Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Theresa Mays First Queens Speech is an Absolute Shambles

Theresa Mays first (and very possibly last) queen’s speech was very clearly an absolute disgrace for anyone who read it. As we expected from Theresa Mays weak and unstable minority government, the speech contained a notable absence of stuff they promised in the manifesto, an absence of details on the Tory-DUP deal, posturing over the subject of Brexit and, as one might expect from a government led by two holistically right wing parties, a sizable dose of authoritarianism. It really was nothing more than the dying breath of a directionless charlatan with no ideology other than the desperate desire to cling on to power.

The Tory – DUP deal

Theresa May delayed the queens speech in order to buy herself time to make a deal with the DUP. The queens speech took place last Wednesday, and at the time of writing Theresa May has only just finished off cobbling together a deal with the Northern Irish far right fanatics, that we don’t even know the full details of yet.
Regardless of the timing however, the fact that Theresa May is willing to make a deal with the DUP says a lot about her priorities. John Major, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have all refused to do deals with the Democratic Unionists in the past: this is partly because the party have frankly Stone Age views on many subjects including gay rights. It is in larger part due to the fact that making a deal with any Northern Irish party would risk throwing the northern Irish peace process between the unionists and the nationalists into chaos.
By forming this coalition, Theresa May has decided to stick two fingers up to her more politically neutral predecessors and the architects of peace in Northern Ireland, so that she can gain a short term advantage of staying in power before her own party inevitably boot or out or a general election has to be called. Also, by making a deal with the former Ulster Defence League, May is making a complete U-turn on her accusations that Jeremy Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser for speaking to the Sinn Fein. She really is willing to sling anything on her bonfire of vanity to stay in power.

Tearing Pages Out of the manifesto

Theresa May actually started ripping pages out of her manifesto a long time before the election result. As soon as it started to look like the Dickensian policies on social care would lose them voters The Conservatives started back peddling with all the force they could muster on these policies, basically by pretending they never existed. It was not until the queen’s speech however that the manifesto started looking like such a wafer thin document.
The Speech contained no mention of the Tory’s depraved plan to impose a 100% stealth inheritance tax on people who dare to commit the ‘crime’ of getting Dementia in their old age. Also scrapped, as far as social care is concerned, were the plans to scrap the pensioners triple lock and to means test winter fuel payments. Presumably this is because if the Tory’s actually carry through on these plans, they will isolate their core demographic to such an extent that they continue to lose seats.
It wasn’t just the social care policies that were missing. The pledge to scrap free school meals and provide infant school children breakfast at 6.8p per day was also bunged into the ‘to cruel to win support’ policy pile. The plot to bring back fox hunting was predictably erased out of existence, as most voters rightly view the practice of ripping wild foxes apart with packs of dogs to be too barbaric.
Other things that were dropped were the promises of 10,000 more mental health nurses (impossible after Theresa Mays scrapping of NHS bursaries drove 10,000 trainee nurses out of the profession in a single year), the plan to nick Ed Milibands energy price cap idea, and the plan to scrap the independent Serious Fraud Office in order to give the Tory’s control over financial corruption cases

Brexit U Turn

Theresa May has been warned in no uncertain terms by dozens of her Europhile Tory backbenchers that an economically ruinous ‘no deal’ Brexit strop is now firmly out of the question. As a result of this internal Tory rebellion the Queens speech makes absolutely no mention whatsoever of her diplomatically inept ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ threat to sabotage our own economy if the EU don’t cave in to our ridiculous demands. Instead, all we get is another platitude about making a success of Brexit.
The problem this is left Theresa May with is that she is now Torn weather to do the bidding of the hard right Eurosceptic MP’s like Ian Duncan Smith or Michael Gove or to tow the line of the Europhile Tory MPs. She can’t support one faction without severely upsetting the other. What this means is that If Theresa May manages to get her queens speech through parliament, she is going to have to perform some serious political acrobatics to try satisfy two ideologically incompatible factions, both of which will have the power to bring Theresa Mays weak and unstable government down at pretty much any point.

Attacking democracy

One particularly horrifying announcement in the Queens speech is that the Tory’s are actually intent on continuing their anti-democratic effort to completely bypass parliament and rewrite the laws of the land as they see fit, despite this being initially struck down in courts.
"A bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses’’
The anti-democratic Tory repeal bill is an affront to democracy in so many ways. Amazingly though the Brexiters who never stopped banging on about the importance of parliamentary sovereignty, are now cheering Theresa May’s efforts to bypass the UK parliament on Brexit, in another astounding display of doublethink. The only defence the Brexit minister David Davis has offered to support this anti-democratic power grab is that there isn’t time to do it properly so we should time to do it properly, so we should forget about Democratic scrutiny and trust the Tory government to rewrite laws with no democratic oversight. Only the most hypocritical of Brexiters could possibly try to argue that this is a price worth paying to end the supposedly anti-democratic influence of the EU. Either you believe that parliament should be sovereign, or you believe that government ministers should be allowed to make up laws as they go along. You can’t just simply believe both unless you are immune to cognitive dissonance.

Attacking Internet Freedom

Theresa May is absolutely fixated on controlling the internet. She piggybacks this right wing authoritarian agenda onto every single terrorist attack, even when there is no evidence whatsoever that the attacks could have been prevented by revoking internet freedom. There was yet more of this authoritarian posturing littered throughout the queens speech
"A commission for countering extremism will be established to support the government in stamping out extremist ideology in all its forms, both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to spread."
If Theresa May had any real concerns over public safety from terrorism then she would use existing legislation to prosecute the appalling hate speech and glorification of terrorism that goes on in places like the Britain First hate group, and she certainly would not have let known jihadists to go completely unwatched as they planned and executed their deadly terrorist attack.
The true reason Theresa May hates internet freedom is because it gives ordinary people the chance to debate politics, express their opinions and talk about subjects deemed to be outside of the mainstream media bubble of acceptable subjects for political debate. May lost her majority because alternative news sources are allowing people to break down right wing propaganda tropes, and find out the truth from themselves. Stamping this media revolution out now is an impossible fantasy, but since when has realism been something that Theresa May has ever considered in her calculations before?

