Posts Tagged ‘‘Red Tory’’

Sun’s ‘Red Tory’ Propaganda Shows Conservatives Scared of Corbyn

May 20, 2017

Remember when the Tories and their baying lapdogs in the press were all howling that Jeremy Corbyn was unelectable? They’re still trying to make this stupid and risible claim, but the increasingly hysterical puff pieces about Theresa May show that they really believe the opposite: They’re scared that he’s all too electable.

Looking through the newsagent’s yesterday, I glanced at the cover of the Scum. Its headline proclaimed that May’s manifesto showed that she was a ‘Red Tory’. They even hailed it as ‘Socialist’.

All lies of course. There’s nothing remotely ‘Socialist’ about it – it promises more privatisation, more cuts and more poverty and misery for the poor. Standard Tory policies. But it also shows that the Tories are very afraid of the Labour party manifesto and the return of real Socialism under Jeremy Corbyn.

The nonsense about May being a ‘Red Tory’ is just a rehash of the way David Cameron tried to rebrand his party in his campaign against Blair and Brown. It’s also the title of a book by his mentor, Philip Blond, which tried to argue that under Cameron, the Tories would be the true friends of the working class, citing episodes from the early 19th century when paternalist aristos like Lord Shaftesbury passed the Factory Acts and other legislation to improve conditions for workers in the mines and industry. He also spouted a lot about the Russian anarchist, Peter Kropotkin.

This was all part of Cameron’s campaign to present himself as being more left-wing than New Labour. He promised to ring-fence and protect funding for the NHS. He and the Tory faithful also went out and campaigned against hospital closures.

It was all a front, with absolutely no substance behind it, of course. Once in power, Cameron threw out all these promises, and did the exact opposite. He carried out with a programme of cuts and privatisation, including that of the NHS. This included Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act which removes from the secretary of state for health the obligation to provide healthcare, along with further legislation allowing the NHS to be broken up, sold off to private healthcare firms, and to charge for services.

Just as May is doing even now.

And to make sure that people didn’t remember how they’d been lied to, the Tories started removing their election pledges from their website, in a blatant rewriting of history, which would be familiar to anyone who’s read Orwell or knows a thing or two about Stalin.

Blair and Brown were easy targets for the ‘Red’ Tory approach, as they were neoliberals, who were also determined to privatise the NHS, and many of their policies were directly lifted from the Tories. Like the Private Finance Initiative to hand government infrastructure over to private firms to build and operate, including hospitals. It was easy for the Tories to pretend to be more left-wing than them, as the Tory ‘wets’ probably were. The Tories complained about Labour’s hypocrisy over these privatisations, stating quite correctly that they never dared to go so far when they were in power, as the Labour party would have bitterly and entirely rightly criticised them for it.

One in power, however, Cameron and the Tories changed their tune, and proved to be even more extremely right-wing than New Labour.

The return of this piece of shop-soiled propaganda under Corbyn conveys a rather different message, however. The Blairites and the Tory press were howling last year that Corbyn was a ‘Trotskyist’, leading dreaded Marxist radicals to infiltrate the party. The line is that his policies will lead us all back to the 1970s. And, in any case, Corbyn is ‘unelectable’. The British public don’t want his policies, and will prefer instead the neoliberalism that has kept them poor for the past forty years, as preached and followed by Thatcherite politicians like Tony Blair, Dave Cameron, and Theresa May.

But by trying to paint May as a ‘Red’ Tory with ‘Socialist’ policies, however risible this claim is, the Sun has tacitly admitted that they, and their Tory masters, are dreadfully afraid that Socialism and Jeremy Corbyn are genuinely popular, that neoliberalism is no longer popular as an economic and social policy, and that unless they try to paint May as somehow a ‘one-nation’ Tory, Corbyn is only too likely to get elected.

So let’s make their fears come true. Vote Labour on June 8th to end Tory rule and bring prosperity back to Britain’s real working people.

More ‘Red Tory’ Bilge from May – But Is Anyone Taken In?

July 14, 2016

Announcing that she had won the Tory leadership contest yesterday, Theresa May made a speech declaring that she was going to continue the Tories’ work making a more equal society, which would not just be for the privileged few. She had also uttered something on Monday about supporting workers’ representatives in the boardroom. This impressed one of the more gullible journos in the Independent. He raved about how, if he was May, he’d call a snap election and destroy the Labour party. After all, Labour was tearing itself to pieces in the fight between Jeremy Corbyn and the Blairites. And May’s promise to put workers in the boardroom, and support the working poor, were clearly policies that only the most tribal of Labour supporters would ever reject. If May did this, said journo boasted, she could knock down Labour to only 20 per cent of the vote.

I say the journo was ‘gullible’. Actually, I don’t think he was anything of the sort. I think he was a bog-standard cynical Tory propagandist, doing what the Tory press have always done: lying for their favourite party.

Labour considered introducing worker’s representatives into the boardroom in the 1970s. According to the Fabian pamphlet I blogged about the other day, there was even a White Paper drafted. This would have given workers up to fifty per cent of the members of the boardroom in the nationalised industries. There were even two trial experiments in workers’ representation at the time in the Royal Mail and British Steel. Both were discontinued. Tony Benn was a staunch supporter of worker’s boardroom representation, and he was thoroughly vilified for it by the Tory press. It was partly due to this, and his support for wider nationalisation, that every single paper in the 70s and 80s depicted him as a wild-eyed fanatic. The opposite was the truth. Benn was a considered, thoughtful man, who listened very carefully to everyone’s opinion before making up his mind. This was the opinion of those who worked with him, including the head of Bristol’s Chamber of Commerce.

