Category Archives: Media

Peter Hitchens’ post-election analysis

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”.

 

 

 

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A viewer responds to the Marr interview: “I want this man as prime minister!”

Labour Party membership (517,000 members in March 2017) is rapidly increasing after the general election was announced. Before:

Yesterday a Wimbledon reader forwarded an email message received from her friend: “Hope you all saw Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this morning.  If not, DO catch up on i-player.  But I fear for how it’ll be reported in the press”.

The Guardian’s John Crace was flippant/facetious and even-handedly belittled the other contributors. Dan Bloom in the Mirror was thoughtful and informative, itemising three things we learn and three things we didn’t and yet again this paper made available a link to the full transcript. The Mail and Times cherry-picked and hoped to score points on Trident/security/NATO.

Social media snapshot:

Corbyn’s calmness in the face of Marr’s questions, on both foreign and domestic policy was commended by many Twitter users:

Firmly but genially Jeremy Corbyn restrained Andrew Marr’s impetuous interruptions and calmed him down when he ‘jumped in too quickly’. Some appealing ‘soundbites’ include a wish to:

  • reduce pay ratios in the public and private sectors;
  • ensures universal access to good quality housing, healthcare and education;
  • tariff-free trade access to the EU;
  • investment bank to increase manufacturing jobs
  • work out an immigration system
  • and confer with supportive MEPs and colleagues who head EU states (below).

He appears to be the only prime ministerial candidate remarkable for stability, poise, honesty, patience, maturity and goodwill to all – how many more will echo the wish voiced earlier: “I want this man as prime minister!” ?

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Two social media discoveries:

@ReclaimTheNews

Helping to get Labour’s General Election messages out and Jeremy Corbyn into No 10. Multiple contributors. #WeAreHisMedia #JC4PM #VoteLabour

CorbynSupporters50+

@corbyn50plus

The media claim that older voters don’t vote Labour and won’t like Corbyn. Let’s get together to share the over 50s message and show them how wrong they are.

facebook.com/groups/7909425…

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: remarkable support from some Financial Times readers

Comments on an FT article by Philip Stephens 

No policies? Every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

“Who can worry about housing, schools or transport, let alone the mundane aspirations of Middle England, ahead of the great liberation struggles.” I don’t know where Philip Stephens has been but every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

I would suggest he and the Labour party have lost the working-class vote thanks to the previous Blair government being non representative of them.  Remember Mandelson talking about being: ” Intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes…?” Corbyn has also suffered very badly by the press.  Mrs May has profited by Cameron’s mistake and badly handled Remain campaign and we are now at the mercy of this unelected PM and her party… (see also JC policy docs here)

Philip Stephens creates a narrative that doesn’t fit the facts. Corbyn has delivered effective attacks on the Government on welfare, the NHS and housing, some producing small U-turns.

He also travelled up and down the country campaigning to Remain. The problem was he and the Labour Party failed to breakthrough the media ignoring their campaign and focussing (in terms of the Remain argument) exclusively on the pathetic and useless official Remain campaign.

Jeremy has been democratically elected twice to be leader. His record should in no way be considered dismal. He has consistently delivered his honestly and long-held beliefs.

Rubbish analysis as per usual although the historical throwback is well put.

Corbyn does care about housing, education, schools, middle england, under invested regions (it was Corbyn who was talking about a migrant impact fund), transition to Green energy.

Corbyn far-left? Inaccurate and “un-FT”. Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards.

Far-left policies include abolishing private healthcare, private education, the monarchy, making all third-level education free, nationalising banks and railways and a number of other things, some of which would probably be quite good for the country.

As it is, Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards. Far-left European politicians would include Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Alexander Lukashenko and any number of dictatorial 1980s Communist party secretaries in Warsaw Pact-era eastern Europe. Jeremy Corbyn is quite clearly not in that zone unless one is a swivel-eyed Daily Mail reader.

A question: When Brexit is done and May is left standing there blinking vaguely and surrounded by the wreckage of the economy where will the Conservative Party be in the eyes of the electorate?

Its reputation for sound economic management will have been trashed along with the economic damage it has just imposed on the country so who wins?

