Category Archives: National

Verdict on Cameron’s legacy: “a shitshow”

The comment made by Barack Obama on the Tory intervention in Libya probably characterises Cameron’s legacy as “a shitshow”. Why it takes an official report, at great public expense, to come up with this is another question. I thought it was common knowledge at the time. However the verdict has been delivered rather more quickly than that on Iraq, which again the 1 – 2 million who marched in London and those who demonstrated elsewhere across the globe knew instinctively.

Obama’s description could be applied to Brexit, after the faction winning turned out not to have a clue what to do when the result came out in their favour. The outcome has led to what Jean-Claude Junkers has called an “existential crisis” for the EU. Donald Tusk qualifies the argument by pointing out that the issues identified by Britain are shared by other member states:

In a letter to the 27 governments sent before the meeting, the man organising the summit, European council president, Donald Tusk, said it would be “a fatal error to assume that the negative result in the UK referendum represents a specifically British issue”.

He writes that “it is true that the leave campaign was full of false arguments and unacceptable generalisations”, but the Brexit vote was also “a desperate attempt to answer the questions that millions of Europeans ask themselves daily”, citing border control and the fight against terrorism.

“People in Europe want to know if the political elites are capable of restoring control over events and processes which overwhelm, disorientate, and sometimes terrify them. Today many people, not only in the UK, think that being part of the European Union stands in the way of stability and security.”

Guardian 14/9/2016

What he doesn’t mention is the commonality of substantial opinion from trades unions and working people in France, in Greece, even Germany faced with EU directives towards stepping up privatisation and forbidding state intervention such as the nationalisation of railway systems etc. The German state railway is currently being soften up for private intervention and is itself bidding for railway franchises, including London Midland in the UK. Brexit continues to be characterised as a far right racist, anti-immigration move while ignoring appeals by sections of unions and parties who supported from a left-wing perspective. This aims at bringing working peoples’ common interests together across Europe with their work forces consisting of peoples of all origins open to exploitation. Who is representing their interests? Not UKIP or the Tories under Johnson et al. Sadly not the Labour Party who voted to remain under a regime flagrantly against them.

The Steel Industry Game

In 2007 Tata brought up the British Steel Industry. This I learn now was several times bigger than itself and, with the collusion of banks, pulled off the deal. This is the Steel Industry Game played by corporate interests and governments with peoples’ lives as the pawns. Jobs and community infrastructure are nowhere in the reckoning. In India this could be seen as the tables turning on colonial history.

Games began in earnest in the 1970s as industry after industry was closed, jobs lost and communities shattered. To those in charge of us it didn’t matter that an economy based 80% on heavy industry with just 20% service industry was about to be turned on its head. Manufacturing could be outsourced to far away with people on low or no wages being exploited. Unions had become too strong to handle having won decent wages and working conditions supported by health and safety legislation. The “enemy within” had to be stopped at all costs in the class war that ensued. The power of workers demonstrated at the Battle of Saltley Gate in 1972 should never be repeated as the Battle of Orgreave over a decade later made clear as violently repressive measures were used on unarmed demonstrators.

MPs enjoying their Easter hols were slow to wake up to Tata’s announcement that it was going to decide to off load British Steel by 31st March 2016. Hell, that’s today! The first to come back was Jeremy Corbyn requesting a recall of Parliament and visiting Port Talbot where he alone was able to make calm and considered suggestions on action, including nationalisation of the industry whole or in part. David Cameron appeared rather lame as he dismissed requests for the recall of Parliament and nationalisation but claiming nothing had been ruled out.

Tory Education Policies Unravelling

The infamous budget speech from George Osborne has not left the news headlines since its delivery weeks ago. “Austerity” was a term dreamed up to blind people from the reality of Tory policy which was avowedly to shrink the state. Local accountability has certainly shrunk with nowhere to go to question those now running our precious and hard won services.

Education has been overshadowed by proper concerns over what is going on in health, with threats there of increasing privatisation which, with TTIP proposals, could end up with multinational concerns running NHS services. In Birmingham Perry Beeches School was held up as an example of the brave new world, its head teacher, Liam Nolan, elevated to the position of “super-head”. Perry Beeches attempted to produce clones across Birmingham with “Perry Beeches II, III and now V”. “Super-head” has now become a bit big for his boots. Although he has for now retained his position of Head Teacher, his designation of CEO and Accounting Officer of a Trust set up to run the whole empire has been withdrawn, his second six-figure income having drawn fire. The Trust has been paid well over a million pounds annually, with Mr Nolan protesting that £200,000 was too little to reward his brilliance.