Britain for Sale

Anyone who understands the woeful Tory track record on investment should realise that the parts on investment in The Queens speech are blatantly dishonest. Since 2010 the Tory’s have ruthlessly and recklessly cut back on infustructure meaning that the UK is getting left further and further behind in the global economy.
The UK spends only 1.7% of GDP investing for the future, when the average amongst developed nations is 3%. This deliberate ideologically driven under-investment will have devastating consequences for our future economic prospects. When the Tories talk about ‘attracting investment’ they don’t mean they’re going to invest in the UK economy at all. It means they’re going to go around the world begging countries like Qatar, Oman and China into buying our public infustructure.
In November 2016, Theresa Mays government handed our publicly owned aviation fuel distribution network directly to the governments of Oman and the UAE. In March 2017 the Tory’s handed the Southwest rail franchise to  the government of Hong Kong, and later in March 2017 Theresa May begged and grovelled in front of the Qataris for them to buy more British infustructure. Don’t Trust the Tory’s on investment. 

Conclusion

Any MP with the good of the UK at heart will vote against Theresa Mays shambolic Queens Speech. However, most Tory’s will put their own interests ahead of the nation a whole, meaning that it is only rouge Tory and rogue DUP MPs who have the power to prevent May from forming a government that is both full of malicious intent, but also so weak and unstable that they will be completely unable to run the country or the Brexit negotiations effectively.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Why the Grenfell Tower Tradgedy is Political

I have been cautious writing this article, as it clearly involves ‘politicising a tragedy’. At least, that is the impression I get from all those demanding we completely separate the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy from the numerous political issues which surround it. Of course, what the phrase ‘don’t politicise a tragedy’ is usually used to do is to silence anyone trying to hold the government to any sense of responsibility for a tragedy.
Throught this blog post I aim to point to how the Tories sickening ideology of pandering to rich, private investors and their neglect towards investing in public safety played a large part in causing the Grenfell tragedy, and how unless we learn from such gross negligence, tragedies like this will happen again. To clarify, I am not saying that these were the only factors in causing the fire. A statement like that would be practically impossible to prove. However, it would also be completely unreasonable to refuse to hold anyone to account over this terrible tragedy.

The ignored Block Fire Safety report

The Block Fire Safety report was produced after the Lankanal House Fire in Camberwell cost the lives of six residents. It recommended the instillation of sprinklers in 4,000 tower blocks across the UK and was completed in 2013. Since then, a series of Conservative housing ministers, including the current chief of staff Gavin Barwell, as well as Brandon Lewis, Kris Hopkins, and Mark Barwell, have constantly sat on this report and ignored concerns, giving the pathetic excuse of ‘we are looking into it’ every time they are cornered on it. The Grenfell Tower fire is exactly the kind of tragedy the ignored report was intended to prevent.
Aside from this report into the measures the government could take to prevent tower block fires, there is also a heart-breaking blog post from the Grenfell Tower residents group warning about the lack of fire safety measures in the block and the fact that residents had actually been advised to remain inside their properties in the case of fire, which would have almost certainly cost residents their lives.

Fire Service Cuts

Since they first got in power in 2010, the Tory Party have been slashing the nation’s fire service. Between March 2010 and March 2016 the Tories axed 9,668 fire services jobs and the cuts have been going on since. The Tories have already slashed the fire service by 30% since the 2015 general election. By the time of that election, the Tories had closed 39 fire stations, including 10 in London that were shut down the same week that the taxpayer owned RBS announced an outrageous £607 million In bonuses for their staff despite having lost £5.2 billion that year.
The closure of fire stations and the significant reductions in staff and vehicles at remaining stations mean that response times have been soaring all over the country, the average response time now in cities has increased from 10 minutes to thirteen minutes. As is clear by the Grenfell tragedy, people are dying because of these cuts. It isn’t just Kensington. The government’s own statistics reveal that the number of fire related deaths soared by 17.4% in a single year between 2015/16.
Whatever benefit people think they are getting when they vote for a Tory government, must at least realise that people’s lives are more important. If the Tory’s again fail to learn from their mistakes we will see a repeat of Grenfell.    

Making Homes unfit for Human Habitation

In January 2016 The Tories notoriously voted down a Labour Party Amendment to their bill that would have required landlords to ensure that the properties they rent out are ‘fit for human habitation’. 71 of the 319 Tory MP’s to shoot this requirement out of the water, are registered as landlords on the Parliamentary register for members interests. For a list of all the MPs who voted down this requirement I recommend taking a look at political scrapbook’s post on the issue.
In light of the Grenfell tower fire and the fact that a succession of Tory housing ministers sat on a report into Tower block fire safety, its abut time people woke up to the fact that the Tory party doesn’t give a damn about housing. They oversaw the lowest rate of housebuilding since the 1920sand the most unaffordable house prices in history, but to them that’s all good because the higher the demand for housing, the faster the inflation of their own personal property portfolios, and the higher rents they can charge. These people are far too removed from reality to give a damn.

The Sprinkler Question

It has emerged since the Grenfell Tower fire that a former Tory housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, warned MPs about beefing up fire safety regulations, because it could discourage housebuilding. This was despite the fact the Lewis openly admitted that introducing sprinklers could literally save thousands of lives, yet didn’t want the government to encourage sprinkler use because ‘that is the job of the fire services’.
So by Tory logic, the first duty of government should be to allow private housebuilders to build houses, rather than to ensure that some of the countries vulnerable and poorer residents don’t fry to death in a horrendous tragedy like Grenfell. All Lewis’ statement amounts to is that ‘I would like to save the lives of thousands of citizens, but I think some private housebuilders might be a bit put off if we tell them that they have got to make the buildings safe’. Classic case of the Tory’s putting their own interests, above the interests of the nation.    

