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Ms May undermines her hero’s work as cuts to council funding reduce the powers of local government

The presenter of this BBC radio programme, Adrian Goldberg, grew up on the Druids Heath council estate in Birmingham, the home of the ‘municipalism’ pioneered by Joseph Chamberlain when he was Mayor of Birmingham – summarised by Walsall MP John McShane in the Commons in 1930:

“A young person today lives in a municipal house, and he washes himself … in municipal water. He rides on a municipal tram or omnibus, and I have no doubt that before long he will be riding in a municipal aeroplane. He walks on a municipal road; he is educated in a municipal school. He reads in a municipal library and he has his sport on a municipal recreation ground. When he is ill he is doctored and nursed in a municipal hospital and when he dies he is buried in a municipal cemetery.”

Adrian is described as being an ideal candidate to judge the changing nature of the local council, because when he and his family moved there the local authority:

  • built properties and
  • collected the rent.
  • Adrian took a council-subsidised bus service to
  • the secondary school run by his local education authority.
  • On the way home he’d drop into his council-run library to pick up some books
  • or take a swim in the council run pool.

He comments, “Today the situation is much more complex”

Adrian considered the effect of austerity on the role of councils today. Birmingham council has almost halved its staff since 2008, from around 24,000 to 12,500. Last year another £28m was cut from Birmingham’s adult care budget of £230m. 2017/18 – the seventh year of cuts – is predicted to be the toughest year yet with expected reductions of £113m to the council’s overall budget, on top of £650m already cut since 2010.

Local government grants and powers have been greatly reduced in several areas, including education and housing. Read more about the following cases here.

  • The fate of the formerly successful council-run Baverstock Secondary School in Druids Heath
  • The group of residents who set up the Friends of Walkers Heath Park in November 2011
  • The volunteers who are helping to run the library
  • Druids Heath’s handsome and historic Bells Farm community centre (below), with its food bank and other services, also kept going by local volunteers.

The link also leads to news of high-rise tower blocks in the area; dilapidation, damp and fire hazards go unremedied, the splendid concierge system was abandoned and full time neighbourhood office advice centres, closed in 2006, were replaced by a private call service which was expensive, often not answering, with staff unable to supply the information needed.

In Birmingham there was a move under John Clancy’s leadership to take back ‘in-house’ the services currently undertaken by profit-making private companies, deciding not to renew one Capita contract and considering the future of refuse collection in the city. This, because the ‘market place’ economy which has developed, privatising refuse collection, road maintenance and ‘back office’ functions in Birmingham, has proved to be more expensive and often less efficient. This hope is fading as Richard Hatcher reports on the new regime: Birmingham Council Children’s Services contracted out, Children’s Centres closed.

The health and safety of council tenants is evidently not a government priority

Inside Housing reports the housing minister’s description of sprinkler systems for high rise blocks as “additional rather than essential” and refusing a council’s request for funding promised after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Strangely, the conservative Prime Minister expresses admiration for Joseph Chamberlain

Mayor of Birmingham in 1873, city MP in 1876, Joseph Chamberlain directed the construction of good housing for the poorest, libraries, municipal swimming pools and schools. Unlike Ms May and colleagues, he was not in favour of a market economy, arguing for tariffs on goods from countries outside the British Empire. He was also an ‘economic interventionist’ (see Lewis Goodall, Newsnight), described as a “gas and water socialist”. He took profit-making private enterprises into public hands, declaring that “profit was irrelevant”.

In no way is she following the example of her hero.

Ms May’s government continues to implement a series of cuts affecting the lives of the country’s poorest and most disabled with might and main.

Ironically the contemporary politician sharing Chamberlain’s principles is the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, whose policies she echoes but does not implement.

 

 

 

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The first sign of a Corbyn-trending, kinder and more principled governance?

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David Hencke alerts us to reports that Downing Street announcement that the UK government has withdrawn from its prison training deal with Saudi Arabia.

Just Solutions International, the commercial wing of Britain’s Ministry of Justice, has been selling ‘expertise’ to oppressive regimes including Oman and the Saudis. It was established under Mr Gove’s predecessor Chris Grayling in 2013, assisted by ‘professional services network’ PwC but Michael Gove, Minister for Justice, has now closed it amid criticism that it was selling prison expertise to countries with poor human rights records.

Corbyn, “but why on earth was it set up in the first place?”

