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“Vollgeld, Corbyn-style, would be implacably opposed by the political right” – Davies.
On Sunday Switzerland votes on an overhaul of its banking system. The “sovereign money” referendum on Sunday will decide whether banks will be prohibited from lending more money than they have in deposits, meaning only the central bank will be allowed to “create” new money.
“Just over six years ago, at the height of the crisis in 2007/08, the book “Creating New Money” by Joseph Huber and James Robertson (pdf here) was translated into German. At that time we decided to start a sovereign money (Vollgeld) initiative in Switzerland”.
By November the “Vollgeld Initiative” had successfully managed to collect 100,000 signatures – the number required to trigger a nationwide referendum on the issue.
FT columnist Gavyn Davies of the Financial Times asks: “Could such an extraordinary step ever become conceivable? Clearly, if the newly printed money were piled into extra public expenditure, Corbyn-style, it would be implacably opposed by the political right” and right on cue: “I don’t expect the Swiss people to be suicidal and approve it,” UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said during a recent earnings call.
Switzerland’s Vollgeld Initiative is backed by Martin Wolf. He explains that to make the system safer, banks would be stripped of the power to create money, by turning their liquid deposits into “state” or “sovereign” money.
The shift to a system like this would, as Thomas Jordan of the Swiss National Bank argues, be a mini-earthquake. Moreover, the proposal raises questions about the purposes to which the new sovereign money might be used.
The obvious possibility is to use the money to finance the government. This idea is highly objectionable to some: it would surely create big challenges. Yet those challenges are nothing like as fundamental as was transferring responsibility for a core attribute of the state — the creation of sound money — to a favoured set of profit-seeking private businesses, co-ordinated by a price-setting government institution, the central bank.
In no other economic area is public power so mixed with private interests. Familiarity with this arrangement cannot make it less undesirable. Nor can familiarity with its performance.
The advantage of the Vollgeld proposal is that it is a credible experiment in the direction of separating the safety rightly demanded of money from the risk-bearing expected of private banks. With money unambiguously safe, it would be far easier to let risk-taking institutions bear the full consequences of their failures.
“The Vollgeld proposal could provide an illuminating test of a better possible future for what has long been the world’s most perilous industry.
“May the Swiss dare”.
Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott & six other Labour MPs voted against aspects of the 2014 Immigration Bill
A Jamaican correspondent asks: “Why did the other 250+ Labour MPs abstain?”
An edited summary follows:
The Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labour governments themselves developed immigration policies that were very anti-Jamaican and draconian at times. Some New Labour government ministers and MPs (Alan Johnson, John Reid?) were even condemned for their own right-wing rhetoric on immigration.
In 2013, when then Home Secretary Theresa May drafted her immigration policy there was not the tumultuous outrage happening today. But while some raised concerns too many others ignored the severity of May’s proposed legislation. Even the then Labour Party under Ed Miliband displayed little resistance which was no surprise as a number of his own MPs were there in government when Labour developed their own draconian immigration policies to impress the xenophobes.
The idea of making invited West Indian born UK residents stateless was ‘sneaky cruel legislation’ that should never had passed the first hurdle in parliament.
Labour Party MP, David Lammy made some powerful remarks in parliament to Amber Rudd which has gone viral. He has been one of the public faces of anger since the scandal broke.
But where was Lammy’s voice in 2013? 2014? … in 2016? when the immigration legislation was going through parliament? Better late than never?
The correspondent gives details of law-abiding Jamaican immigrants dragged from their home or work place and locked up in detention centres for months, during the last 17 years only to be released with no further action taken. No apology. No compensation for loss of earnings. He adds:
“I am disappointed that too many high-profile figures within the Afro Caribbean community kept quiet over the years. But the biggest disappointment for me has been the response by successive Jamaican governments”.
ITV recalls: The Windrush Generation were invited to help rebuild the UK in the decades following World War II. In June 1948, 492 passengers arrived at Tilbury Dock, Essex, on the SS Empire Windrush after making the 8,000 mile voyage from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to the UK.
Many Jamaicans have been damaged greatly at the hands of the UK’s immigration bullying tactics from Jamaica’s elected officials, with the possible exception of Mike Henry. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness was asked recently on British TV about how long he had been aware of the Windrush scandal. His response was “2 months” ago. Had his entire High Commission team in London been so out of touch with these serious issues in the UK?
