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Post-PMQs: surely the views of over 100 distinguished Jewish signatories outweigh those of 60 assorted Labour Lords

In an unsuccessful effort to deflect attention from Mr Corbyn’s questions about climate change during today’s PMQs, Theresa May forcefully – even maliciously – demanded an apology for his ‘failure to deal with anti-semitism within the Labour party’.

The following snapshots were taken as they spoke.

She referred to a full page advertisement in the Guardian paid for by 60 ‘distinguished’ Labour peers, attacking Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism – as reported in the Murdoch Press.

Watch the exchange by clicking on this link (6 mins) and note the difference in demeanour as Jeremy Corbyn – impressively cool under fire – sets the record straight and tenaciously continues to challenge the government on the contrast between its rhetoric and its actions on climate change.

This welcome financial windfall for the Guardian, which occupies several inches of space after every online article asking for donations, recalls its withdrawal – after a communication from the Jewish Board of Deputies – of a previously published letter supporting Labour loyalist MP, Chris Williamson. It had over 100 Jewish signatories – many of whom evidently deserve to be described as distinguished.

The list of these signatories and their affiliations has, however, been saved by people who are beginning to expect this sort of mainstream skulduggery and may be seen here.

As the ‘censored’ Guardian letter said, such attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters aim to undermine the Labour party’s leadership, but – we add – they can rebound on the perpetrators.

 

 

 

 

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Yet another Thatcher-privatised-off-shored-debt-laden industry is seeking subsidies

Most UK care homes were managed by local authorities until Margaret Thatcher ‘reformed’ the system in the 1980s; now just 8% are said to be under state control.

In April, the shadow minister for social care and mental health said, There are major concerns about the debt-driven business models of some companies in the care sector and the role of foreign private equity firms and hedge funds in deciding the future care arrangements for large numbers of vulnerable people. The real price of this instability and underfunding is now being paid by the 17,000 older people in Four Seasons care homes and their families who face an uncertain future”.

The Bracknell care home and Kingsmills care home (above) are two of more than 300 owned by Four Seasons Health Care. In May, administrators were called in by the firm which has struggled to repay its debts.

All four of Britain’s biggest care-home businesses have been up for sale in the past year and have failed to secure deals.

recent report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services reported that almost half of councils have seen the closure of domestic home care providers in their area in the past year and a third had seen residential care homes closed, collectively affecting more than 8,000 clients and residents.

Gill Plimmer reports an estimate by Care England, which represents the independent providers, that around £4bn is needed from the government to stabilise the sector.

In addition to sharp cuts to social care budgets due to the government’s austerity policy, private care providers have had to deal with an increase in the minimum wage and rising food costs.

Ms Plimmer comments that understanding where taxpayers’ money is going is essential if Britain is to resolve the funding crisis in elderly care, adding, “This is made difficult by the companies’ complex, multi-layered offshore private equity structures”.

Nick Hood, debt restructuring adviser at Opus, the social-care analysts, said, “We don’t know whether taxpayers’ money is going to the private equity owners or the financiers, or indeed how much is being paid in cash and how much rolled up on the debt”.

He pointed out that the care companies’ debt interest payments which average £4,800 per bed per year, contributed to overall losses at the companies of £900m from 2015 to 2017, adding:

“The figures showed that the “debt-laden model, which demands an unsustainable level of return, is completely inappropriate for social care. Hundreds of millions of pounds that could be going into improving facilities and care are being sucked out of the industry every year to fund the debt”.

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and reality

Some question the whole concept of residential care as inspections by the Care Quality Commission, which oversees provision of social care, find that some homes shamefully neglect residents – citing here an establishment owned and controlled by a US property investment group.

 

 

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Media 101: Pre-Panorama reaction: BBC haven’t covered Gaza for last 5 months, Sky for last 18 months

Attention has just been directed towards a message from one who saw Ilan Pappé speak at the weekend. He didn’t mention the forthcoming Panorama programme but in relation to coverage of anti-semitism in Labour Party said that the BBC haven’t covered Gaza for last 5 months and Sky for last 18 months.

An online search reveals that Professor Ilan Pappé – an expatriate Israeli historian and socialist activist – is currently at the University of Exeter as director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies. He supports the one-state solution, which envisages a binational state for Palestinians and Israelis.

Pappé is one of Israel’s New Historians and the link given is well worth using. Since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, they have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948, and the corresponding expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s future leaders. He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.

His work has been both supported and criticized by other historians. Before he left Israel in 2008, he had been condemned in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament; a minister of education had called for him to be sacked; his photograph had appeared in a newspaper at the centre of a target; and he had received several death threats.

