This is the main reason why you should vote Labour today

 

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of boris johnson with saudis

Jeremy Corbyn’s landmark stated intention to tackle not just terrorism in isolation, but its causes, is the potential catalyst for a far wider transformation of society that is desperately needed in Britain and, indeed, the world. This is the reality a Labour victory under Corbyn could realistically usher in, in the years ahead.

In the event of a Labour win, the days in which successive UK governments – both Tory and Labour – have perpetuated endless war and counter-terrorism in order to sustain the profits of the arms and weapons companies and to ensure the privileges and concentration of power of the few at the expense of the many are maintained, will almost certainly begin to come to an end.

This is why the deep state, that includes the corporate media, under the said governments, have consistently, in the words of Media Lens, thwarted the attempt by the public “to shape a genuinely democratic choice out of the sham choices of corporate-owned politics.”

The corporate media’s framing of Syria is a case in point. Back in December 2015, the BBC reported on claims made by the Ministry of Defense that RAF Tornado and Typhoon warplanes had destroyed wellheads in the country….“thus cutting off the terrorists’ oil revenue at the very source”. The impression given to the public was that the UK government had actively engaged in degrading the infrastructural and financial capability of ISIS.

However, this was based on a deception. In reality, the target was the precise location that had been hit by Russian and US coalition forces six weeks earlier. This was confirmed by a report in the Express on October 23, 2015, that highlighted the obliteration by both Russian and US coalition forces of an ISIS oilfield and supply routes in the heart of Islamic State territory in Syria. The Express report, therefore, inadvertently contradicted the UK governments own propaganda.

The deception also underlined the subsequent revelation that ISIS had gained access to weapons exported by the UK to the Middle East in the wake of 2003 invasion of Iraq. The ability of ISIS to access weapons is only possible if they have money to purchase them. Tackling the flow and source of criminal money, is the most effective way to drain them of their ability to function. This is precisely the strategy Corbyn has proposed to undertake in order to tackle the causes of jihadist terrorism.

The reason why the establishment are opposed to the Labour leader is because they realize he cannot be bought off on their terms and hence if elected he is likely to potentially undermine their ability to be able to continue pulling the financial strings that determine the control, flow and maintaining of oil revenues.

Briefing

In September, 2014, in a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybaskova, conceded that some European countries have purchased crude from ISIS from the areas in northern Iraq and Syria they have captured. Accepting that the most effective way of countering ISIS is to attack the source of their funding rather than using bombs to kill civilians, appeared to be the rationale behind the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn’s initial decision to oppose military intervention in Syria.

However, inexplicably, two weeks later, he voted in favour of bombing. Something happened in the two week period up to December 2, 2015, which influenced Benn’s decision to change his mind. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that war is good for boosting the profits of those connected to the military-industrial complex and that he had allegedly been lobbied by BAE Systems who stood to gain financially from any change of heart.

Sure enough, the depression in their share price in late October, 2015 on the back of Benn’s opposition to war, subsequently jumped after the announcement to bomb was made. Being in the pocket of the arms industry is concomitant to the notion of favouring war, which not only explains the BBCs pro-war stance (BBC Trust vice-chair, Roger Carr is chairman of UK arms manufacturer, BAE Systems), but clearly also explained Benn’s careful positioning in his attempt to usurp the anti-war Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership.

The attempt failed. Corbyn went on to secure a second mandate and Benn was sacked from his post as Shadow Foreign Secretary. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, major defense contractors Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin assured investors that they stood to gain from the escalating conflicts in the Middle East. Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner said his company will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria, citing the Turkish military’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane.

Tanner was far from being the only beneficiary of the war in Syria. A deal that authorized $607 billion in defense spending brokered by the U.S Congress, for example, was described as a “treat” for the industry. What better way to benefit from this “treat” than for the major powers to secure the “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources with the aim of reducing European dependence on Russian gas and boosting the potential for an energy independence.

Broader strategy

The broader strategy to dismember Syria involves the annexation of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 war. This is being aided by one of the most concerted media propaganda offensives since the Iraq debacle. The main reason the Murdoch media, in particular, is pushing for regime change in Syria, is because Israel has granted oil exploration rights to the multinational corporation, Genie Energy. Murdoch is a major shareholder in the company. In a 2010 press release, Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas stated:

“Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”

Pupkin continued:

“I am grateful to Howard Jonas and IDT for the opportunity to invest in this important initiative….Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.”

Other players involved in the plan to extract resources from the Golan, include the Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, American Shale, French Total and BP.  Thus there exists a broad and powerful nexus of US, British, French and Israeli interests, encompassing defense, security, energy and media sectors, at the forefront of pushing for the break-up of Syria and the control of what is believed to be potentially vast untapped oil and gas resources in the country. The plans, if successful, will also rein-in Russian and Iranian influence in the region.

The foreign and domestic policies of successive British governments have been integral to the perpetuation of this system of cronyism, war and corruption. A class system built on inequality, injustice and deference, depends on these factors for its continued existence. The election of Corbyn as Prime Minister would potentially scupper this unethical and corrupt system which is why the deep state (that includes the BBC and the rest corporate media), have done their utmost to ensure it doesn’t happen. Let’s prove them wrong today by turning out in large numbers and putting our crosses next to our respective Labour candidates..

The extent to which the corruption at the heart of the British establishment, emblematic of endless war, has been allowed to continue, is reflected by the unwillingness of successive governments’ to tackle the issue. This is probably best exemplified by the decision of the former business secretary, Sajid Javid, in July, 2015, to invite companies’ to comment on whether the “tough anti-corruption measures” contained within the governments 2010 Bribery Act are “a problem.”

Letters sent by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills invited industry leaders to comment on whether the act has had an impact on their attempts to export. Needless to say, letters inviting small businesses and employees to comment about regulations that prevent them from making more money at any cost to the environment and working conditions, were not forthcoming.

Corruption

On the August 3, 2015, edition of the BBC HARDtalk programme, host Stephen Sackur interviewed Nigeria’s Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. During the interview Sackur repeatedly alluded that the Nigerian government was systematically corrupt. At one point Sackur related an ‘off mic’ incident in which former prime minister, David Cameron, was said to have berated Nigeria, after he described it as one of the two most corrupt countries in the world.

Apparently, it hadn’t occurred to either Sackur or Cameron that big business in the UK lobbied against the Bribery Act which was intended to undermine corruption – the implication being that corporations would rather be scraping around in the sewer if there was some money to be made among the filth. As far as the British establishment are concerned, corrupt practices are something restricted to what dark skinned people in far away countries engage in. By contrast, the former thinks of itself as occupying the moral high ground, despite the fact that the UK was one of the major players heavily implicated in the Panama Papers scandal.

In 2012, Cameron visited one of the most corrupt and authoritarian countries on the planet, Kazakhstan. The leader of that country showered him with gratitude and praise. Kazakhstan’s former police chief is linked to the ownership of £147m-worth of London properties which forms part of the UKs status as a safe haven for corrupt capital. Other corruption scandals to have hit the headlines around that time include the Straw and Rifkind affair, the MPs expenses scandal (ongoing) and the long-running PFI saga that’s crippling the NHS.

Simon Jenkins summarized the malaise and hypocrisy at the heart of the British establishment:

“The truth is that hypocrisy is the occupational disease of British leaders. They lecture Africans and Asians on the venality of their politics, while blatantly selling seats in their own parliament for cash. I hope some insulted autocrat one day asks a British leader how much his party has garnered from auctioning honours. The government suppresses any inquiry into corrupt arms contracts to the Middle East. And when does lobbying stop and corruption start? The Cameron government is the most susceptible to lobbying of any in history.”

In the nearly two years since Jenkins wrote his piece, nothing fundamentally has changed. If anything, corruption is arguably even more endemic under Theresa May than it was under Cameron. Indeed, unethical practices within the British establishment continue to be integral to the workings of the deep state. Take the ongoing seamless links between the Tory establishment, BBC, the intelligence services and HSBC as an example.

The connection between the former and latter go back a long way. David Cameron’s great, great grandfather was the head of HSBC in the UK when they were established in Hong Kong. In November, 2010, a critical report from the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) insisted that the bank refrain from making illegal charges that amounted to some £200m on its customers.

Vindicated

After a successful 13 year-long battle to prove HSBCs guilt, anti-corruption campaigner and whistle blower, Nicholas Wilson, has finally been vindicated. The bank was found guilty and fined a relatively paltry sum of £4m. The background to the case outlined by Wilson in a video on his blog, is a revelation.

During the time of the critical OFT report, the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided to make the then head of the bank, Stephen Green, a Lord and to bring him into government as a trade minister. The government state broadcaster, the BBC, buried the story.

