Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Thatcher’

A Few Sharp Quotes about Thatcher and the Tories

October 21, 2018

I also found a couple of sharp quotations about the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the same issue of Focus, which had a comment from Martial. Martial said that man loved malice, but only against the fortunate and proud, not the unfortunate. It’s completely the opposite case with the Tories, who are only too full of malice towards the unfortunate. Here are the quotes printed in the magazines against Maggie.

She sounded like the Book of Revelations read out over a railway public address system by a headmistress of a certain age wearing calico knickers.

Clive James.

She only went to Venice because someone told her she could walk down the middle of the street.

Neil Kinnock.

A semi-house trained polecat

Michael Foot on Norman Tebbit.

And on Ronald Reagan:

A masterpiece of the embalmer’s art.

Gore Vidal.

And there are many others about the Tories. I think it might have been Roy Hattersley, who said that there wasn’t a British tradition Thatcher hadn’t struck with her handbag, and described her as a ‘bargain-basement Boadicea. And it was also him, or someone else from the Labour party who described being attacked in parliament by Douglas Hurd as like being savaged by a dead sheep.

And a friend of mine, who used to be a member of the Tory party, was fond of the quote, ‘The Tory party is an organized hypocrisy’.

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The Real News on Labour’s Plan For Nationalisation and Workplace Democracy

October 16, 2018

In this 15 minute video from the Baltimore-based The Real News network, host Aaron Mate talks to Leon Panitch, professor of political science at York University about the proposals announced at the Labour party’s conference last month that Labour intended to renationalize some of the privatized utilities, introduce profit-sharing schemes and workplace democracy in firms with over 250 members, in which 1/3 of the board would be elected by the workers.

The video includes a clip of John McDonnell announcing these policies, declaring that they are the greatest extension of economic democratic rights that this country has ever seen. He states that it starts in the workplace, and that it is undeniable that the balance of power is tipped against the worker. The result is long hours, low productivity, low pay and the insecurity of zero hours contracts. He goes on to say that Labour will redress this balance. They will honour the promise of the late Labour leader, John Smith, that workers will have full union rights from day one whether in full time, part time or temporary work. They will lift people out of poverty by setting a real living wage of ten pounds an hour.

McDonnell also says that they believe that workers, who create the wealth of a company, should share in its ownership and the returns that it makes. Employee ownership increases productivity and improves long-term decision making. Legislation will be passed, therefore, for large firms to transfer shares into an inclusive ownership fund. The shares will be held and managed collectively by the workers. The shareholders will give the workers the same rights as other shareholders to have a say over the direction of their company. And dividend payments will be made directly to the workers from the fund.

Commenting on these proposals, Panitch says that in some ways they’re not surprising. McDonnell stated that Labour would inherit a mess. But his remarks were different in that usually governments use the fact that they will inherit a mess not to go through with radical policies. Panitch then talks about Labour’s commitment to bring the public utilities – rail, water, electricity, the post office – public ownership, pointing out that these used to be publicly owned before Thatcher privatized them. McDonnell particularly focused on water, before going beyond it, citing the 1918 Labour party constitution’s Clause IV, which Blair had removed. This is the clause committing the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, under the best form of popular administration. And unlike previous nationalized industries, these will be as democratically-run as possible. Councils would be set up in the water sector made up of representatives of the local community and workers’ representatives to be a supervisory council over the managers in the nationalized water industry.

They then go to a clip of McDonnell talking about the nationalization of the utilities. McDonnell states that the renationalization of the utilities will be another extension of economic democracy. He states that this has proved its popularity in opinion poll after opinion poll. And it’s not surprising. Water privatization is a scandal. Water bills have risen by 40 per cent in real terms since privatization. 18 billion pounds has been paid out in dividends. Water companies receive more in tax credits than they pay in tax. And each day enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost due to leaks. ‘With figures like that’, he concludes, ‘we cannot afford not to take it back into popular ownership’.

Mate and Panitch then move on to discussing the obstacles Labour could face in putting these policies into practice, most particularly from the City of London, which Panitch describes as ‘the Wall Street of Britain’, but goes on to say that in some ways its even more central to financialized global capitalism. However, Panitch says that ‘one gets the sense’ that the British and foreign bourgeoisie have resigned themselves to these industries being brought back into public ownership. And in so far as bonds will be issued to compensate for their nationalization, McDonnell has got the commitment from them to float and sell them. He therefore believes that there won’t be much opposition on this front, even from capital. He believes that there will be more resistance to Labour trying to get finance to move from investing in property to productive industry.

He then moves on to talk about Labour’s plans for ten per cent of the stock of firms employing 250 or more people to go into a common fund, the dividends from which would passed on to the workers up to 500 pounds a year. Anything above that would be paid to the treasury as a social fund for meeting the needs of British people and communities more generally. Panitch states that this has already produced a lot of squawking from the Confederation of British Industry. Going to giving workers a third of the seats on the boards, Panitch states that it has already been said that it will lead to a flight of capital out of Britain. He discusses how this proposal can be radical but also may not be. It could lead to the workers’ representatives on these boards making alliances with the managers which are narrow and particular to that firm. The workers get caught up in the competitiveness of that firm, it stock prices and so on. He makes the point that it’s hardly the same thing as the common ownership of the means of production to have workers’ sitting on the boards of private companies, or even from workers’ funds to be owning shares and getting dividends from them. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction of socializing the economy more generally, and giving workers the capacity and encouraging them to decide what can be produced, where it’s produced, and what can be invested. And if it really scares British and foreign capital, this raises the question of whether they will have to introduce capital controls. Ultimately, would they have to bring the capital sector into the public sphere as a public utility, as finance is literally the water that forms the basis of the economy?

