Category Archives: Government & politics

For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Bullying And Corruption?

 

The real ‘enemy of the people’ is The Daily Mail

First, a confession, I adapted the title of this blog article from an album by post-punk band, the Pop Group. But it’s a serious question and it’s one that only a few people seem to ask, while even fewer seem to want to do anything about it beyond putting an ‘x’ against a candidate’s name in a distant general election. Yet, the problem that confronts us is one that must be dealt with now before it’s too late. This cruel and corrupt Tory government, which seems to delight in each death caused by homelessness or its callous cuts to benefits, continues in power as if immune from criticism. Worse, perhaps, is the way government ministers like Mark Garnier, who was recently accused of making his assistant buy sex toys for him and whom he also called ‘sugar tits’, are allowed to continue in their posts as if nothing has happened. If this had been a Labour or SNP MP, the media campaign to force him to resign would have been relentless. Instead, there was nary a peep from the Tory press and practically silence from the BBC.

Yesterday, Labour activist and blogger @Rachael_Swindon, was doorstepped by a ‘reporter’ from The Daily Mail, who apparently wanted to confirm her gender. Apparently, the Tories and their media pals couldn’t believe that a woman was capable of blogging and tweeting for herself. But that says more about the Tory mindset than they would care to admit. And there’s something else: it would appear that the Mail’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has moved from print to IRL (in real life) harassment. This is a new and worrying development. In what other country would you find a national newspaper intimidating people on their doorsteps?

The claim that Rachael was a man has been doing the rounds among simple-minded Tory hacks for a couple of months or so. One of leaders in this endeavour is Jane Merrick, a “freelance reporter” for the Telegraph et al. Make sure you look at the thread too.

We are often told by the defenders of Britain’s newspaper industry that there is something called a ‘free press’. But is a free press supposed to act as an auxiliary attack-dog for the government? It does here in Britain.

At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan asked the following question about the rise in homelessness:

In 2009, the Prime Minister said it was

“a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle”was “continuing to rise.” Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table, yet on her watch, in Wandsworth alone, the number of families forced to survive on food banks is continuing to rise, and 2,500 children—yes, children—will wake up homeless on Christmas day. So my question is simple: when will this austerity-driven Government say enough is enough and put an end to this tragedy?

Theresa May offered, the by now, characteristic but ultimately mendacious response:

The hon. Lady should note that, in fact, this Government have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of absolute poverty. But it is important for all those who have heard her question to be aware of this: she talks of 2,500 children in Wandsworth waking up homeless on Christmas day; anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that 2,500 children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not. [Interruption.] It does not mean that. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

 Order. Hon. and right hon. Members are accustomed to these exchanges taking somewhat longer. So be it. The questions will be heard, and the answers from the Prime Minister will be heard. I am in no hurry at all.
 Prime Minister

It is important that we are clear about this for all those who hear these questions because, as we all know, families with children who are accepted as homeless will be provided with accommodation. I would also point out to Opposition Members that statutory homelessness is lower now than it was for most of the period of the last Labour Government

You’ll notice how May resorted to her default line of attacking the last Labour government instead of accepting responsibility. This happens at PMQs week in and week out. We hear claims like “absolute poverty has fallen” as if poverty itself had been eradicated, and yet, this is nothing more than a corrupt method of measuring poverty, which then allows the government off the hook for failing to deal with a growing social problem. In this alone, its tendency to social Darwinism is once again laid bare.

We are being ill-served by a government that puts its own party interests above those of the country. This is a government, so shot through with venality, that will do anything to cling to power and that includes smearing political opponents. This deviousness and bullying are like twin threads that have been running through the Conservative Party since 1924 when it used the forged Zinoviev Letter to bring down Ramsay MacDonald’s weak minority government.

Chris Grayling appeared on Newsnight on Tuesday evening and took the opportunity to gaslight viewers with his warped take on online abuse. Diane Abbott has received 45% of the abuse dished out on social media and yet, here’s Grayling claiming that the abuse is coming from the Left – particularly Momentum.

Bullying is second nature to the Tories and, as we saw in the case of RoadTrip2015, it resulted in the suicide of a young party activist. Others were blackmailed. Some were sexually assaulted. The internal party inquiry was roundly dismissed as a whitewash (as it was in the case of Aidan Burley and the Nazi uniform controversy).

The Conservatives have become so corrupted by their own lust for power that they have ceased to function as a party of government. Its constant refrain is “if you don’t vote for us, you’ll let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”. This is not only a form of blackmail, but it also shows a deeply-rooted disdain for democracy. Tellingly, the media also adopts the same spiel when it engages in character assassinations against Corbyn and left-wing Labour MPs like Laura Pidcock. It has smeared Emma Dent Coad for daring to ask questions about the government’s attitude to social housing tenants – especially the victims of the Grenfell Fire. What kind of people do that? Tories.

But we also have a corrupt national press that feels it has the right to hack a dead girl’s phone, intimidate political activists, smear the government’s opponents and undermine both the democratic process and the judiciary. Tell me, where else does this happen?

So, I ask again: for how much longer do we tolerate bullying and corruption?

