Tag: news

Channel 4s Jonathan Rugman Sets The Tone For More War

Sirte-destroyed-1

It would appear that the failed Western interventions predicated on packs of lies that have resulted in widespread chaos and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with many more displaced and turning up on the shores of Europe, is not enough for harbingers of democracy and freedom and their media echo chambers’.

Since Nato’s illegal “humanitarian intervention” which resulted in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddaffi, thousands of prisoners have been held without trial in government jails, and torture and brutality have become rife. In fact, torture, bombings and assassinations are now par for the course in Libya, as described here.

Similarly, In Iraq, where prior to the allied invasion and occupation, Al Qaeda had no presence, the country is currently awash with the medieval savages known as ISIS and where sectarian violence is commonplace. In a single day in 2013, thirteen bombs were detonated in Baghdad killing at least 47 people. This is the context in which thousands of academics have been forced to leave the country.

Despite all of this carnage and human misery, the Pew Research Journalism Project finds that ‘the No. 1 message’ on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and Al Jazeera, was “that the U S government should get involved in the conflict” in Syria. No surprise, then, that much of UK journalism had decided that the current Official Enemy was responsible for the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta almost two years to the day.

This was long before the UN published the evidence in its report on “the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area” on September 16 of that year. The UN did not blame the Syrian president, Assad, for the attack, but in truth expressed “grave doubts”, despite pre-emptied media claims to the contrary.

Just one day after the attacks, for example, a Guardian leader claimed there was not “much doubt” who was to blame, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West’s “responsibility to protect”. The media’s response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, similarly blamed it on Assad.

By not sticking to the script, Reuters was one of the few outlets who actually relayed the truth. On September 7, 2013 it reported:

“No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

“While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.”

The lack of evidence of Assad’s culpability didn’t prevent US president Obama from regurgitating the media line by unequivocally pinning the blame on Assad for the chemical attack. Following Obama’s earlier warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line”, he then declared on September 10, 2013:

“Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people …We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh saw through the lies and accused Obama of deceiving the world in making a cynical case for war. In response to pressure from an informed public who also saw through the deceptions, British MPs voted in parliament against war and Obama subsequently backed down.

Award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter shows that:

[T]he Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, [but appears to be] more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Two years down the line and the unsubstantiated media claims keep coming. A Channel 4 News report (August 26) by foreign affairs correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, showed what appeared to be the aftermath of what he described as “air attacks by the Assad government….that have killed scores of people” allegedly committed on August 23, once again, in Ghouta. Amid scenes of widespread destruction and panic, civilians were filmed carrying blood soaked dead or injured bodies from the rubble.

It’s my view that the public are once again being softened up for yet more military intervention in another sovereign nation, this time, Syria which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon pointed out, would clearly be illegal. What people appear to be questioning in ever increasing numbers, since the Iraq debacle, is the nature of war and the role the imperialist powers like Britain and America play in these wars.

These debates have taken on a new sense of rigorous critique since Iraq resulting, for example, in the rejection by the British parliament of Obama’s red line. In America, congressional voting has unleashed a swarm of debates such as why should the US be the world’s policeman and what exactly are “US interests” in another country’s sectarian civil war?

People are increasingly beginning to understand that foreign military interventions in places like Syria and Iraq exacerbate ethnic and tribal sectarian based conflicts and that the only feasible option in resolving what has in effect become an international conflict, is discussion and diplomacy. People are less likely to believe their governments’ and their media echo chambers’ when they make unsubstantiated claims about reasons for a war.

Duncan Smith, Duplicity And The Deficit

Regular bloggers who have followed the career of the government minister for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, will be familiar with his propensity for sophistry, obfuscation and obtrusiveness. If by chance you are not familiar with the man, you might be forgiven, having seen the recent interview he gave with Dermot Murnaghan regarding the ‘fake letters’ row, that his portrayal by critical bloggers and others has been unfair.

I was astonished just how much of an easy ride he was given by the Sky News anchor. Thankfully, a small minority within the mainstream media are actually prepared to undertake the job that they are paid to do by bringing power to account, as opposed to acquiescing to it. One journalist worthy of the name is LBC Radio’s James O’Brien.

Up until a few days ago, I wasn’t aware of the 2013 interview Duncan Smith gave with O’Brien following the court of appeal Poundland scandal. In the interview Duncan Smith is exposed for the compulsive liar he is.

What follows is an edited transcript of the interview which is illuminating, not least because it would tend to support the assertion by blogger Mike Sivier that Duncan Smith is incompetent in his role as work and pensions secretary. After reading the 2013 interview transcript below you might actually be inclined to question his sanity:

JOB: ” Current figures suggest that 2.5 million people in the UK are claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) while job vacancies stand at around half a million.Today eight available jobs at Costa Coffee in Nottingham attracted 1,700 applications. There appears to be something of a disconnect between these two states’ of affairs.”

