Posts Tagged ‘Westminster’

Lyra McKee and the Return of the Troubles in Northern Ireland

April 20, 2019

Yesterday Mike reported the death of Lyra McKee, a crusading journalist in Ulster, who was shot dead during rioting at the Creggan estate in Derry. Police had been despatched their to search for arms and ammunition that it was feared would be used by Republican terrorists, hoping to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising with a return to violence and bloodshed.

Mike makes the point that there are no reasons good enough to justify murder, and that 21 years after the Good Friday agreement there must be a commitment instead to friendship. Power must once again be restored to the Stormont Assembly, and the people of the Six Counties should be shown that the Irish border will remain open, whatever Britain’s relationship with the EU is like.

He states that the best way to shut down violence is to remove the cause for it. But Tweezer has instead stated that ‘nothing has changed’. Well, problems with a political cause need a political solution, and so he asks May squarely why nothing has changed.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/04/19/journalist-shot-dead-in-northern-ireland-21-years-after-good-friday-agreement-why/

I think we all know the reason for that. Devolved government in Northern Ireland has collapsed through a failure of the two coalition parties to cooperate. And Tweezer has increased insecurities over the Irish border through her determination to hold on to power at the expense of a proper Brexit deal or alternative government, that could find one. And she is being propped up by a Loyalist party with very extreme views, linked to political corruption and terrorism.

The people of Ulster and the British people need and deserve better.

One of the problems Jerry Adams faced in selling the Good Friday agreement to the Republicans was that to many of them, it was simply a return to the situation before the Troubles. Northern Ireland had a devolved assembly, but it’s government was taken over by Westminster after the Troubles broke out. And there was a ‘hard border’ with Eire. Now that the government of the Six Counties is once again in the hands of Britain and there is again a prospect of a hard border returning, it is not surprising that anxiety among the Nationalist community in Ulster is rising and that dissident Republicans are seeking to exploit this and begin the terrorist campaign again.

It’s time this was stopped before it began, as Mike said. It’s time there was a renewed commitment to making democracy work in Northern Ireland, no hard border with Eire, and Tweezer and her wretched Brexit scheme out from No. 10. And preferably Corbyn in, who was never a supporter of terrorism, and had the respect of all the parties in Northern Ireland. And we need this immediately, before more innocents are killed.

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No, Hoffman, Pro-Palestine Activists Do Not March with the Far Right

March 16, 2019

The great Tony Greenstein has this morning put up a post responding to a series of allegations by Jonathan Hoffman, a former chair of the Zionist Alliance and venomously bitter opponent of anything resembling criticism of Israel. Hoffman is incensed at an article written by Shaun Lawson comprehensively attacking and refuting the weaponisation of anti-Semitism by the right, and particularly the far right. Lawson also takes very good aim at noxious Z-list celeb, Rachel Riley, and her contributions to the smears and hysterical polemics. Hoffman believes himself to have been smeared by Lawson, and offers some proof that he isn’t the raging pro-Israel racial fanatic he appears to be. Like the accusation that he marches with the EDL. Tony Greenstein has weighed in with his article, and refuted Hoffman’s forlorn attempts to show that he is a decent human being.

One of the arguments Hoffman tries to make against Lawson and his accusers is that in one demonstration, anti-Zionists were mixing and marching with the EDL and Fascist right. By Greenstein refutes this too, stating very clearly that anti-Zionists are not anti-Semites, and would not tolerate the presence of genuine racists. If such Fascists did try to mix with them, ‘there would be blood on the ground’. Greenstein writes

But in any case this is completely irrelevant. Anti-Zionists have never demonstrated alongside fascists and anti-Semites. We simply would not have tolerated them and on the few occasions when, in the 1980’s members of the National Front attempted to join Palestinian demonstrations we physically stopped them.

If the EDL had attempted to join our picket there would have been blood on the pavement. The Police would have had to separate us yet Hoffman was perfectly happy to demonstrate alongside fascists and anti-Semites because to him the most important thing is supporting Israel. We would never have demonstrated with fascists. The thought never occurred to the Zionists and Hoffman.

He then goes on to describe how Hoffman, and other leading Zionists like the Jewsplaining editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, have made common cause with anti-Semites and Fascists like the EDL and Poland’s Michal Kaminski. Incidentally, Greenstein notes early in his piece that due to his aggressive behaviour at a demonstration last year, Hoffman is due to be charged by the beak at Westminster Magistrates Court with common assault. The matter is sub judice, so Greenstein rightly declines to comment further on the matter.

