Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

 

 

 

 

o

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: an accurate tribute from three proud sons

 

 

 

 

0

I’m Jewish and I’m voting Labour. Here’s why

This is the title of an article written by Emily Apple to which a Bournville reader has drawn attention

Her reasons for voting Labour:

      • We have a Labour Party run by an anti-fascist who’s put his money where his mouth is in terms of action;
      • his party seeks a genuine alternative to the status quo of neoliberalism, austerity and gross inequality;
      • she believes a Labour government will make a real difference to millions of people across the world;
      • on behalf of all who’ve suffered under the vile and heartbreaking austerity measures of Conservative-led governments – and
      • of people being bombed with weapons sold by UK companies.

Since Jeremy Corbyn came to power, Emily has seen those that oppose him try every trick in the book to find the key to smearing him. For a while, nothing stuck. Then came the antisemitism ‘crisis’. And relentless pressure, a complicit establishment media that has been happy to ‘distort’ the facts, gross repetition and a witch hunt that eventually worked. Now it’s got to the point where many people automatically associate Labour and the Corbyn project with antisemitism.

there is a horrific rise in antisemitism – it’s just not in the Labour Party – the far right desecrates Jewish graves with swastikas, and there are open attacks on Jewish people in the streets. This is real and utterly terrifying. But unlike the manufactured crisis, it’s got nothing to with critiquing Israel or supporting Palestinian freedom.

But this election has caused her another existential crisis. She supports Corbyn and she’ll vote Labour. But she reminds us to remember that an election doesn’t give us real political power. It’s easy to get caught up thinking ‘my vote matters’ – especially when you live in a marginal constituency.

But – and it is a big but – this doesn’t mean supporting parliamentary democracy. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking at alternatives. And even if Corbyn wins, we need to be looking at ways of dismantling the power of Westminster and putting that power back in the hands of our communities – something Corbyn says he wants to do. She ends:

“But people are dying under the Tories. I’m also terrified for my future, my child’s future, and the future of millions of strangers under the Tories. This is why, as a Jewish person who believes parliamentary democracy is fundamentally flawed, I’m supporting Labour and I’ll be ticking that box come election day – giving Jeremy Corbyn the chance to see him running the country – a chance that needs to be taken”.

 

 

 

o

HOW A GREEN NEW DEAL WILL BENEFIT US ALL: Paul Halas

There’s been a lot of excitement about Labour’s Green New Deal, but what does it involve and how will it affect us?

Burning up carbon deposits – in the form of oil, coal and gas – which were laid down over hundreds of millions of years, is pushing us to the brink of extinction. To avoid this we need to take some pretty drastic action and we’ll have to be prepared for major changes in the way we live, work, travel and even eat.

As part of its Green New Deal, Labour has undertaken to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030. This is how –

Some of the biggest changes will have to take place at the top, starting with the major international corporations – which carry the biggest responsibility for carbon emissions. They produce and sell both the fossil fuels and the machines and gadgets that cause climate change. By increasing tax on products and services that release more carbon, and reducing it on ones that cause less damage, big business can be made to do the right thing.

Greener energy will be a priority. Renewable energy sources now account for half our electricity, but to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 green energy must still be increased vastly. Labour plans to double offshore wind-powered generation, and will encourage local energy production – whether it’s from sun, wind or water, or a combination of them.

Transport and travel are major contributors to climate change. The Green New Deal will encourage greener ways of travelling, more sustainable technologies and better ways of making use of the resources we have. While they’re only a partial solution, the development and ownership of cars running on electricity from renewable sources will be helped, public transport will be improved and bus and rail networks widened. In the areas still not well served by public transport, vehicle-sharing schemes will be created.

Energy saving begins at home, and the Green New Deal proposes both a massive scheme of building new, energy-efficient homes and finding ways of improving existing buildings. There will be a major drive to insulate homes better, and the Conservatives’ tax increases on solar heating will be reversed.

Over time we’ll have to adapt our eating habits. Clearly, flying in foodstuffs from the four corners of the globe produces an unacceptable carbon footprint; equally, industrial-scale meat production releases an incredible amount of methane, another greenhouse gas. Producing more of our food closer to home will reduce our carbon output and help our economy, and a more plant-based diet will be less wasteful and in the end healthier.

