Posts Tagged ‘Private Eye’

Mike and Friends Tear Apart the Blairites’ Anti-Semitism Smears

December 23, 2021

Last week, Mike from Vox Political was on a net gathering on YouTube discussing Is Labour Anti-Semitic? Reaching Over the Noise, a documentary made with the express purpose of refuting the monstrous lies and smears made by John Ware’s wretched Panorama documentary, ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ If you watched this nasty piece of very yellow journalism, you’d be convinced that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party certainly was, and the individuals identified as anti-Semites were the most utterly contemptible Nazis. Reaching Over The Noise, however, shows the opposite: Ware’s film was one long tissue of egregious lies from start to finish, which smeared and vilified thoroughly decent people.

Panorama Lies Refuted by Corbyn’s Jewish Supporters

The internet gathering Mike attended was to publicise the film. It was hosted by Lizzie, of Unity News Network, and apart from Mike the other guests were Jason Cridland of Dorset Eye and former Labour party member and activist Sian Bloor. They were there because they had helped raise the £2,000 needed to make the movie. The meeting began with clips from the film, including a little talk introducing it by Chris Williamson, the former Labour MP who was forced out and smeared as an anti-Semite because he dared question the witch hunt. This was followed by various Orthodox Jews in broad-brimmed hats, long coats, beards and side ringlets. One of these men appeared to me to be a rabbi, as he was elderly with a white beard, which suggested the sage wisdom of a man of God. All of them said that the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn was anti-Semitic was pure nonsense. This was followed by a Jewish woman, who described the effect the smears had had on her. She was made to feel she wasn’t really Jewish. But she was, just ‘the wrong type of Jew’. This is how these smear merchants work. Judaism has never been a monolithic religion or community. There’s the old Jewish adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’. The Talmud, Judaism’s second holy book after the Bible, contains the debates about theology and the correct interpretation of the written and oral Law of the great rabbis. Frequently these discussions simply conclude with ‘and so they disagreed’. Zionism, as the peeps in this meeting pointed out, was originally only a minority opinion amongst Jews. Most of them wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as fellow citizens with equal rights as their gentile compatriots. But the Israel lobby wishes to recast Judaism into a single community rigidly behind Israel. Anyone who challenges this is immediately denounced as an anti-Semite. If they’re Jewish, they’re accused of self-hatred and being a ‘traitor’.

All of the people at the gathering had been smeared as anti-Semites, either because they supported the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn, or simply for standing up for historical truth and refuting the lies about some of those smeared. And they each described how the Blairites in the party, Zionist activists like GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism had smeared them with the active collaboration of the press and media. Like alleged Times journalist Gabriel Pogrund.

Labour Activist Sian Bloor Smeared by Sam Matthews and Gabriel Pogrund

The discussion started with Sian Bloor. Bloor was smeared after someone mistakenly sent information about her supporting Jewish Voice for Labour and its main woman, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, to Sam Matthews. Despite appeals not to, scumbag Sammy then passed it on to Pogrund. Who promptly did to her what he did to Mike: publish an utterly mendacious article claiming that she was in trouble with Labour because she was an anti-Semite. In fact Bloor had been under investigation, but for an entirely different reason, and been exonerated. But after Poggy’s smears the party went into proceedings against her as a Jew-hater. When she tried to clear herself, she got a letter from Schillings, the Labour party’s highly expensive libel lawyers, telling her that what she’d written was libellous. The stress of all this has shattered Bloor’s nerves and left her unable to work. What she found particularly disgusting was that Scumbag Sammy appeared on Panorama claiming that the anti-Semitic attacks on him had made him feel suicidal. A case of the bully posing as victim.

Mike, Ken Livingstone and the Nazis’ Real Support for Zionism

Mike then came on to recount his experience. He’d been targeted and smeared as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier by Poggy because he’d written a long piece defending Ken Livingstone’s remark that Hitler initially supported the Nazis. Mike admits that Leninspart has said some genuinely questionable comments later. He doesn’t defend them, only the mad newt-fancier’s statement about Hitler and Zionism. Which is absolutely correct. The Nazis and the main German Zionist organisation signed a pact, the Ha’avara Agreement, in which Nazi Germany pledged to smuggle German Jews into Palestine, then under the British Mandate. This is all historical fact. It’s mentioned on the Jewish Virtual Library and in the works on the Holocaust by Zionist Jewish historian David Cesarani. But like Trump, these fanatics live in a world of ‘alternative facts’. Mike was particularly interested in Bloor’s identification of Sam ‘Scumbags’ Matthews, as I think he should be referred to, as he had never been able to get the identity of the snitch in the Labour party who passed on his details to the press. But from this is looks like it could well be him. Mike was able to get the press regulator to rule against the articles smearing him which appeared in the Times, Scum, Jewish Chronicle and so on. Bloor had also been successful in getting some of the papers to retract the articles. But not the Times, because they had expensive lawyers which ordinary peeps can’t afford to challenge. Speaking in a completely different context, the veteran British ufologist Jenny Randles once said that under British justice you were ‘guilty until proven rich’. Absolutely.

Jason Cridland Smeared and Doxed by GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

Cridland then came next, to tell how he’d been doxed by the odious GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. He’d been contacted by a reader, who’d been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. The two Zionist organisations had gone further. They’d produced a map showing where supposed anti-Semites lived, complete with their names and addresses. The woman was on this map. And so, she revealed, was Cridland. This had left them extremely worried for their safety. One woman, who had been so smeared, who was in fact Jewish, had had her car torched as a result.

