Posts Tagged ‘Socialist Party’

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Jeering and Anti-Democrat Party Revolt in America

August 13, 2016

Last week I put up a piece commenting on the considerable anti-Corbyn bias in Private Eye. The Eye has run a series of articles attacking the Labour leader since he won the election, including a series of cartoons, mainly raking over controversies from the 1980s from the angle of the Blairites, entitled ‘Focus on Fact’.

In its issue for 5th-18th August 2016, the magazine ran another series of pieces attacking Corbyn. One of these was the following satirical commentary.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Joke

It shows a photograph of Corbyn side by side with the American Democratic Party politicians and presidential nomination hopeful, Bernie Sanders. If you can’t read it, the text runs

Spot the Difference 2

America

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following accepts that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

Britain

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following refuses to accept that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

It’s a spectacularly bad piece of political analysis, but it shows very clearly the very strong bias towards the Democrat and New Labour political establishment running through the Eye. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned against Hillary Clinton, was denied the Democratic nomination through dirty tricks. The Democratic establishment and party machine under Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the caucuses in Shrillary’s favour through the use of superdelegates, along with other machinations. The result has been a major political scandal. Sanders’ supporters turned up to protest at the Democratic National Convention the other week complaining that they were silenced. Sanders stepped aside, and urged his supporters to vote for Hillary, despite the fact that she stands for everything that he and they oppose: corporate power and corruption, the indiscriminate use of military force, the overthrow of democratically elected left-wing regimes and their replacement by brutal fascist dictatorships, further welfare cuts and poverty in the American heartland. It’s been pointed out by The Young Turks that Sanders was massively more popular than Shrillary, and stood a far better chance of beating Fuehrer Trumpf. But Bernie was too left and radical for the Democratic establishment to stomach. So they knifed him in the back, just like the Labour rebels are doing to Corbyn.

And the discontent generated by the Democrats’ betrayal of Bernie Sanders is challenging the entire American two party system. Counterpunch has run a series of articles commenting on the way younger, radical Democrat supporters are now turning to the Green party and Jill Stein. Geoff Dutton ran a piece in the magazine, ‘Let’s (Third) Party’, arguing for the inclusion of third parties in the American ballots to stop Clinton and Trump. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/05/lets-third-party/
More recently, the magazine’s columnist, Barbara Ellis, wrote a piece entitled ‘Found – A New Major Opposition Party’, arguing that a third mass party was emerging from voters dissatisfied with the way the two dominant parties follow the agenda of the major corporations against the wishes and interests of the 99 per cent. This is partly based on the history of American third parties, like Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party, which emerged in the 1930s, and became so powerful that the Democrat party sought to make it part of their umbrella organisation. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/10/found-a-new-major-opposition-party/

The Young Turks and related radical internet news programmes have also commented on the growing support for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, and the bitter resentment against a corrupt political system that denies severely ordinary Americans a voice. In the clip below, for example, The Turks’ reporter Jordan Cheriton talks to a young political scientist professor, Rex Troumbley, at the Green Party convention. Troumbley teaches at Rice University, and was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. He then switched to the Greens when the Democrats did the dirty on the people’s candidate. Troumbley explains very clearly why young millennials are dissatisfied with the two party system, a system that is ‘set up to disenfranchise’. He makes the point that they are far more receptive to radical views about their nation’s history – those that take into account the fact that the Founding Fathers hated and feared democracy, the genocide and dispossession of the Amerindians, slavery, Jim Crow and the rest, rather than the upper-class White male perspective pushed by establishment outlets like Fox News and the Republicans. And these kids want radical change.

In the piece from The Young Turks below, Jordan Cheriton talks to Bernie Sanders supporters, who have formed the Demexit campaign, modelled on Britain’s Brexit. Just as Britain, in their opinion, left the Union when it felt it was no longer part of it, so the Bernie Sanders’ supporters are leaving the Democrats to move to Jill Stein and the Greens because of the way they are not represented by Shrillary and the establishment Democrats.

And I could go on. Clinton and Trump between them are the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history, ever. In a recent poll, only 27 per cent of American voters were happy with Trump’s finger on the nuclear button. And Clinton was only marginally higher at 38 per cent. And the dissatisfaction is growing. The Liberal hosts of one American political programme on MSNBC went into absolute meltdown the other day when they found out that John Negroponte had endorsed Hillary Clinton. Negroponte’s a truly heinous individual. He was one of Reagan’s people responsible for arming the death squads in Latin America, amongst his other crimes against humanity. Jimmy Dore, another reporter from the TYT, made a point of criticising them for only just waking up to how horrible HRC was, after they had criticised her opponents, like the Turks, as ‘misogynists’ and ‘Bernie Bros’, and derided Susan Sarandon as ‘insane’.

