Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn isn't the one driving wedges

The more the Labour coup supporters say, the more they convince people that they live in an alternative universe of Westminster privilege where rather than being massively unappealing stances, self-righteousness, synthetic indignation, fabricated evidence and empty rhetoric are the debating tactics of choice.

One of the most bizarre assertions yet from a Labour Party coup supporter is Harriet Harman's ridiculous assertion that Jeremy Corbyn is guilty of driving a wedge between Labour MPs and the Labour Party membership.

In order to examine the sheer ludicrousness of this claim it's necessary to consider the events of the last year, and especially the last month or so.

In the summer of 2015 Jeremy Corbyn became the star of the Labour leadership contest which he eventually won by taking an incredible 60% of the vote in a four horse race. In winning the support of 250,000 people he established the biggest properly democratic* mandate of any UK party leader in history.

Since Jeremy Corbyn came onto the scene and started steering Labour away from the Thatcherism-lite economic policies of the Blair, era the party has more than doubled its membership to well over half a million people. This astonishing surge in party membership means that Labour now has more members than all of the other UK political parties combined.

Labour coup plotters have been planning to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn since before he was even elected. There were many members of the Labour Party who determined to not allow Corbyn the chance to succeed. Hence all of the constant briefing against him in the press, refusals to serve in his cabinet, staged resignations and dirty laundry airing. 

Tony Blair notoriously declared that he'd rather have Labour lose the next General election to the Tories than see Jeremy Corbyn succeed with a genuine social democratic campaign. A lot of the coup plotters have just been following their idol's instructions.

Two weeks before the referendum result was even known the coup plotters were so cocksure of success that they briefed the Daily Telegraph about their plan to use the referendum result (whichever way it went) as an excuse to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn. The bizarre story they came up with was that Jeremy Corbyn was to blame for Brexit even though he was considered by far the most trustworthy Labour politician during the debate and he delivered 63% of the Labour vote for Remain, while Tory supporters voted 58% in favour of Leave.

If anyone was to blame for Brexit it was clearly David Cameron and the Tories. Cameron gambled the entire future of the UK for a bit of short-term party political advantage at the 2015 General election, and thanks to the efforts of Tory MPs like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, John Redwood, Priti patel and Chris Grayling, and the votes of Tory supporters, the UK electorate voted in favour of a haphazard "blind jump" abandonment of the EU.

Instead of speaking with a unified voice in condemnation of the Tories in the wake of Brexit, the Labour coup plotters decided to ineptly refocus the news agenda onto their own bitter internal party dispute. Any Labour member who can't see that as a spectacular betrayal of the party is clearly delusional. Even if you utterly detest Corbyn, surely it's possible to admit that waiting a few weeks until the folk narrative that Tory infighting was the cause of Brexit was fully established before trying to overthrow Corbyn would have been a less harmful and inept strategy in regards to the long-term prospects of the Labour Party?

Clearly a lot of Labour Party members are furious that the Labour coup plotters tried to bully the democratically elected leader of the party into quitting. 250,000 people voted for Corbyn less than a year previously, yet a load of Labour MPs decided that they know better than the party membership, so they tried to bully Corbyn into quitting so as to avoid a democratic leadership election (because they knew that they would almost certainly lose it).

When Corbyn refused to be bullied into resignation the coup plotters found themselves in a real bind. They had to come up with an Anyone But Corbyn candidate to stand against him in a democratic leadership election, but such is his popularity that he's doubled the size of the Labour Party membership within a year, so whoever they came up with would face a huge uphill battle to convince people to turn against the guy who inspired them to join the party in the first place.

After infuriating any Labour Party member with a few grains of strategic sense by launching an failed anti-democratic coup at the least opportune moment imaginable, the next move of the coup plotters was to use the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) to try to rig the leadership election in their favour.

In a desperate bid to fix the leadership election against Jeremy Corbyn the NEC decided to retroactively exclude over 130,000 legitimate Labour Party members from voting, but leave open a back door so that well-to-do people (or poorer people willing to make serious sacrifices to their living standards) could buy a vote for £25 a shot.

