Posts Tagged ‘Mail on Sunday’

Hope Not Hate on the Links between the DUP and Loyalist Paramilitaries in Ulster

June 14, 2017

Last Sunday, Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins published a long piece in the anti-racist/ anti-religious extremism site, Hope Not Hate, on the links between the Democratic Unionist Party, led by Arlene Foster, and Loyalist terrorist groups the UDA, Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commandoes, for example, in Ulster. The DUP are the Unionist party with whom Theresa May is trying to negotiate a confidence and supply pact, in order to prop her increasingly wobbly Tory government.

The article notes that various commenters have decried the DUP’s opposition to abortion, gay marriage and disbelief in climate change, before going on to state that what should really alarm people is the party’s links to the UDA, a link which may imperil the Northern Irish peace agreement.

For example, on the last day of May, a week before polling, Arlene Foster just happened to pay a visit to the UDA ‘Brigadier’, Jackie McDonald at a community office in the Taughmonagh area of South Belfast. Foster claimed that the visit was not pre-arranged, and she was just in the area canvassing for votes. She also said that she had not asked McDonald to disarm the UDA, because he knew her views that there should be no terror groups in Northern Ireland already.

The article also reports how the Irish newspaper, the Sunday World, had run an expose on the terrorist group, which began:

“In an unprecedented glimpse inside the UDA, terror group members reveal the fascist-like regime that forces them to hand over membership fees, dish out beatings of their own and force families from their homes.

“UDA veterans, shackled to an organised crime gang, tell of a paramilitary leadership that has no intention of going away.

“And they reveal how foot soldiers are begging terror boss Jackie McDonald to let them walk away – without a beating.”

McDonald was jailed during the Troubles for blackmail and extortion. In 1994 he became a leading figure organising the paramilitary ceasefire in Ulster. But he is still widely believed to be responsible for violence, racketeering and assassinations.

The Northern Irish government has given funds to community and sports associations run by UDA members and supporters, in return for which the UDA has called on its supporters to vote for the DUP. The article notes the various DUP politicos, who have been members of terrorist groups or imprisoned for terrorist offences, such as Sam ‘Chalky’ White, and John Smyth. The father of Emma Little Pengelly, the DUP candidate for South Belfast, was Noel Little, a gunrunner for Ian Paisley’s Ulster Resistance. Foster was also photographed last October with North Down UDA commander, Dee Stitt, a convicted armed robber, who runs Charter NI, an organisation dedicated to tackling unemployment in East Belfast, which has also received funding from the Ulster government. Foster has also been photographed with Adrian Bird, the UDA brigadier for Lisburn, who has been given funding for his work tackling racism and calling on Loyalists to support integration.

The article also describes how one DUP member of the Northern Irish assembly, Christopher Stalford, opened an office in a building owned by Belfast South Community Resources. The company is managed by Garnet Busby, who has been convicted of multiple murders. Jackie McDonald was also one of its officers. The top floor of the building is apparently still used by the UDA as a kangaroo court, in which punishment beatings are dished out. And Paul Givan, the current MP for South Antrim, visited a building in the Shankill Road, which the BBC had claimed was the UDA’s headquarters.

The article concludes

Publicly, the DUP is strongly opposed to the UDA and recently put out a statement claiming that: “There is no place for the UDA, or any other paramilitary group in our society.”

The DUP went on: “Their existence never was justified and is not justified now. We will work with those who wish to leave their past behind, but anyone involved in any kind of illegal activity must face the full weight of the law.”

The evidence linking the DUP – and more specifically Arlene Foster – to several current UDA commanders seems to suggest otherwise.

It is ironic that in a General Election dominated by claims of links between the Labour Party leadership and Sinn Fein and the IRA, the Conservative Party are attempting to negotiate an agreement with a political party that itself has disturbing links with a paramilitary organisation.

We totally understand the need to involve former paramilitaries in the peace process, but surely it cannot be right to give away millions of pounds of public money to people and organisations still involved in paramilitary and criminal activity.

See: http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/06/11/arlene-foster-takes-tea-uda/

I’m not sure how much of this is any surprise to anyone, who has any knowledge of Northern Irish sectarian politics. Back in the 1990s the Mail on Sunday, if I recall correctly, ran an article on Ulster terrorism which stated very clearly that both Loyalist and Nationalist paramilitaries were involved in crime and racketeering. I also remember reports on the 6 O’clock news in the ’70s about various Ulster terrorists, who had been convicted for these crimes. The Daily Mail itself has been very long opposed to the Northern Irish peace agreement on the grounds that, despite both sides officially abandoning violence, killings and punishment beatings were still being carried out. The Mail’s coverage, however, was biased. It said little about Loyalist terrorism, and almost exclusively concentrated on Sinn Fein and the IRA. This was partly due to a real threat from dissident Republicans, like the Continuity IRA. On the other hand, Private Eye also ran a series of articles sending up David English, the-then editor of the Mail, as he was a member of Orange Order, who used to go on their marches, complete with bowler hat and sash.

Vox Political: Torygraph Spreading More Lies about Break-Away Labour Group

May 11, 2017

It seems the Torygraph will publish any old rubbish, not matter how hackneyed and obviously wrong, to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. Yesterday Mike put up a piece about an article in it, which claims that about 100 Labour MPs are in talks with potential donors about setting up a new ‘Progressives’ group in parliament if Corbyn stays on after a Tory landslide.

As Mike says, this is just the same old rumours that right-wing Labour MPs were planning to split the party that were circulating just before Corbyn won his second leadership election with a landslide.

