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Published on 9 Aug 2019
I’m just going put it out there and say that an election is coming and Boris Johnson is eminently beatable. But only if the left are more radical. They must fiercely oppose Johnson’s values, offer a clear and coherent position on Brexit and play to Jeremy Corbyn’s key strengths as a campaigner. But what do you think? Is it all over for Labour? Or will the Tories fall apart in an election campaign?
Extracts from a blog written by africanherbsman 1967* now living in Jamaica, who spent years working in Whitehall
When Boris Johnson first became Mayor of London in 2008, I was dismayed. Imagine my disbelief now that he is the UK’s new prime minister. Undeserving.
Boris has been around UK media circles for decades. His clowning made him a popular figure around the London social bars. As a journalist Boris was never scared of throwing incendiary remarks in his articles. But his appearances on shows such as Have I Got News for You gave him the kind of street cred few Tory supporters – even today – could ever achieve. He was indeed different from his political allies. Some of the liberal media mob also found him infectious. Now today Boris is indeed the PM. Unbelievable.
As Mayor of London, Boris was really good at surrounding himself with personnel who had solid skills in planning, administration, organisation and communications. Boris’ transport adviser, Kulveer Ranger, was a perfect example of this. The weak link was always Boris. But his bumbling personality was a great decoy to some of the political scraps he got into as mayor.
As foreign secretary (2016-2018) in Theresa May’s government, Boris was a disaster of the highest order. Back then he showed little interest on the issue of BREXIT. Despite such a dreadful performance Boris’ main supporters were still lining him up to succeed May as PM.
First Cabinet as PM: the first thing that struck me about PM Boris’ cabinet appointments was who will be gone before Christmas? Or even Halloween?
Some of Boris’ cabinet appointments defy common sense.
Especially the appointment of one Priti Patel as Home Secretary. Just cannot see Patel lasting that long at HQ’s Peel building. Patel as International Development Secretary (2016-2017) ruined the reputation of her department. She was eventually fired by Theresa May over unofficial and undisclosed 12 or so meetings she held with leading Israeli government officials. Yet Boris has given Patel oversight of crime, policing, immigration and (most worryingly) national security. To me Patel is the John Bolton of the cabinet; an accident that will happen. She can’t help herself . . .
Some of the leadership of the security and police services have long had serious misgivings about Boris from his time as mayor. Just think back to the Damian Green incident in 2009 . . . .
(For thumbnail sketches of the promoted Michael Gove, Stephen Barclay, Matt Hancock, Nadine Dorries, Amber Rudd and James Cleverly see the full article)
How Boris and Cleverly handle the surge of islamophobia within the Tory party will test whether the appointment of a BAME chairman was superficial. But Cleverly is right on one thing when he states: “Jeremy Corbyn has said that only his Labour party can be trusted to unlock the talent of minority ethnic people. Yet it is the Conservative party that has appointed twice as many BAME people to the cabinet than Labour has ever done.”
Boris is bound to get a positive bump in the polls. His media friends and contacts will ensure that he sucks up all the positive publicity in the lead up to October 31st. Boris’ braggadocious belief that deal or no deal the UK is leaving the EU is based on a belief that Donald Trump will come to the rescue with a promising trade deal.
One option for Boris would be to call a snap general election for early October to see if the Tories would win more seats. They could also rely on Nigel Farage’s BREXIT Party taking seats from Labour in the north of England.
But I will not be surprised that when the 1st November comes round, the UK will still be in the EU and then those sharp political knives will be out for Boris. From all sides.
*Spent three decades in working in Whitehall mainly for Customs and Excise, Cabinet Office and Home Office. Worked for public sector bodies in the UK, EU and US. Ex-London tour guide. Loves photography, reading, arts, music, sports and farming.
Stroud News and Journal, 31 July 2019, p. 37 [also in the Glos Gazette and Glos and Wilts Standard, 1 August)
I read Royston Gay’s letter “Labour’s anti-Semitism shames us all” with the deepest dismay. As a Labour Party member of Jewish descent, I simply do not recognise the Labour Party he writes of.
