Posts Tagged ‘Tax’

Commoners Choir – ‘These Are the Bastards’

May 5, 2022

And now, as the late, sorely missed computer-generated video jockey Max Headroom said, ‘More – of the same’. Here’s another deeply satirical musical attack on the Tories and their backers in industry, the media and the aristocratic landlords from Commoners Choir and their channel on YouTube.

It’s presented as a school lesson, showing us the bastards who underfund everything, rarely work, don’t pay tax, print lies, fiddle accounts, and frame our laws. The bastards making money responsible for starting wars, play golf while damning the poor, privatising everything they can while going grouse shooting, and tell lies. The same people who botched the response to the Coronavirus, failed to prevent further deaths by going into lockdown as soon as possible, botched supplying the protective masks and equipment. The Tory and industrial elite that deliberately don’t employ enough staff and underpay those they do, curtail public rights of way, cut grants and condemn the sick. The aristos and toffs who use public school arithmetic to drag everything back to the 19th century and before. They are arms merchants, landowners, the proprietors of the news media, and the rich figures who hypocritically front appeals while enjoying obscene wealth themselves. It also has a go at beardie Branson for suing the NHS and then grovelling for the state to bail him out. It ends with the request that people remember what they learned today, with images of people demonstrating against the privatisation of the NHS and the message spoofing the government’s own warnings about the Coronavirus – ‘Stay alert> Stop the bastards> Save Lives.

It’s less music than an old-fashioned schoolroom chant accompanied with the images of the offenders themselves. They are too numerous to list, but obviously include Johnson, Cameron and co. as well as Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Margaret Thatcher and many, many more.

Cassetteboy Vs the Tories at the May Elections

May 5, 2022

Well, it’s the council elections today and that’s one of the reasons I’m putting up these left-wing, socialist and simply anti-Tory music videos and mash-ups. This one’s by Cassetteboy, and makes their views about the sheer vileness of the Conservatives very clear. It begins by stating that according to the polls, Johnson should be on the dole and the elections are a good way to give them rejection. It points out his and his party’s connection to Putin through Russian donors, has a dig at them for watching porn in the commons, before then going on to condemn them for rising energy costs. Ordinarily people freeze ’cause they can’t pay their energy bills, but the Tories keep their money safe in offshore accounts so they don’t pay tax and certainly aren’t going to tax BP and the rest of the oil companies for the massive profits they’re making. It talks about them scuttling off to Russia, and Priti Patel wanting to lock us all up if we demonstrate and send us to Rwanda. It concludes with Johnson stating openly that you shouldn’t vote for any of them, because they’re all the same.

Appearing in the video and having their words and speeches edited to create this indictment are Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and others.

A Small Family Sex Show in Bristol Cancelled Because of Petitions and Death Threats

April 26, 2022

As a Bristolian, I feel I have to add my fourpence worth about this controversy. One of the arenas of the culture war is over sex education in schools and especially sex education, with particular concern about the teaching or promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism. Parents and politicians are concerned about proper age-appropriate teaching of these subjects. The controversy seems to be particularly acute in America, where various, mostly right-leaning journos, activists and media pundits like Michael Walsh have criticised videos posted on TikTok of teachers coming out to young pupils and announcing that they’re gay, non-binary or trans. There have been instances where primary school children have been asked about which gender they identify with, as apart from their biological sex. One teacher proudly announced the ‘gender closet’ in which children can get changed into the clothing of the opposite sex when they want to keep it secret from their parents. There have been very sexually explicit books published for schools about gay and gender issues, containing the kind of imagery that once upon a time only used to be found in hard porn. And schools have also been told that, if a child trans, they should not inform his or her parents. As a result, there have been meetings of outraged parents confronting their local school boards in various towns and cities across the US. The Republican governor of Florida,, Ron de Santis, has just passed his so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act, which forbids the teaching of anything about sex and sexuality, including heterosexuality, from ages 5 – 9. The Disney corporation and various LGBTQ+ employees have been particularly incensed by it, and have tried to mobilise opposition against the bill. This was in conjunction with a leaked video showing some of its top brass saying that they want half of all their characters to come from ethnic minorities or the gay community. As a result, right-wing Republicans like Walsh are calling for an end to Disney’s autonomy in the state and its tax exemption. I have to say that this shows a somewhat skewed morality. As a massively profitable global enterprise, Disney should pay its fair whack of tax like the rest of us proles. And especially because conditions for its workers in China are so dire that they’ve had to install suicide nets in their factories to stop the wage slaves toiling over their merchandise from killing themselves.

