Blog Archives

Mr Corbyn beware: apologies and compromise are the ammo feverishly sought by the establishment media

jeremy corbynThe established corporate-political order is seething with anger at the huge support given to a plain-living, simply dressed man of principle and integrity, rather than the political norm of bombast, ‘spin’ and conspicuous consumption.

The pliant cash-strapped advertisement-dependent media and the government-threatened BBC are relentlessly attacking Jeremy Corbyn – openly or insidiously – fearful that the ever-increasing momentum of support for his ideas will eventually lead to his election as prime minister.

That would – of course – be anathema to partyfunding arms traders and manufacturers and those politicians who crave the additional income from their cash and non-executive directorships.

Few are working harder than Jim Pickard in the formerly objective Financial Times, accompanied this week by George Parker, its Political Editor. As the former says, the new leader’s principles have generated negative headlines in the British press all week. His statement:

“The more (Corbyn) softens his views, the more the risk that he disappoints the radical leftwingers who propelled him into office”.

The hope is that their relentless and unjust bombardment will eventually make inroads into his widespread popular support. The language is carefully chosen to influence the weak-minded:

  • the ‘bearded 66-year-old’, an ‘outsider, inside’.
  • The serial rebel . . . barely scraping enough support from fellow MPs to get on to the ballot sheet.
  • his old-fashioned brand of radical socialism
  • an inveterate protester, sometimes in dubious company
  • an isolated figure within the parliamentary Labour party

Pickard concedes that his first appearance at PMQs was #a relative success’ and adds that Corbyn can expect some tactical victories in the coming months: senior Tories are worried about a backlash next April as welfare cuts — opposed by Mr Corbyn — kick in. he adds that Corbyn’s ‘rhetoric’ on helping Syrian refugees may also have chimed temporarily with the public.

George Parker, Political Editor has a similar approach, but more subtle and less verbose – a few gems:

  • Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership ended a dizzying week of policy shifts
  • Mr Corbyn’s team was showing signs of quietly shelving some of the new leader’s most radical ideas.
  • Mr Corbyn has also bowed to pressure from moderate colleagues.

Speculation and surmise followed by untruths. Two of many:

Though insistence on genuine and widespread consultation has been a consistent feature of the Corbyn approach, Mr Parker says “Attempts by the new leader to impose his will on party policy will be gruelling” and others follow this line.

Though Jeremy Corbyn said, from the earliest days of the campaign that he was ready – like David Cameron – to press for beneficial changes to the EU, it is implied that he said he wants to leave and has reneged on this policy, so: “He has also been forced by colleagues to change his stance on the looming referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

Quoting a Walsall blogger, we ask: How far will the “monstering currently being aimed at the newly elected Leader of the UK Labour Party by MI5, the CIA, the IMF, senior civil servants and members of the armed forces and a particularly unpleasant newspaper mogul” go?

How Corrupt is Britain?

People laughed when MP Neil Hamilton was found to have accepted money in a brown envelope – this is not the British way. But the bestowal of directorships and employment for family and friends is acceptable – ‘good form’ – lucrative and legal.

George Monbiot points out that many poor nations are plagued by the kind of corruption that involves paying bribes in that way, but adds that the British system already belongs to the elite.

cameron corruption

He notes that Transparency International’s corruption index ranks Britain 14th – why not lower? His explanation: “the definitions of corruption on which the index draws are narrow and selective. Common practices in the rich nations that could reasonably be labelled corrupt are excluded; common practices in the poor nations are emphasised”.

A former minister ran HSBC while it engaged in systematic tax evasion, money laundering for drugs gangs and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Instead of prosecuting the bank, the head of the UK’s tax office went to work for it when he retired.

The Private Finance Initiative has been used by our governments to deceive us about the extent of their borrowing while channelling public money into the hands of corporations. Shrouded in secrecy, stuffed with hidden sweeteners, it has landed hospitals and schools with unpayable debts, while hiding public services from public scrutiny.

Monbiot reminds us that state police forces are alleged to have protected prolific paedophiles, including Jimmy Savile, and – it is now reported – a ring of senior politicians. The BBC has sacked many of those who sought to expose him while promoting people who tried to perpetuate the cover-up. He cites other forms of corruption:

  • our unreformed political funding system which permits the very rich to buy political parties;
  • the phone-hacking scandal and the payment of police by newspapers;
  • the underselling of Royal Mail;
  • the revolving door allowing corporate executives to draft the laws affecting their businesses;
  • the robbing of the welfare and prison services by private contractors;
  • price-fixing by energy companies;
  • daylight robbery by pharmaceutical firms and dozens more such cases.

Monbiot asks, “Is none of this corruption? Or is it too sophisticated to qualify?”

The power of global finance and the immense wealth of the global elite are founded on corruption, and the beneficiaries have an interest in framing the question to excuse themselves.

how corrupt britianA ground-changing book called How Corrupt is Britain?, edited by David Whyte, was recently published. It argues that narrow conceptions of corruption are part of a long tradition of portraying the problem as something confined to weak nations, which must be rescued by “reforms” imposed by colonial powers and, more recently, bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF. These “reforms” mean austerity, privatisation, outsourcing and deregulation and tend to suck money out of the hands of the poor and into the hands of national and global oligarchs.

