Sunday, 10 March 2019

How to impoverish disabled people, a lesson from Tory Britain.


Just imagine what it must be like to be a disabled person opening a letter that threatens to cut off your disability benefits if you fail to attend an interview five days ago.

Luckily the individual who received this letter has a good support network who are helping them to fight against this deliberate trap, but there are huge numbers of disabled people out there without strong support networks to help them fight against this kind of injustice.

People with mental health conditions and learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to this kind of benefits denial trickery.

Whether people have mental health conditions or not, this kind of thing exacerbates their illnesses by loading masses of stress, anxiety, and depression on top of whatever they were already suffering with.

The last thing you need when you have a heart condition or terminal cancer is a prolonged bureaucratic fight to obtain the social security payments you're entitled to.


And just look at who the letter had been sent by. It's not from the DWP, it's from the private profit-seeking outsourcing company Capita who have been contracted to carry out the Tories' dirty work.

Chaos, inefficiency, and vast cost-overruns have been commonplace wherever the Tories have brought in profiteering outsourcing firms to do their dirty work in the welfare system. The WCA assessment regime has ended up costing more to administer than it ever saved in reduced benefits payments, unlawful Tory workfare schemes ended up subsidising private profit-making companies at the Taxpayers' expense, and the corporate-administered Work Programme ended up producing results that were worse than literally doing nothing at all!

The PIP assessment regime is no different. Costs have overrun so dramatically that instead of the £2 billion saving the Tories predicted in 2013, but figures from the OBR (page 113) reveal that by May 2018 it was already costing £4.2 billion more than they projected!

This disgraceful PIP letter is just one isolated example of the kind situations disabled people are suffering in Britain on a daily basis, but there's no denying that this kind of abuse is widespread and systematic.

When the United Nations investigated the treatment of sick and disabled people, they concluded that the Tories are inflicting "grave and systematic" human rights violations against disabled people.

Even if people were somehow unaware of the damning United Nations report, there are news stories virtually every day highlighting the disgusting consequences of these botched and malicious Tory welfare reforms. Stuff like tens of thousands of people dying within weeks of being declared fit for work, people with terminal illnesses being treated like scroungers, denied benefits, and told to 'get a job', people winning their benefits appeals after they died, people committing suicide because of all the stress and anxiety of having their disability benefits cut ...

There's absolutely no pretending that the Tory government aren't administering the systematic abuse of sick and disabled people, and there's no pretending that the millions of people who vote Tory simply consider this systematic abuse a "price worth paying" in return for whatever (probably imaginary) personal benefit they think they're getting from keeping this malicious and incompetent party in power.

Unfortunately we live in a nation of selfish "I'm alright Jack" bastards who actively endorse the Tory party and the system they've built which results in private profit-seeking companies running the show and sending con-trick letters like this.

Tory voters endorse this abusive system because they naively imagine that things like sickness, disability, or simple misfortune could never happen to them or their families, and they're absolutely chilled as long as this systematic abuse is targeted at other people.

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OR

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Bloody Sunday wasn't "dignified" or "appropriate" and undemining the rule of law is despicable.


On January 30th 1972 the occupying British army in Northern Ireland opened fire and shot 28 unarmed civilians who were attending a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland, 14 of them died and many others have lived with the physical injuries and trauma of that day for the rest of their lives.

For decades the UK government pretended that the shootings on Bloody Sunday were somehow justified, but in 2010 the extensive Saville Inquiry found that all of the victims were unarmed, that several had been shot in the back while running away, that others had been shot while attending to the wounded, and that numerous military figures had given false testimonies in order to cover up the truth.

When the Saville Report was released the Prime Minister David Cameron gave a long-overdue apology to the families of the victims and publicly admitted that the killings were "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Of course anyone with any economic sense or basic human decency must detest Cameron for the ruinous austerity dogma, economy-choking infrastructure underinvestment, and wage repression policies that have trashed living standards for the last 9 years, and for the grotesque systematic abuse of sick and disabled people his government enacted.

However credit where credit is due, he did actually apologise for probably the most grotesquely indecent display of violence and political repression perpetrated by the British state during the "troubles" in Northern Ireland.


