to me a fair criticism, especially as the amounts they are paid are well into the tens of thousands and there is often a very clear conflict of interest between their role as an MP regulating or overseeing a particular industry and their involvement through their commercial interests. This is rather different to appearing on popular television panel shows.

There’s also the issue of Belfield’s and the Heil’s selectiveness in criticising Phililips, because it’s not as if she’s the only politico who’s appeared on the programme. Not by a long chalk. Over the decades the show’s been on their guests have included politicians like Lembit Opik from the Lib Dems, Derek Hatton of the Labour party, Cecil Parkinson, a former member of Maggie’s cabinet and Boris Johnson, amongst others. My guess is that they would all have been paid the same or similar fees for their time on the show according to the pay rates at the time. I don’t see Phillips’ fee of £15,000 as anything extraordinary or remarkable.

But it does two things that please the Tories. It allows them to make it appear that the BBC really is biased towards the left and that its presenters are massively overpaid. This supports Murdoch’s demands for its privatisation. But always be aware that, as Murdoch’s networks are private, the amount he pays his presenters and executives is kept very secret.

Thus, as much as I despise Phillips, I have to say that this time she’s undeserving of the criticism that’s being thrown her way. She’s almost certainly been treated no differently than every other politician that’s been on the show.

One of whom, a former motoring journalist and editor of the Spectator, has shown himself to be far more greedy, not to mention incompetent and malign, than Phillips.

History Debunked Questions Johnson’s Britishness

January 12, 2022

Oh ho! This is very amusing. The Tory party has always positioned itself, at least since the 19th century, as the party of Britishness. If you listen to its supporters and propaganda, it’s the party of the British constitution and the union, protecting our ancient liberties and defending our great nation from plots and attacks by evil foreigners. Historically this largely meant the French, but today means the EU and Scots Nationalists. Under Maggie Thatcher this nationalism became particularly shrill. The 1987 Tory election broadcast showed Spitfires zooming about the sky while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’ and ended with ‘It’s great, to be great again!’ Political theorists who’ve read, or at least heard of Rousseau could correct the first statement. At the beginning of his book, The Social Contract, which became one of the founding texts of the French Revolution, Rousseau said: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Which is probably not something Thatcher wanted said about her government. As for being ‘great again’, this was the period when Thatcher was selling our state industries off to foreign investors, destroying trade unions, cutting unemployment and other welfare benefits and trying to find ways to get people to take out private medical insurance instead of relying on the NHS. She would have liked to have privatised that, but was prevented by a massive cabinet rebellion. At the same time she was using her ‘strong state’ against striking miners and anyone else she thought was an evil Commie subversive while at the same time propping up truly evil Fascist dictators abroad. Like the brute General Pinochet, responsible for the murder and torture of 30,000 people in his native Chile. The country’s present grinding poverty and crumbling infrastructure are all a result of her policies. The identification of the Conservative party with Britishness was so loud and crass that, reviewing the election broadcast on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, the late, much-missed humourist Alan Coren referred to the planes as ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. I also remember one of the Observer’s columnists referring to the Tories as ‘the patriotic party’.

But now aspersions have been cast on the Britishness of the Tories’ leader and current head of the country, Boris Johnson. Simon Webb of the History Debunked YouTube channel put up a piece yesterday asking ‘How British Is Boris Johnson?’ This speculated that Johnson carries on the way does because, quite simply, he isn’t really British. He was born in New York, and is of mixed Turkish and American ancestry. He is also part Jewish, which is one reason why I’m not going to put the video up here. One of the elements of the genuine anti-Semitic conspiracies is the allegation that Jews aren’t really patriotic citizens because of their international connections and foreign ancestry and relatives. They have frequently been accused of being ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ with no real connection or loyalty to the gentile peoples among which they settle. It’s a poisonous allegation that has resulted in the murder of countless innocents and encouraged the formation and growth of Fascist organisations and parties like the Nazis. The vast majority of British Jews are as British as everyone else. And before the Second World War, the vast majority of Jews wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as patriotic fellow citizens by their gentile countrymen. It’s why the leaders of the British Jewish community during the First World War actually opposed the Balfour Declaration. They did not want the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine nor anywhere else, as it could lead to the accusation that their loyalties were divided. And they weren’t. They were, and wanted to be seen as, patriotic Brits.