But despite their underhand anti-Jamaican immigration policies, successive UK governments have never stopped unashamedly raiding Jamaica for its best nurses and teachers. I am certain this recruitment approach by Britain will again intensify following BREXIT.
In 2009, British actress Joanna Lumley stood up for the residential rights of some in the Gurkha community who themselves faced deportation from the UK. Lumley became the public voice for the Gurkhas and used her reputation to great success. She publicly embarrassed then Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and forced a u-turn from the government. Who is our Joanna Lumley?
He ends: this is not only a scandal for the Conservatives, but also for the Afro Caribbean community.
For the past 2 decades too many in the Afro Caribbean community stood still and allowed Labour and Tory governments to demean the contributions of the Jamaican community in particular. A contribution that goes back 400 years.
We should have demonstrated more resolutely from 2013, when it became clear that May’s proposals would affect the Afro Caribbean community the hardest. We didn’t bombard MPs, Ministers and the media with our concerns. We did not protest in our tens of thousands outside Parliament or the Home Office. Our leadership and campaign throughout this episode was pathetic.
We should have fought back stronger with our messaging and activism from when the Jamaica immigrant-bashing first started under the Blair government and has continued up to today.
For that, many of us in the Afro Caribbean community – including me – also need to say sorry to the victims of the Windrush scandal.
Read the article here: https://wingswithme.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/windrush-generation-let-down-by-all-of-us/
See also Derek Laud, broadcaster, former political speech writer and the author of ‘The Problem With Immigrants’ in the FT: “As the son of Jamaican immigrants, I can no longer be a Tory.”
At first and at a distance only the provenance of the attack was questioned.
Jeremy Corbyn raised the point that some opposition groups, backed and funded by the UK, had also used chemical weapons, as has been reported many times and Richard Bruce added, “this funding was a grave mistake which prolonged the agony for the Syrian people”.
The Prime Minister said that because the opposition forces did not use helicopters or barrel bombs this was not possible. Richard comments:
“I presume she imagines we are all idiots? There were no helicopters or barrel bombs in the First World War – but plenty of deadly gas was used. There are many ways of delivering chlorine gas and nerve agents which do not require attacks from the air. Even a timed explosive device planted on the ground could do the same job because gas disperses in the wind, which is how its use became problematical in war.”
His MP Rob Seely who had refused to take action on cases of poisoning by agricultural and industrial organophosphates in Britain presented by Richard, received a letter from his constituent, ending:
“Now we have a scenario in Salisbury where a chemical, reported to be manufactured by mixing two of those insecticides, has begun an international disaster, though when those poisoned by organophosphates in the UK report even worse symptoms, they are ignored and told they are imagining them.
Yesterday, Lord Alan West, former First Sea Lord, spoke to a BBC interviewer on why he thought the chemical weapons attack on Douma was a false flag: “We need unequivocal proof that this attack was done by Assad’s forces – I’m not at all convinced at the moment”. He went even further on the BBC – see the video. On Talk Radio he added: “All the reports are coming from people like the White Helmets, who have a history of doing propaganda for the opposition forces in Syria. The WHO reports are coming from doctors who are also part of the opposition”.
Today British and American journalists walking around the streets of Douma can find no shred of evidence to confirm that a chemical attack has taken place
Oxygen loss, not chemical poisoning
Dr Rahaibani, who was on the spot, spoke to journalist Robert Fisk about the ‘false impression’: “I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”
A fabrication or a hoax
Pearson Sharp, an American journalist with OAN who gained access to the war-torn town of Douma, where the US, France and the UK alleged that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, reports from Douma that he found “no evidence” of a chemical weapons attack: “We were brought in with a government escort and shown the areas where the chemical attack allegedly happened. We were able to speak with residents in the area. We were even able to visit the hospital where the White Helmets showed the videos of people being hosed down.
“When I asked them what they thought the chemical attack was, they told me — all of them — it was staged by the rebels who were occupying the town at that time. They said it was a fabrication or a hoax. When I asked why, they told me it was because the rebels were desperate and needed a ploy to help the get the Syrian Army off their back so they could escape.”
Comment on the statement made on 13th April, published by CNN
This evening I have authorized British armed forces to make a limited and targeted strike that did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties – but wounded three civilians in Homs (CNN) or two civilians and three military personnel killed, according to the governor of Homs province.
We are acting together with our American and French allies and offering profitable opportunities to our arms companies. And distracting from Brexit, incompetence, James Comey’s upcoming book, Cohen facing criminal charges and sundry sordid scandals. Not sure what is in it for the French…
At this time, my thoughts are with the brave British servicemen and women, who may be sent to their death by my decision.