There’s a kind of irony here, in which a policy, which terrified the Tories at the time, was trotted out by them to show that Theresa May somehow cares about us proles. It’s rubbish. She doesn’t, and the fact that she’s trying to con people with it says all you need to know about how little she differs from Cameron.

It’s more ‘Red Tory’ nonsense, the same kind of stuff Philip Blonde wrote about in the book of the same title, in order to get his protégé, David Cameron, elected. Blonde’s book plays up the support the early Victorian Conservatives gave to the nascent working class movement, for example in the passage of the Factory Acts and 10 Hour Bill. He also waxed glowingly about the virtues of Kropotkin, the great 19th century Anarchist. Kropotkin was and remains one of the great figures of Anarchist thought, and his book, The Conquest of Bread, has now been issued in Penguin Classics. Kropotkin was a bitter critic of the poverty and misery produced by capitalism and the state, but he was no advocate of violence, like Bakunin and Nechaev. In the last chapter of Fields, Factories and Workshops, he describes the anarchist workers taking the means of production into their hands, and peacefully extending the contact of the emerging anarchist commune into the surrounding countryside. It is the statists, the bourgeois parties, who are responsible for the killing during this Revolution. The Anarchists, meanwhile, simply go about their business of building the new, libertarian communist society.

Yes, ‘communist’. As well as criticising the state and capitalism, Kropotkin also believed, like other Anarchists, that the ideal society could only be created, and conditions for humanity genuinely improved, when everyone controlled the means of production, distribution and exchanged. He shared the same vision of the abolition of private industry and agriculture as the Marxist Communists. He just believed that it could be done directly, with no need to create a powerful centralised state.

While Tories like Cameron like the idea of ‘rolling back the frontiers of the state’, as Thatcher and a young William Hague once droned on about, none of the modern Tories has time for anything like the nationalisation or socialisation of industry. Indeed, they’re determined to privatise as much as possible. And anything they can’t privatise, they try to cut to the bone and close down. See the NHS, schools, and your local library, swimming baths and other local services for examples of this ad nauseam.

May’s utterances about workers in the boardroom is more of this sort. It’s an attempt by part of the Tory party to try to present itself as being ‘caring’ about working people. Cameron very carefully positioned himself as such in the run up to the 2010 election. He promised to ring fence funding for the NHS, and he and the other Tories campaigned against the closures of local hospitals. For a time, he looked more left-wing than Labour.

It was all a lie. Nothing new there generally, and it was just the first of many to come out of Cameron’s administration. Once through the front door of No 10, all this radical stuff evaporated, and it was full steam ahead with cuts, NHS privatisation and grinding the workers into the dirt. And it’s been like that ever since. May’s declaration that she’s in favour of workers in the boardroom, and helping the working poor, is just more of this ‘Red Tory’ mendacity. None of it is anything beyond PR, spin and doubletalk.

What she’s really going to be like can be seen from her cabinet. One of those to whom she gave a post, for example, was Priti Patel, the ‘curry queen’, and one of the authors of the infamous screed, Britannia Unchained. Patel and the rest of her cohorts argued in their wretched little book that British workers had better knuckle down, and work harder for less, just like the peoples of the Developing World. So, not the workers’ friend then.

Neither is Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose effortlessly genteel and condescending manner also hides – or not, as the case may be – the fact that he too is a member of the Tory right, who has backed Cameron’s policies of privatisation, cuts and immiseration all the way.

May has no interest in helping the poor, whether they’re working or not. And I do wonder at those, like the Indie journo, who would have us believe that she does. Do they really believe we’re that gullible? Is that how cynical they are about the British public. From all the evidence, it appears at the moment that they are.

Vox Political On the Bitter Injustice of the BHS Collapse and Philip Green’s Third Yacht

April 26, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also put up a piece about the most bitter part of the collapse of BHS: its chairman, Philip Green, was a serial tax avoider, who took £400 million out of the company. He bought himself yet another yacht, to add to the two he owned already. The company collapsed, throwing 11,000 people out of their jobs, and with £571 million black hole in its pension funds.

Mike urges its employees who voted Tory to take a long, hard look at what this says about the treatment of employees under David Cameron. It says that corporate bosses can get away with keeping their wealth, while their workers get nothing.

The bitterest part of the BHS collapse: Philip Green’s third yacht

This isn’t the first company that’s collapsed through lack of investment thanks to free trade economics. There have been others, and the economic thinking behind it is the first target in Han-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The Russian Anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, also had a few choice things to say about the businessmen of his time, who deliberately limited production to keep the profits from their products high, which is similar to Green starving his company of funds for his own enrichment. In his essay, ‘Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles’, Kropotkin wrote:

But the figures just mentioned, while showing the real increase of production, give only a faint idea of what our production might be under a more reasonable economical organisation. We know well that the owners of capital, while trying to produce more wares with fewer ‘hands’, are continually endeavouring at the same time to limit the production, in order to sell at higher prices. When the profits of a concern are going down, the owner of the capital limits the production, or totally suspends it, and prefers to engage his capital in foreign loans or shares in Patagonian gold-mines. Just now there are plenty of pitmen in England who ask for nothing better than to be permitted to extract coal and supply with cheap fuel the households where children are shivering before empty chimneys. There are thousands of weavers who ask for nothing better than to weave stuffs in order to replace the ragged dress of the poor with decent clothing. And so in all branches of industry. How can we talk about a want of means of subsistence when thousands of factories lie idle in Great Britain alone; and when there are, just now, thousands and thousands of unemployed in London alone; thousands of men who would consider themselves happy if they were permitted to transform (under the guidance of experienced agriculturists) the clay of Middlesex into a rich soil, and to cover with cornfields and orchards the acres of meadow land which now yields only a few pounds’ worth of hay? But they are prevented from doing so by the owners of the land, or the weaving factory, and of the coal-mine, because capital finds it more advantageous to supply the Khedive with harems and the Russian Government with ‘strategic railways’ and Krupp guns. Of course the maintenance of harems pays: it gives 10 or 15 per cent on the capital, while the extraction of coal does not pay – that is, it brings 3 or 5 per cent – and that is a sufficient reason for limiting the production and permitting would-be economists to indulge in reproaches to the working classes as to their too rapid multiplication! (Peter Kropotkin, ‘Anarchist Communism’, in Nicolas Walter, ed., Anarchism & Anarchist Communism (London: Freedom Press 1987) 34-5).

