Macron Versus Le Pen? Not A Great Choice

The first round of voting in the French Presidential Elections is now complete, leaving the two final candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. One is a neoliberal populist, the other represents the friendly face of Vichy-style fascism. For le peuple de France, it’s not a great choice.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Macron will continue in the same vein as Hollande.  He’s a former banker that served as Ministère de l’économie et des finances under Hollande and has the support of Manuel Valls, the Blairite former Première Ministre.  It was because the Parti Socialiste government moved so far to the right that the party now faces liquidation.

Les Républicains, formerly the UMP, formerly the RPR, which is the Gaullist continuity party, also faces an uncertain future. Their candidate, François Fillon polled a pathetic 19% and was almost level with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Front de Gauche, who performed well but whose vote was split due to the presence of other Left candidates in the field.

Meanwhile, the British media coos and makes bedroom eyes to Le Pen’s fascists. A Le Pen presidency would drag France back several decades. People of colour, Muslims, Jews and women would find themselves seriously disadvantaged by her party’s policies, which call for restrictions on immigration, withdrawal from the European Union and possesses a narrow-minded view of culture. The Front National’s new look is nothing more than an attractive (for some) shop front. Behind that are shelves stuffed with the old attitudes of disgust for the Other and a deeply reactionary Catholicism.  It’s the same old shit in a slightly altered package.

So there it is: a choice between continuity Hollandisme or fash.  Whichever way French voters decide to cast their ballots, it’s either business as usual or a new era of isolationism that awaits.

 

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Whatever Happened To The Tory Bullying Scandal?

Tomorrow belongs to me? Megalomania, bullying, blackmail and sexual assault.

As the Crown Prosecution Services prepares to announce whether it intends to prosecute over 30 Tory “individuals” (sic) for failing to correctly declare elections expenses during the 2015 General Election, it’s worth remembering the other scandal into which the Tory Election Expenses Scandal is interwoven. That scandal is the Tory Bullying Scandal.

It is worrying that for more than a year the entire story has gone quiet. Indeed, a current government minister, a former minister and the party chairman are entangled in its web.  A party worker actually committed suicide after a campaign of bullying and intimidation, and a sitting MP was blackmailed for having an affair.

Here is what we know about the Tory Bullying Scandal:

  • In 2014, Mark Clarke was appointed director Conservative RoadTrip2015 by Grant Shapps, the then party chairman. This organization,  bussed activists around the country to key marginals. RoadTrip2015 is at the heart of the Tory Election Expenses Scandal.

  • Clarke threatened to blackmail Robert Halfon, MP over an alleged sexual infidelity.
  • A file on the bullying was passed to party chairman, Lord Feldman, who failed to take action.
  • Elliott Johnson, a young party activist committed suicide after being bullied by Clarke and Andre Walker, whom he regards as a friend.  Walker himself was covertly recorded on a train plotting to smear Alison Knight, the deputy leader of Windsor Council with an associate. Walker also claimed to be Johnson’s lover.

  • David Cameron invited Clarke to Chequers to celebrate the activists’ role in the campaign’s success
  • Sayeeda Warsi, a former party chair, wrote to Shapps demanding action be taken against bullying. She claimed that she received “no satisfactory response”.
  • There was considerable overlap between Thatcherite group, Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Conservative Future (youth wing), RoadTrip2015 and Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF).  It was revealed that Clarke had sexually assaulted several female members of YBF. This forced Donal Blaney, the YBF’s leader to cancel their annual conference. Blaney was also forced to resign from CWF.
  • Shapps was forced to resign as International Development Minister.
  • Clarke was suspended and later expelled from the party.
  • The internal Tory Party inquiry found there were 13 alleged victims. The same inquiry, conducted by Clifford Chance, concluded that senior party figures were “unaware” bullying was taking place.  Elliott Johnson’s parents condemned the inquiry as a “whitewash”.

