Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

Conservatives, Racism and Anti-Chav Class Prejudice

September 2, 2017

Mike reported yesterday that Activate, the Tory ‘grassroots’ campaign, that isn’t connected at all to the Tory party, except for what it says about working to get Tories elected and defining itself in its constitution as a Conservative organization, found itself mired in controversy over its members’ conversation on WhatsApp, in which they expressed some very unpleasant comments about ‘chavs’. It was, as one of those involved dimly began to realise, Nazi stuff. They were talking about sterilizing them, gassing them, and turning the Isle of Wight into a giant prison for them. As well as using them for medical experimentation.

Activate splutteringly denied that they were responsible for all this Nazi hate speech, claiming instead that they were hacked. It’s a convenient excuse which doesn’t ring true, as someone else had appeared on their page after the conversation telling them that they should be careful what they say.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/01/backtractivate-tory-youth-organisation-dissolves-into-chaos/

It’s now been revealed that all the ‘Nazi chat’ really did come from members of Activate, as their membership director, Fizarn Adris, had a Twitter feed which showed a very unpleasant attitude to the poor and vulnerable. This has now conveniently been taken down.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/01/gas-chavs-whatsapp-chat-was-by-activate-members-allegedly/

I am not remotely surprised that members of a Tory support group have such a deep hatred and contempt for the poor and marginalized. And I admit that I’ve made some of the same comments myself about the criminal members of the underclass. A friend of mine used to work in a very rough area in Cheltenham. Don’t be surprised – they do exist. She and her colleagues had been threatened several times at work, and gangs had also tried to break in and rob the place by people, who could fairly be described as ‘chavs’.

The Activate members’ gloating descriptions about what they’d like done to the desperately poor, however, is just pure Tory class prejudice. It comes across as the stupid sneering of upper class public schoolboys and girls, smugly convinced of their own superiority as members of the privileged class, with a bullying attitude to those beneath them. Oh, isn’t it great fun to give the lower orders a good bashing, even if it’s only in the form of tasteless jokes. It comes from the same mindset that produced the Assassin’s Club in the 1980s. That was a group of public schoolboys at Oxford, who used to pay restauranteurs so they could come in and wreck the place.

And I’m not remotely surprised that the jokes being made involved the same treatment that the Nazis inflicted upon Jews and other persecuted groups, including the disabled. There’s a section of the Tory right which has always overlapped and sympathized with the Fascist fringe, despite their denials and the attempts by Thatcher and her successors to quash all mention of it. Some of us can remember the antics of the various Tory youth movements in the 1980s, like the Union of Conservative Students. This bunch of upper class charmless nurks, to use Norman Stanley Fletcher’s descriptive epithet, used to run around singing such inoffensive ditties as ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’, to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. As well as ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’. I also remember how the leader of one of these Tory youth outfits in Northern Ireland was also something of a racist, although he sort of denied it. Very sort of. In fact, if I recall correctly, he issued a statement which said, ‘We are not Fascists. We are Thatcherite achievers. But if Mrs. Thatcher won’t have us, then we will go to the Far Right’. Which, like Trump’s condemnation of the Nazis who goosestepped in Charlottesville two weeks ago, really isn’t a denial at all. As for the Union of Conservative Students, from what I recall, it was just so riddled with overt, unapologetic racism, that Tory Central Office closed it down and merged it, along with the Young Conservatives, into a new organization, Conservative Future.

Since the 1980s, racism, or at least very open displays of it, have become much less acceptable in British society, quite apart from the legislation in place to protect ethnic minorities from prejudice, intimidation and violence. And the Tories have tried to weed out, or at least be seen to be weeding out, the Nazis in their midst. In the 1970s the Monday Club opened its membership books to the Board of Deputies of British Jews to show that they didn’t have anti-Semites amongst their membership. However, the organization still remained so extremely anti-immigrant that in the early part of this century Cameron and IDS severed the Tory party’s links with them because of their racism.

So the upper class members of Tory support organisations have found that they can’t be as racist as they were back in the 1980s. But they still have the urge to punch downwards, to mock and sneer at the underprivileged. And so instead of joking about abusing and deporting ethnic minorities, they’ve gone on to making Nazi comments about maltreating and exterminating chavs. Which is supposed to be quite acceptable, because they’re white, and so this doesn’t count as racist abuse.

