Tuesday, 31 January 2017

By Their Lights, Within Their Rights

If I were an MP, then I would vote to repeal the European Communities Act regardless of whether or not there had ever been a referendum, never mind the result of any such crude device. 

That would be my judgement, and the exercise of judgement is what MPs are for. 

Moreover, MPs are responsible for and to all of their constituents, and in no constituency did everyone, or even just everyone who voted, vote the same way. 

MPs who will vote against Article 50 are, in my view, mistaken. But they are perfectly within their rights. 

As is the Official Opposition, and it is correct, to impose a three-line whip. 

MPs are always free to break the whip. So long as they are prepared to take the consequences, as Jeremy Corbyn always was.

The Last Liberals?

More people voted Remain than have ever voted for the winning party at any General Election.

The Lib Dems are on course to take dozens of seats from the Conservatives in the Remain heartlands of the South.

They have been the only party to capture a seat at any of this Parliament's many by-elections so far.

Clinton won the popular vote.

Macron is probably going to come a strong third.

Hubris comes before nemesis, comrades old and new.

Hubris comes before nemesis.

Monday, 30 January 2017

It's 2017, And Liberalism Is Dead

Watch this.

Fair Takes Me Back

Why is the BBC interviewing Nigel Farage outside the Palace of Westminster? He has never had the slightest connection to that building.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's persistence in public life is a long-running illustration of the fact that They are just different from Us.

But today, he excelled even himself, correcting Dennis Skinner by pointing out that Mussolini's Italy had not bombed Britain during the Second World War.

Except that Mussolini's Italy did bomb Britain during the Second World War.

Johnson knows absolutely nothing, and he has little, if any, capacity to learn anything.

Time was when his kind would have been packed off to some colony. But that option no longer exists.

He ought in any case to resign, and to be held in contempt of Parliament, because of his barefaced lie that he had secured some sort of exemption for British passport holders. 

He had done no such thing.

If it is not him, then it is Nicholas Soames barking, literally barking liking a dog, on the floor of the House of Commons.

He was unable to see that that was inappropriate, not least because he was barely reprimanded by the Speaker.

Imagine if a Labour MP had barked at a Conservative, and a woman at that.

Imagine if one pupil had barked at another in a class of five-year-olds.

And then there is Jacob Rees-Mogg.

He has never been in Government, even though his party has been so throughout his time as an MP, and even though he is not rebellious or anything like that.

Yet this super-posh weirdo is wheeled out endlessly as a major political figure.

He has struck up a friendship with the equally ubiquitous Jess Phillips, who has seen several other members of the 2015 intake promoted to the front bench, including several women

Yet her whole act is predicated on the allegation of Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to promote women from the 2015 intake.

No, Jess. It's you. It's just you.

All of this fair takes me back, I have to say. I grew up under the Conservatives, and they haven't changed a bit.

Nor, alas, has the media's indulgence of them.

Bring Trump On

It turns out that whatever assurance Boris Johnson was given was not worth the paper that it wasn't written on.

The Executive Order contains no such assurance, and, this side of being struck down in court, the Executive Order is the law.

No American newspaper put Theresa May's visit on the front page. Not one.

British influence in the United States is, and has always been, a complete fantasy, believed only by preening British politicians and by Lyndon LaRouche.

But there are other British politicians.

They have ploughed a lonely furrow over the last 25 years, opposing the wars of Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

They have ploughed a lonely furrow over the last 20 years, opposing the wars of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May.

No one has been more consistently at that plough than the man who is now the Leader of the Labour Party.

His election and re-election have been among their successes, and there have been others besides.

The biggest demonstration in British history did not stop the war in Iraq, but technological change made possible the lobbying campaign, organised by the same individuals, that did lead to the Commons defeat of the Cameron Government over Syria.

The removal of Tony Blair from the Premiership over the bombing of Lebanon also had its roots in the work of the Stop the War Coalition.

I used to think that that had run its course. But it is now needed even more than it ever was.

Organised by the people who had opposed Clinton, Bush, Obama, Blair, Brown and Cameron, and addressed by Jeremy Corbyn, the great demonstration against Trump during his State Visit would be the largest in British history, and it would politicise an entire generation, changing Britain for at least 50 years.

Bring it on.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The New Continent

Benoît Hamon is far too Green and far too pro-EU.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on the other hand, harbours no fantasy that the Road to Hell is economic growth.

But he does say that it is, "impossible to achieve the democratic change needed in the EU, all power belonging to technocrats with no popular legitimacy."

Seen from the rest of the world, at least, François Fillon would be still be better than Marine Le Pen.

But any second round with a Le Pen on the ballot would be, as it has been once in the past, a referendum on the Front National and on everything behind it.

The other candidate would be bound to win. Again, that has happened in the past.

Why, then, should that candidate not be Jean-Luc Mélenchon?

Magic realism emerged in Latin America because its inhabitants' ancestors had largely found themselves confronted with flora and fauna, landscapes and weather, places and people, of the like of which they had never so much as heard tell.

The rest of those inhabitants' ancestors had been the people who had found themselves confronted with the first lot and with their ways, including their reactions to everything on the New Continent.

Before too long at all, absolutely anything had seemed par for the course.

How very unlike the mind of the Old Continent. In those days. But not in these days.

President Mélenchon?

Far, far, far stranger things are now happening all around us, all the time.

Direction of Travel

So, it is our business after all.

Yet another U-turn by Theresa May.

And a gracious half-pass, or whatever this is, from our Special Friend.

Organised by the people behind the ones, which were almost completely ignored, against his predecessors, demonstrations against Donald Trump would politicise an entire generation.

Led by Jeremy Corbyn, they would politicise an entire generation behind Jeremy Corbyn.

Bring Trump to Britain as soon as possible.

Hail To The Chief, At Last

There were demonstrations against Donald Trump's predecessors.

With one notable exception, they got very little attention.

But the people who organised them, while the Right (including the Labour Right) was claiming that criticism of the President of the United States was treasonable in the United Kingdom, are still very much around.