I’m putting this up because, although it’s American, it parallels what’s happening over here with the attempts of the Labour establishment to stick the knife into Jeremy Corbyn. The Blairites are corporate warmongers exactly like Clinton. Tony Blair modelled New Labour on Clinton’s New Democrats, which took over the pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-welfare policies of the Republicans. Private Eye and the Blairites sincerely wish that the Labour left, who have found a voice with Jeremy Corbyn, will shut up and abandon him, leaving them to continue the same policies of courting the middle classes and the corporate establishment, including the right-wing media, while privatising everything and destroying the welfare state. They’re aghast that the working class they have marginalised, ignored and sneered at are supporting Corbyn and abandoning neoliberalism. But, looking at what’s going on in America shows that removing Corbyn won’t change anything. He’s started a grassroots movement. If they get rid of him, people will leave the Labour party en masse, and a major third party will emerge from his supporters. It could be either the Greens, or parties like the TUSC, the Socialist Party, or Left Unity. Or it could be a completely new third party. Either way, the demand for a genuine, socialist alternative will remain, and it will challenge the Labour establishment. Regardless of the lies and spin the Blairites and Private Eye want us to believe.

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Book Review: The Great City Academy Fraud – Part 2

July 13, 2016

Academy Fraud Pic

Francis Beckett (London: Continuum 2007)

Poor Staff Conditions

Both New Labour and the Tories have regurgitated endless amounts of Thatcherite verbiage about ‘choice’, when hyping their schemes to take education out of the control of local authorities. In fact, parents and teacher frequently have little choice over how academies are run. The funding agreement gives the power to make decisions regarding school management to the sponsor. These agreements get rid of all but a token representative from the parents and school staff on the school governors’ board. The staff governor may not even be a member of the teaching staff. They are free to set their own pay, terms and conditions, and are outside the regulations governing the conduct of teachers. New Labour was early faced with public opposition when they announced that teacher employed in academies would not have to belong to the compulsory professional body that makes sure teachers are actually fit to teach children. Blair and his team boasted that this was all part of the freedom academies enjoyed from the regulations binding conventional schools. Somebody pointed out that if this regulation was unnecessary, then surely it should also be repealed for ordinary schools. And if it wasn’t, then the regulation should be enforced in academies. At that point, New Labour decided that the regulation did apply, and backed down.
Several of the academy chains, including one run by 3Es, won’t recognise trade unions. These have massive staff turnover, including headmasters. Some of these are hired for truly eye-watering sums. One head, who formerly ran the King Solomon Jewish school, was taken on by an academy for £120,000. This chap eventually left as his experience running a faith school did not prepare him for the problems of coping with a mainstream school, whose children were taken from a variety of ethnic and faith backgrounds.

Refusal to Take Difficult Pupils

Conditions for pupils may not improve either, especially for children with behaviour problems. Academies have tried to keep up their appearance of improving standards frequently by excluding some of the most difficult children, who may find their school career, and their entire lives, wrecked as a result. One school managed to excluded 246 or so of its student population of 700-odd. Beckett provides a couple of cases showing what happened to some of the unlucky children, who were expelled. Except that, technically they may not be. They can exclude someone in a particular manner, so that it’s not technically an exclusion. And if it’s not technically an exclusion, then the Local Education Authority does have the statutory responsibility to find another school for them. This happened to a lad, ‘Jack’ – not his real name – who was excluded, and effectively confined to home for five months. The lad suffered from depression anyway, which was made worse. His mother reported that he then spent all his time in his room, not coming out even for his meals. Another boy, who was excluded, also found that no-one else was prepared to take him on. He ended up not doing his GCSEs. He did manage to get a vocational qualification at a local college, but as this is not an academic qualification, he will suffer at finding a job, and be unable to get into university.

And it isn’t exactly fun and games for the teachers, either. They’re frequently only hired on six month contracts, just in case they start getting a bit too settled and too powerful. One woman was assaulted by a boy in her class. He was not expelled, and the woman understandable felt anxious about going back to work. So she took a little bit more time off. Only to find that, as she was on a six-month contract, she was not paid for the extra time.

No Choice for Parents and Local Authorities

And parents and local authorities have also been penalised if they refused to get in-line and ‘on message’ with the Blairite diktats. Local authorities are expected to consider building academies when trying to renovate and improve schools in their areas, and the onus is always on changing to an academy. If a local authority refuses the government’s command to turn their school into one, the government responded with a scorched earth policy. No further money would be forthcoming for that area’s schools.

