Posts Tagged ‘Oil Industry’

John Bird and John Fortune Skewer the Iraq Invasion: Yes, It Was All About Oil

January 10, 2023

The satirist and actor John Bird passed away just a week or so ago over Christmas. As well as appearing in the short-lived BBC comedy series Chambers and Absolute Power, he and John Fortune appeared on Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel 4 as ‘The Long Johns’, whose satirical dialogues expertly lampooned the rich and powerful. This had the same view Private Eye’s Ian Hislop stated on a radio 4 show some time ago, that satire should also have a serious intent and show what was really going on underneath the surface. It was incisive, witty stuff that revealed the reality behind the fine words uttered by politicians, businessmen and elite bankers to show the greed, double-standards and predatory exploitation underneath. Many of the dialogues had a simple formula. They took turns playing George Parr, who changed his profession to match the topic of the day. One week he could be a general, another an admiral, or a senior civil servant. Other characters included Washington diplomats and the dictator of an anonymous African country, who was happy to see his people mired in starvation and poverty so long as he could take the money from the Chinese building his nation’s infrastructure. The other John would play a journalist interviewing him. The questions would result in bizarre denials from the official, which would show the contradictions in the official’s story or decision and lead to them actually revealing the real reasons for the decision or policy in spite of themselves.

In this piece from 2007, posted on theDossier’s YouTube Channel, the two discuss the-then recent admission by Alan Greenspan, the head of the Federal Reserve in America, that it was embarrassing to have to admit it, but yes, the Iraq invasion really was all about oil. As everyone knew. The official denies that this was the case, pointing out that before the war Blair had passed a resolution stipulating that the oil reserves should stay in Iraqi hands. This was revoked a year later after the war, when Blair passed another resolution saying that the allies should have it for safekeeping or something. As a measure of generosity, the allies allowed the Iraqis to keep 17 oil wells out of a total of 80, and promised to give 20 per cent of the profits from their oil fields to the Iraqi government. Iraq nevertheless contains an extremely large proportion of the world’s oil, whose worth is in the trillions.

The former Guardian journo Greg Palast amply demonstrated in his book, Armed Madhouse, that the Iraq war was an attempt by the American and Saudi oil industries to seize the Iraqi oil fields and their wealth, as well as the Neo-Cons attempting to seize the country’s state industries for America and create the kind of low tax state founded on free trade they wished to see in America. The result was the absolute collapse of the Iraqi economy with soaring bankruptcies and unemployment. Not to mention the chaos and bloodshed caused by the war and the sectarian violence that followed it, and the unrestrained, murderous, Nazi criminality of the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – who were hired by the Americans as part of the peace-keeping forces.

This is political satire at it’s best, and some of the commenters on YouTube have compared Bird and Fortune with the superb BBC comedy, Yes, Minister, which is also still relevant even after all these decades. John Fortune died some years ago, and was much missed, as John Bird will be, for his part in these dialogues. You wonder what they’d have to say about Sunak and the present government. It, and it’s equally incompetent and corrupt predecessors, would have been excellent material for them to send up.

‘Led By Donkey’s’ Potted Biography of the Horror That Is Jacob Rees-Mogg

October 23, 2022

I found this brief biography, ‘Who Is Jacob Rees-Mogg’ on the Led by Donkeys channel on YouTube. It covers Mogg’s life and career from his birth to today and shows exactly why he shouldn’t be anywhere near government – the greed, snobbishness, mendacity, duplicity and sheer governmental incompetence. Here’s a summary of its contents.

Mogg was born in May 1969 in London, the son William Rees-Mogg, the editor of the Times. He was naturally educated at Eton. In 1982, while he was a twelve-year old schoolboy, he was the subject of a French documentary as he was a financial trader and supporter of Thatcher. In one interview for the programme he said, ‘I love money. I always have done.’ When asked if he wanted to get married, he replied ‘No’, as he didn’t want to get divorced and his wife to get his money. In 1997 he campaigned for the Tories in the traditional Labour seat of East Fife. The image accompanying this shows him stepping over a fence looking exactly like John Cleese as the Minister for Silly Walks, but without the bowler hat. The locals were bemused by the fact that he was accompanied by his nanny, who was there to iron his shirts. 1998 – according to a biographer, his maid and his nanny took turns holding a book over his head at a picnic at Glyndebourne to make sure he didn’t get sunburnt. That same year he campaigned in the Wrekin, where he also lost. In 2006 he made a statement comparing people who weren’t privately educated and who never went to Oxford and Cambridge to potted plants and implied that they were incapable of writing an articulate letter. The next year, 2007, he and two of his friends set up Somerset Investment Capital. This committed itself to business ethics, but then stated that environmental, social and governmental concerns would not form the basis of their ethical policy.