Kropotkin was appropriated by Cameron’s ideological mentor, Philip Blonde, in his book, Red Tory. It’s not hard to see why. Kropotkin as an Anarchist favoured the elimination of government, and was impressed by the achievements of private organisations, such as the Lifeboats and the international postage and railway systems, which lay outside of an overarching regulatory body. But Kropotkin was also a communist and a bitter critic of the poverty created by modern industrial capitalism. Blonde used his anarchist ideas to provide some kind of left-ish underpinning to Cameron’s idea of the ‘Big Society’. The latter was really only flimsy disguise for traditional Tory privatisation and laissez-faire capitalism. Whatever you think of his anarchism, Kropotkin deserves better.

Boris Twists Facts on Europe and LGBT Rights to Promote Brexit

April 5, 2016

Tory Lies Drawing

It goes without saying that the mendacity of this government runs so deep, that every liberal claim they make should be taken with a whole mountain of salt. To get at the truth, all you have to do is listen to what Cameron or the other lying puppets of the corporate elite say, and turn it through 180 degrees. You will automatically be correct.

Cameron scraped in at the 2010 election, when he wasn’t voted into power, by pretending to be more left-wing and liberal than Tony Blair. Philip Blonde, his political mentor, filled his book, Red Tory, with pages about how the Conservatives had passed laws benefiting the working class in the 19th century (true), and said nice things admiring the great Russian Anarchist, Kropotkin. The book was also full of accurate criticisms of neo-liberal economics. Reading the book, you could fool yourself, if you didn’t know otherwise, into thinking that the Tories were then going to reposition themselves slightly to the left of Bliar. Well, the Speccie had taken an ant-War stance against the invasion of Iraq, so it could seem vaguely plausible. Cameron himself strode around claiming that he was going to ring fence NHS spending to save it from the austerity cuts that were coming to sort out the problems with the banks. Essential services were going to be preserved. He even claimed that his government would be the ‘greenest ever’, and stuck a windmill on his roof, to show he meant it.

Of course, he didn’t mean any of it. Not a single word. Once in he started cutting the NHS budget massively, and vastly expanded the creeping privatisation that was coming in under Bliar and New Labour. The Public-Private Finance Initiative, which Osbo said he would abolish, has also been kept, along with the wretched sanctions regime over at the DWP. And no, he definitely had no intention to abandon workfare, not while it was supplying so much cheap labour at starvation level to his corporate backers. As for Green policies, he’s doing his level best to introduce legislation to allow the fracking companies to trash the environment. Renewables are being cut, and nuclear power is suddenly the way forward again. Always assuming the Chinese don’t decide they’re not, after all, going to build the power station at Hinckley point.

And that windmill has definitely come off his roof.

Boris, a man even the Tories decry as an utter cad and a wrong’un, has shown his own duplicity by throwing his lot in with Brexit, to the dismay of Dave Cameron, and the high delight of everyone, who enjoys a good fight in the Tory ranks. And, still being a Tory, BoJo has decided that he’s going to try to promote Brexit by presenting it as a liberal movement, which will benefit oppressed minorities. The Open Democracy website has posted a story about how the notoriously heterosexual Mr Johnson, has appeared on a video with the LGBT Brexit group, Out and Proud. Johnson claims that staying in Europe is a major threat to the civil rights gay and trans people have won over the past few years. He claims that this is all due to the benign views of the Tory government. And of course, the European Union is poised to take them all away.

The truth, of course, is exactly the reverse. Cameron did finally grant gays the right to get married, though this was in the teeth of determined back-bench Tory opposition. It also built on previous Labour legislation, which sort of opened the door to it in the form of Civil Partnerships. The OpenDemocracy article begins:

In his recent video for the LGBT Brexit group, ‘Out and Proud’ Boris Johnson, with typical disregard for the facts, asserted that the U.K.’s progressive attitudes on LGBT rights were entirely the work of “us, the British people”. By implication, ‘Europe’ had contributed nothing. The reality is very different. Europe’s two main organisations, the Council of Europe and the EU together did much to create the momentum for change in the late 1990s and early 2000’s. This followed 17 years of Conservative government which, far from progressing LGBT rights, supported the introduction of a law that prohibited local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality.

The Council of Europe’s main contribution came through a series of rulings against the UK under the European Convention on Human Rights. These condemned discrimination in a number of areas, including the criminal law in Northern Ireland, the unequal age of consent, the ban on LGB employees in the armed forces, and the failure to provide adequate legal gender recognition procedures for trans people. They compelled the Blair government to initiate legislation, leading to extensive parliamentary debates over a number of years that in themselves did much to change public attitudes.

Yup, it was the Council of Europe and the EU that challenged the legal discrimination in British law. And Mike points out in his article on this issue that the Tories attempted to keep a lid on the teaching of progressive views on homosexuality in schools with the notorious Clause 28 introduced by Maggie Thatcher. That was the one that banned schools from promoting homosexuality as an equal lifestyle to schoolchildren.