He concludes

This is just a stupid smoke-and-mirrors bid to sap support for Jeremy Corbyn after Labour’s storming campaign launch and yet more blunders from ‘Team Terrible’ – I mean, Team Theresa.

I notice the name of the Torygraph reporter is ironically appropriate – C Hope? There’s no hope for Tories to see here.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/10/how-many-times-must-we-read-this-twaddle-about-mps-breaking-away-from-corbyns-labour/

A little while ago Florence, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted this remark about similar rumours of a Labour split:

It seems you may not have long to wait, as rumour has it that Blair is indeed trying to found a new party (or should that be a New Party?), with Sainsbury’s money being redirected from Progress to the New Blair Party. I have no doubt at all that this will claim to hold the middle ground as long as the ideals of neoliberalism seem centrist and “moderate”. I also have no doubt that this is yet another attack on the working people of the UK.

Let’s just stick with the current Labour party, that has promised to represent the 99%, and not the 1%?

My guess is that the Torygraph writer has heard some of these same rumours, and decided to repeat them as fact. It might be true that Blair wants to set up a new ‘Progressives’ party – the title of this new ‘moderate’ – read: neoliberal – group touted by the Torygraph seems to be based on ‘Progress’, the Blairite faction in Labour. Blair himself wants to return to British politics and was in the papers a week ago spouting on about how he wishes to spread ‘moderate’ politics.

I doubt he would have any chance of forming a new party. As Richard Seymour has pointed out in his book on Jeremy Corbyn, Progress is tiny numerically. It’s only causing trouble because its members have seized key position in the party. Furthermore, Blair himself is politically toxic, though like Thatcher he has no idea that he is long past his political sell-by date. Mike and Seymour in his book have pointed out that from 2002 to the end of their administration, Labour lost five million votes. He alienated voters with his right-wing policies.

And even some Tories despise him for reasons that are entirely right and correct. The Mail on Sunday columnist, Peter Hitchens, refers to him as ‘the Blair creature’ and voices his intense disgust at him for starting the needless wars in the Middle East which have cost so many brave men and women their lives and limbs.

My guess is that if the 100 Labour MPs did split off from Labour, it would result in them immediately losing their seats. The party would then be able to put up proper left-wing candidates, who would support Corbyn – or a suitably left-wing successor. These proper Labour MPs would then win the seats previously held by their Blairite predecessors.

But as Mike said, rumours of these splits have run before, and been wrong. The Blairite MPs themselves have been desperate to hold on to their nominations as Labour MPs by any means, fair or foul. We’ve seen whole local Labour parties suspended on trumped up charges because they’ve scared the Tom Watson and his minions by threatening to deselect their Blairite MP.

And Barry Davies, one of the long-term commenters over on Mike’s blog, raises the spectre of what happened to the SDP:

Well let’s honest if they “moderate’s” broke away what are they going to do, renew the social democrats?, start another party? join the lib dems, whatever they would be assured of losing their cushy jobs.

Yes, what did happen to the SDP? They were supposed to be about to break the mould of British politics. I can remember David Owen telling his troops to go back home and prepare for government.

It didn’t happen.

But he did get an invitation from Screaming Lord Sutch to join the Monster Raving Loony Party. Sutch said in his autobiography, Life As Sutch, that if Dr Owen had joined them, he’d be in government by now.

This looks like wishful thinking at best from the Torygraph. They’ve been one of the most venomous and persistent of Corbyn’s critics in the media. Possibly this is due to the paper’s very blatant right-wing bias, made worse by its ownership by the weirdo Barclay Twins, and desperation to ingratiate itself to potential advertisers by spiking stories that reflect badly on them. According to Private Eye, this prostration before the advertisers has resulted in readers leaving it in droves. I got the impression that this has resulted in mass sackings by doddery CEO Murdo McClellan and the Gruesome Twosome in order to keep the paper’s share price up.

Either way, it’s the Torygraph that’s in dire straits, not Labour. And hopefully one result of a Labour victory will be to utterly discredit the Telegraph and the other right-wing denizens of Fleet Street as influential opinion-formers.

Peter Hitchens Spearing BBC Anti-Russian Propaganda over Syria

May 7, 2017

Peter Hitchens is somewhat of a political maverick. He started his political career as a Trotskyite, before gradually abandoning Marxism and embracing Conservativism. He’s not a supporter of gay marriage, although he admits that opposing it is a lost battle. He supports the reintroduction of the death penalty, the return of grammar schools and more stringent punishments as a deterrent to crime. He’s also very strongly anti-cannabis.

Against that, he has opposed the selling off of council houses and does not believe that private firms should run prisons, as the maintenance of justice and its machinery of punishment and correction should be the exclusive preserve of the state. He got up the nose of his editors at the Mail of Sunday for persistently referring to David Cameron as ‘Mr Slippery’, or similar derogatory names.

And he absolutely despises Blair, whom he terms ‘the Blair creature’, for his invasion of the Middle East. Hitchens has made it very clear in his column that he loathes Blair for sending so many courageous men and women to their deaths in an illegal conflict.

And he is also very definitely not going along with the current Beeb propaganda against the Russians over the war in Syria.

This short video of his appearance last year on the Andrew Marr Show by Scot TV, Hitchens refuses to go along with the general condemnation of the Russians for bombing Aleppo. He makes the point that the al-Nusra Front, whom we are now being told to support by our government and media, are Islamist terrorists, and a form of al-Qaeda. He states that the footage we see of noble white helmeted rebels rescuing the injured victims of Assad and Putin is propaganda footage. We are not allowed into those areas, so we don’t see what’s really going on. Also, we are not shown the horrors that our shelling and attacks, or those of the rebels we are currently backing, have perpetrated on Assad’s supporters.

