Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Liberalism’

Comedian Alexei Sayle on the Forces Ranged Against Jeremy Corbyn

March 3, 2019

This is another video from Labour Against the Witchhunt, the group formed to defend the victims of the mass smear campaign against supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour party. The video was posted on YouTube on 2nd June 2018, and as Sayle says that he is there to support Marc Wadworth, my guess is that it was recorded as part of the tour Marc Wadsworth did of various cities up and down the country exposing the injustice of his own smearing and expulsion from Labour. Ruth Smeeth accused him of anti-Semitism, because he embarrassed her passing information on to a Torygraph journalist at a press conference. As Wadworth is a veteran campaigner against racism and anti-Semitism, who got Stephen Lawrence’s parents to meet Nelson Mandela and worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the ’90s when the BNP were beating up Jews once again in the east end of London, the charge is risible and obnoxious. But this didn’t stop the press, media and Blairites baying it at every opportunity.

Some of us of a certain vintage remember Sayle as the bald, sweary bloke, who was one of the leaders of Alternative Comedy that came out of the Comedy Store in the 1980s, along with Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, French and Saunders, and Ben Elton. They were an iconoclastic attack on the old style of comedy – anarchic and ‘politically correct’. They firmly rejected the racism and sexism that was part of the ’70s comedy scene. Sayle appeared in the groundbreaking sitcom, The Young Ones, as the heroes’ landlord, and later had his own show on BBC 2. He also did a car advert in which he sang ‘Ello, John, got a new motor?’ until you were heartily sick of it, but the less said about that the better.

He starts by talking about the forces ranged against Corbyn – Capita, neo-liberalism, and fanatical supporters of the state of Israel, for whom it is a fight to the death, and will do anything, to stop the prospect of someone, who prioritises the plight of the Palestinians, of the oppressed than the oppressor, leading a western nation. He says they will lie, cheat and do anything to stop that, and one of the people, who has been sacrificed, who he wanted to speak up for, was Marc Wadsworth.

He then says that perhaps the audience knows the Labour party better than he does, perhaps there’s a plan there. But if it was him, he’d just tell the Board of Deputies to f**k themselves. ‘Not a sophisticated response, but I dunno’. He speculates whether there is a plan to appease them, and wonders if it will work. He then talks about how he was busy with work a couple of weeks previously. It was the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth. (Sayle’s parents where Jewish Romanian Communists, who settled in Liverpool, and much of Sayle’s comedy is about Marxism and the Russian Revolution. He once did a radio series about a football team, which was fable about the Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolshevik revolution). However, the previous October was the centenary of the Russian Revolution. He expected to be busy with work then, and told his agent to block out all of October. However, nothing happened. But he was able to get a gig speaking at the British Library. He goes on to explain that the history of the Soviet Union has a bit of a blemish when you’re talking about Marxism. Some people would disagree. His own mother would never admit there was anything wrong with the Soviet project. The most she would says was, Mistakes were made’. Or as she would say, ‘You can’t make an omelette without murdering 40 million people’.

He goes on to say that the spirit – the purity of spirit – of the Russian Revolution was crushed when the Kronstadt uprising was put down, the sailors, who were asking for a return to the basic principles of Bolshevism, of the Revolution. He goes on

‘It seems to me a tremendous danger that if you concede, if you start to mess with the basic principles of who you are, if you start to make concessions to people like Ruth Smeeth and Wes Streeting, and these people. And if you start to self-harm in the hope of future gain, you are fundamentally undermining what you are about.’

Wise words indeed, as we have seen this week when the party has decided to suspend Chris Williamson for daring to defend the smeared innocent against their accusers.

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Ken Livingstone on Perestroika and Industrial Democracy

May 31, 2016

This morning I put up a piece about how Mikhail Gorbachev, the very last president of the Soviet Union, attempted to regenerate Soviet Communism by introducing industrial democracy and strengthening trade unions as part of Perestroika. Ken Livingstone devotes an entire chapter of his book, Livingstone’s Labour, on Perestroika, including a few paragraphs on worker’s control. He writes

So far the reformers around Gorbachev such as Aganbegyan have stressed that as the economy is modernised the workers must be protected from cuts in their standard of living. that is why he emphasises the strengthening of social provision such as housing, health and education. He has also spelt out the intention to keep rents low and to ensure that when price reform comes there must be compensation to protect living standards. He argues that there must be increased investment in new technology but makes the following innovative condition:

The distinctive feature of this reform is industrial democracy moving towards self-management … this will involved [workers] in determining the enterprise plan, the allocation of resources and the election of managers. It is a revolutionary programme. There will be much opposition, especially from management… This can only be overcome because the … driving force is political openness and democratisation.