The Tobacco Factory, one of Bristol’s many theatres, put its collective feet firmly into this mire of controversy last week when they announced they were hosting ‘A Small Family Sex Show’ by theatre company ThisEgg. The show was described as woke, Queer and feminist, ,and intended to teach children about sex, using personal experiences, covering sexual orientation, gender identity, boundaries and so on. The show was described as suitable for children of five upwards, and included a section where the performers were free to take their clothes to the extent they felt comfortable. This could be total nudity, or else the removal of bottoms but not underwear, or even just simply staying clothed. The content included teaching children about masturbation, touching as well as other, much more dubious and extreme practices. Quiet-voiced Benjamin Boyce, an American YouTuber who discusses topics like gender identity, went through the description of the show’s contents on their website. This also included various explicit drawings. It was a weird mixture of sex with information about theatre, such as pointing out that the areas to each side of the stage that are hidden from the audience are called the wings. It also promised to teach children about White privilege and supremacy. In the video introducing the show, it’s producers introduce themselves with their pronouns and a description of their race, complexion, hair colour and so on. They seem to have been White, and Boyce wondered why they thought such descriptions were necessary when everyone could see what they were like. But it was the sexual subjects they show intended to teach which naturally attracted Boyce’s astonishment and disapproval. Again and again he wondered aloud how it wasn’t grooming. And others wondered too, on both sides of the Atlantic, with many being very firmly convinced it was.

Karen Davis, a gender critical Black American YouTuber, covered it on her channel. She was concerned that it was aimed at a time when children were only just learning to differentiate between fiction and reality, and that you could not like people while still being civil to them. She was also concerned that it would break down barriers about sex between children and adults, barriers that children naturally have for very good reasons. She was concerned that it was teaching kids not to believe their own eyes and feelings about whether an adult presented a danger, and would so make them vulnerable to predators. Davis has very strong and uncompromising views on the trans issue and she goes further in her opposition than some other gender critical folks. But in this instance her views seem to be very well grounded. She frequently cites the medical and academic literature to support her opinions, which are also informed by her work as a special needs teacher for children. She has also previously worked in centres for people with mental health issues. She knows whereof she speaks. And one of her concerns was about the theatre companies name. ‘Egg’ apparently is trans slang for someone on the verge of being trans, who needs to be ‘hatched’. I wondered if the name wasn’t inspired by a cult BBC show about a group of graduates living in London called This Life, one of whose characters had the monicker ‘Egg’. The show claimed it had the support of one of the organisations charged with protecting children, but a glance at that organisation’s website – it might have been the NSPCC – showed that the show was in conflict with the organisation. This said on their website that one of the signs that a child was being abused or near to a child who was, was sexuality explicit talk.

There have been any number of people on YouTube in Britain and America tearing into the show. Meesh Makeida, a Black British mother, covered it in one of her videos and made it very plain that she definitely would not take her five year old to it. Karen Davis in her video about it compared it to the real, grubby sex shows for adults. Unfortunately, these have been about in my city. The city council voted a few months ago to shut down the, er, ‘gentlemen’s clubs’. And the tone of Park Street in Clifton went up when the strip clubs there closed down in the 1980s.

A large number of Bristol’s citizens also made their opposition to the show very plain. There was a petition against it, which garnered 38,000 signatures. There were also threats of death and violence against the theatre and ThisEgg. This resulted in the show’s cancellation. The producers have claimed that they were forced to pull the show due to the threats, and that these came from a small minority of extremists.

I don’t agree with making death threats, and sincerely hope that those sent did come from a small minority. But the 38,000 signatures on the petition definitely don’t come from a small number of people. I don’t know how many people were actually aware of the show’s existence – I haven’t seen it mentioned on the local news. But offhand I can’t think of anyone who would be happy at such a show being performed in front of children and especially not five year olds.

And grooming is a real and legitimate issue with this play. It appears to be informed by Queer Theory. This, in the view of scholars and critics like James Lindsay, explicitly wishes to break down the barriers between adults and children in matters of sexuality and sexual identity. It’s based on the theories of Foucault, a postmodern philosopher and paedophile. Foucault and other intellectuals tried to get the age of consent reduced to 12 or there about in France in the 1970s, and Foucault himself used to go to North Africa to take advantage of the prostituted boys. One of the issues here is that the gay rights movement in its early stages included many paedophiles and civil rights activists who mistakenly believed that it should be legalised. The gay movement in Britain began making headway when the gay organisations purged the paedophiles from their ranks and made it very plain that gay very definitely did not equal paedo. There are thus fears that the paedophiles are trying to come back in through Queer Theory and the kind of sex education that it produces.

Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, Big Train and the IT Crowd and a very firm opponent of the trans ideology, also discussed the play with American gender critical feminist Kara Dansky. I think Linners believed that ThisEgg were genuine in their concern that children received proper information about sex, just misguided. Dansky, on the other hand, suggested that the company really may have been deliberately grooming children. I hope not. They seemed sincere, but terribly, destructively wrong in my opinion.

When the news that the show was being staged a week ago, some of the commenters on various videos had a dig at Bristol. The city’s terribly ‘woke’, you see, and somehow it’s all the fault of the University. Well, certain parts of the city are very left-wing. People joke about the ‘People’s Republic of Stokes Croft’, for example. Other parts are more moderate or Conservative. And the various initiatives taken by Bristol University, such as lowering admissions for Black and Asian applicants in order to encourage more of them to apply don’t come from a long history of left-wing activism. They seem to be initiated in order to dispel criticism that the university is too elitist and White. But of course, there are left-wing lecturers there, just as there are Tories and others, who keep their political views quiet.

As for theatre in Bristol general, the city has a number of excellent venues. The Hippodrome tends to stage West End musicals like Cats, Return to the Forbidden Planet and even, every so often, the Rocky Horror Show. The Theatre Royal in King Street is one of the oldest in the country, and has produced many of this great nation’s leading thesps. It’s had everything from one man shows by Michael Bentine and John Mortimer, to performances of Into the West, from the film starring Ron Moody as a villain. It also staged more challenging performances about the Vietnam War and its legacy. Another theatre venue, Quaker’s Friars, has staged great plays, one of which was by one of the great 18th century French playwrights, as well as a production of the Hollywood classic Key Largo. And before it decided to put on A Small Family Sex Show, the Tobacco Factory had also put on several excellent plays, including puppet shows for children.

I think it’s excellent that the show has been cancelled, but I’m also acutely aware that children do need proper sex education. There was a time when it was not taught in school, and so children were really ignorant about their bodies, the changes of adolescence and reproduction. We should very definitely not go back there, whatever opposition there is to it by right-wingers like Peter Hitchens.

I’m also not entirely convinced that there’s been this controversy about it just when Bristol is facing a referendum over the elected mayor. At the moment it’s Marvin Rees for Labour. Now the mayor and city council generally have had nothing to do with the show, and no-one has said they have. But I’m afraid that the controversy over the play and the constant statements by the right about it being the product of the ‘woke’ left will lead some people to mistakenly connect it to Labour.

Bristol’s a great city, with great theatre. A Small Family Sex Show isn’t one of them, and shouldn’t have been booked.

Children do need proper sex education, given at suitable ages and using appropriate material. They cannot be left ignorant, but should not be exposed to material that is too explicit either. Especially when there is the danger that real abusers could use to approach children, no matter how well-intentioned the people behind such material are.

Richard Burgon’s Petition for a Wealth Tax Not National Insurance Increase

March 16, 2022

I’ve just had this email from left-wing Labour MP Richard Burgon for a tax on the superrich one per cent to be imposed instead of the Tories’ increase on National Insurance, which will affect the working class.

‘People are being hit by a cost-of-living emergency from soaring energy bills, high inflation, falling real-term wages and cuts to Universal Credit.

Yet next month the Tories are going to make this even worse by hiking National Insurance on ordinary working people.

I’ve launched a campaign to scrap this tax rise on working people and to replace it with a Wealth Tax on the richest 1%.

I’ve put down a parliamentary motion calling for this – already backed by over 60 MPs from 8 parties.

Next week I’ll be presenting a public petition in parliament calling for the Tories to scrap this National Insurance rise and replace it with a Wealth Tax.

Will you back my campaign by adding your name to the petition I am presenting in Parliament next week?

Sign the petition to tell the Tories: we want a Wealth Tax not a National Insurance rise

I’ve absolutely no problem with signing the petition. Since the election of Thatcher, the Tory party has given massive tax cuts to the rich, which has been offset by shifting the tax burden onto the working class. The proposed National Insurance tax hike is part of that policy. It’s time it was ended and the rich were made to pay their fair share.

