Monthly Archives: February 2018

Labour leave. At last arguments are on the table, if not answers.

The Labour Leave campaign is ratcheting up and at last the arguments are on the table, if not the answers.
This itself is a critique of a paper from “Open Britain”, part of a “Remain” campaign.. However it is far from final dodging key questions.

As with others who campaigned to leave arguing from a left perspective the media provide little oxygen. The Guardian, which itself has published some damning indictments of the neoliberal agenda, nurtures the Labour MPs who maintain there is no left argument for leaving! Attacks on unions, austerity, privatisation are not issues for them? There appear to be a seizable number of people who remain voiceless who voted for Britain to leave the EU, including the single market, and din’t subscribe to the racism and xenophobia of UKIP and Farage or the Tory right and Boris Johnson. This is no accident as the Euro elite in charge of the democracy free zone they inhabit have made sure that the Brexit argument is from racist and fascists alone.

Those leaders who put the referendum in motion and were instrumental in the campaign championed by the right wing media are either gone or largely discredited. Where is Cameron now? Presumably enjoying the perks that the Westminster corrupt revolving door allows politicians and supporting officers to enjoy. His chancellor chum has a portfolio of lucrative positions bestowed on him. If he was ever “in it together” with the likes of us he certainly ain’t now. Farage made his bed with the increasingly unpopular Trump and UKIP can’t seem to find a replacement. If as claimed the left failed the voiceless before another chance awaits.

The problem for Labour is that it is, and always has been, a social democratic party. That it is it does not break from the Capitalism that has been in crisis time and again recovering only by confiscating the wealth that we as working people create and handing it to fewer and fewer. In both Westminster and Brussels the lobbyists have unfettered access to the political leadership and are able ply them with the largesse which fuels the fabled “American Dream” which we’ve now globalised through neoliberalism. Doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Labour you can end up “Filthy ricH” and. like the noble Lord Mandelson, feel entirely comfortable with your loot.

One thing that the US and UK still have are democratic forms of government, nominally at least, which is more than can be said for the European Union. As Tony Benn pointed out at the time of Maastricht in 1991 the EU alone has constitution which is in favour of big business and large corporations i.e. the agenda of Capitalism, and proscribes Socialism. The Labour leadership is saying it will renationalise rail, water, energy et al, but if, as many of the remaining Blairites want, you remain in the single market and fall under EU law you can’t. Norwegian workers found this out to their cost even though Norway is outside the E.U. Because it is in the single market European law has precedent over those of Norway. 40 years ago Norwegian dock workers won the right to refuse casual labour on the quayside. This has been overturned by the imposition of EU law which gives precedent to corporate interests giving big shipping companies the right to employ whoever they want.

While Capitalism receives criticism the article above is written from a social democratic perspective. In other words any answer to Capitalist excesses from bodies such as the EU has to be capitalism. This is often described as a soft form or “cuddly capitalism.’ Nothing cuddly about it. What other ways are there? Blair proposed a “third way”. Judging by his life style there doesn’t appear to be much difference to capitalism in his thinking an doing!

It’s the “S” word that is missing and no one dare mention it’s name. Supporting neoliberalism – an extremist movement if any are, Globalisation has led to rampant colonialism with resources being stripped from the poorest peoples. the right has had its chance to nail Brexit but the right, at first strongly supported, has been widely disgraced and held back from gaining power as widely expected by some. There is an opportunity for the left to support those who have been placed in penury by EU policies, together with those of the Tories which look remarkably similar notwithstanding it is a Tory Government supposedly leading on Brexit.

There is a Socialist alternative which needs to be be seriously considered widely.

A V2 attack on South London

The following is an article about a V2 attack on South London on 25th November, 1944. V2 launchings are recorded and it is quite a narrow window. I had just turned 3 years old and was visiting an aunt in South London. I have vivid images in my mind of that day. Whether they were first hand or the result of stories told to me later.

The V2 fell from the skies while I was having lunch with my family. It is my Grandfather’s image that stays with me. Plaster from the ceiling fell into our meal. It was recounted that my Grandfather commented “dust or no dust am going to finish my dinner.” I don’t think he did. In my mind there is an image of him scarping his plate onto the garden!

The next images are looking down the road to see a haze as if there was fog. Then I saw the neighbour, a middle age woman with blood on her face.

My cousin Pauline, some 3 years older than me, was also there. My next image is her father with other relations boarding up the shattered windows.

This is an account of a V2 falling in the area about this time. From the records of V2s it most closely fits with my knowledge of the date and place I was.