It is not only academic economists who talk like this. I was struck by the enthusiasm and pleasure with which Vadim Zagladin, the Head of the International Department of the Central Committee, described how a Siberian shoe factory, which had been facing closure, had been taken over by the workers. The products of the factory were notorious for falling apart within days of purchase but the Central Committee had agreed to give the workers a last chance to improve their shoes before closure. Once the workers took control their first act was to sack the incompetent managers. They then turned the business into a dramatic success within two years. Now the factory is expanding and their shoes are in demand all over the USSR. Even more innovative is the workers’ proposal to issue ‘shares’ in factory-not to investors, but to their customers who would then be in a position to exercise real consumer power. (Pp. 205-6).

Livingstone also explains that the Perestroika movement was divided into two camps, with a right-wing that favoured something like Thatcherism, and a left, which included Gorby himself, that wanted to protect the workers as much as possible. He stated

In the first place, the perestroika movement is split into two quite distinct camps (it is the failure to understand this which has led so many We3stern observers to talk so inaccurately about the reintroduction of capitalism). there are those like Nikolai Shmelev and the technocrats Lisichkin and Popov whose arguments are similar to those of Thatcher that the economy can be reformed by the creation of a poll of unemployment which will act as a spur to increase productivity. They argue that Soviet society must be led by an elite and that the welfare state is a ‘survival of feudalism’.

The other faction inside the perestroika movement is that of the democratisers. Typified by the economists Aganbegyan and Zaslavskaya, this faction believes that the economy can only be modernised by democratising Soviet society from the grass roots upwards. Most important of all, they see the way to improve the economic performance of the USSR is by introducing democratic rights at work so that the workers elect their managers. At every stage Gorbachev has thrown his weight behind the democratisers and against the elitists. As he wrote in his book Perestroika (1987)’There was opinion…that we ought to give up planned economy and sanction unemployment. We cannot permit this… since we aim to strengthen socialism, not replace it with a different system … Furthermore, a work collective must have the right to elect its manager.’ (P. 204).

Livingstone was aware how radical Gorbachev’s reforms were, and that there were many who wished them to fail so that they could introduce unemployment:

The excitement with which progressive Central Committee members like Zagladin recount each successful experiment in workers democracy is an indication of just how much is riding on the hopes of the reformers that democracy from below will be the key to the modernisation of the Soviet economy. If they fail the conservatives will be waiting in the wings to try the ‘spur’ of unemployment.(p. 206).

By ‘Conservatives’, Livingstone means the traditional managerial class of party functionaries and civil servants.

This passage is interesting, as it shows how well-informed Red Ken was about the Soviet Union and perestroika. He was well aware, for example, that the restructuring of the Soviet economy would result in 16 million jobs being lost, and acknowledged that this would present a serious problem. In the event, Gorbachev’s radical proposal to transform Soviet industry into co-operatives was abandoned, and they were transformed through the voucher system into straightforward capitalist enterprises. The result was chaos and the complete meltdown of the country’s economy under Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, corrupt incompetent, who was useful as a stooge to the Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs then in the White House and Downing Street.

This also explains one of the quotes the Scum attributed to Red Ken in their campaign against Labour in the 1987 general election. The rag produced a page of photos of various Labour MPs and activists, with a radical quote from each underneath the photo to scare people. Under Diane Abbott they placed the words, ‘All White people are racist’. With Red Ken they placed a line about how he wasn’t in favour of the army, but a corps of soldiers to defend the factories. Looking back now, it seems quite unlikely that those quotes were even true, especially Ken’s, except perhaps at a time in his early career when he, like many left-wingers, was far more radical. But his interest in perestroika, and the reintroduction of industrial democracy, also showed how much of a threat he was to Thatcher and her programme of grinding the workers down any way she could.

Danny Cohen, the BBC, and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 18, 2016

Mike has put up several pieces on the anti-Semitism allegations. In one of them, he particularly criticised Newsnight for its spurious debate about them. On it, Evan Davies, who has also written a book detailing his neo-liberal, right-wing views, interviewed a number of people about the allegations. All of them believed that the allegations were correct. Not one of the challenged the idea that Labour was anti-Semitic.

One of the people on the panel was Danny Cohen. Now, if this is the same person I’m talking about, then it’s highly questionable whether he should have been on the programme at all, as he is hardly an unbiased, independent speaker. There was a Danny Cohen, who was formerly one of the leading managers – he may have been one of the controllers – of the BBC, before resigning and going to Israel. He also issued a statement that Britain and Europe were unsafe for Jews, and that they should also move to Israel. If that Danny Cohen, was the same Danny Cohen as the man who appeared on Davies’ programme, then he already has very strong biases, of which the viewer should be informed and which deserved to be questioned themselves.

