Posts Tagged ‘Working Class’

Richard Tice: Cut Benefits to Stop Immigration

January 31, 2023

Michael Heaver is another hard-right YouTuber pushing Reform and praising Brexit to the rafters, despite the devastation this has wreaked on our economy and the lives and livelihood of British workers and businesses. If Brexit was a religion, his would be the blind faith of the true-blue Thatcherite fanatic. And this morning Heaver posted a video praising the latest effusion from Reform’s current fuehrer, Richard Tice. Tice is upset that 5.2 million people are in receipt of benefits. This, he declares, is one eighth of the working population. But at the same time, there are job vacancies going unfilled, which is why the government is importing foreigners. This is because some people on benefit are doing better than they would be if they were working, and so are leaving their jobs to live off benefits. The welfare state is properly there to support those genuinely in need, but people are using it as a lifestyle choice. We must therefore cut benefits in order to force people back to work so the government won’t import more foreigners as cheap labour.

There are so many falsehoods in this statement that it’s amazing in its own way. Firstly, most people on benefits in the UK are actually working. They’re forced to use state benefits as well because their pay is insufficient. As for people deliberately leaving work to live on benefits – presumably he means jobseekers’ allowance – does he know anybody who’s suffered that humiliating process? My guess is he doesn’t, because otherwise he’d know it was a lie. Actually, on second thoughts, it’s quite possible he knows it’s wrong, and is deliberately lying anyway. For a start, the Tories passed legislation years ago stopping people from receiving benefit immediately after resigning from work. The wait for a claim to come through is several weeks, so if your previous job paid so badly you didn’t have anything left over by the end of the month, the further wait would push you down to starvation level. As does the various sanctions imposed on the unemployed and disabled for the flimsiest of reasons. Welfare researchers and activists, like the excellent Disabled People Against Cuts, have shown that in the case of the Fitness to Work assessments, this is based on an assumption that a certain percentage of cases must be fraudulent. There is therefore pressure on the assessors to find the disabled well enough to work. Hence we have had assessors declaring that people in terminal comas were fit to work. They even asked amputees when they expected their limbs to grow back!

And then there is the humiliating process of claiming benefits itself. This takes its inspiration from the Victorian idea of ‘less eligibility’: receiving state aid must be made so humiliating that it will deter people from claiming it. It’s one of Thatcher’s disgusting ‘Victorian values’. And so you are required to spend so many hours a day looking for a job, keep a log of the jobs you’ve applied for, while the clerk dealing with you keeps asking why you’re still claiming and didn’t apply for that one yet. Claiming benefits is unpleasant, difficult and humiliating.

But this is ignored by Tice, who is simply spouting more of the ‘make work pay’ nonsense pushed by David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith when he was head of the DWP. And then there’s the stuff about immigration.

This is nonsense because Brexit has resulted in a loss of foreign labour. Many of the foreign workers in the NHS have left Britain, including skilled doctors and nurses. I think we also lost the foreign fruit pickers, who used to come here, which is probably the type of workers Tice is thinking of when he talks about cheap foreign labour. But when the issue of forcing unemployed Brits to work as fruit pickers came up a while ago and was being discussed, many of the commenters on YouTube had said they’d tried and been turned down as farmers preferred foreigners. Some of the farmers rejecting British labour said it was because Brits were lazy. Possibly. Or perhaps just not so easy to exploit.

As for immigration generally, I have the distinct impression that the type of foreign workers the government is keen to recruit are skilled workers, particularly in the STEM subjects. They are definitely not keen on importing unskilled labour to add to the number of domestic workers with a similar lack of skills. Though here again, unskilled immigrants do take the jobs Brits don’t want, like cleaners, as shown in Ken Loach’s film, Dirty, Pretty Things. But my guess is that when Tice and the other members of the anti-immigrant right start ranting about low-skilled foreign immigrants, much of their audience will automatically think of the Channel migrants. But these unfortunately haven’t been recruited. They’re asylum seekers, who have been excluded from the official ways of applying for sanctuary in Britain. Hence part of the hostility to them.

Tice’s spiel is pretty much the old Daily Mail directed at the unemployed and non-White immigration jammed together. It’s nonsense, but will appeal to the readers of the right-wing press, who’ve been subjected to the same bilge since before the welfare state was founded. It also bears out Tony Benn’s statement that when a government wants to persecute its working people, it begins with immigrants.

