Monday, 16 October 2017

In The Grass

Well and truly on manoeuvres, David Davis calls for the cancellation of student debt. Labour were once called "snake oil salesmen" for that one. But still, that was so very long ago. Wasn't it?

To Cap It All

The public sector pay cap was supposed to be an unfortunate necessity arising from "the mess left by the last Labour Government". Well, in that case, its continuation seven years on is an admission of failure by a Government that ought therefore to resign and go back to the country at a General Election.

No News Is Good News

Neither on Saturday nor, as an outside chance, today did the Northern Echo report my latest court appearance, although it was in attendance, and although it has always reported the previous ones. There is simply no story here.

Well, for now there isn't, anyway. Once we have dealt with the "evidence" (on which I was charged, six months to the day before it eventually turned up) of a fingerprint that may or may not be mine, from one hand but not the other, on one side but not the other of the fabled letter, and on it but not on the envelope in which it was posted, an envelope carrying no trace of my DNA where it was sealed; and once we have dealt with the "evidence" (on which I was arrested, exactly another month ago again) that words such as "Rohinga" occur both in that letter and on this site, so that the letter must, apparently, have been written by me; then we shall one or two other questions to ask.

For example, while of course the Chief Constable has turned out to have been entirely correct that the original threat had no credibility, how did he know? The Police and Crime Commissioner is in the same ward as the Leader of the County Council, without whose endorsement no one could aspire to the Labour nomination for the North Durham parliamentary constituency in 10 or so years' time.

Who might wish to aspire to the Labour nomination for the North Durham parliamentary constituency in 10 or so years' time? And who made the initial complaint that tried to pin on me, whom Labour was desperate to keep off the County Council, the kind of nutty material that public figures receive all the time, but which the Police somehow already knew, in this specific case, to carry no material threat whatever?

The Real Deal

As he made clear in, among other places, his famous televised debate with Roy Jenkins just before the 1975 referendum, Tony Benn would always have insisted on a trade deal. For him, there was never any question of a No Deal Brexit. The people who are now positing, and even advocating, such a thing are johnny-come-latelies anyway, and they have no idea what they are talking about, however confident they have been trained to sound.

Not for the first time, they are making the whole cause of opposition to the EU look like a peculiarity of cranks and weirdos to a public that, once again, finds the entire subject boring beyond endurance. I have long suspected that the ersatz Eurosceptical Right that appeared out of nowhere, to lavish coverage, from the very late 1980s onwards was all a ruse to save the Eurofederalist project in Britain. I am more and more convinced that that was, and is, the case.

Bound, Not Gagged

Here come the boundary changes again. In this hung Parliament, Labour needs to press its advantage by proposing a reduction to 500 equally sized constituencies, accompanied by 180 additional members.

Each of the 11 areas of Great Britain that were used for European Elections would elect 15 additional members: three Labour, three Conservative, three Liberal Democrat, three from other parties that would not then be permitted to contest constituency seats, and three Independents.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would each submit their locally determined shortlists of five to the electorate at large. Each of us would vote for one candidate on each list, and the three highest-scoring candidates on each list would be elected. Any casual vacancy would be filled by the next candidate on the list.

Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat voices would thus be heard from all parts of Great Britain, as would the diversity within those parties. The Liberal Democrats would not then be permitted to contest constituency seats, their “major minor party” role as the repository of certain perennial traditions within the polity having been duly recognised by the guarantee of 33 MPs. 

For the fourth category, the simple party list system would be employed. For the fifth, each of us would vote for one Independent candidate who had met a basic nomination requirement, and the highest-scoring three would be elected, with casual vacancies filled as for Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat additional members.

In Northern Ireland, the places of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats might be taken by the SDLP, the UUP and the Alliance Party, none of which would then contest constituencies.  Otherwise, the system would be as in Great Britain. There is an argument to be made that it ought to be so across the board.

Take Your Pick

It is up to the Labour Party who its parliamentary candidates are, and it is up to the Labour Party who its members are.

I wish Laura Pidcock well. I shall voting Labour next time, regardless of anything else. But the Constituency Labour Party never picked her, it would not have picked her, and it might not pick her. Everyone on the ground here knows that.

There are half a dozen locally well-established figures in the more usual age range, including at least one who is firmly on the Left, and they would have been the contenders if they had had the right chromosomes. But as it was, a generation had to be skipped, the (fairly left-wing) CLP had to be excluded from the entire process, and someone from outside had to be brought in to a constituency where the MPs had always been very local indeed, in order to punish the CLP for a crime that it had not committed.

You see, North West Durham has had a woman MP for 30 years. Since 1987, when they were as rare as hen's teeth, so to speak. It is impossible to see why an all-women shortlist needed to be imposed here, of all places, and that for a second time. In my time, I have voted for both of Laura's immediate predecessors, both of whom were women. In fact, as a Sub-Agent, I once got one of them over half of the vote on a four-way split in what was then still very much a traditionally Tory ward. I have never been forgiven. Ho, hum.

Laura's base of support is fervent on social media, and on the wider Hard and Far Left in the North East, both within and beyond the Labour Party. But the CLP and the constituency are a different matter. Right now, this is three electoral cycles away from becoming a Conservative seat. I should be a pretty poor journalist if I sat here and did not tell you that.

As for Labour Party membership, when I am not being published in The American Conservative, then I am being published in The Weekly Worker. Having boxed itself in by expelling Professor Moshé Machover ostensibly for writing for that latter, although of course not really for that reason at all, Labour is now having to expel everyone who shares that publication's articles on Facebook or what have you. The list of Labour Party members opposed to Professor Machover's expulsion is easily strong enough economically, socially, culturally and politically to secure the transfer of The Weekly Worker to the ownership of something on the model of the People's Press Printing Society. That now needs to happen.

I think that I once had a telephone conversation with the "Head of Disputes", one Sam Matthews. It ended just as I was about to ask if his mummy or daddy was available. One of the Tory Boy interns whom the Corbyn Leadership has, alas, failed to purge from the party's staff, perhaps because there would be no one left, I confidently assert that he has never heard of figures on the list in the above link, such as Geoffrey Bindman, or Avi Shlaim, or Gillian Slovo. It is more than possible that Joe Slovo was dead before the boy Matthews was born.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Co-ordinate That Critique

The election for the Fabian Executive Committee is now in progress, and my 70-word statement reads:

Jeremy Corbyn is the most culturally significant British politician in living memory, the most agenda-setting Leader of the Opposition ever, and the global Leader of the Opposition to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy. Fabians must co-ordinate that critique at home and abroad, in preparation for the Corbyn Government that will lead Britain and the world out of politically chosen austerity, and away from wars of political choice.

This is my third attempt in a dozen years. In 2015, even the highest scoring of the 10 successful candidates won only 464 votes, while the lowest scoring was elected with a mere 305. I have won one election this year, albeit unopposed, which was not my fault. I have lost two. So here's to a score draw in the end.

On the ballot paper are 27 candidates for various positions, plus one elected unopposed as Treasurer. All 28 of us have put in statements of up to 70 words. Mine, and mine alone, mentions Jeremy Corbyn at all. A Lords frontbencher, a Commons frontbencher and two other MPs are among those who cannot even bring themselves to say his name.

Far and Wide

I am pleased for everyone who enjoyed Laura Pidcock's Constituency Labour Party dinner with Shami Chakrabarti last night. A number of my Facebook friends were there. But only one, it seems, from within this constituency, and he pretty much runs Momentum and all that in these parts. The rest had come from far and wide, being stalwarts of Hard and Far Left events.

The CLP was never asked whether it wanted Laura. It had always been used to very local MPs. It had nominated Jeremy Corbyn in 2016, but Andy Burnham in 2015, and Ed Miliband in 2010. Over half of the County Council seats in North West Durham are not held by Labour, while 34 per cent, more than one third, of those who voted here in June did so for the Conservative candidate, so anyone with the attitude that "They are the enemy" could never get anything done here.

