Friday, 7 April 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Urges Restraint

Jeremy Corbyn, who has been ever so slightly proved right about these things in the past, has released the following statement via social media:
 
The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.
 
Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.
 
But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
 
What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
 
The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.
 
The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Rupert Murdoch's Sky Might Even Do Some Good

The Sun is The Bloody Rag of Hillsborough, and the persecutor of my friend (yes, still my friend), Tom Watson. The Times employs Oliver Kamm, the tormentor of my friend, Neil Clark. But try as I might to work myself up about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to purchase the rest of Sky, I cannot bring myself to do so. What would such an acquisition make any worse? 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who understand the lesson of the EU referendum result in the United Kingdom, and of the election of Donald Trump in the United States, which is that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who locate identity issues within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who welcome the fact that the EU referendum was decided by those areas which voted Leave while voting Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru for other purposes, and which have thus made themselves the centre of political attention, except, of course, on the BBC.

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who celebrate the leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and the leading role in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed from the start the failed programme of economic austerity. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who opposed Tony Blair’s privatisation of the NHS and other public services, his persecution of the disabled, and his assault on civil liberties, all of which have continued under every subsequent Government.

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed every British military intervention since 1997. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who oppose Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and who reject the demonisation of Russia. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have the real eyes to realise real lies, recognising that the truly fake news is propagated in support of the economic policies of neoliberal austerity and the foreign policies of neoconservative war.

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who reject any approach to climate change which would threaten existing or potential jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And the BBC gives little or no platform to those who refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

Over-concentrated media ownership, especially by a foreign national who is not based in this country, is inherently problematic. But in the very great scheme that is these things, the biggest problem is not Rupert Murdoch. He already owns a lot of Sky, on which the much-maligned RT does indeed provide these platforms. He now also owns talkRADIO, on which they are provided by the much-maligned George Galloway, whom Murdoch has not sacked, and who is a friend and comrade of mine and of Neil Clark’s. As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Murdoch might even do some good.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Of Owen Jones, Clive Lewis, Jess Phillips and David Miliband, by David Lindsay

Two years ago, if any event were addressed by Owen Jones, then he himself was the event. But, like Peter Tatchell, he has now joined the long list of old left-wing star turns who resent having been made into supporting acts by a man whom they had spent decades assuming was the cloakroom attendant, yet who turns out to have an appeal beyond their wildest dreams. 

Jones’s insistence that anti-Trump events are only “official” if they are approved by him is the mark of a man who has quite taken leave of his senses. When I pointed out that his approach to certain previous military interventions and American Presidents made him an impossible spokesman or figurehead for the opposition to Donald Trump, then he blocked me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook, after the manner of a petulant teenager. He is utterly unused to criticism, and he reacts to it very badly indeed.

His flip-flop on withdrawal from the European Union bespoke a lack of order or clarity in his thinking, and a certain opportunism that was also evident in the decision of his close friend, Clive Lewis, to resign from the Shadow Cabinet in order to vote against the activation of Article 50. Lewis is now the other key figure in the “official” demonstrations against Trump.

But when Jeremy Corbyn departs the Labour Leadership, at the time of his choosing and not before the middle of the next Parliament at the absolute earliest, then he will be succeeded by one of three people. Those are all from the 2015 intake. In no particular order, they are Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner and Richard Burgon. None of those is Clive Lewis, nor is any of them likely to engage the services of Owen Jones. 

Moreover, two of them are women, but neither of those women is Jess Phillips. Phillips has built a media career on the lie that MPs first elected in 2015, and especially the women among them, have not enjoyed preferment under Corbyn. But they have. So it’s you, Jess. It’s just you. Yet she is now dropping broad enough intends that she intends to stand for the Leadership this year. Well, bring that on, say I. For the sheer hilarity, bring it on. 

Although Phillips does at least have the advantage of being a member of the House of Commons, and indeed a resident of the United Kingdom. David Miliband is neither of those things. The attempted revival of the Transatlantic Torturer declared that Corbyn’s enemies included no sitting MP whom anyone might consider capable of becoming Leader of the Labour Party. 

