Posts Tagged ‘Workers’ Rights’

No, Corbyn Didn’t Nearly Destroy Labour, But Starmer Is

October 2, 2021

Despite Starmer’s less than stellar performance at the Labour party conference, Britain’s wretched press continues to regard him as the saviour of the Labour party. Yesterday’s I had their columnist Stephen Bush opining that the bargain basement Stalin had put Labour’s house in order. There was also a piece by Ayesha Hazarika, another Blairite Labour MP, giving readers the benefit of what she would like to say to Keef. And on Wednesday the Depress quoted Stalin as telling his audience, or possibly just the Depress, that Corbyn nearly destroyed the Labour party.

This is untrue. Corbyn didn’t destroy the Labour party. Under his leadership its membership expanded until it became the largest socialist party in Europe and it outstripped the Tories’, who had up to them been the larger party. These members paid membership fees, and so the party’s finances were very healthy. And his policies were and are massively popular with electorate. They wanted the renationalisation of the utilities, an end and reversal of the privatisation of the NHS, a strong welfare state and strong trade unions, proper rights at work and strong trade unions that actually protect working people. But these policies are anathema to the Thatcherite establishment, and particularly the Blairites who are trying to turn the Labour party in Conservatives .2.

And so the press and media vilification began. This initially just concentrated on calling him a Communist or Trotskyite, which was taken up by people who really don’t know what either of those actually are. But this didn’t actually make much of a dent in his support. Far more damaging was the accusation from the Zionist establishment of the Jewish community – the Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbinate and press – that he was a vicious anti-Semite because he spoke out in favour of the Palestinians. This was eagerly taken up by the wider British establishment, and used as a weapon by Corbyn’s enemies in the Labour party to undermine him. They did so by smearing and expelling his supporters.

Meanwhile the Blairites in Labour plotted a series of coups, ostentatiously resigning from his shadow cabinet live on television, and gave interviews to the press attacking him at every opportunity. The Blairite bureaucracy actively conspired to throw the 2017 and 2019 elections, and actively withheld from their leader the extent of real anti-Semitism in Labour in order to further blacken him. They also bullied and abused Black and ethnic minority MPs and activists like Diane Abbott and there is, thanks to them, a rise in Islamophobia in the party.

Now Corbyn did make some serious mistakes. I’ve heard it said that he should have purged the party bureaucracy of the Blairites, as was expected when he took over as leader. He didn’t, and so made a rod for his own back. But the most important was that he took the anti-Semitism accusations in good faith. Instead of defending his supporters from the spurious charges, Corbyn threw them under the bus in a policy of appeasement. This didn’t work and ended, as Tony Greenstein predicted it would, with Corbyn himself being personally attacked and ousted.

But Starmer’s leadership has been disastrous. After publicly embracing Corbyn’s policies, he started betraying them and the party’s left-wing membership almost as soon as he got the leadership. He broke all his election promises and blithely carried on the purge of left-wing members, all on the pretext that they were terrible anti-Semites. Even when the vast majority of those accused have been decent, self-respecting Jews. People, especially Blacks, Muslims and ethnic minorities, are leaving his racist Labour party in droves. In contrast to his attacks on the left, he has said little against Boris Johnson’s corrupt, inept government. Before last week most Brits didn’t know what he stood for. Now he’s come out laid his Blairite vision of Labour policy before the country. But this hasn’t increased his popularity either. Yesterday Tory vlogger Michael Heaver put up a video showing that Labour was still behind the Tories in the polls, and in fact their popularity had fallen slightly by a point during the conference. And among working class voters the Tories were massively ahead. Well, the Blairites were never interested in working class voters. They wanted middle class voters, and as a result, Blairite Labour is paying the price.

With supporters and members abandoning the party, its finances are in crisis and it is near bankruptcy. Starmer is trying recruit people, who aren’t traditionally Labour (meaning presumably Tories) as members and MPs, but they’re not coming forward. BFAWU, one of the founding unions, has disaffiliated and if more follow it will tear the historic guts out of the party. And under Starmer the party lost a swathe of local authorities and by-elections, thanks to his refusal to respect the Brexit vote in the referendum. Labour is on the point of collapse, but he’s been talking up what few victories he’s had as if they were splendid and overwhelming whereas in fact Labour barely held on to the contested seats.

But nevertheless, the Tory press are trying to delude this country that he’s made the party electable again and that somewhere down the line they’ll be in power.

Here’s Heavers video about the Labour poll results.

Yours Truly, Beast Rabban, Now Falls Victim to the Ultra-Zionist Witch Hunters

August 20, 2021

I suppose it had to come and in truth, I’m not really surprised. Indeed, I’ve been half expecting it. I am, after all, a man of the Labour left. I have made no secret that I support a nationalised and properly funded NHS, nationalised utilities, strong trade unions, proper workers’ rights, a living wage, as well as ‘Communist’ policies like worker involvement in management in firms of a certain size, and a special workers’ chamber in parliament. Because 77 per cent of MPs are billionaires and precious few members of Britain’s great working and lower middle classes. And while I am bitterly critical of Black Lives Matter and much of the current anti-racism ideology, I have Black, Jewish, Asian and Muslim friends and relatives. And so I despise the rising prejudices against these ethnicities and religions in the Labour party under Keir Starmer. I have also been a critic of all forms of Fascism and colonialism, and so have published pieces supporting the Palestinians, who have been victims of Israeli racism and ethnic cleansing. Just as I condemn the persecution of Muslims by Modi in Kashmir, the Turkish persecution of ethnic Kurds, China’s genocide of the Uighurs and historic genocides such as the slave trade and the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the South Seas and Australasia. And obviously, the Holocaust, merely reading about which has given me nightmares.

But, as they say, ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. And so today I was sent this darling missive from the Labour party Complaints Team, informing me that I have been accused of anti-Semitism. How vile and grotesque! Here’s the email which I have edited to remove personal details.

Notice of investigation  

Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Party. These allegations relate to your conduct on social media which may be in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book. It is important that these allegations are investigated and the NEC will be asked to authorise a full report to be drawn up with recommendations for disciplinary action if appropriate.  

We are currently at the investigatory stage of the disputes process and at no time during an investigation does the Labour Party confer an assumption of guilt on any party. You are not currently administratively suspended and no restrictions have been placed on the rights associated with your membership at this time.  

However, the Party reserves the right to invoke its powers under Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B and Chapter 1 Clause VIII.5 to impose an administrative suspension in the future should the alleged misconduct continue or additional allegations of misconduct come to the attention of the Party.  