Laura is 30 years younger than her predecessor, meaning that at least one entire generation was skipped in order to secure a candidate with the right chromosomes, while several perfectly plausible parliamentarians, from across the Labour Party but alas of the wrong sex, were already well established in North West Durham.

So the CLP barely campaigned for Laura, meaning that Hard and Far Left stalwarts had to be bused in from all over. The CLP barely turned up to Laura's dinner with Shami Chakrabarti, meaning that Hard and Far Left stalwarts had to be bused in from all over. And I am not here to be anybody's cheerleader.

Not Reassuringly Expensive

Time was when these people were just expected to go away and enjoy their gargantuan pensions. That was the deal. Everything that anyone needs to know about Stella Rimington may be read in Seumas Milne's superlative book on the Miners' Strike, The Enemy Within. It is no wonder that she has it in for him.

Senior MI6 figures wanted to prosecute her when she published her autobiography, and it was possible to see their point. But presumably she will finally have her collar felt this time. If not, then her latest action is an official act of the State against the Leader of the Opposition.

Of course these agencies spy on, and generally persecute, the Left. They themselves are the backbone of this country's huge, fabulously funded, and armed-to-the-teeth Far Right. That subculture is almost completely ignored, despite the roots in it of everyone who came of age politically in the 1980s and who is now a figure of any prominence in the Conservative Party, and despite the fact that it alone has murdered a sitting Member of Parliament during the present century. Indeed, since as long ago as 1990.

We do need some kind of overseas intelligence agency. At home, we have the Police, sections of which are very highly specialised. But what is the point of MI5? What is it for? Far Right political organisation and interference, and nothing else, accountable to no one. Everyone from John McDonnell to Peter Hitchens has called for it to be disbanded. Neither of those, for a start, has ever recanted that call. MI5 should be disbanded.

And Stella Rimington should be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. If she is not, then there will be no case for invoking that legislation against anyone else, ever again.

And All That

Today is the 951st anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the beginning of the Norman Conquest. It was in fact fought about seven miles northwest of Hastings itself, at the nearby town of Battle. What are the chances of that happening?

Anyway, although writers nearer the time greatly exaggerated the numbers for effect, it was won by an army of between seven thousand and twelve thousand Normans. After the most tedious roll call in history.

The next Battle of Hastings will be at the next General Election, when Amber Rudd will be defending a majority of only 346.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Fingered?

Come one, come all to Durham Crown Court on Wednesday 6th December. At 12:30 today, an hour and a half after my hearing was supposed to have been held, the magic fingerprints (or rather, the magic fingerprint) purported to turn up. That was six months to the day after it  (or rather, they) had been the only basis for charging me, a decision that, on that sole basis, had taken seven hours. Convinced? No, and nor will the jury be, even before it has heard the thing that my legal representatives now know.

The award of full Legal Aid is, in this day and age, so rare as to amount to an expression of contempt for the prosecution's case on the part of the wider criminal justice world. It is a matter of record that the Police would not have charged me. It is a matter of record that those Labour members of Durham County Council whom I had ever met at the time that I was charged (Lyn Boyd, Joanne Carr, Malcolm Clarke, Ivan Jewell, Ossie Johnson, Carl Marshall, Linda Marshall and Olga Milburn) all consider it morally impossible for me to have committed the offence alleged against me. All eight of them are hereby invited to sit on the platform of my Victory Rally, details of which are to follow, which is to be addressed by Laura Pidcock MP or else the publicity will say that she had refused, and which might even be held before 6th December, since I have always had the moral victory.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and indeed efforts redouble: my magazine, my work to bring significant employment to this county, the work that I can still do for the Teaching Assistants, my candidacy for the Executive Committee of the Fabian Society this year, my candidacy for Police and Crime Commissioner in 2020, and so on. I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money. Jurors and magistrates everywhere, while this is ongoing, just find everyone except the Hillsborough lot not guilty automatically, and let that be that, possibly forever.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Case Management, Indeed

My case management hearing is now only hours away. It would only have taken one tweet by 6pm today from @DurhamPolice: ".@DurhamPolice would have charged @davidaslindsay."

No such tweet has been forthcoming, so the point has been made: @DurhamPolice would not have charged @davidaslindsay. With that on the public record, my case management hearing is now only hours away.

"Remember The IMF!"

Major Memories

The re-emergence of John Major this week, right though he is about Universal Credit, serves to remind some of us that the mention of his name still calls to mind his Spitting Image puppet before his real person.

And here we are again, back in the Britain of my adolescence, in which the Prime Minister, the Government and the governing party existed purely and simply to be the objects of national and international ridicule, with absolutely no suggestion that they could conceivably win the next General Election.

I feel quite young again, even if I don't look it.

Lying Hunt


He refuses to apologise. Imagine the reaction if this mistake had been made by Diane Abbott. And imagine if she had refused to apologise.

Arsenic In The Marshmallow

Thus did the Queen Mother once describe herself. As the Queen retires from the Cenotaph, I continue to support the monarchy for keeping sweet the people who need to be kept sweet. But, the people who need to be kept sweet, I have no idea why it has that effect on you.

Either the Queen or her equally revered father gave the Royal Assent that in turn gave effect to every piece of legislation that created or extended the Welfare State, to every nationalisation, to every winding up of the Empire, to every social liberalisation, to every EU Treaty, and to every one of Tony Blair's constitutional and ceremonial changes.

What has the monarchy ever done for you? Even the argument that it stops politicians from getting above themselves is very obviously not borne out by the facts. But, although there are also other arguments for it, the top and bottom of the matter is that it keeps you sweet. And you need to be kept sweet.

Once Again, Not Again

The really important point from Jeremy Corbyn's "how would you vote in another EU referendum?" interview was his quiet insistence that there was not going to be another EU referendum.

Of course, that was a key part of the prospectus on which he beat Owen Smith, and on which he strengthened Labour's hold on the Leave heartlands. But the message has still never quite got through to some people.

So it bears repetition. There is not going to be another EU referendum. At least, certainly not under Corbyn. And thus, certainly not under Labour. As for the other lot, who knows anymore? Or even cares?

Right Out

On today's Daily Politics, the new Leader of UKIP, Henry Bolton, used "right-wing" as a pejorative term, as a way of saying good riddance to Anne Marie Waters and her supporters. The once mighty right wings of Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have all been in the wilderness for some time. And now, this.

#BuyBritishDay

Renationalise the railways (which could be done for free) and the utilities, and then put them under a new system of management that reflected the critiques of the 1945 settlement that have been made by everyone from Trotskyists to Blue Labour. Among other things, we would then get a real and permanent cap on energy prices.

Time For Real Energy

This country does not need watered down versions of Labour policies that the present governing party used to denounce in lurid and hysterical terms. This country needs a Labour Government. Led by Jeremy Corbyn.

A Different Universe

I look at the great Miners' Hall in Durham, and, like so many things up here, it strikes me as a standing contradiction of the theory that a rich and robust intellectual, cultural and political life is impossible in a context of very demanding day jobs, and requires something like the Universal Basic Income instead.

Just as the Greens need to be asked the Yes-No question, "Do you regret the defeat of the miners in 1985?", so do proponents of the Universal Basic Income in general, both in relation to the miners, and in relation to Thatcherism and deindustrialisation more broadly.

And yet, here we are. It is not as many of us would wish, but what else is there? Universal Credit? Merely to ask that question answers it.

Coal will come back, because it is there, and because, therefore, everyone will eventually come back round to the common sense of using it rather than depending on a few windmills, and on the oil and gas of any and everywhere.

Despite the best efforts of the people who have done nothing but manage other people's poverty for 32 years and counting, some of us remain committed to bringing Volkswagen's production for the British market to County Durham after Brexit, working both with the unions and with all the non-Labour sections of the County Council (the Labour Group must lie, so to speak, in the bed that it has made), and in the process safeguarding the Durham Miners' Hall and the Durham Miners' Gala.

Oh, well, the Universal Basic Income would not, of course, be a disincentive to getting a job if you still happened to believe in such things. And even the people who chose to live on nothing else would still need electricity, and the use of their own or the community's motor vehicles, all thankfully outside the EU's Single Market and Customs Union.