But more significantly, HSBC director, Jonathan Evans (formerly head of MI5), supplied – through his company – customer data to every major government department – MI5, MI6, GCHQ, MOD, MOJ. Cameron proceeded to appoint Evans to head the BBC Trust in 2014. He was subsequently made a Lord and, like Green, brought into the government. Another Lord, Lord Janvrin, former chair of HSBC private bank, sits on the committee that oversees the security services.

Another government connection to HSBC concerns the appointment of the head of their Audit Committee, Rhona Fairhead, to the chair of the BBC Trust. According to Wilson, since Fairhead’s appointment at the BBC, there has been no reporting of HSBC criminality which continues to be numerous and has been documented by other journalists around the world as major incidents. This includes a HSBC and Russian- related drug money laundering story.

Wilson points out that journalist Peter Oborne resigned from the Telegraph over its lack of negative coverage of HSBC. In a public letter, Oborne described how the paper had spiked about six negative stories including one by its investigative team over a period of three months because HSBC are “the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend.”

Wilson has had his attempts to publish his expose of HSBC in the corporate media – Private Eye, the Times, BBC Panorama, Newsnight, Channel 4 News – scuppered by editors who have spiked his version of events. Prior to Cameron’s re-election in 2015, Sunday Times correspondent, Tom Harper, wrote a damning story on HSBC that implicated Cameron in his attempt to cover-up the Stephen Green scandal. But while Harper was investigating, Sunday Times editor, Camilla Cavendish, met with Cameron.

The story was subsequently spiked one day prior to its intended publication. Two months later, it was announced that Cavendish was working at Downing Street in the policy office of Cameron. When he resigned, he gave her a peerage. She is now Baroness Cavendish. That’s the extent of the corruption at the heart of the British establishment. In other words, one of the biggest corporate financial institutions in the UK that illegally stole money from its customers with minimal redress, is embedded within the high echelons of the corporate media and government establishment.

Given the connections HSBC has to many of the High Street chains, the nature of government-corporate corruption is likely to be far more extensive than many people realize. Then there is the extent to which these kinds of manifestations of the deep state are played out in terms of its relationship to the initiation of wars, terrorism and the perpetuation of the arms industry. I discuss these issues (in relation to Syria) here and here.

Jeremy Corbyn’s honest approach to tackling terrorism has brought the topic of corruption sharply into focus and in so doing has exposed the failed war on terror foreign policy strategy of his neoliberal opponents. The fact that Corbyn has wrong-footed the political establishment and the media that back them, is rattling both.

Sophisticated

An increasingly sophisticated electorate are aware that foreign military interventions and the selling of arms to tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia, increase the terrorist threat. Craig Murray has cited polls indicating that voters understand the correlation between wars fought abroad and domestic terrorism. Given the establishment themselves admit the connections, the media can no longer smear the left with the terrorist apologist epithet.

That partly explains why the Tories have not gained ground in the polls since Corbyn made his speech. So desperate have the establishment become, that the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who was former director of two offshore tax avoidance asset management firms in the Bahamas, resorted to censoring Nicholas Wilson at a Hastings and Rye hustings. Rudd instructed the chair to disrupt his speech. Wilson, who is standing as an independent, had his microphone removed from him, after he commented on Rudd’s alleged political and financial links and actions in Saudi Arabia. The whole thing was captured on video here.

Given the inherent corrupt nature of the British state, the fact that the UK is widely perceived to be the world’s 14th least corrupt country in the world is perhaps a testament to the propaganda power of the corporate media. According to journalist Roberto Saviano, who spent more than a decade exposing the criminal dealings of the Italian Mafia, Britain is the most corrupt country in the world. He told an audience at Hay-on-Wye: “If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me well it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy and I will tell you it’s the UK.”

The disconnect between perception and reality is clearly indicative of the distorted way in which an organisation like the national state broadcaster under-report the subtle forms of ‘hidden’ systemic corruption that is embedded in the very fabric of the British state, camouflaged by legislation and cushioned by ‘gentlemen’s agreements’.

In bringing together a wide range of leading commentators and campaigners, David Whyte shows that it is no longer tenable to assume that corruption is something that happens elsewhere; corrupt practices are revealed across a wide range of venerated institutions, from local government to big business.

As Penny Green of Queen Mary University of London, contends, “the network of egregious state and corporate corruption in Britain rivals any in the developing world”. This is one reason why the electorate throughout the country in today’s contest, should consider very carefully who they give their vote to.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Corbyn’s anti-terrorism strategy expose the flaws in Tory foreign policy

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for theresa may friends with saudi arabia, pics

 

“Bombs exported from Britain are being dropped on Yemeni children by Saudi pilots trained by Britain. Isn’t it about time this government suspended its arms sales to Saudi Arabia?” (Jeremy Corbyn, 2016).

“The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist, are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy” (John Pilger, 2017).

“If ‘our’ violence is never a justification for ‘their’ violence, why is ‘their’ violence a justification for ‘ours”? (Mark Doran, 2017)

In a 1985 speech to the American Bar Association, Margaret Thatcher said the following:

“The terrorist uses force because he knows he will never get his way by democratic means…Through calculated savagery, his aim is to induce fear in the hearts of people. And weariness towards resistance……And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.”

Starving terrorists of the oxygen of media publicity was clearly not what Prime Minister, Theresa May, had in mind on the steps of Downing Street in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing. In the hours that followed what was clearly a rehearsed and scripted speech, May made the decision to replace thousands of police by uniformed soldiers as part of an orchestrated display of defiance.

This was despite the fact that the reassuring terrorist threat level was reduced from “critical” to “severe” and troops were subsequently taken off the streets. So why did May deploy the Army in the first place other than to engender the kind of publicity the terrorists thrive on by creating an invented state of emergency?

Heartfelt and genuine

In contrast to May’s robotic and staged performance which was low on substance and high on rhetoric, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, in a much more low-key approach, not only came across as far more heartfelt and genuine than May, but also expressed a desire to deal with the political causes of terrorism:

“Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.”

The Labour leader continued:

Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men…No rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre. But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”

This was courageous stuff that confronted head-on the underlying issues that all leading British political figures since the bogus war on terror began in 2003 have been reluctant to address.

Faux outrage

Predictably, the speech was followed by faux Tory outrage. Senior minister, James Cleverly, fell apart live on the BBC after journalist Emma Barnett confronted him over his false assertion that Corbyn “could make such an erroneous and casual connection between British foreign policy and international terrorism”.

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson slammed the Labour leader for linking terror to foreign policy. But there was a problem. Johnson had already said something similar 12 years previously: “As the Butler report revealed, the JIC assessment in 2003 was that a war in Iraq would increase the terror threat to Britain”, he said.

In a rare display of truth-telling, Johnson acknowledged the link between foreign military interventions and terrorism which is accepted as a given by key figures within the British establishment. Former director-general of M15, Eliza Manningham-Butler, for example, has admitted that “the invasion of Iraq undoubtedly increased the terrorist threat in Britain.”

In the Tories view of the world, Islamic extremism emerged out of a metaphorical clear blue sky. According to this view, the political vacuum left as a direct result of the chaotic US-UK violent interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have played no part in the growth of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. However, the notion that no ‘blow-back’ can be expected as the result of well over a century of Western imperialist wars of aggression and the covert support for numerous regional puppet dictators, is ludicrous.

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, resource wars in the middle east continue to be a key feature of the strategy of the imperial powers, including the UK. Indeed, the corollary between UK foreign policy, the destruction of functioning states and the rise in jihadist terrorism, is supported by the evidence. As historian Mark Curtis points out:

“[The] combination of Anglo-American policies across the region has contributed to further instability and the rise of violent jihadism …While a number of factors operate to contribute to an individual’s radicalisation, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that one of these contributory factors is British direct and covert action in Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

Corbyn’s ‘crime’ was to simply acknowledge the obvious truth that Britain’s continuing duplicitous foreign policy creates the conditions in which violence flourishes. But acknowledging the need to tackle the causes of terrorism, is not the same as condoning it. As Craig Murray put it: “If I tell you that smoking causes cancer, it does not make me a supporter of cancer.”

Question Time

Predictably, the Manchester bombing issue dominated the May 25, 2017 edition of the BBCs Question Time programme. But rather than providing an opportunity for members of the panel to interrogate the government’s foreign policy, attention shifted towards addressing the symptoms. Incoherent contributions from some of the programme’s guests that totally ignored the ‘elephant in the room’ were preferred. This included a disproportionate focus on the widely discredited Prevent strategy (see below) which Craig Murray described (correctly) on twitter as providing “a major source of income to various right wing cranks.”