Philip you are doing the FT (and its readers) a signal disservice by misunderstanding Corbyn and the Labour left.

Copeland was never likely to vote for an anti nuclear Labour Party – and well you know that. The wonder is that the Labour Party nearly won the seat despite being clearly antagonistic to the existence of the region’s biggest employer. WE, the subscribers to the FT, expect objective reporting that enables good decision making.

Corbyn and labour can’t win at the moment, if they go to the middle and ignore the democratisation of their party they will lose, if they stay a democratic left party the boomers and those with assets won’t vote for them as they fear socialism

Meanwhile the millennials and future generations bear the brunt of public debt created privately, and shareholder capitalism which is a race to the bottom, generation rent, and the absurd 40% of income rent costs in areas where there are plentiful jobs and opportunity epitomises the modern day surplus extraction and misery of those who have not lived among the golden age of capitalism, add tuition fees, stagnating public services (NHS), erosion of employment rights and you can see why Corbyn is confident among that 20% (of which I’m a part, ha ha ha, how funny he’s so inept ha ha ha lets all laugh at corbyn because there are so many other alternatives out there that are SO much better).

The Tories will continue their irrational, economically illiterate policy that is not running the country into the ground but causing growing social issues, and new social actors will emerge from the post 2008 age eventually tipping the balance towards something more corbyn-esque. Until then it will be the same old, same old.

Corbyn’s crackpot policies are simply outrageous! Spending a little more on the NHS and primary school education?  Providing a bit more affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis? 

Failing to asset strip the public infrastructure? Rowing back a bit on the vast, exploitative Sports Direct-ification of the British economy?  Why, this is simply unpatriotic! How “radical” – somebody stop this crazed moderate, centre-left European-style social democrat Corbyn before my taxes end up a little bit higher and the proles end up with a slightly better quality of life!

God forbid that poorer people should ever have slightly better quality of life. Who knows where that might end? It’s better not to give people hope. It just encourages them to think. 

I agree.  Britain’s low wage, low skill, low investment, low productivity economy would be severely jeopardised by the dangerous, radical policies of Jeremy Corbyn. Sure, he’s languishing in the polls now, but the proles are a fickle lot and cannot be trusted to consistently vote for their own impoverishment. What if Corbyn dons a Union Jack leotard and starts leaping up to belt out a few verses of ‘God Save The Queen’ with gusto on the next campaign trail, waving a couple of flags about like the dickens.  Why, the proles might even be duped by this charade into voting him into office! This would leave us all at the mercy of an outbreak of half-decent working and housing conditions for the proles at any time.  This simply would not do, too much has already been invested by the Conservatives in their cooption of UKIP’s policy platform!

There was no money left. The Tories have just borrowed billions. The crash will be spectacular.

This article is high in the running for one of the worst I have read in the FT in years.  We are in the end times of Neo-Liberalism, an experiment where maybe 20% did very well, and 80% were massively left behind.

Corbyn, Trump, Brexit are consequences of a system that has failed, and a financial system that collapsed in 2008, never a crisis always a collapse.  Stevens has no understanding of the why’s of brexit or the rise of Corbyn.  The left-right paradigm is dead.  I could not find one sentence in this article that is not total ideological nonsense.

If Jeremy has got under the skin of Philip Stephens so badly he must be doing something right.

Most Labour MPs and most journalists hate Corbyn as if he were the devil.  He represents the one pole of the process of polarisation caused by the 2007-9 Great Recession and the continuing crisis of world capitalism.

Let there be no mistake. The reason Philip Stephens is so horrified is because if his buddies amongst the old Labour MPs who are career politicians, were instead people of principle and socialists, then the Labour Party would be challenging for power.

The lesson of our era is the fluidity and rapidity of change. If Corbyn is right, (and I think there is lots of evidence to back him up), if he can be seen to be a leader of masses on protests and demonstrations, this will sharply polarise politics and this may match a simultaneous collapse in Tory support.  The Labour MPs who are resigning and trying to oust Corbyn again with their endless press briefings against him are part of a deliberate coup attempt. This time a sort of coup by water torture. They will fail again. The only major criticism one can make of Corbyn is he is too soft on these saboteurs. There are times when a sword must be wielded.

