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Housing for the Many: Labour’s Green Paper.

 

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the launch of Labour’s Housing Green Paper.

 

He opened by referring to the sky-high rents and house prices, luxury flats proliferating across our big cities, while social housing is starved of investment and a million are on housing waiting lists. Tens of thousands of children are in temporary accommodation and homelessness is up by 50% since 2010.

Housing has become a means of speculation for a wealthy few, leaving many unable to access a decent, secure home.

Labour’s plan to turn this around involves two simple steps:

  • build enough housing
  • and make sure that housing is affordable to those who need it.

The promise: the next Labour Government will deliver one million genuinely affordable homes over ten years, the majority of which will be for social rent.

Fifty years ago, local authorities were responsible for nearly half of all new housing completions. Nowadays it is just 2%. Private housebuilders openly acknowledge that it is simply not profitable for them to build houses for the less well-off. We need to do it ourselves.

At the beginning of the Thatcher years, nearly a third of housing in this country was for social rent. That figure is now less than 20%. Council building has been in decline since the Right to Buy was introduced and councils were prohibited from using the proceeds to replace the houses sold.

Sadiq Khan has announced that the number of affordable homes and the number of homes for social rent started in London in the last year, is higher than in any year since the GLA was given control of affordable housing funding in the capital.

That is the difference Labour can make in Office. But Sadiq and his team are starting from an extremely low base and working within the crippling constraints imposed by this Government, cutting social housing grants time and time again, redefining affordable housing so that it’s no such thing and forcing councils to sell their best stock.

This Green Paper sets out many of the radical measures needed to transform the planning system:

  • ending the “viability” loophole so that commercial developers aren’t let off the hook;
  • giving councils new powers to acquire land to build on and better use land the public already owns;
  • and the financial backing to actually deliver, which means the ability to borrow to build restored to all councils; and extra support from central government too.

When the post-war Labour government built hundreds of thousands of council houses in a single term in office, they transformed the lives of millions of people who emerged from six years of brutal war to be lifted out of over-crowded and unhygienic slums into high quality new homes and introduced to hitherto unknown luxuries such as indoor toilets and their own gardens.

Setting new benchmarks in size and energy efficiency, something that old council stock still does to this day council housing was not a last resort but a place where people were proud to live.

In the Green Paper it was good to see an emphasis on retrofitting the housing stock and hopefully bringing back the thousands of empty houses back into use.

Having previously blocked and voted down Labour legislation to give tenants the right, the Government now say they support the basic legal right for tenants to take a landlord to court if they fail to make or maintain their home ‘fit for human habitation’, a right included in MP Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill.

A Labour Government would introduce and fast-track this legislation, if the current Government fails to ensure it is enacted before the next Election.

The next Labour Government would launch a new programme to complete the job – Decent Homes 2. Following the Grenfell Tower fire it would update regulations to include fire safety measures and consult on a new fire safety standard to add to the existing four Decent Homes criteria, including retro-fitting sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

A Labour Government will deliver a new era of social housing, in which councils are once again the major deliverers of social and genuinely affordable housing and set the benchmark for the highest size and environmental standards.

The full text: https://labourlist.org/2018/04/a-decent-home-is-not-a-privilege-for-the-few-but-a-right-owed-to-all-corbyns-full-speech-on-housing

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s answers about his stance on the recent attack on Syria

ANDREW MARR SHOW, 15TH APRIL 2018 (starts 24 mins into the programme)

Extracts from BBC transcript

Marr: Would you like to see a proper debate and a vote at the end of that?

Corbyn: I would. Because I think parliament should have a say in this, and the Prime Minister could quite easily have done that. She took a decision sometime last week that she was going to work with Macron and Trump in order to have an attack on the chemical weapons establishments in Syria. She could have recalled parliament last week. It’s only the Prime Minister can recall parliament. Or she could have delayed until tomorrow when parliament returns itself.

I think what we need in this country is something more robust, like a War Powers Act, so that governments do get held to account by parliament for what they do in our name.