Posting people’s personal details on the net so that others can attack or harass them is despicable. It’s completely out of order. It’s been one of the tactics used by real anti-Semitic, Nazi organisations. Way back in the ’90s the NF or BNP in Brighton decided to publish in their vile rag the names and addresses of local ‘reds’. They were stopped when local trade unionists published theirs in turn. I suppose doxing might be justified in cases like it with real Nazis, like the banned National Action, who really do believe all that vile nonsense about secret Jewish conspiracies against the White race and who are dangerous and violent. But not for ordinary, decent people.

In addition to this, litigious Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley raised her metaphorical head. Cridland had a couple of cops appear at his house to talk to him, as Riley had complained that he was anti-Semitic. In fact after talking to him they decided he wasn’t, and the conversation moved to how she could be prosecuted for wasting police time.

Political Context

The meeting then moved onto a general discussion about official attempts to silence campaigns for Palestinian rights. The Tories wish to ban the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic, as has been done in America. But the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign isn’t anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli. It does not seek to prevent people purchasing from Jewish or Israeli businesses, only those that are in the Occupied Territories. And many of its supporters and activists are Jews. They also talked about Keef Stalin’s campaign of purging socialists from the Labour party. Many of those purged as anti-Semites had been so demoralised by the direction the party was taking under his misgovernment that, rather than being upset over their expulsion, they were glad to leave. They also made the point that what stopped Labour getting elected wasn’t the anti-Semitism witch hunt, but Brexit. As for the people themselves and their political views, Lizzie and Jason Cridland made the point that they weren’t party political. They didn’t support the Labour party, but supported Jeremy Corbyn because of his policies. Sian Bloor was targeted because she was particularly close politically to the Labour leader. She had been part of the original group, JC4PM, which became Momentum. The smears were about silencing and purging Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party, who wished to return it to genuine socialism after Blair as much as attacking support for the Palestinians.

The Psychology that Smears Innocent Anti-Racists

During the talk Bloor commented that the witch-hunters and smear merchants really didn’t care about the harm they were doing to ordinary people. This raises the whole issue of their mentality, as people have been harmed and even taken their lives. I think it’s worse than that. Not only do they not care, but they actively see their opponents as enemies to be destroyed. I’ve got the impression that they really believe, whether they are religious or atheist, that the modern state of Israel is the culmination of Jewish history and that anyone who opposes it really is a Nazi. They really do seem to view themselves as the modern successors to Judas Maccabaeus, the great Jewish hero who fought against the pagan forces of the Greek general Antiochus IV Epiphanes. That general really was an enemy of the Jewish people. He banned the Torah, forbade circumcision and the observance of the Law, and desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. He was a genuine anti-Semitic tyrant. Unlike the people they now smear and vilify, who simply want justice and equality for the Palestinians.

Just to show you how utterly insane this attitude is, you think of some of the people, who have been smeared as threats to Israel by these nutters. Four-fifths of them are Jewish, and they include convinced anti-racist activists, like Marc Wadsworth, and victims of genuine racism and anti-Semitism. Jackie Walker is a respectable Jewish granny and academic, whose demeanour, at least from what I’ve seen online, is more that of the lecture hall and seminar room than any kind of violent confrontation. Much the same can be said about Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. None of the people accused and smeared, including those in the meeting, remotely resemble any real, fanatically genocidal anti-Semites. But this is, I fear, how GnasherJew, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Starmer’s coterie sees them.

Toby Young, Hack, Eugenicist and Anti-Semitism Tsar

Real Nazis are horrific, but they’re also so grotesque they can be easily lampooned. P.G. Wodehouse sent up Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists as Spode, the leader of the Black Shorts, who stood to defend the British knee against the Asiatic immigrant horde. The ranting and raving of Hitler has provided endless comic material for anti-Nazi satirists and comedians ever since the War. In a saner, more just society the smears and lies told by the Ware, the Israel lobby and the Blairites would similarly be laughed out of court. But unfortunately it isn’t. And so we have the grotesque judicial travesty of decent people being tarred as racist by those who really are. Like the right-wing Labour politico, who published anti-Roma material as part of his election campaign. I think he may have been made one of the Tories’ anti-Semitism tsars. The other, and this is not a joke, is Toby Young.

Yes, that Toby Young. The Toby Young who wrote a creepy piece in the ’90s for GQ in which he described how he’d been a ‘lesbian for a day’. Tobes had decided he wanted a bit of hot lesbian action, and so dressed in drag to see if he could get off with any of the ladies in New York’s lesbian bars. As bad as it was at the time, it’s arguably worse now. Part of the controversy over the transgender issue is the propositioning of lesbian women for sex by biological men who identify as women . Lesbians aren’t attracted to the male body, but queer theory erases biological sex in favour of gender, social sex. And so when these women turn the men down because of their biological sex, they’re accused of transphobia. But there’s worse than Young’s dated, dodgy article from the ’90s. Private Eye caught him attending a eugenics conference. Yup, selective breeding to improve the race. The doctrine the Nazis believed in. And while Tobes isn’t a racist, many of the people he was mixing with were.

But we’re expected to believe that Jeremy Corbyn, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and the above folks are the Nazis.