The Cladding Question

If you haven’t heard flammable cladding was stuck all over the surface of the Grenfell Tower block. This was manufactured by a company called Omnis Exteriors. In 2015/16 Omnis reported profits of £1.2 million. The kind of plastic filled cladding Omnis has profited from selling has been banned in countries like Germany and the US for years, and has been implicated in high rise fires all over the world, but somehow the British Government never saw fit to ban the practice of sticking highly flammable materials over high rise buildings.
What makes this more outrageous is that Omnis promises flammable cladding for just £2 extra, per square metre which rises some serious questions. These are 1) why did Omnis continue selling highly flammable cladding when they had the capacity to produce a non-flammable alternative? 2) Why was flammable, plastic filled cladding not banned in the UK, when it has been implicated in fires all around the world and banned in other countries with advanced economies 3) who signed off on the decision to save an estimated £5,000 in renovation costs by choosing the flammable cladding for Grenfell tower, rather than the fireproof version?
The answer to the first question is that there was nothing to stop them. The answer to the second question is that public safety is terribly incompatible with Tory Lazzeiz Faire ideology. The answer to the third will surely come out at some point during the criminal inquest.

Conclusion

If you can’t see how the Grenfell fire tragedy is tied to politics in so many ways, then you must be so wrapped up in the blanket of ‘don’t politicise a tragedy’ that you are blind to the reality around you. People have died because of apathy from the elites to the effects of their monstrous cost cutting exercises. Politicizing this tragedy isn’t a choice, but a necessity.   

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Weak and Unstable

If anyone received a Tory flyer through their door you will remember that it contained big letters containing the words ‘Theresa Mays team’ on the front rather than the somewhat less inspiring sounding ‘Conservative Party’. You will also remember that it had the supposedly reassuring words ‘strong and stable’ plastered all over the document, like a profoundly  dishonest version of the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy (for those of you that get the reference, your welcome). Of course this is nothing surprising, the Tory campaign was full of reality defying propaganda. Another of the terms that the Tory’s kept using to discredit their opponents is the bitterly ironic ‘coalition of chaos’. At the time this may not have seemed as obvious to the people who actually voted for Theresa May, but how obvious is it now?

Theresa Mays Team

When Theresa May won the Tory leadership contest following David Cameron’s resignation by default after bullying her rival out of the leadership race, May attempted to re-do Thatcher’s infamous St Francis of Assisi speech by saying how much she cared about the under privileged in society. This was before immediately scrapping university grants as one of her first acts as Prime Minister.
Six months later, after repeating ‘Brexit means Brexit’ a million times, Theresa May went into full Blue-KIP mode by launching her propaganda coup to the EU that if they don’t cave in to her demands for market access for her corporate buddies, she would collapse the negotiations altogether and turn Britain into a giant offshore tax haven. The tabloid press absolutely adored this, and started labelling anyone demanding a softer approach to the negotiations ‘Saboteurs’.
After calling her self-serving snap election, presumably eager to distance herself from her own party’s record, May rebranded the conservatives ‘Theresa Mays team’ with all mention of the word conservative either reduced to small fonts or eradicated. This was clearly a move by Lynton Crosby and other PR consultants to appeal to Labour and Lib Dem voters who would normally never dream of voting Tory. This ranked of insincerity and relied purely on the presumption that centrists and left leaning voters are so stupid that if you change the words on the propaganda, they will forget which parties they are voting for. On top of that Theresa May was adopting this image whilst telling her friends in the media that the Tory’s intend to launch an ultra-hard Brexit. Not only was this an insincere attempt at political marketing that millions have come to despise, but it is shockingly at odds with the Tory’s own stated Brexit strategy.

Strong and Stable

Theresa May called this election with the supposed aim of ‘strengthening her hand in the Brexit negotiations’ and ‘stopping opposition parties from obstructing Brexit’. Never mind the fact that the largest opposition party in the House of Commons voted in favour of triggering article 50, the lie was successfully constructed that Theresa May needed to strengthen her hand and many conservative voters fell for it.
Of course there are plenty of people who didn’t fall for this obvious propaganda strategy and decided to vote against Theresa May and the Tory’s, reducing the Conservatives number of seats and increasing Labours, resulting in a hung parliament. This forced the conservatives to think fast and form minority government with help from the far right, Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Adding the Tory and DUP seats together puts Theresa May just over the majority mark by two MPs. This clearly puts the conservatives in a desperate lose-lose situation with the opposition currently in a stronger position than the government.
The Tory’s could try and remedy this by calling another election. The problem with this option is that it would almost certainly result in a strong labour majority because if Labour managed to cause a hung parliament with the mainstream media against them all the way and the Tory’s a phenomenal 25 points ahead of them in the polls, just imagine what another surge from a +5 could result in.
The other option means a pathetically weak government clinging on to power for as long as possible, while public opinion steadily turns against them.  Pretty soon they will be seen as putting the interests of themselves above the interests of the nation. This means that when a general election does happen public opinion may have turned so significantly against the Tories to outright wipe them out as a political force.
My advice would be for them to take the hit as soon as possible, just so we can get the Tory’s out of power and get a real strong and stable government. That said, I don’t mind the idea of the Tory’s clinging on a little bit longer and wiping themselves out. The choice is really theirs.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

10 General Election Issues that we Must Not Forget

The general election was indeed very interesting. As I said I my previous blog post it went from being an election where the Tory’s were inevitably going to win, to a genuinely close race. Although I think that Labours impressive performance was largely down to the fact that they offered a radical manifesto of hope, a few trip ups and outright lies from the Tory party undeniably allowed them to be cornered by Jeremy Corbyns campaign and caused some people to turn from the Tory’s to labour.