I would like a vote which outlines the process that could now happen. That is giving the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the chance to go in and fully investigate everything, including the debris from the bombing attack. But also a very strong steer to our government to go back to the UN and promote a resolution and work with might and main to bring Russia and the United States together on this so that we do get a political process in Syria, as well, of course, as the removal of chemical weapons – which was done after 2013 when Lavrov and Kerry reached an agreement which had a big effect. Several hundred tons of chemical weapons were destroyed as a result of that process.

It can be done, it’s hard work and it takes patience, but surely that is better than the danger of escalation of this conflict into a proxy war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria.

I’ve no problem with investigation by the OPCW, or the quality of it, but they must be given the chance to do it now. There is evidence of course, very strong evidence about the use of chlorine, which is not itself a banned substance because it’s so easy to make, but clearly as a weapon it is illegal. That has been used by a number of parties in the conflict, but there is quite clear evidence there. The OPCW must be given the chance to report on it.

The OPCW’s job is to identify what the agent was, and they’ve done that. Sadly, it’s not their job to identify who made it, or necessarily where it was made. I want to see incontrovertible evidence of it.  And I do think we need to strengthen the role of the OPCW in the future. I think it’s very clear that the nerve agent itself is very similar to those that have been made in Russia. Novichok is what we call it, and obviously there has to be some challenge to Russia on this, and that is what is going on, and I would obviously want to challenge the Russians on the production of this, as indeed I would any other country that’s producing something which is wholly and totally illegal.

If we’re going to make a very, very clear assertion like that we’ve got to have the absolute evidence to do it. Because, listen, we believe in rules-based diplomacy, we believe in a rules-based international relationship. Therefore you’ve got to have absolutely incontrovertible evidence.

Assertions and probabilities are not the same as certainty. I’m very clear of where the origins of this nerve agent came from, I’m very clear that there has been this nerve agent produced in Russia. What I’m saying is the OPCW – a very important organisation – must have the chance and the opportunity to identify and also it should have the powers, and I think we should give them the powers, to identify the source and the culpability of it. At the moment they don’t have that.

I would then say confront Assad with that evidence, confront any other group that may be fingered because of that, And then say they must now come in and remove and destroy those weapons, as they did in 2013 and 2015. But the wider context has to be promotion of a political solution and a ceasefire. We cannot go on – 400,000 people have died in Syria, two million are external refugees.

As a member of the Security Council, as a country with a long tradition of international involvement, we have to abide by international law. And I say to the Foreign Secretary, I say to the Prime Minister, where is the legal basis for this? If we could get to the process in the UN where you get to a ceasefire, you get to a political solution, you then may well get to a situation where there could be a UN force established to enforce that ceasefire. That surely would save a lot of lives. At the moment everybody’s pouring arms into Syria, there are 12 countries involved in the war in Syria and there are, as I say, 400,000 dead already

And the UN Secretary general., António Guterres, is alarmed by what’s going on. What he said on Friday I think was very prescient. He said we’re in danger of recreating the Cold War between Russia and the United States in Syria. He asked for an appeal to all powers to do something and come together. Surely the killing has to stop, a ceasefire has to come into place, and is in the hands partly of us, but particularly of Russia and the United States at the UN.

I hope that President Trump will listen to wise counsels, listen also to wise counsels outside the USA and pick up the phone to Putin and talk.

Now, remember, our exports that go to Saudi Arabia, for example, end up killing people in the Yemen and also end up somewhere in very bad hands, in Syria and other places.

We’ve got to think through what we promote as policy is a process that involves cutting off arms and money that can be used to kill wholly innocent people has got to be there. Because the arms and the money are still flowing into the region, albeit now to probably slightly different groups.

The Labour Party has repeatedly said go for the political answer now rather than allow the war to get worse and so many more die as a result of it. Surely we are an experienced nation, we have great skills and abilities, can’t we use those abilities to save life?