Edited  21/12/17@ 1108

To add content from Newsnight

 

 

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Filed under Bullying, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Brexit: A Warning

If you were paying attention to the European Union referendum campaign, you will have noticed that the voices that advocated so-called ‘Lexit’ were drowned out by the sound and fury of right-wing Brexiteers on the one hand, and the Remain camp on the other. If there is a left-wing alternative to the Brexit of Britain’s right-wing fantasists, will they please make themselves heard now?

Somehow I don’t think those voices will ever be heard. There is a reason for this: the official media continues to promote the narrow-minded, bigoted Little Englander discourses of the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg, Michael Gove and Nigel ‘Fag Ash’ Farage as the only legitimate point of view. The same crowd of Empire nostalgics have urged Theresa May to “ditch” the Working Time Directive, which limits the hours people can work. The Tory press has been resolutely opposed to this, because apparently, overwork is ‘good for you’. Meanwhile, according to the Huffington Post, Gove has been accused of wanting to steal “holiday days from workers”. The S*n (I won’t link to it) tells its readers that they’re in line for “an overtime bonanza”. Yes, people, you’ll be able to work until it kills you. No one should have to work overtime to survive.

For what it’s worth, The Cat feels that if Britain leaves the EU with the right in charge of this country, we will find ourselves in a situation in which workers will have no rights, and with the same class of halfwits lording it over us, and getting ever richer on the backs of labour, we will be no better than serfs. If you think the situation is dire now, just wait until we’ve left the EU. You will be required to work until the day you die.

I don’t think the EU is a particularly benevolent institution and it has many flaws. Equally, Britain doesn’t have a proper democracy and the political institutions of this country have been corrupted by the Conservative Party, which believes that it, and it alone, has the right to govern in perpetuity.

If you don’t get off your knees and fight back, you will be forever in chains.

You have been warned.

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Filed under Brexit, Government & politics, Tories, UKIP

Shaun Bailey, Guido Fawkes And Faux Outrage: The Anatomy Of A Smear Story

Shaun Bailey: he isn’t what he seems

You can always tell when a narcissist is guilty of a crime or trying to hide something, because they’ll always resort to smears and character assassination in a desperate attempt to escape scrutiny or justice. And so it is with the Grenfell Tower fire and the Tories’ reaction to Emma Dent Coad’s report into the systematic neglect of council tenants by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. For her trouble, Dent Coad was accused of racism for describing Shaun Bailey, now Conservative AM (list) on the London Assembly, as David Cameron’s ‘token ghetto boy’ in a blog she’d written seven years ago (she’d actually quoted someone else who’d used it).  A non-story, you may think, but not as far as Paul ‘Piss’ Staines and his band of bottom feeders at Guido Fawkes were concerned. This was a ‘scoop’. I’ll return to Bailey later.

The BBC went with the story, which it sourced from the aforementioned scandal site (let’s face it, it isn’t a news site), while the other news outlets refused to touch it. Look, if anyone tells you that the BBC is ‘left-wing’ or ‘impartial’, just laugh at them and walk away. Okay? But sourcing a ‘news’ story from Guido Fawkes is a new low. Broadcasting House has become an embarrassment; it’s become a house of ill-repute.

On the face it, it would seem Guido Fawkes has undergone a Damascene conversion to the cause of anti-racism. Not a bit of it. Because if you trawl through their content, you’ll see very little, if any, desire to attack racism. In fact, it engages in sly racism itself, and if it isn’t doing that, it’s using anti-racism as a Trojan horse to attack the Tory Party’s enemies – like it did last week. The Tories have a lot to hide and they don’t like being exposed to scrutiny. By the way, what happened to the police investigation into Damian Green and Charlie Elphicke? How about Christopher Heaton-Harris? It’s gone a bit quiet.

Tories and their right-wing allies will usually get indignant when you call out their racism. Sometimes, their racism is couched in the language of racial pseudo-science to make it appear as ‘common sense’. Toby Young, for instance, will cite Charles Murray, one of the co-authors of The Bell Curve, which claims, among other things, that black people have lower IQs than either white or Asian people.  And you thought that kind of nonsense had been confined to the dustbin of history along with phrenology? If only. Such ideas are now enjoying an undeserved renaissance among right-wing thinkers (sic), who are desperate for any kind of academically plausible narrative to justify the socially-constructed concept of ‘race’, and to counter accusations of racism within their ranks. By the way, the IQ test is no indicator of intelligence or intellect.

During the London Mayoral election campaign of 2008, Bozza was forced to apologize for condoning an article written by notorious racist, Taki, while he was editor of The Spectator. No racism in the Tory Party? Don’t kid yourself.

Now the Tories may point to their four or five black MPs and tell you that they’re not racist. It’s worth pointing out that none of these MPs have been elevated to cabinet rank, and in The Cat’s view, using these black MPs to rebut criticism of Tory racism is nothing less than tokenism. That’s a cue to return to Shaun Bailey, a man so ambitious, he’ll even claim that the use of the word ‘tokenism’ is racist.