In 2010 he finally succeeded in getting his wretched backside elected to parliament in the Somerset Northeast constituency. Three years later in 2013, Mogg distinguished himself by denying that workers have a right to a paid holiday. Then he took the decision to attend the annual dinner of the far-right Traditional Britain Group, despite being briefed about them by anti-Fascist organisation and magazine, Searchlight. He only decided to disassociate himself from them when they issued a statement denouncing Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, as a ‘monstrous disgrace’ and recommending that people like her should be asked to leave the country. He also described man-made global warming as ‘much debated’ – totally wrong, as the vast majority of scientists are convinced it exists. The next year, 2014, Mogg advises that humanity should adapt to rather than attempt to mitigate climate change. He also lies about a UN report, claiming that it states that if measures were adopted to combat climate changes today it would take hundreds or a thousand years to produce results. The report said no such thing. In March the same year it was revealed his investment company was making a cool £3million from mining and £2.4 million in oil and gas.

In 2015 he stated his opposition to gay marriage and followed this in 2016 with a statement backing Donald Trump, who was then running a very racist, sexist and bigoted campaign. A year after that, in 2017, he revealed that he had never changed a nappy despite having six children. He also lied again, this time claiming that Labour had deliberately not told people they could get help from food banks. He also said that he thought the idea of people giving to these charities was ‘uplifting’. This was much mocked at the time. It is uplifting that people are willing to give to them, but utterly despicable that they have to exist in the first place. He also still opposed marriage equality and abortion in all circumstances as well as the morning after pill. Thus, he suffered no little embarrassment when it was revealed that he had investments in a company producing a stomach pill widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. He also had shares in a company producing drugs for legal abortions in India. He sold these shares, but retained those in tobacco, oil and gas companies. He also met Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, a journalist for the far-right news outlet Breitbart, discussing how the right could win both in American and Britain. This segment has footage of the torchlight fascists marching in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. In 2018 it was revealed that Somerset Capital had also invested in Sberbank, a Russian bank that had been sanctioned by the EU since 2014 because of the Russian occupation of Crimea. It was also revealed a year later in 2019 that he’d made £7 million in profit from the Brexit vote. But backing Brexit didn’t stop him establishing two funds in Dublin to take advantage of the fact that it was still in the EU while London was not. Somerset Capital was paying him £15,000 per month and he owned 15 per cent of the shares. His firm was managed by subsidiaries operating perfectly legally in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Going back to the far-right, in 2019 he retweeted a comment by the leader of Germany’s Alternative Fuer Deutschland. He was also interviewed by Trump-supporter James Delingpole for Breitbart. The ousting of Tweezer by Johnson that year was also due in no small part to his machinations and that of his European Research Group. He also chose to show precisely what he thought about a debate on Brexit by lying down and appearing to go to sleep on the hallowed green benches of parliament. He also implied in a radio interview that the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they were too stupid to leave the building. He then mysterious vanished from the campaign trail, suggesting that his aides had advised him to lie low for a while. When a voter did try to ask him about his comment, he fled.

This year Truss made him Minister for Brexit Opportunities, despite profiting from investments in a Russian gas company, whose chair was one of Putin’s chums. He did, however, promise to divest himself of these investment after the invasion of Ukraine. Truss then appointed him Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He backed the disastrous minibudget to the hilt, which has resulted in catastrophic mortgage hikes and the reimposition of austerity. Rather than accept responsibility, he blamed the mess on the Bank of England. The video ends with a young female journalist at the Financial Times describing this as ‘bollocks’.

This is who is now in government. And he’s only just down the road from me in Bath and Northeast Somerset. Uuurgh!

And after watching that video, here’s something that might cheer you up. Mogg’s frank statement that he loved money made me think of the Flying Lizard’s cover of the Beatle’s class, ‘Money’. Here it is, also from the TopPop channel on YouTube.

Petition from Richard Burgon for Windfall Tax on Energy Companies

September 4, 2022

I got the email about this petition on Friday from left-wing wing, socialist Labour politico Richard Burgon. They’re aiming to get the number of signatures up to 50,000. I’ve signed it already, but am putting it up here in case other people want to sign it and haven’t already done so.

‘Dear David

A quick message to say that in just a few days over 35,000 people have signed my petition calling for the new Prime Minister to hike the Windfall Tax on oil and gas profits – not our bills. 

I’ll be presenting this to the new Prime Minister in the House of Commons when Parliament returns next week. 

Thank you to everyone who has signed it. Can you help get it to 50,000?

Sign and share the petition to help us reach 50,000

My petition calls for the Windfall Tax to be at least doubled so that oil and gas giants don’t make a single penny in excess profits. This would raise many billions to fund crucial support to help people through this crisis.

I hope, like me, you agree that oil and gas giants shouldn’t be able to exploit a crisis to make excess-profits on the backs of higher bills for ordinary people? Shouldn’t this wealth be used instead to lower people’s energy bills?