Don’t be fooled. Tice is not a friend of ordinary working Brits. The solution to the problem of making work pay is to raise wages. This is the solution in classical economics to the problem of a shortage of workers. But this would cut into the already bloated profits of the obscenely rich that Tice, the Tories and the other hard right parties are pandering to.

They want to keep working people poor, starving and desperate, whatever lip service they give to the welfare state. And they’re using the old spectre of foreign labour to do it.

The Long Johns on the Pointed Lesson of the South Sea Bubble

January 30, 2023

Here’s another razor-sharp piece of satire from the Long Johns, the late John Bird and John Fortune, though it’s set very firmly in the past. It’s from Raveemismail’s channel on YouTube, and has them performing their dialogue in period costume as an ordinary investor caught out by a predatory broker selling shares in the South Sea Bubble of 1720. This was a notorious financial scandal when shares were being sold in the South Sea Company. Very handsome profits were promised, the shares skyrocketed in value but there was absolutely nothing backing them up. The whole affair collapsed ruining people. The dialogue also mentions a similar scandal of 90 years previously, the tulipomania that hit the Netherlands where members of the respectable Dutch middle class bankrupted themselves buying tulips. This is obviously acutely relevant to similar crashes far more recently, like the subprime mortgages and the bankers’ crash. From the comments to the video it seems that it was also relevant to the way bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were being pushed. It just shows that how relevant some incidents from the past still are in the 21st first century.

This is so much the case that one American investment house used to require its employees to read the book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, written in the 19th century. The book discussed a series of historical and contemporary fads, from alchemy and the witch craze in the Middle Ages to the craze for people saying ‘Quoz’ in England at the time. And one of these was the South Sea Bubble. It’s a pity nobody took that piece of history more seriously, or we might have avoided the bankers’ crash, austerity, and nigh on 15 years of austerity and poverty inflicted on the poor and ordinary working people in order to keep the banks afloat and give more money to the already bloated rich.

The Economic Falsehoods Behind ‘Expansionary Austerity’

January 23, 2023

Expansionary Austerity is one of the discredited and utterly falsified economic theories the Australian economist John Quiggin attacks in his book Zombie Economics (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010). It’s the idea that savagely cutting government expenditure will somehow restore economic growth. It was the policy adopted by governments across the world, including Dave Cameron’s Conservative administration in Britain, to save the global economy after it had been comprehensively trashed by the banksters in 2008. It was based on the theories of Albert Alesina and a number of co-authors, most notably Sylvia Ardagna and their study of how austerity had supposedly benefited various countries, Tales of Fiscal Adjustment: Can Austerity Be Expansionary. One of the countries examined in their study was Quiggin’s own, Australia. He went back and looked at what they said about it, and found that it was riddled with inaccuracies and errors. He gives the following examples to show how seriously, seriously flawed their study was:

*Alexina and Ardagna attribute the policy of austerity to “a leftwing government elected in 1985.” In fact, the government was elected in early 1983 at the depths of a severe recession. It implemented an expansionary fiscal policy. The recovery was well under way when the government took measures, beginning in 1984, to wind back the budget deficit.

  • Alesina and Ardagna assert that the main budget savings came from “cuts in transfer programmes …. mainly concentrated on unemployment insurance.” Spending on unemployment benefits fell but not because of cuts. The unemployment rate was falling, and expenditure on benefits declined as a result. This is the standard Keynesian “automatic stabilizers” at work.
  • Most strikingly of all they write, “Australia is a clear case of an ‘expansionary fiscal contraction.’ GDP grew faster during and in the aftermath of the adjustment, both in absolute terms and relative to the G7 countries. A private investment boom was associated with profits and easier access to credit following the financial deregulation process that took place in 1985-6. ‘ This is like the story of the man who jumps off a tall buiilding and says, as he passes the 25th floor, “All good so far.” Writing a decade later, in 1998, Alesina and Ardagna must surely have been aware that, almost immediately after their story ends, Australia entered the worst recession in postwar history.’ (pp.225-6).

