Germany

Cartoon: Michael Gove – Idiocracy

Here’s another of my cartoons, in which I lampoon the Conservatives and their horrendous government. This piece is based on that photograph taken when Cameron decided to make Michael Gove education minister, or something like it. It showed Gove looking somewhat depressed and forlorn in front of a crowd of primary schoolchildren, as if he had suddenly twigged that a group of five or six years olds were far brighter than he was.

It reminded me of the Jack Black SF comedy that came out a few years ago, Idiocracy. Based on the William Tenn short story, ‘The Marching Morons’, this was about an ordinary, average American joe, who wakes up two hundred years in the future to find out that he’s the cleverest man on the planet. It’s a future where people irrigate their crops with Gatorade, what monster truck rallies on TV and where the most popular comedy programme is where men get hit in the crotch called Ow! My Nuts! And unfortunately, thanks to the Tory media, this does seem to be the future we’re heading for. I am convinced that the Murdoch press is actually diminishing intelligence, rather than enhancing it. Just like a media monitoring survey in America found that you were far better informed about the world if you watched no news at all, than if you watched Fox News.

Tenn’s story is a classic, but it makes me very uneasy. Like one or two other stories from the same period, it’s based on an article of eugenics ideology. This is that the less intelligent are more fertile, and will outbreed the intelligent, thus causing average intelligence to drop over time. It’s the thinking behind the sterilisation programmes in America, Sweden and most notoriously, Nazi Germany, against those considered mentally unfit, and which during the Third Reich led to their murder. In the story there’s an intelligentsia, who have preserved their own intellects through rigid interbreeding. They ask the man from the 20th century how they can raise intelligence back to its former level. He suggests that they pack them into faulty rockets with promises that they’re going on holiday to Venus. The rockets won’t get there, and will instead fall apart, killing their retarded occupants. Then the man, who devised this plan, finds that he himself is put on one of the same rockets to kill him for his ruthless cleverness.

As I said, it’s a grim story, and mercifully human evolution doesn’t actually work like that. Although morons like Andrew Sabisky and Toby Young clearly think that it does, and the racist currently ensconced in No. 10 seems to agree. Or at least he and the polecat, Dominic Cummings, have no problems employing men whose disgusting views should mean that they should be nowhere near government.

But enough of these disgusting people with their depressing, sordid views. Here’s the cartoon to cheer you all up.

 

Complaint Sent to Charity Commission about Board of Deputies’ Political Bias

The internet blogger and activist Simon Maginn has complained to the Charity of Commission about the Board of Deputies of British Jews. They have, in his opinion, broken the Commission’s requirement that to qualify for charity status, an organisation should not support or oppose a political party or political candidate, although they may engage in political activity. Yet the Board has done this with its requirement that the Labour Party, and only the Labour Party, has to sign up to its 10 pledges to rid itself of anti-Semitism. When Mr Maginn asked the Board why they insisted that it should only be the Labour party who should do this, the Board said that it was ‘infested’ with ‘anti-Jewish racism’.

This is sheer nonsense. Of course there’s anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, just as there’s anti-Semitism unfortunately throughout British society. But despite what the Board, the Chief Rabbinate, and witch-hunting organisations like the woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism would have us all believe, it is actually much lower in the Labour Party. Jewish Voice for Labour, which has larger and far more authentically Jewish members than the sham outfit, the Jewish Labour Movement, real name Paole Zion, has repeatedly pointed this out. And there have been a stream of Jewish Labour Party members, who’ve said the same. They’ve said that, while they know it must exist, they have never come across it themselves. And some of these are members of very long standing. This impression is supported by the Community Security Trust, who gather statistics on anti-Semitic crime and incidents. Their stats show that the incidence of anti-Semitism rises the further to the right you go, and so statistically the Labour Party is less anti-Semitic than the Tories. And three-quarters of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the CST come from the far right. As you’d expect.

Simon asked the BoD why they were therefore targeting the Labour Party when the stats said otherwise. He states that they offered ‘no statistical rebuttal’.

Simon then says

“Thus, the BoD have made a very public statement that the Labour Party is problematic based on faulty data. They are ‘opposing’ the Labour Party in so doing. The issue is politically sensitive. The BoD’s ’10 point pledge’ has had enormous publicity, with all the Labour leadership candidates signing up to it. This, in my opinion, amounts to the BoD ‘opposing’ the Labour Party by singling them out for opprobrium and not demanding any other party sign the pledge.

“I think this politicisation of the BoD’s activities presents a negative image of charities, which the British people believe to be politically neutral. The suggestion that a charity might be using its charitable status to oppose one party and, by implication, support another is damaging to the reputation of the charitable sector generally.”

Mike in his discussion of this says it’s a strong argument, and will be interesting to see what the Charity Commission does with it. Particularly as it’s already investigating the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism for the same reasons.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/18/charity-commission-urged-to-take-action-over-political-activity-by-board-of-deputies/

But this was never about anti-Semitism to begin with.

Not the real hatred of Jews, simply because they’re Jews. This is the dictionary definition of anti-Semitism, and the one adhered to by one of the odious organisations behind modern anti-Semitism, the German Bund Antisemisten. But the Board of Deputies wasn’t interested in that. This was all about getting the Labour Party to adopt the I.H.R.C. definition of anti-Semitism and its examples, in order to prevent criticism of Israel’s oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The BoD, Chief Rabbinate, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and their counterparts in the Labour Party, Paole Zion, er, I mean the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, were frightened of changes to the Labour leadership long before Corbyn was elected. They started screaming that it was anti-Semitic when the Jewish Ed Miliband was elected, because he dared to criticise Israel. And they panicked when Corbyn was elected, because he is a long-time anti-racism activist who has consistently supported Palestinian rights. Along with supporting Britain’s Jewish communities. Mike and other bloggers have put up ad nauseam a long list of Corbyn’s actions to defend the country’s Jews. One of the best known of these is when he helped prevent the redevelopment of an historic Haredi Jewish cemetery. And he is also absolutely not an enemy of Israel. He just wants it to stop persecuting its indigenous Arabs.

