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The mediation skills of union organisers are valuable. Steve Turner (left), Assistant General Secretary (AGS) of Unite the Union, played a leading role in the successful Cabin Crew dispute (2010/11) with British Airways, when he was National Officer for Civil Aviation.
He was at the forefront of successful negotiations to resolve disputes involving oil tanker drivers and London bus workers during the London Olympic games and Northampton Hospital Workers, locked out in 2014.
Turner led a delegation of Unite workers to Washington and Montreal as part of the 2017/18 successful campaign to safeguard UK jobs; these were threatened by the US Department of Commerce’s proposal to place tariffs of 300% on Bombardier C-series passenger jets during the firm’s dispute with Boeing,
Turner now asks why our government and many private-sector corporations show no faith in our homegrown skills and products.
As we now look to build back, he stresses that this is the opportunity to repair, recover and rebuild with manufacturing at the heart of a new, greener, transitioning economy.
See “Rebuilding after Recession – a Plan for Jobs” : a just transition to a zero carbon economy TUC report “Rebuilding after Recession – a Plan for Jobs” report.
Paul Halas recently reflected in Ars Notoria that Margaret Thatcher – whose economic impact was regarded by some as a miracle and by others as a cataclysm (Nunns) – made a bonfire of the nation’s cohesiveness and decency.
He continues: “While the unions and people’s lives were shattered, while our council houses and utilities were flogged off, while spivs and speculators became a new aristocracy and malignant globalism started to grow, destruction of whole industries, communities and social structures”
In The Official History of Privatisation Vol. I: The Formative Years …, David Parker describes the government as being ‘intent upon encouraging employees to own shares’ in the newly privatised industries and many also bought their council houses. The BBC comments that by the late 1980s the all-out strike was history; no union could ask its heavily mortgaged members to contemplate anything more than a one or perhaps two-day strike.
A workers’ advocate is still sorely needed in 2020: see a case reported in The London Economic
Over 100 NHS and social care workers are now known to have died with Covid-19 in the UK. These include outsourced hospital workers such as porters, many of whom are complaining of a lack of provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
By 28th April Over 100 NHS and caseworkers had died during the pandemic
A cleaner employed by private contractors ISS. who works near the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, was told he wasn’t entitled to wear a face mask, despite “people walking in and out coughing and sneezing” near him. The 57-year-old said he requested a mask as he lives with his brother who is self-isolating as he has two serious lung conditions. The company refused his request and, when he complained, he was told he would be disciplined because of his behaviour,
Local GMB Organiser Helen O’Connor said, “ Unfortunately many of our outsourced NHS GMB members endure the type of conditions that were commonplace in the victorian era. Alongside low pay, comes breaches of health and safety and bullying and harassment to stop these workers fighting for their rights or speaking out about wrongdoing”.
After a campaign by GMB he was finally reinstated by ISS, which also agreed to put in place “reasonable adjustment” measures to accommodate his disability.
Sanctions “designed to throttle the economy and force Mr Maduro from power” (Stott, FT)) have been imposed on Venezuela by the US and several allies have been pressed to observe them, with varying responses.
Britain has supported this action, damaging many sectors of the Venezuelan economy. Due to sanctions on the import of spare parts, oil production, the mainstay of its economy, has crashed to levels not seen since the 1940s.
Venezuela’s central bank now seeks access to $1bn of Venezuelan gold ‘safely’ deposited with the Bank of England.
In May, Reuters reported that Venezuela reached an agreement with the U.N. Development Programme to sell part of the gold and lodge it with UNDP which would buy healthcare, food and medicine to combat the coronavirus in Venezuela.
Despite this, Michael Stott reported yesterday that the Britain’s ‘independent judiciary’ has refused the Venezuelan government access to its gold.
Though ‘recognised’ by many US allies, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó (right) and his party have lost much of the earlier public support gained by stirring rhetoric at countrywide rallies and a June FT article noted that its reputation had been “stained by financial scandals and a failed armed incursion from Colombia”.