There has to be a process where the objective is to bring about peace, to bring about a resolution to conflict, to bring about a political solution., there’s going to be no military winner in Syria. The war could go on and get worse. The hatred and the desperation of many people in Syria who are not supporters of Assad, maybe not even supporters of other groups, is going to be there for a long time. The Kurdish people need to have their identity, other groups in this diverse country need to have their identity. Surely there has to be a role for the United Nations. That’s why the UN was founded.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s statement statement responding to air strikes on Syria:

Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace. This legally questionable action risks escalating further, as US defence secretary James Mattis has admitted, an already devastating conflict and therefore makes real accountability for war crimes and use of chemical weapons less, not more likely.

Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way.

Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump. The government should do whatever possible to push Russia and the United States to agree to an independent UN-led investigation of last weekend’s horrific chemical weapons attack so that those responsible can be held to account.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/JeremyCorbynMP/posts/10156366489388872

 

 

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Latest poll results encouraging for the Labour Party

A YouGov poll for The Times finds that only 22% support British airstrikes in Syria, with twice as many opposed . . .

The Skwawkbox team highlights the three by-elections that took place on Thursday night, Labour made gains averaging 16.3% across the three seats – while the Tories at the same time made an average loss of 18.5%:

Labour gained in all three elections, while the Tories lost in all three.

In YouGov’s latest Westminster voting intention polling, Labour made a net gain of three percent on the Tories, in spite of relentlessly negative ‘MSM’ coverage of the Labour Party.

Survation, the most accurate pollster at the 2017 General Election, has not issued new UK-wide Westminster polling since it showed Labour with a remarkable seven-point lead in March.

The Standard reports that the YouGov survey for Queen Mary University of London finds Mrs May facing serious setbacks on May 3.  In inner London the swing from Conservative to Labour is a decisive 13.4%. Even in outer London, where the Conservatives are stronger, the swing is 4.2 % – Labour 54%, Conservatives 28%.

If Labour can do well across England and Wales in next month’s local elections, the opposition will become even more worried, with their media smears even more desperate. As the Skwawkbox comments, these tactics appear to be ‘the only option available to a politically bankrupt party’.

 

 

 

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We need clean pair of hands at the helm

 

Mrs May is to discuss what role Britain should play in a US-led attack on the Syrian regime and our masters contemplate safely indulging in the distance killing of other human beings and ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ as their armaments shares rise.

As CAAT noted in February 2018, it’s not just a matter of shareholdings:

“While outright bribes of UK government figures are rarely reported, Government decision-makers get plenty of perks from the arms trade.

“Arms companies often invite ministers, military chiefs and civil servants to dinners at five-star hotels.

“After they’ve retired they are often offered jobs on their advisory boards – where they enjoy good salaries for doing very little work – except for sharing their contacts book and insider knowledge of government”.

Feathered nests: we add that these positions are also taken by the friends and relatives of decision-makers.

All heads of state should take these words to heart

Former General Eisenhower on the consequences of preparing for war.

 

 

 

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Paul Mason predicts that that Labour will govern under Corbyn

 

In June 2016, Mason (below left)  wrote in The Guardian “One thing I do know: Corbyn is incapable of lying to the British people; he is inured to elite politics; he didn’t spend his entire life in a Machiavellian project to gain power and an invitation to Oleg Deripaska‘s yacht. That’s why I voted for him and will do so again if you trigger a leadership vote.”

In a recent New Statesman article, summarised below, he sees the ongoing delegitimisation campaign as preparation for a destabilisation campaign in that eventuality:

“Wave after wave of smears are unleashed against Jeremy Corbyn – even if you accept, as I do, that he is an imperfect politician and that Labour has specific challenges with anti-Semitism, which it has handled badly . . . It is impossible to pick up a newspaper, or listen to a phone-in, without hearing some person earning six figures say the left is the main enemy of decent people and should be debarred from governing Britain until it becomes more like the right”.