Not that there’s anything much different in their attitude towards the poor here. Keith Joseph, Maggie’s mentor, caused a storm of outrage in the 1970s when he expressed a similar eugenicist, Nazi attitude in a speech in which he attacked unmarried mothers as a threat to ‘our stock’.

The jokes Activate’s members were making about killing, sterilizing and experimenting on members of the underclass are disgusting and offensive. But there’s nothing remotely new in their attitude, or in what this has revealed about part of the Tories’ constituency. It’s always included sneering members of the upper classes, with a chilling contempt for those they see as the inferiors. They only difference now is wider society finds this more offensive than it did, and they’re expressing their vile views on social media, rather than on the rostrums at party conferences.

Advertisements

Vox Political on the Difference Between May and Corbyn over Apartheid

May 7, 2017

Mike has also put up a post asking Tory voters where Theresa May was during the 1980s, when Jeremy Corbyn was actively protesting against apartheid. He has a picture of the leader of the Labour party from back then, showing him being marched off by the rozzers. He has a placard around his neck urging people to join a picket against it.

Mike goes on to point out that May was nowhere to be seen. She was busy earning great wads of cash for herself at the Bank of England.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/07/tory-voters-where-was-theresa-may-when-jeremy-corbyn-was-protesting-against-apartheid/

This doesn’t surprise me. Many people at the time were entirely uninterested in the issue, and there was a sizable section of the Tory party that actively supported it and the South African government. When David Cameron was PM and making noises of support for Nelson Mandela, Mike put up an article reminding everyone how ‘Dodgy Dave’ was a member of the Tory party’s youth branch at the time when many of its members did openly support apartheid South Africa, and were only too keen to have Mandela jailed, along with everyone else in the ANC.

Now we are expected to believe that May and her party are convinced anti-racists, who can be trusted as guardians of our civil liberties post-Brexit. Because they want to remove all that nasty foreign legislation guaranteeing our civil rights put out by the EU, and replace it with a thoroughly British Bill of Rights. Despite the fact that the EU legislation was formulated with considerable input from British lawyers.

This goes beyond just May’s disinterest in the issue of apartheid. It affects basic British freedoms. The Conservatives and their Lib Dem enablers have passed legislation providing for secret courts, and repealing Habeas Corpus. Under these courts, if it is deemed necessary for reasons of national security, the defendant may be tried in secret, using witnesses, whose identity he is not given, and where the evidence against him may be withheld from his lawyers. As Mike and so many other left-wing bloggers, including myself, have said before, this is precisely the grotesque travesty of justice Kafka describes in his book, The Trial and The Castle, and which became a horrifying reality in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia.

And in South Africa under apartheid, the system of repression was so great that people risked arrest simply for talking about Nelson Mandela. I can remember listening to a programme on Radio 4 in which the speaker, a Black South African, described how he first came to hear about the country’s national hero. It was in school, and by a teacher, who risked her job and liberty. He described how she moved around the room, carefully closing the curtains, saying, ‘His name is Mandela’.

Is this the kind of state terror we can expect from May’s party following Brexit? Our genuine constitutional protections for the ancient liberties of freedom of speech, conscience and assembly stripped away and replaced with a constitutional fig leaf to disguise the real absence of any freedom in this country? And all done by a party who were not only indifferent to monstrous injustice perpetrated by right-wing regimes around the world, from South Africa to the death squads of Chile, and who, if they read Kafka, thought it all sounded like a good idea?

Guy Debord’s Cat on the Tory Bullying Scandal

May 2, 2017

Buddy Hell over at Guy Debord’s Cat also posted a piece about two weeks ago, asking what has happened to the Tory bullying scandal. The Cat begins

As the Crown Prosecution Services prepares to announce whether it intends to prosecute over 30 Tory “individuals” (sic) for failing to correctly declare elections expenses during the 2015 General Election, it’s worth remembering the other scandal into which the Tory Election Expenses Scandal is interwoven. That scandal is the Tory Bullying Scandal.

