Posts Tagged ‘Whitehall’

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.

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Sam Seder’s Majority Report on Stefan Molyneux’s Toxic Hatred of Women

May 5, 2018

One of the speakers at the far right ‘free speech’ rally in Whitehall tomorrow is Stefan Molyneaux. Molyneaux’s a libertarian with a bitter hatred of Islam, and is one of the major figures in the antifeminist men’s rights movement. British male feminist and scourge of racists and fascists Kevin Logan has a video on him as part of his series on misogynists, ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’. In this video from Sam Seder’s Majority Report, one of Seder’s fellow hosts talks about a disturbing rant from Molyneux they’ve been sent from a listener.

It’s truly scary. In it, Molyneux tells one of his listeners that he is right to blame his mother for the bad treatment he had from his father, because women love, marry and procreate with stupid and evil men. He then goes on to blame women for just about all the evils of the modern world, including nuclear weapons, national debt and genocide.

The presenter also points out that Molyneux and the people, who follow him up, also seem similar to the mass shooter Elliot Roger. Roger was frustrated at not being able to get a girlfriend, made a video in which he also ranted about girls and women choosing bad men over a ‘gentleman’ like him, and then went off on his shooter spree to kill a few women, and the men, who attempted to defend them or simply got in the way. These people really believe that women are only there for their sexual pleasure.

It says very much about the type of people speaking at the rally tomorrow, which include Tommy Robinson of the EDL and Lauren Southern, that Molyneux’s with them. Quite apart from Molyneux’s own libertarianism, which would have everything privatised and the welfare state utterly destroyed.

Kevin Logan on the Far Right’s ‘Day For Freedom’ Video

May 5, 2018

Tomorrow the far right will be holding a ‘Day for Freedom’ rally in Whitehall in London. Speakers at the rally include racists and xenophobes such as Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, Laura Southern, and ‘virtuous troll’ Milo Yiannopoulos. This is part of the general strategy of the far right in America and Canada to claim that they are defending free speech against the attempts by the left to close it down. They are trying to roll back the left’s attacks on hate speech against minorities, such as ethnic minorities, Muslims, gays, women and the transgendered.

In this video, male feminist and foe of the far right, Kevin Logan, comments on how ridiculous their promotional video for the event is. This shows the various speakers with tape covering their mouths. Then, to funky background music, they take the tape off. Logan first of all comments that the production standards for the Daesh videos have really improved, before making the point that, for people who are supposedly silenced, they’re very vocal. They never shut up.

There is an issue here with the free speech, as I’ve said before. Milo Yiannopoulos did a tour of American campuses ostensibly to promote it and attack the left’s policy of no-platforming extreme rightwing speakers. In fact, this is an pretext for them trying to bring racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-feminism back into the mainstream.

Some of the campus bans on speakers are excessive and, in my view, do severely limit free speech. Germaine Greer, for example, was given a no-platform at one university, because of her attitude that transwomen – male to female transsexuals – aren’t real women. It’s a very controversial position, and other feminists have accused her of bigotry and misogyny. But behind the laws limiting hate speech and the no-platforming policy is are several very good reasons. The demonization of ethnic minorities by the far right is an attempt to whip up hatred against them, hatred that does lead to real, brutal violence, apart from massive social injustice. And it is extremely dangerous, as shown very clearly by the history of apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and other Fascist regimes around the world. And the same is true for gays, and transpeople. Logan himself has also attacked the various members of the anti-feminist far right for their sheer misogyny, which can lead to them defending and validating violence against women and even rape. See his series of vlogs, ‘Descent of the Manosphere’ for far too many examples.

Antifa are also planning to turn up tomorrow, so there will be counterprotests. I’m afraid that there might be violence, so it might be wise for some people to avoid that area tomorrow.

Far Right ‘Free Speech’ Gathering This Sunday to be Opposed by Anti-Fascists

May 2, 2018

This is another little video from RT, warning about a demonstration at Whitehall which is due to be held this Sunday, 6th May 2018. The demonstration is being organised by the far right, and include Tommy Robinson, Milo Yiannopolous, Count Dankula and Laura Southern.

