A growing number are urging Government to move support from the Trident project and arms export industry to other sectors that meet real needs and use highly skilled workers for constructive purposes, designing emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles, advancing renewable energy, particularly wave and tidal energy, engineering low emission new-build housing and retrofitting much of the housing stock.
- On the Lucas Plan website, following its 40th anniversary, we read that one of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s excellent reports, released during his 2015 election campaign, has put arms conversion firmly back on the political agenda.
- Following this, Steve Schofield, who is arguably the country’s leading authority on arms conversion, wrote “Defence Diversification or Arms Conversion? Why Labour needs a programme for nuclear and conventional disarmament“.
- The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s 2015 case study “Arms industry in the Clyde and renewable energy options” examined an arms dependent area in depth.
- The Unite trade union, withits dual commitment to world peace and disarmament and to the protection of its members’ jobs published “Defence Diversification Revisited” in March 2016. This looks at the history of “defence diversification” in the UK and elsewhere. At its July policy conference Unite committed itself to campaigning for a serious government approach to “defence diversification”, condemning the failure of successive governments to grapple with the issue after the Cold War.
- In 2016, MEP Molly Scott Cato commissioned a report “Devonport: Trident alternatives”, an overview of green employment potential.
In October this year, Andrew Smith cited a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which put the cost to tax payers of government support for the arms trade at more than £100m a year, adding, “This is to say nothing of the huge levels of political and logistical support that the arms companies are offered”.
Widely accepted figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) are that arms exports only count for 0.2% of UK jobs and around 1% of exports. According to the MoD, 65,000 British jobs depend on arms exports and as the total number of jobs in the UK is just over 30 million the arms trade accounts for a tiny fraction of total employment.
And this manufacturing sector is not flourishing – the ‘defence’ industry now represents only 10% of all manufacturing.
A range of housing has been built on the Royal Ordnance site in Euxton, where the land is so contaminated that vegetable growing is forbidden. Last month, BAE, major employers in the area, announced that it will be cutting up to 750 jobs Warton and Samlesbury plants in Lancashire and up to 400 people will be made redundant in Brough, East Yorkshire.
The Trades Union Congress, passed a motion in October calling for the Labour Party to set up a shadow defence diversification agency to engage with plant representatives, trades unions representing arms industry workers, and local authorities. The agency would listen to their ideas, so that practical plans can be drawn up for arms conversion while protecting skilled employment and pay levels.
GND: “At the high skilled end (engineering and electronic) design; though to medium and unskilled work making every building energy tight, and fitting more efficient energy systems in homes, offices and factories . . . putting in place a new regional grid system, ranging from large-scale wind, wave and tidal electricity to decentralised energy systems that increase domestic and local energy production”.
We add to their recommendations the designing of emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles and of advances in tidal and wave power, which have enormous potential but are currently lagging far behind solar, wind and hydropower technologies.
As Matthew Lynn wrote in The Spectator: “There might be a case for maintaining a modest, specialised arms industry to support our own army. But anyone who thinks an export-driven defence industry is important to the economy should stop kidding themselves”.
October: in a major speech on public ownership and the economy – which may be read in full here – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn singled out Preston Council.
Relevant extracts from the speech:
The Tories have devolved austerity to local councils and, perversely, areas with higher levels of poverty have been hit hardest. Councils have on average faced 40 per cent cuts in their budgets. But in the face of this adversity councils such as Preston have responded with inspiring innovation.
They brought together major local employers in their community, what academics call the anchor institutions, and Preston Council worked with them to drive through a local programme of economic transformation.
By changing their procurement policies, these anchor institutions were able to drive up spending locally protecting businesses and jobs.
And they’re looking at the council’s own pension fund to see where investment can support local businesses keeping the money circulating in their town.
Alice Thomson of the Times writes, “Jeremy Corbyn in a recent speech hailed Preston for showing the way to a new post-Brexit Jerusalem” but ends “A move by Preston council to employ more of the talent in its area deserves to be copied, but not by Jeremy Corbyn . . . “
More from her article will be quoted next week on the LWM blog.
Brits are close to having a leader who will improve the lives of all and make the world a better place
An ‘Israeli American’ Miko Peled, born in Jerusalem (1961), joined the Israel’s Special Defence Force but resigned after the invasion of Lebanon and trained as a medical doctor. More on his life – well worth reading – here.
He spoke at a fringe gathering at the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton in September and is said to have disturbed Tom Watson who is to query Peled’s presence as a speaker . . . .
Extracts from the article in the American Herald Tribune:
Jeremy Corbyn is arguably not only one of the most popular leaders in the West today, he is also the most promising to those who care for progressive causes. This presents a problem for Israel who fears a strong leader who does not shy away from expressing support for the Palestinian people. One can safely argue that Israel and its multiple tentacles around the world will stop at nothing to prevent Corbyn from entering Downing Street 10.
