Thursday, 23 November 2017

Time To Apply Ourselves

Uber's days are numbered. Over to the unions and the councils to set up their own. It's an app. It's not hard to do. This could all be built into the existing black cab trade. With Uber out of the way, then the black cabs would not be undercut if they adopted the technology. All overseen by the councils and the unions. It could be integrated with Oyster and everything. Everyone would love it.

They would rapidly wonder how they ever did without it. The Knowledge is no more a "restrictive practice" than a medical or a legal qualification is. The same was true of many working-class protections that have been lost. Let this be the first day of their restoration. No satnav in the world could ever match The Knowledge, or that latter would no longer exist, still less would it command such healthy remuneration. This is a moment to be seized. The technology effectively belongs only to the people without the compliance and enforcement problems. Seize this moment.

Worth Getting Out Of Bed For

The millennials' railcard will not work before 10am. Their morning commute will still cost exactly the same. 

Forward to a renationalised rail system as the backbone of a restored public transport reaching every community all day and all evening, and free at the point of use to everyone.

If we can conceive this, then we can achieve it.

Ladies First?

The appointment of a Lady Usher of the Black Rod gave Theresa May another opportunity to ask when the Labour Party was ever going to elect a woman Leader. Well, the Conservative Party's membership in the country has never elected a woman Leader. Indeed, it has never even been invited to do so. And we all know that the next Leader of the Labour Party is going to be a woman, the incomparable Grangela, the first woman to be elected to lead a national political party by its membership at large.

Conviction Politics

By all means rot in your cell, Ratko Mladić. But what about the rest of them? Jeremy Corbyn and the Morning Star, the only national newspaper that took the same view, were right. Ask John Laughland, or Mark Almond, or Peter Hitchens, or any of the American paleocons.

The neocons ought to stay away from the Yugoslav Wars, although of course they won't. "Serbs Evil, Croats Sort Of UK, Muslims Saintly" was not taken seriously by any serious person even at the time, and it would not wash with anyone at all today.

The collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as such, has been, and remains, an unmitigated disaster. A disaster visited upon Europe and the world by the EU and by NATO. Yugoslavia was authoritarian, but it was hardly so by the standards of twentieth-century Eastern Europe. I t was multiethnic, and it was properly independent. It was also rather Anglophile. Margaret Thatcher even bowed to Tito's coffin. No one is all bad. 

On and on people bang about Corbyn and imaginary "anti-Semitism" or even "Holocaust denial". But for those, you needed the late Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia.Or you need the pro-NATO governments and parties in Eastern Europe, with their NATO-funded films glorifying those of their compatriots who fought for Hitler.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

That Black Friday Feeling

The Americans think that Thanksgiving is religious, while the British think that Christmas is not. The Puritans despised harvest festivals, and ruthlessly suppressed them. The association of Thanksgiving with the Pilgrim Fathers is also a fiction. A pious fiction, but a fiction all the same. Unlike the holding up of the Puritans as apostles and prophets of religious liberty. That is an outright lie, and downright pernicious. Every year, I give thanks that they left England.

But if we must have Black Friday, then we ought at least to precede it with Thanksgiving. As it is, our cultural relationship with the United States is perfectly encapsulated by the fact that we have managed to adopt Black Friday but not any form of Thanksgiving. We only ever take the bad from America, never the good. As a Catholic, I wish that the American bishops would declare a day of fasting, abstinence and penance on this "Black Friday".

The supermarket chains claim that one in six people in Britain now keeps Thanksgiving. Utter bilge, of course. It is kept only by expatriate Americans and by the members of their households, a tiny proportion of the population. The major Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Sikh festivals are all bigger, and they are all small minority interests. But our commercial overlords obviously see both Thanksgiving and Black Friday as enormous opportunities, to be made part of the cultural mainstream by the old trick of pretending that they already were, so as to make everyone else feel abnormal and as if we were missing out.

