Thursday, September 22, 2016

Are the New Labour clique deliberately trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy?


David Miliband (the New Labour stalwart who ran away from British politics when his brother beat him to the Labour Party leadership in 2010) is the latest New Labour figure to throw the "unelectable" trope at Jeremy Corbyn.

Attacking and diminishing the leader of their own party was bad enough when the divisive Labour leadership coup was going on. But now that it's clear that the coup plot, the vote-rigging and the purges were almost certainly in vain, and that Corbyn is going to win again you have to wonder what the motivation is to keep on like this.

The first suspicion is that it is just petulant foot-stamping. They right-wing of the party didn't get their own way, so now they've venting their toddler-like fury without even thinking about the consequences of what they're saying.

By continuing to repeatedly badmouth Jeremy Corbyn they're making it seem that they're unaware of the concept of a "self-fulfilling prophecy".

Of course Corbyn is going to have a tough time with the entire mainstream press demonstrably fighting a propaganda war against him. Of course he's going to have a tough time trying to reunite the party and undo some of the extraordinary damage this inept and shockingly timed coup-plot inflicted; and of course it's going to take a lot of hard work to undo the shockingly widespread public misconceptions that Tory austerity is actually good for the economy, and that Theresa May is a competent politician.

But that job is going to be made all the more difficult if a bunch of bitter sore-losers in his own party insist on repeatedly carping from the sidelines.

The other option of course is that these people know perfectly well what a "self-fulfilling prophecy" is, and that they're deliberately trying to create one. After all, their idol Tony Blair has openly stated that he'd rather see the Tories win the next General Election than a Labour Party that has returned to its democratic socialist roots. It's perfectly possible that Tony Blair's acolytes are simply doing his bidding with their persistent efforts to sabotage the Labour Party.

The problem with the strategy of trying to deliberately create the self-fulfilling prophecy that Jeremy Corbyn is "unelectable" is that if the prophecy comes true, there are an awful lot of people in the Labour Party who will blame the saboteurs, not the leadership.

Do the Labour Party saboteurs really think that the party membership are going to blame the guy who tried to do his best despite the challenging circumstances, or the New Labour clique who have been seen to do everything in their power to undermine the Labour Party and its democratically elected leader from day one?

It's certain that should Corbyn lose the mainstream press will try to paint the narrative that centre-left politics is dead and buried, and that we are stuck with various shades of Tory crony capitalism for ever, but we already know that the mainstream press no longer have a total ideological staranglehold on the public, otherwise Corbyn would have been annihilated in the 2015 leadership election and one of the New Labour candidates would no doubt be currently trying to "oppose" the post-Brexit Tory shambles by imitating Try policies and Tory political rhetoric as closely as possible.

Instead the New Labour lot have just lost the ideological war for the future of the Labour Party for a second time. Their choice now is simple. Unite behind the leader and actually try to win, or carry on trying to undermine the party and put themselves up as the people to blame when their self-fulfilling prophecies come true.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Facebook isn't the enemy of the mainstream press, they are their own worst enemies


The Guardian journalist Roy Greenslade has written an article entitled "Why Facebook is public enemy number one for newspapers, and journalism". It's a load of sanctimonious, hypocritical and self-pitying rubbish that casts mainstream media journalists (like Roy and his mates at the Guardian) as heroic scrutineers of the establishment, and Facebook as an evil empire that is obstructing and repressing these noble freedom fighters from doing their job of holding the powerful to account.

I don't actually mind Roy Greenslade as a journalist, he's admirably productive and I don't remember ever feeling such visceral revulsion at one of his articles before, but this particular one is appalling one-sided hogwash.

In this article Greenslade scrapes together a bunch of barely related criticisms of Facebook in order to paint himself and his kind as heroes and Facebook as the sinister threat to democratic accountability.


In isolation each of the criticisms of Facebook has some merit.

The site's appalling American prudishness over nudity is both sexist (there is simply no justification for denoting the female nipple or images of breastfeeding as offensive and not the bare male nipple) and an enabler of historical revisionism (rewriting history by repeatedly deleting perhaps the most iconic photo of the entire Vietnam war).

