Posts Tagged ‘Private Eye’

Guardian Reports Death Threats Sent to US Academic Conference on Hindu Extremism

October 9, 2021

The Groan has posted an alarming article about a campaign of online intimidation being wages by a number of Hindu nationalist organisations against an academic conference held by many of the America’s most prestigious universities about Hindu nationalism. This includes death threats to the speakers and organisers and their families, and insults and abuse against their caste and religion. The article begins

‘An academic conference in the US addressing Hindu nationalism is being targeted by rightwing Hindu groups, which have sent death threats to participants and forced several scholars to withdraw.

The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, which is co-sponsored by more than 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack after several groups in India and the US accused the event of being “anti-Hindu”.

The aim of the conference, which will begin online on 10 September, is to bring together scholars to discuss Hindutva, otherwise known as Hindu nationalism, a rightwing movement that believes India should be an ethnic Hindu state, rather than a secular nation.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has pushed forward a Hindu nationalist agenda, under which India’s 200 million Muslims have faced discrimination and attacks.

The conference organisers said that in recent weeks, “far-right fringe groups have mobilised to attack the speakers at the conference”, falsely characterising the discussion of the political ideology of Hindutva as an attack on Hinduism itself.

In a statement, the organisers described how “immense pressure has been placed upon universities by fringe groups to back out of the conference” and emphasised the “sinister implications” of this “massive disinformation campaign”.

Several of the participants have withdrawn from the conference over fears it would lead to them being banned from returning to their families in India or being arrested on their arrival into the country.

Dozens of speakers and organisers involved have had violent threats made against their family members. Meena Kandasamy, a speaker, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist slurs. Other academics have been forced to file police cases after receiving death threats.

More than 1m emails were sent to the presidents, provosts and officials at universities involved in the conference pressuring them to withdraw and dismiss staff who were participating, pointing to an organised campaign by groups in India and the US. At Drew University in New Jersey, more than 30,000 emails were received in just a few minutes, causing the university server to crash.

“We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” read the statement by the conference’s organisers. “Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days.”

“The level of hate has been staggering,” said Rohit Chopra, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, who is one of the conference organisers.

“Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families. Women participants have been subjected to the vilest kind of misogynistic threats and abuse and members of religious minorities associated with the conference have been targeted with casteist and sectarian slurs in the ugliest sorts of language.”’

The article states that the conference has been attacked by right-wing Indian TV channels and discusses the particular nationalist groups behind the campaign.

‘The conference has also become a particular object of ire on rightwing TV news channels in India, who have accused it of being funded by the CIA, foreign governments and George Soros, and alleged on air that the conference is designed to support the Taliban.

The groups campaigning against the conference are the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an Indian organisation that has faced allegations of being linked to the murders of intellectuals and journalists, and US-based rightwing groups the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America.

In a statement this week, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA – a sister group of the RSS, an extremist nationalist organisation in India – urged all universities involved to withdraw support. They expressed “deep concern about the upcoming online event titled Dismantling Global Hindutva. We strongly condemn such events that amplify Hinduphobia, encourage Hindu hate, and incite violence against the minority Hindu population in the west.”

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti also wrote to the Indian home minister asking for action to be taken against those taking part in the event.’

According to Private Eye, the RSSS was founded in the 1920s and deliberately modelled on Mussolini’s Fascists. They have been behind a series of attacks against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. And some of the Hindu groups in the US are very right-wing. I can remember seeing a video on one American Hindu group’s rally supporting Donald Trump and the Republicans. It was blatantly Islamophobic, consisting of a play in which Hindu dancers were attacked by menacing jihadis before the US marines came in and shot them.

This Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, is considered by political scientists to be another form of Fascism. I’ve come across books on Fascism that include passages from Hindu extremist literature as examples of the mystical side of Fascism, ‘Fascismo mystica’, as Mussolini called it.

The organisers of the conference make it very clear that they aren’t opponents of Hinduism, but of Hindu nationalism. And the domestic victims of this form of Fascism have included liberal Hindu writers, journalists and activists. People who wish India to remain faithful to Gandhi’s vision of a pluralist, multicultural country. And the ultra-nationalist Hindu fanatics despise him because of this.

Indian liberals have also complained that freedom of speech and information is under threat thanks to Modi. Peaceful protesters, including the farmers protesting against the government’s privatisation of the state machinery guaranteeing a fair price for this goods, are arrested and beaten by the police. Journos covering these protests are also arrested in attempts to stop coverage and filming.

We’re used to hearing about European and British Fascism and Nazism as well as Islamism, but it should be remembered that hatred, racism, religious intolerance and violent ethnic nationalism can be found in all cultures, nations and races.

Which is why Fascism has to be fought wherever it is found.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/death-threats-sent-to-participants-of-us-conference-on-hindu-nationalism/ar-AAPjKWd?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

Is Keef Stalin Planning to Lose the Next Election So Streeting Can Be the New Blair?

