Tag: jeremy corbyn

Who is next for the Zionists putsch?

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for ken livingstone resigns pics

It is a sad indictment on modern politics that the long-standing socialist, Ken Livingstone who fought most of his political life fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racism has been hung out to dry by a political party he had been a member of for decades. Had Livingston not formerly offered his resignation, almost certainly he would have gone the way of another veteran anti-racist activist, Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled ostensibly for ‘anti-Semitism’ but more accurately for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.

It could be reasonably argued that on the latter grounds, Wadsworth’s suspension was justified given that he had inappropriately targeted a Labour MP during a press launch showcasing an important report. But then this begs the question why it is the case that some of the 80 Labour Friends of Israel members who have links to Mossad agents and have attempted to subvert UK domestic politics in order to favour a foreign power, have not been expelled for what are obviously far more serious offences?

Wadsworth’s ‘affront’ to the party hierarchy was, not that he should have pursued a more suitable avenue in which to attack his target, but that the said target was former British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) employee and Israel lobbyist, Ruth Smeeth MP. Any hope that Wadsworth would receive a fair hearing was dashed the moment his Israel lobby critics unjustly accused him of anti-Semitism.

Fifty right-wing and pro-Israel parliamentarians proceeded to demand the political lynching of Wadsworth at his hearing. Had he not voluntarily resigned, a similar show trial scenario predicated on yet more spurious anti-Semitism charges would almost certainly have been used as a justification to drive Livingstone out of the party. The long-standing anti-racist campaigner’s ‘crime’ in the eyes of his critics, is his interpretation of a specific event in history that runs counter to the elite pro-Israel political narrative.

So why hasn’t Corbyn come to Livingstone’s defense?

It appears that Corbyn and his strategists have made the political calculation that continuing to appease a hard core of neoliberal war-mongers both within the party and in the corporate media is preferable to taking a principled stand – presumably on the basis that the anti-Zionist left would eventually win their critics over through rational debate.

But such hopes appear fanciful. Nothing Corbyn says or does will, for example, satisfy political commentators and arch Livingstone and Corbyn critics like Nick Cohen, John Rentoul or Dan Hodges.

The latter disdainfully wrote the following on his twitter feed in response to the news that Livingstone had resigned:

“I think if Jeremy Corbyn ever wins an election Ken Livingstone will be welcomed back.”

In other words, for Hodges, Corbyn can do nothing right no matter how accommodating to his critics he is or how many concessions he makes – even to the extent that many MPs from his own party would rather back the Conservative government position than support the leader of their own party. One of the most prominent of these, John Mann MP, initially set Ken Livingstone up on fake charges and then blamed Corbyn for not expelling him, claiming the Labour leader turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism.

However, the establishment by the Labour leader of the Chakrabarti report is evidence that Corbyn in less than three years has done far more than his political adversaries have managed in decades. One of Corbyn’s key critics, Ed Miliband, when he led the party failed to introduce any extra measures to deal with complaints of anti-Semitism, but paradoxically has joined in the chorus of criticisms against Corbyn’s apparent inability to tackle the problem.

Anti-Semitism, as with all forms of racism, is a societal problem and therefore is bound to exist within political institutions that form part of the said society. The crucial question then, is not that anti-Semitism exists in a party comprising hundreds of thousands of members, but rather whether the problem is endemic and/or disproportionate compared to other political parties and wider UK society as a whole.

The aspiration to stamp the problem out completely is worthy but unrealistic. Yet this is what Corbyn’s critics uniquely task him with. The implication is that anti-Semitism is more prevalent within the Labour Party compared to other political parties in the UK. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny as doesn’t the claim that it is more prevalent compared to other forms of racism in UK society more widely A survey by Pew, for example, found that 7% 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.

Moral panic

In response to a moral panic about ‘left anti-Semitism’ seemingly rife within the Labour Party, a loosely-knit group of Jewish Labour supporters, Free Speech on Israel, met for an inaugural gathering in April, 2016. The 15 member group, which included Emeritus Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, Jonathan Rosenhead, found that over their lifetimes they could muster only a handful of anti-Semitic experiences between them. And, crucially, although in aggregate they had hundreds of years of Labour Party membership, not a single one of them had ever experienced an incident of anti-Semitism in the party.

These experiences would appear to tally with the findings of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme. Despite filming undercover for 6 months at political meetings in an attempt to discredit Corbyn, the programme-makers could not find a single incidence of anti-Semitism among party activists.

As one independent commentator put it, the mainstream media anti-Semitism furor “is not about anti-Semitism; but removing a person who does not support Zionism from a position of influence.”

The Blairite Friends of Israel have succeeded in removing Marc Wadsworth from the party. Using ‘anti-Semitism’ as their political weapon, their latest casualty is the influential Ken Livingstone. If the fifth columnists responsible for the coordinated attacks against Israel’s critics are not compulsorily de-selected from the party, then such attacks, under the guise of anti-Semitism, will continue unabated.

As Tony Greenstein put it:

“Ken Livingstone’s resignation will embolden the Zionists to go for new victims, of whom Jackie Walker will be the next target. And after that Chris Williamson MP and anyone else who sticks their head above the parapet in order to denounce the world’s only apartheid state.”

The Zionists will not be happy until their top target – key Palestinian supporter, Jeremy Corbyn – is removed from power.

A version of this article originally appeared on Renegade Inc.

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How much longer can the corporate media continue to vilify Corbyn?

Image result for pics of corbyn

By Daniel Margrain

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 business 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, largely achieved through coordinated mass campaigns that combine sophisticated public relations techniques.

This is the context of the political and media establishment’s vilification of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and their plot to oust him.

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. This was manifested politically after a hardcore group of right-wing MPs all refused to serve under him.

