Blog Archives

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


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.

Alarmed by growing support for Corbyn, a right-wing agent acts

jeremy corbynAs the latest totals of constituency Labour Party nominations put Jeremy Corbyn, with 28 nominations, in second place behind Andy Burnham with 33, a ‘Labour First’ email, passed to the Huffington Post, sets out a way of transferring votes between Kendall, Cooper and Burnham to prevent the Islington North MP from winning constituency Labour Party nominations.

These are said to ‘offer clues’ to how the four candidates are performing among party members. A spokesman for the Corbyn campaign told HuffPost UK: “Despite starting as very much the underdog, and despite these tactics, Jeremy Corbyn is already proving more successful with CLP nominations than many expected.

The email (text below), which was organised by Labour First Secretary Luke Akehurst, is said to make it clear that the main objective is to stop Corbyn because he would ‘destroy Labour’s chances of electability’.

blairite email

The fear: no more gravy train under Corbyn?

Corbyn’s record certainly shows that if he were elected he would expect Labour MPs to curb excessive expenses claims and refrain from courting the corporate sector.

gravy train

Akehurst: the murky mirror image of Jeremy Corbyn: PR, arms industry and supporter of Israel, ‘warts and all’

luke akehurstBefore becoming Labour councillor for Hackney, Luke Akehurst spent 11 years as a lobbyist for a PR company, worked with Weber Shandwick, largely for the defence industry, for property companies and local authorities.

At Hackney Council he worked for permission for ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to be allowed to extend their houses and opposed the proposed boycott of Veolia for because the company helped to build the tram system in Jerusalem.

In November 2014 he was appointed director of the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre’s We Believe in Israel department. The founder and a funder of BICOM is Poju Zabludowicz, a London-based Israeli billionaire who funds the Conservative Party (see Channel 4 Dispatches) and has substantial property interests in one of the illegal West Bank settlements.

Akehurst’s next step

And now: “I am in the middle of an election campaign to try to get back onto the Labour national executive committee, where I was from 2010-2012 and then narrowly lost. I am also interested in seeking a parliamentary selection if there are any late retirements next year.”

Will he be able to follow in Tony Blair’s destructive footsteps . . .?

Will Mr Blair’s falling revenues now be boosted?

eloquent hands

eloquent hands

The junior architect of Middle Eastern chaos advises US Republicans that another US-led effort to preserve ‘our values’ is needed – and receives three standing ovations.

blair mccain twitterThe Guardian reports that, according to a source present, Tony Blair, introduced by his tweeting friend, Senator John McCain (above), addressed a closed-door strategy session attended by nearly 300 Republican senators and congressmen.

On January 6, the FT recorded in detail the findings – and obfuscations – of the most recent set of accounts filed by companies set up by former prime minister Tony Blair, after leaving Downing Street in 2007 and embarking on a ‘post-Westminster career as an adviser to the rich and powerful around the globe’.

There is an umbrella group, Tony Blair Associates, which is comprised of two separate business ventures, Windrush and Firerush (and their subsidiaries Windrush Ventures No. 1, Windrush Ventures No. 2, Firerush Ventures No.1 and Firerush Ventures No. 2.), representing his advice to governments and companies and sovereign wealth funds, respectively.

Windrush Ventures Ltd (advice to governments) announced a 50%+ fall compared with last year’s takings. The other accounts issued by Tony Blair’s office (here) are described as ‘opaque’ by the FT’s Jim Pickard.

blair cash criticA 2009 Guardian critique in which this graphic appears may be read here.

Handwashing – not our fault gov

Blair reportedly argued that countries in the west didn’t cause radical Islam and the terrorism associated with it, but were caught up in it (frequent applause).

Be tolerant, or else . . .

The ‘hawks’ in the party who were said to believe that the White House response to recent attacks has been too limited will have welcomed his assertion that force would be needed – especially if used within his proposed “global alliance to teach tolerance”.

Justifying dubious connections

Mr Blair, who is said to be earning £41,000 a month from PetroSaudi, an oil company with links to the ruling Saudi royal family, said it was hard to be successful “unless you had allies within Islam itself”.