It has also been determined that this case may be suitable for the use of NEC disciplinary powers under Chapter 1 Clause VIII.3.A.iii* and Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B** because it involves an incident which may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief .   

This means that, upon the conclusion of this investigation, the NEC may impose such disciplinary measures as it sees fit. These measures include suspension from membership of the Party or from holding office in the Party; withholding or withdrawing endorsement as a candidate; and expulsion from membership of the Party.  

Attached to this letter is the draft charge(s), the evidence pertinent to the case, and a series of questions which require your response. Upon receipt of your response, and any evidence you intend to rely on in your defence, the Party will be able to conclude this matter as quickly as possible.  

Please respond in writing to the London address at the top of this letter or by email within 7 days of the date at the top of this letter.  

The Party may consider an extension to this deadline if you are able to provide a clear and compelling reason to do so. The Party will also take reasonable steps to ensure that you have been given an opportunity to respond to these allegations. However, if you do not respond, the NEC is entitled to consider your case without a response.  

You should take this letter and your response seriously. Possible outcomes of the NEC disciplinary process could include your expulsion or suspension from the Labour Party.   

The Labour Party’s investigation process operates confidentially. That is vital to ensure fairness to you and the complainant, and to protect the rights of all concerned under the Data Protection Act 2018.  We must therefore ask you to ensure that you keep all information and correspondence relating to this investigation private, and that do not share it with third parties or the media (including social media).  That includes any information you receive from the Party identifying the name of the person who has made a complaint about you, any witnesses, the allegations against you, and the names of Party staff dealing with the matter. If you fail to do so, the Party reserves the right to take action to protect confidentiality, and you may be liable to disciplinary action for breach of the Party’s rules. The Party will not share information about the case publicly unless, as a result of a breach of confidentially, it becomes necessary to correct inaccurate reports.  In that case we will only release the minimum information necessary to make the correction.  The Party may also disclose information in order to comply with its safeguarding obligations.  

The Party would like to make clear that there is support available to you while this matter is being investigated. There are a number of organisations available who can offer support for your wellbeing:  

  • You can contact your GP who can help you access support for your mental health and wellbeing.                 
  • The Samaritans are available 24/7 – They offer a safe place for anyone to talk any time they like, in their own way – about whatever’s getting to them. Telephone 116 123.  
  • Citizens Advice – Provide free, confidential and impartial advice. Their goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face.  People go to the Citizens Advice Bureau with all sorts of issues. They may have money, benefit, housing or employment problems. They may be facing a crisis, or just considering their options. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/  
  • If you have questions about the investigation process please contact the Complaints Team, whose details are included in this letter.   

    It is hoped you will offer your full co-operation to the Party in resolving this matter.  


    Yours sincerely,  

    Complaints Team  

    The Labour Party  

     
    * Where a determination has been made as a result of a case brought under disciplinary proceedings concluded at NEC stage under Chapter 6 Clause I.1.B below of these rules, to impose such disciplinary measures as it thinks fit including: formal warning; reprimand; suspensions from membership of the Party, or from holding office in the Party (including being a candidate or prospective candidate at any, or any specified, level) or being a delegate to any Party body, for a specified period or until the happening a specified event; withholding or withdrawing endorsement as a candidate or prospective candidate at any, or any specified, level (such disciplinary power shall be without prejudice to and shall not in any way affect the NEC’s other powers to withhold endorsement under these rules); expulsion from membership of the Party, in which case the NEC may direct that following expiration of a specified period of not less than two nor more than five years, the person concerned may seek readmission to the Party on that basis that Chapter 6.I.2 is not to apply to that readmission; or  any other reasonable and proportionate measure. (Chapter 1, Clause VIII.3.A.iii of the Labour Party Rule Book)  

     ** In relation to any alleged breach of Chapter 2 Clause I.8 above by an individual member or members of the Party which involves any incident which in the NEC’s view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation, the NEC may, pending the final outcome of any investigation and charges (if any), suspend that individual or individuals from office or representation of the Party notwithstanding the fact that the individual concerned has been or may be eligible to be selected as a candidate in any election or byelection. The General Secretary or other national officer shall investigate and report to the NEC on such investigation. Upon such report being submitted, the NEC or a sub-panel of Disputes Panel may exercise its powers under Chapter 1 Clause VIII.3.A.iii (Chapter 6, Clause I.1.B of the Labour Party Rule Book)  

  • Please respond to the following questions to the email address outlined in your letter within 7 days of the date on page 1. Your response should include:  
  • A written statement of representation in your defence to the draft charge(s) below.  
  • Any evidence you wish to submit in your defence to the draft charge(s) below.  
  • A written response to the questions contained in this letter.  

Your response should be submitted in writing to the Disputes Team by email or by post:  

Email:  

investigations@labour.org.uk  

Post:  

Investigations Team  

The Labour Party

Southside, 

105 Victoria Street, 

London SW1E 6QT ” 

They then include the following draft charges:

  1. (the Respondent) has engaged in conduct prejudicial and / or grossly detrimental to the Party in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book by engaging in conduct which:  

     
    1. may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief ;  
    2. may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments;  
    3. Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  
    4. Accuses the Jews as people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;  
    5. Repeats stereotypical and negative physical descriptions/descriptions or character traits of Jewish people, such as references to wealth or avarice and equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class;  

      i.1 Shows David Sivier posted the following quotes on this blog on December 5, 2020 at 9:19 pm;  

      “I’m not surprised that the Blairites and ultra-Zionist fanatics wanted to purge Tony Greenstein from the Labour party, as they have done with so many other entirely decent people.”  

      “Or rather more narrowly, support for the current viciously racist Israeli administration”   ” believe that the Palestinians should be treated decently and with dignity, have also suffered anti-Semitic vilification and abuse if they dare to protest against Netanyahu’s government.”  

      “Zionism was until recent decades very much a minority position among European Jews.”  

      “it is an internalisation of gentile anti-Semitism, with which it has collaborated, including in the mass murder of Jews, such as in the Holocaust, by real anti-Semites.”  

      ” far from being a pro-Jewish stance, Zionism in the 19th and early 20th centuries was associated with anti-Semitism.”  

      “he had previously not come forward to add his support because he didn’t want people to think that he was a Jew-hater.”  

      “These quotes clearly show that the criticisms of Israel and the Zionist movement by people like Tony Greenstein and the others are historically justified,”  

      “My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism.”  

      “I’ve come across the adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’.  

      “people, who hold entirely reasonable opinions critical of Israel are being vilified, harassed and purged as the very things they are not, racists and anti-Semites.””  

The email continues

Please respond to these questions to the email address outlined in your letter within 7 days of the date on page 1.  