But there is a kind of irony in Boris Johnson, a pukka old Etonian, and true-blue Tory being accused of not being British enough.

And I think Webb has a point, though not in the sense he means. At the heart of the right-wing ranting and suspicion about the ‘globalists’, supposedly plotting to create an evil, Satanic one-world Communist state, there’s an element of truth. Regardless of their nationality or ancestry, it appears to me that the global superrich really are forming a separate international class whose loyalty is primarily to themselves and not to the people below them, even if these people are of the same nationality. You can see that in the way the Tory grandees and those like them move their capital around the world, investing in countries on the other side of the world while making pay and conditions worse over here and cutting benefits. As far as I know, Jacob Rees-Mogg is thoroughly British in his ancestry. He also projects a caricatured, right-wing image of Britishness very much like his nickname of ‘Lord Snooty’. He also backed Brexit, which was supposed to be another patriotic gesture in which Britain took back her sovereignty.

In fact Brexit has wreaked massive harm to our economy, disastrously cutting British firms off from continental markets and suppliers. The deals we’ve made, or are trying to make, with the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders are to our disadvantage, whatever the Tory mouthpieces say to the contrary. And the response of Rees-Mogg and the superrich like him amply demonstrate where their loyalties lie. Even before Brexit, Mogg had invested in companies in the far east. And when he was urging everyone to vote to leave the EU, he was moving his own financial interests to Eire. This was to pick up on all the EU business he would otherwise have lost if they’d remained centred in Britain. Which is, to me, another example of Tory hypocrisy.

Back in the 19th century Disraeli declared in his books Coningsby and Sybil that Britain was divided into two nations, the rich and poor, who had no knowledge or connection with each other, and demanded that this should be remedied. They’ve been talking about ‘One Nation’ Toryism every since. This is done by leaders like John Major, Michael Howard, David Cameron and so on, and is supposed to show that they are from that branch of the party that still has some paternalistic regard for those below them. The same people talk, or used to talk, about ‘caring Conservativism’. This is all the while doing what Tories always do – cut benefits, wages, and employment conditions and make it easier to sack people. All while manipulating the stats to persuade people that this is actually working and that they’re somehow better off.

Tony Benn in one of his books said something about the British ruling class regarding the lower orders as indeed like a foreign nation. Thinking about the Britannia Unchained mob, he had a point. This was the book written by a group of Tory MPs, including the smirking insult to decency, Priti Patel, that said that for Britain to compete in the global market, British workers must endure the same terrible conditions and wages as those elsewhere in the world, like India. A similar view was put forward by a former Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane in Somerset. I’ve forgotten who he was, but I do remember his appearance on the local news. Introducing him, the interviewer stated that he came from a family of colonial administrators and governors. This strongly suggests to me that, deep down, he regarded British people of all colours in the same way his family had regarded the Africans and other indigenous peoples they governed.

And going back back to the 1920s, George Bernard Shaw attacked the Tory claim that they and the rich represented Britain and her interests in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism by pointing out that the rich spent much of their time and money abroad, and preferred to invest in firms in the colonies using cheap indigenous labour. And this still remains absolutely true. One of the problems with Britain’s banking system is that its investment banks are geared to putting money into commonwealth rather than domestic industries.

At a fundamental level, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Tory elite really don’t have any connection to the Brits below them. It’s not because of their ancestry. In my view, they’re the same whether they’re completely British by descent. It’s because they are part, and see themselves as part of an international industrial and political class, who move their businesses and investments from one country to another without concern for how this affects their fellow countrymen. All the while trying to deceive the rest of us by yelling about their Britishness and British values.