IDS: “The figures show that 83% of those seeking full time work are in full time work. 17% of those who are looking for full time work can’t find it and are taking part time work.”

JOB: “No Mr Duncan Smith. There could be 2.5 million people looking for full time work. You are confining yourself to people who have found it.”

IDS: “No, I’m talking about those looking for work. The reality is, those who seek full time work are finding full time work.”

JOB: “But 2.5 million people haven’t found work.”

IDS: “But those are the people who are seeking work. That’s what I’m saying.”

JOB: “The people who are finding jobs are finding full time work, but there are still millions of people who are not finding jobs….The woman who was stacking shelves [at Poundland] wanted to be paid for it.”

IDS: “But she was paid for it. The tax payer was paying her for Gods sake.”

JOB: “Let me read you the official Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) response to an official petition to abolish workfare. ‘We do not have work for your benefit or workfare schemes in this country’. This is a further response to a freedom of information (FOI) request from your department. ‘Benefit is not paid to the claimant as remuneration for the activity’. So explain to me how she [the Poundland shelf stacker] can ‘earn’ her Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in a country where benefit is not paid as remuneration’?”

IDS: “Because the work experience programme is one you volunteer to do. We do not have a workfare programme…We changed the rules so that young people can do work experience for up to two months and still receive their JSA benefit.”

JOB: “But the court of appeal has ruled that they are forced into these programmes.”

IDS: “What the court of appeal found is that it’s not against their human rights to do it.”

JOB: “I haven’t mentioned human rights.”

IDS: “This is a voluntary scheme. Most people want it, enjoy it, and get something out of it.”

JOB: “I need to clarify this point. You used the word ‘earn’ to describe the payment of JSA to somebody working for a highly profitable company like Poundland. That’s your phrase. But then we learned from your department that benefit is not paid to the claimant as remuneration. Those two positions are completely irreconcilable”.

IDS: “No they are not. Listen, they volunteered to do this. We’ve allowed them to continue to receive JSA at the same time they are doing their work experience.”

JOB: “What she was saying is she wasn’t paid.”

IDS: “But she was. The taxpayer paid her JSA. We have allowed people to do work experience and not lose their JSA.”

JOB: “So it’s remuneration for working?”

IDS: “In the past she would have lost her JSA.”

JOB: “So the benefit is payment for the work.?”

IDS: “I don’t understand what you are concerned about.”

JOB: “She is getting paid for doing the work at Poundland with her JSA. It is a pay packet.”

IDS: “It is work experience. She has volunteered to go on the work experience programme.”

JOB: “Because she had been lied to about what it would involve, as the court of appeal found last week.”

IDS: “They did not find that she was lied to.”

JOB: “They said they needed to clarify what the regulations were.”

IDS: “The regulations were around the withdrawal of benefit if she failed to comply with what she agreed to do.”

JOB: “Which only works if the benefit is a reward for doing the work experience.”

IDS: “You clearly haven’t read what the judgement said.”

JOB: “I’ve read every word of it.”

IDS: “With respect, you need to understand it.”

JOB: “With respect to you, I do. Insulting me, doesn’t advance the argument in any way.”

IDS: “This debate is going nowhere….Are you saying these kids shouldn’t be doing work experience.”?

JOB: “I’m saying, if they are working, they should be paid for it. It’s quite straightforward. You are, why shouldn’t they”?

IDS: “They are on JSA. The taxpayer is paying them.”

JOB: “So What’s the minimum wage legislation for”?

IDS: “This is work experience for up to two months….”

JOB: “The bottom line is, you are using benefits to pay an incredibly cheap workforce to subsidize incredibly profitable companies at the tax payers expense, and passing it off as some kind of assault on a feckless generation.”

IDS: “I don’t agree with that.”

JOB: “Of course you don’t. 17,000 people in Nottingham applied for eight jobs.”

IDS: “Look, there are more people in work today than at anytime since records began.”

JOB: “What a strange observation. There are many more people alive today. What would you say to the 1,692 people who failed.”

IDS: “The reality is that in that area there are 15,000 vacancies and the claimant count their is still falling.”

JOB: “Is that really what you would say to them”?

IDS: “I would say that you have to keep looking for jobs. We are moving in the right direction and that’s a positive.”

JOB: “Sorry, you’ve lost me. To the 1,692 people who have failed to get a job in a coffee shop, you say it’s a positive”?

IDS: “I didn’t say that.”

JOB: “Yes you did.”

IDS: “The positive figures today are a good indication that the private sector is creating jobs, there are more people in work, more vacancies and the claimant count is falling. These are positives…There are half a million vacancies on a daily basis in the UK.”

JOB: “For two and a half million job seekers. The astonishing thing is you think that a benefit is a payment for work done.”

IDS: “I think that the work experience programme is a great success and I’m very proud of it.”

JOB: “Apart from the little wobble in the court of appeal last week.”

IDS: “We’ve changed the regulations going forward.”