Although people do sometimes speak to me as if I had been in the thick of it, even I was a small child during the Miners' Strike. It was a long time ago, in, more or less, a galaxy far, far away.

Take The Central Issue

Which Nobel Laureate in Economics has ever supported the policies, either of the last Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of this one? But armed with a Nobel Prize for Economics, Joseph E. Stiglitz writes:

As an American looking across the Atlantic at the policy debate heating up in the UK, I feel a certain envy: at least in Britain there is a pretense of belief in rational argumentation. Maybe a few words about what economic theory and evidence have to say might make a difference. 

A third of a century ago on both sides of the Atlantic an economic experiment was undertaken. Until then, growth had been amazingly strong in the post-war decades, and there was shared prosperity. In the US, incomes had risen at every part of the distribution, and they rose fastest at the bottom.

There was convergence. In the US, especially, there was heavy public investments in infrastructure (the national highway program), education, science and technology—Sputnik gave a particular spur.

There was a bipartisan consensus on this, and on the need for regulations, for instance concerning the environment. Air became breathable, and rivers swimmable. Depression-era regulations on banks had resulted in decades of financial stability: again, in the US, an unprecedented half-century without a financial crisis.

Historians may debate what motivated the Reagan-Thatcher experiment, but the economics of what followed is not debatable: growth slowed and inequality grew. In the US, the bottom 90 per cent saw their incomes virtually stagnate. Today, the median income of a full-time male worker—and remember, these are the lucky ones with full time jobs—is lower than 42 years ago.

Britain didn’t have quite as much inequality, and the NHS prevented the disastrous consequences that have scarred the US, where life expectancy is now in decline across the country as a whole, and especially for those in the middle and bottom. But in the 1980s, the UK did move markedly towards the US, becoming a much more unequal society than before. It remains so to this day.

In short, the theory that tax cuts and deregulation would—by removing the restraints on entrepreneurship and increasing incentives—lead to a new era of high growth has been thoroughly discredited.

Deregulation led to new efforts to manipulate markets and public policy for profit, and unheard-of instability which has cost both UK and the US dearly, in the aggregate, trillions of pounds. Nor did lower taxes translate into higher capital investment, or more research. Indeed, under the so-called reforms, economic horizons got shorter, and performance deteriorated. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and Theresa May’s Conservatives today now provide, as the conference season made clear, two different visions.

Despite the long years of stagnation, May gave a big speech arguing—albeit with a few caveats about regulation—that old-style laissez-faire in essence remains the best way to raise living standards in the end. What she was calling for amounted to a doubling down on a failed experiment.

Labour, meanwhile, calls for new visions and particularly for a new emphasis on investment, recognising that we can learn from the past, but 21st century economic policy will have to be different from that of the previous century.

Take the central issue of austerity: it has never worked. Herbert Hoover tried it, and converted the 1929 stock market into the Great Depression. I saw it tried in East Asia, when I was the World Bank’s chief economist: downturns became recessions, recessions depressions.

The austerity medicine weakened aggregate demand, lowering growth; it reduced demand for labour, lowering wages and pushing up inequality; and it damaged public services on which ordinary citizens depend. In the UK, sharp cuts to public investment do not merely weaken the country today, but also ensure it will be weaker in the future.

No firm would pretend it had a future if it didn’t invest. So too for a country. It must invest in its people, its infrastructure, and its technology. If it has to borrow to do so, yes its liabilities (debt) go up, but its assets go up even more, so its balance sheet improves.

And there is plenty of scope for raising revenues in ways which increase both efficiency and well-being. I chaired, with Lord Nicholas Stern, an international commission on carbon pricing which unanimously supported high charges on carbon use—£30 a ton or more; such a tax would provide incentives for a transition to a bright green economy of the future.

Taxing the returns on land, including capital gains, can raise large revenues—and land won’t emigrate. The UK, like the US, could actually benefit from a more progressive tax system.

An across-the-board cut in corporate taxes—competing with Ireland in the race to the bottom—won’t attract firms or foster investment. Instead, the UK should increase taxes on corporations that don’t invest in the country and create jobs, and lower taxes on those that do.

And it should send a simple message to multinationals like Starbucks and Apple that pose as good corporate citizens: their first responsibility ought to be to pay their fair share of taxes. Continuing to let them off the hook not only deprives the country of needed revenues, but also gives these multinationals an unfair competitive advantage over local firms.

Reagan/Thatcher/May economics is based on the discredited trickledown theory—somehow, if we reward the top, the economy will grow more rapidly and everyone will benefit. It hasn’t worked anywhere.

Why should the UK expect it to work in the coming years, as it struggles with the adjustments of Brexit? As EU research funds are lost, if the UK wants to maintain the quality of its distinguished universities, it will have to invest more—much more.

The strength of any society is in its people, so it makes sense to build up an economy from the bottom and middle up. A 21st century knowledge economy has to be based on education and innovation, and the recognition that a changing workplace requires life-long learning. With a declining role of corporations in training, government will need to do more, making full use of technology.

And university education must be made affordable to all—shutting out large fractions of the population because they fear being saddled with tens of thousands in debts is not only morally unconscionable, but economically stupid.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Not To Her Credit, But To His

How is anyone supposed to find work without a permanent address, and without even the money for the travel fare to a job interview? Could you have found work without those things? Could Theresa May, or David Gauke, or Liz Truss have done so? Universal Credit is entirely counterproductive. Much of me does not want to come round to the Universal Basic Income. But all of me is increasingly doing so.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Jeremy Corbyn referred to the fact that the previous Labour Government had lifted one million children out of poverty. Yes, he voted against that Government more than 500 times. But that is not very many, over the period in question. Most of the time, he voted with that Government, and when he did not, then it was they, and not he, who were usually "voting with the Tories". Although even the Conservative Party drew the line at several of the most extreme attacks on civil liberties, voting with Corbyn on those occasions.

There was no joining the Labour Party in seconds online in 1994 (and you didn't get a membership card until you had been in it for a year), so, while I did try to join the Labour Party of John Smith, the only person to have been Leader of the Labour Party while I was a member of it was Tony Blair. I left Blair's party in his later days, and I disagreed very strongly with a good many things that his Government did before that. But, like Corbyn, I am not, on the whole, ashamed of having been in the party that he led. We lifted one million children out of poverty.

Close The Gulf In Thinking

We are all supposed to be terribly pleased that we are to sell 24 typhoons and six hawks to Qatar. Until they are used on us. Arming the Gulf monarchies, which have no dividing line whatever with the so-called Islamic State, is as suicidal as being in a military alliance with Turkey, or behaving as if we were in a military alliance with Pakistan.

But then, anywhere could have a coup, or a civil war, or whatever, meaning that anyone could thus end up in possession of the arms that we had manufactured and sold. Nationalise this industry, make it the monopoly supplier to our own Armed Forces, rebuild those Armed Forces instead of splurging money on Trident, and ban the sale of arms abroad. All of this will be perfectly possible once we are out of the European Single Market.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Taking Charge

It only takes one tweet from @DurhamPolice: ".@DurhamPolice would have charged @davidaslindsay." Shall we say, by 6pm on Thursday? Yes, we shall. By 6pm on Thursday. Without that, then the point will be made: @DurhamPolice would not have charged @davidaslindsay.

Of A Sort

Now that Progress has secured its funding, you should join it. You should join the Labour Party, you should join the Co-operative Party, you should join the Fabian Society, you should join Momentum, you should join Progress, and you should involve yourself in every way in the activities of each. You have to be in the Labour Party in order to be in Momentum, but you do not in order to be in the  Co-operative Party or the Fabian Society.

Apparently, you do in order to be in Progress, but that is not my experience. Although I was not able to stand for the Strategy Board two years ago because I was not a Labour member, I was sent a ballot paper, and I used it. Get yourself sent ballot papers. Use them. If at all possible, be on them.

