Posts Tagged ‘Multinationals’

A Small Family Sex Show in Bristol Cancelled Because of Petitions and Death Threats

April 26, 2022

As a Bristolian, I feel I have to add my fourpence worth about this controversy. One of the arenas of the culture war is over sex education in schools and especially sex education, with particular concern about the teaching or promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism. Parents and politicians are concerned about proper age-appropriate teaching of these subjects. The controversy seems to be particularly acute in America, where various, mostly right-leaning journos, activists and media pundits like Michael Walsh have criticised videos posted on TikTok of teachers coming out to young pupils and announcing that they’re gay, non-binary or trans. There have been instances where primary school children have been asked about which gender they identify with, as apart from their biological sex. One teacher proudly announced the ‘gender closet’ in which children can get changed into the clothing of the opposite sex when they want to keep it secret from their parents. There have been very sexually explicit books published for schools about gay and gender issues, containing the kind of imagery that once upon a time only used to be found in hard porn. And schools have also been told that, if a child trans, they should not inform his or her parents. As a result, there have been meetings of outraged parents confronting their local school boards in various towns and cities across the US. The Republican governor of Florida,, Ron de Santis, has just passed his so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act, which forbids the teaching of anything about sex and sexuality, including heterosexuality, from ages 5 – 9. The Disney corporation and various LGBTQ+ employees have been particularly incensed by it, and have tried to mobilise opposition against the bill. This was in conjunction with a leaked video showing some of its top brass saying that they want half of all their characters to come from ethnic minorities or the gay community. As a result, right-wing Republicans like Walsh are calling for an end to Disney’s autonomy in the state and its tax exemption. I have to say that this shows a somewhat skewed morality. As a massively profitable global enterprise, Disney should pay its fair whack of tax like the rest of us proles. And especially because conditions for its workers in China are so dire that they’ve had to install suicide nets in their factories to stop the wage slaves toiling over their merchandise from killing themselves.

The Tobacco Factory, one of Bristol’s many theatres, put its collective feet firmly into this mire of controversy last week when they announced they were hosting ‘A Small Family Sex Show’ by theatre company ThisEgg. The show was described as woke, Queer and feminist, ,and intended to teach children about sex, using personal experiences, covering sexual orientation, gender identity, boundaries and so on. The show was described as suitable for children of five upwards, and included a section where the performers were free to take their clothes to the extent they felt comfortable. This could be total nudity, or else the removal of bottoms but not underwear, or even just simply staying clothed. The content included teaching children about masturbation, touching as well as other, much more dubious and extreme practices. Quiet-voiced Benjamin Boyce, an American YouTuber who discusses topics like gender identity, went through the description of the show’s contents on their website. This also included various explicit drawings. It was a weird mixture of sex with information about theatre, such as pointing out that the areas to each side of the stage that are hidden from the audience are called the wings. It also promised to teach children about White privilege and supremacy. In the video introducing the show, it’s producers introduce themselves with their pronouns and a description of their race, complexion, hair colour and so on. They seem to have been White, and Boyce wondered why they thought such descriptions were necessary when everyone could see what they were like. But it was the sexual subjects they show intended to teach which naturally attracted Boyce’s astonishment and disapproval. Again and again he wondered aloud how it wasn’t grooming. And others wondered too, on both sides of the Atlantic, with many being very firmly convinced it was.

Karen Davis, a gender critical Black American YouTuber, covered it on her channel. She was concerned that it was aimed at a time when children were only just learning to differentiate between fiction and reality, and that you could not like people while still being civil to them. She was also concerned that it would break down barriers about sex between children and adults, barriers that children naturally have for very good reasons. She was concerned that it was teaching kids not to believe their own eyes and feelings about whether an adult presented a danger, and would so make them vulnerable to predators. Davis has very strong and uncompromising views on the trans issue and she goes further in her opposition than some other gender critical folks. But in this instance her views seem to be very well grounded. She frequently cites the medical and academic literature to support her opinions, which are also informed by her work as a special needs teacher for children. She has also previously worked in centres for people with mental health issues. She knows whereof she speaks. And one of her concerns was about the theatre companies name. ‘Egg’ apparently is trans slang for someone on the verge of being trans, who needs to be ‘hatched’. I wondered if the name wasn’t inspired by a cult BBC show about a group of graduates living in London called This Life, one of whose characters had the monicker ‘Egg’. The show claimed it had the support of one of the organisations charged with protecting children, but a glance at that organisation’s website – it might have been the NSPCC – showed that the show was in conflict with the organisation. This said on their website that one of the signs that a child was being abused or near to a child who was, was sexuality explicit talk.

There have been any number of people on YouTube in Britain and America tearing into the show. Meesh Makeida, a Black British mother, covered it in one of her videos and made it very plain that she definitely would not take her five year old to it. Karen Davis in her video about it compared it to the real, grubby sex shows for adults. Unfortunately, these have been about in my city. The city council voted a few months ago to shut down the, er, ‘gentlemen’s clubs’. And the tone of Park Street in Clifton went up when the strip clubs there closed down in the 1980s.

A large number of Bristol’s citizens also made their opposition to the show very plain. There was a petition against it, which garnered 38,000 signatures. There were also threats of death and violence against the theatre and ThisEgg. This resulted in the show’s cancellation. The producers have claimed that they were forced to pull the show due to the threats, and that these came from a small minority of extremists.

I don’t agree with making death threats, and sincerely hope that those sent did come from a small minority. But the 38,000 signatures on the petition definitely don’t come from a small number of people. I don’t know how many people were actually aware of the show’s existence – I haven’t seen it mentioned on the local news. But offhand I can’t think of anyone who would be happy at such a show being performed in front of children and especially not five year olds.

And grooming is a real and legitimate issue with this play. It appears to be informed by Queer Theory. This, in the view of scholars and critics like James Lindsay, explicitly wishes to break down the barriers between adults and children in matters of sexuality and sexual identity. It’s based on the theories of Foucault, a postmodern philosopher and paedophile. Foucault and other intellectuals tried to get the age of consent reduced to 12 or there about in France in the 1970s, and Foucault himself used to go to North Africa to take advantage of the prostituted boys. One of the issues here is that the gay rights movement in its early stages included many paedophiles and civil rights activists who mistakenly believed that it should be legalised. The gay movement in Britain began making headway when the gay organisations purged the paedophiles from their ranks and made it very plain that gay very definitely did not equal paedo. There are thus fears that the paedophiles are trying to come back in through Queer Theory and the kind of sex education that it produces.

Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, Big Train and the IT Crowd and a very firm opponent of the trans ideology, also discussed the play with American gender critical feminist Kara Dansky. I think Linners believed that ThisEgg were genuine in their concern that children received proper information about sex, just misguided. Dansky, on the other hand, suggested that the company really may have been deliberately grooming children. I hope not. They seemed sincere, but terribly, destructively wrong in my opinion.

