Category Archives: Labour Party

Ed Sykes: Jeremy Corbyn has dedicated his life to serving the poor and vulnerable, not the Bullingdon Club, money-lenders or the kings and princes of this world

Before the general election, Ed Sykes wrote in The Canary about his support for Jeremy Corbyn – a peaceprize winner who has put people and planet at the heart of his election campaign. Ed doesn’t usually speak about his upbringing, because his identity first and foremost is as a human being who wants peace. And he believes that protecting people and the planet is key to obtaining peace.

He now feels it’s his duty as a Christian to say ‘I believe 100% that voting for Corbyn’s Labour is vital’ because he believes Corbyn’s values are about as close to the values of Christianity (and all mainstream religions) as can be found in British politics today. Like progressives of all faiths and none he has been forced to speak out and defend Corbyn because people who oppose the Labour leader have weaponised religion in an attempt to attack him. He continues:

“Corbyn is a veteran anti-racist who has not only taken firm and consistent action against racism as Labour leader but has also spent his life opposing antisemitism and other forms of discrimination. Boris Johnson and his Conservative party, meanwhile, have not. Yet elitist figures in certain religious institutions have tried to convince voters that the opposite is true. And the Church of England’s archbishop of Canterbury recently made me sick by essentially backing anti-Corbyn smears”.

One phrase from Jesus that resonates most with Sykes personally is “blessed are the peacemakers”. Coming up to Christmas, he writes, it would seem absurd for Christians not to vote for Corbyn – a man of peace who stands up for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. As leading Christian magazine Premier Christianity wrote in 2017, Corbyn is:

a man with a genuine concern for the poor and a genuine passion for peace. … He talks to his enemies, he doesn’t want to kill them. As a Christian, I see very little of that from politicians and I like it very much. … He cares about the poor… He’s dedicated his life to serving them, not the Bullingdon Club, not the money-lenders or the kings and princes of this world.

Sykes quotes Corbyn’s words and comments: “In short, it would be very easy to argue that Jesus was a socialist”:

I meet Christians and others of all faiths and none on a daily basis who share and live these ideals. People who give their time for others – whether those running food banks, protecting the vulnerable, looking after the sick, the elderly, and… our young people. That spirit of respect for each other, peace, and equality is one we can all share . . .

We hear painful stories every day, of homelessness, poverty, or crisis in our health service – or across the world, of the devastating consequences of war and conflict, including millions forced to become refugees… We need to respond to these problems head-on, through action and support for social justice, peace and reconciliation. These principles are at the heart of Christianity . . . At a time of growing conflict, that message of peace could not have more urgency throughout the world.

Jesus also loathed the corruption of religious institutions, overturning tables of money in an act of resistance. . He spoke of sharing wealth so that no one had to suffer. And that’s Corbyn’s message too. And other Christian teachings include:

  • “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”.
  • “The one who has two shirts must sharewith someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same”.

Ed Sykes asserts that a vote for Corbyn should have been ‘a no-brainer’ for those who believe in principles like compassion, social justice, and peace – whether they are religious or not.

 

 

 

 

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How can we bring about change that will irrevocably transfer power back into the hands of the many?

Mervyn Hyde writes: “I feel that in order to get to the heart of our struggle we need to highlight where power lies and the tools by which the powerful maintain their interests”.

If we are to convince people that there is such a thing as a better life, we have to inform them of the past and how things have to come to pass – from the first world war to the present day

It should of course be obvious that neoliberalism is the main tool that took hold in the early 1970s; the other tools are the institutions and language used to propagate the messages that sustain the whole system.

An American description:

Prior to the 1970s a pre-war dispute raged between Friedrich Von Hayek and John Maynard Keynes as to what economic values best served people’s interests. Naturally Keynes won the argument and his policies were broadly implemented post the Wall Street crash and the last world war; they created growth and an expansion of living standards never seen before.

Neoliberalism requires:

  • Greater openness to international trade and investment;
  • total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services;
  • de-unionisation of workers, lowering of wages and working conditions;
  • cutting public expenditure for social services like education and health care;
  • reducing the welfare safety-net;
  • eliminating the concept of “the public good” and replacing it with “individual responsibility”;
  • increasing government subsidies and tax benefits for business;
  • reducing government regulation of everything that could diminish profits;
  • selling state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors.

“The Golden Age of Capitalism”

Then in the 1970s Milton Friedman (part of the Mont Perelin society of which Hayek was also a member) persuaded us that freedom of expression could only be achieved through free markets, privatisation and deregulation – the main pillars of neoliberalism.