Bailey, who was named ‘Big Society ambassador’ by David Cameron, has featured on this blog twice. Both times in connection with his charity, My Generation, which was wound up in 2012. This occurred after Bailey failed to submit accounts for two years running. However, the reason given for the failure of My Generation was ‘funding‘. The Third Sector website says:

The charity, which was established in May 2006 to support young people in deprived communities and had an income of £292,000 in 2009/10, was removed from the register of charities on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said in a statement: “The charity’s trustees cited funding problems as the reason for the charity’s dissolution”.

My Generation’s operations were then passed to Only Connect and the now defunct Kids Company, which was run by rather fragrant personality of Camila Batmanghelidjh. Third Sector again:

Bailey said a job club run by the charity, which had 420 members,  would close down but all of the charity’s other services would carry on. Some would be run by Only Connect, a charity running crime-prevention programmes, and others would be run by Kids Company, he said.

Kids Company was wound up in 2015 after it failed to secure funding and later became the subject of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police. Child abuse being among the charges.

In 2010, Bailey was chosen to be the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith in the General Election. Some would say that he was parachuted in. The Tories thought that by selecting Bailey, he would appeal to black working class voters.  In this Guardian article, which includes a now removed video, Dave Hill observed Bailey’s use of language:

“Keeping it real,” with “my boys”? Do such demonstrations of street lingo and savvy really help Bailey’s cause? Did that pronouncement about what black people want and the accusation that Labour thinks it “owns” them endear him to black voters who saw it? After all, there might just be a reason why black Londoners (and black Britons generally) have historically tended to vote Labour, such as a judgment that Labour has always shown more concern for them. Is Bailey suggesting that black voters are daft?

Fawkes’ and Bailey’s agitation over being called a “token ghetto boy” is a classic example of the kind of faux outrage that’s typical of a Tory smear. The Guido article bore the sensational headline “Hate-filled and Racist”. Yeah, whatever.

In the same article, Hill discusses the donations that poured in from wealthy Tory backers:

It is, after all, an unusual kind of social underdog who, at pushing 40, enjoys the financial and campaigning support Bailey’s received. I’ve already mentioned the £15,000 given to Hammersmith Conservatives last autumn by Caroline Nash, wife of the venture capitalist John Nash (himself a major contributor to Tory funds). A longer look at the Electoral Commission’s register of donations shows that Nash also provided the party with £10,000 in September 2008.

Other donors include the City headhunter Julian Sainty (£5,000, also in September 2008) and financier Edmund Lazarus, who had previously given £22,500 to Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign and was awarded a seat on the board of the London Development Agency by Johnson soon after his election victory. Another interesting contributor to the Bailey cause is Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Greg Smith, who is also the borough’s cabinet member for Crime and Street Scene.

Bailey’s campaign literature is described at its foot as “promoted” by Smith, who defines himself in his register of interests as a “self employed political and marketing consultant.” In his entry Smith also discloses masonic lodge memberships and that he is Director of Campaigns for the Young Britons Foundation, the radical, “Conservative madrasa” whose training programmes for youthful Tory activists have been the subject of coverage by The Guardianrecently. The YBS lists Smith on its website as also being its co-founder.

That’s the same Greg Smith, who succeeded Stephen Greenhalgh as leader of the Conservative group on Hammersmith and Fulham Council. That’s the same Greg Smith, who was a member of the Young Britons’ Foundation. Smith was replaced by Joe Carlebach in June 2017. It was obvious that the Tories thought by selecting Bailey and pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into his campaign, he could easily win the seat. In the end, he trailed behind Andy Slaughter by a little over 3,000 votes.

Back to Dave Hill’s article. He concludes:

Today’s story in The Times about “a discrepancy in the accounts” of his charity, My Generation, will not be helpful to him in this regard. Slaughter has jibed that Bailey’s cv looks rather thin and journalists have noticed that he’s declined to appear at two hustings that weren’t to his taste (although he’s agreed to attend one on Thursday). There is a perception, fair or otherwise, that he’s being a bit too closely protected. It may be that Bailey will have to tell Hammersmith a little more about himself than he has so far if he’s to do the job his “boy” Dave so urgently requires of him.

Interesting. No?

Here’s a link to a video that was passed to me on Twitter. Note how Bailey claims, in not too many words, that black voters will vote for him because he’s black.

Bailey’s attitude to poor voters was quoted by George Eaton in the New Statesman.

If you have a group of people that think that one government will advocate for them and one won’t, of course they’ll vote that way. And that’s the fight for the Conservatives ‘cos that’s why inner-city seats are so hard to win – because Labour has filled them with poor people.

Yeah, God damn those poor people. They always get in the way.

In this article by Fraser Nelson in The Dictator The Spectator, which cites Sir Norman Bettison, the disgraced former Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, he quotes Bailey at the 2008 Tory Party conference, offering up a common trope about young women getting pregnant to get a council flat:

 “Gals getting knocked up to get housing? It’s a cottage industry where I come from.”

Charming.

Shaun Bailey is little more than a political chancer. He’s taken the well-trodden route from being a charity worker (he claims ‘community activist’) to becoming a (failed) prospective parliamentary candidate to becoming a list Assembly Member for the Greater London Assembly. The latter has been used a stepping stone to the Commons by Tory and Labour politicians alike.

