Posts Tagged ‘Welfare Cuts’

That Preston Journalist Accuses Starmer of Being a Tory: He’s Right!

January 10, 2023

The very right wing That Preston Journalist has taken time off from sniping and criticising Nicola Sturgeon, and instead fixed his sights on Keir Starmer. Earlier this evening he posted a video stating very clearly that Starmer was a Tory. The thumbnail for this is a meme which shows a rubber plant on one side, and a Tory plant, Starmer, on the other. It’s very short, just 1 minute 44 seconds. The Journalist’s reason for calling Starmer a Tory was the Labour leader’s statement that the NHS needed reform. Although met with a chorus of criticism, Preston Man believes this is glaringly obvious. I agree. It is obvious, and the real solution would be to renationalise it and clear out the private medical companies and advisors who are a waste of money. But unfortunately I suspect this is not Starmer’s view, and that he really wants to follow his wretched, squalid hero Tony Blair and push the health service’s privatisation even further. But Preston Hack also believes that Starmer’s a Tory because of what he said about being fiscally prudent. Starmer stated that he was against austerity, had always been against austerity, but in government they would be careful about expenditure. They would be prudent. This, you will remember, was Gordon Brown’s mantra when he was chancellor: ‘We will be prudent’. He said this so often that according to Private Eye the assembled gentlemen and women of the press started calling him Dear Prudence after the Beatles song. Personally, I preferred ‘Help’ and ‘Helter Skelter’. As a Chancellor, who kept tight control of expenditure in order to avoid the boom and bust cycle, Brown was successful. That is until the bankers went berserk and almost destroyed capitalism. Brown prevented it by injecting our own reserves, for which he’s been blamed for wrecking our economy. But I really believe there would have been global financial collapse if he hadn’t.

And it remains the case that the bankers’ disastrous antics were exploited by the Tories, keen to push through austerity and punish ordinary people in the name of further enriching the superrich. But we were all in it together, as Cameron lied.

The trouble is, Blair and Brown were both neoliberal pushing through Tory policies of privatisation and welfare cuts. Moreover, by the time Brown got his feet into No. 10, New Labour had outlived any popularity with the British public. They were fed up with its managerialism, the spin, the condescension towards working class voters, Blair’s warmongering, the cuts to welfare services and hospital closures. I think Brown also put people off with his surly demeanour, although how much of that was real and how much an false image manufactured by the right-wing press is open to debate. He did not himself no favours by referring to an elderly lady, objecting to eastern European immigrants, as ‘some bigot’ when he thought the camera and microphone were off. But I think this may have been the last nail in his electoral coffin.

But back to Starmer, it really does look to me that once he’s in power, it’s going to be Blairite Tory politics as normal. Some of the great commenters here have suggested that the best policy would be to get him into power then bash him. At the moment, I think that is the best policy, considering that there are no alternatives and another round of Tory government would destroy this country. But I am not optimistic about Starmer’s government.

EDIJester Explains the Difference Between Drag and Drag Queen Story Hour

October 22, 2022

This is another excursion into the issue of the trans ideology and specifically that of Drag Queen Story Hour. There have been many protests against it both here and in America. This has largely been done by right-wingers deeply concerned that the drag queens reading the stories are paedophiles seeking to groom children. Unfortunately, in some cases that seems to be very plausible, as when young children have been taken to drag performances in bars and encouraged to dance with the performers or in drag themselves, with the gay clientele throwing money at them. There is, however, an ideological angle to Drag Queen Story Hour that is significant, but rarely discussed. According to mathematician and staunch critic of postmodernism, James Lindsey, at least some of the drag queens involved in this are supporters of Queer Theory, a postmodern doctrine that seeks to exploit and promote people’s unhappiness with their gender identity or sexuality to create a mentally unstable cadre ready for Marxist revolution. It has absolutely nothing to do with, and indeed is deeply hostile to, the idea of creating a more tolerant society towards gay people, and gay youngsters comfortable with their sexuality/sexual identity and respected, functional members of society. This would be supporting a bourgeois order that the people who promote Queer Theory are pledged to destroy.

