Category Archives: Planning

“And the children of Iraq, in their graves, disabled, cancer ridden from DU weapons, disabled, deformed, homeless, displaced, Mr Blair?”  

Blair’s Grand Delusion: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”

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Tony Blair has announced plans to set up a new centre-ground institute to combat the “new populism of left and right”.

This new body would provide answers to anti-business and anti-immigrant views which share a “closed-minded approach to globalisation”.

In a characteristically self-congratulatory statement published on his website, he said his new not-for-profit organisation would deliver policies based on evidence rather than the “plague” of social media abuse.

It would be a response to the political shocks of the last year, such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency.

It aims to support practising politicians –  such worthies as John Mann, Jess Philips, Simon Danczuk and those former colleagues still waving the New Labour flag?

He ends: “I care about my country and the world my children and grandchildren will grow up in; and want to play at least a small part in contributing to the debate about the future of both.”

Felicity Arbuthnot asks, on behalf of millions: “And the children of Iraq, in their graves, disabled, cancer ridden from DU weapons, disabled, deformed, homeless, displaced, Mr Blair?”

What could be more extremist than Blair’s deadly collusion in that country’s destruction?

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: The PM’s most influential adviser on the political economy

On 14th July a Moseley reader emailed to say “Theresa May’s speech yesterday sounded more left wing than your mate JC!”

theresa May

My reply was a one year snapshot of her actions in office which belied this humanitarian stance, published earlier on this site:

  • In 2010 she suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.
  • On 4 August 2010 it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home.
  • This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous Government’s “ContactPoint” database of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbiéchild abuse scandal.

“Rewarding hard-working people with higher wages”.

This is another of Ms May’s Corbyn-like soundbites made shortly after Corbyn’s description of what he saw as the difference between the  Conservative and Labour offerings, in the form of a question:

bbc kuenssberg 1 

“Do you want to be bargain-basement Britain on the edge of Europe, cutting corporate taxation, having very low wages, having grotesque inequalities of wealth? Or do you want to be a high-wage, high-investment economy that actually does provide decent chances and opportunities for all?”

We read that Theresa May has launched a cabinet committee on the economy and industrial strategy, which she is to chair; it will bring together the heads of more than ten departments and focus on “rewarding hard-working people with higher wages”.

Is Corbyn the most powerful, though least acknowledged of Theresa May’s advisers on the political economy?

If only she would heed him on nuclear and foreign policy issues.

 

 

 

Media 60: the BBC, aka the ministry for disinformation, attacks an ‘alliance of leftists and libertarians’

Analysis’ latest programme indicates that the political establishment is seriously worried about the pro-poor, anti austerity economic programme of the new Labour administration with its talented line-up of advisers which includes David Blanchflower, Thomas Piketty, Richard Murphy, Joseph Stiglitz, Ann Pettifor and Simon Wren-Lewis.

Universal Basic Income was a vehicle selected to downgrade ‘the left’ – or the Corbyn threat to vested interests.

Briefly it asserts that UBI:

  • gives the right to be idle/lazy.
  • is a bizarre idea, a Utopian daydream,
  • is gaining serious traction on the left and
  • is just the ‘flavour month for policy wonks’.

On the programme she called UBI “an idea winning support from an unlikely alliance of leftists and libertarians” and on Twitter:Universal basic income: salvation for the left or the seeds of its destruction?” Search engines find Is the left’s big new idea a ‘right to be lazy’? – BBC News.

Sonia made serious omissions – due to ignorance or strategy? Though carefully lacing the programme with references to robots, she interviewed no acknowledged experts on the subject of UBI and never referred to the widespread interest and pilot projects by governments and universities in other countries.

So who is Sonia? The invaluable Public Affairs News enlightens us

Sonia Sodha, appeared on the programme merely as the chief leader writer for the Observer. She did not tell listeners that she is employed by the establishment’s PR supremo.

As several times stated on the programme she was a policy adviser to Ed Miliband but an online search reveals that she has now joined the Westminster Policy Institute, headed by Sean Worth, a special adviser to David Cameron in Downing Street. WPI describes itself as an experienced and highly-networked team of consultants drawn from backgrounds in Downing Street, the Treasury and senior policy and media roles, providing strategic advice and hands-on support.

To compensate for the programme’s deficiencies, here is a helpful thumbnail UBI sketch on Money Week, no hotbed of the ‘loony left’, but a widely read financial magazine:

(UBI) makes all work pay by abolishing the classic trap of all means-tested benefits.

Under a universal income, there are no perverse disincentives that give people an excuse to stay at home in the face of an effective marginal tax rate of 80%.