Hitchens is absolutely correct, but his stating this horrifies Marr’s two other guests.

In recent months there have been well-documented reports of the supposed heroic rebels massacring those trying to flee rebel-held areas. In the last incident, a suicide bomber scattered crisps and food in front of train, so that the children of those fleeing would first leap out of the train to scrabble for them. He killed 68 people. 12 of these were kids.

There has also been the suggestion that the victims of the poison gas attack, which was falsely blamed once again on Assad, were in fact pro-government villagers kidnapped by the rebels, and then killed by them, their bodies then used as macabre props for a very nasty piece of propaganda.

And the rebels have also faked poison gas attacks several times in order to draw America into the war, setting of chemical weapons themselves as ‘false flag’ attacks.

Hitchens is very much a member of the Tories, but I respect his integrity and independence on this issue. Just as I like him for his manifest disrespect to David Cameron, although his reasons may not be the same as mine.

He is absolutely right about Syria, and it is refreshing to see him speak in contradiction of the lies and propaganda we are being fed by the government and news media.

Vox Political on the Return of Anti-Semitism Smears against Corbyn in the Graun and the Heil

September 11, 2016

Mike today has written another piece about the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. This time they’ve been regurgitated by pieces in the Grauniad and the Heil.

The first piece Mike deals with is entitled ‘Why Jews in Labour Place Little Trust in Jeremy Corbyn’ on the paper’s website by Joshua Simons. Simons is a former policy adviser to Corbyn, who used the usual rhetorical smears of the Israel lobby against the Labour leader. He identified Israel with the Jewish people throughout the world, stating that Israel’s very existence has been used by the far Left to stir up anti-Semitism against Jews in Israel in the wider world. Mike points out that this statement would exonerate Corbyn from the anti-Semitism charge, as he’s centre-left, not far left. Simons then brings in the stereotype of the Jews as bankers and financiers, which Mike also criticises as strange, as the various debates about anti-Semitism in the Labour party haven’t mentioned them. He states that anti-Semitism isn’t rampant in the Labour party, only to go on to contradict himself by saying that Jews are let down by a leader, ‘who some believe traded a peerage for a favourable report into anti-Semitism’. Again, Mike points out how contradictory this statement is, as he has already admitted that anti-Semitism isn’t rampant in the party. If it isn’t, there would be no need for Corbyn to bribe Chakrabarti to get a positive report. He concludes that Labour is only thought to be anti-Semitic because it is led by someone who has a visceral contempt for America and Israel. Mike responds to this assertion with the comments

But ill-feeling about Israel’s political decisions is not anti-Semitic, no matter how often or how loudly the more strident Zionists claim it is. Again he contradicts himself by adding: “It is not at all true that antisemitism exists because of the Jewish state” and “Young Jewish people in Britain should not give up their criticisms of Israel’s policies.”

More interesting, to me, was the fact that he is a former policy advisor. Why did he quit? Does he have an ulterior motive in resurrecting these claims?

The Heil on Sunday article is about Corbyn supposedly re-igniting the race row by purging the party of Michael Foster, the Jewish donor who criticised his leadership. Mike begins by pointing out that the very title is inaccurate, as Corbyn can’t and doesn’t purge anyone. Johanna Baxter, the NEC members behind the purge of many of the Corbynites, has stated that the decision to expel members is taken by three member panels. Corbyn doesn’t sit on any of them. The appearance of the two articles in their respective papers at the same time suggests to Mike that they’re part of an orchestrated campaign against Corbyn. Foster isn’t a financier – he’s a show business agent, but he did donate £400,000 to the Labour party. This might explain why Simons in the Graun felt he had to rant about Jews being equated with banking. The article then goes on to make more allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour leader.

This story, complaining about the purge of a right-wing candidate, has been published at the same time as the Blairites are carrying out a mass purge of low-ranking left-wingers within the party, most notably the leader of Broxstowe council this weekend. This suggests to Mike that these articles are to mask and obscure the purge of low-ranking members by playing up the purge of a single, high-ranking member of the party. And Mike also points out the irony of a Jewish man complaining about anti-Semitism in the Labour party in a paper that explicitly supported Adolf Hitler and the BUF before the Second World War. Other bloggers, like Tom Pride, have also produced headlines from the Heil attacking Jews and Jewish immigration during the same period.

Mike discusses a comment on Twitter by Eoin Clarke, remarking on the large number of people, who have been purged, who were also going to be delegates at the Labour party conference. Mike adds that Labour First, another Blairite body, has been contacting like-minded Labour members to attend the conference, in the hope of replacing the Labour leaders’ policies with their own. This is being done in the hope that this will force him to leave, either by making it impossible for him to do his job as leader, or to make him vulnerable to criticism. This is being done as they realise that he’ll probably win the leadership election on Wednesday.

Mike concludes

This is the real dichotomy in the Labour Party at the moment.

Mr Corbyn may be accused of the most vile behaviour – falsely. Meanwhile, just look at the underhand tactics employed against him.

It isn’t what This Writer calls democracy.