The article goes on to discuss how Boris is warning about the terrible position of gay and trans folk in eastern Europe – in Poland, Hungary and other parts of eastern Europe. That’s true, and some of the most brutal persecution is in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The article describes the armed attack by the police and local authorities on a gay rights march in Ukraine. However, it points out that Ukraine, and the other former eastern bloc nations have had to revise and tone down their hatred of homosexuals and the transgendered, if they wish to get into the EU, or establish good relations with it.

And on the subject of homophobic governments, Putin’s regime in Russia has come in for considerable criticism because of his attempts to clamp down on gays in his country. The last time I looked, however, Russia wasn’t part of the European Union. So whatever he’s doing to gay people there, he’s not doing it as an EU leader.

The OpenDemocracy article is at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nigel-warner/boris-is-wrong-lgbt-people-should-oppose-brexit

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/05/boris-is-wrong-lgbt-people-should-oppose-brexit-opendemocracy/

And Mike’s article makes it very clear that if Britain leaves the EU, all the legislation that currently protects gay people is vulnerable. The Tories hate and despise the EU because of the Social Charter, which gives workers some minimum rights, as well as its human rights legislation, which they’d also like to get rid of. They’d much rather replace it with a British Bill of Rights, which would be much weaker.

So don’t be fooled. BoJo is lying yet again. He can’t help it: it’s in his nature and that of his party. If Britain does leave Europe, the position of gay people will be consequently weaker. And if the homophobic wing of the Tories gain ascendancy, any liberal legislation conceding equality to gay men and women is very vulnerable.

IDS Has Resigned, But Curb Your Enthusiasm…

March 19, 2016

Someone just as bad if not worse will probably be around shortly.

The big news this morning is that Ian Duncan Smith has finally walked. Several of the commenters on this blog posted pieces about his resignation late last night, with due expressions of not the slightest bit of grief. In fact, quite the opposite. Much joy was felt by them and indeed by very many other people up and down the country. And who can blame them! Ian Duncan Smith is, after all, the wretched mass-murderer, who has used the benefits sanctions regime he inherited from Bliar’s New Labour to immiserate hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Under him, 590 people have died of starvation, poverty and neglect. Some by their own hand. A quarter of a million more have been pushed into anxiety, depression and mental illness. And for all that he’s resigned as head of the DWP, IDS is still head of a party which has forced 4.7 million people into ‘food poverty’. That, to you and me, is being literally on the breadline and not having enough to eat, or wondering where your next meal is coming from.

I’m surprised that he’s resigned, but the signs were all there. Over a week ago he was whining about how unfair it was for people to blame him from the hardship and misery his cuts were causing, when it was Labour that started them. Well, Blair and Brown did. But he and Cameron got in by pretending that they were going to be more left-wing, more caring than New Labour. That was the central promise of Philip Blonde’s book, Red Tory. And I distinctly remember George Osborne telling everyone that he was going to end the disastrous Private Finance Initiative, that’s saddling the country with mountains of debt for the profit of private companies running public services. But that’s another election promise the Tories conveniently forgot once they were in power.

Mike over at Vox Political has written several pieces commenting on Smith’s departure.

In his first piece about it, Mike urged a note of caution before we accepted that there was anything altruistic about Smith’s motives.

Yes, it’s great that he has gone. But I don’t think it’s over a matter of principle, no matter what he might say. Iain Duncan Smith has lied far too often for me to take anything he says at face value.

No, he’s either trying to be clever about the EU referendum, lining himself up to be in Boris’s good books if the vote goes against Cameron and Osborne, or he’s putting distance between himself and the Department for Work and Pensions after a judge ruled that potentially damning documents about Universal Credit must be published.

It seems the documents may show that Duncan Smith (I can’t be bothered with the nicknames – feel free to substitute ‘RTU’ or ‘the Gentleman Ranker’ if you like) misled Parliament and the public, time and again, about the floundering new benefit system.

Sick and disabled people will remain the targets of brutal benefit cuts. The unemployed are still enmeshed in a Kafka-esque nightmare of conditions they have to satisfy in order to draw their benefit. Social housing tenants are still persecuted by the Bedroom Tax.

Duncan Smith happily presided over more than £28 billion worth of cuts in payments to the most vulnerable people in the United Kingdom. That’s why This Writer doesn’t believe he has had a crisis of conscience now.

You can read the rest at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/19/never-mind-the-ides-of-march-its-the-march-of-ids/

I think Mike’s right. This has far more the look of a piece of political manoeuvring than any kind of statement of principle. Mike in the above states that IDS resigned when the cuts he was complaining about had already been shelved. Which is a curious way to protest. He also put up this piece, reporting a story in the Mirror that Nadine Dorries has stated that IDS begged her to vote for the cuts just before he decided to walk. See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/19/nadine-dorries-slams-iain-duncan-smith-for-begging-her-to-vote-for-disability-cuts-before-resigning-mirror-online/

In the statement from IDS reported on the TV news, Smith has apparently claimed that the reasons he resigned is because the cuts demanded by George Osborne were falling entirely on people of working age. This bears out what Mike reported in another of his pieces written about Smith’s resignation today: that he resigned from frustration at being blocked from killing pensioners. Mike writes:

Okay, it might not have been framed in quite the way expressed in the headline above, but that’s what the latest claims about Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation seem to be saying.

The allegation is that he was unhappy that the Conservative Government was continually targeting its cuts on working-age benefits, and wanted pensioners to take some of the pain as well, contrary to a directive from prime minister David Cameron that senior citizens’ benefits are not to be touched.