When the news that the show was being staged a week ago, some of the commenters on various videos had a dig at Bristol. The city’s terribly ‘woke’, you see, and somehow it’s all the fault of the University. Well, certain parts of the city are very left-wing. People joke about the ‘People’s Republic of Stokes Croft’, for example. Other parts are more moderate or Conservative. And the various initiatives taken by Bristol University, such as lowering admissions for Black and Asian applicants in order to encourage more of them to apply don’t come from a long history of left-wing activism. They seem to be initiated in order to dispel criticism that the university is too elitist and White. But of course, there are left-wing lecturers there, just as there are Tories and others, who keep their political views quiet.

As for theatre in Bristol general, the city has a number of excellent venues. The Hippodrome tends to stage West End musicals like Cats, Return to the Forbidden Planet and even, every so often, the Rocky Horror Show. The Theatre Royal in King Street is one of the oldest in the country, and has produced many of this great nation’s leading thesps. It’s had everything from one man shows by Michael Bentine and John Mortimer, to performances of Into the West, from the film starring Ron Moody as a villain. It also staged more challenging performances about the Vietnam War and its legacy. Another theatre venue, Quaker’s Friars, has staged great plays, one of which was by one of the great 18th century French playwrights, as well as a production of the Hollywood classic Key Largo. And before it decided to put on A Small Family Sex Show, the Tobacco Factory had also put on several excellent plays, including puppet shows for children.

I think it’s excellent that the show has been cancelled, but I’m also acutely aware that children do need proper sex education. There was a time when it was not taught in school, and so children were really ignorant about their bodies, the changes of adolescence and reproduction. We should very definitely not go back there, whatever opposition there is to it by right-wingers like Peter Hitchens.

I’m also not entirely convinced that there’s been this controversy about it just when Bristol is facing a referendum over the elected mayor. At the moment it’s Marvin Rees for Labour. Now the mayor and city council generally have had nothing to do with the show, and no-one has said they have. But I’m afraid that the controversy over the play and the constant statements by the right about it being the product of the ‘woke’ left will lead some people to mistakenly connect it to Labour.

Bristol’s a great city, with great theatre. A Small Family Sex Show isn’t one of them, and shouldn’t have been booked.

Children do need proper sex education, given at suitable ages and using appropriate material. They cannot be left ignorant, but should not be exposed to material that is too explicit either. Especially when there is the danger that real abusers could use to approach children, no matter how well-intentioned the people behind such material are.

Mark Steyn also Misses the Point about David Amess’ Assassination

April 19, 2022

Ali Harbi Ali, the assassin responsible for the murder of Tory MP David Amess, was tried last week and duly found guilty. There really couldn’t be any doubt, as the thug didn’t try to run away or deny his crime. He was caught bang to rights. His sentencing elicited due comment from various politicos and members of the media class, one of whom was Mark Steyn. Steyn’s a right-winger with a strong hatred of Islam. He has been on various far right news media, giving viewers the benefit of his opinion on Islam. I don’t know if he was ever on Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media, a Canadian internet broadcaster with miniscule rating and a very anti-Islam attitude, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He was, however, out in New Hampshire sharing the airwaves with Reaganite blowhard Rush Limbaugh on his station. That was before Limbaugh finally gave up the ghost and left this Earth. Now he appears occasionally on GB News. As he did a few days ago, to criticise mainly Labour politicians for failing to mention the elephant in the room: that the motivation behind Amess’ murder was Islam and its hatred of the west.

The Labour politicos had put the blame on a number of factors. These included a generally increasingly confrontational and violent attitude towards politicians and intolerance towards anybody who doesn’t share the same points of view. The evidence for this is the abusive messages, including threats of death, rape and violence, sent to MPs. Others also tried to put it into some kind of context by placing it with the various other assassination and assassination attempts that have occurred. The most notable of these was Jo Cox’s murder by a White nationalist, but there was also the attempt on the life of Lib Dem MP a few years ago by a maniac with a samurai sword, which claimed the life of one of his staff. But Steyn considered that all this missed the point, and dishonoured Amess’ memory because the motive behind his killer was abundantly clear: he was a Muslim seeking to kill an infidel. He’d marched up and down looking for victims before finally deciding on Amess.

But Steyn’s analysis of his motives also misses the point. Harbi Ali wasn’t simply motivated by the bigot’s hatred of the unbeliever. No, he said that he was moved to do what he did in order to protect Muslims from being killed by the west. And this supports William Blum’s observations behind the animosity towards the West in the Dar al-Islam. Blum was a long-term, bitter critic of American imperialism and its many wars. He states in one of his books that the world’s Muslims don’t hate us because they envy our freedoms or any of the other explanations offered by the right. He states that the reason they hate us is simply because we keep invading their countries. And he supports this with polling stats and comments from various authorities and Muslim spokespeople.

I don’t doubt he’s right. Bush and Blair’s wars have devastated Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all of which seem to have been waged partly for geopolitical purposes, as well as the benefit of the oil industry and western multinationals. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the Middle East, and millions displaced. Such aggression is going to leave much hatred behind it amongst those on the receiving end.

But a left Labour party Zoom event against imperialism remarked about a year ago that the people and forces behind these imperialist wars seem to be trying to stage a comeback. And these invasions were all sold to the British and American public as a response to an imminent threat – true in the case of Afghanistan after 9/11, a complete lie in the case of Iraq and the imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction – and as liberating these benighted nations from evil tyrants. We were going to give them freedom and democracy. But this hasn’t worked. In the case of Afghanistan, it created the massively corrupt government of Hamid Karzai, who was determined to screw as much as he could out of his countrymen before scarpering to America when it all came tumbling down.

There are real problems with Islam. I’ve recently blogged about the appearance of bigoted, reactionary mullahs appearing on Islamic networks preaching jihad and the enslavement of unbelievers, despite two centuries or so of abolitionist preaching and legislation by Muslim anti-slavery activists. Fanatical imams have preached intolerance towards non-Muslims and gays in British and western mosques to the serious concern of many bog-standard, ordinary British Muslims. Several times worshippers at these mosques tried to alert the authorities, only to find themselves ignored. But that obviously doesn’t mean that there is a problem with the religion as a whole. As we’ve been reminded, the actions of terrorists don’t represent Muslims as a whole.

But the motive behind Amess’ murder wasn’t simply ‘Islam’. It was outrage at the deaths in the Muslim world that resulted from the west’s wars and invasions. Amess didn’t deserve to be killed, and Ali Harbi Ali certainly deserves to be sent to prison and not get out. But it needs to be realised what his motives were. And by simply blaming Islam, Steyn very definitely misses the point. Some of this is almost certainly because of his own deep hostility to Islam. But another reason may be that if he mentions it and gives it the discussion it deserves, it would cast serious doubt on the wisdom and effectiveness of further such actions and wars in the future.

And we can’t have that. Not when the west’s ability to put fear and awe into the rest of the world, and the interests of the oil industry and multinationals like Haliburton are at stake.