Rather than dealing with the root causes of terrorism, the government’s approach which is inextricably linked to it’s middle east foreign policy, is counterproductive. The discredited war on terror approach that began under Blair after 9-11, continued under David Cameron and finally his successor, Theresa May.

In a speech made in Birmingham in July, 2015, that could loosely be termed as a muddled attempt to tackle Islamist extremism in which causal factors such as the Wests endless wars in Muslim lands are ignored, Cameron outlined the Tory five-year vision. The former PM set out four major areas that needed attention: countering the ‘warped’ extremist ideology, the process of radicalisation, the ‘drowning-out’ of moderate Muslim voices and the ‘identity crisis’ among some British-born Muslims.

Cameron then spoke about the need to enforce British values citing “equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith” as a core aspect of these values despite the fact that he voted in support of the homophobic Clause 28 as recently as 2003.

Third, the former PM claimed that Islamic extremism can have nothing to do with Western intervention since the invasion of Iraq came after 9/11. He appears to be unaware of a century of imperial interventions before that. This canard was repeated by Michael Fallon in a recent car crash interview.

Pick and choose

The most hypocritical thing is how the establishment pick and choose their Muslims. A well-worn narrative is that the latter are incapable of coping with modern values. However, a succession of British Foreign Secretaries – including the pathological liar, Philip Hammond – are only too happy to be photographed alongside the Saudi royal family who don’t accept any of the values associated with democracy such as fairness, justice and equality.

In his 2015 speech, Cameron inferred what British values were not by referencing forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The implication being that these manifestations of ‘un-Britishness’ are unique to Muslim culture which of course they are not. “No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities”, he said. Fine! on the basis of consistency, I’ll now wait in eager anticipation for a similar speech by Theresa May to the Jewish community in Stamford Hill.

Cameron continued, “I want to work with you to defeat this poison [of Islamist extremism].” Presumably, ‘defeating’ ISIS doesn’t involve the counterproductive action of bombing to smithereens yet more innocent civilians as the justification for mission creep or unconditionally supporting the Sunni authoritarian regimes, the ideology and funding of which helped spawn the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS in the first place.

The one (unintended) positive that emerged from the Cameron speech was when he talked about the difference between Islamist extremism on the one hand, and the Islam religion, on the other. As such he brought into sharp focus the wider questions regarding the differing interpretations seemingly inherent to religious doctrine.

This issue was further highlighted by Jon Snow (Channel 4 News) who quoted the Muslim Council of Great Britain saying:

“We need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric which invariably facilitates extremists to thrive.”

Missing

In order to tackle the problem associated with certain extremist interpretations of Islam, it makes sense to want to tackle the problem at source. But crucially, this was the aspect missing from Cameron’s speech. If he was to highlight it, it would mean cutting off his nose to spite his face. That’s because Britain has a an extremely cozy relationship with the oppressive totalitarian states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula, all of whom without exception, adhere to the extremist theocratic Islamic ideologies described but nonetheless represent extremely good business for Great Britain PLC.

The issues that surround UK foreign policy raise serious questions about the role of Western intelligence services in the conduct of the so-called war on terror. The recent revelation that the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, was known by MI5 to have been part of a North African-based cell of ISIS “plotting to strike a political target in the UK”, contradicts May’s assertion that he acted as a “lone wolf”, and adds to the suspicion that operatives are being used by the deep state to foment terrorist acts in Britain in order to perpetuate the cycle of tit-for-tat violence as the justification for the continuation of the war on terror.

The above is what can reasonably be extrapolated from evidence which points to “UK covert and overt action in the region in alliance with states [who are] consistently supplying arms to terrorist groups.” In fact:

“Agencies of the British government itself have, in some senses, become part of the broader ‘terrorist network’ with which the British public is now confronted…Without these actions – by Britain and its close allies – it is conceivable that Abedi might well not have had the opportunity to become radicalised in the way he did.”

Regardless of whether the suspicion ultimately has its basis in conspiracy or cock up, the UK government must be aware that the initiation of wars in Muslim countries is bound to increase, at the very least, the risk of lone wolf attacks by those whose religious and cultural affinities tie them to many of the countries the West are seeking to ‘liberate’. Therefore, rightly or wrongly, many Muslims in Britain who may have family connections to the countries the West are ‘at war with’, regard it as their duty to rectify what they might perceive to be major injustices.

Jihad

The ideology in which perceived injustices are addressed in Islam, is through ‘Jihad’ which takes two basic forms. Some moderate Muslims like Baroness Warsi insist that Jihad is about “self-improvement, self-evaluation, questioning injustice and being prepared to raise your voice when you see injustice.” This contrasts with the extreme interpretation of Jihad in which external factors like the taking of arms are seen as the precursor to the kind of self-evaluation Warsi outlined.

If, has been suggested, “Abedi was part of an extremist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by MI5 for more than 20 years”, it’s easy to understand the rationale of somebody like him who would be well aware of the foreign policy double-standards of the UK government, to want to turn the tables on his employer as his means of justifying jihad.

The UK government must be alive to the possibility that such a strategy runs the potential risk for blow-back. If this is indeed the case, it raises the question as to whether the UK political establishment regard the deaths of innocent civilians on the streets of British cities, to be ‘a price worth paying’ as part of the governments broader geopolitical and economic strategic interests?

 

None of this is to suggest that UK foreign policy duplicity is the sole motive for the kinds of terrorist attacks witnessed in Manchester and London, but it would seem to be a contributory factor. Moreover, radical interpretations of the Koran may also play a part, with the probability that in many cases violence in the name of the Islamic religion is the means by which political alienation is expressed.

One of the main problems that needs to be addressed, but tends to be overlooked, relates to the contradictory aspect of religion, in general. Christians, Jews and Muslims will often claim piety with one hand but adopt the role of arm-chair generals holding a metaphorical grenade with the other.

In relation to the latter, irrespective of whether one is a follower of ISIS, or whether one is a part of the vast majority of the wider Muslim community of Sunni or Shia, all groups and sects will self-identify with, and hence, claim accordingly they are the true representatives of Islam. All will justify their opposing positions by cherry-picking appropriate verses from their religious book.

These contradictory positions, in turn, are exploited politically by racists, Islamophobes and, more widely, by governments. Islamophobia is not just a human reaction to cultural difference. It has been purposely perpetuated as a result of the politicisation of religion of which the creation of an Islamophobia industry is a reflection.

Prevent strategy

The Prevent Strategy and the policies of the Henry Jackson Society are integral to the functioning of this industry. Cage, the London-based advocacy organisation, wrote of the Prevent strategy:

“Prevents causal analysis and theory is fundamentally flawed. According to the strategy, the cause of violence in the Muslim world is rooted in ideology. Whereas in reality the cause is the political struggle of Muslims in response to unrepresentative regimes, often aided by Western policy and occupations.”

This assessment appears to be consistent with the analysis of Stephen Holmes, who in relation to the 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, implied that the goal of ISIS and al-Qaeda is no different from other national liberation movements – to achieve independence by forcing the imperialist powers to retreat:

“The vast majority of Bin Laden’s public statements provide secular, not religious, rationales for 9/11. The principal purpose of the attack was to punish the ‘unjust and tyrannical America’. The casus belli he invokes over and over again is injustice not impiety. True, he occasionally remarks that the United States has declared war on god, but such statements would carry little conviction if not seconded by claims that the United States is tyrannising and exploiting Muslim people… Bin Laden almost never justified terrorism against the West as a means for subordinating Western unbelievers to the true faith. Instead, he almost always justified terrorism against the West as a form of legitimate self-defence.”

According to Holmes, then, whilst political objectives may be expressed in religious terms, in essence, the goal of ISIS/al-Qaeda is the same as previous secular-nationalist movements in the Middle East—the defeat of US imperialism and its allies in the region.

Complex interplay

The claim that all instances of jihadist violence exclusively involve either religious or political rationales in isolation is misleading. The truth is, Islamist fanaticism is often the result of a complex interplay between the former and the quest for political and economic justice. This is what Corbyn was brave enough to acknowledge in his speech when he said the causes of terrorism “certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone.”

Nonetheless, the anti-Muslim ideology of the right-wing Henry Jackson Society, alongside the creation of the illiberal Prevent Strategy, has meant that the political establishment have been quick to exploit the media’s often sensationalist reporting as well as the fear and panic Muslim’s generate for their own narrow political propaganda purposes.

The former, for example, set up Student Rights which produced a report that manufactured panic around gender segregation on campuses. Cameron weighed in. Though strangely he never spoke about gender segregation at Eton. Catherine Heseltine of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK spoke of how growth in the fear of Islam has gone along with policies pushed by governments. She said:

“Immediately after 9/11 only 10 percent of people in Britain saw Islam as a religion as a threat…Since then that figure has just about tripled.”