If defying the will of the party membership to launch the most ill-timed coup imaginable against the democratically elected leader of the party wasn't bad enough, pissing off 130,000 members by retroactively scrapping their right to vote, then sticking a £25 price tag on democracy was a huge slap in the face of huge numbers of Labour Party members and supporters.

Another way in which the coup plotters in the NEC have driven a wedge between the party establishment and the membership is through their complete lockdown on local party democracy and their decision to completely shut down several local party branches after they did things like hold votes of confidence in favour of Jeremy Corbyn, or against their coup plotter MPs.

Yet another way the Labour coup-plotter MPs are driving wedges between themselves and members of the party is their disgusting habit of referring to Jeremy Corbyn supporters as "entryists", "dogs", "trots", "quasi-Marxists", "infiltrators" ... The idea that dismissing hundreds of thousands of people with divisive slurs like this the way to improve relations within the party rather than widen divisions is yet another example of the self-righteous delusion of so many coup-supporting MPs.

The idea that it's Jeremy Corbyn driving all these wedges between the coup plotter MPs and the party membership is so absurdly backwards that only the desperately out-of-touch could ever believe it. 

The coup plotter MPs and their chums on the NEC are driving the wedges all by themselves, and Jeremy Corbyn's only "crime" is that he is trying to stand on the side of the membership, rather than bending to the will of the out-of-touch Labour Party establishment (as represented so aptly by the hopelessly out-of-touch by Harriet Harman).

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


* = Other Labour Party leaders have received more votes in support of their candidacy, but never under properly democratic One Member One Vote electoral rules.

The Tories are scrapping NHS bursaries

Before clearing off for their extended summer holiday Theresa May's Tory government announced that they're planning to hammer another nail into the NHS coffin by scrapping NHS bursaries for university students by 2017.

The plan to scrap bursaries and replace them with loans would result in trainee nurses and midwives leaving university with over £50,000 worth of debt. The starting salary for a newly trained NHS nurse is just £21,692 per year. The idea that people are going to jump at the opportunity to load themselves up with over fifty grand in debt for a job where only a tiny minority ever progress far enough up the pay scale to earn more than £30,000 per year is ridiculous. A Unison survey of working nurses found that over 90% said that they wouldn't have trained as a nurse if they had had no access to the NHS bursary.

The Royal College of Nursing has described the plan as unfair and risky, while the Royal College of Midwifery has said that the move threatens the future of maternity services in the UK.

Other health specialisations that will be hit hard by this Tory plan to lumber trainee health professionals with mountains of debt occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, podiatry and radiography.

The scrapping of NHS bursaries is yet another piece of evidence that Tories are conducting a deliberate ideological war of attrition on the NHS and its staff.

Since 2010 the Tories have shut down dozens of A&E units and maternity wards and made it far easier to force the closure of even more NHS facilities against public opinion (despite promising to end forced closures prior to the 2010 General Election); NHS mental health funding is in crisis; several Tory NHS privatisation scams have ended in chaos (like Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cornwall out of hours GP services and the Brighton ambulance fiasco); waiting times have skyrocketed since 2010 so the Tories simply scrapped the waiting time targets; Jeremy Hunt has provoked a bitter ongoing dispute with junior doctors; In April 2016 Theresa May introduced an absurd "earn £35,000 a year or you're deported"; rule for non-EU workers; Brexit means that skilled health workers from within the EU are likely to be deterred from coming to the UK (especially given Theresa May's refusal to rule out the forced deportations of EU citizens); and now the Tories are trying to provoke a recruitment crisis by scrapping financial support for student medical professionals.

The idea that these things are all coincidental or unplanned is staggeringly naive. Paul Charlson, the boss of Conservative Health has already explained that the only way to conceivably scrap the socialist NHS "free at the point of use" principle is to create "a feeling in the country that the health service is falling apart".

The Tory blogger Henry Hill went even further, laying out the full Tory blueprint for wrecking our public services.