Who cares what David Miliband says about anything? He was once beaten by Ed Miliband, and that is quite a feat. Big before Twitter and Facebook were, he was such an object of ridicule in his day that he would be drowned in the gales of derision these days. But he is a nasty piece of work. Whereas Phillips, Lewis and Jones are merely laughable.

@davidaslindsay

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

President Trump’s State Visit, by David Lindsay

Mr Speaker Bercow does not want President Donald Trump to address Parliament. Is Trump a worthy successor to Nelson Mandela? No. Is Trump a worthy successor to Aung San Suu Kyi? Ask the Rohingya about that overrated figure. But is Trump a worthy successor to Barack Obama? Oh, yes, indeed.

By all means protest against Trump’s actions. Up to a point, protest against his utterances. But do not protest against his presence. His arrival in this country would do us no end of good. Provided that the reaction were led by the right people.

The American Democratic Party has been defeated in the person of the most economically neoliberal and internationally neoconservative nominee imaginable. The lesson needs to be learned. The workers are not the easily ignored and routinely betrayed base, with the liberal bourgeoisie as the swing voters to whom tribute must be paid. The reality is the other way round. The EU referendum ought already to have placed that beyond doubt.

There is a need to move, as a matter of the utmost urgency, away from the excessive focus on identity issues, and towards the recognition that those existed only within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace, including co-operation with Russia, not a new Cold War.

The defeat of the Clintons by a purported opponent of neoliberal economic policy and of neoconservative foreign policy, although time will tell, has secured Jeremy Corbyn’s position, since he is undoubtedly such an opponent.

For 25 years, almost completely ignored except in relation to the Iraq War, a section of the political Left and a smaller section of the political Right have consistently opposed the racist, militarist and imperialist policies of the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump Administrations. For 20 years, almost completely ignored except in relation to the Iraq War, a section of the political Left and a smaller section of the political Right have consistently opposed the racist, militarist and imperialist policies of the Blair, Brown, Cameron and May Governments.

A steadfast stalwart has been, and remains, Corbyn. His election and re-election as Labour Leader have been significant victories for the movement against liberal interventionism. Another victory was the social media campaign that led to the lobbying of the House of Commons such that it defeated the Cameron Government over Syria. Therefore, it is not correct to say that, “They never did Stop the War.”

In the event of a State Visit to the United Kingdom by President Trump, it is imperative that those with that consistent, and not unsuccessful, record be the organisers of what would easily be the largest demonstration in British history, and that that demonstration be addressed by Corbyn. This would have the potential to politicise an entire generation, thereby changing Britain in myriad ways over at least 50 years. But it would have to be led by those who would have reacted in the same way to a State Visit by President Hillary Clinton.

@davidaslindsay

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Brexit and a New Second Chamber, by David Lindsay

Both Houses of Parliament will reject withdrawal from the Single Market, if it ever gets that far. But whereas the composition of the House of Commons can be changed, that of the House of Lords cannot. At least, not without what would be the ludicrous creation of hundreds of Peers in one go. Giving the Lords a veto is Theresa May’s way of ensuring that the whole scheme is killed off. This has nothing to do with such reforms as there were under Tony Blair. Those reforms postdated the European Communities Act, the Single European Act, and the Maastricht Treaty.

This looks like the real possibility of a new second chamber. But there is no point in waiting for May to come up with anything specific. We all remember the Blairites on this, too. Instead, the Left needs a specific proposal that would maximise the representation of the Labour Left, of smaller Left formations that had the good sense not to use the C-word or what have you for electoral purposes, and of non-party Left activists. There are alliances to be made here.

“Brexit means Brexit,” says the Prime Minister. The democratic will must be respected, says the Leader of the Opposition. They need to confront the mounting anger about the ballooning size of the unelected House of Parliament while the elected House is being cut, and that despite the growing population. The powers of the House of Lords should be transferred to a new Senate, the members of which would be remunerated in the same way as MPs were. Ministers would not be drawn from the Senate, but they would appear before it. Even the Prime Minister might. The Senate’s term of office would be six years.

Each of the nine English regions would elect 30 Senators, namely six Conservatives, six Labour, six Liberal Democrats, six from other registered political parties that did not contest Commons elections, and six non-party candidates to sit as Crossbenchers. Many of us do not like the word “Independent”, since, while not members of any party, we are proudly part of many overlapping networks of political interdependence.

