Posts Tagged ‘Migration’

The Painter of Cyberspace: The Art of Jurgen Ziewe

January 20, 2018

Earlier this week there was a piece in the press announcing that the Turner Prize Committee had decided to go public early about which artworks and artist they were considering. I have strong feeling, like many people, about the Turner Prize. Many of the works seem simply designed to shock, with nothing more substantial underneath. Those that aren’t, are simply banal. It’s highbrow kitsch, which says nothing while claiming that it actually does. And I think modern fine art has reached a dead end. it’s anti-art, which constantly raves about Duchamps’ urinal nailed to a piece of canvas. Duchamps did it to make the point that whatever the artist claimed to be art, was art. It’s over a century old, and the joke’s well past it’s sell-by date. It was always an adolescent, childish prank anyway. To some of these art experts, it’s a hallowed artistic statement that must not be blasphemed in any way. You remember those Chinese guys, who were arrested when they jumped up and down on Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’? The same two were planning to urinate in Duchamps’ urinal. Which I feel is in keeping with the piece itself, but the mere thought horrified the keepers of official art.

The real artistic boundaries are being pushed, in my opinion, not by the fine artists, or at least, not by those fine artists currently pushed by the very small clique that defines what ‘official’ art is, like Nicholas Serota. Rather, they’re being pushed by commercial artists and film makers, often inspired by the worlds of Fantasy and SF, using computer graphics. One of the foremost of these, in my opinion, is the German artist Jurgen Ziewe. Ziewe lives over here, and has an English wife. And we are fortunate to have such a talented artist. I do wonder what will happen to other talented EU migrants like him after Brexit, who can’t stay in this country because they aren’t married. We’re going to lose a lot of very talented people.

Ziewe uses computer graphics, including Virtual models of humans and objects, and fractals, to create prismatic, Virtual, interior worlds full of robots, strange creatures, synthetic humans, fairies, wizards, witches, priestesses and temples. He started out making cards showing dolphins under cosmic skies. He’s a very spiritual guy, in a New Age-y sense, and his work is inspired by concepts from Theosophy and C.G. Jung. Here’s some of the picture from Nigel Suckling’s book about his art, New Territories: The Computer Visions of Jurgen Ziewe (Paper Tiger, 1997).

The Fairy Queen

Picnic In Cyberspace

Journey of a Virtual Traveller

Apart from Ziewe, other artists working in film and television have also been using the concepts of computer graphics. One of the features of the BBC TV version of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that most impressed me in the late ’70s or early 1980s were the, ahem, computer graphics for the pieces of information provided by the Book. In fact, they were hand drawn, because the computers at the time simply weren’t up to the task of creating pictures that detailed. But the art produced as ‘computer graphics’, was superb, and those, who watched the show were deeply impressed. As an example, here’s a piece from YouTube of the Book describing Vogon poetry.

Further examples can be seen in pop videos. Like this one from the American electro-pop band, Information Society, which uses scrolling alphanumerics to suggest passage through cyberspace in a computer game, made for their track, ‘The Prize’.

Other artistic explorations of medically or cybernetically enhanced vision can be seen in the films Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick and the last of trilogy, entitled simply Riddick. Richard Riddick, the anti-hero in these movies, is a violent criminal, a murderer, who somehow ends up doing the right thing. While in slam for his crimes, he paid the prison doctor 20 menthol cigarettes to have his eyes surgically altered, ‘polished’, so that he could see in the dark. In these flicks, we so bits of the action through his eyes. The scene in Pitch Black, where he sees the predatory aliens pouring out of their underground lairs after the marooned crew of a crashed colony spacecraft, is awesomely beautiful. This is the trailer for the movie.

And this is the trailer for The Chronicles of Riddick.

In this movie, the Necromongers use visioners, cybernetically adapted humans, to seek and visually examine areas that are difficult or impossible for normal human eyes to see clearly. And the brief scenes, in which the audience is shown what they see, are also stunning.

But this is low, commercial art, and so unlikely to find any praise by the High Art people, no matter how popular it is, or how technically sophisticated and visually inspired. The best comment on this kind of artistic snobbery comes from the American SF/Fantasy artist and book illustrator, Bob Eggleton.