What makes it even more problematic for Israel is that Brits clearly want Jeremy Corbyn to be their next prime minister. He has managed to increase Labor Party membership to unprecedented numbers and polls show that his clear vision, honesty, and casual charisma made him the favorite among many Brits. In a poll taken in September 2017, a mere 19% of people aged 18 to 34 think the Tories are on their side compared with 53% who say Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor party are. According to the Mail Online, Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has soared since the elections of June 2017.
It is no secret that Israel invests heavily to make sure that monarchs and presidents, prime ministers and emirs around the world stand with Israel and dare not support the Palestinian cause. Furthermore, Israel’s agents and lobbies make sure that those who do express support for Palestinians end up departing from political life. Politicians around the world fear the long arm of the Zionists who, not unlike a mafia, use all means at their disposal to achieve their goals. Now they are faced with Jeremy Corbyn who is a visionary and charismatic leader that is obviously well liked.
For nearly two years Zionist groups in the UK and particularly within the Labor Party have been conducting a witch hunt to rid the Labor party of Corbyn supporters, in the hopes of weakening Corbyn himself. The most common and thus far successful tactic was to claim that they are anti-Semitic. Some fifty members of Labor were suspended including the former mayor of London Ken Livingston. But the comments made by these members, many of whom have dedicated their lives to fighting racism, fighting for the disenfranchised and promoting tolerance, were not anti-Semitic but rather out of line with the official Zionist platform. This is a platform which allows no discussion regarding the holocaust and no discussion on the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people by the “Jewish State.”
In his speech at the end of the Labor Conference, Jeremy Corbyn has shown himself to be the single most courageous leader in the West. Having broken every record in modern British history under his leadership, Labor seems to be closer to regaining power and bringing positive change than ever before. Some of the finest and most promising quotes of his speech include:
“Our Manifesto is the program of a modern, progressive socialist party that has rediscovered its roots and its purpose, bucking the trend across Europe.”
“[Labor is] the largest political party in western Europe, with nearly 600,000 members, alongside three million affiliated trade unionists.”
“… terrorism is thriving in a world our governments have helped to shape, with its failed states, military interventions and occupations where millions are forced to flee conflict or hunger.”
“We cannot be silent at the cruel Saudi war in Yemen, while continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, or the crushing of democracy in Egypt or Bahrain, or the tragic loss of life in Congo.”
And perhaps, the finest and most courageous of his statements was, “And let’s give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.” We would be hard pressed to find another Western leader who would dare use these words. Now that Brits are so close to having a real leader who will improve the lives of all Brits and will indeed make the world a better place, they must not allow Israel to interfere with their elections for if they do, they will regret it forever.
Today the FT reports that Jeremy Corbyn was given a ‘rapturous reception’ in Brussels on Thursday, as he warned that leaving the EU without a Brexit deal would be “catastrophic” for the UK economy. Mr Corbyn met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator (above), the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the prime ministers of Portugal, Italy and Sweden on Thursday in Brussels.
Mr Corbyn received a standing ovation from Europe’s centre-left parties as he addressed delegates at the Europe Together conference, just hours before prime minister Theresa May was scheduled to meet her EU counterparts at a European leaders’ summit. He said:
“We’re here to make sure that negotiations get on track, that we defend jobs in Britain, and that we make sure there is trade access to Europe in the future . . . We cannot countenance the idea that we rush headlong into a no deal with Europe. No deal would be very dangerous for employment and jobs in Britain. We are clear in our priorities: a jobs-first Brexit which maintains free access to the single market.”
He advocated “radical alternatives” for Europeans after years of austerity, rising job insecurity and falling living standards. “The neoliberal economic model is broken. It doesn’t work for most people,” he said, adding: “Our broken system has provided fertile ground for the growth of nationalist and xenophobic politics.”
The FT ends: “Mr Corbyn’s enthusiastic reception was in stark contrast to Mrs May’s arrival in Brussels on Thursday. The UK prime minister was rebuffed from attending a meeting of Britain’s traditional European allies — including the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic countries — on the sidelines of the summit, though Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, was invited to that meeting.”
Tamasin Cave’s article – which may be read here – ends:
The UK’s commercial lobbying industry expanded beyond the back streets of Westminster to become an estimated £2 billion industry today, the third largest in the world. For decades, undisturbed, it has helped business influence the decisions of government.
Except glitches are now starting to appear in this system.
- Fewer messages are landing with the public (see the campaigns for HS2 and fracking).
- The power of the press to influence opinion is far from broken, but it has been shaken by scandal and an apparent tin ear for public opinion.
- The recent downfall of the most notorious of London’s lobby shops, Bell Pottinger, brought about by its secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa, is a symbolic victory too. For decades, it laundered the reputations of some profoundly anti-democratic clients around the world.
- The current Labour leadership is also a disrupting force.
Lobbyists, whose business relies to a large extent on relationships – often built over years, or shortcut by hiring former colleagues of the target politician – didn’t bother with Corbyn. They are now. Don’t misunderstand me: there are legions of corporate persuaders with links to the Labour Party and some industries – property developers, the for-profit healthcare industry, nuclear power – appear as if embedded in it.