October 1, 2021

It’s a horrifying thought, but that’s what this fortnight’s edition of Private Eye suggests in their piece, ‘Project Keir’ in the ‘H.P. Sauce’ column on page 14. They speculate that Starmer is deliberately planning to lose the next election so that he will be replaced by Wes Streeting, who will win the following election. He seems himself as the new Neil Kinnock, who lost his election but prepared the way for the success of Tony Blair. The article runs

“Don’t let anyone tell you that this is a two-term project,” shadow minister Wes Streeting told moderate group Labour First at his party’s conference last weekend. This phrase is familiar to the party’s right: a two-term project would mean Keir Starmer losing the next election but his sacrifice clearing the way for a properly moderate leader.

It was an acknowledgment that many on Labour’s right – including some in Starmer’s office – believe the leader’s focus on fixing Labour’s internal selections might not impress voters but will clear out the hard left, subdue the soft left and prepare the ground for the only way they believe Labour can win: Starmer must be a “Kinnock”, who loses elections but clears the way for a Blair figure who ultimately wins.” The rest of the article describes how Keef and his minions are already in talks with various big businesses. Well, Starmer is a Blairite, and Blair became notorious for granting favours to big corporations, including seats in government, in return for donations.

Before I start critiquing the article proper, look at the bias in its writing. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are ‘hard left’. Labour First is ‘moderate’. Not so. Jeremy Corbyn is actually very traditional Old Labour: a mixed economy, strong welfare state, properly nationalised and funded NHS, and strong trade unions. He wants the nationalisation of the utilities and the railways, which was the social democratic consensus, accepted by both Labour and the Tories, from 1945 to 1979 and the election of Maggie Thatcher. This is far less than the demands for further nationalisation from the real communist and Trotskyite left, who sneer at reformist socialist politicians like Corbyn. And Labour First is not remotely moderate. It’s far right in the same way Blair was far right. Blair was further right than the Tories in many issues. The Conservatives had tried taking schools out of the control of the LEAs, the precursors of Blair’s academies, found that they didn’t work and duly binned them. Blair took the idea out of the bin and then expanded it. He also went much further in privatising the NHS than the Tories dared. At the 2008 elections Cameron pretended to be further left than Blair in order to win. I think this lost him votes from traditional hard right Tory voters, but unfortunately it did give him the keys to 10 Downing Street. And we’ve been suffering ever since.

This scheme all depends on several factors, one of which is whether Starmer truly realises he’s going to lose the next election. He certainly doesn’t seem like it. Despite losing a whole series of local authorities and constituencies, including the north, he seems determined to present what few seats Labour did retain up north as stunning victories. In fact in many of them Labour only managed to scrape in. Now I think Starmer really is hoping that Tory voters, along with big business and the media, will turn to him, or his version of the Labour party, when they get sick of the Tories and their incompetence. But that’s a dangerous assumption. Blair was able to win over Murdoch and the majority of the press, but the Daily Mail held on to its wretched principles and carried on supporting the Tories. There is no guarantee that the British public, media and business will embrace Streeting if Labour does lose the next election and Starmer makes way for him. And even if Streeting did win the following election, it would probably be by a smaller number of people voting than actually voted in the 2019 election. At the 2017 election, Corbyn lost with a higher number of people voting for him than Blair did when he won. It’s been forgotten that when Blair was in power, people drifted away from Labour en masse and that there was a general feeling of alienation and disenfranchisement. People didn’t feel the parties represented them and some of them stopped voting. This will happen again, even if Streeting or someone like him wins.

And its dangerous, because when people feel alienated from supposedly democratic parties, they turn to the real extremists, the Communists or Fascists. Both of those are pretty much dead at the moment, despite the screams about Corbyn, but they could well revive, if under a less extreme guise, like UKIP or the Brexit party at the elections a few years ago.

My own guess is that such a plan would destroy Labour, at least as a mass party. Starmer treats the rank and file members with contempt, and as result they’re leaving. Without their membership subscriptions, Labour is facing bankruptcy. Starmer has also driven away the baker’s union, BFAWU, so he went get any money from that union either. If he drives further unions away, which he well might, that could provoke an even worse financial crisis. He needs those donations from big business, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get them.

Starmer’s slowly turning Labour into a minor party with little funding and small membership, also so he can appeal to business and hopefully get his rear end, or Streetings into power. It’s a truly risky strategy, and could kill the party long before either he or Streeting get anywhere close.

And as they’re doing this, they’re damaging democracy by ignoring the electorate and its wishes in favour of big business. A few years ago a report by Harvard University concluded that America was no longer a functioning democracy because of this. Instead it was a plutocracy or something like it, government by the rich.

Which is exactly what Starmer will bring in here.

Howard Jacobson Cartoon

September 15, 2021

Here’s my drawing of British author Howard Jacobson. I’ve read that it was Jacobson, who came up with the slogan ‘For the Many, Not the Jew’ to promote the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party when he was living in New York. Way back in the 1980s he wrote a parody of the Book of Genesis, which Private Eye reviewed. This was at the same time militant Muslims were demanding Salman Rushdie’s head over the Satanic Verses. The Eye said that Jacobson’s novel showed the difference between Jews and Muslims, because if Jews were at all similar to them, Jacobson would have to move in with the other author. The other year Jacobson won a literary award for his The Finkler Question. From the very, very little I’ve read about it seems to be a tale of adultery in Jewish suburbia. This makes him sound like a kind of Jewish male version of Jilly Cooper with literary pretensions.