In the first three cases, any member of the relevant party who was a parliamentary elector within the region would be eligible to stand. As electors, each of us would vote for one candidate, with the top six elected at the end. Casual vacancies would be filled by co-opting the next candidate down who was willing and able to serve. The fourth category would use party lists, again requiring candidates to be from within the region. The fifth would replicate the first three, but for non-partisans.

Scotland and Wales would each elect 30 Senators. Five each from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP in Scotland or Plaid Cymru in Wales, other registered political parties that did not contest Commons elections, and Crossbenchers. Northern Ireland would elect 30 Senators. Three each from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party, other parties that did not contest Commons elections, and Crossbenchers.

This would give 360 Senators, representing a very broad range of political opinion. UKIP, or whatever came after it, would happily exchange the off-chance of one Commons seat for the effective guarantee of 11 Senators and the serious possibility of 12. The same would be true of the three Green Parties in different parts of the United Kingdom. And practically every elector would be able to point to at least one Senator for whom he or she had voted.

@davidaslindsay

Monday, 5 December 2016

The People's Organiser, by David Lindsay

Tony Blair is planning "more than a think tank, but less than a political party".

And the traditional right-wingers of Labour First are crowdfunding £40,000 for an organiser to fight against Jeremy Corbyn.

But we are also crowdfunding £40,000 for an organiser, the People's Organiser:

One organiser for every £40,000 raised will provide platforms for those who:

- understand the lesson of the EU referendum result in the United Kingdom, and of the election of Donald Trump in the United Kingdom, which is that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters;

- locate identity issues within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace;

- welcome the fact that the EU referendum was decided by those areas which voted Leave while voting Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru for other purposes, and which have thus made themselves the centre of political attention;

- celebrate the leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and the leading role in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars;

- have opposed from the start the failed programme of economic austerity;

- have opposed every British military intervention since 1997; 

- opposed Tony Blair's privatisation of the NHS and other public services, his persecution of the disabled, and his assault on civil liberties, all of which have continued under every subsequent Government;

- oppose Britain's immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and reject the demonisation of Russia;

- have the real eyes to realise real lies, seeing the truly fake news as propagated in support of the economic policies of neoliberal austerity and the foreign policies of neoconservative war;

- reject any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet;

- seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies caused the problems; and

- refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

Please give generously.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Why Is The Left So Narrow-Minded?, by James Draper

Like many of my friends, I consider myself to be on the political Left, oppose our current foreign policy in the Middle East, and support Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership of the Labour Party.

However, very few of these friends also support withdrawal from the European Union, oppose modern feminism, or question the theory of anthropogenic global warming, and many are hostile to those who do.

Too many times, there has been an implication during and after the EU referendum debate that the 52 per cent who voted for Leave were naïve, ignorant or racist – as if the Remain campaign were uniquely free of dodgy statistics and misleading information. 

Not only is this deeply insulting and patronising, but it does not reflect my personal experience. 

I was originally in favour of the EU: I loved the idea of nations trading and cooperating to find solutions to common problems.

If I could have seen a glimmer of hope that the EU could reform, then I would gladly have voted to Remain. But I could not keep deceiving myself. 

The EU has not guaranteed peace in Europe: it played a role in initiating the recent trouble in Ukraine.

It is not a friend of the poor and vulnerable: it is heavily influenced by big banks and corporations, and it has caused misery for the people of Greece. 

You do not have to be on the political Right to oppose it, as Tony Benn and Bob Crow demonstrated so brilliantly.

Surely treating European immigrants more favourably than non-European immigrants is the real racist policy, and surely expecting the unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to change their ways is the real naivety?

My main principle against the European Union is also the reason why I oppose our foreign military interventions: I believe in independent nation states, and that the internal running of a country should be a matter for the people of that country to decide and no one else. 

I often find that those claiming to be the liberal, diverse, progressive voices in Western politics are much more intolerant than their opponents.

For example, whenever I reveal to people that I do not identify as a feminist, I am almost invariably met with looks of mingled incredulity and fury.