In relation to coverage of anti-semitism in Labour Party, Pappé said Corbyn supporters appearing on TV should use the opportunity to educate people on Palestine about the current death toll of Palestinians & the Nakba – the commemoration of the displacement of Palestinians that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

At least 96 Palestinians (20 of them children) and 17 Israelis were killed by someone from the other side in 2017. Their photographs and the circumstances of their deaths are given on this timeline.

Palestinian Arabs are Semites, so could the BBC be arraigned as anti-semitic because of their failure to report these deaths?

 

 

 

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Media 100: predicted BBC Panorama ‘bombshell’ for Corbyn, Wednesday 10th

The impartial BBC heads its programme announcement with this photograph:

A Daily Mail headline, Labour civil war explodes as party braces for bombshell TV probe, refers to a Panorama ‘investigation’ on Wednesday, Is Labour Antisemitic? It is to include claims by Tom Watson and Sam Matthews, who spent two years as head of Labour’s disputes unit from 2016 to 2018. An online search failed to produce any biodata or image of Mr Matthews but over time there has been concern about his performance in office – a ‘rogue staffer’. Leaked emails from the disputes unit are said to validate these concerns:

Mr Matthews was sent evidence, a year before he left his post, of a Labour council candidate posting anti-semitic material. He issued a “notice of investigation” but did not suspend the member. Mr Matthews received more evidence months later indicating that the same member had posted an article on Facebook claiming that the Holocaust was a hoax but once again decided against a suspension. Only on March 22 2018, days after Ms Formby was elected as general secretary, did Mr Matthews and his unit agree to the member’s suspension. He finally acted after concerns were raised by Laura Murray, a Corbyn aide, who wrote exasperatedly: “Should he not be suspended pending investigation?”

The ‘silly season’ has seen intensified campaigns against Jeremy Corbyn every year since he became leader of the Labour Party. Ben Chacko lists them:

In 2016 the “chicken coup” saw a challenge to Corbyn’s leadership that took the heat off the Tories following David Cameron’s resignation.

2017, the election year, saw disloyal MPs attacking the leader throughout the campaign, though most were silenced by the party’s strong performance in the vote itself.

In 2018 allegations that the leadership is tolerant of anti-semitism quoted Margaret Hodg’s smears on Corbyn in Parliament and Labour’s NEC adopted a definition of anti-semitism rejected by its author for conflating racism with political criticism of Israel.

2019 The smear season has begun again and Labour is right to warn that this week’s Panorama drama will be a partisan hatchet job based on:

  • interviews with Corbyn’s political enemies,
  • suspended MP Chris Williamson
  • differences of opinion between Labour MPs as to whether to adopt the pro-Remain line advocated by deputy leader Tom Watson rather than maintain its commitment to delivering on the 2016 vote to leave the EU.

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner chides media organisations for obsessing over Labour divisions when the real dividing line in Britain is between the government of the richest and the rest of us – a divide that also runs through the Labour Party.

 

 

 

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Media 99: Anti-semitism campaign a fabrication – Norman Finkelstein charges the British elite & its media

Richard House has drawn attention to the latest Media Lens report: ‘Suspending Chris Williamson – The Fury And The Fakery’ – which includes a comment in a forceful and eloquent video by American political scientist, activist, professor and author, Norman Finkelstein (right), whose mother survived the Warsaw Ghetto, the Majdanek concentration camp and two slave labour camps and whose father was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz concentration camp. He writes:

‘Corbyn . . . did not present a threat only to Israel and Israel’s supporters, he posed a threat to the whole British elite. Across the board, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail, they all joined in the new anti-semitism campaign . . . this whole completely contrived, fabricated, absurd and obscene assault on this alleged Labour anti-semitism, of which there is exactly zero evidence, zero.’ 

Media Lens points out that more than 150 Labour MPs and peers – the “infamously pro-war, Blairite section of the party have added to the propaganda blitz by protesting against the decision to readmit Williamson in a statement led by the bitterly anti-Corbyn deputy leader Tom Watson”. 

A recent blog on the Jewish Voices for Labour site also stated that a “hostile, personal campaign is being waged against Chris, who is a hard-working and diligent MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning”.

It adds: “This country stands in desperate need of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, aiming to unite people around protection and promotion of hard won rights and services, the party needs the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him”.

In 2018, Noam Chomsky commented on this campaign: ‘The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally, while also authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world. Plainly an intolerable threat to order.’ (Chomsky, email to Media Lens, 9 September 2018).