For some reason the late Clive James seems to have been a fan of his, and I did have some respect for him a few years ago. Jacobson describes himself as a Humanist, but disliked the New Atheists, as many old school atheists did, for their intolerance and abuse. But that vanished when I read that he was responsible for the slogan parodying Corbyn’s ‘For the Many, Not the Few’. Jacobson’s wretched slogan helped keep in power the Tories, who are determined to privatised the NHS and inflict further cuts on the welfare state at the expense of Britain’s working people. A working class, that has always included Jews. It’s also assisted in the seizure of the Labour leadership by Starmer and his crew, who are using anti-Semitism as an excuse to purge the party of socialists and critics of Israel. And their victims have been particularly Jews. All to protect the Israeli state from a possible Labour administration that would have tried to help the Palestinians gain justice and equality, instead of empty words and toothless condemnations of Israel.

I thought of Jacobson’s wretched slogan, and it seemed to me that you could also alter it, beginning with the names of the organisations pushing the anti-Semitism smears: the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Labour Movement, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and then

‘For Israel

For the Rich

Against the Poor

Against the Jew’

Because the people behind the smears seem to me to be Tories and Thatcherites determined to help the rich get even richer and drive the poor even further into poverty. And those poor also include Jews, who worry along with everyone else about the way the NHS is being run down, the cuts to state services, how they will pay for the social care their elderly relatives need and suffer from the government and management freezing their wages so they also take a cut in salary in real terms.

Private Eye Publishes My Letter Against the Anti-Semitism Accusations

September 15, 2021

Not only did I write to Lobster about the false anti-Semitism accusations levelled against me by people too cowardly to reveal their true identities in the Labour party, I also wrote a letter to Private Eye. I was told a few weeks ago that they were considering it for publication and now they have. This is something of a welcome surprise, as the Eye joined the rest of the British media establishment in pushing the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. It has published letters by critics of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt, but always, or nearly always with other letters or quotes from people like Momentum’s co-founder, Jon Lansman, telling the world that the witch-hunt is absolutely correct and that the Labour party really is crawling with genuine anti-Jewish hatred.

Here’s the text of the letter

‘Dear Sir,

I am a long term reader of your magazine, which have greatly enjoyed. I have followed with interest your coverage of the mass accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party and the purges of those accused. I regret to say that I have found this coverage to be almost wholly one-sided. You have given little opportunity for the victims of what can only be described as a witch-hunt to speak for themselves. Worse, you seem to have blindly followed the media groupthink and automatically assumed that the Labour party did have a severe anti-Semitism problem, that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and that those accused were indeed guilty.

This left me somewhat perplexed, as your magazine has a strong tradition of criticising Israel and standing up for those, who have been falsely accused. I am offering you the opportunity to correct this bias.

Yesterday I received a message from the Labour Party Complaints Team informing me that I was being investigated for anti-Semitism, based on an article I had published on my blog as far back as 5th December 2020. In this I agreed with another blogger, Tony Greenstein, a proud Jewish critic of Zionism, that Zionism was an internalised Jewish version of anti-Semitism and that Israel is indeed a racist, colonialist state. The argument is supported by solid historical scholarship, quoting reputable historians and the major figures in Zionist history themselves.

I am not an anti-Semite, a form of racism that I find particularly abhorrent and have published very many pieces on my blog attacking it and other forms of racism, as well as its political expressions, Fascism and Nazism. I am determined to fight these false accusations and this attempt to suppress reasonable criticism of Israel by automatically equating it with genuine, despicable hatred of Jews.

Yours with very best wishes,

David Sivier, BA (Hons) History; MA History, PhD Archaeology.’

It’ll be interesting to see what response I get from the Eye’s other readers and the Labour party, if any. They’d very much like to keep this confidential, but this is to protect them, not me. As the NEC had absolutely no problem leaking details of Mike’s suspension to the press and apparently telling the Times that he was a Holocaust denier, their promises of confidentiality are absolutely worthless.

Lookalikes: Boris Johnson and Simian Double

September 5, 2021

Okay, I know it’s rather ad hominem, but it’s too good not to use. Private Eye have carried column for years entitled ‘Lookalikes’ which shows picture of various public figures, politicians, actors, sportsmen and women and pop stars, next to things that look like them for comic effect. I found a picture of Snowball the albino gorilla in an illustrated dictionary we’ve had since the 1970s, I was struck by the uncanny similarity to the simian creature now occupying No. 10.

Way back in the ’70s and ’80s there was nasty racist joke going round. It was a picture of Black man and a gorilla, and asked what the difference was. I’m not going to go further, because it is offensive, but you could ask the same about Boris and Snowball. What’s the difference between them? The gorilla is gentler, more intelligent, and doesn’t make the poor even poorer for the benefit of the rich.

Johnson’s Potemkin Hospitals

August 28, 2021

This government lies like Goebbels and the worst excesses of the former official Soviet press agency, TASS, combined. You cannot trust anything they say. Well, actually, I think there is probably a way to get to the truth from an official Tory statement. You do what Private Eye recommended you do for young Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father, William. You read what he says carefully, and then turn it all 180 degrees and then believe the exact opposite. Then you will have the real, exact truth.