Given that one of the main challenges of the age appears to be in-work poverty, rather than mass unemployment, a basic income system could play a significant role – especially in an age of disruptive technologies that make working lives less and less secure.

Nor is there any disincentive to prudent long-term saving – no one has their benefits stopped for having too much in the bank.

– 

See more about the theory of UBI here and pilot projects in the Netherlands, Canada and Finland here.

 

 

 

Secret State 17: will the unjustly exiled return to Diego Garcia?

A reader sends this link for the latest news of the islanders’ claim to be allowed to return to their homes.

chagos Deep Space Surveillance facility

Over forty years ago the Chagos islanders were removed to make way for a military base by the United States in 1971 (above). Under a secret deal with the British government, the US agreed to contribute to the costs of establishing a base on one of the islands, Diego Garcia and to provide support for the UK’s nuclear missile programme.

In 2000, the high court ruled that the Chagossians could return to 65 of the islands, but not to the main island of Diego Garcia, a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean,

The government won an appeal in the House of Lords, which ruled, in 2008, that the exiles could not return. Lawyers acting for the islanders claim that the law lords’decision relied heavily on a flawed 2002 feasibility study into resettlement. Read more here.

We learn that the supreme court will deliver a decision on Wednesday as to whether an earlier ruling by the House of Lords banning the Chagossians from living in their homeland was legal. If the decision is overturned it will pave the way for their return.

Will the British decision at last be consistent with natural law and public opinion or will the political-military alliance once again sideline morality with impunity?

 

 

Farmers For Action: Re Brexit –the farming facts from Northern Ireland

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William Taylor, FFA UK NI co-ordinator and co-ordinator of Northern Ireland Farm Groups gives the Brexit farming facts from a Northern Ireland perspective.

The EU was conceived in the 50’s after the terrible events of the Second World War by a Mr Monet, a Mr Schumann and others. It was modelled on the United States of America and had as its goal for Europe as the two PP’s, peace and prosperity. It has by and large been quite successful at delivering the peace including Northern Ireland.

Prosperity went well until the 1980s when the large food corporate retailers, the large food corporate wholesalers, to a lesser extent the large corporate food processors and the large co-op food processors, who behave like corporates, began to take over. They influenced the EU ship in the wheelhouse, persuading them to talk the talk but letting the corporates walk the walk, increasingly in their interest.

In short, the hard working family farms and rural businesses of rural Europe are being short changed in what they should expect from the Treaty of Rome, the Lisbon Treaty, the Maastricht Treaty, the Human Rights Laws and all the other EU promises to the people.

Article 39b of the Lisbon Treaty states in short, that rural dwellers are to be properly rewarded for their work but, as explained, we know in whose interest it is not to deliver this pledge. Today, 50% (ie peace) of what goes on in the EU is good, the other 50% is now corporate corrupt at the top (ie the missing prosperity for rural dwellers).

Then we come to Westminster, where we have seen the actions of successive UK governments since the 1980’s. As the corporate corrupt EU prosperity machine started financially milking farmers and rural dwellers, so did Westminster, again due to increasing food corporate influence including the bankers, to which even Blair’s new Labour became easily addicted – to date, although change may be afoot.

If proof were needed of this new 21st century UK politics, pillaging rural UK financially for the sake of food corporates’ profits, then look no further than the 2015 verdict by the Supermarket Ombudsman against Tesco. A few days after this, Vince Cable (past Lib Dem MP in the last Coalition Government) was interviewed by the BBC and asked what he thought of the outcome; he summed it up by saying, ‘when we were in Coalition we pushed hard for the Supermarket Ombudsman’s office to have increased powers but also the ability to fine the large supermarkets but the Tories wouldn’t hear tell of it – if the ability for the Supermarket Ombudsman to fine had been in place, Tesco would have been fined up to £400million.’

I ask you what chance does a family farm have of getting a fair price for their produce against the financial might and influence of these food corporates both in Westminster and Brussels, therefore, the Northern Ireland case for legislation on farm gate prices. Legislation on farm gate prices now having been worked on for over two years in Northern Ireland and shortly to be put to Stormont, if successful it would return farmers a minimum of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked across the staples.

The case Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA) and Farmers For Action (FFA) in Northern Ireland are trying to put with this legislation is what Brussels should have done 20 years ago, were it not for the corporate influence otherwise and if this model proves successful then hopefully the idea will spread.

If we stay in the EU, we have a citizens of Europe entitled route all the way to Brussels and Strasbourg with this legislation plan. If we leave, the large food corporates will carry on business as usual on the 24th June and so far in Northern Ireland we cannot see a legal route being agreed with Westminster for legislation on farm gate prices any time soon. Yes, they may give subsidies like the ones we currently receive but do not forget these are worthless because the food corporates are taking them by stealth, therefore, in or out we need legislation on farm gate prices! Hopefully after reading this information the new slant on your farming rights within the EU will help you decide which way to vote.