If you agree then sign and share the petition here.

We need bold action to prevent millions being thrown into a social catastrophe through soaring bills. As the petition says this must include energy firms being brought into public ownership, freezes to energy prices and the rolling-out of a mass programme of home insulation.

Going after the eye-watering profits of North Sea oil and gas companies is also key to lowering the energy bills for millions of people.  Record gas and oil profits are a major driver of higher energy bills.  So add your name to the petition. 

Protest against the energy price hikes!

As well as in parliament, we are going to need action in every community against this cost of living crisis.  Enough is Enough is organising a day of action in October and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a National Demonstration in November. 

In solidarity

Richard Burgon MP

PS: It only takes 30 seconds to add YOUR name to the petition I will be presenting in Parliament. Sign it here

Forget Tweedlesunak and Tweedletruss, it’s politicians like Burgon who should be the next prime minister.

And the proposed demonstration against the cost of living crisis in November looks very promising!

Avaaz Survey Recommending the Taxation of Fossil Fuel Companies to Support the Poor and Vulnerable and Save the Planet

August 7, 2022

I got the email below from Avaaz, another internet demography. They were polling responses to a suggested policy that the oil and fossil fuel companies now making obscene profits while the rest of us are facing escalating costs of living, should be taxed more in order to protect the most vulnerable communities and the environment.

‘Dear David,

Today, we’d love to know your opinion!

Could you read the email below, and let us know if you’re supporting Avaaz to run this campaign?

STRONGLY SUPPORT

SUPPORT

DON’T SUPPORT

DON’T SUPPORT AT ALL

Dear friends,

While the world cooks, Big Oil is making more money than ever – four fossil fuel giants made a combined total of $51billion in just three months!

That’s double what they were making a year ago – resulting from sky-high oil and gas prices driven by the war in Ukraine. One oil boss described his company as ‘literally a cash machine’!

This ‘machine’ is killing the planet, stealing our future, and driving millions into poverty. It has to stop. The UN Secretary-General has just called on all governments to tax these obscene profits – and use the money for the good of society.

Let’s echo his call, demanding a tax on fossil fuel profits so the money can be spent on protecting the most vulnerable communities and urgently investing in renewable energy – when we hit a million, we’ll deliver our call directly to governments at a major UN summit in September!

With hope and determination,

Bert, Patricia, Stefanie and the rest of the Avaaz team

Do you support Avaaz running this campaign?

STRONGLY SUPPORT

SUPPORT

DON’T SUPPORT

DON’T SUPPORT AT ALL

For me, there’s absolutely no question: I strongly support this proposal. Because it absolutely obscene that companies like BP are raking in £9 billion while ordinary people are looking at starvation and being unable to heat their homes.

And it says everything about the complacency and profiteering of one Jacob Rees-Mogg of Bath and North-East Somerset that he defended these companies on BBC Radio and their giving dividends while ordinary people suffer.

Stop the War Coalition Newsletter on NATO in Afghanistan and Trade Union Organising against the War in Ukraine

August 5, 2022

Just now I got the latest email newsletter from the Stop the War Coalition, notifying its readers of the organisation’s forthcoming events. One will be an evening with veteran civil rights campaigner, author and broadcaster Tariq Ali about the consequences of forty years of war in Afghanistan, including NATO’s occupation of the country. They are also organising a conference for trades unionists next year and encouraging members of the unions to affiliate their unions and their local branches to them. And, of course, they also appeal for people to join them. The email runs

NATO’s Legacy in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been abandoned by the international community following the events of 2021 when the 20-year NATO occupation of Afghanistan came to an end.

It seems the only thing the West now has to offer Afghanistan is extrajudicial killings. After the appalling Panorama revelations of a ‘campaign of terror’ by British special forces during the occupation comes the assassination of Ayman al Zawahiri. Quite simply, such attacks are war crimes and do nothing to “make us safer” as Joe Biden stated this week.

With the Taliban back in power and stronger than it was in 2001, NATO’s occupation has been an outright failure. From the lies of installing democracy to improving quality of life to liberating women, the War on Terror did nothing but cause death and destruction.

The country is home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, as 90% of the population live below the poverty line. The country’s economy is at a standstill as sanctions cripple the nation.

One year on from the end of the occupation, join us for an evening with Tariq Ali – writer, film-maker and author of The Forty Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold – as he takes a look at the current state of the country and the myths surrounding the Western occupation.

Register Here – Free & Open to All!

The World at War: A Trade Union Issue
Stop the War Trade Union Conference 2023

We have called our first ever trade union conference because we believe that it is always working people who are the first victims of war and that the record sums being spent on arms and the military should be redirected to public services, to the NHS, social care and our crumbling schools. We believe that the slogan ‘cut warfare not welfare’ should be taken up by the whole of the trade union movement.