According to Bob Ferguson, teacher and convener for Newham Stand Up Against Racism, since the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in February, 2015, Islamophobia has been taken to a new level. Teaching staff at universities and schools now have a statutory duty to report people who may be vulnerable to “Islamic non-violent extremism”. One clause that is particularly pernicious, requires teachers and lecturers to report discussions on ‘Grievances to which terrorist organisations claim to have a solution’. That one clause wipes out any possibility of discussing imperialism.

Ferguson adds:

“There was a minute’s silence for the victims of the beach attack in Tunisia. All the Muslims I know at my school thought those murders were a vile, reactionary crime. Many also regard the slaughter of three boys playing football on the beach in Gaza by Israel as a vile, reactionary crime. Expressing the first sentiment proves you are a good Muslim, but expressing the second could get you seen as an extremist.”

In conclusion, the issues are complex and multifaceted and not one aspect, in isolation, explains why some young people join up with terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Although many moderates would deny to their last breath that any religious rationale is involved in the justification of violence undertaken by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, these latter groups would insist on the opposite view and accuse the moderates of not representing the true tenets of the faith.

The call by moderate and peaceful Muslims (the vast majority) to condemn their violent and extremist counterparts (the small minority) on the basis that the latter are “not true Muslims” is moot since, crucially, all groups self-identify as Muslims and therefore justify their respective actions as Muslims based on the specific interpretation of passages contained within their holy book.

Some religious followers, cherry pick certain violent quotes from their religious books in order to justify to themselves their beliefs, mainly for political purposes. This is true of religious extremists whether they be Salafist Muslims, Zionist Jews or Christian fundamentalists.

The fact that the tragedy in Manchester meant that Jeremy Corbyn elevated the political dimension to the forefront of the debate on terrorism while individuals like Blair, Cameron, and now May, had sought to relegate it, is a testament to his bravery and commitment to taking on the various vested political, corporate and economic interests that constitute the industrial-military complex of the deep state and the hypocrisy of the establishment that give rise to the perpetuation of these interests.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Fraudulent democracy

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of corbyn and may together

In a genuine democracy, contrasting and conflicting ideas would be presented in the media in a fair and balanced way to allow the public to make informed choices at General Elections. But in reality, the media corporations who provide the electorate with ‘news’ are antithetical to the kind of democratic accountability they purport to espouse.

That the growth of democracy in the twentieth century has occurred alongside the growth of corporate propaganda, is concomitant to the lack of genuine democracy which prevents the public from being able to make the kinds of informed political choices described. In short, corporate media propaganda is used to protect corporate media power against genuine democratic forces.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than the media’s negative reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the position of Labour party leader which was secured through genuine grass-roots democratic forces. The well documented attacks against Corbyn which are largely ideological, will almost certainly increase in intensity as the General Election gets closer.

The leaking of Labour’s election manifesto pledges by the Tories accompanied by an obliging mass media were intended to form part of the strategy of attack. However, what they didn’t take into account was the extent to which the public were supportive of the proposals. Rather than proving to be unpopular, Corbyn’s plans that include “a series of [viable] proposals on investing in public services, taxing the wealthiest and scrapping tuition fees…are popular with millions of people” [1]. Indeed, the public overwhelmingly support Labour’s nationalization pledges across the board.

Concentration of power

If the election was to be hypothetically decided on the basis of Corbyn’s policies alone, the Labour leader would win it hands down. But the media conglomerates are guided by another agenda which is to ensure their privileges and concentration of power are maintained. As Corbyn potentially prevents them from sustaining this state of affairs, the public’s attention has to be diverted from the core issues, towards the emphasis on the Labour leader’s alleged personal traits.

All things being equal, it’s not the case that Corbyn hasn’t a realistic chance of winning the next General Election, rather, it’s more a case that the corporate political-media establishment will do everything in their power to ensure that he doesn’t. If that means it’s necessary for them to depict him unfairly as a bumbling idiot, then so be it.

The disconnect between the popularity of Corbyn’s policies, and his inaccurate portrayal by the media, is deliberate. The intention is to dis-associate him, as an individual, from his popular policies in the public’s collective mindset.

The strategy appears to have traction. Labour’s gap with the Tories in the polls is huge, albeit steadily closing. Yet, as previously highlighted, Corbyn’s policies on key issues are widely popular with voters. How else to explain this apparent dichotomy other than putting it down to the notion that the media’s demonization of Corbyn is working?

Isabella Stone provides some useful observations:

“It’s hardly difficult to discern how people might be being influenced to a negative view of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. I’ve just come back from my local Co-op where I had to stand in the checkout queue next to the newspaper stand. Virtually all the papers (except the Mirror) had negative headlines about Corbyn; the Mail, Sun and Express featuring unflattering photos of him and shrieking headlines about how much his policies are going to cost us all.

The Daily Telegraph even stooped to showing a photograph of Len McCluskey sprawled on some steps, having accidentally tripped. The implication of this last was that the man is a clumsy prat, rather than an unfortunate person who may have hurt himself in an accident. Even the Radio 4 Today programme presenters had a little giggle this morning over a joke about Mr McCluskey’s “clumsiness”. You don’t have to be remotely interested in politics to get the message.”

But it’s not just the typical right-wing press who are engaged in the smearing of Corbyn. The corporate media’s hostility towards the Labour leader crosses the traditional left-right divide (in truth, a close-knit ideological consensus of opinion). The “liberal-left” Guardian is no exception. This is despite the fact they are eager to portray themselves as being above the fray in terms of the promotion of the laughable idea their mission is to bring power to account:

“Here at the Guardian, ideas and opinions have the power to change the world for the better. Our independent journalism holds power to account across the globe and brings information that is suppressed into the public domain.”

Presumably, what the Guardian refer to as “holding power to account” includes their demonization of the leader of the opposition in terms professor James Curran described as “an enormously simplifying first draft of history.”

To my knowledge, not once has the Guardian challenged any of the Corbyn propaganda myths reproduced by their market competitors. They include the notion the Labour leader supports Hamas, is a cheerleader for anti-semites, has funded Holocaust deniers, has tolerated anti-semitism in the Labour party, has been on the payroll of state-funded Iranian media and is an apologist for the IRA.

While the media regularly bring up Corbyn’s connections with the latter, they have never mentioned Michael Fallon’s support for apartheid South Africa, his opposition to all international sanctions against the apartheid regime, in addition to British government interventions in individual cases of human rights abuse (see Craig Murray).

This kind of bias and media hypocrisy is consistent with academic research:

  • The London School of Economics and Political Science found strong media bias against Corbyn, claiming the press had turned into an “attack dog” against the opposition leader.
  • The UK’s public service broadcaster gave double the airtime to Corbyn’s critics than to his allies at the start of the 2016 Labour coup, according to content analysis from the Media Reform Coalition.
  • An LSE survey found that 74 per cent of newspaper articles ‘offered either no or a highly distorted account of Corbyn’s views and ideas’ and that only 9 per cent were ‘positive’ in tone.
  •  Research carried out at Birkbeck similarly found a strong bias in ‘mainstream media coverage’.

Battle lines

Given the evidence outlined above, it is clear that battle lines have been drawn, not between left and right competing political factions and policies, but rather what are regarded as the acceptable boundaries by which these contrasting narrative are allowed to be expressed and the lies and misinformation challenged.

What is rarely acknowledged is that the true nature of corporate power would be revealed if these forbidden lines were to be exceeded. But since they are not, the media’s:

“changing contours are seldom explored, its goals and targets seldom identified. This is counterfeit journalism because the surface of events is not disturbed. It is ironic that, while corruption among the system’s managers and subalterns is at times brilliantly exposed by a group of exceptional journalists, the wider corruption is unseen and unreported” [2].

The extent to which counterfeit journalism is able to continue functioning depends largely on its ability to manipulate the public through media propaganda by manufacturing their consent. This is largely achieved through coordinated political and corporate media mass campaigns that combine sophisticated public relations techniques. As Noam Chomsky explains:

“The primary function of the mass media…is to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector. The need for the dominant forces in society (a relatively concentrated network of corporations including media), to satisfy their interests, imposes some very sharp constraints on the political and ideological systems”.

The greater Jeremy Corbyn’s perceived threat to the corporate media’s attempts to manufacture the public’s consent, it correspondingly stands to reason the greater will be the media’s personal attacks against him. Under these circumstances, a fair and honest evaluation of Corbyn’s popular policies would, from their perspective, be counter-productive. Far better to undermine his credibility by drowning out his policies.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Theresa May’s dictatorship wouldn’t be possible without the complicity of the corporate mass media

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of kim jong-theresa may

In 1978, the Australian social scientist, Alex Carey, pointed out that the twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: “the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”

In order to defend their interests against the forces of democracy, the corporations that now dominate much of the domestic and global economies recognize the need to manipulate the public through media propaganda by manufacturing their consent. This is largely achieved through coordinated mass campaigns that combine sophisticated public relations techniques.