Mate then asks him about Labour’s refusal to hold a second referendum on Brexit, which angered some activists at the conference. Labour said that any second referendum could only be about the terms of the exit. Panitch states that people wanting Britain to remain in a capitalist Europe try to spin this as the main priority of the party’s members, even Momentum. He states that this is not the case at all, and that if you asked most delegates at the conference, most Labour members and members of Momentum, which they would prefer, a socialist Britain or a capitalist Europe, they would prefer a socialist Britain. The people leading the Remain campaign on the other hand aren’t remotely interested in a socialist Britain, and think it’s romantic nonsense at best. He states that the Corbyn leadership has said that they want a general election as they could secure an arrangement with Europe that would be progressive without necessarily being in Europe. They would accept the single market and a progressive stand on immigration rather than a reactionary one. They did not wish to endorse a referendum, which the Tories would have the power to frame the question. And this is particularly because of the xenophobic and racist atmosphere one which the initial Brexit vote was based. Panitch states that he is a great critic of the European Union, but he would have voted to remain because the debate was being led by the xenophobic right. He ends by saying that capital is afraid of the Trumps of this world, and it is because of the mess the right has made of things here in Britain with the Brexit campaign that capital might give a little bit more space for a period at least to a Corbyn government.

This latter section on Brexit is now largely obsolete because Labour has said it will support a second referendum. However, it does a good job of explaining why many Labour supporters did vote for Brexit. The editor of Lobster, Robin Ramsay, is also extremely critical of the European Union because of the way neoliberalism and a concern for capital and privatization is so much a part of its constitution.

Otherwise, these are very, very strong policies, and if they are implemented, will be a very positive step to raising people out of poverty and improving the economy. Regarding the possibility that the representatives of the workers on the company boards would ally themselves with capital against the workers, who put them there, has long been recognized by scholars discussing the issue of workers’ control of industry. It was to stop this happening that the government of the former Yugoslavia insisted that regular elections should be held with limited periods of service so that the worker-directors would rotate. Ha-Joon Chan in his books criticizing neoliberal economics also makes the points that in countries like France and Germany, where the state owns a larger proportion of firms and workers are involved in their companies through workers’ control, there is far more long-term planning and concern for the companies success. The state and the workers have a continuing, abiding interest in these firms success, which is not the case with ordinary investors, who will remove their money if they think they can get a better return elsewhere.

My concern is that these policies will be undermined by a concentrated, protracted economic warfare carried out against the Labour party and the success of these policies by capital, the CBI and the Tories, just as the Tories tried to encourage their friends in industry to do in speeches from Tweezer’s chancellors. These policies are desperately needed, but the Tory party and the CBI are eager to keep British workers, the unemployed and disabled in poverty and misery, in order to maintain their control over them and maximise profits.

Three Arrows Attacks the Right-Wing Myth of ‘Cultural Marxism’

October 13, 2018

Three Arrows is a German vlogger, who makes videos attacking and refuting the lies and assertions of the internet far right. These are reactionary, anti-feminist and anti-immigrant – some would also say racist – personalities like Stefan Molyneaux, Jordan Peterson, Carl Benjamin AKA ‘Sargon of Akkad’ and Paul Joseph Watson, who was formerly Alex Jones’ little Brit buddy on Infowars. In the video below, he tackles the myth of ‘cultural Marxism’. This is the belief amongst the transatlantic extreme right that a group of Marxist intellectuals are trying to destroy western culture from within through feminism, immigration, postmodernism, gay and trans rights and other radical movements. They trace this movement back to the German Frankfurt School of radical Marxist thinkers, which included Horkheimer, Jurgen Habermas and Theodor Adorno.

I’m putting up this video as it is directly relevant to the issue of some of the extremist literature that was found at the Tory conference this week. Mike over at Vox Political reported a piece by Vice that an extremist pamphlet, Moralitis: A Cultural Virus, had been found at a meeting of the Thatcherite, right-wing organization, the Bruges group, at the conference. This used the metaphor of a virus to describe the spread of left-wing ideas, particularly a positive attitude to immigration and Islam. These were attacking western culture, and were being promoted and orchestrated by ‘Cultural Marxists’.

Three Arrows shows how similar the modern Right’s ideas of Cultural Marxism to the Nazi idea of Cultural Bolshevism. The Nazis also believed that the Bolsheviks were spreading radical cultural and intellectual movements to bring down traditional western, and especially German culture, with the Jews at the centre of this Marxist conspiracy.

The modern right-wing myth of cultural Marxism started with two Americans, Pat Buchanan and William S. Lint. Buchanan wrote two books, The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilisation and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost its Empire and the West Lost the World. Three Arrows states that Buchanan is a palaeoconservative who has complained that there are too many Jews on the American supreme court. In the first book, he argued that the cultural Marxists, referring to the Frankfurt School, were trying to de-Christianise and subvert the country. This meant making America more open to issues like homosexuality. The second book argued that Britain should never have declared war on Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust was the consequence of its doing so.

Lint is more overtly right-wing and racist. He calls for hanging as the punishment for crime, but only in ‘urban areas’. Which is a dog-whistle reference to Black ghettos. In 1989 he told a conference that political correctness and cultural Marxism had turned American universities in little ‘North Koreas’, in which dissenters would be persecuted and punished by ‘gender feminists’ and homosexual activists. In 2002 Lint spoke at a conference organized by the Barnes Review, a Holocaust revisionist rag, in front self-described Holocaust revisionists, anti-Semites and neo-Nazis. The character of the rag is shown by the cover of the issue Three Arrows puts up, which shows Adolf Hitler at a rally, with the caption, ‘In Defence of Adolf Hitler’. Lint is not, however, a Holocaust denier. He again talked about how the Frankfurt school were responsible for the ideas destroying America, and said that they were all Jewish. For which he was greeted with rapturous applause from the stormtroopers.