The Privatisation of Channel 4 Is Another Assault on Journalistic Independence

April 5, 2022

I gather from today’s headlines that the Tories are going ahead with their wretched plan to privatise Channel 4. Well, they’ve wanted to do it for a long time, ever since Maggie Thatcher set it up in the 1980s. It was meant to be an alternative to BBC 2, and so was naturally going to have low ratings. But it also had some excellent programming and did much to offer the British public genuine alternatives to the mainstream medial

It’s director-general in that decade, Jeremy Isaacs, believed that people had latent tastes they didn’t know they had, and it was the channel’s task to offer material that they otherwise wouldn’t know they liked. He talked in his autobiography about giving the public a range of minority interests like miners’ oral history. Reviewing it, Private Eye got very huffy, accusing Isaacs of thinking that he knew better than the rest of us. But Isaacs was quite right. For example, Quentin Letts, former Daily Mail and now Times parliamentary sketch writer, who is very definitely a man of the right, praised Isaacs’ Channel 4 in one of his books because it opened up opera to a mass audience. Absolutely correct – my family’s working class, but Dad used to put Channel 4’s opera on occasionally. I remember coming back from seeing the western Silverado at the flicks to find Dad had on the box a big opera event being broadcast across Europe. And there were obviously a sizable number of ordinary, working people like Dad across the country, years before Pavarotti caused a storm at the World Cup.

But the channel also offered a range of other content, often of a multicultural flavour. There was an adaptation of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, a season of films by the great Indian director, Satyajit Ray, as well as more popular Indian cinema with ‘All India Goldies’. It also gave a platform to the new, emerging alternative comedy scene with The Comic Strip, starring Rik Mayall, French and Saunders, Alexei Sayle and so on, and the group of Black comics, the Family. They had a series set in a Black barbershop. I only saw bits and pieces of it, but it was genuinely funny. In one episode, one of the characters finds out that he is the governor of a Caribbean island nation right at the same time they’re having revolution. He phones up his government on the island just in time to hear gunfire and one them report that ‘Such-and-such island has fallen’. Wearing his ceremonial uniform, the man then stands in a wastepaper bin and tears off his epaulettes. More seriously, the channel also presented a history of the world intended to challenge the Eurocentric bias of traditional history programmes. There was also news and documentary series about Africa, with Black presenters and a history of the continent presented by the White afrocentrist, Basil Davidson. I’ve been criticised here for describing Davidson as an afrocentrist in a previous post. But that is how Davidson, a respected historian, described himself in one of his books. Davidson is an afrocentrist in the sense that he believes that ancient Egypt is the ultimate source of western science and culture. He states that he has this view, because it’s what the ancient Romans and Greeks believed. While this is a very controversial view, he’s very far from the bizarre fantasies and pseudo-history of many on the Afrocentric fringe, like the notion that the ancient Egyptians somehow had quantum mechanics and advanced physics long before the 20th century.

To balance this, the channel also had more popular entertainment like Tell the Truth, a panel show that was ‘Would I Lie to You’ in all but name, the pop music programme, The Tube and the computer generated vid-jockey Max Headroom as well as the soap, Brookside. It also upset right-wing sentiments with sexually explicit movies and programmes, to the point where the Heil branded Michael Grade, the channel’s next director-general, ‘Britain’s pornographer in chief’. This was just when the channel had announced it was launching a season of gay and lesbian programmes and films. The best response to this came from the Archdeacon of York. The Mail’s journos had been contacting various people to ask what they thought about this latest assault on traditional British morality. The good clergyman replied, ‘Do you think anybody’s going to watch it if there’s Clint Eastwood on the other’. A common sense reaction against the Mail’s hysterical fearmongering.

The Tories seem to have hated all of this at the time, even if its programming was applauded by the critics. As I remember, they were particularly impressed by the Mahabharata, the Tube and the Family. Channel 4 was also set up to specialise in high quality news coverage. And it’s this which I think really annoyed the Tories. Channel 4 News had a reputation for being particularly good, and the channel also broadcast the current affairs documentary series Dispatches and The Bandung Files. The last I believe uncovered some of the dirty dealing by western politicos and multinationals in the Developing World. The channel became much more mainstream in the 90s under Bazalguette, who got rid of much of the alternative material. It still managed to annoy the Tories though with ‘yoof’ shows like The Word and The Girlie Show, both of which had reputation for being spectacularly bad in terms of content and taste.

But I think it’s the persistent, in depth coverage and incisive questioning of government policies by the news programmes that has particularly brought down Tory spite. Channel 4 News has done too good a job of holding the government to account. When anchorman John Snow announced he was retiring a few months ago, the Lotus Eaters put up a video celebrating it and calling him a ‘snowflake’. Hardly. Snow was just determined not to take BS from officialdom. During the bombardment of Gaza he called Israeli ambassador Mark Regev a liar to his face when Regev tried telling the British people that if they sent their aid packages to Israel, the Israelis would pass it on to Gaza’s besieged people. It was a complete lie, and Snow did his job as a decent journalist and didn’t put up with it.

The Tories loathe anyone questioning them. They hated Paxo on Newsnight when he regularly tore Tory politicos like Michaels Heseltine and Howard into raw, bloody chunks. Hence all the rubbish about the Beeb’s left-wing bias and the campaign to end the license fee. And they clearly also hate Channel 4 with a passion for the same reason. And so they’re determined to privatise it.

The hope is clearly that without state support, both the Beeb and Channel 4 will dwindle into insignificance. Genuine public service broadcasting, with the duty to be impartial, will die out to be replaced by a Murdoch-owned right-wing propaganda outlet, like Fox or GB News.

I’ve no doubt that this is all being presented as saving the taxpayer money for broadcasting material nobody watches – which was one of the arguments the Tories made against the channel back in the 80s when they part privatised it the first time. There’s almost certainly going to be talk about how it’s ‘woke’ bias is unrepresentative of British views, just like they ranted about it being ‘pc’ in 80s and 90s. But the real reason is that they despise its journalistic independence.

The privatisation of Channel 4 is yet another despicable assault on genuine, quality journalism in favour of right-wing propaganda pumped out by Murdoch. They want to destroy any journalistic independence so that right across the news media, only the right will be heard.

Capitalism and Property Rights in the West and Islam

March 25, 2022

Private property is very much at the heart of modern Conservatism. Conservative intellectuals, politicians and activists maintain that private industry is more efficient and effective, and has raised more people out of poverty than alternative economic systems. It’s also a fundamental right, a mainstay of western democracy that has prevented Europeans and Americans from tyrannical government, whether absolute monarchies or soviet-style communist dictatorships. It’s also supposedly the reason why Britain and the West currently dominate the rest of the world. The Times journo Niall Ferguson wrote a book about this a few years ago, which accompanied a TV series. In his analysis, Britain was able to out-compete Spain as a colonial power because British democracy gave people a stake in their society, while the only stakeholder in Spain was the king.