Critics of Israel like Norman Finkelstein, the Jewish American academic, have pointed out that Israel is unable to counter criticism of its policies on factual grounds. It has therefore concentrated on smearing its opponents as anti-Semites. This is what the Israel lobby in this country was doing when it attacked Corbyn and the Labour Party. The accusations were very definitely politically motivated, and had a ready audience in the Conservative political and media establishment. These were all too eager to broadcast and amplify these smears to the widest possible audience, while ignoring the very many Jews and Jewish organisations that denied and contradicted these smears.

Simon’s absolutely correct, but I’m afraid I don’t see the Charity Commission acting. I’ve heard a number of stories about serious and flagrant mismanagement of charities. But it seems the Commission is very reluctant to act unless there’s no way it can get out of it. In this, it seems to resemble the Financial Services Authority, which is supposed to police the banking and financial sector. This is so loath to act on cases of wrongdoing that Private Eye has nicknamed it the ‘Fundamentally Supine Authority’.

But I hope the Charity Commission will prove me wrong in this, and hope they will investigate thoroughly this obvious case of definite, selective political opposition by the Board.

Simon has also published a series of Tweets criticising the Board’s 10 pledges and the reactions of the Labour leadership hopefuls to them. He points out that they won’t end the anti-Semitism controversy and Board’s meddling in the Labour Party. They’ll just increase it until the Party is destroyed. See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/19/labours-leader-candidates-seem-determined-to-destroy-their-own-party-heres-how-it-works/

 

 

Comedian David Baddiel Presents Show Attacking Holocaust Denial

Next Monday at 9.00 pm on BBC 2, the Beeb is showing the documentary, Confronting Holocaust Denial with David Baddiel. The blurb for this in the Radio Times runs

Despite being one of the most documented events in history, one in six people worldwide believes the Holocaust has been exaggerated or denies that it ever took place. Here, David Baddiel anatomises that denial, from the Nazis’ bid to hide what they were doing to the roles of the British establishment in downplaying the extent to which Jews were the victims and of social media in affording anti-Semitism a platform. David also visits Chelmno, where tens of thousands died, and meets Rachel levy, one of the Holocaust’s few remaining survivors.

I absolutely don’t have a problem with confronting and refuting Holocaust denial whatsoever. It was one of the most monstrous crimes of the 20th century, and the people who deny or minimise it do so in order to sanitise Nazism in the hope of some day getting it back into power. They’re despicable. But I do have issues with this programme, because I’m afraid of a hidden pro-Zionist agenda that will boost the anti-Semitism smear merchants.

Part of this is their choice of presenter. David Baddiel is a brilliantly funny comedian. I went to see him once at the Cheltenham Literary Festival talking about his new book, and he had the room in stitches. He’s also ferociously intelligent with a double first and doctorate from Oxford. But he’s also one of Groaniad’s commentariat, who pushed the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. He appeared on various TV shows making these claims. He also wrote a piece in the Guardian claiming that Corbyn was a terrible anti-Semite because he pronounced Jeffrey Epstein’s name ‘Epshtein’. This was supposed to be an attempt to make the deceased magnate and paedophile less English or, rather, American, by stressing his non-English-speaking origins.

It’s a rubbish argument. Unless you’re aware that Epstein, or others with the same name, are Jewish and pronounce it differently, the name looks German. And Corbyn gave it the German pronunciation. There’s nothing inherently racist in that. Consider the number of gentile Brits with foreign names, like the Eurosceptic politico Mark Francois. Presumably his surname is given the French pronunciation, but this is not taken to mean that Francois is less British. Although it is ironic that someone with a continental name should have such a hatred of the European Union. Similarly, Mike and myself have also had people pronounce our surname incorrectly as if it were French. It isn’t, and that’s not how we say it. But I don’t believe that the people mispronouncing our surname did so deliberately or were consciously trying to denigrate us as somehow not really British or English.

Also, Baddiel himself is hardly innocent of racism. Older readers of this blog may remember the show he and Frank Skinner had on the Beeb in the ’90s, Fantasy Football League. This was a bit of sport comedy. But one of the recurring ‘jokes’, in retrospect, seems at best tasteless, and at worse markedly racist. Baddiel used to appear in blackface wearing a pineapple and dreadlocks in order to mock the appearance of the Black footballer, Jason Lee, who was then playing for Nottingham Forest. He was taking the mick out of Lee’s hairstyle, which was a mixture of the corn rows and dreads. But this led to ‘pineapple head’ being used as a racist insult against Blacks with a similar hairstyle. Tony Greenstein included a piece about this from The Weekly Worker when he attacked Baddiel for pushing the anti-Semitism smears last year.

Baddiel invented the slur ‘Pineapple Heads’ for Black people with ‘Dredds & Cornrows’. Professor Ben Carrington details the strategic exploitative depths into which this campaign of the TV series Fantasy Football plunged and further extended its impact on other Black citizens. “David Baddiel ‘Blacked up’ (evoking the barely coded racist imagery of the minstrel shows) with a pineapple on his head out of which Jason Lee’s dreadlocks were growing – the ‘joke’ being that Jason Lee’s ‘dreads’ resemble a fruit on top of his head. This joke was then carried out with increasing frequency for the rest of the series, with young children sending in drawings of Jason Lee adorned with various fruit on his head. The pineapple joke was then taken up by football fans in the terraces who chanted songs about Jason Lee’s hair and significantly transcended the normally insular world of football fandom and entered into the public domain as both a descriptive term and a form of ridicule (‘Pineapple Head’) for any black person with dreads tied back”. 

Inevitably, many of those subjected to the abusive copy-cat street ‘ridicule’, Carrington identifies were children.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/11/david-baddiels-allegation-of-anti.html

Now I realise that this was a long time ago, and things were slightly different in the ’90s, but it was still pretty tasteless even then. I don’t know if Baddiel regrets the joke, but I doubt that he ever gave it much thought, to be honest. But with this on his record, he may not be the best presenter of a programme dedicated to exposing a particularly nasty form of racism.