This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in open combat – though they have secretly been aiding ’coalition’ efforts in inflicting death and destruction in several countries, as confirmed when the recent death of a British soldier in Iraq was reported.
It is not a decision I have taken lightly but quickly because public opinion is against these strikes and I would probably have lost the parliamentary vote – and my premiership.
One breach of secrecy occurred when, under our last government, our officials were exposed as having authorised export to Syria of chemicals listed on an international schedule of chemical weapon precursors. capable of being used in making nerve gas.
The international community must defend the global rules and standards that keep us all safe. That is what our country has always done – in theory, but in practice many violations include entering an illegal war, illegal rendition to Guantanamo Bay and seizing territory, expelling indigenous residents and offering it to the American military.
And that is what Britain will continue to do,
Unless we are thrown out of government
Start locally – vote!
As a YouGov poll for The Times finds that only 22% support British airstrikes in Syria, with twice as many opposed, Mrs May is to convene a special cabinet meeting in Downing St this afternoon, to discuss what role Britain should play in a US-led attack on the Syrian regime.
Amid expectations that the prime minister will send RAF jets into battle without first seeking the approval of MPs, The FT reports that plans will be drawn up for British military action in Syria.
Lord Peter Ricketts, former head of the UK Foreign Office, said that Britain could not afford a rerun of the 2013 debacle, when MPs blocked military action in Syria: “We have some ground to make up to show we are reliable allies in difficult times. There’s a very strong hope that we will be part of this this time.”
The Ft adds that un-named senior Tories expect the attack to happen before MPs return from their Easter break next Monday, and that Mrs May will use her Royal Prerogative powers to deploy Britain’s armed forces without parliamentary consent.
Our masters contemplate safely indulging in the distance killing of other human beings and ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ as their armaments shares rise.
Porton Down’s CEO yesterday told Sky News that the facility had not identified the source of the nerve agent used in Salisbury. The Foreign Office, which had tweeted the claim, deleted that tweet yesterday after Porton Down’s admission.
The Establishment’s ‘PR/diversion exercise’ is now endeavouring to exonerate Johnson, with the BBC claiming that it can’t find footage it has only just shown.
Professor David Collum, Cornell University’s Professor of Organic Chemistry, has issued a statement on the simplicity of fabricating Novichoks and the relative ease of manufacturing them safely.
Cornell University is one of America’s ‘Ivy League’ educational institutions. As of 2017, it could claim fifty-six Nobel laureates and four Turing Award winners in its history. So a claim by Cornell’s variously-published Professor of Organic Chemistry, David Collum (below right), carries considerable weight.
The ‘hastily-erected ring-fence’ of PR and false assertions around Boris Johnson’ lies in pieces. His – and the government’s – dishonesty has been exposed. Boris Johnson has been exposed as making a false claim in an interview that Porton Down chemical weapons facility had ‘categorically’ told him there was no doubt that Russia was the source of the poison used in the Salisbury attack. He also asserted that the nerve agent had come from Russia, as only a ‘state actor’ could possibly manufacture a Novichok agent.
Professor Collum’s dismissal of the ‘must be Russia’ line could not be more emphatic – but he was prepared to go even further when the SKWAWKBOX asked him to provide further information on what level of laboratory set-up would be required to manufacture a ‘Novichok or related agent’ – the description provided by the UK’s Porton Down facility.He told us: “The compounds are simple as hell to make. Doing so without killing yourself would be more challenging but within the capabilities of many laboratories”.
Contrary to the claims of the government and its apologists, even just among ‘state actors’ Russia is far from the only known manufacturer of Novichok compounds. The following countries have produced them, are on record as having purchased/received them, or are linked to them by academic texts: details here.
Those seeking a change for the better will be thankful – though embarrassed – that the truth has been exposed.
Financial Times prioritises exposé – in the public interest? Ignores Yemeni slaughter – in the commercial interest?
The official purpose of the Presidents Club Charity Dinner last Thursday was to raise money for good causes such as the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. It was attended by 360 figures from the business world, politics, finance and the entertainment world – politicians, oligarchs, property tycoons, film producers, financiers and chief executives.
Auction lots advertised included a lunch with foreign secretary Boris Johnson hosted by Ian Botham and tea with Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England.