Cohen was not alone in making these claims about the security of the Jews in Europe. They’ve been running since 2004 or so. I can remember reading a book review in the Spectator, about a novel by an American author set in the future, in which the remains of European Socialism join with the Islamists in the European parliament to bring about a new holocaust of European Jewry. If memory serves me right, Frederick Raphael was somehow involved with this, though I can’t remember whether he wrote it or just reviewed it approvingly. This is, of course, a gross smear, and comes very much from the Republican Neo-Con Right. Extreme right-wing Republicans like the very swivel-eyed Glenn Beck really do believe that Socialism is the same as Nazism, ’cause, er, the Nazis said they were. They then go on about how if Socialists like Bernie Sanders get into power, they’re going to take away America’s freedom. Beck himself has burst into tears several times on his show, wailing that they’re about to take him away. You can see the same nuttiness with Alex Jones on his Infowars programme. It’s on Youtube, so if you want to see how deranged part of the American political landscape is, you can have a look at it. There’s even a segment where he rants about Obamacare in a Reptile mask. Because Obama is part of the Reptoid alien Illuminati elite. Or something.

There have indeed been increased attacks in Jews. However, the majority of racially motivated attacks since 9/11 have been against Muslims, which disproves the allegation that Jews are more at threat in Europe than other groups. A Palestinian writer in the weekend Financial Times a decade or more ago said that in France, where the French authorities were cracking down on anti-Muslim violence more severely than anti-Semitic crime, it was not because the French state or people hated the Jews. Quite the opposite. In polls, the number of French people, who said that Jews weren’t really French, was very low: about 5%. The numbers who responded that Muslims weren’t really French was much higher, and anti-Arab sentiment in some parts of France was very marked. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne wrote a piece in the Independent several years ago describing her family’s experience of being shunned, ignored and very badly treated during a holiday in France, because she and her children were obviously Asian, despite their father being White. In fairness, she also wrote another piece several years later, saying what a wonderful time she’d had in France and how so much had changed.

In fact, the Zionist lobby has very definite demographic reasons for trying to make Jews feel unwanted and unsafe in Europe, and encouraging them to move to Israel. There’s a controversy there about the relatively higher fertility of the Arab population. Generally, Arab families have more children than Jewish Israelis, and so there’s a fear amongst some Israelis that they will soon be outbred. It’s very similar to the idea of ‘Eurabia’ in the Euro-American anti-Muslim right. In this view, Europe is under siege from Islam. Europeans have much smaller families than Muslims, and so in a few generations the Muslims will have outbred the rest of us, and we will be a minority in our own countries. It’s actually a load of rubbish, but it does have terrible emotive power.

There are other ways in which Israel is being placed in a difficult position through demographic change. The Zionist right, such as Likud, and in particular the ultra-Orthodox Haredis, wish to colonise the occupied West Bank as part of their programme, as they see it, to redeem all of Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. They have bitterly attacked those Israelis, who have dared to suggest that it would be much better to withdraw. But this, however, means withdrawing some parts of the Israeli population from certain areas, such as the Negev, which already have a very high Arab population, mostly Bedouin. In the chapter on contemporary Israel in the book The Modern Middle East, edited by Albert Hourani, it states that there is a real possibility that if Israel continues encouraging Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, the resulting loss of population from the Negev and other areas will leave them with majority Arab populations.

This is obviously the very last thing Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist right want. A few years ago Netanyahu was asked whether his government would ever give the right of return to the Palestinian families who fled their homes in Israel in 1947 following the Israeli uprising and war with the Arabs. Netanyahu stated very firmly that he would not, because it would upset the fundamental ethnic character of Israel as the Jewish state.

It therefore seems very clear to me that Cohen’s comment about the rise in hostility to Jews in Europe and his recommendation that they emigrate to Israel, has little to do with the real situation, and everything to do with the need of the Israeli state to find more colonists to bolster their population against the Arabs. Cohen’s appearance with Evan Davies on Newsnight suggests that these manufactured allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and its leader, are part of this hard-Right Zionist agenda.

The Fictional Roots of the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 18, 2016

Okay, a few minutes ago I put up a piece from RT’s Going Underground show, in which the Jewish anti-Zionist writer and activist, Max Blumenthal, said that he was struck by the similarity of the controversy surrounding supposed anti-Semitic comments from Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and others in the Labour Party, and the plot of the book A Very British Coup by the former Labour MP, Chris Mullens. The book concerns the plot to undermine a left-wing Labour Prime Minister, the former steelworker, Harry Perkins, by the establishment, the Fleet Street press, the intelligence services and the right wing of the Party. Perkins is very popular, so his opponents unseat him by manufacturing anti-Semitic quotes attributed to him.

