Category Archives: Government
Today’s Times poll results defang its five anti-Corbyn artlcles, prompted by fear of ‘corporate capture’
The findings: eight out of ten Labour members are impervious to propaganda
Longstanding Labour activists are snapping membership cards, cancelling direct debits, throwing up hands with a despairing “I’m done here” writes Janice Turner – under the headline ‘Labour lost to fools and crackpots’.
In Newcastle, one of the areas which have suffered intensely from corporate capture
True, as she says, there has been (simulated?) escalating anger among careerist Labour MPs over Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism. But as her Times colleague, Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates writes, the findings of the latest YouGov poll for The Times, “are likely to make bleak reading for Labour MPs who have tackled Mr Corbyn on antisemitism, including the 41 who signed a letter challenging him on his views”. He summarises:
Yesterday Mr Corbyn tweeted: “As Jews across our country start to prepare for #Passover, I would like to wish everyone in the Jewish community a Chag Sameach.”
Coates reports that the Labour poll says antisemitism row is exaggerated. Nearly eight out of ten Labour members believe that accusations of antisemitism are being exaggerated to damage Jeremy Corbyn and stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.
The leader was still overwhelmingly backed by members, with 80% saying that he was doing a good job and 61% saying he was handling the antisemitism crisis well. Some 69% supported his response to the Salisbury poisoning.
- 47% saying antisemitism was a problem “but its extent is being deliberately exaggerated to damage Labour and Jeremy Corbyn or to stifle criticism of Israel”.
- 30% said that antisemitism was “not a serious problem” and was being used to undermine Mr Corbyn and prevent legitimate criticism of Israel,
- and 19% said it was a genuine problem that needed addressing.
Tony Blair said that it had become an issue because the leadership and its supporters did not think it was a problem.
He told The Week in Westminster on BBC Radio 4: “They think it’s something got up by people who are opposed to him for all sorts of other reasons and are using antisemitism as the battering ram against his leadership.”
A reader commented: I think we can guess what you (Ms Turner pp The Times) fear and how you and your colleagues have pushed the boat out to encourage it.
The real fear of a Labour Victory under Mr Corbyn is not the anti-semitism that the media have done so much to exaggerate, but rather, the prospect that a Labour government is intent on ending the corporate capture of our democracy and that some very powerful interests, including those who dominate the media and formulate government policy from the comfortable chairs in the gentlemen’s clubs of St James’ and Pall Mall are likely to lose their influence over the way in which government conducts its business.
Another wrote: “I look forward to voting Labour. It is important to stand up to the rabid warmongering right wing press, who don’t bother with minor details such as evidence and international agreements before escalating situations with nuclear powers”.
On Friday’s night’s Newsnight programme, author Owen Jones impressively took Newsnight’s Evan Davis to task about the ‘disgraceful framing’ of the narrative around the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. He listed many cases in which Corbyn and Labour had taken a stand against Russia when the Tories, who avoided doing so, were taking huge donations from Russian oligarchs.
Jones also referred to the observation of sharp-eyed Twitter user that Newsnight had not only added Corbyn’s image to a backdrop the Kremlin skyline but also photoshopped his cap to make it resemble a Russian hat.
Presenter Evan Davis stoutly and persistently denied the accusation – even pausing the discussion to repeat his claim that the image added to the skyline was authentic.
Rachel Johnson, far from taking the position of her brother, the Foreign Secretary, said “I think Jeremy Corbyn was right to point out that we needed some proof before we escalated what could be a very dangerous international situation. I think a lot of the country agreed with him on that. We had eight years of the war in Syria and 1500 civilian casualties in Yemen.”
On Saturday’s Any Answers programme listener after listeners made points similar to those made by Rachel Johnson.
But the mainstream media fail to highlight these viewpoints which contradict the preferred narrative.