The organisers have said it is to defend freedom of speech, without which our other freedoms crumble away.

Antifa have said that it will be a march of far right, anti-Muslim bigots and ‘anti-Fascists from across the country need to take to the streets to oppose them.’

Tommy Robinson is the founder and former leader of the Islamophobic English Defence League. Milo Yiannopoulos is the Alt-Right speaker and ‘virtuous troll’, who attacks gays, ethnic minorities, feminism, Islam and the left in general. Earlier this week I put up a video of him leaving a New York bar. He’d popped in just as the Democratic Socialists of America New York chapter were holding a meeting. So they chanted at him, ‘Get out, Nazi scum!’

Yiannopoulos was claiming that he was pushed and threatened, but as the video shows, nothing of the sort happened. Sam Seder and his team over at Sam Seder’s Majority Report also questioned whether it was quite an accident that Yiannopoulos just happened to go there for a drink while the Democratic Socialists were holding a meeting. It looks, they said, like he was trying to put himself back in the news and trying to boost his ailing career again.

And Lauren Southern is another fixture of the Far Right. She was part of the anti-immigrant team, who were planning to cruise round the Med rounding up immigrant boats. They were stopped after a massive outcry and campaigns by anti-racist groups like Hope Not Hate.

Yiannopoulos and the rest of the Far Right have been trying to organise meetings and conferences under the claim that they are defending freedom of speech against attack by the left.

There are issues of democracy involved, so they’re right about that. The legislation criminalising ‘hate speech’ does contravene absolute freedom of speech. But it does so in order to protect ordinary people from abuse, assault and possibly murder whipped up against them for no other reason than that they are of a different ethnicity, colour or religion.

And I don’t believe for a single minute that the far right believes in true freedom of speech either. Fascists have always done their level best to suppress the activities and arguments of their enemies through brute force.

I don’t like the implicit threat in this report, that the meeting will result in violence between the Far Right and the anti-Fascists. But I agree with the principle that anti-Fascists have to march to protest them.

Lobster: Torygraph Running MI5 ‘Red Scare’ Stories against Labour Again.

March 7, 2018

Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, has some very interesting comments about the recent libels in the Torygraph about Jeremy Corbyn meeting a Czech spy, going under cover as a diplomat, in his ‘The View from the Bridge’ column in the latest issue, no. 75.. Or rather, not about that story so much – he considers most of it invention, especially the part about money changing hands – but about another story in the same issue of the Torygraph about Rob Hayward. Hayward was the General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1972 to 1982. According to the Torygraph article, he had secret meetings with KGB officials at the Russian Embassy, where he talked about circumventing the power of the parliamentary Labour party, which would allow him to come out with the same agenda alongside the Communists. The article was written by one Giles Udy, who is described in his publisher’s blurb as a member of the council of the Keston Institute.

The Keston Institute specialises in the study of religion in the Soviet Union and the Communist states. It was set up by the Reverend Michael Bourdeaux, Sir John Lawrence, Leonard Schapiro and Peter Reddaway. Ramsay writes of it and its founders

Schapiro wrote books for, and Reddaway was a member of, the Information Research Department (IRD) the Foreign Office’s anti-subversion, anti-Soviet organisation about which a great deal has been written, not least in these columns. Schapiro was also a member, and briefly chair of, Brian Crozier’s Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC). 6 In other words, the Keston Institute is a product of the Anglo-American anti-Soviet and anti-communist apparatus created during the Cold War. This explains why Mr Udy was given access to surveillance tapes of the Soviet embassy in London. If it isn’t funded by them, Keston liaises with the British security and intelligence services. With the arrival of Jeremy Corby and a left-leaning Labour Party membership, the dust is being blown off a lot of old files all over Whitehall . . . .