Like health and other public services essential to our well being, education is not served by being forced into a market place which discriminates between the well-off and the majority who live from their labour and ability to get employment. Speeches as the National Union of Teachers and NAS/UWT Conferences this Easter serve to show how Tories are now being challenged with a national protest on 16th April and teachers supporting junior doctors with strike action. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, was well supported at the NUT Conference in Brighton while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had a torrid time in Birmingham speaking to NAS/UWT delegates. Her assertion at the outset that there would be no u-turns in her proposals looks particularly vulnerable in the light of Osborne’s back tracking on benefits following his budget announcement.

Extract from Nicky Morgan’s speech.

What does Nicky Morgan know about Education?

What does Nicky Morgan know about education, or anything else come to that? Her abysmal performance on a recent Any Questions showed her floundering about her own Chancellor’s budget proposals to attack the most vulnerable. Two news stories today ask what qualifies her to foist inappropriate testing on our children and press ahead with her “irreversible” decision to force all schools into becoming Academies.

It has long been blatantly obvious what the Tories were about with education giving all assets away to private ownership, putting it in the hands of many who, like Nicky Morgan, understand little about education or children and how they learn. The 11 plus test used to brand children as failures with living with that idea into adulthood. Now Morgan proposes what teachers are saying is totally inappropriate testing at 7 as well as 11. They believe many adults would have difficulty in understanding the questions children will be expected to answer. In many countries formal education begins at 7 and children have happier experiences of learning through play. In UK private tutors are converting their homes into school rooms to coach the young of pushy parents demanding their children perform to order. How damaging this is to the many is about to be proved once again.

Why it has taken so long to hear the assertion that Tory policy on education is asset stripping is puzzling, except the last Labour Government also promoted Academies. At last Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader, has said it at the NUT Conference. Nicky Morgan is due to speak at the the NAS/UWT Conference. She should meet with an appropriately hostile reception. Hopefully they will have read the DFE’s own figures on the performance of the the academy chains which are very clear that the Government’s assertion that they will improve schools is utter rubbish. It leaves us in no doubt at all that the Tories’ plans for schools, as with other privatisations, is purely ideologically based as more and more tax payers’ finances are handed to organisations with no mandate or accountability. Typically those at the head of the underperforming chains are paying themselves telephone number salaries. Their schools are allowed to employ unqualified staff and worsen the working conditions of teachers. Morgan is dismissing the parent governors, once welcomed unpaid into schools to carry out very difficult tasks. Now rubbished she wants them replaced by the “experts”, presumably those engaged in foisting proposals as stupid and uncomprehending as hers on our invaluable education system. Indeed what does Nicky Morgan, and many other politicians including Labour imitators know about education?

Socialist Labour Party Policies for Education.

Housing and Cameron’s deceit

PMQ’s this week Jeremy Corby questioned the PM on housing. We were treated once more to Cameron’s deceit.

Whoever built council houses the right to buy has meant that very many homes have been passed to private ownership. Among the people who have profited have been the landlords who have bought up multiple homes, charge extortionate rents and frequent allow people to use their properties for all sorts of things that affect the neighbourhood substantially devaluing neighbouring properties. They are out of control.

As the Daily Mirror points out Tory policy is to remove government from housing responsibility. In their eyes a £450,000 home counts as affordable. With homelessness likely to increase exponentially, while local authorities reduce their homeless centre, we have yet another horrific crisis intensifying. Corbin makes an effort to challenge, but his own party’s lack of support for him undermines him at every turn.

I note that in London, a group is producing a bulletin under the title “Socialist Labour”. It should be noted this is not to be confused with the Socialist Labour Party. This Party already has policies which oppose Trident, the bombing of Syria or any other country and the withdrawal from Europe. It is a Socialist Party founded by James Connolly at much the same time as Keir Hardy was regarded as the founder of Labour. They worked together in the Independent Labour Party and Connolly wrote a moving tribute to Hardy. In my view those wanting Socialism should join a party that has Socialist policies. Labour has shown itself to vie with the Tories to show who can be better supporters of Capitalism. Socialists know that’s not going to work. While Corbyn’s efforts have to be recognised already those expecting change are being disappointed. We have seen Hilary Benn support bombing of Libya from the front bench and the tussle on Trident seems insoluble.

