Category Archives: Defence
Labour Party membership (517,000 members in March 2017) is rapidly increasing after the general election was announced. Before:
Yesterday a Wimbledon reader forwarded an email message received from her friend: “Hope you all saw Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this morning. If not, DO catch up on i-player. But I fear for how it’ll be reported in the press”.
The Guardian’s John Crace was flippant/facetious and even-handedly belittled the other contributors. Dan Bloom in the Mirror was thoughtful and informative, itemising three things we learn and three things we didn’t and yet again this paper made available a link to the full transcript. The Mail and Times cherry-picked and hoped to score points on Trident/security/NATO.
Social media snapshot:
Corbyn’s calmness in the face of Marr’s questions, on both foreign and domestic policy was commended by many Twitter users:
Firmly but genially Jeremy Corbyn restrained Andrew Marr’s impetuous interruptions and calmed him down when he ‘jumped in too quickly’. Some appealing ‘soundbites’ include a wish to:
- reduce pay ratios in the public and private sectors;
- ensures universal access to good quality housing, healthcare and education;
- tariff-free trade access to the EU;
- investment bank to increase manufacturing jobs
- work out an immigration system
- and confer with supportive MEPs and colleagues who head EU states (below).
He appears to be the only prime ministerial candidate remarkable for stability, poise, honesty, patience, maturity and goodwill to all – how many more will echo the wish voiced earlier: “I want this man as prime minister!” ?
Two social media discoveries:
The media claim that older voters don’t vote Labour and won’t like Corbyn. Let’s get together to share the over 50s message and show them how wrong they are.
Liam Young, a democratic socialist freelance political writer for the Independent and the New Statesman, writes:
While Corbyn rebelled over academy conversion, foundation hospitals, the Iraq war, tuition fees and detention measures, Blairite MPs have offered their own warped form of ‘principled rebellion’ – airing their anti-Corbyn views in the press and decimating their party.
This is not the sort of rebellion Corbyn ever stood for.
It’s time to get real. Jeremy’s performance (on recent PMQs) has been powerful and statesmanlike and it is important to remember that he is the chosen leader, having taken more than 60% of the votes in leadership elections.
With his clear principles, he is the total opposite of the PM’s hot air. Each PMQs session goes further towards proving that to the British public.
A Jamaican contact asks if 60+ serving MPs from the Cabinet of 2003 have the moral right to represent their constituents
An article on his blog ends: “As we digest the contents and impact of Chilcot’s report, I am reminded of the late Brian Haw (1949-2011) who lived in front of the Houses of Parliament for almost 10 years protesting against the Iraq War”.
A belated post: in July African Herbsman wrote: “One of the sad aspects of the Chilcot report is that most of its content was known at the time leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, through Whitehall & various media sources – e.g. Govt leaks, Private Eye magazine and documentaries made by Panorama and Dispatches”. He continues:
“That is why – with the exception of the late Robin Cook – Tony Blair’s cabinet of 2002-3 must also shoulder blame for their support for the war. Former cabinet ministers such as Jack Straw, Jack Cunningham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Deputy PM John Prescott are as culpable as Tony Blair”.
Now some of those ex-ministers are expressing various forms of denial, but the author is unrelenting: “Today, they say they didn’t have all the facts or felt shut out by Tony Blair at the time. Yet these ministers voted to commit young men and women to an illegal war. Unforgivable”.
African Herbsman, who formerly worked in Whitehall, continues:
“These cabinet and backbench Labour MPs voted for war only to boost their career prospects within the government. Gordon Brown was told bluntly that if he did not publicly support the war he would not succeed Tony Blair as PM.
“Today, almost 70 of those Labour MPs who voted in 2003 are still in the House of Commons. Yet most of them have said little about Chilcot’s report or even apologised for their selfish act. The majority of whom are plotting the bring the current leader Jeremy Corbyn down via Angela Eagle – who voted for the war.
“Some Labour MPs did their devious best to block the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Some tried restricting the Inquiry’s terms of reference and even delay the report’s release.
“Do any of those MPs have the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?
“Friday morning 2 May 1997, was one of the happiest days to be in London. The sun was out and Labour had defeated John Major’s Tory government the night before. We couldn’t believe that for some of us we were witnessing a Labour government in our adult lives. But Tony Blair, his cabinet colleagues, his inner circle and pro-war backbench MPs just blew the goodwill they were given to make the UK a proud, honest and prosperous society”.