The conference is open to all trade unionists. We urge you to register but also to spread the word in your branches and trades councils.

We have called our first ever trade union conference because we believe that it is always working people who are the first victims of war and that the record sums being spent on arms and the military should be redirected to public services, to the NHS, social care and our crumbling schools. We believe that the slogan ‘cut warfare not welfare’ should be taken up by the whole of the trade union movement.

Register Now

head of the conference, we’re asking all trade unionists who support Stop the War to affiliate to us. By affiliating your branch or region you can ensure that our movement will continue to campaign against the British government’s war policies. We receive no grants from governments or financial backing from commercial backers.

It is only because of individuals and organisations like yours that we are able to continue to build the anti-war movement so that future generations may live in a more peaceful world.

Affiliate to Stop the War Today

Be Part of a Growing Movement Against War

This week our Vice President and founder member Jeremy Corbyn has once again come under fire for standing up for peace. He said in relation to the war in Ukraine that…

“Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war…This war is disastrous for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for the safety and security of the whole world, and therefore there has to be much more effort put into peace.”

He’s right. And we must further his call for peace and negotiation.

One small way to help us intensify our campaign against the warmongers is by becoming a member.

As a small incentive for doing so, we are offering a special discount for members on our merchandise. You also get a free ‘Drop Beats Not Bombs’ tote bag when you join.

We do understand that these are difficult times and we are only asking you to support us if you can. Membership costs as little as £2. We hope you will consider joining.

Become a Stop the War Member Today

Ali’s interesting. Apparently the Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’, written during the wave of sixties radicalism, is all about him. I read in one of the papers that apparently when he was a little boy, he had an aunt knit him a jumper with Stalin’s head on. This was presumably before people knew what a monster Stalin was, when his sycophants were falling over themselves to declare him the grreat saviour of the international working class and progressive humanity. He had his own Black interest programme on satellite or cable television, or at least he did. And a few decades ago he published an anthology of classic texts from the golden age of Islam to show to young Muslims how enlightened and tolerant Islam had been, as against the intolerance and bigotry of the Islamists. He’s very careful about history. On one of his shows, he pointed out that during the period of racist lynchings in America, more Italians were murdered in Louisiana than Blacks. This surprised me, because I thought it was only Blacks who were being murdered by these mobs. But I’ve no doubt that it’s true.

Afghanistan is, like Iraq, a country where the real reason for the invasion has nothing to do with combatting terrorism or installing democracy. It was about oil. The American oil industry and Republican administration was negotiating for an oil pipeline with the Taliban. When the Taliban stalled, the policymakers took the decision to hold back until there was some kind of crisis which they could use. This would provide a pretext to invade the country and build the pipeline anyway, without the Taliban’s consent. This came with 9/11 and the al-Qaeda attack.

Brexiteer Michael Heaver Reveals Reclaim Party’s Exciting Warmed-Up Tory Leftovers Policies

July 26, 2022

Michael Heaver’s another right-wing, Brexiteer YouTuber. Most of his content seems to be about how wonderful Brexit it, or would be, if it wasn’t for those evil whining remoaners and the European Union trying to sabotage it all the time. He seems to have gone from the Tories to backing the Reclaim party, as well as wanting the return of Johnson. Today he put up a piece revealing Reclaim’s new, (ahem, cough, cough) policies. Laurence Fox’s party will be fielding 600 candidates, which, if true, is definitely a challenge to the Tories and the other established parties. Their policies are:

Do Brexit properly.

Net Zero immigration.

Cut taxes.

I think there’s also something about getting rid of the Green agenda. And I also think they want to support Johnson’s return to power, because the other Tory leadership candidates are so terrible and will hand the government over to Starmer. Or such is the fear amongst some Tories.

This is hogwash. Let’s go through them.

Do Brexit properly: Can’t be done. Uh-huh, no way. It’s simply impossible, like squaring the circle or redefining PI as equalling four, which is what the Nebraska legislature did way back in the 19th century. If this had gone ahead, it would have meant that clocks would have gained fifteen minutes everyone hour. But like ‘Get Brexit done’ it makes a good slogan. You can’t enact Brexit without reneging on one of the key policies of the Good Friday Agreement, which was an open border with the Republic. It’s either that, or the Irish backstop in the middle of the sea, thus alienating the Loyalists. Johnson got into power claiming that he’d ‘get Brexit done’. Well, he did, and it’s been chaos. Britain’s trade with the EU has taken a massive hit, there are real threats to British industry and agriculture, the financial sector the Tories and Blairites have been so keen to protect and establish London as a international hub has also been threatened. By Brexiteer Tories, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who moved his investment business across the briny to Dublin. All while he was telling the rest of us that Brexit would be A Very Good Thing Indeed. There were delays at Dover months or even years ago because of the additional red tape added to hauliers and other travellers going to the continent now that we were no longer part of the EU. That red tape is also damaging our music industry, as it’s made it extremely difficult for British musicians and performers to travel over there to perform.