I honestly do not think that half of these corporations even know that Thanksgiving and Black Friday do not, or at least did not, exist outside the United States. They keep them without even thinking about it, and such is their power that, as a result, those days do now exist in more and more of the world. Within 10 years, and possibly five, the media will refer to them as "traditional", and the run-up to Thanksgiving will see it taught as such in primary schools.

But the world turns. Which Chinese festivals will we all be keeping another 10 years again after that? Right now, I would make all four of St George's Day, St Andrew's Day, St David's Day and St Patrick's Day public holidays throughout the United Kingdom, rather than pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. Three of those are in these Islands' incomparable spring and early summer, while the fourth, being 30th November, would mark the last day on which nothing, absolutely nothing, Christmas-related would be allowed.

Gender Recognition

If you go into the men's changing room of your local municipal swimming baths, then you will see penises. To everyone present, they are mundane to the point of banality, since everyone present has his own, and he has known for longer than he can remember never to look at anyone else's, still less to remark upon it.

But ask yourself what proportion of the population would regard it as remotely acceptable for there to be penises in the women's changing room of the local municipal swimming baths. At all, never mind on display. And quite regardless of whether or not anyone intended to do anything with them.

We can win this one. And we will.

Sentient Beings?

Animals do not have rights. Rather, we degrade ourselves as human beings if we are cruel to them.

I am no vegan. I never cared for the hunting ban by which Tony Blair and Hilary Armstrong bought support for the Iraq War, although now that it is the law, then it ought at least to be enforced as such, and the Conservatives' loss of their overall majority showed how much of a vote-winner the prospect of its repeal would be. And no, animals do not feel human emotions, which is why, among other things, they ought not to be given awards for bravery.

But animals do feel pain. Of course they do. That the Government thinks that they do not, or is at least prepared to pretend to think that, is not a surprise. By accepting an amendment to the Queen's Speech, it did not even bother to hold a parliamentary vote in order to provide funding in England and Wales for abortions for women from Northern Ireland.

The last time that there was a Commons vote on abortion, a generation ago, the Thatcher Government legalised it up to birth, dutifully opposed by John Smith and Charles Kennedy, by Ronnie Campbell and George Galloway. So it is for abortions up to and including partial birth that this new provision will be paying.

Apparently, though, the fetus is both "a part of the woman's body" and "insentient". Is it the whole of a woman's body that is insentient? Or is it only the parts that are directly concerned with reproduction?

No Pot of Gold

We have the Budget's headline policy: one, on Stamp Duty, lifted from the Labour manifesto, but then successfully messed up by Philip Hammond. The Conservatives engaged in organised public school jeering when Jeremy Corbyn dared to mention poor people, but they have their own catastrophic growth, productivity and borrowing figures to worry about. Corbyn has had a good day. He is at his best when he is angry about poverty. After that BBC Two documentary about Kinnock and all that trash, he can now be as authentic as he pleases.

Come back George Osborne, all is forgiven? Well, not "all". But you were certainly better than this. My letters are now published in the Evening Standard, even prompting debate that you allowed to be aired. And as the heir to the Baronetcy of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon, you had the wit to bail out Ireland as, among other things, our closest neighbour when the people with neither your background nor, for example, John McDonnell's were shrieking into the Internet and onto radio phone-ins that "It's not! It's not! That's France! That's France!"

The people who have been allowed to delude themselves that they decide General Elections in this country, the ones who want to know whether or not a potential Prime Minister would press a science-fictional nuclear button, and who believe that economic policies endorsed by Nobel Laureates and the IMF would turn Britain into a Venezuela that they themselves could not locate on a map, have absolutely no concept that the United Kingdom has a land border with another sovereign state, even while being extremely exercised about long ago Northern Irish affairs of which they know nothing more than has been told to them by some barely literate relative who was briefly "over there in the Army".