See his article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/11/new-angle-on-an-old-lie-the-return-of-jeremy-the-jew-hater/

There are a couple more things that can be said about these articles. Let’s deal with Joshua Simons’ article first. Part of his resentment against Corbyn and Momentum is that he believes they have a ‘visceral contempt for America and Israel’. This marks Simon out as Blairite Neocon. The Blairites were strongly in favour of the Atlantic alliance, and were partly the products of the Reaganite political initiative, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which wanted to guide suitable British politicians and media leaders – one of BAP’s other alumni was an editor of the Times – into a suitably pro-American stance. Reagan’s America was strongly pro-Israel, partly as psychological compensation for the America’s signal failure to win the Vietnam War. To make up for their country failing to quash the Vietnamese Communists, the American Right turned to celebrating Israel’s victories against the Arabs. And there are good reasons for despising the foreign policies of both countries. Having contempt for America’s long history of overthrowing democratic, left-wing regimes and installing brutal Fascist dictators, and Israel for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians does not automatically make someone either anti-American or anti-Semitic. Many of the people, who despise America’s politics, admire other aspects of the country, such as its popular culture and music. And very many of Israel’s critics have been Jews. These include Harold Pinter, who was a bitter and outspoken critic of the barbarity of America’s foreign policy. The great playwright also was certainly not reticent about robustly expressing his opinions about anti-Semitism. I heard from a friend that he once decked a man in queue he was in, after this fellow said something monstrous in favour of the Holocaust.

As for the automatic connection between Israel and Jews around the world, this has been repeated a number of times by the Zionists, including Netanyahu. But it’s not true, and the ties between Israel and the Jewish community in America are becoming weaker. Norman Finkelstein has talked about how there was very little support, or even interest amongst Jewish Americans for Israel until the 1970s, and a growing number of young Jewish Americans are increasingly indifferent and critical towards it. As for his complaint that opposition to Israel leads automatically to hatred of Jews in Israel, that’s a very careful way of trying to avoid the reality that Israel was set up as the Jewish state. In this case, it is easy for Simons to claim that hostility to Israel equals hostility to Jews in Israel, as Israelis are Jews. But talking about Jews in Israel is away of trying to avoid Israel’s own self-image and identity as the Jewish state, and present it as another pluralist nation, of whom Jews are only one section of the population, and not the dominant population for whom the state itself was founded. George Galloway has pointed out that it’s difficult to avoid criticising the Israeli people for the atrocities committed by their country, as unfortunately Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition have the support of the majority of Israeli citizens.

I am also very much aware that it is unfair to hold the whole nation accountable for what Netanyahu and his supporters are doing. There are many Israelis, who have shown great courage in supporting the Palestinians. These people are also under by Netanyahu and his cronies. There was a recent poll of Israelis, which found that a majority agreed with the statement that Israelis, who sided with Arabs, should deprived of their citizenship and civil rights. Such a finding should chill anyone, who believes in democracy, pluralism and tolerance. This also adds another twist to Simons’ contention that hatred of Israel is also leading to hatred of Jews abroad. If that poll is to be believed, a fair number of Israelis also hate Jews in Israel – the Jews that protest against nearly seven decades of injustice against the Palestinians, as well as the Mizrahim, the Arab Jews, who were recruited by the Israelis as a cheap labour force, and then rigorously segregated and discriminated against in order to make them discard their Arab culture.

As for Simons’ rant about bankers, I’ve seen that used by the Republicans in America to try and rule out of bounds the entirely justified criticisms of the bankers and financiers responsible for the global financial collapse. The argument runs that as much anti-Semitism centres around the perceived Jewish control of the financial sector, then criticism of the financial sector is anti-Semitic. It’s a false syllogism. The people, who despite the financial sector, do so regardless of the particular ethnic or religious origin of its members. They’re outraged because the current financial system has destroyed the world’s economy, forced billions around the world into poverty, including destroying the economies of whole nations, like Greece, and then have the temerity afterwards to continue demanding the same bloated bonuses and pay rises for its chief executives, while shifting the burden for clearing up their mess onto the poor. But Wall Street, along with the other major corporations, heavily donate to the political parties in expectation that the politicos will enact legislation favourable to them. Shrillary Clinton is a case in point. She’s taken millions from Wall Street in fees for speeches, and is a firm proponent of the ‘light touch’ regulation that resulted in the financial collapse. Here in Britain, New Labour launched its ‘prawn cocktail offensive’ in the 1990s, aimed at gaining financial sector support, again by promising a ‘light touch’ on regulation. With exactly the same results as occurred in America. Part of Simon’s rant may also reflect Lord Levy’s role in funding the rise of New Labour. He was the link for the supply of money to Blair and his crew from the Zionist lobby.

In short, Simons’ rant is an attempt to prevent criticism of the Neocons and corporatists of New Labour. It is not a genuine response to anti-Semitism, however hard Simon tries to insinuate that there is still rampant Jew hatred in the party. His rhetorical introduction to the accusation that Corbyn corruptly traded a peerage with Shami Chakrabarti in return for her clearing the party with the words, ‘some believe’, is an age-old Fleet Street device to get round a possible libel claim. It’s not being asserted as fact, merely as a belief, which is protected under law.

As For Foster’s hit piece in the Heil, I think Mike and Eoin Clarke are exactly right. And underlying it is the same fear that New Labour and its corporate and Zionist backers are losing their grip on the party. And so Foster is doing everything he can to smear their opponents – Corbyn and his supporters – as anti-Semites, even though they aren’t, and include many Jews and activists with a long history of combating racism and anti-Semitism.

Jimmy Dore: Stop and Search Policing Now Shown to Be Rubbish

July 11, 2016

This is another fascinating piece from the American comedian Jimmy Dore, who turns up regularly on The Young Turks internet show. In this video he discusses an article in one of the New York Papers, reporting a study that has shown ‘broken windows’ policing to be complete rubbish. ‘Broken windows’ policing is the name given to the police strategy of prosecuting people for minor offences – what are called ‘quality of life’ offences, like graffiti, riding your bike on the pavement and so on, in the expectation that cracking down on minor crimes will lead to a drop in major felonies. It includes ‘stop and frisk’ – what over here is called ‘stop and search’ – in which people are stopped and searched at random by the rozzers.