The notorious Panorama programme he speaks of was a prime example of a tabloid hatchet job, which falls apart with any serious analysis. Apart from the fact it was concocted by a Murdoch acolyte, who paraded a succession of victims who nearly all belong to organisations with an axe to grind, where was the right of reply and counter-argument?
Let’s give the anti-Semitism issue a little context. Cases of anti-Semitism involving Labour Party members amount to less than .01% of the membership. While many hundreds of incidents have to be dealt with, and I hope each and every one receives the severest sanction, the number of members involved is still relatively small. Any is too many, but this needs to be been in perspective.
There is less anti-Semitism in Labour than in society in general, and certainly less anti-Semitism and other forms of racism than in the Conservative Party.
So why is it that all the media’s focus remains on the Labour Party? The elephant in the room is that anything that can be used to undermine Labour under its present leadership is regarded as fair game. Attacking Corbyn on this issue is absurd; he is a lifelong opponent of racism of all kinds.
I’ve read three forecasts, two written by readers and Mervyn Hyde’s letter in the Western Daily Press (29 July 2019, p.18), forwarded by Richard House. I’ll summarise the latter because it presents the scenario which fits in with the mindset of this website. The others may be seen on this website.
Of course the sceptics will call it wishful thinking – I may even get another message like the one received last week which just said:
Mervyn made these points:
While Brexit continues to dominate the political world, both Conservatives and Labour are bound to be unpopular.
With the levels of bias towards the political right in the mainstream media, Labour’s “existential crisis” was always going to get far more unfavourable media coverage than that of the Tories.
Once Brexit is resolved and starts receding into the background, the issues that really matter to people will come to the foreground again – like the NHS, our schools, climate change, child poverty, housing, social care, crime, tax avoidance and so on.
The Tories have an appalling record on all of them – and soon they won’t have a gargantuan Brexit fig-leaf to hide behind.
It goes without saying that the right-wing media will continue to demonise Jeremy Corbyn in every way they can; but time is also running out for the Tories – their majority propped up by the Irish DUP is now so small, the inevitable will come sooner rather than later.
With new PM, Mr Johnson, having just appointed the most right-wing cabinet in living memory and with the impact this will have on these core issues, I’ll wager the sum of my pension on the polls, for what they’re worth, swinging back towards Labour before too long.
Labour has convened an International Social Forum, bringing together politicians, economists and social movement leaders from across the world. It will launch a new dialogue on the reform of the international institutional architecture needed to tackle the global challenges of the twenty first century.
Its first meeting on Sunday began the construction of a programme to reform our global economic policymaking architecture in order to address climate change.
“Currently, only greenhouse gases generated by goods and services produced within the country are measured”
Lamiat Sabin, journalist and parliamentary reporter, informs us that Jeremy Corbyn intends to disclose for the first time the “true impact” on the climate of Britain’s emissions:
Though these levels have reduced, Ms Sabin points out that statisticians are not adding on the emissions generated from imported goods — which the Labour leader says have “barely changed” in 20 years.
Jeremy Corbyn: Britain is effectively “offshoring” its emissions to the rest of the world:
“It’s time we were honest about our contribution to the climate crisis. It is even greater than we think. So under Labour, Britain will become the first major economy in the world to measure these consumption emissions and take action to reduce them.”
Labour is seeking to amend the Climate Change Act
An instruction to the Committee on Climate Change should include an assessment of Britain’s “total footprint emissions” in its annual report to Parliament, with recommendations to reduce them.
“Offshoring our emissions isn’t just bad for the climate, it’s bad for British industry”
Mr Corbyn explained that when we measure the emissions from goods produced in Britain but not those produced overseas, it puts industry here, especially energy-intensive industries like steel, at a disadvantage.
He vowed to invest billions of pounds in his party’s plan for a green industrial revolution, which Labour hopes will help close the north-south divide by basing a vast majority of up to 400,000 new jobs in the north of England.