Torygraph Reports Archbishop of Canterbury Deeply Moved over Abuse of J.K. Rowling for Gender Views

December 17, 2021

This little article from the wretched Torygraph turned up on my internet news feed. According to the right-wing rag, Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was deeply moved at the abuse suffered by J.K. Rowling and others like her for her views on gender during a debate on freedom of speech in the House of Lords yesterday. During the debate, Lady Jenkin, for the Conservatives, attacked the dangers of cancel culture and the abuse of gender critical women like J.K. Rowling and Kathleen Stock. She said that it wasn’t just the abuse on social media that was wrong, but that their livelihoods were being threatened. This was deterring more people from standing up in their defence. She also said that it wasn’t a case of women versus trans people.

Okay, the Tories in their own way are also trying to shut down debate and democracy through putting increasing restrictions on the right to demonstrate and proposing legislation that would allow them to ignore the judgements of the courts. And this is before we get to Priti Patel’s fascistic desire to strip members of ethnic minorities of British citizenship if they commit a crime, which would turn them into second class citizens.

But it is good that at last someone in authority is taking notice of the abuse and worse hurled by trans rights activists at J.K. Rowling. She’s been accused of hating trans people, and wanting them all dead. None of which is remotely true. She has said simply that transwomen are not women. As did professor Kathleen Stock, who was forced out of her post due student demonstrations including threats of violence. One of the worst aspects of Rowling’s persecution is the complete silence of PEN, the organisation that defends writers worldwide from persecution. A worthy cause, but Private Eye has run several articles in its literary section reporting that PEN has said not a dickie bird against Rowling’s persecution which has included death threats. This has demonstrated the power of the trans lobby, and the fear many have that if they too speak out, they will suffer the same treatment.

Of course trans rights activists have the right to express their views, but not to hurl abuse or issue threats of violence and death. These should be unacceptable whoever makes them. J.K. Rowling and others should have their freedom of speech respected and defended by the authorities against the mob. And it is excellent that it is being done at last, even if it is by the right.

Private Eye on the Massive Failure of the Pepper Commercial Robot in Japan

December 1, 2021

I found this highly amusing little snippet in Private Eye’s ‘Funny Old World’ column in their edition for the 6-18 August 2021. It’s report from the Japan Times about a Japanese company suspending manufacture and recalling thousands of their robots due to malfunctions and poor performance. The article runs

“We have suspended production of our Pepper robot,” a spokeswoman for Softbank Group Corp told reporters in Minato (Tokyo), “the AI robot, home companion and store assistant that we first marketed in 2014. We are in discussions with our French robotics unit about potential job reductions.”

Over the past seven years, 27,000 Pepper robots have been produced, and marketed as the world’s first AI robots, but many were sacked by the companies that bought them for inappropriate behaviour. “We bought one for our flagship Edinburgh store,” said a spokesman for Margiotta grocery chain, “but fired it because it kept telling customers ‘to look in the alcohol section’ when they asked it where things were.” Funeral director Osamu Funaki bought a Pepper robot to recite sutras during ceremonies, but sacked it after repeated malfunctions, lamenting “what if it refuses to operate in the middle of a ceremony? It would be such a disaster.” A Japanese nursing home purchased three Pepper androids to lead community singalongs, but dismissed them for repeatedly breaking down.

“Pepper did a lot of harm to genuine robotics research by giving an often false impression of a bright cognitive being that could hold conversations,” Professor Noel Sharkey observed. “But it was mostly remote-controlled with a human conversing through its speakers. I’m happy to see an end to it.”

This is less the ruthlessly efficient killing machines of The Terminator franchise or the similarly murderous androids of the early Tom Baker Dr. Who story, ‘The Robots of Death’ or any number of other stories in which the machines rise up to exterminate their human masters. It isn’t like Judge Dredd’s Megacity One, where automation and the use of robots has created a 95 per cent unemployment rate. No, it’s the Sirius Cybernetics Company from the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, whose products are so uniformly terrible that the complaints division now covers the major land masses of three whole planets, as this clip from the Beeb TV series on Michael Snow’s channel on YouTube explains:

As for the robots being sacked, for comics readers of a certain age this sounds like they suffered the same fate as those poor machines that were sent down to be ripped apart by the frightening, but also frighteningly stupid demolition robot Mekquake in the ‘Robusters’ and ‘ABC Warriors’ strips in 2000 AD. Mekquake was always being frustrated at not being able to destroy the strips’ two heroes, Rojaws, a foul-mouthed sewer droid, and Hammerstein, an old war robot, who continually outwitted him. But if robots keep being manufactured with the same spectacular flaws as the Pepper robot, it probably won’t be long before someone invents a Mekquake-style machine to take care of them. Oh, by crikey, yes, as the thuggish old machine used to say!

Rojaws and Hammerstein prepare to meet Mekquake for the last time. From ABC Warriors – Return to Robusters, by Pat Mills and Clint Langley, (Rebellion: 2015, 2016).

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Whistleblower Wallace Suing MOD

November 16, 2021

This comes from last fortnight’s Private Eye, for 29th October to 11th November 2021. Colin Wallace, the former intelligence officer who was prosecuted and falsely convicted of manslaughter for revealing the secrets of Britain’s dirty war in Northern Ireland, is suing the Ministry of Defence. The article, titled ‘Britain’s Dirty War: The Wallace Connection’ runs

Former army intelligence officer turned whistleblower Colin Wallace (Eyes long passim) is suing the Ministry of Defence in a case that threatens to reopen the ugly wounds of Britain’s “dirty war” in Northern Ireland.