A few days ago, Hencke reported that Jeremy Corbyn had challenged David Cameron to explain why the British government could not cancel a contract with the Saudis to provide training for their prison system – just as it was about to execute a teenage dissident and crucify him (below right).

mohammed al nimriJeremy Corbyn had written: “Will you step in to terminate the Ministry of Justice’s bid to provide services to the Saudi prisons system – the very body, I should stress, which will be responsible for carrying out Ali’s execution? . . . Ali’s case is especially urgent – the secrecy of the Saudi system means that he could face execution at any time, and even his family may only find out after the event. There is therefore no time to spare in taking this up with the Saudi authorities, if we are to prevent a grave injustice.”

In his conference speech, addressing Cameron, Corbyn added: “And while you’re about it, terminate that bid made by our Ministry of Justice’s to provide services for Saudi Arabia – which would be required to carry out the sentence that would be put down on Mohammed Ali al-Nimr.”

Though it was alleged that the government would face punitive penalty clauses for cancelling the contract, less than two days afterwards, the minister retracted this explanation, admitting that no financial penalties applied and Parliament had been given “incorrect information.” He had to “apologise unreservedly” in a letter to the MP, Nigel Huddleston, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire.

The critical factor: HMG’s broader engagement with Saudi Arabia

Hencke had highlighted the real reason they did not cancel in a Tribune article; in the words of Andrew Selous, the junior minister at the Ministry of Justice: “The critical factor was the strong view from across Government that withdrawing at such an advance stage would harm HMG’s broader engagement with Saudi Arabia.

Michael Gove’s finer hour

michael 2goveThe withdrawal follows the Times reports of a cabinet rift on the issue: Michael Gove, the justice secretary, wanted to pull out of the deal, saying the government should not be assisting a regime that uses beheadings, stoning, crucifixions and lashings to punish its citizens. The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond had warned that cancelling it would not be in the national interest as it would make Britain appear an untrustworthy ally – and No 10 had agreed, the paper reported.

David Hencke adds that Lord Falconer, the shadow Lord Chancellor, has reported this to the National Audit Office – because Just Solutions International.deserves a thorough financial examination. He gives credit to lawyer David Allen Green – known as Jack O’Kent on Twitter- who has assiduously followed this issue. He can be followed on the JackofKentblog which carries an account with snapshots from the Times article.

Nicholas Watt and Alan Travis in the Guardian report, “Corbyn responded to the cancellation saying: “David Cameron has been shamed into a U-turn, a strong message to repressive regimes that the UK is a beacon for human rights and that this contract bid is unacceptable in the 21st century, and would damage Britain’s standing in the world on this terrible contract, but why on earth was it set up in the first place?”

 

Grandson Cameron enriched by slavery refuses reparations: offers a ‘jailhouse tease’

A reader from Jamaica, an investigative journalist, the Jamaica Observer, the Guardian and the Metro shed light on the subject for those, like the writer, who only heard a brief radio broadcast reference to David Cameron’s reply/non reply to the Jamaican request for reparations – planning and reconstruction, not cash as reported.

The Metro reports that Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the Caricom Reparations Commission, wrote a gracious open letter (full text in the Jamaica Observer) telling David Cameron that he has benefited from slavery on the island through his ancestral links to General Sir James Duff:

‘You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears’ sins of the enslavement of our ancestors. Successive governments in this land, a place still groaning under the weight of this injustice, have done well during the 53 years of sovereignty, but the burden of inherited mess from slavery and colonialism has overwhelmed many of our best efforts.’

david-cameron-jamaica

David Cameron failed to reply directly to this call for Britain to help with the planning of economic reconstruction and to that made by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (above). Downing Street stepped in, saying that the prime minister does not believe reparations or apologies for slavery are the right approach.

The right approach?

One of Jamaica’s citizen bloggers comments: “If Cameron was in Jamaica to make some postive announcements like the development of IT academies or the major redevelopment of the Jamaican Railway etc I would have said ‘wise move’. But a bleeding prison? China assists Ethiopia to build a state of the art light rail network and Jamaica gets a new prison from Blighty”.

They wanted bread but you offered a stone:

‘Expertise’ in prison services is the latest British export to hit the headlines, though far from being as rewarding as its arms trade. In the news recently, Just Solutions International, the commercial wing of the Ministry of Justice, has offered the Saudi regime its services.

David Hencke reports, on his blog, that Jeremy Corbyn (about whom our Jamaican correspondent has written perceptively) has challenged David Cameron to explain why the British government can’t cancel this contract with the Saudis to provide training for their prison system, just as it is about to execute a teenage dissident and crucify his body.