But attitudes within the Tory party have shifted dramatically since then with the hard-right Tory Brextremists coming to prominence and the party continually seeking approval from the extreme-right ultranationalist blue-kip demograhpic they're now electorally reliant upon.

The unapologetic Tory contempt for Northern Ireland is quite clear from their continued collusion with the corrupt DUP sectarians, their arrogant stance on the Irish border issue, and from today's extraordinary announcement by the Tory Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley that killings by the UK security services in Northern Ireland were "not crimes" and that those responsible for the killing spree on Bloody Sunday acted in a "dignified and appropriate way".

Of course any government minister with the vaguest grip on reality would know that it's actually up to the judicial system to determine what is and isn't a crime, and that government ministers deliberately interfering in judicial matters is the kind of authoritarian undermining of the rule of law you'd expect to see under crackpot extreme-right governments like the ones in Poland, Hungary and Brazil.

And any minister for Northern Ireland should also know that the UK government has already accepted that Bloody Sunday was outrageous and unacceptable and apologised for it, and that calling the killers "dignified" and their actions "appropriate" is not just grotesque, it's blatantly whacking a political hornets' nest with a stick.

It's as if these hard-right Tories are still upset that the Irish peace process ever happened at all, and they're desperate to actively inflame tensions with their outbursts of offensive and irresponsible rhetoric, their open and ongoing collusion with one side of the sectarian divide, and their outright arrogance over the Irish border issue so that they can settle old scores.

Looking at Karen Bradley's lawless and despicable rhetoric today (and the fact that Theresa May hasn't immediately sacked her for publicly undermining the rule of law) it hard not to notice how an austerity-obsessed inveterate liar with a gambling problem like David Cameron was actually a quite a moderate in comparison to the current Tory rabble!

If Theresa May had any sense she would never have appointed such a gaffe-prone and catastrophically ignorant woman as Northern Ireland Secretary in the first place, and if Theresa May has any respect for the rule of law whatever then Bradley should be sacked for deliberately and publicly undermining it.



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OR

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Meet the "more of the same" party


The Independent Group of 11 MPs who are squatting in parliament, refusing to call by-elections, and pinning their political hopes on begging Theresa May for an opportunity to prop up her pro-austerity government have announced the positions they've given themselves, and you couldn't have picked more inappropriate roles for several of them if you'd actively tried.

Heidi Allen - Welfare, social care, pensions, and business

Source: Heidi Allen on They Work For You

Heidi Allen is one of the three ex-Tories to join the parliamentary squatter group, and by putting her in charge of welfare and social care this lot are sending a very clear message to their financial backers that they're intent on continuing the savage welfare policies that Allen repeatedly voted in favour of during her time on the Tory benches.

Any "centrists" hoping this new group might adopt a more humane approach than the Tories to issues like disability, social security, and social care will surely be sorely disappointed to see this position handed to a Tory with a proven track record of voting in favour of savage welfare cuts and crippling reduced local government funding in order to fund lavish tax cuts on corporations and the super-rich.

Greedy businessmen hoping for more unearned handouts on the other hand, they'll be punching the air with delight that this new group is intent on continuing the same old "something for nothing" Tory agenda, and actively begging Theresa May to let them prop up her shambles of a government.

Mike Gapes - Foreign affairs and defence


It's difficult to think of a less suitable individual to take responsibility for foreign affairs than the unapologetic warmonger Mike Gapes.

This is a man who voted in favour of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, and then repeatedly voted against investigations into the ensuing catastrophe.

The Iraq war caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, triggered a refugee crisis of millions, and created a lawless power vacuum that eventually gave birth to ISIS.

Mike Gapes refuses to accept any moral responsibility whatever for any of this, and remains 100% unapologetic.

Gapes is also a big fan of the tyrannical, homophobic, misogynists, head-chopping, journalist-dismembering, terrorism-spreading Saudi war criminals, and was one of 13 MPs to receive a share of over £100,000 of gifts and freebies lavished on British politicians by the Saudi regime in 2018.

