Posts Tagged ‘London Assembly’

Florence on the Fabians and the Labour Right

August 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Private Eye on the Companies Sponsoring the Tories in 2008

March 5, 2016

Private Eye in their issue for 5th-18th September 2008 printed this piece listing the companies sponsoring the Tory party conference that year.

Meet the Tories’ Brum Chums

The Conservative party conference will see Team Cameron entertaining a plethora of wealthy bedfellows from industry when it kicks off in Birmingham on 28th September …

The Arms trade…
Labour have been too embarrassed to be seen mixing with the weapons makers, but if shadow defence secretary Liam Fox becomes a real minister all that will change. Fox is timetabled to speak for the Defence Industries Council, an arms trade group led by BAE Systems chief executive Mike Turner.

Fox shares the enthusiasm of the “Vulcan” wing of the US Republicans for military reaction to perceived threats, reflected in the title of another meeting he is addressing on “Resurgent threats: Terror, Russia and Iran?” The meeting is sponsored by yet another arms firm, EADS, who hope to sell loads of kit to a future Tory government.

The Greens…
Cameron is fighting to make green a new Tory, colour, but it’s a very pale shade indeed. The Tory Green Initiative’s first meeting at the conference is paid for by the British Cement Association and has cement lobbyist Mike Gilbert on the platform. The link makes the TGI look more like an industry-friendly lobby group than an environmental campaign. Hardly surprising, as the Initiative is run by Nick Wood-Dow, the boss of lobbying firm Chelgate, which assists clients from the construction industry who have problems with “disproportionate response from the community, or from pressure or environmental groups.”

The Poor…
Shadow Treasury minister Mark Hoban is demonstrating the new Conservative interest in poverty with a meeting on the credit crunch, sponsored by Cattles plc, one of the Britain’s leading sub-prime lenders. Cattles makes millions through its “Shopacheck” loans to the low-paid that have APRS as high as 400 per cent.

The Lobbyists…
Last year Tory MP Peter Luff was outraged that the Canary Wharf Group gave £120,000 to Labour while promoting Crossrail, the line that will improve access to Canary Wharf. Boris Johnson also backs Crossrail, and Luff will presumably be horrified that the Canary Wharf Group is paying the London Assembly Conservatives. The group is funding a political “speed dating” lunch, where delegates can meet “the most influential people in London politics, from London Assembly members to deputy mayors.”

Elsewhere, shadow Treasury bod Mark Hoban is advertised as the top speaker at the “invitation-only financial services reception” of lobby firm Lansons, which makes a living from trying to influence politicians on behalf of big-money clients such as HBOS bank. It’s easy to see why Lansons has invited a shadow minister to their party, but harder to see why Hoban would accept.

The list of curious sponsors goes on: shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien is speaking on problem drinking – sponsored by brew SAB Miller. And Frances Maude, a key member of Team Cameron, is speaking on “Preparing for Power” – that to money from management consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

…and the Labour ex-ministers
Of course, the Tories aren’t the only one who know on which side their bread is buttered – three former Labour ministers will address the conference, getting in practice at sucking up to Cameron’s crew. Former trade minister Brian Wilson was once a left-wing MP and enthusiastic supporter of Castro’s Cuba; now he is chairman of the pro-airports lobby group FlyingMatters. Steven Twigg, the man once famous for defeating Portillo, and former Culture secretary Chris Smith complete the trio.

Those were the companies seeking to profit from the Tories gaining power that year. And looking at this, and the way Cameron very swiftly dropped his Green initiative when it appeared to have worked, it’s clear that this always was a sham. His Green Initiative was simply an astroturf organisation to get the Tories and their backers in the very un-Green cement industry back into No. 10. And since then, the Tories have dropped it completely. Cameron took down that windmill from his house, and has put his full support behind fracking, another industry which comprehensively wrecks the environment.

David Cameron is still firmly behind the arms industry. He was up at the BAE systems base the other week in Wharton, boasting about how he’d sold millions of their products to the war criminals and mass murderers in Saudi Arabia. He wasn’t bothered, calling their armaments ‘brilliant things’.

And the hypocrisy and deceit behind their lobbying bill, which shuts out charities and other organisations from influencing government, while leaving the real lobbyists to pursue their sordid trade, should be no surprise given their appearance sponsoring so much of the Tory conference.

And then there’s the matter of the 95 Tory and Lib Dem ministers with links to health care companies, who are hoping to get rich from the privatisation of the NHS.