Johnson and the Tories aren’t British patriots, except at the crude level of repeating nationalist slogan and anti-immigrant attitudes. Ordinary Brits are foreigners to them, like the low-waged workers in other countries they also seek to exploit.

Where Was Starmer During the Debate over a Vote of Censure against Bozo?

December 3, 2021

You may have missed this, especially if you watch the Beeb, which didn’t cover it all. A day or so ago the SNP’s Ian Blackford called a vote to censure Boris Johnson for undermining the recommendations of the committee on standards in public life, ignoring independent advice on the breaches of international treaties and parliamentary standards by his ministers, proposing to limit the powers of the electoral commission, the granting of peerages to Tory donors and their opponent to government bodies like Ofgem, and ignoring calls for his salary to be reduced to just over £41,000. Well, Johnson definitely wouldn’t like that, as he was moaning only a few weeks ago that he couldn’t live on his salary of £81,000. He’s got six kids to send to public schools, don’t you know? The short answer is that he should make do with his salary like everyone else has to, and send his sprogs to the local comprehensive or academy where they’ll almost definitely get a broader and better education.

A few people from the Labour party, but not many, made it into the chamber to vote, but Starmer was conspicuous by his absence. Mike says that it’s possible he had paired off with a Tory colleague to do important parliamentary work elsewhere. Well, he could have done it. But nothing Starmer does gives me confidence that this was not an attempt by the purported leader of the Labour party to support Johnson. Starmer, the party bureaucracy and much of the parliamentary Labour party are Labour in name only. They’re Tory infiltrators, clinging desperately to failed and failing Tory zombie economics and far more interested in fighting and purging the traditional Labour party members and supporters than bringing down Johnson. Remember the way the bureaucracy actively campaigned to stop Corbyn winning the election in 2017? The way party apparatchiks were members of Tory social media groups, including one particular individual who was so venomously against his party’s left that the real Tories wondered why he wasn’t one of them? How the nominally Labour leaders of various constituency parties appealed to Conservatives and Lib Dems to join them in order to prevent them from being taken over by horrible Commie/ Stalinist/ Trotskyite/ any other smear we can think of/ members of Momentum?

In fact, some of the charges raised by Blackford read very much like what was done by Starmer’s precious Tony Blair. New Labour was thoroughly corporatist and massively corrupt, getting donations from big business, especially the big supermarkets, and then putting their leading executives and officers in charge of public departments and regulatory bodies. Representatives of private healthcare companies lobbying for the further privatisation of the NHS were given important posts in the Department of Health. Blair chummed up with big businessmen like Beardie Branson, who also wanted to get his Virgin Healthcare into the NHS.

And his disappearance from view also reminds me of the way Ed Miliband, when faced with votes that could cost Labour all those precious Tory voters he wanted his party to appeal to, would tell his MPs to abstain instead of voting against. As when the Tories were making further cuts to welfare benefits. It looks to me that Starmer didn’t want to bring down Bozo, but didn’t want to appear to be supporting him either. So he made a classic New Labour fudge and ran away.

Starmer’s record on tackling Johnson has been absolutely abysmal, especially compared to the sheer fanaticism in which he has set about bolstering the Blairite grip on the party and smearing and purging decent people on the left, especially Jewish critics of Israel. I don’t think Starmer really has any policies that are really different from those of the Tories. New Labour didn’t. Blair’s stance simply seemed to be ‘vote for me, because I’m not the Tories. But I’ll pick up their old, discarded policies and do them better’. In many ways Blair was more extreme than the Tories, especially in the privatisation of the NHS and the transformation of the schools into academies. Thatcher had tried it, seen it fail, and abandoned it. Blair picked it up out of the dustbin and made it official Labour policy. With catastrophic results. And this is, I’m afraid, what we can expect if Starmer gets into power.

