Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Torys are Driving Us Towards a Ruinious 'Self Destuct Brexit'!


In January, Chancellor Phillip Hammond alluded to the concept of self-destruct Brexit by saying that the Tory’s would scrap the social democratic model and turn the UK into a giant offshore tax haven, if our 27 former EU allies don’t cave into our ridiculous demands of giving a handful of cherry-picked corporations access to the single market and allowing us to scrap freedom of movement. A few days later, after six months of waiting, Theresa May gave her Brexit speech and confirmed that the ridiculous threat of launching a self-destruct Brexit is actually Theresa Mays ‘negotiating tactic’. Now even the Tory Brexit minister David Davies is warning his Tory colleagues to prepare for the nuclear Brexit that would happen if no satisfactory agreement with the EU can be reached. When article 50 is triggered later today, it will likely be the start of a long process of not just severing our relationship with Europe, but with heading towards an economically and politically destructive Brexit!

Who Is Involved in self-destruct Brexit?

Self-destruct Brexit is in fact highly probable because there are many people in the Tory Party who have been itching for years to scrap the social democratic model that protects workers and ordinary people, for the sake of turning the UK into a fanatically right wing, giant offshore corporate tax haven. The rabid right wing of the Tory party have been empowered by Brexit and they see it as the perfect opportunity to roll out their hard right agenda. Indeed, the debate is being framed in such a way by the right wing press that that when this incredibly unpopular hard right agenda is launched, the blame will be directed at the EU, rather than the rabidly right wing Tory’s who have always wanted it.
In addition to this, we haven’t exactly got a great negotiating team laid out before us that can negotiate any deal with the EU. Just look at these people: Boris Johnson (a brazenly dishonest character who has insulted practically everyone he is going to have to negotiate with) Liam Fox (A man who should be in jail, not back in front bench poitics) and Theresa May (an incompetent version of Margret Thatcher). Such a debating team probably makes our 27 former EU allies want to split their sides with laughter, no give us the sort of deal we want!

Ridiculous Demands

Aside from the facts that a significant element of the Tory party actively want the Brexit negotiations to fail and that out debating team is truly pitiful, Theresa Mays demands from the EU are blatantly ridiculous. There is no way that the EU can agree to single market access for UK based banks, vehicle manufacturers and other corporations with the financial muscle to strong-arm the Tory’s into doing their bidding, while the rest of the UK economy gets locked out. Similarly, there is no way we can have any access to the single market and not accept freedom of movement. Such a deal would negate the fundamental aims of the European project.  
Even if I am wrong about the conservativeatives deliberately setting up the EU negotiations to fail and all the evidence pointing towards this is simply a series of horrendous coincidences, we are still undeniably stuck in a lose-lose situation. Either we somehow end up with staggeringly unrealistic and cherry picked Tory deal that rigs the economy even further in support of multinational corporations, or we get the social and economic devastation of a self-destruct Brexit!

Have The Tory’s Investigated the consequences?

Judging by the evidence it seems like the answer to this question has to be a conclusive ‘no’. Under questioning from the parliamentary Exiting the European Union Committee the Brexit minister David Davies openly admitted that the Tory government has done absolutely nothing to establish what the economic consequences of a retaliatory self-destruct Brexit would be.
This is an absolutely extraordinary admission. The Tory government have openly admitted that the central plank of their so called ‘negotiating strategy’, is to threaten to do something they haven’t even bothered investigating the consequences of. This is a textbook example of shambolic government recklessly playing fast and loose with the economic future of the entire country. They don’t care if what they are threatening causes an economic catastrophe. They don’t care so much that they haven’t even lifted a finger to establish how bad the economic fallout could be! It was bad enough that after six tedious months of waiting for it, the Tory ‘negotiating strategy’ was nothing more than ‘do what we say or we will press the self-destruct button on our own economy’, but it is now absolutely clear that they didn’t even bother to investigate how big the economic bomb is, nor whether the explosion will actually do more damage to the UK than the EU! Surely such reckless ineptitude should make it clear to even the most ardent of Brexiters that the likes of Theresa May, David Davies and Boris Johnson are not competent to steer the UK through Brexit safely.

