Blog Archives

Agents who portray Jeremy Corbyn as unelectable: Plastic Hippo

Via the Brummie, Political Concern has discovered the Plastic Hippo’s list of agents who wish the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn to be seen as unelectable:

  • the five right-wing billionaires who own the printed press,
  • the small group of anonymous Tory strategists running the country,
  • the state broadcaster flirting dangerously close to charter compliance
  • and about 170 Labour MPs worried about future employment

plastic-hippoHippo presents evidence from two separate academic reports which have concluded that UK news outlets are blatantly biased against Jeremy Corbyn. A study by the London School of Economics found that three quarters of newspapers either ignore or distort Corbyn`s views and comments and act as an aggressive “attack dog” rather than a critical “watchdog”.

A second study by Birkbeck University and the Media Reform Coalition found “clear and consistent bias” against Corbyn in both broadcast and online news feeds with his opponents being allowed double the coverage than his supporters.

corbyn-eu-socialist-leaders

 Welcomed by socialist leaders in Brussels

The study described a “strong tendency” within the BBC for its reporters to use pejorative language to describe Corbyn and his chums with words such as hostile, hard core, left-wing, radical, revolutionary and Marxist.

Hippo adds: “With my very own ears I heard a senior BBC radio correspondent describe the Labour leadership election as “a battle between Marxists and moderates”. And the strange conclusion is:

“After a year of astonishing negativity, utterly preposterous smears, brutal personal attacks, nasty digs, front bench resignations and a vote of no confidence from Labour MPs who accuse unelectable Corbyn of disloyalty and fracturing the party, the bloke was re-elected as party leader increasing his share of the vote to 61.6 %.

“Unelectable? maybe not if the electorate actually has a full rather than half a brain”.

Read the Plastic Hippo’s article here: http://www.thebrummie.net/strong-message-here/

 

 

 

 

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Taxpayers unwittingly fund GM trials as the prospect of leaving wiser European counsellors looms

Will agri-business be allowed to charge ahead, imposing genetically modified food on an unwilling public?  

This is Rothamsted research centre, one of the country’s largest agricultural research stations.

The work is publicly funded through a £696,000 grant from the government’s UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and $294,000 from the US Department of Agriculture. Other partners include the universities of Lancaster and Illinois.

https://gmandchemicalindustry9.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/taxpayers-unwittingly-fund-gm-trials-as-the-prospect-of-leaving-wiser-european-counsellors-looms/

 

 

 

Westminster system & corporate lobbyists

From an economist’s blog:

We need to recognise that the political system we struggle with will not allow us make the changes that the planet needs – the Westminster system of power and its corporate lobbyists are corrupt from top to bottom.

Full post

Did corporate influence unseat the Australian prime minister?

Open cast mining - western AustraliaProposals to raise corporate taxes are routinely met – worldwide – by threats of relocation.

PCU has therefore been watching with keen interest the struggle between the Australian mining corporates and their prime minister, Kevin Rudd, over his plans for a super tax on their “super profits”. The May proposal to levy a 40% tax on the profits of mining companies drew criticism from the resources sector with Xstrata Plc and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. putting expansions worth $21 billion on hold.

Rudd was faced with accusations of political cowardice after shelving the centrepiece of his environmental strategy, an Emissions Trading Scheme. It is worth noting that his successor, Julia Gillard, was reported via the Wall Street Journal to have been instrumental in forcing the government to abandon the emissions trading scheme.

PCU’s webmaster notes that Ms Gillard has a background in industrial law and lives in Altona,Victoria, a state in which there are three open cast mines producing coal used for baseload power generation. Global mining giant Altona Resources Ltd is promoting the development of the company’s huge coal resources in the state’s Arckaringa Basin. This prompting led to further investigation.

Today in Businessweek Sundance Resources Ltd, the Australian-based iron ore explorer with extensive operations in Africa, said: “There’s “no doubt” that Julia Gillard, who ousted Kevin Rudd as Australian prime minister today, will change the government’s proposed 40% tax on mining projects.”

Like Xstrata Plc and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Sundance will be rejoicing at the restoration of the prospect additional billion dollar profits following the easily accomplished political change.

This is extremely disheartening news for those who condemn the undemocratic political corporate nexus.

FINANCIAL TIMES:

While Mr Rudd lost political support over a number of policies, he was fatally damaged by the backlash from mining companies over the government’s decision to impose a so-called superprofits tax on the resources sector. . .

Ms Gillard indicated a speedy reshaping of the contentious resources tax by stressing the need for certainty. She vowed to jettison the government’s pro-resource tax advertisements and asked that the mining industry abandon its anti-tax advertising campaign . . .

Global miner BHP Billiton said it was encouraged by Ms Gillard’s comments and would suspend its anti-resources tax advertisements immediately. The company said it looked forward to working with the government to find a solution.