1)      Please see the evidence attached overleaf. The Party has reason to believe that this is your Word   Press web blog  account. Can you confirm this is the case?  

 2)      The Party further has reason to believe that you posted, shared or endorsed these statements yourself. Can you confirm this is the case? If not, each individual piece of evidence is numbered so please specify which of the pieces of evidence you are disputing posting, sharing or endorsing? 

3)      Taking each item in turn, please explain your reasons for posting, sharing or endorsing each numbered item of evidence included in this pack?  

4)      Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book provides:  


“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member, unless the disclosure is duly authorised or made pursuant to a legal obligation, shall also be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”  


What is your response to the allegation that your conduct may be or have been in breach of this rule?   

5)      The Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy states that members should “treat all people with dignity and respect” and that “this applies offline and online.” Do you think your conduct has been consistent with this policy?   

6)      Looking back at the evidence supplied with this letter, do you regret posting, sharing or endorsing any of this content?  

7)      Do you intend to post, share or endorse content of this nature again in the future?  

8)      Are there any further matters you wish to raise in your defence?  

9)      Is there any evidence you wish to submit in your defence?”

I am determined to fight this, although I doubt it will do any good. This is a witch hunt after all, and as those of such great fighters for truth and justice as Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and so many others show, these scumbags have already made up their minds. Well, I was taught from earliest infancy by my parents, relatives and educators that you stand up to thugs and bullies, and you don’t back down or give in to Fascists and Stalinists. And I consider it a badge of honour to suffer the same persecution as these highly principled men and women.

And this is Stalinist. I am being asked if I admit my guilt, just as Stalin’s victims were forced to in the infamous show trials. I wonder if, come a tribunal, the president of the kangaroo court will conclude with the phrase, ‘Let the mad lice be shot’, as Stalin’s judge did. How guilty are you, comrade Rabban. ‘I am guilty, very guilty comrade Starmer’.

I am very much aware that I am breaching confidentiality in posting about this. Well, it’s my confidentiality to breach. I am the victim here, not the Labour party, and I note my accusers are safely anonymous. Cowards and snitches! I am doing so, because the Labour party’s promises are confidentiality are worthless. We saw that when some anonymous invertebrate leaked the accusations against their victims to the press, including the Sunset Times, the Jewish Chronicle and the Scum. The demands for confidentiality are to protect the Labour party and my accusers, not me. They are afraid that if enough people like me go public and air their side of the story on social media, they will be discredited and lose their position.

So be it. They have thrown down the gauntlet. I have picked it up, and I fling the charges back in their faces. As President Truman said of his fight against the military-industrial complex, ‘I am not afraid of this fight. Indeed, I relish it.’

Starmer Finally Reveals Himself as Blairite

August 8, 2021

And what a sordid, depressing spectacle it is too! But we can’t say it wasn’t expected. One of the most dispiriting pieces of last week’s news was that Starmer had appeared in the pages of the Financial Times, declaring he was only intent on power and would take Labour back to the glorious policies of Tony Blair.

Yes, Tony Blair! The unindicted war criminal who pressured the intelligence agencies into ‘sexing up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein and lied about the dictator having weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within forty minute. This was all done to provide the pretext for an illegal invasion with his best mate, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. It was all done ostensibly to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. The reality was that it was all done so western multinationals led by the American-Saudi oil industry could grab Iraq’s oil reserves and its state enterprises. The result was the destruction of one of the most secular societies in the Middle East and its welfare state. The country’s economy was decimated as the neo-Cons turned into the kind of low tax, free trade state they’d like America to be, unemployment hit 60 per cent and society descended into sectarian violence and chaos. Women could no longer pursue careers outside the home, the American army colluded with local thugs in running deaths squads while the mercenaries also employed by the occupying forces ran prostitution and drugs rings and shot Iraqis for sport. Then, a few years later, Blair joined Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, and Immanuel Macro in helping to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy in Libya, with the result that one half of that country is in the hands of militant Islamists, who have re-opened the slave markets to sell Blacks.

Blair’s domestic policies have also been horrendous. Blair pushed the Thatcherite programme of privatising the Health Service into a much higher gear, so much so that it astonished some Tories. They remarked that he got away with doing more than they would have dared with Labour in opposition. Blair set up to the Community Care Groups, the doctors’ organisations charged with running doctor’s surgeries so that they could raise money privately and buy services from private healthcare companies. The new health centres and polyclinics he set up were also to be privately run. More contracts were given to private healthcare companies and more hospitals closed or turned over to private healthcare companies to run instead. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing more than kitemark on services provided by private healthcare companies. The same Milburn is in this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye following an article Milburn wrote in one of the papers calling for more of the NHS to be given over to private industry. Milburn is not a disinterested observers, as the Eye’s article shows his connections with any number of private healthcare companies.

This is the same Blair who gave positions in government, including regulatory bodies, to the chairmen and senior staff of big businesses that donated to him and his party. He applied the Public-Private Finance Initiative to industry as a whole, resulting in costs and delays massively increasing in public works projects. He favoured the big supermarkets over small, family run stores, thus putting many of them out of business. At the same time, the farmers who supply the supermarkets found themselves locked into extremely exploitative contracts.

He also carried on the Tories’ policy of destroying state education. Thatcher’s project of revitalising schools by privatising them as ‘city academies’ had been a failure and was actually being wound up by her education secretary, Norman Fowler. But Blair fished it out of the dustbin, rebranded them as ‘academies’ and forged ahead with the idea, even against local opposition. The result has been a series of scandals over schools run only narrowly religious lines with draconian and humiliating disciplinary codes. At the same time, the academies have also been criticised for seeking to maintain their academic standards through highly selective admissions policies excluding the less academically able and those with behavioural difficulties. These academies have been boosted with the expenditure of tens of millions on them while ordinary state schools are starved of funds. When this is taken into account, they don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools. In fact they often performed far worse, as a string of academies have folded or their schools taken back into state administration.

At the same time, Blair, Mandelson and co also demonstrated their hatred and contempt for the unemployed, the poor and disabled. They fully believed in Thatcher’s ‘Victorian value’ of less eligibility, in which the process of claiming state benefit was to be made as humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming it. Based on spurious, fraudulent research cooked up by American private health insurer Unum, they decided that most people claiming disability benefit were malingerers. The result was the infamous work capability tests, which were set so that a specific percentage of claimants were found to be ineligible and thrown off benefit. The result has been even more despair, starvation and deaths for hundreds of genuinely disabled people, who have had their only source of income removed. It was also Blair, who introduced workfare as part of his risible ‘New Deal’. Under the guise of teaching long term benefit claimants the necessary skills to get them back into work, the unemployed were handed over to work for various businesses and private sector organisations, like the big supermarket chains and charities. If they refused, they lost their benefits. Contrary to what Blair and his Tory successors claimed, this does not help unemployed people get back into work. In fact it does the opposite. The unemployed actually do far better looking for jobs and voluntary work on their own.