Being a commercial artist is itself a kind of pigeonhole in the art world, but it is not a label that troubles him. ‘Commercialism for the sake of commercialism is not a sin. What I hate is commercialism packaged as fine art. That’s what Abstract Expressionism about, you’re buying into a trend much of the time. There’s nothing wrong with any kind of art, provided the artist believes in what they’re doing.’

From Nigel Suckling, with introduction by Gregory Benford, Alien Horizons: The Fantastic Art of Bob Eggleton (Paper Tiger, 1995) page 83.

And the YBAs, such as Damian Hirst, Tracey Emin and Chris Offili, were very commercial, as was Salvador Dali long before them. This was pointed out on a programme on the great surrealist on Radio 4 several years ago by Malcolm MacLaren, the genius – well, he obviously thought he was – behind the Sex Pistols.

And here’s Eggleton’s picture of Great Cthulhu, painted for Weird Tales magazine, for all the Lovecraft fans out there.

I realised I’ve digressed a little way from the central topic of this post, the fantastic computer art of Jurgen Ziewe. But these are related issues, showing the way computers, robots, space and high technology – the stuff of Science Fiction – is pushing artistic boundaries in ways that the official fine art of Conceptualism really isn’t doing. I’m also exploring a few ideas here for a much longer article, or series of articles, I intend to do on this sometime.

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Protesters Chant ‘Tories Out’ at Jacob Rees-Mogg Meeting

October 4, 2017

This is a very short video from the Groaniad. It’s just over half a minute long, but it shows the protesters at the Tory Conference in Manchester disrupt a meeting held by Jacob Rees-Mogg. The crowd hold up placards and chant ‘Tories Out!’

I think this is just one of a number of protests that have taken place in Manchester against the Tories. I put up a brief video of one that was held outside their conference hall the other day. And I can’t say that I’m not happy that they held this protest in an event held by the Young Master. Rees-Mogg is being touted by some Tories as the next leader of the party, presumably after they dump May. The editor of Conservative Woman was writing in the I the other day, praising Mogg as ‘personable’ and ‘popular’. Well, she’s welcome to her opinions.

I have to say that Mogg in his coat reminds me of a figure from Andean folklore. This is the Pishtaco, described as a White or mestizo (person of mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage) man in a long dark coat, underneath which he carries a pair of long knives. This man kills indigenous children for the grease their bodies contain, which is used to lubricate the machines of European industry.

On the other side of the world, the Asian Indians had a similar story back in the days of the infamous ‘Coolie Trade’. This was the trade in indentured migrants from Indian and China to South America, the Caribbean and Fiji, to work on the sugar plantations to replace the enslaved Black workers, who had just been freed. Pay and conditions were appalling, and the immigrants were treated as slaves. There were also instances of kidnapping, and the British several times organised raids in India, where kidnapped Indian labourers had been forcibly imprisoned prior to their transportation half-way around the world. Furthermore, no provision was initially made for the migrant labourers to keep in touch with their families or send part of their earnings back home. Families were thus torn apart, with no word from their relatives, for years at a time. The imperial authorities responded to the trade by passing legislation regulating the trade, stipulating minimum living and working conditions and demanding that systems should be set up to allow the families of labourers to come with them, and migrant workers to send part of the wages back home to support their wives and families.

However, the kidnapping and complete absence of any news about some of the men, who had gone abroad to work had resulted in the rumour that rather than being taken to work on the plantations, the labourers were being taken to secret factory or workshop, where they were killed and their skulls drained of the cerebrospinal fluid. As with the Andean Amerindian stories about the grease from the bodies of murdered children, the fluid from their skulls was exported to Europe for use in industry there.

These stories are just folklore. However, they were a metaphorical response to conditions of colonial oppression and exploitation. Mogg, with his tall, lanky frame certainly reminds me of the Amerindian figure. And as metaphors they also fit the Britain under the Tories. We are seeing people exploited, with capped wages, zero hours and short-term contracts, welfare to work legislation designed to get the unemployed working for the benefit – but not real wages – for the big supermarkets, and benefit sanctions to make the jobless and those threatened with unemployment feel as threatened and as powerless as possible. And people are starving. There’s about 100,000 forced to use foodbanks as they cannot afford to buy food. Something like seven million live in food insecure homes. And three million British children this summer went without having enough to eat.