It is worrying that for more than a year the entire story has gone quiet. Indeed, a current government minister, a former minister and the party chairman are entangled in its web. A party worker actually committed suicide after a campaign of bullying and intimidation, and a sitting MP was blackmailed for having an affair.

The Cat provides a handy list of the salient facts. These include the following points

In 2014, Mark Clarke was appointed director Conservative RoadTrip2015 by Grant Shapps, the then party chairman. This organization, bussed activists around the country to key marginals. RoadTrip2015 is at the heart of the Tory Election Expenses Scandal.

Clarke threatened to blackmail Robert Halfon, MP over an alleged sexual infidelity.

Elliott Johnson, a young party activist committed suicide after being bullied by Clarke and Andre Walker, whom he regards as a friend. Walker himself was covertly recorded on a train plotting to smear Alison Knight, the deputy leader of Windsor Council with an associate. Walker also claimed to be Johnson’s lover.

There was considerable overlap between Thatcherite group, Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Conservative Future (youth wing), RoadTrip2015 and Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF). It was revealed that Clarke had sexually assaulted several female members of YBF. This forced Donal Blaney, the YBF’s leader to cancel their annual conference. Blaney was also forced to resign from CWF.

The internal Tory Party inquiry found there were 13 alleged victims. The same inquiry, conducted by Clifford Chance, concluded that senior party figures were “unaware” bullying was taking place. Elliott Johnson’s parents condemned the inquiry as a “whitewash”.

The Cat also notes that Clarke and friends also plotted to take over the Corporation of London and that he and Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley, the former MP for Cannock Chase, also worked together in an organisation dedicated to smashing the unions. He speculates that the links between the various individuals involved suggests that the bullying also included several members of Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Association.

Apart from Clarke and his cronies, in December 2015 it was revealed that Lucy Allen, the Tory MP for Telford, had left bullying messages to one of her workers on the answerphone. She also added the words ‘unless you die’ to a message from someone criticising her for wanting to bomb Syria. Despite this, Allen has never been investigated.

The Cat concludes

This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of Downing Street. But why has this story gone so cold? Could it have something to do with the Conservative Party’s internal inquiry, dubbed by some as a “whitewash”? The corporate media dropped the story soon after the inquiry. Yet questions about bullying in the Tory Party and the connection between RoadTrip2015 and the Tory Election Expenses Scandal persist. Will we ever get to the truth?

He also adds an update from a report in the Guardian, which states that the Tories have not handed a report on the allegations to the cops, despite repeated calls for them to do so.

Just like they haven’t handed over a report into their electoral fraud.

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/whatever-happened-to-the-tory-bullying-scandal/

This also has a link to the Guardian’s article on the scandal.

Somehow I’m not surprised that this scandal involved the party’s various youth sections. Some of us can still remember the uproar in the 1980s when the Nazi sympathies of the Union of Conservative Students came out, including their commitment to racial nationalism, their bullying of Tory ‘wets’ during a conference at one British university, their condemnation of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, and how they used to sing ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’ to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.

William Blum’s List of American Foreign Interventions: Part 1

February 15, 2017

Yesterday I put up a piece about American hypocrisy in the allegations that Putin was blackmailing Donald Trump, when the Americans themselves interfered in the Russian elections in 1996 in order to secure Boris Yeltsin’s election as Russian president. This was, however, hardly the first time America had intervened in the domestic politics of a foreign country. William Blum devotes two chapters to this in his book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. In one he lists the various interventions America has made in other countries, including invasions and military coups, and in the other cases where America has interfered with the conduct of elections in order to secure a win for their favoured candidates.

Both of these are very long and ignominious lists. Here’s part 1 of a list of foreign interventions by the US.

American Interventions

China 1945-51
Aiding Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang against Mao’s Communists.

France 1947
Backing French Socialist party against the Communists, using Corsican mobsters to attack Communist party and Communist-aligned trade unionists.

Marshall Islands 1946-58
Indigenous people of Bikini Atoll removed from the island in order to make way for nuclear tests.

Italy 1947-1970s
Backing Conservative Christian Democrats to keep the Socialists and Communists out of power.

Greece 1947-9
Backing neo-Fascists and creating intelligence unit for them in the civil war against the Communists.

Philippines 1945-53
Military actions against the left-wing Huk forces.