Quiggin continues

‘Australia’s recession was triggered by contractionary monetary policy, but its severity resulted primarily from the collapse of the investment boom mentioned by Alesina and Ardagna. The boom was dominated by speculative investment projects undertaken by so-called entrepreneurs who took advantage of financial deregulation to build conglomerate empires that failed in the crisis, almost taking down the banking system with them. The Australian experience of the 1980s was a preview of what would happen in the United States and Europe in the 2000s.

To sum up, the tale told by Alesina and Ardagna bears no relation to the actual history of Australia in the 1980s. The most revealing point about their account is their eagerness to shift the burden of adjustment to a crisis onto its most vulnerable victims-the unemployed. In this respect, the literature on expansionary austerity of which this paper was a part might have served as a warning of the brutal policies that were to be adopted in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.’ (p. 226).

Quiggin then goes on to discuss the global financial crisis and the austerity programmes that followed, showing how they were failures. These policies were nevertheless pushed because they allowed the 1 per cent elite to expand their wealth and power against everyone else. The chapter concludes by showing how the crisis could have been solved using Keynesian economics.

Despite the Tories’ pronouncements that austerity has ended, I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. They continued to cut public expending catastrophically until forced to do the reverse by the Covid pandemic. And now that the world is going back to some semblance of normality, they’re going to return to it.

The working people of Britain and the west have been forced into poverty and starvation through nonsensical policies based on bad, massively inaccurate and biased research. It’s time austerity was discarded and Keynsianism, with a proper welfare state, was restored.

Online Arise Event Tonight Asks If Marx Was Right

January 23, 2023

Just had this email notification come through from the Arise Festival of Left Wing Ideas.

1) ONLINE FORUM: The economic crisis – was Marx right?

TONIGHT. Monday January 23, 2023. Register here // share & invite here // retweet here to spread the word

Here in Britain and around the world the economic crisis is deepening. Join economist Michael Roberts for debate and discussion – was Nye Bevan right, wrong, or both when he said “Marxism put into the hands of the working class movement… the most complete blueprints for political action the world has ever seen?”

Labour Outlook forum as part of the Socialist Ideas series – kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

I’m not going to attend it, but I thought I’d put it up here for anyone who was interested.

Calendar of Coming Left-Labour Events

January 17, 2023

I’ve had some of this blog’s great commenters wondering what the Labour left is doing to challenge Starmer’s stranglehold on the party and his determination to turn it into another version of the Tories. And not necessarily one further to the left. The Labour left is still around and organising events. I’ve had some emails about them, but didn’t put them up as they were in-person meetings in London, and so difficult to get to for people like me in the provinces, or they were about foreign politics, like Latin America, which I didn’t think many people would be interested in. Yesterday I had another email from Matt Willgress through the Arise festival of left ideas and the Labour Assembly against Austerity, giving details about events coming up in what remains of this month and February.

Let’s make 2023 the year of growing waves of resistance.

Read my article here // Retweet it here to spread the word // Register for Feb.1 here

Hello David

Last week, Tory ministers met numerous unions to discuss public-sector pay, but no movement was made, meaning that strike action is set to escalate, including with the PCS announcing 100,000 will be on strike on what is shaping up to be a major day of industrial and other forms of action on February 1st, the day of our #BuildingtheFightback rally.

The Tory refusal to budge on pay is the logical follow-on from locking-in austerity for years. On the Left we need to understand the scale of what we are up against politically, the extent of the crisis Britain is facing, and the nature of what is to come if the Tories aren’t forced out, including that this is an increasingly authoritarian Government.

We need to be organising resistance  right now – and we need to be backing those movements taking direct action and backing those workers taking industrial action. Let’s make 2023 the year of  growing waves of resistance to the Tories – join us at Building the Fightback on February 1 (details below) in solidarity with workers in struggle and to map out our next steps.

Yours in solidarity,
Matt Willgress, on behalf of the Arise volunteers.
 

RALLY: Building the fightback in 2023.

Online rally, 6.30pm, Wednesday February 1. Join us on to hear about & build on a day of action across the country!
Register here // Invite & share here // Retweet here.

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary // Diane Abbott MP // Dave Ward, CWU GS // Richard Burgon MP // Helen O’Connor, GMB Southern Region & Peoples Assembly // Liz Cabeza, Acorn (Haringey) // Nabeela Mowlana, Young Labour // Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No // Matt Wrack, FBU GS & more.