It was a black tie evening – men only invited – with 130 specially hired hostesses. Attendees included David Meller, a non-executive director at the Department for Education and one of the trustees of the Presidents Club and Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Children and Families in the Department for Education. A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Zahawi had “attended briefly and felt uncomfortable at what had begun to happen.”
Other media outlets have reported the depressing details itemised in the Financial Times.
The BoE said: “The Bank of England did not approve any prize for auction on the occasion described nor would it have for that organisation under its guidelines for charitable giving.” It was today announced that David Meller has stepped down from his Government role. Advertising corporate WPP, which had sponsored a table at the dinner, and the Bank of England have now both severed all ties with the charity organisation. Great Ormond Street hospital, one of the beneficiaries of the dinner, will return donations from the organisation’s charitable trust as a result of the “wholly unacceptable nature of the event”.
Meanwhile in the same week, the Financial Times reported twice on the aid being given to Yemen by Saudi Arabia but not the lethal assistance given by Britain’s friend and ally to the Yemen national army to ‘neutralise’ a Houthi group. The Jerusalem Post reports that an air strike in north-west Yemen killed eight civilians on January 22nd, including four children and two women, as part of the new offensive launched in December.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Amendment 2 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, aimed to retain the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and ensure that it would be transferred, with the rest of EU law, when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
They include the rights:
o to life
o not to be tortured, or experimented on against our will
o to liberty and security
o to private and family life
o to freedom of thought and expression
o to academic freedom
o to education
o to equality before the law
o to fair and just working conditions
o to be protected from unfair dismissal
o to social security and protections
o to vote
o to good government
o to freedom of movement
o to a fair trial
“The guarantee to the British people is that their Parliament will look after their rights.”
MP John Redwood argued, “the best guarantee of the fundamental rights of the British people is the will of the British people as expressed through the Parliaments they elect . . .The guarantee to the British people is that their Parliament will look after their rights.”
The former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, however, pointed out that “the whole point about the Human Rights Act was that it added to protections enjoyed under the common law and did so in a way that was compatible with this House’s sovereignty.” He said that failing to incorporate the Charter into UK law after Brexit would send out a strange message about the Conservative’s approach to human rights, and urged peers to consider the issue when the bill passes to the House of Lords. In the understatement of the year he added: “Nice as it is to rely upon the Executive’s goodwill… that goodwill is not something that we should always rely on”.
Despite the Labour Leader’s concern about jettisoning the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. 48 Labour MPs, including Daniel Zeichner, Chuka Umunna, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant, Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer voted for the EU Withdrawal Bill, which passed through the House of Commons by 322 votes to 99.
“One of the best things about Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has been his challenge to the failed British foreign policy establishment”– Peter Oborne.
For the last week the Labour leader has come under persistent pressure to speak up in support of the protesters in Iran rather than the far larger numbers of Iranian pro-government supporters march during a rally in the city of Mashhad, Iran, on January 4.
On Wednesday, the Times urged Jeremy Corbyn to speak out against Iran’s actions. The Daily Telegraph calls for ‘brave anti-regime protestors’ to be supported by all and singled out Corbyn. Many others have joined in.
Corbyn is no opportunist
Oborne points out that nothing would have been easier for Corbyn than to have given in to his critics and come up with a strongly worded statement condemning Iran’s Supreme Leader – adding “Bear in mind there are no votes for Corbyn in Tehran. A routine denunciation would have earned him praise in parts of the British press where he is normally reviled, and at zero electoral cost”.
The truth is Corbyn’s recent record on foreign policy has been measured and sensible. Corbyn’s principled silence is prudent and sensible. It reflects the fact that at this stage we simply don’t know for certain what is going on inside Iran.
US President Donald Trump praised protesters for taking on a “brutal and corrupt” Iranian government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also wished protesters “success in their noble quest for freedom”. Trump and Netanyahu each have their reasons for getting involved.
The claim that foreign interference has played its part has been ridiculed, but US and Britain have long meddled in the country’s affairs. Oborne believes that Western policy should be held to account:
- In 1953, they overthrew democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now BP.
- Only 10 years ago it was being widely reported around Whitehall that a Western military attack on Iran was all but inevitable.
- When the neo-cons were banging the drum for an invasion of Iraq, Corbyn wisely advised against. It turned out to be a catastrophe.
- Corbyn was against the invasion of Afghanistan, and proved right.
- Corbyn was one of a handful of MPs who voted against an attack on Libya. Once again, how right he was!