Boris and his ministers have been boasting that they’re opening 40 or perhaps 48 new hospitals. They’re not. They’ve ordered the press to report every bit of building work on existing hospitals as the building of a new one. Yes, we’re dealing with ‘Potemkin villages’ here. Or rather, Potemkin hospitals. Potemkin was the Russian prime minister under Catherine the Great. Catherine shared Peter the Great’s determination to modernise and westernise Russia. It was she who opened the country’s first universities and imported western, chiefly German professors to teach there. The result was the growth of a Russian intelligentsia, highly educated, who were acutely aware of how backward their country was. Hence the development of a class of radically alienated, revolutionary intellectuals. Potemkin also claimed he was going to do something about the wretched condition of the Russian peasantry. New, modern villages were going to be built to raise their living standards. In practice, however, this is was impossible. So Potemkin had built a number of show villages, which I understand consisted simply of impressive facades with nothing behind, rather like the fake western towns built as movies sets for the cowboy flicks to display to Catherine. The term ‘Potemkin village’ has thus become proverbial for anything like that which is all done for show but lacks any substance. And this is what Johnson and his crappy crew are doing now.

Boris Johnson, our Potemkin prime minister, destroying the NHS by falsifying construction and improvement. All spouted by a compliant and complicity lying media.

The Guardian on the Failure of the West’s Occupation of Afghanistan

August 16, 2021

Simon Jenkins, one of the columnists at the Groan, has written a very interesting piece about the end of the west’s occupation of Afghanistan and the government it has protected. Jenkins begins his piece by stating that the invasion itself was absolutely unnecessary.

“The US had no need to invade Afghanistan. The country was never a “terrorist state” like Libya or Iran. It was not at war with the US; indeed the US had aided its rise to power against the Russians in 1996. The Taliban had hosted Osama bin Laden in his mountain lair through his friendship with the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. At an immediate post-9/11 “loya jirga” in the southern city of Kandahar, younger leaders pressed the mullah to expel Bin Laden. Pakistan would probably have forced his surrender sooner or later. After the 2001 invasion the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanded that George Bush “punish and get out”.

Yet neither Bush nor Tony Blair listened. Instead they experienced a rush of blood to the head. They commandeered Nato, which had no dog in the fight, and began “nation building”, as if nations were made of Lego. It would be an age, said the political scientist Joseph Nye, of the “velvet hegemon”. For reasons never fully explained, Blair declared a “doctrine of international community” and pleaded for Britain to be in the first bombing run over Kabul. He then sent Clare Short as the minister for international development to stop the Afghans growing poppies. Afghan poppy production soared to an all-time high, spreading from six to 28 provinces, probably Britain’s most successful farm product of all time. Opium floated the Taliban back to power.”

He goes on to describe the totally misguided optimism among the western forces when he visited the country in 2006, when he was told that the Taliban were all but defeated. Seven years later the Taliban had defeated us, and have now gone on to defeat the Americans. As a result, the soldiers, interpreters, academics, journalists and aid workers are seeing friends threatened and killed. The occupation has been colossally expensive. The Americans have supposedly spent a trillion dollars. It has cost Britain £37 billion.

He concludes that this demonstrates the complete failure of imperialism, and that the proper thing to do now is to establish good relations with the new regime in Afghanistan and its neighbours Pakistan and Iran. Even though Boris still wants to play at Britain being a great imperial power.

“How many times must it be drummed into British heads that the British empire is over? It is dead, finished, outdated, not to be repeated. Yet Boris Johnson has just sent an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea. Britain has no need, let alone right, to rule other countries, to “make the world a better place”. No soldier need die for it, let alone 454 British soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. The best Britain can now do is establish good relations with a new regime in Afghanistan – in liaison with Kabul’s neighbours Pakistan and Iran – to protect at least some of the good it has attempted to do this past 20 years. The world is not threatening Britain. Terrorism does not need state sponsors, nor will it be ended by state conquest.”

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/it-has-taken-20-years-to-prove-the-invasion-of-afghanistan-was-totally-unnecessary/ar-AANnrpv?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

It’s a good article, but I’d dispute Jenkin’s assumption on the continuing popularity of imperialism amongst the British public. When Blair invaded Iraq a few years later, two million people in Britain marched in protest. I think it was the biggest public protest ever at the time in Britain. I even recall that the Spectator and various Tory politicos were against the invasion, even though Niall Ferguson had previously raved about the new western imperialism in Afghanistan in the pages of the Heil. The British public weren’t given a choice about either invasion. The invasion of Afghanistan was sold to Britain and America as the justified reprisal for 9/11. The west wasn’t there to occupy the country, but to transform it into a modern, democratic state governed by western notions of human rights. Ditto with Iraq. It seems to me to have been mainly the opponents of these ventures, who recognised what this was really about and described it as such. There was an article in the conspiracy magazine, Lobster, calling Blair a ‘Gladstonian imperialist’ for example. I think some Guardian or Independent journos also described it as a kind of imperialism, but were also in favour of it because of New Labour support for the neo-con agenda. But there was supposed to be a difference between this new kind of imperialism and the old sort. Britain and America were to act as the world’s policemen, preventing tyrannical governments from engaging in genocide and other human rights atrocities, just as the US had intervened in the war in Yugoslavia and there had been calls for western intervention during the genocide in Rwanda. This was supposed to be very different from the conquests, occupations and annexations that had occurred in previous centuries. This means that many Brits probably didn’t see the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as imperialist.