This can be challenged from a number of directions. Firstly, early modern Britain wasn’t democratic. The vote was restricted to a small class of gentlemen, meaning people who were lower than the aristocracy, but nevertheless were still able and expected to live off their rents. At the same time, although the power of the monarchy was restricted by the constitution and parliament, it still possessed vast power. Kings could go for years without calling one. As for Drake and the Armada, we were also saved by the weather. There was a ‘Protestant wind’ which blew apart and disrupted the Spanish fleet. As for capitalism, more recent books like The Renaissance Bazaar have shown that the new capitalist institutions that were introduced in Italy and thence to the rest of Europe during the renaissance were based on those further east in the Islamic world. And far from western global domination being inevitable, in the 15th century Christian Europeans feared that they would be conquered by Islam. The Turks had blazed through the Balkans and took 2/3 of Hungary. One fifteenth century German soldier and writer, de Busbecq, feared that the Ottomans would conquer Christendom because of the meritocracy and professionalism of their armies. The Ottomans, along with other Muslim states, recruited their armies through enslavement. It’s the origin of the Mamlukes in Egypt and the slave dynasties in Delhi. But these slaves were given an intensive military training, as well as education in Islam and the Turkish language, and promoted on their merits. Jonathan A.C. Brown in his book, slavery & Islam, how further back in Islamic history Black African slaves had been appointed the governors of parts of Iraq. The result was that while the European armies were feudal, led by aristocrats who had been born to their position and held it despite their ability or lack thereof, the Ottoman’s were manned and led by well-trained soldiers who held their commands by merit. We had better armour than the Ottomans, but they were able to defeat us because they were simply better soldiers.

Property rights have been a fundamental part of western political theory for a very long time. The social contract theory of government held that the primordial human community had elected kings to protect their lives and property. But Islam also maintained that property was a fundamental human right. According to Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Islam & Slavery, from the 700s AD Muslim jurists discussed the issue of human rights – huquq al-‘Ibad, or the rights of (God’s) slaves, i.e. humans, or huquq al-Adamiyya, or Adamic rights, or human rights. These were held to be the rights possessed by all humans, whether Muslim or not. Under the great Islamic theologian al-Ghazzali, these were expanded into five universals: protection for the integrity of life, reason, religion, lineage and paternity and property. He concludes that ‘The Islamic rights of physical inviolability and property can be seen as counterparts or perhaps forerunners of these aims.’ (pp. 299-300). I’ll admit this came as something of a surprise to me, because unless you study Islam at a higher level, you don’t hear about it. And you definitely don’t hear about it from the conservative right, who seem to believe that property rights and virtuous capitalism are something that only the Anglo-Saxon peoples invented. Remember George W. Bush’s famous, ludicrous sneer at the French that they had ‘no word for entrepreneurship’. Well,, they have, as attested by the word ‘entrepreneur’.

And property rights are not automatically intrinsic to modern concepts of freedom and democracy. They arose long before the expansion of the franchi8se in the 19th century and the emergence of universal adult suffrage in the early 20th century. Over much of western history, property rights meant the rights of the property owning upper classes against the working masses. And slaves could not own property, as legally, following the precedent of Roman law, they were property. Anything they had automatically belonged to their masters. Property rights were also regularly invoked to defend slavery. That’s very apparent when you read the protests against the British government’s attempts to regulate and then finally abolish slavery in the 19th century. The slaveowners were incensed by what they viewed as a tyrannical governmental interference in their property rights.

Now I agree people do have a right to private property, though private enterprise in many spheres is certainly not adequate to provide decent services. These are the utilities, education and healthcare. I also believe that, following Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, the west was able to gain ascendancy through technological and scientific advances, particularly military. I think the development of western capitalism also played a part in creating a mass, industrial society that was more efficient and advanced than the craft economies of the Islamic world. But this does not mean capitalism, or at least its antecedents, were absent from Islam or that Islam had no conception of property rights.

Perhaps, before we go to war with these countries to liberate them for multinational corporations, we should stop listening to Conservatives and listen more to those academics and experts, who actually know something about Islam.

Left Labour Message on How to Join Them and Speak Up for Peace

February 18, 2022

I got this message early this afternoon from the good peeps at Arise, the left Labour festival of ideas. It details their petitions, internet article and forthcoming protest against a possible war in Ukraine. It’s entitled ‘Speak Up For Peace – What You Can Do’, and it runs

‘Hello David

As much of the world hopes for de-escalation around the Ukrainian crisis, we are joining with the anti-war movement, Young Labour & others to oppose the UK’s Goverment’s sabre-rattling. Here are 3 things you can do:

  1. Sign the Stop the War Coalition statement against the war-mongering Tory Government here.
  2. Read the latest analysis from Kate Hudson (CND) here, Young Labour here and Andrew Murray (Stop the War) here on our media partner Labour Outlook.
  3. Join Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burgon,  Jess Barnard (Young Labour), Sophie Bolt (CND) and Murad Qureshi (Stop the War) to discuss Why Labour Must Speak Up For Peace on March 5 at the Making Another World Possible: an internationalist agenda for the Left & Labour event (1-4.30pm), which will also feature sessions on The Global Struggle for Climate & Vaccine Justice Women for peace, global justice & socialism.

Labour Party Conference passed policies that show a clear alternative of how we can build a world of international justice, equality & peace. But too often the Party leadership is not offering this alternative to the Tories’ reactionary foreign policy agenda. Please support the anti-war movement and join us on March 5, which will be a key point to organise for an international agenda for justice, equality. Be there!

Yours in solidarity,
The Arise Volunteers Team.

Stop The War Coalition’s statement against our government’s warmongering over Ukraine reads:

‘Stop the War opposes any war over Ukraine, and believes the crisis should be settled on a basis which recognises the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination and addresses Russia’s security concerns.

Our focus is on the policies of the British government which have poured oil on the fire throughout this episode. In taking this position we do not endorse the nature or conduct of either the Russian or Ukrainian regimes.

The British government has talked up the threat of war continually, to the point where the Ukraine government has asked it to stop.

Unlike the French and German governments, it has advanced no proposals for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, and has contributed only sabre-rattling.

Indeed, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has even accused those seeking a peaceful settlement of preparing “another Munich.”

Instead, the British government has sent arms to Ukraine and deployed further troops to Eastern Europe, moves which serve no purpose other than inflaming tensions and indicating disdain for Russian concerns.

It has also declared that Ukraine has a “sovereign right” to join NATO, when no such right exists to join it or any other military alliance.

Britain needs to change its policy, and start working for peace, not confrontation.

Stop the War believes that Russia and Ukraine should reach a diplomatic settlement of the tensions between them, on the basis of the Minsk-2 agreement already signed by both states.

It believes NATO should call a halt to its eastward expansion and commit to a new security deal for Europe which meets the needs of all states and peoples.

We refute the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance, and believe its record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the US-British attack on Iraq, clearly proves otherwise.

We support all efforts to reach new arms control agreements in Europe and to move towards nuclear disarmament across the continent.’

I’ve added my name to the statement because I am extremely worried about the way our government seems to want to take us to war there, and the Coalition are fundamentally correct in everything they say. NATO made an agreement with Gorbachev after the fall of communism that the former Warsaw pact countries would not join NATO and would remain neutral, with their security guaranteed by both parties. And then as soon as it could, NATO expanded in eastern Europe right up to Russia’s borders, thus stoking Russian fears of encirclement.

The invasion of Afghanistan had less to do with overturning a repressive Islamist despotism and creating a free and democratic state for its people, and far more to do with geopolitics and securing a vital oil pipeline. The overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy by rebels aided by western bombing has resulted in a divided country, one half of which is run by Islamists, who’ve dragged it back into the middle ages. Gaddafy was a dictator, but he believed in Africa as a continent and the equality of all its peoples, Black and White. But the Islamists don’t, and have reopened slave markets selling migrants from further south, who have struggled to reach Libya in their efforts to cross to Europe.