EDIJester is another gay critic of the trans ideology. He runs a warrior teachers programme training people from all walks of life in how recognise and combat the trans ideology. I’m not in agreement with all his pronouncements, as he has told people to vote Conservative in a recent video. This is presumably due to Keir Starmer and Labour defending the trans movement, refusing to give the LGB Alliance, a group of gay men and women to seek to promote gay rights without the inclusion of trans people, a place at the Labour party conference and the party’s stated intention of banning all conversion therapies. It is feared that this will mean that only treatments for trans people that affirm their condition will be legal, even if this is inappropriate and harmful. I profoundly disagree with Labour’s policy on the trans issue but feel that at the moment Labour is the best option for defending working people and the NHS from privatisation, welfare cuts, poverty and starvation. More Conservative government will be utterly disastrous for these issues.

I’m putting this video, ‘Let’s Talk about Drag and Queer Performativity – Drag Part One’ up here because it tackles Drag Queen Story Hour from a fresh perspective. This differentiates sharply between traditional drag and Drag Queen Story Hour. He begins by drawing a sharp distinction between British and American drag, as in RuPaul’s Drag Race. British drag was mainstream and not completely gay – straight men often did it, like the Bernard Breslaw in one of the Carry On films and the late, great Les Dawson. There was also the camp humour from gay men, who were forced into show business because of society’s intolerance. This created Kenneth Williams and the Polari language in Round the Horne, Larry Grayson and John Inman, for example. He states that there were no ideological motives behind traditional drag – all they wanted to do was to separate you from as much of your money as possible by the time you staggered out drunk. They also raise money for charity. He knows a number of drag performers himself, having carried one of them back to the performer’s own house at the end of an evening of alcoholic and chemical refreshment. He mentions approvingly a traditional drag act oop north somewhere, Funny Girls. He states that American drag has a heterosexual bias, in that in Mrs Doubtfire the hero cross-dresses so he can see his wife and children.

Drag Queen Story Hour is different. And it isn’t about paedophiles preying on young children either. It’s about promoting Queer Theory, often mixed with Critical Race Theory by reading children’s books written from these standpoints. Like retellings of the Three Little Pigs where the pigs are black, brown and pink for gay, and the wolf is white. It’s this highly ideological, genuinely subversive literature he warns people about, not drag or drag queens themselves.

It’s an excellent perspective which draws a needed distinction between drag as a traditional form of entertainment, which boasted great and much-loved performers as Danny La Rue, the Two Ronnies, Lily Savage, and Les Dawson, and its contemporary abuse as a form of ideological propaganda.

Neither Sunak or Truss Have Anything to Offer the Working Class

August 12, 2022

The media’s still trying to work up some kind of popular enthusiasm for the Tory leadership battle. They’ve been televising debates between the various contestants, whose thoughts on how they’re going to tackle the cost of living crisis and other issues are also plastered all over the papers. The two were in Cheltenham last night for a debate in front of the Tory faithful there, and the BBC local news for the Bristol region was duly covering it.

But this is a leadership contest in which everyone but a small fraction of the population are just spectators. Which one of them becomes Tory leader is a matter for the Tory party, not the general public, and so while the leadership debates give the general public the chance to see what the candidates stand for, or claim they stand for, and give the media political pundits an opportunity to speculate about what this all means, this mass coverage doesn’t actually affect the public very much. People outside the Tory party naturally have no opportunity to choose the next Tory leader. Nor will we probably get to choose whether they’ll be prime minister or not. The usual process now seems to be that instead of having a general election to decide whether a new party leader should be PM, the prime ministerial successor is inserted into office during the term of his immediate predecessor and an election held later to decide whether he or she should continue to rule. Meanwhile the party continues to govern. Thus have the Tories clung on to power over the past ten years, despite prime ministers entering and leaving 10 Downing Street as if through a revolving door. I assume that this is what will happen with Johnson and whoever is due to succeed him. Johnson will give up office, they’ll take over, but it’ll be sometime before there’s a general election to decide whether this successor should carry on in government. It’s all done to avoid the perils of a proper general election involving both the head of the party and the party itself, when both may find themselves out of power and sitting on the opposition benches. Thus is democracy in Britain manipulated to the ruling party’s advantage.

