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Would MP Tom Watson work well with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party deputy leader?


tw picA message in support of Tom Watson (also not FT approved) has been received from a Labour Party registered supporter who had been ‘terribly downhearted and disillusioned by the election result but didn’t necessarily believe that anything would change’.

This correspondent signed up to vote in the leadership election because she now thinks it might and is convinced that, whoever we elect as leader, (and she is backing Jeremy Corbyn) choosing Tom Watson as deputy is a crucial part of the change the country needs. Many potential CLP electors agree as the snapshot from his website on the left shows. She points out:

tw 2 supportHe’s also a conviction politician who stood up against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation when nobody else would.

He had his garage broken into, people went through his bins and he was put under covert surveillance. At times he feared for his own and his family’s safety, but he kept going because that’s what he’s like, and he won. Other points:

  • Historic child abuse survivors began to contact him about organised cover-ups at the heart of the Establishment. The world told him to leave it alone. Again, he refused, and now several police inquiries are underway.
  • He set up the All Party Drones Group to campaign against CIA extra-judicial killings. Some Labour politicians said it was bad politics. Tom said it was the right thing to do.
  • He became the first MP to Judicially Review government primary legislation, successfully, over the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – in a joint action with Liberty and the Open Rights Group.
  • In the last Parliament he opposed the military actions in Libya and Syria.
  • Wide experience: MP since 2001, former full-time trade union official, Government Minister, Government Whip, Deputy Chair of the Party.

But power-hungry? Union bound?

Jim Pickard in the FT quotes an un-named Labour MP: “It mostly seems to be about power with Watson, I would have more sympathy if his manoeuvres were for a bigger cause or purpose. He just sees politics as a game.”

Friends reject that claim, pointing out that he has resigned three times from government or party positions. “Why would he walk away from power if it was so important to him?” says one. Critics answer that Mr Watson’s influence in the party is so great that he can wield power without needing a title.

Mr Watson’s union ties also came under close and damaging scrutiny in Pickard’s article.

But would he, as our correspondent claims, be a unifier? And would Tom Watson wholeheartedly support and co-operate with Jeremy Corbyn if both are elected?

The vote on the war in the Middle East: three sources

George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times: MPs sceptical and anxious over Isis strikes logo“The vote was decisive and deceptive. An overwhelming majority of 481 gave the impression that the House of Commons was confident in its decision to send British forces to war in the Middle East for the fourth time in 15 years. In fact the mood among MPs was one of scepticism and anxiety – even fear . . .

“During the course of a sombre emergency debate, speaker after speaker stood up to back UK military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, but expressed fears over whether it would work, and where it might lead, in almost the same breath.

commons debate middle east 9.14“The Conservative MP Ken Clarke gave voice to a political class scarred by the experience of previous interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all of which the former chancellor said had ended in disaster: “What happened in all those cases was that the military deployment produced a situation at least as bad as it had been before and actually largely worse”. Like many other MPs, he concluded that bombing Isis was the least-worst option.

“Yet his short intervention summed up the doubts reverberating around the chamber over what MPs were being asked to approve: the “almost symbolic participation” by the RAF in attacks on Isis targets in Iraq, but not Syria . . . the drift towards a wider engagement beyond Iraq stirred foreboding among MPs who remember the way UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were sucked into an open-ended conflict . . .

“In the upper house, just as in the Commons, the big majorities for British intervention in Iraq did little to disguise the pessimism over its chances of success.

“As Frank Dobson, the former Labour health secretary, put it: “If we look at the track record of the interventions of the French, the British and the Americans in the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, then the odds look as though we won’t succeed. Everything else has gone wrong . . . ”

The Herald reported SNP MPs’ refusal to support air attacks on Isis

herald logoAngus Robertson, the Nationalists’ foreign affairs spokesman, expressed revulsion at the militia group’s reign of terror, which includes beheadings, crucifixions and rapes, and agreed international co-operation was required. However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to “win the peace” in the Coalition’s motion then SNP MPs would vote against it. He said there was “deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war”, given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, adding, “The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution.”

guardian logoIn the Guardian, Simon Jenkins: “This is the moment in any war when peace goes dumb. The cause is just. The enemy is in our sights, and the provocation is extreme. Blood races through tabloid veins. It is white feathers for dissenters”.

“The new Iraq war has no strategy, not even tactics. It is a ` a token, a pretence of a strut on the world stage . . .

“The return to war will reinforce the politics of fear – which is the grimmest legacy of the Blair era in Britain. It has Cameron popping in and out of his Cobra bunker like a rabbit in a hole. Every government office, every train, every airport welcomes visitors to Britain with terror warnings and alerts. Cameron does this because he knows he can only get Britons to go to war by portraying Isis as a “threat to Britain’s national security”. Some Isis adherents may have criminal intent, but that is a matter for the police. Britain survived a far greater menace from the IRA without crumbling. Its existence is not threatened by jihadism. The claim is ludicrous. Cameron must have no faith in his own country.