Clarke appeared on The Cat’s radar back in 2012, when he was listed as the YBF’s Outreach Officer. I’d already written a piece on the YBF and its role as the self-styled ‘madrassah’, which trained young Tory trolls activists.  Clarke and the YBF had even plotted to “take over” the City of London Corporation (Council).  Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley, the former MP or Cannock Chase, was a member of the YBF. He was also an associate of Clarke and the pair worked together in the Trade Union Reform Campaign or TURC. Indeed, given the names of those involved in the YBF (Blaney, Burley et al), it is entirely possible that this scandal also involves certain members – past and present – of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Party. Clarke was also stepping out with Justine Greening, the current Education Secretary.

While the Tory Bullying Scandal was bubbling along, in December 2015 it emerged that Lucy Allen, the MP for Telford, had left one of her workers a series of bullying rants on her voicemail.  Not satisfied with what she’d already done, Allan added the words “unless you die” to a message from a constituent that criticized her support for bombing Syria. Allan was neither investigated nor disciplined for her actions.

This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of Downing Street. But why has this story gone so cold? Could it have something to do with the Conservative Party’s internal inquiry, dubbed by some as a “whitewash”? The corporate media dropped the story soon after the inquiry. Yet questions about bullying in the Tory Party and the connection between RoadTrip2015 and the Tory Election Expenses Scandal persist.  Will we ever get to the truth?

UPDATE 25/4/17 @ 1808

The Guardian have taken up the story and added more detail.

The Conservatives have failed to hand over a report on allegations of bullying within the party to police despite repeated requests from detectives, it has emerged.

British Transport police (BTP) have asked the Tory party to disclose the full report on the bullying inquiry, which was launched after allegations were made against the former election aide and failed parliamentary candidate Mark Clarke.

The Conservatives failed to hand over a report? Now where have I heard that before? Ah yes, last year, the Tories were rather sluggish to hand over a file to the Electoral Commission. Remember?

You can read more in The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/25/conservative-party-police-bullying-report-elliott-johnson

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Yvette Cooper Is Shadow Home Secretary? That’s News To Me!

Have a look at this Guardian headline.  Can you see anything wrong with it?

The subtitle says: “Colleagues show support after shadow home secretary criticises Theresa May for breaking snap election promise”. The thing is, Jeremy Corbyn attacked May for the same thing twenty minutes before Cooper rose to her feet. Here, Jessica Elgot,  by not mentioning Corbyn, is claiming that only Cooper “criticised” May (Dennis Skinner also put the boot in). That’s how bias works, folks, and Elgot is nothing if not transparent.

Elgot gushes:

Labour MPs heaped praise on Yvette Cooper’s performance at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, during which the former shadow home secretary attacked Theresa May for breaking her promise not to hold a snap general election.

The whirlwind of supportive comments from Labour colleagues will fuel speculation the MP is already laying the ground for a second leadership bid, given the prevailing feeling in the parliamentary party that Labour should choose a woman as its next leader if Jeremy Corbyn loses on 8 June.

But when was Yvette Cooper appointed Shadow Home Secretary and does Diane Abbott know she’s taken her job?

Given The Guardian’s loathing of Jeremy Corbyn is this a subtle way of telling people who they’d prefer to lead the Labour Party in the event of a defeat?

Remember, in Britain it’s not the voters who decide who leads the Labour Party (or the country). That’s the self-appointed job of the corporate media.

You can read Elgot’s syrupy drivel in full here.

UPDATE 19/4/17 @ 1623

The Guardian have corrected their, erm, error. I have the screengrab and will be keeping an eye on the paper.

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Filed under allegations of bias, Free Press Myth, General Election 2017, Journalism, Media

1974 -“Who Governs Britain”?

Yesterday, when I heard Theresa May was going to announce a General Election, I immediately thought of Ted Heath’s massive gamble in 1974.  Is this her “Who Governs Britain” moment?

In February 1974, a petulant Ted Heath called a general election on the premise that he was the best person to lead the country.  Weeks later, he got his answer in no uncertain terms. “Not you, Ted”.