Bailey is more than happy to use his ethnicity for political purposes. Moreover, the Tories were, and still are, quite happy to promote skin (sic) tokens in an effort to deflect criticism of the racists within their party. Indeed, it would be reasonable to argue that the Tory commitment to anti-racism is only skin-deep. In fact, racist Tory politicians are given a quick slap on the wrists and are welcomed back.

When the Tories say they’re tackling racism, don’t believe them. It’s all an illusion.

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Filed under Big Society, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Media, propaganda, smear campaigns

Let’s Talk About: The Free Enterprise Group

When Priti Patel was forced to resign last Thursday for meeting Israeli government officials without prior authorization, you may have noticed the two faces that kept appearing on television to defend her. One was Nadhim Zahawi and the other was Jacob Rees Mogg. What you may not realize is that both belong to the Free Enterprise Group, to which Patel also belongs. Prominent members of this group published a book in 2010 called Britannia Unchained, which claimed that “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world”, and add “We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor.” There is a wealth of evidence to debunk these beliefs, for beliefs are what they are. These views are not supported by evidence or anything like it.

Patel, along with Elizabeth Truss, Chris Skidmore, Kwasi Kwarteng and Dominic Raab were the book’s co-authors, and for them, poor productivity is laid at the door of the workers, not the bosses, directors and shareholders, but the workers. For these hardened free market cultists, British workers are simply too lazy and are rewarded far too readily for their indolence. This is all myth. British workers’ wages have traditionally been lower than those of their continental counterparts. Britons also work longer hours than workers in other European countries.

First, lets’ take a look at their website. You may recognize a few familiar faces.

On their ‘About’ page, we’re told that the FEG was founded in 2010 by Liz Truss, a name more associated with ‘pork markets’ than critical thinking. She’s also one of the least competent ministers in the current cabinet. That’s quite an achievement.

The Free Enterprise Group is a leading association of free-market orientated Conservative Members of Parliament. Convened by James Cleverly MP, FEG seeks to restate the importance of liberal and practical free enterprise values against the backdrop of a significant loss of confidence in free market economics following the banking failures of the late 2000s. Founded by the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, now Secretary of State for Justice, FEG is supported by over 40 MPs who want to put free enterprise at the heart of the Conservative Party.

We can therefore assume that the FEG wants a return to what they see as the ‘golden age’ of capitalism: the 19th century. Nostalgia is clearly in the driving seat.

According to capitalist rag, City AM, The FEG is “highly influential” and was “relaunched” in 2015. It is led by James Cleverly, the MP for Braintree, and has a membership of 40 MPs. Some of these MPs would claim to be successful in business, but these are rentiers, who make nothing and grow wealthy from shares and dividends. Some of them, like Chris Philp, who likes to lecture people on economic matters, is a failed businessman and a tax dodger.

While many people have tipped Rees Mogg to replace Theresa May as party leader, one must not rule out Raab,  a self-confessed Thatcherite, who has positioned himself as a dark horse candidate. I have already written about Raab on this blog. In this Guardian article from 2012, he says “The talented and hard-working have nothing to fear”. These words remind The Cat of the claims made in support of greater surveillance: if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. Raab assumes that those he represents, the rentier capitalists of the Surrey stockbroker belt, have worked hard for their wealth. No capitalist ever worked hard: they acquired their wealth on the back of workers who worked hard for them, or it was handed to them by their rich parents via a trust fund. The same article tips Priti Patel as a future PM. The horror.

Here’s Raab being caught out in a lie about foodbanks on BBC2’s Victoria Live show. Apparently, foodbank users have a “cashflow problem”.

Raab is the MP for Esher and Walton, one of the richest constituencies in the country. He is unlikely to have met any poor people or benefits claimants. Lying is second nature to Raab and if he isn’t lying, then he’s engaging in baseless smears. Politicore spotted a typical Tory smear about Jeremy Corbyn “supporting terrorists” on the same show.

Here’s Raab advocating the privatization of the National Health Service on The Daily Politics. He’s also lying.

Raab was recently included on a list of 40 Tory MPs, who have been involved in the sexual abuse scandal. The Guardian reports:

Raab, a junior justice minister tipped by some as a future Tory leader, revealed he was named on the widely-circulated list as having been subject to an injunction over “inappropriate behaviour with a woman”.

In a statement on his website Raab warned that while it was vital to investigate cases of abuse and harassment, he feared a “media feeding frenzy” from the widely shared list, which names 40 MPs and ministers.

Any claims he had harassed anyone or engaged in sexually abusive or lewd behaviour “is false and malicious”, Raab said, adding that he had taken legal advice.

Readers may have noticed how quiet this scandal has gone since the list was published two weeks ago.

The unstated aim of the FEG is to create a sweatshop economy in which regulations are torn up because they, apparently, impact adversely on profits. One can easily see where this is going: if the FEG ever takes control of the Tory Party and finds itself in government, workers will have no rights or protections guaranteed by statute. Freedom, as articulated by the FEG is freedom for bosses to exploit workers and make themselves ever-richer on the back of labour.