A lot of the post-election focus has understandably been on Theresa mays efforts to cling onto power by throwing her two closest advisers under the public opinion bus, pleading to her MP’s not to get rid of her, and sucking up to the most right wing people in parliament. All these are important issues that I will be talking about myself in due course, but we must not forget some of the key issues from the campaign

Security

During the election, extreme security lapses led to two avoidable terrorist attacks. One was committed by an Islamist fanatic known to be plotting a terrorist attack in the UK who was allowed to come back through the UK border and was left unwatched as he planned and executed the attack on innocent children. The next attack was committed by a well-known extremist featured in a Channel 4 documentary called ‘the jihadists next door’
As Home Secretary Theresa May oversaw the longest and deepest cuts to per capita policing levels in British history. She slashed the number of police by 19,000. The police chiefs warned at the time that they were getting stretched beyond their capacities, but Theresa May condescendingly accused them of ‘scaremongering’. Now that we have got army deployed on the streets, I think it is fair to say that that accusation has not aged well. 
During the Election, Theresa May refused to release a report into the funding of terrorist networks in the UK, presumably because it allegedly implicates Saudi Arabia.. If it’s revealed that terrorist networks operating in the UK are receiving funding from our supposed allies, that undoubtedly the stuff that can bring governments down. What we don’t know is whether or not Theresa May was aware of this report when she was hawking them weapons as home secretary. So the question has to be, is anyone in the mainstream going to attempt to hold Theresa May to account?

Healthcare

After the previously mentioned terrorist attacks much attention was understandably given to our security services. However we should not let this overshadow the incredibly important issue of NHS funding.
Our doctors paramedics, nurses and surgeons were absolute heroes after the terrorist attacks, and NHS staff like mental health specialists and physiotherapists will be heroes of the recovery. The evidence is absolutely clear that the NHS cannot afford another five years of Tory vandalism. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone you know who works in the NHS about whether services have got better or worse over the past five years. 
Many argue that the chaos in the NHS is being deliberately pushed in order to push more privatisation. This might sound like a conspiracy theory but the chairman of conservative health Paul Charlson even explained that the purpose of this ruinous Tory NHS agenda is to scrap the ‘free at the point of use’ principle and replace It with a US style private insurance model. Anyone who thinks that a private model would be preferable, really needs to go to their local hospital and ask how cost cutting has served them.

Dark ads

The Tories ran an unprecedented campaign of dark ads, spending millions on spewing their propaganda all over social media, front loading YouTube videos with political attack adverts and hijacking political google searches with paid ads. This might seem at first glance like normal behaviour for a political party but there are numerous factors to consider.
In my view the specific targeting of particular voters in particular constituencies with dark ads should be declared under local, rather than national campaign budgets. It should be seen as absolutely necessary to copies of every political advertisement are checked by the electoral authorities. Many of these Tory dark ads, such as one they used to hijack searchers for the Labour manifesto, contained outright lies about the opposition parties and politicians. The electoral authorities really need to explain to the public what they intend to do to stop the dissemination of outright lies.

Lies

Aside from the Dark ads campaign, numerous Tory politicians were guilty of just blatantly lying to the British public. Theresa May herself being among them.
Theresa May outright lied about Diane Abbott’s stance on the DNA database, by saying to a packed question time audience on national television that the shadow home secretary advocated the removal of the DNA samples of ‘criminals and terrorists’ from police databases. Abbot has of course done nothing of the sort. She has advocated the removal of the DNA of people proven to be innocent.
May also lied that Labour proposes ‘uncontrolled immigration’ when in reality their manifesto pledged clampdowns on all kinds of harmful migration and increased funding of services for areas that have large immigration influxes. The labour programme is actually far more sensible and reasonable than the Tory approach of recycling their twice broken promise to reduce immigration to an arbitrary number.
After Brexit, and now this something really needs to be done to prevent our politicians from deliberately lying to us.

Yes First Strike

One of the most bizarre aspects of the general election was the way Jeremy Corbyn was constantly ganged up on by members of the public and by the mainstream media, because of his reasonable No First Strike policy on nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Theresa May didn’t seem to receive any criticism at all about the announcement of her absolutely mad Yes First Strike policy.
I oppose the renewal of trident, but I at least understand the deterrent argument that people put up in favour of them. Yes first strike makes no so sense. Its total and utter madness that, in times of global conflict, would actually make the problem worse by significantly increasing the chances of a strike against London in order to eradicate the insane strike first leader, before they can launch a nuclear attack.
The Tory government need to be pressed a lot more on their Yes First Strike policy, because I’m pretty sure that most members of the public (even those that support trident) would be strongly against Theresa May essentially triggering Armageddon by using nukes as attack weapons.

 Austerity

Tory austerity dogma resulted in the slowest recovery from a recession since the South Sea Bubble Burst in the 18th century, the lowest levels of housebuilding since the early 1920s, the worst wage collapse since records began, and the least affordable house prices in history. Not only that but for seven years we have been pitifully left behind on the world stage because the Tories have been investing far less in infrastructure than any other developed nation. All because of the Tory’s ideological fixation with their economically inept and self-defeating cost-cutting exercises.  
For seven ruinous years the mainstream media have time and time again failed to hold the Tories to account over their ideological fixation with austerity dogma. However, after more voters supported anti austerity parties than pro austerity parties in this election and the Tories are even claiming that they want to backtrack on austerity, surely now is the time for austerity dogma to be subjected to proper public scrutiny?

Dementia Tax

The Tories Dickensian policy of stabbing their core demographic in the back by threatening to assest strip their family homes if they dare to commit the ‘crime’ of getting dementia or one of the other horrible diseases, has not disappeared. They have simply announced that there will be a limit on how much wealth they can extract from frail old people and other disabled people. They have not said how much that limit is going to be, nor whether it would be an overall cap (a weak incentive to suicide) or an annual limit that rolls over indefinitely (a strong incentive to suicide).
What will happen to the Dementia Tax policy in future Tory manifestos is anyone guess, they certainly took a gamble with it this time. Nevertheless, questions need to be asked about the details that Theresa May has failed to disclose, and also over the morality of this policy. How is it remotely humane or decent to assest strip frail old people whilst simultaneously giving tens of billions in handouts to corporations and your mega rich chums? 