Here’s the Tory Party Election Broadcast from February, 1974. You’ll notice how little has changed since then.

That General Election resulted in a hung parliament.  Heath tried to convince the Liberal Party, led by Jeremy Thorpe, to support him in coalition. But the Liberals demanded some movement on proportional representation before entering into such an agreement.  Heath refused to budge, so the Queen asked Harold Wilson to form a minority government.

Wilson went to the country in October to consolidate his government’s position and won 18 more seats.  Heath had clearly bitten off more than he could chew.  His outgoing administration left a massive balance of trade deficit, which precipitated the Sterling Crisis of 1976, and led to the Labour government applying for a short-term IMF loan, which was paid off in 1979.

Throughout the 1980s, Thatcher’s Tories used the same language of crisis that May and Cameron have used since 2010.  Namely, that Labour “bankrupted” the country and they were “cleaning up the mess” (sic) left by them. Yet, if they’d been faced with the same decision, the Tories would have also applied for an IMF loan. The same is true of the 2008 sovereign debt crisis. They’d have borrowed money to bail out the banks.  When most of the media is on your side, you can tell as many lies as you like and get away with it.

The myths and lies of the 1970s have been woven into the political fabric of this country by the corporate media, and have been accepted uncritically by Tories, Liberals, voters and right-wing Labour MPs, who are too cowardly to fight back.  It’s time to put an end to this madness. Voting the Tories out on 8 June is the start of that process.

 

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Theresa May, Human Rights And Cats

Theresa May is no fan of human rights. In fact, she’ll say anything to convince people to sign away their rights.

Do you remember this?

I haven’t forgotten it. On 8 June, kick out the Toxic Tories.

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General Elections, The Fixed Term Parliament Act and Tory Election Fraud

Forgive me in advance, but the cynic in me thinks that Theresa May calling for a debate to acquire the two thirds majority needed under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA), which will allow her to call a General Election, is not only cynical but desperate.  This morning, I heard rumours that the Crown Prosecution Service is to make an announcement that 22 Conservative MPs are to face prosecution for failing to correctly declare their election expenses in 2015.  Naturally, the BBC’s political geniuses and self-styled gurus failed to mention this as a possible factor in May’s decision. Indeed, in March, the Prime Minister ruled out calling a snap General Election. Here she is being interviewed by Andrew Neil on The Sunday Politics.  At round 28.00 she appears to quash rumours that she will call a snap election.

When the ‘Downing Street’ announcement was made at a few minutes past eleven this morning, the Blairites, Blue Labourites, assorted anti-Corbynites and their ever-diminishing band of supporters were gleefully claiming that the end is nigh for Jeremy Corbyn’s time as party leader. In what other country would you have people, who are supposedly members of a particular political party, wishing for their own party’s demise? What kind of false consciousness bullshit is that?

If May is successful in securing a two thirds majority to trigger the election, the usual voices will claim that Corbyn should have voted against it. But then, these people are utterly clueless about Parliamentary procedure and party politics generally. Parliament, if anything, is all about procedure, which involves the kind of dull and often repetitive stuff that turns many people off politics.. well, party politics at any rate.  Real politics concerns the decisions and choices you make in your everyday lives. Parliamentary politics, as currently configured, is entertainment, public relations and a lot of bullshit. The FTPA demands that either a vote of no confidence is tabled or the PM seeks the approval of the Commons to call an election.

One last thing: members are important and a party that has hundreds of thousands of members is likely to do better than a party with a fraction of those members.  No political party with a handful of members has ever made an electoral impact, formed a government nor formed the official opposition. I’ll be watching the Blairites to see how they behave.  My instincts tell me that they will actively try to sabotage their party’s chances of winning. Let’s hope my instincts are wrong.

UPDATE 18/4/17 @ 1742

According to Michael Crick, the CPS deadline for the decision on whether to prosecute 22 Tory MPs is late May or early June.