Mercifully, if it ever kicked off again in Northern Ireland, and this Government's incompetent handing of Brexit makes that a distinct possibility, then either the Conservative Government that would therefore replace this one, full of people with Ascendancy connections, or any Labour Government, full of people with Irish ties of a very different kind, would just pull out. The Republic could have Northern Ireland if it wanted it, but we would just quit, regardless. Across the political spectrum, hardly anyone in Britain ever really wanted to fight the war in Northern Ireland the last time. The mere suggestion of doing so again would bring down any Government that suggested it, and would confine that Government's party to electoral oblivion.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Ransom Notes

So, who is going to be paying this ransom to the EU? As a comment on a previous post very kindly put it, "200,000 of us here in the Leave heartland cheered Dennis Skinner even though he wasn't even speaking and cheered Jeremy Corbyn until some of us were in tears. You were there, I saw you up at the front where you belong. People as far as the eye could see."

It was the individuals, families, communities and areas that had suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice, that elected Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, that delivered the referendum vote to leave the European Union, that re-elected Corbyn even more overwhelmingly, and that deprived the Conservative Party of its overall majority in the House of Commons. Yet Brexit is being negotiated, insofar as it is being negotiated at all, in precisely the interests of which the referendum result was a comprehensive rejection.

Instead of that, we need a Brexit for those who voted for Brexit, namely the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy, based on the pursuit of economic equality and of international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including a Leader of the Labour Party who is, and who deserves to be, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

That Leader is Jeremy Corbyn.

Helter Skelter

The death of Charles Manson calls to mind the ghastly existing subcultures that became mixed up with the 1960s counterculture, which itself became mixed up with them. Fred West came off something similar, the English hillbillies whom we pretend to be unable to see.

One day, we shall see that something very similar applied to what saw itself, quite erroneously, as the 1980s counterrevolution. Thomas Mair's background and views powerfully recall Manson's. It is inconceivable that certain people who are now very prominent indeed did not know him back in the day.

I strongly suspect that it what is going to come out about the Medomsley Detention Centre, about which we always knew to some extent, will demonstrate the seamlessness of all of this.

We are only just beginning to see The Full Story of the Sixties. One day, we shall see The Full Story of the Eighties, too. In the meantime, I am going to keep telling as much of both as I can find. Go on. Do your worst.

Changing Everything Again

They are very much of a type: Constantine XI Palaeologus, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Charles X, Nicholas II, Puyi, Mehmed VI, Stephen Kinnock.

The Kinnocks, like the Blairs, could all be wiped out simply by throwing a penny piece in front of an oncoming train. They have been a cancer in the body politic for more than long enough.

Lucy Powell is a satirical character, and not even a well-drawn one. She is a ridiculous caricature of a New Labour MP, something that no one would any longer see the need to satirise.

Even in 2005, after two terms of Blairism including the invasion of Iraq, Jeremy Corbyn did not ask the electors of Islington North to vote for him in order to get rid of Tony Blair. Ruth Cadbury ought not to have the whip.

And Sarah Champion knew so little about the party that she imagined to have been founded by Blair as a Bill Clinton tribute band, that she could not foresee or comprehend the fuss when she wrote an article about race in The Sun.

Vote Labour in every constituency next time. But do not vote for Stephen Kinnock (or, rather, for his wife, Grace Mugabe), or for Lucy Powell, or for Ruth Cadbury, or for Sarah Champion. It follows, therefore, that those must not be Labour candidates next time.

That is not the only reason to ensure the election of Yasmine Dar, Rachel Garnham and Jon Lansman to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. But it is a very, very, very good one.

Russia Has Won In Syria

And a good thing, too. Saudi puppet politicians and media types can oppress and repress all they like. But the truth will be known.

A Sea Border, Indeed

We all know where this will end, don't we? Whether or not we want it, we know it. By 2019, Northern Ireland will have had 97 years, between twice and three times longer than anyone expected or intended. It will have had a good run. But the priority now must be to ensure that no one who has the NHS is deprived of it. That will mean an NHS for the whole of Ireland.