The worrying thing about this analysis is, his policies weren’t even that far left, they were definitely more central than Thatcher’s. Yet the FT reports this as if he’s Lenin/Kim Jung Un etc. His biggest failing for the press is he wants a meritocracy and for companies which require state support (through the use of tax credits to prop up salaries and increase profits and bonuses) to not pay dividends, which is effectively the Government paying the rich in an indirect way. Yes he has his failings, as does everyone, but generally speaking a lot of his economic policies would work fairly well at creating a long term balanced economy.

Corbyn, and his anointed heir, need to show there is an alternative to the Conservative Creed. Perhaps he needs to lose an election to clear out the MPs who are undermining him.

Perhaps this will result in his own political demise. But if he has a suitable succession plan in place then his success will come after he is gone. With the LabouraTory MPs planked off the sinking ship, seats will be freed for real Labour candidates for the subsequent election.

Facetious commentary. Corbyn has inherited a mess of a party with crumbling membership and totally out of touch MPs.

Time and time again polls have shown that the public want a ring fenced NHS, working railways and better care for the elderly, sick and disabled. To finance that he has stated that he will increase funding to the HMRC so that it can go after companies that are not paying their taxes (last year’s estimated unpaid tax was £34 Billion) which is probably why this article has been written in the style it has.

People want the state to intervene if something isn’t working. The current level of income disparity is something that is directly affecting the world by creating the perfect soil for fascism. Yet no other political leader wants to do anything about it (since it will affect their careers after being an MP). 

Versus the CIA and capitalism he is the best chance we have of having a fair society

 

 

 

 

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics

Richard Seymour’s major new book, Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, analyses how Corbyn rose to the head of the Labour Party, and his prospects for staying there. On the publisher’s website we read:

Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘dark horse’ candidate for the Labour leadership, won and won big. With a landslide in the first round, this unassuming antiwar socialist crushed the opposition, particularly the Blairite opposition.

For the first time in decades, socialism is back on the agenda–and for the first time in Labour’s history, it controls the leadership. The party machine couldn’t stop him. An almost unanimous media campaign couldn’t stop him. It is as if their power, like that of the Wizard of Oz, was always mostly illusion. Now Corbyn has one chance to convince the public to support his reforming ambitions. 

Where did he come from, and what chance does he have?  

This book tells the story of how Corbyn’s rise was made possible by the long decline of Labour and a deep crisis of British democracy. It surveys the makeshift coalition of trade unionists, young and precarious workers, and students, who rallied to Corbyn.  

It shows how a novel social media campaign turned the media’s ‘Project Fear’ on its head, making a virtue of every accusation they threw at him.  

And finally it asks, with all the artillery that is still ranged against Corbyn, and given the crisis-ridden Labour Party that he has inherited, what it would mean for him to succeed.

Liam Young: At last, Jeremy Corbyn gets the biography he deserves.

 

 

 

 

Summarising Tom Colclough’s message: Corbyn and most importantly his vision, must win

Tom Colclough has insisted that despite portrayals of Corbynistas as reckless ideologues, and yes, despite a flurry of bad polls, it is clear to him why Corbyn and most importantly, his vision, must win.

He adds that Labour under Corbyn’s stewardship hasn’t been the catastrophe that many in the parliamentary Labour party wished it to be, no matter how hard they tried to make it so.

Stopping the Tories and their myriad of welfare cuts during this parliament, or forcing the U-turn on a forced academisation programme (Ed: and forensic questioning on PMQs) has been opposition worthy of the name.

Corbyn and to a large part his shadow chancellor John McDonnell have turned the tanker around to face these issues head on. Before Corbyn’s election Harriet Harman was dancing on the pinhead of the welfare bill whilst Chris Leslie was an impotent shadow chancellor.

corbyn-rally

Corbyn successfully reclaimed Labour’s voice and begun reupholstering the party, from top to bottom. Turning a party around in the aftermath of an election that haemorrhaged votes nationwide takes time and support. Labour’s resounding victories in several Parliamentary by-elections and mayoralties since were bitter pills to swallow for Corbyn’s enemies, inside and outside the PLP.