Boosting arms manufacturers

According to the witness, Blair said radical Islam was a perverted ideology that justified the use of force against those of other religions or Muslims who interpreted their faith differently. It was hostile to “us and our values”, he claimed, and though some want to negotiate with it or ignore it, neither of those approaches would work and it had to be confronted.

statue liberty covers eyes

Tony Blair was said to be hopeful about the prospect of building further alliances in the Middle East between US-backed Israel and the Arab states against radical Islam, arguing that many Islamic leaders in recent years had come to understand that they too were the targets of radical Islam.

Appealing to hubris – his and theirs

He concluded that America would have to play a leading role in what he thought would be a “generational” struggle and urged the Republicans present not to disengage and to rise to the task (applause).

Sadly, the congressional staff members present at the meeting greeted Blair with standing ovations after he was introduced, at the conclusion of his remarks and after a brief question-and-answer session.

The root cause of almost all our problems? Contemptible establishment arrogance

jehangir 2The late great journalist, Jehangir Pocha (right), wrote in an email: “Capitalistic and traditional societies are just not desirous of universal progress. This outright rejection of people by the wider berth of society is the root cause of almost all our problems. In India it is caste, and abroad it is class, isn’t it? !”

Felicity Arbuthnot also refers to this contemptuous rejection of the public interest by the 1% as voiced by Peter Jay, formerly Chief of Staff to Robert Maxwell.

“From today’s performance on BBC Wales, it’s clear that Peter Jay has now become very righteous and correct. He said that only ‘shits’ would want to publish the whole truth on the Bush-Blair correspondence that led to the Iraq War and the deaths of 179 UK soldiers. Is this how diplomats communicate? The loved ones of the fallen had no right to hear the whole truth, Jay explained. Protocol between the UK and USA was a higher priority. His is the authentic voice of yesterday’s contemptible establishment arrogance telling the lower orders ‘ Yours not to reason why. Yours, but to do and die.’”

tony blair foiBlair reneged on the Freedom of Information Act which, he initially said, would ‘signal a new relationship between government and people: a relationship which sees the public as legitimate stakeholders in the running of the country.’ Felicity continues:

“What a long time thirteen years is in politics and after an invasion or two. In his autobiography “A Journey”, published in 2010 he writes: “Freedom of Information Act. Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head ’til it drops off. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it . . . Scandals will happen … The problem with FOI is that it can be used to expose them.”

She comments: “Scandals don’t get much bigger than embarking on an illegal war, destruction of the “Cradle of Civilisation”, manufactured on a pack of lies”.

foi cartoon

This contemptuous rejection of the public interest by the 1% is more widely perceived than ever before – how can these decision-makers be replaced, and by whom?

This weekend’s focus on the role of Prince Charles: the first comments

Ranging from unqualified agreement to qualified approval and – finally – a warning:

prince charles ft photograph

Jehangir Pocha, chief editor of India’s NewsX TV:

I agree totally

Councillor Linda Brown from Solihull

I saw some of the Prince of Wales’ work in the Jewellery Quarter when I worked there for 11 years in the 1980s and was impressed with him. He had his working building there and regularly turned up and saw young people who wanted to start up in business. I knew some of those he had helped: he kept in touch with them and visited the area to see them.

Colin Tudge from Oxford, Campaign for Real Farming

Prince Charles is one of the very few people in a position of influence who actually has some grasp of the nature and magnitude of the ills that face the world, and is doing a great deal to help put things right.

Privilege and the wealth and power that go with it are easily abused but at least they can solve the problem that faces everyone who wants to step outside convention and hence to push things forward – of how to keep body and soul together without joining the rat race.

Most scholars alas these days must spend half their lives, literally, chasing grants, and often finish up taking money from people they would rather not have dealings with. This is a huge and growing problem and privilege when well used overcomes it. (Writing books used to solve the problem in part but publishing alas is not what it was).