Blair also hated the trade unions, the working class organisations that have been part of the Labour party since it was founded in 1905 or so. The Labour party was partly set up to protect trade unions and their members. But Blair did everything he could to smash their power further. When he became head of the party c. 1997 he threated to cut the party’s ties with them if they didn’t back his reforms.

Yes, Blair won three elections, but the cost was a massive drop in membership and support amongst traditional Labour voters and activists. From this perspective, Jeremy Corbyn was actually far more successful, turning Labour into the biggest and best funded of the UK parties. This was through the simple technique of putting forward a traditionally socialist, truly Labour set of policies: end the privatisation of the NHS, renationalise the utilities, restore the welfare state, remove the restrictions on the trade unions and give working people proper rights at work. Corbyn became massively unpopular only due to a concerted campaign of personal vilification, but his programme was genuinely popular. Unlike Blair’s, who only won the election because almost two decades of Tory rule had made them even more unpopular.

But the Labour left and the continued popularity of socialism continues to worry the Blairites. Hence Starmer’s determination to purge the party of them, and most specifically socialist Jews. On Wednesday there was a Virtual meeting of left-wing labour politicos and activists on Zoom discussing Starmer’s continuing persecution on the Labour left. One of the great speakers quoted the late Tony Benn. Speaking during the purges of Marxists from the party in the 1980s, Benn stated that it would start with the Marxists, go on to the socialists and end with a merger with the SDP. It was all about protecting capitalism. Occasionally the party would be given a chance to govern the country, but nothing really would change.

And that’s really what you can expect from Starmer’s return to Blairism. It’s just going to be more Tory policies, put forward by people who claim to represent ‘real Labour values’ but who in reality have nothing but absolute contempt for the working class and the ideals of the people who founded the party.

As Mike has pointed out, it was clear which direction Starmer really was going from the outset. Despite his declaration that he would continue Corbyn’s manifest promises, he broke every one of them as soon as he could. He carried on the purges under the pretext of clamping down on anti-Semitism – and who knew so many anti-Semites were self-respecting Jews! – and then had the whip withdrawn from his predecessor. He has also done his best to destroy the party’s internal democracy, suspending individuals and constituency parties at a whim and imposing his own candidates against the wishes of local activists.

Somehow Starmer has managed to convince himself that a return to Blairism will be a vote-winner. Well, it hasn’t so far. Coupled with the islamophobia and anti-Black racism of his supporters, it’s led to the party massively losing members and working class support. The result has been a string of election defeats.

Blair was a mass-murderer, whose wars have turned the Middle East into a charnel house and whose economic and welfare policies have further impoverished this country and its awesome, hard-working people. But they kept capitalism secure and further enriched the already obscenely wealthy.

And to Thatcherites like Starmer and his supporters, that’s all that really matters. Expect Labour to lose, and continue to lose, with this open move to the right.

Private Eye: Starmer Appoints Pro-Tory Supporter of Middle Class as Head of Strategy

July 21, 2021

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye for 23rd July to 5th August 2021 has a very ominous piece, ‘Keir Review’, reporting that Blair Stalin, I mean, Keir Starmer, has appointed Deborah Mattinson as his new head of strategy. The satirical magazine reports that when she previously held such a post advising a Labour leader six years ago, she wanted him to hold a review into the party’s economic performance, headed by a Tory, and to go after middle class swing voters. In other words, it was more Blairism after Blairism had failed with the election of David Cameron instead of Blair’s chancellor and successor, Gordon Brown. The article reads

Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s new director of strategy at Labour, has the job of relaunching his ailing leadership. The last time Mattinson advised a Labour leader in 2015, offers some clues of what’s to come: back then she wanted the party to have a review of its economic performance that would be “headed by a Tory”, and to start focusing more on the middle class.

Mattinson is a “public opinion” specialist who has worked for the party on and off since the New Labour years. She and her company, Britain Thinks, specialise in focus groups: the company has lucrative contracts with the Home Office and does opinion research for McDonald’s, Capita and Virgin Money. She will be stepping aside from her role there to work for Labour.

Starmer’s appointment of Mattinson is part of his attempt to rejuvenate his leadership with what is briefed as an undefined but “bold” new direction. Her previous political prescriptions were certainly bold, but were not popular with the party.

After Labour lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, Britain Thinks produced a report for acting leader Harriet Harman called Emerging from the Darkness, advising how the party could recover from the defeat. The private report, which was leaked to ITV News, advised Harman to pull sharply to the right after the failure of Miliband’s modest move left.

One piece of advice was to commission an independent review of Labour’s economic performance in government “ideally headed by a Tory” – which Labour would publish because the party had to start “atoning for the past”. Mattinson also advised that Labour needed to “be for middle-class voters, not just down and outs.”

The report was based on conversations with focus groups of swing voters, relying on their opinion to form policy rather than just test potential messages. Harman did appear to follow the report’s logic, instructing Labour MPs not to oppose the government’s welfare bill or limiting child tax credit to just two children – decisions that were deeply unpopular in the party.

MPs, members and voters await the new direction the focus group guru will take Labour in now.

Basically, it’s going to be more Blairism: a return to neoliberal policies, the use of focus groups to test the popularity of policies, a concentration on the middle class to the neglect of Labour’s traditional base in the working class and absolute determination not to oppose Tory policies but to copy them. And her contempt for the working class is shown very clearly in the reference to ‘down and outs’. It comes after the massive success of Jeremy Corbyn in winning back Labour members and the popularity of his traditional Labour policies – a mixed economy, strong welfare state, renationalised NHS, powerful trade unions and strengthened workers’ rights – showed how bankrupt Blairism was. Under Blair, the party had been haemorrhaging members and the number of people who actually voted for it was lower than under Corbyn. Blair beat the Tories only because they were actually less popular than he was.

But all this has changed. It ain’t 1997 and these policies won’t work against a revived Tory party. Quite apart from the fact that they’re noxious policies that run directly counter to the Labour party’s whole raison d’etre. It was set up to defend and fight for working people, not abandon them and side with the employers and landlords who exploit them. But Starmer clearly hasn’t learned this lesson. Either he’s stupid and fanatical, pushing a set of policies long after they’ve been proved to be wrong and disastrous, or he’s deliberately trying to destroy the party. Either way, there’s a simple way to revive the Labour party:

Get the noxious Tory cuckoo out!