We were told that the Tories had an ‘oven ready deal’ with Europe for Brexit.

We were told that the millions saved on our EU contributions would be spent on the NHS.

We were lied to.

And this, as the late, great Max Headroom used to say, is simply ‘more of the same’. Except that he was talking about epic, rocking 80s pop music and videos.

Net zero immigration. More red meat for the Tory faithful, and other sections of the population worried about immigration. Mostly non-White immigration. And there are real moral and practical problems with that. Firstly, there’s the moral question of denying asylum to people, who may very well be in real danger of persecution in their countries of origin. I think many of the prospective migrants properly are coming here for economic reasons. One former channel migrant was interviewed on GB News or Talk TV, and he said that most of the other immigrants he was with were trying to dodge military service in their home countries and hoped to settle so that they could bring their families over. I can’t say I entirely blame them for wanting to do so, especially when these countries are dirt-poor, corrupt dictatorships like Eritrea. But nevertheless, I think there are people trying to get here because they face real threats to their lives for their views or simply because of their ethnicity or religion. Gay people around the world face persecution, particularly in Africa. Go back a few years, and there were the Yezidis, whose women were raped and enslaved for sex by ISIS. Last year there were Afghans desperate to escape the Taliban takeover. And in the past few months Britain and other European nations have taken in refugees from Ukraine, escaping Putin’s genocidal onslaught. I don’t see how you can morally turn at least some of these away.

Then there’s the economic aspect. As Buddyhell over on Guy Debord’s Cat, and just about everyone else on the web has point out, Britain needs immigrant doctors, nurses and other workers for the NHS. Yes, we should be training our own. But we haven’t been doing so ever since one of the Tory ministers – I think it may even have been Enoch Powell – decided in the 1960s to solve the shortage of NHS doctors by encouraging them to come from Pakistan and India. I can’t see the Tories wanting to spend the money to pay for the proper training for doctors and other medical professionals. Not when they seem content to drive them away by not paying them what they deserve and overburdening them with work and paperwork.

People also immigrate to Britain and settle down and raise families as part of their work. I know a number of people, who came to this country to work, and particularly on ground-breaking scientific or engineering projects. This country is short of scientists, engineers and skilled technicians. These are precisely the type of people we should be encouraging to come here, if only so that they can pass these skills on to Brits.

Education is a major part of this. There’s a movement of academics, both teaching staff and students, between countries and across continents. Most university’s, I’d say, have international students, some of whom are going to try to settle down here. Academics also take up posts at universities and colleges right across the world. When I was studying archaeology at Bristol, several of the department staff were foreign. One was Portuguese while another was German, for example. At the same time, archaeological work takes people right across the globe. At the time I was there, there was great excitement about Neolithic discoveries in Ukraine. One of the lecturers had also helped carry out excavations of archaic homo sapiens remains in Romania. Another leading member of the department had also been excavating in Iran. Some of these academics will no doubt wish to settle down and make their home here. Either way, I can see Brexit and a zero-net immigration policy causing real problems with universities obtaining needed foreign academic staff.

And it’s going to be hypocritical. The Tories have, in my recollection, shown themselves perfectly willing to grant British citizenship to anyone rich enough. Just as Rishi Sunak got his green card to work in America by paying a million dollars. I strongly suspect that if Reclaim got in, we’d have more of the same. It would be easy immigration for the global super-rich, and keep out for everyone else.

Cutting taxes: More of the twaddle you’ve been hearing from the Tory leadership candidates. What this means is cutting taxes for the rich while passing the burden on to ordinary people at the bottom. This is supposed to encourage more investment, and hence more jobs. Balderdash. The money saved simply rests in the elite’s bank accounts. Meanwhile, because there’s less money going into the exchequer, the Tories and Reclaim after them will tell us all that cuts need to be made, more pushing of the mythical NHS waste, profligate spending on the welfare state, too many civil servants and so on. The result, more punitive cuts to the NHS, more destruction of the welfare state, more people struggling to survive on food banks, more starvation, malnutrition and grinding poverty.

Attacking the Green Agenda: The scientific consensus supports climate change, and the Green New Deal promises more jobs as well as combating threats to the environment. But the right don’t believe in climate change, and, with money coming in from Big Oil, they really don’t want to end our dependence on fossil fuels any time soon. All last week while the rest of us sweltered they told us that the rising heat was nothing to worry about, was not cause by global warming, and we were all wimps and weaklings for thinking otherwise. I wonder if Reclaim and its bosses also have their places booked for the biodomes the rich will no doubt retreat into as the deserts march on London, Birmingham and anywhere else.