The Cold Warriors are back. All the bug-eyed paranoiacs, who were convinced that Harold Wilson was a KGB spy, whose number included James Jesus Angleton, the head of the CIA, and Margaret Thatcher, are now back at it running red scare stories against Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Cos he threatens the course of western capitalism by wanting to renationalise the health service, parts of the national grid and the railways. And this is clearly enough to panic the secret state’s guardians of neoliberalism, the same kind of people who used to rant about ‘union subversion’ and thought up schemes to have left wingers, including journos, interned somewhere in the Hebrides or Shetland after a right-wing coup had overthrown the Labour government.

Lobster is at https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/. Go to number 75 on the side column, click on it, and open ‘The View From the Bridge’. This piece about the Torygraph is entitled ‘Just Like Old Times’, because, obviously, it is just like old times when the British Secret State was doing its level best to bring down Labour.

‘I’ Newspaper: Thatcher Wanted to Abolished Welfare State and NHS Even After Cabinet ‘Riot’

November 27, 2016

The I newspaper on Friday (25th November 2016) carried a report that recently released cabinet papers reveal that Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe continued to plan for the abolition of the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS even after the rest of the cabinet violently and vehemently rejected her plans. Here’s what the paper wrote

Thatcher’s plan to abolish the welfare state outraged MPs

The Prime Minister tried to advance incendiary proposals despite uproar in Cabinet. By Cahal Milmo.

Margaret Thatcher and her Chancellor Geoffrey Howe secretly sought to breathe new life into incendiary plans to dismantle the welfare state even after they had been defeated in a cabinet “riot”, newly released files show.

Shortly after she came to power in 1979, Mrs Thatcher instructed a Whitehall think-tank to put forward proposals on how to shake up long-term public spending based on the free market principles she spent her 11 years in office seeking to apply.

But what the Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS) put forward in 1982 was the most radical and vexing blueprint of the Thatcher era, including a call for the end of the NHS by scrapping free universal healthcare, introducing compulsory charges for schooling and sweeping defence cuts.

The proposals proved far too militant for the “wets” in Mrs Thatcher’s frontbench team and were shouted down at a meeting in September that year which Nigel Lawson, the then Energy Secretary, later described in his memoirs as “the nearest thing to a Cabinet riot in the history of the Thatcher administration.”

A chastened Mrs Thatcher, who later claimed she had been “horrified” at the CPRS document, responded to the leak of a watered-down version of the paper by using her speech to the Conservative Party conference in 1982 to insist that the NHS is “safe with us”.

But Treasury documents released at the National Archives in Kew, west London, show that the Iron Lady and her first Chancellor did not let the project drop and planned behind the scenes to “soften up” the ministers in charge of the main departments targeted by the CPRS.

In November 1982, a memo was sent informing Sir Geoffrey that Mrs Thatcher had set up meetings with her Health Secretary, Norman Fowler, Education Secretary Keith Joseph and Defence Secretary John Nott. The memo said: “This series of meetings is designed to soften up the three big spenders. Without their support the operation will not work.”

The document details a political pincer movement between No 10 and the Treasury with Sir Geoffrey asked to ensure that no department’s funding was ring-fenced – although there was recognition that the Prime Minister’s public position on the NHS made that difficult. It said: “Your main aim, I suggest, should be to ensure that no sacred cows are prematurely identified. Given the Prime Minister’s concern about the NHS, this may be difficult.”

The files suggest the ploy met immediate opposition. A later Treasury memo said: “DHSS [Department of Health and Social Security] officials say there is no chance that Mr Fowler would agree to further study of this idea. I imagine that in the circumstances, and especially given the Prime Minister’s speech at Brighton, it is difficult to press them.”

The documents go on to reveal that Sir Geoffrey had a certain ambivalence towards how the Thatcherite project should proceed.

When the Adam Smith Institute came forward with a project to set out a plan for radical Whitehall restructuring to be enacted after the 1983 general election, Sir Geoffrey accepted the concerns of his political adviser that the scheme would fail.

Sir Geoffrey Wrote: “Every proposal will be seized on and hung round our neck. I see v great harm.” (p. 16).