Indeed, one of them is now the Leader of the Labour Party.

This State Visit has the potential to change Britain completely.

Bring it on.

Get With The Pogrom

A lot of Israeli Jews of a certain age were born in Yemen, Iran, Iraq or Syria. 

They will be subject to this ban, even if they now hold only Israeli nationality.



Let him in.

The demonstrations against him would change Britain for 50 years, and possibly 100.

Just so long as they were led by people who had also opposed his predecessors.

Revised Standards, Indeed

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings (well, a Sixth Former, anyway), after this morning's Happytudes. "Was that the version for children?" 

No, it was far worse than that. It was the Jerusalem Bible. 

The RSV is to be used at my funeral. I am leaving strict instructions.

White Ties and Tales

Jeremy Corbyn needs to say that he would not attend the banquet for Donald Trump's State Visit, but would instead address the demonstration outside.

He has absolute moral authority, since, unlike many, he opposed Bush, Obama and the Clintons when they did far worse than merely deny visas to the people of Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other countries besides.

Banishing The Ban

Never mind pretending to be a Muslim, Madeleine Albright.

Take out nationality of one of the countries on the banned list, and take the consequences.

I suggest Iraq.

After all, you said that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children as a result of your sanctions regime had been "worth it".

This is not the Muslim Ban.

It could perhaps most usefully be called the Iranian Jew Ban, since Iranian Jews are as subject to it as any other citizens of the countries in question.

No one from any of those countries has killed anyone in the United States in a terrorist attack in the last 40 years.

But the criticism of this policy needs to come from people who have not issued blanket condemnations of everything said and done by Donald Trump, even his investment-based infrastructure proposals, or his eagerness for peace and co-operation with Russia.

The opponents of either or both of those would have cheered on this measure if it had been imposed, as it certainly could have been, by George W. Bush, or by Barack Obama, or by Hillary Clinton.

They have cheered on the bombing of these countries, and of several others with Muslim majorities. They continue to do so.

The voices that need to be raised against this need to be heard, and they need to deserve to be heard.

Therefore, they need to be other voices.

They need to be our voices.

Scary After All

20 years ago, there was a General Election that Labour was in any case always going to win.

But that party was still castigated for scaremongering when it claimed that, in the unlikely event of the Conservatives' re-election, they would introduce charges for visiting the doctor.

20 years later, and here we are.

Look out for the realisation of the other claims that were so castigated, namely that the Conservatives were going to put VAT on food, and that they were going to withdraw the state retirement pension from people who were already claiming it.

The repeated increases in the pension age, together with the reduction in the pension's real value, may already be seen as a giving effect to that latter.

Friday, 27 January 2017

A Rift Adrift

People you've never heard of, resigning from unpaid positions that you never knew they held, or in some cases never knew existed.

On 7th December, Jo Stevens was one of 150 Labour MPs to vote in favour of the triggering of Article 50 by Theresa May's deadline of the end of March.

56 Labour MPs did not vote, for which there will have been various reasons, although some certainly were abstaining as a conscious act.

Leaving a mere 23 who voted against.

Not much of a split, even if there are a few Stevenses next week. There might, of course, be switchers in the other direction, too.

More broadly, what are the two sides of what is supposedly Labour's Great Schism?

One side consists of a few hundred people, no more than a couple of thousand as an absolute maximum.

They either work in the Palace of Westminster, or they delude themselves that they do.

They had thought that they were joining the Democratic Party of Jed Bartlet, whom even now they assume to be real.

The other side consists of the Labour Party and the Labour Movement.

The Pay Wall?

Whatever the case for trade tariffs, and there can certainly be one, they have absolutely nothing to do with forcing a foreign country to pay for a wall.

I am astonished that I am even having to write that.

They are already backtracking on this one, too.

It is just about possible that some sort of partition will eventually go up.

But there is absolutely no chance that Mexico will pay for it.

Still, at least Donald Trump has put Liar Kuennsberg in her place. More of that in Britain, please.

Wikipedia very rapidly took down my assertion that her Journalist of the Year had been one of the British Comedy Awards.

Same Old Grand Old

The point is not the presence of Mike Pence on the March for Life.

The point is the absence of Donald Trump.

Had he been there, then many regular attendees would have stayed away.

And not a few would have turned up in order to demonstrate against him.

It is clearly Pence who is, at least, the Pro-Life Industrial Complex's man.

As surely as the Blairites, and as surely as the Conservative Remainers (who had thought that they had succeeded), the Republicans are determined to get their party back.

People From Outside

"The free movement of labour within the European Union has discriminated against people from outside the European Union," Richard Burgon has just said on Talk Radio.

He expressed the grievance of his Kashmiri-descended constituents in Leeds East that they cannot always have their relatives at weddings and funerals.

The racism of the EU on these matters has been largely ignored in this debate. 

But it is very, very important.

And Richard is on his way to the very, very top.

"The Teaching Assistants, The Pupils and The Parents"

The dreadful pseudo-Labour council in Derby has simply got to go, as surely as does the dreadful pseudo-Labour council in Durham.

That is, as Corbyn might put it, "absolutely crucial".

Questionable Intervention

Anything that annoys Jonathan Powell cannot be all bad. But Theresa May does have some explaining to do. 

Jeremy Corbyn tweets that, "I don't remember her joining me in the voting lobby. Maybe she has alternative facts?"


As for the Chicago Speech, if its criteria, such as they were, had been applied, then there would have been no Iraq War.

But then, Tony Blair was never noted for coherent thought, either.

Every Little Helps

We need to make the supermarkets fund investment in agriculture and small business, determined in close consultation with the National Farmers’ Union and the Federation of Small Businesses, by means of a windfall tax. 

To be followed if necessary by a permanently higher flat rate of corporation tax. 

And in either case, accompanied by strict regulation to ensure that the costs were not passed on to suppliers, workers, consumers, communities or the environment.

Worth It

For all the many, many faults of Barack Obama, at least he was not, and he is not, John McCain.