Starmer’s a Tory who supports Tories and clearly wants to keep Johnson in as long as possible. He should in no way be leader of the Labour party, just as Johnson should be running the country. Get them both out!

*******

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Rosie Duffield Invited to Join Tories

October 9, 2021

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I caught a headline from the Torygraph yesterday that Rosie Duffield, the Blairite who claimed she needed protection at the Labour party conference because of threats from transgender activists, had been invited to cross the floor. In fact, as Mike showed in his piece about Duffield’s claim, it doesn’t seem to have happened. Duffield produced absolutely no threatening messages from social media or physical mail. It looked very much like she was following the example of a Jewish female MP, who claimed she had been sent anti-Semitic messages but didn’t produce any evidence of that either. But Duffield is right wing, with a record of demanding further cuts to welfare, punishing the poor for being poor. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if she had received just such an invitation. There have been stories that three Labour MPs are ready to defect, and I know some Tories would have liked Blairite MP Frank Field to join them.

However, even if those particular threats against Duffield were a product of her malign imagination, they’re all too credible because transgender activists can be threatening and violent. There have been a series of cases where TRAs (Trans Rights Activists) have physically attacked feminists demonstrators and beaten them. To add insult to injury, the same activists have then sued their victim for transphobia. Many women are extremely concerned and outraged at the trans ideology. Kelly-Jay Kean, for example, is particularly concerned about the way an increasing number of vulnerable children, particularly girls and young women, have become convinced they are trans or non-binary to the point they are taking up surgery. Other concerns are that the trans label has now become so broad that biological men are being allowed into women’s spaces, such as sports changing rooms, toilets, and prisons, on the grounds that they identify as women. Many of the men in women’s prisons have convictions for crimes against women and the result has been a series of rapes and sexual assaults to the point where the Californian prison service is giving out condoms and contraceptive advice to female inmates.

Underneath this is the concern that natal, biological femininity is being erased to accommodate the expansion of femaleness to include transwomen. The NHS has published medical literature referring to chestfeeding, instead of breastfeeding, and ‘birthing bodies’, instead of women/mothers. Yesterday Kean and her comrades demonstrated outside the offices of the Lancet because the prestigious medical journal had published a piece about how women’s disorders and diseases had not received the proper attention they deserved. This would be a fair comment, applauded by feminists, apart for one fact. It didn’t refer to women except by the reproductive organs natal women possess but not transpeople. Equally incendiary has been Keir Starmer’s refusal to say that only women have a cervix on an interview on television. Instead the Labour leader got angry and said it was a question that shouldn’t be asked. To anti-gender activists, this showed that Starmer was opposed to free speech. Which he is. But then, Jo Swinson of the Lib Dems couldn’t answer what a woman was when asked and posters with the dictionary definition of woman as ‘adult human female’ have been judged hateful and transphobic.

I am very definitely not trying to stir up hate here against genuine transpeople, who do need careful therapy and surgery. I do not want to see anyone persecuted and subjected to abuse and violence because of their gender identification. But there are reasonable concerns about the trans ideology and the extension of the concept of femininity to cover everyone who claims to identify as a woman. One of the maddest things I’ve encountered in this direction is a book published by a trans rights activists about sex between a biological man and a lesbian, and how that should be embraced by the lesbian. The argument is that, as the man identifies as a woman, he is therefore a lesbian, and should be embraced as such. The book then claims that as he identifies as a man, his male genitalia are therefore female. Which is utterly bonkers.

The gender critical movement has been attacked as right-wing, but very many of its members actually come from the left, such as Kean and Linehan. Last week Linehan said on his weekly video about the transgender craze, The Mess We’re In, that he was surprised at the silence in the Tory party about all this. This was in contrast to the state of the Labour party, which is tearing itself apart over the issue. He believed that they were waiting to hoover up women, who felt disenfranchised and marginalised by the trans movement.

If the invitation to Duffield to join the Tories is real, then it proves this is starting to happen.

