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Peter Hitchens’ post-election analysis

Though Peter Hitchens records that he ‘did not much want to help Jeremy Corbyn’, after dissecting the state of the Conservative party he continued:

“The man who won, Jeremy Corbyn, was astonishingly old-fashioned, a country-bred grammar school boy brought up by parents who had taken part in the great political struggles of the 1930s”.

Hitchens reflected that Corbyn now seems far more dangerous than the Tories thought: “His absolute courtesy and refusal to make personal attacks appealed to many in my generation who remember a different and in some ways better Britain”.

His realisation that George Osborne’s supposed economic miracle was a sham,that many have lost hope of getting steady, well-paid jobs or secure homes and his absolute opposition to the repeated stupid wars of recent years also = Hitchens believes – has had a wide appeal.

The long Tory assault on Mr Corbyn was his greatest asset

“When the campaign began, and people had a chance to see what he was really like, especially his dogged politeness under fire, they did that rather moving thing that British people do when they see a lone individual besieged by foes. They sided with him against his tormentors.

“It was no good raving about Mr Corbyn’s Sinn Fein connections, when the Tories have themselves compelled the Queen to have the grisly IRA gangster Martin McGuinness to dinner at Windsor.

“It’s not much good attacking his defence policy when the Tories have cut the Army to ribbons and the decrepit remnants of the Navy sit motionless by the dockside, thanks to Tory cheeseparing”. And now there’s an even bigger problem.

The young, who used not to bother, have begun to vote in large numbers and Jeremy Corbyn has persuaded them to do it

Hitchen ends by saying that unless the Tories can find their own Corbyn, a principled and genuinely patriotic leadership, no amount of money, and no amount of slick technique can save them from a revived and newly confident Left.:

“They failed to win this Election. There’s a strong chance they will actually lose the next one”.

 

 

 

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Corbyn said to have won more votes than anyone in history

With thanks to Felicity Arbuthnot for this link

It was satisfying to watch David Dimbleby elicit praise for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and results from Labour MPs like Tom Watson, John Woodcock, Yvette Cooper Chukka Umunna who ultimately had to ‘eat their words’ – most reluctantly.

Then came these news items about the vote in Corbyn’s constituency, Islington North:

  • It had the highest turnout (73.3 per cent) since 1951,
  • the Labour leader won 40,086 votes
  • His majority was 33,215.

This despite the attempt to manipulate public opinion – a Times/ YouGov poll last year found that 97% agreed that the “mainstream media as a whole has been deliberately biasing coverage to portray Jeremy Corbyn in a negative manner” and earlier this year the BBC Trust upheld a complaint against the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, ruling that one of her early reports on Jeremy Corbyn breached accuracy and impartiality guidelines.

Laura Kuenssberg has now lost that round and rapidly found a new target to taunt.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn: almost a national treasure?

In the latest Political Barb, ‘General Election 2017 – Fox Hunting’ summarised here, Steve Beauchampé asks if anyone has seen Tom Watson – all but invisible since the General Election was called on April 18th: 

“We shouldn’t be too surprised however, I’d always imagined that as an avowedly pro-New Labour, anti-Corbynite, Watson’s main focus ahead of June 8th would be developing a strategy to take back control of the party machinery from the several hundred thousand ideologically driven enthusiasts who have joined Labour since summer 2015. This, following the anticipated electoral disaster and subsequent dispatching of Corbyn to the margins of political history.

“So this Labour surge, even should it ultimately fail to deliver the party the opportunity to form a government, is deeply problematical for those in the Parliamentary Labour Party who so readily opposed or otherwise distanced themselves from the man who has suddenly – and quite unexpectedly – become arguably Labour’s biggest asset”

 He notes that ‘missing in action’ are various leading Conservatives: Liam Fox, Sajid Javid, Preeti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, even Chancellor Philip Hammond. But Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who stood in for May during a BBC leaders’ debate last Wednesday ‘put in a combative performance’ leaving Theresa May owing her big time . . .

The ‘downgrading’ of chief political advisors Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy and enhanced rôle of chief strategist Lynton Crosby leads Beauchampé to ask: “Ah, would that be the same Lynton Crosby who oversaw Zac Goldsmith’s highly successful London Mayoral bid last year? Or the same Lynton Crosby who oversaw the equally effective Remain campaign for the 2016 EU referendum . . .  