Join leaders of key industrial disputes – and who are at the forefront of fighting proposed anti-union laws – at this vital event! Now is the time to build the growing fightback, co-ordinate the resistance & popularise policies that put people before profit. 

Hosted by Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas. All other pages listed on social media are kindly helping to promote the event. 

OTHER 2023 DIARY DATES:

1) FORUM: The economic crisis – was Marx right?


Online. Monday January 23, 2023. Register here // share & invite here // retweet here to spread the word

Here in Britain and around the world the economic crisis is deepening. Join economist Michael Roberts for debate and discussion – was Nye Bevan right, wrong, or both when he said “Marxism put into the hands of the working class movement… the most complete blueprints for political action the world has ever seen?”


Labour Outlook forum as part of the Socialist Ideas series – kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) CONFERENCE: The World At War – A Trade Union Issue

Register here. Saturday 21 January 2023, 10.30am, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD (Nearest tube: Euston/Kings Cross). 

Jeremy Corbyn MP // Mick Whelan, ASLEF // Salma Yaqoob // Fran Heathcote, PCS // Alex Gordon, RMT // Ricardo La Torre, FBU & more.

Organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

3) DIARY DATE: A Society in Crisis – Building a Progressive Policy Platform.

Sat 11 Feb, 2023, 10:00am, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, WC1B 5DQ. Register here – Retweet here.

“The economic, social and environmental crises we face mean the need for a transformative policy agenda is more urgent than ever. For this reason, on February 11, I will be bringing together academics, think tanks, policy researchers and experts, campaigners and others to develop a progressive policy platform – and hope you can join us there.” – John McDonnell MP.

Organised by Claim the Future & Influencing the Corridors of Power’

It’s a pity the last meeting is in London, as this is what the left really need to challenge neoliberalism, in the Labour party as much as anywhere else. Perhaps they’ll release a video of it later on YouTube.

The Fascist Argument Against Free Market Capitalism

January 15, 2023

I notice that as the failure of contemporary free market capitalism becomes every more obvious, its right-wing supporters are out on the net telling everyone how wonderful capitalism is. Capitalism, according to them, has lifted more people out of poverty than any socialist state has ever done. You find this repeated by the Lotus Eaters, and I recent found yet another video on YouTube put up by a right-winger.

Now there is something to this. Marx in the Communist Manifesto was impressed by the global achievements of capitalism, and industrialisation and trade has produced development and prosperity in Britain, the West and elsewhere, and lifted people out of the poverty of agricultural subsistence economies. But this hasn’t been done by capitalism alone. Trade unions have also been part of the development of mass prosperity in the industrialised nations through demands for increased wages, better working conditions and so on, a fact ignored by the right. And working people in the west enjoyed their greatest period of prosperity when capitalism was regulated as part of the post-War consensus. In Britain this took the form of a mixed economy in which the utilities were owned and operated by the state. The privatisation of these utilities, the devastation of the welfare state and the deregulation of the economy has led to a massive transfer of wealth upwards, so that the poor have become colossally poorer and the wealth of the rich even more bloated and obscene. Properly regulated, capitalism does raise people out of poverty. But free market capitalism, of the kind frantically promoted by right-wingers like the Lotus Eaters, has done the reverse.

But let’s grant them that the 19th century was an age of industrial and agricultural expansion in which people enriched themselves. Mussolini expressed this view in his speech about the corporative state he was introducing into Italy. The fascist corporations were industrial organisations, one for each industry, which included representatives of the trade unions and the owners’ organisations. The Italian parliament was dissolved and reorganised into a Chamber of Fasces and Corporations, in which these organisations were supposed to debate economic policy. In fact, it just served as a rubber stamp for the Duce’s decisions. It was, however, important for propaganda purposes, to show that Mussolini’s regime had transcended capitalism and socialism.