Why Can’t Parliament Stop Self Destruct Brexit?

The Tory Party have used Brexit to engineer an extraordinary anti-democratic coup. It was slightly ironic that unelected peers in the House of Lords put up the fight in favour of democracy and parliamentary sovereignty, but their ‘meaningful vote’ amendment to the absolute insult of a Brexit bill was defeated in the House of Commons as the Tory’s (assisted by UKIP, the DUP, the UUP and six appalling democracy hating Labour rebels) cleared the path for Theresa May to scrap the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and set herself up as an autocrat who is beyond democratic accountably. This defeat for democracy means that the Tory government will be able to make up the terms of Brexit as they go along with no parliamentary scrutiny or approval whatsoever. Theresa May and her three incompetent Brexiters will decide the future direction of the UK and there will be nothing parliament can do to stop even the most brazen of their machinations.   
The Brexit situation is now utterly farcical. According to the terms of Article 50, the European Parliament will get a democratic vote on the post Brexit agreement, but the Tory’s have engineered it so that the British parliament won’t! If things get complicated (which they probably will) and the post Brexit trade deal becomes what is known as a ‘Mixed agreement’ it won’t just be the European Parliament that gets a vote, but the individual parliaments of the remaining 27 EU member states will all get a democratic vote on whether they agree to the terms. If the EU fail to cave into Theresa Mays ridiculous demands then she will simply trigger the retaliatory ‘self-destruct Brexit’ and parliament will not be able to hold her to account over it. The only way for this anti-democratic exercise to be stopped now will be through the courts, but if the judges decide to reassert that parliament is sovereign, they will undoubtedly be inundated with death threats by the far right and be labelled ‘enemies of the people’ by everyone’s favourite Tory propaganda rags: the Sun, The Mail, and the Express. The Tory’s have quite clearly voted to scrap the principle of parliamentary sovereignty in favour of giving Theresa May the authority to do whatever she likes. There is absolutely no way that such an anti-democratic power grab could be achieved within the framework of the EU. It’s only by quitting the EU that such anti-democratic hard right extremism has been enabled.

EU Citizens are being used as bargaining chips.

Before the safeguard aimed at guaranteeing the UK parliament a democratic vote on Brexit was removed, the Tory’s won the vote by 335-287 and scrapped the other lord’s amendment to ensure that Theresa May doesn’t use the lives of the estimated 3 million EU citizens in the UK as bargaining chips in her dangerous game of making empty threats to the EU.
The amendment that the Tory’s scrapped did nothing more than require the government to bring forward proposals about how they plan to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. It’s absolutely clear from the way the Tory’s scrapped this amendment, that they see these people’s lives as nothing more than bargaining pieces that they can use to squeeze the EU with. The Tory’s have shown utter contempt for the concerns of all the EU citizens that live, work, and have families in the UK. They simply don’t care about the worries, stresses and anxieties that they are causing so many people by refusing to quell the uncertainties over their futures.
Aside from making a clear demonstration to EU citizens living and working in the UK that the Tory’s couldn’t care less about them, another implication from this decision is that the EU are likely to further harden their negotiation stance. If the Tory government are likely to keep the rights of EU citizens living in the UK hanging by a thread, the EU are hardly likely to go into the negotiations prepared to offer Theresa May anything like the ridiculous demands she and her mates have come up with.
Using people’s lives as bargaining chips is disgusting, and indicated that the Conservatives are completely unwilling to go into the EU negotiations in good faith. The consequences are that millions of UK based EU citizens will end up feeling like the country they live in doesn’t care about them, and that by treating EU citizens in this way the Tory’s are pissing off the EU member states and making the impending threat of a catastrophic ‘self-destruct’ Brexit more likely than it already was!

Conclusion

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Tory’s are setting up an economically and socially ruinous Brexit. The problem is that it is going to be incredibly difficult to fight back against this slow motion march towards hard Brexit because anyone who dares to question what Theresa May and the three Brexiters are up to these days gets drowned out by the shrieking of militaristic Brexiters. Any people who try and hold the Tory government to account or even question proceedings, gets immediately shouted down as ‘traitors’ or ‘sore losers’ and much worse. In a toxified political environment like this, where an awful lot of people are so ideologically weeded to Brexit that they will viciously support it no matter how obvious it becomes that Brexit under Theresa May is a lose – lose situation.