Three Arrows then goes on to discuss how, contrary to what Buchanan, Lint and their successors believe, the Frankfurt school were very definitely not supporters of postmodernism, and wished to preserve western culture. Indeed, Jurgen Habermas was one of postmodernism’s fiercest critics. He attacked the founders and major figures in postmodernism – Jacques Derrida, Foucault and Nietzsche contradicted themselves by using the methods of western rationalism to attack western rationalism. He also criticized Nietzsche for destroying the unity religion had given wester culture. The Frankfurt School were also appalled at the uniformity and coarseness of modern culture and expressed this in terms that resemble some of the comments of right-wing mouthpieces like Paul Joseph Watson. The difference, however, was that Theodor Adorno, who voiced these criticisms of the modern culture industry, placed the blame for western cultural decline on capitalism. Horkheimer, Adorno, Lowenthal and the other members of the School wished to preserve and promote western values like rationality and personal freedom. They believed that capitalism itself threatened Enlightenment values, and some of them attacked postmodernism, pop culture and ‘political correctness’. Three Arrows also makes the point that they wouldn’t have supported changing the culture to bring about Communism, because this contradicted the Marxist doctrine that this could only be done through changing society’s economic base.

Three Arrows also makes the point that there is absolutely no evidence for this ‘cultural Marxist’ conspiracy. Wikipedia had to move its entry for it to that of the Frankfurt School, because none of its readers could provide any. There are no Marxist countries in the West. And in Three Arrows’ homeland, Germany, in which Marx was born, the two biggest Marxist parties – the German Communist Party and the Marxist-Leninist Party together got less than 0.1 per cent of the vote combined. He suggests that instead of a secret Marxist conspiracy, these changes in western society owe more instead to politicians and businesses adopting ‘political correctness’ to appeal to a wider audience. As for left-wing students, they have always been around, and some of them do stupid things. Like the two young women in the late ’60s who took off their clothes and started kissing Adorno as a protest against ‘patriarchal structures’. For which Adorno called the cops and had them removed.

Three Arrows then argues that the similarity between the Nazis’ Cultural Bolshevism and the ‘Cultural Marxism’ of modern right-wing internet pundits like Stefan Molyneaux, Sargon of Akkad and Paul Joseph Watson isn’t coincidental. They both require their audience to accept the existence of this conspiracy on their word alone, without any supporting proof. The only difference is that Molyneaux, Sargon, Watson and the others aren’t anti-Semites. For them, the group responsible for this conspiracy aren’t the Jews, but the globalists. But their opinions do validate the Nazis’ own conspiratorial beliefs about Marxism, even while they decry the Nazis’ actions and murder of the Jews.

Three Arrows also makes the point that Molyneaux et al are massively wrong about the ‘Decline of the West’. According to them, Germany should have collapsed several times over by now. But Three Arrows declares with biting irony that he has no doubt that the Caliphate will be declared soon.

This is a good, short account of the idea of cultural Marxism, which makes it clear that it is just another extreme right-wing conspiracy theory, advanced and promoted by fringe ideologues with no real understanding of what the Frankfurt School actually was. Buchanan, Lint and the rest of them have mixed it up with the ideas of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, who did believe that a change in culture could be use to alter social relations and society’s economic base.

As for Buchanan himself, he’s a Republican politician notorious for his extreme ideas. A pro-gun nut, he and his followers once went through a crowd
holding their guns in the air, crying ‘Lock and Load’ – basically, ‘take aim and fire’. Back in the 1990s he won an election in New Hampshire as part, I think, of the presidential primaries. The edition of the Radio 4’s Postcard from Gotham, a weekly show covering events in America over the previous week, began with a piece of Italian dialogue from the film Il Postino, which was then in cinemas. The show’s presenter, Joe Queenan, instead joked that it was Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini congratulating Buchanan on his success. He and his guests discussed the rise of the Right in America and Europe, and one of them, a Jewish woman, stated that despite his denials Buchanan was an anti-Semite. Going back to the subject of New Hampshire, Queenan joked yet again that now Buchanan had won the nomination for that state, all you could hear up there were cries of ‘Duce! Duce!’

Cultural Marxism doesn’t exist. It’s just a malicious conspiracy theory promoted by extreme right-wingers to attack the Left, and provide a spurious explanation for the social changes they fear and dislike – like gay rights, immigration, particularly Muslim communities and the decline of traditional morality. But while Cultural Marxism is a myth, those promoting it are a real threat to today’s culture of tolerance and pluralism.

Vox Political on the Insulting Appointment of Jackie Doyle-Price as ‘Suicide Prevention Minister’

October 11, 2018

Yesterday, Wednesday 10th October 2018, was World Mental Health Awareness Day. Mental health has become a major issue, with this country in particular seeing increasing rates of depression, particularly amongst school and university students, not to mention the poor, the disabled and the unemployed. According to yesterday’s I newspaper, 4,500 people take their lives every year, and a total of 6,213 people killed themselves last year in the UK and Eire. It’s the leading cause of death in blokes under 45. Guys in the UK are three times more likely to end it all than women, and in Eire the rate is four times.

With this such an issue, Tweezer decided to make a world first by appointing Jackie Doyle-Price as the world’s first Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention. The I yesterday published this pic of Doyle-Price grinning into a camera.

According to the paper, her responsibilities will include ensuring that every local area has a plan to prevent unnecessary deaths. She is also going to be investigating how technology can be used to identify those most at risk.

It also quoted her as saying

“I understand how tragic, devastating and long-lasting the effect of suicide can be on families and communities. In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time.