UPDATE 18/4/17 @ 2011

Channel 4 News has reported that there are over 30 Tory MPs and election agents that are facing prosecution.

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The S*n And Labour MPs

 

Wes Streeting: his first allegiance is to himself.

So The S*n has suspended their top hack and former editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, after he wrote an article comparing Everton’s Ross Barkley to a gorilla. But he didn’t stop there: a day before the anniversary of Hillsborough, MacKenzie, a man so full of loathing that he hates his Scottish heritage, rehashed his old anti-Scouse tirades.  A backlash followed. Everton FC followed the earlier example of Liverpool FC and duly banned S*n journalists from the club. The paper is already subject to a mass boycott on Merseyside.

The reason for this blog isn’t to discuss MacKenzie or his disgusting rag but to ask questions of Labour MPs who continue to write for The S*n despite knowing the paper’s history and its attacks on working class and minority groups. One such MP is the nominally Labour MP, Wes Streeting, whose allegiance to his political ambition eclipses allegiance to his party and his constituents.

So why is Streeting so eager to write for The S*n? Is it because he holds a misguided view that the paper itself is working class? No. Is it because the paper offers an excellent platform to address burning social issues? No. Like all those Labour MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, he saw an ally in Murdoch, who himself believes he is some kind of kingmaker.  It’s also likely that he saw the big fat pay cheque on offer and thought “I’ll have some of that”.

I found Streeting’s excuses for writing for The S*n rather peculiar. In this Tweet, he offers weasel words in defence.

Three things emerge from this Tweet. The first is Murdoch’s news empire enjoys huge tax breaks here and in the United States, where he is a citizen.  In this, the Cambridge-educated Streeting comes across as a bit dim. The second is that The S*n came to the tax avoidance story rather late in the day, and the third is the weasel words offered to Scousers. Not once does Streeting make an effort to understand the reason for Merseyside’s mass boycott of The S*n.  It’s simply axiomatic and takes place independently of the Hillsborough Disaster, the subsequent cover-ups and the Murdoch press’s continued attacks on Liverpool and its people.

This Twitter thread is most enlightening. When asked why he accepted Murdoch’s dirty money, Streeting’s reply couldn’t be more evasive.

Streeting doesn’t seem terribly bothered about The S*n’s history of antagonism towards the Labour Party, nor does he consider the negative impact of the paper and its stablemates on British democracy.  Instead, the misguided MP seems to think that the lost legions of Labour voters have taken refuge in The S*n. But where does he get this view from?  Nowhere. It’s false consciousness.

Last May, Streeting spoke to The S*n to complain about his party’s refusal to accept McDonald’s sponsorship money for the party conference. The article painted Corbyn as a “veggie snob”, who was more comfortable at “trendy falafel bars”. What the article and Streeting ignored in order to score cheap political points, is that falafels are quite popular in the Ilford North constituency that he represents. Many of his constituents will also be vegetarian.  It would seem he has a problem representing them too.

Yet, two months before Streeting whined to The S*n about Corbyn’s vegetarianism, he called for a investigation into the papers “Queen backs Brexit article”. Of course, he wasn’t the only MP to do so and Nowhere Towers suspects that his opposition to the article is tokenistic and was intended to divert attention away from his willingness to write for and to to speak to, The S*n.

Fast forward to November 2016 and we see Streeting complaining about the attacks on the judiciary mounted by The S*n and other right-wing newspapers.

But you wrote articles for one of those papers!

The Cat believes Streeting is in politics for one reason and one reason only: he craves the attention. The very idea of public service is that last thought on his mind. When he took his seat in 2010, Streeting was still a councillor for the London Borough of Redbridge.  He’s a careerist and like all careerists, Streeting is shallow, vain and concerned only with furthering his ambitions.