He commented on these issues again this month in correspondence with journalist Matt Kennard:

‘The way charges of anti-Semitism are being used in Britain to undermine the Corbyn-led Labour Party is not only a disgrace, but also – to put it simply – an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The charges against Chris Williamson (right) are a case in point. There is nothing even remotely anti-Semitic in his statement that Labour has “given too much ground” and “been too apologetic” in defending its record of addressing “the scourge of anti-Semitism” beyond that of any other party, as he himself had done, on public platforms and in the streets.’

Media Lens’ challenging conclusion asks what sanction the Labour Party should put on those politicians who personally voted to authorise illegal British and US wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria – acts which did not merely offend but killed, maimed and displaced millions of people, bringing whole countries to their knees.

 

 

 

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Brussels, full time post: help CEO to tackle corporate power

Corporate Europe Observatory is looking for a new press officer

Full-time post available

Corporate Europe Observatory is looking for a new press officer.

It would be full-time and based in their Brussels office, helping CEO to tackle corporate power.

Full details can be found here: https://corporateeurope.org/en/2019/06/vacancy-press-officer-fmx

Please spread this message in your networks and flag it to anyone you think might be interested.

 

 

 

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A Corbyn government will need support from openly selected MPs and a mass members’ movement to bring about beneficial change

An editorial by Ben Chacko opens with a reference to civil servants apparently briefing the press against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a further sign of the strain a truly radical opposition is putting on our political system.

As many are aware, those in power have been waging a vigorous and largely untruthful campaign against Corbyn ever since he became leader.

Chacko (right) predicts that this will intensify if he enters office:

“Labour’s radical programme will face parliamentary sabotage, which is why open selection of Labour MPs to improve the character of the parliamentary party is essential.

“It will face legal challenges from corporations with bottomless wallets, institutional interference from the judiciary and the EU if we haven’t left the latter, economic warfare, meddling by foreign powers such as the United States, perhaps even the military putsch mooted in 2015”.

John McDonnell has often said that when Labour goes into office we will all go into office – and Chacko stresses:

“We need to build a mass movement of trade unions, campaign groups such as the People’s Assembly and community organisations fighting for change in every workplace, every town hall and every high street to make those words a reality”.

Only by building up united and determined pressure ‘from below’ will the political-corporate grip on power be broken.

Read the Chacko editorial here.

 

 

 

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Jewish voices supporting MP Chris Williamson

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) writes: “There is huge support for Chris within and outside the party and this has not been reflected by the media coverage of the story”.

A recent blog on the JVL site states that a “hostile, personal campaign is being waged against Chris, who is a hard-working and diligent MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning”. It adds: “This country stands in desperate need of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, aiming to unite people around protection and promotion of hard won rights and services, the party needs the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him”.

JVL introduces a Morning Star editorial, which highlights the contradictory demands of those trying to get Chris Williamson (right) re-suspended.

The letter by Tom Watson et al both “attacks the disciplinary process for “the appearance of political interference” and then demands that leader Jeremy Corbyn politically interfere by overruling it.

JVL comments: “Corbyn’s enemies in the parliamentary party have made it clear repeatedly that they will not accept any process that does not give them victory.”

The editorial opens: “Williamson’s remarks in Sheffield last year were essentially correct: Labour has done more than other parliamentary parties to fight anti-semitism”.

PCU agrees: “Williamson is right: Labour has done more – and spent more – to address anti-Semitism than any other political party. Anna Boyle has listed forty reasons illustrating the truth of his statement which may be read here”.

The editorial deplores “taking at face value accusations emanating from MPs and organisations fundamentally hostile to Corbyn’s socialist project” and points out that, like Corbyn, Williamson has a decades-long association with the anti-racist and anti-fascist left and a demonstrable commitment to these causes which the MPs denouncing him have not shown, adding “His voice for peace and socialism in Parliament is needed”.

It ends by pointing out that the sort of ‘virtue-signalling’ that takes the form of denouncing other socialists, for perceived or imagined heresies, emboldens those who are actively hostile to the project of a truly socialist Britain and warns that it assists a strong and ruthless Establishment in its effort to isolate Labour’s leader and break the movement he leads.

 

 

 

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Post-Brexit: moving from globalisation towards resilient self-reliance

A call for building strong productive local and regional communities and new trade systems that fulfil human lives without wasting resources and energy  

Today the Financial Times (paywall) reports that the number of foreign investment projects has dropped by 14% to 1,782 in the financial year ending March 2019, since the 2016 Brexit referendum. This is the lowest level in six years, according to a report published on Wednesday by the UK’s Department for International Trade.

As multinational profits continue to fly out of the country and taxes are evaded, we return to the valuable 2017 report by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read entitledBrexit and Trade Moving from Globalisation to Self-reliance’, published and launched by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. 

Although it regrets leaving the EU and wishes we wouldn’t, the report is written as an alternative approach assuming we are outside the EU. Its Executive Summary states:

This report puts on to the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution”.

