Category Archives: Watershed

‘Unpopular’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on stage during a Wirral music festival

Felicity Arbuthnot sent a link to a video showing Jeremy Corbyn – after addressing a rally of 5000 on the seafront in West Kirby in Merseyside – appearing in front of a reported 16-20,000 people at the festival who were waiting for a performance by The Libertines.

Corbyn made ‘a rousing speech’ (Metro) at Tranmere Rovers’ ground Prenton Park, in which he reiterated the policy of making Premier League clubs invest 5% of their income to grassroots football.

The Labour leader asked the Merseyside crowd: “do you want health, do you want housing, do you want care, do you want a society coming together or do you want selective education and fox hunting?” The crowd booed and Corbyn replied: “that’s absolutely the right answer leave the foxes alone.” He said he was “fed up with the nurses, the doctors, the care workers paying the price of austerity – let’s share it out in the future.”

Laura Cullen from the crowd tweeted “actual Jeremy Corbyn has just rocked up on stage. Now that’s how you do politics”.

 

 

mmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

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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 .

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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:

 

 

 

Corbynomics 2: hope of a New Deal for low-paid workers

Highlights from a Guardian article by Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting (University of Essex, below right)

Corbyn has rejected the trickle-down economic theory favoured by the Conservatives and New Labour.

prem-sikka-3The liberal economist JK Galbraith likened it to the “horse-and-sparrow theory”, which argued that if you continue to feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. Well, the sparrows have seen their share of the economy shrink.

A key strand of Corbyn’s policies is to strengthen workers’ ability to secure a larger share of the wealth generated by their own brawn, brain and skills. Towards this end, Corbyn has promised to repeal anti-trade union laws and promote collective bargaining by giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work.

Any mention of “collective bargaining” is likely to send neoliberals into convulsions even though big business has been using collective bargaining for decades to advance its interests. Banks, supermarkets, phone, gas, water, electricity and other companies collectively negotiate with governments to secure their economic interests. Finance directors of the 100 largest UK-listed companies, known as The 100 Group, pool their resources to secure advantages by shaping consumer protection, tax, regulation, competition, trade and other government policies. If big business is able to engage in collective bargaining, it is only fair that workers should also be enabled by law to collectively advance their interests.

Boosting workers’ share of GDP seems to be a key part of Corbyn’s policies, as without adequate purchasing power people cannot stimulate the economy

With this in mind, Corbyn advocates wage councils to set working conditions, a decent living wage and the abolition of zero-hours contracts to end the appalling insecurity caused by such working arrangements. Public sector workers have faced wage freezes and cuts in their real wages since 2008. They too have family responsibilities and Corbyn has promised to provide “an inflation-plus pay rise for public sector workers”. He has called for an end to workplace discrimination by requiring firms to publish data about the gender pay gap.

Further changes to dialogue about a division of the economic cake come through proposals to change corporate governance. Corbyn particularly wants to enact measures that would prevent directors and shareholders from extracting cash and then dumping companies, leaving employees, pension scheme members and taxpayers to pick up the tab. In the coming days we may well hear more about how workers and other stakeholders are to be represented on the boards of large companies, together with details of stakeholder votes on limiting excessive executive remuneration.

Jobs and prospects of decent pay would be boosted by investment in infrastructure and new industries. Labour has promised to create a new national investment bank and invest £500bn to reinvigorate the economy.

The burden of debt on young people and their families would be reduced by the abolition of tuition fees. This would enable many to start businesses and join the home ownership ladder, which is an increasingly distant dream for many.

Corbyn has been upfront about how various financial measures are to be funded. These include a marginal rate of 50% on taxable incomes above £150,000 and an increase in corporation tax rate. A reversal of the £15bn corporation tax cut announced by the chancellor in March alone would fund the abolition of the £10bn tuition fee.

In a relatively short time, Corbyn has laid foundations of a New Deal that would ensure economic gains are shared more equitably. Of course, lots more needs to be done – and the media can play a vital role in stimulating the debate rather than obsessing over personalities.

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.

 

 

 

Doomed to a Conservative/UKIP majority after the next election?

Many are supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s social, environmental and equality programme but on immigration . . .

Well before an increasingly canny Theresa May used a patriotic ‘dog whistle’ on this subject as “a necessary exercise of the Conservative Party’s ancient talent for survival”, Colin Hines wrote to the Guardian in September about schisms on immigration policy which, he believes, threaten the future of the Labour party.

