Category Archives: General Election 2017
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
“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”.
*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.
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”.
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.
We have to make Jeremy Corbyn electable. For many decades, public opinion towards politicians is that they are “liars, cheats and only in it for themselves.” In recent decades, one could add that “spin” and rhetoric has undermined any semblance of trust in institutions, companies, NGOs and politics.
It is a paradox, therefore, that a man who is “squeaky clean,” honest and principled, with considerable integrity, is deemed to be “unelectable.” Another criticism is “weak leadership.” This is hardly surprising when many Labour MPs (right wing, New Labour [Blairite] young, career politicians) have been deliberately (and often publicly) undermining him and the “New Agenda” since his election as leader.
In their defence, it is hard for them to adapt, having grown up in the Westminster bubble, whose philosophy and “conventional wisdom” is the market, growth and globalisation. If Labour loses badly, as the current polls predict, it will be catastrophic for the public sector e.g. education, NHS, local government services). The ferocious enemies of Corbyn (and the membership) will be responsible, in part. If they lose their seats, it will be poetic justice.
After his election at the Brighton conference, I said to Jeremy: “Do what the great philosopher Norman Stanley Fletcher (Porridge) advocates: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” He smiled and said that he wouldn’t.
I knew that he would have tough times ahead. Contrary to being weak, he has considerable strength of character withstanding the personal attacks, abuse and sneering by the Tories and even members of his own party, never, seemingly, rising to the bait and losing his temper. In many ways, his qualities would bode well on an international stage, commanding respect with diplomatic skills, in contrast to the confrontational style of Theresa May.
Honesty, integrity, principled, “squeaky clean” (scandal free), not in it for himself (least amount of expenses than all 650 MPs), strength of character. Apart from bike riding, does he have any countryside/environmental/Nature credentials? (Many young career politicians [especially in the Westminster bubble] do not seem to value the countryside and have little empathy with what older members of society value.
Instead of attacking Theresa May personally, identify the incompetent people she appointed, that surround her: e.g. Hunt, Grayling, Rudd, Hammond, Truss, Greening, who have implemented disastrous policies that have led to crises in education, NHS, prisons, courts, etc.
Vic’s primary theme is that Labour needs policies that will capture the imagination of the “Grey Vote” and meet their aspirations. It is a fact that most voters are mature people, whereas the young are unlikely to vote in any significant numbers. Thus, the Grey Vote could be a considerable factor in “The Marginals,” as these determine which party governs. The writer thinks that the evidence at rallies is that younger voters are far more supportive of JC on the whole.
Read Vic’s article in full here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/to-win-labour-needs-the-grey-vote/
Vic Parks “Champion of the Grey Vote?”! (2017) MOB: 07890126836 email@example.com
An emboldened Conservative government would indeed be good news for ‘Strong and Stable’ funeral directors, as:
- air pollution continues unabated,
- the health service deteriorates,
- the incidence of adult depression and mental illness in children grows apace
- ‘moral fibre’ rots: latest indication:10,000 Britons signed up to one of the world’s largest paedophile internet networks
- and others are debt-ridden due to the daily onslaught of consumerist advertising,
- sedated by inane, often BBC-provided TV quiz shows
- or led astray by a violent TV/online diet.
Tom Young says May’s ‘Strong and Stable Government’: (is) More Than a Tagline – indeed it is and a Conservative stabilisation unit would, in future, see an increasingly heavy workload.
New claimants with a disability have just been hit by a £30 a week cut in benefits to save the government £1bn over four years even though their living costs are higher because of the need for assisted travel, hospital appointments, extra heating, etc., and they are likely to take far longer to find a job.
A friend who intends to vote Labour writes of his issue with the Labour message: “it remains too rooted in struggle and injustice, and not enough in giving people a reason to vote if they don’t suffer or struggle”.
But many well-placed voters are deeply concerned when seeing others in difficulties. And a far larger swathe of the population is struggling than he seems to think:
- graduates in formerly secure jobs are being made redundant,
- people in their twenties and twenties now see no option but to live with their parents,
- many people are suffering from urban air pollution and miserable traffic congestion,
- education cuts will affect their children as the Public Accounts Committee has warned,
- in some areas people in need of healthcare are affected by a declining NHS service.
- mental illness, no doubt in part due to one of more of these factors, is rising rapidly in both children and adults.