If McCain did indeed seek to legislate to reimpose any sanctions against Russia that Donald Trump had lifted, then those members of the two Houses of Congress who had voted for that legislation ought themselves to be sanctioned by the rest of the world.

In 1996, Madeleine Albright described the deaths of half a million children as a result of sanctions against Iraq as "worth it".

If she is now willing to register as a Muslim, then why would Muslims be willing so to register, thus risking association with her?

Trump has business interests in the swirling cauldrons of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the nerve centre of global Islamist terrorism, the paymaster of Hillary Clinton, Saudi Arabia.

But he has none in Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Iran.

Guess which list is of the countries whose citizens he is banning from the United States.

Guess which list includes five countries that the United States is still bombing on his watch.

Ballots To Nuttall

Paul Nuttall's support for waterboarding makes it absolutely imperative that there be a pro-Brexit, pro-NHS and anti-torture candidate on the ballot paper at Stoke Central.

How could such a candidate not be the First Past the Post?

Come on, Comrades. We can do this.

Turning The Thames Yellow

The SNP lost the Scottish independence referendum.

But its ability to mobilise the aggrieved Yes vote has made it so dominant under First Past the Post that, unless David Mundell, late of the SDP and possessed of a small majority in a Remain-voting area, can find nowhere else to be that night, then it is perfectly possible that no MP from Scotland is going to vote in favour of Article 50.

Similarly, Remain lost the EU referendum.

But the Lib Dems' increasingly apparent ability to mobilise the aggrieved Remain vote ought to make them the First Past the Post in scores of seats that are currently held by the Conservatives in the Remain heartlands of the South of England.

Enough, in fact, for a hung Parliament in 2020.

If the Lib Dems in both Houses have any sense, then they will table an amendment to the Article 50 Bill, requiring a second referendum before the Prime Minister was authorised to invoke Article 50, but with the provision that she would only be so authorised if that had been approved of 50 per cent plus one of eligible voters.

The House of Lords might even pass that.

And while it would not make it into the final Act, it would do the Lib Dems no end of good in the pursuit of their and the SNP's proper, if unwitting, mission of ensuring that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour was the single largest party in the House of Commons after the next General Election.

Exit Inevitable, Indeed

Jo Stevens and Jeremy Corbyn should walk together down the main street of the main town in her constituency, just to see which of them was recognised by more people.

Representative Thinking

I do have to say this for Owen Smith.

He will not be voting against Article 50 because his constituents (what, all of them?) voted a certain way.

That would be a ridiculous position in a parliamentary system.

He will be voting against Article 50 because he judges that to be in the best interests of the country.

I do not agree with him, and were an MP than I should vote to repeal the European Communities Act even if there had never been a referendum.

But his position is eminently parliamentary.

A Gulf In Thinking

Britain cannot have intelligence co-operation with torturers.

All intelligence co-operation with Saudi Arabia has therefore been cancelled.

Indeed, there never was any.

Blooming Beyond The Tulip

Her grandfather was the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and her aunt is the current one.

Entitled much, Tulip, flower?

As we mourn Tam Dalyell, consider that no one ever died of a broken three-line whip.

But how could the Official Opposition, as such, possibly have had no view on Article 50?

How could it possibly have had any view other than the implementation of the referendum result?

We are told that Jeremy Corbyn broke three-line whips hundreds of times.

Indeed, he did. As may any MP who is prepared, as he always was, to take the consequences.

And we are told that there was no whip on the bombing of Syria, or on the "renewal" of Trident.

Indeed, there was not. But there ought to have been. And there ought to be on this, too.

The vote on Trident, which is now controlled by Donald Trump, was downright fraudulent on the part of the Government, and it ought to be re-run.

As Michael Portillo has just said on This Week, we do not know whether the missile would hit Moscow or Miami.

It is possible that no MP from Scotland will vote for Article 50. 

With Ian Murray briefing that he intends to rebel, certainly no more than one MP from Scotland will vote for it, unless David Mundell were persuaded that his absence on some or other pretext would play better at home, and then it would be none.

Yet 1,018,332 people in Scotland voted Leave. Write it out in words: more than a million.

The recent reduction in the number of constituency MPs from 650 to 600 created an opportunity that ought to have been taken.

An amendment ought to have specified that each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and each of the nine English regions, would elect five additional MPs, with each elector voting for one candidate, and with the top five elected at the end.

It would also have required the main parties, and permitted the others, to submit their shortlists of two for those nominations to an independent, binding, publicly funded ballot of all registered electors in the relevant area.

It would have been far from impossible to extend this to local government, with the additional Councillors elected by this means from each of the parts of a given municipal area falling within a particular parliamentary constituency.

All of this could still be put in place in time for the General Election of 2020.

These primary and proportional aspects are essential to the restoration of the powers of Parliament and of local government, and to the extension of those powers beyond their historical limits.

Although the most essential thing of all to that restoration and extension, and then to their entrenchment and protection, is far greater economic equality, so that no one's vote effectively counted far more than anyone else's.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Across The Aisle, Across The Isles

Now that Tam Dalyell is dead, who will speak for the Chagossians?

Jeremy Corbyn, that's who.

He's been doing it for years.

As he has also been speaking for the Rohingya, for the Dalits, and for so many others besides.

People criticised Dalyell for what was in fact his very specific objection to an aspect of the Falklands War.

But anyone who professes to support the Falkland Islands, yet who does not support the Chagos Islands with equal vigour, ought to be dismissed out of hand as entirely beneath contempt.

Oh, and do look up the precise words of Dalyell's long-serving West Lothian antagonist, Billy Wolfe of the SNP, on the subject of the Falklands War.

Scottish Nationalism's nasty side is very nasty indeed, and Dalyell always saw straight through it.

He and the other Old Etonian Labour MP at the time, Mark Fisher of Stoke Central, both voted against the Iraq War.

Fisher was still in Parliament in 2006 to join only 11 other Labour MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, in voting for an inquiry into that war.