As for Sunak and Truss, neither of them has anything really to offer working people. Sunak says he’ll cut inflation, which would help admittedly, but not as much as is needed by people on very low pay, benefits or absolutely zilch, thanks to benefit sanctions, facing rising fuel and energy prices. It’s a policy directed primarily at economists and financiers, but not the starving hoi polloi.

And neither is Truss going to help. She’s announced that she’s going to cut taxes. This will be spun by the Tory papers as somehow meaning ordinary people will be richer. But it won’t mean that. When the Tories cut taxes, it is always for the very rich, never for the poor. And when their taxes are cut, it means that there’s less money coming into the exchequer to support the NHS, public services and the welfare state. So expect there to be more cuts there. And as for cutting down on the bureaucracy in the NHS, this has mushroomed because of the piecemeal privatisation Truss and the rest of the Tory right are so frantically, pantingly keen on. But this is not going to reversed, because the Tory line is that privatisation cuts bureaucracy. What will happen instead is that more services will be privatised and thus remaining will be cut.

It doesn’t matter which one wins, Tweedlesunak or Tweedletruss. They will both continue the campaign of privatisation and impoverishment to the mendacious cheering of the Tory media.

Howard Jacobson Cartoon

September 15, 2021

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

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

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

‘For Israel

For the Rich

Against the Poor

Against the Jew’

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

Johnson Insults Low Paid Workers by Telling Them to Rise through their Own Efforts

August 29, 2021

This comment from the incompetent, libidinous, blustering, greedy clown infesting No. 10 clearly demonstrates the absolute contempt he and his fellow Tories really have for working people. Yesterday Mike put up a piece from a Mirror report, in which Johnson told low paid British workers claiming benefits to make ends meet that they will have to see their wages rise through their own efforts. This is his ‘strong preference’, which he thinks is shared by the vast majority of people in this country. He’s not going to pass legislation to raise wages and doesn’t want them to claim benefits, which is money raised through taxing other people. This is at a time when those on Universal Credit are facing a cut of £1,000 per year. Of course, this is rich coming from the man who got Tory donors to pay for his new wallpaper, a nanny and whined that he couldn’t live off his £150,000 a year salary, as the good peeps on Twitter, including Angela Rayner, reminded us all. And this grasping attitude is shared by his cabinet, as Daniela Nadj pointed out. Rishi Sunak is building a new swimming pool in his garden and Dominic Raab spends £40,000 on a holiday. But for the rest of us, there’s 2,000 food banks and hundreds of baby banks.

Well, this is a typical Tory attitude and it goes back centuries. Way back in the 19th century one of the leading politicians of the day – and it might have been a Liberal rather than a Tory – told a meeting at one of the northern industrial towns that the means of prospering was within their grasp. It’s the old nonsense that if you work hard and have talent, you’ll get on. If you don’t, it’s your own fault. This particular speech was made at time when industrial workers could have a working day going up to 18 hours in poorly ventilated, dangerous factories, and families could be crammed into overcrowded basements.

And when Cameron was in power he declared that he was going to make work pay, not by actually raising wages, but by cutting benefits. Because working people didn’t want to see the closed curtains of their unemployed neighbours. As for the comments about taxation, that sounds like a populist move, but it’s really about not taxing the rich fairly for their share, just like he doesn’t want to damage their profits by making them pay a real living wage.

This is all about protecting and enriching the bloated elite even further by playing on the petty jealous and resentment within certain sections of the working class. All the while supported by the underlying message that we somehow live in a fair society in which full of opportunities to get on. Which is why there are so many graduates now working in burger bars or signing on.