Professor Prem Sikka sees the positive, constructive Labour message; U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn plans:
- to raise corporation tax by more than a third over the next three years and plough the £6bn proceeds into schools and universities,
- restore maintenance grants for the poorest students,
- abolish university tuition fees
- guarantee that five, six and seven-year olds will not be taught in classes of more than 30.
- creating a National Education Service to equip Britain’s workers for the post-Brexit economy,
- extend free adult education to allow workers to upgrade their skills,
- raise the cap on NHS wages, and
- to build up to a million new homes, many of them council houses.
If ‘the sums don’t add up’, a standard Conservative knee-jerk reaction:
Withdraw subsidies from fossil fuel & nuclear companies and arms exporters, jettison HS2 and redirect investment to improving rail and waterway transport links.
Sikka rightly ends: People are our biggest asset and only they can build a nation. We have a choice: Tax cuts for the rich or investment in our future to enable people to realise their potential.
Does Theresa May have the temperament and inter-personal skills to lead successful Brexit negotiations asks Steve Beauchampé?
Extracts from his blog, “ General Election 2017 – May Plays Her Trump Card”
We don’t have to look far for reasons to believe that the Prime Minister might be a potentially toxic mixture of intensely controlling, highly secretive, overly sensitive and with a touch of the feudal monarch about her. There’s her unwillingness to campaign using little apart from slogans, to debate live with rival party leaders, to encounter voters other than pre-vetted Conservative Party members or to place herself in anything less than totally managed and protected situations. There is surely more to all this than a natural awkwardness or introspection, of being uncomfortable around people; it is about avoiding scrutiny and challenge, it indicates a lack of self-confidence, an inability to think on your feet. And it might also display a degree of paranoia.
. . . there was no Conservative Party leadership contest, merely a coronation, with May anointed before most party members even had the opportunity to hear or scrutinise her policy platform or personal suitability for the post, let alone approve it. Rivals quickly fell by the wayside, with the mildly stubborn Andrea Leadsom’s bid terminated after she was allegedly goaded by the Tory hierarchy into making an unwarranted personal remark about May.
A bellicose and bunker-like attitude towards the most important negotiations this country has faced in decades
Theresa May’s most memorable contributions to the remainder of 2016 were her revelations to October’s Conservative Party annual conference that the UK would leave both the Single Market and Customs Union as well as end the free movement of workers, with the formal process of departing the EU commencing by the end of March 2017. None of this had been agreed beforehand by the Cabinet.
When the High Court ruled that Parliament, and not the Prime Minister, had the authority to determine when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which commences our exiting the EU, could be invoked, May was furious, ordering a government challenge in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, she permitted Justice Secretary Liz Truss to rail against the judges and failed to intervene to de-escalate tensions both when a Daily Mail front page headline called those judges ‘Enemies of the People’ and when a tirade of online abuse was directed against Gina Miller, who had brought the case.
After government defeat in the Supreme Court, May watched the subsequent House of Lords debate on the Article 50 Bill, staring at Peers from the steps of the royal throne . . .
Having stolen UKIP’s mantle (move much further to the right and the BNP might start to get nervous) Theresa May now seems to be taking cues from US President Donald Trump. Yes there were some leaks against her from EU officials, but then Whitehall also regularly leaks to its political advantage. But Theresa May’s speech outside No. 10 last week was designed to create the illusion of shady foreigners out to get Britain, before claiming that only she can save the country from them. Works every time!
May’s rage against the Brussels machine came only a day after she had revelled in claiming that the next person to find out that she was “a bloody difficult woman” would be European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Although I suspect that she’ll quickly find out that the other 27 EU heads of state and their negotiators can be even more ‘bloody difficult’ should Britain’s attitude be to go looking for a punch up. And if she continues on a confrontational course, Theresa May might now learn that the election of the strongly pro-EU Emmanuel Macron as French President will make her already difficult task just that little bit tougher. . .
Little wonder that many in Brussels are becoming tired with Britain, with its accusations and insults and with our Prime Minister’s testy approach when goodwill, reciprocity and a modicum of inter-personal skills might bring far greater rewards.
Such a bellicose and bunker-like attitude towards the most important negotiations this country has faced in decades, if not centuries, might well bring Theresa May a substantial General Election victory. Yet the country that she is creating has deepening political fissures, geographically and generationally, that both the forthcoming election and the Prime Minister’s anti-consensual and seemingly joyless leadership style appear to be exacerbating. It is a deeply unedifying spectacle. Given all of the above, do I really want to give Theresa May a mandate to negotiate my country’s future?
May 8th 2017