Tag Archives: political corruption

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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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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Tory Election Fraud: Craig Mackinlay Charged

It has just been announced that the Crown Prosecution Service has charged the Conservative candidate for Thanet South, Craig MacKinlay, with filing incorrect expenses claims. Mackinlay’s agent, Nathan Gray and Tory staffer, Marion Little, have also been charged with the same offences. It would seem the Tories have found their fall guy.

For anyone hoping that Mackinlay would be forced to stand aside, I’m afraid those hopes have been dashed. He will continue to stand as a Conservative candidate. Nowhere Towers thinks that smacks of institutionalized corruption.

Here’s what Peter Oborne said on Twitter.

As Oborne points out, this is a national issue and not, as has been claimed by the likes of Newsnight’s Nick Watt, a “little local difficulty”. One person not named by the CPS in the election expenses fraud is Theresa May’s joint Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, who was deeply involved in the South Thanet campaign. According to The Guardian:

Theresa May’s chief of staff was among the advisers based in the key battleground seat of South Thanet, where the Electoral Commission found the Conservatives appear to have understated spending on their local campaign against the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Nick Timothy was not accused of any wrongdoing and would have played no role in the recording of campaign spending, but Downing Street has been dragged into the controversy because the Electoral Commission found at least some of the expenses of party staff involved in the campaign should have been recorded as local spending rather than national spending.

Well, that’s all right then… or is it?

Democracy is for sale.

We’ll have more when we get it.

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Corruption Rules UK

Yesterday, Radio 4’s Today programme told its listeners that David Cameron was going to urge the leaders at the G7 beano summit that they must do more to stamp out corruption. The FIFA corruption scandal seems to have acted as a spur for him to cast himself as the world’s anti-corruption champion. As we all know, this is all an act with Dave, the flim-flam man. Look, the guy wants to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a cheap imitation. Doesn’t that seem like an excuse to further legitimize other forms of corruption?

It’s tempting to think that corruption is the sort of thing that only happens in other countries like Egypt, Zimbabwe and Guatemala, where human rights abuses are an everyday occurrence. Corruption goes against the British ‘sense of fair play’. It simply isn’t cricket.  After all, we’re told by mainstream politicians and our [less than] free press that Britain, unlike some other countries, has something called ‘the rule of law’. And that makes everything just peachy and kopesetic. I mean, so what if free speech isn’t enshrined in statute or The Daily Mail traduces your name on its pages? You can always sue them for libel. Can’t you? Well, the best you can hope for is some mealy-mouthed apology buried on page 45. That’s it. Only those with substantial sums of money can sue someone for defamation in this country. That’s how satirists in this country are silenced. Not through violence and intimidation but through the courts. It’s the rule of law. It’s so terribly English. No one cracked George Cruikshank’s skull for painting immoral caricatures of the George VI, he was given a hundred nicker and told never to do it again. So civilized.

People will often say that politicians are corrupt. I wouldn’t go that far. However I would say that some politicians are certainly corrupt and that Tory governments, in particular, tend to abuse their power. Remember, this is the party that abolished the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London Council because the people didn’t vote the way they wanted them to. Now apparently unrestrained by the Liberal Democrats, the Toerags want to impose a 50% turnout threshold on strike ballots with 40% of eligible members supporting strike action. This is from a party, when it was in coalition, that allowed many Police and Crime Commissioners to be elected to office on an overall national turnout of 15.1%. Dude, where’s your mandate?

The present Tory regime intends to redraw the electoral boundaries because it claims that it’s fair (sic). Their chief complaint is that the electoral boundaries “work against” them. Yet, they managed to win in the 1980s with more or less the same electoral boundaries, albeit with some modifications. There were no complaints back then. So what’s changed? Nothing. They want all the power. They will not stop until they have created a one-party state modelled along the lines of Pinochet-era Chile. Any change in the electoral boundaries will be categorically unfair, since such changes will effectively ensure the Tories hold power indefinitely. Redrawing electoral boundaries without including the necessary reform to the antiquated voting system amounts to little more than gerrymandering. But the Tóraís also want to reduce the number of Commons seats from 650 to 600. Guess which constituencies won’t disappear? Uh huh. Not many Tory seats. Remember this is the party that benefited from the Rotten Boroughs. Therefore the very idea of playing fairly and according the rules (as opposed to the rules they’ve rigged or reinterpreted) is alien to them. It’s like a foreign lingo.