The whole of Greenstein’s article can be read at:

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/03/in-defence-of-jonathan-hoffman-because.html

 

George Galloway on the Israeli Conspiracy Exposed by Al-Jazeera

September 22, 2018

This video is George Galloway’s take on the plot exposed by Al-Jazeera in their documentary ‘The Lobby’, and published in the press by the Mail on Sunday, of Shai Masot and various Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel to ‘take down’ various politicians the Israelis found inconvenient.

One of the politicos they discussed doing this to was the Conservative minister, Alan Duncan. Galloway notes that Duncan is one of the first openly gay Tory MPs, so you don’t have to be Einstein to imagine what kind of scandal they would invent to bring him down. Galloway states that this should have been enough for Duncan’s boss, Boris Johnson, who Masot described as ‘an idiot’ to summon the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, to London and give him his marching orders. Another MP they also discussed bringing down in a scandal was Sir Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, who is also gay. Again, you don’t have to spend much time wondering what that scandal might have been. He speculates whether they would have tried to bring Duncan and Blunt together as sexual partners.

But Boris immediately declared the matter closed, leading Galloway to ask this question: if that had been a Russian or Iranian embassy official doing the plotting, would the affair then have been closed? Or would the ambassadors have been brought into the Foreign Office and then expelled from the country? If this had been any other state, we would now be in the middle of a state to state crisis because of it.

Galloway then leaves Duncan and Blunt, as they can look after themselves. He’s far more interested in the Labour aspects of the scandal. Galloway recalls how he and Corbyn have marched together in support of the Palestinians for over 30 years. Which is why, the moment Corbyn was elected, and even before, when it seemed he would win the leadership of the Labour party, the Israel lobby went ‘bananas’. They persecuted him every step of the way to the leadership, and once he had, they conspired to have him overthrown. They concocted the fake anti-Semitism scare within the Labour party, making it seem that it was a nest of racism, when in fact there was nothing to these allegations whatsoever. He states that the only thing the mass of Labour members have in common with Jeremy Corbyn in this is their support for the Palestinian people, and their opposition to Israel’s crimes.

Galloway then moves on to talk about Joan Ryan, the Labour MP for Enfield North, who was also at the lunch with Masot. But you wouldn’t know represented Enfield; she’s better described as the MP for Tel Aviv, and is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Ryan was filmed grinning all over her face when Masot told her the good news that he had secured a million pound slush fund to secure Labour politicians to come to Israel’s aid. This was dressed up as a fund to fly Labour MPs to Israel for ‘fact-finding missions’, a pretext which Galloway describes as entirely bogus. He points out that most of them have already been on several ‘fact-finding’ missions to Israel. You can also fly to Israel for well under a thousand pounds. So if half of all Labour MPs have taken the Shekel, that only means an expenditure of 100,000 pounds. What’s the other 900,000 quid for?

He answers that it was a slush fund to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn, to remove him as the leader of the Labour party, by Labour MPs themselves, on behalf of a foreign power. And Israel isn’t just any foreign power, but the biggest violator of international law, and one which has just been condemned by the entire Security Council of the United Nations for its crimes against the Palestinians. He asks what kind of Labour MP is not only in bed with a state like that, but is covertly receiving money from a foreign embassy, for the defence of that country, when it stands in public disapproval amongst all Labour members and most people in Britain, and most countries in the world?

He then goes on to discuss the Conservative official’s remark at the lunch that almost all Conservative MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Galloway says that he can tell you himself that at least half of Labour MPs are members of the Labour Friends of Israel. He states ‘Isn’t it about time that you demanded that your MP’s first allegiance was to Britain? That their first responsibility should be to debate and decide what Britain’s foreign policy should be, rather than be agents for a somebody’s else’s country?’ He then goes on to say, ‘And when that somebody else’s country is a country of gangsters that murder people, including British people, and for a very long time’.

