Tag Archives: Alex Salmond

Why Do Some People Have A Problem With Protest?

To hear establishment figures talk, you’d think that protests were pointless and those who do it are equally pointless. Furthermore, listening to the same people, you’d also be forgiven for thinking that the only people that protest are students. This, of course, isn’t true but it reveals something about the mental workings of the complainants: they despise learning and erudition and see students, along with the unemployed as feckless and indolent.  Indeed, this is a commonly-held view on the British political right and some in the Labour Party. Protesting is seen as an activity limited to lazy students, who should be in lectures instead of on the streets.

Years of tabloid anti-student ridicule has fixed these tropes firmly in the minds of Britain’s reactionaries, who see universities, not as places in which long-held assumptions are challenged but places of left-wing (sic) indoctrination. Let’s leave aside those views and tropes for now and concentrate instead on protests and those who view them as useless.

One of the complaints made about Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader of the Labour Party was that he would turn the party into a ‘party of protests’. This claim rested on the assumption that because Corbyn frequently appeared at rallies and demonstrations, that the party will spend much of its time waving placards instead of involving itself in the serious business of ‘yah boo sucks’ parliamentary politics of which the Tories have excelled themselves for many years. In this case, the word ‘protest’ is deployed as an insult, because we all know Westminster politics is where the action is. Right?

Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, is a case in point: Theresa May replied to one of Corbyn’s questions with “I lead a party of government, unlike the gentleman opposite, who leads protests” (I’ve paraphrased this). It was meant to be a snappy comeback, but it struck me as petty and ridiculous.  It also revealed the narrow-mindedness of those who see protest a useless.  Governments and certain politicians may frequently trumpet their absurd democratic credentials, but they loathe protests and see them, wrongly, as anti-democratic.

It is likely that those who despise and ridicule protests have never had to protest in their lives. Why? Because not only are they tied to the establishment, they are also comfortable. They have been encouraged to see politics as something reserved only for professionals, who are drawn from the ‘correct’ class. In other words, those people who see themselves as a our ‘betters’.  Tories rarely, if ever, protest and when they do, it usually results in a total washout.

Protests have affected change in Britain and this cannot be denied or elided with glib questions like “since when did protests achieve anything” or the blanket dismissals of professional politicians.  Protests have achieved a great deal throughout history. If it were not for protests, women would not have been given the vote. If not for the Chartists’ many protests, the vote would not have been extended to all men.  The many Poll Tax protests, which culminated in the riot of May 1990, resulted in the end of that hated tax. These are only a few examples of successful protests.

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the first party leader to appear on the platform at protests. The former Liberal Democrat leader, the late Charles Kennedy, was a frequent speaker at anti-war protests as was former SNP leader, Alex Salmond.  So when the likes of Theresa May or the legions of right-wing commenters in the ‘below the line’ threads on newspaper websites ridicule Corbyn for appearing at demonstrations, remember this: these people aren’t democrats and have a limited understanding of politics generally. They have neither the gumption nor the passion to take to the streets themselves and are only capable of carping from the sidelines. Remember also that protesting is a legitimate form of political activity, whatever the Tory tabloids and their representatives in Parliament tell you.

 

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Life on Hannan World (Part 3) or the EU obsession and wilful ignorance

“In Europe but not run by Europe”. Those were the words of William Hague when he was the unsuccessful leader of the Tory Party. But what does it mean? Nothing.  The Europhobes would dearly like it to mean “We are being controlled by an outside force”. What they don’t say is how Eurosceptic (I hate using that word) MEPs try to sabotage the European Parliament while continuing to take a salary (over £86,000 + expenses) from the very institution they are pledged to abolish. The worst of these offenders is Daniel Hannan, whose obsession with all things EU makes him something of a self-parody.