After it became clear that Corbyn had secured ‘the largest mandate ever won by a party leader’, the attacks against him became more intense culminating in what colour poppy Corbyn 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 Blairite Labour figures all opposing Corbyn without any opportunity for an alternative viewpoint.

letter published in the Guardian signed by various academics and media activists, including Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, noted:

“The leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been subject to the most savage campaign of falsehood and misrepresentation in some of our most popular media outlets. He has, at different times, been derided, ignored, vilified and condemned.”

Other manufactured anti-Corbyn stories and attempts to undermine his leadership have included fake antisemitism claims and the McCarthyite purging of Corbyn supporters.

Increase in vote share & party membership

When in September 2016, Corbyn defeated Owen Smith’s leadership challenge, the former increased his share of the vote from 59.5% to 61.8% compared with the result of the 2015 leadership election. Membership of the party is currently higher than its last peak of 405,000 members last seen under Tony Blair’s leadership.

Under Blair, the party haemorrhaged 4.9 million votes between 1997 and 2010. The man who took the country to war in Iraq under a false prospectus, and who lobbies on behalf of some of the world’s most brutal and corrupt dictators, claimed in a moment of Orwellian doublespeak that Corbyn is a disaster for the party.

Blair was not alone. Prior to the last General Election, right-wingers within the party had continued to assert that Corbyn was an electoral liability for Labour. This was despite the fact that pre-coup, Labour led the Tories in three polls in a row over 41 days.

Myth-making

It was clear that the ‘left are unelectable narrative’ was intended to play into the hands of Corbyn’s opponents. It is a narrative that is based on a myth. The notion, for example, that you have to be right-wing to win elections is belied by the fact that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon won the people of Scotland over on a left-wing ticket. Moreover, the British public’s ‘enthusiasm’ for Blair in 1997 was not based on policies that were subsequently known as Blairite, but, rather, on a left-wing image of the kind outlined in the 1997 Labour Manifesto.

Similarly, as the June 2017 General Election neared, the public began to frame their views on Corbyn, less on what the media wanted them to believe through their propagandizing of him, and more on what they saw and heard in public speeches and debates.

They liked what they heard. The bread and butter issues resonated across the board, but particularly with the young who saw in Corbyn somebody who at last was prepared to put issues like tuition fees, education, inequality, social justice and affordable housing at the top of the agenda.

The media’s depiction of Corbyn as a bumbling idiot and terrorist sympathizer didn’t square with the reality. Thus, the closer the election got, the narrower the polls became. When Theresa May called the election last April, the Tories lead over Labour was 24 points. A week before the election, the lead had been cut to just three.

Compassion, justice & humanity

Having galvanized the young and encapsulated the wider public mood with an inspired insurgency campaign, it was clear in the early hours on 9 June 2017, that Corbyn against all the odds, had prevented a Tory majority. The electorate in huge numbers had been persuaded by the Labour leaders message of compassion, justice and humanity.

Given the level of media vilification, hostility and bias against Corbyn from the moment he became Labour leader, the election result was nothing less than astonishing. Corbyn ‘increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other of the party’s election leaders since 1945, with the biggest swing witnessed since the Second World War. He won a larger share of the vote than Blair in 2005.

In his constituency of Islington North, Corbyn inherited a majority of 4,456, which increased to 21,194. He added a further 10,430 at the General election. He’s one of the few Labour MPs whose vote increased between 2005 and 2010, when he added 5,685 to his majority.

The corporate media commentariat – most of whom predicted a Tory landslide – were stunned at the result. When a tweeter suggested that Corbyn’s result was “brilliant”, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley replied: “Yes, I agree.” Just three days earlier, Cowley had written under the ominous title:

“The Labour reckoning – Corbyn has fought a spirited campaign but is he leading the party to worst defeat since 1935?”

In March 2017, Cowley opined:

“The stench of decay and failure coming from the Labour Party is now overwhelming – Speak to any Conservative MP and they will say that there is no opposition. Period.”

Cowley’s views are indicative of how the elite class in general have been slow in responding to the shifting political landscape. The unrepresentative nature of TV political punditry continues pretty much as it did before the election.

But it isn’t just the commentariate and TV producers within the elite media bubble who are out of touch and aloof. The Labour party establishment who endorse the elite narrative and who were filmed predicting Corbyn’s demise and felt he was unsuitable to lead the party into the election, have without any shame or embarrassment, continued with ‘service as normal’.

Czech spy & Russia apologist

Almost a year on since the election, the elites have continued with their sustained anti-Corbyn fake news stories. One of the latest and most prominent of these was the claim Corbyn met with Czech communist spies to sell them secrets. Corbyn’s team were left with no option other than to threaten one of his accusers with legal action. With a potential libel suit hanging over him, MP Ben Bradshaw, was forced publicly to apologize unreservedly for the untrue and false accusations he made against the Labour leader.

Then in March 2018, Corbyn came under yet more attacks from his own MPs over the Salisbury Skripal poisoning case. Corbyn’s reasonable stance that prompted the attacks on him, was his request to PM Theresa May that she present to parliament evidence to support her assertion that Russia was responsible for the poisonings.

He was also criticised for reminding May that under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which the UK is a signatory, the UK government was obliged to provide Russia with a sample of the nerve agent used, along with all related evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation.

It soon transpired that May provided no evidence regarding Russia’s alleged culpability. When Russia formally requested that the UK submit a sample of its evidence to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), May refused the request. It was subsequently revealed that on March 14, the UK government blocked a Russia-drafted UN Security Council statement calling for an urgent inquiry into the incident.

Compared with the histrionics of May and the establishment mass media, Corbyn had been far more circumspect and rational in his approach to the issue. There is a very good reason for this. Barely mentioned in the press was the fact that seven months ago, Russia had destroyed all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, stated:

“The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication.”