Korea 1945-53
Korean War. However, afterwards US backed Conservatives, who had collaborated with the Japanese, and Fascist dictators, also committed atrocities against fleeing civilians.

Albania 1949-53
Backing anti-Communist guerillas, most of whom were collaborators with the Nazis and Italian Fascists.

Eastern Europe 1948-1956
Head of CIA Allen Dulles deliberately heightened paranoia in the eastern bloc, causing hundreds of thousands of imprisonments, purge trials and murders by the Communist regimes.

Germany 1950s
Lengthy campaign of terrorism, dirty tricks and sabotage against East Germany.

Iran 1953
Prime Minister Mossadegh overthrown by CIA and British led coup, as dared nationalise what is now British Petroleum oilfields.

Guatemala 1953-1990s
CIA backed Fascist coup against democratic socialist Jacobo Arbenz for nationalising plantations owned by American company, United Fruit. Result: forty years of terror, with 200,000 people murdered.

Costa Rica mid-1950s and 1970-1
Attempted assassination of liberal democratic president, Jose Figueres, because considered too soft on the left, and for making his nation the first in Central America to establish diplomatic links with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and questioning American foreign policy, like the invasion of Cuba.

Middle East 1956-58
Attempts to overthrow the Syrian government, shows of force in Mediterranean against opposition to US-backed governments in Jordan and Lebanon, landing of 14,000 troops in Lebanon, and attempts to overthrow and assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Nasser.

Indonesia 1957-8
Attempts to manipulate elections, assassinate, blackmail and start a civil war to overthrow President Sukarno. Sukarno neutral in Cold War, went on trips to China and USSR, nationalised private property of Dutch colonialists, and did not crack down on the Communist party, which was then engaged on electoral path to power.

Haiti 1959
Trained troops of notorious dicator Papa Doc Duvalier, and destroy attempted coup against him by Haitians, Cubans and other Latin Americans.

Western Europe 1950s-1960s
Granting of American money through charities and so on to various groups and organisations in pursuit of American anti-Communist, anti-Socialist policies.

British Guiana/Guyana 1953-64
Attempts to force out of office democratically elected socialist premier, Cheddi Jagan by America and Britain.

Iraq 1958-63

Long campaign against nationalist leader General Abdul Karim Kassem after he overthrew the monarchy and established a republic. USA and Turkey drew up plan to invade; this dropped in favour of arming Kurds, as well as assassination attempts. Kassem helped set up OPEC and created nationalised oil company. Kassem was finally overthrown in a Ba’ath coup, which also led to a clampdown on the Communist party, which was backed by both America and Britain.

Soviet Union 1940s-1960s
Cold War campaigns of espionage, propaganda and sabotage, backing of resistance movements against USSR.

Vietnam 1945-73
Vietnam War.

Cambodia 1945-73
Overthrow of Prince Sihanouk enabling Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge to gain power.

Laos 1957-73
Armed insurrection and bombing against reformist left, led by Pathet Lao party.

Thailand 1965-73
Armed forced against insurgents.

Ecuador 1960-63
Overthrow of president Jose Maria Velasco for not clamping down on left and not following US policy against Cuba.

Congo/Zaire, 1960-65, 1977-8
Overthrow of Patrice Lumumba in favour of dictator and mass-murderer Mobutu Sese Seko.

France/Algeria 1960s
Backed French military coup in Algeria to stop country becoming independent. Also hoped repercussions would overthrow De Gaulle, who was blocking American attempts to dominate NATO.

Brazil, 1961-64
Backed military dictatorship which overthrew President Joao Goulart for being too independent and friendly towards Communists, despite the fact that Goulart millionaire devout Roman Catholic.

Peru 1965
Military action against leftist guerillas

Dominican Republic 1963-5
Overthrow of liberal president, Juan Bosch.

Cuba 1959-Present
Attempts to overthrow Communist regime.

Indonesia 1965
Overthrow of Sukarno and bloody suppression of Communists by successor, General Suharto.

Ghana 1966
Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah

Uruguay 1969-72
Dirty War against Tupamaro leftists guerillas.

Chile 1964-73
Long campaign against democratic Communist, Salvador Allende, culminating in Fascist coup of General Pinochet.