Bring back Johnson: Really? There are people who really won’t be told. There’s a petition up for his return. Just like there are Americans who want the return of Trump. That’s incredible. Aside from the party politics, Trump was a disastrous president. A friend lent me a book on his presidency, and what came across most strongly was how incompetent he was. He quarraled with his leading generals, one of whom actually swore at him while telling him precisely what he was in the White House. He made up policies on the spur of the moment and then changed his mind just as suddenly. Appointments were made with important visitors, but not kept. Or he didn’t tell his staff about them, just forgot them. He deliberately undermined leading White House staff, replacing them and then doing the same to the new replacements, all of whom were determined to undermine their predecessors and competitors. And rather than draining the swamp, Trump was massively corrupt giving government contracts to friends and anybody else, including the Russians, who were prepared to stump up cash. Government monies that were intended to protect workers on bread and butter issues like pensions vanished in various politicos pockets, where they gave it to their favourite businessmen.

Johnson has been similarly incompetent. He was grotesquely tactless and incompetent as foreign secretary. Once he got his behind in No. 10 he showed himself unwilling to knuckle down and do some actual work. It seemed that every few weeks he was heading off to Chequers for a holiday. He caught Covid because he personally broke lockdown rules. And he gave valuable PPE contracts to his friends and other Tory donors. The result was problems with supply. But no worries, eh? His mates were all right. The parties were just a symptom of a man, who doesn’t like to work, loves the power and the popularity that comes with it, at least in his own imagination, and really, really, has zero sympathy with ordinary working people and their problems.

And he’s still clinging on to power, just like Gordon Brown tried to do with a deal with the Lib Dems after he lost the election to Cameron. Ian Hislop got very excited about this on Have I Got News For You, calling him ‘Mr Barnacle’. Well, Johnson is behaving exactly like the marine mollusc, and the same should apply: ‘get ye gone!’ It says something about the effectiveness of establishment propaganda that someone really thinks he’s done such a good job they want to keep him in power.

But back to the Reclaim party, there’s nothing new here. It’s just the same old Brexiteer Tory policies, promoted by a few new faces. And I honestly can’t see many of them getting a seat. Some might, but I foresee a lot of lost deposits, compounded with them splitting the Tory vote in certain quarters so that a Lib Dem or possibly Labour candidate get in.

I have a feeling they’ll go the way of UKIP and the Brexit party as another right-wing group trying to ‘break the mould of British politics’.

Blairites Clearly Worried that Strikes May Be Popular

July 1, 2022

Bravo to the RMT’s Mike Lynch, who’s been humiliating various journos on the right-wing news programmes by ably answering some of their stupid and very leading questions. Momentum put up a three minute video the other day of him being interviewed by Kaye Burleigh on Sky News.
She asked him what he was doing picketing. He casually turned part way round to indicate the picket line behind her, telling her that they were there and would try to persuade workers not to cross it. But what if they tried? asked Burleigh. Then we’d try to persuade them not to, replied Lynch. At which point she got a bit huffy. The miners’ strike was mentioned, with Lynch wondering if she was old enough to remember it. She said huffily that she was, and she knew what picketing was. She was clearly desperate to get him to say something incriminating, like violence might happen, but Lynch would not be baited. And he’s been causing panic with his calm, reasoned answered right across the news programmes. I went to a left-Labour Zoom meeting on Wednesday. It was a conversation between the mighty Richard Burgon and Jess Barnard, the awesome head of Young Labour. During their conversation they said that public support for the train workers – not just the drivers, but also the signalmen and the people who work to maintain it all – had gone up. Several Labour MPs have even defied Starmer to express their support and solidarity with the union and its strike.

This has clearly put the wind not just up Starmer, but up the Blairites as a whole. And as Corporal Jones used to say in Dad’s Army, ‘they do not like it up ’em. They do not!’ For some reason I’ve had a short, 1 1/2 minute video from New Labour appear on my mobile this afternoon of Tony Blair telling anyone who’ll listen why we shouldn’t support public sector strikes.

Rubbish! As Burgon and Barnard said, Labour was founded by the unions to defend union rights. And that also means public sector unions. I see absolutely no reason why anyone, who wishes to remain true to the party and its great traditions, should listen to either Starmer or Blair. When Blair took over the Labour party, he threatened to cut its ties with the unions if he didn’t get his way on reducing their voting powers in the party. This would effectively have torn the heart out of the party as a genuinely working class organisation. The subtitle for this wretched video described Blair as Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007. So he was, during which time the number of people voting Labour actually went down along with the party’s membership. The number of people voting for Blair was actually less than those voting for Jez Corbyn. Blair only won because the Tories were even worse.