For further information, see:

My Sketch of Clement Atlee

August 29, 2021

One of the things I’ve been doing to amuse myself this week is sketching, and one of the people I’ve sketched is Clement Atlee. In my opinion after Churchill – and I choose him solely because he saw us through the War and helped defeat Nazism – Atlee was the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th century. His government created the welfare state and NHS following the recommendations of the Beveridge report, nationalised the utilities and created the mixed economy that gave Britain unparalleled growth and rising standards of living until the crisis of the ’70s and the election of Thatcher in 1979. He also prepared the way for the dismantling of the British empire with the granting of independence to India followed by a succession of other former colonies, and its transformation into the Commonwealth. It says much about his impact on British culture that even though the Tories hate the welfare state – and under Thatcher they were extremely vocal about ending it – they haven’t been able to do it openly. They have just lied about making cuts so that the money will go where it’s needed. Which it never does. Just as they lie about the privatisation of the NHS. Oh no, they’re not selling it off, they’re just opening it up to superior private expertise and investment. Which doesn’t work and is actually worse than state management. Anyway, here is my portrait of the great man. I hope you like it.

Belfield Now Attacks Mental Health claimants for PIP

August 18, 2021

More grubbiness and moral squalor from Alex Belfield, who has been dubbed my favourite right-winger. Well, there is a kind of grim fascination from watching such figures. Today the mad internet radio host put up a video attacking articles in the Scots papers. These urged people to apply for PIP, and told their readers that if they did so, they could get an extra £608 per month. Belfield was outraged. The government was giving people money! Argh! He then went on a rant about, how it was right that people with genuine mental health problems should be properly supported, such payments shouldn’t be given to people, who were ‘a bit down’. And that, I’m afraid, is as far as I got before it got too much for me and I turned it off.

It’s classic Tory stuff, with a line that could come straight out of Tory central office and the pages of the Scum, Heil, Depress and the other rabid rags. Or Starmer’s office, given the way Blair Stalin is going. There’s a flat denial that they’re denying people the benefits they need with the cuts. No, all they’re doing is making sure that the money’s going to people who really need it. We’ve heard this bilge before. The Tories and then Blair have run this out as their excuse for cutting benefits ever since Thatcher marched into 10 Downing Street and started hitting the poor, the disabled and the unemployed with her handbag of mighty self-help. And the result is the massive growth in poverty, despair and hunger. That grinning abomination, Tony Blair, bought into the same lies. His work Capability Test was based on the erroneous assumption that a certain percentage of claimants for disability benefit must be malingerers. The result has been falsified test results, where the Department for Work and Pensions has decided to throw a claimant off benefit simply because they have a quota to fulfil. And as a result well over a thousand disabled people have lost their lives as the benefits they genuinely need have been cut off. This has included people with genuine mental health and other problems, some of whom starved to death. There have even been notorious cases in which the Department declared people, who were terminally ill, fit for work.

But the lie just gets repeated, along with mealy-mouthed excuses and apologies from the Department. And it’s lapped up by the narrow-minded, envious and bitter readers of the right-wing tabloids, who are constantly being told that the unemployed and disabled are somehow better off than them. Hence the Tories’ announcement under Cameron that they were going to make unemployment benefit even worse, so that people in work would be better off, as such people are offended by the sight of the curtains of the unemployed remaining closed all day.

As for the statement about depression, Belfield is talking utter nonsense. As anyone who has had it will tell you, it certainly is not a case of ‘feeling a bit down’. It is, as one scientist who had it after the death of his mother, ‘a malignant sadness’. It’s a feeling of deep, paralysing despair that really does leave people unable to work and find any kind of joy in life. But I doubt most people appreciate this, unless they have experienced it or know someone who has.

Belfield is pushing the dangerous nonsense of Tories against those who genuinely need proper support. His statement that he’s in favour of getting proper support to those who need it cuts no ice. People with mental health problems and other disabilities aren’t getting the support they need, thanks to Tory cuts.

And the result is misery, despair, starvation and a nation on food banks.

No Return Invasion of Afghanistan

August 15, 2021

According to mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, parliament has been recalled to discuss the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Belfield made it very clear that we should not go back there. This was a country whose culture and way of life we would never understand. Four hundred British squaddies have already died during the invasion and occupation, and besides, we’ve too much on our plate here at home with domestic crises like the Plymouth mass shooting, rampant knife crime in London and the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel in dinghies and other flimsy craft. I agree with him, but partly for reasons that are very different from his.