Former UK diplomat Craig Murray points out with reference to the contents published in a prestigious scientific journal by Dr Robin Black, Head of the facilities Detection Laboratory, that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown. As such “the UK government has absolutely no ‘fingerprint’ information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.”

But even if there was evidence of a compound corresponding to a “Novichok”, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Russia was responsible for manufacturing the compound, since no Russian sample can be compared to it. In other words, May’s assertion that the Russian state was responsible for the attacks on Mr. Skripal and his daughter on the basis that ‘Novichoks’ can only be made in certain military installations, is demonstrably false.

The antisemitism accusations resurface

Once again, Corbyn defied his critics. But it didn’t take long before the attacks on him would resurface. The Labour Friends of Israel lobby inside the party which, in April 2016, had manufactured a fake antisemitism crisis, took their opportunity two years later to strike again. The catalyst this time was an anti-capitalist wall mural by artist, Kalen Ockerman, removed from East London in 2012.

The basis for Corbyn’s admiration for the work – which actually surfaced in 2015 – was the anti-capitalist themes depicted in the mural (Corbyn had previously expressed praise for a similarly themed mural by left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera). What was a non-issue at that time, had three years later become a major media scandal. Yet not a single commentator in the corporate mainstream had thought to ask the question why.

Furthermore, the Jewish Chronicle responsible for the ‘scoop’ back in 2015, and which asserted at the time the mural might have “antisemitic undertones”, not only attributed the claim to Corbyn’s critics, but three years later had changed their tune. They were now claiming that the mural was explicitly antisemitic and attributed the support of the mural’s supposed antisemitic themes to Corbyn not his critics.

In addition, back in 2015, the paper described the scene depicted in the mural as “a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money” not as the media is now doing, a “cabal of Jewish bankers”. Among the right-wingers who joined in the chorus of anti-Corbyn smears was former leader, Ed Miliband who accused Corbyn of not doing enough to counter the ‘problem’ of antisemitism in the party despite claims to the contrary outlined by human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti in her report.

Revealingly, only 18 MPs voted against Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act, which enshrined dogwhistle racism and the hostile environment policy. None of the 18 mentioned included any anti-Corbyn right-wing Labour MPs who supposedly care so much about antisemitism and racism within the party.

Nevertheless, in their attempts to make the fake antisemitic claims stick, some of the said Labour MPs continued on April 17 to denounce Corbyn’s handling of alleged antisemitism with rousing speeches in parliament. Corbyn critic and chief Zionist cheerleader, John Mann, recounted a story in which his wife was sent a dead bird in the post by an ‘antisemitic’ Corbyn supporter affiliated to Momentum. But it was subsequently revealed that the incident in question happened in 2012, three years before Momentum was formed and three years prior to Corbyn’s election as party leader.

Another MP and Corbyn critic who spoke during the ‘debate’ was former Israel lobby spin doctor, Ruth Smeeth who, after entering the UK parliament in 2015, continued to be funded by two leading figures from her former employer, BICOM – the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. The latest official register of financial interests for members of Parliament shows that Smeeth continues to be funded by the Israel lobby.

Vote with those you are officially opposing

The parliamentary ‘debate’ described, in addition to the recent accusations of antisemitism accompanying it, are aimed to coincide with the forthcoming local elections which Corbyn’s critics inside the party desperately want to be calamitous for the Labour leader.

Former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, recalled reporting on an Uzbek Presidential election where the ‘opposition’ candidate advised voters to vote for President Karimov. “When you have senior Labour MPs including John Woodcock, Jess Phillips, John Mann, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Ruth Smeeth carrying on a barrage of attacks on their own leader during a campaign, and openly supporting Government positions, British democracy has become completely dysfunctional”, he said.

The reason why the attacks against Corbyn have reached fever pitch is precisely because his critics within the establishment know he is highly electable and therefore represents a threat to their privileged positions both inside and outside of the party. This is probably no better illustrated than the positive reaction by the CBI to Corbyn’s February 26, 2018 Brexit speech.

In the aftermath of the speech, establishment writers for centre-right publications like the Spectator and pro-hard Brexit right-wing politicians like Jacob Rees-Mogg who, financially, stand to lose the most should Corbyn become the next Prime Minister, are the same people who appear to have undergone somewhat of a Damascene conversion to the working class cause.

Power of social media

Corbyn’s success is indicative of the power of social media to break the ability of the corporate mainstream to manufacture the electorates consent. All those within the political and media establishment motivated primarily by elite interests associated with money and power will disappear once the money dries up. Social media is leading the way in helping to dispel the myths and falsehoods for which the elites depend in order to sustain their privileged positions in society. Corbyn’s rise is indicative of how the consolidated power of the old established corporate- media hierarchies and their fake narratives are breaking down.

This is bad for the elites but good for democracy. Given that the smears promoted by the press have had virtually no effect on public opinion, and as Corbyn edges closer to the reigns of power, for how much longer will the corporate elite class be able to sustain what has arguably been the most prolonged and vitriolic reportage ever witnessed against any British political figure in history?

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Hell of a state: What the tragic story of Don Lane tells us about Tory Britain

By Daniel Margrain

Don Lane

Don Lane, who suffered from diabetes, earned his living by delivering parcels to peoples’s homes and businesses throughout the country. Although Mr Lane was paid a salary by the giant courier company he worked for, according to the law, he was “self-employed”.

The amount he was paid depended on how many parcels he delivered. Mr Lane received no holiday or sick pay and was under constant pressure to meet targets. Drivers for the company get fined by them for rounds they miss. Mr Lane was recently fined for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes where tragically he collapsed and died.