Using crises created by the corporate sector or by political events as outlined in Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine”, they redrew the political consensus that had existed since the war. This process has been in continual flux up to the present day but moving ever forward to return all public property and services into the private sector – aided by politicians, political institutions “Think Tanks” and Lobbyists.

The reasons for their success have been the coordination of all the instruments of state, a corrupt media and stage-managed attacks on working people’s support systems.

This document drawn up by Nicholas Ridley in 1977 shows the kind of planning the Tories drew up long before trade unions ever dreamt of such attacks.

The key proposals are in the confidential annex, showing how they break the power of the unions in order to privatise the nationalised industries.

Following this and the advent of the Thatcher era, the Labour Party had been either infiltrated or through our universities – MPs began to accept greater degrees of private intervention and took neoliberal doctrines as read into the future.

Whilst outwardly objecting to the harsh nature of Thatcherism as it was then known, more and more Labour politicians have become wedded to it. Even today over 100 Labour MPs are still committed neoliberals although would never admit it.

Margaret Thatcher and her chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe were behind a politically toxic plan in 1982 to dismantle the welfare state, Margaret Thatcher’s secret 1982 cabinet papers “the longer term options” released in 2012 are reported to have caused consternation amongst her colleagues and she later disowned them.

Mervyn Hyde adds, “The actual archive link can be found here, noting that it is viewed through archive viewer, so you have to click on where it says Image viewer” – but as yet the writer has failed to see them.

Until now this has been the general trajectory, in essence neoliberal politicians of all colours have collaborated to achieve the same ends, a transfer of power and wealth to the corporate sector.

From here on, what do we have to recognise in order to bring about change that will irrevocably transfer that power back into the hands of the many?

The last election could be described as a text book analogy revealing how, over the last three years, established sources combined to defeat the one and only enemy they have – socialism. Using a fabricated crisis and the perfect divisive outcome of the referendum, they were able to manipulate just enough people and confuse the rest, whilst weakening support for the Labour Party from within. The elements brought to bear to achieve this were: racism, ignorance, and apathy, aided by a complicit media that feeds prejudice and hate as well as confusing information.

Neoliberal doctrine has successfully divided the nation into fragmented parts, creating an illusion that this is how life really is. People have over the last forty years grown to accept the conditions two-thirds of us now see as normal – roughly one-third being dedicated to opposing the illusion.

For this minority ever to break out of the cordon set up by the establishment, they must recognise that those within our movement have to be challenged, as well as those outside it. That means challenging these orthodoxies:

  • we can’t afford our public services,
  • private enterprise is efficient and will increase the well-being of people,
  • competition is no longer relevant,
  • deregulation brought about the financial crash
  • and the myth that we need rich people and financiers to provide us with wealth to sustain our life style

Apart from the media and its influence we also have to recognise that a lot of people seem not to care about anything except their own interests and it will require substantial efforts to break them out of their mould. When told that the NHS is being dismantled, their eyes glaze over – some would even say ‘oh well it needs changing anyway’ without the slightest knowledge of what they were talking about. Hyde calls this a form of blind faith that either they won’t suffer from these changes or they just won’t happen and things will go on as they have done; he points out that the reality is that the agenda will roll on and possibly over them.

The way to break out of this from his point of view is to challenge power at its source, be that the media or government and change the way members of the party think essentially through educating them.

Rebuild our manufacturing base via public investment, which would make our economy much more stable

1982

Again through general ignorance lots of good people in the Labour party are oblivious to Britain’s real economic position. Some have socialist beliefs on how they can transform our well-being, but they still don’t understand that Britain’s position is unique in Europe, due to the fact we have our own currency and as such can spend directly into our economy, without the need to raise taxation, which would be used as a regulator of the economy.

What this also means is that we do not have to rely on trade to raise income, since Margaret Thatcher dismantled our manufacturing base we are a net importer of other countries finished goods, we could therefore rebuild it via public investment, which would make our economy much more stable and even export some of what we produced. Doing nothing as we are is financially unstable (Ed: also socially damaging).

This video of Professor Costas Lapavitsas (above, SOAS) breaks the EU illusion held by lots of Labour supporters, by describing in detail why getting out of Europe is essential. But after seeing the video readers may also find that we are not likely to get a genuine settlement no matter how hard we try.