Firstly, like the invasion of Iraq, the British and American public were deliberately deceived about the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, the invasion was an appropriate response to al-Qaeda’s attack on America in 9/11, although it was planned and executed by the Saudis. And there is very strong evidence that the responsibility for the atrocity goes all the way up to the highest levels of the Saudi state. But the American neo-Cons had been planning the invasion years before. They’d been in talks with the Taliban over the construction of a new oil pipeline to run through the country, allowing them to get around the Russian affiliated pipelines in the region. These talks stalled and eventually failed. So George Dubya Bush and his friends in big business got together and planned an invasion, waiting for a suitable opportunity to arrive when they could launch it. The liberation of the local people from a deeply repressive, bloodthirsty Islamist regime was never the real, primary objective.

As for Afghan society, this is a deeply conservative, tribal culture. The Taliban have their roots in their traditional way of life and particularly the very traditional Daobandi movement in Islam that stretches across into Pakistan and India. Hence, although extreme, the Taliban will appear to many Afghans to be fighting for their traditional values and society against those imposed upon them by force by the western invader. They have also been given support, supposedly, by elements within the Pakistani military. The Pathan tribe, I believe, form the core supporters of the Taliban, and their tribal territory extends across the border into Pakistan. They thus receive cross-border support from their fellow tribesmen over there.

Besides which, I don’t believe that the western occupation has done much to win hearts and minds. Hamid Karzai’s government was massively corrupt, and this corruption extended all the way down to the local level, where the police and government officials tried to find every way they could extort more money out of the ordinary citizens. The drone operations in the region have also done much to generate discontent. I recall reading cases where wedding parties were slaughtered in anti-terrorist drone strikes. However, instead of only killing the terrorist targeted, they also killed innocent people who just happened to be present.

A second invasion of Afghanistan would also be extremely expensive. And as this is a Conservative government which is already protesting about the expenses of dealing with the Covid pandemic, the funding for it would be through further cuts in welfare spending and the privatisation of whatever’s left of the state infrastructure. Which means the NHS. This will mean more poverty, starvation and misery for Britain’s great working people, and poor health as more services are given to private healthcare providers. Who will start cutting their provision so they can make a profit.

The Taliban are a deeply unpleasant organisation and their attitude towards women is particularly misogynistic. There have been reports that wherever they have taken over an area, they have gone to the local mosques to compile lists of the unmarried girls. These are then forcibly married, even though they may be barely into their teens. They do, however, have an age limit of 12. When the Taliban were in power, women were not expected to leave their homes except when they had. If they were out of the house, they had to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. This meant that they had to be silent. I’ve read reports in the papers of Afghan women, who’d lost limbs during previous fighting, being beaten because their artificial legs made a noise. And this is apart from the ban on art, music and television, the restrictions on non-Muslim religions, the closure of football stadiums and their conversion into arenas for mass public executions.

Our invasion and attempts at nation-building have failed, and there are dangers in this. Al-Qaeda were encouraged to launch their attack from Afghanistan on 9/11 because of the success the Mujahideen had achieved fighting the Soviet occupation, although much of that was due to covert funding from the West and Saudi Arabia. I am very much afraid that with the withdrawal of western troops and the fall of the democratic Afghan government, the Taliban or some other Islamist terror group will similarly feel empowered and that they can launch another attack to destroy the west.

But Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’. We found it impossible to occupy the country in the 19th century, as did the Russians a hundred years later. Any further invasion is likely to fail again. As repulsive and dangerous as the Taliban are, we should not go back. We would not be helping its people, only the oil industry and big business who seek to exploit it. And the costs of the occupation would be borne in the lives and limbs of the servicewomen and men sent out to fight, and by Britain’s working people as the government slashes more services.

We should not go back to invading countries simply to make massive multinational corporations even more obscenely rich.

Ex-Army Paz Catches Cold War Paranoia

August 9, 2021

Last week I posted a piece about the right-wing YouTuber, Ex-Army Paz 49, posting a video supporting the letter of the French generals and squaddies threatening Macron with dire consequences if he didn’t get tough on Muslims. Paz is a former squaddie, who has swallowed the right-wing lie that Marxism, Communism and socialism are all the same thing, really. They have never worked, and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions across the globe.