JOB: “So the thing you are proud of has now been changed”?

IDS: “No, the programmes are the same.”

JOB: “But the regulations have changed”?

IDS: “The court of appeal has said that the regulations need tightening up and we’ve tightened them up.”

JOB: “Iain Duncan Smith, many thanks for your time.”

Perhaps Duncan Smith believes that subsidizing multinational companies to take on cheap labour will help reduce the deficit the Tories are constantly pontificating needs reducing.

The Rich Need To Be Forced To Pay Their Way For The Benefit Of All

Leading American venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has argued that the actions of capitalists’ need to be reined in through a system of planned and coordinated regulation in order for the capitalist system to be sustainable. This is what he said in a BBC TV interview in front of a live audience:

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 resulting in them gaining a competitive advantage over their rivals. The simple truth is, if a higher minimum wage was introduced universally, not only would it be affordable, but something like 40% 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 [1].

The implication, in other words, is that the capitalist system needs to be regulated by governments’ in order to save it from the rapacious actions of competing capitalists driven by their insatiable need for profit maximization. This rationale was long ago grasped by Karl Marx who understood that the essence of the capitalist system is, in his phrase, “accumulation for accumulations sake.”

So why don’t capitalists insist on using free labour and make their workers work all the hours under the sun? After all, wouldn’t that lead to higher profits? And one might also ask why their representatives within the elite political establishment would bother to spend any money at all on welfare? The simple but correct answer is that where they have a choice, they don’t. Where labour supply is low, the state is in effect forced to intervene on behalf of capitalists by introducing welfare as the means of preserving and reproducing labour.

But where labour is plentiful, the state rarely feels compelled to introduce health and safety, minimum wage laws and welfare.The rationale for this is that if a worker dies of malnutrition or has an accident at work, he or she can be easily replaced by another worker. Under such circumstances, the state regards these kinds of misfortunes as a price worth paying. Consider this account of the conditions of child labour in the lace industry in Nottingham in 1861 by a local magistrate:

Children of nine or ten years are dragged from their squalid beds at two, three, four o’clock in the morning and compelled to work for a bare subsistence until ten, eleven or twelve at night, their limbs wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faces whitening, and their humanity absolutely sinking into a stone-like torpor, utterly horrible to contemplate [2].

Compare and contrast that to a recent study of the conditions of life for rural migrants in contemporary China:

The trafficked children] came from faraway Liangshan in Sichuan and most of them are not yet 16. The overseers sought and recruited them from families mired in poverty, promising them high wages; some were even abducted and sent off in batches to Dongguan and from there distributed by the truckload to factories across the Pearl River Delta. On unfamiliar soil these children are often scolded and beaten and have only one proper meal every few days. Some little girls are even raped. Day after day they undertake arduous labour. Some children think about escape, but the road is blocked. The overseers threaten them and warn them that if they try to run away, there will be a price to pay [3].

What the above illustrates, is that the plentiful supply of labour power was as pertinent during the early days of the industrial revolution in Britain as it is to present day China. In both cases the introduction of welfare as the means of preserving and reproducing labour was not a concern for capitalists or the state. Consequently, welfare provision is as scant in China today as it was in 19th century Britain.

Similarly, while the deaths of more than 1,100 garment workers in a factory building collapse in Dhaka,Bangladesh, in April 2013 [4], most of them women on subsistence wages, is an unspeakable tragedy for their families and friends, it is of much less significance, other than concerns about negative publicity, for companies such as Primark for whom they were producing cheap clothes, simply because there are plenty more desperate workers who will take their place [5].

Where, however, the supply of labour is less plentiful or where labour becomes more skilled and consequently more expensive, losing workers through injury or disablement, or through working them to death doesn’t really make economic sense. But that doesn’t mean that capitalists in Britain or America wouldn’t insist that their workers work all the hours under the sun in the short term for peanuts if they thought they could get away with it.

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 the longer term, having workers working 14 or 16 hours a day for peanuts is very wasteful. It’s like over-exploiting the soil. However, given that individual capitalists themselves won’t do anything about it for fear of losing their competitive advantage over their rivals, the state as the representative of the capitalist class as a whole is forced to step in.

This brings me back to the wisdom implicit in the Nick Hanauer quote at the beginning of this article. 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.

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 is required is a radical re-think with regards to our current direction of travel.away from the failed neoliberal economic model of austerity which economist Paul Krugman describes as:

A con that does nothing but harm to the wealth of this nation. It has been discredited everywhere else: only in Britain do we cling to the myth.[6].

It’s in Britain where the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top continues at apace, much of it as a result of huge subsidies paid to the richest landowners [7]. As inequality continues to rise so does the potential for public disorder. At present, the richest tenth pay 35% of their income in tax, while the poorest tenth pay 43% [8]. 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. Individuals as politically and ideologically as far apart like Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Nick Hanauer, Joseph Stiglitz, and other top economists and capitalists, understand what’s required to get us out of the mess we’re in. It’s a pity that people like Duncan Smith, Cameron and Osborne prefer to put ideology before pragmatism.