John Mann, the thuggish Labour MP for Bassetlaw has also written articles for The S*n.  In this article, he tells the paper’s idiot readers that “It’s time to break free from the EU and take back control of our lives”.  Unlike Streeting, however, Mann doesn’t bother to offer excuses for why he wrote an article for a paper that so despises his party.  If he thinks he’ll get an easy ride from the paper if things go pear-shaped, then he needs to look at the example of Simon Danczuk, who happily wrote many articles for the paper, which then turned on him once the story of his ‘sexting’ a 15 year old emerged.  The S*n also covered Danczuk’s forthcoming third marriage in the House of Commons Crypt (appropriate). The Cat thinks Danczuk is too thick and too much of a narcissist to understand when he’s being used.

Danczuk has had the whip withdrawn and currently sits as an Independent.

When Michael Dugher resigned from the Labour frontbench, many people asked “who is Michael Dugher?” and rightly so. Dugher has also written for The S*n. This article appeared in January 2016 and dovetails into the now familiar anti-Corbyn narrative propagated by the rest of the right-wing press. Dugher writes:

Most people don’t think it is sensible to give up our nuclear deterrent on our
own, especially when you’ve got places like North Korea menacingly
developing their own nuclear programme.

But there are some who still haven’t learnt the lessons of history.

When Labour last wanted to “ban the bomb”, the public rejected us and the
Tories won landslide election victories.

The other thing we’ve learnt this week is Labour risks becoming more isolated
from traditional working-class supporters.

Labour has seen working-class support decline over the years. Many voters have
switched to Ukip, falsely believing the ex-Tory, ex-stockbroker Farage is
somehow the champion of the workers.

In Scotland, voters went to the SNP in their droves. Many now simply stay at
home and don’t bother voting.

Where to begin? Let’s just say, like many of his fellow anti-Corbyn MPs, Dugher appears ignorant of his party’s history.  Labour lost elections in the 1980s, not because of its opposition to nuclear weapons, but for two simple reasons: the SDP split the vote and Neil Kinnock, as party leader, failed to offer any tangible opposition to Thatcher. As for the disappearance of the working class support and Dugher’s lamentations, Nu Labour, under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, abandoned working class communities to suck up to corporations, bankers and, yes, Rupert Murdoch.  Furthermore, Labour’s vote collapsed in Scotland, not for the reason that Dugher suggests, but because Nu Labour took those voters for granted as it had done in England’s former mining areas. Dugher, ever the slackwitted, pins the blame solely on the SNP instead.  This plays well to the fools who take their news from The S*n, who are as unlikely to ask serious questions about political events as Dugher himself.  Thus Dugher clearly “hasn’t learnt the lessons of history” by writing for a paper that treats history in a selectively cavalier fashion.

Last autumn, Tom Watson appointed Dugher to head an inquiry into ‘fake news’. That’s the same Tom Watson who co-wrote Dial M For Murdoch, a book that was critical of the Murdoch press and the phone-hacking scandal. Confused? So is he.

Labour MPs who write for The S*n do so because they see in Murdoch an ally that is sympathetic to their ambitions. Murdoch, on the other hand, sees them as tools to use in the continuing smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and those who support him. By writing for The S*n, they also spit in the faces of Hillsborough’s victims and their families. Streeting, Mann et al are playing a very dangerous game by writing articles for The S*n, for their actions risk destroying the very party that they tell us they’re keen to defend.

UPDATE 17/4/17 @ 1840

The Cat has learned that Neil Coyle, the nominally Labour member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has been speaking to The S*n about facing disciplinary action for “harassment” (sic). The S*n is quick to give the impression that Jeremy Corbyn himself “ordered” the investigation.  He didn’t; it was a member of his staff who made the complaint to the Whips’ Office.  What about the complaint? Well, apparently Coyle “questioned” (sic) Corbyn’s leadership and the party’s performance. There’s something The S*n and The Daily Mail, which is also carrying the story, aren’t telling us.  Can you see what it is yet?

Coyle is a prominent Progressite and like Streeting, he continues to sit as a local councillor.

 

 

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Filed under Free Press Myth, Ideologies, Labour Party, Media, Murdoch press