Why did the Labour vote and membership decline? That’s not a difficult question! It might have something to do with Blair carrying on Thatcher’s programme of privatisation, including that of the NHS, the further destruction of the welfare state and lying about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction which he could launch within forty minutes to take us into an illegal war. A war which wrecked a country and destabilised the entire Middle East, leaving it vulnerable to the horrible predations of ISIS. Hussein was a monster, but by the time he invaded he was not a threat to the other countries and something of a joke in the Arab world. He was certainly no threat to Britain. We sent our brave lads and lasses into Iraq not to defend Blighty, not to give the Iraqis democracy, but simply so that the oil companies and multinationals could steal Iraq’s oil and its state industries.

Blair’s a war criminal who should have been put on trial at the Hague alongside other monsters like Slobodan Milosevic. But somehow New Labour, now looking very shabby and shop-soiled, expect us to hang on his words like an elder statesman, like some latter day Pericles or Solon, but from Islington rather than Athens.

Bilge! Blair should shut up and keep silent. He had his time and it was over 15 years ago. As for Starmer, he’s a disgrace. They’re probably arguing that supporting public sector strikes will make the party unpopular. But I think they’re really scared that the RMT strike is proving all too popular, and that other unions are joining in to demand better wages for their workers.

And hooray for them, and yay for Mike Lynch!

Here’s the video Momentum put up of Lynch very capably rebutting Kaye Burleigh’s questions.

A Black Conservative’s Demand for the Return of Traditional Morality and against the Condescencion of Affirmative Action

February 27, 2022

Shelby Steele, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (New York: HarperCollins 2006).

Shelby Steele is a Black American literature professor. A conservative, the blurb states that he is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University and contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine as well as a multiple aware winner. This is his view of the failure of the movement for Black uplift, ultimately caused by the loss of traditional, conservative values through their association with White supremacy after the ending of segregation. It’s also an account of his journey from childhood growing up in the south under segregation, to angry student radical, disaffected employee, and finally conservative intellectual. During his time he also worked on the Great Society programmes initiated by Lyndon Johnson in some of the worst Black communities and become increasingly disillusioned with them and succeeding programmes as they failed. This last week we had a mixed-race footballer demanding the inclusion of ethnic minority culture and history in the British school curriculum. But Steele rejects this and another initiatives, arguing that despite the implementation of such policies in America, Blacks are still performing poorly at school and elsewhere. Worse, the American public school system, which he boasts was the greatest in the world, has been destroyed by them. What Black America needs, according to Steele, is a return to the traditional capitalist, bourgeois virtues, such as entrepreneurialism, as well as stable two-parent families and a genuine meritocracy, where people are rewarded according to their talent rather than the colour of their skin. In short, he wants Blacks to stand on their own two feet and argues persuasively this is possible. Black children perform badly at school, despite affirmative action programmes to help them and the lowering of academic standards in their favour. But they excel in sport, music, literature and entertainment, where there are no such programmes and only the best is required of them. Thus, leading Black sportsmen emerge through long, demanding practise on the baseball pitch, for example. Great Black musicians come about through kids practicing long and hard on cheap keyboards in their rooms, demanding the best of themselves. But the Black community has been deprived of this spirit of initiative and excellence when it turned away from the liberalism of rights and personal freedom to demand positive measures by the state through exploiting the guilty feelings and loss of moral authority experienced by Whites as they ended segregation and came to terms with the history of racism and Black oppression.

But this has not just damaged Blacks. It has also damaged general American moral authority. White guilt helped the 60s counterculture to emerge and flourish, as well as the new feminist and environmental movements. He states at various times that the attitude now is that if you fail to be properly environmentally concerned, you must be some kind of racist. He’s fully behind the Iraq invasion, which he genuinely believes was an attempt to liberate the country and create a genuine, liberal, democratic order. But it has been hamstrung through comparisons to past American imperialism and exploitation. He celebrates George W. Bush and the new American conservatives, who at one level seem liberal. Bush is comfortable with ethnic minorities and has appointed a number to positions of power. But they are not encumbered by White guilt, and so can exert the traditional moral authority America needs and used to have when White supremacy was unchallenged. As for the inclusion of Black writers on school syllabuses, he feels that the current policy of promoting them simply because they are Black is damaging. It means that genuinely talented writers are put in the same category as the mediocre and so discredited by association, simply because they’re Black. He also condemns a system that imposes higher standards on poor White university applicants simply because of their colour in favour of children from rich Black families. And throughout the book there is a feeling of outrage at such affirmative action measures because of their patronising attitude and apparent condescension.