10 reasons NOT to vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour party

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn (Pic: Garry Knight)

Newspaper columnist Cyril Waugh-Monger has warned repeatedly about the ‘dangers’ of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader.

THE BIG political story in the UK this summer is undoubtedly ‘Corbynmania’. How a 66-year-old antiwar activist and socialist has gone from being the rank 200-1 outsider in the Labour leadership contest election to be the red-hot favorite.

Jeremy Corbyn, a modest, unassuming man who wears an open necked shirt and slacks instead of the usual politician’s suit and tie, has really proved a big hit with the public, who have grown tired of slick politicians who are always ‘on message’, and who don’t seem at all sincere in what they’re saying. Large crowds have turned out to hear Corbyn speak: last week he had to give his speech from the top of a fire engine as an election rally spilled out into the street.

Not everyone though has welcomed Corbyn’s advance. One man who has made repeated warnings about the ‘dangers’ of Jeremy Corbyn is Cyril Waugh-Monger, a ‘Very Important’ newspaper columnist for the NeoCon Daily, a patron of the Senator Joe McCarthy Appreciation Society and the author of ‘Why the Iraq War was a Brilliant Idea’, as well as ‘The Humanitarian Case for Bombing Syria’.

Below are Mr Waugh-Monger’s ten commandments to Labour members to not, under any circumstances, vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Remember, we need to take what he has to say very seriously – as, after all, he did reveal to us that Iraq possessed WMDs [Weapons of Mass Destruction] in 2003.

1. Jeremy Corbyn wants to ‘stop the war’.

Jeremy Corbyn opposed the bombing of Yugoslavia. He opposed the invasion of Afghanistan. He was against the invasion of Iraq. He was against bombing Libya and also voted against military action in Syria.

I ask you – is this the sort of man who is fit to be in charge of one of Britain’s leading parties?

If Corbyn – heaven forbid – had been British Prime Minister in 2003 he would not have committed British troops to the invasion of Iraq. Just imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq! Well, I’ll tell you what would have happened – the Middle East would now be a haven for terrorist groups which would be targeting British tourists on beaches when they go on their summer holidays. The whole Middle East would now be in turmoil. We’d be facing a refugee crisis with people fleeing all the countries that we hadn’t destabilized.

2. Jeremy Corbyn is a dangerous leftist.

Just look at the sort of policies this man supports. He wants to re-nationalize the railways which have the highest fares in Europe.

He wants to scrap university tuition fees which consign students to a lifetime of debt. He would like to make housing affordable for ordinary people.

He wants an economy to suit the needs of the majority and not the 1%.

He wants to keep the Sunday trading laws as they are and not introduce 24/7 shopping. He is opposed to illegal wars which kill hundreds of thousands of people and he does not want to bring back fox-hunting. Quite clearly the man is some kind of left-wing nutcase.

3. Jeremy Corbyn has been critical of the US and Israel.

Outrageously, Corbyn has criticized US foreign policy and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He seems to think that the US and Israel have to abide by international law – and should be held accountable for their actions. The man is quite obviously a communist and as such should be barred not only from standing for Labour leader, but banned from the Labour Party too.

Jeremy Corbyn: Why He’s Got Britain’s Anti-Democratic Democrats Worried

4. Jeremy Corbyn has extremist links.

Not only is Corbyn a dangerous radical himself, he also associates with dangerous extremists. He once spoke at a meeting where one of the other speakers had once shared a platform with a speaker who had once shared a platform with a speaker who had once shared a platform with a speaker who had once praised Joseph Stalin – proving undeniably that Corbyn is a Stalinist.

Also on Twitter, Corbyn once retweeted a person who had once retweeted another person who had once retweeted another person who had retweeted a tweet from someone who I don’t approve of – proving once again Corby’s extremism.

5. Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable.

Jeremy Corbyn wants to do things which the majority of the British public wants, such as re-nationalize the railways and keep Britain out of Middle East wars. This makes him unelectable because politicians are only electable if they want to do things the public doesn’t want.

At the last election, Labour lost heavily to the anti-austerity SNP in Scotland and also lost lots of votes to the anti-austerity Greens. So it’s obvious that to get these votes back, Labour needs a leader who supports austerity, and not someone who opposes it, like Corbyn.

I’m a very wealthy right-wing, pro-austerity warmonger, but believe me, I only want the best for Labour – which is to be a right-wing pro-austerity, pro-war party – barely distinguishable from the Tories.

Having two main parties who have identical views on the main issues is what democracy is all about. If Corbyn wins then Labour would be very different from the Conservatives, which would obviously be very bad for democracy as it would give the electorate a real choice.