The White Man's Burden?

Ponder why our media are still quite so fascinated by Zimbabwe, a country to which this one now has hardly any connection.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Seventy Years On

One of Prince Philip's sisters was married to Gottfried, Eighth Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who was dismissed from the Wehrmacht for his role in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20th July 1944, although it is worth reiterating that he had been in it up to that point. But another was married to Prince Christoph of Hesse, who was a director in the Third Reich's Ministry of Air Forces, a Commander of the Air Reserves, and an Oberführer in the SS. And that is before looking into the very strange case of her second marriage.

Yet in Athens in 1941, so his diary records, Chips Channon met the future Duke of Edinburgh, great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. In their reduced circumstances, the sisters of the young Prince of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (how Greek does that sound to you?) had made some very interesting marriages indeed. But, records Channon quite matter-of-factly, "He is to be our Prince Consort, and that is why he is serving in our navy." At that time, the then Princess Elizabeth was 15 years old.

"Really Quite Frightened"?

Anna Soubry, come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life by a relative and agent and someone who was on the staff of the Government Chief Whip at the time, when you are the subject of an international terrorist threat that does not preclude the continuation of a baseless criminal prosecution of you even though it is likely to result in mass murder, and when a proven agent of both foreign powers behind that threat is soon to appear on Question Time despite having been sacked from the Cabinet for her treason.

Variable Standards

Well, that is the point on energy prices conceded by the providers themselves. Renationalisation, leading to the requirement that price increases by approved by a Division of the House of Commons, is now a formality.

Chinese Whispers No More

Nothing that is happening in Zimbabwe would be doing so with at least the permission of China. Such is now the way of the world.

George Osborne, for all his many faults, did understand that. He was right to accede this country to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and it is a pity that he never tied that in with the Northern Powerhouse. His Editorship of the Evening Standard is obviously with a view to standing for Mayor of London, so perhaps he will have more opportunity for joined up thinking there?

He needs to be matched by a candidate who understands that every corner of these Islands, including the Crown Dependencies, needs to be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative, as do each and all of the British Overseas Territories, with all tax havens closed, and with the Chagos Islands resettled by their rightful inhabitants.

Those tax havens include the City of London, the most urgent need for the reform of which is being thrown into increasingly sharp relief. But Labour has had some success there in the recent past, despite the jaw-dropping electoral system. And candidates for Mayor of London have to be nominated by at least 10 local government electors in each of the 32 Boroughs and in the City. Sadiq Khan, Siân Berry and George Galloway all managed that last year. Those 30 people are there.

Are there also people in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man who joined the Labour Party because of Jeremy Corbyn? Are there even branches of Momentum in those places? Might it be difficult to set up such branches? The voting age in all three is 16, and since Labour does not organise in the Crown Dependencies, then it ought not to be a problem to observe custom and practice by standing candidates as Independents.

As for Osborne, even he was better than his successor who denies the very existence of unemployment. Although, in his own terms, he has a point. His definition of unemployment is "claiming JSA". If he simply took, or ordered, everyone off JSA, then hey presto, there would be no unemployment. Keep on eye on that one. But don't fall for it.

Town and Country Planning

Congratulations to St Ives Town Council on having successfully blocked yet another development for the expensive second homes that have already taken up one quarter of residential properties there.

The whole country needs a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

Just as the whole country needs the requirement that 50 per cent of housing on all new projects must be dedicated to affordable housing, redefined as 50 per cent of average rents, not the 80 per cent that is currently the case. Just as the whole country needs rent controls. Just as the whole country needs the Land Value Tax.

Just as the whole country needs at least 100,000 affordable new homes per year for the next 10 years, including council housing, with an end to the Right to Buy, which even its defenders must now accept was a thing if its time. And just as the whole country needs action against the buying up of property by foreign investors who then leave it empty.