He would have taken away universal pensioner benefits like free bus passes, together with the winter fuel allowance and cold weather payments.

The effect of these cuts would have been a large increase in pensioner deaths – as predicted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance when that organisation suggested such cuts, only a few months ago.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/19/iain-duncan-smith-quit-because-he-wasnt-allowed-to-kill-pensioners-claim/

The Taxpayers Alliance, you understand, is the astroturf organisation the Beeb turns to whenever there’s a debate about government expenditure. This is the pressure group that campaigns for further reductions in taxation. It claims to be politically independent, but its leadership is composed to a man of paid-up members of the Tory party. It’s at best a satellite of Tory fellow-travellers, if not actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tory Party Plc (People lying continually). A few months ago they were urging the Conservatives to cut pensions, arguing that it wouldn’t have any effect on the party’s electoral fortunes, as by the time the election came around, all their victims would have died anyway. This is what passes for humour at Taxpayer Alliance Towers as they’re waiting for sentencing for tax fraud.

Mike’s report has more than just the ring of truth. I can remember Mike himself posting a piece a few years ago reporting that there was some friction between the Unctuous Spawn of the Baronet of Ballymoney, George ‘Lionel’ Osbo, and the Gentleman Ranker. Osborne wanted cuts that could only come from inflicting them on pensioners, according to IDS. As this is one of the demographic groups where Tory support is the strongest, Osbo rejected making them share the burden of the cuts as being ‘very courageous’, in the sense deployed by Sir Humphrey Appleby. Now it seems this report is essentially correct, and IDS has resigned rather than face the continued frustration of having to concentrate on killing and impoverishing those of working age, rather than killing and immiserating the elderly.

There is a bright side to this though! The street wags and practical jokers have been up and out with the jolly japes. Mike has a picture up of the fake ‘missing person’ ads which have been placed on a lamp-post asking where the great man is.
Answers on a postcard, please.

URGENT! Missing person alert!

The Books Published by Ian Duncan Smith to Support his Culling of the Disabled and Unemployed

February 13, 2016

IDS Bird Crap

An avian critic giving IDS the benefit of its informed reading of his Foundation’s books.

A few weeks ago I found some of the little books published by aIDS think-tank in one of the second hand bookshops in Cheltenham. They were paperbacks, with a plain white cover edged in red. One of them was on welfare reform. The other was on race and race relations. Neither of the books looked as though they were published by the Tory party or one of its ideological satellites. Indeed, the red edging if anything could suggest that it was actually a left-wing publication. The blurb on the back, however, showed its right-wing provenance clearly enough.

The book declared that the welfare system had to be reformed – in other words, made tougher – because the real problem with poverty in this country were multigenerational communities in sink estates across Britain, where nobody worked, and people simply didn’t want a job. The book argued that Britain should import the American welfare system, which in some cases had reduced welfare spending, or the people on it, by 40 per cent!

The booklet wasn’t by aIDS. It claimed, however, to be published by the Social Justice Foundation or some such organisation with a similar name. The Social Justice Foundation or whatever it’s called is the Spurious Major’s pet little think tank. He set it up in order to justify his welfare reforms. It was part of the Tories’ attempts to make them appear left-wing, by dressing up right-wing policies and attitudes in the language of Socialism, in order to appeal to the working class. There are a number of other organisations within the Tory part that have adopted the same tactic. It’s all part of Philip Blond’s ‘Red Toryism’, which was simply Blue Toryism under a guise of left-libertarian references to Kropotkin and 19th century Tory paternalism. It became a dead letter as soon as it served its purpose and Cameron got in. Then it was back to the same old Neoliberalism, mass privatisation and the destruction of the welfare state. It was a tactic the Nazis adopted in order to appeal to the radical German working class, right down to using the colour red as the background colour for the Swastika. Just as aIDS’ think tank edged their publications with red to make them look socialist. And the Nazis also forced the people they considered ‘workshy’ into the concentration camps.

The central argument supporting the book and aIDS policies have been disproved again and again, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. The multigenerational families where nobody has worked by and large don’t exist. Not in America, and not over here. You can find the arguments against their existence in Owen Jones’ Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class. They’ve been reblogged by Mike over at Vox Political, and the Angry Yorkshireman. And many, many others. It’s the great lie that supports the Republican and British Conservative assault on the working class. ‘Look, there’s nothing wrong with the economy. It’s just that you’re all too lazy to get a job!’

I didn’t bother looking at the book on race. There’s only so much ignorance, hate and mendacity you can reasonably be expected to take from these people, and especially on a really emotive subject like race and race relations. I thought I’d mention the books here, just in case anyone else runs into them, and to point out where this rubbish is coming from: it’s basically IDS’ pet scriveners, taking their cue from across the Atlantic.

Avoid. Unless you have a strong constitution.

Words from the Southern US to Describe Ian Duncan Smith

February 3, 2016

ids-slug1

I’ve been going through dictionaries of slang, turning up words and turns of phrase that describe the current head of the DWP, and minister in charge of culling the unemployed, sick and disabled. One of them is ‘Gentleman Ranker’, a 19th century term which described a broken gentleman, who was forced to serve as a private soldier. One of the rumours going around about IDS is that, contrary to his claim to have been an army major, he flunked the course at Sandhurst and was R.T.U.’ed – returned to unit. IDS certainly has pretensions to gentility, and so the term suits him admirably. And looking through You All Spoken Here, a compendium of words and phrases from the southern US, I found a few more terms that could be imported over here to describe this least honourable of Honourable Gentlemen. These are:

‘Coattail politician: One who depends on the favour of a more successful political figure.’ IDS has been an abject failure on his own. His stint as leader of the Tory party was a disaster, as has been his management of the DWP. He is massively incompetent, and his big idea – the consolidation of all the various welfare benefits into a single, Universal Credit, has been marked since its inception with massive cost overruns and postponements. It seems to me that he owes his whole position in the cabinet to his vocal support for David Cameron. And it seems to me that it is only Cameron’s power that’s keeping him there.