The scandal that underlies the story is one which the bosses and shareholders of giant multinational companies like the one Don Lane worked “self-employed” for, have seen their dividends and pay go through the roof, while workers at the bottom, have experienced a real terms drop in their income over many years. The ideology that drives this “gushing up” of wealth towards the top, is called neoliberalism.

Before its onset four decades ago, the UK was a much more equal society than it is at present. The available data shows that the share of income going to the top 10 per cent of the population fell over the 40 years to 1979, from 34.6 per cent in 1938 to 21 per cent, while the share going to the bottom 10 per cent rose slightly.

As measured by the Gini Coefficient (see below), the redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the richest, rose sharply under the Thatcher government in 1979. The trend continued, albeit less drastically, under successive Tory and Labour governments where it reached a peak in 2009-10.

Figures show that GDP, adjusted for inflation, has grown over the last 60 years from £432bn in 1955 to £1,864bn in 2016. This increase in wealth, however, has become increasingly concentrated in fewer hands.

Inequality

SourceIFS 2016

Impact of inequality

report by Oxfam highlights the significant role neoliberalism plays in perpetuating inequality and suggests that the societies most affected are more prone to conflict or instability. The report also points out that extremes of inequality are bad for economic growth, as well as being related to a range of health and social problems including mental illness and violent crime.

Moreover, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of the book, The Spirit Level. argue that other impacts of inequality include drug addiction, obesity, loss of community life, imprisonment, unequal opportunities and poorer well-being for children.

Left Foot Forward has cited studies that illustrate the close correlation between inequality and unhappiness. The tendency to equate outward wealth with inner worth means that inequality colours our social perceptions. It invokes feelings of superiority and inferiority, dominance and subordination – which affect the way we relate to, and treat, each other.

But rather than introducing socioeconomic policies that help reduce inequality, the Conservative government under Theresa May, has deliberately and consciously continued with the failed high borrowing-low investment/high debt economic neoliberal model that gives rise to it. Under the guise of austerity, the government have instead turned on workers, the sick and the disabled. The result has been increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicides.

Fragmented

The existence of fragmented and atomised communities outside the confines of the workplace, the reduction in organised labour within it (illustrated by the long-term decline in trade union membership) and the lack of any safety net, means that ordinary people are increasingly vulnerable to the vagaries of “market forces”.

The ideology that underpins the neoliberal assault is the pseudo-science concept known as biological determinism, the legitimacy of which rests on the assertion that the social order is a consequence of unchanging human biology, as opposed to the result of inherited economic privilege or luck.

Thus, biological determinism reinforces the notion that inequality, injustice and the existence of entrenched hierarchical social structures of government, media and commerce are “natural”.

But it also highlights the artificial limits that a system driven by profit imposes. Any rejection of biological determinism and the rigged market system that reinforces it, is regarded by its promoters as being the fault of the individual, not the social institutions or the way society is structured.

Thus, according to evolutionary psychologists, sociobiologists and those within the elite political and media establishment, the solution to overcoming inequality and injustice is not to challenge existing social structures upon which “reality” is based, but rather to alter the chemical composition of the human brain to accommodate it to this reality.

In extreme circumstances it has been used to justify the elimination of individuals altogether who challenge the prevailing orthodoxy and/or whose values are perceived to be a “drain on the taxpayer”.

Social Darwinism

Years before moving towards explicit racial genocide, the Nazis developed the notion of ‘useless mouths’ or ‘life unworthy of life’ to justify its killing of ‘undesirables’ or ‘low hanging fruit’. These ideas are a variant of nineteenth century ‘Social Darwinism’ and eugenicist theories.

The said theories adapted Darwin’s notion of the survival of the fittest to describe relationships within society or between nations and races as a perpetual evolutionary struggle in which the supposedly weaker or defective elements were weeded out by the strongest and the ‘fittest’ by natural selection.

Intellectual challenges to neoliberalism and evolutionary psychology help undermine the notion that rigid social stratification, inequality and injustice used to justify them, are inevitable. Indeed, prominent economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs have for a long time been raising their voices against the neoliberal experiment.

What is self-evidently clear is that the current rigged economic system in which power is increasingly concentrated at the top, is not sustainable. The only thing preventing our ability to tackle extreme inequality is political will.

At the next election voters will be faced with a clear choice – either to maintain the status quo by returning the Conservatives to power or, alternatively, to engender a paradigm shift by electing a Labour government. If future Don Lane’s are to be avoided, then we have no alternative other than to ensure a Corbyn victory.

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The systematic destruction of the NHS

By Daniel Margrain

Dr Bob Gill who has worked for the NHS for 24 years, and is currently seeking crowdfunding for his documentary filmThe Great NHS Heist, was interviewed as part of a short video presentation produced by the UK journalist co-operative, Real Media.

In the interview, Dr Gill discusses how the move towards privatizing the NHS has been an agenda-driven project continued over many years by successive Conservative and Labour governments’.

Over the course of the twelve minute talk, Dr Gill highlights some of the issues the NHS faces. These are the key 23 assertions he makes in the presentation:

  • The intention of successive governments’ has been to transform a publicly-funded free at the point of delivery healthcare system into something that is driven by the need for profit.
  • The privatization agenda has been a well-planned long-term project.
  • Successive governments’ have understood NHS privatization is not in the public interest and thus they have devised alternative narratives in order to deceive the public.
  • A key component of this deception has been the deliberate cultivation of a ‘scapegoating’ culture in which the elderly, immigrants, overweight etc are blamed for government under-investment in the NHS.
  • This lack of investment is portrayed in the media as NHS Trust ‘overspending’.
  • The hospital network has been deliberately saddled with toxic loans.
  • In legal terms, the 2012 Health and Social Care Act abolished the NHS.
  • The result was the emergence of a Quango headed by NHS England’s Simon Stevens who has the day-to-day power of managing the service.
  • In 2014 Steven’s introduced a five year ‘Sustainability and Transformation’ Plan (STP).
  • The STP will move the NHS closer to the private US insurance system through a process of re-structuring, dismantling, integration, means-testing and merging of existing NHS services.
  • Both the NHS workforce and the general public are largely unaware of these plans which have been made deliberately complex and drawn-out over many years.
  • This drawn-out complexity is yet another part of the plan to deceive the general public and NHS staff alike.
  • NHS reforms are reported in the media in a positive way. This is despite the fact that the said reforms will result in the destruction of the service.
  • The British Medical Association (BMA) is largely complicit in the privatization agenda.
  • Jeremy Hunt, whose powers are limited, is being used by the media as a distraction.
  • Simon Stevens, who has the real power, has been deliberately set-up by the media as a ‘saviour’ for the NHS, whereas Hunt is portrayed as the ‘bad guy’.
  • Simon Stevens ambition for the NHS is to hand it over to his former colleagues at United Health in the U.S and the U.S insurance industry.
  • Stevens is “the most dangerous public servant in the country.”
  • The NHS is subject to competition law and is under constant threat from internationally negotiated trade deals.
  • The service is geared-up to work against the interests of the patient.
  • The NHS is heading in a direction in which doctors will be incentivized to deny patient care.
  • The introduction of the principle of private insurance will result in a more expensive system with worse outcomes.
  • The plan to fully privatize the NHS is “endemically fraudulent”.

Dr Gill alludes that the deliberate asset-stripping of the NHS ranks as one of the greatest crimes inflicted on the British people. The jewel in Britain’s crown is being whittled away in front of the public’s eyes.

All the while the Conservative government has convinced large swaths of the public that Simon Stevens is the saviour of the service when in truth he is its principal destroyer. Like a TV illusionist, the government is involved in an incredible sleight of hand – some may say, collective hypnosis – of the British people.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is essentially a public relations figure for the government and the corporations it represents. Where the blows of both NHS workers and the public alike would arguably be better targeted is towards NHS England boss, Simon Stevens, whose power to be able to shape the future direction of the NHS far exceeds that of Hunt.

Although it’s highly encouraging that an estimated 250,000 people attended one of the biggest national demonstrations against NHS cuts in London in March last year, it is somewhat perplexing to this writer why Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in his otherwise excellent post-demo speech, failed to mention the nefarious role played by Stevens which is crucial to the entire NHS debate.

How is it possible for activists and campaigners to get anywhere near the bulls eye with their arrows when the correct target hasn’t even been identified by the leader of the opposition?

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UK government housing policy is driven by greed, not human need

By Daniel Margrain

The creation of major housing asset bubbles is a consequence of deliberate Tory government policy geared towards satisfying the asset diversification needs of the super rich rather than meeting the human need for homes for ordinary people to live in. In other words, the key motivating factor shaping government housing policy is not to end the housing crisis, but to bolster the investment opportunities of the rich which will make it worse.

In January, 2016, former Tory PM David Cameron, announced the government’s decision to demolish what remains of council homes and replace them with private housing. The Housing and Planning Bill, which became law four months after Cameron made his announcement, enabled the government to set this process in motion. The legislation is forcing families living in social housing and earning £30,000-£40,000 in London to pay rents nearly as high as those in the private sector.

It is also compelling local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either by transferring public housing into private hands or giving the land this housing sits on to property developers. The purpose is to create firm foundations for foreign investment funds and financial safe havens for billionaires.

It is this combination of factors that explains the exponential growth in the construction of new tower blocks throughout London and other major cities, vast swaths of which lie empty. The development that arguably symbolizes Britain’s housing crisis is the London sky-scraper, St George Wharf tower. Eighty-six per cent of the 214-units in the tower lie empty, while almost two-thirds of them are foreign-owned.

Meanwhile, rough sleeping estimates in England show an increase of 134 per cent since 2010. The most effective way to house people is through mass council house building. But this undermines the profits of private firms. One way investors do this is to hold onto land rather than developing it, so that prices are pushed upwards. As prices within the private rental market soar, more firms are trying to get their hands on the profits generated.

To help facilitate demand and attract investors, an assortment of private agencies that specialize in marketing and branding have emerged. “One of the things that attracts people to the UK is the relative stability,” said John Slade, CEO of BNP Paribas Real Estate in the UK. “The government remains absolutely committed to ensure that the UK remains one of the most open places for investment,” he said.

Bucking the market

But investment opportunities are undermined following any attempts to increase supply – a policy that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has publicly endorsed. “There is no convincing solution to the housing crisis that does not start with a new, very large, very active council house building project”, he remarked.

Corbyn’s intention is to buck the market by increasing housing supply. This partly explains why the elite media establishment – many of whom have extensive property portfolios – regularly attack the Labour leader in their newspaper columns.

Increasing supply would also adversely affect the investment opportunities of numerous politicians. The 126 MPs who declared that they receive rental income from property, represent over 19 per cent of the House of Commons, the vast majority of whom are Tories. It’s therefore in the joint interests of MPs and major property developers who lobby on their behalf to continue to push the market further into housing and to limit the building of affordable homes.

In the immediate post-war years (1945 to 1951) the Labour government built 1.2 million new council homes. In 1968, a record 425,000 homes were constructed, over 180,000 of which were local authority builds. The introduction, in 1980, of the Tories right to buy programme, reduced the existing council housing stock by 1.6m, while during the 13 years of the Blair and Brown governments, a paltry 7,870 council houses were built. In 1979, 42 per cent. of Britons lived in council homes. Today that figure is just 8 per cent. 