Reuters reported in June that the court had been asked by the Bank of England to determine who the British government recognises as Venezuela’s president
In the High Court, Judge Nigel Teare stated that it was indeed the British government’s prerogative to decide who was Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
He ruled that opposition leader Juan Guaidó had been “unequivocally” recognised as Venezuela’s president by the UK even though Britain has continued to maintain full diplomatic relations with Mr Maduro’s government after recognising Guaidó
Stott points to the fact that the Maduro-appointed envoy, Rocío Maneiro, serves as the Venezuelan ambassador to London as proof of the UK’s recognition of the Maduro government. The UK also maintains an ambassador and full embassy presence in Caracas.
The Venezuelan central bank’s legal team argued that this proved the UK had in reality continued to recognise the Maduro government and therefore Mr Guaidó had no legal backing for his claim to be president.
Sarosh Zaiwalla (left), senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, representing Venezuela’s central bank, said it was very rare “for an English commercial court to be told that it can only decide a question in the way that the government says it must”.
The Banco Central de Venezuela will be seeking leave of the court to appeal this judgment, which entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground; as Zaiwalla points out: Mr Maduro’s government is “in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic”.
Richard House’s formal complaint to the BBC
Adrian Chiles made no attempt to challenge this lie and smear – as, indeed, your organisation never did when it gave wall-to-wall coverage of alleged anti-semitism in Labour when Corbyn was leader.
I immediately sent in the following text, which was received in plenty of time to be read out while the offending person was still being interviewed – it said:
“It’s a total lie to say that Labour is ‘riven with anti-semitism’ – why are you allowing people to say such blatant untruths without challenge?”.
It was not read out. All of the evidence shows unambiguously that anti-semitism is less prevalent in Labour (Ed: see FactCheck) than either in the other main political parties, or in society as a whole – but hey, why let the truth get in the way of another opportunity to hammer the Labour left?
The BBC has had huge numbers of complaints about this outrage (Ed: including JVL, 2018, 2019) – yet you allow it to continue. You are institutionally anti-left – a disgrace for an allegedly neutral public-service broadcaster.
I await the robotic reply-in-complete-denial that you’ll send me to this complaint without holding my breath.
Paraphrasing George Monbiot’s Rings of Power essay: personnel employed by opaquely-funded thinktanks, that formulate and test the policies later adopted by government, circulate in and out of the offices of the UK Prime Minister and US President. Their output is published or reviewed in the print media, most of which is owned by billionaires or multi-millionaires living offshore.
Michèle Flournoy, a former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the co-founder of WestExec Advisors, described as ‘a diverse group of senior national security professionals with recent experience at the highest levels of the U.S. government’, has today published an article in the Financial Times.
It is – ostensibly – about the recent India/China confrontation, but is actually another move in what Robert Armstrong calls the US-China fight.
This cartoon replaces WestExec’s patronising cartoon of PM Modi and President Xi battling with stone-age clubs. It is taken from Jonathan Power’s FT article earlier this month:
Fanning the flames: “In principle, it is a moment that demands US leadership to convene and mobilise the region’s democracies”
Embedded in the article are Ms Flournoy’s references to China’s rising military expenditures, its growing assertiveness, coercive measures to enforce excessive maritime claims, expansive global infrastructure development strategy, modernised armed forces and multibillion-dollar state-directed campaign to develop (and steal) key emerging technologies. She adds:
“Its vessels have collided with foreign ships in the South China Sea (Ed, in 2014). Japan protests that its vessels re being harassed in the East China Sea. Chinese aircraft have encroached upon Taiwan, and Beijing has promulgated a new national security law for Hong Kong that seriously erodes its liberties”.
She then calls for deeper security co-operation among like-minded states, naming Japan, the US, India and Australia, urging these ‘major democracies’ and other countries who are anxious about Chinese intentions and capabilities, to treat China’s border clash with India as a clarion call and take steps to protect their common interests and values. If they do not, she continues, China will continue pushing boundaries, posing unacceptable risks to international order, ending: “In practice, however, that may have to wait for a new occupant in the White House”.