We Own It Petition to Nationalise the Energy Companies

February 11, 2022

I got this email from the pro-NHS, pro-nationalisation organisation We Own It Wednesday night. It’s a petition appealing to the government to nationalise the energy companies as a response to the massive rise in electricity bills. The email runs

Our energy system is broken. 

Your energy bills are expected to go up by nearly £700 in April. While companies like BP are reporting eye watering profits of  £9.5 billion! 


But energy could work in public ownership for people and the planet – not profit. 

We are calling on Rishi Sunak as the chancellor and Kwasi Kwarteng as the minister for energy to end the chaos in our energy system and commit to bringing energy into public ownership by the 1st of April.

By signing our petition you can tell Rishi Sunak and Kwasi Kwarteng to bring energy into public ownership now.

SIGN THE PETITION

There are news stories everyday about the energy crisis we are facing. 

These are the solutions. 

1) Introduce a permanent windfall tax on oil and gas companies like Shell and BP, at the same rate as Norway

2) Stop wasting money bailing out failing energy supply giants – set up a publicly owned energy supplier instead

3) Bring the privatised monopolies of the National Grid and regional distribution into public ownership

4) Set up a new state-owned renewable energy company to help tackle climate crisis

Lots of voices are calling for a windfall tax and we agree!

But the government should go further.

This petition will highlight what should be done and help push for action on energy bills right now.

The deadline for this petition is the 1st of April when energy bills are expected to rise. 

Now is the time to push the debate as far as possible. Add your name and join the voices calling for a genuine fix for our broken energy system. 

I’LL ADD MY NAME

The eye watering profits of companies like BP are an outrage.

Since 2010 BP has handed out almost £200 billion pounds in profit to shareholders while right now 6 million households in the UK are facing fuel poverty.

It really doesn’t have to be like this.

In countries like Norway, oil and gas companies pay a corporation tax of 22% AND a special tax at the rate of 56% upwards! 

The Norwegian state owns Statkraft, the largest renewables generator in Europe. While Denmark owns 50% of Ørsted which is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power.

These are sensible, tried and tested solutions that we know can get to the root of the problem. 

You can join the thousands of others calling for urgent action instead of more government sticking plasters.

Sign and share our petition and tell Rishi Sunak and Kwarsi Kwarteng that now really is the time to bring energy into public ownership. 

I’LL SIGN

Thank you for your support with this campaign and let’s start the fight to bring these essential public assets back into our hands.

Solidarity’ 

I’ve signed it, as this is further proof that the Thatcherite privatisation of the utilities has been a massive failure. It hasn’t brought the investment Thatcher expected it would and has, as this email shows, led simply to massive profiteering. The energy companies also know they are extremely vulnerable to this criticism, as an executive from one of them was on TV the other day blustering about welcoming government regulation while fervently denying that the government could run industry. Anyone who believed that, he sneered, was stupid. If so then 50 per cent of the British population were stupid even under Thatcher, as the support for her privatisations never went above that level. And since then more people want to see the utilities renationalised. It was a central plank for Corbyn’s programme and remains extremely popular. Which is why the Blairites and the Tories could only combat it by smearing him as a Communist anti-Semite.

Thatcherism is zombie economics, a shuffling, putrefying corpse whose dead hand is holding Britain back and its people in poverty. It’s long past time it was consigned to the dustbin and reversed.

End privatisation; end energy poverty; renationalise the utilities!

The Magic Money Tree Exists for Private Healthcare But Not the NHS

January 18, 2022

A number of the great peeps who comment on my blog have said that the current fuss over Johnson and his wretched parties is a distraction, and I completely agree. His partying the nights away in 10 Downing Street while the rest of the nation had to obey the lockdown is insulting and shows a deep hypocrisy and disregard for the problems and situation of ordinary people. Especially those folks who were cruelly kept away from being with their loved ones, their relatives and friends, in their final moments. But there are far worse things being done by Johnson and his wretched cronies. Mike put up a list of them a few days, courtesy of one of the left-wing peeps on Twitter. One of them is the continuing privatisation of the NHS. A few days ago the government passed some measure to give private healthcare firms something like £127 million of public money to treat Covid. They will keep this regardless of whether they treat anyone or not.