‘Snollygoster’: The book defines this as

A tadpole; a pretentious boaster; a political shyster. The Dictionary of Americanisms quotes “a Georgia editor” as defining snollygoster as “a pretentious boaster” and a “fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principle, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.”

Whatever “talknophical assumnacy” is, deponent knoweth not. But we know the editor quoted was Colonel H.W.J. Ham. He was great shakes as a platform speaker, circa 1890, and on the northern lecture circuit was known as “the Cracker Chaucer.”

The Colonel’s son, Walter Ham, said his father applied the snollygoster tag to “a fellow who is continually side-wiping around after a little office which he can’t get, and which ain’t got sense enough to fill even if he could get it.”

President Harry S. Truman, in his whistle-stop campaign in 1952, renewed interest in the term. This when he applied it to “a group of Republican obstructionists – men of little minds and mean aspirations – who have put party above country and have worked for votes instead of peace.” “Republican snollygosters,” he called them.

The article ends by stating that the term originated as a colloquial word in the south for a tadpole.

It also fairly accurately describes IDS. He is indeed a vain boaster. He claimed that his benefit reforms would end poverty, and likened himself to the great anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce. He has also claimed to have a degree from an Italian college or university, even though that particular institution doesn’t issue first degrees. His management of the DWP is massively incompetent, and he seems to have zero scruples whatsoever.

He and Cameron won their first campaign going round slum estates and expressing concern about poverty in Britain. The book, Red Tory, by Cameron’s political mentor, Andrew Blond, made Cameron’s Conservatism seem more left-wing than Blair’s Labour administration. Once actually in power, of course, the mask came off, and it was back to privatisation, stringent welfare cuts, and the demonization of the poor, the underprivileged, the unemployed and the disabled as usual. Cameron also declared that his ‘would be the greenest government ever’. That also went by the board very quickly. Once in office, Cameron ditched the windmill he’d put over his front door, and set about passing laws to allow fracking, build nuclear power stations and generally set about avoiding any kind of environmental regulations. And now he and Osbo have decided to cut the subsidies for renewables. And despite Osborne’s statement that all this austerity and hardship is to cut the deficit, it’s actually gone up under the Tories. So in that respect, just about the entire Tory front bench are snollygosters.

It’s time to call them what they are, and throw them out of government for good.

Meme on the Good Old Days of Child Labour

January 13, 2016

This is another meme I found on the Tumblr site, 1000 Natural Shocks.

Meme Child Labour

In Britain, the first steps against child labour in mines and factories was taken by Lord Shaftesbury, who was a Tory. Credit where credit’s due. Philip Blond, Cameron’s mentor, cited him in his book Red Tory, as an example of Conservativism, which benefited the working class. Given the way so much of what he was forecasting about Cameron’s ‘Red’ Toryism has been proven to have been just rhetoric, it’s fair to say that Blond’s book was just propaganda. The Conservatives did pass many laws in the 19th century that benefited the working class, but they’ve always been solidly opposed to trade unions and organised labour. Disraeli told the 19th century Marxist leader, William Hyndeman, flat out that the Tories, business and the aristocracy would resist to the utmost any efforts by the working class to gain concessions for themselves.

So, regardless of what Lord Shaftesbury did, the Tories are trying their best to reintroduce the exploitative employment practices of the 19th century, of which child labour is only the worst and best known.

Private Eye on Think Tanks Funding Political Conferences

February 16, 2015

One of the key causes in the corruption of British politics has been the way the different political parties are being lobbied and funded by the same, almost exclusively right-wing think tanks. These organisations provide the parties with advisors and sponsor debates and events at the various political conferences. As a result, while the parties themselves have changed, the Thatcherite policies they have pursued have remained unchallenged. Not only is this influence corrupt in itself, but it’s also led to the British voting public becoming alienated and disenfranchised. They feel with some justification, that there is little difference between the parties, and that they are being sidelined and ignored in favour of big business.

Private Eye published a piece on this issue in their edition of 21st September – 4th October 2012, listing the various think tanks and describing their links to various politicians and ministers.

Conference Callers

Party members may see conference season as their chance to be heard, but judging by the brochures put out by think tanks, the grassroots will have a job making it past better-funded rivals from the business lobby.

Over the summer, the Eye acquired prospectuses from several think tanks looking to recruit sponsors for debates at the forthcoming Tory, Lib Dem and Labour conferences.

Reform, a think tank with Tory links, tells potential sponsors it can set up “successful events attended by ministers and shadow ministers, special advisors, MPs, MEPs and council leaders”, among them minister for welfare reform Lord Freud, housing minister Mark Prisk, employment minister Mark Hoban and the Foreign Office’s Henry Bellingham.

Lest anyone mistake the purpose, any “partner organisation” – ie company willing to pay for access – can use roundtable events or dinners with “around 20 high-level participants” to put their own “insights into the relevant policy debate at the beginning of the meeting”.

Not to be outdone, ResPublica, run by David Cameron’s “Red Tory” guru Phillip Blond, offers potential “partners” a chance for “intimate discussion over diner with select stakeholders and policymakers”, plus the opportunity to “contribute” to the choice of subject and speaker for meetings with ministers.