Monday, 27 March 2017

How the Far Right are Using the London Terrorist Attack to thier Advantage


The attacks on Westminster on Wednesday 22nd of March, came as an unspeakable shock to many, since the attack many have been bravely posing their tributes and condolences to the victims of this cowardly attack. It saddens me that I have to come on here and talk about yet another terrorist attack, but as I have said before it is important that we as a society respond in a way that promotes tolerance and that does not pander to the people who carried out the attack. This is why it saddens me so much to see the attacks being used by some people for the exact opposite: to promote an agenda of hate and intolerance.
The terrorist who attacked Westminster has now been confirmed as British born, yet before his origins were even revealed, the extreme right were absolutely desperate to use the attack to further fuel their divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric, and misleadingly portray London as a weak, scared and divided city. The UKIP and Leave EU bankroller Arron Banks was one of the first far right opportunists to use the attack to promote his fanatical and divisive anti-immigration views. Long before it was known that the terrorist was in fact a man from Kent, Banks started blabbering on about immigration and borders, retweeting extreme right comments and slinging abuse at people who dared try and argue against his warped worldview. Nigel Farage, as another extreme right politician, quickly joined his former bankroller in using the attack as a golden opportunity to spread his contentious, racist nonsense. Instead of waiting for information about who the attacker was, he charged onto fox news to opportunistically weave the Westminster attack  into his own fanatically right wing narrative. To show such callous disregard for the victims of such an unspeakable attack by immediately going on a rant about immigration is one thing, but to simply assume the attacker was a refugee or immigrant without knowing the facts, just goes to show how far these people will go in pursuit of their far right agenda. They don’t care about facts, because they know that they can just say any old drivel on fox news and that their adoring followers will naively lap it up.
It’s not just anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments that the extreme right used this attack to promote. They also wanted to instil fear in people. Tabloid Columnist and Professional Garbage-talker Katie Hopkins also saw it as her duty to scuttle off to fox news to tell the Americans (and most likely their equally fanatically right President) that ‘people in London are cowed, people are afraid, and people are not united’. I am sorry but I can feel nothing but utter disdain for this view. Hopkins was clearly lying through her teeth, because the vast majority of Londoners are not cowed into submission, they are getting on with their lives and they are refusing to let the terrorists win. London survived the Blitz; London Survived the IRA attacks in the 70s, 80s and 90s; London Survived the appalling 7/7 bombings and London will survive this. The extreme right want to portray London as a weak city that is quivering with fear because it helps sell their far right agenda to a lucrative and impressionable audience, but the reality is completely different. The real stories are the remarkable displays of bravery in the immediate aftermath of the attack, and the stoic solidarity of Londoners since. The extreme right who misleadingly portray London as weak scared and divided are shameful opportunists and bigots who know that their lies and prejudices are far more marketable to a right wing audience than the truth; the stoicism and resilience of London. 
The extreme right don’t care about waiting for facts before they start spouting off. The extreme right don’t care about the reality that most Londoners are determined to get on with their lives rather than wallowing in fear or self-pity. The extreme right are absolutely desperate to use anything they can to spread their toxic ideology of fear and division. The irony here of course is that by behaving like this, they are doing the work of Islamist fanatics, who want to make us live in abject fear of their attacks and create even more anti Muslim prejudice in the West. The extreme right love to see themselves as defenders of our culture, but by deliberately spreading fear hatred and division they are actually reacting in precisely the way the Islamist fanatics want them to react.
In fact, the extreme right and the Islamist fanatics both share the same vision. They both crave a violent and destructive clash of civilisations. They are the opposite sides of the same disgusting coin. The Islamist fanatic ISIS supporter who celebrates the attack on London as a victory is no different to the extreme right fanatic in Britain who is full of glee because they see the attack as another opportunity to spew their divisive and hate filled rhetoric.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Case For 'IndyRef2'