Now contrast it with the state of the NHS, which is in crisis because of persistent government cuts and soaring bureaucracy and administration costs thanks to its piecemeal privatisation. The Tories have cut and kept cutting it for decades, all the while smarmily lying to the public that they’re just cutting unnecessary waste and making it more efficient. Or fiddling the statistics to try and show that they’re putting more money into it than the last Labour government. Or just simply lying, as Johnson did when he told the British nation that they were going to build 40 new hospitals. In fact the real numbers six, and those are only being refurbished. In fact an official report in 1979 said clearly that rising costs in the NHS could easily be met through taxation. And whatever else you can say about Blair, the lair and war criminal did keep the health service properly funded. And his government did have some success tackling poverty.

When it comes to funding public services and the welfare state, the Tories have this refrain ‘There’s no magic money tree’. Except there is, when it’s private enterprise or otherwise affects the superrich. Then suddenly millions can be found. It’s the same here. Money which should be spent on the NHS is given to private healthcare firms. If the same amount was given to the NHS under the same condition, the Tories would be choking with outrage and howling about how nationalisation causes waste and inefficiency and rants about the need to cut government expenditure. No doubt there would be gibe about ‘high spending Labour’. In fact the NHS even a few years ago gave excellent value for service. Government expenditure on it is actually lower than that of other nation’s healthcare systems, such as America’s, and the results were comparable or better. Which is why the Tories want to destroy it.

Private healthcare, compared to state provision, simply isn’t competitive. The point is made very well in Ray Tallis’ and Jacky Davis’ NHS – SOS. Private hospitals are smaller than NHS hospitals, the administrative costs are actually higher and to remain profitable they have to concentrate on treating people who are largely fit and well, which means ignoring the disabled or long-term sick. And it’s because they’re uncompetitive that the private healthcare firms like BUPA etc want a piece of that juicy NHS action, as well as funding from the government.

And that’s the real reason Johnson has given the money, with apparently no strings attached, to the private healthcare sector. It’s part of the Tories general plan to privatise the NHS completely and transform it into an American-style system funded by private health insurance. Oh yes, and something like a hundred Tory MPs also have connections to private healthcare companies, so there’s more than a little personal interest in it.

Johnson’s parties are a massive insult to the country, but the real injury is what they’re doing to the NHS and the welfare state. And it’s because of that Johnson and his wretch gang of profiteers should go.

Tories Pumping Sewage in Rivers: We Were Warned

October 26, 2021

One of the major stories this week has been that the Conservatives have voted to allow the water companies to dump raw sewage into our rivers and seas. This is, as Mike has pointed out, threatening to bring back cholera, and no doubt many other lethal Victorian diseases. Mike and the good peeps on Twitter have put up a list of the various Tory thugs, who passed this noxious motion, and the excuses have started already. Mike’s local MP, Fay Jones, was telling everyone that the amendment would cost the taxpayer £600 billion or so to replace the Victorian sewage infrastructure. But it wouldn’t. It would cost the government that, who might have to raise taxes as a result. But it shouldn’t be raised from them. The cost would have to be borne by the privatised water companies. I remember when the water companies were privatised under Thatcher the head of the local company down here in Bristol, Hooper, was all in favour and declared that it would allow them to raise more money for investment. So if any expense is involved, it should come from their profits, shareholder dividends and customers, not the British taxpayer. Jones also complained that people attacking the government’s actions over sewage obscured the brilliant work they were already doing reducing discharge from storm overflows. But there’s precious little evidence of this, either. So once again, the Tories are lying.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/25/get-your-cholera-jab-booked-mps-wont-stop-pumping-raw-sewage-into-our-waters/

This was after David Davies started crying that he was being abused and subjected to online hate, because Catrin Maby had asked him an awkward question about allowing untreated effluent into our watercourses. It’s deeply distasteful coming after the murder of David Amess, a murder that seems to be an act of premeditated Islamist terror rather than caused by online hate. So once again, we have the Tories wrecking peoples’ health but claiming they are somehow the innocent victims, while presenting precisely no evidence to support their assertion.