The Fascists weren’t enemies of capitalism, far from it. Mussolini’s constitution made private industry the basis of the state and economic life, which is why I’m using it his critique of free market capitalism against the free marketeers. Mussolini had been a radical socialist, but when the Fascists seized power he declared them to be true followers of Manchester School capitalism. In other words, free trade. This was accompanied by a programme of privatisation. In Germany Hitler gave a speech to the German equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry, saying that capitalism could only be preserved through a dictatorship. He stated that he would not nationalise any company, unless it was failing. During the Nazi dictatorship industry was organised into a series of interlocking associations subject to state control. But they were not nationalised, and the leadership of the organisations was always given to private industrialists, not the managers of state industries.

Back to Italy, Mussolini described how this initial period had begun to decay. The old family run firms declined, to be replaced by joint stock companies. At the same time, firms organised themselves into cartels. In America, these cartels demanded intervention from the government. Mussolini announced that, if left unchecked, this would lead to the emergence of a state capitalism that was every bit as pernicious as state socialism. His solution was that capitalism needed to be more ‘social’. It would be subordinated to the state through the corporations, where workers and management would cooperate to make Italy a great power once more.

Something similar has happened over the past four decades. Under this new corporativism, representatives of private industry have entered government as advisors and officials, often in the departments charged with regulating their industries. At the same time, industry has received massive subsidies and tax breaks so that much of the tax burden has moved lower down on working people. Mussolini was correct about private industry demanding state intervention, however much this is denied and state planning attacked by free market theorists. And the result is corporativism, which the free marketeers denounce as not being true capitalism. But it’s been pointed out that the type of capitalism they believe in has never existed.

Free market capitalism is a failure. The solution is not a murderous dictatorship, but the old, regulated, mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. An economy that includes private industry, but which recognises that it alone does not create wealth, and which demands the inclusion of working people and their organisations in industrial negotiations and policies in order to create prosperity for working people.

Jeremy Bentham’s Radical Political Beliefs

January 13, 2023

Jeremy Bentham was a British 19th century philosopher. He was the inventor of Utilitarianism, a moral philosophy that states that something is good if it creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This, however, fails as it neglects the fact that some things are inherently good or evil even though they may be popular. One of the examples of this would be a case where a mob demands the execution of a wrongly accused man. It is still wrong to execute an innocent person, even if this is massively popular and demanded by the majority of people. Bentham was also interested in prison reform and design. In his view, prisons should be laid out so that the prisoners and their activities were all under surveillance from a central hub, the panopticon. This constant surveillance would, he believed, lead to prisoners acquiring the habit of behaving decently and legally and so reform their characters ready for release back into society. Modern critics consider it a chilling, totalitarian surveillance society in miniature. Another of his ideas is truly bonkers. He believed that people – presumably members of the aristocracy and people accustomed to public service and social prominence – should preserve their ancestors after death through mummification and embalming, and put them on display as ‘autoicons’. The intention behind this bizarre idea is that people, surrounded by their dead relatives and antecedents, would then feel themselves encouraged to emulate their virtues. Bentham had himself preserved, and is on display in a glass case at Oxford University, except for his head, which is a waxwork. His real head is in a case somewhere, and not displayed.

However, the Utilitarians were behind the early 19th century hygiene reforms that cleaned up Britain’s cities by demanding proper sewage and the removal of waste from the streets to improve the inhabitants’ lives and health. And he was also a very much a political radical. He outlined his democratic views in Democracy – A Fragment. He believed that people weren’t naturally virtuous and public spirited, and that they acted primarily in their own interest. This meant that those governing also acted in their own interest, which was to expand their power against everyone else. They could only be kept in line through democracy and all adults possessing the vote. And he meant all adults. The franchise should be extended to include not just all adult men, but also women. He also wanted the abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the disestablishment of the Church of England. This was in the 1820s, and it was nearly a century before British women acquired the right to vote. As for the abolition of the monarchy, the Lords and the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, Tony Benn was reviled as a Communist for advocating them, plus nuclear disarmament in the 1980s. They’re not policies I support, though the House of Lords needs radical reform as at the moment it has more members than the ruling general assembly of the Chinese Communist Party. But I am impressed with his staunch advocacy of democracy, especially at a time when many would have regarded it almost as seditious because of the excesses of the French Revolution.

And unfortunately he does have a point about the corruption of the governing class. We’ve seen it in the way the Tory administrations of the past eleven years have passed endless laws to benefit their class at the expense of Britain’s working people, and themselves personally. As when one of their number decided to relax the planning laws while angling for a lucrative property deal in London.