Tory self interest

Theresa May could have maintained political power until 2020, but she clearly and undeniably put her own self-interest above the good of the nation by calling a snap election when her poll lead was at an all-time high.
After the failure of David Cameron’s EU referendum gamble, wagered in order to poach a few UKIP voters in 2015, Theresa Mays vanity election is the second time that the Tories have thrown the whole country into chaos by putting their own self-interest first. Instead of conducting Brexit in an amicable way, by taking the views of opposition parties and devolved governments into consideration and forming some kind of UK wide consensus. She wanted to crush all political opposition to be crowd the undisputable and unchallengeable queen of Brexit, so she could dictate the whole process of exiting the European Union herself.
It’s now abundantly clear that the Tory party simply cannot be trusted to consider the good of the nation as a whole, above the self-serving opportunism of their leaders.

Press Corruption

 One of Theresa Mays most despicable manifesto pledges was to throw the leveson report onto the fire as if Rupert Murdoch’s minions had never hacked into the phone of a murdered teenage girl.
During the election, the billionaire owned propaganda rags went into absolute overdrive with an unprecedented smear mongering campaign against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. Thankfully, the smear mongering didn’t pay off. Neither did it deliver Theresa May the super majority she was expecting when she called her self-serving snap election, but the malign influence of the billionaire press barons was still enough to help her avoid an astounding defeat, which means that there’s still the possibility that the Tory’s will try and bin the leveson investigation as a favour to their faithful mainstream media attack dogs.

Rights and Freedoms

Despite the wailing from Tory’s that we shouldn’t try and politicise attacks when they happen, Theresa May didn’t half opportunistically piggybank her hatred of human rights on to the terrorist atrocities.
She is just so incapable of thinking things through that she doesn’t even understand that the destruction of our western justice-based human rights would be seen as a massive ideological victory for the Islamist extremists. These depraved fanatics absolutely hate our liberal values and our non-sharia court systems. If we scrapped our human rights after one suicide bombing and a couple of sick rampages through the streets of London, they would obviously see it as a huge victory and wonder what could be achieved with a more concerted series of attacks.  

Monday, 12 June 2017

Its Not Over

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When the general election was first called by Theresa May in April Labour had a disappointing 25 point lag behind The Conservatives. Theresa May was portrayed as the strong and stable leader that would lead us through Brexit, while Corbyn was the old, unelectable terrorist sympathiser whom the right of the labour party would point the blame to when Labour was inevitably wiped out. It was looking bleak on all counts.

Yet as series of incredible opportunities changed this consensus. A leaked Labour manifesto containing policies such as the nationalisation of key infustructure, the creation of a national investment bank and the abolishan of Tuition fees, proved incredibly popular. Some of the UKs best rap and rock musicians turned out to support Corbyn, inspiring over 70% of young people to take an interest in the Corbyn surge. While Theresa May went around the country speaking to Tory councillors and refusing to debate her opponents, Corbyn was out there speaking to huge crowds and challenging the PM to face him head to head. I could go on.
All this resulted in a tense atmosphere on Election Day. It was a make or break moment for the British left. If we got this right we would go back to being a major player in British politics. If we got this wrong, it would leave the left demoralised and unrepresented by the Labour movement. As polling stations around the country closed, and the election coverage announced the exit polls, everyone’s mouths collectively fell open. The final polls showed a hung parliament, with the Conservatives losing and labour gaining a substantial amount of seats. Throughout the night this proved to be a reality as Jeremy Corbyns Labour exceeded both their vote share and their number of seats impressively, with Labour taking conservative seats like Kensington and Canterbury. By Friday morning we had a weak Tory government propped up by, far right northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and a strong and stable opposition led by a newly energised Jeremy Corbyn.
So where does this leave us. Let’s not forget that Theresa May called this election with the sole purpose of crushing opposition to her government. It was nothing but brazen vanity cheered on by an ever more right wing and nefarious press. Instead the opposite happened – Theresa May destroyed herself, and in the process significantly weakened the conservatives grip on power, undermining their entire reason for having an election in the first place and forcing them into a coalition with a small group of former Ulster Defence League, northern Irish fanatics. For Theresa May to do anything but resign in disgrace at this point would show her lack of decency and integrity.
Why did Labour do so well? Over the coming months the mainstream media will be attempting to set the narrative that Corbyn did not really do well, and that the success that The Tory’s were headed for was compounded by a failure to avoid the U turns that inevitably came with the criticism of Conservative policies like the Dementia Tax. However, this narrative completely fails to explain why this is the highest turnout since 1997, eclipsing Tony Blair’s result in 2005. Young voters and previous non-voters didn’t flock to Labour because they thought ‘Hmmm Theresa May isn’t very good at sticking to her promises’. Also, if this result is all down to Mays poor leadership, why didn’t Labour get a similar result in 2015, after David Cameron famously chickened out of having a head to head debate with Ed Miliband? That seems very weak and feeble as well doesn’t it?
The young have suffered disproportionately these past few years: Student Debt, a housing crisis, a lack of secure jobs, falling wages, cuts to social security – young voters have been ignored, ridiculed and demonised. This has in the past had the dangerous effect of making young people so disillusioned with politics that they don’t vote, which in turn contributes to their lack of representation by the political system. In fact, it was thought by some that, despite the Corbyn surge, the young vote would be no different at this election. One sickeningly disrespectful Tory candidate told the Huff Post that regardless of under 30s enthusiasm for Corbyn ‘they don’t care enough to get off their lazy arses to vote for him’. Well get of our lazy arses we did, and we made Labour the strong opposition party that this country needs.
This election result was about millions inspired by a radical, left wing programme that promised to transform Britain, to attack injustice and to challenge the vested interests holding this country back. Don’t let the press barons and conservative MPs tell you that this is wrong. Polling for years has shown that people on the whole believe that the well-off should pay more that we should invest money into our schools and hospitals, that the living wage should allow people to live, that young people should not be saddled with debt for aspiring to an education. The left has long been argued that these ideas have the support of millions: On June the 9th that argument was decisively proved correct.
Even better, Labour is now permanently transformed. Their radical, left wing, socially democratic policy proposals are now the party’s consensus. It cannot and will not be taken away. Those who claimed that its ideas would fail to get off the ground or win seats for labour were simply wrong. Labour didn’t win the general election, but being 25 points behind the Tories at the start of the election, they were never going to. That policy programme enabled Labour to eclipse Tony Blair’s swing in 1997, a stunning achievement. Social Democracy is in crisis across the whole of the western world. Many of its political parties are now nothing more than pitiful, right wing imitations of the movements they once were, Labour are one of the most successful parties are they are left wing.
However, it seems I owe Corbyn a bit of an apology. Following the Copeland By-election result earlier this year, I wrote a piece entitled On Copeland. Here I entertained the idea, notably being proliferated at the time by Owen Jones, that many had a bad impression of Jeremy Corbyn as a leader and that as a result Labour were headed for a catastrophic general election defeat (In what was then still 2020) that would crush all the things that I believe in.  Although I had previously supported Jeremy all the way, I concluded from Copeland that it would make sense for Corbyn to step down, to be replaced with someone who can carry Corbyns left wing ideas into a general election. Looking back on that blog post, I think I was na├»ve in suggesting that someone with Corbyns opinions could be put onto the ballot paper in a Labour Leadership contest.
I was wrong. So utterly, completely wrong. Usually when I have to admit that I am wrong about something I have written on this blog it is increasingly frustrating, due to the fact that I try and hold all my work to some sort of honest standard. In this case however, admitting I was wrong is perhaps the best thing I have ever written. Those who read the aforementioned blog post will know that it is one plagued with a kind of solemn and sad attitude towards what I was saying. I even considered never publishing the article, and filing it away in the ‘unfinished’ folder on my laptop. Never Again. Corbyn stays and – if indeed the Tories continue to be thrown into crisis – Corbyn has a very real chance of becoming the Prime Minister, and a very good PM he would be as well.
At the very least I know I was not alone in being wrong. The biggest perpetrators of all are surely the mainstream media. Both the right wing and the left wing press. Although I think one side is more likely to admit it than the other, they were wrong to vilify Corbyn supporters as delusional cultists. They were wrong to suggest that Corbyn could not mobilise young people and previous non-voters. They were wrong to suggest Corbyn couldn’t make inroads in Scotland. They were wrong to suggest Labour couldn’t take seats of the Tories in England. They were wrong to suggest a radical left wing programme was a recipe for electoral disaster. Labour may not have formed a government, but they are far closer than they have been for a very long time. The prospect of a left wing government run in the interests of ordinary working people – not the cartel of vested interests who have plunged us into crisis after crisis – is an idea many of us thought would never happen. It is now much closer than it has ever been. So to quote a Jeremy Corbyn tweet I ridiculed in by blog post on Copeland: The fight starts now.  