He states that the Israel lobby has been in Westminster and Whitehall before, they tried to murder Churchill when he was leading the country in the epic battle against Fascism, the perpetrators of the Holocaust which murdered six million Jews. They planted bombs in the Foreign Office and Whitehall, which killed British officials. Talking about the Stern Gang in Israel, he describes how they hanged two British sergeants in an orange grove and took pictures of it so that it could be used as propaganda around the world. The blew up more than 90 British civil servants in a hotel in Jerusalem. He goes on to say that Israel invented terrorism, or at least, modern terrorism. Yet it now calls its victims, the Palestinians, terrorists and themselves the victims of terror. Before we sort out the Middle East and its problems, we have to sort out our own parliament and democratic system. He states

We must not tolerate its subversion by a foreign power. We cannot tolerate members of Parliament being bought and paid for by a foreign power. Because we can never know, when they say, when they ask, when they do what they do in parliament, we can never know if its in our interests or it’s in the interests of someone else.

He states that he hasn’t seen the Al-Jazeera documentary yet, but when he does, he’s sure he’ll have the chance to come to talk to us about it again.

The Israelis didn’t invent modern terrorism. It first seems to have appeared in the wave of assassinations carried out by nationalists and radicals, including anarchists and socialists/ Communists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, like the various plots in Russia to kill the tsar. But certainly the founders of Israel used terror in their attempt to overthrow British rule in Palestine. The Stern Gang not only killed the two sergeants, they also booby-trapped the bodies to kill the British squaddies come to retrieve their remains. The bombing of the hotel in Jerusalem was the King David, and the attack is notorious. However, I was not aware that Zionist terrorists had planted a bomb in Whitehall, though I don’t doubt it occurred. Galloway is also clearly speculating when he describes the slush fund procured by Masot as mainly for the overthrow of Jeremy Corbyn, but I have no doubt that here he’s also right.

And he’s right about the threat they pose to British politics and democracy, no matter how much they may try to pose as victims and whine about anti-Semitic tropes.

Radio 4 Series on Monday on Corbyn’s Labour Party

June 9, 2018

Radio 4 is also beginning a three party documentary series on Monday, 11th June 2018, at 8.00 pm, entitled The Long March of Corbyn’s Labour. The blurb for this on page 123 of the Radio Times runs

Steve Richards examines the current state of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party, covering the events of the past year and exploring what the future holds.

The paragraph about the show on the facing page, 122, by David McGillivray, adds the following information and comments

In The Corbyn Story heard on Radio 4 in 2016, Steve Richards tracked Jeremy Corbyn’s progress from his election as Labour party leader the previous year. Now Richards – a regular presenter of Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster who for many years was the chief political commentator of The Independent – turns his attention to Corbyn in the 12 months since he confounded expectations in the 2017 general election when Labour made a net gain of 30 seats. But how have Brexit and the issue of anti-Semitism affected Corbyn’s chances of running the country?

Now, is this going to be an objective treatment of Corbyn and the Labour party? Or is just going to be another hatchet smear piece. Considering the way the Beeb’s news teams are stuffed with Tories, and its appalling bias against the Labour party, my guess is going to be the latter. But I hope I’m wrong.

Labour Wins in the Council Elections

May 5, 2018

I’ve had a look at the election results according to the I newspaper today, Saturday, 7th May 2018. The I’s attitude is that all the parties are claiming the results are good for the, with the exception of UKIP, who seem to have been decimated. The headline on the front page is ‘Everyone’s A Winner…apart from UKIP, who lose more than 100 seats’. And no bad thing either, in my opinion. Their attitude is that Labour did well, but didn’t make the spectacular gains that were expected. The lib Dems have also increased their share of the vote, and look like they may hold the balance in determining which party gets into power, just as they did at the 2010 election.

The article ‘All Three Main Parties See the Bright Side Despite Setbacks’ by Nigel Morris on page 6 states

A BBC projection of the English local election results put Labour and the Tories each on 35 per cent support, with the Liberal Democrats on 16 per cent. Repeated at a general election, the United Kingdom would be heading for another hung parliament, suggesting that public sentiment has barely shifted since Jeremy Corbyn wiped out Theresa May’s Commons majority last year.

It would also suggest the Liberal Democrats could decide which party leader was handed the keys to Downing Street, as they did in 2010.

After declarations from all but one of the 150 authorities holding elections, Labour had gained 59 seats but lost control of one council overall. The Tories recorded a net loss of 31 seats and two councils, while the Liberal Democrats gained 75 councilors and four councils. however, the night ended in disaster for the UK Independence Party which was virtually wiped off the electoral map with the loss of 123 seats.