Gapes knows that the Saudis use British weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen because he was a member of the foreign affairs select committee that admitted that this was the case, but he simply doesn't care.

By appointing Gapes to their foreign affairs and defence brief the group are sending a very clear signal to arms manufacturers and the military-industrial complex that they're setting up as a pro-war, pro-imperialist party that is willing to turn a blind eye to the sickening war crimes of disgustingly tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia in order to flog them £billions more in weapons.


Chris Leslie - Treasury and trade

One of Ed Miliband's biggest mistakes as Labour leader was to allow a bunch of hard-right austerity fetishists rule the shadow treasury which resulted in Labour's ridiculously unappealing "austerity-lite" agenda that ruined their chances at the 2015 general election.

The 'thinking' behind this ludicrous policy was that Labour could pinch a few thousand soft-Tory votes in marginal constituencies by imitating ruinous Tory austerity rather than actively opposing it. What they clearly failed to factor into this mind-bogglingly stupid plan was the fact that an explicitly pro-austerity agenda would end up driving away vast numbers of natural Labour voters for every "soft-Tory" they managed to entice.

Hence Labour's share of the vote collapsing from 35% in 2010 to just 29% in 2015, despite the Tories overseeing unprecedented collapses in workers' wages and living standards, trashing Britain's AAA credit rating, and spectacularly missing all of their economic targets!

Had Labour actually opposed devastating Tory austerity dogma in 2015, Labour would probably have beaten the Tories, Ed Miliband would have become Prime Minister, austerity would be over, Jeremy Corbyn would still be an obscure Labour backbencher, and there's be no such thing as Brexit!

Chris Leslie was one of the ludicrous hard-right wonks in the shadow treasury who helped to lay the groundwork for Brexit by outright refusing to oppose the Tory austerity madness that was trashing wages, living standards, and public services, and he's still a pro-austerity fanatic now, even years after right-leaning international bodies like the IMF and OECD have rejected austerity dogma as an economically damaging ideology.

Appointing a hard-right economic illiterate like Chris Leslie to their economics brief is a very clear signal to the mega-rich beneficiaries of Tory austerity dogma that this group intends to continue the Tory agenda of using austerity as a means of transferring ever more wealth from to poor and ordinary to corporations and the mega-rich.


Angela Smith - Transport, Local government, housing, energy, environment, rural affairs


Angela Smith is such a talentless incompetent that she managed to completely screw up the biggest day of her entire political career by referring to British Asians as "funny tinge" on live TV on the Independent Group launch day.

Afterwards she excused this racist gaffe by repeatedly claiming that she was "very tired" which is actually significantly more offensive than the original gaffe because it implies that racist attitudes are somehow so natural and inherent that they accidentally slip out when people are tired, drunk, or stressed.

The idea that we're all inherently racists and it only depends how tired, drunk, or stressed we get before we start spouting bigoted racist slurs is absolutely extraordinary, but not quite as extraordinary as this group putting a pro-privatisation ideologue and lobbyist for private water companies in charge of their transport, energy, water, and housing policies.

With a hard-right pro-privatisation ideologue running this huge brief, it's absolutely clear that this group are committed to defying the public will by cementing private profiteering ownership of the railways, national grid, water companies, and other public services.


Putting Smith in charge of this brief is a clear signal to the private profiteers who are gouging vast profits out of our housing, public services, and utilities that this group is absolutely committed to delivering "more of the same"

Anna Soubry - Brexit and justice

Of all of the squatter MPs Anna Soubry is perhaps the most distasteful because of her outright and glaring displays of hypocrisy.

When she's not praising the devastating 2010-15 austerity policies that laid the groundwork for Brexit by collapsing UK living standards as "marvellous" Soubry often talks a good talk, but when it comes to the actions her parliamentary voting record stands as absolute proof that she repeatedly does precisely the opposite.

Take her continual grandstanding on Brexit to pose as some kind of noble Brexit-critic which is completely contradicted by her actions. She poses as a Brexit-sceptic, but in parliament she's repeatedly voted in favour of Theresa May's hard-right interpretation of Brexit.