Jeremy Corbyn – right on internationally related crises over 20 years – advises PM to seek evidence and proceed in accordance with international law
Mr Corbyn condemned the “appalling act of violence” on 4 March which left ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in a serious condition.
Mr Corbyn asked: “Has the Prime Minister taken necessary steps under the chemical weapon convention to make a formal request for evidence from Russian government under article 9.2? Has high-resolution trace analysis been run on a sample of the nerve agent that revealed any evidence as to the location of its production or identity of its perpetrators?” and then urged continued “robust dialogue” with Moscow. See video here.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the UK is bound to provide a sample of the nerve agent used in the attack to Russian investigators under international treaties, something Ms May has withheld.
Russia’s destruction of its chemical weapons
The New York Times reported last year that President Putin of Russia presided over the destruction of his country’s last declared chemical weapons. The deputy director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an intergovernmental organization based in the Hague that polices adherence to the 1993 convention, declared the event “a truly momentous occasion.” Putin said that it “signals the full elimination of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by the Russian Federation.” The OPCW’s inspection teams verified the destruction at seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in the Russian Federation. On 27 September 2017, the last of these facilities, located in Kizner, officially concluded its operations.
An FT report records that Mr Corbyn told the House of Commons it would be a mistake to rush to judgment on the Salisbury attack. He asked Theresa May, prime minister, why the UK had not met Russia’s request for a sample of the chemical used, adding later on Facebook that the “Russian authorities must be held to account on the basis of the evidence”.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman suggested that the nerve agent could have fallen into the hands of a country other than Russia after the break-up of the USSR: “The right approach is to seek the evidence, to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to chemical weapons attacks carried out on British soil”. He continued:
“However, also, there’s a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly. If you remember back to the WMD saga, there was both what was actually produced by the intelligence services, which in the end we had access to and then there was how that was used in the public domain in politics. So there is a history of problems in relation to interpreting that evidence (the FT adds: in a reference to the false assumption that Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction ahead of the Iraq war.)
Seumas Milne. “I think Jeremy’s record in relation to judgement on internationally related crises is probably better than anyone else in the House of Commons, he has proved to make the right call time and again over the last 15 to 20 years, in particular when many others made the wrong call, and those calls have disastrous consequences.”
In spite of Labour’s General Election surge and its continued polling strength – not to mention more than thirty u-turns Labour under Corbyn had already forced from the Conservatives before the election – the line persists in some quarters that Labour is not an effective opposition.
That line tends to be spouted either by those who think defeating Brexit is the only important task for the opposition – or by those who talk like it for factional purposes – ignoring the fact that Corbyn’s handling of the issue has been intelligent, nuanced and politically skilful.
So, as it’s the time of year for round-ups, here is a non-exhaustive list of sixteen u-turns that the Conservatives have been forced to make because there is an opposition party willing and able to stand for something different.
And for those who think Brexit is the only vital issue, the first three are Brexit-related:
- Brexit deal vote u-turn
- Brexit impact assessment u-turn
- European Court of Human Rights u-turn
- Dementia Tax u-turn (unprecedentedly dropped from the manifesto before the GE)
- Pensions triple lock u-turn
- Housing benefit cap for supported housing u-turn
- Self-employed National Insurance increase u-turn
- School meals cost u-turn
- NHS Professionals sell-off u-turn
- Police funding u-turn
- Fire safety in schools u-turn
- Grammar schools u-turn
- Abortion for Northern Irish women u-turn
- Winter fuel payments u-turn
- Universal Credit 7-day waiting period u-turn
- Universal Credit freephone u-turn
- Fox-hunting u-turn
- Diesel tax u-turn
- Manchester terror attack costs u-turn
- Prisoner vote u-turn
The government has been weakened by Corbyn’s Labour taking a clear, firm stand – and the Labour surge resulting from the party presenting a genuine alternative.
2017 has been a historic year for Labour and much of that can be attributed to Corbyn’s vision, leadership and his strength in standing firm against an unprecedented media onslaught – and it’s been a better year for millions of UK people as a result of Labour’s effective opposition.