Hope Not Hate on the BNP’s History of Stupidity

January 9, 2016

This is further to my last on the collapse of the BNP as a political party, thanks to them not actually bothering to register with the Electoral Commission. Hope Not Hate has an interesting and, in places, funny piece about how the BNP has very effectively managed to destroy itself through its leaders’ factionalism, venality, stupidity and massive incompetence. It’s at http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/insider/the-bnp-a-history-of-believable-incompetence-4695.

It begins

At the end of 2014 we remarked that our highlight of the year was the “total collapse of the BNP.” Nick Griffin had been booted out of the European Parliament, forced out as Chairman and then, humiliatingly, expelled from the party he had built into a once serious electoral proposition.

Between 2001 and 2009, the British National Party had an unstoppable feel about them. The party was full to burst with nazis, cranks, conspiracy theorists and even rapists and murderers. But they persisted with pushing ahead with a rebranding of an old nazi party into something that would at least look like it did not smell quite as bad as it once did.

They were picking up the odd council seat here and there, quite incredibly got a member elected onto the London Assembly in 2008, and by 2009 the party held over sixty council seats and had two MEPs. Close to one million people voted for them in the European Elections.

The BNP wanted to be seen as a serious political party; but in becoming a serious political party, Griffin had to make enemies. In November 2008 the party’s membership list was leaked by a disgruntled official. A proper party they wanted to be, but few people actually seemed to want to be on the dreaded list. Still, despite the humiliation, they forged ahead from that disaster in time to win those near one million votes. It was clear that the BNP was often its own enemy and Nick Griffin perhaps both their greatest and their worst asset.

One of the most interesting internal documents I have ever seen from the BNP was a secret letter that Griffin wrote to BNP officials after his election to Brussels in 2009- begging them to not take advantage of the European Parliament’s generosity. So aware of the likelihood of this happening was Griffin, he only entrusted party employee timesheets and expense claims to his wife Jackie (a midwife). The party’s treasurer, by all accounts a “great bloke”, was addicted to internet pornography so they had removed his office computer and given him an old ledger to work on instead.

The far right, like the far left, has a history of factionalism and in-fighting, with groups continually splitting and reforming. It’s beset with wannabe Fuehrers, Duces and Caudillos, all jockeying for power in their ambition to be the next Hitler. And their character and general behaviour is less than inspiring. I can remember way back in the early 1970s, when one of the leaders of the National Front was banged up in jail for about two weeks for stealing women’s underwear from a department store. And when they began to make electoral inroads about a decade ago, they couldn’t hold back their deep instincts to make a mess of things. Private Eye in its pages ran a number of pieces chronicling their truly impressive displays of crass ignorance and sheer inability to organise anything, or behave in anything like a reasonable or competent manner. High lights of this long career of idiocy include:

The seven BNP councillors on Tower Hamlet’s borough council not bothering to vote for a motion that the rest of the council had accepted should be put to the vote, on the grounds that they didn’t know you had to do it. As a result, the proposal failed.

A press meeting, in which various BNP members in pig masks were supposed to leap out and start slobbering over a trough to symbolise the greed of the other, mainstream parties. This also went spectacularly wrong, and thing’s didn’t quite work out.

A fight between a Labour councillor and his BNP colleague in a pub, when Dagenham and Barking council adjourned there. The Labour local politician called the stormtrooper a ‘poof’, so the squadristi responded by calling him a ‘Fascist’. Then fisticuffs broke out.

There was also much schoolboy sniggering and speculation over the sexuality of the BNP’s spokesman for the arts. He styled himself a ‘conceptual film-maker’. He was mostly known for making a art film entitled ‘HMS Venus: A Voyage into Love’ or some such, which featured naked young men frolicking in a river. This is an unusual piece, considering how totalitarian movements, like Fascism, are generally hostile to experimental art, and the far right’s own bitter homophobia.

The leak of the party’s membership lists produced yet another Downfall parody. In this one, an exasperated Hitler rants about Griffin’s incompetence.

And satire and mockery is an effective weapon against the far right. The Eye also chortled when they got hold of documents from the BNP from former members explaining why they weren’t renewing their subscriptions. One ex-member forthrightly stated it was because he was tired of the paper being a joke in Private Eye.

Well, they’ve continued being a joke, but this time, hopefully, it’ll be the democrats and anti-Fascists who have the last laugh.