The more famous touring speakers of the Left have no difficulty getting into the major public schools.

But the schools run by right-wing Labour Councillors and their spear-carriers are an entirely different matter.

Think on.

Nothing Short of Criminal

Richard Burgon writes:

It’s no secret that prisons are in crisis. 

Serious trouble in Liz Truss’s prisons has become a regular feature in the news. 

Violence, drugs and overcrowding are all too commonplace. 

Self-harm and assaults on prison staff are at record levels.

That’s why today Labour has forced a debate in Parliament. 

Prison officers have a tough job. No-one should go to work fearing getting punched in the face or spat at. 

But this is the reality that our cut-back prison staff are facing day in, day out. 

The Tories’ obsession with cutting necessary funds from public services has created this toxic situation. 

Since 2010, they’ve cut prison officers by nearly 7,000 – more than one quarter of the total. 

I speak to prison officers regularly. They feel less safe and more stressed than ever before. 

But despite this, they also care. 

They care about their fellow professionals and they care about the prisoners. 

They want to be able to instil discipline – particularly in relation to young offenders. 

And they want to help people to have turned away from crime by the time they are released. 

Prison officers care about keeping our society safe. But now there just aren’t enough prison officers. 

Prison officers tell me that they need to be able to speak to prisoners each day to find out where there might be problems with individuals, drugs and violence. 

If they can’t do that then prisons become more dangerous and inevitably eventually the public are put at greater risk. 

Labour knows there’s no ‘magic fix’. Prison staff and academic experts are right that it could take years. 

But the truth is we don’t have that time. 

Officers are leaving quicker than they can be recruited. 

As things stand, the Government’s headline-grabbing commitment to boosting prison officer numbers is just pie-in-the-sky. 

Prisons have never been perfect. 

But under Labour, prison violence and re-offending was at much lower levels and prisons were better staffed.

In Parliament today, the Government needs to take responsibility and admit its mistakes. 

What the Tories have done to our prison service is nothing short of criminal.

Just Imagine

Neil Clark writes: 

All we have to do to highlight the enormous hypocrisy and double standards which are the hallmark of domestic and international politics is to switch the names around.

Actions taken by Western establishment approved countries and actors which are deemed to be totally uncontroversial, would be deemed to be ‘absolutely outrageous’ if done to them. 

Here’s a few examples:

Just imagine… if a close Russian ally, whose forces were trained by Russia, was bombing the poorest country in the Middle East, with cluster bombs supplied by Moscow. 

Furthermore, in the country that was being attacked, a famine threatened the lives millions of people. 

Well, the poorest country in the Middle East is Yemen, and it’s being bombed to smithereens by the one of the richest, Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Britain, using UK-made cluster bombs. 

And guess what, the West’s Something Must Me Done brigade, who expressed so much ‘humanitarian’ concern over the fighting to regain Aleppo from Al-Qaeda/Al Nusra terrorists, are silent. 

How strange.

Just imagine… if a plane carrying members of a famous French military choir had crashed on Christmas Day, killing everyone on board. 

And that shortly afterwards, a leading Russian ‘satirical’ magazine had mocked the tragedy, drawing cartoons of the choir singing to ‘a new audience’ on the seabed and posted a caption saying that the only ‘bad news’ about the crash was that French President François Hollande had not been on board. 

There would, I’m sure, have been plenty of ‘superior’ discussion in Western media about the ‘moral depravity’ and the ‘dark soul’ of the Russian character. 

But the plane that crashed was carrying Russian singers.

And it was the elite-approved Charlie Hebdo magazine that poked fun at the dead.

So there was no outcry in the West. And no accusations of racism.

Just imagine… if it had been NATO, and not the Warsaw Pact, which had been disbanded at the end of the old Cold War. 

And then Russia, breaking the promises it had made to the US President, had expanded the Warsaw Pact right up to the borders of the USA, deploying thousands of troops and dozens of tanks and other military hardware in Mexico and Canada.  

Would commentators in ‘respectable establishment journals be calling this ‘American aggression? I think not. 

Just imagine... if a senior political officer at the Russian Embassy in London had been caught on film talking about the ‘take down’ of a British Foreign Officer Minister deemed to be too critical of Russia and who was causing the country a lot of problems.

That there was a group called ‘Labour Friends of Russia’ and the political officer said the Embassy had a fund of more than £1m for them? 

We can be sure that the revelations would have led, at the very least, to diplomatic expulsions, the announcement of a full-scale government investigation, as well as a plethora of articles on the ‘outrageous’ interference by Russia in British political affairs. 

But the senior political officer caught on film was working for Israel, so a potential plot about the ’take down’ of a UK minister was deemed to be not a very important news story. 

By more or less the same people who would have been telling us it was a very important news story if it had involved Russia.

Just imagine… if Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump had won the US Presidential election in November and Trump’s supporters had behaved in the way that Clinton’s have. 

That intelligence officials had tried to de-legitimize Clinton’s victory by claiming Saudi interference in the election, and produced as proof of this a document which drew attention to Saudi TVs alleged pro-Clinton stance.

Then, a week before the inauguration of President-elect Clinton was due to take place, the US media publicized a dossier compiled by an ex-intelligence officer from another country claiming Saudi Arabia was blackmailing Clinton, even though the dossier was unverified and contained glaring factual errors. 

The papers would I’m sure be full of commentary from liberal’ pundits raging about a ‘coup’ and anti-democratic attempts to overturn the election result. 

However, Trump won on November 8th, and not Clinton, so he’s fair game for Deep State attacks. 

All in the name of democracy.

Just imagine… if UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had urged MPs to support a socialist Peace Rocket, which would cost the British taxpayer at least £31 billion and possibly as much as £205 billion, over its lifetime. 

That Corbyn had praised the Peace Rocket as being worth every penny’ and absolutely essential for Britain and for the peace of the world. 

Then, after Parliament had voted in favor, it came to light that the Peace Rocket had misfired on a test and that Corbyn had kept schtum about it. 