What is going on when even the so-called Labour List bulletin anonymously writes under a headline – outdoing even the Times:
That is literally not true. Yesterday the writer heard John McDonnell speaking on Pienaar’s Politics; he warmly described Hilary Benn as a friend and explained more than once, as a response to Pienaar’s prodding, that “Labour leadership doesn’t involve itself in local selections to the local party. That’s democracy”.
Does McDonnell merit the Times’ description (19.9.15) as ‘universally unpopular’, having ‘strained relations’ with unions, ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’?
Not so, he has many friends, co-operative colleagues in all parties and admirers in this country and the United States.
And though his versatility is shown in his inspiring and wide-ranging book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour, putting forward a set of attractive new ideas, principles and policies, his most sustained work has been directed towards peace-building.
Without peace there can be no real prosperity for the 99% – only for the arms manufacturers and traders and politicians acting as their non-executive directors
He will – of course – be anathema to party–funding arms manufacturers, arms traders and the politicians who need their cash and non-executive directorships, because of the following activities.
In 2003 he was inspired by Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who was calling for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace within the Executive Branch of the US Government. His bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace was repeatedly reintroduced in each session of Congress, attracting 72 cross-party co-sponsors. This work was later carried forward by the Peace Alliance.
This ‘unpopular man’ was heartily welcomed in the States (right) where city councils across the country welcomed the practical impact a Department of Peace would have on reducing violence in their nation and abroad. 18 cities -representing a collective population of over 6.5 million people – had endorsed it at the time of writing. They included Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, San Jose and more.
John McDonnell advocated a ministry for the promotion of peace in all areas of life from the “playground to the Government” to embrace education and conflict resolution within business, prisons, homes, the media and the whole of life. He pointed out that this would be in line with developments in the USA and Europe, adding that Gordon Brown had set aside £500m in a “united Govt approach to reduce conflict in society and specifically to promote conflict resolution”.
Ministry for Peace meetings often attracted 70 & 80 people from peace organisations, lawyers and individuals committed to the idea – despite his ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’ behaviour? Unlikely.
John McDonnell introduced a Ten Minute Bill, the Ministry for Peace (Interim Provisions) Bill, passed unopposed on Tuesday 14th October, 2003. A second reading is planned for 21 November. The Bill’s second reading was passed unopposed but it was unable to go through all its parliamentary stages before the end of the session in November.
The other cross-party sponsors joining the less than ‘universally unpopular’ John McDonnell were the much-missed Elfyn Llwyd – Plaid Cymru, Jeremy Corbyn – Lab, Alex Salmond – SNP, John Randall – Con, Rudi Vis – Lab and the excellent also-missed Alan Simpson – Lab, who has become a great asset to the environmental movement.
Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrat) and Gary Streeter MP (Conservative, current chair) were also moved to work with John McDonnell to set up All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues in September 2006.
This holds meetings such as a series of three with young Israelis and Palestinians who presented their visions and aspirations for changes they wished to see in the region during the next 20 years.
The APPG provides a forum for dialogue between Parliamentarians, Her Majesty’s Government and civil society on alternative methods of preventing and resolving violent conflict, on the basis of expert information and opinion from across the political spectrum, in dialogue with officials from the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as well as various conflict NGOs, academics, members of the business community and the media. The Group currently consists of twenty named members from both Houses of Parliament. Others in the new Parliament who express support or interest will be added to this list.
Hansard recorded words summarising McDonnell’s message in a Commons debate: “The most civilised form of defence is actually securing peace and preventing conflict.”
In her latest newsletter, MEP Neena Gill circulates her thoughts on the forthcoming referendum on which the Labour Party stands united in its support for the EU.
She says – correctly – that the EU isn’t perfect and some changes are needed – adding they can only be made by having a seat at the table.
Jeremy Corbyn has been in Brussels to continue discussions about the issues with Labour MPs and socialists from other countries, which began after his election in 2015.
He emphasises the vital importance of the EU’s strong track record on human rights and workers’ rights and the need to remain the EU to protect these, stressing that the IN campaign will stand up for rights in the workplace, champion equality and challenge unfair discrimination.
Corbyn also argues that the EU brought investments and jobs for workers and consumers in Britain. The European Union, in his words, is a core framework for cooperation and trade in the 21st century.