A scene of devastation following a V2 rocket attack, somewhere in the south of England. In the foreground, a casualty is being carried away on a stretcher, whilst in the background, Civil Defence workers continue to search through debris and rubble, checking for any other survivors. The remains of a building can also be seen. According to the original caption, the rocket fell here “about two hours ago”.
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Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer

168 dead as Woolworths obliterated in V2 attack

A scene of devastation following a V2 rocket attack, somewhere in the south of England. In the foreground, a casualty is being carried away on a stretcher, whilst in the background, Civil Defence workers continue to search through debris and rubble, checking for any other survivors. The remains of a building can also be seen. According to the original caption, the rocket fell here “about two hours ago”.
In Britain the government had taken until November the 10th to admit that the “gas main” explosions, that had mysteriously started in September, were the result of enemy rockets. Secrecy still surrounded the time and place of the explosions themselves. There was no defence against the V2 rockets so the only means of mitigating their impact was to try to feed false information to the Germans about where they were falling.
By using their network of double agents British intelligence was telling the Germans that the rockets were falling north of London. It was hoped that the Germans would adjust the aim of the rockets further south. In due course the rockets’ impact was gradually seen to shift southwards, away from central London, where they had actually been accurately targeted. However the advantage was only marginal, some rockets still fell on London and those that fell short of it were still likely to cause casualties in the suburbs.
The worst V2 attack of the war happened on 25th November when the Woolworths department store in New Cross, south London was suddenly blown apart. It had been crowded with Saturday shoppers, perhaps more people than usual because the store had a supply of saucepans to sell, a rare wartime commodity. In an instant 168 people were dead or dying, with many more injured in the vicinity.
Tony Rollins was 13 at the time:
I used to buy Airfix model aeroplane assembly kits and put them together.Since there were few toys around I was able to sell these to a shop in New Cross Gate. The shop was situated next to the railway bridge, which is part of the main road, at New Cross Gate in a row of shops opposite Woolworths.
It was Saturday and I visited the shop to deliver some models and earn some pocket money. I boarded a tram heading down towards Deptford Broadway. I got off at my stop and started to walk the few hundred yards to my home in Friendly St when there was a huge explosion.
The V2s always exploded with two “crumps” one quickly followed by a second. I knew immediately it was a V2 and as I looked back in the direction of the noise I saw a huge tower of smoke with all sorts of pieces turning and twisting and glinting heading skyward.
I turned and ran back to the scene.It took me about 10 minutes.
I shall never forget what I witnessed.The front of the shop I had sold my aeroplanes to was completely blown in,and on the other side of the road was a huge smouldering crater.
Sheets of corrugated steel had been placed along some of the gutters to cover what was left of people and blood was seeping out from beneath. There was debris everywhere.I saw several people dead beneath telegraph poles and there were bodies and wounded and maimed laying randomly all over the place.
Everybody who could was roped in to help clear debris and I did what I was asked to give a hand.
Read the whole account on BBC Peoples’ War
James Tait was another boy who had a narrow escape, he had recently moved back to London after having been evacuated to Wales for much of the war. In July his family’s hairdressing shop had been badly damaged by a V1 rocket, on that occasion there had been a warning siren and the occupants of the shop had taken shelter in the basement. On this occasion there was no warning:
At the end of November 1944 I went by tram to Lewisham to do some shopping.It was a dry,reasonably bright Saturday for the time of month and I was in quite a happy mood with my new clothes as I returned to New Cross. I alighted at the Marquis Of Granby Inn around midday and watched the tram continue into New Cross Road. I had barely taken a few steps towards my new home fifty yards away when I was picked up by a tremendous blast of hot air and flung backwards.
I did not hear the explosion of the V2 rocket that landed on the Woolworths store that lay on the opposite side of the road just a few hundred yards away close to New Cross Gate railway station. For a few moments I could not comprehend what had happened until debris began to fall all around me. I could still hear nothing having been deafened by the blast.
People were lying around me, some bleeding with cuts to their heads from flying glass. I managed to stand up unsteadily and then I saw the huge pall of black smoke rising from the Woolworth site. There was too much for the mind to take in, but bodies lay everywhere, some stripped of clothing. Cars were mangled wrecks,on their sides or upside down. Telephone poles lay crazily across rooftops.

The tram I had been travelling in had stopped in the middle of the road. I learned later that all the passengers were found dead in their seats. My brain reeled and then I thought of the shop we had just moved into. I ran towards it, fearing the worst, but once again fate had been kind to us.
The shop and others in the parade had been partially sheltered by the facade of the Town Hall which jutted further out toward the road. The shop doors and widows had stove in and external brickwork damaged but nothing beyond repair.
Inside the recently equipped hairdressing salon glass lay everywhere from mirrors and shelves and cabinets. One large sliver had pierced a cubicle curtain a few inches above the head of a woman customer under a hairdryer. Once again everyone was more shaken than hurt.

German photograph of a V2 rocket in the initial stage of its flight
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AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION                                                                         Read the whole of his account on BBC People’s War