As for the Iraq invasion, that has been an object lesson in how right the British scientist, broadcaster and Fabian Socialist Jacob Bronowski was when he said ‘War is theft by other means’. Again, the war wasn’t about overthrowing a tyrant for the benefit of the Iraqi people. It was done so the American and Saudi oil cartels could steall their oil and western multinationals could still their state industries. I caught a bit of a talk about the invasion and its consequences in a recent Zoom meeting organised by the Labour left by an Iraqi gent. It’s heart-breaking and disgusting what has been done to the country. The American occupation government divided the state industries up into three categories – those that were to be privatised, though that were to be mothballed, and those that were to be simply closed down, thus helping to wreck the country’s domestic economy. And the Iraqi health service has been decimated. According to the gentleman, if you have a relative or friend in hospital now, there are no drugs to treat them. You have to run around outside trying to find someone who will sell them to you. But this was a country under Hussein that had a good healthcare system where treatment was free.

I think there are forces in the military and the Tory party that have been hoping for a confrontation with Russia for over half a decade. I think they were looking forward to a war between NATO and Russia in Lithuania in 2017. That year’s come and gone, and the theatre of war has moved south.

And I really do wonder what we are doing supporting the Ukrainian government when it has strong links with real Nazis. Novara Media put up a video this week discussing the story and photograph on the front page of the times. This was about a 78 year old women, who was undergoing training with some kind of paramilitary outfit in order to defend her homeland. Well, this would all be good if the paramilitaries involved were an ordinary patriotic defence group. But they weren’t. They were the Azov Battalion, a bunch of Nazis who have form for dressing up in the uniform of World War II SS auxiliaries and celebrating Nazi collaborators as national heroes. And it hardly needs to be added that they are definitely anti-Semites.

I don’t want to see a war in Ukraine. I don’t want to see it plundered and robbed, or destabilised for the benefit of big business, like Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. And I am terrified that any confrontation will very swiftly become nuclear.

And so I fully support the demands for peace made by the Coalition, Arise and its multitude of supporters. Including Jeremy Corbyn, the greatest Prime Minister this country has had stolen from it.

Arise Festival Online Events against Blair and NHS Privatisation

February 4, 2022

I got an email today from the Arise Festival of Labour Left Ideas about a number of forthcoming online events. Two were about Latin America and Cuba, but the two that really interested me were against Blair’s knighthood and NHS Privatisation.

The brief notices about these events ran:

“1) FORUM: No to Blair’s Knighthood – No Return to Blairism

Thursday 10 February, 18:30. Register here // Share & invite here // Retweet here to spread the word.

With: Steve Howell (Deputy Director, Strategy & Communications for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017) , Rachel Garnham (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) & Sami Ramidani (Iraqi anti-war campaigner.)

Tony Blair’s knighthood has provoked a massive backlash – come & find out more about Blairism – & what it represents & means today. With plenty of time for questions & discussion.

Hosted by Labour Outlook. Kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) DIARY DATE: Ending NHS Privatisation – For a National Care Service.

Monday, 21 February 2022, 7pm  Register here 

The Second of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs online policy seminars being organised throughout 2022 – in partnership with the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Momentum – looking at the key policies we need to be raising and how we build the movements to win these policies.”

I haven’t registered for them yet, but I think I probably will as I strongly support both these causes. Blair took us to war against Iraq on a lie, a lie intended to justify the plundering of Iraq’s oil and state industries for the benefit of the American and Saudi oil conglomerates and American multinationals. There’s footage of Gorgeous George Galloway angrily telling one of the New Labour women who cheered and organised the Labour benches for this war that she’s responsible for the deaths of a million people in Iraq. I’ve got mixed feeling about the Glesgae bruiser. Sometimes he says things that are absolutely brilliant, at other times he acts like a self-centred publicity seeker. This time I think he was spot-on. Innocent people died, including our best and bravest in the armed forces, not to defend our great nation from a real threat to be get the already bloated rich even richer and more bloated. It destroyed what was, by middle eastern standards at least, a relatively secular welfare state. A society where women could safely pursue careers outside the home. It created a monstrous society instead where Sunni and Shia Muslims had to be separated in Baghdad by peace walls, as in Northern Ireland. There were sectarian deaths squads running amok with the connivance of the American proconsuls running country, and the mercenaries brought in as peacekeepers ran drugs and prostitution rings. Oh yes,, and they killed ordinary Iraqis for sport. The situation was so dire that one American diplomat went home and gave public interviews denouncing the occupation.

A million or two severely normal Brits marched against the invasion. I think it was the biggest mass protest ever. One of those was one of my parish priests at the time. The satirists Bremner, Bird and Fortune attacked the warmongering prior to the invasion. The Tories opposed it, which was a first. I suspect this was simple opportunism, but in some cases it was genuine. The right-wing journalist, Peter Hitchens, continued to attack Blair for wasting the lives of British servicemen and women. A friend of mine even read the Spectator for a time because of its anti-invasion stance.

And Blair ignored it all. The result was a wrecked country, which allowed the expansion of Iranian influence there and, with the rest of the Neo-Con policy in the Middle East, created the conditions for the emergence and expansion of Daesh and their campaign against civilisation.

Millions of people have either died or been forced to flee their homes, contributing to the migrant crisis. The economy was destroyed, people thrown out of work, women forced back into their traditional role and businesses destroyed. But Starmer wants to bring Blairism back, telling everyone that it’s going to be a vote winner.

It ain’t. Blair’s popularity at the time declined and its suffered even worse in the intervening years as more people have woken up to how harmful so many of his policies were. Not just in Iraq, but on the economy, industry and the NHS. Because Blair shared the Tory desire to privatise the health service.

If this country is ever to have a government that genuinely respects and cares for ordinary people, and which pursues a sane, just, humane policy in the Middle East, it’s only going to be through genuine socialist values and the vision of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Tories must go, and Blairism must be consigned to the dustbin.

Petition to Strip Blair of His Knighthood Gets Over Half A Million Signatures

January 5, 2022

You can say one thing for Tony Blair and his inclusion on this New Year’s Honours list, it’s united the British people in a way that’s rarely been done. Right across the political spectrum, from Corbynist left to Tory right, people despise him as a warmonger. The petition on Change.org to have him stripped of his knighthood has reached 650,000 signatures. Which I think means that it has to be debated in parliament. Unfortunately, as the mad right-wing internet broadcaster Alex Belfield has said in one his videos, there’s little chance of the politicos taking notice of it or doing what nearly three-quarters of a million people want.

Mike has pointed out that the people want him denied the honour because he took the country into an illegal war with the Iraq. The charitable interpretation of this is that Blair believed the fake information that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But rather than wait for a UN resolution authorising military action, Blair put pressure on his advisers to state that he could launch an invasion,, and then went ahead and acted according to the advice he’d decided he should be given. Nearly a million people have died as a result of the war that followed.