The result is the media underplay, or even ignore, the economic and ideological motivations that drive the social policy decisions and strategies of governments’. Sharon Beder outlines the reasoning behind the coordinated political, corporate and media attacks on democracy:

“The purpose of this propaganda onslaught has been to persuade a majority of people that it is in their interests to eschew their own power as workers and citizens, and forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now largely confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.”

This is the context in which the UK political and media establishment continue to attack Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The establishment are well aware that Corbyn can’t be bought off on their terms. The Labour leader’s sincerity, integrity and incorruptibility, represents a potential threat to these privileges and the gravy train that sustains them.

It’s the possibility that Corbyn will break the iron-clad neoliberal consensus that underscores what has arguably been some of the most vitriolic and biased reportage ever witnessed against any British political figure.

Media hate-fest

What Media Lens accurately described as a “panic-driven hysterical hate-fest right across the corporate media spectrum,” began during Corbyn’s campaign to become leader. As the media analysts noted at the time of the leadership election, “the full extent of media bias against Jeremy Corbyn can be gauged simply by comparing the tone and intensity of attacks on him as compared to those directed at the other three candidates: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.”

The level of the media attacks against Corbyn continued after he secured ‘the largest mandate ever won by a party leader’. The focus of these attacks included what colour poppy he would wear, his refusal to sing the national anthem or whether he would wear a tie or do up his top button. All of this was granted national news headlines and incessant coverage.

Not to be outdone, in October 2015, the BBCs political editor Laura Kuenssberg featured in an almost comically biased, at times openly scornful, attack on Corbyn’s reasonable stance on nuclear weapons. The BBC then broadcast five senior New Labour figures all opposing Corbyn without any opportunity for an alternative viewpoint.

Kuenssberg followed up this hatchet-job three months later when she helped to orchestrate the live resignation of Labour shadow foreign minister Stephen Doughty on the BBC2 Daily Politics show as a pre-requisite to accusing Corbyn’s team of ‘unpleasant operations’ and ‘lies’. Then came the April 12, 2016 Telegraph article – a non-story about Corbyn’s state-funded salary and pension.

Not to be outdone, eleven months later (March 5, 2017), the same rag continued with the smears by suggesting Corbyn had paid insufficient tax on his declared annual earnings – a claim subsequently debunked within hours on social media. Meanwhile, the news that Tory Chancellor, Philip Hammond, refused point-blank to publish his own tax returns after being prompted to do so by Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, did not receive anything like the same kind of media scrutiny.

The implication was that Corbyn had misled the public. However, similar media outrage was not leveled at PM Theresa May after it was revealed (March 7, 2017) that she had lied to parliament after having falsely claimed that Surrey Council had not engaged in a ‘sweat heart’ deal with the Conservative government.

Academic studies prove that when it comes to criticising Corbyn’s political opponents, a completely different set of media standards are applied:

  • A major content analysis from Cardiff University revealed that the BBC is pro-business and Conservative-leaning in its coverage.
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science found strong media bias against Corbyn, claiming the press had turned into an “attack dog” against the opposition leader.
  • The UK’s public service broadcaster gave double the airtime to Corbyn’s critics than to his allies at the start of the 2016 Labour coup, according to content analysis from the Media Reform Coalition.

The graphic below indicates the extent to which the powerful frame the media agenda:

Image may contain: 14 people, people smiling

Popularity

The evidence of bias outlined by the academic research and the concentration of power above, is proof-positive that the media propaganda against Corbyn is systematic and entrenched. Nevertheless, this is having no negative impact on the Labour leaders popularity among members and supporters. On the contrary, it seems to be having the reverse affect.

The Labour party gained 60,000 members in one week following the attempted coup against Corbyn. Membership is currently higher than it’s previous peak of 405,000 last seen under Tony Blair’s leadership. In his constituency of Islington North, Corbyn inherited a majority of 4,456, which is now 21,194. He’s one of the few Labour MPs whose vote increased between 2005 and 2010, when he added 5,685 to his majority.

Furthermore, LondonBristol and Greater Manchester now have Labour mayors, rolling back years of Tory dominance, while Labour’s majorities in by-elections have generally increased. It must also be remembered that pre-coup, Labour led the Tories in three polls in a row over 41 days. The long-term decline in Labour’s fortunes that preceded Corbyn can hardly be blamed on the Labour leader.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t prevented many opportunistic and self-serving careerists within the party from doing so. Corbyn’s alleged weakness at the dispatch box is presented as evidence of ‘ineffectual opposition’ despite the fact that under his leadership the Tories have been forced into some thirty policy u-turns. In terms of some of the core domestic policy issues, Corbyn has the support of the majority of the British public.

Snap election

Following Theresa May’s surprise decision to call a snap election for June 8, 2017, the media bias against Corbyn appears to have been stepped up yet another notch, particularly by, but not limited to, the gutter Murdoch press.

During the build-up to the General Election, the BBC for example, no longer even pretend to be impartial, as the Tweets below illustrate:

 

 

The latter, more than any other BBC correspondent, seems to have a particular dislike of Corbyn that borders on the outright contemptuous. This is best summed up by Media Lens who critiqued Kuenssberg’s “subtle insidious use of language” in a hit-piece that “betrays an inherent bias against Corbyn and his policies”:

“…rather than scramble to cover up his past views for fear they would be unpopular.”

The media analysts continue:

“Just putting those words in her piece – ‘scramble’, ‘cover up’, ‘unpopular’ – immediately inserts those words in the reader’s mind along with ‘Corbyn’; it encourages the reader to associate those words with the Labour leader. Consciously or not (likely the latter), she is deploying a well-known propaganda technique.

Moreover, when has Kuenssberg ever pressed May over the PM’s voting record on Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen? There is no need for May to ‘scramble’ to ‘cover up’ her past views because the ‘mainstream’ media rarely, if ever, seriously challenge her about being consistently wrong about her foreign policy choices; not least, decisions to go to war.”

In response to the Media Lens quote above, reader Matthew Alford, remarked on an “equally grotesque” example of BBC bias he witnessed on the BBC 10 O’clock News the previous evening: “This certainly did not look like a manifesto that had been scribbled on the back of a fag packet”. So why not just say “This was a professionally presented manifesto? Is it remotely conceivable that they would have said: ‘Theresa May’s manifesto was definitely not done on the back of a beer mat’?”, exclaimed Alford.

This kind of sustained bias against Corbyn is, as to be expected, the result of an increasingly concentrated foreign ownership of the UK media who favour the Tories at the General Election, not least because of May’s hard Brexit strategy. This the mass media frequently depict as being indicative of the PMs ‘strength and stable’ leadership. Conversely, their antagonistic tone and depiction of Corbyn as weak and calamitous, is the opposite of the truth.

In a rare moment of honesty, The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade wrote:

“Mainstream media as a whole took its gloves off and Corbyn’s electoral hopes have been doomed from day one. He was “a great leap backwards”, said the Mail. Beware this “absurd Marxist”, said the Express, while the Daily Telegraph referred to his “divisive ideology” and “atavistic hostility to wealth and success”. And the Sun? It just called him “bonkers”. There was scepticism too from the liberal left. The Independent thought he would not persuade middle England to accept his policies.

Neither the Daily Mirror nor the Guardian greeted him with open arms. Support for Corbyn on social media made no impact. Meanwhile, the overall anti-Corbyn agenda, repeated week upon week, month after month, was one that broadcasters were unable to overlook, despite their belief in balance and adherence to impartiality. News bulletin reports reflected the headlines. Current affairs programmes picked up on the themes. That’s how media narratives are constructed.”

Strategies

The election campaign strategies of the two leaders couldn’t be more different. While May’s robotic and lacklustre performance overseen by Lynton Crosby’s single issue Brexit strategy is being engineered to avoid public and media scrutiny, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has been marked by a willingness to engage with the public. While Corbyn has been open, transparent and accountable, May has been robotic, secretive and aloof.

While May comes across as cold, calculating and lacking in human empathy, Corbyn comes across as being totally at ease with the public, smiling and relaxed in their company. Corbyn has openly espoused his philosophy and numerous policy initiatives, many of them significant. May, by contrast, appears to have no policies to discuss and comes across as somebody who is instinctively autocratic and awkward.