This is pretty much true of Communism under Mao, Stalin and the other dictators, who turned their countries into vast open air prisons and ruled with fear, artificial famines, purges and the gulag. But Communism was only one form of Marxism. Before the Russian Revolution, mainstream European Marxism supported democratic elections and the expansion of the suffrage to include all of the working class. One of its leading ideologues, the Austrian Karl Kautsky, hated the Bolsheviks’ destruction of democracy and their disenfranchisement and enslavement of the former governing class. He was also cautious about nationalisation, feeling that it should only be done when the natural development of an industry had turned it into a monopoly. Then it should be taken over by the state and run for the good of society as a whole, and not just its capitalist owners and shareholders.

The mainstream European socialist parties, such as Labour in Britain, the Social Democrats in Germany and Austria, were reformists. They rejected revolution for evolution, preferring to introduce socialism through parliamentary reform. They fully supported democracy and included some of the most bitter critics of the Communist one party states and totalitarian rule. Regarding nationalisation, there was a spread of views within these parties from those on the left who wished for more nationalisation to Social Democrats like Anthony Crossland, who believed that nationalisation should be rejected in favour of progressive taxation and strong trade unions, which would deliver the same results. The consensus was for a mixed economy. There was a minimum of nationalisation – the public utilities – linked to state planning and industrial investment. The result was a period of continued growth that lasted from the end of the Second World War to the 1970s.

But all this is either ignored or utterly unknown to right-wingers like Paz, who really do seem to think that Jeremy Corbyn was some kind of Marxist subversive because he urged a return to the post-War consensus. But just as Marxism and socialism have revived thanks to the obviously failing state of Reaganomics and Thatcherite free trade capitalism, so the old Cold War paranoia about THEM has come back. Paz posted a video last week claiming that Black Lives Matter and Trans activism were all being encouraged by an unknown foreign power in preparation for taking over the country. This is based on something a Soviet defector, Yuri Bezmenov, said on American TV twenty years ago. Bezmenov said that the Soviet authorities regarded western leftists as ‘useful idiots’ and encouraged them in order to weaken the West ready for a Soviet invasion. Paz was convinced, as are many other rightists, that this going on right now. It’s just that ‘we don’t know who’.

This is just standard Cold War state disinformation. Yes, Black Lives Matter are a Marxist organisation and the Critical Race Theory that underpins it and much other Black activism is a Marxist ideology. The Queer Theory that forms the intellectual basis of transgender activism is also a product of the postmodern extreme left. Lenin and the other Soviet leaders certainly did see western fellow travellers as ‘useful idiots’. But I see absolutely no foreign influence behind either BLM or the Trans lobby. They seem to be natural development in certain strands of anti-racist and gay rights activism. In the case of Black Lives Matter, this has gained considerable urgency because Blacks and people of colour have been particularly hard hit by the poverty caused by forty years of wage restraint and welfare cuts, along with the banking crisis and now Covid. As for trans politics, I think this has partly expanded because it’s now viewed as the new battleground over gay rights. And I don’t think the mainstream gay organisations in Britain are Marxist. One of the founders of Stonewall here in Britain, apparently, was Matthew Paris, who was Maggie Thatcher personal private secretary until he got sacked for writing a rude letter to an old lady, who had written to her.

The paranoia about some shadowy foreign power simply looks like the kind of state propaganda put out over here during the 70s and 80s by MI5 and IRD. They claimed that just about every figure on the radical left was somehow in the pay of Moscow. This included the anarchists, the IRA, the PLO and mainstream Labour politicians like Tony Benn, whom they also smeared as supporters of the IRA. It wasn’t true, and some of its targets, like the anarchists, actually found it so wrong to be hilarious. But it was effective in discrediting decent politicians like Benn to a section of the British electorate.