Wallace, who worked for British army “psychological operations” – a covert propaganda unit that worked closely with MI5 to target loyalist and republican paramilitaries – is accusing the MoD of “negligence, misfeasance in public office and deceit”. Wallace, now 79, was driven out of the army in 1975 after refusing to engage in Clockwork Orange a now well=documented smear campaign to bring down the Harold Wilson government. He was also threatening to expose the systematic abuse of children in east Belfast’s Kincora boys’ home.

Wallace had briefed intelligence chiefs about Kincora in 1974, long before arrests and the home’s closure in 1980, but maintains that MI5 spooks and military intelligence allowed the abuse to continue so that the main perpetrator, school housemaster William McGrath, could provide information on hardline loyalists.

The troublesome Wallace then himself became a victim of disinformation and was disciplined for leaking a restricted document to a journalist – the very job he was paid to do. The write served on the MoD last month alleges the disciplinary proceedings were a “sham” and “so unfair as to account to a misuse of public powers”. It says Wallace was, on occasion, directed by the MoD to leak secret documents and the disciplinary panel was seriously misled.

In 1990, prime minister Margaret Thatcher was forced to admit that her government had deceived parliament and the public about Wallace’s role, and an inqui8ry by David Calcutt QC concluded that MI5 had interfered in the disciplinary proceedings. As a result, Wallace was awarded £30,000 compensation.

But that wasn’t all. In 1980 Wallace was convicted of the manslaughter of a friend, spending six years in jail protesting his innocence. His conviction was quashed in the appeal court after new forensic evidence completely undermined the case against him. In his 1989 book Who Framed Colin Wallace?, the Eye’s late Paul Foots suggested Wallace may have been set up to further discredit his damaging allegations.

So why is Wallace suing now? Because, he tells the Eye, evidence is still being covered up. There have been three inquiries into Kincora, but all failed to investigate or interview key key witnesses from the intelligence services. Christopher Stanley of KRW Law,, which represents Wallace, said that despite evidence emerging over the years endorsing Wallace’s claims, the MoD had persisted in denying his true role. “We know the MoD is sitting on more material, which we hope to obtain through disclosure,” he said.

Wallace is seeking damages for financial loss and psychological injury, and a breach of duty to an employee between 1972 and 1975. He is acutely aware that those who could give evidence are as old as he is and that time is running out. “The truth should have come out when Paul Foot wrote his book,” he said. “But it is not too late.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “Proceedings were recently served on us regarding allegations dating back to 1968 which we intend to defend robustly.” It could not comment further as legal proceedings are underway.”

The parapolitics/ real conspiracies online magazine Lobster has been covering and defending Wallace and his allegations more or less since its foundation in the early 1980s. According to the magazine, there’s a new film out about Wallace available on the Net. It says

“A new film about that man Wallace

There is a new film about Colin Wallace, The Man Who Knew Too Much, made by Michael Oswald. It is on YouTube at <https: //youtu.be/z8FDPU-tDBU>. This is by some distance the best account of Wallace, and the events in which he was involved, since Paul Foot’s Who Framed Colin Wallace?. It includes all the significant photographs of Wallace from his period in Northern Ireland, plus a good deal of Wallace and Fred Holroyd speaking recently. Highly recommended.”

It also notes “The film’s Twitter handle is @Wallace_Film and its website is <https://colinwallacefilm.com/>&#8221;

Kojo Moe: Factories as Tourist Spots in Japan

November 15, 2021

I found this interesting snippet in the ‘Funny Old World’ column in Private Eye’s issue for 18-31 March 2011, ultimately taken from a CNN item for 26th January of that year. It’s about a recent development or fad in the Japanese tourist industry: visiting factories. I know they do this in Britain, where people tour historic factories looking at things being made, or learning how they were made in the past. A good example is Ironbridge. But this is something different. It’s about appreciating factories as objects of beauty in themselves. This is radically different to previous ideas of beauty, which are centred on the living landscape, either natural or that of the rural village. And from reading the article, it seems to have its origins partly in the beginning of the film Blade Runner, where Deckard’s car flies past a refinery belching fire. The article runs

‘”Kojo moe is an infatuation with factories,” Daigo Yokoto told reporters outside a power plant in the industrial city of Kawasaki, near Tokyo, “and it’s becoming an alternative form of tourism in Japan. The geometric patterns of metal pipes and frames, the eerie smoke and sudden eruptions of flames – it is a completely different world, and it’s less than an hour away from Tokyo, where and my friends live. It’s not what goes on inside the factories that interests us, it’s the moment where the cylindrical smoke stack sends up steam, or a furnace starts belching smoke. That’s what makes us happy.”

Over the past year, kojo moe has grown from a tiny Japanese subculture into a major form of tourism, with 4,000 yen cruises to industrial zones booked out months in advance. “I love taking photos and I love factories,” added photographer Masaki Ishitani from Osaka, “and combining the two gives me an innocent sense of enjoyment. Kawasaki factories are the biggest, the most beautiful, and most wonderful in Japan. Standing here watching a giant power plant billowing out smoke is just like being in the movie Blade Runner.”

There is a similar aesthetic over here as well, albeit to a far lesser extent. I can remember passing a refinery near Cardiff with friends on the way to a re-enactment event in the ’90s, and we were struck by its awesome beauty. It was floodlit and really did resemble the refinery from Blade Runner. Ridley Scott, the film’s director, based that sequence on a factory or refinery he used to pass when he was a schoolboy or arts student. One night as was passing he said to himself, ‘God, this is beautiful’.