“It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them as well as experts, to oversee a cross-Government suicide prevention plan, making their sure their views are always heard.” (p.3).

Which are fine words, but from her voting record and previous attitude to the poor and desperate, it’s a pack of lies.

Mike posted an article today pointing out the critical role Tory policies towards the poor, such as cutting benefits, had contributed immensely to rise the suicide. He notes that the inquest into the death of Stephanie Bottrill, who was worried about the bedroom tax, found that the stress caused by the Tory government of the day resulted in her taking her own life.

His article then goes on to quote a piece about it from Nursing Notes, who stated that

“Statistics show that those with long-term physical or mental health issues are significantly more likely to be dependent on the state for assistance with housing and living costs.

“Social isolation, financial and health struggles are thought to be some of the leading risk factors for preventable suicide in the UK.”

It also quoted Vicki Nash, the head of policy and campaigns at the mental health charity, MIND, who said

“MIND found that half of people with mental health problems have thought about or attempted suicide as a result of social issues such as housing issues, finances, benefit support, and employment. We need a benefits system that is supportive – not one that drives people into poverty.”

Which is precisely what the Tory attitude to the welfare state and their wretched reforms don’t do. Thatcher wanted to destroy the welfare state completely, including the NHS. She was prevented from doing so, but she was determined to make getting benefits as hard, cruel and degrading as possible to deter people from going on it. It was one of the wretched ‘Victorian values’ she took over, the principle of ‘less eligibility’ underlying the poverty and degradation of the workhouse. And the Tories have gone on with the same attitude ever since, followed by Blair’s equally revolting New Labour.

Mike has, in his articles, argued strongly that there is a deliberate policy of ‘chequebook euthansia’ behind the Tories’ welfare reforms. It seems as though they’re consciously and deliberately planned to drive the most vulnerable to suicide, so Cameron, Tweezer, IDS, Esther McDeath and the whole sordid lot can save more money, and give more tax cuts to the filthy, pointlessly rich. There’s a nasty strain of Social Darwinism in the Republican Party on the other side of the Atlantic, and it’s in the Tories over here as well. In the survival of the economic fittest, these parties see the rich and business leaders as the biologically superior. And the poor have only themselves to blame – it’s all due to their inferior constitutions. In the Social Darwinism of the 19th century, such people would always be with humanity. The only solution was to stop them breeding by denying them welfare support and sterilizing them. Or simply murdering them, as the Nazis did with their notorious Aktion T4.

And there can be little doubt that Tory policies are driving the poor and vulnerable to take their own lives. Despite repeated whines by the Conservatives that ‘correlation doesn’t indicate causation’, some of those, who have killed themselves left notes, which stated plainly that there were doing so because of the stress of benefit cuts and sanctions. Mike’s article states that 1/2 of all women claiming benefits have thought about killing themselves.

So how does Doyle-Price herself measure up in this? Well, abysmally, as it happens. She voted for raising the bedroom tax, voted against increasing benefits in line with inflation, voted against increasing benefits for the long-term sick and disabled, and voted 46 times in favour of cutting benefits. This was also in Mike’s article from Nursing Notes, who took it from They Work For You.

Worse. She added insult to grievous wounding by laughing about the subject. Yep, she’s also joked about suicide.

I’m not surprised about that either. The Tories have absolutely no sympathy for the suffering of the poor. They really do think it’s a jolly joke. Like when Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith were caught on TV laughing in parliament when one woman’s account of the troubles she’d had claiming benefit were read out. They had a good guffaw, like some Nazi version of the Chuckle Brothers.

Nor is the DWP sympathetic to those with suicidal thoughts. When one claimant said that they were depressed and thinking of suicide, one DWP clerk asked them why they hadn’t done it already.

Mike in his article quotes the reactions of a number of people to the news that Doyle-Price has been appointed to this post. Keith Ordinary Guy said it was like curing malaria with the plague. Matt Turner said it was a grotesque slap in the face to those struggling on. And Samuel Miller, a friend of Mike’s blog, who’s been campaigning for disabled students since attending McGill University in the 1970s, said that nothing angered him more than the government’s maltreatment of the sick and disabled.

He also posted this tweet:

“Was her appointment merely a sop to counter alarming headlines about the soaring rate of suicides and attempted suicides among sick and disabled claimants, mostly triggered by loss of benefits.”

Mike concludes his article with this:

Was it? I don’t think so.

I think it was a signal; they appointed the least appropriate person for the job because they think the deaths and attempted deaths of hundreds of thousands of people are nothing but a big joke. They really are that repulsive.

I don’t think there’s any contradiction between these two positions. Yes, it is a sop to counter the headlines about the soaring suicide rate. And yes, the Tories do find it all a joke, and so deliberately appointed the least appropriate person.

She’s there not because she has any real sympathy with the mentally ill, the depressed, the disabled and suicidal. She’s there purely to make sure the system carries on, while limiting any damage to the party that appointed her. She’s just a mouthpiece, who’s simply there to spout reassuring platitudes and assure the public that the Tories are taking this issue seriously. And all the while she’s going to laugh about it behind her back.

Get her out, get Tweezer out and the whole wretched lot of them OUT! Before they drive any more people to their deaths.

Government Report: ‘Benefit Sanctions Don’t Work’

October 11, 2018

In the I today, Thursday 11 October 2018, there’s an article on p.6 by Jasmine Anderson, ‘Benefit Sanctions ‘Don’t Work”, which reports what who’s had any contact with the benefits system already knows, but the government has shown itself keen to deny. And apparently it came out in a report published last month.

The article runs

A government study published last month found there is “no evidence” that benefit sanctions work.