The article then quotes a polling expert, John Curtice, who said that the Tories had gained a small swing from Labour since the seats were fought four years ago, but that it was impossible to say in this situation that one party was ahead of the other and that it was a draw.

The article also states that Labour failed to gain some target constituencies in London, such as Barnet, Wandsworth, Westminster, and Hillingdon, but still retained its dominant position in the capital. It gained Plymouth, and became the largest party in Trafford in Greater Manchester. However, it performed ‘weakly’ in Dudley, Derby and Redditch, which the I declared suggested that it did badly in pro-Brexit areas.

The I also noted that as well as gaining Plymouth and Trafford, Labour also took Kirklees in West Yorkshire, but also lost Nuneaton and Bedworth. The Tories increased their majority in Barnet, which has been blamed on the anti-Semitism allegations against Labour. (p. 7).

On page 8 there’s the election results. Labour has 73 councils, the Tories 46, Lib Dems 9, and there are 21 with no overall control.

Labour also has 2,299 councillors, the Tories 1,330, the Lib Dems 536. There are 96 independents, 39 Green, UKIP 3, and one councillor described as ‘other’.

Labour and the Tories are neck and neck at 35 per cent in the projected share of the national vote, Lib Dems at 16 per cent, and 14 per cent ‘other’.

While this isn’t the spectacular landslide people were predicting and hoping for, it’s still a good, solid election result, especially considering the massive vilification of Corbyn and the attempts to undermine his leadership and programme through the anti-Semitism smears.

There is, of course, much room for improvement, especially if the Lib Dems are expected to decide who gets into parliament through a coalition. Cable has said he won’t go into coalition with Labour. I’m not surprised. For all he cited the supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour ranks as his reason, the reality is that the Lib Dems are now a Thatcherite party little different from the Tories. They were all too keen to go into coalition with the Tories in 2010, and, despite their claims, did absolutely nothing to hold the Tories back from their extremist policies. In fact they were more extreme when it came to the tuition fee increases.

We need to smash both Tories and Lib Dems to get a Labour government we deserve and Corbyn in No. 10.

Tory Press Scaremongering about Sinn Fein Taking Seats in Westminster

June 14, 2017

In addition to the DUP’s links to Loyalist paramilitaries in Ulster, it seems the Tory press over this side of the Irish Sea have been trying to scare people with the spectre of Sinn Fein MPs taking their seats in the British parliament in Westminster. The Scum, Express and the Scotsman have been running stories about this.

This was too much for the French Philosophical Feline, who has produced a whole post showing how this very definitely won’t happen. He points out that Sinn Fein haven’t taken their seats in the British parliament ever since they became the third largest British party under Eamonn De Valera in the Coupon Election of 1918. If I remember correctly from when we did the ‘Irish Question’ as part of 19th century history at school, the Irish Nationalists’ policy of refusing to take their seats in Westminster goes back that far.

The Cat quotes a long section from an article by Sinn Fein’s Danny Morrison, stating the reasons the party won’t ever take up their seats in the British parliament. It’s partly because they’re Republicans, and so won’t swear an oath to the monarchy. It’s also partly because they can’t see themselves, as a minority party in parliament, ever passing any useful legislation.

But it’s mostly because they don’t recognise the validity of British government in Northern Ireland. They see Britain as a foreign, occupying power and so refuse to collaborate with it. Morrison also makes the point that it would be hypocritical of them to deny the authority of the British government over Northern Ireland, while actively claiming to have a right to interfere in British politics.

The Cat concludes

The British press has a terrible reputation for propagandizing and stirring up trouble, and anything it says with regards to Ireland and Irish sovereignty should be taken with a ton of salt – especially if its in The S*n, a paper that lied about Hillsborough and hacked people’s phones.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/dont-get-too-excited-sinn-fein-are-not-taking-their-seats-at-westminster/

Vox Political and Eoin Clarke Refute Smears of Tory Warmongers Against Corbyn

May 27, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political has produced another excellent blog post utterly demolishing the lies of the Tory warmongers that Jeremy Corbyn supported IRA terrorism, and that his election would somehow leave Britain more vulnerable to atrocities such as the one on Monday night in Manchester.