Whereas Corbyn’s campaigning has been marked by spontaneity and his willingness to reply to previously unseen questions in public meetings and press conferences, May’s series of stage-managed PR stunts are exemplified by an eagerness to rely on focus groups and a carefully selected media who provide her with questions pre-vetted and selected in advance by the Tory Party.

The attempts by the Tories to restrict the media from asking May any probing questions, was highlighted by Channel 4 News journalist, Michael Crick, after he admitted to apparently being shocked that “reporters collaborate with May’s press team by agreeing to reveal their questions to them in advance.”

In contrast to Crick’s realism, the BBCs Eleanor Garnier is clearly of the opinion that she is not subject to this kind of overt media censorship. Garnier tweeted: “I didn’t discuss question or topic of question with May’s team. If I was ever asked to give my question there is no way I would. Ever.”

Whatever is being taught on journalism courses these days, the work of Chomsky and Herman is clearly not on the syllabus. My advice to Garnier is to spend 30 minutes watching the formers demolition of Andrew Marr before taking on her next journalistic assignment. That Garnier, as a BBC journalist, fails to recognise that access is determined by the lack of difficult or challenging questions indicative of how the media works, is frankly staggering.

What is equally staggering, is the fact that lack of access and the closing of journalistic ranks with the governments complicity, is not seen as an outrageous attack on civil liberties, democratic accountability and press freedom.

Dictatorship

In Britain in 2017, we are faced with a situation in which the public are being denied information to enable them to be able to make an informed choice ahead of the General Election. This is totally outrageous. As Craig Murray puts it:

“The idea that the head of the government both gets to choose what they have asked, and gets advance warning of every question so they can look sharp with their answer, is totally antithetical to every notion of democratic accountability. If we had anything approaching a genuine free media, there would be absolute outrage. All genuine media organisations would react by boycotting such events and simply refusing to cover them at all.”

It should be remembered that Theresa May was not elected as PM. She is silent about what her policies are, refuses to engage with the public and be open with journalists, and finally, is denying the opportunity of a face-to-face TV debate with the leader of Her Majesty’s official opposition.

This is akin to a dictatorship. If the UK media were to report on a similar scenario in North Korea they would be describing the government their as authoritarian or similar. What is happening in Britain, under the guise of a free media, is that basic democratic norms are being trampled on by the government and there media accomplices, and hardly anybody in the British establishment is blinking an eyelid.

 

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Why my vote for Corbyn on June 8, will *not* be an endorsement of the Labour candidate

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of jeremy newmark

On May 4, 2017, the free weekly newspaper, Barnet Press, reported on the announcement of the three Labour candidates who are to contest the seats in my area at the forthcoming General Election.

The candidate standing for the Finchley and Golders Green constituency is Jeremy Newmark, who the paper describes as a “former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council” and “former spokesman for Jonathan Sacks, who was Chief Rabbi from 1991 to 2013.”

Currently, Newmark chairs the Labour party-affiliated, Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). The JLM is also affiliated to the Israeli Labor Party and the World Zionist Organization. According to the UN, the latter pumps millions into building in the occupied West Bank through its settlement division.

In my view, Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader is the best thing to have happened to the party and, potentially, to the people of the country, in decades. But I’m going to find it extremely hard, on a matter of principle, to vote for my selected Labour constituency candidate whose credentials I regard to be highly questionable.

A great deal has been written and covertly filmed about how the Israel lobby and the JLM are using both journalists and the Blairite fringe of Labour MPs within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership with a view to his eventual toppling using the specter of antisemitism as a weapon with which to achieve it.

Journalist Asa Winstanley contends that no mainstream journalists “have disclosed Newmark’s long-standing role in the Israel lobby, or his record of lying about anti-Semitism.”

In an excellent piece published by the Electronic Intifada (April 28, 2016), Winstanley comprehensively analyses the McCarthy-style witch-hunts by the JLM against Israel’s critics and outlines the links between right-wing, anti-Corbyn Labour and the Israel lobby within the party.

Bogus antisemitism crisis

Winstanley meticulously shows how the Israel lobby manufactured an ‘antisemitism crisis’, pinpointing the individuals involved, the tactics and dirty tricks used and the connections to individuals whose ties lead to pro-Israel groups both in London and Israel.

The investigative journalist also shows how media outlets such as the Telegraph, Huffington Post and the Jewish Chronicle have been complicit in the systematic attempt to disorientate Labour party members and supporters by either printing misinformation or reproducing unsubstantiated accusations and antisemitic smears against individuals. This in turn, has contributed to a false media narrative.

Among the individuals who instigated the fake antisemitism row highlighted by Winstanley, are David Klemperer who opposed Corbyn’s run for the labour leadership (but has since been kicked out of the party), and former Israel lobby intern, Alex Chalmers. But it is Newmark who is arguably the most influential.

The intention of the lobby is to create the impression that antisemitism is not only more prevalent within the Labour party compared with other political parties, but that it’s also more widespread compared to other forms of racism in UK society.

Neither claim stands up to scrutiny. In relation to the latter, a 2015 survey by Pew found that seven percent of the UK public held ‘unfavourable’ views of Jews. By contrast, about a fifth held negative views of Muslims and almost two-fifths viewed Roma people unfavourably.

In the aftermath of the massacres in Gaza in 2014, the London Metropolitan police recorded 358 anti-Semitic offences. Two hundred and seventy three of these were online, 36 involved criminal damage and 38 constituted “harassment”. Eleven cases of assault were recorded in which four resulted in personal injury.

One hundred and eighty thousand offences in these categories were recorded within the wider population throughout Metropolitan London. In other words, attacks against Jews in 2014 against a backdrop in which Gaza was being pulverized, made up only one in 500 of the total, while they made up around one in 86 of the population of London as a whole.

Community Security Trust (CST) figures for the first six months of last year show a rise of 15 per cent above those from the previous year. But this is from an extremely low base. The actual number of such incidents recorded for the first half of 2016 was 557. And that figure is still below that for 2014 when the Israeli assault on Gaza occurred. So claims that there has been a ‘surge’ in antisemitic incidences in recent years are false and misleading.

In terms of the former, there is no evidence to suggest that antisemitic views are any more prevalent in the Labour party which historically has been at the forefront of anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns. On the contrary, racism and fascism is more likely to be symptomatic of far-right politics then left-wing politics.

Take the far-right ideology of Zionism as an example. Far-right political parties court the Zionist vote because Zionism is a far-right and racist political movement which, as Tony Greenstein put it, “sought to establish a Jewish state by accepting the anti-Semitic notion that Jews don’t belong in the countries they were born in.”

As a Labour supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, the decision of whether to put my cross next to the name of a hard-line Zionist and member of the Israel lobby who has lied about antisemitism and, in my view, seeks to undermine the democratic process from within, by prioritizing the interests of a foreign power over and above those of his own constituents, is not a difficult one. Zionists like Newmark have about as much in common with Corbyn as Gandhi has with Pol Pot.

Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA)

The cynical attempts to weaponize antisemitism for right-wing political purposes is also the role of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British propaganda organization and registered “charity”. Formed in August 2014 during a major Israeli offensive against Gaza, the aim of the CAA is to paint Palestine solidarity campaigning and opposition to Zionism as antisemitic.

The organisation is chaired by Gideon Falter, who is also a board member of the Jewish National Fund which has a long history of supporting ethnic cleansing in Palestine. The CAAs preferred McCarthyite tactic appears to be to target left-wing political activists, Corbyn supporters and journalists who are critical of Israel by abusing and smearing them with unsubstantiated allegations.

Among those who have been libeled by the group include Rebecca Massey, a prominent Labour Party activist in Brighton and Hove, Labour parliamentary and council candidate, Dinah Mulholland and the campaigning journalist and Labour party activist, Mike Sivier.

In relation to the latter, the CAA submitted an article to the press that contained “lies, doctored quotes and misinterpretations” of Sivier’s work. This resulted in his subsequent suspension from the Labour party without a proper investigation of the facts having taken place.

If the role of the CAA is to expose genuine cases of antisemitism and to promote social harmony, one would expect it to condemn far-right fascist organisations and their supporters. But as Tony Greenstein, who has himself been a victim of CAA smears, highlighted, a search of the campaign’s archive revealed just two articles that mention Britain’s main fascist organizations – the British National Party, the English Defence League and the National Front. Those groups include Holocaust deniers within their ranks.

By contrast, Greenstein pointed out there are some 77 articles attacking Jeremy Corbyn and 32 articles in the archive that attack Shami Chakrabarti, a civil liberties campaigner and now a prominent Labour politician serving as shadow attorney general.

It is obvious that the activities of the CAA and other Zionist and pro-Israel lobbying groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews are designed to achieve the exact opposite of what they purport to set out to do. Rather than create peace and harmony between people, they actually create tension, discord and antagonism.