6. Jeremy Corbyn wants to take us back to the 1970s.

In the 1970s the gap between the rich and poor was at its lowest in the UK’s history. Living standards for ordinary people were rising all the time and large sections of the economy were in public ownership. The banks did not run the country and the taxation system was steeply progressive.

Corbyn wants to take us back to these times! Think how disastrous that would be for rich people like me who would have to pay much higher rates of tax which would be redistributed to horrible working class-type people and people on middle incomes. The 1% would really suffer and the most talented people – like myself – and my neocon friends, would leave the country. That’s what lies in store for us if Corbyn succeeds!

7. Jeremy Corbyn would leave Britain defenseless and open to invasion.

Corbyn has promised to scrap Trident.

If Trident was scrapped there’s no doubt that the Russians, Iranians, Syrians and Hezbollah would launch a full scale invasion of Britain within 45 minutes.

Britain would be carved up between the ‘Axis of Evil’, with the Russians taking England, the Iranians Scotland and the Syrians, Wales (and Hezbollah in charge of Northern Ireland).

Just imagine, Aberystywyth under the control of the evil dictator Bashar al-Assad. Russian troops patroling the streets of Godalming. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard marching in Sauchiehall Street. A nightmare scenario indeed, but all this would be the reality if Corbyn gets his way. The very future of our country is at stake.

8. Jeremy Corbyn once welcomed an article by John Pilger.

In 2004, Jeremy Corbyn was one of 25 MPs who signed an Early Day Motion which welcomed a Pilger article on Kosovo.

How outrageous! To think, a man is standing for the leadership of one of Britain’s major parties who once welcomed an article by John Pilger!

No one who has ever cited John Pilger with approval – let alone signed a motion supporting him – should be allowed to stand for high public office in Britain. The freedom to hold and express views and opinions in a democracy should only apply to opinions and views that myself and fellow elite neocons approve of! And we most certainly do not approve of John Pilger!

9. Jeremy Corbyn opposes austerity.

Austerity is working brilliantly at the moment.

It’s provided a great excuse for the government to flog off remaining state assets at below their true market value to ‘the right people’ in the City. The welfare payments of lower-class people who have far too many children are being cut. Libraries and local authority services are being closed. Yet, guess what? The bearded one opposes all of this. He says that “austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.”

He wants to protect public services and libraries from cuts – and instead wants to crackdown on tax evasion and increase taxes on the very wealthy! I ask you – is this the sort of man we want leading Labour – or worse still, the country?

And finally, but most importantly, the tenth commandment:

10. Jeremy Corbyn is very popular.

…And if he succeeds – which seems very likely – it’s game over for me and my little clique of elite warmongers. We won’t get our wars and we’ll have to pay more taxes and it’ll be all perfectly horrible! So, don’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn, because although he’ll be very good news for you – his success will be terrible for us!

Source: Sott.net

Why is Tory economic dogma seen as mainstream, but Corbynism extreme?

Sixty-six years after the foundation of the welfare state, under the current Conservative government, every aspect of it is under attack. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act, for example, will remove the duty on the Secretary of State for Health to provide a comprehensive health service, while the requirement in the act that up to 49 percent of services can be tendered out to “any qualified provider” will rapidly lead to the privatisation of the NHS in England and Wales. Already between a quarter and a half of all community services are now run by Virgin Care [1].

In social care, a combination of cuts of around 30 percent to local authority budgets since 2010, increasingly restrictive eligibility criteria for services, and inadequate personal budgets will leave millions without the support they need and increasingly dependent on the family, and in particular women family members [2].

And in place of what was once called social security, unprecedented cuts across all areas of benefits, especially disability benefits, the introduction of sanctions regimes which have contributed to 500,000 people being forced to use food banks, and a bedroom tax affecting around 600,000 people will increase the number of children living in poverty by 200,000 [3].

All of this has been underpinned by a brutal ideological offensive against people on benefits which explains the reason for the growing rates of sickness benefit claims are for those who suffer from depression and anxiety [4], as well as the increase in the rate of suicide among those on benefits [5].

The ideological attack on the poor is predicated on the governments’ insistence that those able to defend themselves least, pay the costs for a global economic crisis which began in 2008 but was not of their making [6].

Over the last forty years, successive Labour and Tory governments’ have been committed to rolling back the post-war welfare settlement under the guise of debt reduction premised on neoliberalism which involves a change to the function of the state as less ‘welfare provider’ to more ‘pro-business facilitator’.