Yes, that last problem mostly presents itself in London. The problem in St Ives mostly presents itself in places like St Ives. But in both cases, the whole country needs the solution.

Never Mind The Kinnocks

By all means tune in tonight to laugh at the biggest losers of 2017. The worst thing about this year's General Election was that it was held too unexpectedly for them all to have been deselected. But there is plenty of time until the next one.

Since both of his parents have peerages, he is presumably The Honourable The Honourable Stephen Kinnock. The only thing worth knowing about that family is that they betrayed the miners. Thereby, as much as anything else, causing this coal-rich country's dependence on oil from all and sundry, and thus leading to the wars over it.

Where's The Need?

After the Poppy Appeal and Children in Need, how about reversing things next year? Veterans and children would be looked after out of public funds, and a telethon would be held for Trident in Need. After all, since Trident is apparently so popular, then it ought to have no problem securing vast voluntary contributions.

Winning The TERF War

From John Healey's doubts on The Westminster Hour last night, to the fact that the proponents of what is, after all, the Government's proposed Bill are now targeting Linda Bellos, a friend and comrade of Jeremy Corbyn's since the 1970s, it looks increasingly like a Labour free vote, and a substantial number of Labour votes against.

Women only spaces will have protectors against the presumed neoliberal right to define oneself as anything that one pleases and then to demand that everyone else, including the State, go along with it. The Morning Star has now been saying so for years.

I have no objection to the treatment of gender dysphoria on the NHS, because it is an illness. There would be no case for treating anything on the NHS if it were not a diagnosed, and thus a diagnosable, medical condition. And that treatment does not change anyone's sex. It just doesn't. That is a fact.

Women only spaces. That is the ground. And we can win on it. We can win this one.

Needling Questions

I have no complaint against Durham Constabulary, which is on record that it would not have charged me, and which has been the model of kindness and consideration where my disability has been concerned. But I profoundly disagree with its approach to drugs.

The first principle of neoliberalism is, of course, the "free" market. Like any economic arrangement, that is not a law of nature, but a political choice, and every political choice is a moral choice. There cannot be a "free" market in general but not in alcohol, tobacco, arms, drugs, prostitution or pornography. Therefore, there must not be a "free" market in general.

We need a single category of illegal drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on. That most certainly does include cannabis, which is linked to violent psychosis, and any medicinal properties of which are no more applied by smoking a spliff than those of opium would be by injecting heroin, or than those of aspirin would be by ingesting bark.

I am a declared candidate for election as County Durham and Darlington's Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner in 2020, an electoral process in which the continuation of the action against me is now an unwarranted interference. I am also regularly asked whether I am on the Bench "yet". Never say never.

Let's Get This Show On The Road

Especially with the developing constitutional crisis in Germany, there is increasing attention to the fact that this Government's incompetent handling of Brexit is imperilling the motor industry. Some of us saw this coming.

As something of a model of a different economy and of the opportunities for post-Brexit Britain, I have for some months, and despite the best efforts of the supposedly Labour County Council in trying to send me to prison instead, been working with everyone worth approaching on a proposal. 

Following the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, or in anticipation of that withdrawal, the Volkswagen Group would move to this historically industrial County of Durham all of its production for the British market that was not already located here in the United Kingdom, as I appreciate that a very small amount is.

The suggestion is for a company wholly owned by Volkswagen. One Director would be nominated by each of the Groups on Durham County Council other than the Labour Group, which is clearly unsympathetic to this project, and one Director would be nominated by those Councillors who had no formal political affiliation. A number of Directors equal to the number of non-Labour Groups would be nominated by Unite the Union, including one by Durham Unite Community. One Director would be nominated by the Durham Miners' Association. 