The ‘broken windows’ strategy takes its name from an official experiment, in which a car was left in the road with its bonnet up in two different neighbourhoods. One, I think, was a rough part of New York. Within hours, the car had been stripped. They then left a similar vehicle in an upmarket neighbourhood in California – Palo Alto. The car was left alone. So the experimenters broke one of its windows. It was only after they did that, that the car was gutted. And so they came to the conclusion that to cut down on major crime, you have to start with minor misdemeanours.

Except that it doesn’t. An official study shows that it has no effect. Dore and the others off camera describe how such arrests can wreck a person’s life in the US. If you’re arrested for a felony, you can’t get a student loan and you automatically lose your right to vote, along with other disastrous consequences. Stop and frisk policing is similarly false. 87 per cent of those stopped are Black or Latino in America, but in only six per cent of cases does this lead to an arrest, and only half of those result in a conviction. Meanwhile, as they point out, it’s a massive way to increase Black and Latino alienation from the cops. Dore mentions some of the many over-reactions of the police to perceived Black criminality. Like a case where a teenage boy was followed by helicopter, because he jumped a turn-style. Meanwhile, according to Dore, a CCTV camera elsewhere had recorded the cops choking a man to death.

‘Broken windows’ policing and stop and frisk also have no effect on crime, which has been declining in America for decades anyway. So there’s no reason why these policies, which are only punishing ethnic minorities unfairly, and driving them away from the police, should be continued.

I’m reblogging this, as although the study relates to America, it is clearly relevant to the situation over here. There have been complaints by the Black community in London against the police using ‘stop and search’ there. As for ‘broken windows’ policing, something similar has been advocated by members of the Conservative right, like Peter Hitchens. (In fairness, I should qualify that: Hitchens was not in favour of Thatcher’s sale of council housing, and does not support private prisons, both of which seem to be standard Tory, and New Labour, policies). In his Mail on Sunday column a few years ago, Hitchens cited the pattern of policing before the First World War as the reason for that time’s comparatively low rate of serious crime. This was a time when people were arrested and jailed for very minor crimes like drunkenness, sleeping rough and so on. I think Hitchens’ attitude is that if people are punished for ‘quality of life’ offences, they’ll acquire some self-respect and start to behave like responsible citizens. This shows that they won’t.

Theresa May and the Faux-Feminism of the Tories

July 10, 2016

Okay, it appears from the latest developments in the Tory leadership contest that their next leader will not only be a woman, but probably Theresa May. May’s currently, I think, the Home Office Minister. Another Tory authoritarian, she’d like the spooks to have access to all our telecoms information to stop us joining ISIS and abusing children. Or at least, that’s what she says. Either way, she represents the continuing expansion of the secret state and its determination to pry into every aspect of our lives. Just in case we’re doing something illegal. In the polls Thursday night or so she won something like 144 votes compared to Andrea Leadsom’s 86 and Michael Gove’s 43. There was a shot of her at one of the party rallies, which showed Ian Duncan Smith, the former Minister in Charge of the Murder of the Disabled looking up at her with the same kind of rapture you see in pictures of Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg as he introduces Adolf Hitler.

May as the Modern Thatcher

The papers on Friday were full of the news of her probable victory. The Torygraph ran the headline, ‘If you want something said, go to a man. If you want something done, go to a woman’. Presumably this was a quote from May herself, trying to position herself as a go-getting woman of action, ready to sort out the mess the men have left. It’s also intended to get her support from Britain’s women. Look, she and her PR gurus are saying, I represent all the women in Britain, and their drives and frustrations in trying to get the top job. And I’ve done it, and, so vicariously, have Britain’s women through me. Vote for me, and we’ll sort Britain out again. The Mirror summed up her probable victory with the headline ‘Another Thatcher’.

That’s true, and it looks very much like the Tory party is trying to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s victory way back in 1979, and the thirteen years of flag-waving, prole-bashing that unleashed. Thatcher was Britain’s first, and so far, only female Prime Minister. Her election was instrumental in getting the Tories female support, and presenting their agenda of poverty, welfare cuts, joblessness and general immiseration as somehow empowering and progressive. It presented a faux-feminist veneer to what was an acutely traditionalist party. Thatcher did not see herself as a feminist, but nevertheless, her lackeys in the press ran features on her deliberately aimed at women and gaining their support. When she was ousted, Germaine Greer, who had been bitterly critical of her time in No. 10, wrote a piece in the Groan ‘A Sad Day for Every Woman’. And this propaganda line continued with other female Tories afterwards. I can remember a piece in the Mail on Sunday discussing what politics would be like in a female dominated House of Commons about the time Virginia Bottomley joined Major’s cabinet. It imagined Britain as an anarcho-capitalist utopia, where everything was privatised, and instead of the police neighbourhoods hired private security guards. And it ran the notorious factoid that’s been repeated and debunked ever since: that managing the country’s economy was like running a household. Women, so the article claimed, automatically had a better understanding of how the economy should be run through their role controlling the household budget. It’s actually rubbish, as the Angry Yorkshireman, Mike over at Vox Political and a number of left-wing economists and bloggers have repeatedly pointed out. For example, when budgeting for a household, you try to avoid debt, or pay it off as quickly as possible. But no-one has wanted to pay off the national debt since at least the late 18th century, and governments contract debts all the time with the deliberate intention of stimulating growth, as well as having the ability to manipulate circumstances in ways that the average householder can’t. They can, for example, affect the economy by setting the value of their currencies in order to promote exports, for example. The Japanese have deliberately kept the Yen weak in order to make their exports less expensive and so more competitive on foreign markets. They can also alter, or affect exchange rates to control public expenditure outside of immediate state spending. Ordinary people can’t do any of this. But nevertheless, the lie is repeated, and as we’ve seen, believed. A little while ago a man in the audience at Question Time challenged one of the politicos there with not running the country properly. He claimed it should have been obvious to anyone who’s had to run a household. Or possibly their own business.