There have been voices on the internet claiming that democracy is in crisis and that people are giving up on it. If that’s the case, then it’s because we don’t have enough democracy in Britain. Last year we saw three prime ministers come and go, but were not allowed to elect any of them. It’s high time this changed.

More democracy, Tories out!

Gladstone: There Should Be More Working Class Men in Parliament

January 11, 2023

Another piece of political wisdom from the past, this time from the great 19th century Liberal leader William Ewart Gladstone. In the 1866 debate of the extension of the franchise to part of the working class, Gladstone stated very firmly that he was in favour of it. Because working people were not adequately represented in parliament. He said

‘I am justified, then, in stating that the working classes are not adequately represented in this House. They are not, it is admitted, represented in any proportion to their numbers …. They are not represented, as I have previously shown, in accordance with their share of the income of the country. Especially after the events of the last few years, I may boldly proceed to say they are not represented in proportion to their intelligence, their virtue, or their loyalty. Finally, they are less represented now than they were thirty-six years ago, when they were less competent to exercise the franchise…. If these are not good reasons for extending the franchise at the present, I know not what reason can be good.’

In Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock, The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes (Oxford: Clarendon 1956).

Unfortunately, despite the extension of the franchise to cover all adults in Britain, working people aren’t properly represented in parliament. Way back in 2014/15 or so someone worked out that 77 per cent of all the MPs in parliament were heads or senior executives of companies. And I don’t expect this to improve when Starmer gets in, as the Blairites were only too keen on admitting rich businessmen into the party and giving them government posts. The current demand for greater diversity in politics really doesn’t extend to class. It is all about increasing the number of women and ethnic minority MPs. But the class background and the economic views tend to remain the same – very middle class and neoliberal. We really need to start demanding the selection of more working people as political candidates and to challenge everywhere we can neoliberalism.

And especially in the Labour party, which was founded to represent working people and oppose unfettered capitalism.

Is Keir Starmer Planning to Further Privatise the NHS If He Gets Into Government?

January 8, 2023

This deeply concerns me. A few days ago the mellifluous Irish left-wing vlogger, Maximilien Robespierre, posted a video asking if Keir Starmer was planning to push the privatisation of the NHS even further if or when he gets into 10 Downing Street. I didn’t see more than a few seconds of the video, but it seemed to be based on Starmer’s cagey response to how he would solve the country’s current crises. While Starmer has promised to repeal the anti-strike legislation, which would definitely be a great step if he actually does it, he answered that question by stating that Labour would not be spending its way out of these problems. This looks like an attempt to assure Tory voters that Labour is now fiscally responsible and no longer the high-spending party of traditional Tory caricature. But the current problems in the Health Service and other sectors are partly caused by decades of cuts and underinvestment. In the case of the NHS, the funding has also been gobbled up by increased administration expenses created by privatisation. So where is this extra investment, and improved services, supposed to come from? Blair tried to solve this by pushing the NHS’ privatisation further than Tories had dared. Not only were further NHS services outsourced to private healthcare providers, but he also created the Community Care Groups of doctors, who were responsible for commissioning medical services. These CCGs were granted the powers to buy in private medical services, and to raise additional income privately. Starmer is a Blairite, as shown by his vehement persecution of the Labour left and embrace of neoliberalism. One of the great commenters on this blog has suggested that he’s an admirer of the Swiss healthcare system. This is a mixture of state and private medical insurance, the degree depending on wealth. In the case of the very rich, it’s all, or nearly all, funded by private health insurance. In the case of the poor, it’s state-funded according to whether they can afford a level of private insurance. I have a feeling Nick Clegg of the Lib-Dems believed in the same kind of continental system. This obviously violates the fundamental principles on which Nye Bevin founded the NHS: that it should be universal and free at the point of delivery.

No-one wanted Blair to push through his NHS privatisations and there was electorally no need for it. By the time Blair was elected in 1997 the country was so thoroughly fed up of Tory misrule and their policies that Blair could have pursued a traditional Labour policy of renationalising it as well as funding it properly. But Blair was a Thatcherite and intensely concerned to get the Tory press and Tory voters onside, to the point that Rupert Murdoch has been described as an invisible presence at cabinet meetings. Blair’s pursuit of Tory policies left traditional Labour voters and members feeling betrayed and disenfranchised and the party lost both. They only continued winning elections because the Tories were worse.