Old systems will have to go as new technologies are developed. Much of our economy depends on technology and services that are no longer sustainable and will have no place in our greener future. Old systems will have to go as new technologies are developed. This will inevitably mean that some jobs disappear, but an expanding green economy will mean that more and better jobs will be created, and training will be provided for those who fill them. The green technological revolution will be funded by a £250 billion national investment scheme.

As well as a greener future, Labour’s Green New Deal aims to bring about a more equal future too. The excesses of the super-rich corporations will be curbed; tax avoidance will at last be tackled. The multimillionaire class have taken more and more, while the rest of us – the many – have been left with less and less. One way to tackle the problem is through taxation, and another is through localism – also known as Community Wealth Building. Many communities throughout the world are already benefiting from these schemes, and an increasing number of towns and cities in the UK are adopting them.

The idea is that communities and councils always give priority to local suppliers and services. For instance when building a new school, or hospital, or sports complex, etc, local firms will always be preferred to the big players to carry out the work. The same goes for services. Under the Labour Green New Deal local energy suppliers will be encouraged, especially if they are publicly-owned, or run by people’s co-operatives. Local credit unions will be created, house-building schemes, housing associations, food co-operatives – all manner of local enterprises – all creating fairly-paid, unionised jobs. That way money earned in the locality stays in the locality and benefits local people. It cuts down our carbon output by reducing transport of both people and goods, and encourages green technologies. It also creates a greater degree of equality and reduces our dependence on the big corporations. What’s not to like?

To prevent catastrophic climate change we’re all going to have to adapt to major changes. But they needn’t be daunting. We’re not going to go back to a pre-industrial age. We won’t have to cycle everywhere unless we want to, and we won’t have to live on a diet of turnips and pottage.

 

Many of the changes will be beneficial and will bring about a more equitable and contented society. They should be embraced.

 

These policies were mentioned in Jeremy Corbyn’s address to the 2019 Labour Party Conference and the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group is campaigning on the Green New Deal as part of the Campaign against Climate Change which set up the One Million Climate Jobs campaign.

 

 

 

o

Panorama exposed?

It is now alleged that most of the people interviewed as direct witnesses to antisemitic incidents in Wednesday’s BBC Panorama programme were members or supporters of the Jewish Labour Movement (formerly Poale Zion) relaunched in 2015.

This was not mentioned at any point in the show, during the programme itself or in the credits at the end.

The first witness and many others on Wednesday’s Panorama programme recounted their experiences of antisemitism in the Labour party with apparent sincerity. No professional actress could have performed more movingly than the first person to appear – seen below

Jeremy Newmark (former JLM chair) and Ella Rose with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev

Investigative journalist Asa Winstanley, on the Electronic Intifada website, was the first to break the news and others have added their observations. A provisional list of JLM people who “gave witness” anonymously in the Panorama show reads as follows (click here to see the full list of JLM officers):

Ella Rose (JLM equalities officer, former national director)
Alex Richardson (JLM Membership Officer)
Adam Langleben (ex JLM Campaigns Officer)
Stephane Savary (JLM vice-chair)
Rebecca Filer (JLM political education officer)
Joshua Garfield (JLM local government officer)
Izzy Lenga (JLM international officer)

There was no semblance of balance: no witnesses from Jewish Voices for Labour were invited to speak, so they have issued their own statement on Wednesday’s Panorama programme which may be seen here and on this website.

Richard House quotes from JVL’s text: “It is shameful that the BBC has joined in an orchestrated campaign whose principal aim is quite clearly to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister of a Labour government committed to socialism.”

As George Monbiot says, in nominal democracies, billionaires get political power by funding parties, lobby groups and social media ads. But above all, they buy newspapers and television stations. Social media is dominated by stories the billionaire press generates: “As their crucial role in promoting Nigel Farage, Brexit and Boris Johnson suggests, the newspapers are as powerful as ever”. He advises readers: “If a newspaper is owned by a billionaire, be suspicious of every word you read in it. Check its sources, question its claims. Withhold your support from any party that allows itself to be bullied or – worse – guided by their agenda. Stand in solidarity with those who resist it”.

Richard House advocates extending the Star’s “people’s press” ethos to the rest of the media, and take back ownership of it. To this end, the political left should initiate a national campaign for people in their millions to cancel their licence payment and start its own radio station. Many readers would invest in such an enterprise.