Further evidence is available by reading the Gosling Report:  http://www.paulgosling.net/2016/01/on-the-eve-of-destruction-a-report-on-northern-irelands-farming-sector/ and its proof of prosperity for Northern Ireland, should the legislation succeed. This would deliver the missing Prosperity that the EU’s founders

“If we stay in the EU, we have a citizens of Europe entitled route all the way to Brussels and Strasbourg with this legislation plan. If we leave, the large food corporates will carry on business as usual . . .”

Contact William Taylor

56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU

Tel. 028 703 43419 / 07909744624 Email taylor.w@btconnect.com

 

 

 

Fracking (etc): is Britain a democracy or a dictatorship?

 

The FT reports that a majority of North Yorkshire county councillors, elected to serve the people, followed the advice of unelected officers to vote against the wishes of those who put them in post; only 36 of the more than 4,800 responses to the council’s consultation were in favour of fracking.

The government promised to go “all out” for shale. Energy secretary, Amber Rudd, announced ‘she was determined to push forward with shale and even allow extraction under national parks’ and Chancellor George Osborne has promised that local areas will receive £100,000 per well and 1% of future royalties. He also said that he would also set up a sovereign wealth fund for the north of England to invest the proceeds.

fracking ryedale test prompts fears

However public opposition has prevented any fracking since 2011 when it caused two minor earthquakes near Blackpool. Brian Baptie, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey, said that the analysis showed that the epi­centre was within 500m of the well site and the timing of these earthquakes and that of the fluid injection [during fracking] indicated that there might be some connection between the two.

Nicky Mason, a local resident, said Third Energy had failed to disclose a gas leak at a nearby well until forced to by a freedom of information request.

The decision relates to a test, not full-scale mining activity

After changing its name four times (readers will wonder why), Third Energy will frack for shale gas at an existing well outside the village of Kirby Misperton – near the North York Moors National Park – to test if the rock below is suitable for large-scale exploitation and this will involve:

  • use of a 37-metre high rig for eight weeks
  • erection of a noise barrier of shipping containers
  • transporting of gas by pipeline
  • flowback water taken away by trucks.

As Ineos and Cuadrilla are given encouragement to reapply it is feared that further permission will eventually be given to produce on a large scale, which could lead to several hundred wells across the hills of North Yorkshire.

The FT quotes experts who foresee that the UK’s shale industry is threatened by simple economics: the tumbling price of gas.

fracking uk2 us gas prices graph

“There could not be a worse time to be embarking on challenging gas projects,” said Howard Rogers, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. An oil and gas analyst at Jefferies, said: “There is a global glut of gas and we continue to see gas supply everywhere. That is why prices have come down so much. It means there is a big economic challenge for shale producers in the UK.” He pointed out that US prices have come down so much it could soon be cheaper to import gas from there rather than buy domestically produced supplies.

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The only hope for these threatened areas appears to be a check to the paramount political-corporate desire for profit.
 

 

Secret State 16: are British drones and special forces assisting the United States in Libya – yet another disastrous military intervention?

Open government or secret state? What is going on behind the scenes?

tobias ellwood mpLast week it was reported that Tobias Ellwood, the UK foreign office minister, wrote to parliament’s foreign affairs select committee to say he would not be able to provide further details of the role being played either by the Royal Air Force or UK-controlled drones over Libya. According to the Guardian, Ellwood has admitted that drones have flown over Libya and it has been repeatedly reported that UK special forces are in the country.

There are many media rumours of plans being made to send another thousand British troops to Libya. Will British citizens ever know what the elected government will decide and how taxpayers’ money will be spent?

US-NATO forces have bombed Libya’s irrigation system and wreaked havoc on the country. American attorney Ellen Brown (below left) reminds us that before 2011 Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, food, own oil, money, and state-owned bank.

ellen brown 3Under Gaddafi it had risen from being one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country had the world’s largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.

 

Today the situation is dire

libyan ruin

As Dan Kovalik wrote in the Huffington Post, “the human rights situation in Libya is a disaster, as ‘thousands of detainees [including children] languish in prisons without proper judicial review,’ and ‘kidnappings and targeted killings are rampant’.”

Ellen Brown adds: “NATO intervention was allegedly undertaken on humanitarian grounds, after reports of mass atrocities; but human rights organizations questioned the claims after finding a lack of evidence. Today, however, verifiable atrocities are occurring”.