Monbiot believes that How Corrupt is Britain? should be read by anyone who believes this country merits its position on the Transparency International’s corruption index.

The Global Minotaur, a monster born in the ‘70s, became the ‘engine’ pulling the world economy from the early ‘80s to 2008

News of Zed Books’ free e-book from the new finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, has been received.

Yanis Varoufakis 2The Troika – a group of auditors representing the Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF – has been shaken this week by Syriza’s election victory in Greece.

Promising a backlash against EU fiscal policy, Alexis Tspiras’ young leftist party intends to address the austerity regime punishing Europe.

At the centre of the political storm is Yanis Varoufakis, a former economics professor, appointed as finance minister of the new Greek coalition government. Varoufakis has already described austerity as a form of “fiscal waterboarding”, and promised that Syriza will “destroy the Greek oligarchy system”. He has outlined what he sees as the cause of the financial crisis – and his plans for pulling Greece out of it – in his book The Global Minotaur.

global minotaur coverIn recognition of this sea-change in European politics, Zed Books have released a special free e-book containing key extracts from The Global Minotaur, America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy (a modified sub-title). Europe After the Minotaur outlines Varoufakis’ economic and political thinking and his belief that Europe can move beyond cuts and austerity.

Varoufakis shows how today’s crisis in Europe is one inevitable symptom of a global ‘system’ which is now as unsustainable as it is unbalanced. With clarity and conviction, he lays out the options available for reintroducing reason into a highly irrational global economic order. 


To download your free copy of Europe After the Minotaur, follow this link.

Prime Minister: learn from Angela Merkel

Yesterday, Roman Olearchyk in Kiev and Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin reported for the FT that Angela Merkel, on behalf of the German government, has called for the Ukraine to consider a federal solution. Ms Merkel, who has frequent contacts with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, held talks with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko before the summit in Minsk onTuesday, which will be attended by leaders from the EU, Ukraine and Russia. A summary:

The German chancellor said: “There must be two sides to be successful. You cannot achieve peace on your own. I hope the talks with Russia will lead to success.”

Germany has played a key role in mediating between Russia and Ukraine. Peace talks held in Berlin this month discussed specific proposals to secure the border between Russia and Ukraine, and prevent the flow of weapons, but the talks ended without agreement. Mr Poroshenko has said any peace agreement must involved Russia pulling its “mercenaries” from Ukrainian territory and halting the flow of arms to separatist militants.

angela merkel in kiev

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper: “The territorial integrity of Ukraine can only be preserved when one makes an offer to the regions with a Russian majority. A smart concept of federalisation seems to me to be the only way.” He added that the goal of German efforts was above all “to avoid a direct military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia under any circumstances”.

Mr Gabriel said he saw no possibility of a return of Crimea to Ukraine: “No one currently assumes that the annexation of Crimea can be swiftly reversed.”

Kiev’s leadership has repeatedly rejected Moscow’s calls for federalisation, but Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan does envision decentralisation of government by granting more governing authority to regional government than exists in the Russian Federation. Mr Poroshenko has said any peace agreement must involve Russia pulling its “mercenaries” from Ukrainian territory and halting the flow of arms to separatist militants.

Russian officials insist Ukraine is irreparably split along its ethnic and linguist east-west fault line and that ethnic Russians around the country are under threat. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for a federalization of its former satellite state into two (or more) regions with greater economic, political, and cultural autonomy.

Ms Merkel announced a credit guarantee of €500m for Ukraine’s energy and water supply, and €25m in aid for refugees.

ukrainian refugeesThousands of people leave their homes

The parlous state of civilians is detailed in another FT article: ‘The Laskirev family tried to stay neutral as the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists battle for the Lugansk region. But over the course of four months of heavy fighting, they have begun to blame Ukraine’s new president and the government in Kiev for the conflict. “Who gives a son a weapon so that he can go and shoot his own mother? Ms Laskireva says. “That is not right . . . Everything was fine. There was some stability and now we have to run from our homes. Now, we do not know what to do.”


And one of the less appreciated contributory causes?


There is little reference to the March IMF-imposed austerity measures which many feel are compounding pressure on the country’s working class. In 2010 the FT reported that ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P, warned that such ‘austerity’ measures increase the potential for ‘social unrest’. . .


A search revealed many references cloaked in abtstruse lanuage – see the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (2012), PAGE 140: “Adjustment to external shocks economies where “latent social conflict” is high— as measured by proxies such as income inequality, ethnic and linguistic fractionalization, and social mistrust—adjustment tends to be inadequate, prolonging the negative effects of the shock”.


Michael Pizzi commented in April: “What has puzzled many analysts about the loan program is that the IMF appears to be ignoring its own advice by demanding such severe austerity measures so soon after an uprising”.