Sanctions, which can result in the stopping of benefit payments for claimants who do not comply with rules laid out by the Department of work and Pensions (DWP), have been proven to be ineffective in a three-year study carried out by the Government.

The DWP published the findings in the paper Universal Credit: in-work Progression Randomised Controlled Trial on the Government’s website on 12 September, as MPs prepared for party conference season. There was no ministerial announcements.

The study, which was carried out over three years, paper found “no evidence” that sanctions for failing to apply for additional work or undertake additional training, “helped motivate participants to progress in work”, reported Sky News.

Sanctions “damaged” the claimant’s relationship with the work coach, the report added.

You could have predicted that finding, and also the government’s lack of response to it. Of course there were going to be no ministerial announcements about it, as it contradicts the fundamental Tory attitude to the poor: that poverty is people’s own fault, and welfare should be made as unpleasant and demeaning as possible to encourage people to get off it as soon as possible. It’s ‘less eligibility’, the ideology of the workhouse, which was taken over and praised by Maggie Thatcher as one of her precious ‘Victorian values’. All the sanctions system has done is humiliate and starve people for the flimsiest and most specious of reasons, just so that Jobcentre can hit their target of the number of people they’ve got off benefits for the month.

And that has meant killing people, just as the number of disabled people thrown off disability benefits after they were judged fit for work by Atos and now Maximus has killed people. They’ve starved to death, or died because they were unable to cope with existing medical conditions like diabetes, where they need to regulate their diet. Or simply killed themselves out of sheer despair.

This study follows the other studies that have also shown that workfare, another prized Tory policy for punishing the poor while providing cheap labour to their friends in big business, also doesn’t help people find jobs.

But that was never the point of either policy in the first place. They were there because of the attitude of sheer vindictive spite the Tories and their lackeys in the press have towards the poor. A sadistic attitude which drive them to find ways to degrade and humiliate them as a drain on society’s resources, just as the Nazis viewed the disabled and serial unemployed.

You can expect this report to be quietly forgotten over the next few weeks. If it is mentioned, and the Tories are asked about it, they will do the usual: vehemently deny it, and claim there are other studies which found that it has a positive effect, or some other mendacious nonsense.

Workfare, benefit sanctions and the work capability tests have to be stopped. NOW. And the Tories should be thrown out of office immediately.

The Iron Maiden Cover that Offended the Tories

October 10, 2018

Here’s a lesson for Tweezer and for any other politico who fancies prancing onto the stage to a rock or pop hit: popular music, like any other musical genre, comes from a variety of viewpoints. It can be simple, apolitical fun. But it can also be sharply, aggressively anti-establishment. And in 1980 Iron Maiden managed to upset the Tory party with the sleeve illustration to one of their singles, which showed Maggie Thatcher being struck with an axe.

The incident is described by Ian Christe in his book, Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (London: Allison & Busby 2004). He writes

Touching the larger issues instigated by Punk, the NWOBHM bands also took a streetwise yet oblique approach to politics. The picture sleeves of “Sanctuary”, a single from Iron Maiden, depicted Prime Minister Thatcher being axed in an alleyway as she attempted to tear down an Iron Maiden flyer. The British government responded to the record’s popularity with an official censure, requiring that future editions place a black bar over the face of the tormented leader. For her troubles, Thatcher, who cut social programs, sold off government agencies and fought organized labour, was later nicknamed “the Iron Maiden” by the mainstream press. (p. 36).

Well, he’s wrong about Thatcher being called ‘the Iron Maiden’ by the press, She wasn’t. She was called ‘the Iron Lady’. But it shows how touchy the Tories were even then about anyone daring to malign or blaspheme against the Prime Minister. And their decision to censor the cover art so as to obscure Thatcher’s face is an extraordinary piece of censorship. It does recall the outcry the Republicans raised over the other side of the Atlantic, which ended the career of the comedienne who was shot holding the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. And returning to this side of the Pond, they also vociferously denounced Hilary Mantel when she published her short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, on the grounds that it might encourage terrorism.

Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden’s front man, left the band in 1992 to be with his family. However, he was still active with an satirical slant. He made a novelty single for the election that year with Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean. And he wrote two books about a transvestite English aristo, Lord Iffy Boatrace. Here’s the covers from Christe’s book, p. 212.

For some reason the character’s name reminds me of that other Tory grandee, Jacob Rees-Mogg, though otherwise I’m sure the character bears no similarity to him whatsoever.

Vox Political on the Racist, Islamophobic Booklets at the Tory Conference

October 9, 2018

Mike also raised further questions about the prevalence of racism in the Tory party in an article he put up about a report by Vice that they had discovered far-right literature at a meeting of the Bruges group, a Thatcherite anti-EU group within the Tories. The book in question was Moralitis: A Cultural Virus. This was a long, racist rant against ‘Cultural Marxism’ using the metaphor of bacteriology. It stated that

The body politic has become infected. Like the growth of bacteria in a petri dish, the subversive tenets of cultural Marxism have spread as a pinking of the public discourse.

Mike goes on to explain that ‘Cultural Marxism’

refers to a far-right conspiracy theory with its origins in anti-Semitic beliefs that Jews – as a culture – want to undermine traditional Western values.

In its modern variant it seems to be a product of the Republicans in America. Right-wing organisations like Prager U and Paul Joseph Watson, formerly Alex Jones’ Brit sidekick on Infowars, rant about it. It seems to be based on a confused and garbled understanding of the German Frankfurt School and Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was a Marxist, who turned Marxism on its head by discussing and analyzing how culture helped perpetuate capitalism. In orthodox Marxism, it’s the other way round: the economic basis of society determines the culture. Scholars from the Marxist Frankfurt School sought refuge in America when the Nazis took power. In the form the Republicans and their followers over here are retailing, there’s no explicit reference to Jews, and I think many of those who have adopted this view may also believe the lie that anti-Semitism is also something unique to the Left.