Meanwhile, the Tories have given massive tax cuts to immensely rich, cuts which Rees-Mogg has fully supported, while at the same time voting to increase the tax burden for the poor, and cut benefits. And people are dying. I’ve mentioned the long lists and articles on those, who have died in starvation and misery due to benefit cuts by Mike, Johnny Void, Stilloaks, DPAC and so many others.

So the legends of South America’s indigenous peoples and its Indian counterpart also metaphorically apply to today’s Britain. Our people are being exploited and killed by the Tories and their austerity campaign for the benefit of the big corporations. Rees-Mogg himself has always been perfectly polite when he’s appeared on TV, and I dare say that personally he’s probably entirely decent the way he treats others. But his party is responsible for starvation, exploitation and death through a set of policies he firmly supports and wishes to expand.

The protesters are quite right to demonstrate against him and his wretched, murderous party.

The ‘I’: People Want Increased Taxes, Trust Labour More than Tories on NHS

May 31, 2017

It’s no wonder that the biased BBC was crowing about its supposed victory on Woman’s Hour yesterday, when Jeremy Corbyn forgot the figures for Labour’s promise on free childcare. A YouGov poll for the Times concluded that the gap between Labour and the Tories in the polls was only 5 per cent, and that Labour were set to take eight Tory seats, with Tories unable to take any from Labour.

Hence John Pienaar’s excited yelling that Labour needed to convince more people in the marginals, and the Beeb’s footage of two Midlands ladies praising Theresa May to the rafters. They had to. May’s popularity is plummeting, and in some areas the Tories are actually way behind Labour.

Yesterday’s I carried a story by Dominic Kirby, ‘Voters Back Tax Rise to Fund Improved NHS’, which showed that not only were the people of this great nation prepared to put up with more taxes for the health service, but also that Labour were trusted more than the Tories with it. The article read:

More than half of people in every region of Britain say they believe NHS services have worsened over the past three years, according to a survey for I.

The figure rose to 67.2 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, and fell as low as 54 per cent in Scotland, according to a poll of more than 8,300 people in partnership with Google Surveys.

It also suggested most people in all regions felt the private sector should have no role in running the NHS, with the highest opposition in the North-east, at 74.3 per cent.

There was also widespread support for the Lib Dem policy of putting an extra penny in thre pound in income tax to raise an estimated £6bn a year for the NHS.

The strongest support was in the south-west of England, where 81.5 per cent of respondents said they would be prepared to pay the extra.

But even in the region with the lowest support – the south-east of England, 72.l per cent said they would pay.

Labour is the most trusted party when it comes to the NHS in every region apart from Scotland, the survey says. As many as 67.9 per cent gave the party their backing over health in some parts of the north.

Even in the English region where Labour did worst – the south-east – it was still the party most trusted on the NHS, ahead of the Conservatives.

English voters were offered a choice of four parties – the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party – and asked which one they trusted most with the future of the NHS.

In the north-west, some 67.9 per cent went with Labour, compared with 21 per cent for the Conservatives, 6 per cent for the Lib Dems and 5.1 per cent for the Greens.

In the north-east, Labour was the choice of 63.7 per cent and the Tories 25.5 per cent, while in Yorkshire and the Humber the split was 63.3 per cent Labour and 23.6 per cent Conservative.

The highest levels of support for the Tories were found in the south-east and east of England.

In the south-east, 33.3 per cent said they trusted the Tories most with the future of the NHS – but 48 per cent said they trust Labour most.

In the east, 35.1 per cent went for the Conservatives, while 48.2 per cent for Labour.

It was a different story in Scotland, where voters were asked to choose between the SNP, the Conservatives, labour and the Liberal Democrats. There, 42.9 per cent said they trusted the SNP most with the health service, while 32.4 per cent went for Labour, 19.;5 per cent the Conservatives, and 5.2 per cent the Lib Dems.

So, no wonder that the I paper is reporting that May is falling back on personal attacks on Corbyn as her lead in the polls collapses. It also explains perfectly why she’s now fallen back on plugging herself as the best person for Brexit, and why one of the Tory papers today is claiming on its front page that Labour has a secret plan to increase migration.

The fear amongst May and the Tories is so great, you can practically smell it.