His conclusion: “Restoring Theresa May’s self-congratulatory, complacent, personal power grab of a campaign is probably beyond even Crosby. It is fatally tainted, exposed for its galaxy of emptiness and arrogant narcissism and it long ago ran out of road. Ultimately the mass transfer of UKIP votes to the Tories will probably save her, and might yet ensure her a healthy, workable majority. But Theresa May is diminished, with the clock already ticking on her departure date as internal party scores are settled and her enemies prepare to exact revenge. And who would have thought that the Conservatives would be the party we’d be writing this about seven weeks ago!

As for Jeremy Corbyn, blimey, he’s almost become a national treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

Corbynize This Trumped Up World

Robert Green, who now coordinates the New Zealand Peace Foundation’s Disarmament and Security Centre in Christchurch with his wife Kate Dewes, draws our attention to this article by David Swanson.

Making Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister of the U.K. would do more for the world and everyone in it than either of the two available outcomes of any recent U.S. election could have done. Here in the U.S. I always protest that I am not against elections, I think we should have one some day. Well, now we have one — only it’s across the pond.

Corbyn’s record is no secret, and you don’t need me to tell you, but I have met him and spoken at events with him, and can assure you he’s legitimate. He’s been a dedicated leader of the peace movement right through his career. He had the decency last week to point out yet again that invading and bombing countries and overthrowing governments produces terrorism; it doesn’t somehow reduce it or eliminate it or “fight” it.

Britain is the key co-conspirator in U.S. wars. One real-life Love Actually refusal to bow before Emperor Donald, and the facade of super-hero law enforcement will begin to crumble, revealing a rogue serial killer standing naked in his golden hotel suite.

The world needs an actual popular elected response to U.S. aggression against the world’s poor and the earth’s climate. A ho-hum housebroken Frenchman who’s not a fascist isn’t the same thing. Corbyn supports successful Scandinavian socialism, demilitarization, environmental action, and aid to those in need. He works within the government and is held back by his party. But he doesn’t lie. He doesn’t sell out. He makes the case for wise and popular policies as powerfully as he’s able.

Want people to believe representative government is compatible with capitalism? Want well-behaved voters the world over to imagine that the corporate media can actually be overcome? Stop grasping at Congressional candidate gun-nuts who happen to be Democrats. Stop telling vicious lies about Russia in an attempt to travel back in time and cause a corporate militarist hack to win the White House. We actually have an election between an actually good candidate and one of the usual monstrosities we’ve become so used to.

Contact every young person you can who can vote in this election. Contact every possible organization and entertainer who might help spread the word. Get every Hollywood star who ever tried to rock the vote but didn’t have anyone to promote who people actually wanted to vote for to notice this golden opportunity. Telling young Brits to get out and vote for Jeremy will do more to spread democracy than destroying Syria, starving a million children in Yemen, or occupying Afghanistan for another 50 years.

Young people, sadly, have seen through our scams. They’ve heard us cry wolf too many times. Yet if you ask them who they would have voted for, they tell you the better candidate. Now here’s an actually great candidate, and their televisions are telling them that they are powerless to do anything. And they refuse to see through that scam. You have to help them see through it! You have to find somebody hip enough to help them! Young British people are our last hope, and it’s your job to encourage them.

We could have a world in which a leading wealthy “democracy” has a government that responds to majority opinion. We could have a world in which London says to Washington: “You want another war, we won’t help you pretend it’s legal. In fact, we’re drafting a brief for the prosecution and will see you in court.”

The people of the United States need that fig leaf torn away, need the pretense that mass murder is legal and necessary ended in our own minds. The peace, prosperity, sustainability, and friendship awaiting us is too much for us to even imagine. What might help us do it, what might make us believe that “hope” and “change” and other concepts we’ve almost come to despise could actually be possible would be making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.

 

 

 

 

Extracts from ‘General Election 2017 – Peace Policies and Foreign Follies’

People in Iraq, Libya and Yemen are desperate for strong and stable government. Theresa May is partly why they don’t have it, says Steve Beauchampé.

Serious examination of Jeremy Corbyn’s activism shows him to have been on the right side of history and ahead of mainstream public opinion time and again, standing up for anti-racist and anti-apartheid causes, refugees and asylum seekers, gender equality, the LGBT community, environmental issues, animal rights and the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and self-expression long before such things gained widespread acceptance.