Members of the FEG voted unanimously for Brexit.  According to a report called ‘Reconnecting with the Commonwealth’, co-authored by Cleverly, they want to “reconnect with the Commonwealth”. In other words, they want to relaunch the Empire as a trading bloc. The Financial Times points out this is a flawed idea and I would add that it is steeped in nostalgia. James Blitz writes:

Conservative rightwingers may feel nostalgic about a return to “imperial preference”. But until the UK signs new FTAs with the nations of the Commonwealth, Britain will be in the odd position of having worse trading terms with these countries than Brussels does. And, as Sir Simon Fraser, the former head of the UK foreign office noted recently, the damage goes beyond that. “Those EU trade agreements are vital for [Commonwealth states’] development goals,” he said. “The UK will no longer be able to champion their access to the EU market as we have in the past.

The first two paragraphs of the report’s foreword, written by disgraced former Australian PM, Tony Abbott, is also soaked in nostalgia:

Brexit means that Britain is back. The country that gave the world the
English language, common law and the Mother of Parliaments is once more
to seize its destiny as a global leader. This is an exciting time for Britain
and an exhilarating one for the countless millions elsewhere who appreciate
Britain’s unique contribution to western civilisation.

It’s good that Britain will no longer be constrained by the statism and
bureaucracy of Brussels. It’s also good that the remaining members of the
European Union will now have to rethink how much of their sovereignty they
wish to surrender.

All that’s missing from this romantic paean to free market capitalism is the call to bomb the enemy to dust.

The FEG gets its administrative support from the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA),  a notorious free market think-tank, whose director is Mark Littlewood, a hardline laissez-faire economist who used to work for the Lib Dems. In this Guardian article, he hints at abolishing the minimum wage:

Anything that looks like a return to the Dickensian workhouse raises hackles. But I don’t want people working in sweatshops at 5p an hour. You should sell abolishing the minimum wage in positive terms, as providing young people with a first step on the jobs ladder, as a ‘jobs for all’ scheme.

Littlewood may not want people to work for 5p an hour, but like his friends in the FEG, he’d happily see them working for £2.50 an hour. For free marketeers, cutting wages, while forcing people to work longer hours, is the key to greater productivity. Nowhere in the FEG’s or IEA’s literature is there any mention of bosses and shareholders who pay themselves bigger dividends, while at the same time, refusing to reinvest profits in their businesses. The blame for poor productivity is always laid at the doors of the workers.

The FEG is also closely connected to the tobacco industry and Patel, who once worked for public relations outfit, Weber-Shandwick, lobbied on behalf of British American Tobacco (BAT) before entering the Commons.

BAT, a multi-million dollar business, paid its workers in Myanmar as little as £15 a month.

BAT’s position in Burma at the turn of the millennium was hugely controversial. “BAT’s factory in Burma was jointly owned with the military dictatorship and so helped fund one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world,” said Anna Roberts, executive director at Burma Campaign UK. “BAT refused to admit how much money it gave to the dictatorship, but Burma Campaign UK estimated that BAT paid the generals $16m (£10m) in taxes alone between 1999 and 2002. In contrast, BAT paid its factory workers in Burma just £15 a month. The dictatorship spent 40% of its budget on the military.”

Patel has a history of working closely with dictatorships and other unsavoury regimes. This is part of a familiar pattern with the Tories: while they are happy to denounce Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent admiration for Hugo Chavez, they are themselves rather comfortable with right-wing and military dictatorships, which are given plenty of latitude, if not outright support. Pinochet’s Chile is but one example of the Tories fraternal ties to unspeakably brutal regimes around the world. Indeed, recently, some Tories, like the disgraced former Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, expressed his admiration for President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, whose involvement in the Davao death squads to kill those he sees as ‘drug dealers’ as well as political opponents, has been widely reported.

After this year’s general election saw the government lose its Commons majority, the Tories entered into a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party, which has ties to Loyalist paramilitary death squads. It would appear that, for all their talk of Corbyn’s ‘support for terrorists’, the Tories are monumental hypocrites and appear to have a sneaking admiration for extra-judicial murder. I put this to Cleverly, after he’d launched another smear attack on Corbyn. I have yet to receive a reply.

The Cat suspects the FEG is manoeuvring itself to put forward one of their own as a candidate for the party’s leadership, and to ultimately take control of the Tory Party. Given the weakness of the current government and of Theresa May herself, there is every chance that they may succeed. Their romantic vision of a free market future is linked to imperial ambition and a hatred of ordinary workers, whom they blame for low productivity. We cannot let these people drag us back a century and a half on the basis of an idealized notion of a brighter past.

 

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Filed under Conservative Party, Free Enterprise group, Government & politics, Let's Talk About

Handing Jeremy Corbyn The Keys To Downing Street?

Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, one phrase that had been uttered every now and again, but which now features more frequently in the speech of hyperventilating Tory MPs on their tour of the nation’s TV and radio studios, is “Handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Downing Street”, or variations thereof. But what does that phrase really tell us about the Conservative Party?