Undeterred, Jeremy Corbyn continued to inspire thousands into becoming Labour members. It is now the largest party in Europe. Of course this is no arbiter of governing ability, but it is a mass resource that tapped into, can help the party reach into corners that others simply cannot.

Now, here is the important bit. Derailing this progress now – which is what removing Corbyn would do – would see the air in the chests of thousands of new members sucked out and their potential contributions curtailed. All that will be left would be a vacuum.

Those who would fill it are those still wanting to walk down the middle of a road that has long since been diverted.

The dynamic of politics as we know it is changing. Labour under Corbyn can make progress, but he needs time, and the support from the PLP that he deserves.

 

 

 

 

The ‘elite with two heads . . . Red Tories – little different from the Blue Tories’ – fight for the system which has so richly rewarded them

Lesley Docksey sent a link to an article by Jonathan Cook which is well worth reading. Jonathan suggests an approaching paradigm shift, increasingly driven by a younger generation which no longer accepts the assumptions of neoliberalism that have guided and enriched an elite for nearly four decades.

j-cookHe points out, “Those most wedded to the neoliberal model – the political, economic and media elites – will be the last to be weaned off a system that has so richly rewarded them . . . They will fight tooth and nail to protect what they have even if their efforts create so much anger and resentment they risk unleashing darker political forces”. And continues:

“Ideas of endless economic growth, inexhaustible oil, and an infinitely adaptable planet no longer make sense to a generation looking to its future rather than glorying in its past. They see an elite with two heads, creating an illusion of choice but enforcing strict conformity. On the fundamentals of economic and foreign policy, the Red Tories are little different from the Blue Tories. Or at least that was the case until Corbyn came along”.

Corbyn’s message is reaching well beyond the young, of course. Cook writes: “A paradigm shift doesn’t occur just because the young replace the old. It involves the old coming to accept – however reluctantly – that the young may have found an answer to a question they had forgotten needed answering. Many in the older generation know about solidarity and community. They may have been dazzled by promises of an aspirational lifestyle and the baubles of rampant consumption, but it is slowly dawning on them too that this model has a rapidly approaching sell-by date”.

He comments, “But whatever his critics claim, Corbyn isn’t just a relic of past politics. Despite his age, he is also a very modern figure. He exudes a Zen-like calm, a self-awareness and a self-effacement that inspires those who have been raised in a world of 24-hour narcissism .

jc

Corbyn’s style of socialism draws on enduring traditions and values – of compassion, community and solidarity – that the young have never really known except in history books. Those values seem very appealing to a generation trapped in the dying days of a deeply atomised, materialist, hyper-competitive world. They want change and Corbyn offers them a path to it.

Jonathan’s first degree was in philosophy and politics, after taking a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University in 1989, he gained a masters degree in Middle Eastern studies, with distinction, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, in 2000. He worked on regional newspapers, became a staff journalist at the Guardian in 1994 and later joined the Observer newspaper. He moved to Nazareth to become a freelance reporter in September 2001. – See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.dy4qbxAs.dpuf. He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: Peter Burgess tells the truth and pulls no punches

jeremy-corbyn-2Much of the media is taking its usual stance referring to Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘handlers’ as though he were a pit bull terrier. The Times has determined that ‘a bid to relaunch his leadership’ has been ‘derailed’ and Jim Pickard in the FT, author of many articles depreciating Mr Corbyn, focusses on pay caps but not pay ratios.