Consider also the change in the voting rules the took place under the Coalition regime: around one million voters (many of them students) were simply erased from the electoral registers, ostensibly in a move to prevent voting fraud. This had the intended or unintended effect (depending upon your perspective) of helping to provide the Tories with an admittedly slender majority. It was a victory that apparently had surprised them as much as those of us hoping for something better than five more years of cuts and wanton cruelty. Would you like another shit sandwich, sir/madam?

Corruption in Britain isn’t confined to governments and political parties. Consider the close relationship between the state and private capital. Britain’s privatized railways are an instructive example of a form of licensed corporate corruption, and the government will bend over backwards to keep them sweet. According to Channel 4’s Dispatches, the train operating companies are legally permitted to bend the rules of time (and possibly physics) to avoid claims for compensation. There are apparently two different timetables: one is called the public timetable to which the public has access, and there’s the working timetables that the train companies use. If this sounds confusing, then you should have look at the fares: it is often more expensive to buy a ticket from a machine than a ticket office and even if you purchase a ticket from a ticket office, you may not get the cheapest deal. Split-ticketing in another peculiarity of the privatized system. Buying singles in stages to your destination is sometimes cheaper than buying a single or a return, but booking offices often keep this secret. The Dispatches documentary is worth watching. Just click on this link. Sadly, you may have to register to watch it (available for 26 days).

Corruption, far from being something that happens in other countries, is alive and well in the United Kingdom. Sustained and protected by the law and the institutions of the state, corruption perverts democracy and impedes justice. Corruption is what allowed Jimmy Savile and his gang groom and rape children with impunity. Corruption is what allows privatized companies to slip out of their obligations to provide a service. Corruption is the glue that holds the union together and keeps the people subjugated.

So Dave, before you lecture others on the subject of corruption, how about you deal with it closer to home?

You can visit Transparency International UK’s website for more information.

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Dirty Tricks, Corruption and Burglaries: What Really Happened at Ed Miliband’s Office?

Last March, the news media carried a story about a burglary at  Ed Miliband’s office. When I heard about this, my immediate thought was “is this a possible British Watergate“? But entertaining such thoughts and then expressing them leaves one open to the charge that one is a conspiracy theorist. But such questions refuse to go away so easily.

Here’s what The Guardian said at the time.

Scotland Yard received reports shortly before 7pm on Friday of a forced entry to the premises in the Norman Shaw buildings, which were the force’s own headquarters until 1967.

It is understood that a member of Miliband’s staff found that a door had been forced but it is unclear whether anything was missing from the room.

A Labour spokesman said: “There is an ongoing police investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment.”

And it adds:

News reports speculated the burglary may have been the work of pranksters or political opponents.

The Sun tried to make cheap political capital out of the break-in by telling its readers:

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband’s Westminster office has been burgled — but there were no policies there to pinch.

The really odd thing about this burglary story is how quickly it went cold. No one appears to have been arrested and curiously, none of the papers tell us if anything was stolen from Miliband’s office.

Since Ramsay MacDonald’s  first Labour government in 1924, the party has been the focus of a right-wing dirty tricks campaign beginning with the notorious Zinoviev Letter. The really low point came when the Conservative Dr Julian Lewis posed as moderate Labour party member in the Reg Prentice deselection case of 1976 in an effort to undermine the party and steer it in a rightwards direction.

This speech by Alun Gwynne Jones (Lord Chalfont) in 1975 to the House of Lords is rather interesting because it foregrounds the later right-wing attacks on the Labour Party of which Jones was purportedly a member. Here’s an extract:

Mr. Bert Ramelson, who is the national industrial organiser for the Communist Party, said last year: The Communist Party can float an idea early in the year and it can become official Labour Party policy by the autumn. … We have more influence now on the Labour movement than at any time in the life of our Party.

Mr. Idris Cox, another leading member of the Communist Party, has said: Notably more Communists are being elected to key positions in the trade unions. Through the unions they can influence Labour Party Conference decisions.