That four times he had been asked by the BBCs Andrew Marr if he had known about the misfire, and four times he had avoided answering the question. 

We can be sure the calls for Corbyn to resign would have been deafening. 

That there would have been fearsome denunciations of the enormous waste' of taxpayers money on a socialist vanity project. 

And that the vote on the ‘Peace Rocket’ would be held again. 

But it was the elite-approved Trident and not a socialist ‘Peace Rocket that misfired, so the response has been very different.

We’re told the malfunction of Britain’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent,’ and the failure of the government to mention it before Parliament voted on renewal, is no big deal.

That the misfiring Trident is still worth spending billions of pounds of taxpayers money on at a time of austerity.

And of course, there is absolutely no need for Parliament to debate the issue again.

Just imagine... if Russia had spent $5 billion in trying to bring about a regime change in Canada, with neo-Nazis providing the ‘cutting edge’ of anti-government protests. 

That torchlight processions by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists -commemorating wartime SS divisions were held in the new ‘democratic’ Canada.

We could expect widespread condemnations and denunciations of Russia’s ‘links’ to the far right.

But it's happening in Ukraine.

And guess what? The West’s ‘fascism is coming’ brigade are not the slightest bit interested.

Tam Dalyell, 1932-2017

With two hereditary titles, one of them derived from an ancestor who had been among Charles I's Royalist generals, this Old Etonian served for 43 years as the Labour MP for the area that contained his stately home with peacocks on the lawn.

During that time, he made a glorious nuisance of himself, using his utterly uncompromising upper-class accent to scourge Margaret Thatcher over the miners, Tony Blair over Iraq, and numerous lesser figures over everything under the sun.

There'll never be another.

Deal With It

Donald Trump doesn't really do trade deals at all. 

But if he did, then his price, like any other American President's, would be the handing over of our NHS to the American healthcare companies.

We already do quite enough trade with the United States to show that we have no need of any of this.

Who'll Be Left?

The vanquished challengers move further to the left each year, and Jeremy Corbyn's victories over them get bigger. 

In 2015, the most left-wing candidate other than Corbyn was Andy Burnham, and even Liz Kendall was on the ballot. 

Corbyn won big. 

In 2016, Corbyn won even bigger against Owen Smith, who was well to the left of Burnham. 

In 2017, will he win even bigger again against Clive Lewis, who is well to the left of Smith?

Notification of Withdrawal

Maastricht was also a very short Bill.

Labour had far more rebels on that than the Conservatives did.

As it had had on Accession.

Labour's split over the euro went to the very top, in Government, for years.

Only against the Single European Act has Labour ever been united on Europe.

But it has always got by.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, tear each other apart over it.

They are about to do so again.

Grow Wealthy, Stay Healthy

Is there no trade with the United States now? Was there none before 1973?

We have already been through this with TTIP.

We can have a talked through, written down trade deal with the United States.

Or we can have the National Health Service.

We cannot have both.

Fight Fire With Water

Not with waterboarding.

If this Government does indeed have an absolute objection to torture, then it is doing a lot better than the Blair Government ever did.

It ought to be funny, but it is not, to see today's fits of the vapours on the part of people who supported George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who would have supported Hillary Clinton, who did so when she was Secretary of State, and who wanted David Miliband to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Their only objection to torture is to the vague suggestion by Donald Trump that he might use it.

Dance of the Seven Fails?

Are we back in the days of "failed states"?

Of "an Axis of Evil", but now constituted by Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Sudan?

The United States is currently bombing the first five countries on that list.

Thank you, Barack Obama.

It is no wonder that there is a refugee crisis.

Although there is none such from Iran.

Nor has anyone from any of those countries killed an American in America (if, in at least the Iranian case, anywhere) during the present century.

And nor is it possible to tell in any conclusive way, if at all, from people's passports whether or not they belong to a religious minority.

The constitutionality of doing so in the United States would in any case be very highly questionable.

Furthermore, each of those seven countries contains some very colourful religious minorities indeed.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Let The Potter's Wheel Turn Again

Where is the candidate at Stoke Central who is both pro-Brexit and pro-NHS?

Where is the candidate who will vote for Article 50, but only on condition of that extra £350 million per week for the National Health Service, the promise that decided the referendum?

Such a candidate ought easily to be the First Past the Post.

Forces in any sense to the right of the Conservative Establishment have managed to elect anyone to Parliament only three times, re-electing two previously Conservative incumbents on all three occasions, but one of them twice.

The Right could not get a candidate onto the ballot for Leader of the Conservative Party even after the EU referendum.

The Remainers simply installed a Prime Minister of their own devising.

Whereas the Left's record in the present century is really rather impressive.

Mayor of London twice, the first time against Labour, the second after having forced Labour to readmit Ken Livingstone or face a second humiliation at the polls.

The Blaenau Gwent Assembly seat twice, from which its standard-bearer retired undefeated, and the Blaenau Gwent Commons seat twice, too.

Bethnal Green and Bow, and then Bradford West.

The Labour Leadership Elections of 2015 and 2016.

The EU referendum, which was won in the old industrial areas on a promise of additional funds for the NHS.

And now, Stoke Central? Why ever not?

Failing that, though, it is going to have to be a Labour vote.

The debate on the EU, as such, has very largely been and gone. Leave won.

But the debate on the NHS has only just begun.

Fair To Say

Stephen Bush writes:

It’s fair to say that today’s Prime Minister’s Questions won’t be featuring in Jeremy Corbyn’s highlights reel. 

Theresa May agreed to publishing a White Paper on Brexit before he stood up, and he had to improvise the first question, and thereafter never really regained his momentum. 

But he had one question that has the potential to drag May and her government into the mire. 

While she did a good job sidestepping it today, she won’t be able to avoid it forever. 

It was this: can the government commit that a trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom won’t open up the National Health Service to exploitation by American corporations? 

May was able to bat it off by talking about the government’s commitment to funding Britain’s health service and the increase in the minimum wage. 

And as far as the cut-and-thrust of PMQs is concerned, she’ll be able to do that. 