It is good to turn to sane and rightminded commentators such as Peter Burgess (Times comments) and Maisie Carter (recent article). Peter spells out the Corbyn message with absolute clarity and rather more bluntly than JC:

  • It is very clear he wants top execs pay to reflect that of the lowest paid worker for them to earn more and not rely on tax payers to boost their salaries and for the top execs to earn a decent salary but nor one that is obscene (sadly so many Tories want to see the poor get poorer and the rich richer).
  • He also wants to ensure that we continue to bring in workers when needed but ensure they don’t depress wages for British workers.
  • Of course those at the top getting obscene salaries want to disgrace Corbyn because the last thing they want is for their salaries to fall under £500,000 a year.
  • There’s big and there’s obscene especially when they are telling others to tighten their belts, can’t afford to pay you more then handing themselves 7 and 8 figure salaries and bonuses.
  • What shows double standards are all those commenting on here who think salaries of over £100,000 a year are too much if somebody is running the NHS, a local authority or running a Union.
  • I do find it difficult to understand how anybody can find the policies which have allowed so many workers to have their wages and working conditions deteriorate whilst CEO’s are paying themselves up to 700x the salary of their employees as being fair and something they’d support.
  • I would add that labour to their shame played an important part in allowing these obscene differentials since Maggie was in office. Some of them thought £500,000 a year for them and their friends was not enough.
  • Yes Corbyn needs to keep shaming all those, including some labour MP’s who’ve happily supported the policy of “austerity” that have hit the poorest whilst allowing the richest to continue to get richer.
  • I’d support a return to the differentials back in the days of Maggie. Top execs back then were hardly struggling. 20x / 30x acceptable 700x isn’t!

Endnote: Maisie Carter’s appeal

“Unite around Jeremy Corbyn’s ten point programme, which proposes the building of one million homes in five years, a free national education service, a secure, publicly provided NHS, with an end to health privatisation, full employment, an end to zero hours contracts, security at work, action to secure an equal society, a progressive tax system, shrink the gap between highest and lowest paid; aim to put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy.  On the last point, as the wars waged or aided by the West are the cause of mass immigration, we must step up foreign aid and instead of spending £37bn a year on foreign wars as our government does, invest in helping to rebuild these war torn countries”.

Read Maisie’s article in full here.

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn? Alex Nunns sets the record straight – a result!

simon-kuperDescribed as a British author and sports journalist, Simon Kuper, in his article “Poor, white and no longer forgotten” (December 17) alleged that “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems more interested in Venezuela and Cuba” than “unglamorous, everyday working-class problems”.

Alex Nunns pointed out:

“In the 198 questions that Mr Corbyn has asked at prime minister’s questions this year, he has made no mention of either Venezuela or Cuba.

“He has, though, asked about social care, the NHS, housing, welfare, inequality — as a BBC analysis has shown.

“Are these not the very “working-class problems” Kuper writes of? Neither has Mr Corbyn made any speeches aboutjc-bcc Venezuela or Cuba.

“In fact, he has not commented on Venezuela once, and only mentioned Cuba after Fidel Castro’s death”.

Due to this letter – or for some other reason – an endnote to the article now online said that Mr Kuper’s article had been modified at his own request and the Corbyn reference totally deleted.

 

 

 

Amadan Dearg: the glass half full, “things are moving in the right direction”

Labour has narrowed the Conservatives’ poll lead according to the final Opinium-Observer poll of 2016. As no media reports seen deigned to give a link to the poll by Opinium, a member of the British Polling Council, an extensive search finally found this:

poll-2-13-dec

http://opinium.co.uk/knowledge-centre/election-polling-centre/

Rather sour accounts in the Guardian (only positive was ‘a modest improvement’) and Labour list have been set aside in favour of comments by John Deehan and Amadan Dearg.

John Deehan writes:

‘Interesting times we live, despite 99 percent of the MSM pathologically against Jeremy Corbyn, despite the drip, drip, drip of poison against him from some of his critics within the PLP and despite some of the trolls on this site, labour is moving forward in the polls.

Furthermore, it will continue to increase its numbers in the polls, because the realisation amongst a large proportion of the electorate they have been sold a pup by the hard right in the Tory party, some of the New Labourites eg Gisela Stewart, UKIP et al.

The belief that they we can walk away from the largest economic market in the world is disingenuous to say the least, and still maintain the same status quo as before with the EU is bordering on naivety.

The belief that the UK with a GDP deficit of £78,000,000,000 and reliant as Mark Carney, head of the Bank of England said” we are reliant on the goodwill of foreigners” to keep our economy afloat and there will be no serious consequences for the economy is hollow, as hollow as the belief that the market knows best, the mantra of the Tories, New Labour and the Liberals. As Clinton remarked ” it is the economy stupid”!’