I find this particularly fascinating because it’s precisely the kind of aesthetic that the Futurists were trying to promote. They were a reaction to Symbolism and hated traditional, especially neo-classical art. They celebrated instead the new, modern, urban Italy, of youth, speed, violence and the new machine age. The Futurist architect Sant’Elia designed huge modernist buildings representing the new aesthetic, designs which even now, after the horrors of mid-20th century Brutalist architecture, still look futuristic. Kojo moe also interests me because it does seem to be an instance where Science Fiction has altered or set up a different ideal of beauty. I really don’t believe that the Conceptualism that was all rage as the official art of the ’90s really has done much to push the boundaries of art. I think that’s being done elsewhere, and particularly within Science Fiction and Fantasy, in media such as computer games, films, TV, book illustration and comics. And I’d like to see it appreciated by the art establishment.

Private Eye on Luciana Berger

November 14, 2021

Remember Luciana Berger? She is, or was, the Blairite MP for Liverpool who joined the chorus of Jewish MPs screaming that Jeremy Corbyn was an evil anti-Semite and a threat to British Jewry because he criticised Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Oh yes, and he wanted to ditch Thatcherism. She was one of the lynch mob of angry White women who turned up at the kangaroo trial of Marc Wadsworth demanding that he should be expelled for the dreadful crime of embarrassing Ruth Smeeth. For which Wadsworth, a long-term anti-racist activist who had worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews in passing legislation to deal with real anti-Semitic attacks by the BNP, was labelled an anti-Semite. Berger seems to have turned up amongst the intake of new MPs in the 2010 parliament, and so Private Eye ran a feature on her in their ‘The New Boys and Girls’ column in their issue for the 18-31 March 2011. She comes across as fiercely ambitious, opportunistic and with scant interest or understanding of the ordinary Liverpudlians she supposedly represented. The article runs

She may recently have been voted the most fanciable member of parliament, and since being elected as Labour MP for Liverpool Watertree last year she has developed a drooling fan club of sad, middle-aged men in the Commons – but looks deceive.

Twenty-eight year old Luciana Berger is what the comrades used to describe as a “right operator”. Within a few months of her arrival, Ed Miliband had already promoted her to the frontbench as a shadow minister for energy and climate change.

Her swift climb up the greasy pole began soon after she left the Haberdasher Aske’s School for Girls and went to Birmingham University, where she became an executive member of the National Union of Students, convening national anti-racism campaigns. She resigned in 2005, accusing the NUS of taking a lax attitude to anti-Semitism on campus.

She later took up a “public affairs” post at Accenture and went on to advise the NHS Confederation, but not before the rumour mill had come alive with talk of a relationship with Euan Blair after the pair were pictured at a party. Denials came thick and fast, not only from Blair but also from the Labour party, which took it upon itself to issue an official statement saing that young Luciana “was not, and had never been” romantically linked with Euan Blair.

One of her predecessors in the Liverpool Wavertree seat, the late Terry Fields, might have doffed his fireman’s helmet to her for the way she managed to get selected in the first place, for it came straight out of the old Militant Tendency’s instruction manual. While Labour was choosing its candidate, Berger lived for a month at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose partner was the Labour official who ran the selection process, Peter Dowling. The completed ballot papers were then returned to Kennedy’s home address for counting.

A furious Frank Hont, secretary of the regional branch of the Unison trade union, lodged protests with party bosses, to no avail. Although veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a “student politician” who lacked the experience to do the job, Berger went on to beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on an “all-wimmin” shortlist. By this time, Berger was in a relationship with the MP and journalist Sion Simon, who was shortly to stand down from parliament to devote his energies to becoming mayor of Birmingham. The pair were talked of as a new “power couple”.

Berger didn’t improve her stock with incandescent Scousers by committing a series of gaffes that would have sunk a less shameless candidate. In January 2010, the Liverpool Echo tested Berger with a four-question quiz on Liverpool life and history. She scored two out of four, not knowing who performed “Ferry Cross the Mersey”, and not recognising the name of former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly.

In her defence, Berger said that “you can’t ask a girl a football question” and added: “I’m not new to the city. I’ve been coming here for the past decade through all different jobs.” It is difficult to know what caused more offence, Berger’s failure to have heard of Shankly or her reference to coming to the city “through all different jobs” – jobs, after all, being a commodity in short supply on Merseyside.

For a while it looked as though she would be given a run for her money at the election by Scouse actor and former union activist Ricky Tomlinson, who announced that he would stand for the Socialist Labour Party under the election slogan “Berger – my arse!” – but then wimped out because of “personal and contractual commitments”.,

Once in parliament, Berger’s ability to upset local sensitivities continued. Last October she infuriated Liverpudlians by appearing on a Radio Five Live show with Kelvin McKenzie, who was the editor of the Sun at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and whose coverage of the story led to a boycott of the paper on Merseyside that last to this day. Berger’s lame defence was that she “didn’t know who the other guests were”.

With yet another little local difficulty somehow shrugged off, Luciana has also shrugged off Sion Simon and is now romantically involved with an equally ambitious Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, who has been dubbed “the British Obama”. With the pair already being talked of as a new “power couple”, let’s hope the Labour party doesn’t go and spoil things against by issuing a denial.”