He names some of the British establishment ‘players’ in each round of ‘anti-Corbyn mania’:

  • the Guido Fawkes website;
  • the Murdoch newspapers
  • senior decision-makers inside BBC News

Wannabe establishment Labour MPs – 30 or so – cannot reconcile themselves to the idea of a socialist party that fights for socialism.

Mason continues: “From the right-wing of the PLP, through to the golf clubs of Tory-shire and the chatrooms of the alt-right, a shared mythology is being created. It says: Corbyn is too dangerous to run Britain, Labour cannot be allowed to govern with him in charge; better that it loses and loses badly; better that something is done to stop him. For the Blairite MPs it’s the same game as in May 2017: diss the leader, lose the election, normal service in the interests of neoliberalism will shortly be resumed”.

He sees a riven party, with a dysfunctional head office . . . from compliance issues to the mechanisms for selecting candidates, there is a culture of horse-trading which must be stopped..

“The Tory party has been bought and sold to the Saudi monarchy and the Russian oligarchy, and when Corbyn comes to power, that sordid menage will be cleaned up”.

To avoid this, during the next election campaign there will be the overt use of tactics used covertly in the Brexit campaign: “the full Monty of digital dirty tricks. For companies that specialise in rigging elections and destabilising governments, there will be a queue of clients”.

He ends: “So Labour needs a step change on three fronts”: 

First, streamline the internal discipline

As it expanded, Labour began to attract people for whom the concept of being “left” was bound up – as has been pointed out by other contributors – with anti-imperialism and anti-elitism, rather than a coherent positive vision of socialism. Mason  stresses that we need to educate people in how to express differences respectfully; build a culture where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement: “If, amidst rising xenophobia and intolerance, an organisation – half a million-strong – is prepared to go out on rainy Saturdays and set up stalls arguing for migrants’ rights, or more generous welfare benefits, risking the ridicule of Guido Fawkes and Breitbart – what would be the logic of trying to smash it?”

Second, spread the load

There are numerous highly-talented centrist politicians sitting on Labour’s backbenches who could and should be in the shadow cabinet. Give them big positions and create a resilient alliance of necessity between the left and centre of the party, isolating the Blairite rump. Demand excellence from shadow cabinet members and replace those who can’t deliver it, regardless of past allegiances and reputations. That is Corbyn’s job.

Third, build a vibrant political culture

. . . where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement and its diverse traditions, not just given a manifesto, a rulebook and a list of doors to knock:

“We need a movement that helps people develop a belief in their own agency – not the agency of states, religions, autocrats or, for that matter, iconic Labour leaders. That part is up to us”.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn and Jewdas

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Charlotte Nichols, Women’s Officer of Young Labour, writes: “Over the last 12 hours there have been serious misrepresentations of Jewdas, a group made up of left-wing Jewish people. I know MPs’ staffers who go to their meetings and were excited to have Corbyn attend last night”.

(Ed: We note that a Jewish Chronicle article, published in 2014, listed Jewdas as  part of the ‘Jewish community’, not a renegade organisation as described by Corbyn’s critics.)

Extracts:

“The Jewish community is not one monolithic bloc; part of its beauty is in its plurality and diversity. It’s absolutely right that, particularly when some community gatekeepers are refusing to meet with Corbyn, he nonetheless shows willingness to engage with the community at all levels, to listen and to learn, and be a gracious guest. If you want to see this for yourself, do as Jewdas did and simply invite him.

“Last night I attended a Seder to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover), held in Islington by a group called Jewdas. Before the fourth cup of wine had even been drunk, a story appeared on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog, painting those who attended as extremists and the Twittersphere went into meltdown. Why? Because Jeremy Corbyn came to celebrate with us”.

Many readers will agree with Jewdas’ viewpoint, quoted in the Spectator:

“What has happened over the last week is anything but an attempt to address antisemitism. It is the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party. It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government.”