Greece 1967-74
Intervention against liberal Greek president George Papandreou, as he wanted to take Greece out of NATO and declare Greek neutrality in Cold War. Overthrown in the Fascist coup that inaugurated the rule of the Colonels.

South Africa 1960s-1980s
Assistance to South African apartheid government against African Nationalist Congress, which, amongst other things, led to the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.

Bolivia 1964-75
Military campaign against President Victor Paz for supporting Cuba.

Australia 1972-5
Operations to have Gough Whitlam, the leader of the Aussie Labor party, removed by America and British, ’cause he was opposed to Vietnam.

Iraq 1972-5
CIA backed Kurds, not for them to get autonomy, but to distract Iraqi army and make sure they didn’t overthrow the Shah of Iran.

Portugal 1974-76
comprehensive series of measures, including shows of force by NATO warships, against radical policies proposed by the army officers, who overthrew the previous Fascist dictatorship of General Salazar.

East Timor 1975-99
Backing of Indonesian invasion, which killed 1/3 of the island’s population.

Angola 1975-1980s
Angolan civil war, which was basically proxy war between US, China and South Africa on one hand and USSR and Cuba on the other.

Democracy Now Interview with Jewish Heckler against Netanyahu

October 2, 2016

In my last blog post, I discussed Mike’s article arguing that the real reason why Jackie Walker has been accused of anti-Semitism again, is not because she is a Jew-hater, but because she is an anti-Zionist Jew, and therefore represented a threat to the Israel lobby and the organisation that set up the Holocaust Memorial Day training event, the Jewish Labour Movement. This defines itself as a Zionist socialist movement, and boasts about its affiliation to the main Zionist organisations.

Mike has received a number of very supportive comments from his Jewish and non-Jewish readers. They also make clear the distinction between Judaism and Zionism. One of those supporting Mike is a gentleman, who has completed an MA in Holocaust Studies, and lost 14 members of his family in the Shoah.

I’ve blogged several times about the opposition to Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians by Jews and liberal Israelis, and the immense courage these people show as they are not only reviled as anti-Semites, but also as ‘self-hating’, and ‘not real Jews’. In a poll conducted a few years ago, a majority of Israelis responded that they believed that Israelis who sided with the Palestinians should be stripped of their civil rights.

In this interview from Democracy Now, the news programme’s anchor, Amy Goodson, talks to Rae Abileah, a young American Jewish woman, who was tackled and physically assaulted when she heckled Binyamin Netanyahu when he made a speech to Congress four years ago in 2012. Abileah is a member of Code Pink, and the daughter of an Israeli father. She states that she travelled to Israel, and saw for herself the oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including the Jews-only roads. She returned to America determined to speak out against it.

Netanyahu was given 29 standing ovations when he spoke to Congress, four more than Barack Obama. Abileah heckled him, shouting demands to end the occupation and persecution. She was wrestled to the ground by members of AIPAC, the American Israel lobbying organisation. This was so violent, that she had to be taken to a hospital to be treated for a shoulder and neck injury.

In the interview she not only discusses the incident, and her motivation in her personal experience of the persecution of the Palestinians, but also about the reluctance to speak out against it in many Jewish communities. She says that there is a ‘culture of fear’ that prevents many Jews from doing as she does. She states that Jews must get beyond the religious narrative, which supports Israel. This is not because she herself is an atheist or anti-religious. She says that she believes that Israel and its policies violate the fundamental tenets of Judaism as written in its sacred texts, and particularly Israel’s mission of tekunah olam, healing the world.

The description of the clip put up by the channel’s owner on YouTube, Ben Silverstein, states

Rae Abileah, a 28-year old Jewish daughter of an Israeli, is a member of Code Pink, a pacifist organization. She told Ynet that she had disrupted another speech by Netanyahu at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in New Orleans in November.

“We are a young generation of Jews who don’t intend to sit by in silence and allow prime ministers who commit crimes against humanity speak,” she said. “As far as we’re concerned he can speak at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

Abileah says she used a card procured by a friend to sneak into the House of Representatives. “When Netanyahu began to speak about Israel and democracy a got up to speak against its anti-democratic operations,” she said.