But both were. And the real reasons were deliberately kept hidden from the British and American public. I’ve said before that the real reason for the Afghanistan invasion was the construction of a strategically important oil pipeline that the Taliban government had refused to build in collaboration with the US. William Blum, the late veteran critic of US imperialism, discusses this in some of his books, as does Michael Moore, the ‘capped crusader’, in his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. The Iraq invasion was intended to acquire the country’s oil industry and reserves for the American and Saudi oil companies, and the country’s state enterprises for American multinationals. The neo-Cons also had the dream of turning Iraq into the kind of low tax, free trade economy they wanted for America. They lowered import tariffs, so that immediately the rest of the world dumped their excess products in Iraq. Iraqi business couldn’t compete, there was a wave of bankruptcies and unemployment shot up to 60 per cent. All this is described by Greg Palast in his book, Armed Madhouse.

I also wonder if the Guardian really wants the British public to know how Blair lied to them. As their demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters showed, the Groan is thoroughly Blairite. One of the sources Private Eye used for its hit pieces on Corbyn and the anti-Semitism smears, according to the redoubtable Tony Greenstein, was a named Groaniad hack. The newspaper also wants to reassure the public that conspiracy theories are just fantasies and that governments, big business and other political actors don’t really engage in plots and secret plans. Hence David Aaronovitch has appeared several times in its pages to tell its readers that they don’t exist. I might, however, be wrong about this, and that Aaronovitch has published his views dismissing conspiracy theories in the Independent. Either way, what passes for the British left wing press has been extremely reluctant to admit that there was any kind of ulterior motive behind the invasions of these two countries.

But there was. The primary goal was to conquer them for the oil industry and big business. The result has been 20 years of war and chaos, and in the case of Iraq, the destruction of a whole country. The new imperialism of the neo-Conservatives has been a costly, bloody failure. It’s high time it was abandoned.

But I’m afraid that the same people who pushed these wars are still around and regrouping, as the speakers at an online left-wing Labour party rally against imperialism and colonialism described several months ago. I’m afraid they’ll come back, and push for another middle eastern war, most likely against Iran. All to protect Israel and liberate its people from the Islamic theocracy, of course.

And absolutely nothing to do with revenge for the Islamic revolution and the country’s nationalisation of its oil industry.

Starmer Finally Reveals Himself as Blairite

August 8, 2021

And what a sordid, depressing spectacle it is too! But we can’t say it wasn’t expected. One of the most dispiriting pieces of last week’s news was that Starmer had appeared in the pages of the Financial Times, declaring he was only intent on power and would take Labour back to the glorious policies of Tony Blair.

Yes, Tony Blair! The unindicted war criminal who pressured the intelligence agencies into ‘sexing up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein and lied about the dictator having weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within forty minute. This was all done to provide the pretext for an illegal invasion with his best mate, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. It was all done ostensibly to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. The reality was that it was all done so western multinationals led by the American-Saudi oil industry could grab Iraq’s oil reserves and its state enterprises. The result was the destruction of one of the most secular societies in the Middle East and its welfare state. The country’s economy was decimated as the neo-Cons turned into the kind of low tax, free trade state they’d like America to be, unemployment hit 60 per cent and society descended into sectarian violence and chaos. Women could no longer pursue careers outside the home, the American army colluded with local thugs in running deaths squads while the mercenaries also employed by the occupying forces ran prostitution and drugs rings and shot Iraqis for sport. Then, a few years later, Blair joined Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, and Immanuel Macro in helping to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy in Libya, with the result that one half of that country is in the hands of militant Islamists, who have re-opened the slave markets to sell Blacks.

Blair’s domestic policies have also been horrendous. Blair pushed the Thatcherite programme of privatising the Health Service into a much higher gear, so much so that it astonished some Tories. They remarked that he got away with doing more than they would have dared with Labour in opposition. Blair set up to the Community Care Groups, the doctors’ organisations charged with running doctor’s surgeries so that they could raise money privately and buy services from private healthcare companies. The new health centres and polyclinics he set up were also to be privately run. More contracts were given to private healthcare companies and more hospitals closed or turned over to private healthcare companies to run instead. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing more than kitemark on services provided by private healthcare companies. The same Milburn is in this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye following an article Milburn wrote in one of the papers calling for more of the NHS to be given over to private industry. Milburn is not a disinterested observers, as the Eye’s article shows his connections with any number of private healthcare companies.

This is the same Blair who gave positions in government, including regulatory bodies, to the chairmen and senior staff of big businesses that donated to him and his party. He applied the Public-Private Finance Initiative to industry as a whole, resulting in costs and delays massively increasing in public works projects. He favoured the big supermarkets over small, family run stores, thus putting many of them out of business. At the same time, the farmers who supply the supermarkets found themselves locked into extremely exploitative contracts.