His piece contains a graphic by Eoin Clarke showing that far from supporting terrorism, Corbyn consistently condemned paramilitary violence and sincerely looked and worked for peace in Northern Ireland. As such, he was respected not only by the Republicans but also by Loyalists.

Clarke’s graphic states, for example:

* In November 1994 Corbyn signed a parliamentary early day motion condemning the Birmingham Pub Bombings committed by the Provisional IRA.

* The same year, Corbyn held several meetings with four Loyalist leaders to discuss the release of Neil Latimer, a member of the UDR, and to be informed that October at the Labour Party’s conference of the ceasefire the following week.

* In October 2015 Ian Paisley’s wife told the Belfast Telegraph that she found the Labour leader courteous and polite, and thought he was a ‘gentleman’.

* In February 1987 the Times apologised to Jeremy Corbyn. Murdoch’s British ‘paper of record’ had smeared him by claiming that he had not phoned the police to warn them of a suspected Provisional IRA terrorist in London. In fact Corbyn had.

* In August 1988 the Irish Times hailed him as ‘a tireless campaigner for the Irish.’ Corbyn had worked to the quash the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, and reopen the inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

* Corbyn in fact only ever met Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after Adams had been elected to parliament, 14 years after the commencement of the Troubles, in Adams’ capacity as an elected MP. He did, however, oppose Thatcher’s ban on broadcasting the voices of elected Sinn Fein politicians, and was keen that Adams’ constituents in West Belfast should not be silenced.

* When Adams visited Westminster in 1996, Corbyn was only one of a number of Labour MPs, who met him. The meetings were solely concerned with reviving the IRA ceasefire. This was achieved several months later. And Bill Clinton, who was then president of the US, had the previous year invited Adams to the Whitehouse. As Clarke’s graphic points out, this places Corbyn’s meeting with Adams firmly within the context of wider attempts by politicians to secure peace in Ulster.

Clarke does admit that there are two incidents, which are controversial, and do require an explanation.

* Shortly after the Brighton bombing of the Tory conference, Corbyn and other MPs met Republicans in Westminster. Corbyn’s motive for doing so was to end the strip searching of female prisoners on remand. However, Clarke states that the meeting was insensitive and wrong.

* In May 1987 Corbyn stood for a minutes’ silence to show respect for eight people, who had been killed by the British armed forces in Northern Ireland at a meeting of Irish sympathisers in London. Although one was entirely innocent, seven were members of the Provisional IRA. The circumstances of their deaths were unclear, and they may have been the victims of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. The European Court ordered the payment of £10,000 each to the eight victims’ families.

* As for Adams himself, Clarke states that it was the Tory government, who began talking to him eleven years before Corbyn became an MP. Adams had been released in prison for the secret talks the Conservatives were holding with Irish paramilitaries following the deaths of 476 people in 1972, the worse year of the Troubles. This was revealed in MI5 files released under the 30 year rule. The files also showed that the Tories considered that Adams genuinely wanted a ceasefire and an end to the violence, and that his answers to questions were ‘reasonable and moderate’.

So while Corbyn did meet with Gerry Adams and other Irish Nationalists, he also worked with Ulster Loyalists. It certainly appears from this that Corbyn wanted to find a fair, peaceful solution to the violence and hatred in Northern Ireland.

Mike’s piece also includes a short video, running just under a two minutes, by the Labour MP Chris Williams. Williams points out that 14 years ago in 2003, Corbyn had warned that ‘the Iraq war will set off a spiral of conflict that will fuel the wars, terrorism and misery of future generations.’ He also warned several times that police cuts would leave the country more vulnerable to terrorism. He also warned that intervention in Libya would lead to it becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. He also objected to selling arms to Saudi Arabia for the same reason. Williams states that Labour has a crystal-clear policy to make Britain safer, unlike the Tories. They intend to undo the cuts to the police force, and have the longer term goal of rethinking this country’s foreign policy. This means not sending more of our courageous young men and women to die in wars no-one invited us to take part in, and destabilising countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. And Williams asks his viewers to challenges the Tories, the rich, the media magnates and the cheerleaders for these wars in voting for Labour. New approaches and responses are required following the evil terrorist atrocity in Manchester, and Labour has precisely done that.