On Tuesday he said,

It’s hard to imagine a larger question in British politics than whether we should be in the EU. Depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 84 per cent of our laws come from Brussels. The curtailment of our democracy was at first seen as the price for being part of a prosperous and growing market; but it now seems clear that the EU is sinking, dragging us with it like so many chained galley-slaves.

Hyperbole and nonsense. The key sentence is ” Depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 84 per cent of our laws come from Brussels”, Naturally, he doesn’t tell us which ones. I guess he must be referring to the one about the shape of bananas or other similar tales spouted by the Tory-controlled press.

He whines,

How will the palaeo-reporters of the MSM cover the story? I have a sinking feeling that it will be framed in the paltriest and most irrelevant way as ‘EU causes headache for Conservatives’.

But it’s true and the Tory Party, who were riven with splits over the EU during John Major’s premiership are likely to be split again. Hannan would like us to believe that his beloved party is united over Europe and that the ‘evil’ BBC is trying to split them up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On Thursday, he was beside himself with joy. The Commons will vote on Monday to offer a referendum to the British electorate as to whether the country stays in the European Union. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’ve already had the referendum. It took place in 1975 and the British people voted in favour. Of course, the Europhobes will tell us that we didn’t vote for a European Parliament but a trade agreement. But this is what the  EEC morphed into and Britain was happy to go along with the project.

He urges people to sign the so-called “People’s Pledge”. I had a look at the link he provided and was led to this site.

Their ‘case’ is as follows:

There are 5 key reasons why we must have a referendum on Britain and the EU:

  • No one under the age of 54 has had the chance to vote on our relationship with Brussels
  • The EU now makes a majority of the laws we must obey
  • The UK has less than 10% of the votes in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament
  • The EU is costing Britain more and more money
  • The EU wants to give itself new powers of ‘economic governance’

With regards to the first point, I’ve never had a say on a variety of things that have been enacted by reactionary Tory governments: the carving up of the NHS; the sale of council homes and the cuts in public spending. Yet, these obsessives think that a referendum on the EU is more important than any of those things.

On the second point, I’d like to know which laws they are referring to. But they seem reluctant to tell us. I can only guess. As for the third point, that’s down to Britain’s constant undermining of the EU by the Tories.  The fourth point, is moot and the last point presumably relates to the Euro. It’s in Britain’s interests to participate fully in the EU and its institutions instead of behaving like a reluctant bridegroom at a shotgun wedding. The EU is only as good as it member states and moaning about this aspect or that aspect of the EU is pointless and unproductive. If you don’t like something, then work to change it.

There is a small Britisher mentality to all of this. Some Europhobes clearly lament the demise of the British Empire and long for its return but there no chance of that happening.  As I’ve indicated elsewhere, many of those Tory Europhobes want to scrap human rights and workplace legislation because they believe that it has a deleterious impact on the economy. What they don’t say is that they want license to exploit others for financial gain.

Looking at the faces of those who support the People’s Pledge I can see that the former Labour shadow cabinet minster, Bryan Gould is a signatory. But what the people behind this ‘pledge’ haven’t told us is that Gould lives in New Zealand and has lived there since 1994. The SNP’s Jim Sillars is also included and is listed as “Deputy Leader of the SNP”, a role that he left in 1992 after he’d fallen out with Alex Salmond. There are other “former” Labour MPs and a former “finance director” of the party, which makes me think there’s something rather suspicious about the People’s Pledge. The choice of name is also rather interesting and suggests that there is a consensus but this a presumed consensus, possibly even a manufactured consensus.

It’s not clear exactly how many people are encamped next to St Paul’s Cathedral. Most estimates put the number at between 200 and 400, depending on precisely what time of day you do the headcount.

He doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about and I doubt that he’s bothered to visit the occupation.  His is a position of wilful ignorance.

Here, he plays fast and loose with the facts,
What is clear is that there are presently many more people in Westminster demanding a referendum on EU membership than in the City complaining about capitalism.
A couple of things: first he says the protesters are “complaining about capitalism”, this is the sort of ignorant statement that got Louise Mensch in hot water on Have I Got New For You.