He also carried on the Tories’ policy of destroying state education. Thatcher’s project of revitalising schools by privatising them as ‘city academies’ had been a failure and was actually being wound up by her education secretary, Norman Fowler. But Blair fished it out of the dustbin, rebranded them as ‘academies’ and forged ahead with the idea, even against local opposition. The result has been a series of scandals over schools run only narrowly religious lines with draconian and humiliating disciplinary codes. At the same time, the academies have also been criticised for seeking to maintain their academic standards through highly selective admissions policies excluding the less academically able and those with behavioural difficulties. These academies have been boosted with the expenditure of tens of millions on them while ordinary state schools are starved of funds. When this is taken into account, they don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools. In fact they often performed far worse, as a string of academies have folded or their schools taken back into state administration.

At the same time, Blair, Mandelson and co also demonstrated their hatred and contempt for the unemployed, the poor and disabled. They fully believed in Thatcher’s ‘Victorian value’ of less eligibility, in which the process of claiming state benefit was to be made as humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming it. Based on spurious, fraudulent research cooked up by American private health insurer Unum, they decided that most people claiming disability benefit were malingerers. The result was the infamous work capability tests, which were set so that a specific percentage of claimants were found to be ineligible and thrown off benefit. The result has been even more despair, starvation and deaths for hundreds of genuinely disabled people, who have had their only source of income removed. It was also Blair, who introduced workfare as part of his risible ‘New Deal’. Under the guise of teaching long term benefit claimants the necessary skills to get them back into work, the unemployed were handed over to work for various businesses and private sector organisations, like the big supermarket chains and charities. If they refused, they lost their benefits. Contrary to what Blair and his Tory successors claimed, this does not help unemployed people get back into work. In fact it does the opposite. The unemployed actually do far better looking for jobs and voluntary work on their own.

Blair also hated the trade unions, the working class organisations that have been part of the Labour party since it was founded in 1905 or so. The Labour party was partly set up to protect trade unions and their members. But Blair did everything he could to smash their power further. When he became head of the party c. 1997 he threated to cut the party’s ties with them if they didn’t back his reforms.

Yes, Blair won three elections, but the cost was a massive drop in membership and support amongst traditional Labour voters and activists. From this perspective, Jeremy Corbyn was actually far more successful, turning Labour into the biggest and best funded of the UK parties. This was through the simple technique of putting forward a traditionally socialist, truly Labour set of policies: end the privatisation of the NHS, renationalise the utilities, restore the welfare state, remove the restrictions on the trade unions and give working people proper rights at work. Corbyn became massively unpopular only due to a concerted campaign of personal vilification, but his programme was genuinely popular. Unlike Blair’s, who only won the election because almost two decades of Tory rule had made them even more unpopular.

But the Labour left and the continued popularity of socialism continues to worry the Blairites. Hence Starmer’s determination to purge the party of them, and most specifically socialist Jews. On Wednesday there was a Virtual meeting of left-wing labour politicos and activists on Zoom discussing Starmer’s continuing persecution on the Labour left. One of the great speakers quoted the late Tony Benn. Speaking during the purges of Marxists from the party in the 1980s, Benn stated that it would start with the Marxists, go on to the socialists and end with a merger with the SDP. It was all about protecting capitalism. Occasionally the party would be given a chance to govern the country, but nothing really would change.

And that’s really what you can expect from Starmer’s return to Blairism. It’s just going to be more Tory policies, put forward by people who claim to represent ‘real Labour values’ but who in reality have nothing but absolute contempt for the working class and the ideals of the people who founded the party.

As Mike has pointed out, it was clear which direction Starmer really was going from the outset. Despite his declaration that he would continue Corbyn’s manifest promises, he broke every one of them as soon as he could. He carried on the purges under the pretext of clamping down on anti-Semitism – and who knew so many anti-Semites were self-respecting Jews! – and then had the whip withdrawn from his predecessor. He has also done his best to destroy the party’s internal democracy, suspending individuals and constituency parties at a whim and imposing his own candidates against the wishes of local activists.

Somehow Starmer has managed to convince himself that a return to Blairism will be a vote-winner. Well, it hasn’t so far. Coupled with the islamophobia and anti-Black racism of his supporters, it’s led to the party massively losing members and working class support. The result has been a string of election defeats.

Blair was a mass-murderer, whose wars have turned the Middle East into a charnel house and whose economic and welfare policies have further impoverished this country and its awesome, hard-working people. But they kept capitalism secure and further enriched the already obscenely wealthy.

And to Thatcherites like Starmer and his supporters, that’s all that really matters. Expect Labour to lose, and continue to lose, with this open move to the right.

Private Eye: Starmer Appoints Pro-Tory Supporter of Middle Class as Head of Strategy

July 21, 2021

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye for 23rd July to 5th August 2021 has a very ominous piece, ‘Keir Review’, reporting that Blair Stalin, I mean, Keir Starmer, has appointed Deborah Mattinson as his new head of strategy. The satirical magazine reports that when she previously held such a post advising a Labour leader six years ago, she wanted him to hold a review into the party’s economic performance, headed by a Tory, and to go after middle class swing voters. In other words, it was more Blairism after Blairism had failed with the election of David Cameron instead of Blair’s chancellor and successor, Gordon Brown. The article reads

Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s new director of strategy at Labour, has the job of relaunching his ailing leadership. The last time Mattinson advised a Labour leader in 2015, offers some clues of what’s to come: back then she wanted the party to have a review of its economic performance that would be “headed by a Tory”, and to start focusing more on the middle class.