A well-funded campaign against the tax, led by some of the country’s richest people in tandem with mining companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, had seen Labor support plummet in resource-rich states such as Queensland and Western Australia.

Full article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e3291436-7f6b-11df-9973-00144feabdc0.html

Governments – and the intellectuals and experts who want to be employed – have become the corporates’ handmaidens

 Biologist Colin Tudge, writing on the website of the Agrarian Renaissance reflects: “All three major parties have all signed up irredeemably to what is called “the free global market” – “neoliberalism” — and to finance capitalism”. 

The “free” market is dominated by the biggest players – the transnational corporates – who are more powerful than governments 

He points out that “In reality, the “free” market is dominated by the biggest players – who of course are the transnational corporates. They are more powerful than governments who survive, as Britain’s has done ever since Thatcher’s government first signed up to this, by tagging along behind and creaming off some of the profit (if they can collect the taxes). All – the market itself, governments, and of course all the intellectuals and experts who actually want to be employed – have become the corporates’ handmaidens. So what difference does it make which handmaiden we elect?” 

A useful term, finance capitalism, is used to describe the pre-eminence given to money which has ceased to be a way of keeping score and of oiling the wheels of trade and become a commodity in itself – the chief object of trade. The aim of all big modern governments is to maximize the amount of money produced in a year – the GDP  – and increase it year by year. 

“Growth” is the “target” the modern foul equivalent of the Holy Grail. 

Tudge points out that “none of this has anything to do with civilization. As John Maynard Keynes pointed out the better part of a century ago, GDP has nothing whatever to do with human wellbeing. In practice, demonstrably, the rich are growing richer while the poor grow poorer, both within countries (including rich countries) and between countries.” 

The money that generated by destructive mining and oil burning is largely siphoned off by the people who control its flow. Tudge adds: “ They thus become extraordinarily rich without doing anything at all. Their wealth is notional but it still has buying power, so they can buy houses in the nicest places and fill the fertile fields with their daughters’ ponies, and with notice boards saying keep out.” 

On the other hand, he notes, “an enterprise that merely does a good job and returns a modest profit is liable to be displaced by one that does the same thing more profitably, which generally means more cheaply, irrespective of the collateral damage which in practice does not have to be paid for.” 

His analysis resonates with PCU . . .

“Our present government, and whichever one happens to succeed it, have given up on governance. They no longer govern in any worthwhile sense of the word: they merely interfere with our lives, ever more minutely. Governments since Thatcher have in effect abdicated, although they still occupy the premises and take their salaries. They have given up their power, partly to the European Union but also and far more profoundly to the World Trade Organization, the club for members of the “free” market, and to the World Bank and the IMF, and that is a disaster. If UKIP had any sense, this is what it would be fighting against. But of course it does not. Sense has gone missing.” 

and his conclusion:

“I would vote for a baboon if it showed any sign of taking “the environment” in general and farming in particular seriously. But no baboons are standing, and I can’t recall any of the party leaders mentioning either “the environment” or agriculture in the build-up to the forthcoming election. Apparently the laws of physics, which relate atmospheric CO2 to global warming, are being put on hold while Gordon Brown sorts out the economy, if such it can be called, or David Cameron, or whoever it might be.  There really is no point in voting for either, or for Mr Clegg who despite his protestations and the reassuring presence of Mr Cable offers more of the same with a slightly different gloss.” 

Tudge concludes: “This is our only home. If we turn it into a desert we will die, even if we generate a pile of money as big as the Himalayas (although it wouldn’t be because it is really only a figure in a computer).” 

The only point is to do, he believes, is to bring together people who give a damn, to do something different despite the government and its corporate and financial supporters and its expert and intellectual advisers: 

“It is a very long shot. The power is all with the powers-that-be. But if we don’t go for it we’ve had our chips.”

Colin’s campaign: http://campaignforrealfarming.blogspot.com/

Corporatocracy

He reflects on the revelations coming out of the joint investigation for The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in which ex-ministers were seen and heard seeking payment for lobbying on behalf of major businesses . . .

His verdict:
Claims that we live in a system that can be justifiably called a ‘democracy’ need to be challenged when the reality is that we actually function within a system that at best can be described as ‘corporatocracy’.

What do we mean by ‘corporatocracy’? The term describes the situation where corporate businesses, and their senior executives, who in practice control many of the levers of power in our country, when such power is supposed to be in the hands of democratically elected representatives of the people. Powerful business lobbies influence the decisions of governments of supposedly sovereign states and few, if any, are in any position to withstand the pressures applied by big business within the framework of a globalised economy.

Large companies are able to blackmail governments into providing favourable conditions for the expansion of the profitability of their businesses under the threat of transferring their facilities elsewhere, along with the investment, jobs and tax revenue.The planning system in most cases favours the big corporate players to the detriment of small-scale enterprises and the citizens’ requirements.