Many people believe that the neoliberal assault that embody these changes began with the 1979 Thatcher governments’ limited (by today’s standards) publicly-owned asset stripping. But this is a myth. It was actually under the Callaghan administration that preceded Thatcher that the initial structural changes happened  As Colin Leys (p.41) notes:

From 1976 onwards Labour…. became “monetarist”. It’s leaders accepted that full employment could no longer be achieved by government spending but must be sought through private sector growth. For the necessary private investment to take place, prices must reflect real values, and this in turn required “squeezing” inflation out of the system and permitting the free movement of capital. In 1978 Treasury officials began preparing to abolish capital controls

But it is the assault by the trio of Cameron, Duncan Smith and Osborne on, not just the welfare state, but the entire ethos of the public sector in general, that has taken things to a new level. This is demonstrated, in part, by Osborne’s intention to sell off £31bn of public assets in 2015-16. It is clear that the Tories are using austerity and the neoliberal ideology that underpins it, as an excuse to expand the pro-business facilitator model to areas within the public sector that Thatcher could only in her wildest of dreams imagined.

That said, this approach has limits in terms of maximizing utility to capitalists within a modern state. It is precisely this kind of rationale that explains why the former governor of the Bank of England announced that the current situation is “the worst crisis at least since the 1930s” [7].   

As this writer has pointed out previously, even venture capitalists realize that proper welfare provision for those not working as well as a substantial increase in the the minimum wage for those in work, is necessary to prevent the capitalist system that they benefit from collapsing in on itself [8].

In 1943, the Tory MP Quintin Hogg warned that “If you don’t give the people social reform, they will give you social revolution” [9]. This is as relevant today as it was then.

It’s therefore in nobody’s interest that wages are kept depressed and the unemployed and sick are continually made to suffer. The fact they continue to suffer unnecessarily is the reason why a political space has opened up for the likes of Jeremy Corbyn to move into.

Although much of the mainstream media are characterizing Corbyn’s policies as unworkable, misguided and extreme – and seemingly doing everything in their power to undermine and discredit him -, these are nevertheless policies that are, in truth, mainstream and pragmatic. This explains why an increasing number of economists have publicly come out in support of the kinds of economic policies Corbyn articulates [10].

These policies are economically credible, popular with the public and, for most of the world, regarded as mainstream:

In 2009, most of the world was following mainstream economics of the kind that Corbyn is proposing today in undertaking a fiscal stimulus to combat the impact of the financial crisis. But in the UK a certain politician decided to ignore ‘economic credibility’, and instead proposed doing the opposite: what has subsequently become known as austerity [11].

The imposition of 40 years of neoliberal economic dogma pursued by successive Labour and Tory governments’ has failed the people of Britain who rightly, in my view, see Corbyn as the catalyst for change. As time goes on there will be increasing pressure not just from below, but from the top, for the Tories to change course.

As the open letter to the Guardian by over 40 leading economists illustrates, this is already starting to happen. If the government refuse to acknowledge that austerity and neoliberalism have failed, and thus continue to stick rigidly to their failed ideology of cuts and austerity, the British people will eventually elect a figure like Corbyn into power on a mandate to do something about it. That time is coming closer with every passing day.

Former Tory Donor Gave Yvette Cooper £75,000 Donation

The largest single donation to Yvette Cooper’s Labour leadership campaign comes from a former donor to the Conservative party.

Businessman Peter Hearn gave Cooper £75,000 to support her campaign for the Labour leadership. According to the latest listing Cooper made in the register of MPs’ interests, Hearn’s donation makes up over a quarter of the £260,000 she has raised to fund the “Yvette for Labour Leader” campaign.

However, figures given to the Electoral Commission show that Hearn also gave £10,000 to the Conservative party in the run-up to the 2010 election.

Hearn is a multi-millionaire accountant behind PSD Group, an executive recruitment firm specialising in high-level jobs in banking, finance, and other sectors. His donation was registered this month, although the actual donation was made in July.

Since donating to the Conservatives in 2009-10, Hearn has become a major Labour donor: He gave the Labour head office donations worth £279,000 over 2014-15.

Hearn has switched his donations between parties more than once. Before his Conservative donations, back in 2007 he gave Labour £5,000.

Labour headquarters is currently working to make sure the leadership election “is not for those who support other parties and is only for those who support the Labour party”, with many would-be voters complaining they have been wrongly excluded from taking part in the vote.

BuzzFeed News asked the Cooper campaign if they had any concerns about taking money from a man who has switched support between different parties.

A spokesperson for the campaign said that Hearn was a longstanding Labour supporter:

We are very grateful to Peter Hearn and all those who have donated to the Yvette For Labour campaign. To characterise Peter as a Tory switcher is plain wrong. He has been a major donor to the Labour party for several years and a Labour voter all his life.

In 2010 he was so keen to stop the divisive and unpleasant politics of George Galloway that he supported both the local Labour and Conservative candidates fighting to prevent George Galloway’s Respect party gaining his local seat. He is unequivocally a Labour supporter.

Electoral Commission records do show Hearn giving £5,000 to the Tower Hamlets Labour party in 2007. However, they also show that he gave more money, and more often, to the Conservative party in 2009-10.

He helped fund the Conservative election campaign in Poplar, where George Galloway was standing against Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick and Tim Archer for the Conservatives. Fitzpatrick won the seat, with Archer coming second and Galloway third.