From this, it seems that she won her selection as Labour MP through knowing the right people, and is less interested in representing Liverpool than using it as a base to get her rear end in parliament. Which describes any number of Blairite MPs, male and female. As for saying that it was unfair to expect a girl to know about football, this sounds less persuasive ten years later when there’s a campaign to get more women and girls playing sport and women’s footie has been a regular fixture on the box with the men’s. As for Berger’s commitment to anti-racism, while I’m sure it was genuine enough at the time it was clearly outweighed in the Wadsworth’s case by her determination to defend Israel and purge the party of Corbyn and his supporters anyway she could. I also wonder about her complaint that Birmingham University wasn’t doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism. It’s possible it was all as she said it was, and there was real anti-Semitism on campus. But the Blairites deliberately conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Was the anti-Semitism she was so upset about simply other student activists, equally determined in their opposition to racism, condemning Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians?

And it is, in my view, too bad that Tomlinson didn’t stand against her and win. If he had done so, it was have done much to demonstrate to the Blairites, and particularly Starmer, that the Old Labour they despise has the power to defeat them by being able to create its own, independent party outside their control.

Private Eye on Israeli Atrocities against the Palestinians

November 14, 2021

I’ve probably said before that I’ve got mixed feelings about Private Eye. The magazine joined the rest of the media in howling that Corbyn was an evil Commie and an anti-Semite. On the other hand, it has itself published some excellent material exposing Israel and its horrific crimes against the indigenous Arabs. I found this article extensively describing them in it’s edition for 15th – 28th June 2018. Titled ‘Israel Watch’, the article runs

On 1 June, as the Campaign Against Arms Trade revealed the UK’s rapidly increasing exports to Israel, and Buckingham Palace announced Prince William’s forthcoming trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Razan Najar, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman volunteering for a medical team, was shot dead by Israeli Defence Force soldiers near the Israel-Gaza border. The UK may have sold them the bullet.

As the UK government continues its amoral pursuit of post-Brexit trade with anyone who’ll have us, it is to be hoped this is not why William is pressing palms. At least ministers can pretend that they will raise human rights abuses as the other side signs the cheques.

Yet Israel does more than shoot Palestinians it claims looked iffy through a rifle sight. It removes their moral status as bearers of rights, a crucial first stage in all historical abuses of peoples. Nowhere is this more evident than in its approach in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No-derogable means no exceptions: not in times of war; not if you’re the head of the CIA; not if you’ve been watching 24 on Fox. Signatories to the declaration agree this, and are obliged to codify it in law. On 14 December 1978, signing the Declaration for Israel, Yehudi Zvi Blum told the UN that the principles enshrined in it were given to the world by the Jewish nation 3,0000 years ago as “the equality and brotherhood of man, the intrinsic dignity and value of the human being and the ideals of social justice”. Yet Israeli law contains no specific criminalisation of torture.

Until 1999 the Israeli Security Agency, ISA, relied on a 1987 state commission which suggested that “psychological pressure” and “moderate physical pressure” were permissible “to prevent terrorism”. Their methods went far beyond any reasonable interpretation of these terms, and in 1999, Israel’s high court declared torture in interrogation illegal – except, crucially, for agents investigating “ticking bomb” cases. Such ticking is, of course, in the ear of the beholder.

The US senate’s own report on black-site torture revealed that, despite claims regarding “ticking bombs”, such torture delivered no useful intelligence. Evidence shows that while torture may persuade people to do things they don’t wan to do, they are only likely to tell you what you want to hear.

Israeli human rights groups, based on hundreds of affidavits from interrogated Palestinians, suggest that ISA uses torture in interrogation, including beatings, kicking, sleep deprivation, stress positioning, sexual abuse, painful shackling, assault with rifle butts, mock executions and threats against family members. Such treatment is described by the state as “special measures”, in tones reminiscent of “enhanced interrogation”. Not a single criminal investigation has been launched into a complaint against an ISA Interrogator.

Israel claims that UN conventions do not apply to Palestinians under occupation. It’s a steep slope, when you exclude the people of your choice from universal human rights. Prince William tread carefully, lest he slip.”

I’ll make it clear before I start that I despise and condemn terrorism by anyone. Furthermore, I don’t doubt for a single second that Israel isn’t unusual in it use of torture against terrorists and the minorities it oppresses. China and indeed the neighbouring Arab states do exactly the same. However, Israel and its supporters over here have a campaign to smear anyone revealing Israeli torture and atrocities against the Palestinians as an evil, genocidal anti-Semite. It’s been used against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, many of whom are decent, self-respecting Jewish peeps. Peeps, who have often lost loved ones to the Holocaust and suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and assault. And Starmer is continuing this campaign of vilification and purges.

The Israeli state doesn’t just use such interrogation techniques against adult. It also uses them against children. And many of the Jews that attack and criticise Israel for its human rights abuses are motivated by their reading and observance of the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, which Blum declared was behind Israel’s signing of the Declaration of the Human Rights. Other, secular Jews are motivated by the values of liberal Jewish culture in which they grew up. As for the Israeli human rights groups criticising the Israeli state, Netanyahu’s vile regime passed, or tried to pass legislation silencing groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. The last is a group of Israeli ex-servicemen and -women, who tell the stories of atrocities they have witnessed and in which they participated. There were polls a few years ago showing that the majority of Israeli respondents wanted such organisations and their members stripped of their citizenship.

This is the state that Keef Stalin supports ‘100 per cent’, and whose critics within the Labour party he is determined to silence and expel. Revolting!