Will a resurrected, renamed Ministry of Justice spin-off be assisting in the £25m prison proposed for Jamaica?

As our blogger quotes from the BBC News, more than 600 Jamaican nationals are in UK jails but cannot be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions. – BBC News, he asks:

“Should the current & former Jamaican government ministers feel embarrassed at the poor archaic prison conditions that they have overseen since 1962? If there is one set of people that the British establishment enjoys disrespecting it is definitely Jamaicans. Whether through law/order, education, immigration/visas, trade and now this . . .

“The real reason behind Cameron’s £25 million gift is no doubt to cut the prison capital and running cost to the UK Treasury”.

And sceptically:

“David Cameron did announce a £300 million fund for infrastructure development across 8 English speaking Caribbean nations. I just hope the Caribbean leaders and their civil servants double check the small print on such pledges. Refer to Number 10 website . . .

“This is a moment for Jamaica’s opposition leader Andrew Holness to take the initiative and say hell no DC. But given Holness was a guest at the last Tory Party annual conference I wonder. . .

“October is black history month in the UK and in Jamaica October has national heritage week. Cameron’s handout is not the kind of bilateral collaboration worth appreciating. Peace”.

Martin Wolf: alive and well, despite his challenges to mainstream profit-led orthodoxy

$RNDSI3VOn Saturday a reader asked, “What has happened to Martin Wolf?” He can now be answered: Yes, to date Mr Wolf has survived under the new Nikkei FT.

Witness his bittersweet article: A radical and rational plan for a post-crisis Labour party, with its promising sub-title: ‘Land-use planning, housing, local government finance and tax structures all cry out for reform’

He opens: “Jeremy Corbyn is, we are told, likely to become leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party. This prediction may even prove correct, though the experience of May’s general election has taught us to be wary of pollsters”.

His analysis – bearing over-lightly on the calamitous errors of the banking sector:

martin wolf“Labour is in trouble partly because it was in power when the financial crisis hit. Conservatives were also highly successful in suggesting, wrongly, that the cause of the fiscal deficits they inherited was Labour’s profligacy rather than misplaced trust in the health of the financial system”

He then appears to agree with the Corbyn platform in saying that land-use planning, housing, local government finance and tax structures all cry out for reform and adds: “no strong economic case can be made for cutting the share of public spending in gross domestic product to close to its lowest level in 70 years by 2019-20 or for simultaneously slashing benefits for the working poor and inheritance tax”.

Wolf then states that is the left’s job to challenge such choices – as Corbyn is doing

He continues: “New Labour assumed the big economic questions had been decided: socialism had failed and the market had triumphed. Its job was not to reshape the economy in any meaningful way but to redirect the fruits of growth towards public spending and the relatively worse off. Yet Labour cannot now begin from the assumption that the economy is working well, because it is not. After a recovery slower than from the Great Depression, this should not need arguing”. He continues:

“The party cannot just imitate the Tories. It needs to craft its own policies”. Wolf – as would Corbyn – approves of:

  • higher public investment at a time of low interest rates,
  • letting the Bank of England inject the money it creates directly into the economy in restricted circumstances.
  • the operation of essential public services,
  • stronger policies in support of innovation,
  • land-use planning and land taxation,
  • more housing,
  • reform of the finance of local government,
  • reform of taxation of inheritance
  • and of the structure of taxation.

He argues, as well, for “a focus on the huge risks to the economy of its dependence on soaring private debt”.

jc 5So far so good, the radical Labour Party leadership candidate would agree with this. But is Wolf a Corbynaire?

Though he states that “something deeper is happening” he pulls back after all this positive thinking, dismissing nationalisation as nonsensical and scouting “the idea that £120bn a year in lost tax revenues can be readily found”.

He moves on to say: “It is depressing to accept that a complacent government and an unelectable opposition are what the country must now expect”.

Wolf concludes that in practice an opposition arguing for such rational and radical reform appears inconceivable – and we add that it will certainly seem so as presented in the columns of a press owned by and financially dependent on corporates.

Is he right? Hundreds of thousands in this country are now seeing a third option. Will they stay the course and become a force for good – whatever the election results?

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A risk worth taking: Corbyn, the first choice, not just the least bad option

So ends a thoughtful article by Matt Capaldi in Redbrick, the student publication of the University of Birmingham:

redbrick

As the Labour leadership battle comes to a head, Matt Capaldi assesses its favourite candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, and his chances to reinstate a Labour leadership in 2020 as the head of the party”.