Surely Britain and America will go down in history as having been more cruelly destructive in the Middle East than Genghis Khan, who is said to have brought unity, peace and security to the territories he invaded.

And is there more to come? Another country in their sights?

 

Democracy dissolving: eight strategies designed to ‘rig’ the electoral system

The upturn noted in the city of Birmingham’s governance is being achieved despite serious funding cuts. It is reported that most of the extra cash set aside to help councils to cope with funding changes – ‘transitional grants’ – are going to Conservative areas.

This move appears to add an eighth strategy designed to ‘rig’ the electoral system to the seven listed by Jeremy Corbyn in his Fabian Society address – all designed to enable the party, with its narrow majority and drastically falling membership, to hold on to power, by weakening opposition inside and outside parliament.

cameron 7 strategiesThe Birmingham Post records a visit by most of the city’s MPs to enlighten Local Government Secretary Greg Clark (Department for Communities and Local Government) about the effect the cuts would have on Birmingham.

Most of the extra cash set aside to help councils cope with funding changes is going to Conservative areas.

Labour MP Steve McCabe (Selly Oak) said: “It’s an outrage that while Birmingham is coping with the biggest cuts in our history the Government has decided to give millions of extra funding to wealthy areas like Buckinghamshire.”

cameron frinton(Left: David Cameron making his East of England pre-election pledge).

Local Government Secretary Greg Clark told MPs the “transitional grant” would be targeted at councils which suffer the “sharpest reductions” in the revenue support grant received from central government, but figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that none of this grant is going to the major towns and cities of the West Midlands, even though they face major cuts to their grant.

Cash from the transitional grant is going to outer London boroughs such as Conservative led Bromley, which receives £4.2 million in transitional funding over two years; Conservative-led Kingston-upon-Thames receives £2.6 million. Havering, where Conservatives are the largest group, receives £2.8 million; Outer-London Sutton, gets £2.6 million; Conservative-led Buckinghamshire receives £9.2 million and Oxfordshire County Council, which covers the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency, will receive an extra £9 million over the next two years.

But Birmingham, Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell, Coventry and Wolverhampton get nothing.

However, the Labour Party membership doubled since the May and has continued to increase. It is seizing the opportunity ‘to breathe life into all sections of the party and draw on the collective wisdom of all’ as Jeremy Corbyn told the Fabian Society audience. His advice:

“Let’s work together to create and deliver a fairer Britain”.

Sanders and Corbyn: sounds familiar. Next?

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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%.

The road to 2020: Compassionate Conservatism city seats initiative

Conservative Home lists urban targets

cameron compassionate

Conservative party membership has fallen from nearly 300,000 to about 150,000 over the last ten years, and it is forecast to decline further in the future as a large proportion of its members are elderly. Mr Cameron wants to reverse that trend by entrenching his party decisively in the centre ground of British politics.

To this end, a review was launched after the general election by Andrew Feldman, Conservative party chairman, a handful of MPs and local/regional party chairs.

Rob Halfon, the new deputy chairman, is said to feel that, to thrive long-term, the Conservative Party must become a mass movement, reaching out beyond its traditional heartland.

Kate Allen, political correspondent of the Times, reports that – according to people familiar with the review’s progress – it is felt that the Conservative party needs to re-establish itself in communities, winning over a new generation of members and activists. The first step taken at last year’s party conference was the announcement of a £250,000 fund to help people on lower incomes run for parliament.

Predicted measures to bring floating voters into contact with prime minister David Cameron’s brand of ‘compassionate Conservatism’ and win them over, include:

  • party activists setting up local community groups to improve the party’s image and attract a wider range of members,
  • groups tackling practical activities such as litter-picking and renovating community facilities,
  • campaigning on local issues such as roads and schools,
  • demonstrating that the party is no longer dominated by elderly, socially conservative members.by supporting measures such as same-sex marriage and continued spending on overseas aid,
  • continuing to target younger voters by mobilising grass roots campaigners through the RoadTrip group – as MP Andrew Mitchell, advised the party’s youth wing: “A greater emphasis on by-election leafleting and a little less on Tatleresque social activities is overdue”,
  • seeking to build on the party’s city seats initiative, which has seen candidates and Conservative associations in urban areas that are not traditionally Tory working closely together to build the party’s vote,
  • considering a membership package akin to that of a members’ club or health club to include free or discounted access to events, reading material and promotional merchandise, and the opportunity to shape party policy,
  • and setting up a new Compassionate Conservative Caucus to focus on social justice, possible members to include Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

Andrew Feldman rallies the party: “We have a golden opportunity to ride the wave and renew our Party – and we must seize it. The road to 2020 starts here”.