Soubry's Brexit collusion including votes in favour of May's shambolic Withdrawal Bill in January 2018, votes against opposition amendments to protect workers' rights, environmental laws, equality rules, consumer protections and food standards, and even a vote of confidence in Theresa May after she humiliated Britain by postponing the scheduled "meaningful vote" for no reason other than the fact she knew she was going to lose it.

It's not just talking about opposing Brexit while repeatedly voting in favour of it either. When it comes to police cuts and violent crime she's also proven herself a despicable hypocrite too.

In response to Theresa May's ludicrous assertion that her policy of getting rid of 21,000 police and slashing police budgets has no relation with soaring rates of violent crime, Soubry stated that "of course there's a link between policing numbers and crime".

This Tweet is an admission that she knew that slashing police budgets would end up increasing rates of serious and violent crime all along, but she repeatedly voted in favour of Theresa May's ideologically driven assault on the police service regardless of the dire and deadly consequences she knew would happen. 


She blatantly put loyalty to the Tory party above the lives of violent crime victims, but now she's abandoned that party loyalty as worthless to join the parliamentary squatters, demonstrating that the victims of the violent crime wave she helped Theresa May to create are actually less than worthless in her estimations!

And she's got the absolute brass neck to start carping from the sidelines about the appalling consequences of the austerity fanaticism that she repeatedly and knowingly voted in favour of as if she's now some kind of heroic saviour!

Putting one of the most brazen hypocrites in the whole of parliament in charge of their Brexit brief is a signal to their financial backers that the group are actually extremely flexible on their Brexit position. If the secretive millionaires who are bankrolling this group want them to go all out for a referendum then that's what they'll do, but if the bankrollers decide that a hard-right Tory Brexit is actually in their interests, that's obviously what Soubry and the squatters will eventually vote in favour of.


Change Politics!

The parliamentary squatters' "change politics" slogan is every bit as Orwellian anything the Tory government have come up with over the years ("all in this together" - while transferring as much wealth as possible from the majority to the mega-rich minority, "making work pay" while overseeing the longest sustained collapse in workers wages in recorded history and slashing in-work benefits, "strong and stable" as their campaign slogan during the most shambolic and needless election in modern British history ...).

They repeatedly claim that they want to "change politics" but their actions demonstrate that on all manner of crucial issues from ruinous austerity dogma to war-mongering imperialism, and from privatisation mania to welfare policy, these are people who desperately want to keep things exactly the same.



 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.




OR

Sunday, 3 March 2019

"Shame it wasn't a brick/grenade": the disgusting social media response to Jeremy Corbyn getting egged


On 19 June 2017 an extreme-right activist and Tommy Robinson acolyte called Darren Osborne carried out a deadly terrorist attack against a random group of Muslims in Finsbury park. During his trial it was revealed that his original plot was to go assassinate Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

On the day that Osborne was jailed for the extreme-right terrorist attack he committed, the BBC took the extraordinary step of inviting one of the extreme-right hate preachers who radicalised him onto their flagship news show Newsnight. The softball interview they lavished on Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the BBC and indicative of concerted efforts to actively bring extreme-right views into the political mainstream.


In March 2019 Jeremy Corbyn paid a visit to the Finsbury Park mosque where he was attacked with an egg. This is no big story in its own right, plenty of politicians have had eggs pelted at them. Anyone old enough to remember the 1990s will remember the footage of Labour stalwart John Prescott trying to batter the guy who egged him.

The story here isn't the egging itself, it's the absolutely despicable social media reaction of the political right.

This is a guy who was the target of an extreme-right terrorist plot who was visiting the site of the deadly terrorist attack the plotter eventually carried out, and literally hundreds of right-wingers have responded to him getting egged by wishing that Corbyn had actually been attacked with a brick or a grenade (the comments in the header image are just a tiny selection of an absolute barrage of violence-craving vitriol from the political right).

What a disgusting country we've allowed ourselves to become where people think it's absolutely fine to publicly wish violence and death on people they disagree with politically.

Labour figures like Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, and Sadiq Khan are the most common targets of these repulsive tides of right-wing hate, but let's not pretend they're the only victims.


