Blog Archives

“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”

blair-header

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?

 

 

 

Politics in flux – regroup?

globalisation-imagesIn July Peter Hitchens wrote: Globalisation hasn’t worked but our elite have not yet been held to account”. As he said, the EU referendum result was a heartfelt protest, but is Brexit likely to enhance the lives of those who made that protest? He continued:

“There is nothing good (or conservative) about low wages, insecure jobs and a mad housing market which offers nothing but cramped rooms and high rents to young families just when they need space, proper houses with gardens, and security”.

But people are re-engaging with politics

Hundreds of thousands have joined Labour. Tens of thousands have joined the SNP, Greens, Tories and, since the EU referendum, the Lib Dems – and this, in an age when we have been told that people no longer want to get involved in politics. The growing adherence to Sanders, Corbyn, the SNP and radical parties in Greece, Spain, Italy and Iceland suggest that the existing order is being challenged and new hope is emerging.

In a different article Hitchens said: “If (like me) you have attended any of Mr Corbyn’s overflowing campaign meetings, you will have seen the hunger – among the under-30s and the over-50s especially – for principled, grown-up politics instead of public relations pap. Millions are weary of being smarmed and lied to by people who actually are not that competent or impressive, and who have been picked because they look good on TV rather than because they have ideas or character”.

Is it just a matter of time before parties regroup?

Some Conservative and Labour voters are moving to UKIP, some to the Liberal Democrats – and others are listening to calls for a cross-party progressive alliance.

alliance-6

In July there was a “Post-Brexit Alliance” meeting with speakers including the Liberal Democrat’s Vince Cable, the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard, Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Amina Gichinga from Take Back the City and the Guardian’s John Harris. This month, a statement calling for progressive parties to work together for electoral reform was published; it is signed by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru, Steven Agnew, Leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland, Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party and Alice Hooker-Stroud, Leader of the Wales Green Party.

‘Principled, grown-up politics’ indeed.

 

 

 

American blue collar workers are angry (The Times); Martin Wolf adds a growing and widespread sense that ‘elites are corrupt, complacent and incompetent’

pinn blue collar workers

Today the Times interprets unusual polling results in the United States. Like many American media commentators, it predicts that “blue-collar workers who are worried about the effects of globalisation on American jobs promise to shape the November election”.

In the Financial Times, analyst/economist Martin Wolf expresses a belief that the ‘native working class’ are seduced by the siren song of politicians who combine the nativism of the hard right, the statism of the hard left and the authoritarianism of both.

’A plague on both your houses’?

He writes: “The projects of the rightwing elite have long been low marginal tax rates, liberal immigration, globalisation, curbs on costly “entitlement programmes”, deregulated labour markets and maximisation of shareholder value. The projects of the leftwing elite have been liberal immigration (again), multiculturalism, secularism, diversity, choice on abortion, and racial and gender equality . . . As a recent OECD note points out, inequality has risen substantially in most of its members in recent decades. The top 1% have enjoyed particularly large increases in shares of total pre-tax in­come”.

pinn church v state moral missionDavid Cameron responds to church leaders’ attacks by saying that the reforms are part of a moral mission

Wolf continues: “In the process, elites have become detached from domestic loyalties and concerns, forming instead a global super-elite. It is not hard to see why ordinary people, notably native-born men, are alienated. They are losers, at least relatively; they do not share equally in the gains. They feel used and abused. After the financial crisis and slow recovery in standards of living, they see elites as incompetent and predatory. The surprise is not that many are angry but that so many are not”.

Wolf sees the electorate turning to ‘outsiders’ to clean up the system in Britain, the US and many European countries and advises ‘the centre’ how to respond:

  • People need to feel their concerns will be taken into account, that they and their children enjoy the prospect of a better life and that they will continue to have a measure of economic security.
  • They need once again to trust the competence and decency of economic and political elites.
  • There must be a fundamental questioning of its austerity-oriented macroeconomic doctrines: real aggregate demand is substantially lower than in early 2008.
  • The financial sector needs to be curbed. It is ever clearer that the vast expansion of financial activity has not brought commensurate improvements in economic performance. But it has facilitated an immense transfer of wealth.
  • Taxation must be made fairer. Owners of capital, the most successful managers of capital and some dominant companies enjoy remarkably lightly taxed gains.
  • The doctrine of shareholder primacy needs to be challenged. With their risks capped, their control rights should be practically curbed in favour of those more exposed to the risks in the company, such as long-serving employees.
  • And, finally, the role of money in politics needs to be securely contained.