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced her intention to seek a second referendum on Independence from the UK. I supported the ‘yes’ camp the first time around because I agreed with the Scottish Nationalist line of argument that Scotland are getting totally shafted by a corrupt, self-serving and astonishingly dishonest bunch of Westminster elites. Secondly, during the first referendum, the Tory’s blatantly lied through their teeth, promising that Westminster would not dare to jeopardize Scotland’s place in the EU.  Nobody can argue that there hasn’t been a drastic change in conditions, and nobody can argue that the unionist campaign fearmongering was justifiable, given that the consequence of Scotland voting ‘no’ was the exact same consequence that they attributed to the ‘yes’ vote. The SNP have a complete democratic mandate to hold a second referendum given that their manifesto states that they should hold one if ‘there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will’. Since then, David Cameron went on to lose his self-serving EU referendum gamble and now Theresa May is intent on dragging Scotland out of the EU (and the single market) against the will of the Scottish electorate.  Anyone arguing that Scotland shouldn’t have a second referendum in light of the dramatically changed circumstances and the outrageous campaign lies last time around, is basically saying that they don’t want another referendum because they know that they are going to lose.

The Tory Perspective

Since Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a second referendum, Theresa May has since turned down the calls, Instead preferring to trot out a number of meaningless platitudes about how we are ‘stronger together’.  Theresa May’s staggeringly hypocritical excuse for this was that ‘It would be unfair to ask people to make a crucial decision without the information they need to make that decision’. Do I even have to explain the numerous holes in this statement? The Tory’s have just put Britain through a toxic and divisive referendum campaign filled with lied about ‘staying in the single market’ and ‘giving more money to the NHS’, in which the end result has been an authoritarian prime minister who is trying to carry out a savagely right wing version of ‘hard Brexit’ without first consulting parliament! Secondly, wasn’t it The Tory’s (as well as Labour) who were proliferating much of the misinformation and the fearmongering during the first referendum debate? For Theresa May to come out and say so brazenly that she doesn’t want Scotland to vote on something that they do not know enough about is not only staggeringly ironic given the context, but it shows the utter contempt that Westminster have towards Scotland that they don’t think the Scottish people are capable of making a decision.
For more evidence of Westminster’s contempt towards the scots we can look at some of the ways they have behaved since the referendum.  Despite voting remain, Scotland has had to sit back and watch as they have had all their article 50 amendments voted down, including one to ensure that the Scottish parliament is consulted on Brexit. Theresa May wants the Brexit process to be conducted solely by English Tory’s, and the English right wing press are baying with delight  at the prospect of side-lining Scottish interests. It’s such an ugly and shambolic mess that they know they can’t possibly win a second time around, which is why Theresa May and the Tory’s will likely do everything in their power to stop a second independence referendum from actually happening.

The Labour Perspective

However, Brass necked the Tory stance on a second Scottish independence referendum seems to be, Labour seem to want to match it with strategic ineptitude. The Labour Party know that aligning themselves so closely with the Tory’s during the 2014 independence campaign was the main casual factor in losing 40 of their 41 Scottish constituencies at the 2015 general election. They also know that abjectly failing to differentiate their stance on Scottish Independence from the Conservatives allowed the Tory’s to beat Labour down into third place in the Scottish parliament elections in 2016 by posing as the real unionist option. 
Given that Scottish Labour have lost so much already by imitating the Tory’s so cravenly, you would have thought they’d do everything in their power to make sure they differentiate their message this time around. Instead however, the Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale tweeted exactly the same rhetoric as the Westminster Tory’s about another Scottish independence referendum being ‘divisive’. The tweet was met with an absolute hail of condemnation, but Scottish Labour clearly aren’t listening.   They are stuck in a self-righteous bubble of delusion that they are absolutely right, and the Scottish electorate are a bunch of idiots for rejecting them.
It seems highly unlikely that Scottish Labour will abandon their strategy of treating the Scottish electorate with utter contempt as they crudely ape the Tory Party, but in my view their only remaining hope is to clearly differentiate themselves from the Conservatives, perhaps by doing something that is actually observably different like pushing for a devolution Max option on the ballot paper. If they, on the other hand, stick with their failing tactic of imitating the Tory’s then they will simply hasten their already rapid decline into political oblivion.  