Facebook's reaping of its users' personal data is an obvious concern to anyone who still cares about the once fundamental, but now largely disregarded concept of the right to personal privacy.


Facebook's editorial role is also worthy of criticism. They were accused of bias in their manual selection of trending stories, then when they replaced the human team with algorithms, the bots immediately went haywire promoting all kinds of woeful gibberish to the pinnacle of the Facebook news agenda

Facebook's tax-dodging activities are well documented. But it takes a good measure of hypocrisy for a Guardian journalist to complain about it given the less than saintly tax affairs of his own stable. Using tax-dodging as a criticism when his own employer is less than squeaky clean really does hammer a great big hole in his over-simplistic "saints and sinners" narrative.

The main problem with Greenslade's "goodies and baddies" story isn't that Facebook is so good (it clearly isn't) it's that the majority of mainstream journalists are not the valiant scrutineers Greenslade paints them as. They're more often than not the repressive cognitive gatekeepers who use 
trivia, distractions, deliberate propaganda and displays of synthetic outrage in order to keep the "lower orders" well away from the ideological castles of the rich and powerful.

The Brexit vote has created a lot of uncertainty (because there was never any actual plan for what it was meant to mean), but one thing about it is absolutely certain: The public are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. The public are crying out for a change; a shake-up; something radical and different and new.

Whether you like him or not (apparently many people don't) Jeremy Corbyn stands for something new. The most essential change Corbyn is offering is that he wants to prise open the gates of power and allow ordinary people much more access to and influence over the political system and more say in the direction of the economy.

The mainstream media hate Corbyn for this as much as the Westminster establishment club.

The political elites hate Corbyn because they're terrified that he's going to take away some of their power and influence and distribute it to the "lower orders". The mainstream press are intensely and provably biased against Jeremy Corbyn because they are simply doing their jobs as cognitive gatekeepers of the establishment order, and also because they're afraid that cognitive gatekeepers would be much less necessary in the freer and more accountable political system that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters envisage.


It's obviously wrong to paint all mainstream journalists as repressive cognitive gatekeepers because a small minority of them occasionally do a great job of holding the powerful to account. But many more of are content to do the bidding of the billionaire press barons and work tirelessly to prevent radical change by framing the spectrum of debate against it, and by presenting the public with innumerable distractions and misdirections.

The reason traditional journalism is under threat is not the power of Facebook, it's the fact that so many journalists are missing the bigger picture, or even actively working to obscure it.

People want radical change. People want an alternative to the rotten crony-capitalist status quo that has existed in the UK for the best part of four decades now. To blame Facebook because so many mainstream journalists are refusing to address this yearning for a fairer and better world is a pathetic cop-out.

The Guardian is supposedly the mainstream media bastion of the progressive liberal-left, but it's savagely biased coverage of the huge democratic socialist movement that has risen up in support of Jeremy Corbyn is abominable. How many times have they tried to portray the hundreds of thousands of people who have united behind Corbyn to demand a better, fairer system as a bunch of vile, brick-lobbing bullies and thugs? Long after the tale about the notorious brick through Angela Eagle's window was discredited as a fabrication, the Guardian carried on weaving it into their anti-Corbyn narratives. When the truth becomes irrelevant because it conflicts with the ideological agenda, then what is being presented is no longer news, it's simply propaganda.

Before social media such propaganda narratives were easy to disseminate because there was no forum for the counter argument to take place, but now these narratives can be shredded on social media within hours. Every time the mainstream press attempt to disguise inaccurate propaganda as news, the more they discredit themselves and the more demand they create for alternative news sources to expose the dishonest agendas they're pushing.


In light of all of this, a simplistic "goodies and baddies" story that casts mainstream journalists as the valiant heroes and Facebook as the sinister threat to society simply isn't good enough. The mainstream press aren't essentially good, just as Facebook isn't essentially bad.

For all of it's faults and imperfections Facebook has allowed a guy like me to reach an audience of millions without ever having appeared on the TV or even in my local newspaper. Facebook has given a public voice to the previously voiceless and it's helped the development of a vibrant alternative media that is unafraid to speak outside of the narrow mainstream spectrum of debate.