The Tory government claim that scrapping the student bursary system and lumbering health professionals with huge debts will save the country £800 million a year, which they say will be invested in creating more places for student nurses and midwives. This is hardly rational. How does it make sense to increase the number of health care training places whilst simultaneously trashing demand for those places by removing one of the main incentives for people to study for careers in health care?

To put the cited £800 million a year "saving" into perspective, the estimated cost of renewing Trident and the associated running costs over the 30 year lifespan is £205 billion. That would be enough to pay bursaries to student nurses and midwives for the next 256 years!

Theresa May's decision to write the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history to the corporations that stand to make £billions from renewing the UK's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction one week and then hammering yet another nail into the NHS coffin by scrapping NHS bursaries the next is a perfect illustration of her warped priorities.

Theresa May (and all Tories) are dedicated servants of capital. To them it makes perfect sense to shovel £billions in taxpayers' cash at the corporations that operate the UK's privatised nuclear weapons systems (Jacobs Engineering, Lockheed Martin and Serco).

Theresa May (and Tories in general) have a burning ideological hatred of the NHS because it is an efficient and highly popular example of state socialism. The Tories hate it because they're ideologically opposed to any forms of socialism (apart from socialism for the rich of course) but they have to dishonestly claim to love the NHS because it's so incredibly popular.

The true Tory objective is to wreck the NHS as much as they can so they can eventually justify scrapping the socialist "free at the point of need" principle entirely and introducing a US style private insurance system. The scrapping of NHS bursaries is yet another step towards this rarely admitted but all-too-obvious Tory objective of ruining our NHS.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Owen Smith's out-of-touch Sports Direct comments

Owen Smith's bizarre below-the-belt dig at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership for being like Sports Direct just goes to show how utterly out-of-touch some of these coup plotter MPs are.

These people earn £75,000 a year, plus tens of thousands more in expenses, plus tens of thousands more if they hold positions in the shadow cabinet. Some of them who were parachuted into safe Labour constituencies essentially have jobs for life. Most of the others can look forward to retirement in the £300 per day (tax-free) unelected House of Lords, or cushy consultancies at PR firms or corporations hoping to cash in on their political connections.

In contrast 90% of Sports Direct employees are on insecure Zero Hours Contracts. The company was recently slammed for illegally paying workers less than the minimum wage and treating their staff like sub-humans. Staff were subjected to humiliating searches and left so afraid of losing their jobs that they avoided taking toilet breaks. One woman was so fearful about her job that she gave birth in a toilet cubicle. Other women were even promised permanent contracts in return for sexual favours.

The Labour coup plotters don't like their boss. They resent the fact that Labour Party members chose a man they don't want to work with. Several of them flatly refused to serve in his shadow cabinet from day one. Others damaged the party by constantly briefing against the party leadership in the press. Others engaged in a grubby sequence of pre-planned resignations designed to bully their boss into quitting just at a time when the country most needed the opposition to speak with a unified voice in condemnation of the Tories. Others have deliberately fabricated evidence of "abuse" in order to inflict as much damage as possible on the party they pretend to love.

Anyone who has worked for private companies in the past (Sports Direct or otherwise) knows damned well that inflicting this scale of damage on the company reputation would lead to immediate sacking, yet when it comes to the appalling behaviour of these MPs Jeremy Corbyn is still offering to forgive and forget.

Nobody is claiming that Jeremy Corbyn is perfect, he's only been in the leadership job for ten months. He's been learning on the job and made mistakes along the way. Of course he's not going to have become an ideal boss in such a short amount of time, but comparisons with Mike Ashley and the management of Sports Direct as quite frankly ridiculous.

By making such a hyperbolic and frankly insulting comparison Owen Smith has demonstrated that he's completely out of touch with the reality faced by millions of exploited low-income workers across the UK. It's no wonder that five million voters abandoned the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010 when the Party has bred such complacency that MPs are prepared to use the plight of exploited workers just to score cheap political points within the Westminster bubble. 