“The contrast between Asia’s eastern and western extremities is now stark, the one booming, the other descending into catastrophic instability and medieval horror. It is impossible not to relate this to two centuries of western imperialism and meddling. It strains belief that further intervention – through the crudest of all forms of aggression – can bring peace and reconciliation”.

The Guardian received this letter; will they eventually print it?

 If not, why not? Does it, as Jim wonders, risk defusing ‘war hysteria’?


Jim McCluskey writes:

At last the American government has found the perfect formula for war without end. Invade and bomb Middle East states.

This creates jihadists which must be got rid of. So bomb the jihadist.

This creates more jihadists who must also be bombed and so on.

The military/industrial complex is in business in perpetuity.

Endless peace by waging endless war as forecast by Gore Vidal has now come to pass.

And the UK, obedient as ever, clicks into the backup position. Time perhaps for a referendum on endless war.#


Following the vote today on bombing Iraq, a BBC reporter interviewed defence minister Philip Hammond, asking how much civilian ‘collateral damage’ he considered acceptable. He evaded the question – but many will answer “none!”

On TV MP Jeremy Corbyn spoke well. He signed a letter which the Guardian did decide to publish, saying what Jim thinks but less bluntly:

All the experience of the varied military action taken by the west in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that such interventions kill innocents, destroy infrastructure and fragment societies, and in the process spread bitterness and violence.

While we all reject the politics and methods of Isis, we have to recognise that it is in part a product of the last disastrous intervention, which helped foster sectarianism and regional division.

It has also been funded and aided by some of the west’s allies, especially Saudi Arabia. More bombing, let alone boots on the ground, will only exacerbate the situation

Jim McCluskey works with several organisations with a view to achieving peaceful rather than violent solutions to conflict situations in foreign affairs

The Green Party would take the UK out of NATO . . .

On 4th to 5th September, Wales hosted a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) summit attended by more than 60 heads of state and ministers. Howard Allen, councillor and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Solihull reflects:

howard allen 2Given the unstable situation in many parts of the world, but particularly the situation in Ukraine, and in the year in which we mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, now is a good time to reflect on the profound failure of our existing foreign policies to deliver peace and stability in the world. NATO was established for mutual defence during the Cold War and should have been disbanded when it ended. As a nuclear-armed alliance with more than 5,000 weapons, it significantly contributes to threats to the world’s safety.

What do our readers from nineteen different countries (left) think of Howard’s conclusion?

pcu3It is no longer possible to tolerate the reckless decision making of NATO.

These heads of state have been responsible for countless civilian deaths in Afghanistan, they have torn Libya and Iraq to shreds and are poised to plunge us deeper into this grisly mire of warmongering in Ukraine.

Money going into war is money going out of communities. 500,000 people had to resort to foodbanks last year. Inequality grows with each passing moment.

War is the enemy of the poor. It is the biggest polluter and a vile instrument of moneymaking.

NATO is a military-oriented body, which imposes conflict cessation rather than encouraging peace building. As such, it is not a sustainable mechanism for maintaining peace in the world.The Green Party would take the UK out of NATO unilaterally. 

The previous Saturday the Green Party joined with ‘Stop the War’ and the ‘Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’ in organising a ‘No to Nato’ march in the NATO host town of Newport, protesting against the role NATO continues to play in world politics.

Ganesh: your young ‘hawks’ – Blair & his interventionist ’children’ – have just suffered their greatest defeat

Once described as a Labour activist – New Labour specifically – Janan Ganesh deplores Britain’s abstention from military intervention in Syria.

As weapons proliferate, Libya’s oil output crashes to a near standstill and war lords and strikes paralyse the country, Ganesh extols Tony Blair’s doctrine of intervention, believing it to endured well despite the reversals of the past decade, citing Libya as a tangible example of how Mr Blair’s doctrine has survived. Another ‘tangible’ example of Blair’s influence which he cites is the UN’s ongoing evolution of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine.

french embassy in libya destroyed 2013Success? French embassy in Libya destroyed earlier this year & other problems abound

Ganesh describes the size and complexity of the Syrian ‘challenge’ and the lack of a clear mission as ‘practical quibbles’ and he cavalierly sees “no western objection to targeted humanitarian interventions per se, even in the world’s most flammable region”.

“Blair’s foreign policy should not be given the last rites”

He cites David Cameron & George Osborne Blair-style ‘hawks’, adding Michael Gove, “whose influence extends beyond his education department”, as the most fervent interventionist in British politics:

“These are young politicians; the case for intervention will have an audience as long as they are around. Call them Blair’s children”.

Will Podmore replies today:

“Mr Ganesh claims that Tony Blair’s “greatest victory has been in influencing the British politicians who have succeeded him.

“On the contrary, Mr Blair’s doctrine of humanitarian intervention has just suffered its greatest defeat, when MPs, representing their constituents’ views, voted against any such intervention”. .

Bad decisions by government – 37: destroying Libyan fresh water pipeline

David Halpin wrote in 2011:

“Our dubious actions in Libya, not only destabilised that country but were also the cause of the destruction of the fresh water system established by Gaddaffi taking water from under the Sahara to the major cities . . . Not only did the missiles destroy that pipeline but the factory making the pipes was also destroyed”.