I have a feeling that this empowerment of non-conformist alternatives to the once closed shop of mainstream journalism is the underhand and unspoken objection that Greenslade and other members of the press pack have to Facebook.

In his article Greenslade even has the gall to accuse Facebook of "narrowing the news agenda" when he knows perfectly well that it's played a fundamental role in widening it and chipping away at the powerful monopolies the mainstream press barons have been allowed to build up for themselves over the decades.

Facebook is allowing ever greater numbers of people to bypass the mainstream media cognitive gatekeepers and search out independent journalists who don't have to toe the editorial line that is dictated to them by the billionaire press barons or opaque corporate owners. Perhaps that's the real unspoken reason that professional hacks like Greenslade feel so threatened by it?

The more the mainstream press continues to present dishonest propaganda as news, the greater the thirst for alternative news sources will become. Blaming Facebook for this is laughable. Facebook is simply the vector by which the alternatives are presented, the real demand for alternatives is created by the dishonesty and cravenness of mainstream journalists themselves. Facebook isn't their enemy number one, they are their own worst enemies and they don't even appear to know it.



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Friday, September 16, 2016

Is Theresa May "a bigger threat to the Falklands than Argentina"


Remember back in January 2016 when Jeremy Corbyn suggested that Britain and Argentina should enter negotiations to co-operate over the Falkland Islands so that both countries can share in the prosperity, rather than restricting economic opportunities through animosity, trade sanctions, antagonism and militaristic posturing?



Remember how the Tories and the right-wing press spouted lie after lie after lie about what Corbyn was suggesting and even tried to claim that Corbyn's policy was to give away the Falkland Islands?

Remember how the Tory defence minister Michael Fallon even claimed that Jeremy Corbyn is "a bigger threat to the Falklands than Argentina"?

Remember how this hyperbolic nonsense was spouted ad nauseum by the mainstream press and  how David Cameron even got in on the act by including it in one of his most incredibly evasive* and downright dishonest "answers" ever at PMQs (see image) in which he lied five times in the space of thirty seconds? 


Fast-forward just eight months and Theresa May has sent Alan Duncan over to Argentina in order to come up with a deal to ... erm ... work out a deal for Argentina and the UK to co-operate over the Falkland Islands.

Where are the shrieking headlines about the Tories surrendering to the Argies? Where are the bile dripping editorials? Why isn't Michael Fallon attacking his Tory colleague as "a bigger threat to the Falklands than Argentina" for doing exactly what Jeremy Corbyn suggested just eight months previously?


The Falkland Islanders are apparently delighted that the Tories have pinched Jeremy Corbyn's idea, and are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of an end to the decades of crippling trade sanctions on hydrocarbons, fishing, shipping and tourism.

Not only did the Tories (and their attack-dogs in the mainstream press) savage Jeremy Corbyn for suggesting an entirely sensible policy of economic co-operation between the UK and Argentina rather than militaristic antagonism, the Tories have actually gone and nicked it off him within the space of a year!

The lack of bile-dripping articles in the mainstream press about how Theresa May is "a bigger threat to the Falklands than the Argentinians" for doing precisely what Jeremy Corbyn was slaughtered for proposing just eight months ago is indicative of the extraordinary levels of pro-Tory bias of the UK mainstream press.


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* = The Jeremy Corbyn question that Cameron was evading was about the sweetheart deal the Tories had concocted to allow Google to pay an effective tax rate of just 3%.

Enrage the Chinese or shaft the British public?


As one of the most inept Prime Ministers in living memory David Cameron has left an awful lot of toxic legacies behind for his successors to deal with (rising inequality, six years of economically ruinous austerity, re-inflation of the household debt bubble, savage local government cuts, his failed Brexit gamble ...) 


One of Cameron's absolute worst legacies is the shambolic rip-off nuclear power price-fixing deal that he and George Osborne cooked up with the French and Chinese.