Bristol South Labour Party’s Motion Demanding Action and Leadership from Starmer and Dodds

June 19, 2021

Mike has put up a chilling post this morning revealing a hidden truth about the recent Lib Dem by-election victory in Amersham and Chesham. They won not because there is actually a revival in that awful party’s fortunes, but because of tactical voting and the almost complete collapse of the Labour vote. Labour got only 622 votes, 1.6 per cent of the total, and lost their deposit. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that it’s because of Keir Starmer’s abysmal leadership. He has spent all his time and energy as leader persecuting the left, all under the specious pretence of fighting anti-Semitism. He has broken every one of the promises he made to support Labour’s genuinely popular manifesto commitments. These were for nationalised utilities, a renationalised NHS, a proper welfare state, and strong unions and workers’ rights. He showed his contempt to the party’s Black members through his offhand, lacklustre support for Black Lives Matter and by refusing to investigate or punish the bullies responsible for the racist abuse and treatment of Diane Abbott and other Black MPs and activists. And more significantly, he has done precious little to attack the Tories and hold Boris Johnson accountable for the deaths resulting from his bungled Covid policy, the corruption which has seen the Etonian fraud grant government contracts to his friends’ companies, the continuing assaults on democracy and free speech, the absence of any genuinely beneficial trade deals for Britain as a result of Brexit, and the descent into rioting and unrest in Ireland.

All of these issues are open goals. But I’ve seen precious little comment from Starmer on any of them. One internet commenter has already posted that Cummings seems to be doing more damage to the Tories than him. And I agree.

As a result, Bristol South Labour party passed a motion Thursday night to invite Anneliese Dodds down to the constituency to hear our concerns about the lack of leadership. It’s an amended motion. The original explicitly called upon Starmer to make his presence felt and start showing that Labour had good, viable policies. This was altered because some members felt that Starmer was already doing something towards this with his policy review.

“Social Change Motion

The dark days of WW2 exposed a desperate need for radical social change in Britain.  The Labour Party took on the challenge and delivered the miracle of our Welfare State.

Most of the years since then have seen a Tory hegemony; the last decade in particular has brought about a devastating erosion of all our public services; the crisis today is scarcely less urgent than that of 1945. Just as during the war, the Covid pandemic has thrown into harsh light how grievous the levels of need have become – in health, education, housing, social care and now, of course, climate change.  The whole country is witnessing this and is desperate for signs of future hope and change.

Hope can come only from a Labour Government in power with a bold and radical agenda for change.  We know, however, that to achieve this will require extraordinary action – not only an inspired and inspiring manifesto but an imaginative co-operation within the parties of the Left.  Clearly. some form of PR will be necessary if the Tories are to be held in check in the long term.  Equally clear is the need for Labour to stop its factional infighting and concentrate on winning the next election.  

Our Leadership’s current policy of holding the Government to account for its handling of Covid and for its many other failings is right and necessary but it is nowhere near sufficient to the country’s needs.  The time for radical change is now.  The country is ready to listen now and it is high time for it to hear what the Labour Party stands for.

The path to victory in 2024 must be opened up without delay.  This branch therefore calls upon our Leadership to set aside their present caution – and reliance on focus groups -and respond to the country’s urgent needs.

Action: to invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.

Amendment to add: Action: Invite Annelise Dodds** in her role in co-ordinating the NPF consultation to a Bristol South CLP meeting to hear and address the concerns expressed above.”

The motion shows the depth of concern Bristol South CLP has with the lack of action and leadership on Starmer’s part. Some of those who actively campaigned during the council elections said they were told by people on the doorsteps that they were voting Green, because they didn’t know what Labour stood for. The party has some excellent Green policies, but these haven’t been sufficiently communicated to the public.

I honestly don’t know what would come of inviting Dodds down to hear the concerns of the constituency party. Given the highly authoritarian and dictatorial leadership style, precious little. It seems that Starmer’s and the party bureaucracy’s response to criticism is to suspend the critics. But they and Starmer are leading the party to disaster. He can’t blame Corbyn, or the continuing power of the left. Labour’s poor showing in the elections is due to him and him alone.

He should now either start showing real leadership and demonstrably oppose Johnson, or he should leave and make way for those who will.

Labour suffers worst by-election result in party’s history. Will Starmer accept the blame? | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Book on Anti-Capitalism

May 29, 2021

Simon Tormey, Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner’s Guide (London: One World, revised edition 2013).

Like many people, I’ve been doing some reading during the lockdown. I found this in one of the mail order book catalogues I get, and ordered it as it looked interesting. I got through the post the other day. It was first published in 2004 and was republished in a revised edition nine years later. The blurb for it on the back runs

The financial crisis, bank bailouts, and the dash to austerity have breathed new life into protest movements across the globe, and brought anti-capitalist ideas into the mainstream. But what does it mean to be anti-capitalist? And where is anti-capitalism going – if anywhere?

Simon Tormey explores these questions and more in the only accessible introduction to the full spectrum of anti-capitalist ideas and politics. With nuance and verve, he introduces the reader to the wide variety of positions and groups that make up the movement, including anarchists, Marxists, autonomists, environmentalists, and more. Providing essential global and historical context, Tormey takes us from the 1968 upsurge of radical politics to the 1994 Zapatista insurrection, the 1999 Seattle protests, and right up to Occupy and the uprisings across the Eurozone.

This is a fascinating and bold exploration of how to understand the world – and how to change it.

A biographical note states that Tormey is a political theorist based in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. He was the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham.

The book has an introduction and the following chapters:

  1. The Hows and Whys of Capitalism
  2. Anti-Capitalism after the ‘End of History’
  3. A ‘movement of movements’1: ‘reformism’, or ‘globalisation with a human face’
  4. A ‘movement of movements’ II: renegades, radicals and revolutionaries
  5. The Future(s) of Anti-Capitalism: Problems and Perspectives

There is a timeline of contemporary anti-capitalism, a glossary of key terms, thinkers and movements, and a list of resources.

Although the book was published eight years ago, I think it’s still going to be very relevant. The world may have been in lockdown for the past year with governments supporting their economies, but the Tories have neither gone away nor changed their stripes. It’s been pointed out that they never let a crisis go to waste. Once the lockdown is lifted, they’ll revert back to cutting the welfare state, privatising the NHS and with further attacks on workers’ rights, increasing job insecurity and lowering wages. We will need to organise again and resist them. The book’s short at 181 pages, excluding the index, but it looks like a very useful and necessary contribution to combating neoliberalism and the poverty and misery it is inflicting on working people across the globe.