Mr Corbyn sees the urgent need to tackle global emissions, instead of merely ‘passing the buck’ to countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions who produce our goods and services, adding:
“We will send financial and technical support to the developing world, helping them to adopt greener methods of production and reducing the carbon content of the goods we import.”
Note: The National Policy Forum is a body of representatives from all the major groups in the Labour Party. Its role is to shape the Labour Party’s policy agenda. NPF Representatives read and discuss submissions received via the Labour Policy Forum website, and discuss them in the relevant Policy Commissions. Go to this site to offer your policy proposals to your regional representative.
In the Financial Times, noting that Conservatives and Labour are ‘neck and neck’ in the polls, Jim Pickard – formerly a severe critic of Jeremy Corbyn – wrote today “With British politics in a state of acute flux, there is increasing interest from business leaders about Labour’s policy proposals”.
At the launch of the annual Living Standards Audit by the Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank that focuses on low pay, the Independent reports that shadow chancellor John McDonnell (right) will announce details of Labour’s commitment to ending in-work poverty over the course of the next parliament, due to cover the years 2022-27 unless brought forward by a snap election.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said last year that ‘in-work poverty is the problem of our times’ and McDonnell will make a commitment to ending this modern-day scourge, eliminating it by the end of Labour’s first full Parliamentary term.
In September it was reported here that the Financial Times appeared to have left the anti-Corbyn/McDonnell media caucus, somewhat warming to the shadow chancellor. Following Jim Pickard’s first respectful report on any aspect of Labour policy, an article, by Jim O’Neill, chair of the Chatham House think-tank and former Treasury minister, had the headline, “The UK opposition steps into an economic void left by a government grappling with Brexit”.
The second sign was the FT’s comment in a December article that the UK lacks the kind of community banks or Sparkassen that are the bedrock of small business lending in many other countries adding: “When Labour’s John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, calls for a network of regional banks, he is calling attention to a real issue”.
As a paragraph in his address today says: “As Chancellor in the next Labour Government, I want you to judge me by how much we reduce poverty and how much we create a more equal society, by how much people’s lives change for the better. Because that is our number one goal.”
‘Land for the Many’, a report commissioned by the Labour Party, was written by a group of academics, economists and land experts, lead authors including George Monbiot, the environmentalist, and Guy Shrubsole, from Friends of the Earth who has campaigned against the lack of transparency in Britain’s land ownership.
It was good to read a measured appraisal in the Financial Times by Jim Pickard, formerly a severe critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies. Of late several articles in that paper have been taking a more objective stance – in contrast to the Murdoch Times which usually carries a range of articles belittling Corbyn and his supporters.
A number of polices highlighted by Pickard:
- “Juries” made up of local people would sit in judgment over UK planning decisions under proposals floated by the Labour party on Monday.
- Home ownership would be extended to more people.
- All information about land ownership would be published including the identifies of beneficial owners;
- A community right to buy would be introduced, based on the Scottish model,
- Compulsory sale orders would allow councils to force the auction sale of land left vacant or derelict for a long period.
- Companies which own land in the UK through offshore structures would face an Offshore Company Property Tax under plans first set out in the 2017 Labour manifesto.
- The Land Compensation Act would be amended to allow councils to buy land at prices closer to its current use value rather than its potential future residential value.
- The planning system should be extended to cover major farming and forestry decisions and widen access to farming to more people.
- The Scottish principle of a “right to roam” across all uncultivated land and water should be adopted, with the exception of gardens.
The authors argue that the concentration of ownership in the hands of a relatively small number of landowners has worsened various social problems such as economic inequality, the housing crisis and environmental degradation and write:
“Just as we believe it is important for criminal juries to be socially representative, the way we use our land should have input from all parts of society, juries for plan-making would be comprised of local people selected at random. They would participate in designing local and neighbourhood plans at the earliest possible stage.”
Labour said it would consider the report’s recommendations as part of its wider policy development ahead of the next general election.
It is now alleged that most of the people interviewed as direct witnesses to antisemitic incidents in Wednesday’s BBC Panorama programme were members or supporters of the Jewish Labour Movement (formerly Poale Zion) relaunched in 2015.