A Chairman appointed by Volkswagen would exercise the parent company's veto over all decisions. This new company would undertake to match (by such means as to avoid any conflict of interest) the Members' Initiative Fund of £2000 per annum at the disposal of each of the Councillors who were represented on its Board of Directors. It would underwrite the cost of the activities of Durham Unite Community. It would underwrite the Durham Miners' Gala. And it would underwrite the cost of maintaining the Durham Miners' Hall. 

Were it not for Simon Henig and his ghastly little mob, then this would now be very well-advanced indeed. But they are determined to stop many thousands of well-paid, highly skilled jobs from coming to County Durham. They are determined to deny any kind of voice, both to all political positions other than their own, and to the trade union movement. They are determined to punish financially wards that have had the temerity to vote for anyone else. And they are determined to prevent a secure financial future for Durham Unite Community, for the Durham Miners' Gala, or for the Durham Miners' Hall.

So determined are they, in fact, that they are engaged in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and in malfeasance in public office, in an attempt to kill this scheme, among others, by sending me to prison. If I am wrong, then let Simon Henig sue me.

The Russian Threat Is A Fake

Peter Hitchens writes: 

Last Monday the Prime Minister rattled her plastic sabre at the Russians, in a silly speech at the Mansion House. She doesn't even know what she's talking about. She said: 'Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe.' This is wrong. Nato Turkey (now an increasingly nasty despotism) seized Northern Cyprus in 1974 and still sits there, unpunished. 

She claimed Russia had 'repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries'. I asked No 10 for details. Two days later, whimpering that the information was somehow secret, a spokesman could only admit 'Russia has not violated UK airspace'. So whose airspace had it 'repeatedly' violated? No answer. If it's true, the Russians must know, so why the secrecy? The Russian threat is a fake.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Acquiescing To The Forces

This letter does not appear in The Observer, despite having been signed by a prominent former MP and by a Lobby journalist: 

Dear Sir,

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the Great Crash, and the fifteenth anniversary of the catastrophic invasion of Iraq. In the scandalously arranged absence of Bernie Sanders, President Trump has been elected by the American individuals, families, communities and areas that have suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice. The British individuals, families, communities and areas that have suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice, have elected Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, have delivered the referendum vote to leave the European Union, have re-elected Corbyn even more overwhelmingly, and have deprived the Conservative Party of its overall majority in the House of Commons.

Yet Trump is, predictably, acquiescing to the forces against which his supporters voted, while Brexit is being negotiated, insofar as it is being negotiated at all, in precisely the interests of which the referendum result was a comprehensive rejection. In the midst of this, the senior newspaper of the Anglophone liberal tradition is disgracing itself by peddling a bad James Bond parody in which Hillary Clinton and the Remain campaign, limitlessly funded and with almost entirely sympathetic media coverage, were defeated by tweets and Facebook posts from the Kremlin.

Instead of this nonsense, The Observer needs to be participating in the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy, based on the pursuit of economic equality and of international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including a Leader of the Labour Party who is, and who deserves to be, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Yours faithfully, 

David Lindsay, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay 
George Galloway, broadcaster and former MP; @georgegalloway 
Nadeem Ahmed, Birmingham Yardley; @Muqadaam 
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE 
Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster; @NeilClark66 
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham 
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65 
John Sweeney, Islington North Constituency Labour Party (personal capacity); @johnsweeney18 
Matt Turner, Evolve Politics (personal capacity), @MattTurner4L

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Northern Light

The BBC will not report 120,000 deaths due to the Government's austerity measures, as reported in the British Medical Journal. Nor will it report the Prime Minister's husbands links to a tax haven. But remember, RT is the problem. Of course it is.

The real problem with RT is that it allows the real Left, and indeed the anti-neoliberal and anti-war Right, on the air. The BBC has not given the Left a regular gig since Diane Abbott departed This Week seven years ago. In the meantime, the Labour Left has become one of the principal political forces in the country. But you would never guess it.