The SNP Perspective

Of course, Theresa May refusing to allow Scotland to hold a second referendum on independence is not so much of a problem for Scotland, as it is for the Tory’s, who will look extremely embarrassed and humiliated when a second referendum does actually get held. The SNP and pro-independence Scottish greens have a majority in the Scottish parliament. Together they could pass legislation for a second referendum and force the Westminster Tory’s into a lose-lose situation. 
Either the Tory’s would allow another official independence referendum, which they would likely lose given their open contempt towards Scotland and the ongoing Brexit shambles they created, or they try and deny the public a second referendum which would be a total PR disaster for them. The Scottish government could simply run their own referendum as an ‘advisory referendum’ (like the Brexit vote) and then endlessly cry ‘will of the people’ when they win.
If the Tory’s try and stop the Scottish government from holding an advisory referendum they would definitely lose it. The SNP would just campaign on a platform of English Tory’s are trying to silence Scotland – Vote Yes. There is absolutely no way that even the Tory propaganda machine could compete with that, especially since all of their efforts to delegitimise the unofficial referendum would end up significantly lowering the turnout amongst Tory/UKIP voters and the rest of the unionists.

Conclusion

The case for a second referendum on Scottish independence is overwhelming. By opposing it so vehemently, The Tory’s and Labour are simply making it more likely that the referendum will be successful, while pushing themselves into political obscurity in the process. Good luck Scotland, don’t bottle it this time!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The DWP 'Why Havent you Killed yourself?' Scandal

Many people are not aware of the appalling way the Tory government have been treating disabled people in the UK. As such, when I tell people that the UK government has been severely condemned by the United Nations for their systemic violations of disabled people’s rights, they tend to react with shock or disbelief. They also tend to have a hard time accepting that the dehumanising Work Capability Assessment regime for disabled people has been ruled unlawful in the courts for the way it discriminates against people with mental health conditions and costs more in corporate outsourcing fees to administer than it will save in reduced benefit payments. Similarly, people are especially likely to disbelieve me when I tell them that disabled people are by far the most likely people to suffer from the ‘bedroom tax’ and that people with mental health issues and learning difficulties are disproportionately affected by the draconian Tory sanctions regime (another brutal Tory welfare policy that will always cost more to administer than it will ever save in reduced benefit payments)

In March 2017, yet another scandal erupted about the dehumanising way disabled people are treated in the UK. It is so extreme that again, people really struggle to believe that it is actually happening in a supposedly decent and humane society like Britain: It turns out that the private, profit making companies whose job it is to carry out the discriminatory and demoralising Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Conservative government have been asking disabled people why they haven’t committed suicide yet.
After Alice Kirby tweeted about being given this outrageous line of questioning during her assessment, dozens of other disabled people have come forward to make testimonies, about how they have been asked equally horrific ‘why haven’t you killed yourself yet’ type questions during the various degrading assessment processes the Tory’s put them through. One of the corporate outsourcing giants conducting the disability assessments called Maximus has even admitted asking disabled people questions like ‘Can you think of any reason why you are not committing suicide’ , giving the excuse of ‘It is in line with our policies and guidelines.
If you completely fail to see why this is such a shocking and dangerous line of questioning for people with disabilities you might as well stop reading this blog post now and go back to living in your little bubble of denial about the absolutely disgusting way in which the Tory government and their corporate outsourcing chums have been treating the sick and disabled. It’s so obviously sick and dangerous to ask people with severe mental and physical disabilities why they haven’t killed themselves yet, that I feel like I don’t even see why I should really have to explain it, but it needs to be said.
Asking people with severe disabilities, mental or physical, why they haven’t killed themselves yet is obviously going to increase the risk of suicide. Also, In a country where the media are constantly forcing down our necks the wretched idea that disabled people are a burden on families, the economy or wider society, these sorts of questions are only going to serve to make disabled people self-confirm their pre-existing doubts about themselves. The whole process of treating disabled people like they are scroungers who deserve to be put through one dehumanising assessment regime after another is bad enough, but actually asking people why they haven’t killed themselves yet during these appalling processes is so obscene that it is actually beyond my abilities as a commentator to discuss how utterly disgusted I am by it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mainstream media have totally neglected to mention this dreadful scandal. During my research for this article the only coverage I could find was from small, fellow independent media sources (Black Triangle, Disability News Service, Vox Political, The Canary, and Another Angry Voice) and from social media testimonies of people who had been asked the question in their assessments. At the time of writing, this scandal has been covered in the alternative media for over a week, and yet nobody in the mainstream press even seems remotely bothered about holding the government to account over it. It’s astounding that nobody from the mainstream press has bothered to even try and give this appalling story the attention that is so desperately needs.
Perhaps even worse than the ‘why haven’t you killed yourself’ questions being asked, is the way that the mainstream press in their ignorance have abjectly failed to in their duty to hold the Tory’s to account over this scandal. Of course ordinary people are going to continue having doubts that disabled people are being systemically abused by the Tory government and their corporate outsourcing chums if the mainstream press refuse to involve themselves in the subject, leaving the job of holding the government to account to small independent bloggers and websites like me and the others listed in this article.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Movements and Revolutions #7 - The Socialist Origins of International Womens Day