Question More

Guido Fawkes is getting it in the neck from his readers, as is Michael Gove from Twitter, for having criticised the appearances of Labour figures on RT. "As if the BBC were any better," exclaim their interlocutors. Quite. And today, the far more problematic Al Jazeera was vindicated by Ofcom over its report into Israeli Embassy influence in Britain. It is to move on to the United States. Splendid.

Nigel Farage has been on RT numerous times. As have I, very occasionally. As has David Davis, interviewed by George Galloway. And as has Jacob Rees-Mogg, also interviewed by George Galloway. Guido and Gove are just peeved at never having been asked to address a global audience of half a billion. From time to time, even I have done that.

Racial Disparities

For example, if you are mixed-race, then you can be charged with an offence that absolutely no one suggests ever took place at all, because a lot of people in the Crown Prosecution Service object to race-mixing in principle (as does Simon Henig), and because we "mulattoes", to use the preferred term of the Regional Director of London Labour, have to be punished if we dare to interfere in politics. Is he now applying that policy in London? Presumably so.

I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money. In the meantime, jurors and magistrates everywhere, if there is still an ongoing action against me on Saturday, then just find everyone except the Hillsborough lot not guilty automatically, and let that be that, possibly forever.

My victory has always been moral even if not legal, although it will also be that soon enough, so a Victory Rally will be held at a time, date and venue to be confirmed. The posters and so forth will either list as a speaker Laura Pidcock MP, who is a noted anti-racist campaigner and who is in a mixed-race relationship, or they will state that she had refused to be one.

Thrown Under The Bus

As I wrote yesterday, "The uncanny Adolf Eichmann lookalike Simon Henig has form for actively hating Catholics, as those of us who remember his changes to school transport policy will recall. He no doubt hates the disabled, too."

Indeed, he does. And once again, buses are the key to understanding this. His cuts to bus services in this county have had a devastating effect on the employability, and on the quality of life, of many thousands of disabled people, including me. All in all, what a vile little man.

It is, of course, very New Labour to hate and persecute the disabled. Numerous of Jeremy Corbyn's famous votes against the Blair Government were against Blair's attacks on disabled people's incomes, amenities and other rights.

It was obscene that enough MPs could nominate Yvette Copper to get her onto the ballot for Leader in 2015. Just Google Rachel Reeves on the subject of us cripples in contrast to "normal people". And so on.

It’s No Puzzle

Of course productivity is going to remain sluggish. The present governing party has always been rubbish at economics. The last run on the pound was under a Conservative Government, as will be the next, should there ever be one.

There have been seven recessions in the United Kingdom since the Second World War. Five of them have been under Conservative Governments. That party has also presided over all four separate periods of Quarter on Quarter fall in growth during the 2010s.

By contrast, there was no recession on the day of the 2010 General Election. And now, the Conservatives have more than doubled the National Debt. The Major Government also doubled the National Debt.

Yet the Conservatives’ undeserved reputation for economic competence endures. They are subjected to absolutely no scrutiny by the fake news detractors of their opponents.

BAE Systems, Indeed

BAE, which was directly created by the State, ought to be renationalised as the monopoly supplier to the British Armed Forces, subsuming things like Shorts as was, and with a total ban on arms sales abroad. All manner of trouble would thus be saved. Out of the Single Market, there will be nothing to stop this from happening.

The workers have plenty of transferable skills, they could acquire more with the right support, and in any case we would have Armed Forces to rebuild after the present lot has let them go to wrack and ruin, obscuring that fact with the eye-watering bill for Trident instead.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Switching Places



The uncanny Adolf Eichmann lookalike Simon Henig has form for actively hating Catholics, as those of us who remember his changes to school transport policy will recall. He no doubt hates the disabled, too. But the Catholic angle is perhaps more important, especially alongside the fact that I am also mixed-race. Both Henig and his accomplices in the Crown Prosecution Service, with whom he is engaged in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against me, and thus also in malfeasance in public office, obviously hate Catholics to the point of being prepared to fabricate criminal offences that never took place at all in order to send us to prison, and obviously object to race-mixing as a matter of principle. One really does have to ask why.

I have no complaint against Durham Constabulary. Quite the reverse, in fact. They openly would not have charged me, and anyone who doubts that is free to ask them. Ask the Chief Constable, Mike Barton, directly, "Would you have charged David Lindsay?" That is a Yes-No question. I have no complaint against the poor prosecution counsel, who was visibly embarrassed, like an actress with a duff script, and to whom I might very well send a bunch of flowers or something when this is all over. I have no complaint against the judge, who was on the brink of throwing the whole thing out, but one of Oliver Kamm's little minions was still pursuing another, also fictitious, allegation against me at the time. That minion and his master ought now to be prosecuted for wasting Police time.

But Simon Henig and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders (who is tellingly neither a Dame nor a QC), ought to be publicly birched. Beginning this year, that birching of their bare buttocks ought to be carried live on television every Christmas Day, perhaps during the commercial break in Coronation Street. Their respective children ought to be compelled to perform it. Once Henig and Saunders were dead, then their corpses ought to be preserved in such a way as to ensure that, at the hands of their accursed descendants, this custom could continue to provide good, clean, family fun and festive cheer for hundreds, thousands, millions and even billions of years to come.

Then again, the whole "case" against me could be withdrawn or dismissed on Friday. Henig and Saunders would still deserve to be birched publicly an on television, annually in life and in death. But magnanimity is all, and it would be enough for the latter to retire without her pension or her CB, while the former, stripped of his CBE, weredeported to Israel and declared persona non grata from the United Kingdom in perpetuity, to live out the remainder of his days in the former accommodation of his apparent natural father, Adolf Eichmann.

Towering Evil

By the presence of Gavin Barwell at her own husband's side during her speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May declared her approval of the deaths at Grenfell Tower, and proclaimed those to have been State killings in the furtherance of Government policy.

Nonce Sense

Again I say that it is logically impossible to be a sexual assailant below the age of consent.

Meanwhile, it is all coming out about Margaret Thatcher's friends. She knew about Cyril Smith when she arranged his knighthood. Jimmy Savile's knighthood was rejected four time by the relevant committee, until she absolutely insisted upon it for the man with whom she spent every New Year's Eve, and on whose programmes she was so obsessed with appearing that her staff had to ration those appearances. Her closest lieutenant was Peter Morrison. Unlike the Prince of Wales, she would have jhad sight of every file on Laurens van der Post.

What was so important about Smith, a highly eccentric and largely absentee MP for what was then a tiny minority party? He was a Thatcherite avant la lettre, who had left the Labour Party when he had started to see cars outside council houses. Thatcher's father was also a Liberal until all of that fell apart between the Wars, and he was never a member of the Conservative Party to his dying day. He, she and Smith were politically indistinguishable.

That the Radical Right put out pamphlets demanding the legalisation of paedophile activity was mentioned in Our Friends in the North, which was broadcast in 1996. Our Friends in the North is so integral to subsequent popular culture that one of its four stars is now James Bond, another was the first Doctor of this century's revival of Doctor Who, and neither of the others is exactly obscure.

That Thatcherite MPs were likely to commit sexual violence against boys with the full knowledge of the party hierarchy formed quite a major subplot in To Play the King, the middle series of the original House of Cards trilogy. To Play the King was broadcast as long ago as 1993. No politician or commentator of the generation that is now in or approaching its pomp could possibly have seen anything less than every minute of that trilogy.

Moreover, anyone who came to political maturity in what were then the newly-former mining areas will have been made fully aware that the miners in the dock, all the way back in 1984 and 1985, routinely made reference to the proclivities of the Home Secretary of the day, Leon Brittan. Those proclivities were common knowledge from Fife and the Lothians, to County Durham and the southern part of Northumberland, to South Yorkshire, to South Wales, among other places. Nothing was carried in the papers or included in the court reports, but the pit villages never needed Twitter in order to circumvent that kind of censorship.