Women Suffering the Most from Tory Misrule

In power, Thatcher – and the Tories’ policies in general – have hit women the hardest. Women tend to work in the poorest paid jobs, those least unionised, and so with the fewest protections. They are also more likely than men to be active as carers, with the immense responsibilities and pressures that entails. The Tories’ austerity policies have seen more women laid off, and more suffering cuts to hours and pay, with worsening conditions. These have been inflicted on male workers and carers as well, of course. I personally know blokes as well as women, who’ve been put on zero hours contracts, of have had to fight battles with the DWP to get disability benefits for their partners. Women haven’t been solely hit by any means, but they have been especially hit.

Tory Feminism only for the Rich

But I’ve no doubt that the Tories will try to hide all that, and positively divert attention away from it, by pointing to the success of May in finally getting to No. 10. It’ll be presented as another crack in glass ceiling preventing women from getting the top jobs. I’ve also no doubt that there will be some noises about making sure that business, industry and parliament becomes more representative of the country. There will be loud announcements about getting more women into parliament, on the boards of business, and in male-dominated areas such as science and engineering.

But this will all be done to give power and jobs to women from May’s background: well-heeled, well-educated middle class public school gels from Roedean and the like. Rich, corporate types like Hillary Clinton in the US. It isn’t going to be for women from council estates and comprehensive schools, ordinary women working back-breaking jobs in factories, as care home staff, nurses, cleaners, shop assistants, office workers and the like, all of whom are increasingly under pressure from the government’s austerity programme. They, and the men alongside whom they work, doing the same jobs, aren’t going to be helped by the Tories one little bit.

The Thin Veneer of Tory Liberalism

May’s faux-feminism is part of a general thin façade of progressivism, which the Tory party occasionally adopts to promote itself. Cameron came to power pretending to be more left-wing than Tony Blair. When he took over the Tory party, he made much about shedding the party’s image of racism and homophobia. He cut links with the Monday Club, went around promoting Black Tory candidates. Gay MPs were encouraged to come forward and be open about their sexuality. In power, he ostentatiously supported gay marriage, presenting it as Tory victory, even though it had practically already been introduced by Tony Blair in the guise of civil partnerships. Cameron and IDS wanted to be seen as liberal modernisers. But all their reforms are extremely shallow, designed to disguise the rigidly authoritarian and hierarchical party underneath. A party determined to make the poor as poor as possible for the corporate rich.

Generational Differences in Voting

Looking through the stats with friends on Friday, it seems that there’s a marked divergence in political attitudes between young women, and those over 55. The majority of women over 55 tend to vote Conservative, according to the stats. I know plenty who don’t, and so this can be challenged. My guess is that, if this is accurate, it’s probably due to the fact that women generally haven’t worked in the kind of manual trades occupied by men, which require considerable solidarity and so have produced strong union bonds, like mining, metal work and so on. It’s also possibly partly due to the prevailing social ideology when they were born. There was a marked lull in feminist activity between women finally gaining the vote in 1928 or so and the rise of the modern women’s movement in the 1960s. During those forty years, the dominant social attitude was that women should concentrate on their roles of wife and mother. Many firms in this period would not hire married women, a practice which caused immense hardship to women, and families generally that needed two incomes to make ends meet. Also, generally speaking, support for the Tories is higher amongst pensioners.

Younger women are more likely to be left-wing and socialist. If correct, this generally follows the trend of the younger generation being more idealistic and progressive than their elders.

I hope that despite all the pseudo-feminist verbiage and lies the Tories will spout from now onwards, trying to make themselves more presentable to the nation’s female voters, women will recognise them for what they are, and vote them out. As soon as possible.

Medialens on the Bias against Jeremy Corbyn

July 2, 2016

Michelle, one of the many great commenters on this blog, sent me a link to the article, ‘Killing Corbyn’ at Media Lens, which describes the disgusting media bias against Jeremy Corbyn. This includes the fawning coverage of the coup plotters by Laura Kuenssberg at the BBC, and her attempts to sneer at, belittle and disparage Corbyn’s leadership at whatever chance she gets; her statement that Tom Watson was telling Corbyn to resign, which he wasn’t; and then an entirely contrived story that Corbyn had been heckled at a Gay pride event. He had, but the heckler, Tom Mauchline, worker for Portland Communications, a PR firm which worked for the disgusting Liz Kendall, when she was campaigning for the leadership of the party. I think it was Kendall, who said that Labour would be even harder on those on benefits than the Tories. It’s strategic counsel is Alistair Campbell, Blair’s spin doctor and one of the New Labour clique that took us into the carnage of the Iraq invasion.