This is being published on International Women’s Day. Aside from the passive aggressive comments from sexists asking ‘when is international men’s day?’ (November 19th by the way). It is a day to celebrate all that women contribute to the world and to demand that they have equal rights with men. Despite this, few people are aware of its origins.

In 1894, Clara Zetkin took to the pages of social democratic magazine ‘Die Gleicheit’ (equality) which she had founded three years earlier to write about the liberal feminism that had emerged as the mainstream in Germany at the time. ‘Bourgeois feminism and the movement of proletarian women’ Zetkin wrote ‘are two fundamentally different social movements’. The way she saw it, liberal feminists were pushing basic reforms, without questioning the very existence of capitalism. By contrast, working women, through class struggle in a joint fight with men of their class sought to end capitalism.
By 1900, women in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) were holding biannual conferences immediately before the party congress – conferences where all burning issues of the proletarian women’s movement were discussed.  This ideological strength turned the German Socialist Women’s Movement into the backbone of the International Socialist Women’s Movement: In 1907 the International conference of socialist womenconvened in Stuttgart, Germany for its first gathering, claiming as its first demand ‘the right to universal female suffrage, without qualifications of property or any other barrier that may hinder the working class of availing themselves of their political rights’. The invitation to the next Socialist Women’s Conference -  This year to be held in Copenhagen – exhibited the same attitude: ‘We urgently call on all the socialist parties and organizations of socialist women as well as on all the working women’s organizations standing on the foundation of the class struggle to send their delegates to this conference’.
They were in good company across the Atlantic as well. The previous year, socialist working women in the US had designated February 28th ‘Women’s Day’, an event that the Copenhagen conference reported had ‘awakened the attention of our enemies’. Following the example of their American comrades, the German delegate Luize Zietz proposed the proclamation of an ‘International Women’s Day’ to be celebrated annually. Zetkin seconded the proposal, as well as one hundred other female delegates from seventeen countries. The resolution read
‘In agreement with the class-conscious political and trade union organizations of the proletariat of their respective countries, socialist women of all nationalities have to organize a special Women’s Day (Frauentag), which must, above all, promote the propaganda of female suffrage. This demand must be discussed in connection with the whole woman’s question, according to the socialist conception’
For the delegates, supporting the socialist conception meant not just promoting female suffrage but labour legislation for working women, social assistance for mothers and children, equal treatment of single mothers, provision of nurseries and kindergartens, distribution of free meals and free educational facilities in schools and international solidarity.
Simply put, International Women’s Day was from the very start a socialist conception. While it’s immediate objective was to win universal suffrage for women, its aspirations were much grander: the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism, abolishing both wage slavery of workers and the domestic slavery of women through the socialization of education.
The First International Women’s Day
The First International Women’s Day was celebrated not on March 8th but on March 19th, 1911. The Date was chosen to commemorate the 1848revolution in Berlin – the day before was every year to the ‘fallen heroes of March’.
In Germany, Two and a half million flyers urging participation in Women’s day were distributed. ‘Comrades! Working Women and Girls! March 19 is your day. It is your right’ it read ‘Behind your demand stands Social Democracy, organized labor. The Socialist women of all countries are in solidarity with you. March 19 should be your day of glory.’ Trumpeting the battle cry ‘forward to female suffrage’ more than a million women – mostly, but not exclusively, women – organized in the SPD and the unions. They even took to the streets demanding social and political equality.
Around the world working women set aside a day for themselves. In 1911, Women workers in the United States, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria chose March 8th as women’s day. Counterparts in France Holland, Sweden, Bohemia, and Russia soon added themselves to the list of celebrants. Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th took hold as a worldwide practice in 1914. A Famous sign emblazoned with the words ‘Forward with Female Suffrage’ in which a women dressed in black waves the red flag, marked the occasion. In Germany – overcome with war hysteria – police banned the poster. The fourth international Women’s Day turned into a mass action against the imperialist war that would erupt three months later.
Three years later, March 8th would take on a special significance when the February Revolution convulsed Russia. Russian working women played a leading role in the upheaval. Despite the opposition of every party, including the Bolsheviks, they turned the International Women’s Day celebrations into an upheaval that carried away the whole working class of Petrograd and gave birth to the Russian revolution.