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Real Anti-Establishment Revolution

I voice my opinions pretty harshly on this blog. That is because I am passionate about what I believe in and I want to stand up for what is right. However, I would like to think I am humble enough to admit it when I turn out to be wrong on something. The honest truth is that I might have to do this in just a few hours.  I only realised this yesterday and was slightly taken aback by it myself, having to wrestle with the logic of it. But here is the truth: If Jeremy Corbyn wins this election, like I so desperately want him to, I will have to admit that I was wrong about Brexit.

Anyone has actually read my work, rather than writing me of as a ‘remoner’ and ignoring what I have been saying all together, will know that I have never been particularly pro EU. I dislike the way that the EU forces neoliberal policies on its member nations by having an anti-nationalisation clause and forcing austerity measures on developing nations in return for bailout packages; Despite the treaty being dead in the water before we voted to leave the EU I also had a profound dislike of the TTIP corporate power grab which would have allowed private corporations to sue government agencies; Finally, I hate the Immoral and impractical EU-Turkey migrant deal.
All this considered, my opposition to Brexit didn’t stem from an ideological rejection of the idea of leaving the EU, but actually from a recognition that a chaotic unplanned Brexit carried out by a callous bunch of selfish, immigrant hating Tory elitists would obviously be a total disaster for the economy and a complete nightmare for millions of ordinary working people. Furthermore, with the economic crash that will inevitably come from Brexit, the Tory’s would be likely to load the burden of the crisis on to the most downtrodden areas of society in order to protect the assets of the super-rich.
As I acknowledged in my blog posts leading up to the EU referendum, it was not just the far right ‘Britain First/Ukipper’ crowd that wanted Brexit. Lots of other people wanted it because they see the EU as an undemocratic neoliberal monolith. At the time, I thought these people were ridiculously foolish. There was just no way that the Tory’s would wilfully relinquish their grip on power before 2020, meaning Brexit would have to be conducted by the most pro-austerity party in Europe and run entirely in the interests of the corporate giants and the super-rich. Ditching one group of establishment elites by leaving the European union, only to hand power to the corrupt and exploitative Tory Party, seemed to me like nothing more than an ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ situation.
Surprisingly though, thanks to Theresa Mays incredible narcissism and overconfidence, Toe Tory establishment have actually given us a chance to ditch them too. Now there is a chance to elect a genuine anti-establishment candidate to take over the Brexit process and deliver a Brexit that works for all British people not just the establishment few.
If you don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is anti-establishment, I encourage you to take a quick look at his track record:
·    In 2003, as chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, he helped to organise the biggest protest in British History against the invasion of Iraq (an invasion that even Theresa May voted in favour of)
·     Since 2010, he has constantly opposed the Austerity agenda, even when the Labour leadership was imposing a whip on its MP’s to support it. He knows that loading the cost of the crisis on to the backs of ordinary people, whilst giving vast handouts to the super rich, isn’t just immoral, but economically inept.
·    In 2011 he was one of the few MPs in order to vote against turning Libya into another lawless terrorism breeding crowd, in which the Manchester bomber was radicalised.
·    In 2015 he was a 200-1 outsider to lead his party, but he won a massive landslide victory over the three pro establishment candidates
·     In 2016, the pro establishment faction of his party used the Brexit vote to launch an ultimately fruitless coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn. He resisted and the ordinary people stood behind him and showed the establishment MPs their place
Jeremy Corbyn defines himself as a servant of the people. That’s why the establishment elites hate him so much. They think that power and wealth belongs to them and only them. Corbyn is clearly hated by the establishment, which is why this kind, peaceful man has been smeared and abused in the most outrageous manner. They are absolutely terrified of him. Just think about it. Are we going to make a huge anti-establishment stand in 2016 and then completely screw it up by voting in favour of the establishment in 2017?
If you’re looking for a proper anti-establishment revolution then the chance doesn’t come along very often, and it really doesn’t come better than this. Jeremy Corbyns not perfect, but he is on the side of working people. He has promised no tax rises for 95% of earners; better workers’ rights; a society that treats disabled people decently and fairly; universal and free access to education; properly funded public services; and a clampdown on tax dodgers. Jeremy Corbyn has also undoubtedly fought this election campaign honestly and decently, while their opponents reduced themselves to slinging vitriolic abuse at him.
If you voted to stick it to the establishment, don’t go voting for the establishment now. Vote for Labour. Vote for a real anti establishment revolution.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Generational Voting Divide (and what we can do about it)