A museum to Margaret Thatcher would have been the stuff of very low satire even only a very short time ago. But if such an institution is indeed to be set up, then one trusts that it will feature statues of Sir Leon Brittan (comments about whom are no longer being deleted by well-connected websites that used to do so even after his death), Sir Jimmy Savile, Sir Cyril Smith, Sir Peter Morrison, Sir Laurens van der Post, and, towering over all of them, Alderman Alfred Roberts. For the man to whom she professed to owe everything, although there was little closeness between them during her adult lifetime, was notorious locally as a toucher up of young girls. In this day and age, he would have been arrested.

Despite attacking Thatcher on many other fronts, despite including the New Right's support for sex with children, and despite detailing what had always been the public record of the links between New Labour grandees and the Paedophile Information Exchange, I missed out most of this from Confessions of an Old Labour High Tory. I did so primarily because Thatcher and Brittan were still alive when that book came out. I regret that omission now.

The nearest approximation to Thatcher in this day and age is Hillary Clinton, who has built her entire career on supporting, and being supported by, one sexual predator, and who remains deafeningly silent about another, her friend and campaign contributor, Harvey Weinstein.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Kith and Kin

After the War, as most of Ireland left the Commonwealth, and as the Empire fell apart, we guaranteed the rights of Irish and Commonwealth citizens in the United Kingdom. We never asked for any reciprocation, and we have rarely received any. We ought to do the same in relation to EU citizens. It is what we do. It is what we are. It is who we are.

Come What May?

When Jeremy Corbyn was in difficulties, then we got nothing but his Conservative and Labour enemies, morning, noon and night. But now that Theresa May is in difficulties, we get nothing but her friends and supporters, morning, noon and night. With this level of sycophancy, with even one fifth of this level of sycophancy, Corbyn would have won the General Election.

Tomorrow evening, ITV is to begin broadcasting After The News, which is to be presented by the suddenly ubiquitous Emma Barnett. Both ITV and the BBC are therefore now employing Ms Barnett, who is frankly engaged in a campaign for the Leader of the Opposition to be assassinated. Let her deny that if she dare.

One would call for a boycott of the products, and for a picket of the companies, that advertised during After The News. But there will presumably be no advertising, since, like the salary of Laura Kuenssberg, the cost of the whole thing is presumably being met out of the private pocket of Philip May. If not, why not?

Not Likely To Encourage

The Observer has not published this letter of mine. I cannot imagine why not: 

Dear Sir,

If you must give a weekly column to Katie Hopkins, then at least give her a pseudonym and a byline photograph that are not likely to encourage anti-Semitism. Seriously, though, how is Nick Cohen, or anyone else who supported the Iraq War, still employed in the media, especially after the recent General Election result as well? That is very far from a rhetorical question.

Yours faithfully

 David Lindsay

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Like Father, Like Son

I have only just noticed how much Simon Henig looks like Adolf Eichmann. But he does. It is uncanny. I guarantee that one is the other's secret son. Guarantee it. I always thought of Dr Henig in terms of Dr Goebbels and Dr von Ribbentrop. But Goebbels was a good communicator, and von Ribbentrop was a skillful negotiator. No, Eichmann it is. It is obvious, once you see it and once you say it.

It would appear that Henig has children. Other children are entitled to a learning environment safe from contact with such vermin. The idea of being seen with such eyes, or heard by such ears, is self-evidently horrific. Moreover, staff, and especially Teaching Assistants, are entitled to the clean, safe and healthy workplace that, by definition, cannot feature such an infestation.

One Week To Go

On Friday, either the "case" against me will be dismissed, or all juries and benches of magistrates in the country should thereafter disregard any and everything presented by the Crown Prosecution Service on any matter apart from Hillsborough, which it and the Police refused to take up until Margaret Thatcher was dead, just as they are refusing to take up Grenfell Tower until the 45-year-old Gavin Barwell, seated next to the Prime Minister's husband as she addressed her Party Conference, is dead.

Except on Hillsborough, just acquit everyone on the spot, because the CPS will have declared in open court that it was as bent as hell, specifically in having a directly corrupt relationship with the Leader of Durham County Council, Councillor Simon Henig CBE. Whether the corruption is directly financial, or the expression of tribal fellow-feeling, perhaps including a shared and overriding civic allegiance to a foreign power, I do not know. I very strongly suspect it to be both.

But that that corruption exists at all was proved beyond reasonable doubt when I was even so much as charged. Proceeding with the action against me would call for the immediate arrest of Henig and all other participants, for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, for malfeasance in public office, for conspiracy to murder, for international terrorism, for treason, and for anything else that one might care to list.

In the meantime, jurors and magistrates everywhere, if there is still an ongoing action against me this time next week, then just find everyone except the Hillsborough lot not guilty automatically, and let that be that, possibly forever.

I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money. That money would have been, and would be, better spent on the incarceration of Lavinia Woodward, Andrew Boeckman, and their moral inferior, Simon Henig.

My victory has always been moral even if not legal, although it will also be that soon enough, so a Victory Rally will be held at a time, date and venue to be confirmed. The posters and so forth will either list Laura Pidcock MP as a speaker, or they will state that she refused to be one.

Questions and Answers

They now read out very carefully selected tweets on Any Questions. They had so many saying that the repression in Catalonia was just like the Miners' Strike, that even Jonathan Dimbleby had to read out a couple of them. It was the breaking of the fingers one by one that really brought it home to me. I had had heard that story before.

As for those who bluster in their best Boris Johnson, or drawl in their best Jacob Rees-Mogg, that "the Police would have stood trial" if there had really been such violence, and far worse than that, against the miners, their families (of both sexes and all ages) and their supporters, all that I can say is bless you to the highest heavens, you poor, sweet, deluded, innocent children. But you should never be allowed anywhere near the running of anything. And very soon, you never will be again.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Blacklisting, Indeed

Today's United Nations blacklisting of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen means that the United Kingdom, an active participant both as a supplier of arms and in the control room, is now a state sponsor of terrorism. As with the UN's condemnation of this country over the rights of the disabled, of whom I am one, it is very high time for sanctions to follow.

Since the British arming of the Saudi war in Yemen was last brought to the floor of the House of Commons, when anti-Corbyn Labour MPs ostentatiously abstained, it has been found that British-made cluster bombs were being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Since as long ago as last December, that has been admitted by absolutely everyone.

Saudi Arabia is not poor. It is fabulously rich. Its British-made cluster bombs, in use in Yemen, are not from the 1980s. On this country's absolutely toxic relationship with what is jointly the most repressive regime in the world, matched only by North Korea, Jeremy Corbyn has been right all along.

This needs to be brought back to the floor of the House of Commons as a matter of the utmost urgency. The rather good Labour Chief Whip ought to publish in advance the list of MPs with leave of absence. For anyone else, abstention this time ought to mean deselection in due season, and universal moral revulsion with immediate effect.

Fracktious

I am not necessarily against shale gas in principle. But even if it is really there, then the places that may or may not have it do not want to be fracked. It is not as if they need the money. Meanwhile, no one disputes that the coal is there. And the places that have it certainly do want it to be mined again, since they certainly do need the money, which they used to have. Only in Britain. 

Not that the fracking lobby realises that it is in Britain. Behind the Loony Right's mid-Atlantic accents is an assumption that Britain simply is America, even geologically. Or, at least, some Trump-voting caricature of America. Any remaining anti-Corbyn wing of the Labour Party thinks that Britain simply is some Clinton-voting caricature of America.

By Their Fingertips

The news that the Guardia Civil are breaking Catalan protestors' fingers one by one is an example of how some things never change.
 
It must be 25 years since I first heard the stories of that trick from nearly a decade earlier again, when it had been applied by the Police, and by people posing as the Police, to the miners. Just as it had been to their fathers and grandfathers in the 1920s, and so on back.
 
Back how far? Well, as a civil body, the Spanish Inquisition has to be compared to other civil bodies of the time; and it actually compares rather well, using torture in only two per cent of cases, and then for no longer than 15 minutes, with only one per cent experiencing torture more than once.
 