Wolf concludes pragmatically: “western polities are subject to increasing stresses. Large numbers of the people feel disrespected and dispossessed. This can no longer be ignored”.

Self interest rules OK! The threat to the status quo is paramount – the ethical dimension totally ignored.

Britain, a client state in composite ownership: economically, politically and militarily subordinate

KC sent a link to yesterday’s article by Allister Heath slating France for its ‘protectionist policies’.

takeover cartoonHeath cited a US approach a few years ago for Danone, a very successful French food company, which soon collapsed.

Several other takeovers were blocked by the French government which passed a law to protect companies in “strategic industries”, from takeover.

Heath states that the UK gains from its openness, examples being those of Tata, a major employer in the UK, Korea’s Samsung and now the Turkish Yildiz takeover.

He admonishes British workers but makes no reference to the actual and potential social, economic and security dangers of these takeovers

Heath: “British workers have got used to working for US, European or Japanese employers; they must now embrace full globalisation and be prepared to carve out careers for themselves within a new generation of emerging market corporate giants”.

Has the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) been closed before it could update its little publicised 2010 report?

This found that 40% of infrastructure assets in the energy, water, transport, and communication sectors were already owned by foreign investors.

The OFT was closed on 1st April 2014, with its responsibilities passing to a number of different organisations including the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority.

takeover cartoon graphic

In Utility Week News at the time the report was published, barrister Roger Barnard, former head of regulatory law at EDF Energy, wondered whether any government is able to safeguard the nation’s energy security interests against the potential for political intervention under a commercial guise, whether by Gazprom, Opec, or a sovereign wealth fund, adding:

“Despite what the regulators say, ownership matters”: vulnerable Britain is now largely economically, politically and militarily subordinate.

The ‘ancien regime’ besieged by ‘populist insurgents’: FT & Spectator

“The pillar of past stability – predictable government built on turn and turnabout between the Tories and Labour – is crumbling”, according to the FT’s Philip Stephens:

“The two parties used to command more than 90% of the national vote – in the early 1950s it was 98%. The duopoly was underwritten by the winner-takes-all electoral system. But the Tory and Labour tribes have shrunk. In 2010 their share fell to 65%. It could be less in 2015. The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition turned two-party into three-party politics. Four or five parties could be in the game after 2015”.

Labour and Conservative in combat mode: “the threat insurgent parties pose to mainstream politics” . . .

Isabel Hardman in the Spectator says, “the Greens are creeping up on the left-ish parties, just as UKIP crept up on the Tories. Everyone is more aware of the threat insurgent parties pose to mainstream politics”.

isabel hardman brighton

The membership of smaller political parties is rising. Though most concern is expressed about UKIP there has been a less well-publicised focus on the Green Party. Ms Hardman reports that, in September, the Labour Party set up a Green attack unit in its headquarters, led by Sadiq Khan, including party staffers and Khan’s advisers. It intends to create a toolkit of local campaign materials for constituencies to use and advise on a national media strategy to combat the Greens.

brighton public buildings solarA few days later the Spectator mounted an emotive attack on the record of the Green Council in Brighton. 

Specific charges related to its recycling regime, (described below) and its support for wind turbines, omitting reference to its solar achievements.

chris williams latestGreen Cllr Chris Williams of Solihull Council’s main opposition party, responds to the recycling disatisfaction charge:

The last Council put in an order to use Italian-made communal street bins which don’t work and no other council in the country uses, and the Greens have been stuck with the contract”.

He sends a link which records some achievements of Brighton’s Green Council, saving energy and money. They include:

  • bringing down the number of buildings used by the council, cutting council running costs and reducing the council’s carbon footprint;
  • installing solar panels on council buildings to cut energy bills (planning to do this in other public buildings and sheltered housing);
  • installing automatic meters to monitor and reduce water waste;
  • launching a seafront anti-litter campaign to encourage tourists and visitors to the city to dispose of their rubbish responsibly or take it home;
  • introducing a requirement that dogs living in council-owned homes be micro-chipped, encouraging more tenants to behave responsibly as their pets are easier to trace;
  • introducing an ethical procurement strategy to improve minimum standards for the products the council buys, being awarded WWF Gold standard for timber purchasing;
  • introducing refuse collections on bank holidays outside the Christmas period;
  • expanding community composting sites across the city; in ten of the city’s 26 schemes, residents can turn their food waste into free compost. More than 500 people are now using the community compost service;
  • increasing recycling options for small electrical items and unused paint and exploring the possibility of a commercial waste and recycling collection service;
  • supporting community food growing in public parks such as Dyke Road Park and Wish Park & working with the local allotment federation on a new allotment strategy to publicise their role in promoting health, well-being, social contact, wildlife, biodiversity, as well as growing fresh nutritious, affordable local food;
  • successfully securing outside funding to transform the central Level Park – a large, decaying urban green space – with new gardens – with more diverse and sustainable planting – a new playground, new public toilets, a cycle café, better lighting and furniture, a new skate park, and more green space.