Starmer Insults Working Class, Makes Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor

May 11, 2021

In his flailing attempt to win voters back to the Labour party after the humiliation of last week’s elections, Starmer has decided on a cabinet reshuffle. He’s taking full responsibility for the debacle by placing all the blame on his underlings, like Angela Rayner, who he sacked as the party’s chair. He blamed her for the loss of Hartlepool, despite the fact that she had absolutely nothing to do with it. The choice of candidate and the selection of May 6th as the date of the by-election was that of his personal private secretary, Jenny Chapman. Rayner is due some payback for her betrayal of Corbyn, but she doesn’t deserve to be sacked from her post for something she didn’t do. Except possibly she hasn’t been sacked. Faced with a wave of criticism, Starmer said something about her being kept in the cabinet with a ‘more enhanced role’.

He was also rumoured to be bringing in a number of other members of the party’s extreme right, like the toxic Wes Streeting and the noxious Hilary Benn. And yesterday Mike put up a post reporting that Starmer had appointed as Shadow Chancellor the vile Rachel Reeves. She’s the woman, who’s so left-wing, that she and her fellow right-wing Chucklehead Jess Philips went to a party a few years ago celebrating 100 years of the Spectator. This is the increasingly Alt Right Tory rag that publishes pieces by Taki, a Greek playboy. Unlike Corbyn, who was simply critical of Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians, Taki really does have some vile anti-Semitic opinions. And in one of his pieces for the magazine he praised the neo-Nazi Greek organisation, the Golden Dawn. This is the outfit that beats up illegal immigrants, hands out food to the poor and unemployed, but only if they’re Greek, and whose leader was sent to prison for the murder of a left-wing journalist. But that isn’t the only time Reeves showed her highly selective attitude to real anti-Semites. A few years ago she joined former premier Theresa May in paying tribute to Nancy Astor. Astor was the first woman MP, and obviously a feminist political pioneer. But she was also a vicious Jew-hater and fan of Hitler. So when it comes to anti-Semitism and her attitude to her former party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, she could fairly be called a hypocrite.

But Corbyn wasn’t the only target for her vindictiveness. She also hates the unemployed and people on benefits. Back when Ed Miliband was leader, she declared that Labour would be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories. This was because Labour was the party of working people. This was when dodgy Dave Cameron was demanding that unemployment benefit should be cut even further in order to ‘make work pay’, and justified this spite by claiming that hard-working people didn’t like to look out each morning and see the closed curtains of the unemployed. It was another example of Blairite Labour looking at what the Tories were doing, and then trying to appeal to their voters by being even worse. It was very much an attempt to win over the kind of people who read the Heil and Depress and believe their wretched nonsense about benefit scroungers. It’s bound to fail because, while Murdoch was prepared to back Blair, the Mail resolutely held out against him. Which shows that the terrible rag does have some kind of twisted, political integrity amid all the lies and bigotry.

Many people were really worried about the direction New Labour’s hatred of the unemployed would take. New Labour had introduced workfare in the form of Blair’s New Deal, in which the unemployed were sent to work for charities and the big supermarket chains or else they didn’t get their benefit. It was a way of giving these organisations cheap labour and showed more than a little similarity to the use of forced, slave labour in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Stalin industrialised his country through the massive use of the unfree labour of people arrested for alleged treason and anti-Soviet activities. The heads of various industries and enterprises gave the KGB lists of the type of workers they needed, and the KGB then went out and arrested them. Nazi Germany also expanded this systems of voluntary work the Weimar Republic had started to combat unemployment into the Reichsarbeitsdienst, a compulsory period of unpaid service for all German citizens. The SS also used the slave labour of skilled Jewish artisans and craftsmen to produce a range of luxury goods, available through catalogue. One of the great commenters on this blog wondered if, under Reeves and co., Labour would also develop similar systems of forced labour. In the 1930s, for example, the party had also opened a number of labour camps which were intended to teach the unemployed the habit of working properly. I don’t think Labour would go that far in today’s political climate, but given the way Boris is dragging this country towards real Fascism, I think someone like Reeves would try to get as close as possible.

As well as showing Reeves’ vindictiveness towards the poor and out of work, it also showed how out of touch her comments were with the reality of work today. Thatcher famously declared that she was ending the old culture where someone had a job for life. Under her, it became much easier to fire someone and companies started taking on workers on short term contracts. Blair and Brown were very keen on making sure that the labour market remained fluid, and that companies could take on and sack staff as and when they wished. And Dodgy Dave, Tweezer and the rest of the Tory governments of the unspeakable have pushed this even further. We now live in the gig economy, where large numbers of workers have very precarious employment. When this process was just beginning in the 1980s, right-wing politicos, economists and hacks raved about how workers could make themselves attractive to employers through compiling ‘job portfolios’. Presumably this was lists of the various jobs they done under short-term contracts. In the 1990s the Financial Times stated it was a rubbish idea, and it mercifully seems to have vanished. But punitive policies towards the unemployed also harm the workers in the gig economy, those without proper workers’ rights, who are on zero hours contracts and the rest, who are under enough pressure already without the fear of further humiliation and punishment if their bosses sack them and they are forced to seek what help they can from the DWP.

Reeves’ appointment as Shadow Chancellor shows that Starmer is overtly moving to the extreme right. He’s promoting people who are still clinging to the lies of Thatcherite economics, unaware that it’s failed and is responsible for the real poverty and deprivation now affecting Britain’s working people. Corbyn’s policies – a strong welfare state, fully nationalised and funded NHS, proper rights for working people, strong trade unions and a mixed economy, were popular, despite the devastating effect Tory propaganda had on the image of Corbyn himself. They’re also what the country needs.

But obviously not what Starmer and Reeves want. They want to ingratiate themselves to the rich and the employers at the expense of working people, while copying the Tory attempts to brand themselves as the true defenders of the working class.

Starmer Takes Full Responsibility for Defeat by Sacking People Who Had Nothing To Do With It

May 9, 2021

Well, there have been some successes for Labour in the recent elections. I’m very glad Labour has entered a sixth term in power in Wales, and that Jo Anderson, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan were elected mayors of Liverpool, Manchester and London respectively, and that down here in Bristol, south Gloucestershire and north Somerset, Dan Norris has been elected the metro mayor. But generally, Labour have suffered an humiliating defeat in the local council elections. Keir Starmer said that he was going to take responsibility for the defeat. And so he’s done what he previously done so many times – gone back on his word. If he was truly going to take responsibility, he should have tendered his resignation and walked. But he didn’t. He’s hung on to power, and started blaming and sacking other people instead.