Corbyn’s attempts to achieve conflict resolution through dialogue with Irish republicans may at times have been naive, but were his actions so dissimilar to the approach adopted around the same time by MI5 and later by John Major, both of whom ultimately realised that a decades-old conflict, whose death toll was inexorably rising, could not be won solely by military means?

But whilst Jeremy Corbyn’s peripheral rôle in the republican cause has been (and continues to be) pored over and examined by his opponents half a lifetime later, the record and judgement of Theresa May with regard to much more recent UK military interventions requires equally forensic scrutiny given her claims to be a fit and proper person to lead Britain.  

Iraq

History’s judgement on this aspect of Theresa May is unlikely to be generous. After first being elected an MP in 1997, she voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (having already supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the frenzied post-9/11 atmosphere). Like so many of her colleagues on the opposition Conservative benches at the time, May failed to hold the Blair government to account despite the widely expressed caution of many experts over both the reasons for going to war and the lack of a post-conflict plan to stabilise Iraq. Instead, May limply and dutifully gave her support. What followed for Iraqis has been almost fifteen years of societal breakdown throughout large parts of this once architectural, cultural and scholastic gem of a nation, with swathes of land occupied until recently by Islamic State and a fracturing of the country along religious, sectarian and tribal lines in a way that will be hard, if not impossible, to heal.

Libya

By 2011, and as the then Home Secretary in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government, Theresa May backed the Anglo/Franco-led military action in Libya, which despite its billing as merely creating a no-fly zone to protect civilians and rebel fighters, mainly located in the east of the country, quickly escalated into regime change, culminating in the overthrow and lynching of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Again, as a senior government minister Theresa May ignored warnings that historic tribal divisions, the absence of a strong and stable government or a long-term strategic plan would quickly fracture the country. Six years on and Libya exists in little more than name only. There is no central government, armed militias and feudal warlords hold considerable power, whilst every international Islamist terror group of substance now boasts a flourishing branch office in the country from where they increasingly export their murderous ideologies. And every month, if not every week, scores of desperate migrants, people who long ago lost all control of their lives, drown off the Libyan coast whilst seeking something better than the hell that their lives have spiralled into.

Syria

Learning nothing from history and the consequences of her own actions, in August 2013 Theresa May supported Prime Minster David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade MPs to back UK air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The absence yet again of a coherent post-conflict strategy was sufficient for Labour leader Ed Miliband to refuse his party’s support to Cameron, who narrowly lost a House of Commons vote on the issue. The main beneficiaries of such an intervention, with its intention to downgrade Assad’s military capabilities (if not to remove him from power), would likely have been the plethora of extremist groups engaged in the Syrian civil war, principal amongst them the then nascent Islamic State. 

Yemen

Since becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has continued the supply of British made weapons and military expertise to Saudi Arabia for use in its war crime-strewn bombing campaign in Yemen, a campaign which has killed countless numbers of civilians and is fast creating yet another failed state in the region.

Iraq, Libya and increasingly Yemen: countries where British military interventions have created power vacuums swiftly filled by a combination of anarchy, lawlessness, violence and economic depravation, with catastrophic consequences and relentless, unending misery for millions of civilians.

Theresa May supported each and every one of these military interventions. Jeremy Corbyn opposed all of them. So whose judgement would you trust?    

May 29th 2017

 

Written for The BirminghamPress.com, to be online shortly. It Is also available here: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/general-election-2017-peace-policies-and-foreign-follies/

 

 

 

 

Oborne on Jeremy Corbyn: ‘brave and radical’

Award-winning journalist Peter Oborne* celebrates Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘brave and radical decision’ to break with the foreign policy analysis of Blair and his successors. He continues:

“Contrary to what one reads in the newspapers or hears on television, his manifesto is a well-argued and coherent critique of the foreign policy consensus which has done so much damage over the last quarter of a century.

“He is offering a serious alternative to the catastrophic system of cross-party politics that gave the world the Iraq, Afghan and Libyan calamities.

“His manifesto pledges to “commit to working through the UN” and to “end support for unilateral aggressive wars of intervention” . . . and has spoken out against the pattern of illegal intervention favoured by the United States and its allies”.

 

Corbyn has also had the moral courage to highlight the predicament of the Chagos Islanders, supporting their right to “return to their homelands”.

