Category Archives: Peace

Corbynize This Trumped Up World

Robert Green, who now coordinates the New Zealand Peace Foundation’s Disarmament and Security Centre in Christchurch with his wife Kate Dewes, draws our attention to this article by David Swanson.

Making Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister of the U.K. would do more for the world and everyone in it than either of the two available outcomes of any recent U.S. election could have done. Here in the U.S. I always protest that I am not against elections, I think we should have one some day. Well, now we have one — only it’s across the pond.

Corbyn’s record is no secret, and you don’t need me to tell you, but I have met him and spoken at events with him, and can assure you he’s legitimate. He’s been a dedicated leader of the peace movement right through his career. He had the decency last week to point out yet again that invading and bombing countries and overthrowing governments produces terrorism; it doesn’t somehow reduce it or eliminate it or “fight” it.

Britain is the key co-conspirator in U.S. wars. One real-life Love Actually refusal to bow before Emperor Donald, and the facade of super-hero law enforcement will begin to crumble, revealing a rogue serial killer standing naked in his golden hotel suite.

The world needs an actual popular elected response to U.S. aggression against the world’s poor and the earth’s climate. A ho-hum housebroken Frenchman who’s not a fascist isn’t the same thing. Corbyn supports successful Scandinavian socialism, demilitarization, environmental action, and aid to those in need. He works within the government and is held back by his party. But he doesn’t lie. He doesn’t sell out. He makes the case for wise and popular policies as powerfully as he’s able.

Want people to believe representative government is compatible with capitalism? Want well-behaved voters the world over to imagine that the corporate media can actually be overcome? Stop grasping at Congressional candidate gun-nuts who happen to be Democrats. Stop telling vicious lies about Russia in an attempt to travel back in time and cause a corporate militarist hack to win the White House. We actually have an election between an actually good candidate and one of the usual monstrosities we’ve become so used to.

Contact every young person you can who can vote in this election. Contact every possible organization and entertainer who might help spread the word. Get every Hollywood star who ever tried to rock the vote but didn’t have anyone to promote who people actually wanted to vote for to notice this golden opportunity. Telling young Brits to get out and vote for Jeremy will do more to spread democracy than destroying Syria, starving a million children in Yemen, or occupying Afghanistan for another 50 years.

Young people, sadly, have seen through our scams. They’ve heard us cry wolf too many times. Yet if you ask them who they would have voted for, they tell you the better candidate. Now here’s an actually great candidate, and their televisions are telling them that they are powerless to do anything. And they refuse to see through that scam. You have to help them see through it! You have to find somebody hip enough to help them! Young British people are our last hope, and it’s your job to encourage them.

We could have a world in which a leading wealthy “democracy” has a government that responds to majority opinion. We could have a world in which London says to Washington: “You want another war, we won’t help you pretend it’s legal. In fact, we’re drafting a brief for the prosecution and will see you in court.”

The people of the United States need that fig leaf torn away, need the pretense that mass murder is legal and necessary ended in our own minds. The peace, prosperity, sustainability, and friendship awaiting us is too much for us to even imagine. What might help us do it, what might make us believe that “hope” and “change” and other concepts we’ve almost come to despise could actually be possible would be making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.

 

 

 

 

Extracts from ‘General Election 2017 – Peace Policies and Foreign Follies’

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.  

Iraq

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.

Libya

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.

Syria

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. 

Yemen

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/

 

 

 

 

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!” ?

*

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…

 

 

 

 

‘A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party’, by Dr David Hookes, on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility  

Dr Hookes opened by saying that Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK-based membership organisation of hundreds of natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. Its members promote science, design and technology that contribute to peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. SGR’s work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament, climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology and emerging technologies.

Extracts from his introduction:  

Our view is that science and technology can be used to help implement the transformation of the socio-economic system on a global basis to create a cooperative, pluralist commonwealth based on fairness, mutuality and equality. In this economy humanity lives within ecological limits, now more commonly known as planetary boundaries.

One key to the long-term survival of industrial society is to develop a low carbon energy supply to avoid catastrophic climate change. This will involve technologies which harness renewable energy in all its forms (including solar, wind, waves, hydro, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal). Energy storage technologies will also be essential to help deal with problems of variability and intermittency, and some contribution from digital systems, that is, computers and digital instrumentation will be important in integrating these various sources of energy into smart local and national grids.

A background to this renewable energy revolution is that about 10,000 times more solar energy falls on the earth than we at present require for all our energy uses. For instance, a small patch of the Sahara, 100×100 square kilometres could supply all of Europe’s.