We saw it with Brexit and we saw it with numerous general elections. There is a large generational divide in British politics. That isn’t simply my opinion but rather the findings of poling company ICM. Labour are outperforming the Tories by almost 5:1 amongst 18-24 year olds, who see Jeremy Corbyns transformational manifesto as a beacon of hope for the future. Obviously, it goes without saying that in order to win this election Labour will need the votes of the younger generation.

Although the Tories Dickensian dementia Tax policy of asset stripping the family homes of elderly people for the ‘crime’ of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s, may have caused some older voters to be put off the Conservatives, the over 65s are still going to come out in force to vote for the party that plans to strip them of their winter fuel allowance, scrap the triple lock on pensions and assest strip their houses.
It’s unbelievable that so many millions of pensioners are not only intent on voting to impoverish themselves but to allow the Tories to trash the aspiration of their grandchildren by gutting education funding, keeping exploitative zero hour contracts, enforcing the highest tuition fees of anywhere in the world, underfunding vitally needed infustructure, and gutting public services in order to fund their tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich!

Why Is this the Case?

Obviously I am generalising a bit here, it is clear that not all pensioners believe in voting for a government that is going to make life worse for themselves and the younger generations. Some of them are smart and turned on enough to see through the Tory propaganda that they are bombarded with on a regular basis. However, there are reasons why many of them do and will:
One of the main reasons is that many older people have no access to social media or the internet and are thus likely to more susceptible to being told lies by one or a few of the highly biased Newspapers like the Telegraph or the Sun. Independent media sites like Novara Media simply have no way to reach the large pensioners. Many of them won’t even get a chance to find out about the policy pledges in manifestos, other than the carefully selected ones that appear on television or in the newspapers. While we often talk of echo chambers in terms of the confirmation bias that appears on Twitter or Facebook (which is admittedly a problem), they are certainly not suffering a worse echo chamber problem than those who rely entirely on mainstream media.
There are of course other reasons why older people are more likely that not to vote Tory. There is no polite way to say this, but the older people get, the more gullible and open to manipulation they become. I am not just presuming this, the Online Privacy Foundation carried out some interesting research into exactly this kind of political psychology, during the EU referendum. One of the most interesting results was that Brexit voters are more susceptible to right wing authoritarianism than remain voters, but that older leaders are also more attracted to the right wing tyrant style of leadership then younger voters. When we are talking about authoritarianism, you don’t get much more authoritarian in the British sense than Theresa May. Yes, Margret Thatcher crushed entire communities in pursuit of her hard right economic agenda, but she never openly fantasised about trashing the European Convention of Human Rights.  
Another thing that the research shows is that older people are more likely to suffer from the classic Dunning-Kruger effect. This is when someone has very limited understanding of a subject, thus greatly overestimating their knowledge of the subject. So basically people who know nothing, act like they know everything! Mixed with declining cognitive ability and the sheer level of propaganda they get bombarded with, this particularly effects older people.
Like I said before, this obviously doesn’t apply to all pensioners (hell, some old people still like heavy metal) but on average most people, of no particular fault of their own, end up with declining cognitive abilities. Most old people end up losing their ability to critique the things they’re told, seriously overestimating their own expertise, and craving hard right leadership.

What can we do?

The only way we can stop the older generations from wrecking their dignity in old age and wrecking the aspirations of younger generations, is to talk to them. However hard the conversations might be, we have to bridge the generational divide by getting them to rekindle the sceptical abilities that they had in their youth.
True, Older people tend to suffer significant mental decline, but they are also likely to be conscientious. They’re more likely to care about other people, behave selflessly and put other people’s needs above their own. Appealing to older peoples own self-interest is a fair and non-exploitative strategy. Telling them that the Tory’s are going to rip them off by scrapping their winter fuel payments, the triple lock, and assest stripping them if they get ill and need social care is a reasonable thing to do, as these are things that older people have a right to know.
A major stumbling block in this strategy is that the Tories know that older people are likely to care about people, so they dress their draconian legislation up as ‘necessary sacrifices in the national interest’ rather than what they are, which is policies designed to punish vulnerable people for the benefit of the rich. The Tories are so heartless that they know older people can be tricked into voting against their interests, by telling them it’s in the greater good. That’s why, it is vitally important to make sure our elderly relatives know that the Tories are lying through their teeth.
Probably a much better way of speaking to elderly people, is to talk about the significant differences Labours Policies make to the lives of younger generations, their own grandchildren. Talk about how the Tories want to scrap free school meals and scrap education funding, so that the kids of today have worse opportunities then previous generations of children. Talk about student debts, explain how tuition fees in the UK are the highest in the whole world, and that Labour want to abolish them. Talk about Zero hour contracts, and how they represent a modern incarnation of unstable unemployment. Help them understand that the Tories aren’t just taking wealth from older generations, they are robbing wealth and opportunities from the entire country.

