Category Archives: Admirable politician

Is the Conservative Party truly the party of the working class?

Edited extracts from an article by MP Dawn Butler, responding to a claim by Minister Liz Truss

Her message to Theresa May: you delivered a caring speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street, but it is clear that it was nothing more than rhetoric and spin. The few it governs for are certainly not the working class . . .

Rents have sky-rocketed to ridiculous levels, with my constituents, in the worst cases, spending 70% of their wages on rent alone, whilst drivers on modest incomes – who need their car to get to and from work – continue to face misery at the petrol pump. In Brent, we have two very busy foodbanks and several soup and bread kitchens. This 19th century scenario is the sad reality for the working class in 21st century Britain.

Wages for the majority of people have continued to fall in real terms, whilst those at the top have seen their salaries soar

Living conditions in the UK are now at their lowest levels for 60 years, with hundreds of thousands of families relying on food parcels just to get by. Our hospitals are in crisis, hate crime has rocketed and homelessness has doubled.

And to compound the struggle, this government has been cutting services, such as money for pupils, access to justice and policing

This means that when you are being discriminated against at work, you will be less likely to be able to take your employer to court. Tribunal cases have plummeted by 70%. To the government this number represents success, but to me, these are hard-working people who have had the rug pulled from underneath them when it comes to getting proper recompense for their grievances. These are the signs of a government destroying the working conditions and protections of those who need it most.

Nearly one million people are on zero hours contracts which means, from month to month, they are in a panic to know if they can pay their rent on time or at all.

This government is openly deceiving the general public by claiming to be something they’re so clearly not. Whether you call it “alt-facts” or “fake news”, if such untruths are peddled often enough, people soon start to believe it may be true.

Conservatives have tried to force the trade union bill through parliament to silence and, ultimately, destroy trade unions. Why would they want to do this unless they wanted also to destroy the voice of the working class and important workers’ rights? How about the workers’ rights bill? The Tories wouldn’t allow a discussion in parliament of a bill which sought to protect the rights of the working class after Brexit. Features like working 48 hour weeks, holiday pay and maternity and paternity rights are all at risk due to us leaving the EU. The government appear to be running roughshod over them.

Dawn ends:

Throughout our history in power we have championed the working man and woman in establishing great working class systems, from the NHS to the minimum wage, and all equality legislation, tenets that have now become the fibre that gives our country its unity, fairness and strength. We defended SME businesses, created through a movement of working class men women and trade unions, all with a common goal of helping the many and not just the few.

 

Dawn Butler is MP for Brent Central

 

Media 75: Corbyn’s 52% YouGov poll majority goes unreported by MSM

Even YouGov buries this unpopular finding today in its extensive array of small-print spreadsheet pages, instead preferring to focus on another section of the poll.

march-2-yougov-pollBurying bad news: no other intelligible graphic available as yet

At present, only Peter Edwards of Labour List reports, reluctantly no doubt, that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters (‘camp’) will be cheered by the results of a 1,100 person poll carried out by YouGov for Election Data.

A 52% majority say they will definitely or “probably” back him in any future vote.

Peter Edwards more happily directs readers to the 46% who say they will vote against the “veteran socialist” – youthful Edwards-speak for ‘has been’?

But he sourly admits that “the leader is clearly ahead on the candidate for whom activists would consider backing”. 

Let’s end positively: the intelligent articulate independent minded  Peter Oborne (with reference to the Syria vote) remarked on Corbyn in words which are here paraphrased and applied more generally:

Despite bitter hostility from many on his own side he stands his ground and courteously sets out his honest doubts . . . the only politician who deserves to emerge with an enhanced reputation  –  Jeremy Corbyn.

jc8There is no denying that he emerges as a man of moral courage, integrity and principle. Mr Corbyn performs the role which every leader of the Opposition is expected to perform, according to British constitutional textbooks: he held the Government to account.