And Blair was both doctrinaire and personally vindictive towards those schools that refused to bend, or stubbornly remained ‘good’ in Ofsted reports. Documents revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show that Islington Green School, which Blair was desperate to close, were actually rated good by the school inspectors, despite Chris Woodhead, the-then head of Ofsted, declaring that it was failing. There then followed a long campaign to have the school closed and transformed into an academy. Quite why is unknown, but Beckett speculates personal spite on the Warmonger’s part. The Blairs lived in its catchment area, but they sent their children over the other side of London to be educated at the London Oratory. The press seized on this, and the Dear Leader was embarrassed. So it looks like the school was failed for political reasons, to make it seem less like Blair wasn’t sending his children to it purely for reasons of personal snobbery.

In other areas, parents were subject to full set of New Labour spin and vilification if they put up protests against plans to close their schools and turn them into academies. One man, who was part of a campaign to save his local school, came under personal attack in the subsequent court case to save the school from closure. He was a member of the Socialist Party, what used to be the Militant Tendency, when it was part of the Labour party. And so New Labour seized on that, and claimed that he was only opposing the academy plan because of his political opinions. Not true, but that was how the local New Labour party spun it. Their Labour MP also sent out a very carefully worded letter to her constituents, that asked them to tick two boxes. One said that they were in favour of raising school standards involving a transfer to academy status. The other box said that they were not in favour of raising standards through academy status. Or something like that. It was carefully phrased to make it sound like the only way to improve standards was through changing to an academy. If you weren’t behind it, you weren’t in favour of improving school standards. It was the New Labour educational variety of the old leading question, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’

Mazzini’s Reply to the Today’s Cynicism about Democracy’s Founders

May 31, 2014

Giuseppe Mazzini

There’s considerable cynicism today about politics and the effectiveness of voting. Some of this is justifiable to a certain extent, coming from the fact that all three of the main political parties – Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives – have embraced Thatcherite neoliberalism to a greater or lesser extent. So much so, that many people cannot see any real difference between them, and so despair of there being any effective change in policy. As a result, they either don’t vote, or else vote for UKIP. The Kippers present themselves as being qualitatively different from the Liblabcons as they put it, but are in fact merely the extreme Eurosceptic Tory Right which has somehow managed to find a largely Left-leaning working class constituency.

Apart from this, there is a facile cynicism about democratic politics, expressed in sneers at the motives of the people who fought and died for modern citizens – Britain, Europe and indeed across the globe – to have the vote. They are seen as acting purely in their own interest, not that of succeeding generations. You sometimes see the comment posted up on the web and made elsewhere at elections that ‘They fought for themselves to get the vote, not for me’.

T’ain’t true, as the great Italian patriot, revolutionary and democrat Giuseppe Mazzini made clear. Mazzini was an early 19th century Italian nationalist, who wanted to see the Austrian Empire expelled from the peninsula, and its multitude of states united into a liberal, democratic Italian nation. Although a patriot, he also believed firmly in the brotherhood of humanity, and from the middle of the 1830s used ‘nationalist’ as a term of abuse. He ultimately wanted a federation of peaceful, free, sovereign states. He declared although it was necessary to struggle for national freedom against foreign oppression, patriotism should be no obstacle to ‘the brotherhood of peoples which is our one overriding aim’.

He was also very much aware that democratic revolutions and uprisings could and did fail before their ideals would be victorious. Nevertheless, the ideas that motivated the revolutionaries would continue to develop and spread even when the revolutionaries themselves had been cut down. He believed that the next revolution would see the triumph of freedom and democracy in Italy and Europe, and looked to future generations for their fulfilment. In 1839 he wrote that modern revolutionaries ‘labour less for the generation that lives around them than for the generation to come; the triumph of the ideas that they cast on the world is slow, but assured and decisive.’ (Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (Little, Brown 2008) 18).

So you have it from the mouth, or the pen, of one of the great architects of modern European democracy itself: the revolutionaries did not fight and die merely for themselves, but for us.

Cynicism about the increasingly identikit nature of the parties will only change when they do, and that will mean long, hard work by activists or the victory of genuinely alternative parties, like the Greens, Socialist Party or TUSC. The facile cynicism about the motives of the 19th century founders of democracy can be combatted by showing the words of the revolutionaries themselves, people like Mazzini, who looked to future generations to fulfil their dream of a world of peace, democracy and international brotherhood. Let’s do our best to honour their vision and sacrifice.