Corbyn bravely but correctly compares the British betrayal of the Chagossians – deprived of their Indian Ocean home as a result of a squalid deal between Britain and the US in the 1960s – with our national loyalty to the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic territory that Britain sent a taskforce to recapture following an Argentinian invasion in 1982.

The Conservatives’ manifesto contains no specific foreign policy pledges and no mention of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Palestine or the Middle East at all

Oborne adds: “Under Cameron, and now Theresa May, Britain has thrown its weight behind the Saudi bombing campaign. I am afraid that Michael Fallon, who has proved a lightweight defence secretary, recently said that the murderous Saudi bombing raids have been carried out in “self-defence”. This comment was frankly obscene, and Fallon owes an apology to the thousands of Yemeni families who have been bereaved as a result of Saudi attacks”.

Corbyn promises to implement the will of parliament in a famous vote three years ago and recognise the state of Palestine. Arguably even more brave, he will demand “comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, including air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition”.

Corbyn will also “suspend any further arms sales for use in the conflict until that investigation is concluded”.

The BBC, Oborne observes, has betrayed its own rules of impartiality and ignored Corbyn’s brave stand on this issue. As Mark Curtis has pointed out in a brilliant article, the BBC website carried only 10 articles on Yemen but 97 on Syria in the six weeks to 15 May “focusing on the crimes of an official enemy rather than our own”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s radical and brave manifesto is being traduced, misrepresented, and ignored by the establishment and its mouthpieces.

Oborne: “That is wrong – and a betrayal of British democracy”.

 

Read the article: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/corbyns-manifesto-middle-east-well-argued-radical-and-morally-courageous-2036528122

*Peter Oborne was named freelancer of the year 2016 by the Online Media Awards for an article he wrote for Middle East Eye. He was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

 

 

 

 

‘Unpopular’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on stage during a Wirral music festival

Felicity Arbuthnot sent a link to a video showing Jeremy Corbyn – after addressing a rally of 5000 on the seafront in West Kirby in Merseyside – appearing in front of a reported 16-20,000 people at the festival who were waiting for a performance by The Libertines.

Corbyn made ‘a rousing speech’ (Metro) at Tranmere Rovers’ ground Prenton Park, in which he reiterated the policy of making Premier League clubs invest 5% of their income to grassroots football.

The Labour leader asked the Merseyside crowd: “do you want health, do you want housing, do you want care, do you want a society coming together or do you want selective education and fox hunting?” The crowd booed and Corbyn replied: “that’s absolutely the right answer leave the foxes alone.” He said he was “fed up with the nurses, the doctors, the care workers paying the price of austerity – let’s share it out in the future.”

Laura Cullen from the crowd tweeted “actual Jeremy Corbyn has just rocked up on stage. Now that’s how you do politics”.

 

 

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Times: poll suggests that Jeremy Corbyn is connecting with a growing number of voters

Summarising today’s Sunday Times report.

Labour’s standing is at its highest since the last general election, suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn’s unashamed socialist pitch is connecting with a growing number of voters. The Labour Party has closed within nine points of the Conservatives in a new YouGov survey for The Sunday Times puts the Tories down to 44%, with Labour up to 35%.

It suggests that the publication of the general election manifesto has slashed her lead in half since last weekend. Ministers privately expressed fears that May’s plans to reform the care system and would cost them seats.

The Tories lost five points since last weekend after announcing that the winter fuel allowance would be means-tested, more pensioners will have to pay for care at home and only £100,000 of a pensioner’s wealth will be protected from care costs. YouGov found that 35% of the public support the changes while 40% are opposed. Last night another manifesto pledge, to axe free school lunches, provoked criticism after a report found it could hit 900,000 pupils.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the Brexit secretary David Davis warned against complacency: “You always have to remember, we only have to lose half a dozen seats and we’re in trouble.” May herself warned yesterday: “If I lose just six seats I will lose this election.”

A senior Conservative campaign source said the poll would focus the minds of voters on the choice between Corbyn and May. If that result is replicated on June 8 it would give May a majority of 46, short of the landslide that has been predicted by many.

The Times political editor predicted that a further closing of the gap would spark a panic in Tory headquarters.

 

 

 

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Pictured: an unpopular Jeremy Corbyn in Yorkshire, May 17th, 2017

 

 

 

 

Accountants’ verdict: Labour manifesto ‘good for the UK’. . . UKIP/Tory verdict: a black hole

Richard Murphy writes “As I have predicted the questionhow will you pay for it?” is being asked of Labour”. He refers readers to his earlier explanations of how current spending commitments can be paid for from tax revenues: the spend creates the capacity to pay – made here and here. He continues: “The only real question is how Labour will pay for nationalisation” and cites precedents:

  • How were the banks were bailed out?
  • How was £435 billion was found for QE?