Another voice says: ‘The attack on China should stop’
Jonathan Power writes:
“The world is supposed to be pulling together to defeat the Coronavirus and to some extent it is. Earlier on Russia sent special equipment to the US and recently the US has sent some to Russia. China has aided Italy and Africa with doctors and equipment. Tiny Cuba, with its deep pool of doctors, has also helped Africa (detail here). Around the world there is a sense of “we are all in this together” and that this is a bigger problem than the ones the world has faced since World War 2.”
But President Donald Trump has suggested Chinese culpability for spreading the COVID-19, calling the virus “a Chinese virus” – and some Chinese senior officials publicly retorted.
Powers forecasts that the Coronavirus debate over who is right and who is wrong could become a watershed moment in the relationship between the US and China.
The World Health Organization has brought all the world’s countries together to discuss how to go forward now and – as Power continues – Trump’s representatives needed to say “Let’s sit down and with our best scientists discuss not who is to blame but how such diseases can be forestalled”. That is likely to bring a better result.
Power adds that despite Trump’s good-humoured meetings with Xi, “this antagonism is not a new development. There were three rounds of tariffs in 2018, and a fourth one in September last year. The most recent round targeted Chinese imports, from meat to musical instruments, with a 15% duty. He has refused to negotiate an extension of the nuclear weapons reduction agreement with Russia unless China (a relatively small nuclear power) is brought into the deal”.
Though both countries have an extreme superiority complex and think they are exceptional, unlike China, Power notes, the US has sought to prevent the emergence of a peer competitor, whether Western Europe, Russia or China, that could challenge its military dominance.
Fareed Zakaria in Foreign Affairs agrees: “Today’s China is a remarkably responsible nation on the geopolitical and military front. Beijing is now the second-largest funder of the United Nations and its peacekeeping work. It has deployed 2,500 peacekeepers, more than all the other permanent members of the Security Council combined.
It has not gone to war since 1979. It has not used lethal military force abroad since 1988. Nor has it funded or supported proxies or armed insurgents anywhere in the world since the early 1980s. That record of non-intervention is unique among the world’s great powers”. Powers comments: “For its part, the US has attempted regime change around the world 72 times”.
If Michèle Flournoy were to study the writings of Zakaria and Power, heeding the 16th century advice from Thomas Cranmer, to “read mark, learn and inwardly digest” – she might change course.
Five pages of a search on the 7th&15th June showed that only one British paper covered the joint Jewish-Arab demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square earlier this month, though it was covered in many other countries. A few days later the FT – no longer British-owned – gave good coverage.
Tens of thousands had been peacefully protesting against Israeli plans to annex whole swathes of the occupied West Bank. The Times of Israel reported that police initially sought to block the rally but gave permission after meeting organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines and appointed officials to ensure adherence to these safety measures
The demonstration was organized by Meretz, a left-wing social-democratic and green political party and Hadash, which supports a socialist economy and workers’ rights. It emphasizes Jewish–Arab cooperation. It was joined by several other left-wing rights groups.
Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic:
“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever. Yes to two states for two peoples. No to violence and bloodshed. No to annexation, yes to peace.”
Fellow Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said the agreement would “officially make Israel an apartheid state… sovereignty without citizenship is apartheid.”
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders addressed the crowds via video link: “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestinian and every Israeli … The only future is a shared future.”
His friend, Ayman Odeh, an Israeli Arab lawyer and leader of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties to which Meretz and Hadash belong, told those gathered:
“We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with a real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens … The second path leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid. We’re here in Rabin Square to pick the first path.”
In a long and comprehensive Financial Times article* today, Mehul Srivastava, writing from the occupied Jordan Valley, reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu (below) has sent mapmakers across the West Bank to prepare for the Israeli parliament’s vote on a new map described in the ‘peace plan’ presented by the Trump administration in January.
It proposes to annex almost a third of the occupied territories — from the entire fertile Jordan Valley, to the homes, factories and vineyards of some 650,000 Jewish residents in the settlement blocs near Jerusalem.
Several maps are presented in the FT article and a great deal of information about the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed when Mr Netanyahu, new to the Knesset, shouted at then prime minister Yitzak Rabin that the Bible was Israel’s “deed to the land”.