It actually wouldn’t surprise me if the current attacks on Corbyn and other Labour MPs weren’t based on the plot of Mullens’ book. I never read it, but friends of mine did watch the Channel 4 adaptation when it was screened in the 1980s. The book is very roughly based on fact. In the 1920s the British press and intelligence services attempted to stop Labour winning the election with the publication of the ‘Zinoviev letter’. This was a forged letter from Zinoviev, the Soviet foreign minister, to the leadership of the Labour party encouraging them to overthrow capitalism and turn Britain into a Soviet state. Labour subsequently lost the election, although there is some debate over whether this was due to the letter.

In the 1970s there were various forgeries and allegations that the-then Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, was also a Soviet spy. There is considerable evidence to suggest that these were also cooked up by MI5, but this has been consistently denied by establishment historians.

I find it credible that the allegations may have been manufactured following the plot of Mullen’s book, because affairs like it have happened before. Frederick Forsythe’s novel, The Dogs of War, is supposed to have formed the blueprint for one of the coups led by mercenaries against one of the African states. Forsythe has always denied it, though this is contradicted somewhat by the fact that many of the mercenaries nevertheless carried it in their back pockets. Forsythe also wrote another book, essentially rehashing in fictional form the ‘Zinoviev letter’. Written during the new Cold War of the 1980s, this is about the intelligence services’ attempt to prevent another dastardly coup by the evil Soviets. The Communists have infiltrated the Labour party, which is set to win the general election. When this occurs, the Communists will take over, and Britain will be another Soviet client state.

It’s pure bilge, of course, and shows the attitude of Frederick Forsythe towards the Labour party as a bunch of potential subversives. It also shows Thatcher’s as well, as she declared it to be her favourite novel. I also recall the Scum running a similar campaign against the Labour Party, again claiming that Labour had been infiltrated by Communists, who ready to take over if Labour were voted into office.

The British secret state and the media have a long history of using fiction to smear Labour, and this seems to be another instance of the forces of conservatism and neo-liberalism, quite apart from the Zionist lobby, to hold on to power by smearing the Labour left.

Vox Political: Vote Leave Campaigners Claim EU Membership Causes Lack of NHS Funding

May 16, 2016

Another important piece Mike put up on his blog yesterday was about the attempt of the Brexit campaigners in the Tory party to claim that David Cameron’s support for the EU is diverting funds away from the NHS. According to a report in yesterday’s Guardian,

In an email… Vote Leave’s Cleo Watson tells clinicians that her group desperately needs doctors, nurses and pharmacists to warn that Britain’s health service is being damaged by the EU.

A draft version of the letter included by Watson says: “David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt must accept responsibility for this – they have starved the NHS of necessary funding for too long.”

Mike comments that the email, backed by Michael Gove, has managed to annoy everyone. He remarks

The implication that a ‘Leave’ vote will provide more money for the NHS has incensed anybody with a brain; there is no guarantee that any funds that may be released as a result of exiting the EU will be diverted into publicly-funded healthcare.

And, of course, the call for clinicians to support the claim that the European Union has caused the damage to the health service that we have seen over the last six years has incensed them, because they know it isn’t true.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/15/brexit-tories-pretend-eu-caused-underfunding-and-dismantling-of-the-nhs-and-not-their-own-laws/ for more information.

In fact the argument that EU membership has the potential to harm continued state ownership of vital public enterprises, like NHS, is a fair one, when it comes from old school Old Labour-type Socialists, like Robin Ramsay of Lobster. In the ‘View from the Bridge’ Section of issue 71, Ramsay quotes Danny Nicol, a Professor of public law at the University of Westminster, on how the EU’s constitution promotes and protects capitalism against state ownership:

‘….the EU Treaties not only contain procedural
protections for capitalism, as is the case in the US
Constitution: they also entrench substantive policies
which correspond to the basic tenets of neoliberalism….
Imagine that a national government sought to introduce
EU legislation to allow all Member States a free choice
over the public or private ownership of their energy,
postal, telecommunications and rail sectors. It would
have to rely on the Commission – the very architect of
EU liberalisation – putting forward a proposal to the
Council and Parliament….’