Solomon Hughes / Electoral Commission

Hearn’s political donations are registered at the Electoral Commission under a variety of spellings – Peter Hearn, Peter J Hearn, and even a misspelled Peter Hearne. The Electoral Commission confirmed to BuzzFeed News that all these donations are registered to the same address and that they are all from the same man.

Thanks to Solomon Hughes who wrote the above article originally published on the Buzz Feed News blog on August 21.

We Don’t Need Chilcot To Tell Us Blair Lied

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In his book The New Rulers Of The World, the renowned investigative journalist John Pilger (p.65-67) describes his stay at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed Hotel shortly before the allied invasion of Iraq in March 2003:

“I met an assistant manager who had been at the hotel since the 1980s, and whose sardonic sense of western double standards was a treat. “Ah!, a journalist from Britain”, he said. “Would you like to see where Mr Douglas Hurd stayed, and Mr David Melon [sic] and Mr Tony Newton, and all the other members of Mrs Thatcher’s Government…These gentlemen were our friends, our benefactors.”

He has a collection of the Baghdad Observer from ‘the good old days’. Saddam Hussein is on the front page, where he always is. The only change in each photograph is that he is sitting on his white presidential couch with a different British government minister, who is smiling or wincing.

There is Douglas Hurd, in 1981, then a Foreign Office minister who came to sell Saddam Hussein a British Aerospace missile system and to ‘celebrate’ the anniversary of the coming to power of the Ba’ath (Redemption) Party, a largely CIA triumph in 1968 that extinguished all hope of a pluralistic Iraq and produced Saddam Hussein.

There is Hurd twice: on the couch and on page two, bowing before the tyrant, the renowned interrogator and torturer of Qasr-al-Nihayyah, the ‘palace of the end’. And there is the corpulent David Mellor, also a Foreign Office man, on the same white couch in 1988.

While Mellor, or ‘Mr Melon’ as the assistant manager preferred, was being entertained, his host ordered the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja, news of which the foreign office tried to suppress…..As the subsequent inquiry by Sir Richard Scott revealed, these celebrities of the Baghdad Observer knew they were dealing illegally with the tyrant. “Please give Mr Melon my greetings”, said the assistant manager.

Twenty seven years later, ‘Mr Melon’ can be heard presenting a phone in show alongside Ken Livingstone every Saturday morning on LBC Radio. I phoned the programme a few weeks ago to remind Mellor of this unfortunate episode in his career. Needless to say, I was cut off immediately.

In Chapter 13 of his book, Web Of DeceitBritish historian, Mark Curtis highlights – with reference to the views expressed in the Scott inquiry mentioned above – that elites do not think the public are entitled to know what the decision-making processes are that give rise to their decisions.

They are especially keen to deflect criticism away from the ruthless and violent nature of the British state towards the perpetuation of the myth that British foreign policy is historically predicated on the idea of benevolence. This involves the promotion of high and noble principles – democracy, peace, human rights and development – in its foreign policy.

Any critiques of Britain’s role in wars within the mainstream media are normally marginalized or presented within narrow limits which show “exceptions” to, or “mistakes” in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence. Curtis believes that overall:

“People are being indoctrinated into a picture of Britain’s role in the world that supports elite priorities. This is the mass production of ignorance. It actively works against our interests, which is precisely why the ideological system is critical to the elite, who essentially see the public as a threat…. As the chapters on Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana, Iran and others have shown, the reality of British policy is systematically suppressed” [1].

Has anything fundamentally changed since BBC founder Lord Reith wrote of the establishment: “They know they can trust us not to be really impartial”? [2] Why did the British and American mass media fail to challenge even the most obvious government lies on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the invasion in March 2003? Why did the media ignore the claims of UN weapons inspectors that Iraq had been 90-95 per cent “fundamentally disarmed” as early as 1998? [3].

What Curtis convincingly shows is that Blair’s contempt for international law in relation to Iraq is part of an historical continuum. As Caroline Lucas put it: “By imposing regime change in Iraq… Tony Blair is not so much following the US as continuing a national tradition.”[4].

After studying declassified British government files, Curtis concluded that:

“British ministers’ lying to the public is systematic and normal…In every case I have ever researched on past British foreign policy, the files show that ministers and officials have systematically misled the public. The culture of lying to and misleading the electorate is deeply embedded in British policy-making” [5].

Just as the public didn’t need the Scott Inquiry to tell them that the Thatcher government illegally sold weapons of mass destruction to Saddam that were used to deadly effect against the Kurds, so we don’t need £10 million (and counting) of our money wasted in a whitewash of an inquiry into Blair’s deceptions in relation to Iraq.

All that is required is a cursory glance at the contents of the Downing Street memo which provides the public with an invaluable record of a meeting in July 2002, between Blair and Sir Richard Dearlove. The memo reveals that Dearlove, director of the UK’s foreign intelligence service MI6, told Blair that in Washington military action was now seen as inevitable

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy [6]. In other words, what this memo shows is Blair knew that the decision to attack Iraq had already been made; that it preceded the justification.