But, in the words of one industry insider, lobbyists with strong links to Team Corbyn “can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and you might still have five fingers spare”.
Perhaps the most powerful change, however, is the demonstration of how things can be different. The World Transformed in Brighton last month was a place to participate in policy debates, which was open to all. The Institute for Free Trade, by contrast, is a women-free zone, funded by hidden corporate backers, which presented a persuasion campaign as its response to public dissatisfaction with the form of capitalism currently on offer.
The UK needs to open up the activities of lobbyists to public scrutiny as a matter of urgency. As important, though, is showing that an alternative exists to the “cosy club at the top”.
Tamasin Cave is a lobbyist for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, a campaigner with Spinwatch and co-author of A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain (Vintage, 2015)
Comment Writer Jamie Aspden, a third year political science student at the University of Birmingham, argues that that the Conservative Party Conference was the conclusive sign that the government needs to change. A ‘wake-up call’ – read the article here: http://www.redbrick.me/comment/brexit/conservative-party-just-managing/. Some extracts follow.
“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn”.
After referring to the lost majority and questionable DUP deal, a Cabinet at war with themselves, little good news along the way and detailing the conference mishaps Aspden comments, “Theresa May has just about managed to get through it, whilst being tripped up by countless political debacles”. He ends:
“If the Conservative Party wishes to keep its reputation as one of the oldest, greatest and most successful political parties in the free world, it needs to get its act together and fast. The cost of indecision is too high.
“The United Kingdom can no longer afford this brand of governance. As at this time, when it faces some of the greatest challenges since the Second World War: an ageing population, a changing climate and the departure from the EU, we need a, dare I say it, ’strong and stable’ government. One with innovative and inspired ideas, and with the unity and discipline needed to enact them. ‘Just about managing’ will no longer cut it.
“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. A party which is ‘just about managing’ to hold itself together is of little use in the fight against such an opposition. Instead the party must unite and move forward as one. If not, the electorate will never forgive it for falling apart right at the moment it needed to come together.
“The country deserves and needs a government that succeeds, and it needs it now”.
“The current Labour party is made up of dangerous and sinister people”
Athar Yawar from Surbiton comments on Michael Stapleton’s assertion (Letters, September 30) that “the current Labour party is made up of dangerous and sinister people”. Has he ever met any Labour party members? I have. So far, none of them has struck me as especially dangerous or sinister.
Labour party membership has, of course, roughly tripled to 600,000 in the two years since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Recent polls show that his policies are overwhelmingly popular with the British people.
Are the British people, as a whole, “dangerous and sinister”? Or do they recognise, in Mr Corbyn, a man of integrity, ability and compassion?
Kath Woodward from Worksop believes that the surprising and misjudged decision to call a general election was the result of Mrs May and her advisers failing to grasp the existing scale of substantive grassroots support for Mr Corbyn. She says that this has also been understated by the media’s insistent representation of the Labour leader as a “scruffy, rambling anti-hero”, to quote Nick Pearce.
She continues: “Mr Corbyn has ideas that need to be taken seriously, as they are by his many supporters and, I would have thought, by the Financial Times, in light of the crises of neoliberalism.“
Emma Jones from Abingdon comments on economist Martin Wolf’s warning that Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to put power “in the hands of the people” is “astonishingly close” to words spoken by Donald Trump on January 20 this year (“The calamitous consequences of Corbynomics”, October 6).
She ends: “It might be more worthwhile to point out that the leader of the opposition is one of Mr Trump’s most consistent British critics, and that the prospect of an independent foreign policy is a considerable part of Mr Corbyn’s current appeal”.
Note links are probably ‘paywalled’.
Mure Dickie in the Financial Times writes about the favourite to become the party’s next Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, who is regarded by Ladbrokes as the clear favourite to defeat Anas Sarwar.
Richard believes that a leftwing vision of greater economic planning, support for indigenous industry and redistribution of wealth could propel Labour into power in Scotland in just four years, as there is growing discontent with the SNP’s record in government since 2007.
Labour’s better than expected result in Scotland in this year’s general election showed that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto of extending public ownership, redistributing wealth and power, and reversing austerity resonated in Scotland, Leonard said.
He added that Scotland should use its devolved powers to greater economic effect, including giving trade unions a much greater influence over government efforts to develop workforce skills. Sectors such as renewable energy showed Scottish industry was not getting enough benefit from state support and investment, with big overseas-owned utilities dictating the terms of construction and operation: “I want to make the argument for less reliance on the market and a bit more planning in the economy”.
He suggested that Scotland’s ageing population requires a shift away from commercial and non-profit care provision on a scale akin to the creation of the National Health Service in the 1940s. “Personally I would prefer a socialised system in the public sector,” he said.
Mr Leonard, who won a regional list seat in the Scottish parliament only last year, is keen to find ways to promote employee ownership of companies, suggesting staff could be given the right to buy an enterprise when it is put up for sale, go through a succession or facing closure: “I want to see . . . whether we can look at the structures of the economy so that we are less prone to predatory takeovers”.