He also argues that Black anger and militancy was due to the collapse of White confidence and authority due to the end of segregation. During segregation peaceful protests, intended to show Black moral superiority, such as the civil rights demonstrations led by Martin Luther King were the only way to stand up against it. And in cases where nothing could be done, because that was just the way society was, the only things Blacks could do was move on. Such as when he tried to get a job when he was a youngster for an all-White baseball team as their batboy. He was eventually dropped because he couldn’t travel with them to segregated matches. But, as disappointed as he was, by the next day he had moved on to other things as there was absolutely nothing he could do. This is contrasted with the situation a few years later when he led an angry delegation of Black students into his college principal’s office to make what he now regards as outrageous demands. He showed his own personal disrespect by dropping cigarette ash onto the principal’s carpet. The principal received them graciously and gave in, despite appearing initially shocked an angry. This happened because he had lost his moral authority along with the rest of the traditional American order, tarnished by its link with White supremacy.

There’s a wealth of information on the lives of ordinary Blacks under segregation and how, despite its constraints some of them where able to achieve a modicum of prosperity. His father was caught between the unions and his employer. The unions wouldn’t accept him because of his colour, while he had to keep from his employer the fact that he owned his own house. But his father, clearly a man of great entrepreneurial talent, was able to purchase three houses, which he renovated using slightly worn, but still perfectly serviceable furnishings. His parents also set up a free mother and baby clinic. When it came to their son’s schooling, they moved heaven and earth, practically setting up their own civil rights movement, to get him into an all-White school. Unfortunately the area declined due to ‘ghetto blight’ and his father was glad to sell the last one. He describes how, when Blacks travelled to other towns the first thing they had to do was a find another Black to inform them what hotels and shops they could use. This also gave them a kind of secret knowledge and collective identity against that of White America. Some Blacks miss this sense of community and solidarity, hence the proliferation of all-Black groups, societies and professional associations. He talks about working on the Great Society programmes in a truly horrendous town. One morning he woke up to hear the sound of his neighbour trying to shoot his own son in the stomach. Fortunately the man just grazed him. The bookish, nerdy kid, who should have done well at school, and whose mother attempted to protect him from the horror and violence around him by keeping him heavily involved at church, was shot dead in a drive-by gang shooting. The homecoming king at the local school was arrested as a violent thug. His job was to improve this community with the funding they had, but they had no idea what they were doing. They experimented and made stuff up, like the line that Blacks differ from Whites in learning experientially.

But as the years rolled on he became inwardly more conservative while maintaining an outward appearance of left-wing radicalism. Finally this became too much, and he came out as a conservative at a faculty meeting where they were discussing setting up a course on ‘ethnic literature’. Steele, who had already been teaching a course on Black literature, objected. He asks what the label would mean – would it include Philip Roth as well as V.S. Naipaul? He was also angry at being taken for granted when it came to voting, as the proposer of the motion stated she didn’t need to ask him, because she knew he’d vote with her. But he didn’t. He objected, shed his left-wing mask, and came out as a conservative. He now gets abuse as an ‘uncle Tom’ but says he feels better.

In an interview in the back, Steele talks about what got him interested in literature. At his new, all-White school, the English teacher gave him a copy of Kit Carson and the Indians. He was practical illiterate after the appalling education at his former all-Black school. But he so wanted to read the book he spent the next 9 months teaching himself to read. He then moved on to other children’s books, sports stories before tackling Dickens and Somerset Maugham.

Steele is wrong about American conservatism having abandoned imperialism. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was definitely a piece of imperialist conquest, designed to rob the Iraqi people of their oil and state industries. The only difference was the presentation. It was disguised as a war of liberation. But that ruse is almost as old as civilisation itself. When Alexander the Great took a town, he didn’t exact tribute from its ruler. No, what he demanded was ‘contributions to the army of liberation.’ Because he had liberated them from a tyrant. Steele states that the campaigns against sexism and the environmentalist movement are right, but he does have a point when he states that they were also enabled by a reaction against traditional White authority. Some radical writers and activists I’ve come across do seem to present them as in opposition to the White social and economic order carried to the New World by the first European colonists. And I agree with him about the breakdown of the traditional family that came as a result of the sexual revolution of the 60s. This affects Whites as well as Blacks, but is particularly acute among the latter community. 70 per cent of Black American children are born out of wedlock, 90 per cent in the cities. Studies have shown that children from stable families where both parents live together perform far better at school and work. As for education, one of his ideas for Blacks in areas with failing public schools is to open their own in a church or community centre.

I think he’s right about the value of what can also be termed old-fashioned respectability and bourgeois family life. However individual initiative is inadequate to solve all forms of poverty. State action and welfare programmes are still badly needed. But this needn’t be a choice between two alternatives. It means mixing appropriate state support while encouraging people to develop and use their talents. And his examples of Black excellence in sport, music, literature and entertainment do indicate that Blacks can excel by themselves. I found this particularly reassuring after listening to the claims about supposed Black intellectual inferior made by Simon Webb on History Debunked as his preferred explanation for the lack of Black progress.

The book comes from across the other side of the political aisle, but it’s well worth reading and intensely thought-provoking about the continuing, very pertinent problem of Black failure as a consequence of the general failure of traditional morality post-segregation.

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.