Shrivastava describes the proposed Palestinian state as being “shrivelled to a constellation of disconnected enclaves after Israeli land annexations”:
- major Arab cities like Ramallah and Bethlehem would be connected to each other only by highways and tunnels,
- Palestine would have only a tiny strip of land — perhaps just a highway — connecting it to Jordan,
- And the future of several thousand Palestinians in the Jordan Valley remains unclear. They might live in restricted enclaves or become non-voting residents of Israel.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, prime minister of Palestine, is a UK-trained economist. In an interview in Ramallah, he said: “I am angry. I have invested most of my life in this process, and all I have wanted is for our people to have a moment of happiness, not to live under an occupation forever.”
A group of UN human rights experts warned “What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world”.
A good time to bury bad news
Shrivastava ends by saying that Netanyahu hopes to pass this legislation while he has a favourable administration in power in the US, at a time when regional support for the Palestinians has declined and other countries are focussing on controlling the coronavirus epidemic and restarting economic activity.
The FT editorial says, ”The world should not be silent on Israeli annexation”. Will British media report the news, or assist the Trump/Netanyahu plan by remaining silent ?
*People with a serious interest in this subject who face a paywall may ask for a gift link to this article via its comments section.
A Bardali case-study about alienation of its water supply may be read here.
Whistleblowers 14: Richard Horton, editor of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journal
In 2018, MEP Molly Scott Cato’s support for the proposal for a new EU directive to protect whistleblowers, was reported on this site. It followed twelve general articles about whistleblowers which focussed on brave individuals who suffered for revealing unwelcome truths, including Paul Moore (former HBOS banker), Dr Raj Mattu, Julian Assange, Ian Foxley, Peter Gardiner, Bradley Manning, Osita Mba, Jerry Bryzan and the Glaxo 4.
Before this site was set up, there were several other health sector whistleblowers; Marta Andreasen & Paul van Buitenen also revealed shocking cases of EU financial mismanagement and suffered for it.
On January 27th, Dr Anjana Ahuja (right), a science journalist, reported in the Financial Times on research which revealed that a new Sars-like coronavirus had been present in China since December 1, a full month before the alarm was raised. At the time, almost 3,000 people had been diagnosed with the illness. The two papers in The Lancet medical journal revealed other worrying details. One set out the clinical data on the first 41 laboratory-confirmed patients.
Outspoken Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (below), called for the emergency committee of the WHO to reconvene as a matter of urgency and for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declaration to be considered.
He added that he felt there were political sensitivities at play that have not dogged other epidemics, such as Ebola in west Africa.
On 13th March, Paul Nuki, Global Health Security Editor (right) commented: “The UK Government – Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson – claim they are following the science. But that is not true. The evidence is clear. We need urgent implementation of social distancing and closure policies. The Government is playing roulette with the public. This is a major error. A paper published in the Lancet by experts at Imperial College London and Oxford University last week made clear there were hard political choices ahead”.
Professor Sir Roy Anderson, the study’s lead author said: “Government needs to decide on the main objectives of mitigation – is it minimising morbidity and associated mortality, avoiding an epidemic peak that overwhelms healthcare services, keeping the effects on the economy within manageable levels, and flattening the epidemic curve to wait for vaccine development and manufacture on scale and antiviral drug therapies? We point out they cannot achieve all of these – so choices must be made.”
Earlier this month, Richard Horton published a short and hard-hitting book, The COVID-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again
He shows that many Western governments and their scientific advisors made assumptions about the virus and its lethality that turned out to be mistaken. Valuable time was lost while the virus spread unchecked, leaving health systems unprepared for the avalanche of infections that followed.
Drawing on his own scientific and medical expertise, Horton outlines the measures that need to be put in place, at both national and international levels, to prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening again.
In 2019, the new EU directive required member states by 2021
- to have created safe channels for reporting both within an organisation
- to have provide a high level of protection to whistle-blowers against retaliation
- and national authorities to inform citizens and train public officials on how to deal with whistle-blowing.
The publication of Richard Horton’s book follows many interviews on radio and television conveying these messages.
As Anjana Ahuja ended, “All factors considered; it is perverse to see the coronavirus outbreak as anything other than a PHEIC”.
Will Horton suffer for speaking out in the public interest? And – if so – will the public and the legal system support him?