See the section ‘In or Out’ at http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster71/lob71-view-from-the-bridge.pdf

This is the exact opposite of what the Brexit crowd – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, John Whittingdale and Priti Patel – are saying. In fact, the reason why the NHS is being starved of cash and privatised piecemeal is because of the Tories’ own policies. Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary, last year published a book recommending the dismantling of the NHS, and previous leading Tories have said that in five years – in other words, by 2020, the NHS would no longer exist. They then hastily altered that to some verbiage about cutting bureaucracy after it was leaked to the press. Denials that they had said any such thing swiftly followed. Nevertheless, at last year’s Tory party conference, Hunt spoke in an interview about possible opportunities for private enterprise in the NHS in an presentation sponsored by the private healthcare companies.

And to confirm all this further, looking around the politics section in Waterstone’s this afternoon, I found a book laying out the case from leaving Europe by the Tory MEP for Dorset, Daniel Hannan. Hannan, or as Guy Debord’s Cat has called him, ‘the Lyin’ King’ because of cavalier attitude to awkward things like facts and historical truth, is not only a fully paid up Eurosceptic, but another who hates the NHS and would like to privatise it. So really, as far depriving the NHS of money goes, there’s really no difference between the Tories in the Brexit and the ‘Remain’ camps. Both wish to privatise the NHS. So really, it’s another case of more lies from the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign. But considering the sheer duplicity and mendacity of Cameron’s government, this really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Vox Political on IDS Attack on Workers’ Rights on the Sunday Politics

May 16, 2016

One of the pieces Mike put up yesterday was about IDS’ appearance on Andrew Neil’s The Sunday Politics. The man dubbed ‘Brillo Pad’ by Private Eye put the former Minister in Charge of Murdering the Disabled on the spot by asking him if the government would protect workers’ rights if Britain left the EU. At the moment, European workers, including those in Britain, are guaranteed a minimum set of rights under the European Social Charter. Neil asked IDS if the government would retain the Working Time Directive, paid annual leave, maternity pay and protections for equal pay. IDS’ answer was a piece of deliberate obfuscation. He declared that “All of these were accepted by my existing government, the Conservative government, and I believe strongly that there need to be protections for workers. All of these things in a democracy are debatable and debated.” When Neil asked him further if he would support them, he answered that he would, as they stood right now.

Neil then reminded him that he had voted against the Social Charter in 1992, the Working Time Directive in 1996 and the minimum wage in 1997. He then started to bluster about the need to make workers’ rights more flexible.

Mike in his comment on the article notes that

When Iain Duncan Smith says workers’ rights should be “flexible”, he means employers and businesspeople should have the ability to restrict or eliminate those rights.

He does not mean workers should be able to expand their rights.

That’s why he said: “The Working Time Directive of itself gave little or no flexibility to business and to employers at the time [it was introduced].”

That’s why he said: “UK law would protect what we think is best for the workforce” [bolding mine].

Indeed. When Conservatives and Neo-Liberals, like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown talk about labour ‘flexibility’, they mean removing legal protection on the workforce, and making it easier for businesses to lay workers off, pay them as little as possible, or not pay them at all, if they need to retain their services, but don’t have them working all the time, such as the poor souls on zero hours contracts. IDS said that he supported these protections as they stood, but he certainly gave no guarantee for the future. He said that they, like everything else in a democracy, were up for debate. And his lukewarm statement that the Tories would support them as they are now doesn’t count for anything. The Tories have lied and lied again, and Smith himself has been one of the most mendacious of the lot. He has lied so often, and so badly, that I’ve called him ‘Matilda’ after the unlucky heroine of the poem by Hillaire Belloc ‘Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes’. IDS previous opposition to the Social Charter in 1992 shows you why the Leave Campaign really wants to Britain out of the EU. They object to the Social Charter and the Union’s guarantee of some basic rights for workers. IDS wasn’t the only Tory, who voted against the Social Charter. Many others also did. One even appeared in Wogan to state that he had, but that he liked the EU when it had simply been ‘the Common Market’. They have no real objection to trading with the Continent on its rules. What they really object to is European authorities stopping them from turning this country into the Third World sweatshop IDS and the authors of Britannia Unchained so desperately want it to be.

For more information, see the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/15/duncan-smith-reveals-hope-to-bin-workers-rights-in-on-air-rant/

CounterPunch on British Spies’ Recruitment of Islamist Fighters against Syria

May 7, 2016

On April 5 CounterPunch posted an article on their blog examining the number of Islamist extremists, who the British intelligence agencies had tried to recruit, including a number, who had then been caught travelling to Syria. They concluded that there are very strong reasons for believing that the spooks are trying to recruitment them as part of a strategy to overturn Assad’s regime.