Corbyn’s record suggests that his judgment on foreign affairs demands respect. Corbyn’s critics also accuse him of being selective. But his critics are also extremely selective. They have made the most of recent events in Iran. By contrast the savage crackdown on Shia dissidents in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, or Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, gets far less attention. British military involvement in the atrocities committed by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen is routinely ignored in the BBC and elsewhere.
Now Newsweek reports that President Emmanuel Macron has accused the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia of instigating a war as Iran was rocked by a week of protests. several other world leaders. The French leader called for dialogue with Tehran and criticized three of his international partners for pursuing what he considered bellicose policies toward a country the trio have increasingly sought to isolate and undermine in recent years.“The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war,” Macron told reporters, according to Reuters
President Donald Trump decertified President Barack Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, of which France was also a signatory and an eager supporter, and has subjected Iran to a travel ban and increased sanctions over accusations it backs terrorism across the Middle East.
Trump has most recently weaponized his Twitter account to launch a barrage of insults against Iran’s leadership and voice support for the scores of Iranian citizens trying to “take back their corrupt government.” He offered “great support,” seeking to align himself with those calling to displace, rather than amend, the revolutionary Shiite Muslim government in the country, despite these voices currently being a minority among protesters on the ground. Trump was quickly accused of meddling in international affairs and of mishandling matters of diplomacy on Twitter.
As Oborne ends:
“One of the best things about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has been his challenge to the failed British foreign policy establishment. Long may he continue! The time may come when we are in a position to make sober judgments about recent events in Iran. In the meantime Britain is fortunate to have an opposition leader who knows when to stay silent”.
Broken Britain 13 – OfS: Young’s appointment confirms fears raised by McKinsey partner at the helm and its self-regulation policy
And yet Education Secretary Justine Greening says that the OfS will be tasked with ensuring the “world class reputation” of the UK’s universities is maintained.
The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 established The Office for Students (OfS) as the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the higher education sector in England from 1 April 2018. The OfS will inherit most of HEFCE’s funding, the administration of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the Register of Higher Education Providers.
Causes for concern include:
Ø The chairman: Sir Michael Barber, who served as Chief Education Advisor at multinational textbook publisher Pearson, is a partner at McKinsey, the arch-globalising management consultants, rallying from its role in the collapsed Enron ‘empire’ and insider trading in 2011.
Ø Its policy objective: opening the sector up to increased competition – McKinsey cheers
Ø Its monitoring standards (TES reports), formerly undertaken by the Quality Assurance in Education (remit set by government commissioned Dearing Report), will now be done in-house – by drawing on assurances from governing bodies and evidence from annual institutional data returns*.
Ø And the appointment of Michael Gove’s close friend Toby Young to the board of OfS, which, as Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) said, is raising serious questions about the OfS’ role in the sector.
Toby Young’s track record
Several media reports recall Young’s words in a 1988 book The Oxford Myth, edited by the sister of Jo Johnson , now Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, that the arrival of ‘stains’ –working-class students – changed Oxford, and that they were ‘universally unattractive’ and ‘small, vaguely deformed undergraduates’ adding, ‘It was as if all the meritocratic fantasies of every 1960s educationalist had come true and all Harold Wilson’s children had been let in at the gate’.
They also point to a column he wrote for the Spectator in 2012, in which he complained about the ‘ghastly inclusivity’ of wheelchair ramps at schools. ‘Inclusive,’ he wrote. ‘It’s one of those ghastly, politically correct words that has survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be “inclusive” these days. His terms for disabled children of lower intelligence was ‘‘functionally illiterate troglodyte[s]’
Is it unfair to describe such remarks as stupid, cruel and bigoted?
Contempt seems to be his speciality; a video tweeted by Teacher Toolkit, worth watching for Young’s facial expression which ‘speaks volumes’. Extract: “Teachers complain a lot about how tough their job is, but, you know, the day begins in most schools at nine o’clock, ends at 3.30pm. They have six weeks’ holiday during the summer, two weeks’ holiday at Easter and at Christmas. Yes, they don’t just work when they’re at school, but even so, compared to a lot of other jobs, it’s not that tough.’
Toby Young, first known to the writer through his repellent articles in The Spectator, founded the West London Free School in 2011, now a mini free school empire.
The latest news is that, though set up with a pledge to attract and retain outstanding teachers, the school has just named its fourth permanent head in the six years since it opened.
Can this man really be the government’s wisest choice for universities regulator?