There were the High Court judges who ruled against Theresa May's efforts to scrap parliamentary sovereignty who suffered barrages of abuse and death threats after the Daily Mail's despicable rabble-rousing "Enemies of the People" front page (Theresa May subsequently hired the author of this despicable hit piece as her chief spokesperson!).

There are the constant barrages of death threats against anyone who dares oppose, or even moderately critique the absolute shambles the Tory party are making of Brexit.


And there are the endless waves of abuse and threats of violence aimed at left-wing public figures, and especially left-wing public figures who happen to be female, non-white, and/or homosexual.
 

This kind of violent extremist mentality has been fostered by extreme-right figures and hate groups like Tommy Robinson and the Britain First hate chamber, but similar outbursts of abuse and cravings for violence can be found in the Daily Mail and Guido Fawkes comments sections, and especially in pro-Tory Facebook groups.

Huge numbers of people have become absolutely normalised to using social media to do stuff like lobbing abuse, craving and threatening violence, celebrating extreme-right acts of terrorism without any kind of repercussion.

Britain has become normalised to this kind of thing that it's a regular part of people's online experience to witness other people spewing bigoted abuse, wishing for ethnic cleansing, spreading absurd extreme-right conspiracy theories, and craving the violent deaths of politicians, journalists, and public figures.

The kind of stuff that would get us ostracised from our social groups, and probably even arrested if we did it in public spaces in the real world is considered normal in the online world.


I'm not here to tell you that there's some kind of easy solution to this because there clearly isn't. Right-wing websites like Guido Fawkes and the Daily Mail have fostered this grotesque abuse-lobbing violence-craving extreme-right ultranationalist mentality in their comments sections for years, and social media platforms have been letting people spread this kind of hate with impunity for years too.

Ordinary people have little power over these companies to stop them from hosting and actively fostering hate, and they've got a perverse financial incentive to allow it to continue, because their business models are based on maximising the number of users, regardless of whether they're racism-spewing, violence-craving, terrorism-sympathising extreme-right freaks or not.

Of course there are things we can do on the micro scale like reporting individual tweets/Facebook comments, or sending copies of people's hateful comments to their employers, asking advertisers whether they're comfortable placing their adverts next on platforms that allow, or even promote hateful views, but this kind of stuff is bailing out a sinking ship with an egg cup.

So what do you suggest. What can be done about the increasingly common normalisation of hate speech and the repugnant hate-fest that so much of our political discourse has degenerated into?



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OR

Right-wing ideologues are weaponising anti-Semitism to silence criticism of capitalism


People who follow Scottish politics may remember John McTernan as the unbelievably inept political strategist who managed to lose 40 of Labour's 41 Scottish seats in Westminster at the 2015 general election.

After masterminding the most catastrophic electoral collapse in British political history one would have thought that McTernan would be treated as the political joke that he is.

However the man with such boundless incompetence that he actually managed to kill the Labour Party in their Scottish heartlands is still routinely given mainstream media platforms and treated as if he's some kind of wise and knowledgeable political oracle, rather than the nonsense-spewing clown-like political figure that he actually is.

For some reason the normally reputable (but always right-leaning) Financial Times has given McTernan a platform to push his cartoonish political nonsense in a column entitled "Labour’s mistake is to believe there are no enemies to the left".

McTernan starts out with a number of obvious lies about Labour anti-Semitism claiming that anti-Semitism in the Labour ranks is "a recent phenomenon", which "coincides with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader".
 

The evidence is absolutely clear that support for anti-Semitic views have fallen dramatically since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader. This is almost certainly due to the massive influx of genuinely left-wing people into the party, many of them from the younger demographics who generally have way more socially liberal and progressive views than the older generations.

And as for the idea that anti-Semitism in Labour is a "recent phenomenon", how is it possible to explain how Labour's chief spin-doctor Alistair Campbell produced vile anti-Semitic attack posters in 2008? How is it possible to explain Campbell telling the journalists who uncovered the scandal to "fuck off and cover something important you twats"? And how is it possible to explain away the fact that the Blairite party leadership decided to take absolutely no action whatever to discipline him for either the anti-Semitic posters, or the abusive and 100% unapologetic reaction to the scandal?