At last we have an Opposition leader who does his job by opposing the government and asking the right questions with increasing vigour. Throughout the debates, Jeremy Corbyn is calm, resolute and precise — especially creditable given that he was unsupported by some disloyal Labour MPs.

 

 

 

Admirable politicians 8 & 9:  Barry Gardiner and Angela Rayner

Steve Beauchampé sends a welcome lead, enabling Labour MP Barry Gardiner to be added to Political Concern’s ‘Admirable politician’ category – the first since May 2014, when MEP Molly Scott Cato was featured as the 7th.

Steve’s link to a Sunday interview on Sky News was accompanied by the comments that “(Gardiner) handles the interview with ease, batting away her questions. I increasingly find him arguably the most impressive member of the Shadow Cabinet”.

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As Shadow Secretary for International Trade, Barry Gardiner spoke to Sophy Ridge on her Sunday politics programme about Labour’s difficult week following the Party’s Copeland by-election loss.

barry-gardinerCalmly and with authority, he discussed the nuclear issues affecting the Copeland vote and Jeremy Corbyn’s misrepresented position on nuclear power.

He spoke compellingly on Labour’s forcefully expressed parliamentary concerns about new proposals for business rates, funding formulas and disability benefits – later moving on to analyse the divisive effect of Brexit.

This positive news brought to mind that a few hours earlier, listening to the Sunday repeat of Question Time, Labour’s shadow minister for education Angela Rayner was outstanding. She becomes the 9th admirable politician.

She had all the relevant facts at her fingertips and was able to present them in a way which confounded Conservative minister Justine Greening – no mean feat.

The Telegraph reports that some of her Conservative opponents have asked whether she has the qualifications to fulfil her responsibilities as shadow education secretary. “I may not have a degree – but I have a Masters in real life,” she replied.

angela-raynerAngela grew up on a Stockport council estate, brought up by a mother who couldn’t read or write.

Her life was, she has said, heading in the wrong direction until: “Labour’s Sure Start centres gave me and my friends, and our children, the support we needed to grow and develop”.

And without the NHS, she proclaims, her son Charlie, who was born prematurely, would not be alive today.

Barry and Angela are some of Jeremy Corbyn’s most able colleagues – towers of strength.

New readers: a search will reveal that in order of date, starting with MEP Molly Scott Cato in 2014, the other admirable politicians featured were John Hemming, Andrew George, Margaret Hodge, Tony Benn, Salma Yacoob and Irish senator David Norris.

 

 

 

Media 66: Corbyn victory downplayed by corporate press defending corporate owned politics from the threats of reason and decency

media-lens-latest-header

Media Lens reports:

Corbyn secured almost 62% of the 506,000 votes cast, up from the 59% share he won in 2015, ‘with virtually no press backing whatsoever’.

National newspapers, however, were ‘unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory’ in the Labour leadership election, Roy Greenslade noted in the Guardian, surprising no-one. In reality, of course, Corbyn did not just lack press backing. He won in the face of more than one year of relentless corporate media campaigning to politically, ethically, professionally, psychologically and even sartorially discredit him.

That Corbyn survived is impressive. That he won again, increased his vote-share, and took Labour Party membership from 200,000 to more than 500,000, is astonishing.

None of this moves journalists like the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who commented: ‘there’s been no big new idea or vision this week that Labour can suddenly rally round’.

Polly Toynbee explained: ‘I and many Guardian colleagues can’t just get behind Corbyn’. Why? ‘Because Corbyn and McDonnell, burdened by their history, will never ever earn the trust of enough voters to make any plans happen.’ She fails to recognise the nature and scale of the problem. 

In supporting Corbyn, the public is attempting to shape a genuinely democratic choice out of the sham choices of corporate-owned politics

This awesome task begins with the public waking up to the anti-democratic role of the corporate media in defending, of course, corporate-owned politics. So-called ‘mainstream media’ are primarily conduits for power rather than information; they are political enforcers, not political communicators. To the extent that the public understands this, change is possible.