What War Wrought
War broke out in august 1914 inaugurating a new era in the Development of the Socialist Women’s movement.  
The entire Second International – and therefore socialist movement worldwide – split along national lines, succumbing to chauvinism. In Germany, The SPD (and its affiliate, the general commission of Trade Unions) adopted a ‘social peace’ policy, making critical demonstrations verboten. Those who rebelled and celebrated Women’s Day suffered repression at the hands of the police. In early November 1914, Clara Zetkin issued an appeal to the ‘socialist women of all countries’ where she spoke out strongly against the war and in favor of mass actions for peace. As Part of this opposition to imperialism, Zetkin led the third and final Socialist Women’s conference in 1915. As imperialist war raged all around them, the conference issued the internationalist battle cry ‘War on War’. But principled opposition was in short supply. Upon returning to Germany, Zetkin was arrested.
Conclusion
Today International Women’s Day serves as a reminder to women around the world to stand up for what they believe in. However, if we are to seek equality, it is important to remember where and how the celebration started.

Friday, 3 March 2017

On Copeland. Where Next for Labour?


In light of labour losing their seat in Copeland, many on the social democratic left are wondering how to react to the result. Indeed, even those on the radical left should be disgusted at the fact that Britain has to hand another seat to the most vicious and hard right incarnation of the Conservatives that we have seen in years (I will leave you to debate when the Tory’s were the most awful).
Firstly, before I get on to the mistakes labour and Corbyn made and question what road they should take in the future, to make sure we don’t muddy the waters here, let me clear up some of the myths about the Copeland by-election. Copeland had been Labour Party territory for decades but anyone claiming it was anything other than a marginal constituency is dealing with pure political fiction. The Labour high point in Copeland was in 1997 when Jack Cunningham won the seat with 58% of the vote. Ever since then Labour have been on a downwards trajectory in Copeland. Even if Corbyn’s Labour had managed to stop this decline, they would still have lost the Copeland by-election. 42.3% of the vote was enough for Jamie Reed to win in 2015 but it would have only been good enough for second place in 2017 because the Tory candidate bragged 44.3% of the vote. The real story in Copeland then is how the Tory’s managed to leapfrog labour to such an extent that Labour would still have lost had they stopped their steady decline in the area. The answer is the collapse in the UKIP vote. The real story is that Ukippers are abandoning the party in droves in order to throw their support behind the Tory’s now that Theresa May is pursuing a hard right ‘More UKIP than UKIP’ political agenda.
 Despite this it would be completely wrong and misguided to say that Jeremy Corbyn bears absolutely no responsibility for this result. To give you some background on where I stand, I supported Corbyn firmly when he was first elected as leader of the Labour party in 2015. A healthy dose of social democracy was needed to drag Labour away from the ‘austerity light’ agenda that lost them the 2015 general election. I even supported Corbyn during the Cynical and badly timed coup attempt in 2016. Sure the Labour Leaders support of Remain had been lukewarm at best, but the worst thing for the labour party, either now or then, would be a swing to the right, which is exactly what the coup attempt was threatening. Understandably then, I was desperate for the Labour leadership to succeed in cutting through the barrage of criticism and abuse it was inevitably going to receive to the mainstream media and take its message straight to the electorate.  
