Category Archives: General Election 2017
Between 2017 & 2019: a campaign to destroy the prospect of No 10 being occupied by a man who takes UN resolutions about Palestine seriously
Labour Together’s report should have conducted a forensic examination of the evidence that much of the anti-Semitism issue was confected, magnified by the media or compounded by malign elements in the party apparatus.
Where clear evidence of this exists, in part in the leaked report, it has been suppressed. The campaign to brand Corbyn an anti-Semite has very little connection to the real problem of the kind of routine anti-Semitism that exists throughout British society and everything to do with an Israeli-government-sponsored campaign to destroy the prospect of Number Ten being occupied by a man who takes UN resolutions about Palestine seriously.
Labour’s anti-semitism problem was designed to erode Corbyn’s moral stature and, to the extent that anti-semitism was not dealt with where present or repudiated where it was obviously confected, it was damaging.
Labour has been changed by the last three years. It is instructive that no one could get elected as leader by openly repudiating Labour’s redistributive policies, and this process is only succeeding by dividing and weakening the left and eroding its influence in the membership and trade unions. Active measures by all kinds of actors are in play to achieve this.
Labour’s new style is to stay silent on the radical policies which it pioneered over the last years. Abandonment of the contested ground in which politics is conducted in effect concedes this ground to the enemy.
Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle
In August 2015, the undersigned wrote:
“This is a moment of opportunity for the Labour party and the country.
“A new movement is emerging in British politics; party membership is growing rapidly, particularly among young people who had increasingly given up on politics and politicians.
“There is a possibility that academics who have always felt that their research – whether on social policy, public health, economics, sociology or other disciplines – was ignored by policymakers may now be more in tune with the leadership of the Labour party.
“And rather than a backward-looking “old Labour” approach to politics, this is about recognising the inspiring possibilities for a fairer and more equal society offered by an information economy in an interdependent world.
“We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature for leadership of the Labour party”.
Richard Wilkinson Emeritus professor, University of Nottingham
Kate Pickett Professor, University of York
Steve Keen Professor, Kingston University
Elizabeth Dore Emeritus professor, University of Southampton
John Weeks Emeritus professor, Soas, University of London
Prem Sikka Professor, University of Essex
Alfredo Saad Filho Professor, Soas, University of London
Guy Standing Professor, Soas, University of London
Ozlem Onaran Professor, University of Greenwich
Christopher Cramer Professor, Soas, University of London
Jeff Powell Senior lecturer, University of Greenwich
Christine Cooper Professor, University of Strathclyde
Lawrence King Professor, University of Cambridge
Marjorie Mayo Emeritus professor, Goldsmiths, University of London
Hugo Radice Life fellow, University of Leeds
Susan Newman Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Elizabeth Wilson Professor emeritus, London Metropolitan University
Malcolm Sawyer Emeritus professor, University of Leeds
Jo Michell Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Susan Himmelweit Emeritus professor, Open University
Simon Mohun Emeritus professor, Queen Mary, University of London
Diane Reay Professor, University of Cambridge
Andrew Cumbers Professor, Glasgow University
Simon Deakin Professor, University of Cambridge
Roger Seifert Professor, University of Wolverhampton
George Irvin Professor, Soas, University of London
Engelbert Stockhammer Professor of economics, Kingston University
And thoughtful contributions from readers:
Whoever wins the Labour leadership must not disappoint the thousands of party members, affiliates and supporters who have been energised and motivated by the election debate. There is a hunger for change within the party not just for a new vision for the future of the country but for a transformation of the way the party is organised and connects with its members and the electorate. The new leader should re-establish democracy within the party and build trust between members and the PLP. The party is strong when it operates as a community that shares ideas and builds policy from the ground up based on a full understanding of the issues that face all sections of society. There has never been a better opportunity to tap into the energy of new members and supporters and build a strong and successful political force. A leader who reverts back to the top-down focus group-tested soundbite politics of the Blair years will quickly find that the support they had will disappear and supporters will lose faith in politics.