There are all sorts of factors that make Cameron and Osborne's deal an absolute catastrophe for Britain. One of the main objections is the fact that the deal to get France and China to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station for us comes with the huge bribe of a guaranteed £92.50 per MWh of electricity for 35 years. This figure will rise with inflation for throughout the contract. When the global costs of renewable energy sources are in sustained decline, it's economically suicidal to lock yourself into a rip-off 35 year contract to pay way over the odds for nuclear energy, but that's precisely what Cameron an Osborne did.

The rip-off deal is so bad that George Osborne's own father-in-law David Howell described it as "one of the worst deals ever" for British energy consumers and businesses.

Cameron and Osborne left Theresa May in an impossible lose-lose situation. She either had to enrage the Chinese by backing out of the deal (a poor move when the Brexit vote has put the UK in such a weak position on the geopolitical stage) or she had to completely shaft the British public by continuing with this appalling rip-off deal.

On September 15th 2016 Theresa May announced the inevitable: She's choosing to shaft the British public rather than stand up to the Chinese.

Another big problem with the Tory nuclear price-fixing deal is that a Chinese company with a one third stake in the Hinkley Point C project has been charged by the US government with nuclear espionage.

By deciding to continue with a deal to work with a company that stands charged with stealing US nuclear secrets, May is clearly spitting in the eyes of the Americans. The nuclear espionage charges could have been an ideal opportunity to try to renegotiate the deal with less loss of face, but Theresa May spurned it.

The idea of a British Prime Minister spitting in the face of the Americans in order to suck up to the communist Chinese government would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, but somehow the Tories are being allowed to completely get away with it by the mainstream media.

Just imagine the howls of outrage in the mainstream press if Jeremy Corbyn had even dared propose a policy of gravely insulting the Americans in order to suck up to communist China (obviously he wouldn't, he'd say that Britain should build its own energy infrastructure), yet the Tories aren't just proposing such an absurd policy, it's what they're actually doing ... and there's barely a whisper of dissent about it in the mainstream press.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Tory plot to lock themselves into power forever


The Tory Party are planning to rig the Westminster electoral system in an attempt to lock themselves into power forever. There's no other way of putting it. All of the commonly attempted Tory justifications for the boundary changes are woeful at best. In this article I'm going to detail just a few of the main objections.

The House of Lords


During his six years in power David Cameron stuffed an additional 213 unelected peers into the House of Lords, many of them major Tory party donors and his own personal cronies (his hairdresser, Samantha Cameron's stylist ...). In fact he stuffed unelected peers into the House of Lords at a faster rate than any Prime Minister in history.

The idea that it's necessary to cut the number of elected MPs by 50 in order to "reduce the cost of politics" is an extraordinary attempted justification when the Tories have just added over 200 politicians to the unelected £300 per day for life club. As aresult of all of this crony-stuffing the House of Lords is now the second biggest legislative chamber in the entire world (second only to China) and by far the biggest unelected legislative body on the planet!

What contempt the Tories must have for the electorate to claim that their boundary changes are motivated by a desire to reduce the cost of doing politics when they've spent the last six years stuffing the unelected and already hopelessly bloated House of Lords full of their cronies.

One of the first priorities for any party that is genuinely serious about reducing the cost of politics would be the democratisation of the House of Lords and its reduction in size to a much more manageable level.

The (elected) upper chambers in other large developed nations have far fewer members.

Canada (population 36.2 million): Senate 105 elected members

Spain (population 46.4 million): Senate: 266 elected members
Italy
 (population: 60.7 million): Senate: 315 elected members
France (population: 66.7 million): Senate: 348 elected members
Germany (population: 82.2 million): Bundesrat: 69 elected members
Japan (population: 127.1 million): House of Councillors: 242 elected members
United States (population: 324.1 million): Senate: 100 elected members


UK (population: 65.1 million): House of Lords: 807 unelected members

It's absolutely clear from these figures that the unelected House of Lords is massively bloated in comparison to other developed nations. If it was democratised and the number of members halved, it would still be significantly bigger than any comparable upper chamber in the developed world.