Of 49,092 cases between 1550 and 1700, fully 1,485, not even three per cent, ended with the death sentence, and only 776 were actually put to death by this agency, not of the Church, but of the State. On average during that century and a half, the Spanish Inquisition executed five people per year.
 
Yet the Popes considered it unacceptably severe even in that day and age, when the English were executing anyone who damaged a shrub in a public garden, the Germans were gouging out the eyes of those who returned from banishment, and the French were disembowelling sheep-stealers.
 
The Spanish Inquisition dismissed anyone who broke its clearly set out Instructiones, and people before the secular courts in Barcelona would sometimes blaspheme in order to be sent to one of the much more humane prisons maintained by the Inquisition. Perhaps it should be brought back?
 
It would certainly have been far less barbaric and more law-bound than the regime to which those whom the Thatcher Government had designated "the Enemy Within" were subjected. When Margaret Thatcher died, then Mariano Rajoy hailed her as "a true landmark of twentieth-century history". There is even a square named after her in Madrid.
 
I still do not like the Catalan separatists. I recognise them. But I like the other side even less. I recognise them, too.

ICAN, He Can, We Can

Congratulations to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, on a richly deserved Nobel Peace Prize.
 
Made all the sweeter by the refusal to give it to the wretched White Helmets, whose fundraising in this country cries out for a criminal investigation under anti-terrorism legislation.
 
Now, to get the next Nobel Peace Prize for Ron Paul. And the one after that for Jeremy Corbyn. Or perhaps even a joint award.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

What I Know About Venezuela

The people who are now banging on about it have been wrong about every aspect of foreign policy for the last 20 years.

Catalan Confusion

Seen from Britain, the Catalan separatists are most reminiscent of those weird "fuel protests" in 1999 and 2000. They are that sort of people, making that sort of point.

Those opining that the undeniably brutal reaction to them "could never happen here" are, similarly, the people who were shocked to the core at the very mildly strenuous policing of the Countryside March in 2002.

Used to having the Police as effectively their private security firm, nothing even so moderate as that had ever happened to them before. So they had assumed that it never happened to anyone, at least on these shores. Oh, but it did. Oh, but it does. And worse. Far, far, far worse.

All of which leaves British opinion somewhat confused about Catalonia, with the Right seeing its own people on the receiving end of what, to the Left, has always been normal, and even fairly restrained, treatment.

Nature of the Beast

On the evening on Saturday 2nd December, a screening of the new film about Dennis Skinner, followed by a Q&A with the man himself, all in the fabulous Durham Miners' Hall. Unmissable.

The Road To Somewhere

The Corbyn Effect

My friend James Doran is among the contributors to this excellent collection.

For The Many: Preparing Labour For Power

My friend Chris Williamson MP is among the contributors to this excellent collection.

Not A Petty Point

The death of Tom Petty was newsworthy. But it was not more newsworthy in this country than the death of the man without whom there would have been no national minimum wage in the United Kingdom, Rodney Bickerstaffe.

America's Potato Famine Moment

In the 1840s, the mighty British Empire was somehow unable to get food from Great Britain to Ireland.
 
And today, 48 years after it first put a man on the Moon, the even mightier American Empire is somehow unable to get food and other aid from Florida to Puerto Rico.
 
Oneness with Nineveh and Tyre comes to us all eventually.

Once More Unto The Breach?

An almost horrific breach in security? Or proof that this "security" craze is nonsense, anyway? The latter, I strongly contend. That point is unaffected by occasional terrorist attacks or what have you. There will always be some.

Still, people are calling on dear old Patrick McLoughlin to resign. He has had a good run, far better than many another old UDM hand has managed. If he goes, then the last place where the spirit of the UDM will live on will be the Deputy Leadership of Durham County Council.

Time was when many Labour frontbenchers were strong enough to resign, and then when Jeremy Corbyn, in turn, was strong enough to sack several more. Today, however, we have a Foreign Secretary who is too weak to resign, and a Prime Minister who is too weak to sack him.

Remember, though, that it is only a few short months since our betters, who have today turned on Theresa May in the terms that they used to reserve for Gordon Brown, and before that for John Major, were telling us that she was the most gifted politician since sometime in the nineteenth century, and possibly ever. They are now saying the same thing about Boris Johnson.

In reality, Johnson would lose the Conservative Party one third of its vote, mostly in places that it did not hold, but therefore largely in places that it needed to win. Some of those people would vote Lib Dem, as is customary when one wishes to vote against one of the major parties without having to vote for the other one. But most of them would simply stay at home.

All of this is academic. A new Prime Minister in this Parliament would have to be acceptable to the DUP. To the DUP, it is therefore time to pose the Yes-No question, "Would you permit a Prime Minister whose mistress had had an abortion?"

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Hail To The Chief

This is one of the 472 Teaching Assistants whose pay Durham County Council still wants to cut by 23 per cent, but who is struggling on with that most difficult of pupils, Simon Henig.


There Is No "British Dream"

The British are awake.

Clear The Dead Bodies Away

Libya was a tourist destination, until the war that every member of the present Government who was an MP at the time supported, but which Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Barry Gardiner voted against.

Furthermore, a junior official who had made the remark that the Foreign Secretary has made would certainly be sacked. But Theresa May is too weak to sack Boris Johnson, just as he himself is too weak to resign.

Striking Similarity

The Catalan separatists are not an attractive lot. They want their rich homeland out of a union in which they have to pay to maintain poorer areas. But the Spanish Government has made their case for them, ably assisted by the EU and NATO. We should be out of both of them, and so should everyone else.

But anyone who says that "it could never happen here" is either extremely dishonest or just plain thick. Twitter has been awash with pictures of the Miners' Strike, and especially of Orgreave, that bore more than a passing resemblance to the ongoing scenes in Catalonia. The history of any social improvement in Britain is drenched in the blood of the people who literally had to fight for it.

The EU (as it really always was) and NATO did nothing about the British State's war on the miners, either. We should be out of both of them, and so should everyone else.

Cough Drop

If that fiasco had happened last week, then we would never have heard the end of it. Never, ever, ever. Boris Johnson only stood and applauded because Amber Rudd made him do so.

Theresa May is now pitied, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more lethal than being pitied.

Oh, well, the energy price cap is back. Ably assisted by an Opposition amendment, let's see her go through with it this time. After all, her bracelet today did feature Frida Kahlo, who had an affair with Trotsky.


I have just popped into a little corner newsagent's shop for something else, and it was selling the Morning Star. That now happens all the time. The supermarket chains still seem to be a bit sniffy, but they will come round as it sells more and more healthily, and especially once one of its columnists is the Prime Minister. Truly, we are the mainstream now. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

End The Tantrum

This is exactly why the matter needs to be handed over to the party for which the Leave-voting areas voted overwhelmingly this year, and whose Leader really does want to leave the EU. That handover can be achieved easily, by means of a General Election. Yes, a-bloody-nother one. But these are not ordinary times.

The Choice Is Clear

As well as having the gall to warn of extra borrowing under a Corbyn Government, when his own has borrowed more than all previous Labour Governments put together, Philip Hammond used the Conservative Party Conference to berate Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell for having departed from “the 35-year consensus”.

The choice at the next General Election is now clear. It is between those who do, and those who do not, believe that the only permissible opinions on economic and foreign policy are those of Tony Blair and David Cameron, of Emmanuel Macron and Mariano Rajoy, of George W. Bush and the Clintons.

Whether on economic policy, or on foreign policy, or both, if you dissent from that position in any way, or even if you simply do not believe that all other positions ought to be excluded from the debate, then you have no option except to vote Labour at the next General Election.

Anything else, including abstention, would be a conscious choice to close the debate, and this time to close it forever, leaving only “the 35-year consensus” of Philip Hammond.

Thoroughly Discreditable

The advance payments are loans, which will then be deducted from subsequent payments of Universal Credit, putting households below subsistence level for months.

This whole thing needs to be ended forthwith.

Throwing Side

Jeremy Corbyn is "on the side of those who threaten us", says Michael Fallon, the only man who has ever lost a parliamentary seat to Alan Miliburn.