First, it shows the Tories are scared of Corbyn’s Labour. This is in marked contrast to the language they first used when he became leader. Then, he was painted as a ‘disaster’, who would make it easy for them to rule with a massive majority for all eternity. How wrong they were, but even when they claimed Corbyn would consign their enemy – his party – to oblivion, they did so knowing that he posed a threat to their control of mainstream political discourse, but they lacked the self-awareness to realize it. Now, they have been rudely exposed as being weak, utterly devoid of ideas and bereft of all meaning. What do the Tories stand for? Smears? Lies? They don’t have any policies to speak of… well, not ones they didn’t steal from Labour first, and then dilute them according to taste.

Second, and more perhaps more importantly, their shrill repetition of the phrase reveals their over-riding sense of entitlement. Remember, the Tories see themselves as the ‘natural party of government’, a claim they wholly crafted from their own self-importance and sense of self-righteousness. The Tories are not and will never be democrats, and for all their talk of wanting a “strong opposition” these last couple of years, it’s actually the last thing they really wanted. In Corbyn they claimed to see weakness. They dismissed the massive influx of members to the Labour Party as unimportant. “After all” they opined, “members aren’t the electorate”. There was an obvious flaw in that line of thinking, but who were they kidding? Themselves. It turns out that members really do matter, because members  are out there in  the pubs, clubs, workplaces and on the street, talking to people and putting forward the party’s case. Tory activists, by contrast, are thin on the ground and efforts to attract younger members have gone from the embarrassing to the downright laughable.

When one looks back at the Tory conference just gone, one couldn’t help but notice that it had the appearance of a mausoleum and the overpowering smell of embalming fluid. What sort of person would be attracted to something like that? A cadaver?

This is a dead party walking.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics, Political parties, Tory Party conference

Young Britons For Liberty?

Whatever happened to the Young Britons Foundation? That’s the question I was hoping to answer when I entered the words into the search engine yesterday. By chance, I discovered a group calling itself ‘Young Britons for Liberty’, but who are now calling themselves the Young Chartists (yeah, I know). Readers will know that any group that either claims to be for ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’ is, more often than not, a group of like-minded right-wingers, who believe they have a natural monopoly on those concepts. Libertarians, as they like to call themselves, tend to fall into two camps: the hardline free-market cultists (anything can be sold) and the libertines (anything can be fucked). Right-wing libertarians will usually fall into the former camp, while the LM Network, which pretends to be Marxist or even left-wing, occupies both.  The Young Chartists, who, while not being a successor organization to the YBF, share the same libertarian ideals and certainly tread the same ground.

Two years ago, I called for a 21st Century People’s Charter, the Young Chartists have done the same thing, but although they have adopted the name, the demands they make aren’t too dissimilar to the usual shopping lists knocked out by the spoilt rich brats of the British bourgeoisie.

In the ‘About’ section on their website, we find this under the heading ‘Our Struggle’ (Unser Kampf?). Forgive me for not linking directly to the site. Here is a broken link, feel free to copy and paste it into your browser’s search field.  http://peoplescharter.org/about/

The People’s Charter Foundation is a non-partisan British identitarian campaign group run by a diverse group of passionate Tory, UKIP, and other patriots. We demand for proper Brexit, and for Britain to ban Sharia law. We work closely with the Bruges Group, Gays Against Sharia, the Campaign for Independent Britain, UK Against Hate, the Bow Group, MBGA News, and Better Off Out.

Any group that goes out of its way to call itself “non-partisan” is usually the opposite. Here, without much pause for thought, the writer of this page then tells us that the Young Chartists are comprised of Tories, Kippers and “patriots”. But the list of groups they work with is informative, for here we find a real ragbag of free speech warriors, whose far-right, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, Little Englander discourses masquerade as ‘common sense’. You’ll also notice that they describe themselves as “British identitarians”. Identity politics on the right? Really? Isn’t that the very thing, along with ‘political correctness’, the far-right most frequently tilts against? What British identitarianism is, in essence, is British nationalism that pretends to be more inclusive than its neo-fascist cousins.

Further down the page, we come to their “People’s Charter”. You will notice there is no mention of electoral reform, voting rights or the structure of Britain’s governance.

  • 1. Leave the globalist EU: a points-based migration policy, and leave the ‘single market’. Merkel’s open border experiment with fake refugees is simply intolerable;

  • 2. Government to interfere in our lives as little as possible, to be downsized: the national budget must be balanced and taxes lower;

  • 3. Stop multiculturalism: To regain our British identity, rather than be ashamed of British national flags. Ban Sharia law;

  • 4. A strong military is essential, including a tough approach on Islamism;

  • 5. Migrants to integrate into British nation-state, i.e. to require English as our core language, ban Sharia law, resist multiculturalism, and oppose political correctness;

  • 6. In the spirit of the 1838 Charter’s sixth point that was never realised, for the right to recall bad MPs;

Only once does this ‘charter’ mention the original People’s charter but only in relation to its demand to” recall bad MPs”. The rest of it is shot through with Islamophobic claptrap, libertarian mumbo-jumbo, militaristic machismo and the kind of paranoia that comes with a deep-seated suspicion of the Other.