Private Eye on the Medical Report Discrediting Blair’s NHS Privatisation

November 3, 2021

This is another piece from an old issue of the satirical magazine, for 15th-25th October 2004. Entitled ‘Kaiser bill’, it discusses a report in the British Journal of General Practice that refutes the arguments for Blair’s privatisation of the NHS and its remodelling after the American private healthcare firm, Kaiser Permanente. The article runs

Last week’s NHS Modernisation Agency conference on the much-hyped treatment centre programme – the mix of private and NHS one-stop units springing up around the country to offer quick and relatively easy diagnosis and surgery – struck a self-congratulatory note.

But a study published this summer suggests there is no evidence that bringing private companies into the NHS is increasing efficiency or reducing costs. Quite the opposite, in fact.

This news will not please the government, which has always promoted health secretary John Reid’s favourite private US healthcare providers, Kaiser Permanente, citing a seven-page research paper in the British Medical Journal in 2002 which purported to show that Kaiser offered “better performance at roughly the same costs as the NHS”.

This conclusion, extolling the benefits of competition, was manna from heaven for health ministers who had been criticised for closing 10,000 NHS beds since Labour came to power. But it seems it was all nonsense.

For a start, two of the report’s three authors used to work for Kaiser; and their paper trigger a storm of protest in the US and from the medical and scientific community here, highlighting its flawed analysis and conclusions. It emerged that Kaiser’s costs were deflated while NHS costs were inflated; Kaiser patients were the “working well” but NHS patients included the poor, elderly and chronically ill; and individual Kaiser charges for visits and treatment were ignored.

Nevertheless, the protests were ignored and the paper – described by one leading academic as “not worthy of a first year student” – went on to form British government policy, featuring in the 2002 review of NHS funding by Derek Wanless and the subsequent white paper on how to deliver the NHS plan. The department of health even joined forces with Kaiser in “learning from Kaiser Permanente” projects managing chronic conditions and care.

In the summer, however, the scientific record was finally put straight with a paper in the British Journal of General Practice which comprehensively exposed that the Kaiser paper was propaganda masked as science. It detailed the way in which authors used counting tricks including a curious foreign exchange currency conversion which had the effect of almost doubling NHS costs. Despite this evidence the Kaiser paper still has not been officially withdrawn. Instead it is still promoted on health department websites.

Allyson Pollock, professor of health policy at University College London and one of the authors of the critical BJGP paper said: “There is no evidence that introducing private companies increases efficiency or quality or reduces costs. Indeed, all the evidence goes the other way. Markets – even those underwritten by the state – do not deliver comprehensive universal healthcare. Research in the US has shown how private health providers select the profitable patients, treatments and conditions and at a greater cost than public providers.”‘ Professor Pollock is one of the contributors to Raymond Talllis’ and Jacky Davies’ excellent exposure of the decade’s long privatisation campaign against the Health Service, NHS – SOS.

This is the Blair administration that Keef Stalin idealises, and to whose policies he would like us all to return. At the moment Labour MPs like South Bristol’s Karin Smyth are fighting the government’s NHS privatisation. But I’m sure that Stalin will drop the NHS if there is a chance of getting his rear end in Downing Street. After all, he’s had no qualms about breaking every other promise.

Thatcherism is a monumental failure. It’s time it was comprehensively ended and the Thatcherites thrown out of power – the Tories and Starmer both.

Private Eye on Blair’s Privatisation of the Government Service Examining Disabled Claimants

November 1, 2021

And which, needless to say, subsequently led to the the private company awarded the contract finding severely disabled people ineligible for benefit and fit for work.

I found this very enlightening article in an issue of Private Eye from 21 years ago, for Friday, 19th May 2000. It describes how the Tories intended to privatise the Benefits Agency Medical Services, the part of the agency that examined disabled claimants to see if they qualified for benefits. In opposition, Blair and his chums had been against the scheme, but once they were in government that all changed. They were all in favour of it, the office was privatised and the contract awarded instead to Sema. This was despite the fact that the company had no qualified doctors. Sema then took on two other companies to help it with the work and engaged various New Labour politicos to lobby for it. Once it had the contract, it started declaring severely disabled people fit for work. And so was the pattern set for the subsequent reigns of Atos and Maximus.

The article, entitled ‘Cringe Benefits’, runs

It was a Tory idea to begin with: how to make more money out of the disabled for a big private company.

After a “study of options” about what to do with the rather expensive government system for examining disabled people to see if they were entitled to benefit, the Tory government concluded that contracting out to the private sector was “most likely to deliver the improvements sought”.

Tory ministers agreed and the publicly-owned Benefits Agency Medical Services was divided into three areas “to encourage competition in terms of bids”. The Tory government fell in the spring of 1997, to be replaced by Labour with a huge majority and secretary of state for social services, Harriet Harman, who had been eloquent in the condemnation of privatisation.

Ms Harman, however, was at once convinced of the case for privatising the testing of the disabled, and in February 1998 (in the interests of competition) she awarded the contracts for all three areas to one company, Sema.

It was a juicy contract too. A government memorandum at the time announced that the three contracts would cost the government £305m, a figure which the memo announced, “represented savings of £62m” compared with what the service used to cost the taxpayer.

One problem which soon became clear was that Sema had no medical experience whatsoever. The British Medical Association, disgusted by the company’s treatment of doctors and patients, complained officially that Sema executives “did not understand the complexities, having had no experience of employing doctors”. This obviously worried the company so much that when the five original bidders were invited to discuss the complexities of their new contract with the BMS, which represents most British doctors, two declined, including Sema.