The article begins by noting that British intelligence was responsible for the ‘dodgy dossier’, the spurious intelligence document claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which provided the pretext for Blair to join Bush’s invasion. They then note that 500 British citizens have gone to Syria, 50 of whom have subsequently been killed in fighting. They then discuss the individual cases of those who have been approached by the spooks. These include:

Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Lee Rigby;

Three sisters from Bradford, who decamped to Syria. It seems they had been contacted by NECTU, the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, who had actively encouraged them to go to Syria to contact their brother, who was already there;

Mozzam Begg, who claimed MI5 had given him permission to train recruits for Syria;

Aimen Dean, who in Radio 4 interview claimed he had been recruited by MI6. Part of his duties included training impressionable Muslims to fight in Syria;

Bherlin Gildo, who had been intercepted travelling from Copenhagen to Manila to attend a terrorist training camp. His trial at the Old Bailey collapsed when it became apparent that if it carried on, it would lead to embarrassing revelations about Britain’s spies;

Siddharta Dhar, who was caught trying to travel to Syria for the sixth time. The intelligence services had also attempted to recruit him;

And the original ‘Jihadi John’, Mohammed Emwazi, was also known to the British intelligence service, who had also tried to recruit him.

They conclude:

These cases demonstrate a couple of irrefutable points. Firstly, the claim that the security services would have needed more power and resources to have prevented these abscondances is clearly not true. Since 1995, the Home Office has operated what it calls a ‘Warnings Index’: a list of people ‘of interest’ to any branch of government, who will then be ‘flagged up’ should they attempt to leave the country. Given that every single one of these cases was well known to the authorities, the Home Office had, for whatever reason, decided either not to put them on the Warnings Index, or to ignore their attempts to leave the country when they were duly flagged up. That is, the government decided not to use the powers already at its disposal to prevent those at the most extreme risk of joining the Syrian insurgency from doing so.

Secondly, these cases show that British intelligence and security clearly prioritise recruitment of violent so-called Islamists over disruption of their activities. The question is – what exactly are they recruiting them for?

At his trial, Bherlin Gildo’s lawyers provided detailed evidence that the British government itself had been arming and training the very groups that Gildo was being prosecuted for supporting. Indeed, Britain has been one of the most active and vocal supporters of the anti-government insurgency in Syria since its inception, support which continued undiminished even after the sectarian leadership and direction of the insurgency was privately admitted by Western intelligence agencies in 2012. Even today, with ISIS clearly the main beneficiaries of the country’s destabilization, and Al Qaeda increasingly hegemonic over the other anti-government forces, David Cameron continues to openly ally himself with the insurgency.

Is it really such a far-fetched idea that the British state, openly supporting a sectarian war against the Ba’athist government in Syria, might also be willfully facilitating the flow of British fighters to join this war? Britain’s long history of collusion with sectarian paramilitaries as a tool of foreign policy – in Ireland, Afghanistan and throughout the Gulf – certainly suggests this may be so.

Go to their article at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/05/british-collusion-with-sectarian-violence-in-syria/ for further information.

As for the reasons why the British government should want to overthrow Assad, my guess is that a number of them are about the geopolitics of the Middle East, as well as the Neo-Con, Neo-Lib urge to get their hands on the Syrian state’s assets and then sell them off, just as they did to Iraq. Assad’s regime is Ba’ath, which is secular, Arab nationalist and Socialist. They’re allied with the Russians and, although the country has not been in military conflict with Israel for some time, technically it is still at war. And oil may still be a priority, due to the proximity to several pipelines. On several of the American Conservative blogs after the Iraq invasion there were demands for the war to be expanded to oust Assad. My guess is that Britain is covertly following this policy by arming and supporting Islamist fighters.

If this is the case, then there’s a huge irony here. Islamists bitterly hate the state of Israel, and yet if they are being recruited by the West to overthrow Assad, they are being so as part of a strategy to defend Israel from a nation that has supported the Palestinians. Which should be a good reason for any prospective jihadi to think better of it and stay at home. As well as not becoming a murderous thug, whose organisations have done nothing but spread brutality, chaos and murder amongst the already beleaguered and suffering people of the Arab and Muslim world.

Bakunin on Workers’ Suicide to Escape Poverty and Hunger

April 30, 2016

I read this passage from the great Russian Anarchist revolutionary, Mikhail Bakunin, and thought of the victims of the DWP’s sanctions regime, who have taken their own lives.

From this it follows that the abyss which already divides the wealthy and privileged minority from the millions of workers whose physical labour supports them, is always widening, an that the wealthier the exploiters of the people’s labour get, the poorer the workers get. Simply juxtapose the extraordinary affluence of the great aristocratic, financial, commercial and industrial world of England to the wretched predicament of the workers of that country. Simply read once more the unpretentious, heartrending letter recently written by an intelligent, honest London goldsmith, Walter Dugan, who voluntarily poisoned himself, his wife and his six children just to escape the humiliations, the poverty, and the tortures of hunger. You will have to acknowledge that from the material standpoint this vaunted civilisation means only oppression and ruination to the people.