Well, Communism and the Soviet Union fell in the 1990s, though this didn’t get through to a hard line of the paranoid fringe in America. A certain section of the survivalist milieu believed that the USSR hadn’t really collapsed. They had only made it seem that way. In reality the USSR was alive and well, and had secret bases in Canada and Mexico ready to send tanks over the border when the time was right. However, thirty years after the collapse of the USSR, it’s obvious to just about everyone that Communism, except in China and some other minor countries, really has fallen. Hence the fact that Paz and the other rightists are utterly convinced that some foreign power is behind BLM and the trans movement, but don’t really know who.

My guess is that as capitalism continues to fail and discontent spreads, there’s going to be more deliberate disinformation published in the right-wing media smearing the old, traditional left as Communists and Marxists, like they did with Jeremy Corbyn.

Which means there are going to be a few more ultra-patriots like Paz convinced that it’s all being done ready for a foreign invasion, but can’t tell you who. Welcome to the new Cold War.

Retired Generals Call for Military Dictatorship to Save France from Islamist Terrorism

April 28, 2021

Here’s another landmark on the march of militant populism across Europe and the ominous threat of the return of real Fascism. Mahyar Tousi is a right-wing, pro-Brexit YouTube, who regularly denounces the left. Normally I wouldn’t watch his videos, but last night he posted a grim one which reported that a group of twenty former French generals had signed a letter, published in the right-wing news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, calling for a military coup if President Macron failed to stop the disintegration of France by Islamists. The first signature was that of Christian Piquemal, a former head of the French foreign legion. Macron’s government condemned the wretched letter and compared it to the failed military coup which tried to topple President de Gaulle during the Algerian war of independence sixty years ago.

The letter declared that France ‘is in danger. Several mortal perils threaten her. Even in retirement we remain soldiers of France and cannot in the present circumstances remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.’ According to its signatories, the country was disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of suburbs – banlieus – who were detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to the constitution’. They accused the government of sparking hatred because of the brutal police treatment of the Yellow Vest protesters two years ago. They warned that if nothing was done, there would be an explosion and then intervention by our comrades on active service in the dangerous mission of protecting our civilised values and the safety of our compatriots.’

Marine le Pen, the head of the National Rally party, has come out in support of a coup. Tousi calls this ‘a bit crazy, because France is still a democracy at this point’, and he doesn’t know why people are getting so emotional. His video also show a graph of the various parties’ support according to the opinion polls. These show Macron and Le Pen neck and neck at 26 per cent, Xavier Bertrand, an Independent centre-right candidate at 15 per cent, Jean Melenchon of the Far Left at 11 per cent, and Anne Hidalgo of the centre left at 6 per cent. The report on which Tousi draws for his coverage of the issue states that the generals’ letter has especial resonance following the murder a few days ago of a woman working in a Limousin police station by a Tunisian Islamist.

There are several remarks to be made here. There’s been much anti-Arab racism in France for sometime now, just as there’s racism here across the pond. About twenty or so years ago the Independent’s and I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown complained about the racism her family experienced when on holiday in south of France. However, she subsequently wrote an article several years later about how the situation had changed for the better when her family went back there on holiday. And a few years ago there was a series of mass protests under a slogan that translates into English as ‘Don’t Touch My Mate’ of White French young people attacking this racism in solidarity with their Arab friends.

I think the racial situation on the other side of the Channel has got worse due to recent Islamist atrocities, such as the attack in Marseilles a few years ago and the mass murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. The spectre of this attack returned a few weeks ago when a French schoolteacher, Thomas Paty, was murdered by an enraged Muslim for showing a classroom of children one of the blasphemous cartoons from Hebdo which provoked the attack. Paty was teaching a lesson about freedom of speech, and had warned his Muslim students that he was going to show the cartoon. If they were going to be offended, then they were allowed to leave the room. Some of them stayed, told their parents, and someone at the local mosque then put Paty’s details up on the Net. This prompted a raft of legislation against Islamist terrorism, and I’ve seen videos on YouTube claiming that, to show his defiance of the Islamists, Macron not only gave Paty a state funeral, but he had the cartoon displayed on public buildings. According to Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, and his mates over at the Lotus Eaters YouTube panel, the legislation provides for the deportation of the foreign-born parents of any child who protests over cartoons. If this is correct, then the French government is coming down very hard, and because of this there have been counterdemonstrations against the new laws by Muslims.