What’s So Great About ‘Roxy Music’?

The first of Roxy Music’s opening trilogy of masterpieces sounds as original and fresh today as it did on its release back in 1972. Comprising Bryan Ferry on vocals and piano, Graham Simpson on bass, Andrew Mackay on oboe and sax, Paul Thompson on drums, Phil Manzanera on guitar and Brian Eno on tapes and synths, the sound on the album is simultaneously futuristic, conceptual and mannered.

The album opens with Re-make/Re-model which is probably their archetype sound comprising hypnotic sax riffs, frantic, cacophonous dissonance and  abstract effects. Ladytron is an electronic psychedelic overture sang by a baritone Ferry complete with sax riffs, distorted guitars and rhythmic synths. 2 H.B is a kind of decadent serenade and one of the trademarks of Ferry’s vocal deliveries.

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If There Is Something  is a combination of a jazz-rock jam and chamber music, whilst the catchy hit single Virginia Plain (not originally included in the album) is one of the greatest masterpieces of all rock. Here, Eno’s pulsating but methodical synths that embellish the fractured sound of clarinet, guitars and honky tonk piano, steal the show.

The Bob (Medley) is more avante-garde and abstract, whilst Chance Meeting is basically a free-jazz psychodrama-based chamber music. No less chameleon, is the rock and roll of Would You Believe that encompasses pounding piano boogie, wild sax and guitar solos.

Sea Breezes is a bleak and melancholic merging of neoclassical elements and distorted keyboards, sax and guitar. In the finale, Bitters End, Ferry sings in the languid crooning style that was later to become his trademark against a backdrop of flamenco rhythms and doo-wop.

Merging King Crimson-style pathos, jazz-rock and electronic elements, Roxy Music revolutionized prog rock by linking it to both the punk rock and new wave movements of the late 1970s and the post-punk and synthpop of the 1980s. Roxy Music are one of Britain’s greatest and most influential bands, and their self-titled debut is, in my view, their best album.

Dismaland

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Dismaland Bemusement Park is a theme park with a difference – a dystopian playground created by the anonymous artist, Banksy in the derelict Lido in Weston-Super-Mare. The artist has assembled the work of fifty other artists from around the world as far apart as Palestinian painters to the British writer Julie Burchill. The latter was commissioned to write a modern Punch and Judy whose theme is domestic violence which Burchill was a victim of:

“Good day to you my audience, you seem a smashing bunch, let me introduce myself, my name is Mr Punch. I’m part of your folk history like saucy Jack the Ripper. We both like a bit of fun like beating up a stripper” says Burchill in her opening poetic refrain.

Other installations that represent just a few of the park’s attractions include a fairy tale castle with a grizzly grotto, a boating lake full of refugees and a model village running riot.

As you enter the theme park, you are confronted by a security screening room manned by officious looking security guards, as fabricated as the threats its protecting us from, In reality, this happens to be an installation by American artist Bill Barminsky. “Any guns grenades or unicorns on you today”?, inquires one of the guards, all of whom look like they have just stepped out of the set of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

Dismaland is a very different kind of family day out, one which presents a more appropriate message to the next generation faced with the lack of meaningful work and global injustice. A step away from street art, this show is Banksy’s graffiti rendered into three dimensions. In addition to the representation of some of his traditional themes, he also presents some other new and shocking ones.

The refugee crisis off the shores of Europe, for example, becomes the subject of remote controlled motor boats. Miniature model boats crammed full with desperate looking replica humans drift on the water while some other less fortunate figures lie face down arms stretched and bloated floating on its surface.

Dismaland was perhaps part inspired by the pessimistic themes of the artist Jeff Gillette who, from his home in California, has been subverting Disney for many years. Jimmy Cauti, formerly of the pioneering UK acid House band, KLF. has presented a very different kind of street art at the show – a model of a town after a riot in which the only people remaining on the streets are 3,000 police and media standing around doing nothing looking at each other after the riot has happened.

Other pieces include Crazy Gulf -,A War About Oil – where you can hit a golf ball through a pipeline. You can also play Hook A Duck out of thick black water resulting from the aftermath of an oil slick. Children in need of more cash can borrow against their pocket money at just 5,000% APR from a nearby stall.

The climax of the exhibition is Banksy’s Castle. What he has done with an upturned carriage and a fairy princess is an extraordinary and evocative experience that’s funny, poignant and ultimately controversial which is precisely its point. You leave the exhibition, predictably, via the gift shop.

Banksy told Channel 4 News:

“For this show I didn’t deliberately set out to snub street art, I just found other stuff a lot more interesting. I seem to have reached the point where an art show is more interesting the less I’m in it.”

Dismaland Bemusement Park is open for six weeks.