This gives the lie to Thatcher’s claim in her autobiography that when she reviewed the NHS, she found it to be basically found, and only felt that it should have given more space to private industry. It also shows that Leon Brittan was also lying in his autobiography when he also claimed that the Labour party had lied about the Tories planning to abolish the NHS. They had considered it in 1983, and again considered it four years later in 1987.

As for the cabinet rebels who ‘rioted’ against Thatcher’s scheme, from what I’ve read they were motivated not from principle but from the realisation that if she tried to carry out her plans, they’d all be out of a job come the next election.

This did not stop the Tories carrying on the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS. Thatcher carried on chipping away at it. So did John Major, and it was kicked into a higher gear by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. And now David Cameron and his wretched successor, Theresa May, have nearly completed the job.

I also like to know who the members of the CPRS were, who recommended the complete dismantlement of the welfare state. At the moment, ideological thugs like them hide behind their extremely low profiles. If the politicians, who’ve embraced their ideas are attacked on lose their seats, these people are nevertheless safe, in that they slink off and get another seat at the governmental table somewhere else. Mike on his blog pointed out how Wasserman, one of the architects behind Thatcher’s plan to privatise the NHS, was also one of the official invited back to advise Cameron on how to ‘reform’ it, in other words, privatise more of it.

It’s about time the shadowy figures behind these ideas were named and shamed, as well as the foul politicos who back them.

C.A.R. Crosland on the Anti-Democratic Nature of the British Public School System

June 28, 2016

I found this description of the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the British public school system, and its pernicious effect in creating class inequality and blocking genuine modernisation and social, political and technological improvements in British society in C.A.R. Crosland’s The Conservative Enemy: A Programme of Radical Reform for the 1960s (London: Jonathan Cape 1962). Despite the fact that this was written well over fifty years ago, it’s still, unfortunately, very true and is amply demonstrated by the current Tory government, headed as it is by the old Etonian limpet, David Cameron.

The public schools offend not only against the ‘weak’, let alone the ‘strong’, ideal of equal opportunity; they offend even more against any ideal of social cohesion or democracy. This privileged stratum of education, the exclusive preserve of the wealthier classes, socially and physically segregated from the state educational system, is the greatest single cause of stratification and class-consciousness in Britain.

It is not, of course, the only cause. The effect of being for so long a great imperial power, and the psychology of discipline, hierarchy, and master-subject relationships which this induced; the persistence (and indeed continual reinforcement ) of an hereditary aristocracy; the absurd flummery surrounding the Monarchy; the obsessive snobbery (even amongst a section of the intelligentsia) about birth and titles; the deep-seated differences in accent; the national propensity to kowtow and manoeuvre for precedence – these would produce strong feelings of social deference and superiority whatever the educational system.

But the school system is the greatest divisive influence. It is no accident that Britain, the only advanced country with a national private elite system of education, should also be the most class-ridden country. The Scandinavian countries, the least class-ridden, have no significant private sector; such few private schools as exist are mainly for backward children. In France, while many private primary schools exist, middle-class children normally go tot he public lycee at the secondary stage. In Germany there are half a dozen would-be-English public schools. But only an insignificant minority even of wealthier children attend them, and the carry no national prestige; an Old Salem boy may care as passionately about his alma mater as an Old Etonian, but his prospective employer or bank manager, let along the rest of the population, could not care less. In the United States, it is true, there are not only a large number of non-exclusive private Catholic schools, but a growing number of ‘smart’ upper-class private schools which, being often academically superior to the state schools, confer an advantage in getting into the best universities. But disturbing as this trend is, these schools still do not constitute a nation-wide elite system with the divisive social influence of the English public schools; nor, given the anti-elitist psychology of the American people, are they ever likely to.