After rambling on pretentiously for paragraph after paragraph McTernan eventually comes out with surely one of the most delusional and self-awareness deficient sentences ever to have featured in the Financial Times.

"Rhetoric about the 1 per cent and economic inequality has the same underlying theme [as anti-Semitic tropes] — a small group of very rich people who cleverly manipulate others to defend their interests. So anti-capitalism masks and normalises anti-Semitism"
This extraordinary effort to conflate legitimate criticisms of issues like capitalism and inequality with anti-Jewish bigotry is extraordinary on so many levels.

According to McTernan's warped worldview anyone who points out that just 8 men own the same wealth as half the world is being anti-Semitic!

Anyone who attempts to critique the excesses of the reckless over-financialised speculation frenzy that late stage capitalism has degenerated into is being anti-Semitic!

Anyone who points out that Tory austerity dogma has resulted in a vast transfer of wealth from the poor and ordinary to the mega-rich elitist class is being anti-Semitic!


Anyone who raises concerns about how mega-rich individuals and corporations routinely buy political influence and use their wealth to cynically manipulate others is being anti-Semitic!

The agenda here is obvious. It's an attempt to defend capitalism from any form of criticism by cynically equating the language of dissent against 
the hard-right economic status quo with unacceptable racist bigotry.

McTernan is hoping to construct a right-wing mindset where anyone who ever complains about the excesses of capitalism or the problem of rising inequality can be instantly dismissed as a racist bigot so as to permanently evade discussion of any of the actual issues they're trying to raise.

It's an attempt to create a right-wing version of political correctness whereby any attempt to ever question the capitalist system can be instantly shouted down and ignored as if it's nothing more than vile and unacceptable bigotry.

But the grotesque cynicism isn't even the worst thing about it. The worst thing is the vile self-righteousness that manifests as an absolute lack of self-awareness.


Even though he'd already proven himself to be an anti-Semitism denialist by whitewashing Labour's issues before 2015 when Blairites like him were running the show, McTernan imagines himself to be some kind of righteous white knight figure who is right, and just, and proper in his opposition to anti-Semitism. But his attempt to use anti-Semitism as a smokescreen to defend corporations and the mega-rich from any kind of systemic critique relies on an obvious anti-Semitic trope in itself.

In order to define any criticism of the greed, wealth-hoarding, manipulation, corruption, and influence-buying that goes on in late-stage capitalism as anti-Semitism, it's necessary to identify all of these issues as being inherently Jewish traits.

McTernan's line of thinking is that 1. Jews are greedy 2. the political left criticise greed: Therefore the political left are anti-Semites.

McTernan's hopeless effort to conflate criticism of the hard-right economic status quo with anti-Semitism is further demolished if we consider the fact that Jewish intellectuals from across the political spectrum have a long history of critiquing capitalism and inequality. Karl Marx was Jewish. Rosa Luxemburg was Jewish. Helen Suzman was Jewish. Hyman Minsky was Jewish. Robert Skidelsky is Jewish. Noam Chomsky is Jewish.

Are we expected to believe that all of these Jewish activists, academics and intellectuals are raving anti-Semites because they have critiqued capitalism and inequality?

Are we expected to believe that all left-wing Jewish people are 'self-hating Jews' simply because this obnoxious (non-Jewish) failure of a political strategist crudely conflates criticism of capitalism with anti-Semitism?

The problem with vile and conniving opportunists like McTernan is that they've realised accusations of anti-Semitism can be weaponised to discredit and silence their political opponents, but they're so base and crude that they end up actually spreading vile anti-Semitic tropes like 'greedy Jews' and 'self-hating Jews' around in their efforts to weaponise the issue for their own partisan purposes.

Conclusion

Criticism of the problems and excesses of late stage capitalism is not anti-Semitism.

John McTernan is cynically using the anti-Semitism issue to smear anyone who dares question what he considers to be the natural order of things.

However in order to weaponise anti-Semitism in this manner he's produced a vile article that stumbles through anti-Semitism denialism, invocation of the vile anti-Semitic 'greedy Jew' trope, to the implication that Jews who dare to ever critique capitalism or inequality must be 'self -hating Jews' who are engaging in anti-Semitism simply by raising their concerns about the state of the world.