Vox Political: BBC Takes Three Quarters of its Statistics from the Tories

August 13, 2016

Mike also put up a very interesting piece last week, reporting and commenting on an article in the Guardian on a report on the Corporation’s use of statistics by the BBC Trust. The report, Making Sense of Statistics, used the Cardiff School of Journalism to analyse not just its use of stats generally, but also in particularly issues, such as health, the junior doctors’ strike and migration. It found that 73 per cent of the statistics it took from politicians came from the Tories. As a rule, the Beeb does not place these figures in their context, nor does it challenge them.

Mike drily comments that this will surprise no-one, but…

See his article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/10/bbc-impartiality-in-tatters-as-report-reveals-corporation-relies-on-tories-for-statistics/

This is another damning piece of evidence showing the immense, pro-Tory bias at the Corporation. A few years ago, media analysts at Glasgow university showed that Conservative politicians were far more likely to be interviewed and quoted than Labour or the other parties. And Mike and very many other bloggers have also pointed out particularly cases of very obvious bias at the Beeb. One of the most flagrant was when the Beeb edited a question to Alex Salmond by Nick Robinson during the Scots referendum debate. Salmond replied, but this was clearly too much for the BBC, who edited out his answer and then claimed that Salmond had failed to answer. It was a piece of falsification that would have made Goebbels proud. In another example, the BBC decided it was not going to report, at least on air, on a campaign against its bias despite the fact that this had attracted tens of thousands of supporters and was occurring right outside the BBB’s own front door.

The Corporation proudly shows statistics which claim that it overwhelmingly has the support of Britain’s industrialists and governing classes. Of course it has, as it just presents their own views, and regurgitates their own bias towards privatisation, welfare cuts and attacks on the working class and trade unions back at them.

Vox Political: Real Wages Fall by Ten Per Cent Under Tories

July 30, 2016

Mike also published a piece last week on a report published on Wednesday by the TUC, which found that while wages had grown in real terms across the EU between 2007 and 2015, they had fallen in Britain by 10.4%. The average rise in wages across the EU was 6.7 per cent. In Poland, wages had risen by 23 per cent. In Germany wages rose by nearly 14 per cent, and in France by 10.5 per cent. The only countries across the OECD which suffered a fall in wages were Portugal, Britain and Greece.

Mike’s article has two illustrations – one is a graph showing the rise in real wages in various countries, while another is a meme showing the massive pay rises enjoyed by other, very privileged groups, in Britain. Like Bankers, whose pay has risen by 35%, directors of FTSE 100 companies, 14%, and MPs, whose pay has gone up by 11%.

Mike makes the point that New Labour must share some of the blame for this, as not only was Peter Mandelson and his chums very relaxed about people making money, they were also extremely relaxed about wages stagnating. He makes the point that the crash his the poorest the hardest, and the austerity launched by the Tories has been punishing and impoverishing the poor to bail out the bankers and the rich. He also makes the point that Owen Smith’s solutions are just cosmetic, and won’t do anything without concrete proposals for the redistribution of the extra money gained through the ‘wealth tax’ he proposes.

See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/27/real-wages-in-the-uk-have-fallen-by-more-than-10-per-cent-under-tories/

Mike’s right about New Labour being very relaxed about wages stagnating. In fact, wage restraint has been a major part of the neoliberal consensus ever since Maggie Thatcher took power in 1979. Keynsianism tolerated high inflation – and in the 1970s at times the inflation rate in Britain was truly eye-watering – as it was coupled to an expanding economy. Both Labour and the Tories attempted to keep pay rises within certain boundaries nevertheless. Thatcher’s Monetarism was much harder towards inflation. It saw this it as the major obstacle to economic growth, and so demanded that it be ruthlessly cut, even if this meant shedding jobs on a truly massive scale, accompanied by a fall in real wages, and the dismantlement of various welfare programmes. It also meant abandoning the Keynsian commitment, pursued over 40 years, to full employment.

Robin Ramsay in a piece on his ‘News from the Bridge’ column in Lobster, made the point that when he was studying economics at Uni in the 1970s, Monetarism as an economic theory was so poorly regarded by his lecturers that they left it to the undergrads to work out what was wrong with it. Which shows you it was known even then to be totally rubbish and useless. He argues that it was adopted by the Tory party because it gave them a rationale for doing what they wanted to do on other grounds – destroy organised labour, dismantle the welfare state, including the Health Service, and grind the working class into poverty.