But as nasty as all this is, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

When Brexit was first being mooted critics warned that once Britain was out of the EU and their environmental regulations no longer applied, the Tories would allow this and other abuses to happen. It was even shown in a short-lived cartoon strip in Private Eye. This was ‘The Ukippers’, and featured a fiercely patriotic couple who believed that everything would be absolutely brilliant once we have left the EU. One edition showed the two celebrating the new, higher environmental standards we were promised after Brexit by running into the sea for a swim. The two were undeterred by the fact that the water was foul and brown, and filled with what Billy Connolly used to describe as ‘jobbies’. Despite the foul state of the water around them, the pair were still convinced that it was much cleaner than it had been under the EU. It’s an attitude I’m afraid will probably come true at some point, as Tory voters repeat the lie that somehow it’s all cleaner, which I’m sure that Boris and his cronies will tell at some point.

In fact the Tories have a history of allowing pollution into the water. It started in the 1980s the moment Thatcher – or was John Major? – decided to privatise it. I can remember reading articles in Private Eye, once again, about how the Tories were passing legislation to strip the National Rivers Authority of its powers to prosecute the newly privatised water companies for pollution. I’ve got a feeling similar legislation to reduce its powers even further has also been passed. And there have also been a series of scandals, also covered by Private Eye, in which various water companies were caught violating environmental regulations with the dumping of sewage or chemicals into rivers.

This latest attack on the British environment was predicted, because the Tories have been doing it for decades.

We Own It Tear Apart Boris’ NHS Funding Bill

September 9, 2021

Mike’s already put up an excellent piece ripping apart Johnson’s proposal to raise National Insurance to pay for increased funding for the NHS and social care. And Mike and so many others are pointing out, this is actually a disastrous tax on the poor, while once again the rich are protected from the taxman.

I got the following email from We Own It yesterday evening. They point out that £36 billion may sound a lot, but the NHS will still be dangerously underfunded. Furthermore Johnson’s plan does nothing to reverse the disastrous privatisation of the health service and so much of that money will find its way into the pockets of shareholders. Here’s the email.

“£36 billion for the NHS and reforming social care – that sounds like a plan from Boris Johnson. Or does it?

Putting aside the major issue of whether a National Insurance tax is a fair way of increasing funding (it isn’t), here are four reasons why Boris Johnson’s plan isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

1) Our NHS has been underfunded for a decade, and this new funding isn’t anywhere near enough. As we said in the Mirror yesterday, ‘Since 2010 our NHS has lost 20,000 beds, more than 100 A&Es and it’s short of 90,000 staff. This Government has been underfunding the NHS for 10 years. We have to fund our NHS at the level of countries like Germany.’

2) £36 billion over three years sounds like a lot, but in terms of the NHS budget of around £140 billion a year (and especially given how budgets have been squeezed for 10 years) it isn’t actually that much, especially to cover health and social care. For example, the government handed out £37 billion for Serco and Sitel’s privatised Test and Trace operation, it failed badly and the government didn’t even blink – let alone set up a new tax to cover the cost.

3) The organisations representing NHS trusts said they needed £10 billion this year, in the next six months, to tackle waiting lists and cover Covid costs. Instead the government has offered them £5.4 billion. (The new money and tax won’t kick in until April 2022.) This means waiting lists will continue to be an ongoing issue. Many of you have shared your stories about how this affects you and some of these have been published in the Evening Standard and the Mirror – read more of your stories here.

4) Boris Johnson’s plan does nothing to stop public money leaking out of the system into shareholders pockets. In our NHS, the new Health and Care Bill would mean more privatisation. And social care – both care homes and care work (where carers visit people in their homes) – is largely privatised and outsourced. A plan for social care should involve bringing it into public ownership so it can work for people not profit.

Together with you, we did our best to make the call for NHS funding as loud and clear as possible – the photos from our weekend protest are everywhere! (See the Times, the IndependentITV and lots of local newspapers..)

But in the last few days Johnson has done his best to reframe the narrative on NHS and social care funding. He’s turned the conversation into one about tax, instead of about what these public services need.

So we have to keep getting the message out there.

Our NHS needs serious funding after years of cuts and the money is there – it’s a question of political will. We need to kick the private companies out of NHS structures and oppose the Health and Care Bill (Corporate Takeover Bill) that would give them a seat at the decision making table. There’s no point in a plan for social care that doesn’t look at how money is leaking out to private shareholders.

Sadly, our NHS won’t be fixed by Johnson’s plans, and neither will social care.

The fight for OUR public services, for people not profit, continues…we’ll be in touch soon with more actions you can take.

Solidarity – and thank you for everything you do.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Zana and Anna – the We Own It team

PS Tonight at 7pm, Keep Our NHS Public is holding a rally on how to protect our NHS from the Health and Care Bill (aka the Corporate Takeover Bill). Cat is speaking alongside actor Julie Hesmondhalgh, Michael Rosen and Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary. Sign up here.