What cheek they have to compare their own privileged position in society to the employees of one of the most ruthlessly exploitative companies in Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn is one of the only high profile political figures who seems genuine in his concerns for the working poor, yet his opponents within the Labour Party are determined to show how out of touch with reality that they are by comparing their own plight to the the workers of a company that has been described as a 21st Century workhouse.

They're so insulated within their own bubble of wealth and privilege that they're seriously comparing their own privileged situations to the plight of some of the most unfortunate workers in Britain. What makes this behaviour all the more insulting is that understanding the plight of, and defending exploited workers is the exact purpose the Labour Party was originally built for.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Theresa May's "living within our means" economic platitude

In claiming that austerity means "living within our means" Theresa May has made it absolutely clear that she's intent on promoting the exact same simplistic reality-denying economically illiterate drivel as David Cameron.

The Tories know that the vast majority of the 93% of people who attend state schools end up receiving absolutely no training in the economic basics, so they know that we're susceptible to accepting misleading economic platitudes like "there's no money left", "Labour bankrupted Britain" or "living within our means".

When they say stuff like that, they either actually believe it, or much more likely, they know it's abject counter-factual rubbish that only the economically uneducated could fall for, but they claim to believe it anyway because they hold the electorate in such contempt that they think they can spew
 toxic economically illiterate drivel all over the place, and we'll all just lap it up like it's manna from heaven, then repeat it to our friends as if it's our own well-founded economic opinion.

Theresa May's performance at her first Prime Ministers' Questions made it absolutely clear that nothing has really changed. Theresa May has replaced David Cameron, but she's still relying on the exact same scriptwriters to feed her misleading economic platitudes, snidey put-downs and ways of avoiding answering direct questions.

Just days after writing the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history to the corporations that stand to make £billions from Trident renewal Theresa May had the absolute gall to try to claim that Tory austerity is about "living within our means".

Apparently we're so broke as a nation that since the Lib-Dems enabled them back into power in 2010 the Tories have laid off 36,000 police, 7,000 firemen, 30,000 military personnel, tens of thousands of NHS staff, and they've shut down hundreds of libraries, Sure Start centres, public toilets and dozens of firestations and NHS facilities like A&E and maternity wards. But despite apparently being so broke we can't afford to properly fund our military or public services, we can afford to squander hundreds of billions on renewing our stockpile of pointless doomsday machines!

It's spectacularly easy to contrast Theresa May's ridiculous "living within our means" platitude with her decision to write the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history just days before, but it's also easy to demonstrate that if "living within our means" is the objective of Tory austerity, then it's abjectly failed.

If austerity is about "living within our means", then how is it possible to explain the facts that the national debt has risen by well over half a trillion pounds since George Osborne introduced his austerity agenda? How is it possible that George Osborne spectacularly failed to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015 as he promised? How is it possible that the Tories are now admitting that they have no hope of eliminating the budget deficit by 2020? How is it possible to explain how George Osborne created more new debt than every Labour government in history combined? How is it possible that household debt levels have soared back above pre-crisis levels?

If this last six years of massively increasing debt was a Tory effort to "live within our means" then I'd hate to see what a Tory spending spree might look like!

The reason austerity has failed so spectacularly in terms of "living within our means" is that "let's cut our way to growth" is an economically illiterate proposition. It doesn't take a great deal of brainpower to realise that the best way to reduce debt is through evidence based economic policy where more money is channelled into investments and services that produce more economic activity than they cost, while cuts are only considered to areas of government spending with poor returns on investment.

The failure of austerity isn't really a failure at all though, because the point of it was never really to reduce debt levels at all, it was always to justify a massive upwards redistribution of wealth with a load of debt fearmongering and misleading economic platitudes.

If austerity is judged in terms of "living within our means", then surely even the most rabid Tory tribalist would have to admit that Osborne failing to eliminate the budget deficit in five years was bad enough, but causing a lost decade of investment and failing to eliminate the deficit by 2020 is going to be a spectacularly abject failure.

If austerity is judged in terms of creating a massive upwards transfer of wealth on the other hand, then it's undeniably been a roaring success, with the super-rich taking ever larger slices of the national pie while the young, the disabled, children and the working poor have had the burden of Tory austerity loaded onto their shoulders.