“So you don’t believe in women’s rights?” is the usual response. Of course I do; I cannot think of a single person I know who does not wish for women to have the same legal rights as men.

My opposition to feminism does not stem from misunderstanding the word either: I have examined the modern Western feminist movement, but I cannot relate to it at all.

We hear all the time that women are paid less than men and oppressed by a “glass ceiling”.

Men do on average earn more money than women and vastly outnumber women on corporate boards, but this is due to lifestyle choices and not discrimination. 

In 2000, sociologist Dr. Catherine Hakim published a paper on “preference theory”, which stated that while four in seven men in the UK were “work-centred”, only one in seven women was. 

Generally, men work longer hours and take less time off work, while women prefer a work-life balance.

Motherhood often plays a large role: if a woman takes time off work to have a baby, this will inevitably have an impact on her progression in her career.

It is also worth noting that the Equal Pay Act has prohibited paying men more than women for the same work since 1970.

Under the age of 35, women now earn more than men in the UK and the US.

Longitudinal studies show a causal link between artificially increasing female representation on corporate boards though enforced gender quotas and decline in corporate financial performance. 

If feminism is about empowering women, then why does it continue unnecessarily to present them as victims?

Talented women can succeed in the workplace without legislation that is deeply patronising towards women and discriminates against men.

In her launch speech for “HeForShe”, Emma Watson said, “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

But feminists themselves are responsible for this in many ways.

For a start, look at the aims of “HeForShe”: to “engage men and boys as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality by encouraging them to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.”

There appears to be no sense of recognition that men and boys can also often be victims of gender inequality, and no desire to rectify this.

Examples include the high male suicide rate, lack of support for male domestic violence victims, lower male life expectancy, male genital mutilation, victims of false rape allegations, underachievement of boys in schools, fathers denied reasonable access to their children after a divorce, and gender disparity in the sentencing of criminals.

These are much more important issues than women on banknotes, female composers on an A-level Music syllabus, and other thoroughly trivial matters that receive far more attention from mainstream feminists and exposure in the media.

In the interests of democracy, raising these issues in Parliament should not be left to Philip Davies.

As I have not examined the scientific research into climate change far beyond the theories taught in science lessons and sound bites in the media, I do not feel qualified to take a firm stance for or against the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

It therefore irritates me when other people, whose knowledge into the subject is no more intimate than mine, smugly pour scorn on anyone who so much as questions the prevailing consensus on this issue.

There are many interesting points raised by the sceptics, many of whom are scientists.

These include the political nature of the IPCC, the influence of solar activity on climate, the decrease in global temperature during the post-War economic boom, the amount of money invested in climate science, and periods in history when temperatures were much warmer or cooler than today.

Why are people so scared of debate? If we chose the wrong path, then the consequences would be disastrous either way. 

Major floods would occur, destroying infrastructure and livelihoods, or we would have sacrificed jobs and hampered international development for the sake of a mistaken dogma.

Therefore an open, honest debate is of the utmost importance.

I do not share a number of Jeremy Corbyn’s perspectives. However, were I a Labour Party member, then my vote would go to him. 

I do not understand how Owen Smith’s leadership would add value to Labour. 

Nearly all his policies appear to either be virtually identical to Corbyn’s, thereby rendering a change of leadership pointless, or a blast back to the Blair days of Labour and the Tories battling for the alleged “centre-ground”, abandoning in the process their principles and the people whom they were supposed to represent. 

He claims to want to appeal to the general population and not just to Labour members, yet he shows no respect for the democratic will of the British people to leave the European Union – running the risk of losing more Labour voters to UKIP.

As for Corbyn, where I disagree with him, the fake Conservative Party tends to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Where I agree with him (such as renationalising the railways, taking action against the housing crisis, scrapping Trident, and ending our series of catastrophic interventions in the Middle East), his presence is a breath of fresh air in Parliament.

Anyone who attended the Durham Miners’ Gala could have seen with their own eyes how much his ideas resonated with ordinary people.

His Opposition has reduced the Government to U-turns and ad hominem remarks many times this year.

He has performed his role with admirable dignity, despite being showered with buckets of slime from all directions.

Labour finally shows signs of rediscovering its principles. If only those on the opposite side of the House could do the same.