Second, he claims that “many more people  in Westminster are demanding a referendum” but he doesn’t tell us how many and, at any rate, the point that he tries to make is irrelevant. There are many more people around the country, who are not taking part in the occupations who agree that the system needs to change. Furthermore the protests aren’t confined to Britain; they are taking place all over the world. Yet, Hannan dishonestly claims that there is a greater consensus for a referendum on the EU.

It will be interesting to compare the amount of coverage generated by the two protests. Will the People’s Pledge get ten times as much attention as the anti-capitalist sit-in, on the basis of the number of people at Westminster? Or perhaps 500 times more, on the basis of the number who signed the petition? Or will the MSM continue to cover the referendum wholly as a ‘Tory splits’ story? I think we all know the answer.

This is both a smear on the #Occupy movement and an attack on the BBC. He’s obsessed with the EU (have a look at all his blog posts for the Torygraph and you’ll see that at least 90% of them are about the EU). But there is something else: like his fellow right wingers, he paints the protesters as some kind of ‘enemy within’ and claims that they don’t have an argument.  This is wilful ignorance. He is a committed neoliberal and like his fellow travellers, he wants more of the same. This is why people are occupying public spaces in financial districts around the world. Then he tries to paint the BBC as the villain by suggesting that only the Beeb is responsible for opening up deep rifts in the Tory party. Hannan is suffering from selective memory syndrome and, as anyone will tell you, the splits over the EU have been around for over 20 years and almost brought the Major government to its knees.

I find Europhobes to be small-minded and obsessive. I would even go so far as to suggest that their obsession with the EU is pathological. Whatever happens, the vote in the Commons tomorrow is likely to deepen the splits in the Tory party with some of their MPs threatening to defy a three-line whip on the vote. Cameron’s position looks precarious. However, if Cameron is weakened, will we see a leadership challenge from Hannan? Well, he needs to find a safe seat first before he can do that. He can’t become leader while he’s in Strasbourg and this must piss him off.

Good. Long may he be pissed off.

If there is a referendum, I will vote to stay in the EU but I want to see the EU reformed so that it works for the benefit of all its people not just the few, like the bankers and other parasites.

This country will be a much worse place to live than it is now if we left Europe while the Tories are power. That isn’t hyperbole. It’s the truth.

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The UKIP leadership contest, multi-millionaire donors and the Tory connection

When old duffer and reactionary, Lord Malcolm Pearson of Rannoch was elected leader of UKIP in November of last year, most people thought, “Who”? Pearson, a former Tory peer, courted controversy when he invited the racist Geert Wilders to show his film, Fitna, to the House of Lords.  When pressed on their choice of film-viewing, UKIP explained that this was all about ‘free speech’ and to hell with all this ‘political correctness’. The fact that Wilders film was a blatant piece of xenophobic sensationalism was neither here nor there.

I knew that Pearson wouldn’t last long. He didn’t seem to have a clue about running a party. In his television appearances, he came across as a relic of imperial Britain… unlike the suave and smarmy Nigel Farage who ostensibly quit as leader to concentrate on trying to unseat John Bercow. Farage ended up in hospital after crashing a light aircraft in the environs of Buckingham while trying to make a final plea to voters to abandon the Tories. It was hopeless; the people of Buckingham weren’t impressed with UKIP or Farage’s stunts and returned Bercow to the speaker’s chair.

For all of UKIP’s denials, they are a party of assorted cranks and racists. This article from the Evening Standard tells the story of a UKIP parliamentary candidate who was suspended from the party over racist remarks he made. He was then reinstated weeks later.

The blog UKIPwatch claims that there is a network of multi-millionaire donors who pump money into the party and their associated think-tanks.