And while liberal feminists support trans rights and initiatives to counter transphobia, this is increasingly rejected by gender critical feminists as well as ordinary women and their male supporters, who have been peaked by seeing just how extreme the trans ideology is becoming.

Duffield herself is a noxious individual, and her departure from Labour would be no loss. But it would be hugely damaging to the party as a whole if they alienated ordinary women just to cater to an extreme gender ideology.

Three Labour MPs To Defect To Tories? Goodbye, and Good Riddance!

October 3, 2021

I saw from a headline from the Heil posted this morning on the news section that greets you when you get online that three ostensibly Labour MPs are considering defecting to the Tories. Mike has put up a piece about it this morning, pointing out that no true Labour member or supporter would ever considering crossing the floor to the Tories, because their values are completely opposed to traditional Labour beliefs. Which isn’t to say it hasn’t happened before. Unfortunately it has. I also remember that in the 1980s the SDP was rocked by a series of defections to the Tories after they split from Labour. I don’t think the defectors were exactly met with open arms either. Well, perhaps they were, but there were also a few sneers. The Sunday Express lampooned them in its ‘No. 10’ cartoon, which showed two figures, presumably representing Dennis Thatcher and another Tory watching a clockwork soldier march to the end of a table before falling off. This was matched with some comment about SDP defectors. I only dimly remember it, and not because it was funny. I think it stuck in my mind simply because of its overt, unpleasant sneering.

Mike also points out that if these MPs do defect, it would show how bad the Tory entryism has been during successive leaderships since Tony Blair. Quite. There was a computer game at the time that gave you anagrams of various politicians’ names. I think Michael Portillo came out as ‘a cool, limp Hitler’. Anthony Blair produced ‘I am Tory B’. Or Something like it. And he was, despite all that guff about a ‘Third Way’. Well, the last world leaders to speak about their parties constituting a ‘third way’ between socialism and capitalism were the Nazis and Fascists. They are argued that their noxious regimes constituted such a new politics because they were capitalist, but made ‘social’ by being subjected to the state. Which comes to think of it, does sound a bit like Blair and his enthusiasm for the state partnering with private industry.

And Blair very definitely favoured Tories. His Government Of All the Talents included Tories like Chris Patten. When a Tory defected, Blair quickly had them parachuted into a safe Labour seat. The result of this has been a series of Labour MPs so right-wing that even Tories wonder what they were doing still in the Labour party. Years ago the arch-Tory Anglican blog, Cranmer, commented approvingly on Frank Field and invited him to cross the floor to the Tory ranks, assuring him of a warm welcome. This was the Frank Field who demanded conditions be made even more harsh for the unemployed in order to make them find work. Then there was the Labour bureaucrat, who ended up as a moderator on a Tory website. He astonished the Tories there with his invective against the Labour party which was actually far more vicious than theirs. But the Tories in Labour’s NEC don’t like you to mention it. When a Labour member has asked what these bozos are doing in the Labour party when they’re behaving like that, they’ve been expelled for ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ or some such nonsense. Some constituency parties were quite open about this entryism. There was one that was so horrified during Corbyn’s leadership by the sudden influx of real, socialist members, that the leader started pleading for Lib Dems and Tories to join.

Mike quotes the Mail, which said that the defections could greatly harm Stalin’s leadership. Well of course they would. As Mike says, it would show that he prefers Tories to real Labour people and suggest there were more closet Tories in the party. I don’t doubt that. I can see any defectors making exactly this comment, as well as encouraging those still hesitating to join them over on the Tory benches. Mike says that it might even make more of these quisling consider leaving, so that real socialist can be elected instead.

Of course, what could happen is that the defections could also give the message that Starmer is too left-wing and weak even for the parliamentary Labour party. This could push Starmer even further to the right. Or if ends up being the target of the kind of right-wing coups and defections that the right inflicted on Corbyn, he made have to swallow his Thatcherite pride and start trying to appeal to the left to bolster his leadership. But I don’t see that happening.