Just like almost everything McTernan says, it's entirely useless in actually understanding the world around us, but it does serve to highlight the grotesque self-awareness deficient worldview that him and people like him occupy.

Is it any wonder Labour annihilated their own political heartlands in Scotland after their party became so dysfunctional that utterly repugnant hard-right ideologues like this ended up running the show?



 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.




OR

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Jacob Rees-Mogg's anti-intellectual fans want him purged from politics because he's got a degree!


Anyone who has ever taken a look through the various Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson fan pages on Facebook will be familiar with the racism, bigotry, anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia, anti-immigrant abuse, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, lionisation of far-right ideologues like Tommy Robinson and the Britain First hate group, extremist rhetoric, threats of violence & civil war, and gleeful fantasies about the public execution of their political opponents [sources 1,2,3,4,5,6] ... but in this article I'm going to take a quick look at something that is somewhat less sinister because it's quite frankly hilarious.

 
Anti-intellectual purges of the political system are actually a rarity
on a page where abuse, bigotry, racism, threats, conspiracy theories,
and fantasies about the public execution of political opponents
are the norm.
 
Between all the abuse, bigotry and threats of violence that can be found in the Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters' Group on Facebook, there's an extraordinary thread in which numerous Rees-Mogg supporters fantasise about an  anti-intellectual purge of the political system where anyone with a university degree is thrown out of the House of Commons and barred from standing for election!

The obvious problem of course is that their own demagogue Jacob Ress-Mogg would be one of the victims of this anti-intellectual cull of MPs as a result of the undergraduate degree in history he obtained from Trinity College Oxford in 1991 (in the days before the neoliberal-fixated Westminster establishment club introduced staggeringly high tuition fees designed to enforce a lifetime 9% education tax on those with parents unable to stump up tens of thousands per child to cover the fees).

The absurdity of wishing their own hero out of parliament because he's fallen foul of their anti-intellectual standards is hilarious, but it's also illustrative of the way anti-intellectualism is spreading like wildfire on the political right.

Surely everyone remembers Michael Gove's extraordinary "we've had enough of experts" appeal to anti-intellectualism during the EU referendum debate, and how experts and academics were almost completely sidelined in favour of fact-averse rhetoric-spewing Tories on either side of the debate?

And there's a reason the political right love to tell people to trust their base emotional instincts rather than looking to the kind of facts, evidence, logic, and reason that people like experts and university professors tend to use.

The reason for this anti-intellectual propaganda is that facts, evidence, logic, reason, and observable reality tend to defy their far-right worldview.

The extreme-right need people to reject facts, evidence, reason, science, and logic because reality has a left-wing bias.


If people actually listened to the evidence then it would be obvious that quitting the largest free trade area on the planet with an unprecedented shambles of a Tory government running the show is bound to end up causing a socio-economic chaos.

If people actually listened to the evidence then endlessly giving away not-for-profit public services to private profiteers so they can rent them back to us at way above the original cost is a bloody awful idea.

If people actually listened to reason they'd pin the blame for declining living standards and collapsing public services on 9 years of ruinous Tory austerity dogma, wage repression, social security cuts, and deliberate under-investment in public services and infrastructure projects, and never buy the extreme-right snake oil explanation that immigrants, the EU, political correctness, and human rights are somehow to blame.

So in order to dissuade people from thinking along these lines the extreme-right have to continually spread mistrust of experts and academics.

They tell us "why believe the experts when you can believe your own gut instincts instead?"

And they tell us "don't trust academics because they're actually terrifying lefties spreading dangerous "cultural Marxism" in order to destroy white western civilisation".

The Nazis used exactly the exact same techniques to justify their ideological purges of academia and the business world, and in fact the whole "cultural Marxism" theory the extreme-right use to discredit expertise and academia these days is lifted straight from Nazi Germany where it was called Kulturbolschewismus and blamed squarely on the Jews.