No historically-minded champion of the public schools could possibly deny that schools can have either an integrative or divisive social influence. For it was indeed the historic function of the public schools in the nineteenth century to assimilate the sons of the new and self-made middle class into the ranks of the hereditary ruling class; and even today they fulfil an integrative role for the sons of self-made men. Similarly the American high school, whatever else may be said about it, has brilliantly fulfilled the function of assimilating ethnically diverse groups into a common national culture. (As a matter of fact, most of what else is said about it by English critics is false. They always assume that its lower educational standards are due to the fact of its being ‘comprehensive’, whereas in reality they are due, as the quite different Swedish experience demonstrates, to certain specifically American factors – the attachment to ‘life-adjustment’ education, the automatic ‘social promotion by age groups and the lack of grading by ability, the preference for vocational courses, the acute shortage of teachers, the low quality of many of the teachers, and so on.) A school system can either increase or diminish social disparities; and the British public schools manifestly increase them.

And they do not even, today, provide efficient leadership. It is again no coincidence that Britain, the only country with a national elite system of private boarding schools, from which its leadership is still disproportionately drawn, should be falling so badly behind other democratic countries in the achievement of widely-accepted national goals – behind western Europe in economic performance, Scandinavia in social welfare and urban planning, the United States in technology and innovation. In the nineteenth century the public schools, disagreeable as they may have been, did at least train a leadership perfectly fitted to the needs of a growing empire. For this training, their characteristic features – the boarding, the hierarchical discipline, the emphasis on games, the carefully-nurtured sense of innate superiority – were precisely apt. They are not, however, (although now considerably modified), equally apt for a mid-twentieth-century world full of computers, Communism, trade unions and African nationalism. This is hardly surprising. The quality of leadership is not, after all, an absolute and unvarying quality. It is specific to particular situations; and what makes for good leadership in one situation may make for bad leadership in another. The public schools today, although providing ‘a good education’ in a rather narrow sense, do not generate the right type of leadership for a democratic, scientific, welfare world.

Almost every emphasis which they inculcate – on manners and ‘character’, on the all-rounder and the amateur, on the insular, the orthodox and the traditional – is wrong from the point of view of contemporary goals. it is this which partly explains those national characteristics which are at long last becoming the subject of widespread hostile comment: the reluctance to innovate, the refusal to grapple with problems, the lack of pride in maximum professional achievement, and the cult of the gifted amateur, of the smooth and rounded Wykehamist who can turn his hand to anything with a natural, effortless superiority, and with no need to stoop to the humourless professionalism of Huns or Yanks. Fundamentally this reflects a failure of English elite education to achieve the highest of all education ideals: that of fostering inquiry, dissent, and critical intellectuality. A country in which the most damning insult which Lord Salisbury could fling at Mr Iain Macleod was that he is ‘too clever by half’ is not a good prospect in the modern world. Some of our upper classes are as anti-intellectual as the Know-Nothings.

But this attitude might be attributable to aristocracy, not to the schools themselves. Unfortunately, parallel faults can found in those fields which traditional represent the culmination of the British elite system of education: the Civil Service, and Oxford and Cambridge. Beautifully adapted to its pristine task of administering a going concern without excessive interference, the British Civil Service remains notable for its honesty, industry and administrative competence. But it has failed to adapt to a world which requires the long rather than the short view, active planning rather than passive administration, novel rather than traditional ideas. Thus the Treasury has been astonishingly behind France, Holland and Sweden in adopting long-term economic planning. The Foreign Office was ponderously slow to wake up to the existence of new and revolutionary post-war situations in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Ministries of Health and National Insurance have introduced new social policies without even a research unit to investigate their probably effects. The Ministry of Education takes decisions for or against different types of school without conducting any research into their different consequences, and has little idea of how many teachers we need to carry out its own policies. The typical Whitehall attitude of mind-thorough and precise, but pedantic and unadventurous – is in part a reflection of the Oxford and Cambridge background from which most Civil Servants come. But are Oxford and Cambridge really as good as Harvard and the Sorbonne! Their farcical performance over the introduction of sociology – a lamentable compound of hidebound traditionalism and facetious superciliousness – makes one doubt it….