Who, exactly? Saudi Arabia? The IS that Russia is close to defeating? Who?

And Put Them To The Test

David Davis will be the next Conservative Leader, if there is to be one in this Parliament.

It would not be up to the Conservatives at all. It would be up to the DUP. And the DUP would never stand for a man whose mistress had had an abortion, nor would it ever stand for a Catholic. So Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg can forget it.

Davis is sitting very pretty indeed.

RIP Rodney Bickerstaffe

I last saw you when you took Davey Hopper's funeral. Another one gone. Oh, well, it is up to us now.

Priti Dreadful

A Priti Patel Leadership bid? Oh, please let it be true. She is just awful. Let us hope for a Liz Truss Leadership bid, too.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Discontent

On and on Philip Hammond went about Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party Conference. He gave no impression that he himself was in Government. Corbyn's raft of measures that are normal throughout Europe was, with boring predictability, held up as "Marxist", "Venezuelan", "Zimbabwean", and "back to the Seventies".

In fact, though, the Winter of Discontent would never have happened if the Labour Government of the day had indeed been in the pocket of the trade unions, and it occurred in reaction to that Government's turn to monetarism more than a year earlier. If there was anything "Marxist" about that Government, then that was entirely lost on the many Marxists who were very much a part of the British scene in the 1970s.

Hammond warned that "the trade union barons" were throwing  their weight and power behind Corbyn. But if there are still "trade union barons", then what was the point of Margaret Thatcher? He also claimed that Corbyn and John McDonnell were breaking a 35-year consensus, as if such a lack of debate had been a good thing in itself, and as if the admittedly rare Conservative attacks on the Blair and Brown Governments had been all an act. Say it ain't so. McDonnell was even castigated for having seen the Crash coming. I mean, the nerve of him.

Hammond clearly longed for the days when political debate consisted in nothing more than Daily Telegraph articles that mocked their uncomprehending readers by pretending to get worked up on their behalf about foxhunting or hereditary peers (such as the one who chaired Northern Rock when it went bust, to which Hammond's speech referred, but who seems to have done all right out of it). Thus was the pretence of a robust exchange of ideas able to be maintained during the 20 years when the only people who wanted to talk about economic or foreign policy were "museum pieces" and "dinosaurs" such as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

All in all, Hammond was like Tim Kaine, about whom you have probably forgotten. Kaine had a regular "aw shucks" line about how he had never lost an election. Well, he has lost an election now. Similarly, the likes of Philip Hammond are just going to have to live with the fact that the debate is no longer closed to people who do not happen to agree with him, and who are not even prepared to pretend to take seriously his ludicrous suggestion that measures that were normal throughout Europe were "Marxist", "Venezuelan", "Zimbabwean", or "back to the Seventies".

Deemed To Have Consented

Well, if they are old enough to have been convicted of the offence. As, from the age of 10, they are. It is very high time for Parliament to tidy up the shambolic laws on sexual offences.

First, the age of consent should effectively be raised to 18, by making it a criminal offence for anyone to commit any sexual act with or upon any person under that age who was more than two years younger than herself, or to incite any such person to commit any such act with or upon her or any third party anywhere in the world. The maximum sentence would be twice the difference in age, to the month where that was less than three years, or a life sentence where that difference was at least five years.

No different rules for “positions of trust”, which are being used against male, but not female, 18-year-olds looking after female, but not male, Sixth Formers visiting universities. And no provision, as at present, for boys to be prosecuted at any age, even if they are younger than the girls involved, whereas girls have to be 16.  The law on indecent images is also enforced in totally different ways in relation to boys and girls of the same age, and even to boys who are younger than the girls. That must end.

Children under the age of consent can have abortion or contraception without parental permission (thank you, Margaret Thatcher). That is an argument for banning children under the age of consent from having abortion or contraception without parental permission. Unless they decided as adults to seek to make contact with their children, then the financial liability of male victims for pregnancies resulting from their sexual abuse ought also to be ruled out. Talk about victim-blaming.

Secondly, it ought to be made a criminal offence for anyone aged 21 or over to buy or sell sex, with equal sentencing on both sides. No persecution of girls and very young women whose lives had already been so bad that they had become prostitutes. No witch-hunting of boys and very young men who were desperate to lose their virginities. But the treatment of women and men as moral, intellectual and legal equals.

Thirdly, the offences of rape, serious sexual assault, and sexual assault, ought to be replaced with aggravating circumstances to the general categories of offences against the person, enabling the sentences to be doubled. The sex of either party would be immaterial. There must be no anonymity either for adult accusers or for adult complainants. Either we have an open system of justice, or we do not. 

In this or any other area, there must be no suggestion of any reversal of the burden of proof. That reversal has largely been brought to you already, by the people who in the same year brought you the Iraq War. The Parliament that was supine before Tony Blair was also supine before Harriet Harman. Adults who made false allegations ought to be prosecuted automatically.

Moreover, how can anyone be convicted of non-consensual sex, who could not lawfully have engaged in consensual sex? If there is an age of consent, then anyone below it can be an assailant. But a sexual assailant? How? Similarly, if driving while intoxicated is a criminal offence, then how can intoxication, in itself, be a bar to sexual consent? The law needs to specify that it was, only to such an extent as would constitute a bar to driving.

And fourthly, obscenity ought to be defined as material depicting acts that were themselves illegal, or which was reasonably likely to incite or encourage such acts. Sentencing would be the same as for the illegal act in question in each case. American-style legislation for internally administered “balance of probabilities” or “preponderance of evidence” tests to sexual assault allegations at universities or elsewhere must be banned by Statute.

It is incompatible with the Rule of Law to punish someone for a criminal offence of which she has not been convicted. It must be made impossible for anyone to be extradited to face charges that fell short of these standards, or for such convictions to have any legal standing in this country.

As for teaching things in schools, how is that curriculum time currently being filled? Apply the Eton Test. Would this be taught in a school that assumed its pupils to be future Prime Ministers or Nobel Laureates? If not, then instead fill the hours with something that was. Teach Latin. Someone will. 

Convictions under laws predating these changes ought to be annulled along with those of men whose homosexual acts would not be criminal offences today. Labour should vote against that unless it also annulled, not only all convictions in the above categories, but also all convictions and other adverse court decisions arising out of Clay Cross, Shrewsbury, Wapping, and the three Miners’ Strikes since 1970. 

This would set the pattern for all future feminist and LGBT legislation. Without a working-class quid pro quo, then Labour would vote against any such legislation. Alongside the DUP, the Conservative Right, or whoever. It is not Blair’s Labour Party now.

Universal Chaos

Advance payments entirely concede the point, and "people in need" are, by definition, the only people who will be claiming Universal Credit.

The Universal Basic Income is starting to make the case for itself, even to me.

No Laughing Matter

Boris Johnson was made Editor of The Spectator for a laugh. He was made a Member of Parliament for a laugh. He was made Mayor of London for a laugh. He was made an MP again for a laugh. He has been made Foreign Secretary for a laugh. And now, the game is on to make him Prime Minister for a laugh.

Well, Britain is renowned the world over for its sense of humour. But that is because this is fundamentally a serious country. There are joke countries, but there is nothing remotely funny about having to live in them. This is not a joke country, and it does not want a joke Prime Minister.

Never mind, though. The DUP would never allow a Prime Minister whose mistress had had an abortion, just as it would never allow a Prime Minister who was a Catholic.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has begun to make me see the point of the Ordinariate, or at least a potential point to the Ordinariate. Under its aegis, the people who want to pretend to be their own fantasy version of the 1950s Church of England can do so to their hearts' content, leaving the rest of us alone. If the Ordinariate really were continuing its own former liturgical life, then it would be using the old, defective translation of the Modern Roman Rite. That might give it a following that it had not expected. As it is, though, it is a spiritual home for Rees-Moggery.

Meanwhile, if Theresa May does not last until the next General Election, then the next Prime Minister will be David Davis, simply because he will be the only candidate acceptable to the DUP.