Fundamentally the countries in Europe (Eurozone) can only spend into their economies by raising Euros through trade, this causes huge disparity among EU members especially those in the south, and the only real winner in this is Germany with its massive manufacturing base. This creates such an imbalance of trade and power that it can’t theoretically survive unless changes are made, like becoming a federation of states subsidised by the European Central bank, which breaks all the neoliberal trade rules they have put in place. This graph clearly describes the fundamental imbalance that currently exists:

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?oldid=452727

Hyde sees a need to challenge the perception of Labour Party members that somehow Europe is some sort of economic Utopia that will defend our interests and feels that due to the problems facing Europe, sooner or later the whole pack of cards will fall in.

In addition to the economic problems facing Europe fascism is on the rise. Germany is still the richest country in Europe with massive trade surpluses, yet it has consistently produced right of centre governments and coalitions. As in England the left suffered defeats even though wages and living standards were falling under right wing regimes –  due of course as here to the perception that the neo-liberal centrist politicians were no better than their counterpart conservatives. Since the war the predominant party coalitions have been centre right. So Hyde feels it would be better to concentrate on attacking the establishment and describing how Britain, with its unique position, can effect change more rapidly than any other.

Within our ranks we have neoliberal MPs dedicated to undermining any socialist advances

He continues:

“When Blair first took office as prime minister, I attended one of his members’ forums in Reading, and after he gave his speech, a member asked the question, “where was the socialism in his speech” and Blair replied, “socialism is dead”. Judging from some of his old front benchers and their comments over the years I have no doubt they hold the same views and won’t ever change. the Lisa Nandys of this world etc. Our messages have been stifled and diversions such as anti-semitism have been created and not adequately rebuffed; hence we now need a voice strong enough to call out the lies and deceit in the media.

“This is not a full explanation of the need to change perceptions about our economy and relationship with Europe, there are a number of academics that highlight just how bad Europe is and how progressive Britain could become with the right government in place, but trying to change Europe from within as explained by Costas is virtually impossible.

“Changing those perceptions and ridding the Labour Party of those who actively work against us is the priority. Identifying LibDems, New Labour, and the Tories as being the same is essential to growing support, which they are, although they would claim they are not as extreme as Johnson etc., the reality though is no different; they all have the same objectives, just faster or slower time- tables – in fact if you listen to them they all use the same language, which is the big give-away.

“We lost the last election for many reasons, some of which I have outlined here, Jeremy’s only fault as Ian Lavery said, was that he wouldn’t join Johnson in the gutter. Sadly our unsophisticated electorate didn’t comprehend his magnanimity and – if we are to cut through – we need to speak the language they understand, without of course getting in the gutter to do it”.

 

 

 

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A movement that is not going to disappear

The Watershed site was set up by and for people who supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the Labour leadership and – when it was successful – believed that this could be a ‘watershed’ in Britain’s history.

The title was chosen by Lesley Docksey for that reason when the mailing list was asked for suggestions. Those who replied approved of the choice.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, a man of peace, compassion and justice, was and is a watershed in British history – so this website will not be closed.  Once more we were guided by Lesley, who answered:

“Where will we go?  Already there is a feeling that we will reorganise, get back on our feet and somehow retrieve our relationship with the EU.  Yes, it needs reforming – most of Europe knows that and are working on it. I was going to conferences about that reform well before the 2016 referendum. It makes no sense to leave the biggest trading block there is, but Brexit has been led by ideology, not sense.

“People are talking more than ever about reforming politics, getting rid of first-past-the-post and having genuine proportional representation, taking Parliament well away from Westminster (Manchester is an option!) 

“We need citizens’ assemblies and bottom-up politics, we need politicians that put the country and its people and environment before any party, let alone personal interests.  We need politicians that work together, irrespective of ‘party’ loyalty. 

“I personally would like to see English politicians respecting the fact that the island of Britain has three distinct nations, and respecting the views of the Scots and Welsh instead of ignoring them.  How can you claim that you belong to the ‘United Kingdom’  when the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish are walked all over?  I love driving over the Welsh border and seeing the sign ‘Croeso y Cymru’.  I loved visiting Scotland and knowing I was in a different country.  So I would support turning the UK into a federation of small countries that work together for our combined good”.

The next futures thinking posted on this site will be by the FT editorial board and George Monbiot.

 

 

 

 

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Voting intentions are changing – as more is seen and heard about Boris Johnson

Two days is a long time in pre-election politics

On 28th November Francis Elliott’s triumphalist article in the Times heralded a seat-by-seat analysis based on polling by YouGov for The Times.

But two days later, a BMG poll which questioned 1,663 voters between 27 and 29 November showed that the Conservative lead had ‘narrowed sharply’ (Reuters) – halved when compared with last week’s poll.

Robert Struthers, BMG’s head of polling, said “If this trend continues, this election could be much closer than it looked just a matter of weeks ago.”