The need is not for more public-school-type education for the top few per cent of the population. Indeed, the whole notion of an elite-type education is inappropriate in Britain today. For both our greatest need and our largest untapped resource now lie below the level of the cleverest few per cent – although disastrously many even of these are still slipping through the net. From the viewpoint of efficiency as well as equality, we need less concentration on an educational elite and more on the average standard of attainment.

The case against the public schools, then, has grown stronger even in the last few years. First, the type of leadership which they provide is seen to be less and less appropriate to the national goals of the 1960s. Secondly, as we grasp the fact that intelligence is partly an acquired characteristic, we see even more clearly that the whole notion of an exclusive and privileged education is inconsistent with equality of opportunity. Thirdly, despite the gradual process of democratic reform in other directions, the socially divisive influence which these schools exert show disturbingly little sign of abating. (pp.174-8).

This is clearly a dated piece, as Britain was, until we left the EU, something like the fifth largest economy in the world, and England has led the world in the number of patents that come out of our universities, quite apart from the more obvious points such as the collapse of Communism. But as this government’s policies amply demonstrate, the wealth is increasingly concentrate in a very narrow circle of the extremely rich, at the expense of everyone else. And while Britain may be scientifically immensely innovative, those innovations have tended to be developed elsewhere. Maglev transport is a case in point. The idea of trains powered by magnetic levitation was the idea of the British scientist, Laithwaite. There were serious experiments in its application by British Rail, until this was axed during the cost-cutting of the early 1970s. Research was then taken over by the Germans. Which partly explains why Volkswagen’s slogan, Vorsprung durch Technik – something like ‘Advance through Technology’, isn’t translated into English.

In short, the main function of the British public schools is to lock the upper classes in power, and the rest of the country in a quasi-feudal class servility. And one of its products, Boris Johnson, looks like he’s going to be the next PM.

Oh, couldn’t we have at last at least one leader, who went to a comprehensive!

Dennis Skinner’s Personal Recommendations for Improving Britain

May 31, 2016

The veteran Labour MP and trade unionist, Dennis Skinner, also makes some political recommendations of his own in his autobiographical Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences, published two years ago in 2014. He summarises his plans, saying

So I’m fighting for a new Labour government to axe the bedroom tax, save the NHS, cut fuel bills, created jobs for the young and raise living standards. My personal manifesto will be to the left of that of the party but I’m committed 100 per cent to the election of Labour candidates across Britain. (p.313).

As for the proposals themselves, he writes (headlines in bold are mine)

I’ve a few suggestions of my own to boost Labour’s popularity and beat the Tories.

End Privatisation

To start the ball rolling we should end expensive privatisation instead of paying a fortune to contractors such as G4S, Serco and Capita that make a mess of services in the process. It’s time we got back to publicly run, publicly owned services provided in the public interest.

Nationalise the Railways

On the railways, the £900m surplus on East Coast trains, operated publicly after the private sector crashed twice, shows us the way ahead. Instead of boosting Richard Branson’s profits, a nationalised railway could make a profit and generate the cash to improve every station in Britain.

A ‘Robin Hood’ Tax on City Speculators

If we want extra money for the National Health Service and social care, we should levy a Robin Hood tax on speculators in the city. Directing the funds raised directly to health and care, including help for the mentally handicapped, rather than to the Treasury, would be immensely popular. We could start with a low rate and increase it when the tax proves to be popular, as I’m sure it will be, by emulating the one per cent National Insurance rise for the NHS when Gordon Brown was Chancellor.

Scrap Trident

Scrapping Trident would free up billions of pounds for a massive house building programme so everybody has a roof over their head and nobody is homeless. The position on council house sales has to change or local authorities won’t build houses if they know they must sell them cheaply after a few years.

End Nuclear Weapons, Restore Local Democracy

The savings from defusing nuclear weapons can also help save local democracy. Councils are being swamped by central government. Powers are either grabbed by Whitehall or transferred to unelected quangos. Ever since the Clay Cross rent rebellion, Whitehall has dictated to communities. We need to reverse the trend.