Soft Thinking, Hard Truth

No, no one ever voted for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, of all people, as an expression of love for the European Union.

No, the areas that decided the EU referendum for Leave did not then re-elect their Labour MPs, often with greatly increased majorities, because they wanted a Soft rather than a Hard Brexit. That is just as well, because Labour is not offering a Soft Brexit.

No, the Remain heartlands did not either re-elect Theresa May and other Conservative MPs, albeit often with greatly reduced majorities, or else elect new Conservative MPs in Scotland, because they wanted a Hard rather than a Soft Brexit. That is just as well, because the Conservatives are not offering a Hard Brexit.

And no, Philip Hammond, we did not join a free trade area that then "changed" while "we didn't". Peter Shore, Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Barbara Castle explained it all to you at the time. But you chose not to listen, and your party gave us the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. The people who have never changed on this issue surround, and are, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Champagne Shambles

15 years ago, the Conservative Party was a universally ridiculed pariah organisation, with a tiny and most elderly membership, and with absolutely no chance of winning the next General Election. But that was, if not ideal, then at least acceptable, in Opposition. Today, however, that is the Government.

During this week's shambles, almost in the original sense of the word, remember that a mere four months ago, people were drawing gargantuan salaries to tell us that this party was going to be in Government for the next 40 years. None of those sages has been sacked.

Lessons Learned

These are the last days of undergraduate tuition fees. Both parties are now opposed to them in principle. The only question is how, and thus how quickly, to get rid of them. So much for Tony Blair, domestically no less than internationally.

But you either fund higher education all the way up to doctoral level, or you charge fees at every stage, and the latter option has now been ruled out. Also, it is essential that apprentices and trainees enjoy the same benefits as their student peers, and vice versa.

Let's get to it.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Exceedingly Bad

This is what Boris Johnson was trained for. He can recite Kipling from memory, but he has no idea what it is about. The idea that such people are singularly prepared for leadership is laughable.

Just The Balanced Ticket

I am not on the Hard Left; you can ask them. I used to attend the Blue Labour conferences in Nottingham, and I think that those should still be held, complete with Jeremy Corbyn, who would come. Maurice Glasman and John Milbank wrote commendations of my second book, while others were contributed by Bryan Gould and David Stoddart. John also wrote the preface to my first book.

I am a member of the Fabian Society, and I am currently a candidate for its Executive Committee. Progress still sends me its magazine, so I must still be on the books. I am not a member of Momentum, although I would be if I were a member of the Labour Party. And I supported Andy Burnham for Leader until his infamous abstention, having supported Ed Miliband for Leader in 2010 and Jon Cruddas for Deputy Leader in 2007.

In 2015, I supported Tom Watson for Deputy Leader. I still do. He and Jeremy balance each other well, and Tom has clearly identified the Deputy Leadership as the sinecure of the traditional Right in the Corbyn Era and beyond. Therefore, he has anointed as his successor my old university mate, Jonathan Ashworth, who is out leading on the campaign trail this weekend.

Jon, I can assure you, is a man of the Labour Right, with a firm emphasis on both words. We used to tease him for being a Blairite, which was where the careerism was back in the day. But he never really was one. He and the next Leader, Angela Rayner, will balance each other very well indeed. That is already evident, and not by accident.

A Yellow Tinge

The Conservative Party now has fewer members than the Lib Dems.

And a Lib Dem candidate from 2005, who joined UKIP only in 2015, has just become the Leader of UKIP.

Ponder these things.

Friday, 29 September 2017

By The Byes

Last night saw Labour gain Thetford Priory from the Conservatives with 57.7 per cent of the vote, which was an increase of 28 per cent, and a jump from third place to first. There are no no-go areas for Jeremy Corbyn, not even the many that there always were for Tony Blair.

Speaking of whom, while it was no surprise that Labour held Trimdon and Thornley, the 65.4 per cent was an increase of 15.2. That is the Corbyn Effect right there, on Blair's old patch. The Leadership of Durham County Council needs to get the message. Starting with justice for the Teaching Assistants.

Where It's Due?

As a trade unionist and other things, I am part of the Labour Movement, even without being part of the same party as Tony Blair, Jess Phillips, Simon Henig, the persecutors of the Birmingham binmen, the Haringey Councillors who are going to refuse to hold tenants' ballots on redevelopment (Jeremy Corbyn is going to make it the law, duckies), or a London Regional Director who in his days up here used to call me a "mulatto" while trying to have me murdered.

The Labour Movement. The clue is in the name. I am all for Modern Monetary Theory, but I am uncharacteristically agnostic about the Universal Basic Income. I tend to think that people should have jobs. Still, it is a deeply held Tory principle that certain people should have the economy arranged to ensure that they had time for thought and culture instead of needing to work, however little thought or culture most of those people have ever produced.

If technological change is creating the possibility of extending such opportunities to people who might be rather more productive intellectually and culturally, then so much the better. And the Universal Basic Income could not possibly be any worse than Universal Credit. Or, indeed, any more expensive. Could this be an idea whose time has come?

Not Cricket

Yesterday, Rona Fairhead was made a Conservative member of the House of Lords, and a Minister of State in the Department for International Trade. Until this year, she chaired the supposedly impartial BBC Trust. Before that, she chaired the audit committee of HSBC, which signed off that bank's laundering of money on behalf of Mexican drug cartels. 

Yesterday, exactly which stories were bigger than that? The drunken doings of some cricketer, apparently. And political protests at American football games, which were not only reported in Britain as major news, but reported without reference to Donald Trump's long-running feud with the NFL. Google the USFL, if you need to.

But first, Google Rona Fairhead. Reporters, researchers, producers and editors at the BBC, ITN and Sky News, Google Rona Fairhead. You obviously do need to.

Sticky All Round

Dredging up Bloody Sunday again, from any side, is a very bad idea, even if it will tickle the odder among us to be reminded of the strange little world of the Official IRA. But this is happening because the most powerful political party in the United Kingdom, and itself not always the strongest supporter of the security forces in Northern Ireland, insists that it happen.

Unless she sticks it out until the next General Election, then Theresa May's replacement will be a Conservative, but the Conservative Party will have nothing more than the most superficial role in deciding which one. That choice will be made by the DUP. That party would still balk at a Catholic. And it would more than balk at a man who voted for same-sex marriage and who was rather more than a purely legislative supporter of abortion.

If I were David Davis, who even voted with the DUP (and with Jeremy Corbyn) against intervention in Syria on the side that is now IS, then I would be sitting very pretty indeed.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Unfairhead

Rona Fairhead professes that she saw nothing amiss when she was chairing HSBC's audit committee at the time that that bank was laundering money for Mexican drug cartels.

Today, and freshly ennobled for the purpose, she was made the Minister of State at the Department for International Trade. Yet some people still struggle to see the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn.

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher both lost the plot in the third term and had to be forced out by their own respective parties. But Theresa May has started out that way.

Today, we learned that her party had been "unprepared" for the snap General Election that she had called (and for which the other side was very well-prepared), and that she had lost her overall majority because of the lack of debate. Such as the debates in which she herself had refused to participate.

Cut Glass?

Ian Lavery is on Question Time tonight. The Internet will have a seizure over his accent. That never happens over Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg, who are assumed not to have an accent, in the way that their party is assumed to be non-political.

Thus, Rona Fairhead can be made a Conservative Peer and Minister straight from the BBC, while on the same day Nick Robinson can squeal like a pig that anyone dares to impugn the BBC's impartiality. Oh, and has anyone seen Laura Kuenssberg's bodyguard? She really was an invited speaker at a Conservative Party Conference event. It is her bodyguard that is this week's fake news story about her, put out by the BBC itself.

What a shock these people are going to get when either Johnson or Rees-Mogg is up against Angela Rayner. They regard it as self-evident that those two are eminently qualified to be Prime Minister, while she is bereft of the slightest claim to that or any other office. But somehow, the rest of us, out here in our bubble and our echo chamber, might not necessarily see it like that.