Posts Tagged ‘Steve Howell’

Arise Festival Online Events against Blair and NHS Privatisation

February 4, 2022

I got an email today from the Arise Festival of Labour Left Ideas about a number of forthcoming online events. Two were about Latin America and Cuba, but the two that really interested me were against Blair’s knighthood and NHS Privatisation.

The brief notices about these events ran:

“1) FORUM: No to Blair’s Knighthood – No Return to Blairism

Thursday 10 February, 18:30. Register here // Share & invite here // Retweet here to spread the word.

With: Steve Howell (Deputy Director, Strategy & Communications for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017) , Rachel Garnham (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) & Sami Ramidani (Iraqi anti-war campaigner.)

Tony Blair’s knighthood has provoked a massive backlash – come & find out more about Blairism – & what it represents & means today. With plenty of time for questions & discussion.

Hosted by Labour Outlook. Kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) DIARY DATE: Ending NHS Privatisation – For a National Care Service.

Monday, 21 February 2022, 7pm  Register here 

The Second of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs online policy seminars being organised throughout 2022 – in partnership with the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Momentum – looking at the key policies we need to be raising and how we build the movements to win these policies.”

I haven’t registered for them yet, but I think I probably will as I strongly support both these causes. Blair took us to war against Iraq on a lie, a lie intended to justify the plundering of Iraq’s oil and state industries for the benefit of the American and Saudi oil conglomerates and American multinationals. There’s footage of Gorgeous George Galloway angrily telling one of the New Labour women who cheered and organised the Labour benches for this war that she’s responsible for the deaths of a million people in Iraq. I’ve got mixed feeling about the Glesgae bruiser. Sometimes he says things that are absolutely brilliant, at other times he acts like a self-centred publicity seeker. This time I think he was spot-on. Innocent people died, including our best and bravest in the armed forces, not to defend our great nation from a real threat to be get the already bloated rich even richer and more bloated. It destroyed what was, by middle eastern standards at least, a relatively secular welfare state. A society where women could safely pursue careers outside the home. It created a monstrous society instead where Sunni and Shia Muslims had to be separated in Baghdad by peace walls, as in Northern Ireland. There were sectarian deaths squads running amok with the connivance of the American proconsuls running country, and the mercenaries brought in as peacekeepers ran drugs and prostitution rings. Oh yes,, and they killed ordinary Iraqis for sport. The situation was so dire that one American diplomat went home and gave public interviews denouncing the occupation.

A million or two severely normal Brits marched against the invasion. I think it was the biggest mass protest ever. One of those was one of my parish priests at the time. The satirists Bremner, Bird and Fortune attacked the warmongering prior to the invasion. The Tories opposed it, which was a first. I suspect this was simple opportunism, but in some cases it was genuine. The right-wing journalist, Peter Hitchens, continued to attack Blair for wasting the lives of British servicemen and women. A friend of mine even read the Spectator for a time because of its anti-invasion stance.

And Blair ignored it all. The result was a wrecked country, which allowed the expansion of Iranian influence there and, with the rest of the Neo-Con policy in the Middle East, created the conditions for the emergence and expansion of Daesh and their campaign against civilisation.

Millions of people have either died or been forced to flee their homes, contributing to the migrant crisis. The economy was destroyed, people thrown out of work, women forced back into their traditional role and businesses destroyed. But Starmer wants to bring Blairism back, telling everyone that it’s going to be a vote winner.

It ain’t. Blair’s popularity at the time declined and its suffered even worse in the intervening years as more people have woken up to how harmful so many of his policies were. Not just in Iraq, but on the economy, industry and the NHS. Because Blair shared the Tory desire to privatise the health service.

If this country is ever to have a government that genuinely respects and cares for ordinary people, and which pursues a sane, just, humane policy in the Middle East, it’s only going to be through genuine socialist values and the vision of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Tories must go, and Blairism must be consigned to the dustbin.

Scab Starmer Refuses to Fill Employment Rights Shadow Post

December 1, 2021

This is very telling. Mike’s put up a piece this morning reporting that Keef Stalin has effectively abolished the post of Secretary of State for Employment Rights. The post was created in 2018 by Jeremy Corbyn, who appointed Laura Pidcock to it. Andy McDonald has been removed from it and so the post is now vacant. The peeps on Twitter weren’t slow to condemn the move and point out what it means. Damian Willey tweeted

Starmer hasn’t filled the vacant position of Shadow Minister for employment rights. The ‘party of the workers’ doesn’t represent workers rights on its own frontbench anymore. Perhaps he’ll appoint a shadow minister for donors, its what Keith prefers.

Which is fair comment – Stalin is ignoring ordinary, subscription-paying Labour members in order to appeal to the corporate donors he hopes will welcome the return of a New Labour government. And Steve Howell commented

It sums up Starmer’s politics that he’s cancelled the post of shadow secretary of state for employment rights. Presumably, it’s not needed because ‘when business profits, we all do’.

Actually, I think it’s significant that Starmer hasn’t abolished the post. It’s just kept vacant and ignored. My guess is that if someone actually raises it, he’ll try and justify himself by saying that no, it hasn’t been abolished, they’re just looking for the right person to fill, or some nonsense like that.

With the position now vacant, Mike asks what the Labour party now stands for. Good question. The party was founded as a federation of trade unions and socialist societies to fight for trade union rights and decent pay and conditions for working people. During the last four decades of Thatcherism, these have been decimated, including by Starmer’s molten idol, Tony Blair. Workers don’t need less rights – not when so many are caught and exploited in the gig economy with zero hours contracts and so on. But Starmer is clearly trying to appeal to that party of the Tory electorate that blames the unions and bureaucracy for stifling business and demands workers rights are cut even more in order to free business. Brown had the same attitude. He believed the labour market should be more fluid – by which he meant that business should be more able to hire and fire people. Well, we’ve had four decades of this assault on workers’ rights, and all it’s created is a cowed, poor, starving workforce, many of whom have to use food banks to support themselves because their pay is so rubbish.

These are the policies Starmer supports. He’s a Tory through and through, trying to transform Labour into another Tory party.

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