Meanwhile the Social Market Foundation (SMF) is touting “an excellent standard of service to our sponsors”, including the chance to “shape the key questions for debate” and “input into the speaker line-up”, with top totty on offer to include Lord Freud (again), Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, prisons and probation minister Crispin Blunt, universities minister David Willetts and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Trendy think tank Demos urges companies to cough up for events and roundtables potentially hosted by the prime minister or chancellor, with sponsors getting the chance for “conversations that link their policy agenda to contemporary political issues”. And Policy Exchange, the Cameroonian think tank, trumpets its “competitive sponsorship package”: as well as potential access to ministers, a few broad themes scheduled for debate will be honed after … conversations with sponsors.

Think tanks have tax-free charitable status based on their lofty aims to improve public policy. How does offering commercial interests the chance to pitch ideas to ministers over dinner fit that mission?

Clearly, it doesn’t. If politics in Britain is to be improved, and its people to be given a genuine choice between the parties, and have a real voice in how their country is governed, the corporatists think tanks need to be thrown out. Removing their charitable status, except for those rare occasions where they might, actually, represent charities, would be a start.

Adam Curtis and Brooker’s 2014 Wipe: Putin and the Postmodern Politics of Control through Confusion

January 26, 2015

Charley Brooker

Charley Brooker: Master of the Baleful Gaze of Criticism

‘Confuse your enemy and you confuse yourself!’

-General ‘Mad Bloody Butcher’ Cheeseman, The Fall of the Mausoleum Club, (Radio 4, 1985).

I found Charley Brooker’s review of last year, Newswipe 2014, over on Youtube. Assisted by Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas, Brooker casts his jaundiced eye over last years’ events, and inveighs against the horrors and stupidity therein, both of themselves and in the media, that reported them. Brooker’s comments are masterpieces of highly inventive scorn and outrage. Cunk and Shitpeas, for their parts, are highly intelligent people, who satirise the news by posing as complete morons for whom even a relatively straightforward film like ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ is beyond their comprehension.

Brookers’ angry nihilism, in which he sees recent events and the latest offerings of the world’s celebrity-obsessed media as proof that we live in an absurd, pointless universe, wherein human civilisation is a bad joke about to collapse, and Cunk and Shitpeas’ faux naïve and inane comments are amusing enough. What lifts the show into another dimension entirely is a short film by Adam Curtis, on the way politicians are using the feelings of helplessness created by the terrible events replayed across our TV screens as an instrument of control.

Curtis is the director of the superb documentaries The Living Dead, The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, and How We Lost Our Dreams of Freedom. These explored how politicians used and abused theories of history, psychology, game theory and simplified models of human behaviour based on computer models, to boost their own power, while depriving the people they claim to represent of the power to change their destinies and better their lives. In this film, he explores how politicians, both those in Putin’s Russia and in Britain, have created an absurd, meaningless view of contemporary events in order to maintain their power by keeping their peoples deliberately confused and off-balance.

Tserkov, and the Politics of Spectacle and Subversion

This tactic was invented in Russia by Vladimir Putin’s advisor, Vladislav Tserkov, who has spent 15 years aiding Russia’s elected tsar. Tserkov was an avant-garde artist, and important elements from Conceptual art into Russian politics. The Soviet Regime has staged and promoted a series of gatherings and spectacles as part of its campaign to mobilise Russian support. But he has also gone further, giving funding to groups directly opposed to his master and each other, from Neo-Nazi stormtroopers to Human Rights activists. He has also deliberately let everyone know he has done this. This has produced a radical destabilisation of the opposition, as it is no longer clear what is authentic and genuine, and what is carefully staged propaganda. The result is an enervating feeling of defeat.

Tserkov has even found a way to profit from the terrible civil war now raging in Ukraine. Last year he published a short story about how politicians could practise what he called ‘non-linear warfare’. In this, the gaol is not to win the war, but to use it to spread further confusion. The aim is to create a situation in which no-one really knows who the enemy is, or why they are fighting.

Cameron’s Absurd Government and the Politics of Despair

Curtis goes further, and argues that a similar condition is present in this country. Although not deliberate, the confusion created by politicians’ contradictory policies and actions has had the same result. He identifies Cameron as the British counterpart of Tserkov’s shape-shifting, non-linear politician, and gives the following examples of his government’s contradictions and confusion:

* Aging deejays are prosecuted for their historic crimes, but not the bankers, whose actions have created the current global economic mess.

* We are told that President Assad is evil. However, his Islamist enemies are worse, so we end up bombing them, thus helping Assad.

* George Osborne says that the economy is booming, but wages are going down.

* Gidiot says that they are cutting the national debt, but the deficit has actually increased.

*The government is pursuing a policy of austerity, taking money out of the economy. They are, however, putting it back in through ‘quantitative easing’.

Quantitative easing is the massive subsidy and bail-outs the taxpayer is giving the banks. It amounts to £24,000
per family. This has not gone to the poor, but to the richest five per cent. It is the biggest transfer of wealth, and could be a real scandal, but nobody knows anything.

Because there is no effective counter-narrative offered to the above policies, the public similarly feels defeated, disempower. The response is ‘Oh dear’.

But, says Curtis, that’s exactly what they want you to think.

Baudrillard

Tserkov’s Co-Option of the Society of the Spectacle

From here, it looks like Tserkov took hold of the Society of the Spectacle, and adopted it as a deliberate policy. The Society of the Spectacle was a theory developed in the 1960s by Baudrillard, the French postmodern philosopher. Baudrillard believed that capitalism survived ideological attack, by taking over its opponents weapons and then re-presenting them as spectacles. The forms had been preserved, but their ideological power had been drained and discarded. Way back in the ’90s, one of the small press magazines devoted to the weird and bizarre gave the Glastonbury Festival as an example. When it started, it was very definitely a fringe, countercultural event. It’s very existence was a challenge to mainstream culture. Now it is very much a part of that same mainstream culture. Instead of seeing the bands for free, you are now charged tens, sometimes hundreds of pounds for a ticket.