Filling the void

The impact on council house provision that stem from the policies of successive UK governments over the last 40 years has resulted in the gutting of the sector. With an in-work poverty rate in London of 58 per cent, and the average annual salary in the capital approximately one-twentieth of the house price average, the vast majority of the city’s workers can’t afford to buy their own homes. Private rented dwellings have filled the void.

According to 2015 research from Paragon PLC: “The private rented sector (PRS) is the second largest housing tenure, accounting for one-in-five homes in England alone, overtaking the social rented sector for the first time since the 1960s. This represents a significant increase in the number of households living in private rented homes.”

The report added:

“The PRS has more than doubled since 2001 and is now the second largest housing tenure…PRS is now home to 4.9 million households.”

But investors think that the change in numbers is down to the market reflecting what people want. Tory policy for housing focuses on getting people to buy houses. But this ideological drive is out of sync with the needs of capital. Investors need a political climate in which renting is encouraged.

But private market rents in London are not affordable for the vast majority of workers. The only option for many is housing associations. But government funds for this sector are drying up. In order to make money these associations are effectively forced to sell their properties to the private sector. The profits gained are then reinvested into their businesses reducing the overall availability of affordable housing stock. Essentially, housing associations behave like private companies.

Social cleansing

The consequences of the lack of availability of affordable housing are profound. It results in the effective social cleansing from major cities of the poor and those on middle incomes. Moreover, it reduces the demographic mix of locales, restricts social networks and undermines local economies upon which local businesses depend for their livelihoods.

The formal ordering and disciplining of the poorest within urban spaces has had the affect of pushing them to the periphery, out of sight and out of mind of urban powers for whom responsibility is increasingly disavowed. In this way, spaces are shaped by neoliberal economic forces which alter the landscapes of cities and re-package them under the banner ‘urban renaissance’. A Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn will begin to turn things around.

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Gods & Monsters

By Daniel Margrain

 

Image result for pics of frankenstein and god

During the pre-enlightenment before science, the earth was widely perceived as a stable force at the centre of the universe overseen by the purveyors of God who envisaged humanity as being fixed and set in stone. The appetite for tasting the forbidden fruit that intellectual curiosity implies, was widely regarded as being concomitant to bringing forth evil into the world.

Thus theologians rationalized the tendency to disobey God as a primordial human urge that had to be controlled by a deity through which wrongdoers were required to seek salvation in order to absolve themselves of their intellectual impulses. As theology eventually began to accede to scientific inquiry, this salvation correspondingly began to take root in a system of ideas embodied in the philosophical writings of Aristotle.

Dovetailed

The positions in society that individuals were perceived to have naturally occupied, all dovetailed together, according to Aristotle, to form a pattern of the universe which gave everything its purpose. Aristotlian philosophy centred on order, was to be one of the guiding principles of the enlightenment which legitimized the continued existence of uneven relations of power.

So although the enlightenment was a great leap forward from the idea that the power of Kings was historically fixed predicated on a grand purpose and design ordained by God, modernity nevertheless remained tied to the concept of progress as being that of the development of the human mind and of human nature as unchanging.

The classical economists who arose out of the enlightenment were thus able to treat the existence of private property as fixed and ‘natural’. Similar claims are made by evolutionary psychologists who reinforce the ideology that human behaviour or psychological characteristics are a biological adaptation shaped by natural selection hard-wired into the human brain.

The notion that human behaviour is genetically determined and that biology holds the key to solving social problems and the related claim that biology demonstrates the limits of social reform, has a long history going back to Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, in 1865.

Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology reinforce the ideological notion that the mass of ordinary people are conditioned to know their place within an ‘unchanging’ society even though the great changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution prove that power had transferred from feudal landlords to corporate grandees.

Commodification

By the mid 19th century, the supplanting of the aristocracy of land with money led to the transference of the great estates to commodities. Karl Marx was the first to analyse in detail the nature of the emerging capitalism in which the worker devotes his life to producing objects which he does not own or control. The labour of the worker, according to Marx, thus becomes something separate and external to him.

In the year of Marx’s birth in 1818, a young English author called Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published, in London, the first edition of the Gothic and Romantic science fiction novel, Frankenstein – the tale of a monster which turns against its creator. It’s the externalizing and uncontrollable forces Shelley describes in her masterpiece that draws parallels with the daily lot of workers.

It was precisely the lack of any control workers had in the production process during the industrial revolution that led to the Luddites smashing up the machines that churned out the fruits of their alienated labour. For Marx, alienation is a material and social process that is intrinsic to society and nature in flux.

In dialectical terms, change in nature is marked by a state of continuous motion driven by the struggle of conflicting and antagonistic forces. Since humans are an integral part of nature, they can not be excluded from the socioeconomic forces that shape it. At some point quantitative change results in fundamental qualitative change.

An acorn, in becoming an oak, for example, will have ceased to be an acorn. Yet implicit within the acorn is the potential to become an oak. Similarly, the socioeconomic system of capitalism, in potentially becoming something else, will eventually at some point – as was the case with feudalism before it – cease to be.

Transformation

The dramatic rise in popularity of the socialist, Jeremy Corbyn, could be said to be symptomatic of the beginning of this kind of transformation. At some point diametrically opposing and irreconcilable forces – in this case between capital and labour – have to break. To suggest otherwise, is to imply that capitalism which emerged around 200 years ago, will – evoking Fukuyama’s End of History thesis – continue for the rest of eternity.

Just as Dr Frankenstein couldn’t control the monster he created and the machines couldn’t contain the impulses of workers in the factories wrought by the impacts of industrial capitalism, so it is the case that the establishment won’t be able to control the anti-capitalist forces which Corbyn has unleashed.