Participatory politics: what will the 1922 Committee decide at the Conservative Convention, March 2018?
As Gary Younge wrote:
“Corbyn emerged in the wake of a global financial crisis, in a country rocked by the phone hacking scandal, the MPs’ expenses scandal and Operation Yewtree. His ascendancy represents a desire for a more participatory, bottom-up kind of politics that takes on not only the Tories in parliament, but inequality in the economy, unfairness in society and power where it has not previously been held to account”.
Though title-trouncing Labour’s ‘hard left’ whom the Times’ Lucy Fisher alleges are forcing out so-called ‘moderates’ (aka New Labour Blairites) in a ‘purge’ she does at least present the truly democratic approach actually being taken:
“A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Labour members select their candidates by democratic processes as laid out in the rule book. We do not comment on individual selections.’ A spokesman for Momentum told The Times: ‘We think it’s fantastic that hundreds of thousands of people new to politics have felt so inspired that they’ve joined the Labour Party. We should trust local members to be the best judge of who should represent their community”.
Times reader James comments: “We seem to be living in a parallel universe where the party that is open to all to join, all members have a vote to choose local candidates and party leader is being regularly criticised for being oppressive”.
David Hencke reports that on November 25 the Conservative Party held a convention in Birmingham attended by 100 invited people which rewrote sections of the party’s constitution.
The document was sent out by Rob Semple chairman of the Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board (above, with Theresa May). The Draft Proposed Rule Changes for discussion at a meeting of the National Conservative Convention on 25 November 2017 included plans to:
- rewrite the party constitution to remove references to constituencies altogether;
- limit the right of local associations to choose their own candidates;
- scrap the annual meeting of the Conservative Convention where people could listen and vote for candidates for top posts and
- use on-line voting for all top posts in the party.
Will final approval be given for these changes in the Conservative Party constitution at a meeting of the 1922 Committee (the Commons parliamentary group of the Conservative Party) at the March 2018 meeting of the Conservative Convention in Westminster?
If so, as David Hencke comments, “the contrast could not be much starker. Labour will go into the next general election as a mass movement with a mass membership who can influence policy and decide on who stands for Parliament, the police and the local council”.
Earlier this month, the FT noted that – as the latest national opinion polls show Labour eight points ahead of the Conservatives (though Yougov shows a far closer score) – some investors and business leaders are increasingly worried about the prospect of a leftwing UK government overturning decades of economic orthodoxy.
One of these, Ajit Nedungadi, a managing partner at TA Associates, a Massachusetts-based private equity group said. “Corbyn will be bad news for the industry. It’s black and white. There is no question. How can it be good news?”
Not everyone in the financial community views a Corbyn government in such grave terms.
Dean Turner, an economist in the UK investment office at UBS Wealth Management, believes investors have exaggerated the threat posed by Mr Corbyn, saying a government led by the Labour leader would not turn Britain into “Venezuela overnight”.
“Taxation as a share of gross domestic product would be at 1985 levels, and spending as a share of GDP at 1984 levels,”
After agreeing that it would be a “dramatic shift from where we have been for the last 30 years”, Mr Turner pointed out that many of Mr Corbyn’s policy proposals, such as renationalisation of the railways, would be seen as mainstream in other EU countries.
He also said that Mr Corbyn’s pledge to reverse cuts in corporation tax — raising the headline corporation tax rate from 19 to 26 per cent — was also relatively conventional.
Even under Mr Corbyn’s plan, for example, the UK would still have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7.
Mr Turner also dismissed speculation about a run on the pound and the imposition of capital controls, even after Mr McDonnell said that Labour would have to prepare for both possibilities. “If we do see a weaker pound, the change would be gradual,” Mr Turner said.
“I doubt we would see the kind of falls we saw post-Brexit vote.”