Rob Merrick (Independent) points out that the results come at the end of a week when Mr Johnson has faced further criticism on several counts, compounding earlier allegations, including:

Photograph from article about Trump’s visit in PoliticsHome, which set up by former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft 

Robert Struthers said there was growing evidence Labour is “starting to build momentum” ahead of the election on 12 December. 73% of those who backed the party at the 2017 election now planning to do the same on 12 December – up from 67% a week ago.

The change in direction is shown above and BMG’s headline voting intention figures take the Conservative lead from a likely majority into possible hung parliament territory. Will this continue and take the Labour Party into the lead?

 

 

 

 

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Was Jeremy Corbyn a master batsman at the crease or an impatient, irritable old geezer?

In an even-handed review of Andrew Neil’s interview with Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Pickard said that Mr Corbyn’s appearance was praised by some of his most loyal supporters: Aaron Bastani, from the leftwing Novara Media, said: “This is like a master batsman at the crease”. 

A valued correspondent had earlier sent a message about the interview and said that Jeremy Corbyn came across as ‘an impatient irritable old geezer’.

I have never seen a Neil interview and knew little about him so I read around before seeing the interview. I learnt that he had been:

  • chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students,
  • employed by the Conservative Party,
  • worked for Rupert Murdoch as editor of the Sunday Times for 10 years,
  • chair of the Dubai based publishing company ITP Media Group since 2006,.
  • has strongly supported all military actions,
  • compared Tony Blair to Winston Churchill
  • and rejects the scientific consensus on climate change,

The snapshot on the right was taken during the first few moments of the interview, showing a far from cordial or polite Andrew Neil.

After focussing on the usual well-worn accusations Andrew Neil was visibly rattled when Corbyn started to speak about the funders of ISIS (our Gulf allies) who created the dangers now facing many – and quickly cut him short.

My verdict: A few of Jeremy Corbyn’s answers could have been better worded but, despite Andrew Neil’s irritability and aggression, the Labour leader endured the frequent bullying interruptions of his answers with great patience and dignified composure.

 

 

 

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Key policies from Labour’s manifesto

Richard House draws attention to a useful breakdown of key policies from Labour’s election-winning manifesto

 

 

 

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Anti-semitism, neoliberalism and austerity rejected by Jeremy Corbyn – the first Labour leader in decades to do so

British Jews, most of whom have family in Israel and lost family in the Holocaust, and all with plenty of experience taking on antisemites face to face across the political spectrum, point out that Jeremy Corbyn is the first Labour leader in decades to promote a policy agenda that rejects neoliberalism and austerity.

They ask: “Is that (policy agenda) why mainstream media don’t want to give access to the counter-narrative?”

They were alarmed to read, yet again, a list of evidence-free accusations charging Jeremy Corbyn with antisemitism (Letters, 15 November) and wrote a letter published in the Guardian today, which continued:

We are not the least surprised that the Jewish friends of the 24 luminaries who signed are worried and frightened about this supposed antisemitism – they repeatedly read and hear unsubstantiated allegations in pages of newsprint and hours of broadcasting, while the vast amount of countervailing evidence that has been collected by highly reputable researchers, many of them Jewish, is entirely disregarded.

As British Jews, most of whom have family in Israel and lost family in the Holocaust, and all of us with plenty of experience taking on antisemites face to face across the political spectrum, we are not prepared to be used as cannon fodder in what is really a political siege of the Labour party.

We beg you, enough – and we beg the 24 protagonists and their Jewish friends – to check out the alternative voices. 

  • Antony Lerman,Former director, Institute for Jewish Policy Research,
  • Lynne Segal, Anniversary professor, psychosocial studies, Birkbeck, University of London,
  • Richard Kuper, Founder, Pluto Press,
  • Jacqueline Rose, Professor of humanities, Birkbeck, University of London,
  • Adam Sutcliffe Professor of European history, King’s College London,
  • Miriam David Professor emerita, UCL Institute of Education,
  • Dr Brian Klug Senior research fellow in philosophy, St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford,
  • John S Yudkin Professor emeritus, University College London,
  • Jonathan Rosenhead Emeritus professor of operational research, LSE,
  • Francesca Klug Visiting professor, LSE Human Rights,
  • Dr Graeme Segal Emeritus fellow, All Souls, University of Oxford,
  • Mica Nava Emeritus professor of cultural studies, University of East London,
  • Elizabeth Dore Professor emeritus, Latin American Studies, University of Southampton,
  • Naomi Wayne Former chief enforcement officer, Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland,
  • Stephen Sedley

 

The Guardian also has three other letters on the subject – well worth reading.