On their ‘Beliefs’ page, we find some questions posed by themselves to themselves.

What do you think of Nazism?

We are opposed to Nazism – it is a horrid, racist ideology, which promoted radical socialism. We are capitalists. We respect the right for Israel to exist.

You’ll notice how this paragraph repeats the by now familiar ‘Nazis were really socialists (or vicariously left-wing)” slur.  This passage exists as a form of disclaimer, but it’s the way Israel is tacked onto the end of this that puzzles me. It’s almost as if it was written during a late night coke binge. Like other right-wing libertarians, they rail against figments and phantoms: cultural Marxism©, ‘political correctness’, feminism, they’re all there.

Do you support women’s rights?

We support human rights for all, including women. As an organisation opposed to cultural Marxists, we do not support feminists who push concepts such as “patriarchy theory”, because all they want is destruction of the family unit. We work closely with Liberty Belles to oppose feminism.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a group of right-wing white men, who blame feminazis (sic) for their inability to get laid. I think Wilhelm Reich wrote about this kind of thing. The Liberty Belles are an “anti-feminist” group of women, who organized a campaign, called L4PD, to support Philip Davies, the misogynist filibusterer and MP for Shipley. Hope Not Hate says:

Davies first met with members of ‘The Liberty Belles’, an anti-feminst group consisting of Elizabeth Hobson, Natoya Raymond, Paula Wright, Catherine Kitsis and Belinda Brown, at the International Conference on Men’s Issues in London in July 2016. Davies gave a talk at the event, which was organised the men’s rights activist (MRA) group, Justice for Men and Boys, and promoted by now-disgraced former Breitbart figurehead, Milo Yiannopolous.

In March 2017 the Liberty Belles launched the sub-campaign L4PD, which describes itself as “a group of ladies who support Philip’s campaign to infiltrate the Women and Equalities Committee, change the name and make it truly work for equality for all as well as his championing of men’s issues.”

Human rights? Who needs those? It’s men’s rights we want! Women who hate feminists? What next? Black people who want to be re-enslaved? Libertarians don’t mind slavery. Just ask any ‘scholar’ from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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The director of the Young Chartists is Luke Nash-Jones (pictured), who was recently one of the subjects of this Vice article, which tells us he’s the chair of the Birkbeck Conservative Association. So not at all “non-partisan”, then. Nash-Jones, like the rest of those interviewed, lays the victimhood on with a shovel JCB .  He’s also involved in a group calling itself Make Britain Great Again. Here he repeats the usual canards of the right in relation to a perceived leftist indoctrination in Higher Education.

Research shows that most university professors are left-wing, and their lectures reflect that. Moreover, student unions are basically Marxist madrasas which use Orwellian “no platforming” policies to silence original thought, because their emotion-driven positions cannot stand up to fact-based, logic-driven argument. The manager of our student union is actually on the Labour Party payroll, and non-student trade union staff dominate freshers entrance with stalls.

Remember if you argue for tolerance, in the mind of the libertarian, that’s being “emotional”. This is an idea that has come from the American right, who will dismiss any argument coming from the left (or liberals) as “emotional”. I saw it a lot in 2001 – 3 on Delphi Forums where hard right types would routinely dismiss any argument they couldn’t handle as ’emotional’. But what this specious claim to moral and intellectual superiority demonstrates is the lack of humanity on the libertarian side. Perhaps Nash-Jones is telling us something about his own character? What he seems to be forgetting is that one has a right to their opinions, but not the facts. If his “fact-based logic-driven arguments” are like the quote above, then he needs to construct better arguments (the YBF used to organise workshops in debating skills that would teach trainees how to talk over their interlocutors and use character assassination instead of arguments). Indeed, the “research” he talks about comes from the Adam Smith Institute, which is hardly a source of peer-reviewed evidence. Most of the student unions I’ve been to are full of undergraduates getting tanked up. Madrasas, my arse. But what qualifies as “original thought”? A visceral hatred of the left? Misogyny expressed as an irrational hatred of feminism? Mistrust of foreigners? Hatred of Islam? Those are hardly the products of original thinking.

He adds:

As President of the Conservative Association, after I requested a debate with the Labour Society president, in the style of the mayoral hustings, I received threats of violence from student union officers, including in writing, a threat to “destroy” the office I work at and verbal threats to kill me. The officer who made this threat resigned after I threatened legal action against the student union. I was marched off campus by university staff for “threatening the safe space” after I set up the pre-approved Conservative stand, with a Union Jack backdrop. Labour students, who clearly display no appreciation of free speech promoted by J.S. Mill, tore up posters and burst the Conservative Party branded balloons.

I just wonder what kind of language Nash-Jones used in his request? I get the feeling there’s more to this story than meets the eye.  You will also note how he drags the name of John Stuart Mill into his diatribe. “Free speech? That’s where I say what I want and you shut the fuck up”. I’m sure that isn’t what Mill had in mind.

When you go to Nash-Jones’s Twitter page, you’re greeted with the following message.

This account’s Tweets are protected.

Only confirmed followers have access to @lukenashjones‘s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.

Free speech, eh?

Back to the website and at the bottom of ‘The Team’ page, we find a list of patrons. Do you recognize anyone?