Supported by non-corporate, web-based media activism, Corbyn has already smoked out these media to an extent that is without precedent. Many people can see that he is a reasonable, compassionate, decent individual generating immense grassroots support. And they can see that all ‘mainstream’ media oppose him.

It could hardly be more obvious that the corporate media speak as a single biased, elitist voice.

 

(Ed: and are therefore ignored by so many)

 

 

 

Murdoch Times employee forecasts Labour purge and exodus but the Times’ YouGov findings support the spirit of ‘45

The YouGov survey for The Times, which polled 1,248 Labour members between August 25 and 29, shows that Jeremy Corbyn is leading Owen Smith, by 62% to 38%. Voting in the contest opened last week and the result will be announced on September 24, the eve of the Labour Party conference.

JC standingMonomaniacs?

The Trident nuclear deterrent is expected to dominate the party’s annual conference in Liverpool and the survey found that 53% of those voting in the leadership election do not want Britain to replace the weapons system — supporting Mr Corbyn’s stance.

Purge imminent?

Francis Elliott, Political Editor, asserts that the poll will embolden Corbyn supporters calling for a purge of critical MPs, with 48% of eligible voters in favour of requiring all Labour MPs to face constituency ballots before being allowed to stand, compared with 43% who are against.

Exodus inevitable?

She states that the party will face an exodus whatever the final result, with 29% of Mr Smith’s supporters intending to leave if Mr Corbyn wins and 36% of the incumbent’s supporters minded to quit if he loses.

But look at the figures given:

The poll finds that 63% of full members intend to stay if Mr Corbyn wins, with only 18% saying that they would join a new party.

Will this resolve eventually lead to a regime actually serving the common good in the spirit of ’45 – or will moneyed interests prevail?

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: plain speaking in the Metro

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach constitutes a ‘new politics’ – refreshingly spin-free and honest. This is what our country desperately needs – not a return to the dark, duplicitous days of Blairism in all its Tory-lite dishonesty…

So wrote Richard House in the Metro yesterday. He continued:

“The right-wing conspirators who orchestrated the long-planned coup against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership show utter contempt for internal party democracy.

“The great swathe of Labour Party members will not allow these antediluvian, anti-democratic plotters to succeed.

 

 

The Times’ Matt Chorley delivers the latest failed ‘hatchet job’ on Jeremy Corbyn

bbc kuenssberg 1Stripped of unjustified sneers, the article begins with Jeremy Corbyn’s invitation to Ed Miliband to return to the shadow cabinet in a reshuffle this summer. (Left, facing interviewer Laura Kuenssberg)

Sources quoted: ‘senior Labour source’ and ‘one MP’

These anonymous commentators allege that there are plans to overhaul Labour’s frontbench team after the EU referendum, removing leadership critics who were given jobs in the early days and promoting “true believers”. They imply that this is a machiavellian plot, rather than an obviously sensible course of action.

Innuendo directed at Miliband:

ed milibandOne MP said: “Ed agrees with more of Jeremy’s programme for change than he agreed with the stuff he was doing when he was leader himself” – implying weakness, vacillation?

The Times quotes an allegation that figures from Mr Miliband’s leadership also stand ready to help the ‘Corbyn project’, naming only Lord Wood of Anfield, a former adviser to Gordon Brown and Mr Miliband. So? Umpteen millionaires are ready to help the ‘Cameron project’ and quite a few would back any Labour challenge to Corbyn – they have so much to fear from honesty and an emphasis on the common good.

No: Blairite politicians were rejected by the electorate

The Times continues by focussing on the allegation in MP Jon Cruddas’ report, Why Labour Lost in 2015 and How it Can Win Again – that Labour is becoming dangerously out of touch with the electorate. 

Positive news from the Independent: refreshing to see an emphasis on issues

It announces that Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband will publicly join forces to warn that Britain’s membership of the European Union is vital in the fight against climate change.