Less charitable individuals might follow instead the information in Greg Palast’s book, Armed Madhouse, which showed that the real reason behind the invasion was economic. The Neo-Cons wanted Hussein out the way because he occasionally sent aid and support to the Palestinians. The American and Saudi oil industry wanted to loot Iraq’s state oil industry and oil reserves, which are the largest outside Saudi Arabia. Western multinationals also wanted to get their mitts on the country’s state enterprises. And the Neo-Cons also had a plan to turn Iraq into the kind of free trade state with precious few tariff barriers against imports they wanted for America. The result was that Iraq’s oil is now in the hands of foreign countries, a situation authorised by the new constitution written for the country. Many Iraqi businesses went bust as a result of the lowering of tariff barriers, as the world dumped their surplus goods on the country at cheap prices. The country’s own businesses couldn’t compete and went out of business. The unemployment rate skyrocketed to 60 per cent.

The country had been relatively secular with a welfare state and, I believe, free healthcare for its citizens. This has vanished. Women were also safe on the streets and could follow a career outside the home. That vanished too. One of his Hillary Clinton’s female officials tried telling a crowd that things were actually better for Iraqi women during a diplomatic tour of Turkey. She was very definitely told the contrary by a group of annoyed Iraqi ladies. And domestically the country collapsed into bloody chaos. In Baghdad, peace walls had to be erected between Sunni and Shia Muslim areas. Sectarian death squads roamed the country looking for the wrong kind of Muslims to kill, with the cooperation of the American military authorities. The mercenary companies also employed as peacekeepers were also out of control. They ran drugs and prostitution rings, and their soldiers shot ordinary Iraqis for sport. One American diplomat to Iraq was so shocked that he came back to the Land of the Free to the tell the media all about it, including the Nazi regalia sported by some US squaddies.

Over 2 million severely normal Brits marched against the Iraq invasion. One of the priests at my local church was one of them. They were ignored. Just as Blair’s successor, Keef Stalin, is also keen that the government or Her Maj not rescind Blair’s knighthood. Apparently he gave some kind of speech listing all the good things that Blair had done, like winning three elections. Blair’s administration was responsible for some good policies. He would have liked to have privatised the health service, but under him it was still properly funded and he had some success in tackling poverty. But he was also responsible for the Work Capability Tests that have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of disabled people wrongly judged fit to to work, and thrown off the state support they desperately need. All too many have died of starvation and neglect as a result.

And that still doesn’t remove the fact that Blair launched an illegal war and on that account is viewed as a war criminal by many. I bought a book a while ago, written by a lawyer, which made that very case. It went through the relevant international legislation and showed through repeated examples how Blair and Bush had violated it. There were even attempts by Canadian and Greek human rights activists to have the two arrested and tried for their crimes against humanity. This failed as it was successfully blocked by politicians and other officials.

The war also further destabilised the Middle East, setting up the conditions for the expansion of Iranian power into the Iraq, while at the same time radicalising parts of the country so they were taken over by Daesh. Who then went on to smash the monuments and sacred buildings of Christians, Shia and other religions they didn’t tolerate, and destroy priceless antiquities going back to ancient Babylon. This, along with the civil war in Syria, has also fuelled the refugee crisis. I’ve no doubt many of the channel migrants, or ‘dinghy divers’ as they’ve been dubbed by anti-immigrant right-wingers like Belfield, are people fleeing the chaos in Iraq. I am definitely no fan of Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter. But she made a good point at a Corbynite Labour meeting last year when she said that Britain should admit these refugees because of our responsibility for the wars that forced them to leave their homes.

I’ve also heard the other side of the argument, that Blair should have got the knighthood after leaving office, as was customary for all prime ministers. He wasn’t. This has also caused a further problem, in that apparently they have to be granted to prime ministers in order. This has meant that Cameron hasn’t got one either and Tweezer hasn’t been made a dame or given some equivalent honour. The insult, on this view, is that it already has taken so long to grant Blair his honour.

Well, I still don’t think he deserves one. Just as I don’t think Cameron and Tweezer deserve honours either. Cameron held the vote on Brexit thinking it would fail and he’d defeat the Eurosceptics in the Tories. It didn’t. It narrowly won. However, it divided Britain. England largely supported it, while the Welsh, Scots and northern Irish rejected it. It’s breaking up the union and has particularly betrayed the people of Ulster. Both Loyalists and Nationalists wanted the border with Eire to remain open. The loyalists, as you might expect, also didn’t want a tariff barrier separating the Six Counties and the rest of the UK. An open border with Eire was one of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the war in Northern Ireland. With Britain leaving the EU and the imposition of a hard border, instability and sectarian violence have returned. Speaking on the BBC comedy show, Room 101, Jeremy Paxman nominated Cameron to be sent into the room containing all the most horrible stuff in the world. Cameron was, declared the former bane of politicians on Newsnight, the worst prime minister we’d had since Lord North. He was the PM who lost us the American colonies.

My guess is that Blair will still get his knighthood. But millions of severely normal Brits will still hate him as a warmonger, the man who lied to us to get the illegal war he wanted, and sent Britain’s courageous young servicemen and -women to fight and die in decades of pointless war. I think Blair will still get the honour, but millions will still remember him as war criminal, and further resent the honours system that has rewarded him.

Bush and Blair were subjects of satire and ridicule when they started the war. Someone on the Net cut footage of various speeches and press gatherings by the duo to show them singing Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’. Which has the fitting lines ‘Let’s start a war. I want to start a nuclear war’. Let’s hope Blair and the world’s other politicians never do.

Starmer Takes Labour to Far Right with Appointment of Yvette Cooper and David Blunkett to Shadow Cabinet

December 1, 2021

Well, Starmer has had his cabinet reshuffle, and as Mike and the good folks on Twitter are saying today, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled and immigrants should beware. Because he’s just made Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary. Cooper previously had the job from 2011 to 2015 when, according to Damian Willey, she was all but invisible except for the times she deigned to give us all the benefits of her views on immigration. In 2014 she denounced Tweezer’s immigration bill as too soft on it, the same bill which caused the illegal deportation of the Windrush migrants. She also wanted to stop immigrants and asylum seekers claiming child benefit for children living abroad, and her voting on immigration is comparable to Priti Patel’s. Daniel Grigg summed up just what her appointment means on this issue: “Nothing says couldn’t give a toss about migrants’ rights more than promoting David Blunkett and Yvette Cooper. So this is Labour now is it?”

The vile woman was responsible for the introduction of the Work Capability Test in 2008. These were subsequently kept in place by those Tory monsters, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVile. Kahlisee is right when he says, “In policy terms, it would appear Cooper has more in common with the Tories than she does with Labour values.” And other Tweeters described how Cooper’s fitness for work tests would dock points from the disabled for the following:

Amputees using their stumps to lift objects.

People being able to walk using an imaginary wheelchair.

People with speech problems who can nevertheless write down what they want to say, and deaf claimants who can read it.

On international issues, she voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq five times, 14 times voted against an inquiry into it, voted eight times for the use of British armed forces in overseas operations, and also voted to replace Trident with another nuclear missile. She and Ed Balls also flipped their homes three times. Ed Poole said of her appointment: “Yvette Cooper is an ableist nightmare. Among other things. If you need any more evidence that Labour is finished as a force for equality, democracy, socialism or just plain human decency her promotion is it.” And Julie Harrington said, “Labour is now a hard right party.”