Mike also includes a wonderful little video of Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy refuting Michael Fallon, the Tory defence minister. Guru-Murthy quotes Boris Johnson at him. Boris had said that the Iraq invasion didn’t create the problem of Islamist terrorism – the attack on the Twin Towers occurred before that – but it did sharpen their resentment. Fallon then attacks the quote, believing it was said by Jeremy Corbyn. When Guru-Murthy points out it’s by Johnson, he then flails around trying to claim that it shows that Johnson really concurs with him, that this does not explain terrorism. But the Channel 4 newsman goes on, and quotes Boris as saying that you can’t disagree with the nay-sayers, who say that the invasion has increased Islamic resentment. Even after he’s been told, Fallon continues to state that he’d have to see what Boris Johnson really says for himself, and denies that Britain’s foreign policy explains away terrorism.

Mike comments drily if there’s anyone, who doesn’t agree with Jeremy Corbyn? (Apart, obviously, from Michael Fallon).

And at the very top of the piece is a quote from the former director of MI5, Theresa Manningham-Buller, that the Iraq invasion ‘undoubtedly increased the terrorist threat in Britain’.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/27/dont-believe-the-warmongers-on-jeremy-corbyn-get-your-story-straight/

So Jeremy Corbyn was right about the Iraq invasion. He’s been right about the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi in Libya, and he was right about the cuts to the police force. And he is very right to demand a ban on arms sales to the Saudis.

And while two of his actions in support of the Republicans in Northern Ireland have been insensitive, he is not a supporter of terrorism, as the Scum, Heil and Torygraph would have us all believe.

Go to Mike’s blog and read and watch the full article. Eoin Clarke’s information about Corbyn is in the form of a graphic, so that you can post it elsewhere on line to refute the Tories and their stooges, who still continue with their smears about the Labour leader.

And if you really want to see a just end to the violence in the Middle East, and a sensible policy to eradicate Islamist terror in this country, then vote Labour on June 8th.

If we don’t, if we continue to follow the Thatcherite warmongering of Blair, Cameron and May, it will only lead to worse violence and terror in the Middle East and at home.

Westminster Council Goes 16th Century on the Homeless

January 15, 2017

Mike also put up a post yesterday reporting that Westminster council has decided on another authoritarian way of dealing with homelessness. They’re going to round them up and send them to other councils outside the borough from January 30th. The council’s excuse for this disgraceful policy is that it’s to combat the high cost of temporary accommodation. Mike points out that the reality is that it’s simply more social cleansing from a Tory-run council, whose leaders want to take as much as possible for themselves while giving little to others. Mike also makes the point that the real way to tackle homelessness is to make sure people are able to keep their homes, and states that it’s a miracle that anyone is there to do the cooking, cleaning and other menial work for the borough’s rich electors.

He concludes

This is truly disgusting behaviour by some of the most vile dregs of humanity, all dressed up as respectable people in the same way their activities are decorated with a veneer of respectability.

Scratch it and see the corruption.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/01/14/homeless-people-are-to-be-hidden-not-helped-according-to-britains-most-tory-council/

Johnny Void has been covering policies like this for a very long time. He has a particular interest in homelessness, and has put up countless posts about how Tory policies, and those of New Labour, actually create homelessness and make life worse for homeless people. He has also covered the social cleansing policies of the various councils in London and elsewhere, whose solution to the problem of rough sleepers is to make sure they are not seen on the streets, and so drive them out of town centres or the area altogether. This is part of the same mindset that seems very happy with putting house prices well out of the ability of working people to afford them, forcing them to commute from the poorer boroughs where they live into the exorbitantly expensive areas where they work further into London.

And the council has plenty of previous in its exploitative and abysmal treatment of its poorer residents. In the 1980s or ’90s there was the ‘homes for votes’ scandal, in which the council leaders, Dame Shirley Porter, and her minions deliberately put working class, Labour voters in sub-standard property with dangerous levels of asbestos as part of a strategy to engineer a cosy victory for the Tories.

Thatcher famously used to bang on about ‘Victorian values’, by which she meant making welfare as uncomfortable and difficult for the poor as possible, in order to deter them from using. Like the architects of the workhouse. This policy, however, goes further back.

Right back to the 16th century.

It’s a return of the old Elizabethan legislation in which the homeless in search of work were, unless they had a permit, to be whipped and sent out of the borough. Except that they haven’t got round to flogging them yet. However, as Mike put up a couple of posts just before Christmas of incidents where people thought that beating and urinating on the homeless and their bedding was a great joke, this probably won’t be long.