I joined the Labour party a few years ago, inspired by Corbyn’s commitment to genuine Labour party policies and the protection and renationalisation of the NHS. I really don’t want to see it privatised by Starmer as Blair did.

If Starmer does push through further measures to privatise it, not only will he betray this country’s working people, making them poorer and with less available healthcare, then it will also have disastrous consequences for the direction of politics in this country. The recent surge of identity politics following the Black Lives Matter protests back in 2020 has also resulted in a backlash and the appearance of anti-woke parties further to the right, like Reform, led by Richard Tice, and Laurence Fox’s Reclaim. If working people become alienated from politics because whichever party you choose, economically they’re all the same, it leaves the way open for the far right. That was shown very clearly in Margaret Hodge’s neck of London, where Hodge did so little to tackle the rise of the BNP that the stormtroopers at one point had seven members on Tower Hamlets council. Their fuehrer, Derek Beacon, even sent her a garland after their squalid electoral victories. What has been shown to work against the fascist parties and unite working people of different ethnicities and religions is effective, traditional Labour welfare policies. These are desperately needed in themselves, but without them there’s the possibility that Britain may go the same way as the continent in the rise of extreme right-wing nationalist parties.

Renationalising the NHS and restoring the welfare state will not only massive improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the British working people, but will do much to stop the racial division and alienation fuelling the drift towards the parties of racial division, friction and resentment.

Did Gordon Brown and Jackie Smith Really Order the Police Not to Investigate the Pakistani Grooming Gangs?

January 8, 2023

One of the stories going around the right, and especially the Islamophobic right, is that Gordon Brown and the-then Home Secretary Jackie Smith not only knew about the Pakistani grooming gangs, but ordered the police not to investigate them. It’s alleged that in 2008 they sent out a circular to the police forces stating that the victims had made a lifestyle choice and that, in order to preserve the peace, they were not to investigate them. I tried to do a bit of investigation into this rumour just using Google yesterday. They allegation is supposed to have been made by Nafzir Ali, the heroic prosecutor, who was behind the campaign to get these gangs arrested for their heinous crimes and put away. Ali is supposed to have made the allegation during an interview on Radio 4, which was then edited out and never broadcast.

If this is true, this would be a damning indictment of Brown and Smith, and their critics and opponents would be entirely right in calling for them to be jailed for a very long time. I don’t find anything particularly incredible about the allegation. The governments can and do stop investigations that are felt not to be in the public interest. With a serious allegation like this, it may well be that the Beeb would edit it out of an interview fearing legal or political repercussions. Tory critics have claimed that there is a strong bias in the BBC against them. I don’t find this entirely credible, but they have been able to support it with evidence that some elements of the Beeb were connected to the Labour party at the time, whose reporting was unfairly biased towards Blair’s Labour party. But as Blair at the time was turning Labour into a neoliberal party of the right, this doesn’t mean that it was a socialist or pro-working class bias.

The problem with these allegations is that they were made by a woman at a Tommy Robinson rally. It’s possible that she was telling the truth, though I didn’t find out what her background was that allowed her to know about this supposed interview and its suppression. Not everything Robinson says is a lie, and he was interviewing the gangs’ victims and promoting their stories while the police were still trying to silence them. But Tommy ‘Ten Names’ Robinson, as one of the great commenters here has called him, does not inspire confidence. As I’ve said, he’s a violent thug, who was in the BNP before supposedly become non-racist and deciding instead to pick on Islam. He has convictions for assault and mortgage fraud, as well as contempt of court and attempting to sneak into America while banned. He lost a libel case against a Syrian lad, who he claimed was the real bully after the lad was the victim of a racist attack by other boys at school. He claims to be some kind of citizen journalist, but his reports made at the time of these gangs’ trial violated the rules of journalistic impartiality and threatened to cause a mistrial. In which case, the trial would have to have been abandoned and the gangs, if guilty, let off.

The fact is that unless there is a public inquiry, we don’t know if this really happened. 38 Degrees did post a petition calling for one, but it hasn’t happened yet and I doubt that it will.