A month before the 23 June Brexit referendum you published a letter from me (Labour losing ground to Ukip over migrants, 24 May) warning that Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of “accommodate but don’t control” immigration went against the views of the majority, who realised that the present level of immigration made tackling the social concerns of the “left behind” much more difficult. Having learned nothing from Brexit, Corbyn is sticking to his more-immigration guns in what looks like an electoral death wish.

“It is the opposite of internationalism, since it implies that we will continue to steal doctors, nurses, IT experts etc from poorer countries, rather than train enough of our own.

“Let’s be clear: continuing with our present immigration policies is also undemocratic, as more than three-quarters of us want immigration reduced, while less than 5% want it increased (Ed: scroll down this text patiently).

“Yet there is a way out of this. Many of us are very supportive of the rest of Corbyn’s social, environmental and equality programme, but unless Labour debates how to makes controlling immigration a central plank of its manifesto, we are surely doomed to a Conservative/UKIP majority after the next election”.

 

 

 

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/

 

 

 

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

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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)

 

 

 

Redbrick: Count on Corbyn, evade ‘the greasy grasp of the elite’  

RedbrIck Comment writers Becci Griffiths and Isabel Morris explain why the Labour party is more popular than ever before and why Corbyn has the public’s support

‘Donald Trump will never become the republican nominee’. ‘Brexit will never happen’. ‘Jeremy Corbyn will never be Prime Minister’. Two of these things, against the odds, happened this year.

 redbrick-2-reader

 Wake up world

Trends in recent political events show that the public are angry. Acts of political defiance and rebellion are no longer the anarchy we used to associate it with, but instead take of the form of Donald Trump and Brexit. The sheer doubt of both Brexit and Trump indicates the volume of the disenfranchisement surrounding conventional politics today. Brexit has proven that the British electorate are feeling increasingly isolated, with an attempt to take their country back from the greasy grasp of the elite.

Corbyn actively fights to combat this, striving for a return to honest and authentic politics. This was perfectly illustrated in his first Prime Minister’s Questions as Labour leader. This weekly affair is a notoriously ineffective method of scrutinising the government that typically descends into egotistical chaos. Corbyn changed this. He used PMQs as an opportunity to make politics about the people again, utilising this time not to exchange petty blows or schoolboy insults, but to hold the Tory government accountable.

redbrick-logoThe rising popularity of Jeremy Corbyn is best illustrated by the number of new members that have joined the Labour Party since he was first elected as Leader of the Opposition. Membership has reached over half a million, the largest in history, with 100,000 of these members joining after the EU referendum. Membership of all political parties as of July 2016 was under one million, meaning Labour have approximately half of all party members. And yes, party members do not represent an electorate, but they do represent campaigners; enthusiastic members of the public ready to persuade the British people to vote against austerity, inequality and social injustice.

A distressing disconnect between party and policy

A recently published YouGov survey revealed that 45% of people support an increase public spending and a raise in taxes for the wealthiest (both Labour policies), compared to 13% who are happy with the current level of spending cuts, and 22% who want cuts to be continued but reduced. However the poll still showed that 30% of participants thought the Conservatives had the best policies on taxation and public spending compared to 16% for Labour. A ‘strong economy’ is often associated with a conservative government. This poll proves that although the public prefer the economic policies proposed by Labour, their idea of a perfect economy is still associated with the conservatives, displaying a distressing disconnect between party and policy. How are we, the British public, ever going to vote in our own interests if we continue to dismiss the party actively trying to improve our socio-economic position?

Another investigation, from the London School of Economics, revealed that since his first day as Leader of the Opposition, Corbyn has been attacked unfairly by the British media. In one month alone, 75% of press articles ‘failed to accurately report his views’. This is because in the media today we see an undeniable right wing bias. Negative stories about Corbyn and his apparent unelectability are constant. A belief in Corbyn is undermined and as a result, the depiction of Corbyn as anything but a threat to the established government permeates society. But the fact is, Corbyn is a huge threat. He will take the power from the elites and give it righteously back to the people.

corbyn-rally

Ultimately, Jeremy Corbyn is a breath of fresh air in the stale politics of today. Rhetoric surrounding Labour creates an illusion of an incompetent party, when in actual fact the public actively support Corbyn’s policies but are blinded by assumptions, prejudices and ignorance. Love him or hate him, Jeremy Corbyn is changing the politics of today. He is a man of the people, his policies are strong, and the team of affiliates, members, and MPs behind him is growing.