And reports the words of Jeremy Corbyn:

“At a time when the Government has scrapped funding for green projects it is vital that we remain in the EU so we can keep accessing valuable funding streams to protect our environment”.

“Leaving the EU would mean the green spaces, clean beaches and fresh air we want to leave for our children could be at risk. It would risk investment in new green technologies and the jobs that accompany them, and would leave us open to the Tory agenda which has been so damaging to our environment.

“Pollution and climate change don’t respect national borders so we can’t hope to deal with these issues if we withdraw into our shell.  We must vote to remain on the 23rd and continue to work with our European neighbours to stop climate change and protect our environment.”

 

Media 57: corporate control of British & American society

media lens new header

In their latest post, Media Lens say that people on the political left embrace Bernie Sanders because he talks honestly about corporate control of society. We include a summary of their article here, believing that the British media is also, to varying degrees, an ‘arm of the ruling class’.

  • Sanders talks about the causes of vast and shameful inequality in the world’s wealthiest country.
  • He talks about corporate media bias rooted in advertiser funding.
  • He talks about ‘whether or not we think it’s proper for the United States to go around overthrowing governments’.

They see Sanders’ recent discussion with Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks (TYT) show as an astonishing departure from standard, six-second soundbite politics. Imagine a high-profile UK politician talking like this about the media:

‘First of all, we’re talking about the corporate media, right?…We need to break through the fog of the corporate media, which does everything that they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues. I’m on the corporate media every single day and you don’t know how hard it is just to try to demand that we begin to talk about the real issues. They really do not want to. They talk about everything under the sun, but not the real issues.’

Sanders is not arguing that the corporate media is merely biased, or unbalanced, in reporting issues; he is arguing that it never talks about real issues.

He offers a jaw-dropping example: ‘Here’s the story. I have been mayor for eight years, Congressman for sixteen, a US Senator for nine years. Do you know how many times people in the media have said: “Bernie, what are you going to do to end poverty in America? This is an outrage! We have 47 million people in poverty, what are you going to do about it, Bernie?” The answer is zero. Not once.’

The remarkable result, as Sanders notes:

‘Concepts of income and wealth inequality, concepts of justice, learning what goes on around the rest of the world [are] never talked about in the corporate media.’

So what is going on? Why won’t corporate media discuss real issues?

Sanders explains: ‘I had to write a letter to the presidents of all of the networks to tell them that on their Sunday shows they never talk about climate change. Almost never talk about it. Why? Well, does it have to do with the fact that they get a lot of coal company and oil company money advertising? I think it does. They don’t talk about it.’

He is correct. The not-for-profit Media Matters for America reported that, despite ever-worsening warnings of the dangers and a long list of broken temperature and other records, media coverage actually declined in 2015. (Much more detail is given in the article, link below). He adds:

‘I want a vigorous effort to address climate change. I mean, I am very worried. I talk to these scientists. This planet is in serious danger. You can’t cuddle up to the fossil fuel industry; you’ve got to take them on.

‘The fact is that big business does not want the public to be alarmed about climate change because people will demand action that will cut into corporate profits’.

‘So the media is an arm of the ruling class of this country and they want to talk about everything in the world except the most important issues. Because if you talk about real issues, and people get educated on the real issues, you know what happens next? They actually may want to bring about change.

‘They are scared to death. They get scared to death of the idea that young people are actually getting involved in the political process and want real change. That working class people are saying, “You know what, we need to end establishment politics and economics, and move in a different direction.” That is their nightmare.’

After a passage about the press coverage shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Corbyn received during the leadership campaign Media Lens editors end:

Like most leftists, we support Sanders’ comments and reject the liberal commentariat for reasons to do with concern for the welfare of all citizens, not just the rich, and above all out of fear for the survival of our species and planet. Business as usual – with corporate power subordinating everything to profit – is now the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. As Klein says, and she is not overstating: ‘If the next president wastes any more time… the climate clock will run out, plain and simple.’