“I yelled, ‘Stop the occupation, stop Israeli war crimes’ and I called out for equal rights for Palestinians.”

Abileah claims that immediately after her protest she was attacked by activists belonging to the Jewish lobby.

“They assaulted me and I fell on the floor. The activists strangled me and beat me. Then I was dragged out by police who arrested me,” she recounted. She claims she sustained injuries to the neck and shoulders which required hospitalization.

After she was released from the hospital she was detained for a few hours by police.

Abileah says she visited Gaza a year ago and witnessed the destruction caused by Operation Cast Lead, afterwards deciding to devote her life to countering “Israel’s war crimes”.

Palestinians face home demolitions leaving tens of thousands homeless. Checkpoints within the West Bank humiliate Palestinians who have to wait for hours. They are not for “security” and are placed between Palestinian cities.

The apartheid wall is a giant concrete wall that dwarfs the Berlin Wall. The wal is not on the border, but 90% of it runs inside the West Bank, separating villages, and destroying homes and Palestinian farmland in the way of its construction

650,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements(colonies) on Palestinian land, destroying Palestinian homes and leaving innocent families and children homeless.
4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N as refugees that were displaced from their homes by Israel.
The Archbishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela as well as other South African leaders have reported that the Israeli apartheid is worse than in South Africa.

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” – Nelson Mandela

Please spread the movement!!!!!!! It worked for South Africa, and it will work to free Palestine from Israeli apartheid.

The Racist Background to Cameron and his Cabinet Cronies

May 5, 2016

With the allegations over supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour party, let’s not forget that the Tories also have a long history of racism, including the various organisations of which Cameron and at least one of his cabinet colleagues were a part. I’ve reblogged the timeline of vicious xenophobic prejudice put up by Tom Pride in the history of the Daily Mail. A few years ago Mike put up a piece attacking Cameron’s hypocrisy sending his condolences and eulogies for Nelson Mandela at the great man’s death. Cameron was a member of the Federation of Conservative Students in the 1980s, at the time when Thatcher was loudly proclaiming that she was not going to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa, and denounced the ANC as terrorists. Her views were enthusiastically shared by the Tories’ youth wing, many of whose members used to sing ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’.

A few years ago, just after the Tory/ Lib-Dem coalition government weren’t elected, Cameron appointed another former member of the Federation of Conservative Students to a cabinet post. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the precise details, by Private Eye ran a piece pointing out that the gentleman in question was a Conservative student at Loughborough when the Federation of Conservative Students was very much dominated by the hard Right.

The Federation became infamous after a scandal surrounding its members’ behaviour at a Federation conference organised at the Uni. The Eye stated that Tory Wets were terrorised and attendees left excrement in the showers. They were also notorious for singing ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks and Asians’ to the turn of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. After further hard-Right antics like this from other parts of the Federation, Tory Central Office finally lost patience, and the Federation was closed down and merged with the Young Conservatives to form Conservative Future.

But this obviously didn’t stop Cameron from choosing one of his fellow stormtroopers from those heady days to serve in his cabinet.

Vox Political: Tories End Special Payments Fund to Provide Free School Meals

February 11, 2016

More evidence of the Tory campaign to starve this nation and its children. This is a piece Mike posted today from the Mirror, reporting that David Cameron has quietly removed a fund of £32 million to provide the 3,000 smallest schools in the UK with free school meals: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/11/tories-quietly-end-free-school-meals-fund-worth-32-million/. And this was after Cameron noisily declared that his government would provide free school meals to all children. Well, they’ve clearly decided against this. And according to Mike, it was a Lib Dem policy anyway.

This comes after reports that teachers in some schools are actually paying for children to have school meals out of their own pockets, because of benefit cuts. Mike’s put up these stories on his blog. Go and read them. I was told by a South African friend that Nelson Mandela, when he got into power, launched the ‘Mandela Feeding Programme’. This was so that the starving children of unemployed or low paid people in the Townships would get at least one meal at school. He told me it was only trivial – something like a peanut butter sandwich. But at least the kids were fed. Britain is immensely richer than South Africa. We’re supposed to be one of the world’s strongest economies. But Cameron has decided that we can’t afford to look after our poor.