So yeah, the absolute ignorance of anti-intellectual right-wingers calling for their own demagogue to be purged from politics because he's got a degree is hilarious, but the anti-intellectual ideology that underpins this absurd nonsense is actually quite concerning.

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OR

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis has some explaining to do ...


On March 1st 2019 the independent media site Evolve Politics exposed an absolutely despicable Tory Facebook hate chamber full of bigotry, racism, anti-Muslim hate, and the kind of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that would have sent the mainstream media into paroxysms of condemnation had they been found in a Labour group run by Labour Party councillors.

One of the most disturbing comments was posted by a woman called Dorinda Bailey where she agreed with someone calling for all mosques to be bombed, but criticised them for using a swear word in their comment!

When Ash Sarkar asked the Tory chairman Brandon Lewis about this despicable mosque-bombing comment he responded with a simple one sentence reply; "she is not a member of our Party".

The problem of course is that there's loads of evidence out there that Dorinda Bailey is an active member of the Tory party, or at least was one until very recently.

Here's a picture of her out on the campaign trail with the Tories during the 2018 local elections.


And here's evidence that she was actually one of the Tory party candidates in the Bradwell ward of Newcastle-under-Lyme, which means she was definitely a Tory party member within the last year, which makes Brandon Lewis's "not a member" comment extremely evasive and deceptive at the very least.

If Dorinda Bailey has been thrown out of the Tory party within the last year, Brandon Lewis clearly has an obligation to explain why.

Did the Tory party know about her bigoted tendencies. If so, why were two other Tory party councillors running the Facebook Tory hate-chamber with her?

Don't they have rules in place for preventing party members from co-operating with people who have been thrown out of the party?


But there's also the possibility that Brandon Lewis was outright lying that she's not a member since he provided absolutely no evidence to support his "not a member" claim.

It's pretty obvious that any political party that is serious about combating bigotry and racism in their ranks should be transparent about how they deal with proven bigots who stood as their official party candidates in elections less than a year previously.

It's pretty obvious that Brandon Lewis and the Tories have an obligation to explain why someone who was until very recently a party member (at the absolute best) was behaving in this despicable manner on a pro-Tory Facebook page run by other Tory Party members, and provide documentary evidence to back up Brandon Lewis's assertion that she's not a member of the party, and an explanation of why.

Will the mainstream media pick up on this and work to hold Brandon Lewis and the Tories accountable?

Will they pick up on the fact that Brandon Lewis has used the exact same "not a member" line to distance the party from a bigoted Tory party member who organised an extreme-right protest involving a hate group called the North East Infidels?

Will they pick up on the fact that stating "not a member" is absolutely insufficient when Tory party activists have been caught spreading bigotry and hatred in a pro-Tory Facebook propaganda page. At the very least the disciplinary processes used to remove them from the party should be detailed, and an apology should be made for the bigoted behaviour.

The likely answer is no. They won't pick up on this issue because it contradicts the whole narrative they're trying to construct, that it's the Labour left (who were actually amongst the tiny minority of just 18 anti-racist MPs to oppose Theresa May's unlawfully racist "Hostile Environment" legislation in 2014) who are the nasty racists.

But just imagine if this was the other way around and it had been a Labour Party candidate at the 2018 local elections who had agreed with a proposal to 'bomb all synagogues' using a picture of them grinning alongside a famous Labour Party figure as their profile picture as they made their despicable comments.

Do you honestly think the media would allow Jeremy Corbyn to get away with evasively claiming "not a member of our party" with no apology, and no details whatever of the disciplinary procedures used to remove that person from the party?

Of course they wouldn't. It'd be spun out into a days-long re-examination of the Labour anti-Semitism issue and used as personal ammunition against Jeremy Corbyn (and whoever was pictured alongside the racist bigot too).

This disparity in mainstream media coverage that's actually just as concerning as the rampant bigotry and racism in the Tory ranks, and Brandon Lewis's outright evasiveness in not apologising for it.

If they're working as hard as they can to portray one side as having a bigotry problem, whilst deliberately turning a blind eye to the much worse bigotry problem on the other side (and the other side's deceptive, evasive, and unapologetic responses to it) then they're not reporting the news, they're manufacturing it.


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