  • Donal Blaney, Chief Executive of Margaret Thatcher Centre

  • Anthony Vander Elst, Founder of the Selsdon Group

  • Vít Jedlička, President of Liberland

  • Ian Geldard, Former Researcher for Institute for the Study of Terrorism

  • Peter Whittle AM, Founder of the New Culture Future, UKIP Deputy Leader

There’s our old friend, Donal Blaney, late of the YBF and now apparently ensconced as Chief Executive of the Margaret Thatcher Centre, even though he isn’t listed on the site. Regular readers will know that the Selsdon Group is a hard right free market cult that was formed in 1973. Their honourable president is John Redwood.  But who is Vít Jedlička and what and where is “Liberland”? The Independent says:

Vit Jedlicka, a member of the Conservative Party of Free Citizens, is the self-appointed president of “Liberland,” a 7sq km “country” (only the Vatican and Monaco are smaller) where taxes are optional and there is no military.

Okay, so where is it?

It is situated on the banks of the Danube between Serbia and Croatia in an unclaimed no-man’s land, or terra nullius territory, meaning that neither country has ever held full sovereignty over the area.

So it’s some kind of libertarian utopia? Attempts at creating libertarian paradises – nightwatchman states or whatever you want to call them – have ended badly- though not for the oligarchs who benefit from the chaos. Honduras anyone? Of course, the libertarians themselves, when presented with the evidence, deny Honduras was run as a nightwatchman state.  A libertarian experiment in Chile ended in acrimonious failure. Indeed, not being the kind of people to accept responsibility, they’re more likely to claim these experiments have failed because of ‘socialism’ or even ‘feminism’.

In fact, things aren’t going too well for Liberland. A year after its founding, it has no citizens.

Thanks to the efforts of the Croatian border police, Liberland has still technically not got a single inhabitant, and its 7 sq km of boggy wetlands boast just one dilapidated building, an abandoned hunting lodge.

GQ magazine gleefully mocked them as “Just a bunch of white guys on a tiny island”.

The Young Chartists, YBFL or whatever they’re calling themselves, has planned a “Last Day of Silence” for 23 September, which will be…

…a silent and powerful march through the London streets by all those who oppose terrorist extremism, the implementation of Sharia (FGM), and Islamist grooming gangs and terrorism. (Genuine racists NOT welcome.)

Their Facebook events page tells us that they want to “stand up to grooming gangs and Islamic terror” (sic).  So far, only 45 are going and 128 are “interested”.  Such is their ignorance and bigotry that Sharia (Law) is deliberately conflated with female genital mutilation (FGM),  despite the fact that the practice crosses religious and ethnic boundaries, and is still practised by white fundamentalist Christians in the United States (yes). In Britain, it was seen as a remedy for female masturbation during the late 19th century and early 20th century. In the United States, the practice is more widespread than first thought with more women coming forward to tell their story. Naturally, the far-right and their libertarian buddies will have their fingers in their ears.

In the below the line comments, there’s a message of support from someone claiming to represent Britain First.

Birds of a feather, so to speak. It should surprise no one that, in spite of their protestations, there has always been a close relationship between right-wing libertarians and fascism/right-wing authoritarianism. For example, Marinetti’s Futurist Party merged with Mussolini’s fascists and, more recently, libertarians have praised Pinochet’s so-called ‘Chilean Miracle’. The weeping Nazi, Christopher Cantwell was a libertarian before he became a neo-Nazi.

I almost forgot: the YBF is no more. The site link is dead. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the YBFL or any of its fellow travellers.

Reference

Reich, W., & Carfagno, V. R. (1970). The mass psychology of fascism (p. 1520). New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Continue reading

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Filed under Ideologies, right-wing libertarians

The Council Tax Liability Order

Is there anything more pointless than the Council Tax Liability Order? If you’ve failed to pay your Council Tax for whatever reason, your local authority will threaten to apply to the court for a Liability Order. The reason, they claim, is to ascertain liability for the tax. Well, duh, so I’m liable to pay Council Tax but liability and the ability to pay are two separate things and, as far as local authorities are concerned, if you can’t pay, that’s just tough. In fact, local authorities don’t care if you starve. They just want their money, so they will either demand payment in full or lock you into an arrangement that you cannot possibly meet.  So that takes you back to square one.

The Liability Order is simply another way to dump more debt onto those people who are least likely to be able to pay full Council Tax in the first place. It’s well past time to abolish Council Tax, but government ministers are simply too lazy to implement a much fairer system of local taxation. We need an Axe the Tax campaign like we had with the Poll Tax. In fact, I would argue that there is very little difference between the Council Tax and the Poll Tax. Both are based on the notion that everyone’s circumstances are the same. Theoretically, if someone on an income of £16, 000 pa is living next door to someone on £60,000 and they are in similar banded properties; they pay the same in Council Tax. Is that fair? No. But then, the Tories’ idea of fairness can be seen everywhere from the homeless that sleep on our streets to the working poor, who have their benefits cut and are forced to go to foodbanks.

Welcome to Cruel Britannia. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

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Filed under Local government