Interestingly, Jones wrote an article titled The Strategic Defence Initiative for the Conservative Monday Club, which appeared in the 1985 Tory Conference edition of Right Ahead. 1985 was the year the miners strike ended and the Battle of the Beanfield took place. It was also the same year that Neil Kinnock delivered that speech.

You can read an interesting article on Pink Industry about Jones/Chalfont here.

Jones/Chalfont was later appointed  Chairman of the Radio Authority by the Major government.

These kinds of incidents prompt the inevitable question: do we really live in a democracy? How is it that one political party can undermine another through a campaign of dirty tricks and outright subversion? We expect this sort of thing to happen under authoritarian regimes but in Britain?

I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 about the Watergate scandal a few months ago, when a journalist (not sure of the name) claimed that a Watergate “couldn’t happen here”. When asked why, he pointed to the architecture of state secrecy and hinted at the role of the security services in preserving the status quo. Even the Leveson Inquiry has been subjected to attacks from the right-wing press, who have so much to lose. In effect, Britain doesn’t have a free press and its political system is fatally corrupted.

As for the burglary at Miliband’s office and given the role of the secret state in party politics, I doubt we will ever know what really happened.

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Messrs Cowen and Lenihan. Dead men walking

The Celtic Tiger?

The Celtic Tiger is no more. To tell the truth it was all an illusion anyway.  A paper tiger. Thin. Flimsy. All appearance and no substance. Ireland’s Fianna Fàil-led government has gone cap-in-hand to the unelected bankers of the European Central Bank and the loan sharks of the International Monetary Fund. The free-market dream is over. Now the nightmare begins.

It was pretty much a given that should the government accept financial assistance from the EU and IMF, then the game would be up for them. Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan are dead men walking. Their coalition partners, The Greens have plunged the knife between FF’s shoulder blades. It’s only a matter of time before they collapse and die from their wounds. The BBC reports that,

The Greens, the junior partner in the Irish Republic’s governing coalition, have called for a general election in January, following an EU-led economic bailout.

This article from the online version of The Sunday Business Post asks,

Does it begin with those suburban warriors, the former Progressive Democrats, the folk who told us that ‘you can’t buck the market’ and ‘we should leave things to the market’? (We did, and look what happened.) It was the Progressive Democrats who introduced us to a form of Darwinian capitalism, as though it were an immutable force of nature.

The Progressive Democrats were an avowedly neoliberal party that was formed from a split in FF ranks in 1985.  In the 2007 General Election, the party lost 6 of its 8 seats in the Dáil. The party was in coalition with  FF from 1997 to 2007. During that time it appears to have been largely responsible for the Celtic Tiger phenomenon. Tom McGurk explains,

They were our first capitalist hunter-gathers tempting our most primeval instincts and reassuring us that undisguised self-interest was perfectly natural.

Fianna Fáil didn’t take a lot of convincing, since economic policy was not something in which they had ever majored.

Nope, Fianna Fàil aren’t much bothered in such trivial matters as economics. They’re more concerned with how much money they can get for local vanity projects…as well as lining their own pockets. It’s all good political business don’t you know.

As I write this,  3 FF TD’s have called on Cowen to resign as leader.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central  Noel O’Flynn also called on Brian Cowen to resign both as Taoiseach and as party leader.

Mr Flynn, who recently threatened to resign the party whip if the budget contains proposals to reduce the old-age pension, said party members and supporters had been misled by the Government over the last week.

He also claimed Mr Cowen has “lost credibility” with people.

Somehow, I don’t think that is going to do anyone much good. An election in the New Year could result in a Fine Gael-led coalition but FG are almost as corrupt as FF. But not quite. FG have a petty dodgy past too. Ask a FG supporter about the Blueshirts and the chances are they’ll quickly change the subject.

Here’s a question. Could Labour become a senior partner in a future coalition government? There was an interesting discussion on Politics.ie. I’ll see if I can dig it out. By the way, has anyone spotted the irony of the sight of the heir to an Irish baronetcy tell us how Ireland “needs Britain’s help”?  I wonder where that help was between the years 1845 and 1852 when the country was under British control?  But Hon Gid is okay, he gets to inherit a wallpaper fortune.

UPDATE 23/11/10 @1602 hrs

Brian Cowen faces a no confidence motion. Sinn Féin has tabled the motion. But will the rest of the opposition vote in favour of a SF tabled motion?

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