And then there’s Starmer’s appointment of David Blunkett to his ‘skills council’. This has proven something of an embarrassment as the internet never forgets, and his critics were able to find a clip from years ago in which Blair’s former cabinet minister made a homophobic slur about legendary Queen singer, Freddie Mercury. Aaron Bastani posted a piece on Twitter which seems to be an extract from a longer film about Queen or Mercury. It begins with members of the band, including awesome axeman and astrophysicist Brian May, describing how hurtful some of the comments were when their friend and bandmate passed away of AIDS in 1991. This is followed by a clip of a much younger Blunkett on some kind of panel show saying that he didn’t want people idolising Mercury because of his ‘bizarre and perverted lifestyle’.

Now you could be generous, and argue that this is not homophobic but just fair comment about rock and pop stars. Gay, straight or whatever, pop music, especially Heavy Metal, is associated with debauchery and excess. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, as the old saying goes. I can remember the rumours going around college that the name of American rockers, WASP, was an acronym standing for ‘We Are Sexual Perverts’. Other suggestions are that it also stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or, as their lead singer answered a question about it on a chat show, ‘We Aren’t Sure, Pal’. Some of us can also remember that momentous occasion in the ’90s when Motorhead’s Lemmy got a letter of complaint and an apology published in one of the Brummie papers. They claimed that he’d hung a woman upside down from a cupboard for a day during about of rock and roll debauchery. No, corrected the late Mr. Kilminster. It was three days, and he tied her to a bed. The newspaper was happy to print apologise and print the correction. Which must be one of the few instances where someone has written to the press complaining that their article about them has made them appear less degenerate and degraded than they want to be known.

It may also have been a clumsy attempt to point out the dangers of getting AIDS through promiscuous sex. Part of the problem was that at the time there were parts of the gay community that were extremely promiscuous. I can remember one of the gay journos on the Observer writing an article about it back in 1984, with the detail that there was a self-group, Orgiasts Anonymous, in either LA or San Francisco. The group was set up to like Alcoholics Anonymous, but to help talk gay men out of going to the bathhouse every time they felt the overwhelming urge. Not that the dangers of catching the disease was limited to gays. It also affected promiscuous straight people having unprotected sex, as well those who caught it from their partners and haemophiliacs from contaminated blood products. It would have been possible to make a comment about the dangers of excessive sex without sounding anti-gay. But Blunkett didn’t. His comment about a ‘bizarre and perverted lifestyle’ sounds like the standard denunciations of homosexuality.

In fact Mercury’s sexuality really wasn’t all that remarkable, and not what he was celebrated for. The 1980s had seen the appearance of a number of openly gay and gender-nonconforming pop stars – Marc Almond and Jimmy Summerville with the Communards and Bronski Beat; Boy George of Culture Club, Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Marilyn and the Pet Shop Boys. I can’t remember if Elton John and George Michael had come out of the closet by the time of Mercury’s death. And Mercury didn’t, as far as know, have the reputation of being the most promiscuous of them. There were rumours, for example, that either Almond or Summerville, I forget which, had had to have their stomach pumped following various shenanigans with a rugby team. I honestly don’t remember any such rumour about Freddie. And I think there were probably far more angry headlines in the Heil and other right-wing papers about Marc Almond and Frankie’s relax video than I ever remember about Mercury. People didn’t idolise him because of his sexuality or lifestyle, although I did notice than there was a fashion among young gays at the time to dress like him. What people celebrated him for was what he was: a superb performer with an incredible vocal range that even now few others can match.

Mercury passed away thirty years ago, but is still a towering presence in British pop music with legions of fans, many of whom will not have been best pleased by Blunkett’s denigration of their hero. As I doubt will many gays and their allies. Tony Blair was the Prime Minister who set the ball rolling for gay marriage with the introduction of civil partnerships, and this makes Blunkett’s comment seem very homophobic after the intervening years. And if Bastani hadn’t forgotten Blunkett’s views on Mercury’s death, you can bet others won’t have either. Quite apart from the other vile policies Blunkett shares responsibility for as a member of Blair’s cabinet.

Starmer has appointed as part of his team people who have caused untold suffering to the poor, the disabled, asylum seekers, immigrants and been responsible for the destruction and looting of an entire country, Iraq, for the benefit of the oil industry and multinationals. These are good reasons for anyone concerned about the massive growth of poverty and inequality and real imperialism and exploitation to despise Starmer and what he is turning the Labour party into.

Get Starmer, Cooper, Blunkett and the rest of the Blairites out before they do further damage.

isttps://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/11/30/starmtrooper-cooper-new-shadow-home-sec-will-compete-with-pritipatel-in-race-to-the-right/https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/11/29/starmers-reshuffle-disaster/

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Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start

September 2, 2021

For some the catastrophic departure of the western armed forces from Afghanistan has been almost unimaginable. This is not surprising, as successive governments have been telling us for years that the Taliban had been successfully contained and victory was only a few months away. They find it particularly incomprehensible that the US and western armed forces were so unprepared for the Taliban’s reconquest of the country, that President Biden has left 73 military planes and $80 billion worth of kit behind in the scramble to get out. One of these is the mad right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host, Alex Belfield. In the video below, Belfield wonders if all that military equipment has been deliberately left behind to be taken and used by the Taliban, in order to provide the pretext for more wars. He sees this as part of an overall strategy by out governments to keep us afraid. One of these ruses has been, so he argues, the Coronavirus. He seems to follow here the line of some of the sceptics that Covid doesn’t present a real threat, but has just been used by the government in order to justify a totalitarian seizure of power through the lockdown.

Belfield’s been sceptical about the Coronavirus and the lockdown almost from the beginning. His argument is usually that the lockdown is doing more harm than good to the economy and to the health, mental and physical, of the British people. He’s right in that clearly people’s businesses and wellbeing is suffering, but is completely and utterly wrong about lifting the lockdown and letting the disease take its course and carry off whoever it may.

But I can’t say that his paranoia about the US leaving behind so much military equipment is unwarranted. The American and British public were miss-sold the wars in the Middle East. We were told we were freeing Afghanistan from a brutal theocratic tyranny and defending America and ourselves from future terrorist attacks. We weren’t. The troops were sent in to secure the country so that an oil pipeline could be built, one which Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban to build. The Taliban had pulled out, and so the NeoCons were looking for an excuse to invade. This came along in the shape of 9/11.

Ditto Iraq. We were informed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t. Hussein had led a largely secular regime, which was cordially hated by bin Laden and his Islamist fanatics. We were told that the invasion would liberate the Iraqi people from Hussein, who really was a tyrant. But the invasion wasn’t about granting a grateful Iraqi people democracy. It was about Aramco, the joint Saudi-American oil company seizing the country’s oil reserves and the western oil companies grabbing its oil industry. Other multinationals, such as Haliburton, which employed various members of Bush’s family and cabinet colleagues, seized its state industries. Meanwhile the country descended into sectarian violence and chaos, the secular state and the feminism it promoted vanished, and the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – hired as part of the peacekeeping forces ran amok with drug and prostitution rings. They also amused themselves by shooting ordinary Iraqis for sport.