 

 

 

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NEC’s colossal blunder: wilfully rejecting Chris Williamson, a most able, honest and talented Labour MP

Many members will find it hard to understand the NEC’s spineless decision not to endorse Chris Williamson as a Labour candidate for his Derby constituency because he had, quite correctly, commented that Labour was “too apologetic” in response to criticism of its handling of anti-semitism allegations.

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson speaks outside the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre where he lost his High Court bid to be reinstated to the Labour Party

By doing so the NEC has inadvertently given the wider world the impression that the party is still failing to take anti-semitism allegations seriously.

In his letter to Labour general secretary Jennie Formby, Mr Williamson wrote that he was “dismayed” that party officials have “executed” a “witch-hunt” against anti-zionist members, led by “those who shroud themselves in the banner of socialism”.

Lamiat Sabin reports that he has decided to resign from the Labour Party and seeks re-election in Derby North as an independent candidate in the general election next month. On Wednesday evening, he tweeted: “After almost 44 years of loyal service and commitment, it’s with a heavy heart that I’m resigning from the Labour Party.”.

Blacklisted and vilified

And the man who was nominated in July for the MP of the Year Award (annual People’s Choice Award), which recognises MPs who work closely with disadvantaged and under-represented communities – who set up Holocaust Memorial Day events in Derby and rescinded the obsolete medieval proscription barring Jews from living in Derby – has been blacklisted and vilified as having helped to make the Labour Party ‘a frightening place for Britain’s Jews’.

“As a principled socialist and prominent Corbyn supporter, Williamson was targeted by the right within the party and Labour’s enemies outside, in alliance with those who define as anti-semitism support for the Palestinians’ fight against their oppression”:

This is the verdict of many, voiced by the secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, which deeply regrets his loss and had hoped he would stay in the party and fight for reinstatement.

 

 

 

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Corbyn’s conditions have been met: 28 EU member states give assurances that the No Deal option is off the table

 

Labour decided to agree to an election during an hour-long shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning at the party’s headquarters in Westminster.

The Financial Times switched to tabloid mode:

“Labour bowed to the inevitable”

“Boxed in’ by the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National party move to trigger a snap poll Jeremy Corbyn supports December poll despite gloomy forecasts”

“Jeremy Corbyn has faced accusations of dithering in recent weeks over how to end the Brexit impasse”

“He felt compelled to jump off the fence”

Not so: Jeremy Corbyn was able to agree to an election because assurances had been given by all 28 EU member states that the No Deal option was off the table. This fact was stated in a video embedded in an article focussing on the reactions of Labour’s back-bench rebels.

In the video, Corbyn delivers his thoughtful and well-considered decision in a manner sharply contrasting with these media offerings.

 

 

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Richard House: the Tory-lite rump in the Labour Party continues to get smaller and smaller.

Richard comments on the resignation of Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman

 

Louise Ellman is quite right, Corbyn isn’t remotely fit to rule the kind of Blairite neoliberal polity that she and her ilk are wedded to. The discredited ‘New Labour’ party of which she used to be a member has now thankfully been jettisoned into the dustbin of history where it belongs. 

Like countless thousands of other Labour Party members, Richard rejoices that Jeremy Corbyn has no intention of running that sort of pale-blue Tory-lite government that the ruling class establishment successfully ‘bought off’.

Her frequent accusations of anti-semitism have been discredited in a dossier recently published by Jewish Voice for Labour which may be read here

This JVL investigation details clashes between Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman and Constituency Labour Party members, including Jews, who say they have been the victim of baseless allegations of antisemitism, wild charges based on a contested interview recording and a scurrilous dossier posted anonymously on a far-right blog. This and much more is backed up by 16 appendices in the report including interview transcripts, letters, email exchanges, reports and submissions.

For the first time, the silenced voices of members of Ellman’s constituency party can be heard countering the uncorroborated attacks on them in the BBC Panorama documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? broadcast in July.

The Liverpool Echo reported the Labour leader’s ‘hero’s welcome’ at packed city centre rally four days ago

Liam Thorp commented, “Mr Corbyn won’t have any problems retaining seats in Liverpool” – despite attacks from the opposition, mainstream media and those disloyal MPs who have consistently sought to undermine this popular leader including deputy Tom Watson and Jess Phillips – who spoke with impunity about stabbing Jeremy Corbyn.

Richard House ended by rejoicing that the Tory-lite rump in the Labour Party continues to get smaller and smaller and many who have watched, aghast, the merciless three-year onslaught by these disloyal Labour MPs, will share a sense of relief at their defection.

 

 

 

 

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