Austerity is not a necessity, it is a crime

Austerity is not a necessity. It has been constructed, like the idea of “terrorism”, to coerce people. The 1% have to let be known that the other 99% know their place in the world while they indulge. Not that even they will be any different on the day of reckoning. However while they have the power they are using it to impose austerity on us. It is a crime.

Local authorities are under threat as never before. They were given by central government for providing local services including the vital safety nets needed. These have been hard won over decades, if not centuries. Local councillors being asked what they can do wring their hands and say that nothing can be done. The dictatorship of Government is all powerful and there will be dreadful consequences. Well that’s certainly what they’ve been told. Who is standing up? If they won’t then we’ll have to. The great unwashed, the rabble. Who does this include? Apparently Dave’s Mum! It his reported that she has signed a petition against closure of children’s homes.

Cameron’s Mum isn’t the only one to complain. Tory MPs facing cuts in their locality are moaning and href=”http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/09/cameron-buying-off-tory-mps-theatening-to-rebel-over-council-cuts”>money is being found to ease the pain. According to Labour 83% is in Tory land.

I met an acquaintance in my local Co-op store on Saturday. He stopped to tell me about the proposal to have just one homeless centre in Birmingham placed in Erdington. He told me how he loved
his job over decades of involvement. With the daunting prospect of around 300 people turning up each night he felt it was time to get out.

Austerity is necessary we are told by not only the Tories. Their former pathetic Lib-Dem partners believed the lie, and so did Labour who wanted a watered down version. Far from being a necessity, it is a crime being perpetrated by and elite on the majority with the most vulnerable at particularly high risk. The fair Britain we had battled for is being systematically dismantled. The money that should be used for what we have called “essential services” goes to maximising profit. Not only money but public assets are transferred at low or no cost to companies so that bosses of school chains have six figure salaries. Has education improved. Short of teachers children education is going to suffer. In the health service A & E and services are in decline as private firms cherry pick the services that they can control and profit from. Do MP’s benefit? The revolving door system in place at Westminster makes it inevitable as MPs are offered directorships for themselves and families on the first day through the door. The whole system is corrupt, designed to serve an elite supposedly put into power by us.

Inhumane and deceitful Tory Policies unravel

Article after article in current news articles are showing Tory policies unravelling before our eyes. Cameron and his privileged crew are shown to be conducting war at home and abroad which is basically class war. The truth has been held back but the truth is emerging all at once about the naked Toryism without even the pathetic Lib Dem coalition to hold their policies and acts back.

The list of horrors includes the sell off of assets paid for by public money on the cheap. £26bn short change of the public purse is the figure mentioned. The Royal Mail went making a few rich while others have to go without. Policies on privatisation unravel.

Then Jeremy Corbyn went to Calais to see the shameful migrant camp. Cameron picked this up at Prime Ministers’ Question Time talking dismissively about a “bunch of migrants”. Was this deliberate rather than a slip of the tongue as the Tories move in tune with the evolving far out right. Policies on migrants and migration unravel?

Libya and bombing of was debated but war elsewhere hasn’t been. In Yemen civilians are once again caught up in the mayhem as Saudi Arabia bombs with arms acquired from Britain. Britain is at war with Yemen without anyone knowing? Policies on arms sale and foreign adventures unravel.

A court decision has found that http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35418488 the bedroom tax has been used unlawfully against people with severe disabilities and in need of maintaining their safety. The Government is to appeal. Ian Duncan Smith and his department’s reputation for heartlessness and unfairness go ahead of them. We learn more of the effects of the their policies as that on the bedroom tax unravels.

The alliance of the “unelected” and “unelectable”

David Cameron, Prime Minister, tried to bat away a question asked 6 times by the Leader of the Opposition beginning with reference to an alliance of “unelected” and “unelectable” during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons. It seems that once again the PM is in danger of being a hostage to fortune. His derision combined with his inbred Etonian cockiness have left him off his guard.