Sponsorship is yet another means of exercising control over organisations and activities that rightfully belong to citizens. Also the funding of special interest groups within Parliament and the funding of political parties all provides big business with lobbing power that leaves the individual citizen virtually powerless.

Sponsorship and charitable donations are in practice seen as an alternative to accepting a fair share of the taxation burden that should be picked up by corporate businesses. 

All this adds up to the means of exercising illegitimate power in what is supposed to be a democracy – so is there any alternative other than to challenge the power of big business with enterprises that work in the real interest of the majority of citizens?

Indicting the corporate-political nexus

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency [ALT}: Campaigning to end secrecy in lobbying 

“We often feel like government doesn’t listen enough to us, and listens too much to paid lobbyists working for private interests, whether it’s IT companies lobbying for the introduction of ID cards, private healthcare firms wanting a piece of the NHS, arms manufacturers pushing for big defence contracts, or the aviation industry’s influence over government policy on airport expansion.”  

See their website

And from South Africa: 

Scathing indictment of South African economic policy by poet, teacher and political activist, the late Dennis Brutus: 

“First we keep the corporations happy. We don’t want them leaving the country. And if the people have to wait – questions of housing, jobs, education – all of that will have to wait. As a result, people are living in shacks and shanties, as they were under apartheid.”

Baron Haskins of Skidby reproves Prince Charles

On radio 4‘s PM programme, arch-lobbyist Christopher Haskins criticised Prince Charles for openly lobbying and campaigning, saying that this gives him an ‘undue advantage’.   bbc – audio starts at 37.17secs.

A few of the lobbying advantages enjoyed by Lord Haskins are recorded here:

1998

As chairman of Northern Foods, Labour donor, adviser to Blair and chairman of the government’s Better Regulation Taskforce, Christopher Haskins, criticised the plan to make industry pay for a food safety agency and privately argued against proposals for the agency to offer public advice on nutrition. The plan was shelved by Tony Blair after lobbying by supermarkets and manufacturers, despite the election manifesto’s commitment to early legislation after the BSE crisis, the E-coli outbreak that killed 20 people, and other food poisoning scandals. Food lobby kills safety watchdog by Michael Prescott and Stephen Bevan: The Sunday Times, 18.10.98

2001

Lord Haskins recommended the development of the Lake District’s tourism and the trade generated by servicing this sector [his ready meals?] The pdf file of his speech is now no longer accessible on the Cabinet Office website  . . .

He ‘talks down’ auction marts, which [unlike supermarkets] buy directly from farmers, collect stock and ensure farmers are paid on the day of the sale or within the week .  Interview of the week: Vickie Rogers, Farmers Guardian 26.10.01

2002

Hilary Wilson, Cumbrian hill farmer writes [by email] to say she is sorry that Lord Haskins has chosen to denigrate the sincere efforts of Prince Charles and with him, by implication, all those both within and without the organic movement who seek a more ethical and gentle way of farming: “Lord Haskins seems to be trying to justify what amounts to exploitation. His comment on feudalism is also misplaced. An early bishop once said that  ‘Organised society can be described as one big pigeon in the flock persuading all the rest to give up their surplus to him!’ There is no difference between the feudal system, to any that Lord Haskins chooses to advocate, it is just a different big pigeon [and friends].”

The Centre for European Reform [CER] was set up to bring together people from the worlds of politics and business. Most of its meetings and seminars are by invitation only, to ensure a high level of debate. The corporate world is heavily represented on its advisory board – one member is Lord – now Baron Haskins.

Countryside Matters: Lord Haskins, the recently retired chairman of ‘Northern Foods’, is committed to the large-scale provision of a uniform standardised product, easy to process and package. His reported intemperate remarks about Prince Charles, small farmers, traditionalists and the organic movement have not gone down well in a community already distrustful of him and his point of view. According to him, the emphasis should still be placed on intensive, ‘industrial’ farming as in the corn growing and sugar beet country of East Anglia.

2003

The Government’s rural adviser, Lord Haskins, attacked Prince Charles’ recent comments at the Oxford Farming Conference about the need for the Government to buy food produced in Britain: “It is a nonsense to expect British taxpayers to cough up again for the inefficiency of the British farming industry.” Curry favours council pilot plan – Farmers Guardian 10.1.03. Northern Foods, in which he has a large block of shares, produces pizza, biscuits, ready meals, sandwiches, salads and puddings and requires cheap imported food to keep costs down.

2006

An Act of Parliament set up Natural England with three aims, the third being to respond to the recommendations of a rural review [2003] by Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby.

Baron Haskins has good reason to deplore the effects of Prince Charles’ food-related lobbying and  – as protocol forbids a reply couched in similar terms – can speak out with impunity.