Answer: “Neither, directly, cost the taxpayer a penny. The money was created to achieve both out of thin air”. Murphy advises that renationalisation could also be done in the same way: “Issue bonds for fair value. Make them redeemable in not less than thirty years, and maybe longer. Make the interest rate the very low ones on offer now. In net terms these are likely to be negative throughout that thirty year period.  And what is the net cost of renationalisation? Next to nothing. Or less. Problem solved”.

Mike Parr comments on the same website – as others have pointed out – that there is no need to pay anything for the train operating companies, merely do not renew the /operating licences as they lapse, but no doubt there will be other expenses and a need for investment.

Prem Sikka reports on the Labour Party’s proposals for reinvigorating the economy set out in its manifesto launched today creating the conditions for economic growth.

This manifesto:

  • redistributes,
  • invests
  • and provides help for the disadvantaged.

“The necessary condition for building a successful economy is that people must have sufficient purchasing power as without that they cannot buy goods and services”.

Sikka notes that due to wage freezes, low national minimum wage, never-ending austerity programmes and zero-hours contracts, people’s purchasing power has been severely eroded. Between 2007 and 2015, the real wages of UK employees fell by over 10 per cent, almost the largest fall among major industrialised nations.

In a comparatively rich country, 40% of the working-age population has less than £100 in savings. Millions rely on food banks to secure their next meal. The poor become victims of the payday loan industry and end up paying exorbitant interest rates. Personal debt now stands at record £1.529 trillion and ordinary person’s ability to stimulate economic demand and investment is severely eroded. Under successive government wealth has percolated up, leaving a few crumbs for many

In recent years, Sikka points out, public investment has been sidelined, adding that the Labour Party is now making a decisive break and offering the key to rebuilding: redistribution of income/wealth, decent wages and state intervention in the economy.

The Labour manifesto promises:

  • an annual stimulus of £48.6 billion, current expenditure: investment in education, the NHS, social care, the police, firefighters and border guards
  • to abolish all tuition fees and relieve the debt burden on many young people
  • to protect the real value of state pensions
  • to restore Housing Benefit for under 21s
  • to abolish bedroom tax and employment tribunal fees
  • to lift the one per cent cap on the wages of public sector workers.

Expenditure will be matched by revenues of £48.6 billion – not achieved by a rise in VAT, income tax or National Insurance contributions for 95% cent of workers. Measures include:

Reversal of recent corporation tax cuts, raising £19.4 billion.

£6.4 billion from increases in income tax for the top 5% of taxpayers, lowering the threshold for the 45p additional rate to £80,000 of income and reintroducing the 50p rate on earnings above £123,000.

£.13 billion raised from a levy on companies (not individuals) paying out megabucks to few.

A 2.5% levy on earnings above £330,000 and 5% on those above £500,000.

A Robin Hood tax on speculative transactions, raising £5.6 billion and another £6.5 billion will be raised from various measures to eliminate tax avoidance opportunities.

VAT on private school fees will raise £1.6 billion.

A novel feature of the manifesto is unprecedented transparency. Each pledge of expenditure and revenue-raising is carefully costed and shown line by line in the manifesto. Each line is then supported by further background papers.

In addition to the above, Labour has a programme of investment in social infrastructure and nationalisation of key industries, such as railways, gas, water, electricity and Royal Mail. This will be over a period of time. Contrary to the propaganda, some of this has little cost – see earlier comments and Sikka’s article: Corbyn promises a Britain ‘for the many, not the few’ at manifesto launch.

Richard Murphy, yesterday: “I have had my differences with Jeremy Corbyn, but this is a good manifesto for the UK . . .

In summary these increases make complete sense. Labour proposes to increase GDP by Government spending on health, education, social care, education and the result will be growth, creating the capacity to pay the tax that funds the growth

The downside? None at all for most people, Murphy suggests – only for those in the top 3 or 4% of income earners or are a large company or bank: “And let’s be clear, these groups have the capacity to pay”.

The one massive underlying theme is that of bringing to an end the neoliberal era. And that – Murphy says – is good enough.

 

 

 

 

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