To read the submission click on this link: A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party David Hookes

Profile: David Hookes is a member of the Labour Party and a life-long trade unionist and socialist. He was born into a working class family close to the Liverpool dock road. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, he received a BA in Natural Sciences with a major in Physics. Being dissatisfied with the fact that there were so many conceptual problems in Physics, such as the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the unexplained constancy of the velocity of light in Special Relativity, Dr. Hookes decided to switch his studies. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology at Kings College, London University, with a thesis on the molecular structure of bio-membranes. He then spent a year in Germany as a post-doctoral fellow of the Von Humboldt Foundation and carried out, inter alia, theoretical work on the transport properties of bio-membranes. Back in England, Dr. Hookes was appointed Head of Physics at Kilburn Polytechnic. Some years later, he decided to take an MSc in Digital Electronic Engineering at the University of Westminster. As a result, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering at Coventry University, where he researched bio-sensors, robot tactile-sensing, and computer-interactive educational technology. This led to his developing a ‘Physics-is-Fun’ workstation. After his retirement, he became an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool University’s Computer Science Department. His present research interests are: how to save the planet from the threat of global warming; renewable energy technologies; application of ideas from physics to political economy and computer networks; computer-interactive educational technology; and foundational problems of physics. He was a founder member of The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and a member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA).

 

 

 

A Jamaican contact asks if 60+ serving MPs from the Cabinet of 2003 have the moral right to represent their constituents

An article on his blog ends: “As we digest the contents and impact of Chilcot’s report, I am reminded of the late Brian Haw (1949-2011) who lived in front of the Houses of Parliament for almost 10 years protesting against the Iraq War”.

brian-haw-2

A belated post: in July African Herbsman wrote: “One of the sad aspects of the Chilcot report is that most of its content was known at the time leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, through Whitehall & various media sources – e.g. Govt leaks, Private Eye magazine and documentaries made by Panorama and Dispatches”. He continues:

“That is why –  with the exception of the late Robin Cook – Tony Blair’s cabinet of 2002-3 must also shoulder blame for their support for the war. Former cabinet ministers such as Jack Straw, Jack Cunningham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Deputy PM John Prescott are as culpable as Tony Blair”.

Now some of those ex-ministers are expressing various forms of denial, but the author is unrelenting: “Today, they say they didn’t have all the facts or felt shut out by Tony Blair at the time. Yet these ministers voted to commit young men and women to an illegal war. Unforgivable”.

African Herbsman, who formerly worked in Whitehall, continues:

“These cabinet and backbench Labour MPs voted for war only to boost their career prospects within the government. Gordon Brown was told bluntly that if he did not publicly support the war he would not succeed Tony Blair as PM.

“Today, almost 70 of those Labour MPs who voted in 2003 are still in the House of Commons.  Yet most of them have said little about Chilcot’s report or even apologised for their selfish act. The majority of whom are plotting the bring the current leader Jeremy Corbyn down via Angela Eagle – who voted for the war.

“Some Labour MPs did their devious best to block the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Some tried restricting the Inquiry’s terms of reference and even delay the report’s release.

“Do any of those MPs have the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?

“Friday morning 2 May 1997, was one of the happiest days to be in London. The sun was out and Labour had defeated John Major’s Tory government the night before. We couldn’t believe that for some of us we were witnessing a Labour government in our adult lives. But Tony Blair, his cabinet colleagues, his inner circle and pro-war backbench MPs just blew the goodwill they were given to make the UK a proud, honest and prosperous society”. 

 

Read article here: https://wingswithme.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/chilcot-report-dont-just-blame-blair/

 

 

 

Highlights from ‘In Defence of Radical Politics’ – 2

steve-statsThis paper by Steve Schofield has been republished from his new website in full on this site. It has attracted widespread interest (left, with most readers from UK ). In In Defence of Radical Politics, he continues to look at Labour Party strategies from the 1979 election defeat:

“(T)he over-riding objective of a new generation of parliamentary Labour leaders has been to carry out what, until recent events, was a remorseless elimination, both intellectually and organisationally, of any semblance of radical politics within the party . . .”