Amadan Dearg writes:

‘Is it too much to ask that those who claimed that the polls demonstrated Labour had “no chance” of winning a general election would now concede that it’s a wee bit more likely? It would seem that it is. Anyway, things are moving in the right direction and we haven’t even got our act together yet’.

 

 

 

Are journalists unaware of McDonnell’s worth or just under orders?

What is going on when even the so-called Labour List bulletin anonymously writes under a headline – outdoing even the Times:

McDonnell: We won’t save Hilary Benn from deselection threat

john mcdonnell smallThat is literally not true. Yesterday the writer heard John McDonnell speaking on Pienaar’s Politics; he warmly described Hilary Benn as a friend and explained more than once, as a response to  Pienaar’s prodding, that “Labour leadership doesn’t involve itself in local selections to the local party. That’s democracy”.

Does McDonnell merit the Times’ description (19.9.15) as ‘universally unpopular’, having ‘strained relations’ with unions, ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’? 

Not so, he has many friends, co-operative colleagues in all parties and admirers in this country and the United States.

And though his versatility is shown in his inspiring and wide-ranging book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour, putting forward a set of attractive new ideas, principles and policies, his most sustained work has been directed towards peace-building.

Without peace there can be no real prosperity for the 99% – only for the arms manufacturers and traders and politicians acting as their non-executive directors

99-3

He will – of course – be anathema to partyfunding arms manufacturers, arms traders and the politicians who need their cash and non-executive directorships, because of the following activities.

In 2003 he was inspired by Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who was calling for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace within the Executive Branch of the US Government. His bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace was repeatedly reintroduced in each session of Congress, attracting 72 cross-party co-sponsors. This work was later carried forward by the Peace Alliance.

jmcdonnell-in-america1This ‘unpopular man’ was heartily welcomed in the States (right) where city councils across the country welcomed the practical impact a Department of Peace would have on reducing violence in their nation and abroad. 18 cities -representing a collective population of over 6.5 million people – had endorsed it at the time of writing. They included Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, San Jose and more. 

John McDonnell advocated a ministry for the promotion of peace in all areas of life from the “playground to the Government” to embrace education and conflict resolution within business, prisons, homes, the media and the whole of life. He pointed out that this would be in line with developments in the USA and Europe, adding that Gordon Brown had set aside £500m in a “united Govt approach to reduce conflict in society and specifically to promote conflict resolution”.

Ministry for Peace meetings often attracted 70 & 80 people from peace organisations, lawyers and individuals committed to the idea – despite his ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’ behaviour? Unlikely.

John McDonnell introduced a Ten Minute Bill, the Ministry for Peace (Interim Provisions) Bill, passed unopposed on Tuesday 14th October, 2003. A second reading is planned for 21 November. The Bill’s second reading was passed unopposed but it was unable to go through all its parliamentary stages before the end of the session in November.

The other cross-party sponsors joining the less than ‘universally unpopular’ John McDonnell were the much-missed Elfyn Llwyd – Plaid Cymru, Jeremy Corbyn – Lab, Alex Salmond – SNP, John Randall – Con, Rudi Vis – Lab and the excellent also-missed Alan Simpson – Lab, who has become a great asset to the environmental movement.

Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrat) and Gary Streeter MP (Conservative, current chair) were also moved to work with John McDonnell to set up All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues in September 2006. 

This holds meetings such as a series of three with young Israelis and Palestinians who presented their visions and aspirations for changes they wished to see in the region during the next 20 years.

The APPG provides a forum for dialogue between Parliamentarians, Her Majesty’s Government and civil society on alternative methods of preventing and resolving violent conflict, on the basis of expert information and opinion from across the political spectrum, in dialogue with officials from the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as well as various conflict NGOs, academics, members of the business community and the media. The Group currently consists of twenty named members from both Houses of Parliament. Others in the new Parliament who express support or interest will be added to this list.

Hansard recorded words summarising McDonnell’s message in a Commons debate: “The most civilised form of defence is actually securing peace and preventing conflict.”