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Elite stranglehold on Britain – unbreakable?

As Steve Beauchampé writes in the Birmingham Press and Political Concern, generations of an elite have ruled this nation (with a few intermissions) for as long as anyone can remember, due to a rigged electoral system.

Their dual achievements:

  • comfortable tax arrangements for the few, a political/corporate nexus which ensures highly paid and nominal duties for all in the inner circle
  • vast military expenditure bestowed on the arms industry, as rising numbers of the population survive in relative poverty, wait in hospital corridors, receive a sub-standard education and depend on handouts to eke out their existence.

Direction of travel

Beauchampé:(The) economy is increasingly kept afloat by the economic support of China . . . The modern high-rise residential blocks that have sprung up throughout the capital may give the impression of a modern, flourishing economy, but look closely and you will see that many are all but empty, whilst homelessness and a reliance on subsistence level housing grows . . . “He notes that surveillance is at an historic high with spy cameras, and even microphones installed in many public places -describing the state’s ability to track the population and follow their activities and conversations as ‘frightening’. . .

The elite stranglehold could be broken

OB’s editor agrees with many that electoral reform is a priority for beneficial change – but even under the rigged ‘first past the post’ system, if the weary mass of people (Brenda of Bristol)  saw the true situation they would vote for the candidate with a credible track record who would be most likely to work for the common good.

 

 

 

 

Who is driving the Financial Times to desperation – Corbyn, or vested interests?

As condemnation mounts, more people rally to support Jeremy Corbyn. Very slow to rouse, has the need for a wholesale rescue finally taken hold of British hearts and minds? Will this movement grow and prosper, resurrecting what has been called ‘the Dunkirk spirit’ (Macmillan) in the face of a government dominated by wealthy interests?

jeremy corbynFT View, which never names its author, felt the need to open its article with a savage caricature of Jeremy Corbyn. It was decided not to reproduce it, but stay with the reality (right).

The title given: ‘Jeremy Corbyn means trouble, and not just for UK’s Labour party‘.

Subtitle: ‘Victory for the radical would cause problems for Britain’s body politic’.

But Britain’s corporate ruled body politic is already in deep trouble

broken britain 3 mps bankersOne comment on the article describes the country asa country where the gross distortions of hot and corrupt money and the encouragement of it by successive governments have led to a sense of despondency in voters”.

As FT View says, the young idealists and trade union members who support Corbyn “aim for a full-throated protest movement against fiscal austerity and “neoliberalism”. They are redefining the purpose of politics”. Not before time. Another comment:

“The sheer lack of humanity and care for the most vulnerable of people has finally lit a touchpaper in the country.  Good”.

The FT continues: “Even if Mr Corbyn narrowly loses out to Yvette Cooper, the leadership rival who finally spoke out against him on Thursday, the sheer scale of his following would drag her to the left”. . .

And provide a real opposition, then a government serving its electorate, after years of plutocracy?

Mr Corbyn’s decent constructive economic policies are dismissed as “quaint” – shareholders in privatised postal services, transport and utilities no doubt would use stronger language. His outlook on foreign policy is deemed “troubling” – especially to the arms industry.

The next comment sets FT View right:

JC ft comment

But the FT View writer ends: “Folly upon folly has brought a grand political party to this predicament, from which it is not certain to recover. That would be bad enough. The potential harm to the rest of British public life is just as worrying”. Yes . . .the signs are that many more might ‘worryingly’ start taking a real interest in politics and become immune to media brainwashing.

99%-3

A true socialist government would care for the 99%.

 Britain might even become honest, compassionate, egalitarian and respected.

 

PCU: the only beneficiaries of war are the arms industry and the politicians they suborn.

Going to war – Peter Hitchens

“How romantic. How brave. What tripe.

“Oh, honestly. If you enter a war, you expose your people to years of danger, pain, squalor, despair, grief, screaming, blood, fire, separation, bereavement , privation, loss, destruction and misery.”

Peter Hitchens’ dense and powerful article may be read in full here.