He points out that the Scandinavian countries prove that left-wing policies can be very effective if done properly – the real problems perceived lie with gaining public trust. The writer argues that indications are that he has done this – even his most ardent opponents across the political spectrum agree that he is a kindly, honest and principled man.

More difficult will be winning over fearful colleagues in the Labour Party who place getting elected above all else and – to that end – trim their sails to the prevailing wind, convincing no-one. As Capaldi says:

“If Corbyn wins the election, there will be attempts to oust him from the inside. But, despite these difficulties, isn’t it worth a shot?”

Corbyn could really rally up some passionate support with a more left leaning policy set, and it could be just what the Labour Party needs.

Could? He has already done this.

Even if he does not win the leadership, it seems most likely that the social movement he seeks will develop . For the first time voters across the board see a hope of a change for the better – a change which is not possible with either of the mainstream parties in their present condition – and they will not lightly abandon this quest. As Capaldi ends:

“ . . . he is the only one who, in my opinion, could really do something spectacular and be the nation’s first choice, not just the least bad option. Yes, it is a risk, but I think it is one the Labour Party should take. If he can pull it off, Corbyn could win a landslide in 2020”.

State radio highlights Corbyn’s handshakes and meetings, but not recent British governments’ collusion in repressive activities

Steve Beauchampé: “A peacenik may lay down with some unsavoury characters. Better that than selling them weapons”.

The BBC, whose coverage of the Labour Party leadership race has often felt unbalanced, spent time this week highlighting the fact that in 2009 frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn shared a platform at a meeting organised by the Stop The War Coalition with Lebanese political activist Dyab Abou Jahjah, who holds some very questionable views on the holocaust.

Also raised, initially in a public ‘phone in on the World at One (Radio 4) and in many of the corporations’ subsequent news and current affairs programmes, was Corbyn’s use of the word ‘friends’ to describe the militant Hamas and Hezbollah organisations, both of which have engaged in some evil activities in connection with their support of the Palestinian cause.

Legitimate questions, although selected by the BBC from a large number of callers who, one imagines, wished to raise a wide variety of subjects with the potential Labour leader.

But whilst it is unreasonable to expect Corbyn to control whom he appears alongside at a public meeting, that he did not organise and which was after all about a very worthy cause (enhancing the Middle East peace process), one for which he has sincere and long-held views, Corbyn’s description of Hamas and Hezbollah does seem rather unfortunate. But we all make misjudgements and frankly, I’m considerably more concerned as to whether Jeremy Corbyn (and ultimately those who might seek to govern with him) has plausible ideas to tackle the myriad of contemporary problems that confront Britain and the wider world, including that of the Palestinians.

This is not the first occasion on which the BBC has questioned Jeremy Corbyn about his relationship with both pro-Palestinian militant organisations and the IRA (whom he spoke with nearly a decade before the British government admitted to doing the same). Indeed, during the current Labour leadership campaign several of the Corporation’s senior political presenters and reporters have highlighted such issues.

Yet the BBC shows no such doggedness in holding to account some members of the current and previous government about their track record, not merely of giving verbal support, but also practical assistance, to several of the world’s most dubious regimes.

Because Britain arms, trains or sells equipment to overseas governments that subsequently attack, torture or otherwise repress their political opponents. Hideous regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel and Egypt – a military dictatorship in all but name – are legitimised by our government’s willingness to collude in their repressive activities, sometimes for strategic geo-political reasons, sometimes for the purpose of trade.

Amongst Britain’s ‘friends’ are Turkey and Qatar (both accused of tacitly backing Islamic State) and China (where does one even begin!). Until recently these friends also included Syria (approached by the UK and USA in 2010 about forming a possible military alliance against Iran as a means of thwarting its nuclear ambitions) and individuals such as Vladimir Putin (whom Cameron once declared was a man that Britain could do business with).

There’s plenty more, as a quick perusal of the Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch websites will attest, whilst our country’s own involvement in extraordinary rendition and the abuses and illegality conducted at Guantanamo Bay is equally inexcusable.

Pragmatism in a complex and changeable political landscape, or turning a blind eye to try and gain an international or trading advantage? Either way, such activities often result in real actions with real consequences for real people. Incalculably worse in their impact than any handshakes, debate or badly chosen words that Jeremy Corbyn may have in his debit column.      

Steve Beauchampé: August 21st 2015. First published in The BirminghamPress.com http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/08/give-peace-a-chance/

See also John Wight:

It is not Jeremy Corbyn who has questions to answer, it is those who supported the war in Iraq, the bombing of Libya, who provide unquestioning support to Israel, and had little or nothing to say over Britain’s shameful relationship with Saudi Arabia – it those people who have questions to answer, with some undoubtedly justified in being expected to answer them from the dock at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-wight/accusations-of-corbyns-links-hypocrisy_b_8020196.html

Shadow cabinet members refuse to serve in posts Corbyn might well not offer, citing economic policies they clearly haven’t read

john mcdonnellSo writes MP John McDonnell in the Guardian. Mr McDonnell is author of the superb book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour that put forward a set of new ideas, principles and policies. He adds:

“As people wake up to the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn actually being able to win the Labour leadership, the reaction has become increasingly hysterical, especially from elements of the Labour establishment”

McDonnell notes that the ‘near panic’ is especially evident in its response to the counterproductive strategy outlined by Corbyn’s team of economic advisers, whose rebukes to Labour supporters have simply made them more determined to work for beneficial change. He continues (summarised):

The vast majority who didn’t cause the economic crisis shouldn’t have to pay for it

“Let me make it absolutely clear that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is committed to eliminating the deficit and creating an economy in which we live within our means . . . (but) we don’t believe that the vast majority of middle and low-income earners who didn’t cause the economic crisis should have to pay for it through cuts in tax credits, pay freezes, and cuts in essential services.

“We believe we can tackle the deficit by:

  • halting the tax cuts to the very rich and to corporations,
  • making sure they pay their taxes,
  • and by investing in the housing and infrastructure a modern country needs to get people back to work in good jobs.

“We accept that cuts in public spending will help eliminate the deficit, but our cuts won’t be to the middle-and low-income earners and certainly not to the poor.

“Our cuts will be to:

  • the subsidies paid to landlords milking the housing benefit system,
  • to the £93bn in subsidies to corporations,
  • and to employers exploiting workers with low wages and leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab.

“All the factors that caused the 2007-8 crisis are currently reappearing on the scene – frozen or low incomes, low productivity, asset inflation especially in housing, a hands-off government turning a blind eye to loose credit expansion and City speculation, and a growing debt bubble.

“Just like 2007 all it needs is a spark like Northern Rock to set things off again. The rehypothecation taking place in the bond markets could be the trigger this time, when the US starts unwinding its quantitative easing programme”.

Alongside deficit elimination, the Corbyn campaign is advocating a fundamental reform of our economic system

“This will include:

  • the introduction of an effective regulatory regime for our banks and financial sector;
  • a full-blown Glass-Steagall system to separate day-to-day and investment banking;
  • legislation to replace short-term shareholder value with long-term sustainable economic and social responsibilities as the prime objective of companies;
  • radical reform of the failed auditing regime; the extension of a wider range of forms of company and enterprise ownership and control including public, co-operative and stakeholder ownership;
  • and the introduction of a financial transactions tax to fund the rebalancing of our economy towards production and manufacturing.

“Public ownership does have an important role to play, but this will be through smart forms of 21st-century common ownership and control. For example, rail will be renationalised, but with a form of joint management involving workers and passenger representatives. Energy would be socialised from below by the massive expansion of renewable energy production and supply by local communities, local authorities and co-ops on the successful German model, removing the monopoly of the big six energy companies.

Politicians have patronised and talked down to us all when it comes to our economy, but ordinary working people have to manage on incomes significantly lower than the likes of George Osborne and his friends in the City. They could teach the bankers and many commentators a thing or two about managing a budget responsibly. Given the opportunity, we will use the sound common sense of our people.

Winning and misusing power or aiming to further the public good?

*John Lloyd, a contributing editor to the Financial Times does condescendingly concede, “There is a gap in the public debate for a credible argument on fairness, inequality and public decency” – adding that Mr Corbyn knows what he stands for:

  • more social spending,
  • more state intervention,
  • renationalisation of services such as rail
  • much less in­equality.
  • and the belief that the US is at the root of evils such as wars, the Ukraine crisis and Middle Eastern turmoil.

Lloyd: “As a candidate for high office, he would be politically and economically eviscerated, both at home and abroad”

jeremy corbyn (2)How? The usual material which feeds the press is lacking.

Unlike Blair and other MPs from both main parties he has not succumbed to the love of tainted money or fallen into debt.

He is apparently not attracted by extramarital or illegal sexual activities – having far more important and socially beneficial preoccupations.

Lloyd’s advice, pleasing to corporate advertisers and future employers is for opposition to move away from the ‘far left’ with its militant “populist, class-based resentment”

He sets a number of topics that misguided leftists should consider, moving to what he considers a more acceptable form of social democracy – accepting much of the status quo:

”Keep the capitalist show on the road but fight civilised battles for a larger share of its surplus for the lower classes”

One – less than inspiring – example is given: “Last week, campaigners and unions won a pledge from Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York state, for a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2018. The move may not be cost free: it might price some people out of work. But it aims to shift at least some costs from the backs of the poorly paid”.

His conclusion: “Mr Blair was right to say last week that Mr Corbyn would be a disaster.” And Blair was not?

blair economic migrant pinnAnd the Cameron government is not even further depriving the poor and disabled whilst benefitting the rich?

* Mr Lloyd’s journey (Wiki):

In the 1970s, Lloyd was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and later the British and Irish Communist Organisation. He then became a supporter of the Labour Party. Lloyd also supported the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, believing Trimble could help bring peace to Northern Ireland. In the 1990s, Lloyd was one of several prominent members of Common Voice, a British group that advocated voting reform. A strong supporter of the Blair government, he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as well as the Cameron ministry’s 2011 military intervention in Libya. In August 2014, he was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.

Will brainwashed Britain wake up and choose honesty and humane policies?

Valued by many countrywide and local people who elect him with a resounding 21,000 majority, Jim Pickard, the FT’s chief political correspondent reports that polls now place the MP for Islington North as ‘frontrunner’ to become the next leader of the Labour Party.

jeremy corbynMr Pickard reported that Labour MPs were shocked by the sheer extent of Jeremy Corbyn’s “first round” lead: at 43% of votes — against 26% for Andy Burnham, 20% for Yvette Cooper and 11% for Liz Kendall. The YouGov poll then pointed to a narrower advantage for the Islington North MP at the final round of the contest — at just 53% to 47% for Mr Burnham. He adds that the depth of support for his candidacy, leading to Wednesday’s  YouGov poll showing him to be the likely winner on September 12 has astonished Mr Corbyn.

As Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London and Labour MP put it: “After plugging away in parliament, supporting all the right issues, he suddenly finds himself with a massive wave of support.”

Pickard notes that Mr Corbyn has “often been on the right side of history”:

  • supporting the jailed Nelson Mandela,
  • defending the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six — groups wrongly convicted of the 1974 pub bombings,
  • opposing the Iraq war,
  • speaking up for Mordechai Vanunu, imprisoned in Israel for revealing its secret nuclear weapons programme,

and we add:

  • speaking to groups reflecting “the full range of political opinion in both Israel and Palestine”
  • and keeping dialogue open with Irish republicans: “jaw jaw, instead of war, war”.

Advice from Blair and his minions

tony blair 3Mr Blair said the contest was being presented as a choice between “heart and head”, adding that those who thought their heart was with Mr Corbyn should “get a transplant”.

One of many other anecdotes of the ‘panic-stricken’ concerns John McTernan, an adviser to the former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, who is said to have rounded on the 35 MPs who nominated Mr Corbyn, branding them “morons”.

The appalling prospect of a leader who might not Whip his party into submission

Emily Thornberry, MP for neighbouring Islington South, said she had a lot of respect for Mr Corbyn, who is a “lovely, friendly, relaxed” person: “My concern is whether he has the experience necessary to negotiate common lines for the official opposition . . . Politics is the art of the possible and has to involve compromises, and the next leader can’t let people say whatever they like.”

Party split?

Ken Livingstone’s comment on this suggestion: “Under Blair we had a load of ghastly clones just there to represent corporate interests”. If there are people who joined the party just because they wanted to get rich and get nice corporate jobs after leaving government, perhaps we would be better off without them.”

A level-headed response

Mr Corbyn said his campaign was going well but talk of his victory was premature. As for Mr Blair’s criticism, he said it was “rather silly”, adding: “Surely we should be talking about the situation facing Britain today, the situation facing many of the poorest people in this country today, and maybe think if our policies are relevant.”

My neighbour’s unsolicited verdict today at lunch: “If Corbyn is elected I might rejoin the Labour Party”.

Corbyn for the 99%: Blair for the rest

99%-3

With Corbyn as prime minister, Britain could become respected peacebuilder, a force for good, with a contented population engaged in worthwhile work.

He would be an honest and consistent Labour Party leader, uninterested in amassing a private fortune from corporate backers – such a change from shifty, conniving ‘successful’ politicians.