The English democratic deficit

Devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has led to an appalling constitutional mess where residents of these nations have proportionally elected parliaments, while all of the English regions outside of London (which has its own proportionally elected assembly) have none.

The English regions should be given a referendum on whether they want regional autonomy and their own parliament (like London) or whether they want to be part of a wider English parliament. Regional autonomy could work well for big regions like Yorkshire (which has a similar size population and economy to Scotland) and also for smaller regions like Cornwall (which has its own unique cultural identity and language). Other areas might prefer to be part of a wider parliament of the English regions.

It's completely unacceptable that residents of the English regions continue to be treated as second class citizens of the UK with no proportionally elected parliament like residents of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.

Any attempt to define the Tory electoral boundary changes in terms of "fairness" is absolutely absurd when no effort is being made to address the English democratic deficit.

The incomplete voting register

Another factor that makes the proposed Tory boundary changes incredibly unfair is the way they have decided to use an incomplete voting register to base the new constituency sizes on.

It's bad enough redrawing constituencies in line with the number of registered voters instead of the actual population of the areas, but using an out-of-date register to make the calculations with is utterly ridiculous.

The Tory decision to base the rejigged boundaries on the electoral register in December 2015 (just after they threw millions of people off it by introducing individual registration) is transparently unfair when it's now clear that two million people have joined the electoral register since (presumably to vote in the EU referendum).

In many areas there are discrepancies in the tens of thousands between the number of people registered in December 2015 and those registered in June 2016. Lewisham is the worst example with a discrepancy of 31,025 voters, which represents a huge 18.6% change in the registered electorate in the space of half a year.

It's literally impossible for Tories to argue that these boundary changes are being done to "more fairly represent the size of the electorate" unless they cynically ignore the fact that the size and distribution of the registered electorate has changed dramatically since the figures they're basing their changes upon, meaning that they're already terribly outdated.


The power imbalance

Reducing the number of MPs while keeping the number of government ministers the same will obviously reduce the ability of parliament to hold the government to account, because there will be fewer non-ministers to scrutinise all of the legislation.

This problem of reduced accountability will be exacerbated by the fact that each MP will experience an average 8.3% increase in their constituency workload on top of the fact that there will be fewer MPs to hold the government to account.

The UK political system is already terribly over-centralised, with the Prime Minister and their cabinet members operating without proper scrutiny, accountability or censure. A reduction in the number of elected MPs would only make this situation much worse.


A growing population and a shrinking parliament?

The number of MPs in Westminster has fluctuated slightly over the years, but the last time the number of MPs went below 615 was the 18th Century. The UK has had well over 600 MPs ever since 1801, with the absolute low point since then coming between 1922 and 1945 when the number was set at 615 (just after independence for the Republic of Ireland).

A comparison between the number of MPs and the population of the United Kingdom reveals that the Tory plan to reduce the number of MPs will leave the UK with by far it's worst level of political representation.

The absurd 5% threshold

Nobody objects to the principle that constituencies should be of more-or-less the same size, but in setting the threshold at just 5% the Tories are ensuring that there will need to be a costly and disruptive set of boundary changes after every election.

If the threshold was set at 5% of the actual population of the areas then changes in population dynamics would necessitate regular boundary changes, but setting it at 5% of the registered electorate makes it even more messy, because (as the situation in Hackney proves) the number of registered voters can fluctuate wildly..

This is yet another example of the Tories "saving money" narrative failing to make sense. If they were really concerned about saving money, they wouldn't have set their arbitrary limit so low and created the need for a costly set of constituency tampering after every single election.


Legitimacy

An awful lot of people seem to have forgotten that over two dozen Tory MPs stand accused of cheating their way to victory at the 2015 General Election by breaking the election spending limits in marginal constituencies. The Tories only have a tiny majority in parliament, and if these boundary changes are enforced it will be through the backing of these MPs who financially doped their way into parliament in the first place.

Fair Votes

If there is one flaw in the Westminster electoral system it's not that there are "too many MPs" it's that millions of people are locked out of the political system as a result of the archaic and unrepresentative Westminster voting system.