It goes on to discuss BBC News’ live feed, ‘the Corbyn Crisis and Brexit’, in which the vote to leave the EU is presented somehow as being a product of Corbyn’s leadership, and playing down the contemporary drama in the Tory party. The anti-Corbyn bias is strongly contrasted with the positive portraits of the two possible successors to Cameron, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The Beeb isn’t the only section of the media hostile to Corbyn. The supposedly left-wing newspapers, the Guardian and Observer have also run hit pieces.

The nadir was reached with a piece in the Mail on Sunday by Dan Hodges, which was illustrated with a photoshopped image of Corbyn in a coffin under the headline ‘Labour MUST Kill Vampire Jezza’. When challenged, Hodge’s denied that he wrote the headline. He’s right – that’s done by the subeditors, but he didn’t reply when challenged if he actually objected to them.

The article provides further information on how the campaign against Blair in the Labour party is the work of the Blairites, desperate to hang on to their waning power. They’re doing so through Portland Communications, the PR firm, whose clients include a whole host of the usual multinational villains, like Nestle’s and Barclay’s. It’s also being supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company run by Will Straw, the son of Jack Straw, one of the leading members of Blair’s government. Jack Straw also turned up recently as one of the leaders of Cameron’s inquiry into the Freedom of Information Act. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool authoritarian, who was moaning that it was to liberal and too much information was now available to the public. The proles should instead shut up and just be grateful for what their masters deign to tell them. The article concludes that all of this is predictable, as Corbyn is a genuine threat to corporate power and the establishment, and they are doing everything they can to destroy him.

Vox Political on The Government’s Victory to Keep Discussions with Prince Charles Secret

April 19, 2016

Earlier today Mike put up a piece reporting that the government had won its battle to keep details of discussions between Prince Charles and government ministers out of the press, despite the fact that the Information Commissioner has stated that it is in the public interest for it to be released.

Mike makes the point that it is wrong for the government to wish to keep this information secret on the grounds that its release would compromise Charles’ privacy, while seeking ever greater power to invade that of ordinary citizens. See his article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/19/it-is-wrong-for-the-taxpayer-to-fork-out-for-prince-charless-privacy-when-the-tories-are-trying-to-take-it-from-us/

Mike’s correct, of course, but this is the way government works in Britain. It has a profound fear and suspicion of the people it governs, and is perpetually concerned to protect its secrets while trying to garner as much information as possible on the rest of us. Under Thatcher this mania for secrecy became so extreme, that the various cabinet ministers, who were members of different cabinet groups, could not tell their cabinet colleagues what was being discussed in these different committees, despite the glaringly obvious fact that as cabinet ministers, they should all automatically have been expected to have had the clearance to share the information with their colleagues, who were at the same level of trust.

Bliar’s introduction of the Freedom of Information Act was a step in the right direction, but it was weak even when it was introduced. And since then, the Tories and New Labour apparatchiks like Jack Straw have been determined to make it even weaker. It’s not hard to see why both political groups distrust the Act. It makes government difficult, because it opens it up to public scrutiny. It’s so much easier to ride roughshod over people by not letting them know about important government decisions, and taking the attitude that, as members of the public, they cannot possibly know what is really in the public interest. Or in the case of Thatcherites everywhere, the private good of big business.

And they definitely, really don’t want information about Prince Charles’ dealings with the government getting out at all. The monarchy and royal family is supposed to be above politics, and they are not supposed to influence government policy. It’s probably because they are supposed to be apolitical, that the monarchy has survived in this country, while other nations have become republics. Political interference from an unelected source is always resented. And so the concern to keep the monarchy out of politics. Hence the monarchy’s ire when Gove or whoever it was in the ‘Brexit’ campaign claim that the Queen also wanted us to leave the EU.

Charles’ negotiations are sensitive, because he’s violated that cardinal rule. The Independent, some of whose columnists had a strongly republican bias, covered several stories in which Charles’ correspondence with various governments over the years was a source of embarrassment, and which they were desperate to stop being released to the public. Among his pet subjects were the closure of the grammar schools. Lugs was thoroughly against this, and wrote numerous letters to the government to try to get them to change this policy and reopen them. The ministers at the receiving end of his correspondence were forced to reply that this was no longer an option.

This is why the government really doesn’t want to release the details of Prince Charles’ discussions with ministers about the environment to the Mail on Sunday: it compromises the position of the monarchy. Not that the Daily Heil is necessarily worried about this in the specific case of Prince Charles. From what I can remember, it has had a profound dislike of the heir to the throne, and has run no end of stories about how he is an embarrassment to the Crown. At one point it ran a story that ‘ministers’ were considering amending the rules of succession, so that it could skip a generation and go either to his sons, or it would pass to the eldest child. In which case, Princess Anne would succeed her mother.

There was a rival of these stories of constitutional tinkering in Private Eye last week in connection to the Commonwealth. The Eye claimed that many Commonwealth countries aren’t impressed with him either, and would also like to change the constitution of the Commonwealth, so that its head was elected. I can see how the various independent countries across the globe would prefer this system, rather than be ruled by the hereditary monarch of the country that invaded and colonised them, as a general principle. But the Eye didn’t mention any of that. Instead, it was just about stopping Charles becoming head of the Commonwealth.

And so the government remains desperate to keep a lid on whatever it is that Prince Charles has said to ministers, while even more enthusiastically snooping on everyone else. And I’m sick of it. I’d far rather we had a government like that of Kurt Eisner, the German Socialist head of Bavaria during the ‘Council Revolution’ of 1919. Eisner was a Jewish theatre critic, who saw Russian-style workers’ soviets not as a replacement for democracy, but as extension. And he had no time for government secrecy. His office was open to everyone, and he quite happily showed members of the public papers marked ‘government secrets’. Unfortunately, he was beaten to death by the Freikorps when they stormed Munich to put the Revolution down. Eisner and his regime may well have been too extreme, but we desperately need some of his faith in genuinely popular and open government here across the North Sea in the 21st century.

