Blog Archives

Broken Britain 4: being sold piecemeal to foreign governments and companies

In April, Peter Hitchens eloquently described the way this country is being sold to foreign governments and companies:

“I don’t think any other nation would put up with this. Why do we? The most ridiculous is the way our trains – devastated by John Major’s mad privatisation scheme – are falling into the hands of foreign state railways. So, while the Government cannot bear to have railways run by the British state, it is happy to have them run by the German, Dutch, French or even Hong Kong state systems . . . in this country that invented the railway and once exported equipment and skills around the world.”(Right: Private profit from public loss: NIPSA 2013)

Hitchens summarises:

  • Privatised railways’ jaws are clamped firmly to the public teat; when they fail they can just stroll away from the mess they have made.
  • British Rail’s trains were faster and more comfortable. It looked after its track far better and – given the money – it would never have made the mess its successors are now making of electrifying the Great Western line, which is years behind schedule, partly abandoned and vastly over budget.
  • In the 20 years to 2013, state subsidies to the rail sector roughly tripled in real terms, while fares continued to rise.
  • My trains are almost always late, frequently very badly so.
  • But they get more expensive all the time.
  • those responsible are protected from us by call centres and unresponsive websites, which only talk to us when they want to.

Finally Hitchens adds: “Last week it emerged that SNCF is bidding to operate HS2, a pointless vanity line that should have been cancelled long ago but which the Government is too weak to abandon. So we might be hiring a foreign state railway to run a service we don’t even need, while Britain is full of sizeable towns with no railway station, which could be linked to the national system for a tiny part of the cost of HS2 . . . The idea that our rulers have any idea what they are doing, or can be trusted with our national future, is a joke. They’re just hoping the bailiffs don’t turn up before the Election. But if they do, what have we got left to sell, to pay our bills?”

Hines argues that the Treaty of Rome needs transforming into a ‘Treaty of Home’ that will allow peoples to protect what they hold dear

Rupert Read has described Colin Hines’ ‘feisty clarion call’ for a change of direction away from acquiescence in the deregulated world that spawned the financial crisis and towards protection of nature, workers, localities and sovereignty, resisting rootless international capital.

As Read says, Hines’ policy of Progressive Protectionism will surely be part of a socially and environmentally viable future: crucial thought-leadership away from the political dead-end of globalisationist fantasy.

 

 

Read’s review (text here) will be published in the Ecologist, May/June issue, see Contents https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/55993/spread/5

 

Labour, Conservative and Green voices call for a progressive alliance. Will it happen now or later?

An audience seriously considering the proposal

With thanks to the reader working in Uganda who sent the Hitchens link and remembering another who yesterday advocated ABC voting, ‘Anything But Conservative’.

Peter Hitchens insisted, some time ago, that a lot of people feel left out of the recovery we are supposed to be having, and they need a powerful voice in Parliament, adding:

“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 . . .

“The truth is that both major parties have been taken over by the same cult, the Clinton-Blair fantasy that globalism, open borders and mass immigration will save the great nations of the West. It hasn’t worked. In the USA it has failed so badly that the infuriated, scorned, impoverished voters of Middle America are on the point of electing a fake-conservative yahoo businessman as President”.

Hitchens concludes that many Labour MPs have more in common with Mrs May than with Mr Corbyn and will ‘snuggle up beside her absurdly misnamed Conservative Party’.

He believes that the British public will at last see clearly that their only response is to form an alliance against the two big parties: “Impossible? Look how quickly this happened in Scotland”.

This Green House pamphlet with contributions from Molly Scott Cato MEP, Victor Anderson, Rupert Read, Jonathan Essex and Sara Parkin was written before the EU referendum and the economic and political turmoil which has followed but the authors believe its analysis and conclusions are still valid.

In her introduction, MEP Molly Scott Cato points out that a route to a more positive future offering hope to the majority of citizens is blocked by our archaic and unrepresentative electoral system which enables one party to control so much power with a minority of the votes cast. She continues:

“Our primary target is our electoral system. In the 2015 general election the Green Party received 1 million votes but only one parliamentary seat. By contrast the Scottish National Party received 1.5 million votes and 56 seats.

“This is the logic of first past the post . . . but as voters move into a multi-party future the system entrenches political stasis and blocks progressive change”. Later she cites Germany as the most striking example of a country that has benefited from Greens in power:

“Its industries are successful because Greens in government encouraged them to move into the new era of low carbon energy production before other European countries. Germany has turned its back on the nuclear age and is rapidly phasing out fossil fuels. Germany is the economy in Europe that is benefiting most from the energy transition that dangerous climate change requires of us. It is Greens in government who enabled this process”.

She, and other Green House members invite everyone who wants to see an alternative to continued Conservative government to join in the discussion about what that alternative can be.

Professor Jeremy Gilbert, in a Compass article, spells out the proposal, advocating a co-ordinated response involving every potentially progressive organisation and party in the country. He asks:

“Do you really think we can stand up to May, Murdoch and the Mail, to the City, the CBI and consumer-industrial complex all alone?

“Labour is never going to be back on 44% in the opinion polls. The electorate is too fragmented for that, and above all Labour’s electoral base is too fractured for it ever to happen again”.

(Ed: we note that the British Labour Party is already one of the parties and organisations from over 90 countries which participate in the International Progressive Alliance network of social-democratic and progressive political parties.)

Gilbert continues: “Would you rather it happen now, while the Left retains the leadership of the party, or in five or ten years time, when the Right is back in control? Would you rather have a Progressive Alliance, or an alliance of revanchist Blairites, (May)ites and ‘Orange Book’ Liberal Democrats? Because if we do not seize the initiative now, then the latter is what we are going to get, soon enough. This is going to happen sooner or later”.

 

 

 

 

“Our ‘noble’ cause? Dropping bombs on behalf of Al Qaeda”

This is the title of Peter Hitchens’ latest article found after hearing a reference on Radio 4.

He asks readers to:

  • consider first that early on Friday morning the United States Navy launched 59 cruise missiles on behalf of Al Qaeda;
  • note that the President of the United States did not even bother to pretend that he was seeking United Nations cover for what he did;.
  • note next that in the same week our Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a duty visit to pay homage to the medieval despots of Saudi Arabia, who kindly buy our warplanes and bombs and are currently using them to savage effect in Yemen
  • and that President Trump was playing host at the White House to the head of Egypt’s military junta, General el-Sisi, whose security forces undoubtedly massacred at least 600 protesters (probably many more) in the streets of Cairo in August 2013.
  • Then mark that the pretext for this bizarre rocket attack was an unproven claim that President Assad of Syria had used poison gas.

Yes, an unproven claim. No independent western diplomat or journalist can gain access to the scene of the alleged atrocity, and what information we have is controlled by Al Nusra.

Another question from Hitchens (left): “Is the gassing of children (undoubtedly a horror) so *much* worse than the other atrocities which the USA knowingly tolerates among its clients in the Middle East, or indeed excuses as collateral damage in such places as Mosul and Ramadi?” The brutality of Sisi and the Saudis is beyond doubt. They didn’t use gas, but our leaders’ outrage at Assad’s alleged gas attack looks a little contrived if they keep such company.

What happened to the rules of evidence? Many people have written, spoken – and now acted – as if the charge was proven. Why the hurry?

Assad is currently winning his war against Islamist fanatics, with conventional weapons. He had finally got the USA to stop demanding his dismissal: “Five days before the alleged attack – five days! – America’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, announced: ‘Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out’ . . . He knows that the use of poison gas is the one thing that will make the USA intervene against him. They have said so.

So why would he do such a thing, and throw away all his victories in a few minutes? It makes no sense of any kind”.

Hitchens points out that the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, alias the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian ‘opposition’ which we in the West have been supporting for several years . . . is the local franchise of ‘Al Qaeda’.

Al-Nusra is the Saudi-backed group which seeks the removal of Assad as leader of Syria controls the area where the alleged gas attack took place, and controls all the information coming out of that area. He describes atrocities they have committed and continues. “This is the group whose aims the USA is now supporting, and backing with cruise missiles”.

The only big difference he can see between Al Qaeda and Islamic State is that we drop bombs on Islamic State. And that therefore, in effect, we are dropping these bombs on behalf of Al-Nusra/Al Qaeda. 

Hitchens believes, “The once-wealthy and powerful West is bankrupt and increasingly at the mercy of people who have begun to demand something in return for their trade and their loans. It is all very sordid, and bodes ill for the future”. He ends:

“I would mind it less if we admitted what we were doing, rather than pretending these wretched events were some sort of noble act”.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Is the only response a progressive alliance?

With thanks to the reader working in Uganda who sent this link from which we give extracts:

Peter Hitchens writes:

peter hitchensIt will be good for Britain if Jeremy Corbyn wins his fight to stay as leader of the Labour Party. I agree with the late Queen Mother that the best political arrangement for this country is a good old-fashioned conservative government kept on its toes by a strong Labour Opposition.

There’s no sign of a good old-fashioned conservative government. But Mr Corbyn speaks for a lot of people who feel left out of the recovery we are supposed to be having, and they need a powerful voice in Parliament.

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.

I wish the voiceless millions of conservative patriots had a spokesman as clear and resolute as Mr Corbyn is for his side.

globalisation imagesThe truth is that both major parties have been taken over by the same cult, the Clinton-Blair fantasy that globalism, open borders and mass immigration will save the great nations of the West.

It hasn’t worked. In the USA it has failed so badly that the infuriated, scorned, impoverished voters of Middle America are on the point of electing a fake-conservative yahoo businessman as President.

So far we have been gentler with our complacent elite, perhaps too gentle. Our referendum majority for leaving the EU was a deep protest against many things. But it did not actually throw hundreds of useless MPs out on their ears, as needs to be done. They are all still there, drawing their pay and expenses . . .

If Mr Corbyn wins, our existing party system will begin to totter. The Labour Party must split between old-fashioned radicals like him, and complacent smoothies from the Blair age.

And since Labour MPs have far more in common with Mrs May than with Mr Corbyn, there is only one direction they can take. They will have to snuggle up beside her absurdly misnamed Conservative Party. And so at last the British public will see clearly revealed the truth they have long avoided – that the two main parties are joined in an alliance against them.

And they may grasp that their only response is to form an alliance against the two big parties. Impossible? Look how quickly this happened in Scotland.

greenhouse header

Is such an alliance gathering now? See http://greenhousethinktank.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/3/2/48324387/green_house_progressive_alliance_july_2016.pdf

 

 

 

Media 52: Mainstream media protect their sources and paymasters against a leader who is “exposing the smoke and mirrors designed to keep us in our places”

Margaret from Swansea (and a co-founder of VIP) recently sent a comment by email:

The vitriol launched against the polite, intelligent, principled new leader of the Labour Party by media and politicians, including members of his own party, isn’t really so surprising. He is rocking their nice, comfortable boat and quietly threatening the pillars of capitalist society – exposing the smoke and mirrors designed to keep us in our places. He dares to say that austerity comes from an economic ideology – that there IS an alternative! We don’t have to carry on in the same destructive direction, laying waste to planet and people; we could be more compassionate and use our intelligence to produce a better world.

What a threat a thinking, honest politician must be to the industrialists and their friends!

The FT’s George Parker and Jim Pickard have now been joined by a John McDermott to continue their mission to diminish a leader perceived as a threat to the affluent

jc4Below a picture of Corbyn conveying the image of him as a dictatorial rabble rousing agitator (omitted), they assert that “the gap between Mr Corbyn and the MPs he aspires to lead has this week widened to a chasm”, quoting one ‘hostile senior’ Labour MP. “But how’s it going to end?” A good question which they answer correctly, switching to truth mode:

“Mr Corbyn is sustained by the knowledge that 250,000 ordinary party members and supporters backed him . . .”.  A friend of Mr Corbyn said: “He’s quite relaxed about all of this. People are still rooting for him. All that support that was there for him still feels like it’s there.”

As conservative Peter Hitchens explains in the Mail, “ 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”.

The FT continues: “If MPs mount a coup the party membership could still re-elect Mr Corbyn: his allies are seeking to clarify the rules to ensure that he would automatically end up back on the ballot sheet . . . Even Mr Corbyn’s critics admit it could take several years before the “Corbynistas” realise their alleged mistake and in the meantime the Labour leader is trying to tighten his grip on the party.

How do the FT journalists describe this ‘grip’?

“Grass roots members of the Momentum pressure group are telling dissident MPs to keep quiet or face deselection at the 2020 election”.

momentum first meeting city

Not true; in a recent meeting of the Birmingham group (above), only one in a hundred made this suggestion and it was not accepted by the group.

The FT ends: “Ultimately Mr Corbyn’s fate will be determined at the ballot box: he needs to show his critics that his “new politics” appeals beyond a hard core of supporters. The Oldham West by-election next month, where Labour is defending a majority of almost 15,000, will be a crucial early test”.

The writer hopes that this contest will follow the pattern of the three successful by-elections which have been ignored by mainstream media.

Bad decisions by government: 34 – denying parents the single vaccines

This imposed decision deterred many parents from having their children vaccinated and, having imposed it, government can be held responsible for the large current measles outbreak.

Parents who could afford it went to doctors and clinics who made the effort to obtain it and offer the individual vaccinations for measles and rubella as an alternative to the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine when the combined vaccination was first introduced in 1988.

What is an ‘acceptable risk’?

As Peter Hitchens writes: “There is no proof that MMR causes or has ever caused autism, or the severe bowel disorder Crohn’s disease which can lead to brain damage. But both of these afflictions have become more common since the triple MMR was introduced in 1988, and they have brought unutterable misery to many families. Heartbroken parents speak of how they have ‘lost’ their children even though they are still alive. Toddlers who were alert, responsive, full of laughter and recognition, suddenly went quiet, and retreated into an unknown world where they are no longer the people they were or might have  become”. The writer asked a local doctor in general practice about his stance after its introduction and he said that after he had seen what happened to the child of his friend after receiving the MMR vaccine he would never administer it.

Governments may regard damage to a ‘small number’ as unimportant, but to a parent and child it is all-important.

Hitchens continues (remembering misleading government advice re thalidomide and cot deaths): “The wise person responds with deep caution to the words ‘Trust me, I’m a doctor’, and with even more caution to the words ‘Trust us, we’re the Government’.”

Did MMR even work well?

Hitchens – the only journalist to track the measles deaths in Dublin and find out the true circumstances from the Irish authorities – says that the Irish epidemic in 2012 also revealed an ‘unsettling fact’ for the ‘MMR at all costs’ lobby; “At least ten per cent of those who developed measles had been given the MMR jab. One in ten is a pretty high failure rate for a treatment that is being pressed on the public as a great social duty”.

He gave no source for this allegation and a websearch revealed no such information in the mainstream media. The nearest the writer got was in a report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, published four months later, which said that only some of the children, teenagers or young adults had missed vaccination and that Almost all parents (96.1% in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and 93.4% in Northern Ireland (NI)) reported that their children receive vaccinations.

Political and corporate pressure?

By 2009 Merck acknowledged that it had decided not to resume production of their single vaccines for mumps under pressure from Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, professional societies and scientific leaders.

Hitchens points out that though public money could not be used for single jabs, it was used to pay generous bonuses to doctors who increased the uptake of MMR (doctors could increase their annual income by £860 if they achieved a 70% take-up of the jab, and by £2,580 if they reached 90%) and it could be used for MMR propaganda campaigns. He reminds us that the prime minister of the government which used tax money for these purposes refused to reveal if his own small child had been given the MMR which his ministers and civil servants were vigorously pressing on everyone else.

His conclusion

swansea measles“The current events in Swansea and elsewhere were entirely predictable 12 years ago, and I predicted them.

“Exhortation and official reassurance were never going to work. A significant minority of parents would not let their children have the MMR, but would unhesitatingly have given them single jabs.

“Had this happened, there would now be no Swansea measles outbreak, or it would be much smaller (no injection has a 100% success rate, even when given twice, as the MMR is).

“If there is a measles epidemic in this country, the rigid minds of the Health Department will have to share the blame for it.”

 

The political fandango: collude with party-funders, accept their non-exec directorships, conceal their misdeeds and – only when all is revealed – join the media frenzy


Yesterday Peter Hitchens asked about the Jimmy Savile case: “What else are they keeping from you? I now discover that I am almost the only journalist who didn’t know that Jimmy Savile was a child molester.

“If they all knew, why didn’t they tell you? And what, exactly, is the point of the police investigating the misdeeds of a corpse? What will they do if they find a case to answer? Refer it to the CPS? Put his cadaver on trial and send it to prison?Well, let them explain all that.

What’s much, much more important is that you now know that there is a lot going on that nobody tells you.

“They don’t tell you because they’re scared that very rich men can use the libel courts to ruin those who tell the truth about them.”

Sunday Times reporters posed as representatives of arms firms and arranged meetings with former top military figures and recorded them offering their influence and contacts with ministers and in return for six-figure sums.

So does that mean that Sky News and the Sunday Times expose retired military officers because their owners have longer pockets?

Britain often describes other regimes as corrupt but this sort of lobbying for personal profit is endemic in its own medical, political, scientific, military, religious, media and financial sectors.

We are tired of repeating stories of corruption so give a link  for those whose appetite is not yet sated.

PCU: the only beneficiaries of war are the arms industry and the politicians they suborn.

Going to war – Peter Hitchens

“How romantic. How brave. What tripe.

“Oh, honestly. If you enter a war, you expose your people to years of danger, pain, squalor, despair, grief, screaming, blood, fire, separation, bereavement , privation, loss, destruction and misery.”

Peter Hitchens’ dense and powerful article may be read in full here.

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.