But sooner or later, an actual trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom is going to be on the floor of the House, and rhetorical flourishes about the Conservatives’ record since 2010 won’t do much good. 

The government faces two headaches in particular as far as a trade deal between itself and the United States are concerned. 

The first is the NHS, which has the potential to cause public unease on a par with the row over Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms which, we shouldn’t forget, knackered the government for over a year. 

And don’t forget either that the Coalition had a majority of 77 while the government has one of just 11. 

The second – and potentially the more explosive, despite the emotional hold the Health Service has in British politics – is over agriculture. 

There are two major stumbling blocks: the first is genetically modified food, commonplace in the United States but the subject of a greater level of controversy throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom. 

The second is what is given to livestock – that is, what is fed to our cows, sheep, pigs, as well as the hormones that are pumped into them. 

There are far higher restrictions on what you can do to your livestock in British farms than there are in the United States. 

That risk comes in two shapes for the government. 

The first is a consumer panic about what goes into our food. 

But the more acute as far as the government’s ability to legislate is concerned are the worries of Conservatives in farmland constituencies that were either Liberal-held or had the Liberal Democrats second in 2015. 

A deal with the United States is going to be much more politically fraught than many expect – and not only because of the NHS.

"9/11 Changed Everything"?

On 11th September 2001, no hijacker came from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.

But Donald Trump has business interests both in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia.

He also has them in Turkey and in Indonesia. 

Watch those spaces.

High Value

You can't be pro-life and pro-torture.

Anyone who knows the first thing about pro-life knows that.

And has no hesitation in saying so.

Called Straight

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

As early as AD 36, there were enough Christians at Damascus, and they were sufficiently active, for the High Priest at Jerusalem to have dispatched Saul of Tarsus to stamp them out.

Thus was he on the road to Damascus. It is still there, although you would struggle to make the journey now.

The street called Straight is still there, too, in Damascus itself.

As are the Christians who baptised and ordained the greatest theologian and missionary in Christian history, the author of much of the New Testament.

Already there in Syria in AD 36, they are there in Syria to this day.

They have seen off every High Priest, every Roman Emperor, and every real Caliph.

The current pretended Caliph holds no terrors whatever for them.

Nor does any President of the United States who will not let them into his country without "extreme vetting".

White With Fear

Our 60-year-old Prime Minister is doing that thing of ending every sentence as if it were a question. What have we become?

But a Brexit White Paper it is, then. The huge Remain majority of Conservative MPs put Theresa May in, and she is terrified of it.

Let's Get Stoking

Chris Spence was not even shortlisted by Labour at Stoke Central. No one from the Left was. 

Selection is later today. 

Come the election itself, then there needs to be a candidate who will support Article 50, but only on condition of that extra £350 million per week for the NHS.

The NHS that Paul Nuttall wants to privatise.

Come on, Comrades. We can do this.

The Life and Soul of The Parties

At least three pro-life organisations did originally have partner status with the Women's March, before having it revoked as part of the internal faction-fighting.

The pro-life movement, or at least that side of it, was really quite desperate to be included.

What might be called culturally the more conservative wing of pro-life remains horrified at Donald Trump, and no longer feels the slightest need to support him on the grounds that at least he is not Hillary Clinton.

Trump, after all, has never said anything much on the subject except that women who had had abortions ought to face criminal prosecution, something that no one with a pro-life activist background would ever, ever say.

The Democratic Party as we have known it since 1992 is finished, and it has few mourners.

But the Republican Party as we have known it since 1980 is well on the way down the same road.

Going To Seed

At least once every day, one still sees someone wearing a variation on the poppy.

This is a most unhealthy sign.

Chuck Out

Chuck Schumer's Inauguration speech was his pitch for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

He must be stopped.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Salus Populi Suprema Lex

There cannot be a Supreme Court in a sovereign parliamentary democracy.

How would the Attlee Government have fared against a Supreme Court?

If there must be a body by that name, then all appointments to it, and all rulings of it, must be subject to confirmatory resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament.

Yes, that does necessitate primaries at least for major party candidates.

And yes, it does necessitate an element of Proportional Representation.

But above all, it necessitates far greater economic equality, without which universal suffrage is effectively meaningless, as is equal liberty under the law.

If some people are far richer than others, then their votes and their liberties must inevitably count far more than the votes and liberties of others.

Take Aim

For people who do not think that history began in 1941, British nuclear weapons pointed at the United States are not necessarily such a bad idea.

But unfortunately, if fired, then they would hit Europe or Africa instead.

Right All Along

Twice in as many days, we have had Cabinet Ministers come to a House of Commons to which they ought to have announced their resignations, but outrageously failed to do so. 

At least David Davis did not do the Pompous Tory Voice. 

But Michael Fallon, who has never had a job outside politics, has no idea that anyone speaks in any other way.

While an American official was confirming that a stray Trident missile had almost hit Florida, the buffoon, Fallon, was praising that missile system's accuracy live on television from the floor of the House.

Trident is rather like the European Union, in that the very great divisions over it in the country have not been reflected in Parliament since the defeat of Labour in 1983 licensed the branding as a loony of anyone who dissented from the Establishment view.

That has not changed, on either issue.

There are others like it.

For example, the Queen's immense age, and her clearly fragile health, should be set in the context of the fact that certainly a quarter and probably a third of the population has serious doubts about the monarchy, or positively desires its abolition.

I do not agree with those who take that view. But they deserve better than the automatic classification of anyone who speaks for them as a madman and a traitor.

They may even turn out to have been right all along.

After all, we were, and we remain, right all along about the EU.

And it is now blatantly obvious that we have been right all along about Trident.

The Soundtrack To My Youth

Britpop every night for the rest of this Parliament it is, then.

Maastricht was also a very short Bill.

And this isn't even the repeal of the European Communities Act. Just wait for that. If it ever comes.

I feel like a teenager again.

I draw the line at going back to the cheap booze. But the music was good.

