A provisional Labour election “grid” which was leaked to the Sunday Times is said to reveal that while Mr Johnson is framing this as “a Brexit election” Jeremy Corbyn will continue with two main themes.
Mr Corbyn will first focus on the National Health Service, described by the FT’s George Parker and Laura Hughes as “traditionally Labour’s strongest suit”.
He sees Brexit leading to a “toxic Trump trade deal”, opening up the health service to rapacious US corporations and will challenge PM Boris Johnson about the claims in a recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme, alleging that the Tory government was secretly discussing NHS drug pricing in the context of a possible post Brexit US trade deal.
The FT journalists say that the risk that voting might take place against the backdrop of one of the NHS’s periodic winter crises, “keeps Tory strategists awake at night”.
The second campaigning focus will be on evidence that post-Brexit workers’ rights and regulations will be changed for the worse
The BBC and Financial Times have seen a leaked internal government document marked “Official Sensitive”. This “Update to EPSG (Economic Partnership Steering Group) on level playing field negotiations” was drafted by DExEU, the government department for exiting the EU.
The document suggests that Mr Johnson – a persistent critic of what he sees as unnecessary regulation from Brussels – wants to diverge ‘significantly’ from the EU on regulation and workers’ rights after Brexit, despite a pledge to maintain a “level playing field”.
The FT reports that it was told by one senior adviser to Mr Johnson, “We’re not confident at all. Of course this is a gamble. But it’s the least worst option.” Mr Corbyn’s supporters expressed confidence in his campaigning ability, first shown in the 2017 election, when he captured 40% of the vote.
Is Britain – after military withdrawal in the 1970s from bases east of Suez – really intending to reopen a naval support facility in Bahrain, create a permanent army presence in Oman and establish new defence staff centres in Dubai and Singapore? RUSI adviser Raffaello Pantucci and MP Tom Tugendhat, writing in the Financial Times, appear to see military force as an asset in trade negotiations:
“(T)he UK has been underperforming in an Asian context, and needs to increase capacity, especially on the defence side . . . It’s been supercharged post-Brexit. The whole idea is of the UK as a global free trader. You need to engage with the new centres of economic power,” said Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
Unhealthy and unethical alliances
In February this year Britain and Saudi Arabia, a major purchaser of British-made weapons and military hardware were reported to have lobbied the United Nations to tone down criticism of Bahrain for the use of torture by its security forces. Saudi Arabia, sent troops to quell dissent in Bahrain during the Arab spring.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, declared in a speech in Bahrain this month: “Britain is back east of Suez.”
Though he had accused Saudi Arabia of abusing Islam and acting as a puppeteer in proxy wars throughout the Middle East, the following day he declared that policy formulated in 1969 of disengagement East of Suez was a mistake: “and in so far as we are now capable, and we are capable of a lot, we want to reverse that policy at least in this sense: that we recognise the strong historical attachment between Britain and the Gulf, and more importantly, we underscore the growing relevance and importance of that relationship in today’s uncertain and volatile world”.
Will Britain even be able to defend its own coastline?
“It comes down to capabilities.The UK is now down to 19 surface combatant [ships] and the concept of a carrier group would tie up most of the deployable navy,” said Euan Graham, director of the international security programme at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. General Sir Richard Barrons, the former head of Britain’s Joint Forces Command, warned recently that Britain’s military had small quantities of highly expensive equipment — such as its two new aircraft carriers — which it could not afford to “use fully, damage or lose” west of Suez or elsewhere.
Is the name of the game still gun-boat diplomacy?
In a Boxing Day article Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat wryly commented that there are more admirals dining on the deck of HMS Victory on Trafalgar Day than we have ships at sea and claimed, “With investment in the armed forces, the UK can shape a future based on the rule of law and free trade. After all, it has been done before”.
Or building a better future in Britain?
“Spend your money feeding the English, providing jobs for your young people and on a better quality of life for the British, because we are not a threat to anyone.”
Russia? Boris, Andrew: our government continues to aid or participate in killing civilians & suspects in several countries
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said that Russia is in danger of becoming a “pariah nation” if it continues to bomb civilian targets in Syria – is he absent -minded or hypocritical?
As Steve Schofield summarises, “Through invasion by ground forces and through air-strikes involving missiles and drones, the US/UK military axis has been responsible for the collapse of societies that has left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead or injured and millions more as refugees.
For years we have assaulted other countries, ruining infrastructure and killing civilians as well as untried suspects; a few examples:
- The FT in 2013 highlighted a report by Amnesty International which concluded that at least 19 civilians in North Waziristan had been killed by just two drone attacks. In July 18 casual labourers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed near the Afghan border.
- The Bureau of Investigation’s 2014 report: America’s drone war has secretly escalated; it noted that it took President Obama three years to publicly refer to his use of drones.