But critics of the idea have also pointed out that the idea of ‘Cultural Marxism’ actually goes all the way back to the Nazis and their idea of Kulturbolschevismus – Cultural Bolshevism. This was the idea that the supposed Jewish plot to enslave White Aryans, and particularly Germans, included the destruction of German culture. Jews were members of many of the modernist movements in art, music and literature the Nazis despised, such as 12 note Serialism in music and Expressionism. And so the Nazis and anti-Semitic mobs angrily denounced anything dangerously modern as ‘Jewish’.

Mike goes on to quote the Vice article on the contents of this nasty booklet.

The Vice article states: “The booklet blames immigration for “relentless population growth” and suggests that the growth of Britain’s Muslim population was “a deliberate policy to replace one set of voters with another”. It also notes that it is absurd for progressives to favour immigration, “considering the very conservative cultures that they bring” – for instance, “the growth of fundamentalist Islam”.” It goes on to suggest that such “progressives” are like turkeys voting for Christmas.

He explains that

This refers to a far-right conspiracy theory called “The Great Replacement”, that believes Western culture is being systematically “replaced” by the culture of immigrants from third-world continents who are allegedly “pawns for the revolutionary zeal of cultural Marxism”.

This idea is merely a modern version of the old conspiracy theory that the Jews are encouraging racial mixing in order to destroy the White race. You may remember that the Nazis and Klansmen marching through Charlottesville last year chanted ‘You will not replace us!’ and ‘Jews will not replace us!’ It also seems to be partly based on the fact that some parts of the radical American Left in the early part of this century did look forward to immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere revitalizing American radicalism. You also hear regularly on this side of the Atlantic the claim that Blair deliberately allowed in greater numbers of immigrants because he wanted to create a multicultural society that the Tories would be unable to undo or appeal to. This claim was first made by a former civil servant under Blair, who remains its only source. And the positive attitude of the American Left towards immigration, and its alleged deliberate increase by Blair are far from being the racist plot the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory claims.

As for the book’s title, Moralitis is ominously similar to the Nazis’ explicit rejection, common to Fascism generally, of humanitarianism.

As for the claim that Muslim immigration presents a particular danger because of the conservative nature of those societies, there is indeed a problem with the very hardline, intolerant form of Islam promoted by the Saudis. And I can remember one moderate Muslim imam complaining in the Financial Times back in the 1990s that the lack of properly trained Muslim clergy in Britain meant that dangerous fanatics and bigots were able to come here from Pakistan unchecked in order to meet this spiritual need. However, this was before 9/11 and I doubt very much the same type of clergy find it quite so easy to get into this country or others in the EU. Furthermore, many, if not the majority of the Islamic terrorists so far caught are second or third generation Brits, coming from integrated, westernized homes. Anjem Chaudhury, the raving bigot behind a whole host of Islamist organisations in Britain and Europe, like Sharia4UK, is an example of this. Before he converted to hardline Islam and became an ardent, vocal supporter of terrorism, Chaudhury was a law student at Oxbridge. He managed to fail his degree, largely due to drink and drugs. While many people reach out to religion and God during personal crises like that, they don’t all of them by any means decide that the way to the divine is by the destruction of their surrounding society and the murder of its people. It looks to me very much like Chaudhury and those like him turned to nihilistic, destructive Islamism because of their own personal failings and destructive tendencies. They aren’t representative of wider British Islamic culture.

Mike’s article concludes

The meeting of the Bruges Group was said to be well attended this year, with a cabinet whip keeping watch over hard-Brexiteer MPs – that’s right, Conservative members of Parliament have been swallowing this tripe.

The title of his article asks ‘Are these far-right, racist booklets influencing Conservative MPs?’

It’s a good question. Even if they aren’t, they show that people elsewhere in the Tory party are reading them, and are being influenced. Which in turn shows that vehement racism is still a powerful force amongst the ‘Nasty Party’.

Vox Political: Why Is the Media Silent about Tory Anti-Semitism?

October 9, 2018

A few days ago Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece commenting on the lamestream media’s reaction, or lack of it, to the photos published in the Mirror of a group of Tory students at Plymouth University wearing some very offensive messages on their T-Shirts. These idiots had all thought it would be jolly japes to scrawl slogans like ‘F**K the NHS’ on their shirts. One of these clowns was wearing a Hitler moustache, and had drawn a Star of David and the word Jude. This was not the name Jude, as in the Beatles’ song ‘Hey, Jude’, or that of the actor, Jude Law. Or the Christian saint, St. Jude. No, this was the German Jude, meaning ‘Jew’. And the two together were a disgusting parody of the identifying marks Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, before they were deported and murdered wholesale under the Final Solution.

Mike in his article mentioned how the Beatles opened a fashion shop in the 1960s, only to find it physically attacked because of suspected anti-Semitism. They called it ‘Hey, Jude’, after their song. Unfortunately, some people thought that this was some kind of anti-Semitic message, as it brought back memories of Kristallnacht, the night when the Nazis systematically attacked Jewish shops and businesses, scrawling the word Jude on them. The night got its name, which means ‘Crystal Night’ in English, after the shards of broken glass when the Nazis smashed the shop windows. Now Macca and the Fab Four were and are anything but Nazis, but you can see how some people could make that mistake. And a decade later in the ’70s, some of the punks really did wear Nazi regalia in order to provoke that kind of outrage. Sid Vicious apparently went all the way through the Jewish section of Paris dressed as stormtrooper in a gratuitously tasteless and offensive display.