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Times poll results defang its five anti-Corbyn artlcles, prompted by fear of ‘corporate capture’

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The findings: eight out of ten Labour members are impervious to propaganda

Longstanding Labour activists are snapping membership cards, cancelling direct debits, throwing up hands with a despairing “I’m done here” writes Janice Turner – under the headline ‘Labour lost to fools and crackpots’.

In Newcastle, one of the areas which have suffered intensely from corporate capture

True, as she says, there has been (simulated?) escalating anger among careerist Labour MPs over Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism. But as her Times colleague, Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates writes, the findings of the latest YouGov poll for The Times, “are likely to make bleak reading for Labour MPs who have tackled Mr Corbyn on antisemitism, including the 41 who signed a letter challenging him on his views”. He summarises:

Yesterday Mr Corbyn tweeted: “As Jews across our country start to prepare for #Passover, I would like to wish everyone in the Jewish community a Chag Sameach.”

Coates reports that the Labour poll says antisemitism row is exaggerated. Nearly eight out of ten Labour members believe that accusations of antisemitism are being exaggerated to damage Jeremy Corbyn and stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

The leader was still overwhelmingly backed by members, with 80% saying that he was doing a good job and 61% saying he was handling the antisemitism crisis well. Some 69% supported his response to the Salisbury poisoning.

The YouGov polled 1,156 paying Labour members between Tuesday and Thursday:

  • 47% saying antisemitism was a problem “but its extent is being deliberately exaggerated to damage Labour and Jeremy Corbyn or to stifle criticism of Israel”.
  • 30% said that antisemitism was “not a serious problem” and was being used to undermine Mr Corbyn and prevent legitimate criticism of Israel,
  • and 19% said it was a genuine problem that needed addressing.

Tony Blair said that it had become an issue because the leadership and its supporters did not think it was a problem.

He told The Week in Westminster on BBC Radio 4: “They think it’s something got up by people who are opposed to him for all sorts of other reasons and are using antisemitism as the battering ram against his leadership.”

A reader commented: I think we can guess what you (Ms Turner pp The Times) fear and how you and your colleagues have pushed the boat out to encourage it.

The real fear of a Labour Victory under Mr Corbyn is not the anti-semitism that the media have done so much to exaggerate, but rather, the prospect that a Labour government is intent on ending the corporate capture of our democracy and that some very powerful interests, including those who dominate the media and formulate government policy from the comfortable chairs in the gentlemen’s clubs of St James’ and Pall Mall are likely to lose their influence over the way in which government conducts its business.

Another wrote: “I look forward to voting Labour. It is important to stand up to the rabid warmongering right wing press, who don’t bother with minor details such as evidence and international agreements before escalating situations with nuclear powers”.

 

 

 

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Francesca Martinez: a word on the latest Corbyn ‘mural’ outrage

While we’re all debating whether Corbyn’s a spy or a Putin stooge, or an anti-semite, people are dying in NHS corridors, disabled people are starving to death, our public services are being cut, our assets are being privatised, our wages are being driven down, our environment is plundered and polluted, and wealth and power remain in the hands of the 1%.

Francesca writes:

This is, as always, about politics. If anyone needs convincing, please read about other socialist leaders around the world. They are routinely called commies, anti-semitic, insane etc. It is an age-old tactic.

Corbyn can’t be touched on policy so they have to manufacture shit-storms.
He is a life-long anti-racist campaigner with a thirty year record of standing against racism in all its forms.

He is one of only 8% of MPs to have signed the five UK parliamentary motions that condemned antisemitism.

No other MP has such a record of commitment to fighting racism and anti-semitism.

While we’re all debating whether Corbyn’s a spy or a Putin stooge, or an anti-semite, people are dying in NHS corridors, disabled people are starving to death, our public services are being cut, our assets are being privatised, our wages are being driven down, our environment is plundered and polluted, and wealth and power remain in the hands of the 1%.

Make no mistake, this is a war.

If Corbyn goes, we, the 99%, all lose.

 

We will never achieve a more equal, democratic, humane and peaceful society, if we allow the elite to destroy anyone who stands up against them.

 

 

 

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