But what might happen is that Starmer goes down through infighting and plotting by his own side, which will further show just how unpleasant and treacherous they are.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/03/three-labour-mps-could-defect-to-the-conservatives-good-let-them/

We Own It’s Public Zoom Meeting Monday Against NHS Privatisation

June 25, 2021

We Own It is an organisation campaigning for the renationalisation of public industries. It is particularly against the Tories’ ongoing privatisation of the NHS. I got this email from them yesterday about a public zoom meeting they’re organising on Monday against the Tories’ decision to hand over a number of doctor’s surgeries to Centene, a private healthcare company. This is going to be the thin end of the wedge, leading to further GP’s surgeries being privatised unless stopped. The email runs

“Our NHS turns 73 this year. 

As part of this year’s NHS birthday, a coalition of NHS campaign groups – including We Own It – is organising a public meeting on stopping the private takeover of NHS GP surgeries. 

Can you join the online (ZOOM) public meeting at 6pm on Monday, 28th June?

Sign up to attend the public meeting

You may know, David, that Centene, an American healthcare corporation, recently took over 49 NHS GP surgeries. 

This kind of takeover of our NHS GP surgeries shows that the government is intent on putting our NHS into the hands of profiteers. 

This would explain their lack of action to get Centene out.

At the public meeting you will learn more about the danger these takeovers pose to our NHS and also how you can be part of the fightback.

Please join the public meeting whether you are in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

At the meeting you will hear from:

  • Jeremy Corbyn – MP for Islington North (his constituency has a Centene surgery)
  • Dr. Louise Irvine – Keep Our NHS Public
  • Richard Buckwell – Chair Nottingham & Notts Keep Our NHS Public
  • Cllr. Rabina Khan – Tower Hamlets Councillor (Liberal Democrats)

There will also be a speaker from Spain to speak about the effects of Centene in their country.

I want to attend the public meeting
Our NHS was founded on the principle of equality: equal access to healthcare for everyone – from the rich to the poor. 
That is why the NHS was established as a public healthcare system, free at the point of use and funded through general taxation.
Our local GP surgeries are the first point of contact with the NHS for over 80% of us.
But with companies like Centene now getting their hands on our NHS GP surgeries, many of them risk being closed if they are not profitable.
Centene has already closed surgeries in Harlow (Essex), Leicester and Camden for not being profitable. 
And by doing so, they are depriving the communities access to readily available care.
It is so important that we continue to fight back and stop these takeovers.
Sign up to attend the public meeting

As we celebrate the 73rd anniversary of our NHS, your involvement in events like this, David, is so valued. The truth is that without the fight that you have put on over the years, there may no longer be an NHS.

Please sign up to attend the public meeting to stop Centene’s takeover of NHS GP surgeries.

Thank you so much for the incredible work you’ve been doing to protect our NHS.

Cat, Alice, Pascale, Chris, Zana, Johnbosco – the We Own It team

PS: You still have an opportunity to fund action and campaigning against the government’s plan to allow private companies, like Virgin, to sit on ICS boards. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) boards will make decisions about how NHS budgets are spent in our local areas. Sign up to donate £5 a month or whatever you can afford. Every penny helps in the fight to stop this privatisation of our NHS.

Of the speakers, Jeremy Corbyn needs no introduction as the former, and vilely maligned leader of the Labour party, but it will be interesting to hear from a medical doctor, Louise Irvine, and the Spanish speaker about how Centene is wrecking their country’s healthcare system, all in the name of profit.

I haven’t donated to the organisation, but I do intend to go to the Virtual meeting. I think the time is 6.00 – 7.30 pm on Monday, 28th June 2021. If you feel the same, you may also want to do the same to protect this most vital of British institutions.