The history of colonial and imperialist oppression has been marked by the ability of the oppressors to suppress opposition to their rule using monsters as part of their strategy of divide and conquer. However, what the oppressors rarely appear to factor in to their strategies, is the potential for both the monsters and ordinary people alike, to break free from their chains.

The brainwashing techniques of the corporate media, in conjunction with the Machiavellian politicians who sing to the tune of their paymasters intent on controlling the latter, cannot be sustained indefinitely. In terms of the former, not only are monsters able to break free from the oppressors who create and nurture them, but paradoxically, they also create the conditions in which a greater number of other uncontrollable monsters emerge.

This, for example, was the case in Afghanistan during the 1980s following Carter’s 1979 covert programme in support of tribal groups known as the mujahedin. The kinds of monsters which successive US governments have helped nurture, have managed to either strain at their leash (as in the case of the Zionists in Israel), or they have broken free from their masters grip (as is the case of ISIS in Syria).

Biting the hand

In both cases the monster has bitten the financial hand of Washington that feeds it. This has resulted in unintended, and often unpredictable, geopolitical consequences. However, there are other monsters which their creators manage to exert a tight control over.

An example, is the extent to which Washington has managed to maintain leverage over terrorist fighters in central and south America who continue to emerge from what was formerly known as the School of the Americas located at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia.

The school was almost certainly responsible for training the regime that overthrew the Honduran government headed by Manuel Zelaya in June, 2009, as well as fomenting the March, 2016 coup that culminated in the assassination of the leading grass-roots Honduran environmental activist, Berta Caceres.

More recently, SOA-trained fighters, at the behest of Washington, are likely to be similarly implicated in the current attempts to destabilize Venezuela. In addition, ISIS and their various terrorist offshoots in Syria are trained and funded, either overtly or covertly, by Britain and numerous foreign mercenary forces form part of the imperialists geopolitical and regime change strategy in the country.

Saudi Arabia, who is one of the key players in Syria, has also been bombarding Yemen since at least September, 2015 using weaponry sold to them by the UK-US governments’. Faustian pacts with the devil have, largely by way of ‘blow back’, contributed significantly to the exponential spread of terrorism worldwide.

Defining terrorism

Given that the FBI defines terrorism as “violent acts …intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or affect the conduct of a government”, it’s difficult to rationalize how the violation of international law in this way, is not illustrative of anything other than the kinds of terrorism the Western powers accuse their official enemies of committing.

The truth is the biggest, most powerful monsters, are the establishment elite who occupy the corridors of Washington, Westminster, Whitehall and Fleet Street. If God does exist, maybe he will be at the gates of Heaven to pass judgement on the corrupt ruling class who will do anything in order to maintain their privileges in the service of naked self-interest, money and power.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has given ordinary people belief that there is a feasible alternative to endless war, poverty, austerity, climate chaos and “gushing-up” neoliberal economics. Corbyn has provided us with a chink of light in what has been a very long and bleak tunnel of hopelessness and despair.

We are getting increasingly closer to establishing the number to the combination lock that will free us from an insane corporate capitalist logic of the kind that motivates the monsters of imperial power. Jeremy Corbyn’s long-standing principled opposition to capitalist excess and the unambiguous way he linked terrorism directly to the British state, would suggest that the number to the combination is to be found in the jacket pocket of his ill-fitted suit.

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In whose hands is the system safer -Corbyn or May? The views of a venture capitalist might surprise you

By Daniel Margrain

hanauer copy

“Inequality and the rise of a super rich elite is undermining the foundations of capitalism. The trappings of capitalism could be swept away by the pitchfork of revolution unless capitalism is fundamentally re-imagined”, so says American venture capitalist Nick Hanauer,

In a BBC interview with journalist Stephen Sakur in front of a live audience as part of the Hard Talk series of programmes (since removed from the BBCs i player service), one of America’s wealthiest individuals argues that capitalism, as currently configured, is not working. The thing that is said to drive Hanauer on is status not money:

“I’m not driven by money but by the need to be king of the hill. If capitalism doesn’t change fundamentally, it will destroy itself. If you allow wealth to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands over time, in the end it cannot be good for anybody, particularly people like me”, he says. “You show me a highly unequal society and I’ll show you a police state or a revolution.”

According to Hanauer, there is truth in the notion that in ‘go get’ societies like the U.S people are able to crawl out of the clutches of poverty. However, there are limits: “Aspiration is a good thing”, he says, “But aspiration in the absence of opportunity creates resentment, anger and violence. The idea that if the disenfranchised are given more incentives, they would magically become software engineers or Wall Street executives isn’t true.”

Fundamental

For Hanauer, the problems are more fundamental: “If we don’t get inequality under control then it’s likely to lead to war – a similar pattern that followed the last period of massive inequality between 1925 and 1940. The most capitalist thing you can do to prevent war is to build up the middle class. From a capitalists perspective, although it may seem a good idea in the short-term to impoverish the typical family, in the long-term it’s a catastrophe.”

Although Hanaeur posits that as an economic system capitalism has been beneficial to millions of people and “is the greatest system ever produced for lifting people out of poverty”, he nevertheless accepts it’s flaws. It fails, for example, to sufficiently “knit together agreements” thereby undermining the potential for a more equitable and sustainable distribution of the wealth that growth brings:

“In my state”, he says, “since 1990, close to 100 per cent of growth has been accrued to just 1 per cent of the top earners. People are beginning to get angry and increasingly less patient with a system that rewards nearly all of the benefits of growth to a tiny minority at the top.”

According to Hanauer, the crisis of capitalism is more acute than ever before and its problems are exacerbated by any lack of purpose which capitalism encourages: “Because we are social creatures, the only thing that gets to define society is our capacity to cooperate. In the absence of a shared purpose, people will not cooperate at which point the society will dissolve”, he says.