It has now been revealed that one of the Eurosceptic’s biggest financial backers is a publicity-shy Swiss-born banker who funds a network of obscure eurosceptic groups, including one run by UKIP leader Lord Pearson. Little known outside the City, Henry Angest has funnelled vast amounts of money to Eurosceptics, according to an Observer investigation.

The Observer has established that he donates to Global Britain, a thinktank run by Pearson, which attacks the “project of European union… as a bad idea, like slavery, communism and high-rise flats”. In 2008, a year after Pearson quit the Tories to join UKIP, Flowidea’s accounts show it donated £10,000 to Global Britain. Filings at the Electoral Commission reveal Global Britain gave £80,000 to UKIP in 2009.

What is interesting is that the same donors also contribute to the Tory party. Henry Angest

has also given almost £7m to the Tories in loans and donations over the past nine years. The fact the Tories are being bankrolled to such an extent by a fiercely eurosceptic UKIP-sympathising City grandee threatens to embarrass David Cameron, who has tried to cast off his party’s image as virulently anti-Brussels.

That’s interesting, so UKIP share donors with the Tory Party? This is revealing given the fact that Cameron has done his utmost to distance the Euroscepticism of the  Conservatives from the wild-eyed Euroscepticism of UKIP.

But Angest’s support for Pearson’s anti-Brussels thinktank suggests one of the Tories’ most powerful backers does not share Cameron’s belief that Ukip members are “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. Pearson yesterday confirmed Angest had donated money to his thinktank. “Henry is a fine egg,” he said. “It’s a shame he’s giving money to the wrong party.”

Curious.

But is there a real quantifiable difference between the more extreme Tory Eurosceptics and UKIP? Quite probably not. Both parties want out of Europe and both parties like to wear their libertarian (sic) credentials on their sleeve.

The day Pearson resigned, Mad Dan offered this hagiography,

In fact, the merest glance at Malcolm’s CV would have revealed a more rounded picture. Malcolm Pearson is a brilliant businessman. His wealth was his own, honestly acquired (though he has given much of it away to various campaigns and charities), and his title was a working peerage, one of Margaret Thatcher’s last appointments.

A “brilliant  businessman” who gave lots of money to charidee…aw, bless his wee  cotton socks!

He is also searingly honest. The BBC seemed taken aback by his admission, in his resignation statement, that “I am not much good at party politics, which I do not enjoy”. It is certainly true that, during the recent election campaign, Malcolm gave one spectacularly bad interview, in which he seemed to be unfamiliar with the contents of the UKIP manifesto (though, to be strictly fair, the passage being quoted at him wasn’t from the manifesto, but from a separate policy document).

So you’re saying that he wasn’t au fait with his own party’s  manifesto or seemed unaware of his own party’s policies? That isn’t much good if you’re supposed to be the leader of a political party.

Anyway, let’s have a look at that interview,

Maybe Farage knew that Pearson was going to make a cock up of things and that his befuddled leadership would pave the way for his return –  in much the same way that John Swinney cocked up his spell as leader of the SNP and opened the door for Alex Salmond’s return in 2004. They were both caretakers.

Today, Hannan’s attention-seeking headline is “The BBC officially regards Eurosceptics as mad”. Hmmm, right, whatever next? He cites a piece of ‘research’ conducted by Pearson’s own think-tank, Global Britain, whose directors consist of 3 former Tories-turned-UKIPers and one former Labour Lord who now sits as an “Independent Labour” peer.  So no ‘bias’ there then? To be honest this doesn’t prove an official BBC policy of bias against Europhobes one way or the other.  But if the video that I have inserted into this blog is anything to go by, is it any wonder that the general public perception of Eurosceptics and, in particular, Pearson and the rest of UKIP, is one of fanaticism?

Farage is likely to become leader of UKIP for the second time. In a party that lacks identifiable characters, his face is the one that is recognized as the face of UKIP. One thing is for certain, fraternal relations between certain sections of the Conservative Party and UKIP will remain forever cordial. After all, they do share the same donors.

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