Global Research covered the subject in May this year:

“In 1983 the Great Man-Made River Authority was set up. This fully government funded project was designed in five phases, each of them largely separate in itself, but which eventually would combine to form an integrated system. As water in Gaddafi’s Libya was regarded to be a human right, there has not been any charge on the people, nor were any international loans needed for the almost $30 billion cost of the project . . . Read more about the project here.

 Libya pipes in the trench 3

“In July 2011, NATO not only bombed the Great Man-Made River water supply pipeline near Brega, but also destroyed the factory that produces the pipes to repair it, claiming in justification that it was used as “a military storage facility” and that “rockets were launched from there”. Six of the facility’s security guards were killed in the NATO attack, and the water supply for the 70% of the population who depend on the piped supply for personal use and for irrigation has been compromised with this damage to Libya’s vital infrastructure . . . 

“A ‘democratic’ and ‘democracy-bringing’ government that came to power through the wounding and killing of thousands of Libyans by ‘humanitarian bombs’, and that overthrow the ‘dictator’ whose dream it was to provide fresh water for all Libyans for free”.

2013: David Halpin continues: “Now we are asked to pay to supply water to Africa, when the cost of those destructive missiles would have provided sufficient pipes to take water to the whole of Africa AND create a decent sewage system”.
Bad decision? Criminal?


Media 13 – at the service of aggressive states

Ill-informed enthusiasms lead to public support for damaging intervention 

Journalist Peter Hitchens rightly highlights that a great deal of media coverage is designed to encourage international pressure and/or intervention. 

There is saturation coverage of the intervention or ‘revolution’ fed by government releases; for a period, BBC News bulletins are dominated every night by the current conflict but then, silence. 

Post conflict ‘successes’ – or ‘scandalous outcomes’: Iraq and Libya

Yesterday Reuters report attacks in Iraq that kill 60, in a school, cars, government offices and restaurants in three different locations.

Hitchens on Libya, “The failure by most media organisations to record the scandalous outcome of Western intervention is an active disgrace. Libya is fast becoming a failed state, with criminal gangs roaming unchecked . . .” 

Hitchens’s Rule of Outrage for Foreign Ministries and Journalists: 

Where outrage is selective, it’s not genuine. It may therefore have a purpose which has little to do with compassion, and much to do with politics and diplomacy”.

Readers and viewers are advised: 

“Ask why this particular crisis, this particular country, has attracted attention and coverage, while others, similar if not worse, go ignored. It costs a lot of money to send a reporter to a war zone. Someone has to decide when it is worth it, and when it is not.” 

Always ask how and why these decisions are taken.

Government: rethink your policy – the only winner in war is the arms industry

Chilling verdict on the Libyan airstrikes: “A model for operations of the future”

These were the words of a defence spokesman on BBC radio yesterday. Trying to track down the speaker, it seems that this is a phrase in common use. 

The Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Philip Gordon is the most widely quoted. AFP Washington: it is “in many ways a model on how the United States can lead the way that allows allies to support.” 

Operation Unified Protector’ 

Robert Haddick, an adviser to the US State Department, wrote in similar vein in: “This Week at War: The Libya Model”, describing it as Operation Unified Protector.

Under the Washington Times headline, ‘Obama: Libya is international model’, we read that President Obama has declared his policy a success which should serve as a model for future world hot spots: “This is how the international community should work in the 21st century”. 

How many more bloody ‘US-led’ adventures will their allies be ‘allowed’ to support? 

The only winners are the arms manufacturers. Media Lens reviews several assessments of the civilian death toll in The Statistics of Western State Terror but there are no exact figures on Libyan casualties to quantify the civilian cost of NATO ‘victory’. Hospitals, commanders on both sides of the conflict and local officials are the sources of most of the casualty reports

Speaking in September, the health minister in the new Libyan government estimated that at least 30,000 people had been killed and 50,000 wounded during the first six months of war.

In addition to deaths during combat between Gaddafi loyalists and rebel forces, NATO has faced heavy criticism for its often deadly airstrikes:

  • In Tripoli on June 19 a NATO missile missed its target, killing at least nine civilians as a result. NATO admitted its culpability in the deaths.
  • By the end of June three separate NATO airstrikes around the country claimed another 34 civilian lives.
  • On August 9, the government reported that 85 people had been killed in a NATO airstrike on Majar, a village some 90 miles east of Tripoli.
Claims that NATO’s intervention has plunged Libya back into the Stone Age

The cost of the war will weigh heavily on Libya, which had a high standard of living before the conflict and now faces a humanitarian crisis. Speaking with RT earlier this week, former MI5 agent Annie Machon claimed NATO’s intervention has plunged Libya back into the Stone Age:

“They had free education, free health, they could study abroad. When they got married they got a certain amount of money. So they were rather the envy of many other citizens of African countries.

“Now, of course, since NATO’s humanitarian intervention the infrastructure of their country has been bombed back to the Stone Age, they will not have the same quality of life. Women probably will not have the same degree of emancipation under any new transitional government.

“The national wealth is probably going to be siphoned off by Western corporations.”