This shows the disgusting medieval attitude of the rich lords and ladies of Westminster council, and how they view us serfs, even if we are fortunate enough not to have to live on the streets.

Vox Political on the Part-Privatisation of Channel 4

May 10, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also put up a piece today about the government’s proposed partial privatisation of Channel 4 under John Whittingdale. The Torygraph has reported that the government has climbed down from privatising it fully, and instead are just looking for a ‘strategic partner’, like BT. They would also like the network to sell its offices in Westminster and move to somewhere like Birmingham. Its account should also be checked by the NAO, responsible for examining government expenditure, and they would like to change its non-profit status and see it pay a dividend to the Treasury. Mike points out that the network chiefs have taken this as stepping stone towards Channel 4’s full privatisation, and are deciding to reject it. Meanwhile, the Tories don’t want to privatise it fully, because they’ll get the same backlash from their proposals to sell off the Beeb. See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/10/only-part-privatisation-for-channel-4-as-tories-fear-another-bbc-style-backlash/

This is another barbarous government attack on public broadcasting in the UK. Channel 4 was set up in the 1980s to be a kind of alternative to the alternative BBC 2, and to cater for tastes and audiences that weren’t being met by the established channels. According to Quentin Letts in one of his books, Denis Thatcher thought this mean putting yachting on the sports’ coverage instead of footie, which shows the limited idea of ‘alternative’ held by Thatcher and her consort. Jeremy Isaacs, its controller, was proud of his outsider status as a Jew in the network, a status he shared with Melvin Bragg, a Northerner. He said that he wanted to put on the new, fledgling channel programmes on miner’s oral history, and performances of the great classics of Britain’s minority cultures, like the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. He also believed that people had ‘latent needs’ – there were things they wanted to see, which they didn’t yet know they did. He was widely ridiculed for his views. Private Eye gave a sneering review of the book, in which he laid out his plans and opinions, stating that all this guff about people’s ‘latent needs’ showed that he thought he knew more than they did about what people actually wanted. As for being an outsider, the Eye observed rather tartly that they were all outsiders like that now in broadcasting, swimming around endlessly repeating the same views to each other.

In fact, Isaacs was largely right. Quite often people discover that they actually enjoy different subjects and pursuits that they’re not used to, simply because they’ve never encountered them. The Daily Heil columnist, Quentin Letts, comments about the way the network has been dumbed down in one of his books, pointing out how good the networks cultural broadcasting was when it was first set up. The network was particularly good at covering the opera. I can remember they broadcast one such classical music event, which was broadcast throughout Europe, rather like the Eurovision song contest but with dinner suits, ball gowns, lutes and violins rather than pop spangle, Gothic chic, drums and electric guitars. The audiences for its opera broadcasts were below a million, but actually very good, and compared well with the other broadcasters.

As for its programmes aimed at the different ethnic minorities, I knew White lads, who used to watch the films on ‘All-India Goldies’ and the above TV adaptation of the Mahabharata. This last was also given approval by Clive James, one of the great TV critics. James noted it was slow-moving, but still considered it quality television.

The network has, like much of the rest of British broadcasting, been dumbed-down considerably since then. American imports have increased, and much of the content now looks very similar to what’s on the other terrestrial channels. The networks’ ratings have risen, but at the expense of its distinctive character and the obligation to broadcast material of cultural value, which may not be popular. Like opera, foreign language films and epics, art cinema and theatre.

Even with these changes, there’s still very much good television being produced by the network. From the beginning, Channel 4 aimed to have very good news coverage, and this has largely been fulfilled. There have been a number of times when I’ve felt that it’s actually been better than the Beeb’s. In the 1990s the Channel was the first, I believe, to screen a gay soap, Queer as Folk, created by Russell T. Davis, who went on to revive Dr Who. This has carried on with the series Banana, Cucumber, and Tofu. It also helped to bring archaeology to something like a mass audience with Time Team, now defunct. And if you look at what remains of the British film industry, you’ll find that quite often what little of it there is, is the product of either the Beeb or Channel 4 films.