Private Eye on the Failure of Private Law Enforcement Firms

March 3, 2016

One of the ideas floated by the Tories under John Major way back in about 1992-3 or so was that law enforcement should be privatised. Instead of the police patrolling our neighbourhoods to protect us from crime, citizens should be free to hire private security firms to do the same. It’s an idea they nicked from the American Libertarians, though unlike Rothbard, the author of the idea, they didn’t go as far as recommending the privatisation of the courts. The Mail on Sunday ran an article promoting this and other Neo-Lib Tory ideas in their issue that winter.

In their issue 9th – 22nd December 2005, Private Eye ran an article on how one Private Law enforcement firm, had not lived up to the hype, and had spectacularly failed to catch many criminals.

Private Equity
Drake’s Progress

The woeful performance of private law enforcement firms has been exposed once again in a Norwich courtroom.

The Eastern Daily Press recently reported how the firm paid to enforce arrest warrants on people failing to serve community punishment orders managed to catch on 31 out of 260 offenders over the summer, while its success rate before then wasn’t much better.

The company responsible, Drakes (“total civil enforcement and debt recovery solutions”), is one of a breed of companies operating in the criminal justice system that are part of the secretive and avaricious private equity industry. it is part of the Bridgman group that says that it is owned by funds managed by an outfit called Gresham, including the mysterious South Place Zurich Partnership 2002, none of which supply accounts.

Bridgman gets nearly all its funding in the form of loans totalling £10m from anonymous creditors at inflated interest rates, a standard feature of the private equity industry that allows financiers to strip out profits asap and often leads to the kind of cost-cutting that makes chasing offenders look distinctly uneconomical.

Gresham is unabashed about its approach, boasting of its “strategy for exit to deliver maximum value to all investors”. So the uncooperative small-time crooks of East Anglia might soon be somebody else’s problem, but not before the private equity funds have got away with a few quid.

Many of the care homes that collapsed a few years ago, or were so disastrously run that the inmates were abused and neglected, were also owned or managed by these private equity firms. It’s clear that these firms can’t manage services, as they’re simply not interested in them, except as a source of profit.

Private Eye from 2005 on Nazi Antics and History at the Daily Mail

March 2, 2016

The Daily Mail is, of course, notorious for the support its founder, Lord Rothermere, gave to Hitler, the Nazis, and their British counterparts, the British Union of Fascists, in the 1930s. Private Eye published a couple of piece reminding them about this shameful period in the newspaper’s history, and the tasteless antics of its staff in dressing up in Nazi uniforms at a party way back in their issue for the 21st January – 3rd February 2005. This was the time when Prince Harry had caused widespread outrage by going to a party dressed in Nazi uniform.

A Mail editorial lambasted the “crashing insensitivity” of Prince Harry, who “thought it a wonderful jape to turn up at that fancy-dress party in a Wehrmacht uniform, complete with Nazi armband… He was making a damned fool of himself and giving intolerable insult to others”. Only some utterly ignorance of history, it claimed, would wear such an outfit for fun.

This surprised older Mail hands who recall the “leaving party” held in 1992 for Sir David English, when he was kicked upstairs to be deputy chairman so Paul Dacre could become editor. Since the Mail had recently published the Goebbels Diaries, party organiser Rod Gilchrist thought it a wonderful jape to go for a fancy-dress evening with a Nazi theme. Dozens of Mail executives and hacks duly turned up in Wehrmacht uniforms. Gilchrist also hired a TV crew to record it all for posterity.

Gilchrist is now deputy editor of the Mail on Sunday, and presumably still has a copy of the film. Might this explain why he is unsackable?

“The tragedy is that Harry is typical of a generation ignorant of our history”, declared the Daily Mail the day of the young prince was pictured partying in a Nazi Uniform.

While Andrew Roberts lectured readers on the “level of ignorance in society about virtually every aspect of the Nazis”, Gordon Rayner dug deep into the past to highlight “the touchy subject of the royal family’s links to the Nazis”.

“Adolf Hitler wore a swastika armband when he met and shook hands with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1937,” he pointed out at the head of a list of “fawning images from the Hitler years that the House of Windsor would rather forget”.

No doubt it was only lack of space that stopped Rayner pointing out that Hitler was wearing the same garb when he met and shook hands with the Daily Mail’s founder, Lord Rothermere, grandfather of the paper’s current proprietor, on the first of many occasions in 1934.

Rothermere, who attended several Nazi rallies, assured Mail readers that Herr Hitler was “a perfect gentleman” and wrote that under his rule Germany was “beyond all doubt the best governed nation in Europe today”, largely because of Hitler’s actions in “freeing” the country from the “Israelites of international attachment who had insinuated themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine.”

He also insisted that his papers back the fascist cause in Britain, nailing his colours to the mast with the January 1934 headline “HURRAH FOR THE BLACKSHIRTS”. Perhaps the Mail, as a service to young readers who wish to learn more about their history, could reprint some of their coverage from the time.

I realise I’ve blogged about this recently, and I recommend those interested to go over to Tom Pride’s blog and search there. When the Mail a few years ago took it into its head to attack Ralph Milliband as ‘the man who hated Britain’, Mr Pride dug out a few of the pages from the Daily Mail, containing Rothermere’s columns raving about how wonderful the Crappy Corporal was. So if you have a look at them, you can read them just as they appeared at the time.