The “unelectable” asked his own question today instead of his earlier tactic of using questions from crowd sources, which had been effective in putting Cameron off guard and from comments made by The Independent it appeared his best performance to date in this hot seat.

Earlier this week it was the “unelected” who delivered the coup de grace to PM and Chancellor, who responded by brazening it out, but with a much softer subtext claiming that someone was listening – not the usual modus operandi for the Bullingdon Club chums.

In the last coalition government the Conservatives went out of their way to prevent an advance in reformation of the Lords, against the wishes of their Lib-Dem partners. As the Telegraph noted it was because there are no votes in doing this.

So now hopefully the second chamber will cease to be “unelected” and Jeremy Corbyn will continue to draw in more people who haven’t habitually voted because of their disenchantment with the established elite.

The attributes of a political leader

Nominally the UK is a “Christian” nation, although migration has changed the demography with respect to religion, language and culture. When it comes to declaring the attributes of a political leader there are many contradictions. Clearly things haven’t changed much at the top when it comes to ruling Britain. The monarchy is entrenched and established white upper class if anything but British itself, backed by an established Anglican Church. No one of another faith or even denomination need apply. Any potential political leader is expected to bow the knee before it. (My view is that the state should be, and stay, secular.)

The recent elevation of a questioner to the leadership of the Labour Party has brought out a nervousness, not least among the now old adherents of New Labour. Any potential leader of Britain has to be seen participating in singing the anthem, however meaningless, saluting the flag and kneeling in front of the Royal Highness. That’s not all. There is, it is claimed, awaiting the incumbent of no 10 Downing Street a red button to be pressed at any time of emergency whether that be real or imagined. Nuclear conflagration would ensue potentially wiping out life on the planet. One nation has pressed the nuclear button in war to date, the United States of America, letting loose two nuclear weapons of very small size to that now available, the unbalanced state of Israel being perhaps having a significantly sizable arsenal. Nevertheless it continues to formal denial of their existence with NATO members joining in the charade – again in utmost secrecy – by deploying these weapons in submarines donated to Israel by Germany.

The current Tory leadership avows that sharing such information with a doubter would threaten Britain’s security. In actuality what is being done in secrecy is arguably a tremendous risk to us all. It allows no accountability in a nation that claims democracy as an underpinning essential.

If any of the supposedly desirable attributes of the leader are missing then hysteria ensues as the massed forces of the press whip up patriotic fervour. This will once more be unleashed on on 11th November as those who have sent the young into unnecessary and counterproductive combat cry crocodile tears over those who once more didn’t come back. Red poppies in place anyone who says differently will be mercilessly tried by kangaroo court and sentenced to ridicule and mirth. A white poppy? Try it.

Corbyn’s point is made as trivia takes hold

Many have already voiced their opinion that Prime Minister’s Question Time is dominated by personal abuse which trivialises matters of vital importance, indeed distracts from serious discussion. So Jeremy Corbyn’s point is made as camera lenses point at every move and action and trivia takes hold.

Two captions both fit the image of Mr Corbyn standing quietly. “He was disrespectful to Queen and Country” or alternatively “he stood silently respectfully remembering those who had died in conflict”. There is room for respecting the dead of all nations, and this so often happens. Many artists have made such a point in major works as Benjamin Britten did in his War Requiem, and is there in the poetry of Wilfred Owen whose poetry is so movingly set in it.

So before we can get to the point of transforming politics and entering serious discussion character assassination is taking place. Corbyn is drowned out by the shouting and screaming of members of an establishment who don’t even want to know about the issues that the many who supported him. Instead of speaking out the Labour Party join the chorus and display intense embarrassment. They are entrenched as an integral part of status quo. What do their constituents think? Do they really know?

While stating his own beliefs and convictions Corbyn has repeated that he respects the practice that policy is made collectively. At the TUC Conference in Brighton he said clearly that he didn’t believe in benefits cap. When his cabinet members said that this was not yet discussed within the party media representatives blew a fuse. It is more than apparent that it takes time to discuss the many pressing issues, but that two days in this cannot have been dealt with as necessary.

I for one am anxious to see Parliament change fundamentally in the way it operates, and I want to see an opportunity for that to happen. The problem is that those entrenched in establishment and a world of privilege are clearly not going to allow it. The Punch and Judy show continues.