And from the beginning the Right hated it with a passion. Well, it was bound to, if Denis Thatcher’s idea of alternative TV was golf and yachting, and Thatcher really wouldn’t have wanted to watch anything that validated the miners. And it was notorious for putting on explicitly sexual material late at night, as well as shows for sexual minorities, such as discussing lesbianism, when these weren’t anywhere near as acceptable as they are today. As a result, the Heil regularly used to fulminate against all this filth, and branded its controller, Michael Grade, Britain’s ‘pornographer in chief’.

And over the years, the various governments have been trying to privatise it. I think Maggie first tried it sometime in the 1980s. Then they did it again, a few years later, possibly under John Major. This surprised me, as after they privatised it the first time, I thought that was the end of it. Channel 4 had been sold off completely. It seems I was wrong. It seems these were just part privatisations. Now they want to do it again.

It struck me with the second privatisation of Channel 4 that this was an election tactic by the Tory party. Maggie had tried to create a popular, share-owning, capitalist democracy through encouraging the working class to buy shares in the privatised utilities. And for all her faults and the immense hatred she rightly engendered, Maggie was popular with certain sections of the working class. By the time the Tories wanted to privatise the Channel the second time, it struck me that they were floundering around, trying to find a popular policy. The magic had worn of the Thatcherite Revolution, Major was in trouble, and so they were trying to bring back some of the old triumphs of Thatcher’s reign, as they saw it. They needed something big and glamorous they could sell back to the voters. And so they decided to privatise Channel 4. Again.

They want to do the same now. But the fact that they’re looking for ‘a strategic partner’ tells you a lot about how things have changed in the intervening years. This is most definitely not about popular capitalism. Most of the shares held by working people were bought up long ago by the fat cats. In this area, the Thatcherite Revolution has failed, utterly, just as it has in so many others. This is all about selling more of Britain’s broadcasting industry to the Tory’s corporate backers. Much of ITV is owned by the Americans, if not all of it, and Channel 5 certainly is. What’s the odds that Channel 4 will stay British, if it too is privatised?

And so we can look forward to a further decline in public broadcasting in this country, as it more of it is bought by private, and probably foreign, media giants. Quality broadcasting, and the duty of public broadcasters to try and expand their audiences’ horizons by producing the new, the ground-breaking, alternative and unpopular, will suffer. All for the profit of the Tory party and their big business paymasters.

Tory Ex-Cabinet Ministers Given Jobs in the Industries They Supervised

January 12, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political reported a piece in yesterday’s Mirror, that five former members of Cameron’s cabinet had found jobs in the very industries that it was their business to supervise. See his article http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/11/gravy-train-scandal-as-ex-ministers-join-payroll-of-industries-they-used-to-oversee/

Mike rightly points out that Private Eye has an occasional column about this, ‘Revolving Doors’. It’s a fine old Tory tradition, though one which Bliar and New Labour also took up with enthusiasm. Before Blair took power, however, it was a real scandal under John Major. Then there was a series of scandals of cabinet ministers and senior civil servants taking up jobs in the very industries that they had helped to privatise. This was attacked in the British press as ‘sleaze’.

On the other side of the Channel, the French have very strict rules against such conduct. There are laws against it. I think one of them, which has been proposed by the Eye, is that there should be a two year wait before a cabinet minister or senior civil servant can take up such a post. The reason businesses take on former ministers and mandarins is to get hold of their address book of useful contacts. While this has gone on in just about all area of politics and the economy, some of the most blatant examples have been with former defence ministers getting jobs with arms companies. A two year wait for such posts would vastly cut down on this, as by that time their diaries and lists of friends and associates would be well out of date. There’d be absolutely no reason for firms to hire them.

This, however, is too much like good sense and genuine, disinterested government, for the politicos and apparatchiks at Westminster and Whitehall, and so it stands absolutely no chance of being introduced over here. I suspect if someone were to suggest it, they would be taken aside by the latest incarnation of Sir Humphrey Appleby, and quietly told that what they were doing was ‘courageous’. Or they’d try some other way to circumvent and undermine it.

The French, meanwhile, were spectacularly unimpressed with what they saw as our failure to take the matters as seriously as it should. One French minister interviewed by the Financial Times stated quite clearly that simply calling it ‘sleaze’ misrepresented its true importance. ‘What you call ‘sleaze’, he said, ‘we call corruption’.

So let’s call it like they do in la Belle France: Five Tory ministers have corruptly taken up jobs in the industries they supervised while in government.