Colin Hines comments: It details the need for an environmentally sustainable future involving constraints to trade and the rebuilding of local economies. On page 14, the report calls for ‘Progressive Protectionism’:

“Reducing dependence on international trade implies reducing both imports and exports. It is very different from the traditional protectionism of seeking to limit imports whilst expanding exports. It should therefore meet with less hostility from other countries, as it has a very different aim from simply improving the UK’s balance of payments. It could be described as ‘progressive protectionism’, or ‘green protectionism’“.

The report’s recommendations are summarised under three headings: the environment, globalisation and localisation (below):

  • Change trade agreements to allow governments to promote greater national, regional, and local resilience.
  • Shift taxes, subsidies, and public expenditure on infrastructure, away from unfairly favouring large and global companies, and redirect them to help build up local economies.
  • Link banking directly to local and regional economies rather than to the international financial system.
  • Boost the number of places for skills training in sectors where UK production can substitute for imports.
  • bring in short-term government subsidies to invest in and develop economic sectors where UK production can be expected to substitute for imports as part of the new strategy. These would not necessarily be ‘infant industries’: they might be old sectors being revived and renewed.
  • Introduce or increase tariffs on imports of goods and services, especially those where domestic production is a viable and environmentally sustainable option.
  • Democratise English sub-regional devolution arrangements and reform local government finance, so as to provide for effective decentralisation of power.

The globalisation of recent decades has been very one-sided. There have been enormous benefits for large business corporations, financial institutions, and the super-rich. As smaller companies have found it difficult to compete, the multinationals have used a worldwide network of tax havens to escape from taxation and regulation.

‘Brexit and Trade’ sets put a new option for Britain. Instead of removing protective regulations against environmental threats it advocates establishing high Green standards and practical localisation measures. It would address the very real social, economic and environmental problems of globalisation, serving present and future generations well.

 

 

 

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The International State Crime Initiative and the School of Law event: ‘Combating Police Impunity’

Tuesday, 9th July | 2pm – 4pm, Room 313, Floor 3, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

Abstract f.kanji@qmul.ac.uk – http://statecrime.org/

After misconduct charges were dismissed against Metropolitan Police officers involved in the arrest of her brother over 10 years ago, Marcia Rigg said the police ‘had a licence to kill.’ More than 30 years after the murder of Daniel Morgan, and despite an apology from the Met eight years ago that police corruption thwarted the criminal investigation, his family are still awaiting the report of an independent panel established in 2013.

Hearings of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, set up in 2015 to investigate Met surveillance on lawful social justice campaigns, are not expected to commence until 2020.

Evidently, police impunity is a pressing issue for Londoners.

This event brings together leading scholars and activists from the US and UK to examine both the structures and conditions of and solutions to police impunity.

Speakers:

Dr Graham Smith- Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester

In the 1980s and 1990s Graham Smith was the secretary of the Hackney Community Defence Association, a self-help group comprising victims of police crimes, and developed a police misconduct database. More recently he has served the Council of Europe and UN as an international expert on police complaints, the prohibition of torture and combatting impunity.

Professor Craig Futterman- Professor of Law, University of Chicago

Craig B. Futterman is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and a Resident Dean in the College. He founded and has served as the Director of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic since 2000. Before his appointment to the Law Faculty, Professor Futterman was a Lecturer in Law and Director of Public Interest Programs at Stanford Law School. He previously joined Futterman & Howard, Chtd., a boutique law firm concentrating in complex federal litigation. There, Prof. Futterman specialized in civil rights and constitutional matters, with a special focus on racial discrimination, education, and police brutality. Before that, he served as a trial attorney in the Juvenile Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. Mr. Futterman received his J.D. from Stanford Law School and graduated with the highest distinction from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Economics.

Dr Nadine El-Enany, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College

Nadine El-Enany is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law (@CentreRaceLaw). Nadine teaches and researches in the fields of migration and refugee law, European Union law, protest and criminal justice. Her current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on questions of race and criminal and social justice in death in custody cases. Her book, (B)ordering Britain: law, race and empire is out with MUP later this year.

Val Aston, NETPOL

Val has recently completed her PhD at the Law School of the University of East Anglia, where her research has centred on the impact of state surveillance on political autonomy and the growth of social movements. She also sits on the steering group of Netpol, a UK-based human rights NGO which focuses on the protection of assembly rights and the monitoring of public order and protest policing. Val’s current research interests include pre-emptive policing and the designation of ‘risk’, and in particular, the extent to which a growing emphasis on preventive policing is constraining the growth of civil society.

 

To register for tickets go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/combating-police-impunity-tickets-62262795698

 

 

 

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