And I really don’t want the programme to confer on him a spurious moral authority then next time he starts screaming about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Because people will believe his lies and smears simply because he presented a programme about Holocaust denial, and because he was correct about that, so he must somehow be correct about anti-Semitism in Labour.

One of the issues the programme tackles is the way the British authorities tried to play down the Jews as the victims of Nazi atrocities, because they feared that if they included them gentiles would not believe it. There’s a long article about the documentary in the Radio Times, which includes this

More unsettling is the document Baddiel examines at the National Archives in Kew, a memo from a British official warning that stories of Nazi atrocities will only be effective in the eyes of the British public if the victims can be shown to be “indisputably innocent”. That, writes the official, means the victims must include no violent criminals, and no Jews. To Baddiel, “that was a very serious form of denial. It was laying the ground for a general sense of disbelief towards the Holocaust.”

But there’s also a Zionist double standard here. The Zionist organisations initially also didn’t want Jews singled out as the particular victims of the Nazis. They were afraid that if they did so, it would mean that the world would regard the Jews as being too weak to have their own state. By that same logic, Zionism is also guilty of laying the ground for Holocaust denial. But Baddiel and the Radio Times say nothing.

He also tackles the problem of Holocaust denial among the Palestinians in Gaza. The Radio Times says of this

He hears a Palestinian scholar explain that high rates of Holocaust denial in Gaza owe more to a desire to hurt Jews in their most sensitive spot than a genuine refusal to believe the facts. Baddiel understands that logic – then admits to the camera that his own understanding has made him “uneasy” because, as he tells me later, “Where does understanding shade into legitimacy, into saying “This isn’t quite so bad”? The next thing you know, you’re accepting Holocaust denial.In the film, that the point at which I’m most uncertain.”

But this also raises the issues of Zionist double standards and the way they have manipulated the Holocaust for their own political ends. The Palestinians have their own counterpart of the Shoah, the Hebrew term for the Holocaust. This is the Nakba, an Arabic word for disaster or catastrophe, which the Palestinians use to describe the foundation of Israel and its consequent massacre and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arab population. The Israeli state, in contrast to its historians, admits that some villages were massacred, but the reality is that there were many, many more. The victims included unarmed men, women and children, including those walking towards the Zionist soldiers with gifts of food, and seeking shelter in mosques. The Israeli state also maintains that the Palestinians were told by their own leaders to flee, but subsequent research has shown that this again is fake history, and these instructions or the rumours of them were manufactured by the nascent Israeli spy agencies. But this is also consistently denied by the Israelis.

And the Israeli state does exploit the Holocaust as a political symbol. In one Holocaust Day ceremony, Israeli troopers marched into the arena in which the commemorations were being held. But as soon as Orla Guerin, the Beeb’s Israel correspondent, mentioned this, she was attacked as an anti-Semite by the Zionist shills, including the Beeb’s former head of programming. Baddiel is right to call out Palestinian Holocaust denial, but it does need to be put in context as a reaction to their history of ethnic cleansing by the Jewish state. It is not simply an act of malicious spite just for the sake of it.

Baddiel and the Beeb are doing a good job by tackling Holocaust denial. But I am afraid that the selection of Baddiel as presenter, and the programme’s omission of Zionist complicity in it, and in ethnic cleansing in Palestine, will act to give it a pro-Israel, pro-Zionist slant. And Baddiel’s own racist jokes about Black hairstyles could be seen as showing the Beeb has double standards of its own. Racism against Blacks is acceptable, while anti-Semitism is not.

But racism is racism, whatever the colour or ethnicity of the person perpetrating it.

 

 

John Newsinger on the Zionists’ Collaboration with Anti-Semites and the Nazis

John Newsinger, whose book The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire I blogged about yesterday, is one of the many anti-Zionist and Israel-critical Jews, whose voices the Tory and Jewish establishments are both keen to marginalise and silence. Decent, self-regarding Jewish anti-racists, who also oppose Zionism, like Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker, have been smeared as ‘self-hating’ and anti-Semitic because they expose the racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing at the heart of the Israeli state. They have been purged from the Labour Party along with committed non-Jewish anti-racists like Ken Livingstone and the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who have also criticised and denounced Israel. ‘Red’ Ken was particularly smeared, partly because he stated quite correctly that Hitler initially supported Zionism. This is factually correct, however unpalatable it is to modern supporters of Israel. Before the Nazis decided on their horrific ‘Final Solution’, they weren’t particularly concerned what happened to the Jews as long as they were cleansed from Germany. They therefore made a short-lived pact, the Ha’avah Agreement, with the Zionists to smuggle German Jews into Palestine, then under the British mandate. Tony Greenstein blogged about the Ha’avah agreement in support of Leninspart, showing that it is established, respectable documented history, and even posting photos of the extremely rare medal the Nazis struck to celebrate the visit of one of their storm troopers to the Jewish community in Palestine. He also quoted extensively from the memoirs of Theodor Herzl, Zionism’s founder, to show how he regarded the anti-Semites as the Zionists’ most valuable allies.

Newsinger is a long-time contributor to the conspiracies/parapolitics journal Lobster. He is the senior lecturer in History and Cultural Studies at Bath Spa University College. Although he also has his differences with the Trotskyite newt-fancier, he published a piece in that magazine showing very clearly, again with copious documentation, that Livingstone was right. He also describes Herzl’s positive attitude towards European anti-Semites as a source of support for the Zionists, and the Zionists’ initial collaboration with the Nazis in the Jewish settlement of Palestine in The Blood Never Dried. He writes

While the settlers on the ground inevitably looked to the Turkish government for support and protection, the international Zionist movement was concerned to persuade European governments to pressure the Turks into being more sympathetic. This involved developing a relationship not only with the rival European empires, but also with openly anti-Semitic governments and politicians. Indeed, according to one historian, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism

regarded the anti-Semites as his most dependable friends and allies. Rather than attack and denounce anti-Semitism, Herzl declared that ‘the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.’

The Zionists, at this time, argued that there was no place for Jews in countries like Russia, Germany, France, Britain or the United States, and this sentiment was reciprocated by anti-Semites in those countries. They could cooperate on the basis of this shared understanding. (p. 123).

Of the collaboration between the Zionists and the Nazis, Newsinger writes, pp. 129-30,

One other point worth making here is the extent to which the Zionist movement actually collaborate with the Nazis in the 1930s, in particular with the SS. To be blunt, they found they had a shared interest in the eviction of Jews from Germany. Reinhard heydrich no less, later to be the architect of the Holocaust, in September 1935 protclaimed his solidarity with Zionism in the SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps. The Nazis, he made clear, were “in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world, and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas”. Adolf Eichmann, a key figure in the destruction of Europe’s Jews, actually visited Palestine in 1937 at the invitation of the Zionists. The Gestapo worked closely with Mossad, the Zionist agency handling illegal immigration. In 1939 Heydrich was demanding that Mossad should be sending off “400 Jews per week … from Berlin alone”. This cooperation extended to the SS providing the Haganah with smuggled arms.” The moral bankruptcy of the Zionist movement is nowhere better demonstrated than in Ben Gurion’s response to the possibility of thousands of Jewish children being admitted into Britain after the Kristallnacht progrom in Germany. On 7 December 1938 he told a meeting of Zionist leaders

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of those children, but also the history of the people of Israel.

With the Nazis, of course, there was to be no such choice.

Mike was also suspended, expelled from the Party and then smeared as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier – things that he is most definitely not – because he wrote a pamphlet, The Livingstone Delusion, defending Leninspart and showing that he was not an anti-Semite, and also actually right about the initial relationship between the Zionists and the Nazis.

But Newsinger’s book, well-documented and written by a proper, academic Jewish historian, shows that Mike, Tony Greenstein, Livingstone, and all the others were factually correct. It is the Zionists who are peddling anti-Semitic lies in order to cover up Zionism’s shameful record.

Mike’s expulsion, along with those of the other victims of the witch hunt, like Tony, Jackie, Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Martin Odoni, Cyril Chilson and so many, many other decent, innocent people, is a glaring injustice that needs to be reversed. Now.

MPs Condemn BoJob’s Attempt to Control Media at Briefings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/02/2020 - 1:26am in

This is another article from yesterday’s I, for 5th February 2020. The piece, ‘MPs from all parties raise concerns over ‘Trumpian-style’ media ban’, by Nigel Morris and Hugo Gye, reports that MPs from all parties are condemning the attempts by BoJob and his polecat, Dominic Cummings, to decide which journos should be rewarded with access to the PM at lobby briefings after Monday’s mass walkout. The article runs

Downing Street face cross-party anger over a “Trump-style” attempt to restrict access to a briefing on Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy to a small number of favoured political correspondents.

The exclusion of reporters regarded as critical of the Government prompted an emergency debate in the Commons, and the Cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, is under pressure to investigate the “deeply disturbing episode”.

I understands that Downing Street is reviewing its policy of staging selective briefings on policy.

Senior television and newspaper journalists walked out of Downing Street en masse when No 10’s director of communications, Lee Cain, insisted that only a handful of reporters would be admitted to a “technical briefing” with David Frost. I was among several titles that Downing Street attempted to exclude.

No 10’s tactics on Monday caused dismay among senior Tories and other MPs alike. One Tory MP said: “It makes us look like control freaks.”

And senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove endured an uncomfortable appearance on BBC’s 5Live programme when he refused to answer whether he would have joined the walkout when he was a journalist.

In the Commons, the Cabinet Office minister, Chloe Smith, insisted it was “entirely standard practice” to arrange such briefings and that the Government was “committed to… the principles of media freedom”.

The SNP MP Pete Wishart said Ms Smith’s “self-justifying nonsense” would not “get her off the Trumpian hook”.

Tracy Brabin, the shadow Culture Secretary, said the decision undermined the traditional neutrality of civil servants.

The Labour leadership front runner, Sir Keir Starmer, said: “The actions… are deeply disturbing. Banning the media from important briefings… is damaging to democracy.”

A No 10 source said: “We reserve the right to brief journalists which we choose whenever we wish to.”

There is nothing normal about BoJob’s crew trying to dictate who does or does not attend press briefings. Zelo Street showed that in a couple of pieces commenting on Guido Fawkes’ attempts to spin this line a few days ago. Chloe Smith is wrong, and Peter Wishart, Tracy Brabin and Keir Starmer are right.

The end result of this attempt to impose highly authoritarian control over the media is the rigid censorship of totalitarian states like Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. As for Johnson believing in the principle of media freedom, well, he may do so in principle, but he has very blatant contempt for the idea in practice. With luck this means that the media will become much less docile and compliant in their support.

Perhaps they might even start to take the idea of the journalist’s responsibility to the hold government to account seriously again.

Journos Walk Out As Boris Tries to Control Press

The Tory attempts to impose rigid, authoritarian control over the press continues. One of the big stories yesterday was the news that the assembled hacks and hackettes of the media had walked out of a press briefing organised by No. 10. There was going to be a ‘technical briefing’ on Brexit by David Frost, our comedy Prime Minister’s adviser on Europe. However, only selected members of the fourth estate were invited. A list was read out of those favoured journos were going to be allowed to go to No. 10, splitting the media into two groups as those who were and were not invited were told to stand on different sides of the room. The media outlets that were definitely not invited included the I, Daily Mirror, Independent, Evening Standard, HuffPost UK and PoliticsHome. Those papers not on BoJob’s list also tried to get into the briefing. This assault on press freedom was too much even for those invited, and other journos walked out of the meeting in protest. They included Laura Kuenssberg for the Beeb, ITV.s political editor Robert Peston and the senior political correspondents from the Heil, Torygraph, Scum, Financial Times and the Groaniad. A row broke out, with Lee Cain, BoJob’s director of communications, declaring “We are welcome to brief whoever we want, whenever we want’.

The Mirror’s political editor, Pippa Crerar, described the shenanigans as ‘sinister and sad’. The SNP’s culture spokesman, John Nicholson, commented that Johnson already hid from interviewers he found too tough, a tactic he learned from Trump. The Shadow Culture Secretary, Tracy Brabin, said that it was concerning that Johnson was using Trump tactics to hid from scrutiny. Dame Eleanor Laing, the deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, also condemned BoJob’s actions, and said, ‘Accredited lobby journalists are indeed part of our parliamentary community and so, of course, must be, should be, and normally are treated with respect’. And the NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘As ministers are now boycotting certain programmes and journalists, this represents another very dangerous step.’

The I covered this in yesterday’s edition, for 4th February 2020. Their description of the events on page 10 was accompanied by an analysis by Richard Vaughan, ‘No 10 has started to chip away at freedom of press’, describing how this was just the latest step in Boris’ attempts to restrict press freedom and hostile reportage. The article ran

Since entering No 10 last year, Boris Johnson’s senior advisers have wanted to exert greater power when it comes to the media. Up until the election, Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s de facto chief of staff, and his direct of communications Lee Cain, were too distracted to do much about it.

But having secured an 80-seat majority, the pair have all but declared war on the parliamentary “lobby” journalists in a bid to exercise their new-found strength.

First was change to the lobby briefing system – the twice-daily meetings where journalists can fire questions at the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.

Cain insisted that all meetings would be held in Downing Street rather than the Commons. This raised concerns that it would give No 10 the power to refuse entry for any journalists who had fallen out of favour.

And so it has proved. Last week, a select group of journalists were invited to a briefing by security and intelligence officials on allowing Huawei to run part of the UK’s 5G network. Representatives from I, the Daily Mirror, HuffPost, the Independent, the Press Association, Reuters and several websites were barred.

Yesterday, No 10 repeated the move, attempting to freeze out several journalists from a Downing Street briefing with the Government’s lead Brexit negotiator David Frost, only this time it prompted a walkout.

It follows similar decisions by Mr Johnson’s team to boycott BBC Radio4’s Today and ITV’s Good Morning Britain as well as avoiding Andrew Neil during the election.

It is a power play by Cummings and Cain, who prioritise “message discipline” above all else and who view the favoured outlets as being essential to getting their message out. The move has been described as Trumpian by opposition MPs, due to its similarity to the way the US President excludes certain reporters he does not like.

It would be very easy to dismiss this as sour grapes at not being one of the chosen few titles, but it is a worrying sign of things to come. Shutting out certain publications damages the bedrock of a free media which exists to help hold the Government to account.

In fact, as the media coverage of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn has shown, it’s been a very long time since the Tory media held the government to account. They were also very heavily favoured by the Beeb. John Major, when he was in power in No. 10, used to ask his cabinet how their friends in the media could help them spin certain issues and stories. And former cabinet ministers of Tony Blair’s have described how he was always concerned to have the press on his side, and that Rupert Murdoch was always an invisible presence at meetings due to his switch to supporting Blair.

Now with this attempt by Boris to exclude the media outlets he dislikes and Johnson debating whether or not to abolish the licence fee and privatise the Beeb, the media just might be waking up to what a threat Johnson poses to freedom of speech and of the press.

And this is a very dangerous step. Trump, who started this tactic, also pondered whether or not he could have certain newspapers closed down. He can’t, at least not at the moment. But that’s another step in the sequence of imposing a rigid state censorship over the media comparable to that of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

The media were fine about supporting Boris when it was voluntary. He was standing up for capitalist freedom against that evil Commie Corbyn. Well, Corbyn wasn’t a Commie, and they’re just now starting to find out that under Boris, supporting him is going to be  compulsory.

Are You Going to Eat That?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 6:11am in

At first sight, it’s a normal supermarket on a large shopping street in the Berlin district of Steglitz. Shopping carts await customers at the entrance in neat little rows. Beyond them are shelves packed with muesli, tomato sauce, chocolate, sausages, ready-to-eat meals, coconut water and craft beer — the same items found in grocery stores throughout the city. But these products are different. Each and every one of the goods in Sirplus Market is expired, mislabeled or simply unattractive. 

The customers don’t mind. Quite the opposite. That’s what they’re here to buy. 

saving foodA lot of food that has been deemed too ugly to sell is available for purchase at Sirplus Market. Credit: Sirplus Market

On a recent morning, Raphael Fellmer rushes through the glass doors and straightens the row of shopping carts. He then takes a look around the room and nods contentedly. Even this early in the morning, his supermarket is already well stocked. Misshapen cucumbers are piled in the produce section; aging milk chills in the fridge.

“We want to bring saving food into the middle of society,” says Fellmer, greeting a member of the fruit and vegetable department with a hug. 

surplus supermarketHaving a wide range of partners makes it easier for Sirplus to keep its shelves stocked with a variety of products. Credit: Sirplus Market

In that, he seems to be succeeding. In 2017 Fellmer and his partner Martin Schott opened their first store in Berlin — an entire supermarket that sold only foods other stores had rejected. Now they own five, employing a staff of nearly 100. One of the branches is located in a new shopping mall opposite the world-famous East Side Gallery. You can’t get closer to the city center. 

We’re tossing too much

According to the UN, one-third of the food produced worldwide ends up on the rubbish heap, an affront not only to the 800 million people threatened by hunger, but to the climate, as well. “If global food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA, with 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually,” explains Fellmer. 

To combat the problem, governments around the world have tightened regulations on food waste. France was an early pioneer — its landmark 2016 law requires supermarkets to compost, donate, or otherwise recycle unsold food. Some of it becomes animal feed, some is turned into biofuel. Most ends up at food banks, which have seen huge increases in their donations as a result. 

saving foodAs long as food has been verified as safe to eat and the customer is told that what they are buying is expired or otherwise unusual, it is legal to sell under German law. Credit: Sirplus Market

While the law has achieved its intended effect of reducing food waste, it has also led to problems. Some charitable organizations have reported being inundated with food they don’t need. Stores sometimes offload rotting food at food banks simply to claim compliance with the law. And the law only applies to supermarkets, which are responsible for a mere 14 percent of France’s food waste. (The agricultural sector produces far more edible garbage.)

The private sector offers what is perhaps a more efficient solution. New York’s Misfits Market, a Fresh Direct-style produce delivery service, sells cartons of misshapen fruit and vegetables from organic farmers for what the company claims is up to 40 percent less than they would be priced if flawlessly formed. 

surplus foodSirplus now works with 700 partners, including farmers, food producers, retailers and wholesalers, who ship the product they don’t plan to sell over to the market. Credit: Sirplus Market

In Munich, the company Etepetete (a German term for someone who is picky) works on a similar principle. Launched in a small hall in the west of the city in 2015, Etepetete has since moved into a warehouse at the popular Munich wholesale market. The company has already saved nearly three million pounds of fruit and vegetables that were scorned by conventional retailers for being too small, too big, or just too weird looking.

There are also apps. Too Good To Go for example, lets restaurants, supermarkets or delicatessens in several European countries sell unsold products and even prepared meals after or just before closing time, when you can pick them up for a very low price. Through the mediation of Too Good To Go, almost 30 million meals have already ended up in hungry stomachs instead of in the trash.

Passing the smell test

When a curious potential customer asks Fellmer about his supermarket, the question is often the same: How do I know the food I’m buying is okay to eat?

ugly foodStumpy parsnips didn’t make the cut at a conventional supermarket, so they ended up at Sirplus. Credit: Sirplus Market

At Sirplus, this evaluation process is the work of Timo Schmitt and his team of four. Together, they ensure that an ugly-on-the-outside nectarine has inner beauty to the core. “We check smell, taste, consistency and packaging,” explains the ecotrophologist Schmitt. “If in doubt, we call in a laboratory” — a drastic measure that is only necessary once every few months. As long as the food has been verified as safe to eat and the customer is told that what they are buying is expired or otherwise unusual, it is legal to sell under German law.

Schmitt and his colleagues use a database to track and evaluate every item in Sirplus’s 1,000-square meter warehouse and its five stores. This monitoring system allows Schmitt to draw on his knowledge of on-the-cusp groceries to make determinations about what is still of salable quality. He can estimate the likely edibility of dozens of product groups beyond their expiration date — yogurt can keep for an extra six to eight weeks; soft drinks are usually fine months later. An oat milk without stabilizers could go either way, even before it has expired. Sometimes simply giving it a shaking can solve the problem, as it can for instant soups that have separated in the can. 

cheap foodProducts at Sirplus are up to 80 percent cheaper than at other supermarkets. Credit: Sirplus Market

Simple fixes like these make foods that would be rejected elsewhere ready for Sirplus’s shelves. Sometimes the offending quality is so minor as to be almost imperceptible, like a packaging misprint or a jam that’s not quite congealed enough. It makes one realize how much food waste is avoidable if stores would simply trust their  customers to buy it.

Products at Sirplus are up to 80 percent cheaper than at other supermarkets. In return, its clientele accepts that not everything is always available (or is available at the wrong time, like chocolate Santa Clauses in July.) But Sirplus is working to make its inventory more predictable.

SantaChocolate Santas in summertime are among the many surprises stocking the shelves one finds at Sirplus Market. Credit: Sirplus Market

The company now works with 700 partners, including farmers, food producers, retailers and wholesalers, who ship the product they don’t plan to sell over to Sirplus. For these partners, working with Sirplus reduces their waste-disposal costs and burnishes their sustainable public image. And having a wide range of partners makes it easier for Sirplus to keep its shelves stocked with a variety of products.

One of those partners is Metro, the global food wholesaler that provides product for small scale traders, restaurants and caterers across Germany. “We do not want to carelessly dispose of [what we can’t use],” says Guido Mischok, Metro’s regional manager for Berlin. Metro has set the goal of producing 50 percent less food waste by 2025. Much of this would-be waste goes to non-profits, but a lot goes to Sirplus, too — for example, beverages or large quantities of baked goods, which non-profit organizations generally won’t accept. 

SirplusMartin Schott and Raphael Fellmer pose with some of their produce. Credit: Sirplus Market

Fellmer launched Sirplus with a crowdfunding campaign and money from a cooperative bank that makes loans to projects promoting sustainability. In 2018 they turned a profit of 1.2 million euros ($1.3 million USD). Last year that profit nearly tripled. The company also recently started a catering service that uses Sirplus food, and launched its own product line, turning, for example, misshapen fruits into jams sold under the Sirplus label. But for all its rapid growth, the two partners always need more money for further growth. They recently announced that they are in talks with three social impact investors to expand the business. 

Despite its success, Sirplus’s ultimate goal is to put itself out of business. “That is exactly what we want,” says Fellmer. Even as a student of European Studies in the Hague, the now 36-year-old father of two was outraged by the wasted food he saw all around him. Together with like-minded friends, he would fish half-eaten sandwiches and pastries out of rubbish containers. Later he founded an organization called foodsharing, which connects people who can’t use their soon-to-expire food with others who can. Today, foodsharing is an international organization with 200,000 registered users and 40,000 volunteer food rescuers. 

Despite Fellmer’s ambition to see the food empire he has built become obsolete, Sirplus isn’t likely to be superfluous anytime soon. It is routinely offered large quantities of food that it cannot accept for lack of space. “Fifty pallets of muesli or a million croissants is simply too much for the current structures,” says Fellmer. Sirplus is now focused on growing its online sales, opening new branches and setting up a franchising system for other cities. There is no shortage of ideas. Fellmer smiles. “After all,” he says, “we don’t just want to save food. We want to save the world.”

The post Are You Going to Eat That? appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Authorities’ Failure to Prosecute Men Accused of Threats to Devon Charity

This is very disturbing, and suggests that some extremely dangerous, violent crims have friends in high places. On Tuesday Mike put up a piece about the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to take to court the alleged perpetrators of a series of attacks and threats against a Devon charity, Humanity UK, or Humanity Torbay. Elaine Waugh, one of the charity’s trustees, had talked about the threats the men had made against her and her charity as well as series of attacks against its offices and her car. The men had threatened in May last year to break the arms of the charity’s trustees and throw acid in their faces. The case has only just come to crown court, but despite the men pleading guilty, the CPS has decided not to prosecute. The case would be too costly.

Waugh also told how the charity’s offices had been broken into, and destroyed with bleach. She said that the police weren’t interested in it when they came. The cops were there for about 25 minutes and then left after giving her a crime number. After that she heard nothing. But they did take a list of the charity’s donors, who were members of the Labour Party. In July last year there was also an attack on her house in which the family car was firebombed. The police told her it was an anti-Semitic attack. She doubts this as her husband and two children are Jews, but she is herself Roman Catholic. She therefore feels it was political. She also said that she has been informed that there are 465 other charities suffering similar attacks.

She said too that the charity had also lost its chief source of funding after a she made and posted a video on YouTube criticising the Conservative government. This was seen over six million times during the election campaign.

She believed that her alleged harassers had a ‘hate’ page on Facebook, but complained of the company’s double standards. Although the harassers got away with their comments, she found that her charity’s page was taken down if they said anything to upset the right.

Mike also says in his piece that it costs about £1,400 a month to run, and provides services for the poor and homeless. He provides a link so that readers may donate to it if they choose.

Court case over acid attack threat to charity trustees is cancelled – because the CPS says it’s too costly

This is very disturbing, as it suggests that someone in power is actively protecting these men, if they are guilty of these crimes. I remember the scandal back in the 1980s when it was revealed that a number of policemen were members of the League of St. George. I believe this outfit was founded during the Second World War as an SS auxiliary regiment for English Fascists. It also reminds of the ‘social cleansing’ carried out by South American Fascists in the 1990s. Inspired by the ethnic cleansing by the Serbs and the other belligerents during the war in the former Yugoslavia, these thugs attacked and killed the poorest in their societies. There was a chilling video on the news of a group of them burning a homeless man to death. In Jamaica in the 1970s there was also an alliance between corrupt politicians and the Yardie gangs. The politicos would hire them to threaten and kill their opponents. And the ultimate end of such relationships is the violence and lawlessness of Weimar Germany, when the Nazis and other extremist groups ran amok beating and  killing their left-wing and democratic enemies.

This raises a terrible question: does the authorities refusal to prosecute this case mean we can expect similar right-wing lawless protected and encouraged by senior politicos and members of the judiciary in Boris’ post-Brexit Britain?

Manifesto for a Truly Democratic, Socialist America

Bhaskar Sunkara, The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality (London: Verso 2019).

Introduction

This is a superb book, though conditions have changed since the book was published last year through Labour’s election defeat and the fall of Corbyn, that the new age of socialist activism and success Sunkara looks forward to is now far more doubtful. Sunkara is an American radical journalist, and the founder and editor of the left-wing magazine, Jacobin. Originally from Trinidade, he immigrated to the USA with his family when he was young. Growing up in New York, he read extensively in the Big Apple’s public library, where he came to realise the country’s dependence on services provided by the state. He immersed himself in the history and literature of socialism, finally joining the Democratic Socialists of America. He is also a registered Democrat.

The book comes praised by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, Naomi Klein and Owen Jones. The book was partly inspired by the success of Jeremy Corbyn over here and Bernie Sanders in America in bringing socialism back into the political arena after decades of neoliberalism. This is made clear by the blurb on the dust jacket’s inside flap. This states

Socialism was pronounced dead when the Soviet Union collapsed. But with the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s left-led Labour party and increasing economic inequality, the politics of class struggle and wealth redistribution is back on the agenda. In The Socialist Manifesto Bhaskar Sunkara offers a primer on socialism for the twenty-first century, outlining where it came from, what it is, and what a socialist political system might look like.

Tracing the history of some of socialism’s highs and lows – from the creation of Germany’s Social Democratic Party through bloody communist revolutions to the predicaments of midcentury social democracy – Sunkara contends that, in our global age, socialism is still the only way forward. Drawing on history and his own experience in left-wing activism, Sunkara explains how socialists can win better wages and housing and create democratic institutions in workplaces and communities.

In showing how and why socialism can work today, The Socialist Manifesto is for anyone seeking a real solution to the vast inequalities of our age.

The Way to Socialism in America

The book begins with a ‘Day in the Life of a Socialist Citizen’, which maps out one possible path for the transformation of America into a socialist state. Sunkara asks the reader to imagine himself as a worker at Jon Bongiovi’s pasta sauce business in Texas to show that, even under a benign and paternalistic employer, the capitalist system still leaves the workers poor and powerless. In order to compete, the firm must not only make a profit, but invest in machinery while at the same time either cutting wages or laying people off. However, the workers are empowered by a new wave of strikes and left-wing activism that sees the election of President Springsteen. Springsteen establishes a welfare state, which allows the workers to devote more of their time and energy to pressing for their demands without having to fear for their livelihood. The worker’s movement continues making gains until the economy has become nationalised. Individual firms still exist, and are run by the workers themselves rather than the state. Some of them fail. But there are also government banking schemes to help workers set up their own businesses, though still state-owned and collectively managed, when they have a good idea and are fed up with their present job. Like bottling pasta sauce. America is still a vibrant democracy, and there are a number of other parties, including a capitalist party, though that is waning in popularity. It’s not utopia, but it is a system where workers are genuinely valued.

The Rise and Transformation of Socialism from Marxism to Reformism

The socialism, whose history the book tells and advocates, is that the Marxist and Marxist derived parties, Communism and social democracy, rather than the Utopian socialism of the generation before Marx and the more extreme versions of anarchist communism and syndicalism. The book naturally describes the career of Marx and Engels, and the formation of the German SDP. This moved away from revolutionary Marxism to reformism under the influences of Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky, who believed that capitalism’s survival and the growing prosperity of industrial workers had disproven crucial aspects of Marxist doctrine. Initially pacifist, like the other European socialist parties, the SDP voted for war credits at the outbreak of the First World War. This caused a split, with a minority forming the Independent Socialists (USPD) and the Communist Party. When the 1919 revolution broke out, the majority SDP under President Ebert moved to crush it using right-wing Freikorps brigades. Although the SDP was one prop of the Weimar coalition, it was never able to establish socialism in Germany, and so fell with the other parties in the collapse of the Republic to the Nazis.

Russian Communism

Sunkara’s account of the rise of Russian communism is interesting for his argument that the Bolsheviks originally weren’t any more dictatorial than their rivals, the Mensheviks. Even Kautsky recognised the need for a strong, centralised party. But Lenin originally was no dictator. Pravda rejected 44 of his articles, and the were other voices as strong or stronger within the party. What pushed it towards first authoritarianism and then totalitarianism was the stubborn opposition of the rival socialist parties, the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. They were invited to join a government coalition with the Bolsheviks, but walked out and began active opposition. The Revolution was then threatened by the revolt of the Whites, leading to the Civil War, in which Britain and other western countries sent troops in order to overthrow the Bolshevik regime. This, and the chaotic conditions created by the Revolution itself led to the Bolshevik party assuming a monopoly of state power, partly as the only means available of restoring order. This began the party’s journey towards the murderously repressive state it became, though interparty democracy was still alive in the 1920s before the rise of Stalin.

Mao and China

The emergence of communism in China, its seizure of power and the reign of Chairman Mao is also covered as an example of socialism in the Third World. The nations of the Developing World, like China, took over revolutionary socialism – communism – rather than reformism, because conditions in Russia more closely resembled those in their nations. Russian had been a largely agricultural country, in which the majority of its citizens were peasants. Industrial workers’ similarly represented only a minuscule fraction of the Chinese population, and so Mao turned to the peasants instead as a revolutionary force. This chapter concludes that Chinese communism was less about empowering and liberating the workers than as a movement for national modernisation.

Sweden and the Rise and Fall of Social Democracy

The book also examines the rise and progress of Swedish social democracy. The Swedish socialist party took power early through alliances with the Agrarians and the Liberals. This allowed them to introduce generous welfare legislation and transform the country from one of the most socially backward, feudal and patriarchal states in Europe to the progressive nation it is today. But there were also losses as well as gains. The Swedes compromised their commitment to all-out socialism by preserving private industry – only 5 per cent of the Swedish economy was nationalised – and acting to regulate the economy in alliance with the trade unions and industrialists. This corporative system collapsed during the oil crisis of the 1970s. This caused inflation. The government tried to resist wage rises, which the unions resisted. The industrialists resented the growth of working class activism and began measures to counteract them. Olof Palme, the country’s prime minister, then moved in a left-ward direction through establishing funds that would allow the trade unions gradually to buy up companies. The industrialists recognised an existential threat, and succeeded in overthrowing the government.

The Swedish model, meanwhile, had been highly influential through Labour party MP Anthony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism, which in turn led to Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’ as the Labour government in Britain moved from social democracy to a more left-wing alternative to neoliberalism. Other European socialist parties followed, such as the German SDP. France’s President Mitterand in the 1980s tried to break this pattern in the 1980s, but his government was also overthrown through capital flight, the industrialists taking their money out of the French economy. Mitterand tried to hang on by promising to safeguard industry and govern responsibly, but it was no use.

Socialism and America

The chapter on socialism in America is particularly interesting, as it shows, contrary to the impression given by America’s two-party system, that the country has a very strong history and tradition of working class parties and socialism, from combative unions like the IWW to organised parties like the Knights of Labor, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Socialist Labor, Populist, Progressive and Communist Parties. However, socialism has never gained power there, as it has in Britain and Europe, because of a variety of factors. These include the extreme violence of the state and private industry, the latter hiring gunmen, to put down strikes; factional infighting between socialist groups, partly caused by the extreme range of socialist opinions and the restriction of some socialist groups to particular ethnicities, and the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War.

A strategy for Success

Thechapter ‘How We Win’ contains Sunakara’s own observations and recommendations for socialist campaigning and the construction of genuine socialism in America. These are

1. Class-struggle social democracy does not close down avenues for radicals; it opens them.

2. Class-struggle social democracy has the potential to win a major national election today.

3. Winning an election isn’t the same as winning power.

4. They’ll do everything to stop us.

5. Our immediate demands are very much achievable.

6. We must move quickly from social democracy to democratic socialism.

7. We need socialists.

8. The working class had changed over the past hundred and fifty years, but not as much we think.

9. Socialists must embed themselves in working class struggles.

10. It is not enough to work with unions for progressive change. We must wage democratic battles within them.

11. A loose network of leftists and rank-and-file activists isn’t enough. We need a political party.

12. We need to take into account American particularities.

13. We need to democratise our political institutions.

14. Our politics must be universalist.

15. History matters.

Conclusion

This is the clarion call for genuinely radical activism. It will almost certainly start right-wing alarm bells ringing, as Sunkara calls for left-wing activists to join main parties like the Democrats in the US and Labour in Britain. They are not to be infiltrators, but as people genuinely committed to these parties and working peoples’ causes and issues. The claims that the working class has somehow died out or no longer has radical potential is overstated. It has changed, but 60 per cent of the population are still employees drawing wages or a salary, and who have no money of their own. And the book shows very clearly that the transformation to a genuinely socialist economy is needed. Social democracy has won considerable gains for working people, gains that still persist despite constant right-wing attack. But these aren’t enough, and if left unchallenged, capital will always try to destroy them.

The book’s angled towards the US, but its lessons and many of its recommendations still apply of this side of the pond. The resurgence of genuine socialist activism in Britain is now far less certain in Britain. But hopefully this book will help show to more people why it’s still possible and needed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cartoon: Iain Duncan Smith as ‘Nosferatory’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/01/2020 - 5:53am in

Here’s another cartoon satirising the Tories. As I’ve said in my previous pieces, I’ve taken my inspiration from Horror films and ‘B’ movies. In this case, it’s based on Hans Murnau’s 1920’s German silent version of Dracula, Nosferatu. And who better to be portrayed as the vampire than Iain Duncan Smith, a man who responsible for so many of the 130,000 deaths the Tories have killed through austerity.

 

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