The sad thing is that there are still millions of economically uneducated people out there who buy into misleading Tory economic platitudes like "living within our means" and still, even after six gruelling years, fail to realise that austerity is a con, and the platitudes are just a smokescreen to distract the economically naive from the real agenda.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


The anonymous coup-plotter threats against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour party democracy

Labour coup plotter MPs have been briefing the press that if the Labour Party membership backs Jeremy Corbyn again in the leadership election (as they likely will), they'll deliberately paralyse the party by triggering one leadership contest after another in a desperate "war of attrition" against labour party democracy.

An unnamed Labour MP was quoted by the independent as saying "If we don’t win [the leadership] this year, we will do it again next year and, if necessary, the year after. At some point before the next general election, he will go. The only question is when" [source].

The decision to make these threats is tied up with Jeremy Corbyn's statement that he is considering letting local Labour constituencies re-select their MPs, so that local labour Party supporters get the chance to clear out venal, self-serving, corrupt, right-wing, expenses-scamming, lazy and/or incompetent MPs and replace them with other people who are more likely to actually represent their views and interests in parliament.

Re-selection is obviously an existential threat to the Westminster gravy train that so many Labour MPs have been complacently riding for the last couple of decades. Between 1997 and 2010 five million voters abandoned the Labour Party. This didn't happen because the public shifted to the right as the Blairites love to claim (socialist policies like a not-for-profit NHS and renationalisation of the railways are still incredibly popular), but because so many complacent Labour MPs stopped even pretending to care about serving the needs of the communities that elected them.

Running off to their chums in the mainstream press to express appalling self-serving anti-democratic sentiments is bad enough, but the fact that these cowards briefed the press without even giving their names just goes to show what kind of people they are.

The coup plotters whinge on endlessly about abuse (much of it completely fabricated) yet they're perfectly happy making disgusting anonymous threats against Jeremy Corbyn, the the Labour Party membership, and the concept of Labour Party democracy.

These people are clearly so concerned about retaining their ticket to ride the Westminster gravy train, and so afraid of being deselected by the democratic will of their own constituents, that they're prepared to threaten to paralyse the Labour Party with one leadership election after another just to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

The stupidity of it is that the more the self-serving coup-plotter MPs behave like this, the more people are going to feel justified in feeling that the Labour Party really does need a thorough clean out of cowardly anti-democratic party-wreckers via the re-selection of Labour MPs before the next General Election.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blame Corbyn? What about Theresa May's lazy non-campaign?

The contrast in mainstream media coverage of the referendum campaigning of Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May is quite extraordinary.

The facts

  • Theresa May kept an extremely low-profile, even by admission of hard-right media outlets like the Telegraph (paywall) and Spectator
  • Jeremy Corbyn was by far the most commonly featured Labour politician during the referendum debate. Theresa May was the 10th most featured Tory politician, miles behind people like the backbencher Jacob Rees Mogg, low-profile ministers like Priti Patel and Chris Grayling, and the former Prime Minister John Major.
  • A poll conducted by the (Blairite) Fabian Society showed that Jeremy Corbyn was rated as by far the most trusted Labour voice during the referendum on plus 17, while his nearest Labour Party rival was the Labour In leader Alan Johnson on minus 10

Mainstream media portrayals

By pretty much all measures (effort, 
trustworthiness, media appearances, public appearances, outcomes ...) Jeremy Corbyn put on a much better EU referendum campaign than Theresa May, but somehow the Westminster establishment club and their chums in the mainstream media have relentlessly blamed Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit, whilst steadfastly refusing to criticise Theresa May's abject performance.

The BBC publicised the Portland Communications "Blame Corbyn" PR piece as if it came some random member of the public rather than an employee of a dodgy Blairite PR company, and the corporate media gave thousands of column inches to Labour coup plotters to damn Corbyn's performance, but when it came to Theresa May's performance, many of them even tried to put a positive spin on her non-campaign by claiming that her lack of enthusiasm for Remain made her an ideal "unifying" candidate for the Tory leadership!