Now a number of economists are pointing out that, despite the emphasis by the Tories on wage restraint and very low inflation rates, the economy is not growing. I think Han Joon Chang is one of these in his 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The comparison with Greece is particularly chilling. Greece has been ruthlessly punished by the Troika with very harsh austerity policies, partly because the Greeks dared to defy the Eurozone authorities and elected Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. Counterpunch has attacked the economic despoliation of the country by mainly German banks as a form of economic warfare. Greece was one of the countries that suffered from the effective collapse of the Eurozone. The result has been grinding mass poverty for its people. One recent programme on the country’s plight showed children picking rubbish off dumps to sale, just as they do in Developing Nations. The presenter looked on, aghast, and made the point that he had never seen this before in what was supposed to be a developed, European country.

Is this what New Labour and the Tories have in store for us? One of the books I found in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham yesterday was about how Britain would have a ‘third world’ economy by 2014. Clearly the book was written a little while ago, and the timing’s out, but nevertheless, the appearance of third world conditions in Britain is a real possibility. There are already 3.7 million people living in ‘food poverty’, and hundreds of thousands facing off poverty only because of food banks. I also remember how this was predicted on a BBC Horizon programme, entitled, ‘Icon Earth’, twenty years ago. The programme was about how the image of the Earth in space, taken from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, had affected global religious, political and economic perspectives. That image had stimulated people around the world to realise that everyone on Earth shared a common home. One result of this, so the programme claimed, was globalisation. It discussed the growing campaigns against migration from the developing world with an Indian anti-racism activist. She predicted that as globalisation progressed, pockets of the third world would appear in the first.

She’s right. This has happened with Greece, and it is occurring in Britain, thanks to the Tories and New Labour. But unlike Greece, we cannot blame the EU. We never joined the Eurozone, and the deterioration in wages and conditions will occur because of Brexit. The cause of this stagnation ultimately is three and half decades and more of Thatcherism.

Vox Political: Brexit and Tories Damaging EU Protection for British Steel Industry

June 1, 2016

Mike yesterday put up a fascinating piece discussing and reproducing Stephen Kinnock’s detailed statements on the way the Tories’ commitment to free market Neoliberalism and the Brexit campaign are actively damaging the British steel industry. Kinnock was one of those sent to negotiate with Tata Steel about the closure of the plant in Port Talbot, and wrote the article after he returned from meeting the company’s directors in Mumbai.

He states that the Conservatives are actually planning to pass legislation to allow China to continue dumping its steel without any protective tariff blocks. They are trying to get China granted Market Economy Status. If granted, this would mean that neither the EU nor anyone else could raise tariffs to stop them wrecking their domestic steel industries by dumping their steel. As for the status itself, that’s highly questionable, considering that China’s steel industry is 80 per cent owned by the state. The Tories have also turned down the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which gives money to states so that they can re-train workers thrown out of work through globalisation.

As for the two models for our future relationship with the EU outside it, the Canada model would result in our losing much of our industry, as it is hit by the loss of the vast market and 53 individual states that constitute the European Union. The Norway model would continue to allow us to trade with the EU, but it would force us to accept EU legislation without debate or participation, as a condition for continuing trading. And, it could be added, it still wouldn’t stop the mass migration across the continent, which has generated so much fear and support for Brexit and the Tories. Norway has been forced to accept EU levels of immigration as part of the deal for their continued trade links to Europe.

This argument against Brexit is stronger now than when it was written

This is the complete and opposite of what Cameron and Osborne want to tell us. They are not defending Britain nor making us more competitive. They are destroying British industry in favour of the Chinese. But this is quite acceptable. To Conservatives, only organised labour, like Socialists and trade unionists, are ever considered traitors and a threat to this country’s economy and industry.

Hope Not Hate on the Polish Fascist Group, National Rebirth of Poland

March 22, 2016

I’ve blogged a bit recently about the growth of Fascism in eastern Europe, and particularly Poland. I’ve made it clear that no self-respecting person from Poland, the Czech and Slovaks Republics, Ukraine, Belorus or Russia should have anything to do with any of these squalid organisations if they genuinely love their countries. The Nazis looked down on the Slavonic peoples as untermenschen, subhumans. After the War, some of the conquered Slav peoples were to be allowed to survive to provide their Nazi masters with slave labour. In the meantime, areas of Poland were to be cleared of their people, ready to be settled by German colonists. This was ultimately to be the policy extended over the whole of the conquered eastern nations. The Nazis treated peoples of these countries with considerable brutality. You can read horrific accounts of Nazis stealing ‘aryan’ babies from their Polish parents to give to German couples on the grounds that they were somehow rescuing lost ‘aryan’ bloodlines. They also put into practice the same eugenics policy as German itself, killing innocent babies if they were considered ‘defective’. And Russian and Soviet prisoners of war were also treated with appalling barbarism.