Disgraceful. Utterly disgraceful.

Seumas Milne on Why Thatcher Should Not Be Celebrate

April 4, 2014

thatcherburn

Former PM Margaret Thatcher, whose infernal glamour still captivates the Tory faithful

Mike over at Vox Political suggested that there should be a day celebrating the life of Tony Benn as a response to the suggestion by a Tory MP that there should be a national holiday celebrating former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Guardian Columnist Milne on Streep’s The Iron Lady

The Guardian’s columnist, Seumas Milne, was alarmed by the trend towards the rehabilitation of the dictator of the British bourgeoisie signalled two years ago by the release in 2012 of the Meryl Streep biopic, The Iron Lady. In his column for the fifth of January, he wrote

In opposition David Cameron tried to distance himself from her poisonous ‘nasty party’ legacy. But just as he and George Osborne embark on even deeper cuts and more far-reaching privatisation of public services than Thatcher herself managed, Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady is about to come to the rescue of the 1980s prime minister’s reputation.

As the Hollywood actor’s startling Thatcher recreation looks down from every other bus, commenters have insisted that the film is ‘not political’. True, it doesn’t explicitly take sides in the most conflagrationary decade in postwar British politics. It is made clear that Thatcher’s policies were controversial and strongly opposed. But as director Phyllida Lloyd points out, ‘the whole story is told from her point of view…

Lloyd herself is unashamed about the film’s thrust: this is ‘the story of a great leader who is both tremendous and flawed’. Naturally, some of Thatcher’s supporters and family members have balked at the depiction of her illness.

But her authorised biographer, the High Tory Charles Moore, has no doubt about The Iron Lady’s effective political message. The Oscar-bound movie is, he declares, a ‘most powerful piece of propaganda for conservatism’. And for many people under forty, their view of Thatcher and what she represents will be formed by this film.

Milne notes the narrative strategies the film uses to generate sympathy for Thatcher. Her enemies are shown – angry protestors, and striking miners, but their motives are never explained and the communities she devastated with her policies are also never shown. He notes that the concentration on the onset of her dementia is also calculated to make the audience feel sympathy for a human being struggling with such a terrible disease. The film also presents her, absurdly, as a feminist icon when she strongly rejected feminism. In another depiction of the opposite of the truth, she is presented as battling class prejudice when she launched a naked class war.

You can understand why Maggie’s life would appeal to the film industry, and to an actress of Streep’s stature. It’s a strong female role, in an industry where such roles for mature women are few. Thatcher was a pioneering female figure, the first female prime minister and one of those, who held office the longest in the last century. Crucially for a film, it also has lots of drama, as well as personal tragedy – Alzheimer’s disease, rather than the antics of her stupid, arrogant and wastrel son, ‘Thickie’ Mork. You can also see how it would be presented as a rags to riches story, as she goes from her parent’s shop in Grantham to hold the highest public office in the UK, an angle she herself spun, even though she hated and despised the working class.

Yet the film neglects the horrific harm she did to Britain, the poor and the working class. And Milne himself later points out in the article that the people who were hit hardest by her policies were women. Just as they are now, under her successor, Dave Cameron. As for the lack of context or explanation given for her enemies, Roland Barthes in his book, Mythologies, states that is one of the techniques film uses to establish the villain: you know less about them than the hero.

Milne on the Economic Devastation and Impoverishment Caused by Thatcher’s Policies

Milne was particularly shocked by Gordon Brown’s suggestion that she be given a state funeral, and in the rest of the article presents the argument why this is an iniquitous idea.

Gordon Brown absurdly floated a state funeral in a fruitless attempt to appease the Daily Mail. But the coalition would be even more foolish if it were to press ahead with what is currently planned. A state funeral for Thatcher would not be regarded as any kind of national occasion by millions of people, but as a partisan Conservative event and affront to large parts of the country.

Not only in forming mining communities and industrial areas laid waste by her government, but across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatisation and social breakdown. Now protests are taking the form of satirical e-petitions to the funeral to be privatised: if it goes ahead, there are likely to be demonstrations on the streets.

This is a politician, after all, who never won the votes of more than a third of the electorate; destroyed communities; created mass unemployment; deindustrialised Britain; redistributed from poor to rich; and, by her deregulation of the City, laid the basis for the crisis that has engulfed us twenty-five years later.