Though the rhetoric was of a radical centre and a ‘Third Way’ of providing public services through partnerships with business and through social enterprises, Schofield itemises the reality:

  • a form of creeping privatisation,
  • a distancing from the trade unions
  • and an even closer attachment to an aggressively militarist United States

He continues by looking at grass-roots actions: through the Occupy Movement initially across the United States and into Europe, millions of people came together to challenge the legitimacy of a system that had extended and accelerated the accumulation of wealth and power by a corporate elite at the expense of ordinary working people. Many grass-roots actions volunteer support in New York and New Jersey for communities affected by flooding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, stemmed from this experience of direct democracy, as did the Spanish anti-eviction campaign, Plataforma de Affectados, which spread across the country using civil disobedience and direct action to prevent thousands of families from being evicted. Those radical energies have also led to the growth of anti-austerity parties such as Syriza in Greece, Front de Gauche in France, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain, all of which have fundamentally challenged social-democratic orthodoxy.

Schofield then turns to the UK and the United States where that power struggle has been played out internally through the Labour Party and the Democratic Party respectively:

“Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have attempted to re-align their parties around social justice and anti-austerity policies, drawing on the sheer energy and enthusiasm that emerged from the Occupy movement. Sanders, after an extraordinary campaign based on grass-roots support and funding, ultimately failed to gain the nomination but challenged the establishment consensus in a way that would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier . . .”

He gives a brief, definitive explanation for Corbyn’s election:

“For the mass of ordinary members, and those encouraged to participate as supporters with voting rights, the virtual extinguishing of a radical alternative by the Labour elite was intolerable in the face of the crisis facing working class communities. Corbyn’s was an authentic alternative voice that represented how they felt about issues like austerity, privatisation and disarmament. In effect, the Labour movement was attempting to take back the power, through the leadership campaign, that had been lost during the Blairite years with the neutering of party constituencies and conferences, as well as the fracturing of the relationship with the trade unions”.

After an overview of what he sees as ‘irreconcilable differences’ he expresses the need for a new party of the left, combining the traditional strengths of Labour with the new politics of participatory democracy and embracing a range of social movements. It would have to bring together both organised labour and workers without any trade union representation in the precarious world of zero-hour contracts and self-employment; as well as attract left-wing members of other parties like the Greens and the SNP, and the many millions of working people who have become so alienated from politics that they simply don’t vote.

In essence, Schofield writes, this party will be rebuilding a world-view that was second-nature to past generations, steeped as they were in a culture of working-class radicalism.

(Ed: perhaps like the Common Wealth Party?)

Past radical generations would have witnessed the latest crisis as further evidence that capitalism as a system only survives by further extracting the surplus value of labour through profit; they would have looked at the legacy of social democracy as, at best marginal and fragile, and at worst, by embracing much of the neo-liberal economic agenda, a capitulation to the power of capital; finally, they would have been disgusted by the behaviour of the New Labour elite who used their status as senior politicians, only gained through the support of the labour movement, to secure lucrative directorships and consultancies with the very corporations that have benefited from privatisations decimating public services and eroding workers’ pay and conditions. Schofield continues:

“There has never been a better time for organising around a new radical programme. Over recent years, grass-roots initiatives such as community renewable energy projects, co-operative housing schemes and local food networks have provided signposts, albeit on a small scale, of how the economy might break free from the tethers of capitalism”.

He asks: “How can we develop a social wage to reconcile new technologies with the loss of traditional work, or how can we achieve a no-growth economy with zero-carbon emissions that restores the integrity of planetary eco-systems and diversity of life while still providing a material base that benefits all working people?”

Campaigns like the Green New Deal and the Just Transition movement have brought together trade unions and environmental groups in support of just such radical programmes. But the challenge is to embrace the very diversity of these ideas and approaches in a way that can mobilise mass support for radical politics and create a common ground based on a strong ideological vision of a post-capitalist society. This can only be achieved through a vigorous but also generous debate on political and economic priorities, such as on the balance between parliamentary representation and extra-parliamentary action. A vibrant and confident political movement with a strong ideological base and sense of purpose can achieve precisely that. Some core elements are clear in the short-term:

  • public ownership of major utilities and the railways,
  • the reversal of privatisation in the NHS and local government,
  • accelerated council house building and renewable energy programmes
  • and nuclear and conventional disarmament.

However, individual policy areas should only be seen as part of a medium to long-term strategy for a fundamental redistribution of power to working people through devolution and economic democracy leading to a post-capitalist society.

For example, the democratic consensus might be to create a decentralised energy infrastructure based on renewable energy and community ownership. By having increased control over the means of production, working people will be able directly to assess the merits of any economic activity, weighing all issues including employment and environmental factors. If the balance of the argument is that quality of life considerations lead to the rejection of a particular form of production, this can be done in the knowledge that public investment is taking place across a range of socially-useful activities and that necessary work is being equally shared. The traditional threat of unemployment without destructive and wasteful capitalist development will be consigned to history where it belongs.