This was not mentioned at any point in the show, during the programme itself or in the credits at the end.
The first witness and many others on Wednesday’s Panorama programme recounted their experiences of antisemitism in the Labour party with apparent sincerity. No professional actress could have performed more movingly than the first person to appear – seen below
Investigative journalist Asa Winstanley, on the Electronic Intifada website, was the first to break the news and others have added their observations. A provisional list of JLM people who “gave witness” anonymously in the Panorama show reads as follows (click here to see the full list of JLM officers):
Ella Rose (JLM equalities officer, former national director)
Alex Richardson (JLM Membership Officer)
Adam Langleben (ex JLM Campaigns Officer)
Stephane Savary (JLM vice-chair)
Rebecca Filer (JLM political education officer)
Joshua Garfield (JLM local government officer)
Izzy Lenga (JLM international officer)
There was no semblance of balance: no witnesses from Jewish Voices for Labour were invited to speak, so they have issued their own statement on Wednesday’s Panorama programme which may be seen here and on this website.
Richard House quotes from JVL’s text: “It is shameful that the BBC has joined in an orchestrated campaign whose principal aim is quite clearly to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister of a Labour government committed to socialism.”
As George Monbiot says, in nominal democracies, billionaires get political power by funding parties, lobby groups and social media ads. But above all, they buy newspapers and television stations. Social media is dominated by stories the billionaire press generates: “As their crucial role in promoting Nigel Farage, Brexit and Boris Johnson suggests, the newspapers are as powerful as ever”. He advises readers: “If a newspaper is owned by a billionaire, be suspicious of every word you read in it. Check its sources, question its claims. Withhold your support from any party that allows itself to be bullied or – worse – guided by their agenda. Stand in solidarity with those who resist it”.
Richard House advocates extending the Star’s “people’s press” ethos to the rest of the media, and take back ownership of it. To this end, the political left should initiate a national campaign for people in their millions to cancel their licence payment and start its own radio station. Many readers would invest in such an enterprise.
Having heard that those not on Facebook are not getting through this procedure I suggest that they send the following text by email to firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dear Tony Hall (Director General of the BBC),
Tonight, the BBC will air what they claim is a fair and impartial documentary about anti-semitism and the Labour Party. However all of the evidence so far points to the documentary being a biased hatchet job.
The BBC chose to employ the former Sun Journalist John Ware, a man who has publicly attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left repeatedly, to direct the documentary.
This is the man who was also behind the 2015 Panorama documentary which attracted widespread criticism for making false claims about Jeremy Corbyn and excluded an entire interview with Diane Abbott because, in her words, it didn’t fit the narrative.
Ware also directed a documentary described by the Muslim Council of Britain as “an anti-Muslim witch hunt” and The Guardian as “McCarthyite”. In another documentary, he falsely implied the head of a pro-Palestinian charity was using it as a front for terrorism and the BBC was forced to pay damages to the individual and publicly apologise on Ware’s behalf.
In fact, Ware has a long track-record of opposition to the left in Labour. In the 1980s he presented a documentary on a Labour council accusing the “hard left” of taking over local schools, which at the time was criticised in the BBCs own magazine for abandoning “any attempt at a reasoned, detached, analytic or investigative programme”.
It is clear John Ware cannot be trusted to direct a “fair and impartial” documentary on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. Already, there are reports that the majority of interviewees in tonight’s documentary are ex-Labour staffers – the very people who purged thousands of Labour members to stop them voting for Jeremy, resisted implementing Shami Chakrabarti’s recommendations and may have delayed action on antisemitism to undermine Jeremy’s leadership.
They have no credibility on this subject and have a clear political agenda against Jeremy Corbyn.
The BBC guidelines state that “impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences.” It is obvious that employing a man with an anti-Labour agenda to direct a documentary about Labour is in breach of these guidelines.
We are writing to you to demand an explanation as to why John Ware was hired, and that you hold a review into how documentary content about Labour is produced, ensuring that future documentaries adhere to BBC guidelines as well as basic journalistic standards.
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