Now, apparently, some of the Fascist organisations that have arisen in Poland have also managed to come over here, to boost our own squalid bunch of stormtroopers and goose-steppers. The anti-racist, anti-religious extremism magazine, Hope Not Hate, has a very interesting article on the Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski, or, in English, National Rebirth of Poland. According to the article, NOP first appeared in 1981 as an underground youth movement while Poland was still under Communist rule. In 1992, they became a political party, purely for legal reasons. They’ve been fielding candidates in the Polish elections since 2001, and according to the article have got nowhere fast.

But since last year, 2015, they’ve been over here, along with hundreds of thousands of other decent people from Poland, who just want to work and run businesses. NOP, however, seem to be the usual football hooligan bully-boys, of the type that fills the ranks of the hard Right all across Europe. Last year they attacked a free music festival in Tottenham, knifing a Polish anti-Fascist. They’ve also turned out to give their support to the British Nazi groups National Action and New Dawn, as well as joining the Blood & Honour Nazi music scene. They’ve also got links with the violent Nazis of Greece’s Golden Dawn. And you probably won’t be surprised to hear that they’ve also attacked Jews.

Now I’ve said several times that this country has gained much from its friendship with Poland. Free Polish pilots were the greatest airmen in our RAF during the Battle of Britain, and did so much to keep our country free of the Nazi menace. Hitler, however, liked the English, and declared that we were a ‘purely Germanic nation’. He planned not only to settle ethnic Germans in the conquered eastern European countries, but also members of the other Germanic-speaking peoples, including the English. So there’s considerable irony in that when the Polish stormtroopers are standing patriotically with British Nationalists, they’re making common cause with the type of people, who would have overrun them under Hitler and treated them as slaves.

For more information on the National Rebirth of Poland, read the Hope Not Hate article at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/features/nop/.

Vox Political: UKIP Is Wrong to Claim EU Open Borders Have Assisted Terrorism

March 22, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a necessary little article correcting one of the pronouncements about the Belgian terrorist attack today by UKIP’s Mike Hookem, the MEP for Yorkshire and Humber. According to Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, there may be about 5,000 terrorists, who have slipped into Europe from Syria. Hookem put two and two together, and made five. He decided that the terrorists had been able to get in due to the EU’s open borders policy in the Schengen zone. Except that they haven’t. They are nationals of European countries, who are returning to their countries of origin, after having travelled to Syria. See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/22/ukip-is-wrong-to-say-eu-freedom-of-movement-is-to-blame-for-brussels-bombings/

They’d be able to get into Europe regardless of the EU or not.

Now, it might be that the European Union’s open borders policy has enabled Abdesalam and his collaborators to flee across the Belgian border with less difficulty than previously, but terrorist groups and criminal organisations have always been able to find ways to get round border security and smuggle their people through and across. Even if the internal borders in the European Union were still up, I still don’t think these butchers would have had much difficulty crossing them. They’d have found a way, even if it involved fake passports and false moustaches. I don’t think the EU’s freedom of movement is a factor in this.

Hope Not Hate Critiques UKIP’s Claim that London Housing Crisis Caused by EU Migrants

March 8, 2016

Rachel O’Hara has posted a very good rebuttal of the Kippers’ claims that London’s housing shortage has been caused by migrants due to the EU’s ‘Open Doors’ policy over at the site of the anti-racism and anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate.

The Kippers released a party political broadcast on Wednesday for their candidate for mayor of London, Peter Whittle. At the end of the broadcast, which concentrates on London’s housing shortage, Farage’s voice comes on to claim that the population is going up by a third of a million each year, all due to the EU’s open borders policy. O’Hara gives the details on the actual migration figures, and shows that migration from the EU only accounts for 172,000 people. The other 151,000 came from outside the EU.

She goes on to argue that London’s housing shortage is due not to immigration, but to the international rich buying homes as investments, which then remain empty. This just increases demand and pushes prices up even further. She also notes that the biggest increase in London’s population is due to migration from India. She concludes

It is NOT our border controls that are causing the housing crisis in London but the encouragement of foreign capital employed for trophy property investments, the lack of investment in social housing and the buy to let scheme.