My own interpretation of the legacy of the radical left has remained the same throughout my lifetime, that it is impossible for working people to realise their own creative capabilities without removing the shackles of capitalist exploitation. Fundamentally, post-capitalism isn’t about a form of economic rationality but human creativity.

The utopia of shared work and the emancipation of time to realise the full potential of every human being is worth any amount of struggle in the face of grotesque inequalities and environmental breakdown that could, if we let the capitalist elite prevail, lead to the destruction of all life on the planet.

 

Read the full article here: http://stevenschofield.co.uk/?page_id=63

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

It seems Jeremy Corbyn was right about one or two things

peter-cavePeter Cave, who lectures in philosophy, ethics, and a principal examiner for the Chartered Insurance Institute replies superbly and succinctly to one of Janan Ganesh’s acutely jaundiced articles in the Financial Times (emphasis added):

Sir, Maybe Janan Ganesh and I live in different worlds.

According to Mr Ganesh, (FT: “Disillusioned Corbyn backers deserve no sympathy’), the 20th century has provided an “extended rebuttal” of Jeremy Corbyn’s views on economics and foreign policy.

Does this mean that Mr Corbyn was wrong:

  • to attack the west’s arms supplies to Saddam Hussein,
  • to oppose the subsequent Iraqi war,
  • and to encourage peace talks with the IRA when such encouragement was much condemned?

Does this mean that Mr Corbyn was wrong: 

  • to support the minimum wage when much mocked by the Tories — remember? — to challenge private finance initiatives
  • and to oppose the deregulations that led to financial disasters and vast wealth inequalities?

Indeed, if he is wrong to argue that current capitalism and government austerity programmes have harmed the poor, then presumably our new prime minister Theresa May is wrong in finally recognising such.

I could go on. 

 

(Ed: please do)

 

 

 

Voters enthused by ethical politicians working for the common good in Britain & America

Stop press: as socialist democrat Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, building on recent victories in the Western states: Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington, winning seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries … most of them with ‘overwhelming, landslide numbers’, Sanders looks forward to Wyoming, where he’s hoping to get another victory in the state’s caucuses on Saturday. Like Jeremy Corbyn, according to exit polls, Sanders performed well with his usual strongholds of younger voters.

The guest speaker for the QSS conference on Saturday, March 12th: Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South.

clive lewisBorn in London in 1971, Lewis was brought up on a council estate in Northampton by a single-parent father.

After studying economics at the University of Bradford, he worked for the BBC and became an officer in the Territorial Army in 2006, serving for three months in Afghanistan.

In 2015 he was elected as MP for Norwich South with a large majority. 

He is currently chair of the Parliamentary Humanist Group and a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Lisa Nandy.

.

After the Quaker Socialist AGM Clive Lewis was introduced by Chris Newsam, the new QSS Clerk.

Clive Lewis served on the panel of Radio 4’s Any Questions show, held in Thornbury,  Gloucestershire. The audience was ‘conservative Middle-England’ and Lewis described the other panel members as ‘formidable’:

clive aq

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (above left)  is an anti-EU climate change denier who supported cuts to renewables, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (second left), is also a high-powered anti-EU climate-change denier and Juliet Devonport, CEO of Good Energy is an advocate of renewable energy.

Clive Lewis pointed out that the majority of Conservative ‘green’ cuts were not mentioned in their election manifesto and by implementing them, they’d broken election promises to be greener:

  • Cameron had cut the solar energy and bio-gas subsidies and blocked on-shore wind-farms.
  • He has taxed renewables – and cuts mean that they will miss EU targets by 25% in 2020 and could be fined.
  • Cut-backs have led renewable energy companies in the UK to hold back on further investment.
  • The government has given tax-breaks to the oil and gas industry, thus making the UK the only G7 country to subsidise oil and gas companies.
  • Cameron has kept petrol tax down when oil prices had fallen and
  • has privatised the Green Investment Bank, which destroyed its point.

Lewis was astonished to receive loud applause from such a conservative audience. Indeed, when Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to the threat of “socialist green taxes” the Thornbury audience was silent, and when Rees-Mogg said Cameron’s was “the greatest government ever” he was heckled. 

The lesson he drew from this episode was that even at Thornbury, a Conservative stronghold, ‘natural Tories’ were prepared to oppose Cameron on climate change.