Johnson’s NHS funding bill looks to me like another piece of Tory deception. It looks like their increasing funding to the NHS while all the time carrying on with the same policies that will lead to its privatisation.

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 Runs Away from Green New Deal Campaigners – Anyone Surprised?

August 13, 2021

Mike today posted a tweet containing a video from a young woman and man from the campaign group, Green New Deal Rising, On Wednesday, the pair had attempted to confront Starmer about his policies towards the Green New Deal and the climate crisis. According to them, Starmer ran away protesting that he was too busy to talk about it. So they tackled him today about his refusal to take an action and failure to back the Green New Deal. The video shows Starmer running away from them faster than Boris Johnson searching for a fridge to hide in. He does speak to the pair eventually from behind a line of railings, talking about tackling climate through international negotiations at the forthcoming conference. They’re not impressed with him, neither is Mike and frankly, I’m not either. The group end their tweet with “Words mean nothing Keir. We need urgent action. We need you to #BackTheBill” Mike notes that Starmer was right behind the bill when it was one of Corbyn’s policies, but now has utterly reversed his position. Noting that the Labour leader is actually avoiding campaigners against climate change, Mike asks ‘How does he think this is acceptable?’

I’m not remotely surprised by this. Starmer has broken every one of Corbyn’s policies, and has shown just how right-wing he is by writing his despicable piece in the Financial Times about how he wishes to return the party to the glory days, as he seems to see it, of Blair. This is the Tony Blair who accelerated and expanded the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS, the destruction of the welfare state, the wholesale implementation of the Private Finance Initiative as a general governmental principle and the further impoverishment of Britain’s great working people. And this is apart from his international crimes – the illegal invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Libya to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy. The result has been the descent of those relatively secular societies with welfare states into sectarian violence and chaos. Half of Libya has been overrun by Islamist fanatics, who have opened slave markets selling Black migrants travelling through the country in the hope of reaching Europe. The western occupation of Iraq and the neo-Cons attempts to turn the country into a low-tax, free trade capitalist utopia has utterly wrecked their economy. But western multinationals have done extremely well for themselves, looting and taking over the country’s state-owned enterprises as the spoils of war. And Aramco, the American-Saudi oil company, has stolen Iraq’s oil industry and its reserves. Indeed, they’ve actually written into the country’s new constitution a clause stating that the Iraqis may not renationalise it.

This was the real aim of the invasion all along.

As was the invasion of Afghanistan. Like Iraq, it had nothing to do with liberating the country from the murderous rule of a brutal regime. Quite the contrary. George Dubya Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban about opening up an oil pipeline there. It was only when the Taliban started stalling and looked ready to turn down the proposal, that Bush’s bunch of bandits then drew up plans to invade the country if an opportunity presented itself. Which it did with 9/11.

For further information about this, read any of William Blum’s critiques of American imperialism and Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse.

Blair himself was a corporatist. He gave positions in government to senior figures from private industry, often on the very bodies that were supposed to regulate those industries, in return for their generous donations. This included the NHS, where he took in various advisors from private healthcare companies. See George Monbiot’s Captive State. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence that Blair was ever worried about saving the planet. Not when he was determined to reward the same businesses that are wrecking it. One of the horrors left over from the Iraq invasion is the pollution from the armaments coated with depleted uranium, which have been responsible for a massive increase in birth defects among the Iraqi population.

I don’t see Starmer as being remotely different. He’s already shown his contempt for the Labour party’s rank and file, whom he’s ignoring in order to try to recruit prospective MPs and officials from outside the party. Just as Blair was far more welcoming to Tory politicos who had crossed the floor to join him, like Chris Patten, than his own party and particularly its left-wing. My guess Starmer is probably hoping for more corporate donations, including from the fracking companies wishing to start operating over here.

Right now, he looks exactly the same as David Cameron. Cameron boasted that his would be the greenest government ever. He even put a little windmill on his roof to show how serious he was. But when he finally slithered his way into No. 10, that windmill came down and it was full steam ahead for fracking and hang anyone worried about its damage to the environment and their drinking water.

Starmer’s going to be no different. Which is why he’s turned his back on the Green New Deal and run away from its campaigners. He doesn’t want to hear them, just as he doesn’t want to hear from ordinary working people and Labour supporters and members.