Trickle-down

“Trickle down economics – the idea that the money of people who become rich – permeates down to the poor, is nonsense. How can it be anything other than nonsense given the fact that inequality is on the rise and socioeconomic mobility is in reverse? I’m not arguing against capitalism but simply saying that there are ways to optimize it – to make it better for everybody.”

Hanaeur is clear that his argument isn’t intended to be a moral one: “I’m not saying that we capitalists should pay workers more because we feel sorry for them, But the more they get paid, the better it will be for venture capitalists like me. The more money ordinary folks’ make, the greater the opportunity people like me have to innovate, create enterprises and sell them stuff. The better they do, the better I do.”

Hanauer is quick to point out that the converse isn’t true: “A thriving middle class causes growth, not the other way round”, he suggests. “You can’t drive a consumer-based economy – which our economies are based on – with only the extreme wealth of the few. What we need to do is to boost the minimum wage in the U.S to 15 dollars an hour.”

The venture capitalist then goes on to suggest that capitalism needs to be further controlled through a system of planned and coordinated regulation:

“Capitalists have the idea that their things will be bought by everybody else as a result of higher wages paid by other capitalists. But this logic of paying higher wages to staff to help improve business activity more generally, doesn’t seem to apply equally to them since they will insist on paying their own workers next to nothing thereby not absorbing the costs themselves.”

Hanauer continues:

“The simple truth is, if a higher minimum wage was introduced universally, not only would it be affordable, but something like 40 per cent of American’s would be able to buy more products from everybody thus benefiting all capitalists across the board. Business is challenged today because fewer and fewer people are able to buy things.”

In other words, Hanauer is arguing here that the actions of capitalists’ need to be reined-in through a system of planned and coordinated regulation in order that the system be saved from the rapacious actions of competing capitalists who are driven, as Marx put it, by their need to “accumulate for accumulations sake”.

Contradictions

Hanauer’s pragmatic arguments are similar to those being suggested by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. What all three understand – but the Tories don’t – is that the ability to accumulate for accumulations sake doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits. One of the contradictions inherent to capitalism is that the system as a whole needs to spend money to make profits, yet every individual capitalist wants to spend as little as possible. The lengths to which giant companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks will go in order to avoid paying tax shows how that dilemma is played out.

In theory, insisting employees work 14 or 16 hours a day for peanuts correlates to higher profits for capitalists. But in reality such an approach is very wasteful – like over-exploiting the soil. Accumulating for accumulations sake is concomitant to a deregulated economy in which the absence of relevant legislation means that capitalists will insist their workers are worked to the bone for as little money as possible for fear of the former losing their competitive advantage over their rivals.

What Hanauer and the Labour party under Corbyn are able to grasp is that the introduction of labour and wage regulations that the Tories try their utmost to resist, actually improves productivity, that from the perspective of the capitalist system, is beneficial to everybody.

This brings me back to the wisdom implicit in the Nick Hanauer quote above. Hanaeur’s argument about the necessity of the United States government to substantially increase the legal minimum wage across the board in order to save capitalism from itself, is in principle, no different from the minority of capitalists in 19th century Britain who argued in favour of the introduction of the Factory Acts of the 1830s and 1840s which set down a maximum length for the working day.

Re-think

In reality, an advanced low wage and minimal welfare provision capitalist state like Britain is the modern equivalent of its counterpart during the industrial revolution prior to the introduction of the Factory Acts. What enlightened capitalists like Hanauer, as well as pragmatic socialists like Corbyn and McDonnell grasp, is the necessity to radically re-think the failed neoliberal ‘trickle up’ economic model of austerity – in which, for example, huge subsidies are paid to rich landowners – and instead reconfigure policy towards a Keynesian demand-led strategy which redistributes wealth towards the bottom.

The former is what economist Paul Krugman describes  bluntly as “a con that does nothing but harm the wealth of this nation. It has been discredited everywhere else: only in Britain do we cling to the myth.”

As inequality continues to rise, so does the potential for public disorder. At present, the richest tenth pay 35 per cent of their income in tax, while the poorest tenth pay 43 per cent. Is it too much to ask that those with the deepest pockets pay their way, thus creating the potential for the kind of equitable society in which everybody wins?

This is not pie in the sky stuff but a pragmatic solution to the problems we face. Politicians like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas, as well as economists like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz – all of whom are ideologically as far apart as its possible to be from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer –  are nevertheless in agreement that the direction of travel the Tories are on is wrong.

As far as the possibility for change in the future is concerned, Hanauer says:

“Most American’s (and by extension, British) have accepted this bankrupt idea of how you create growth in capitalist economies. If you think that wealth trickles down from the top; if you think that the rich are the wealth creators, and if you think that the more rich people you have the more jobs you will create, then the notion that the introduction of a high rate of tax for rich people makes no sense.”

Hanauer adds:

“However, if you reject that false idea of how capitalism works and you accept a more realistic 21st century notion that the more workers earn, the more customers’ businesses have and the greater the level of jobs that will be created, then you will understand that it’s part of a feedback loop in which everybody wins. The battle ahead is to change the parameters of debate around these things. At the moment we are on the wrong track.”

One might reasonably and instinctively assume that the interests of Hanauer, whose wealth runs into hundreds of millions of dollars, would be closely aligned with the right-wing government of Theresa May. But such a notion is counter-intuitive given that politically, he is closer to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

The fact that Hanauer’s political outlook and approach to dealing with the challenges society faces, has more in common with Corbyn than May, completely undermines the arguments of those who smear Corbyn with the communist epithet.

Contrary to popular mythology, Corbynism and capitalism are, in reality, congruous concepts. It’s not only the social aspects like the health service and social care that’s safer in Labour’s hands, but from the perspective of capitalism’s longevity, its the economy too.

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!


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