There are two crucial points that your editorial (14 August) ignores. First, Jeremy Corbyn will prove to be an extremely popular and effective opponent of a government that most voters opposed. People will respect his straightforward, honest and principled exposure of Tory policies in practice. Second, unlike anyone who’s had power in the Labour party since Tony Blair, Corbyn is a true democrat. He’s not going to impose his policies on anyone. For the first time in decades members will be able to propose, debate, challenge and refine the party’s policies. And of course, “Events, dear boy, events” will play a major role in what transpires. If Corbyn can lead this collaboration of MPs and members, and withstand the onslaught from the media and from within the party, and if he still wants to be prime minister in 2020, the party will have strong policies and be electable. If he decides he shouldn’t be PM, another leader will emerge with policies that have been forged in the furnace of democratic debate by the membership. A better prospect, either way, than certain failure under any of the other three (unelectable) candidates.
With Blair and the rest of the Labour establishment yet again urging the membership to play catch up with the Tories, is it any wonder that members are flocking to support Jeremy Corbyn? At long, long last, they are being offered a real choice.
Vice-chair, Labour CND
Polls show that most UK voters reject Trident, not just in Scotland. Corbyn is the only leadership candidate to represent this majority view. As Labour leader, Corbyn’s firm anti-Trident stance would win support in Scotland – and in the rest of the country too. He can promise voters to scrap Trident and spend the £100bn on reversing some of the cuts. He’d be backed by the TUC, Unison and many other unions who oppose Trident. Corbyn represents the public’s view on Trident, just as he stood with the public on Iraq. Corbyn has the policies and qualities to win a general election.
The critics of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election and, now, the Guardian (8 August), have argued that a leftwing programme, when Michael Foot was leader, led Labour in 1983 to “its worst result since universal franchise”. This is totally false.
In January 1981 Labour under Michael Foot was 13% ahead in the opinion polls and it was the launch of the Social Democratic party on 27 March 1981 by Roy Jenkins and three colleagues, followed by desertion by a section of rightwing Labour MPs, which destroyed Labour’s electoral lead. The behaviour of the left may not always have been faultless, but it was the disloyalty of a section of the right which was primarily responsible for our heavy defeat in 1983.
As for Gerald Kaufman’s smear at the 1983 Labour manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”, it might be apposite for the critics to read it. It proposed “much closer control over bank lending” through the then publicly owned Bank of England, the need for which stood out in the 2008 crisis. It also proposed a plan to boost industry, improve training, enhance women’s rights, tackle the housing crisis and the balance of payments problem etc, etc. Was this wrong?
As one who lost my seat in the House of Commons in 1983, I am well attuned to the facts. If Jeremy is elected leader, as I hope, the lesson to be learned from the 1980s is that all sections of the Labour party should support him in that role.
Branch secretary of Bassa 1998-2012, Southampton
Labour supporting friends are perplexed why I should be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, it is conceivably true that “annihilation” could happen, but is the Labour party of today worth saving?
Just over five years ago I was one of the leaders of the British Airways cabin crew union (Bassa) which fought a truly bitter dispute with our employer. We were not seeking more money or better terms, just trying to hold on to certain conditions that made our jobs worthwhile. Under the leadership of Willie Walsh, strikers were sacked by BA (myself included, after 35 years), suspended and stripped of promotion. I was interviewed under caution by Heathrow police. It was a very foreboding time to lead a union in a dispute with a blue-chip company.
Against this backdrop, the usual suspects in the media blackened the reputations of union representatives, with lurid and exaggerated front-page stories to ensure, publicly, we had very few friends. It was a lonely place. There was also the 2010 general election looming, when you would have expected, or at least hoped, Labour leaders to keep a low profile, but far from it. In the days leading up to the first batch of strikes (which had been called on an 92% majority, with a massive turnout), I sat in the office of Tony Woodley, then leader of Unite, as he fielded – and to his credit rejected – a series of increasingly desperate phone calls from Labour to call off the dispute.
Perhaps naively, I was shocked at what the Labour party had become. So intent on middle-road power that they would even step on, or over, the very people they were created to protect and represent. There were a few Labour MPs who actively supported us, including, not surprisingly, John McDonnell and yes, Jeremy Corbyn. I will now gladly reciprocate that support given to us in our moment of need.
Do I care if the leader’s election destroys what the Labour party stands for in 2015, in its moribund, forgotten-its-roots, middle-ground-hugging persona? No, not any more. I backed Kinnock when he cleansed the party of its militancy, I supported Blair in those heady days of the late 90s, but any semblance of a decent, caring honourable party that caters for the underprivileged, has long been swallowed up by the unseemly, even sickening quest for power, irrespective of who gets trampled underfoot, on the way.
Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:
“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.
“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.
But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?
She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past. Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:
“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.
As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.
Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.
Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf
Kate Hudson, British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
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.