He points out that Labour’s IN campaign is quite different from the Conservatives’ as it advocates an end to EU-backed austerity regime and rules designed to enforce market competition, including parts of the giant EU-US TTIP free trade deal backed by the Cameron cabinet.
Though agreeing with Neena Gill on the need for EU reform, Jeremy Corbyn made no reference, on this occasion, to the fact that auditors have not approved the EU’s accounts for many years, but focussed on the need to ensure that it includes more democracy, safeguarding workers’ rights and stopping enforced privatisation of public services, in short: “It has to be based on the rights of people all across Europe”.
Jeremy Corbyn added that, during a previous visit to Brussels, a socialist colleague had told him: “We are discussing the future of a continent and one English Tory has reduced it to the issue of taking away benefits from workers and children”.
A Moseley reader sent a thought-provoking email: “I’m voting to leave, by the way. Once Cameron stupidly promised a referendum the only result is that we should vote to leave or be subject to all the whims of a European Parliament. If we vote to remain we should:
- give the Palace of Westminster to the National Trust,
- sack all the MPs,
- transfer sovereign power and currency to Brussels
- just have regional assemblies to micro-manage local issues
- and hand over the MoD to the Germans”.
Well before the election, MP Caroline Lucas wrote an inspiring open letter to Jeremy Corbyn: “I can help you build a progressive majority”
Written in September 2015, found in drafts: well worth publishing
In the space of just a few weeks you’ve brought something into your party that’s been missing for far too long: hope.
I’ve never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party. For the first time in my memory, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee looks likely to be led again by someone who dares to stand up for the radical changes demanded by the challenges we face.
I’ve shared many platforms with you, from opposing Britain’s disastrous and bloody war in Iraq to supporting investment in the economy in place of relentless and cruel austerity. Your inspiring campaign has put so many of our shared values into the centre of the debate in British politics.
The beauty of this moment, and what scares the political establishment most, is that the power of your campaign is coming from thousands of grassroots voices – not a diktat from above.
It hardly seems a coincidence that the first truly democratic leadership election in your party’s recent history is producing such a powerful resurgence in optimism. People do indeed vote differently when they know their vote counts.
However, to fully embrace this moment – and if Labour is to truly become part of a movement rather than remain just a machine – it’s crucial to recognise the multi-party nature of modern British politics.
No one party has a monopoly on wisdom, or is capable of making the transformation alone: a diversity of progressive voices is essential for our democracy.
Greens, for example, bring vital and distinctive issues to the table – most crucially, and at the heart of our politics, is the fundamental belief that a new social contract will only ever be possible if it’s built upon the foundations of “one planet living”. Without a safe climate at the heart of our policymaking, progressive politics won’t ever take root. Indeed, there is no better argument for abandoning tribalism than the looming climate crisis we face.
If we’re going to stabilise our environment and build a secure economy that serves our children and grandchildren, we have to work together.
For that reason, one of my few disappointments about your campaign is that it hasn’t focused more on reforming our ailing democracy
A truly progressive politics fit for the 21st century requires a voting system which trusts people to cast a ballot for the party they believe in.
If you do win this contest I believe you should take this opportunity – and the huge amount of momentum behind you – to call a constitutional convention to allow people across the country to have a say in remodelling Britain for the future. A convention has the potential to energise even more people than your leadership campaign, or the Green surge, and to inspire the kind of feeling across the UK that swept Scotland in 2014.
In the short term, for the next general election – which will still be contested under First Past the Post – my personal view is that there is potential in considering local grassroots electoral pacts where progressive candidates are standing . . . It’s only by winning that we have the chance to implement positive change.
By working together in the coming weeks and months we can continue to build upon the movement you’ve played such a huge role in creating.
Not only can we provide real economic alternatives to austerity, defend the trade unions and make the argument for urgent climate action, but we can also start to imagine an entirely different future – of a new social settlement, an economy that provides decent pay and allows people to flourish outside of work too. Crucially, a new politics will provide a constitutional framework which hands power from Westminster back into the hands of voters
The old politics is crumbling, not just in Britain but across our continent. We now have the chance to embrace a movement based not on greed or fear, but on resilient local communities, people working together and a stable economy that works for generations to come. I truly hope you win the contest on 12 September – and I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years.
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion