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Winds of Change in Belarus: Neither Dictatorship Nor Democracy Offer Anything for the Working Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 2:35am in

image/jpeg iconbelarus_protests.jpg

The onus lies on the workers of Belarus to seek their own solution outside of the futile battle to refurbish the shabby window dressing of democracy.

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Labour South West Forced to Widen Nominations for Metro Mayor After Mistakes by Governance and Legal Team

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/08/2020 - 7:57pm in

On Monday I received this strange email from Labour South West, explaining that they’d had to widen the nominations for south west metro mayor following complaints from members about the shortlist. This had apparently been due to mistakes by the Governance and Legal Unit, who had supplied the Regional Office with an out of date version of the selection procedures. This had been a mistake, and had only caused some minor administrative irregularities that had no effect on the final shortlist. However, one area which was affected was the ability for Labour groups within the combined authority to make supportive nominations. The Labour party was therefore opening a window period of 14 days to allow this to occur.

As you will know the short-list for the West of England Metro-Mayoral Selection was announced on Thursday 16th July.

Since that time there have been a number of communications expressing concern in respect of how the procedure was managed and the final short-list was determined.

The Labour Party General Secretary has conducted a review of these concerns. During the review it was found that Regional Office had been inadvertently provided with an out of date version of the selection procedures (by the Governance and Legal Unit) and that therefore there had been some small/minor administrative irregularities. It should be pointed out that none of the irregularities which occurred had any material impact on the final short-list. You will find attached to this email an outline of the main concerns and an explanation as to why they were found to be without merit. 

However, one omission from the procedures provided to Regional Office which do appear in the more recent version was the point which allows Labour Groups from within the combined authority area to make supportive nominations, as below.

7f. 

Each principal Labour Group within the Combined Authority area may make a supporting nomination of one or two candidates from the applications received. If making two nominations, at least one nomination must be a woman. Supporting nominations do not count towards the short-listing process. 

As a result of this omission, and as a demonstration of good faith, The General Secretary has discussed this with relevant key stakeholders internally (including the NEC) and it has been determined that a window of 14 days should be allowed for Labour Groups within the combined authority area to consider if they wish to make supportive nominations. Labour Group Officers will be provided with all appropriate information on how to consider if they wish to make supporting nominations, and the process for making a supporting nomination tomorrow morning (Tuesday 4th August). The deadline for receipt of a Labour Group Supporting nomination will be 4pm on Tuesday 18th August.

Once, and if, any Labour Group supporting nominations are received the Selection Committee/Interview Panel will be invited to consider if they wish to consider any relevant next steps, including the possibility of re-opening interviews. Those candidates already short-listed will not be affected by this and will remain short-listed.

We apologise for any confusion and inconvenience which this may have caused.

As you will see from the attached outline of queries some concerns were expressed that full candidate application forms were not circulated along with candidate statements. As stated previously this had no material impact on the process, however we will forward you full candidate application forms and candidate statements in due course for your records.

Many thanks

Now I’d like to believe that this was all purely by mistake, but considering the plotting and intrigues by the Blairites within the Labour party to scupper the party’s electoral chances under Jeremy Corbyn, and the way the same right-wing bureaucrats maligned, smeared and libeled decent people as anti-Semites in order to have them purged from the party, I think doubts about the intentions of the Governance and Legal Unit are warranted. The right-wing bureaucrats in charge of the party machine are showing themselves extremely corrupt and duplicitous in their attempts to cling on to power. Despite their protestations of innocence and threats of legal action, it very much looks to me and very many other members of the party that those at the top of the party apparatus are massively unfit to hold their positions. Confidence will only be restored when these people are removed from office and replaced with more conscientious administrators working for the good of their party, not their faction nor the wider goal of maintaining the Blair neoliberal project.

Until the party bureaucrats, who are responsible for these intrigues and bringing the party into disrepute are gone, there will always be suspicion among rank and file members about incidents like this, even if they are genuine mistakes.

Of Course Voter ID Is Racist: It Was Designed to Be

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 6:34pm in

Another article Mike put up a few days ago, which reveals very clearly the Tory contempt for people of colour, is a piece about the massively disproportionate effect the Tories’ demand for Voter identification at polling stations has had on Black people. The Tories declared a year or so ago that they were seriously concerned about voter fraud, and so rolled out schemes demanding that voters should have proof of their identities when casting their votes. There was absolutely no need for it. This kind of voter fraud is absolutely negligible. I think Mike put up the stats for it in another of his articles, and hardly anyone has been caught doing it. I think there have literally only been one or two cases. But nevertheless, the Tories decided that it was a serious problem and a threat to democracy. Critics of the scheme also warned that their plans would actually be anti-democratic, as certain groups are far less likely to possess the necessary documentation to confirm their identities. Blacks would be particularly affected, and would be turned away and prevented from exercising their legal, democratic civil rights.

This was, of course, denied by the Tories. But it’s happened. Despite Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith telling us all in June  that ““the evidence shows there is no impact on any particular demographic group … the evidence of our pilots shows that there is no impact on any particular demographic group from this policy”, the Electoral Commission has found evidence to the contrary. Findings from the 2018 and 2019 findings in Watford and Derby, two of the pilot areas, found that there was a strong correlation between Asians from each of the city’s wards not receiving a ballot paper. The Commission also reported that polling staff were not asked to collect demographic data about the people, who didn’t come back. This was due to the practical challenges of the data collection exercise. There wasn’t enough evidence yet to come to a conclusion about the scheme in any direction, and advised against doing so. But Mike accordingly reached the following :

If the Tories had wanted to know who would be deprived of the vote, and how badly it affected particular groups, they would have carried out the research. They didn’t.

They then went on to tell falsehoods that the research had been carried out when it hadn’t and that it showed no impact on any demographic group.

You don’t lie about something like this unless you are deliberately trying to harm people from ethnic minorities.

We can only conclude that the Tory voter ID plan is intended to stop black people and those from other ethnic minorities from voting:

And includes this tweet from Labour MP Cat Smith

The Government claim plans to require ID to vote doesn’t discriminate, but there’s no data to back this up.

Voter ID requirements come straight from the US-style voter suppression play book, and must be opposed by all who value inclusive democracy.

Smith’s absolutely right. The scheme was taken over from the Republicans in America, who have used to it to suppress the votes of certain groups – those that are most likely to vote Democrat. These are the poor, students and Blacks. There have been a number of videos about this produced by The Young Turks and other left-wing or liberal internet news sites. One particularly repulsive Republican politico actually let the cat out of the bag and admitted that it really was all about preventing Blacks from voting.

Which is just more evidence of how institutionally racist the Tories are, despite ostentatiously giving cabinet seats to BAME politicians like Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak. They’re really don’t want a less racist, more inclusive or simply more democratic society.

They are actively trying to increase discrimination all while keeping it carefully hidden through specious verbiage about protecting democracy. And that’s a threat to everyone’s right to vote.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/07/29/tories-love-being-racist-they-lied-about-voter-id-demand-stopping-bame-people-from-voting/

US-Backed Coup Gov’t in Bolivia Suspends Elections for Third Time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 4:44am in

Amid a rapidly worsening COVID-19 pandemic, Bolivia’s coup government has once again suspended much-anticipated elections that were due to be held on September 6. This is the third time the administration of Jeanine Añez has postponed them because of the virus, setting a new date for October 18.

The move has drawn condemnation from both left and right, but for different reasons. MintPress’ Ollie Vargas, who covered events from inside the country since last year’s November 10 coup, was dismayed, announcing:

Bolivia’s unelected coup regime has extended it’s illegitimate power by canceling elections once again. When we get to October they’ll invent another reason to postpone, then another, till they’ve found a buyer for the lithium & other natural resources. This is a dictatorship.

Former President Evo Morales of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party agreed, stating that “The de facto government wants to gain more time to continue the persecution of social leaders and against MAS candidates. It’s yet another form of persecution. That’s why they don’t want elections on September 6.” Meanwhile, coup leader Fernando Camacho rejected the new date, demanding elections be scrapped altogether, a position shared by the far-right Santa Cruz “Civic Committee.”

Morales was reelected in October for another five year term. A popular president, he reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by three quarters, while increasing the (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP by 50 percent in his 13 years in office. He managed this primarily through a series of nationalizations of the country’s key industries and by expelling the predatory International Monetary Fund (IMF) from Bolivia. But in November, the military and police intervened, demanding he resign. Today he lives in exile in Argentina. Nevertheless, the latest polls show that the MAS candidate Luis Arce, who served as Morales’ finance minister, would win the election outright on the first ballot if it were held today. Arce accused Añez of using the pandemic as a pretext to extend her rule.

 

From popular mandate to elitist candidate

A little-known senator from a party that received only just four percent of the vote in October, Añez was handpicked by the military to become the new president. A strongly Christian conservative who described the country’s indigenous majority as “satanic,” she arrived to take her new place in government clutching an oversized bible. She enjoyed the support of the country’s elite, the U.S. government, and the entire spectrum of corporate media, who cheered the events as they happened. The new administration immediately began to suppress and criminalize dissent, including massacring protesters who objected to the takeover. Despite leading in the polls, the MAS have been suppressed, with many of their leaders jailed or facing dubious charges. Morales himself faces life in prison for “terrorism” if he sets foot in his country again.


Bolivians burn effigies of Jeanine Anez and other officials in the US-backed coup gov’t during a protest in La Paz, July 14, 2020. Juan Karita | AP

Añez has also overseen the selling off of the country’s national resources, including in the hydrocarbon industry, and has completely reoriented its foreign policy to align with the United States. She has also begun working with the IMF, taking out a $327 million loan in April. The U.S. government strongly backed Añez from the beginning; three days after the coup the State Department released an official communiqué “applauding” her for “leading her nation” through a “democratic transition.”

The stated reason for the postponement of the elections is the country’s continued inability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Salvador Romero said the move was necessary to keep Bolivia’s hospitals and cemeteries from collapsing under the strain of the increased deaths. “This election requires the highest possible health security measures to protect the health of Bolivians,” he said. One reason why the country’s medical system is under such pressure is that Añez expelled hundreds of Cuban doctors working primarily with the country’s poorest people, leading to closures of hospitals and health clinics. While Bolivia has officially reported 65,000 cases and 2,407 deaths, some believe those figures could be an underestimate. This week, police said they recovered 420 dead bodies from streets, vehicles and homes in La Paz and Santa Cruz. In June, Añez herself tested positive for COVID-19.

In response to the delayed elections, Bolivian trade unions have given the government 72 hours to reverse the decision, threatening “indefinite mobilizations” to restore democracy. Thus, it appears that even after eight months of constant political struggle, tensions could be about to be increased once again.

Feature photo | A woman wearing a face mask and shield against the spread of the new coronavirus walks past soldiers in riot gear standing on a sidewalk during quarantine, in La Paz, Bolivia, May 11, 2020. Juan Karita | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post US-Backed Coup Gov’t in Bolivia Suspends Elections for Third Time appeared first on MintPress News.

Poland: Populism Strikes Back

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 6:07am in

image/jpeg iconpolish_elections_2020.jpg

The seventh democratic presidential elections in Poland since 1990 have ended on 12 July 2020. Official statistics show the highest ever turnout, with a record-breaking 68.18% of the entitled electorate choosing to cast a vote in the second round.

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Brian Ross Investigates: How Trump Stole 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 11:54pm in

November's presidential election is now just 16 weeks away. In the primaries we saw all sorts of chaos and mayhem — long lines, few polling places, few polling workers — and the worst is yet to come. Palast's new book, How Trump Stole 2020, reveals how the fix is in to steal the election — and how we can unfix it.

Frank Field’s 1980s Campaign against His Own Party in Wales

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 7:42pm in

Yesterday Zelo Street put up a piece about the various right-wing Blairite politicos, who deliberately campaigned against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, who have now been rewarded with nominations for peerages from BoJob. They were Gisela Stuart, Ian Austin, John Woodcock, and Frank Field. Field, according to the Street, resigned the Labour whip last year and stood as an Independent candidate in Birkenhead. He was obviously expecting to beat his former colleagues, but was given a rude awakening when it was shown to him and the metropolitan elites who backed him how little he was regarded there personally.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/07/arise-lord-and-lady-turncoat.html

But that wasn’t the only time he stuck the knife into the backs of people in his own party. Private Eye in its ‘HP Sauce’ column in its edition for Friday, 21st August 1998 describes how he actively campaigned against the Labour Party during the European elections in north Wales in 1984. The snippet reads

Frank Field’s apparent desire to speak the unspeakable on welfare reform is not the first time he has kicked against the pricks in his party.

Back in 1980 the Eye welcomed him into parliament (New Boys, 483) recalling his nickname of “Judas”. This was earned in Labour circles for his outspoken attacks on the Wilson government when he was director of the Child Poverty Action Group. This was nothing compared to the bizarre events associated with him during the Euro elections in north Wales in 1984, however.

Labour candidate Ian Campbell found himself discredited in a series of quarter-page advertisements in the local papers, which claimed that Frank Field MP urged Labour party supporters to support Tom Ellis, the candidate for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, who was then standing on a straightforward Liberal ticket.

Pleas from Campbell to Field to retract these reported views, and to canvas with him to disprove such presumably false claims, found no response. Neither did the demands of the Labour party’s general secretary for a retraction: he was forced in a conversation with Campbell to admit that Field was simply a “maverick” over whom the party had no control.

Labour lost the seat by a small margin and Field never denied the views attributed to him – views which, according to the rules, should have led to his expulsion from the party.

When a politician says they’re going to ‘speak the unspeakable’ on welfare reform, or ‘slay the sacred cows’, they always but always mean they’re going to cut it. And there’s absolutely nothing unspeakable about it. It’s been Thatcherite orthodoxy for forty years. Field was one of the Tories’ favourite Labour MPs because of his anti-welfare stance. the British religious Right ‘Cranmer’ blog praised him in a post nearly a decade ago, and said that if he crossed the floor to the Tories he’d be most welcome. He didn’t quite do that, but he certainly campaigned for them.

And his squalid attacks on his colleagues in north Wales shows he had all the qualities of a New Labour politico then: the willingness to brief against others in his party, the intriguing and desire to see a competing party win at the expense of his own.

And it also shows how the Labour Party was willing even then to tolerate and reward behaviour from the Right that it never did from the Left.

John Lewis (1940-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 9:47pm in

John Lewis, whom we filmed in 2016, was nearly beaten to death in Selma, Alabama in 1965, so that all Americans could vote. He made history. What will WE make? And when?

Public Seminar Presents | Lincoln on the Verge, with Historian Ted Widmer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 6:36am in

Join co-executive editor Claire Potter as she talks to historian Ted Widmer about a nation cracking apart in “Lincoln on...

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Roger Stone is not just an impotent tricksterHe's a violent, evil man who had a lot to do with fixing the vote in Florida in 2000

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 9:36pm in

Roger Stone is not just an impotent trickster. He's a violent, evil man who had a lot to do with fixing the vote in Florida in 2000. George Bush supposedly officially won the presidency by 537 votes in Florida — just 537 votes! But 178,000 ballots were disqualified, considered unreadable. A hundred and seventy-eight thousand!!! These were concentrated in Democratic and Black areas: Jacksonville, Gadsden County, Miami-Dade and Broward.... READ MORE

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