A Shirley reader

Agree, don’t like monarchy in principle. But what’s a Prince supposed to do…? I believe he should have an opinion, if one ‘for the best of the future of the country’, even if that rustles current political feathers, and better if it does so £££-focused ‘politicians’…. like his speeches on faith & climate change…

Lesley Docksey from Dorset

Prince Charles does sometimes get it wrong, but not as horribly wrong as an awful lot of politicians. And though I don’t always agree with his passions, I applaud the fact that he speaks up for them.

I hate his support for some of the uber-rich oil sheikhs but love his devotion to the health of the environment and organic farming.

I agreed with his opinion of the National Gallery extension as a “monstrous carbuncle”. But here in Dorset we have to put up with Poundbury – a new town outside Dorchester that looks like Disney’s idea of a “traditional” English town, another monstrous carbuncle of the Prince’s devising. Like most humans he is full of contradictions.

Where voicing his opinions is concerned, the Prince can’t win. He’s not supposed to voice them in public because he’s a member of the Royal family. I don’t think there’s a law which says he can’t.

It has just gradually become the “rule” and the people who want him to stay silent are politicians and big business. If he voices them in private he’s “taking advantage of his position”. But ex-politicians have no difficulty with using their ex-position to influence things behind the scenes – and make money doing so, something the Prince doesn’t do!

Being in favour of free speech I’d like to see both the Prince and the Queen say what they think. I’d love to know what their opinions are and it doesn’t mean I have to agree with them! But I don’t think making them keep silent is, in the long run, good for the country. I also think that the Queen and Prince Charles probably have more loyalty (and certainly a far greater sense of duty) towards our country than any of our politicians.

A Moseley reader advises:

  • Blunkett should keep his mouth shut.
  • As one of Blair’s supporters he and all that group should be erased from public life.
  • Prince Charles should also learn to keep his opinions to himself.
  • The British monarchy can only retain its place by NOT interfering in government policies.
  • If King Charles does continue as the prince has done, we run the risk of a rise of republicanism – and someone like, if not actually, Tony Blair becoming president.

Resonances with Dorset reader: “Put it another way – would you rather have Charles govern the country or Tony Blair?????????”

Tony Blair: blame Syria, not me

tony blairThe 2003 invasion of Iraq is not to blame for the violent insurgency now gripping the country, former UK prime minister Tony Blair has said – but note his haunted expression. Read more here:

Mr Blair: we do blame you and George Bush; the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq brought social and economic chaos, totally destabilising the country.

FT on the rise of populism in politics: Janan Ganesh doesn’t go to the heart of the matter

A promising start:

tony blairGanesh, “A spirit of anti-politics began permeating the country around the turn of the millennium when Tony Blair, the last politician the British allowed themselves to love, broke their hearts by turning out to be a prime minister and not a miracle worker.

“The disillusion intensified after the Iraq war, a work of naive over-ambition forever remembered as an act of heinous deceit. Then came the crash, the expenses scandal and much more immigration than voters were told to expect.

“Cynicism verging on nihilism is the closest thing modern Britain has to a national ideology. It has become common sense to assume the worst of anyone in public authority”.

Causal trends noted:

  • fragmentation of class loyalty,
  • wage stagnation and structural unemployment,
  • UKIP relies on older voters, of whom there are more and more.

Damage limitation?

Ganesh advises: “Mainstream politicians should remind populists that they do the hard work of politics: representing constituents, reconciling competing claims and taking an interest in dry corners of legislation that affect people’s lives. Most politics is necessary drudgery”.

The public has become aware of the truth

revolving door largerMany more people are now aware that political decisions are being made in the interests of wealthy corporates, not the electorate. This leads to the damaging decisions made in the economic, social, environmental and military sectors. The Political Concern website was set up to raise awareness of the ‘revolving door’, rewards for failure, widespread behind-the-scene lobbying and party funding which corruption the decision-making process here and abroad.

The latest example of the revolving door:

jackie callcut textjackie callcut text2

Until leading politicians really care for the ‘ordinary’ people, who elect and pay them to work for the common good, the spirit of anti-politics” will continue to “permeate” the country.

We need to build an anti-corruption movement – one did well in Delhi elections.

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”. .