The Daily Politics and The Sunday Politics routinely feature only Conservative supporters "balancing" each other. There, on Question Time, and on Any Questions?, a rare Corbyn supporter has to be "balanced" by a figure from the infinitesimal Labour faction of irreconcilable Corbyn-haters, even though such people barely exist outside the Palace of Westminster or the official media.

Notice that Conservatives on Newsnight, or the Today programme, or anything else, are asked about personality politics, about potential Leadership plots and what have you. But their figures are never challenged. It is assumed that everyone trusts them implicitly on the numbers. Not so, Labour representatives, or at least Corbyn-supporting Labour representatives.

The BBC that will not report the British Medical Journal gives absolutely credibility to Guido Fawkes, most recently in its campaign against Emma Dent Coad in order to silence her questions about Grenfell Tower. Someone needs to look into the crossover of staff between Guido Fawkes and the BBC.

But the SNP's Twitter army is rattled today. Even in Scotland now, the Left no longer has "nowhere else to go" meaning that it has to vote for a party with its heartlands in areas that always voted Conservative until it came along, pursuing right-wing policies yet somehow "not the Tories", who are themselves on the way back up.

The SNP is, in fact, losing in all three directions. It will now be made to answer for its baleful record on economic inequality and on public services. It will no longer get to set the terms of the debate, independence and nothing else, while pursuing the Conservative economics of its fundamentally and previously Conservative voters.

As of today, that is all over. There always was a Tartan Tory market for the SNP, and there always will be. Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson can fight over the same voters, like the old days. But Richard Leonard will have the rest. The majority. Everyone knows it.

The Red Lion Rampant

Splendid news that Richard Leonard has been elected Scottish Labour Leader. Owen Smith won Scotland, so this is a highly significant shift. In the meantime, the SNP has lost Westminster seats in all three directions, indicating the electorate's desire to move on from the constitutional question to issues of more immediately pressing concern.

Richard Leonard offers the chance, at long last, to make the Scottish debate, not about the question of independence, but about the abject failures of both the Conservatives and the SNP in relation to the causes and effects of economic inequality. Thereby, as much as anything else, exposing the bizarre claim of the SNP, as a party, to be any part of the Left.

Even while standing firm for international peace. The SNP did oppose the wars in Kosovo and Iraq. But they have a Lib Dem-like inconsistency in these matters. Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn do not. They are the real deal.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Shining A Light

It ought to be in almanacs: Lumiere means the first woolly socks of the year. I know that I shall love it this evening. I always love Lumiere. But we are talking about a million pounds from the County Council. The language of priorities, I'm afraid.
 
Some rural communities have had their common or garden street lighting taken away from them. The buses have been cut to the bone, making it difficult or impossible for many disabled and other people to attend Lumiere.
 
And, thanks to the political advice of a man who is now a high profile new MP's Political Advisor, 472 Teaching Assistants are still being left behind, continuing to lose 23 per cent of their pay. I reject that betrayal out of hand, and I will fight it to my last breath. This campaign has greatly awakened my interest in new patterns of trade unionism.
 
Durham County Council is the last outpost of bad old New Labour, snarling that, "You have nowhere else to go." Well, we shall see about that. And before anyone tries, I do not mean that my own somewhere else to go is prison.
 
One month to the day after I had been arrested, they took six hours to charge me on the strength of a pair of fingerprints that turned out, six months later again to the day, to have been a single fingerprint that may or may not have been mine (it is not), on one side but not the other of a folded piece of paper that any of hundreds of people might have touched, but not on the envelope in which it was posted, an envelope that bears no trace of my DNA where it was sealed.
 
Such contortions would be beyond me even if I were not as arthritic as I am. The prosecution has added physical impossibility to the moral impossibility of my having committed this offence, which latter is the publicly recorded view of every member of Durham County Council who has ever met me. It is also a matter of public record that the Police would not have charged me.

Come my trial date on Wednesday 6th December, consider that if anything else has purportedly turned up, then there had been absolutely no sign of it during the preceding eight months of this campaign of persecution at scandalous public expense.
 