There are so many flaws with the Westminster voting system it's wise to stick to just four of the main ones in order to stop this article from getting over-long.

Safe seats

The current Westminster voting system ensures that there are hundreds of "safe seats" where the incumbent party could put up a severed pig's head with their rosette on it and romp to a landslide victory.

The existence of safe seats means that there are an awful lot of extremely complacent MPs in parliament who think they can get away with pretty much anything, safe in the knowledge that their place in parliament is assured by the tribalistic attitudes of their constituents.

One of the benefits of a multi-member proportional election system is that it could pit members of the same party against one another, meaning only the ones who best serve their electorate would be guaranteed a seat.

Disproportionality

The 2015 General Election was staggeringly disproportional. The two new contenders (UKIP and the Green Party) polled over 5 million votes between them but ended up with just two of the 650 MPs. In return for 16.4% of the vote, these parties ended up with just 0.3% of the MPs!

If you add the Liberal Democrats into the mix, UKIP, the Lib-Dems and the Green Party collected 25.3% of the votes between them and got 10 MPs. Labour got 30.4% of the vote and 232 MPs and the Tories got 36.9% of the vote and 330 of the MPs (more than half of them).

If any party is serious about "fairness" they wouldn't be tinkering with the number of MPs, they'd be ensuring that the smaller parties get a fairer representation of the MPs.

Apathy
A system that traps millions of people in "safe seats" and massively discriminates against the smaller parties is one of the fundamental drivers of political apathy. If people thought that their vote actually counted for anything, they'd be far more likely to actually get out and vote. 

Non-representation


One of the quirks of the current Westminster voting system is that the vast majority of MPs end up getting elected with less than 50% of the vote, meaning that the vast majority of voters in their constituencies actually voted against them.

The introduction of larger multi-member constituencies would put an end to this farce by ensuring that people have numerous local MPs to turn to. It's funny how Tories always harp on about competition being the driver of efficiency and good performance, but when it comes to competition between local MPs they're suddenly ever so keen to keep hold of their cosy constituency monopolies.

Imagine if you lived in a bigger constituency with six local MPs. Maybe two Tories, two Labour an Lib-Dem and a Green. You could turn to any of them with your issue. Don't you think the rivalry would give the various MPs a very strong incentive to provide the best level of service possible to people like you?


Conclusion
If the Tories were honestly committed to providing a more representative political system (rather than a means of rigging the boundaries to lock themselves into power forever), then the first thing on the list would have to be a fair voting system

The Tory rhetoric simply doesn't match their proposals. If they cared about the cost of politics they'd address the bloated unelected House of Lords, not trim down the size of the elected House of Commons. And if they cared about fairness then they'd introduce fair votes and put an end to the English democratic deficit.

They don't actually give a stuff about the cost of politics or fairness. All they're interested in is rigging the system to their own advantage by abolishing a load of mainly Labour constituencies in the elected chamber whilst simultaneously stuffing the unelected House of Lords with a load of Tory cronies.


Sign the petition

Stop the boundaries changes - on the official government petition site.


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David Cameron's warmongering in Libya resulted in catastrophe, but only 15 MPs opposed it at the time!



It hardly needed a Foreign Affairs Committee report to tell us that the 2011 military actions in Libya turned into a massive humanitarian disaster, but if you want to read the full report it can be found here: Libyan intervention based on erroneous assumptions; David Cameron ultimately responsible


The intervention in Libya happened eight years after the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq had resulted in the creation of a violent and lawless power vacuum in the region in which Islamist fanatics thrived, eventually culminating in the rise of ISIL/Daesh.

The very first lesson that should have been learned in Iraq was that toppling a government (no matter how bad it is) is a terrible idea if there isn't an extremely robust and coherent plan for what comes next. If the plan is inadequate it results in a power vacuum and huge numbers of innocent civilians end up suffering the appalling consequences.