Even the right-wing press admitted that Theresa May's lack of EU campaigning stemmed from her leadership ambitions. She deliberately and cynically kept a low-profile because she put her own leadership ambitions way above what she claimed to be the best interests of the country (remaining in the EU). Yet somehow the mainstream media are determined to blame Jeremy Corbyn, who was practically the only politician to try to speak to the public as if we're adults rather than a bunch of sub-juvenile halfwits who can be goaded into supporting one side or the other with fearmongering, threats, false promises, immigrant-bashing or outright lies.

It's absolutely extraordinary that the mainstream media have worked so tirelessly to cast by far the most trusted and widely reported Labour politician during the referendum debate as an abject failure, while simultaneously painting the desperately untrustworthy, brazenly self-serving and frankly lazy campaign by Theresa May as some kind of brilliant asset to her leadership ambitions.

The sad thing is that so many people actually lap up these kinds of brazenly counter-factual propaganda narratives. As far as some people are concerned, reading some extremely biased anti-Corbyn hatchet job in the Guardian, or reading some warped Theresa May hagiography in the tabloid press is enough for them to uncritically rote learn what they've read and adopt it as their own political opinion.

As long as people continue to simply rote-learn and repeat the pro-establishment mainstream propaganda, the loathed Westminster establishment club will remain untouchable and unreformed.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How do people still fall for the UKIP 'Trojan Horse' con?

It was always astonishing that so many people still fall for the UKIP 'Trojan Horse' con, but the fact that UKIP have now created the Brexit chaos they wanted and their leader has cleared off as quickly as possible it's beyond explanation why so many people, especially working class people, still decide to support UKIP.

As has been pointed out many times before, UKIP is a Thatcherite political party. It bankrolled by Tory party donors, it's stuffed full of failed, disgraced and defected Tory politicians and it pushes a "more Tory than the Tories" hard-right agenda.

For four decades the UK has been ruled over by a self-serving Westminster establishment with a fixation for hard-right neoliberal economic dogma. This fixation with hard-right economics has resulted in the deliberate destruction of British industries and the neglect of the communities they supported; an out of control self-serving financial sector elite who have pumped up vast house price and speculative asset bubbles at enormous detriment to the nation; the fire-sale/give-away of hundreds of £billions in public assets; rampant tax-dodging by corporations and the super-rich; and ever increasing levels of inequality.

Margaret Thatcher was the hard-right ideologue who started the process; John Major continued it (take his utterly botched privatisation of the railways); Tony Blair won the backing of the Murdoch propaganda empire by promising to continue the hard-right Thatcherite experiment; Gordon Brown squandered £1.5 trillion bailing out the reckless bankers with the biggest state subsidies in British history to save them from the bankruptcies they so richly deserved; then David Cameron spent six years pushing the same old hard-right economic dogma that caused the financial sector insolvency crisis as the cure to the crisis, simply by rebranding it as "austerity".

The purpose of UKIP is to soak up the discontent at the appalling consequences of the ideologically driven right-wing economic dogma favoured by the Westminster establishment club and channel it into a political party that serves to drag the political spectrum even further to the right.

The concept of a right-wing 'Trojan Horse' protest party designed to hoover up the anger at failed right-wing economic policies of the Westminster establishment and use it to drag the establishment political parties even further to the right is so cynical that it's obscene, but somehow people still keep falling for this faux protest party.

One of the main reasons people fall for it is that they are conditioned into believing in ludicrous right-wing tropes by an education system that teaches them to rote learn rather than apply critical thinking skills, and a mainstream media that constantly frames the political debate in terms of hard-right economics and immigrant-blaming being "common sense" and anything that actually questions the hard-right economic status quo of the Westminster establishment club as being "radical", "fanatical" or "dangerous".

When people are taught to mindlessly regurgitate what they're told from such a young age, it's no surprise that they end up rote learning the hard-right propaganda of the tabloid press and supporting fanatically right-wing political parties.