It may harm your prosecution if you do not mention now something that you later rely on in court. Or, at any rate, it should.

No Deal Is Not The Ideal

A No Deal Brexit does need to be planned for. It must not, however, be treated as the ideal outcome. Alas, there is an awful lot of that kind of chest-beating going on.

Sachs of Insolence

In a clear act of foreign interference, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has called for a second British referendum on EU membership. That would be the Goldman Sachs that, having admitted to defrauding investors, had to pay out $5 billion dollars after the Great Crash of 2008.

Market Values

In the Libya that the sainted Hillary Clinton liberated, you can now buy a human being as a slave for $400. On the floor of the House of Commons, scarcely a soul voted against that war. But two of those who did were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Serious Questions To Answer

Tom Peck writes:

Labour has said Theresa May’s husband Philip has “serious questions to answer” about his firm’s links to possible tax avoidance highlighted in the Paradise Papers. Private Eye magazine has seen emails that suggest Mr May’s company, Capital Group, used an offshore law firm called Appleby to arrange investments for clients in tax havens. The documents suggest Capital Group has funds registered in the Cayman Islands, which were used to investment in a South American agriculture company called El Tejar.

Labour's Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett, said: “There are some serious questions for Philip May to answer about his firm's use of tax havens, whether he had any knowledge of it and if he thinks this is an acceptable way to do business. “Labour has previously asked Theresa May what her government plans to do to clamp down on the tax havens where money is squirrelled away to avoid paying taxes for public services in this country. “When it comes to paying tax, there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us and, in refusing to act, the Prime Minister appears to condone this.”

A Number 10 spokesperson said that Mr May works in “retirement solutions” not offshore investments. Neither he nor Theresa May have any personal interests in offshore investments. “Neither the prime minister nor Mr May have any direct offshore investments,” her spokesperson said last week. “Their investments have been declared to the Cabinet Office and are held in a blind trust.” Capital Group has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Highly Questionable

The word is being put around that Emily Thornberry could not name a single country where Jeremy Corbyn's policies had worked, when asked to do so by a plant in the Question Time audience. But in fact, underneath the organised howling that would have greeted any answer on her part, she correctly pointed out that Labour's programme was mainstream social democracy of the kind that was taken as a given even in Angela Merkel's Germany.
 
Like This Week, The Daily Politics, The Sunday Politics, and Laura Kuenssberg, Question Time has become the standing contradiction of the claim by bellowing lower-middle-class failures, who are used to being able to drown out everyone else or simply cause them all to leave the pub by their own entering it, that the BBC is somehow left-wing.

Although the BBC does trade on that complaint when addressing a different audience. Hence its tetchiness about RT, which has the temerity to allow the real Left some airtime. In turn, the people who depend on feeding the Auntie-haters are also put out at the rise of the station that they have spent at least 35 years accusing the BBC of being when it never has been.

Slàinte, Indeed

The Alex Salmond Show made a strong start last night. It is shaping up to become as unmissable as Afshin Rattansi's Going Underground and George Galloway's Sputnik.

Burning Injustice

Notice that, as of Wednesday, we have a Prime Minister who tells the House of Commons that water is useless against fire. Except, apparently, against any fire in the Palace of Westminster, where sprinklers are to be installed at a cost of £1.3 million. No money for council towerblocks, though, as we are expected to believe that they would not work there. Burning must be a class thing. Blooodlines, and that.

No Glory

The Resolution on Combating Glorification of Nazism was adopted by the UN General Assembly Third Committee, with 125 votes in favour, two against, and 51 abstentions. Provocative amendments by the United States were rejected. The United States then voted against this, as did Ukraine, which has now an overtly neo-Nazi government with deep roots in the tradition of Wartime collaboration. The United Kingdom abstained, as did the rest of the NATO and wannabe NATO mafia. Shocking. Absolutely shocking. Yet wholly unsurprising.