The former Soviet Union, like all totalitarian regimes, had a deliberate policy of staging fake demonstrations and events in support of the regime. There’s an old story from a very public school teacher, who organised a trip for her girls to the former USSR. One of the planned outings for the day was disrupted by a noisy Soviet peace demonstration. The headmistress duly complained to the authorities, who reassured her, ‘Do not worry, ma’am. This spontaneous display of the people’s anger will end at 2.00 pm precisely’.

Subverting Situationism

Where Tserkov differs is that he has gone beyond this, using the ideas of Situationism and turning them back on themselves. The Situationists were hippy anarchists, who organised a series of spectacles to subvert mainstream, ‘straight’ society. Malcolm McLaren, the founder of the Sex Pistols, claimed to have been a Situationist, but this was just a bit of self-aggrandising hype on his part. The tactic hasn’t gone away with punk and the hippies. It’s still used by contemporary anarchists to use comedy, humour and spectacle to satirise and subvert capitalism and its organs of oppression and control. Tserkov has learned from this, and turned it against the opposition, using the very methods of liberation from capitalism and the state as weapons for their preservation and extension.

Non-Linear War, Vietnam, ‘ Nomad’ and ‘Deathlok the Demolisher’

As for Tserkov’s theories of non-linear war, you can trace these back to the feelings of disempowerment and confusion in 1970s in America created by Vietnam and Watergate. The Vietnam War presented ordinary, patriotic and freedom-loving Americans with terrible reports of their country’s atrocities against another people, all in the name of freedom. Despite the unequal status between the two countries, the war dragged on for decades, and the American public saw the friends and relatives killed, and many of those that returned home stricken with terrible physical and psychological injuries. This result was a feeling of anomie and despair. The nation’s self-confidence took a further blow with Watergate, when even the supreme leadership were shown to be corrupt.

Captain America Forswears his Country

That feeling of alienation and national disenchantment found expression in the comic strips of the day. American comics began to explore political issues, including racism, feminism and the abuse of the media to aid in crime and foment hate. It was perhaps expressed most forcefully by the actions of that most patriotic superhero, Captain America. The Captain is a symbol of everything good and noble in American society. In the strip, he had been created as a super-soldier to fight the forces of evil in the shape of the Third Reich, a storyline followed in the recent film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Faced with his country’s corruption, the Captain changed his name and costume to become ‘Nomad’, a superhero without a country.

Deathlok

Deathlok: Robocop against an Anonymous Enemy

Post-Vietnam disillusionment and confusion found further expression in another Marvel strip, Deathlok the Demolisher. Deathlok was a cyborg created from the mechanical reanimation of an American army officer. The strip was set in a future America devastated by a terrible war, in which whole cities have been abandoned. To fight the war, the government has taken to creating cyborg soldiers, vicious killing machines like Deathlok, which are engineered to enjoy killing and maiming. A battle with a rival cyborg destroys the mechanisms controlling Deathlok, allowing the human side to reassert itself, and the man inside to go on a quest to recover his humanity. In flavour, the strip very much resembled Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop, with its cyborg hero, robotic killing machines and a city devastated by crime and political neglect. Unlike Robocop, which came out later, the strip made it deliberately unclear what the point of the War was, or even who soldiers like Deathlok had been created to fight. The suggestion was that it had all somehow been staged by the government, to divide, terrorise and rule.

There are no cyborgs slugging it out on the streets of Moscow or Kiev, but the depiction of ‘non-linear war’ looks exactly like the shattered America in Deathlok.

Tory Lies Drawing

Shifty Cameron, Austerity and the Enrichment of the already Wealthy

As for Cameron, he is indeed a protean, shape-shifting politicians, adopting guises only to abandon them when he got into power. Remember when he said that ‘this would be the greenest government ever?’ It didn’t take long for that to go once he got his foot through the front door of No. 10, along with his promises about the health service and the abandonment of the market economy so proclaimed by his mentor, Philip Blond, in his book, Red Tory.

The transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich is not confusing by any means. It’s been a feature of American politics for decades, where the government has pursued a policy of austerity for the poor, and subsidies and tax breaks for the rich. It’s only confusing because the extremes of poverty and wealth created by the banking crisis has thrown into very acute relief.

Assad, Islamism and the Paradoxes of the Modern Middle East

As for Assad, this is the product of Western politicians genuinely not understanding the politics of the Middle East. They pursued idealistic goals that ran in direct contradiction to the perceived good of the nations to which they were applied. Assad and his counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya were dictators, who held power through terror and brutality. Western governments see themselves as defenders of democracy and freedom, and so felt bound to support the popular revolts that broke out in the Middle East during the ‘Arab Spring’. Yet however undemocratic these regimes were, they were also secular, Westernising regimes that ostensibly promoted liberal policies of religious tolerance and personal freedom and relative gender equality to an extent which the Islamic and Islamist regimes that sought to replace them did not. The result has been the volte-face from seeking to oust Assad, to trying to combat his enemies in order to preserve his secular, Ba’ath regime.

Time to Reject Failed Neo-Liberalism

All of this has had a disempowering effect, because the parties have moved so close together, that there is little apparent difference between them. They are still attempting to apply discredited economic and foreign policies, while hiding their failures.

It’s long past the time when this situation changed, and politicians began thinking out of the Neo-Liberal box.