Go read the full article at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/xxxxxxxxxx-4778

Nye Bevin on the Treatment of Foreign Citizens by the NHS

February 12, 2016

Nye Bevan pic

The whole agitation has a nasty taste. Instead of rejoicing at the opportunity to practise a civilised principle, Conservatives have tried to exploit the most disreputable emotions in this among many other attempts to discredit socialised medicine.

The Tories and UKIP are both advocating cutting back welfare payments to foreign residents in Britain. In the case of the Kippers, this has even gone so far as demanding that they should be excluded from treatment by the NHS. This came up a year or so ago, and was properly denounced. I can remember that both Mike and I blogged about this horrendous attack on the poorest sections of our society under the guise of preserving the welfare state for the British at the time.

Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, was well aware that people would come to this country, seeking treatment by our health service, and was quite prepared to tolerate this. In his book, In Place of Fear (London: William Heineman 1952) he explains why. He believed that Britain should treat foreigners, because there was no way to separate the British from foreign citizens without creating the instruments of a surveillance state. It was also moral, and would have a civilising effect of encouraging other nations to create their own National Health Service.

Here’s the passage:

One of the consequences of the universality of the British Health Service is the free treatment of foreign visitors. This has given rise to a great deal of criticism, most of it ill-informed and some of it deliberately mischievous. Why should people come to Britain and enjoy the benefits of the free Health Service when they do not subscribe to the national revenues? So the argument goes. No doubt a little of this objection is still based on the confusion about contributions to which I have referred. The fact is, of course, that visitors to Britain subscribe to the national revenues as soon as they start consuming certain commodities, drink and tobacco for example, and entertainment. They make no direct contribution to the cost of the Health Service any more than does a British citizen.

However, there are a number of more potent reasons why it would be unwise as well as mean to withhold the Free Service from the visitor to Britain. How do we distinguish a visitor from anybody else? Are British citizens to carry means of identification everywhere to prove that they are not visitors? For if the sheep are to be separated from the goats both must be classified. What began as an attempt to keep the Health Service for ourselves would end by being a nuisance to everybody. Happily, this is one of those occasions when generosity and convenience march together.

The cost of looking after the visitor who falls ill cannot amount to more than a negligible fraction of £399,000,000, the total cost of the Health Service. It is not difficult to strive at an approximate estimate. All we have to do is look up this number of visitors to Great Britain during one year and assume they would make the same use of the Health Service as a similar number of Britishers. Divide the total cost of the Service by the population and you get the answer. I had the estimate taken out and it amounted to about £200,000 a year.

Obviously this is an over-estimate because people who go for holidays are not likely to need a doctor’s attention as much as others. However, there it is for what it is worth and you will see it does not justify the fuss that has been made about it.

The whole agitation has a nasty taste. Instead of rejoicing at the opportunity to practise a civilised principle, Conservatives have tried to exploit the most disreputable emotions in this among many other attempts to discredit socialised medicine.

Naturally when Britons go abroad they are incensed because they are not similarly treated if they need the attention of a doctor. But that also I am convinced will come when other nations follow our example and have Health Services of their own. When that happens we shall be able to work out scheme of reciprocity, and yet one more amenity will have been added to social intercourse. In the meantime, let us keep in mind that, here, example is better than precept.

And there are reciprocal system in place, as anyone who has signed the various forms to give them medical treatment abroad when they go on holiday has found.

Bevin was clearly writing before the era of mass migration to Britain, and the attendant social and political strains this has caused. But his argument still holds water. Migrants do contribute to the NHS and the welfare state the moment they start paying taxes in Britain, either by working or purchasing goods, on which VAT is levied. Which is just about all of them, but particularly if they smoke or drink alcohol.

And the attempt to deprive migrants of access to healthcare and welfare benefits it an assault on the NHS and welfare state as a whole. It’s salami tactics, a way of getting the public used to these services being withdrawn. And once you withdraw it from one group, then process is then extended to others, until finally British citizens have a private medical service like that suffered by the Americans.

We must stop this, and defend migrant’s rights to treatment on the NHS. For once they’ve done it to them, you can be sure the Tories will do it to the rest of us.