The first of these is Angela Rayner, who has been sacked from her position as the party’s chair. He has decided that she was responsible for the loss of Hartlepool despite the fact that she had nothing to do with it. It was really the fault of his personal private secretary, Jenny Chapman, who, as Mike has posted over at Vox Political, decided on the candidate and chose the date of May 6th. But Chapman remains in place. Others who are lined up for the chop apparently include Lisa Nandy and Anneliese Dodds. This also reminds me of the incident a few weeks ago when Starmer blamed somebody else for a Labour loss. Apparently they failed to communicate his ‘vision’ properly. This would have been impossible. Starmer doesn’t have a vision. As Zelo Street has pointed out, Starmer has constantly evaded. He’s also defiantly agreed with BoJob on various issues and, as leader of the opposition, has spectacularly failed to oppose. People are heartily sick of him. The polls show that the reason the good folk of Hartlepool didn’t vote Labour was him.

And then there are the ‘charmless nurks’, as Norman Stanley Fletcher, the Sartre of Slade prison would say, that Starmer supposedly no wants in his cabinet. Wes Streeting, the bagman between him and the Board of Deputies, a thoroughly poisonous character; the Chuckle Sisters Rachel Reeves and Jessica Philips, who are so left-wing and progressive that they went to a party celebrating 100 years or so of the Spectator, and Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn. Benn is the man, who wanted us to bomb Syria, as if Britain wasn’t already responsible for enough carnage and bloodshed in the Middle East. He’s been in Private Eye several times as head of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. This used to be the public body that put British aid money into needed projects in the Developing World. Under Benn it’s been privatised, and now only gives money that will provide a profit for shareholders. It’s yet more western capitalist exploitation of the Third World. None of these bozos should be anywhere near power in the Labour party. They’re Thatcherites, who if given shadow cabinet posts, will lead Labour into yet more electoral defeat.

Already the Net has been filled with peeps giving their views on what Starmer should do next. The mad right-wing radio host, Alex Belfield, posted a video stating that Starmer was immensely rich, with millions of acres of land, and out of touch with working people. If Starmer really wants power, he declared, he should drop the ‘woke’ nonsense and talk about things ordinary people are interested in, like roads, buses and so on. And he should talk to Nigel Farage about connecting with ordinary people.

Belfield speaks to the constituency that backed UKIP – the White working class, who feel that Labour has abandoned them in favour of ethnic minorities. But part of Labour’s problem is that Starmer doesn’t appeal to Blacks and Asians. He drove them away with his tepid, opportunistic support of Black Lives Matter and his defence of the party bureaucrats credibly accused of bullying and racially abusing Diane Abbott and other non-White Labour MPs and officials. He’s also right in that Starmer is rich and doesn’t appeal to the working class. He’s a Blairite, which means he’s going for the middle class, swing or Tory vote. But there have been Labour politicos from privileged backgrounds, who have worked for the ordinary man and woman, and were respected for it. Tony Benn was a lord, and Jeremy Corbyn I think comes from a very middle class background. As did Clement Attlee. Being ‘woke’ – having a feminist, anti-racist stance with policies to combat discrimination against and promote women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ peeps needn’t be an electoral liability if they are couple with policies that also benefit the White working class. Like getting decent wages, defending workers’ rights, reversing the privatisation of the health service and strengthening the welfare state that so that it does provide properly for the poor, the old, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed. These are policies that benefit all working people, regardless of their colour, sex or sexuality.

It’s when these policies are abandoned in favour of the middle class with only the pro-minority policies retained to mark the party as left-wing or liberal, that the working class feels abandoned. Blair and Brown did this, and so helped the rise of UKIP and now the kind of working class discontent that is favouring the Tories.

And it’ll only get worse if Starmer turns fully to Blairism.

The only way to restore the party’s fortunes is to return to the popular policies of Jeremy Corbyn, and for Starmer to resign.

See: #Starmergeddon as panicking Labour leader lashes out in night of swivel-eyed lunacy | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer – No Vision, No Votes (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer IS UNRAVELLING (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Election Promises of Labour and TUSC Candidates in Bristol Mayoral Elections

April 23, 2021

Down here in Bristol we not only have elections for the city council looming, but also for the elected mayor and police and crime commissioner. Because of health issues, not just my own but also other members of my family, we’ve arranged to have postal votes. The ballot papers arrived the other day, and enclosed with them were booklets produced by the local authority explaining the voting procedure, answering various FAQs and giving policy statements and promises from the candidates. Not only does Bristol have a Labour candidate, the present elected mayor Marvin Rees, but there’s also one from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Tom Baldwin. Here’s their election promises from the booklet for the mayoral election.

Mayor Marvin’s runs

Delivering for Bristol

Building a City of Hope

It is an honour to serve as Mayor of Bristol, the city I am proud to be from and where I am bringing up my family.

Together we have led Bristol in the face of the pandemic, economic downturn, social change and instability, and climate change, with the added uncertainty of Brexit. Many of us have experienced real loss this year, as people have come together like never before to support each other.

Working with partners all over Bristol, we are building a city where nobody is left behind underpinning our ambition with compassion and our commitment to sustainability. We are focused on protecting and creating jobs, and delivering for residents, we are creating jobs by bringing employers like Channel 4 to our city, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into Bristol, and delivering our mass transit system.

Together, against the odds, we are making a difference.

On 6 May, we are proudly standing on our record of delivery – including all our 2016 pledges and more. With your support, we can all keep building a more sustainable, inclusive, and ambitious Bristol: our City of Hope.”

There then follows a list of what Labour has already achieved.

“9,000 new homes, tripling affordable house-building, rough sleeping down 80%

12,000 work experiences and £9m for south Bristol construction skills centre.

99 new biogas buses, RPZ fees frozen, 75 miles of segregated cycleways

Kept all our libraries and children’s centres open

Building new schools, creating mental health training and free breakfast clubs

Best core city for recycling, deep-cleaned 700 streets, planted 60,000 trees

Won Channel 4 relocation, invested in sport and leisure centres – giving control to communities”

This is followed by his promises for the future

“Building our underground, with free travel for apprentices and students

Protecting jobs and building a living wage city

Investing £1 billion in clean energy and doubling our trees

Investing in more schools and quality work experience

Building 2,000 new homes a year – 1,000 affordable

Investing in social care, helping older people stay in their homes.”

The pages for Tom Baldwin of the TUSC state has the statement ‘TUSC Against Cuts’, and then proceeds as follows:

“Tom says: “The pandemic has exposed the huge injustices and the divide between workers and big business. We’ve had to fight for our safety as the bosses and government put profits first. Now we have to fight to protect jobs and services as they try to make us pay for the crisis.