This, of course, serves a political and ideological purpose. The promotion of the idea that Jews within the diaspora are under threat of antisemitism, intimidation and violence is intended to encourage their emigration to Israel thereby helping to further reinforce Zionism’s role as Israel’s state ideology.

The Israel lobby, who have a significant financial stake in the Labour party and further afield, clearly see Corbyn as an anathema to the realization of these interests. A Newmark victory in Golders Green and Finchley would almost certainly strengthen the Zionist position within the political establishment and thus help to bring the Zionist dream closer to fruition.

The disproportionate power the Israel lobby is able to exert is a major concern for anybody who values the principles of democracy. While it is wrong to suggest that Zionism and Judaism are synonymous, it is nevertheless apposite to point out that the majority of the Jewish demographic (59 per cent), which in its totality represents just 0.5 per cent of the British population, identify politically as Zionists.

The democratic process is not best served in a situation in which such a tiny section of the population supposedly has a disproportionately powerful lobby at its disposal. Although the majority of the world’s Zionists are non-Jewish, Zionism is at its core unquestionably a Jewish movement – indeed the major Jewish communal movement.

Over-representation

It’s the over-representation of Jews in the capitalist ruling class that gives the Israel- Zionist lobby it’s power. This is a historical phenomenon that actually explains the Zionist project itself and it’s purpose – to create a state expression for this distinctive bourgeois layer. The history of different peoples, of the relation of oppressed and oppressor peoples, is class based and linked to the different evolved class structures of those peoples.

The Jews have a more distinctive historically evolved class structure than many other groups. An understanding of the issues concerning questions of material reality and historical fact, is crucial to evaluating where we are today. The exploitation by racists of the facts, don’t make these facts less valid. As a society we need to talk about them as opposed to having them suppressed within the cloak of ‘antisemitism’.

The suppression of such questions risks their monopolization by the small minority of antisemites who have a racialised hatred of Jewish people. They are thankfully very rare. It’s important to keep talking about Zionism as a political category in order to refute the conflation between Zionism and Judaism that public figures such as Chief Rabbi Mirvis and others have so scandalously made.

Given the attempts to conflate the two, it should not come as any surprise why people would make the innocent mistake of using the term the ‘Jewish lobby’ in discussions or debates. Under such circumstances, it is easy to see how others with nefarious motives are able to exploit this misunderstanding for political and sectarian- racist purposes.

One such individual is the Zionist antisemite, Rupert Murdoch, who has complained that “Jewish-owned” newspapers are too critical of Israel. This illustrates how Zionists who loathe and resent Jews as Jews, unless they support a pro-Zionist political stance, are able to perpetuate the Jewish global conspiracy trope for their own narrow political objectives.

This rationale is used to explain why the JLM are able to prevent non-Zionist Jews from affiliating to their organisation while conversely accepting that non-Jewish Zionists are welcome to join. Significantly, in this sense, the JLM are more accurately described as a Zionist movement as opposed to a movement of Jews.

Arguably, nowhere is this dichotomy best illustrated than by the treatment meted out by the JLM to the Jewish anti-Zionist activist, Jackie Walker. The controversy that surrounds Ms Walker and others, as Mike Sivier posited “is not about antisemtism, but removing a person who does not support Zionism from a position of influence.”

The media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingston, Jackie Walker and others, are politically motivated and represent a determined effort by the Israel lobby to make Britain’s Labour Party ‘a safe pair of hands’ for Israel and Zionism.

Defining antisemitism

The confusion that surrounds antisemitism could be easily clarified if the widely used definition of the term was simplified. But as a result of their decision to adopt the long and convoluted European Union Monitoring Centre (EUMC) definition of antisemitism, groups like the CAA and the JLM are deliberately muddying the waters.

This deeply flawed 500 word ‘new antisemitism’ or even ‘antisemitic anti-zionism’ definition authored by attorney Kenneth Stern (strangely accepted by Jeremy Corbyn), intended to combat political criticisms of Israel, is so wide in scope that it’s essentially meaningless.

Brian Klug, an Oxford academic who specializes in the study of antisemitism, manages it in 21 words: “Antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are”.

Ultimately, the real target of Zionists like prospective Labour MP for Golders Green and Finchley, Jeremy Newmark, who insist on the EUMC definition, is not antisemitism, but the undermining of a Corbyn-led Labour Government, which they view as a very real threat to their Eretz (Greater) Yisrael project of a territory stretching from the River Nile to the River Euphrates.

As far as this writer is concerned, what is strange is that by agreeing with the Zionists that the EUMC definition has legitimacy (when in truth it is deeply flawed and has no status) does, is it emboldens Zionists in their political attacks against Jews and non-Jews alike who are rightly critical of the illegal actions of the state of Israel. I can only assume that there is still a long way to go before the corrupting influence of Zionism is removed from the democratic institutional structure of the Labour party once and for all.

The suspension from the party of the likes of millionaire Zionist donor, Michael Foster, who compared Corbyn supporters to Nazi storm troopers, is insufficient and clearly more needs to be done. Corbyn’s apparent cosying up to Zionists like Newmark and others within the party who are among the first in line to stab him in the back, while leaving long-term comrades like Ken Livingston out to dry, is a situation that ultimately, can only end in tears for the Labour leader. Corbyn’s lack of a principled stand on this matter reflects a serious weakness in his leadership.

The kind of democratic socialism espoused by the Labour leader on the one hand, and the political ideology of Zionism on the other, are irreconcilable concepts and if he fails to get a grip on the situation it could ultimately contribute to his downfall.

 

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

The UK government’s failure to answer questions relating to the alleged sarin gas attack hints at a cover-up

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of sarin gas attack claims

On April 4, 2017, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad was accused of intentionally deploying poison gas in Khan Seikhoun in Idlib province in the north of the country, In response to the alleged attack, and with near-unanimous journalistic support, the United States government launched an illegal missile strike on Syria’s al-Shayrat airbase three days later (April 7, 2017).

Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News (April 10, 2017) stated as if it was a fact that President Trump’s unauthorized attack on the airbase was “in retaliation to a sarin gas attack by president Assad”. Among those joining in the chorus proclaiming Assad’s ‘guilt’ as if they were as one, was the New York Times. Reporter, Michael B Gordon, who co-authored that papers infamous fake aluminum tube story of September 8, 2002 as part of the media’s propaganda offensive leading up to the 2003 U.S-led Iraq invasion, published (along with co-author Anne Barnard) another propaganda piece.

Showing no scepticism that the Syrian military was responsible for the gas attack, the authors cited the widely discredited $100m-funded terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets, as the basis for their story. Meanwhile, Jonathan Freedland, without a shred of evidence, wrote in the Guardian: “We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad”. Three days later on twitter (April 7, 2017) George Monbiot exclaimed: “We can be 99% sure the chemical weapons attack came from Syrian govt.”

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the alleged attack amid the fog of anti-Assad propaganda, I wrote an extensive article which raises a number of issues regarding the authenticity of the various claims made. More recently, journalist Peter Hitchens announced to his readers in his Mail on Sunday column (April 30, 2017), that he had sent a series of questions to the Foreign Office (FCO) about their apparent confidence with regards to Assad’s guilt over the sarin gas attack claims. In Hitchen’s view, the answers he received – which he has been prevented from publishing – were “useless, unrevealing and unresponsive”.

Three days later (May 3, 2017), Hitchens published the said questions, which the FCO “won’t or can’t answer”, in his Mail column. The questions the journalist poses are thoughtful, perceptive and often detailed. They include legitimate requests to the UK government to clarify contradictory statements and accounts. The fact that the FCO refused to answer them satisfactorily, or allow them to be published, hints very strongly at a government cover-up.

These are the questions Hitchen’s asked upon which he received worthless replies:

“In his article in the Sunday Telegraph of 16th April 2017, the Foreign Secretary states that:

‘British scientists have analysed samples from the victims of the [Khan Sheikhoun] attack.’

Where and when did they do this?

What assurances did they have of the provenance of the samples?

Who controlled the custody chain, and vouched for it?

How did they know that the samples were at no stage handled by persons with a propaganda interest in a certain outcome?

Were they at any stage under the control of Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (previously the Jabhat Al-Nusra), or any other part of that faction?

If not, how did they leave Syria?

Under whose custody were they between Khan Sheikhoun and the Syrian border?

How do we know?

He also says : ‘These have tested positive for sarin or a sarin-like substance.’

Eyewitness reports (cited in evidence by the Foreign Secretary) speak of ‘clouds of smoke’ (Independent 05/04/2017) and say ‘We could smell it from 500 metres away.’(Guardian 07/04/2017) and ‘The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food.’ (Daily Telegraph 06/04/2017).