Bristol South Labour Party’s Motion Demanding Action and Leadership from Starmer and Dodds

June 19, 2021

Mike has put up a chilling post this morning revealing a hidden truth about the recent Lib Dem by-election victory in Amersham and Chesham. They won not because there is actually a revival in that awful party’s fortunes, but because of tactical voting and the almost complete collapse of the Labour vote. Labour got only 622 votes, 1.6 per cent of the total, and lost their deposit. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that it’s because of Keir Starmer’s abysmal leadership. He has spent all his time and energy as leader persecuting the left, all under the specious pretence of fighting anti-Semitism. He has broken every one of the promises he made to support Labour’s genuinely popular manifesto commitments. These were for nationalised utilities, a renationalised NHS, a proper welfare state, and strong unions and workers’ rights. He showed his contempt to the party’s Black members through his offhand, lacklustre support for Black Lives Matter and by refusing to investigate or punish the bullies responsible for the racist abuse and treatment of Diane Abbott and other Black MPs and activists. And more significantly, he has done precious little to attack the Tories and hold Boris Johnson accountable for the deaths resulting from his bungled Covid policy, the corruption which has seen the Etonian fraud grant government contracts to his friends’ companies, the continuing assaults on democracy and free speech, the absence of any genuinely beneficial trade deals for Britain as a result of Brexit, and the descent into rioting and unrest in Ireland.

All of these issues are open goals. But I’ve seen precious little comment from Starmer on any of them. One internet commenter has already posted that Cummings seems to be doing more damage to the Tories than him. And I agree.

As a result, Bristol South Labour party passed a motion Thursday night to invite Anneliese Dodds down to the constituency to hear our concerns about the lack of leadership. It’s an amended motion. The original explicitly called upon Starmer to make his presence felt and start showing that Labour had good, viable policies. This was altered because some members felt that Starmer was already doing something towards this with his policy review.

“Social Change Motion

The dark days of WW2 exposed a desperate need for radical social change in Britain.  The Labour Party took on the challenge and delivered the miracle of our Welfare State.

Most of the years since then have seen a Tory hegemony; the last decade in particular has brought about a devastating erosion of all our public services; the crisis today is scarcely less urgent than that of 1945. Just as during the war, the Covid pandemic has thrown into harsh light how grievous the levels of need have become – in health, education, housing, social care and now, of course, climate change.  The whole country is witnessing this and is desperate for signs of future hope and change.

Hope can come only from a Labour Government in power with a bold and radical agenda for change.  We know, however, that to achieve this will require extraordinary action – not only an inspired and inspiring manifesto but an imaginative co-operation within the parties of the Left.  Clearly. some form of PR will be necessary if the Tories are to be held in check in the long term.  Equally clear is the need for Labour to stop its factional infighting and concentrate on winning the next election.  

Our Leadership’s current policy of holding the Government to account for its handling of Covid and for its many other failings is right and necessary but it is nowhere near sufficient to the country’s needs.  The time for radical change is now.  The country is ready to listen now and it is high time for it to hear what the Labour Party stands for.

The path to victory in 2024 must be opened up without delay.  This branch therefore calls upon our Leadership to set aside their present caution – and reliance on focus groups -and respond to the country’s urgent needs.

Action: to invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.

Amendment to add: Action: Invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.”

The motion shows the depth of concern Bristol South CLP has with the lack of action and leadership on Starmer’s part. Some of those who actively campaigned during the council elections said they were told by people on the doorsteps that they were voting Green, because they didn’t know what Labour stood for. The party has some excellent Green policies, but these haven’t been sufficiently communicated to the public.

I honestly don’t know what would come of inviting Dodds down to hear the concerns of the constituency party. Given the highly authoritarian and dictatorial leadership style, precious little. It seems that Starmer’s and the party bureaucracy’s response to criticism is to suspend the critics. But they and Starmer are leading the party to disaster. He can’t blame Corbyn, or the continuing power of the left. Labour’s poor showing in the elections is due to him and him alone.

He should now either start showing real leadership and demonstrably oppose Johnson, or he should leave and make way for those who will.

Labour suffers worst by-election result in party’s history. Will Starmer accept the blame? | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)