It's absolutely clear from the fact that only fifteen of the UK's 650 MPs voted against David Cameron's gung-ho military action in Libya that the British political establishment completely ignored what should have been the most obvious conclusion from the humanitarian disaster in Iraq.
Findings of the Libya report

The Foreign Affairs Committee report is absolutely damning. Here are some of the key findings:

  • "A policy which had [supposedly] intended to protect civilians drifted towards [the illegal policy of] regime change and was not underpinned by strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya".
  • "Decisions were not based on accurate intelligence."
  • "The UK Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians [from Gadaffi] was overstated."
  • "The UK Government failed to identify that the rebels included a significant Islamist element."
  • "The consequences of the military action were political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal welfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violationsthe spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa."
  • Libya purchased some £30 billion of weapons and ammunition between 1969 and 2010. After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, some weapons fell into the hands of the militias. Other Libyan weapons and ammunition were trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East. 
  • "The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East ... It is probable that none of the states that intervened in Libya would have been prepared to commit the necessary military and political resources to secure stocks of weapons and ammunition. That consideration should have informed their calculation to intervene."
  • "Political instability in Libya has led to a permissive environment for terrorist groups in which to operate, including ISIL affiliated groups."
  • "ISIL has used its presence in Libya to train terrorists. For example, Sefeddine Rezgui, the gunman who killed Western holidaymakers in Tunisia in June 2015, was trained by ISIL at its base in Sabratha along with the two gunmen who killed 22 tourists at the Bardo museum in Tunis."
  • "Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at a lesser cost to the UK and Libya. The UK would have lost nothing by trying these instead of focusing exclusively on [the illegal concept of] regime change by military means."
  • "Former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy."
  • The UK’s actions in Libya were part of an ill-conceived intervention, the results of which are still playing out today.
Lessons not learned

David Cameron's gung-ho rush into Libya resulted in many of the same disastrous outcomes as Blair's invasion and occupation of Iraq. Political and economic collapse, sectarian warfare, a huge refugee crisis, untold civilian suffering and a continuing legacy of violence and chaos, and the empowerment of ISIL/Daesh.

The factor that makes the intervention in Libya so much worse is not the scale of it, which has never quite reached the utter devastation Blair achieved in Iraq, but the fact that Cameron's gung-ho warmongering in Libya proved beyond doubt that the British political establishment had completely refused to learn the single most important lesson from Iraq: Toppling a government (no matter how harsh it is) tends to make things an awful lot worse if it is done without a robust and coherent plan for what comes next.

The 15 MPs who had the sense to vote against Cameron's warmongering


13 MPs and two "tellers" voted against military action in Libya. Here is the full list of the tiny minority of MPs who demonstrated that they had sense enough to learn the most important lesson from the Iraq catastrophe:


Graham Allen
(Labour)
John Baron (Conservative)
Ronnie Campbell 
(Labour)
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour)
Mark Durkan (SDLP)
Barry Gardiner 
(Labour)
Roger Godsiff 
(Labour)
Caroline Lucas (Green)
John McDonnell 
(Labour)
Linda Riordan 
(Labour)
Margaret Ritchie (SDLP)
Dennis Skinner 
(Labour)
Mike Wood 
(Labour)
Katy Clark 
(Labour)
Yasmin Qureshi 
(Labour)


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Sunday, September 11, 2016

One token sacrifice will not mask the obvious double standards


The Labour Party purge squad has finally suspended the party donor Michael Foster over his appalling Nazi storm troopers slurs in the Daily Mail last month, and it's about time too.


It could be seen as a measure of progress that the Labour Party has eventually got around to suspending one of the party elitists for hurling abuse, but the question of how it took them four weeks to decide to take action over such a high profile example of abuse-slinging still remains.

Why the discrepancy between the instant suspensions handed out to ordinary members over utterly trivial stuff (liking the Foo Fighters too much, voting Green before they even joined Labour, allegedly abusive social media comments that apparently don't even exist ...) and the four weeks it took them to decide to suspend Foster over his extremely high profile abuse of other Labour Party members?

It could be argued that Foster is being used by the NEC as a token sacrifice to stem the chorus of condemnation in the Labour Party ranks over the the clear double standards of the purge operation. Foster's continued membership of the party weeks after having submitted such an abusive article to the Daily Mail was one of the totemic examples of double standards between the treatment of ordinary members and the treatment of the party elites.