Read the Media Lens article here: http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/816-last-chance-president

 

Media 55: make the content substantiate the title and subtitles, Rosa: ‘must do better’

Hopefully a far better food writer and cook than journalist, Rosa Prince worked as a chef and cook in the Notting Hill specialist bookshop, Books for Cooks with Clarissa Dixon Wright and was the in-house cook at the Spectator magazine for seven years.

Were the captions a hamfisted editorial decision? After reading her Times sub-title, “Online activism is a powerful weapon for Labour’s leader but too often it’s a hate-filled echo chamber for the like-minded”, readers will have expected unpleasant examples of ‘hate-filled’ speech. Not so, the succeeding passages were bland and innocuous.

JC standingDoes the Times really expect its readers to receive the titles without examining the substance? Do they have such a low opinion of them – even though ‘Comrade Corbyn’, a book Ms Prince put together, is now reaching the second hand market on offer at half price.

At 8pm on Monday, Rosa reports: “a few thousand Jeremy Corbyn supporters sat at their computers or took to their phones to share personal, often moving, accounts of care they had received from junior doctors. By midnight, the Twitter hashtag #theyarethedoctors had been used more than 20,000 times and was ‘trending’ “.

Wistfully recalling the days when highly motivated leftwingers made banners or went on marches, she rues that now: “these were taking part in a “Twitter storm”, bombarding the internet with 140-character soundbites in a form of megaphone diplomacy”.

A reluctant compliment followed: “For an old-fashioned lefty a few months shy of his 67th birthday, Jeremy Corbyn is surprisingly adept at this internet thing — and so far it has served him very well”.

Rosa Prince expresses the belief – and no doubt her employers’ hope – that online activism has become an end in itself:

“For 40 years, it was enough for Corbyn to attend the meetings, to shout the slogans and to wave the placards. Even his greatest achievement to date, as one of the convenors of the Stop the War movement, to mobilise millions of people from all corners of the world in opposition to the war in Iraq, was ultimately a failure. When it came to it, the only people who mattered were the two sitting in 10 Downing Street and the White House”.

Does the Times article headline: “Social media monster could devour Corbyn”, reflect not only a desire to see Jeremy Corbyn to retreat into obscurity, but also her employer’s impotent anger at the loss of readership, advertising revenue and influence posed by social media?

Rosa’s advice: “ To get there, it’s not enough to tweet to the converted — you must persuade people to get out of their armchairs and go and vote for you”.

Will this challenge be met by ‘armchair’ users?

Sanders and Corbyn: sounds familiar. Next?

99%-3

In Canada, Britain, Greece, Italy and Spain, ‘a sense of revulsion at the political elite’ is leading a popular vote for those seen as trustworthy candidates, who care for the 99%.

In the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders has gained 60% of the vote, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 38%. As noted earlier on this site, Sanders has a Corbyn-like appeal for younger voters and is attracting far larger audiences than expected. He has assembled an online fundraising operation and ‘electrified’ the youth vote with promises of a “political revolution” that would bring Scandinavian-type policies to the US.

bernie 2 sandersThe Times reports that, in a speech to his supporters after the contest, Mr Sanders said the result marked a new era, adding: “What the people here have said is that given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for the same old, same old establishment politics and establishment economics”. 

“A message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington”

Sanders’ message that that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their Super PACs [political action committees] and that the economy is rigged in favour of a “billionaire class” struck a chord among New Hampshire voters who did not trust Mrs Clinton and her ties to Wall Street, reference being made to the “1%”.

According to exit polls, income inequality and jobs – two central themes of the Sanders campaign – were the top issues for Democrat voters. More than half said they were dissatisfied with the current state of politics.  Just as people in Britian cared more about a candidate’s trustworthiness than about experience or electability, the same ranking of priorities has favoured Bernie Sanders.

Corbyn and Sanders offer the hope of peace and justice to a divided people, currently exploited by the wealthy 1%.