Many of the Islamist terrorists came from the banlieus. Muslims are generally underprivileged across Europe, and from what I was taught in geography while I was at school, the banlieus are grim places of tower blocks, unemployment, despair and nothing else. They don’t, or at least didn’t, have any basic services because their planners believed they weren’t necessary. Their residents could simply travel into the centre of town for whatever they needed.

The rhetoric about parts of France being detached and governed by dogmas against the constitution clearly mirrors the concern here in Britain and the rhetoric about the growth of parallel societies and Muslim ‘no-go areas’ governed by sharia law. Laicisme – secularism – is the official stance of the French state towards religion. It’s why the authorities there tried to ban the wearing of the hijab in school by Muslim schoolgirls. There are real issues about the rejection of French secular values in Arab and Muslim areas. A little while ago French television screened a documentary about the very strong pressure in these areas against women appearing in public and going to cafes. This disapproval even extended to western women living in those areas. The documentary followed the efforts of a group of female protesters to assert their right to go about in public and visit the cafes.

As for Marine le Pen coming out in favour of a dictatorship, she has just shown her true colours. the National Rally was originally the Front National, an avowed Fascist organisation, and her father, le Pen senior, made his living selling Nazi memorabilia. Marine Le Pen managed to win massive support for her party by dropping some of the Fascist symbolism and giving a more moderate, centre-right image. It was still anti-immigration, but a Black female rapper performed at one of their rallies on the grounds that she was still a patriotic French woman. And like UKIP and the former Brexit party over here, now Reform, it’s very much against the EU. It’s picked up much of its support from the elements of the French White working class, who’ve been left behind by neoliberalism and ‘centrist’ welfare cuts, and who also feel threatened by immigration and the European Union. The poor performance of the centre left in the polls also appears to bear out what I’ve heard and read elsewhere about the collapse of the centre left across Europe due to their embrace of neoliberalism. This could very well happen in Britain if Starmer and the Blairites keep their grip on the Labour party. The extreme right – the BNP, National Front and similar organisations – have all collapsed in Britain, or been banned as terrorist groups like National Action, although tiny little Fascist grouplets still remain. Nevertheless, the rise of National Rally in France does indicate that there could be space for a similar populist right-wing party over here.

Tousi in his video says that the generals’ letter is strange and wonders if Marine le Pen will lose or gain support by backing it. It’s a good question. Tousi says that Macron’s government has come under criticism from both the left and the right, and the generals’ complaint is that while Macron talks tough, and he hasn’t followed this up with action. As for supporting any kind of Fascist dictatorship, the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the Haute Vienne department of the Limousin provides a very stark, grim reminder of why no-one should. This was a village where all but 18 of its 660 inhabitants were butchered by the Waffen SS in June 1944 as a reprisals for kidnappings, attacks and sabotage by the resistance. It’s been preserved as a memorial. It’s a graphic reminder of the utterly horrific nature of Fascism – torture, mass murder and butchery on an industrial scale. Given the atrocities committed by the Nazis across Europe, and particularly in France and Poland, it astonishes me that any self-respecting French person or Pole could ever vote for or support such a party.

Hopefully no-one will take this call for a coup seriously and France will remain a democracy. But it does indicate that democracy is very fragile. And we have absolutely no reason to feel complacent over this side of the Channel. In the mid-1970s groups of politicians and industrialists, including the editors of the Times and the Mirror, wanted to overthrow Harold Wilson’s government and replace it with an emergency government or military dictatorship, to save Britain from the left and the trade unions.

We have to fight Fascism wherever we find it. And we need to take seriously the fact that it always presents itself as defending society from the absolute forces of evil.

If it rises again in France, how long before the sound of jackboots marching will be heard in Britain.

Oradour-Sur-Glane as it is today following the Nazi Massacre of its people. From Richard Harper, Abandoned Places – 60 Stories of Places Where Time Has Stopped ( Glasgow: Collins 2014) 68-71.

I’m not going to link to Tousi’s video, as he is a man of the right, but if you want to see it on YouTube, it’s title is ‘Retired Generals Call For Military Takeover In France’