 

 

 

 

o

Honourable Jeremy or deplorable Jess? No contest

 Desperation? ‘The Establishment pick’ to replace Jeremy Corbyn 

Jess in the Times: “At school we got asked to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be the prime minister. And why not? I think I’d be a good prime minister.”

I sent this to a Hall Green friend:

Times interview ends: Shoot credits

  • Styling Prue White.
  • Hair Peter Burkill at S Management using Colour Wow and GHD.
  • Make-up Julia Wren at Carol Hayes Management using Chantecaille. Jess Phillips wears jacket, £538,
  • Ashley Graham x Marina Rinaldi; blouse, £453, com;
  • trousers, £139, com;
  • shoes, £475, com;
  • earrings, £79, The Hoop Station (co.uk)

He replied:

Well, she’s certainly got the wardrobe for it…wonder how all those constituents she was almost in tears about in the House of Commons last week have got to spend on clothes? 

Kit Knightly details and then summarises her record: “She backs Trident and Austerity and Israel. She hates Corbyn and Williamson and Leftists in general. She doesn’t believe in class politics or ideology, but she does talk about gender all the time, and says “fuck” a lot, in a midlands accent no less, so she’s definitely hip and cool and down with the kids”.

Kit Knightly asks: “Shouldn’t a Labour MP being roundly praised by The Times, Tory MPs and neo-liberal vultures like Miliband be a cause for concern?”

 

 

 

o

‘Colourless (aka sober and thoughtful) Corbyn’ is the best leader

On 12th March, Richard House responded to a Western Daily Press letter from B.E. Roberts (“Labour Party needs a new leader”, letters, March 8) which characterised Jeremy Corbyn as a “colourless” leader:

“If it’s a choice between a colourful leader like Tony Blair or David Cameron leading us into policy nightmares like illegally invading Iraq and the Brexit catastrophe, respectively, or “colourless Corbyn”, for me and many others, it’s a no-brainer.

“The “colourless” Clement Atlee is regarded by many as Britain’s greatest post-war prime minister; and in the multiple crises engulfing us today, we need another leader who isn’t driven by ego and ambition, who is sober and thoughtful, and who’s been on the right ethical side of history throughout his political career.

“Only one current leader ticks all those boxes – and that’s colourless Corbyn”.

Richard House, Stroud, Gloucestershire,

Western Daily Press, 12 March 2019, p. 19

 

 

 

o

 

 

Hundreds of Israeli citizens sign letter supporting Jeremy Corbyn

.

Felicity Arbuthnot draws attention to a report that hundreds of Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, have in the last few days signed a letter expressing support for the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The letter will be sent to Labour’s Annual Conference that will take place in Liverpool starting next Sunday, September 23, and continue until Wednesday, September 26.

The letter of support reads as follows:

“We are Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, committed to civil equality within Israel, to an end to the occupation and the blockade of Gaza, to a just peace and justice for the Palestinian refugees. The solidarity of progressive forces abroad is vital to our struggle, and we therefore welcomed the election of Jeremy Corbyn, a committed campaigner for peace, as leader of the British Labour Party.”

“Since his election, Corbyn has been subjected to sustained attacks for his supposed friendliness to antisemitism. We reject the substance of these accusations completely, and we note that some of Corbyn’s accusers, such as Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, are themselves notorious racists and allies of known anti-Semites, such as Viktor Orbán and the Polish nationalists.

“We also note that, even as many of Corbyn’s critics claim to respect the right to criticize Israel in theory, in practice their attacks seem designed to shut down debate on Israel-Palestine and prevent a future Labour government from applying any real pressure on Israel to change its policies.”

“At the same time, we recognize the reality of antisemitism, including on the left, and we applaud Labour’s sustained efforts to fight it within its ranks. These efforts are free from the hypocrisy of the right, which decries antisemitism, real and imagined, while openly encouraging racism of other kinds. In a global climate of rising fascism, this hypocrisy is extremely dangerous. In order to combat it, it is absolutely necessary to repudiate antisemitism while also standing up for Palestinian rights and for socialism.

“We call upon all friends of Israeli-Palestinian peace to join the Labour Party’s leadership in its unequivocal commitment to creating a politics free of hate and prejudice, and to support us in working together toward a future without oppression and discrimination in Israel and Palestine. Labour friends, we wish you success in your upcoming National Conference and in the struggles ahead.”