One of the most dispiriting things is the way UKIP have become so popular in the working class communities that have been completely ravaged by four decades of Thatcherite economic dogma. Given how hard-right economic ideology has trashed their communities, how could anyone from areas like the north east, the Welsh valleys or the former industrial towns in the Midlands end up throwing their support behind a bunch of hard-right Thatcherites like UKIP?

The only way it makes sense is if people have either failed to understand that the Westminster establishment has been dominated by hard-right Thatcherites for the last four decades (perhaps buying into the extraordinarily misleading extreme-right propaganda that people like Blair, Brown, Cameron and Osborne were just a bunch of "lefties"), or they've failed to realise that UKIP is pushing an extreme version of the exact same policies that led to the social and economic ruination of their communities (perhaps buying into the simplistic propaganda narrative that immigrants, rather than the political establishment, are to blame for their problems).

Whatever the reason that people allowed themselves to be conned by the UKIP snake oil merchants, their main excuse for supporting UKIP is now gone. They can't continue to say, as so many of them used to, that they only support UKIP to get the UK out of Europe. After the vote for Brexit in June 2016 that reason is null and void.

If you're working class and you still find yourself supporting UKIP, now is the time to admit to yourself that your support goes beyond wanting to get the UK to quit the EU. It's time to admit that you actually support the hard-right economic policies that have ruined working class industries and communities up and down the country; distributed hundreds of £billions in public assets to private interests; repressed your wages; underfunded and undermined the services and welfare system you pay for through your taxes; turned a blind eye to the tax-dodging of corporations and the super-rich; and allowed the bankers to go on one reckless gambling spree after another resulting in an over-inflated housing market that has put home ownership beyond the means of millions of ordinary workers like you.

You need to admit to yourself that you support a "more of the same, but harder" party, and in doing so you're giving material support to the most right-wing elements of the Tory and Labour parties who think that the only way to win back the votes of people like you is to imitate UKIP by offering ever more right-wing policies.

You need to admit to yourself that by supporting UKIP, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Is ideological flexibility a political virtue?

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at Jeremy Corbyn by supporters of the Labour Party coup plotters is that he is "ideologically inflexible". Somehow there are people out there who consider it some kind of political failing that Corbyn has consistently stuck with the left-wing anti-warmongering principles which led to him vote against the New Labour whip on numerous occasions.

Corbyn refused to abandon his principles over his opposition to the disastrous invasion of Iraq, his opposition to lumbering students from poor and ordinary backgrounds with huge debts, his opposition to the New Labour reliance upon ripoff PFI economic alchemy schemes ... Not only did his principles dictate that he vote against his own party on many occasions, he also refused to abstain on rotten Tory legislation as instructed to by the Labour Party whip. In 2013 he refused to abstain on Iain Duncan Smith's disgusting Retroactive workfare legislation (that was later declared unlawful in the courts), and in 2015 he was the only one of the four Labour leadership candidates to defy the party whip and vote against the Tories savage welfare cuts.

As far as some people are concerned, having principles and sticking by them is some kind of political crime, therefore, it follows that in their minds, ideological flexibility must be a political virtue.

The severe backlash against the ideologically flexible Liberal Democrats after they dumped a whole load of their principles in order to enable the Tories back into power in 2010 doesn't seem to be enough to deter supporters of the Anyone But Corbyn faction of the Labour Party.

After jumping into bed with the Tories, the Lib-Dems performed one U-turn after another on core Lib-Dem principles like their opposition to tuition fees (followed by voting through the Tory policy of lumbering English students with the highest fees at public universities anywhere in the word), their pre-election anti-austerity economic stance (Vince Cable's instant conversion from talking pre-election economic sense to vigorously defending George Osborne's austerity con), their insistence upon Proportional Representation (watered down to a rigged referendum on the "miserable little compromise" AV), their opposition to imperialist warmongering (suddenly they supported interventionist policies in Libya, Iraq and Syria) and their opposition to the commissioning of hugely expensive taxpayer subsidised nuclear power stations (The Lib-Dem Coalition energy minister Ed Davey gave one of the all time great examples of ideological flexibility, then, like an Internet n00b tried to delete his past views from the Internet). 