Mattinson is a “public opinion” specialist who has worked for the party on and off since the New Labour years. She and her company, Britain Thinks, specialise in focus groups: the company has lucrative contracts with the Home Office and does opinion research for McDonald’s, Capita and Virgin Money. She will be stepping aside from her role there to work for Labour.

Starmer’s appointment of Mattinson is part of his attempt to rejuvenate his leadership with what is briefed as an undefined but “bold” new direction. Her previous political prescriptions were certainly bold, but were not popular with the party.

After Labour lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, Britain Thinks produced a report for acting leader Harriet Harman called Emerging from the Darkness, advising how the party could recover from the defeat. The private report, which was leaked to ITV News, advised Harman to pull sharply to the right after the failure of Miliband’s modest move left.

One piece of advice was to commission an independent review of Labour’s economic performance in government “ideally headed by a Tory” – which Labour would publish because the party had to start “atoning for the past”. Mattinson also advised that Labour needed to “be for middle-class voters, not just down and outs.”

The report was based on conversations with focus groups of swing voters, relying on their opinion to form policy rather than just test potential messages. Harman did appear to follow the report’s logic, instructing Labour MPs not to oppose the government’s welfare bill or limiting child tax credit to just two children – decisions that were deeply unpopular in the party.

MPs, members and voters await the new direction the focus group guru will take Labour in now.

Basically, it’s going to be more Blairism: a return to neoliberal policies, the use of focus groups to test the popularity of policies, a concentration on the middle class to the neglect of Labour’s traditional base in the working class and absolute determination not to oppose Tory policies but to copy them. And her contempt for the working class is shown very clearly in the reference to ‘down and outs’. It comes after the massive success of Jeremy Corbyn in winning back Labour members and the popularity of his traditional Labour policies – a mixed economy, strong welfare state, renationalised NHS, powerful trade unions and strengthened workers’ rights – showed how bankrupt Blairism was. Under Blair, the party had been haemorrhaging members and the number of people who actually voted for it was lower than under Corbyn. Blair beat the Tories only because they were actually less popular than he was.

But all this has changed. It ain’t 1997 and these policies won’t work against a revived Tory party. Quite apart from the fact that they’re noxious policies that run directly counter to the Labour party’s whole raison d’etre. It was set up to defend and fight for working people, not abandon them and side with the employers and landlords who exploit them. But Starmer clearly hasn’t learned this lesson. Either he’s stupid and fanatical, pushing a set of policies long after they’ve been proved to be wrong and disastrous, or he’s deliberately trying to destroy the party. Either way, there’s a simple way to revive the Labour party:

Get the noxious Tory cuckoo out!

Kim Leadbeater – A Vapid Candidate for a Vacuous, Manipulative Leadership

July 3, 2021

Okay, the Batley and Spen by-election has happened, and the results are. The good news is that the extreme right-wing parties, who went there hoping to clean up, have all done spectacularly badly. I saw something that said they only got two per cent of the vote, and lost their deposits. So well done to the good voters of that constituency. More problematic is the fact that the Labour candidate, Kim Leadbeater, won, scraping through with a majority of 360 odd votes. As Mike’s pointed out in his piece about the election, this has effectively turned a Labour safe seat into a marginal. But Starmer has hailed it as a great victory, and according to one of the papers has told everyone that Leadbeater is the ‘future of Labour’.

I profoundly hope he’s wrong, but I fear that under is persecutory, opportunistic and factional leadership, he might be right.

Leadbeater was apparently parachuted into the constituency on a shortlist of precisely one. She was not even a Labour member until four months ago. She’s another Blairite Tory – I won’t say Tory lite’, as these scumbags may be more extreme in their views than the true Tories. Also according to Mike, in 2017 she was telling disabled people that there was no magic money tree for them. Despite the fact that the Tories raid the magic money tree whenever its convenient for them or their patrons, the superrich. Then there’s a whole orchard of the plants. As for her policies in this campaign, the Preston Journalist posted the video below analysing her electoral video. In it she talks about fighting local problems like litter and dog mess. This is all well and good, but as the Preston Journalist points out, it’s local authority stuff. MPs deal with bigger issues like attracting investment to the area. He also argued she made a mistake, in that, as the local council was Labour and so should have been tackling these issues, she’s attacking her own side.

I think there’s a simple reason behind her failure to articulate a set of policies: under Starmer, Labour doesn’t have any. There’s a policy review going on at the moment, but Starmer was elected promising to continue the great manifesto polices set by Jeremy Corbyn. Which he then promptly broke, ditching the policies, suspending the Labour leader and going on yet another witch hunt against his supporters. Like Blair, Starmer doesn’t really have any different policies. He’s a Tory, as are his supporters and the Blairite party bureaucracy. They have nothing to offer working people except more privatisation and the destruction of the welfare state and NHS for corporate profit. Like Blair, his whole election strategy seems to be to appeal once again to the middle class, swing voters and corporate donors, with the promise that somehow his administration will be more efficient at carrying out Tory policies than the Conservatives themselves. But as he has no real policies himself, he’s constantly flailing around trying to find an issue that he can jump on. The last one was trans rights. Before then he opportunistically took the knee to support BLM, even though he dismissed it when it broke out last year. Worse, he has shown himself entirely complacent and unwilling to confront real racism, and particularly the bullying of Black MPs and activists like Diane Abbott, in the party. Hence Black people are deserting the party in droves. So apparently, are Muslims.