Conclusion

The votes of elderly citizens might make all the difference at this election. Obviously the votes of younger generations are equally important, but we need to stop the Tories blindly robbing the wealth and opportunities of all generations. Good luck.

You Cant Trust Theresa May to Deliver a good Brexit Deal

The Tories are trying to frame this election around the issue of Brexit. Perhaps the strongest thing that Theresa May has going for her campaign is the lie that the opposition parties are trying to obstruct Brexit, and that therefore the conservatives and only the conservatives can provide the ‘strong and stable’ leadership to finish the job. This is an influential propaganda strategy. It points to what is the most prominent political issue at the time, and offers one group of people up as the only people that can deal with it, because that’s the way things are already. However, this strong and stable narrative can be disproven with a quick look at the facts.

Theresa Mays Brexit Record
Upon being appointed as Prime Minister by default after the Tory leadership contest fell apart, Theresa May assembled her Brexit team: David Davis is certainly not one of the worst as far as Tory MPs go, but he clearly doesn’t know what he is doing. Boris Johnson, a man who has insulted every country on earth, is clearly a ridiculous choice for home secretary. Finally, using Brexit as an excuse to bring the disgraced Liam Fox back into front line politics is an extraordinary move, as the man should be in jail for sharing official secrets with his friends not relegated to the back benches to be thrown back into government a few years later.
After six tedious months of stalling everyone by replying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ every time she was asked a question about what Brexit means, Theresa May finally revealed her negotiating strategy. Unfortunately, this ‘strategy’ turned out to be nothing other than a ludicrous threat that she would turn the UK into a low wage, low skilled, hard right corporate tax haven if the EU didn’t give into her staggeringly unrealistic demands of access to the single market for a select few corporations and banks!
From January onward Theresa May began robotically parroting the propaganda trope that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. The Anti EU hard right press is going to shriek ‘BAD DEAL!’ to every single concession to the European Union during the negotiations though. Therefore, there is pretty much no other way of seeing this phrase other than a cynical attempt to brainwash the public into believing that triggering social and economic chaos by walking away from the negotiating table with absolutely no deal whatsoever, is in fact a good thing.
In March the House of Lords tried to add two amendments to the Tories Brexit Bill but they were both stripped out again by the Tory government in the House of Commons. One amendment was to endure that parliament has an actual vote on whether Theresa May is able to trigger a socially and economically ruinous hard Brexit if her threat based posturing fails to secure a good settlement with the EU. Before that safeguard was removed, the Tories (with assistance from UKIP, the DUP and some Eurosceptic labour rebels) scrapped the amendment designed to ensure that Theresa May doesn’t use the lives of an estimated 3 million EU citizens in the UK as bargaining chips in her negotiations with the EU. It is absolutely clear that from the scrapping of these amendments that the Tories don’t care about democracy or the rights of EU citizens to feel safe where they live. They just want to secure the hardest Brexit possible, so they can get on with their wet dream of turning Britain into a hard right tax haven.
Delaying Tactics
In April 2017, almost immediately after Triggering article 50, Theresa May decided to keep the EU waiting for two months by calling her opportunistic self-serving election! Anyone trying to defend this move needs to take a long hard look at their priorities. By the time Theresa Mays vanity election is over she will have successfully stalled the Brexit negotiation process for almost an entire year!
You would have thought that Brexiters would be totally hacked off at her blatant delaying tactics by now, but somehow they still seem to adore her! It’s like they haven’t even realised that everything that comes out of Theresa Mays mouth is the polar opposite of her actions. Think very clearly about it: She apparently called the election to stop opposition parties obstructing Brexit (which they weren’t – the article 50 Bill went through parliament without a single amendment!) but this election itself is another two month delay on top of the nine month delay between the Brexit vote and the triggering of article 50: A two month delay that was caused entirely by Theresa May.
Time to Give Someone else a try
There are three reasons why Jeremy Corbyn would have a much better chance of making a success of Brexit than Theresa May.
Most obviously, he is not Theresa May. Electing someone new would be a chance for a fresh start without all the scaremongering, insults and flat out conspiratorial thinking that all seem to be contained in Theresa Mays negotiating strategy. The Tories threat based posturing and lack of a simple economic plan will mean no deal with the EU!
Secondly, Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear time and time again that he stands with the ordinary citizens of this country and against the elitist establishment class. The fact that he is on our side and not theirs is obvious from the fact that they have tried to do everything in their power to destroy him. Despite the constant barrage of smears and even a coup attempt by the establishment insiders in his own party Corbyn is still somehow standing. If that isn’t concrete proof of his determination and strength of character, I don’t know what is.
Thirdly, it clear that Corbyn isn’t a narcissistic control freak like Theresa May, so he would delegate the negotiation job to his Brexit minister. Unlike the bumbling David Davis, Kier Starmer is in fact a highly intelligent and highly capable experienced politician. With the Tories you would get David Davis trying to negotiate the whole thing on a platform of having no realistic economic proposals whatsoever, while Theresa May desperately tries to micromanage the whole thing, disregarding the interests of the nation as a whole.
Conclusion
If Theresa May wins this election then the Brexit negotiations will be a disaster. It would obviously be a massive challenge for Jeremy Corbyn’s far superior Brexit team (Kier Starmer, Emily Thornberry, and Barry Gardiner) to make any kind of success of it, but under Theresa Mays leadership it will be a massive bloody mess (just like her abysmal track record at the home office). Don’t say you were not warned.