Bad decisions made by government – 2: subservience to the arms industry.

We question the wisdom of the decision to prop up the arms industry, when successive research reports have clearly shown that the economy would benefit from this level of investment in other sectors.

We condemn the operation of the ‘revolving door’, as government servants – elected and unelected – move into the arms industry and government posts are filled by former arms industry executives.

We ask why there are so many cost-increasing delays on large items of equipment, such as helicopters, and condemn the failure to provide basic protective equipment and fittings to the armed forces.

The whole interlinked system was further brought into disrepute after the Haddon-Cave report found politicians, the MoD and BAE systems responsible for the “incompetent complacency” that caused an RAF plane to crash in Afghanistan, killing 14 people.

The latest addition to our database was clipped from Ekklesia’s website.  PCU’s webmaster reminds us that elections are when people are supposed to be able to account for the actions in order to be re-elected – and Symon Hill, associate director of Ekklesia has contacted the candidates in his constituency. He writes: 

Questioning candidates on the arms trade

I’m currently waiting to hear from all six candidates in my constituency about a topic that much of the media have ignored during the election campaign – the government’s subservience to the arms industry.

Since Blair’s government cancelled a criminal investigation into multinational arms firm BAE Systems, many more people have become aware of the undemocratic influence wielded by arms companies in the corridors of power. Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote that BAE’s boss has “the keys to the garden door at Number Ten”.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is encouraging us to question our candidates about the arms industry’s relationship with government. They have provided a facility on their website to make it easy: http://www.caat.org.uk/issues/ukti/election/index.php.

In particular, this is a great opportunity to question candidates about UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government unit that promotes British exports. It has more staff working on arms exports than on all civil sectors combined – even though arms make up less than 2% of UK exports.

Return to the subject after the election . . .

MP calls for an investigation into defence contractors’ influence in Whitehall

Sir Kevin Tebbit was the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence during Geoff Hoon’s ministry who, as disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, refused to investigate American allegations of corruption in the BAe scandal. 

In 2005 the MoD approved a £1billion deal to buy 62 Lynx Wildcat helicopters. The contract to supply cockpit voice and flight-data recorders went to Smith Electronics. No other firms were invited to bid.  

Sir Kevin left the MoD in November 2005, and the final contract agreeing the price for the Lynxes was signed in May 2006. Later he joined the boards of two of the companies building the helicopters: Smith Electronics and the US conglomerate Finmeccanica. 

An MoD spokesperson said: ‘Sir Kevin Tebbit’s appointment as chairman of Finmeccanica was unconditionally approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments [ACOBA], the independent body that provides Government with advice on such matters.’ 

The deal, which will only deliver in 2012 and the cost of which has escalated to £1.9billion, has been under scrutiny since the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Guthrie, said that the shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan was contributing to the high casualty rate among UK troops.

This week it was alleged that MoD documents, released under the Freedom of Information legislation at the request of MP Douglas Carswell, showed that Sir Kevin Tebbit, now chair of Finmeccanica, had been lobbying former MoD contacts to protect the £1billion contract.

 In the minutes of meetings ‘behind the scenes’, Sir Kevin  appeared to threaten a hostile media campaign if ‘any decision was taken to derail the [helicopter] programme’. They also record Sir Kevin’s announcement that he was about to appoint Keith O’Nions, former chief scientific adviser at the MOD, and Sir David Omand, former MOD policy director, who now sits on the Government’s advisory forum drawing up the post-Election defence review. 

A conflict of interest is likely to arise for Sir David Omand if his appointment to the Finmeccanica board goes through; his membership of the defence review advisory forum, which will help to reach decisions about helicopter procurement, seems inappropriate.

MP Douglas Carswell, who secured the papers under Freedom of Information legislation, called for an investigation. 

‘Given this background, can it be right that the former head of a major Government department is now working for a helicopter company which is being paid billions of pounds by that department – under a contract which was drawn up while he was in charge?’ 

As he adds: 

‘We need a full investigation into how defence contractors are getting their way in Whitehall.’ 

And how!