Sarin is odourless and invisible. Videos of the attack also show responders without protective clothing, handling victims, which would be highly dangerous in dealing with victims of sarin. Does the Foreign Secretary have any view on the apparent contradiction here?

The Foreign Secretary also writes:

The UK, the US and all our key allies are of one mind: we believe that this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad, on his own people, using poison gas weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago, under the 1925 Geneva protocol. In view of this horrific evidence, the world last week once again had a choice, just as we did after the gas attack at Ghouta in 2013.

This is doubly interesting.

‘Highly likely’ is well short of a declaration that the matter is in fact proven. Yet the United Kingdom has endorsed a missile attack on a sovereign country by the United States, the pretext or reason for which was given as the alleged gas attack, which the Foreign secretary himself categorises not as proven fact but as ‘highly likely’, allegedly by the Assad government on Khan Sheikhoun.

What is the status of this attack under international law? Under which part of the UN charter is it lawful? If it *is* lawful in the case of such an action being proven, then is a belief that the alleged action by the Syrian state is ‘highly likely’ sufficient?

Who, if anybody, does the Foreign Secretary say is responsible for the Ghouta attack? On what basis does he say this?”

These are extremely important questions that need answering in order for the public to ascertain what the UK government’s role was in the events that led to the illegal US attack on Syria. The public need and demand answers to these legitimate questions to avoid a potential eventuality in which Theresa May’s government drags the country into yet another unnecessary war based on false pretenses.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

“Time to trash the Tories” by *not* voting: Steve Topple intends to spoil his ballot paper at the General Election

Image result for pics of steve topple

By Daniel Margrain

It came as a complete bolt out of the blue for this writer to learn that one of the most politically astute, articulate, insightful and widely respected journalists in a generation is to abstain from voting at the forthcoming General Election.

Steve Topple, who in many ways I saw as mentor, and who has often promoted my work on twitter where many others ignored it, yesterday (May 1, 2017) came out publicly on social media to effectively state that he sees no political value in voting at elections.

According to Topple, placing a cross next to the name of a candidate at elections is akin to endorsing a corrupt capitalist system.

In response to criticisms from readers, Topple announced the following on Facebook (May 1, 2017):

“Oh dear.

So, seemingly because I’m going to spoil my ballot at the election, I must have come to this decision from a position of privilege.

NOPE. I’ve spent years at the hands of the DWP, living off crisis loans, money people have dropped in the street, hand-outs and generally eating thin air.

I now live on a council estate with my GF and her ten-year-old son, the former who has just had all her benefits stopped. So we’re living off my Canary wage.

SO DON’T COME ONTO MY TL TELLING ME THAT BY SPOILING MY BALLOT I DON’T CARE ABOUT ALL THE BAD SHIT THAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE TORIES GET IN AGAIN.

I’ve spent 12 years living at the hands of Labour and Tory governments. And the DWP. So probably know far better than half the people commenting just how FUCKING BAD things can be.

So you can take your assumptions about ‘virtue signaling’ journalists and shove them up your prolier-than-thou arses. Or come to my estate, knock my door and try telling it to my face.”

To a certain extent, I understand and sympathize with Topple’s predicament, particularly as I learned through recent exchanges on twitter (May 3, 2017), that Steve lives in a safe Tory constituency. Just for the record, I’ve not spent twelve years living in the hands of successive Labour and Tory governments like Topple has, but thirty-eight years having first voted in 1979. So if anyone can claim to feel embittered and disillusioned, it’s people of my age who have suffered for far longer.

I, like Topple, have abstained at elections in the past in situations where no meaningful choices have been offered to the electorate. I understand the arguments that override his rejection of a capitalist system that benefits the elite ruling class minority at the expense of the rest of us.

Under normal circumstances, his arguments could be seen as a legitimate response to the actions of corrupt Labour party leaders who have put the interests of the establishment above the electorate. But these are not normal circumstances and Corbyn is far from being the usual Labour leader.

Those who have argued that the reason Topple intends to spoil his ballot paper on the basis that he is doing so from a position of privilege, are barking up the wrong tree. Anybody who has followed Steve’s journalistic career, will know that his various articles focusing on political and current affairs issues that rally against injustice and inequality are sincere and heartfelt.

This makes it all the more perplexing why Topple hadn’t decided to make an exception by refraining from spoiling his paper this time around given circumstances in which a Labour government under Corbyn would almost certainly usher in a much needed transformative kind of politics.

Apart from what I regard as Steve’s lack of wisdom in relation to his decision to spoil his ballot paper, I also reject his justification that underpins this decision. Topple’s apparent insistence that the inherent structural failings of capitalism cannot be reconciled with a democratic polity to help rein-in the systems worst excesses is, in my view, indicative of a narrow defeatist outlook.

There is no reason to believe that engaging in the political process and putting the case for a revolutionary transformation of society cannot go hand in hand. It might not be the kind of revolution Steve imagines, but that is cold comfort to those who have lost loved ones as a direct consequence of Tory austerity.

The notion that increased hardship and suffering is a necessary prerequisite to the onset of revolution, which is what Topple seems to be implying is, I would argue, ultimately selfish and, should in my view, be rejected. Too many people who are suffering untold pain under the Tories, cannot afford to wait for people like Steve Topple to be awoken from their slumber at the point at which the revolution begins.

People are suffering under the Tories in ways not witnessed since the Victorian era and they are desperately hoping for some light in what is a very long tunnel. Corbyn is the first Labour leader in decades that provides them with some much needed optimism for the future.

What we are currently seeing unfold, is potentially one of the greatest periods in British political history. An honourable and decent man who has fought off two coups against him, has too many decent folk riding on his success at the election for him to be dismissed out of hand by people who should know better.

In the hope that Steve might reconsider his decision to spoil his ballot paper, Corbyn supporter, Felicity A Wright, wrote on Facebook (May 1, 2017):

“Listen, Steve, I get it. I’m a crip and on benefit and I felt so let down by Labour that I spoiled my ballot last time by writing “None” across it. My husband, who is my full-time carer, spoiled his with more panache by writing “Clement Attlee” across it. And that’s the thing: I believe Jeremy Corbyn IS the new Clement Attlee. Have you seen his record? He’s been on the side of the poor, the weak, the voiceless from the beginning. He has been arrested for protesting against Apartheid & for refusing to pay the Poll Tax. I believe he is a genuinely good man and that, unlike the Kinnock/Blair side of the Labour Party, he cares about making a fairer society. So I’m voting Labour & so is my husband, in the hope that Jeremy really is what he seems to be. Please do the same! The Canary is one of the things which has given me this hope and is the only news outlet I actually subscribe to. Keep the faith. xxx”

Felicity is right.  There are literally millions of voters out there who see in Corbyn somebody who is not just another self-serving careerist politician, but a man who is sincere and whose is motivated by a need to make society better for the many as opposed to the few.

Having read Topple’s often brilliant polemical articles, it would seem highly improbable that he is oblivious to the differences between New Labourism exemplified by Blair and the old Labour of Corbyn. Moreover, given the political landscape since Thatcher, the notion he intends to abstain from voting, particularly as his anti-Tory polemics are so incisive, means that I’m at a loss to rationalize his thought process.

The truth is, as ill-judged as I think Topple’s decision to spoil his ballot paper is, it’s not my main point of contention. What I find particularly strange are the contents of a recent tweet of his in which the slogan “Time to trash the Tories” is invoked. It’s bizarre that “trashing the Tories” is seen by Steve as being concomitant to spoiling ones ballot paper.

Topple is not just any old bloke, but a highly influential and respected journalist who many people look up to for inspiration and guidance. In short, in the age of social media where more people than ever rely on alternative sources of information to counter the fake news of the mass media, opinions of the calibre of investigative journalists like Steve Topple matter.

Despite it’s supposed non-corporate credentials, the on-line publication Topple often writes pieces for, the Canary, is still heavily dependent on advertising revenue streams for its existence. As such, the news outlet is interwoven into the very fabric of a system Steve purports to hate.

Further, it is reasonable from the perspective of his many readers, to deduce that his effective absolving of responsibility of the election outcome, is undermined by the content of his polemical articles in which he consistently prosthelytizes against the Tories. Unfortunately, because of the contrarian position he has taken, Topple’s visceral attacks on the Tories from here on in, will lack credibility.

Yesterday (May 1, 2017) was a very sad day for me personally having learned that a writer I have long admired and respected made the incredulous decision to spoil his ballot paper – a decision that can only benefit the Tories.

I sincerely hope Steve changes his mind in the days ahead.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards