Blog Archives

Worried? As an increasing number of commentators move to support Corbyn, Boris Johnson blunders into attack mode

Mugwump moi?

Project fear – yet again:

In Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, Johnson cites the ‘semi-deranged regime in North Korea, bent on getting nuclear weapons (just as semi-deranged Britain has done) that could one day be used to strike this country’. He adds:

‘And we are engaged in a vast struggle against ‘an evil Islamist death cult’ that is taking lives around the world’; he totally fails to add that the ‘Islamist’ deaths equal only a tiny percentage of those lives taken by us and our special friend since the second world war.

And Project Prudence

Johnson’s strange proposition: EU heads of state would far rather negotiate with the  adult versions of this wealth-seeking, selfish and arrogant group than with Jeremy Corbyn

Talking to John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme, Boris Johnson said that EU heads would not take Corbyn seriously and that he would be “disastrous” on Brexit. “Corbyn’s approach would be a recipe for paralysis and uncertainty – and for Britain to get totally stiffed in the negotiations.”

Not so. These European (EU) socialist heads of state regard Corbyn as a comrade and have already had cordial meetings with him. Any interaction with him as prime minister would have a far better outcome than negotiations with a Conservative government.

 

 

 

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?

“Inappropriate closeness” between media bosses and successive governments

David Cameron exonerated? Suzanne Moore comments on the relationships exposed, tabloid-style:

Cameron rides Brooks’ horse!

Brooks comforted by Blair!

Cameron’s best friend marries Brooks!

Cameron’s brother is head of the chambers that defends Brooks!

Brooks’ lover Coulson hired by Cameron!

David Hencke delves deeper into the findings of the Leveson inquiry, confirming the perceptions often voiced on this site:

Volume Four and Appendix Five deliver ‘one of the most devastating critiques of the incestuous relationship between top politicians and the media I have ever read from a High Court judge in my 27 years of political journalism’. Hencke continues:

‘Leveson attacks what he calls the “inappropriate closeness” between media bosses and successive governments not just now – but for over 35 years. Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron are all indicted in a damning charge sheet.

‘He baldly states “politicians have conducted themselves in a way that I do consider has not served the public interest”.

‘He accuses them of being vulnerable to unaccountable interests, missing clear opportunities to address public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press and seeking “to control (if not manipulate) the supply of news and information to the public in return for expected or hoped-for favourable treatment by sections of the press.”

‘He concluded that all this gave rise to “legitimate perceptions and concerns that politicians and the press have traded power and influence in ways which are contrary to the public interest and out of public sight. These perceptions and concerns are inevitably particularly acute in relation to the conduct by politicians of public policy issues in relations to the press itself.”

Though Leveson’s recommendations did not address these concerns, Hencke warns that Cameron or Murdoch cannot be complacent about their respective roles in trading power for influence – which are at the heart of why the mainstream media and politicians are widely distrusted by the general public.

George Monbiot: Nothing will change until we confront the real sources of power.

The  words of a local councillor recalled an analysis by George Monbiot in Why Politics Fails; she wrote:

“I don’t trust any politician (except myself that is!). They are all in the pockets of developers or global businesses. The people are just there for fodder to fight wars that corporates make money out of and to service the wealthiest” . . . despite the seven parliamentary principles for public life:

7 principles public life

Corporate power: the lefthand parliamentary glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics.

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

trickle downThe political role of corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main parties.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source . . .

Last week we discovered that G4S’s contract to run immigration removal centres will be expanded, even though all further business with the state was supposed to be frozen while allegations of fraud are investigated.

Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatisation have failed to materialise.

snouts troughThe monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest is haphazard, the penalties almost non-existent, the rewards stupendous, dizzying, corrupting. Yet none of this deters the government. Since 2008, the outsourcing of public services has doubled, to £20bn. It is due to rise to £100bn by 2015.

This policy becomes explicable only when you recognise where power really lies.

The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.

corporate lobbyistsIt’s hardly surprising that the lobbying bill – now stalled by the Lords – offered almost no checks on the power of corporate lobbyists, while hogtying the charities who criticise them. But it’s not just that ministers are not discouraged from hobnobbing with corporate executives: they are now obliged to do so . . .

That the words corporate power seldom feature in the corporate press is not altogether surprising. It’s more disturbing to see those parts of the media that are not owned by Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere acting as if they are.

For example, for five days every week the BBC’s Today programme starts with a business report in which only insiders are interviewed. They are treated with a deference otherwise reserved for God on Thought for the Day. There’s even a slot called Friday Boss, in which the programme’s usual rules of engagement are set aside and its reporters grovel before the corporate idol. Imagine the outcry if Today had a segment called Friday Trade Unionist or Friday Corporate Critic . . .

Research conducted by the Cardiff school of journalism shows that business representatives now receive 11% of airtime on the BBC’s 6 o’clock news (this has risen from 7% in 2007), while trade unionists receive 0.6% (which has fallen from 1.4%). Balance? Impartiality? The BBC puts a match to its principles every day.

And where, beyond the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and a few ageing Labour backbenchers, is the political resistance? After the article I wrote last week, about the grave threat the transatlantic trade and investment partnership presents to parliamentary sovereignty and democratic choice, several correspondents asked me what response there has been from the Labour party. It’s easy to answer: nothing.

Cameron's real changeBlair and Brown purged the party of any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them . . . Since Blair’s pogroms, parliament operates much as Congress in the United States does: the lefthand glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics . . .

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics. I haven’t given up yet, but I find it ever harder to explain why. When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the three main parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

Read the full text & references here: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/11/why-politics-fails/

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