What was witnessed in Copeland last weekend was a failure of communication, not ideas. With a Tory Party that is increasingly hostile to minorities and the poor mixed with the impending reality of a hard Brexit, social democratic reforms of renationalising our infrastructure, giving more money to our NHS and taxing corporations, are more needed than they have ever been. Copelands fractured maternity wards are proof enough of this. However, ideas are only ever powerful in politics when given power. Jeremy Corbyn could have the best ideas in the world, but without using his platform to spread those ideas in a creative and effective way, no one will bat an eyelash. As the old saying goes, if you do not define yourself you will be defined by your enemies. This is exactly where Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has let itself down. David Cameron defined Corbyn for the electorate when he stood on the stage at the conservative party conference and accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to inflict a ‘terrorist sympathising, Britain hating ideology on the country’. The Sun defined him when on Remembrance Day they accused him of being unpatriotic because apparently he didn’t bow low enough at the cenotaph. And because may people had nowhere else to look they bought into these lies. This is not to label most people stupid. Given the bombardment of misinformation we receive on a daily basis it is easy to fall for the faux populism of the conservatives, however antithetical to your interests it may be.
So where next for Labour? Although we cannot compare a by-election to a general election, it is clear that if they carry down the same strategical path that Labour are headed for another catastrophic election defeat in 2020. I think we all know what will happen then. Jeremy Corbyn will inevitably have to stand down as leader of Labour, and the party will take a drastic swing to the right. From that point on, leftists will be slowly purged from the party. Anyone who dares propose the slightest left wing policy will be immediately shouted down. ‘We tried that’ the voices of the Blairites will ring out ‘look what happens when the left have a say’. All this will result in Britain becoming a very dark place to be a socialist indeed.
What Jeremy Corbyn and those who care about Labour being a real alternative to the Tory’s will need to do to prevent this from happening is come up with a clear and effective strategy in order to take a radical left wing programme to the voters and defeat the Tory’s in 2020. On the other hand, if Jeremy Corbyn feels he cannot come up with an effective strategy, it is up to him to reach an agreement with the parliamentary labour party where he can stand down and someone on the left can be on the ballot paper to lead the party. If either side is at all stubborn then the risk is the party will die. A few weeks ago Jeremy Corbyn tweeted from his twitter account that ‘the fight starts now’. Ideally, the fight starts two years ago but as we cannot reverse time we are going to have to take now as our starting point.
To those of you who still have complete and utter faith in Corbyn, you have to ask yourself if you are committed to an idea or an individual. None of this blog post aims to diffuse the revolutionary spirit that we felt when we knew we had a left wing leader of the labour party again. It is to save it from completely disappearing it all together, and if doing that means having a different left wing leader of the labour party then so be it. Neither is this a betrayal of Jeremy Corbyn. He is a principled, moral and courageous man; when LGBT rights were still a controversial issue he was firmly supporting them, when Nelson Mandela was being labelled a terrorist he was supporting him, he opposed the Iraq war on the basis that it would be a humanitarian disaster and do it was: even at the last prime ministers questions he was lambasting Theresa May for her governments horrific treatment of disabled and autistic people. In the event of Jeremy Corbyn standing down, I would certainly like to see him in a role where he can help decide policy.    
I understand that everyone might not find what they read here particularly pleasant. I don’t either. I am however proposing what I believe to be the best. And as I am sure we can all acknowledge, in the battleground of politics, an uncomfortable truth is always better than a comfortable lie.