But while the media has gleefully seized upon and played up the entirely invented claims of anti-Semitism within the Labour party, they are very, very quiet about any such incidents in the Tories. The Mirror reported that the both the Tories and Plymouth University were planning to hold inquiries into the behaviour of these toff idiots and punish them. But that’s it. I think it was only the Mirror and possible one other newspaper that reported the incident. If it had been young members of the Labour party, there’d have been no end of outrage and denunciations in the media, by politicians and the public. And further calls for Corbyn to resign as he would be held responsible. But as it was the Tories all you could hear was a deafening silence.

Not only does the media not want to report Tory anti-Semitism, but the Jewish establishment wishes to deny that such a thing even exists. Marie van der Zyle (below) stated in one of her attacks on the Labour party that, in contrast to them, the Tories had always been ‘good friends of the Jews’.

You know I’m not going to get tired of this joke!

Van der Zyle’s bizarre claim whitewashes a very long history of anti-Semitism in the Tory party. One of the left-wing Jewish blogs was so upset by it, that they put up a list of some of the more notorious of incidents in the Tory party. This went, I seem to recall, from the British Brothers’ League and the passage of the Aliens Act by the Tory government at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th to ban Jewish immigration, to the comment by one Tory about the number of Jews in Thatcher’s government. He remarked that there were far Estonians there than Etonians. Apart from being anti-Semitic, it also shows the very distinct class prejudice and sense of entitlement in the Tory party. Etonians were expected to make up a good proportion of cabinet ministers, not the children of eastern European Jews.

In the 1930s a fair number of Tories sympathized with Nazi Germany and supported Oswald Mosley’s infamous British Union of Fascists. Amongst the various pro-Nazi outfits, like the Anglo-German Fellowship, was one specifically dedicated to purging Jews from the Tory party. By the 1970s certain sections of the Tory party had become so notorious for their anti-Semitism, that they had to take steps to assure the Jewish community that they were anything but. Thus the Monday Club, which has long been infamous for its racism and opposition to non-White immigration, opened its membership books to the Board of Deputies of British Jews to show that they didn’t have any Nazis among them.

David Cameron at the beginning of this century made gestures to expel and ban Nazis from the party during his modernization campaign. The party severed links with the Monday Club, and those with links to BNP and racist right were thrown out. But the Tories are still a very racist party, no matter how many BAME people they may make ministers or make MPs. Zac Goldsmith ran an islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan for mayor of London, smearing him as a supporter of terrorism. They put up posters and sent round vans calling on illegal immigrants to hand themselves in. And Tweezer herself was responsible for drafting the legislation that allowed them to deport the Windrush generation, who were British citizens and had every right to remain in this country. And I can remember when some branches of the Tory party, including the Union of Conservative Students, were debating adopting ‘racial nationalism’ as their official policy. That’s the doctrine of the BNP and NF: only those who are British by race, which here means ‘White’, are really citizens. Everyone else should be repatriated, voluntarily or involuntarily.

And you can bet that it isn’t just non-Whites that certain sections of the Tories loathe and despise. Somewhere there’s going to be real, anti-Semitism, no matter what Cameron, Tweezer and van der Zyle may say.

But the lamestream media aren’t going to poke their noses into this question. The press is almost wholly dominated by the Tory party, especially now that the Guardian and Observer have decided to throw in their lot with them. And just about all the papers seem to want to see Corbyn thrown out of power because of the threat he poses to Thatcherite neoliberalism.

And so the media is going to continue the lie, that on the one hand the Labour party is a party of anti-Semites, led by an anti-Semite, and on the other hand that the Tories are completely innocent of such ugly racism. No wonder people are choosing to get their information instead from the Net.

The Socialist, Labour Party Origins of the NHS and Welfare State

October 7, 2018

It seems that the Tory party is once again trying to lay some kind of claim to the NHS, even as they destroy it. At the Tory party conference last week I seem to recall one of the speakers claiming that the Tories could be relied on to keep it in budget and governed according to sound financial management.

Which must be why so many NHS Trusts are saying they’re seriously underfunded and in debt.

We’ve heard this nonsense before. A few years ago, former Health Secretary and maliciously incompetent clown, Jeremy Hunt, claimed that the NHS was a Tory invention. It wasn’t. The modern welfare state was created by the Atlee government under the direction of the great Nye Bevan. One right-wing commenter came on this blog to try to argue that the NHS wasn’t the creation of the Labour party, as it was based on the Beveridge Report. Beveridge was a Liberal, who based his report on consultation with a number of sources inside the civil service. But the ultimate origin of the NHS actuall predates the Report. In the 1930s the Socialist Medical Society had also issued demands for the creation of a National Health Service, and the Labour Party had included it in their manifestos. And the ultimate origin of the NHS goes back to the Webbs and their Minority Report on the Poor Law of 1909.

I found a couple of quotes making the socialist origins of the NHS and welfare state very clear in the booklet 100 Years of Fabian Socialism 1884-1984, edited by Deirdre Terrins and Phillip Whitehead (London: Fabian Society 1984).

With Lloyd George and Beverdge, Beatrice and Sidney Webb can just be said to be the founders ofthe modern Welfare State. In particular, Beatrice’s 1909 Minority Report to the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, and the Webbs’ subsequent Prevention of Destitution campaign, laid down a blueprint for the development of welfare programmes to cater for the disadvantaged. (p.7)

Discussing the activities of the Fabian Society during the War, the book states

At home the essays Social Security, edited by William Robson, paved the way for the Beveridge Report. This book, and five others, with a further nineteen research pamphlets, comprised the Fabian war effort. It was condensed in the 1945 Manifesto Let Us Face the Future, written by the Fabian Michael Young, and successful as no manifesto has ever been before or since. (p.17).