In yesterday’s FT article, Philip Stephens noted: “The stable political order of Thatcher’s boast has lost a vital centripetal force just as the populists harness the anger of those left behind by globalisation”.

He is missing the point. Those angered by the injustice and environmental damage caused by globalisation are rejecting those mainstream politicians who not only permitted but aided and abetted it, furthering the interests of large corporations over those of the people who had elected them to serve – not exploit.

 –

The writer is not a member of the Green Party, but welcomes the rise of smaller ethically based parties, including the National Health Action Party and – in Cornwall – regionalist Mebyon Kernow.

Ukraine: a picture is worth a thousand words

 

Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden

US vice president Joe Biden travelled to Kiev on April 22 to demonstrate high-level US support for Ukraine.

Yesterday Business Insider reported that Hunter Biden, his youngest son, has now been appointed to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private-gas producer.

This is an example of the dominant corporate-political nexus in USA and Britain.

Several readers express a belief that the barely hidden agenda is – once again – to raise tension and sell more military equipment, benefitting constituents and party funds – pork-barrel politics. As RC emailed: “the war industry is just always looking for more arms trade profit-spinners, not least after failing to get approval over Syria”.

pulling stringsMore positively, he adds, “One principle that is emerging: globalisation has made all the major nations so dependent on one another such that it’s hard for them to be genuinely at war. China needs US for its food, US needs China for its cheap manufactures, Europe needs Russian gas, etc”.

But an increasingly destabilised world, where covertly incited and supported conflicts are now the norm, is an unhappy place in which to live. Even those pulling the strings should, at some level, feel profoundly uneasy.

obama biden biden

Bloodsoaked Anglo-Saxon governance is no laughing matter . . .

Birmingham University Conservative Future reveals a ‘sad fact’

After a summary of the most unpleasing features of Russell Brand’s life to date, a blogger on BUCF asks:

Brand now wants to reinvent himself as a socialist revolutionary; the question is, why are we letting him?

russell brand on newsnightHe dismisses as ‘the usual socialist trigger-issues’:

  • the environment,
  • the class system,
  • welfare
  • and globalisation.

Though the BCUF blogger labels Brand’s call for an egalitarian system a repetition of ’the doomed message of generations of misguided left-wingers across the world’, he seems to be ‘running scared’:

.

“The only difference with Brand is that he makes these views seem glamorous.

“The sad fact is that people are listening”.

.

See earlier: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/russell-brand-a-movement-for-the-people-by-the-people-in-the-service-of-the-land/

.

Many are asking “Who runs this country, and for whose benefit?”

Global corporates seek a wider geographic footprint, leaving unemployment in their wake  

John Lundgren, chief executive of Stanley Black & Decker, the US group best known for manufacturing DIY hand tools, has explained that the proposed takeover of a Swedish security systems firm would give the company a powerful presence in Europe and strengthen its prospects in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America. 

There is no information as yet about the fate of the Swedish employees but it is reported that in the Midlands, Great Barr, 220 employees are to lose their jobs when Black & Decker switches production at Tucker Fasteners rivet-making site to Germany. 

 

 

John Tyrrell asked the question in the title earlier this month – and answered it. He states that the European Union, ‘another Capitalist club’, has made provision for the movement of Capital and Labour for the benefit of the owners and to the detriment of the work force. 

He recalls 1970, when the British economy was built on 80% productive manufacturing with 20% service industries, largely unproductive, Margaret Thatcher resolved to deal with the “enemy within” – following the success of the British workforce supporting the beleaguered miners in 1972, notably at the Battle of Saltley Gate in Birmingham.

Rather than trying to restore the situation, New Labour intensified the move to privatisation: “Today they support the cuts agenda which allows huge sums of public money to go into the pockets of big business – which is likely either to be, or become under foreign ownership. When will the lesson be learnt?” 

Perhaps when there is such a public outcry and action at the ballot-box that decision-makers place the interests of the 99% who elected them to serve, before those of the 1% who seek ‘global expansion in the growing markets of Asia and Latin America.