He then answered questions from the audience, advocating the integration of common policies on poverty, equality and climate change. John McDonnell, for example, could incorporate climate change and energy efficiency into his economic policies as part of creating the broad alliance necessary for winning in 2020.

When asked if the scientific evidence for man-made climate change is strong enough to base a broad alliance around it – and if it is really an “existential threat” to humanity, Clive said 97% of scientists thought so and in any case, supporting renewables was worthwhile just on grounds of efficiency, jobs and a clean environment (below).

climate change hoax 2

Clive thought Jeremy was capable of compromise – for example, he was not against civil nuclear power as much as he had been. Jeremy would not shift personally on Trident renewal but the Labour Party as a whole might compromise in September and Jeremy would have to recognise this. Like Jeremy, Clive was against Trident on moral grounds but he recognised that full unilateralism might not be achievable. Compromise was a political necessity.

There are divisions in the Labour Party; the New Labour stalwarts had a “sense of entitlement” and, in order to remove Jeremy, they would be prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of members. The PLP was still overwhelmingly Blairite in its views. Not only that, but the machinery of the Labour Party – the officials – were also Blairite. The Blairite grip on the party would take a long time to loosen.

Q: Could a Labour foreign policy work without Trident?

Clive thought it could, provided there was an increase in conventional military expenditure. Labour could support a level above 2%, and even take defence spending to 2.5%, in return for non-renewal of Trident. With extra money soldiers could be looked after better and equipment updated.

Drawing on his own experience as an army officer, Clive Lewis said, “MPs would think twice about bombing Syria if they had served in the army”.

Instead of interventions for regime change ( Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya) the armed forces could undertake humanitarian interventions.

children drone killed

They would assist foreign countries, not bomb them: a humanitarian foreign policy. 

He called for an anti-Tory alliance at the 2020 election. The core of such an alliance had to be climate change, though poverty was another area that could unite the left, as was opposition to military intervention for the purpose of regime change.

Clive summed up by pointing out that last May only 1 in 5 voted Conservative so there was hope, if the opposition parties could unite. The problem was more amongst the rank and file than amongst the leaders. Rank-and-file Greens, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems were aggressively against such alliances. Thus Jeremy Corbyn and MP Caroline Lucas were close politically, and were even friends, but their supporters were too tribal to unite.  

He was convinced that climate change was the key to an alliance, or co-operation across parties. It is an existential threat to humanity. In the world war of 1939-45 there was an existential threat to humanity from fascism and “we did not respond with neo-liberalism and privatisation” but with alliances, co-operation and socialism.

Clive Lewis had aroused enthusiasm in a Quaker audience despite calling for a sizeable increase in military expenditure. It was felt that the left of the Labour Party had acquired a major talent. His arguments had been sure-footed and convincing. and his eloquent speech drew extended applause.

Affinities, Justin Trudeau and Jeremy Corbyn? Peaceable and democratic

justin trudeauAs Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed he will withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, Michael Ignatieff suggests that he will have an influence on democratic politics even beyond his own country.

Trudeau – like Corbyn – won because Canadians wanted a better approach to politics. After nine years of partisan rancour in the nation’s politics, this set a new tone.

How like our own dear PM

Ignatieff describes Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister he defeated, as a master of the politics of enemies: “attacking the patriotism of his opponents; selecting wedge issues to divide the electorate; attacking the vulnerable to solidify support among the comfortable. This reached its nadir when he stoked fears of Muslims and what a member of his team called their “barbaric cultural practices”. Voters en masse rejected the ploy.

PR didn’t work – people are ‘wising up 

Mr Harper unleashed a barrage of negative adverts asserting that “Justin’s just not ready” — but the young candidate proved he was more than ready.

jeremy corbyn (2)No doubt this negativity will continue in an attempt to bring his time in office to an end- just as the forces of corporate funders, mainstream politicians of all major parties and their media machine continue to bombard Jeremy Corbyn. 

Attack opponents for who they are, not for what they say. If you can deny them standing — the right to get a hearing at all — you need not even bother with their arguments

Ignatieff says that Harper imported most of the elements of the ‘politics of enemies’ from the US – and ‘perfected their application in a British-style parliamentary democracy’

If a prime minister wants a quiet life, he keeps his MPs on a tight leash

As Ignatieff warns, the desire for democratic reform that the Trudeau/Corbyn campaigns have evoked may challenge their own authority.

He adds that if they want to revive parliamentary democracy, they must loosen the leash, allow free votes, empower parliamentary committees, open the doors of parliament to the people, reach out to them online, release documents to foster democratic debate and embark on the perilous path of electoral reform.