Twice in as many days, we have had Cabinet Ministers come to a House of Commons to which they ought to have announced their resignations, but outrageously failed to do so.

At least David Davis did not do the Pompous Tory Voice.

But Michael Fallon, who has never had a job outside politics, has no idea that anyone speaks in any other way.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Back On Tuesday

Off to my uncle's funeral.

Keeping Us Safe?

In June, as the House of Commons was preparing to vote on the "renewal" of Trident, a test firing of it veered off in the wrong direction and nearly hit Florida.

That was the first test in 16 years.

Read that over again.

The wretched thing had not been tested in 16 years.

But when it finally was, then it went the wrong way and almost hit the American mainland.

The Commons vote ought to be rerun.

And the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, who by the way has never had a job outside politics, ought to resign forthwith.

In Your Orbit

Sputnik is consistently excellent.

Check out this week's, with Richard Burgon and John McTernan, on RT at 7:30 or 11:30.

And make yourself a weekly viewer.

Lives, Matter

Protesters against Donald Trump have taken to attacking Starbucks and Bank of America.

Those were six figure donors to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Where were they when she and Barack Obama were bombing seven countries?

Or when he was deporting more immigrants than any other President, ever?

Or while the mass incarceration and the not uncommon Police killing of black America were continuing unimpeded on his watch?

Clinton's campaign did of course have other sources of funds besides corporate America.

But one assumes that these marches in the world's capitals will have avoided the Embassies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Welcome To The Cheap Seats?

Where has this delusion come from, that Copeland and Stoke Central are safe Labour seats? 

In 2015, the Labour majority over the Conservatives at Copeland was 2,564, while the Labour majority over UKIP at Stoke Central was 5,179. 

The by-election at Copeland was already being fought on the NHS, which is the biggest issue there. Or, indeed, anywhere else at the moment, and possibly always.

UKIP's selection of Paul Nuttall means that the by-election at Stoke Central will now be fought on the NHS, too.

Brexit is just not what parliamentary elections are about, have been about since 1983, or ever will be about. That was why there was a referendum.

Labour and the Conservatives both campaigned for Remain, but they both accept the result, so there is really nothing to discuss there.

At least until such time as the huge Remainer majority of Conservative MPs removes the current Leader, whom they had thought was one of them.

The Remainers on the Labour benches have already staged a Leadership Election in which one of the few policy differences between the candidates was that one of them wanted a second referendum.

The one who had called for Article 50 on the day after the referendum beat him by a mile, and Labour now campaigns on the NHS, as the electorate always wishes.

Of course, inveterate Remainers can vote Lib Dem. And they will. But that is a whole other story.

The Conservatives would of course survive a failure to take Copeland, although Theresa May shouldn't and quite possibly wouldn't. 

But Stoke Central is UKIP's last chance. If it doesn't win there, then it's over.

National polls have nothing to do with anything. 

Britain or even England has nothing resembling a national political culture. 

It never has had, and it is now further away from that than ever.

If the Conservatives do not win Copeland, then they cannot hope to win any seat that they did not win in 2015.

The loss of the tiniest handful of those seats would result in a hung Parliament, but the Conservatives are on course to lose scores of them to the Lib Dems in the Remain heartlands of the South.

And if UKIP does not win Stoke Central, then so much for Paul Nuttall, unable to win a working-class seat that was won twice by Tristram Hunt.

At that point, UKIP, which is already nearly bankrupt, ought to be dissolved, and probably will be.

Meanwhile, since Jeremy Corbyn had become Leader, Labour would have successfully defended seven seats in the House of Commons.


As many as Nigel Farage has sought without success.

Stealing A March

So much for Theresa May's speech, after Donald Trump's to his Inauguration that was attended by hardly anyone.

She has still yet to meet him. Give that a moment to sink in.

I cannot see the point of demonstrations against Trump until he has done anything.

Obamacare never was all that good, and his Executive Order has at least reopened the debate on it.

Trump himself is on record as being in favour of a single payer system. Known to some of us as the National Health Service.

More generally, Trump's most vociferous supporters are in for a series of enormous disappointments.

Either that, or they are in for comically having to pretend that they always did support the economic and foreign policies that they had hitherto derided as Islamo-Marxist or what have you.

As for Women's Marches, they are like all-women shortlists.

Back in the day, we all knew who was a woman and who wasn't.

But these days, the whole thing is supposed to be as fluid as ethnicity, which is a great deal more fluid than class.

Sex, or even "gender", is not really like that, of course. But we all have to pretend that it is.

The one constant seems to be straight men, who, at around 40 per cent of the total, are by far the biggest bloc, by far the most stable as a proportion, and thus able to behave as a majority without in fact being one.

Someone has to, I suppose.

So, back to proper jobs it is, then.

And no more wars over such matters as the female dress code in Afghanistan.

Broken On The Potter's Wheel?

This is it, then.

Either Paul Nuttall will win Stoke Central for UKIP.

Or Paul Nuttall and UKIP will both be finished.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Thani Thieves

Harrods is owned by one of the richest and most influential families on earth, the Royal Family of Qatar, which really does run that cesspit of human rights abuses.

All in all, this victory is truly magnificent.

Rocks In His Head

Are you a shareholder in BlackRock?

Sell! Sell! Sell!

That company is now being advised by George Osborne, the worst Chancellor since Anthony Barber.

Still Feeling The Bern

Bernie is there.

No petulant child, he.

Oh, and he would have won.

Bernie would have won.

Crystallises What Can Happen

"The inauguration of Donald Trump as President crystallises what can happen when centre left / left parties abandon transformation of the economic system and rely on identity politics."

So posts the great man, Richard Burgon, on Facebook.

Of course, he is quite right.

Clinton cultists, this is your Inauguration Day.

This is the Inauguration Day that you made possible, and even inevitable.

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

Coping and Stoking

Gillian Troughton as the Labour candidate at Copeland is all the more reason to have Chris Spence at Stoke Central.

Although the main issue at Copeland is the NHS.