One of the issues at the election was Kashmir. Simon Webb, the man behind the History Debunked Channel, produced a video discussing this in which he sneered at the Labour party. I’ve said many times before that Webb is a Torygraph reading Conservative, although he also said he didn’t have much time for Boris’ crew either. He’s a staunch critic of multiculturalism, and so said that it was a peculiar situation when an election in an English town could be decided by the situation in a country thousands of miles away. He also talked about pro-Palestinian demonstrations by Labour supporters in a neighbouring area, and then repeated the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s line that most Muslims are anti-Semitic. Webb is very pro-Israel, and he says he spent some time in Israel when he was younger working on a kibbutz, as many idealistic young people did way back in the 80s or so. He claimed that Muslim antagonism to Starmer’s leadership was anti-Semitic. They hate the Labour leader because his wife’s Jewish and his children are being raised in that faith. This is the first I’ve heard of it, and quite honestly I don’t care about the personal religious beliefs of himself or his family either. What matters far more is that Starmer has declared himself a firm Zionist, and continued the witch hunt against decent, anti-racist folk, including Jews and gentiles, who have fought real anti-Semitism, who have dared to make even the mildest criticism of Israel. As for Kashmir, Modi is a Hindu supremacist, whose party persecutes not just Muslims, but also Sikhs and Christians, as well as liberal Hindus concerned about his assault on democracy, plurality and interfaith tolerance. There are good reasons why people of all three of those faiths, and not just Muslims, should be sceptical about Starmer’s apparent backing of Modi. Muslims have an especially good reason to despise Starmer, because of the brutality of the Indian occupation. A month or so ago, Private Eye did a ‘Letter From Kashmir’ about it. Among other atrocities, this mentioned how Indian troopers were rounding up Muslim youths and then raping them. It’s a very good reason why people, who care about human rights, should be concerned about Starmer and his support for the Indian prime minister. But I doubt you’ll hear a word about this from Starmer.

Webb’s comments about Muslims, Kashmir and Palestine also shows the double standard behind the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism. According to this, which the Board of Deputy and its allied Zionist organisation were so keen to foist on the Labour party, it is anti-Semitic to claim that Jews are more loyal to another country. In all too many cases, this is true. Central to the real, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is the belief that Jews have no love or loyalty to their host nations, and are really more loyal to rival nations. At the time of the First World War, Jewish German businessmen like Mond were suspected by the xenophobic right of being more loyal to Germany, while in later years it’s been Israel. When the fear hasn’t been that the Jews are just more loyal to each other, of course, and are actively plotting to enslave their non-Jewish compatriots.

But that example of anti-Semitism also raises problems, as there are Jewish Zionists, who made no secret that their primarily loyalty was to Israel. One of the most notorious of these was the casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who made no secret that his first loyalty was not to his home, America, but to Israel. There’s a double standard in Webb’s attitude in that I assume he would find it anti-Semitic for Jews to be accused of such conflicting loyalties, but not British Muslims.

Back to Leadbeater, it seems to me that she was selected primarily because she’s the sister of the late Jo Cox, assassinated years ago by a Nazi. She’s also a lesbian, and while this shouldn’t make any difference to whether someone’s suitable for a political career, I think support for gay rights and anti-racism are also a part of the Blairite political ideology and one of the few areas that mark the Labour party as a party of the left. It’s been pointed out that Blair was a liberal, not a socialist. He ditched the party’s Clause IV, pledging it to nationalisation, but retained the concern for tackling prejudice against minorities, which is a liberal policy. But Starmer’s complete lack of interest in retaining Black and Muslim voters shows that he’s not really interested in anti-racism either. And as the Tories also claim to support gay rights since David Cameron’s leadership, and Johnson has marked Pride week or month by decorating the front of No.10 in Pride colours, I don’t know how far support for that issue differentiates the two parties.

The mad right-winger, Alex Belfield, also couldn’t resist the opportunity to take another swipe at Diane Abbott. Abbott, apparently, congratulated Jeremy Corbyn for Leadbeater’s victory. To Belfield, this is yet another demonstration of how stupid she is. Well, I can’t say Abbott is my favourite MP, but I think she’s right. Under Corbyn, Labour’s majority in the constituency was 8,000. I think Leadbeater’s election was helped by the scandal about Hancock’s affair and subsequent resignation, but I’m sure that it was also helped by some of those, who had voted Labour under Corbyn, continuing to support the party.

Before the election, people were predicting that Labour would lose and it would spell the end of Starmer’s leadership of the party. That hasn’t happened, and it looks like he’s still going to hang on. But it’s not a stunning victory, and the Tories know it. Sargon of Gasbag and his fellow Lotus Eaters put up a video afterwards laughing at how terrible the result was. While it’s good that Labour was able to hang on to the seat after the humiliation of the previous elections, it’s still doesn’t dispel the fears of further electoral disaster.

Together, Leadbeater and Starmer decimated the Labour majority in Batley and Spen, showing how much of a busted flush Blairism is and why Starmer still needs to go as party leader. But he’s determined to hang on, and so we can expect further and worse results in the future.