If it didn’t have any doctors or medically qualified staff, Sema made sure it was well-stocked with “new” Labour lobbyists. It hired Westminster Strategy, which had a batch of such lobbyists on tap. Jo Moore, former Labour press officer; Mike Lee, who used to work for David Blunkett; and former chair of the Fabian Society and wanabee Labour candidate Mike Dauber. To clinch the business, Sema acquired the then employment minister Andrew Smith as a speaker at its glittering conferences.

Partly to make up for this lack of experience, Sema engaged two companies as sub-contractors to do the new work, Nestor Healthcare group and Nestor Disability Analysts. The board of the former was graced by a former Tory MP, Charles Goodison-Wickes, who quickly made way for the more acceptable Anne Parker, who chairs the Carers Association and is an examiner for the Child Support Agency. Nestor Healthcare has just branched into prisons, explaining in true “new” Labour tradition that “prisoner numbers are steadily growing”.

The performance of these Sema subsidiaries, and of privatisation in general, has recently been examined in detail by the House of Commons social services committee, whose shocking report has just been published. “Too often”, say the report, “the organisation fails to deliver an adequate service… at its worst it puts claimants through examinations which are painful and distressing and gives poor advice.”

Bizarre examples of the doctor’s hostility to the people they are examining are provided by the report. In one case a patient was described as healthy because she could sit up watching television for up to two hours. In fact this patient could only watch television lying down. In another case a patient’s dirty fingernails were submitted as evidence of his ability to work in the garden – whereas in fact he could not even wash himself.

The conclusion makes sad reading for the “new” Labour lobbyists and privatisers of past years. There has been no improvement whatever. “our inquiry has led us to conclude that, so far, the primary focus of Sema has been on operational efficiency to achieve value for money rather than the delivery of a quality service”.

How has Labour responded so far to these devastating allegations? It has handed over a confidential contract for running the Labour party’s own membership records to…. Sema. And Sema’s subsidiary has won a contract for the provision of an immigration centre for Group 4.’

And Starmer would have us all vote for him, because Tony Blair did such great things for the people of this country. Well, Blair was serious and better than the Tories at tackling poverty. But the privatisation of that part of the Benefits Agency has just led to 20 years and more of profiteering and rigged assessments in order to throw genuinely disabled people off benefits.

The process needs to be renationalised, and the Tories, Starmer and his coterie of New Labour apparatchiks kept well away from power.

Private Eye: So Many Academies Are Going Bust They Need a Special Insolvency Service

October 28, 2021

Here’s another interesting piece from this fortnight’s Private Eye for 29th October to 11th November 2012. It seems it’s not just the failing private railway companies that the government is desperate to prop up against the threat of nationalisation. They also need to do it for the academy chains and further education colleges. Here’s the article

Chains Reaction

In a worrying indication of the Department for Education’s level of confidence in the financial health of school chains and further education colleges, the department has made a deal with seven big law firms to provide insolvency services to “a broad range of financially distressed education providers”.

The scheme will put the firms, based in London, Leeds and Bristol, on a rota to provide advice on restructuring and insolvency to institutions facing either normal insolvency or “education administration”, the new process created in 2019 which allows an administrator to prioritise the needs for existing students to finish courses or find new placements, before paying creditors. Although the billing rates for insolvency work are not revealed in the contract award notice, the tender is listed with an estimated value of £3m.

The DfE has borne the brunt of winding up costs for a number of large academy trusts and has had to write off large sums where the department itself was one of a trust’s creditors.

Thus far two colleges, Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College, have been through the education administration process. Recently Brooklands College in Weybridge also faced the threat of insolvency as the Education and Skills Funding Agency attempts to claw back £20m after an investigation into the subcontracting of apprenticeships.

Academies are another failed Thatcherite idea that was taken over by Starmer’s molten idol, Blair, and then kicked into high gear. Thatcher and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, had founded a series of schools outside the Local Education Authorities as City Academies. They were an abject failure and were actually being wound up. Then Tory Tony fished ’em out of the dustbin along with a whole slew of other grotty ideas, and lo! the academies were established These were supposed to introduce private investment and management in the school system. Great things were predicted, like schools specialising in the STEM subjects, or music or whatever. And standards were definitely going to get better. In fact, the academies are only able to maintain their high standards through a rigorous policy of exclusion and selection to keep out the poor, the less able and those with behavioural problems, which state schools are bound to take. They have also benefited from far greater levels of funding. Some of the academies received up to £40 million, compared to LEAs which may have a budget for all the schools in their area of £250,000. Despite these advantages, numerous academies have had to be taken into receivership and into state management.

There is no use keeping up the pretence that they’re some kind of glowing Thatcherite, private industry success. This is just throwing good money after bad, and using the taxpayer to bail out failing private investors as the with PFI in the Health Service. It has to be ended now, and schools renationalised. Mussolini also set up a government department to bail out failing private industry. Fascist manifestos and ideology praised private industry and declared it to be the foundation of society and a proper, healthy economic system. But they had to recognise that some industries could not be supported privately and had to be taken into state ownership. And if Mussolini’s viciously anti-socialist dictatorship could realise that private industry is not the panacea for all industries, it’s high time our supposedly liberal, democratic politicos also had the guts to do so.

Academy schools are failing children, and it is just grotty Tory and Blairite Labour ideology that’s keeping them going. Renationalise now!