Nationalise the Utilities

On the question of the utilities – gas, electricity, water – this is the moment to start taking them back into public ownership. We took control after 1945 and right up to Wilson’s final government, when he nationalised aerospace with a majority of only three, public ownership was advanced. To cap energy bills is a good idea but a better plan is to control utilities by restoring public ownership in Britain of firms that are currently owned in France, Germany and almost every country on the globe.

Spend More on Education; End Privatised Schooling

Spending on education more than doubled under the last Labour government, which was impressive. let’s stop the growth of faith schools and misnamed free schools – tax payers fund them so they’re not free – by enhancing the powers of local authorities to champion the education of every single child.

Raise Minimum Wage

We need to end the pay freezes. The people that are carrying the burden of the bankers’ ramp are mainly workers at the bottom of the scale. The Living Wage shouldn’t be optional. Everybody should get it. But let’s not stop at £7.65 an hour outside London and £8.80 in the capital. The trade union campaign for 10 an hour should be Labour policy. A decent day’s work deserves a decent day’s pay.

Ban Zero Hours Contracts

We should introduce legislation to outlaw zero hours contracts and private employment agencies. Playing off worker against worker, ferrying into Britain cheap labour to undercut employees, is poisoning community relations. Sticking 10, 12 or 15 eastern Europeans into a house then deducting large sums form their earnings is in nobody’s interests except cowboy employers. Reasserting the role of Jobcentres as local labour exchanges will improve wages and conditions.

Increase Trade Union Rights

Trade union rights must be strengthened significantly, including the abolition of sequestration. Industrial action requires two sides to be involved in a dispute, yet it is union funds that are seized. Rebalancing employment rights in favour of workers and unions is essential if we are to build a fairer economy.

Abandon Tory Obsession with Fiscal Restraint

And we must escape the dumb economic mantra about balancing the books. There would have been no Spirit of ’45 if Clement Attlee’s goal was to balance the books. There would have been no NHS, new Welfare State, new council houses and unemployment wouldn’t have dropped to 440,000 in 1950, after only five years of the finest Labour government ever. In fact the finest government ever.

We need spending to get people to work and the economy growing. You don’t need a crystal ball to see where we should be going. We can find the way ahead by reading the history books. (pp. 309-12).

He states that they’re not just his ideas, but have been discussed for the last 10 or 20 years in the Bolsover constituency.

I have some caveats. I don’t like the attack on faith schools, having been to an Anglican faith school myself, and I don’t share his euroscepticism. But other than that, I think he’s absolutely right. Thatcherism has done immense damage to this country. Now, after thirty years of it, it is long past the time it should have been discarded.

This Fortnight’s Private Eye on the Tories’ Attack on the Freedom of Information Act

March 23, 2016

This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye (18th-31st March 2016) has a piece on the government’s latest attempt to water down the Freedom of Information Act. Apparently, the review has rejected the suggestion that charges should be levied on requests, but it is expected to include a series of exemptions for certain types of information. This includes correspondence on government policies, depending on a test of whether it is ‘in the public interest’. It also aims to prevent the release of information that would ‘prejudice the conduct of public affairs’. The Tories’ review also proposes to drop appeals to a first tier tribunal. It is suggested that appeals should only be referred to an upper tribunal in cases involving a point of law.

The Eye makes it clear that these reforms are being suggested because the government is losing a high proportion of appeals. 31 per cent of the cases in which public authorities have refused to release material under the ‘conduct of public affairs’ exemption have been overturned, and partially overturned in a further 24 per cent of cases. As for the ‘policy’ exemption, the Eye notes that the government has been successful in keeping the information secret in less than half of all cases under the last Information Commissioner. Under the present Commissioner, Christopher Graham, the number of cases that have been overturned on this particular exemption reached 83 per cent last year (2015).

So no wonder the Tories, Whitehall and New Labour control freaks like Jack Straw are keen to vitiate the Act so that further information can’t possibly get out.