At the food of the letter, following Hebrew and Arabic versions, Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel are invited to add their signatures to the letter of support for Jeremy Corbyn: http://tinyurl.com/letter2labour

 

 

 

o

 

Media Lens at its best


 Extract from the latest article:

In his outstanding essay, ‘The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)’, Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of ‘The Holocaust Industry’ and the son of Holocaust survivors, comments:

‘The degree of anti-Semitism infecting British society has been the subject of numerous polls over a sustained period of time. These surveys have uniformly, consistently, and unambiguously concluded that anti-Semitism:

(1)  has long been a marginal phenomenon in British society, infecting under 10% of the population,

(2)  is far less salient than hostility to other British minorities, and

(3)  is less pronounced in the UK than almost anywhere else in Europe.’

Finkelstein argues that Jews have considerable power within British society. Indeed, the intensity and longevity of the campaign targeting Corbyn’s ‘antisemitism’ in part reflect that influence:

‘Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.”‘

As Finkelstein says, ‘it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts’ of this kind. Noting them has nothing to do with ugly, racist fantasies about Jews controlling the world.

He adds:

Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected head of the Labour Party. His ascendancy vastly expanded and galvanized the party’s ranks. Corbyn has devoted a lifetime to fighting racism; like eponymous labor organizer Joe Hill, where workers strike and organize, it’s there you’ll find Jeremy Corbyn.

‘By British and even global leadership standards, he cuts a saintly figure. On the opposite side, mostly unelected Jewish bodies have dragged Corbyn’s name through the mud, slandering and defaming him. They have refused to meet with Corbyn, even as he has repeatedly extended olive branches and offered substantive compromises. Instead they issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.

Finkelstein summarises accurately: ‘The transparent motive behind this cynical campaign is to demonize Corbyn, not because he’s a “fucking anti-Semite,” [the words of former Labour minister Margaret Hodge] but because he’s a principled champion of Palestinian rights’, although ‘a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own’ are all seeking to destroy Corbyn.

Indeed, no rational observer can see this as anything other than an extension of the relentless establishment attack on Corbyn, the mild socialist threatening to let democracy loose from its box. The objective of the antisemitism moral panic is obvious, writes Lindsey German of Stop the War:’removing Corbyn from the Labour leadership and his replacement with someone much more amenable to the needs of British capital, whether in the arena of foreign policy or in terms of domestic policies’.

David Hearst, a former Middle East editor at the Guardian, concurs: ‘The Labour leader’s opponents don’t care about anti-Semitism. They’ll just do anything to remove Corbyn.’

Hearst argues that Corbyn’s opponents are using: ‘the tactics of fascists – smearing, libelling, intimidating: ‘Unable to put up a candidate capable of defeating him by democratic means, at the ballot box, unable to attack him on his polices for which there is majority support in the country, Corbyn’s detractors have methodically and consistently set about the task of character assassination.’

We asked Noam Chomsky for his view on these issues. He replied: ‘The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally, while also authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world. Plainly an intolerable threat to order.’ (Noam Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 9, 2018

 

 

 

o

 

Why the UK needs Corbyn in Downing Street

 

Edited extract from a site run by Unite activist Steven Walker from Liverpool. The site’s address comes from his initials.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke in Edinburgh about his plans for changes to the media landscape. The full address may be seen on YouTube or read here.

‘MSM’ coverage of the event has tended to avoid reference to Corbyn’s question session with journalists and members of the public and the extensive ‘Q&A’ with actor Maxine Peake.

Dignity and understatement

The telling and moving segment of the Q&A came when Corbyn was asked about his experience of mainstream media attacks since he became Labour leader – and he responded with dignity and understatement, describing a ceaseless campaign of smears against him as “The papers being somewhat unkind about me”, before going on to make a steadfast defence of the need for journalists in a ‘vibrant democracy’ and to pay tribute to journalists who have risked and even lost their lives in the pursuit of truth.

About the many: for the poor and for our children.

When asked what he thinks it’s most important for the mainstream journalists to do now, his answer – as it has consistently been throughout his leadership – was all about others and their needs.

Others would add his policies on nuclear power and weapons, military intervention in other countries and on projects such as HS2, privatisation and the third Heathrow runway.

The article summarises: “No self-pity. No drama – in stark contrast to the behaviour of some Labour MPs who have suffered far less for far more cause. Just, as ever, a self-deprecating and completely authentic concern for others – especially those left vulnerable and deprived by our broken economic system and our skewed, dysfunctional mainstream media landscape”.

 

 

 

o