As for the Tories, they’ve been repeating the lie that only they, not Labour, offer the sound financial management required to keep the NHS afloat since the 1980s, if not before. I can remember the Torygraph declaring c. 1987 that while Labour had founded the NHS, only the Tories’ good financial management could be relied upon to maintain it. To support this assertion, they stated that when the Italians had set up their version of the NHS in the 1970s it had gone bust within a week.

I really don’t know anything about the Italians’ attempts to set up a system of state medicine, and so can’t comment on that part of the Torygraph’s claim. But the rest of it – that it’s the Tories prudent financial management that has kept the NHS solvent, is nonsense. Dangerous, pernicious nonsense.

And the Torygraph was aware of it at the time, which is why it said it. Thanks to Maggie Thatcher’s management, the NHS was in crisis, with lengthening waiting lists, the postponement of operations and the closure of hospital wards. Maggie, despite her loud denials and denunciations of the Labour party for claiming otherwise, had planned to privatise the NHS. She was stopped because of a full scale Cabinet revolt and the fact that her private secretary, Patrick Jenkin, had been to America and seen for himself just how dreadful the American healthcare system was, funded by private health insurance. Thatcher thus rowed back, and resorted instead to trying to get a certain percentage of the British population to take out private health insurance instead.

The party then went ahead with a programme of piecemeal NHS privatisation through the Private Finance Initiative, which was picked up and expanded by Blair and New Labour when they came to power in 1997. And after Labour lost the 2010 election, the programme has been resumed and expanded in turn by the Tories under Cameron and Tweezer, and their Health Secretaries Andrew Lansley, Jeremy Hunt and their successors.

However, under New Labour the NHS was kept in the black, so any claims that Labour was responsible for overspending or bankruptcy there is a lie. And even in the 1970s the compilers of a report into the NHS stated that further NHS expenditure would easily be met through natural increases in government funding.

Ultimately, the Welfare State and the NHS have been largely the creation of Socialists and the Labour party. The Conservative commitment to state medical care has, by contrast, always been tenuous. In the 1950s the Tory Right revolted and wanted to privatise the new NHS, claiming that it was financially unsupportable. Just as the Tories now claim that it would not be properly financially supported by the Labour party. Even though the Tories themselves have partially privatised it and driven it into debt.

The only solution is for the NHS to be returned to its Socialist origins and be renationalised. Which is what Corbyn promises, and one of the reasons the Tories, New Labour and the media are so scared of him. And why we need Corbyn, and a proper, traditional, Socialist Labour party in government.

Gordon Dimmack on Tweezer Refusing to Give Interview to Channel 4

October 3, 2018

Gordon Dimmack is a left-wing vlogger with a particular interest in disability issues. In the video below, of about six and a half minutes in length, he discusses Tweezer’s decision yesterday not to give an interview to Channel 4’s Jon Snow at the Tory conference.

He shows the piece Snow himself broadcast about it, pointing out that this was the first time since the broadcaster was founded in the 1982 that it had been refused an interview with the-then leader of the ruling party. He’s been therefore for 35 years interviewing Thatcher, then Blair, Brown, Cameron and even Tweezer herself. Except this week, when they turned him and the broadcaster down. No reason was given.

Dimmack wonders whether the reason could possibly be connected to an interview Tweezer gave four weeks ago to Channel 4’s Michael Crick. This was when she was at Robben Island in South Africa going to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. And Crick gave her a grilling comparable to that handed out by Paxo on Newsnight. He asked her a question she really didn’t want to answer: what did she do to free Nelson Mandela?

As you can see from that segment of Dimmack’s video, she really didn’t want to answer that question. She tries to get round it by waffling about the support given to Mandela and South Africa during the transformation to democracy. What it doesn’t wash with Crick. He asks her if she got herself arrested protesting South Africa or boycotted South Africa. Tweezer admits that she ‘didn’t chain herself to railings’ before trying to resume with her waffle about Britain supporting Mandela, his vision of the country, etc. Crick is skeptical about this, and with good reason. Thatcher considered Mandela a terrorist. And he asks Tweezer about all this supposed aid Britain gave South Africa under Thatcher. Tweezer continues with her nonsense about giving help where it was needed.

Crick doesn’t pick up on it, but that raises all kinds of questions. Thatcher tried to justify her refusal to boycott South Africa on the grounds that it would hit Black South Africans the worst. But the ANC, Mandela and the other Black organisations wanted Britain to impose sanctions anyway. So what was Tweezer saying: that by not imposing sanctions, they were giving to Black South Africa, even when that was not what they wanted, when they saw their real goal as ending apartheid? Crick doesn’t ask, and Tweezer didn’t say, but the question’s still there.

Crick’s interview was admired, rightly, by the press and critics. But the Tories haven’t given Channel 4 another interview with Tweezer.

But one broadcaster they have allowed to interview her was the Beeb. And Dimmack pointed out that the last interview the Corporation did with her was very softball, with what looks like the Macclesfield Goebbels, Nick Robinson, lobbing very easy questions at the Prime Minister.

Dimmack wonders if Tweezer’s new reticence towards Channel 4 has got something to do with the above, claiming that he honestly doesn’t know. Well, unless Tweezer ‘fesses up, no-one knows. But he’s built a good case.

As for Jon Snow, he remarks that access is the cornerstone of democracy, it helps journalists hold the government to account. He’s right, but this is clearly a government that doesn’t want to be held to account. But then, that was clear by its attempts to weaken even further the Freedom of Information Act, the way Tweezer and her predecessors have refused FOIA requests into the deaths they have caused with their wretched ‘work capability tests’. And the Tory press have been absolutely complicit in supporting this out of control, murderous party.