It’s been said that America is a ‘warfare state’. That is, its military-industrial complex is so pervasive and powerful that its entire economy is geared to and depends on war. It was suggested years ago in one of the publications of the old Left Book Club, as I recall, that this is deliberate. American political ideology rejects Keynsianism, the economic doctrine that maintains that the state should interfere in the economy through welfare spending, public works and so on to stimulate it. American political culture, on the other hand, rejects this in favour of laissez-faire. But the American economy still needs government intervention, and the only way the American state can do this is through war and military spending. Hence the continual need to find new wars to fight. First it was the Cold War, then the War on Terror.

I tend to believe in ‘cock-up’ rather than conspiracy – that the world is the way it is because of the incompetence of the authorities, rather than that there is some overwhelming and all-pervasive conspiracy against us. This does not rule out the fact that real conspiracies by the intelligence agencies, big business and various covert political groups really do occur. My guess is that the armaments left behind in Afghanistan are there as a result of incompetence rather than a deliberate plot to produce more war and international instability for the benefit of the war profiteers.

But after the lies that have sustained two decades and more of war and occupation in the Middle East, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true.

Corrbyn Was Right About Afghanistan

August 25, 2021

A few days ago Mike was pointing out that, in contrast to Starmer and his current attitude towards Afghanistan, there was one Labour politico who was consistently right. This was Jeremy Corbyn. Back in 2001 when Blair and Bush were considering invading, Jeremy Corbyn was elected to the steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition. He said there was considerable disquiet and opposition to the deployment of troops in Afghanistan and the bombing of Iraq. An invasion would cost thousands of lives and not solve anything.

Totally correct.

In 2010 he spoke against the war, saying

“The issue of Afghanistan goes on. The deaths continue, the soldiers continue to die, the war is clearly unwinnable,” Corbyn said.

“The expense in moral terms, financial terms and loss of life of Afghan people gets worse and worse.”

He spoke again against the war in Afghanistan in 2017 when he was leader of the Labour party.

The war in Afghanistan has failed. After 16 years of bloodshed and destruction, the Taliban are undefeated and terrorism is no less of a threat at home. In fact it has spread.

“The British Government should make clear to Donald Trump that his strategy of more bombing and a new troop surge will continue this failure, not obediently applaud his latest policy U-turn.”

In July 2021, last month, when Johnson announced that he was pulling British troops out of Afghanistan, Corbyn dared to question why we had ever invaded the country in the first place.

“This has to be a day of reflection. We have spent billions of pounds in the war in Afghanistan, 450 British troops have lost their lives, thousands of Americans and other troops have lost their lives, many, many thousands of Afghan people have lost their lives and many more have been forced to be refugees in exile all around the region as well as in western Europe.

“While Britain is withdrawing, surely we need to recognise that when we make hasty foreign policy decisions to go to war, the consequences go on for a very long time. In this case, it is now the 20th anniversary of such a decision.”

Now Mr Corbyn has said

 “We must learn the lessons of a two-decade war which cost nearly a quarter of a million lives and failed to achieve security for the Afghan people or prevent the spread of terrorism.

“The War on Terror and its architects’ reckless use of force to deal with complex political issues has had profound, uncountable, and unacceptable human costs – whether to British and allied servicement and women or to the civilian populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond.

“Invasions and occupations are not only wrong and violate the right to sovereignty, they also do not deliver viable and sustainable political settlements. We cannot allow ourselves to be led down such a disastrous road again.”

He recognises that some critics see a refusal to take action as a sign of weakness, and pre-empts them with the statement

 “Too often rejecting military intervention is conflated with taking no action at all. As well as resettling refugees, I will be making the case in Parliament this week for the UK to play its part in a robust diplomatic effort that engages regional powers to ensure stability.

“This will need to cover humanitarian support, a response to rising extreme poverty, respect for human and civil rights especially those of women and girls, and real self-determination for Afghanistan.”

Mike contrasts this with Starmer, who says that his thoughts are with the Afghans but is only concerned with rescuing British support staff, not giving sanctuary to Afghan refugees.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/08/22/one-person-has-been-consistently-right-about-uk-involvement-in-afghanistan-guess-who/

The British and American peoples have been lied to about Afghanistan and Iraq. They were told the invasions and occupations were all about liberating these nations from vicious tyrants. They were told that the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were responsible for 9/11. Well, the Taliban did provide a safe haven for bin Laden, but I heard that they protested that they had no idea what the thug was doing and actually offered to give him up. And Hussein had nothing to do with the attack.

Both invasions were really all about oil and demonstrating American military superiority. Bush and the Neo-Cons were waiting for an opportunity to invade Afghanistan so they could build an oil pipeline after talks with the Taliban about its construction had broken down. Iraq was invaded because Aramco, the joint American-Saudi oil company wanted the country’s oil industry and oil reserves. American multinationals like Haliburton, to whom Bush and various members of his wretched cabinet had close ties, also coveted Iraq’s state industries. The Neo-Cons also had fantasies of turning the country into a low tariff, free trade state, the establishment of which wrecked domestic Iraqi industries, creating a surge of bankruptcies and an unemployment rate of 60 per cent.

And the succeeding regimes have had serious flaws. Hamid Karzai’s regime in Afghanistan was massively corrupt, with officials buying their positions and government contracts and connections, and using them to extort bribes and money from Mr and Mrs Ordinary Afghan. Under Karzai, the production of opium actually increased. Iraq descended into sectarian violence and civil war, while the mercenary companies brought in as peacekeepers ran amok, setting up prostitution and drug rings. They also shot ordinary Iraqis for fun.

Mike has pointed out in the above article that while Corbyn has been spot on, Boris’ predictions are so off target that he could have taken them from a box of Christmas crackers. Actually, I’d say that probably reflects the value of some of the decision makers. You can wonder if our intelligence agencies actually have any understanding of the Middle East. The CIA didn’t see the Islamic Revolution coming, for example. When it did become clear that the Shah’s regime would be toppled, they predicted that the Ayatollah Khomeini would lead a peaceful movement like Gandhi.

If only.

As for Iraq, one of the Neo-Cons critics is a female Pentagon Colonel, Kathryn W. She’s a woman of the right, a traditional Conservative who believes America has no right to interfere in the affairs of others. She is particularly scathing about the massive ignorance of Bush and his advisors of the practical realities of the Middle East. Not only that, but they were hostile to and dismissed American military staff, like General Zilli, the head of the Pentagon’s Middle East sector, who actually did. Because officers like Zilli told the Smirking Chimp what he didn’t want to hear: that it wouldn’t work, and the occupations would last a long time.

Two million people marched against the Iraq invasion. That’s two million people who knew far better than the grinning warmonger Tony Blair. Bush and Blair were not only wrong, but wilfully ignorant and greedy. And Johnson is so stupid he’s a walking insult to the intelligence.

Only one person has been consistently right about Afghanistan and Iraq – the man the media has vilified and smeared as a Communist, Trotskyite and Anti-Semite: Jeremy Corbyn.