As a result of all of these U-turns the Lib-Dems lost two thirds of their voters, and in 2015 their representation in Westminster dropped from 57 to just 8 MPs.

None of that seems to bother the Anyone But Corbyn camp, who are now throwing their weight behind the ideologically flexible Owen Smith as their candidate to overthrow their ideologically inflexible party leader.

Owen Smith is trying to present himself as the "soft-left" unity candidate, but investigations into his background and voting record show that if he is posturing as left-wing now, it's only because he's smart enough to realise that he can't possibly win over the Labour Party membership on a toxic and outdated centre-right Blairite platform. Owen Smith can only rebrand himself like this because he has the ideological flexibility to jettison his past principles in favour of more left-wing positions that he knows that he needs to project in order to have even the remotest chance of winning the Labour leadership election.

Before being parachuted into one of the safest Labour seats in Wales (Pontypridd) during the New Labour era Smith worked as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer where he promoted a report calling for greater private sector involvement in the NHS. He was also working for them when they made a big donation to the right-wing Blairite pressure group Progress. Since setting himself up as the Anyone But Corbyn leadership candidate he's backtracked on privatisation of NHS provision and distanced himself from Blairism.

Back in 2006 when he tried, and failed to win the seat of Blaenau Gwent in a 2006 by-election Smith made some very odd excuses for the invasion of Iraq, and even after the WMDs hadn't been found, the lack of post-invasion planning had led to a massive looting spree, the deadly wave of sectarian violence, the deaths of ill-equipped British soldiers, and at the peak of the controversy over the US administered Abu Ghraib torture centre, he claimed that he thought that the illegal concept of regime change was part of a "noble valuable tradition" and still couldn't bring himself to say that the invasion was a mistake or that he would have voted against it. Smith now claims that he actively opposed the Iraq war in 2003.

Another example of Smith's ideological flexibility is the way he has gone from championing right-wing New Labour policies like PFI and academy schools to admitting that, like their pro-privatisation "choice" agenda in the NHS, they were "mistakes". Whether he is sincere in this conversion away from right-wing Blairite policies, or simply posturing as a left-winger to win the Labour leadership election before flexing back to the kind of economically right-wing policies favoured by the Westminster establishment club is anyone's guess.

Yet another example of Smith's ideological flexibility is the way that he's gone from being a staunch opponent of nuclear weapons to actively voting in favour of the unbelievable Tory legislation to write the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history to the corporations that stand to make £billions from Trident renewal.

Perhaps the most telling example of Smith's ideological flexibility came in the few days after the EU referendum result came in. On June 24th he slammed David Cameron for resigning, calling it "petulant, rash and selfish" before complaining that the national interest was being "sacrificed on the altar of Tory party politics and individual Tories' self-interest".

Just three days later Owen Smith joined in the mass resignation event that was pre-planned to bully Jeremy Corbyn into quitting as Labour Party leader. Participation in a pre-planned internal party coup plot at a time of "deepening uncertainty and fears for Britain" would have been bad enough in isolation, but doing it just three days after publicly lambasting David Cameron for resigning, and slamming other Tories for putting their party political self-interest above the needs of the nation is an absolutely stunning example of brass-necked hypocrisy.

In conclusion, the problem with Owen Smith's ideological flexibility is that it makes it awfully difficult to ever trust what he's saying. He's actually talking some good sense, and he's clearly nowhere near as an appalling candidate for leadership as Angela Eagle was, but how is it possible to believe that what he says is the truth, rather than a cynical attempt to win the Labour leadership by posing as a left-winger, before switching back to the Westminster establishment approved right-wing economic orthodoxy he used to stand for once he's got what he wants?

The problem with ideologically flexible showmen like Tony Blair and David Cameron is that they'll show you whatever they think you want in order to trick you into voting for them, then they'll do whatever the hell they like once they get into power. It's impossible to tell whether Owen Smith would ever end up being as brazenly dishonest as those two, but one thing is for sure, he's already proven that he has the necessary ideological flexibility.  

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.