Mikhail Bakunin: From out of the Dusbin: Bakunin’s Basic Writings 1869-1871, ed. and trans. by Robert M. Cutler (Ann Arbor: Ardis Publications 1985) 112.

I’m not a big fan of Bakunin. He’s a fascinating figure, who was absolutely dedicated to the Anarchist cause and fought in many of the great workers’ uprisings of the 19th century. He even surprised one of his Anarchist comrades in London – I think it might have been Kropotkin – by turning up on his doorstep after the Russian government had exiled him in Siberia. He’d escaped, got on a boat to Japan, and from then went to America and thence to England. One of the other revolutionaries said of him, ‘On the first day of the Revolution, he is a perfect treasure. On the second day he ought to be shot!’ Bakunin in many ways represents the purely destructive side of Anarchism. With Nechaev he produced a book that gloried in bloodshed and chaos, and some historians have wondered why he did so. He’s notorious for his statement that ‘Even destruction can become a creative act’.

But you can’t read that section without thinking of the 590 people, who have died from poverty thanks to DWP sanctions, some of whom have taken their own lives, like Walter Dugan, in sheer despair. And this is at a time when Britain is supposedly becoming richer, thanks to Neo-Lib economics. Mostly, we’re undoubtedly better fed, better educated and wealthier than our forebears in the 19th century. But poverty, real, grinding poverty, is returning. And while I don’t support Bakunin’s anarchism, his remarks on capitalism as the cause still remain fundamentally acute. Or at least in so far as it describes the capitalism of the Neo-Libs, Cameron, Osborne and the Blairites in Labour.

Ctesias and Florence on Big Business in Government after Monbiot’s Book

April 24, 2016

Terry Davies, one of the commenters on this blog, wondered what happened to some of the corporate fat cats listed in George Monbiot’s chapter, ‘The Fat Cats Directory’ in his book Captive State. Florence, another commenter, added a few details to the subsequent roles in government of some of the corporatist politicos in her comments on my article on the corrupting influence of the supermarket chains in politics, from the same book. She wrote:

Sainsbury, an old Etonian, stopped funding the Labour party when Ed Miliband became leader, but has handsomely funded Progress, the Blairite party within the party since then. Progress supports those attacking Jeremy Corbyn and lobby against the democratically elected leader. They have placed many “true Blairite” New Labour supporters (neo libs) throughout the party. The electoral commission fined two Blairite groups in 2014 – Progress and Movement for Change – for failing to register political donations from Sainsbury who was not at the time on the UK electoral register, although the fines, totaling £11000, were small beer against Sainsbury’s donations of an average of £260,00 PER YEAR. The Progress group also declared donations from the others in the retail sector including the British Retail Consortium. None of this funding is actually available to the Labour Party.

She also cited a piece in the Guardian on how Britain’s health policy under Andrew Lansley was written with the assistance of the junk food manufacturers.

From Nov 2010 in the Guardian – “McDonalds and Pepsi Co helped write UK Health Policy”. These plus Diagio, Kellogs, and other manufacturers of junk food were at the heart of the writing of policy on obesity, alcohol and diet -related diseases, along with strong presence from the supermarkets, through the board chaired by Andrew Lansley (Con). Medical professionals were “concerned”.

So the corporatists are still there. They’ve simply jumped ship and are now subsidising and sponsoring the Tories. Or else they’re doing exactly David Sainsbury is doing, and giving money to the Blairite faction in order to turn the Labour party away from anything resembling Socialism into another clone of the Tory party.

Big corporations in parliament: your poverty and disease is their profit.

Vox Political on the Tories and Tata’s Proposed Sale of British Steel

March 31, 2016

One of the big stories in industry this week is Tata’s proposed sell-off of what remains of the British steel industry. Mike makes the point that while David Cameron is spouting about how the government is doing everything it can, their actions speak much louder than words. And their actions say that they aren’t concerned at all.

Cameron himself is on holiday in Lanzarote. The Business Minister, Sajid Javid, who one of the wags in Private Eye’s ‘Lookalikes’ column suggested looks like the Claw from Thunderbirds, was thousands of miles away Downunder appearing at a business banquet. It was left to Anna Soubry, the Small Business minister, to make a plea for more time. By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn was at one of the steelworks in Port Talbot, and issued a demand to Cameron to recall parliament and take steps to protect the British steel industry.