How on earth could the Labour Party purge squad have been concentrating their efforts on a massive social media trawling operation to turf hundreds of people out of the party over completely innocuous social media comments while this incredibly high profile example of abusive behaviour went unpunished for so long?


The problem with the NEC using Foster as a token sacrifice to create the impression of balance is that there are plenty of other examples of Labour Party elitists (like Tom Blenkinsop, Ian Austin, and Luke Akehurst) busily slinging and retweeting insults, abuse and utterly divisive comments. If the Foster suspension sets the precedent that calling other Labour members Nazis is unacceptable abuse, then surely it stands to reason that calling other members "Stalinists" or "Trots" constitutes unacceptable abuse too?

Another thing that will ensure that the accusations of hypocrisy will not be going away is the continued membership of the major Labour donor David Sainsbury. If voting for the Green Party ages before they even joined Labour has been deemed a purge-worthy offence by the NEC, then making a £2,125,000 donation to the Liberal Democrats whilst a member of the Labour Party has to result in suspension too.
As long as they're turfing ordinary members out of the party for utterly trivial stuff, there's absolutely no way that the Labour purge squad can justify continuing to allow the insulting, abusive and utterly divisive behaviour of anti-Corbyn members of the party elite to go unpunished.

As long as they're turfing ordinary members out of the party for having supported other parties before they even joined Labour, there's absolutely no way that the Labour purge squad can even try to justify allowing a member of the party elite to actually hand two million quid to a rival political party.

One token sacrifice of a Labour Party elitist by the NEC will not make the accusations of elitism, heavy-handedness, double standards and politically motivated bias go away.


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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Does Liam Fox even know what his job is?



Doesn't Liam Fox even realise that it's his job to promote British businesses rather than malign them?

British businesses are already having a difficult time dealing with the uncertainty over Brexit, and Theresa May's evasive refusals to explain whether the government is going to be seeking to retain access to the European single market or not, now they've got a Tory minister for international trade slagging British business off as "too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations" and complaining that they spend too much time playing golf rather than doing their jobs.

The idea that all British executives are lazy golf-playing wasters is an extraordinarily silly generalisation. We all know that in any country there are some lazy executives like that, some who just do their jobs and maintain a sensible work-life balance, and some who work themselves into an early grave with the stress and long hours. Crass generalisations are no good to anybody, but coming from the guy who's actual job it is to promote British businesses on the international stage, it's not just crass and stupid, it's reckless beyond belief.


Members of the CBI must be absolutely fuming that their decision to turn their business lobbying organisation into a blatant propaganda unit for the Tory party has been rewarded with such a massive kick in the teeth from the Tory minister who is supposed to actually be representing their interests on the world stage.

Liam Fox has already been disgraced once for giving his special friend Adam Werrity access to classified meetings during his stint as Defence Secretary. He should have been kept well away from responsible positions on the world stage from then on, but for some unknowable reason Theresa May handed him a reprieve and the vital role of looking after Britain's international trade interests during the Brexit negotiations, and within a couple of months he's shot himself in the foot by slagging off British businesses as lazy and uncompetitive.

Just imagine the horrified reaction from the mainstream press if it was one of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet who had insulted British industry like that. "Unpatriotic" they'd wail. "Anti-business", "incompetent", "unfit for government" ....

Theresa May's Downing Street spin doctors have tried making the excuse for Fox that he was "clearly expressing private views"  and the mainstream media have taken to uncritically repeating this astonishingly feeble excuse rather than pointing out how woeful it is.


Just try to imagine the BBC and the mainstream media uncriticially reporting this "just private views" excuse if it had've been one of Jeremy Corbyn's team describing British business as a load of shit.

Of course they wouldn't have just let this utterly feeble excuse slide, they would have lampooned it for the rubbish that it is, repeatedly demanded that the Labour shadow minister be sacked, and used it as a stick to beat the shadow minister with at every opportunity if Corbyn somehow decided that it would be a good move to keep such an incompetent blabber mouth in his top team. 


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