Bristol needs a mayor who will stand up for ordinary people. I stand for a socialist society run for people not profit.”

‘The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition organises to give a voice to working-class people who have been abandoned by the main parties. It includes the RMT union and the Socialist Party, of which Tom is a member.

Tom is 37 and lives in Aston. He is an active trade unionist and campaigner.

Bristol needs a fightback

Defend jobs and services – Vote Tom Baldwin

A Socialist mayor for the millions, not the millionaires

If elected Tom will…

  • Build a mass united struggle of workers and young people to win back the council funding taken by the government.
  • Reverse all cuts to council jobs and services, move budgets based on Bristol’s needs.
  • Oppose and reverse outsourcing and privatisation.
  • Never increase council tax, rents and charges faster than wages rise
  • Push for a publicly owned, top quality and affordable public transport network, run for need not profit
  • Address the housing crisis by building thousands of council homes and capping private rents
  • Defend the right to peaceful protest
  • Fight for decent jobs. Support all campaigns to protect safety, jobs, pay and conditions, including strike action by workers
  • Stand for jobs and homes for all. Oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression and division.
  • Only take the average wage of a worker in the city, not the inflated £79,000 mayoral salary.’

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you know, I despise Keir Starmer and his continuing destruction of the Labour party, including the purge of left-wingers and socialists, in order to turn it into a Blairite neoliberal party. I’ve also got criticisms of the way Marvin Rees has run the city, but in general I think he’s done a good job and has been a far better mayor than his predecessor, ‘Red Trousers’ Ferguson.

I’ve been told by some of the great peeps on this blog that the TUSC were formed by the people in the Labour party, who were thrown out for opposing Blair’s cuts and policy changes, though I’ve also heard that the Socialist Party is the former Militant Tendency, a group that infiltrated and tried to take over the Labour party in the 1980s. But their policies are what the Labour party should be standing for. The mayoral elections are run according to proportional representation. I would therefore urge people to consider giving the TUSC their second vote.

If more people vote for them, to the point where it’s a significant number, perhaps the leaders of the Labour party will take note, and move the party further to the left. Or it will encourage the present Labour left to continue the struggle against the Blairites by showing them that real, socialist policies are popular and can win.

How Can I Trust Keir Starmer to Protect the NHS When Blair Wanted to Privatise It?

April 9, 2021

The parties have been running their election broadcasts this week in the run up to the local, elected mayoral and other elections in May. I caught a bit of Labour’s the other night, and wasn’t impressed. The piece I glimpsed consisted of Starmer sitting in front of the camera, urging people to vote Labour to protect it from the Tories’ privatisation. And the Tories are privatising the NHS by stealth, all under the cover of bringing in best practice from the private sector. And the Lib Dems have been exactly the same. They were the Tories’ partners in David Cameron’s wretched coalition government, which carried on the privatisations. Nick Clegg did nothing to stop it. Indeed, he gave every assistance to the Tories and seemed to be fully behind the handing over hospitals and doctor’s surgeries to private enterprise to run. Just as the Liberals and SDP were way back in 1987, when the two allied parties had declared that it didn’t matter whether doctors and hospitals were public or private, provided that the treatment was free. Except that the Tory privatisation of the NHS will definitely not retain free treatment at the point of use, as provided by the terms of the NHS’ establishment. The Tories wish to turn the NHS into a fully private system funded by private medical insurance like the American health system.

There are Labour MPs who are fighting tooth and nail to protect the NHS. I’m thinking here of the people on the Labour left, such as Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burgon, Diane Abbott, Rosina Allin-Khan. I also believe that others from the Labour right are doing so. At one meeting of my constituency party here in south Bristol, our local MP Karen Smyth said she joined the Labour party and became an MP because she was so appalled at what Cameron and co. were doing to the Health Service.

But I find Starmer’s claim that he will protect our NHS much less than credible. He’s an arch-Blairite, who has spent his tenure as leader so far in conjunction with the wretched NEC trying to purge the party of left-wingers and socialists. This has involved all the usual trumped-up, fake charges of anti-Semitism. And sometimes there’s no explanation given at all, like when the NEC barred three of leading Labour contenders for elected mayor of Liverpool. Worse than that, he has broken all of his leadership promises. He claimed that he would continue to uphold Labour’s manifesto promises of returning the utilities to state ownership, reversing the NHS’ privatisation and properly funding it, strengthening the welfare state and workers’ rights and restoring power to the unions. But in practice he hasn’t done any of that. It might put off all those rich donors he’s trying to attract. He has shown no real opposition to Johnson’s government, and what little he has shown has been glaringly opportunistic. So opportunistic, in fact, that right-wing windbag and broadcasting egomaniac, Julia Hartley-Brewer, asked him if there was anything in fact he stood for when he appeared on her wretched show on LBC radio.

And if this isn’t ominous enough, the fact remains that Tony Blair also went ahead with the right-wing programme of privatising the NHS. The polyclinics and health centres Blair set up were opened up to private management. He continued handing over doctors’ surgeries and hospitals to private healthcare firms. And the Community Care Groups, the groups of doctors which were supposed to manage local NHS doctors’ budgets, were granted the ability to buy in services from private sector companies, and raise money from the private sector. His Health Minister, Alan Milburn, wished the NHS to be reduced to a kitemark logo on services provided by private industry. And I fear Starmer will do exactly the same.

Brian Burden, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted this comment noting Starmer’s telling lack of opposition to another Tory appointment.

Hi, Beastrabban –

I refer you to p19 of the April 7 issue of Socialist Worker: Samantha Jones, formerly of Openrose Health, owned by US health insurance giant Centene Corporation, has recently been appointed a top adviser to Boris Johnson. Openrose took over scores of NHS GP surgeries earlier this year. Centene has faced a number of fraud and corruption law suits in USA. Socialist Worker believes that Johnson is moving towards the full privatisation of the NHS. Not a whisper from Starmer about any of this.

I wasn’t aware of this appointment, though I haven’t been paying much attention to the news recently. Not that I think it would be in the news. Ray Tallis and Jacky Davis have a whole chapter in their book, NHS – SOS to how the BBC has supported the privatisation of the Health Service. I’m not a fan of the former Socialist Workers’ Party, but I’ve no doubt they’re correct about this and are right to publicise it. And Starmer’s silence is telling.

I doubt very much that Starmer’s serious about protecting the NHS. And everyone else seems determined to privatise it with the exception of the much-reviled Labour left.

So forget the vile propaganda and smears against them and support the real people of principle who are standing up for this most precious of British institutions.