- In this period Bureau records show drones reportedly killed at least 236 civilians – including 61 children. And according to a leaked CIA record of drone strikes, seen by the McClatchy news agency, the US often did not know who it was killing. In the year after September 2010 at least 265 of up to 482 people killed by drones ‘were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists’.
- Agence France Presse reported from Afghanistan: Afghan officials said that a NATO airstrike Friday killed five civilians and wounded six others. District governor Mohammad Amin said, “At around 3:30 a.m., U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Aab Josh village of Baraki Barak district. The airstrike hit a residential house killing five and wounding six civilians”. Niaz Mohammad Amiri, Logar province’s acting governor, added, “U.S. forces were chasing down Taliban militants, but mistakenly bombarded a house. As a result, civilians were victims of the attack”.
- Edward Luce in the FT pointed out that there is no treaty governing the use of military drones as for the use of nuclear weapons. We summarised his article with added links to Rand Corporation and Stimson Centre.
- For almost ten years the Central Intelligence Agency has been able to strike targets with impunity. At the moment, Barack Obama orders drone assassinations without having to admit it, or explain himself to anyone. Hundreds of militants have been killed in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. But hundreds more civilians, perhaps thousands, have also been accidentally killed.
- Josie Ensor’s report from Istanbul says that a US air strike killed nearly 60 civilians, including children, in Syria after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters. Some eight families were hit as they tried to flee in one of the single deadliest strikes on civilians by the alliance since the start of its operations in the war-torn country.
- A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres in northern Yemen, killing at least 11 people and wounding 19, the aid group said. And who is in the coalition? US and Britain have been deploying their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, having access to lists of targets.
- The global charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told Reuters news agency that more than 40 civilians, including an eight-year-old in critical condition, were admitted to Abs Hospital after an air strike in the Mustaba district, a region largely controlled by the Iran-allied Houthi militia.
Stuart Richardson, Secretary of the Birmingham branch, offers the sanest contribution from Stop the War Coalition (StWC). StWC is opposing the calls for the implementation of “No-Fly Zones” – after the Libyan disaster – and calls for the bombing of the Assad regime by the RAF and allied air forces. It argues that the only solution is the withdrawal of Russia, US, UK and France leaving the Syrian people to determine their own future.
The FT “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity”; Boris Johnson’s verdict: thoughtful, caring and principled
Extracts from an article by George Parker, the FT’s political editor:
Mr Parker said that, in a Europe where anti-austerity parties are on the march, Jeremy Corbyn offers a more radical approach, capturing some of the leftwing anger of Syriza or Podemos: “I have been in Greece, I have been in Spain. It’s very interesting that social democratic parties that accept the austerity agenda and end up implementing it end up losing a lot of members and a lot of support.” He continued:
“He often turned out to be right in the causes he pursued though it did not always feel that way:
- He backed the jailed Nelson Mandela;
- spoke up for the people wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombings in the UK; opposed Mr Blair’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003
- and engaged with “friends” in Hamas and Hizbollah in pursuit of Middle East peace.
At the time he ‘earned criticism’ but, Parker adds an accolade, “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity . . . he offers ideological certainty” – in other words he knows his mind and speaks the truth – a rare commodity in today’s politics.
Boris Johnson would say that wouldn’t he?
Writing in the Sun Boris Johnson, London mayor, says: “Of course, he won’t actually win this leadership election. His ideas would be economically ruinous and would impose huge new taxes on working people”.
He may well be quite wrong: Corbyn may win this leadership election; his implemented policies could lead to increased employment and higher taxes on those who can afford them may well be used constructively.
Johnson says that the reason Jeremy Corbyn strikes such a chord with the electorate can be summed up in one word: Authenticity: “Whatever you say about the veteran MP for Islington, he has thought about his positions. He cares. And he puts his principles into practice” and asks: “Can you really say he has been as eccentric as all that?
- He spent decades campaigning for higher minimum wages for workers.
- Yes, he was one of the early campaigners against apartheid. Quite right, too — these days Mandela is regarded as a kind of modern saint.
- Yes, he was in favour of bringing the IRA to the negotiating table, a view treated as semi-treacherous at the time.
- These days he looks prescient — Martin McGuinness meets the Queen and no one bats an eyelid. Yes, he abominated the Iraq war and rebelled countless times against the government of Tony Blair.
- But these days you look at what is happening in Iraq and Syria — the almost daily bombings and massacres — and you have to respect his judgment.
“The reason he is doing so well is that by comparison with the other Labour leadership candidates — a bunch of relatively anaemic, gelatinous and vacillating opportunists — Jeremy Corbyn looks passionate and principled. And that has lessons for everyone in politics”.
Not convinced? Watch him on Newsnight:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02y2ffn
Britain’s last best hope