Mike also points out that other countries have taken steps to protect their iron and steel industries, and that during the financial crisis two banks were nationalised. This raises the question why the government isn’t doing the same for the steel industry.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/31/these-images-show-how-labour-is-standing-up-for-steel-while-the-tories-are-standing-idle/

Cameron did fly back from Lanzarote yesterday. However, while Soubry had made a vague suggestion that the steel industry would be renationalised, Javid ruled this out. Mike, however, makes the point that by ruling out nationalisation, Cameron is most definitely not doing everything he can. See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/31/if-cameron-has-ruled-out-nationalising-tata-steel-hes-not-doing-everything-he-can/

Mike has also posted a further article showing how even the usually solid Torygraph has turned against the Conservatives for this. Osborne’s refusal to rescue the British steel industry seems to be to avoid antagonising the Chinese. He has for years resisted the kind of legislation the Americans have passed to prevent the Chinese dumping cheap steel to the destruction of their own domestic industry. It looks very much Osbo is deliberately sacrificing our steel industry in order to stay in favour with the Chinese, and encourage them to keep investing in Britain.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/31/britain-sacrifices-steel-industry-to-curry-favour-with-china/

I’m not surprised by Cameron’s blanket refusal to nationalise the industry. The Tories have been consistently against its nationalisation after it was first done by Clement Atlee’s government. Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Supply, proposed its denationalisation in 1952, claiming that privatisation would restore to the industry ‘independence, initiative and enterprise’ which was not possible under nationalisation. He was opposed by Sir George Strauss in the Labour party, who said that it was ‘indefensible for the control of this industry-on which depends our economy- the fate of townships and the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of employees-to rest in the hands of people with no public responsibility’. It’s a statement that still applies today at Tata’s announcement they want to sell the plant. The iron and steel industry was renationalised by Harold Wilson’s Labour government in 1966. The steel industry itself by that time had recognised the need for reorganisation. Moreover, Labour was in favour of nationalisation because iron and steel was one of the ‘commending heights’ of industry, and so should be occupied by Britain. The Tories started privatising the industry again in the 1980s under Ian MacGregor. Their aim was to cut the cost to the taxpayer, while at the same time they considered that the business of the steel industry should be to make steel, rather than create jobs. Clearly, that attitude has not changed.

The manufacturing industries also suffer from the perception, disseminated by neo-Liberal free-marketeers over the last thirty years, that Britain is now a post-industrial society. Deanne Julius, who was one of the chief wonks in the Bank of England under Blair, took this view, and stated that we should now concentrate on developing the service industries, and leave manufacturing to the rest of the world, and specifically America. This is another idea that Han-Joon Chang shoots down in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. He makes the point that manufacturing industry is still vitally important. It only looks less important than the service industries, because these have expanded far more and more rapidly than manufacturing. But that certainly does not mean that it’s unimportant.

Except to the Tories. Cameron is not going to renationalise the iron and steel industry, because as a neo-lib he’s devoted to the idea that government should not interfere – market forces and all that gibberish – and that if the industry goes under, well, that’s how it should be. Some how the market will magically correct the situation and another industry will somehow arise to replace it. This seems to me to be the fundamental attitude of the followers of von Hayek and the other Libertarians. He also won’t want to nationalise the industry, because it will mean not only a fundamental contradiction of Neo-Liberal economic doctrine, but also because it’ll mean more state expenditure. Which in turn will mean he won’t be able to give more tax cuts to his big business paymasters.

And lastly, he won’t want to nationalise the industry, because the last thing he wants is a rise in employment, and the revival of an organised and powerful working class, as it was when manufacturing was the dominant industry. Milton Friedman’s wretched Monetarism dictates that there should be a six per cent unemployment rate to keep wages low, and labour affordable.

And finally, there is the issue of class. Whatever Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith spout to the contrary, the Tories are not the policy of ‘working people’. They themselves admit as much. When the issue of the union’s funding of the Labour party came up again a few years ago, Labour made the point that the Tories were being funded by business. The Tories attempted to defend themselves by stating that this was perfectly acceptable, as they were the party of business. And in this case, business does not want state involvement in industry and the creation of nasty, old-style working class jobs that might actually empower the working class.

And also part of it is that the working class simply aren’t considered a concern, in the same way that the Tories are concerned about the upper and middle classes. Cameron’s a toff, as is Osbo and Ian Duncan Smith. The people, who matter to them are the same people as themselves – other toffs and members of the upper middle class. Those are the only people they see personally and interact with, except those they employ. And so ordinary people and their concerns simply don’t register with them in the same way as those of their own class.

And so, while Cameron has come back from Lanzarote, because this is a major issue, it’s not one that he really wants to solve by going back to nationalising the industry. Not when Maggie Thatcher and generations of Tories took so much trouble to privatise it.