Thatcher was a prime minister who denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, defended the Chilean fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, ratcheted up the cold war, and unleashed militarised police on trade unionists and black communities alike. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister, but her policies hit women hardest, like Cameron’s today.

A common British establishment view – and the implicit position of The Iron Lady – is that while Thatcher took harsh measures and ‘went too far’, it was necessary medicine to restore the sick economy of the 1970s to healthy growth.

It did nothing of the sort. Average growth in the Thatcherite ’80s, at 2.4 per cent, was exactly the same as in the sick ’70s – and considerabl6y lower than during the corporatist ’60s. Her government’s savage deflation destroyed a fifth of Britain’s industrial base in two years, hollowed out manufacturing, and delivered a ‘productivity miracle’ that never was, and we’re living with the consequences today.

What she did succeed in doing was to restore class privilege, boosting profitability while slashing employees’ share of national income from 65 per cent to 53 per cent through her assault on the unions. Britain faced a structural crisis in the 1970s, but there were multiple routes out of it. Thatcher imposed a neoliberal model now seen to have failed across the world.

He concludes by suggesting that Thatcher’s rehabilitation is connected to the Coalition’s need to shore up support now that they are implementing the same policies, and experiencing the same opposition.

It’s hardly surprising that some might want to put a benign gloss on Thatcher’s record when another Tory-led government is forcing through Thatcher-like policies – and riots, mounting unemployment and swingeing benefits cuts echo her years in power. The rehabilitation isn’t so much about then as now, which is one reason it can’t go unchallenged. Thatcher wasn’t a ‘great leader’. She was the most socially destructive prime minister of modern times.

‘Thatcher’s Rehabilitation Must Be Resisted to the End’, in Seumas Milne,The Revenge of History: The Battle for the 21st Century (London: Verso 2013) 245-8.

Thatcher, Churchill and the Tories View Organised Working Class as Nazi-like Threat

Milne is absolutely right about the destructive effect Thatcher and her policies have had on British society. He also in the above article criticises the attempt to present Thatcher as possessing the same stature as Winston Churchill. This show very strongly the Tory attitude to the working class and organised labour – a mighty force for evil on a par with Nazi Germany, which should be resolutely destroyed no matter what the cost. Not that she didn’t share some of Churchill’s views. He too hated the working class and was fully prepared to use military force against them. He is still bitterly hated in parts of Wales for his use of the army to put down striking workers in Newport. Martin Pugh in his book on Fascism in Britain between the Wars argues that one reason why the 1926 General Strike ended without much bloodshed was because the Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, removed Churchill from any direct responsibility. When the strike broke out, Churchill announced that the army would stand ready to do their duty if called upon by the civilian authorities. A cabinet aide suggested to Baldwin that perhaps a post in the Telegraph office would suit the future minister. ‘Yes’, replied Baldwin, ‘he can do no harm there’.

Left and Liberal Parties Should Not Court Tory Press

It also shows the folly of any Labour or left-wing party expecting support from the Tory press. Any support given by Messrs Dacre, Murdoch and Desmond is contingent on following a series of policies that will punish and harm the poor in support of the rich. Labour, or any other party, such as the Lib Dems, will automatically act against the interests of their own constituencies if they do so. Moreover, the same press barons will automatically move back to their default position of supporting the Tories, as has been shown by Murdoch’s move back to the Conservatives from supporting Blair.

Thatcher and Mugabe: Both Politicians Destroyed their Nations for Sectional Gain

As for Thatcher’s destruction of British manufacturing industry, and the massive growth in poverty, what actually struck me there was not the parallel with Churchill, but with another politician entirely: Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has, after all, comprehensively wrecked what was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. Before Mugabe unleashed his reign of terror, Zimbabwe actually exported food. Now he’s reduced it to absolute poverty, while, like so many dictators around the world, enriching himself and his coterie.

And just in case anyone disputes how divisive Thatcher was, remember the mass celebrations that broke out at the news of her death.

Milne is quite right: Thatcher was not great politician. She was a disastrous one, and her rehabilitation by the political elite needs to be strongly resisted at every turn.