People whose parliamentary vote is determined by being Leave are already UKIP, in the way that people whose parliamentary vote is determined by being Remain are already Lib Dems.

If UKIP did not win Stoke Central, then it would be finished.

If the Conservatives did not win exceedingly marginal Copeland, then Theresa May would finished, and Article 50 this side of the 2020 Election would be finished with her, regardless of what Jeremy Corbyn thought on the matter. 

But if Labour held on, then it would be the Labour Right, at least in anything like its Blairite form, that would be finished. 

With any luck, both of these by-elections will be held soon, and on the same day. 

These results should be very well worth staying up for.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Health of The Nation

Even seriously affluent Surrey cannot make up the shortfall in social care without a huge hike in its Council Tax, if then.

And this extremely mild winter has given the starved English NHS its worst winter crisis ever.

Why are we talking about anything else?

In All The 48

I'll say this for the Lib Dems.

I don't agree with their approach of Remain or Bust, or at the very least of Single Market or Bust.

But there are shedloads of votes in it for them.

Leading to scores of currently Conservative seats across the Remain heartlands of the South.

Enough for a hung Parliament, in fact.

On The Block

RT is blocked from posting or sharing anything new on Facebook until after Donald Trump's inauguration.

That's that, then.

Back to The New York Times we obediently troop.

And to Liar Kuenssberg's BBC.

This Opportunity Should Not Be Wasted

“My politics are simply the Morning Star,” the next Leader of the Labour Party once told me. Therein, Colin Burgon writes: 

Why is free movement of labour such a difficult issue for the Labour Party?

Is it because since the 1980s it has stopped analysing society in economic terms, accepted the neoliberal consensus and concentrated on social issues, thus resulting in the confusion of thinking we are now experiencing?

The “liberal wing” of the party — stretching from Guardianistas to Corbynistas — along with the residual Blairites, view free movement as primarily a social, not an economic issue.

The Blairite Progress pressure group was all about opening our society to the global economy in the belief that everyone would benefit.

For the Blairites, their quasi-religious support of the EU precluded any criticism of free movement, as it was one of the four fundamental pillars of that institution.

I well remember an exchange in Parliament in 2005 with a very prominent architect of Labour’s economic policy in which I raised my fears of the impact of free movement on our supporters.

I expressed the view that it was politically bad news for us and economically bad news for our supporters. 

He replied: “It’s a good thing, as it helps to keep inflation down” and I responded: “In effect you are using free movement as an incomes policy for working-class people.” 

It is fascinating to see that many of these Blairite MPs, representing seats outside of London, are finally realising how out of touch with their constituents they have been. 

They’re now changing their tune on the issue and this switch, characterised by panic and an ultimate desire to save their seats, fills me with no confidence that they grasp the true reality of the issue. 

Their opportunistic move also fortuitously gives them an additional stick with which to beat Corbyn. 

The Brexit vote highlighted the central fact that those earning below £20,000 a year overwhelmingly voted Leave. 

A very big section of these people have historically been Labour voters. 

Our failure to speak for them indicates the disconnect Labour is experiencing in our heartlands. 

I think that we should, and can, do something about it. 

That can best be achieved by Labour developing a class and economic analysis of our society. 

Bernie Sanders showed brilliantly that there is a growing audience for this approach. 

Class does indeed “trump” identity politics. 

When I retired from Parliament in 2010 I did not retire from active politics. 

For the past six years, I have been fortunate enough to do political education for shop stewards in my union. 

Undertaking these regular sessions enables me to share the concerns of key groups of working men and women in the public and private sectors. 

It soon became clear to me that these groups, mainly Labour but with varying degrees of enthusiasm, were going to vote Leave. 

The claims from Remain that their economic future would be undermined didn’t strike a chord with them. 

They were aware that their economic position had been deteriorating for decades even when they were in the EU. 

Since the 1980s and the triumph of neoliberalism, Britain like most other “advanced economies” has become more unequal. 

The share of the wealth taken by the top 1 per cent has steadily increased at the expense of the rest of us. 

How has this been achieved? 

The intellectual victory of neoliberalism and increasing inequality has been brought about by undermining the position of labour. 

The means have included the conscious weakening of unions, privatisation, technological and work pattern changes, financialisation of the economy and the outsourcing and export of jobs to cheap labour countries. 

Many who class themselves on the left would have no problem agreeing with this analysis. 

However, this agreement breaks down on the place of free movement of labour in this process. 

Most of the shop stewards have not read Karl Marx, Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman but they have grasped the simple truth that a surplus of labour drives wages down. 

The capitalist class know this. 

They are not supporters of free movement because they are in favour of people experiencing different cultures. 

They support it because it benefits them economically. 

The failure by many in the Labour Party to grasp the primacy of economics in relation to this issue has resulted in a complete denial of reality and much muddled thinking. 

“Who benefits?” should always be the question we ask in relation to economic matters. 

Many working-class Labour supporters see free movement as helping to create an atmosphere of job insecurity and yet another way of holding down wages, terms and conditions. 

In all the discussions I have had, this is the dominant feeling and not one of personally blaming “eastern Europeans” for the problems encountered. 

Labour must deepen and strengthen the understanding that free movement is fundamentally an economic issue. 

Ukip attempts to simply blame “the foreigners” for the increasing economic insecurity working people are feeling. 

Labour has to argue it is the top 1 per cent, our own rich and powerful class, who are taking advantage of people — both EU migrants and our own workers. 

As a party, we should want to regulate the large financial institutions. 

We should want to regulate in favour of combating climate change and we should want to regulate all aspects of labour conditions. 

And Labour has to finally say that there is nothing socialist or inherently progressive about the free movement of labour in a capitalist society. 

Coming to terms with this truth will help us to move the debate forward and also help us to reconnect with those of our people whose lives are dominated by insecurity and a lack of hope. 

Labour now has an historic opportunity, under a leader unafraid of challenging stale orthodoxies, to demolish a key tenet of free market capitalism. 

This opportunity should not be wasted.