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Out of the political confusion of this week the new is waiting to be born

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/05/2021 - 7:11pm in

There is one very clear message from this week’s elections. It is that politically the UK is in a very confused state. This needs some discussion. A thread follows.....and was posted on Twitter minutes before this post was published here. It was as follows:

Scotland has a strong pro-independence majority at Holyrood. No one but a charlatan could deny it.

Wales has rewarded competent, even if slightly boring incumbency. Plaid Cymru did not make the cut through it hoped for. And yet Labour’s win is so distinct it feels like an expression of independent Welsh thinking nonetheless.

Except that is that elsewhere - in Manchester, Liverpool and London, Labour also proved it can deliver and win repeated terms in office.

Unionism in Northern Ireland is in chaos, and without leadership at present.

The Tories won Hartlepool. The Red Wall is theirs for now. But they cannot win Cambridgeshire or the Isle of Wight.

The Greens did well.

Despite all that it is easy to see Johnson as dominant. That is what the media portrayed on Friday. But now? Really? What is actually happening?

This feels incredibly Gramscian to me. The Italian philosopher famously said that there is always a moment when the old is dying and the new is waiting to be born. I suspect we are in that moment now.

My suspicion is that much is dying. The UK is, for a start. Brexit is history. We all now know that. But its legacy is that the UK is dying. Without a common membership of a common union it has nothing left in common to hold it together. Scotland has just realised that first.

Labour is also dying. Again, Scotland is leading the process of change, but the reality is that Labour is built around materialist constructs of class war - and they do not resonate with most people any more. That consigns it to history in its current form.

The Liberal Democrats are dead. Centrism is rightly seen as indecision in a world where new direction n is required. The party has nothing left to say to anyone any more.

And the Tories are nearly dead too. The party I once knew - of MacLeod, Gilmour and Walker and their likes - who once dominated Tory thinking has long been a memory. Major was its last outpost.

What is not acknowledged is that the Tories now have no ideology at all. Neoliberal monetarism killed the one-nation Toryism, but that philosophy has also died now. Sunak’s quantitative easing is evidence of that. But so too are freeports - a meaningless gesture passing as policy.

All the Tories have going for them now is populism. And that is built around Johnson, a character built for that role without a rival close to his ability in performing it within his party.

Johnson succeeds where Cameron and May did not. Remember that the Tories did not look good under them, and majorities were hard to find. But there is nothing to Johnson except the promotion of division and discord as cover for failure. That is what populism does.

Expect much more division and discord, is my prediction. But also do not expect anything close to building back better, or reconciliation of the nations, or levelling up. There is no intention to do any of those things. Nor to deliver better public services.

The public will notice all of that. It will be unavoidable. And so too is something else. And that is that Johnson is not going to hang around in Downing Street for a long time. Commitment is beyond Johnson. And his friends have already left Number 10. So too will he.

Will he make it to 2024? Maybe, but probably not, and by 2026? I can’t see him as leader then. Who will succeed him? The Tories are as bereft of talent as Labour is. We have hollowed out politics. But what that means is that there is no one else to lead the division and discord.

What Johnson is doing is taking the Tories towards a dead end as surely as Starmer is taking Labour in that direction. Very different men can neither deliver managerialism or discord to a country anxious for direction, when none is on offer.

The reality is that both our leading parties are walking the political path to oblivion. Labour as it stands is structured for a fight that belongs to the early twentieth century. The Tories are intellectually bankrupt, seeking now only the refuge of the scoundrel.

What happens then? I except the answer is quite a lot.

We have to redefine the nations. There will be four - although quite what relationship Northern Ireland will have with Ireland is not clear. I see no chance for a Union any more.

Scotland will develop new parties. The SNP will not be a single entity after independence.

Wales will have a surviving Labour Party. Its own Methodist roots will ensure that. But Plaid will have a different left of centre vision. The right will have little to do in either country.

And in England? More Covid, no levelling up, cuts to public services (which are planned), more corruption, Johnson being under continual attack from the Tory media (which is already happening) and economic failings will account for Johnson.

The Tories will seek to find another populist. But whoever it might be will repel people. Only Johnson has the ability to make the repugnant views of populism acceptable in England. The Tories will be in deep trouble by then.

And Labour? They will be in as much trouble, unless they abandon their infighting. Whether that is possible is in doubt.

So what will happen? In England I do not know. I am genuinely unsure in ways I am not in the cases of Wales and Scotland. England needs electoral reform. It needs to tackle corruption. It needs new thinking. It has to create a new story of what it is.

Scotland and Wales know what they are. That is why they have hope. England has to find it. The peculiarly English first past the post system, the two party dominance and the failed ideologies of past eras that say nothing to us now all suggest this will not happen.

But it has to. And I am sure it will. England changes. It always has. Its politics are bankrupt. That’s the only conclusion on English politics from this week. But, from out of this bankruptcy, as Gramsci said, the new will be born. The sooner the better.

Gunboats, Tories and Jersey

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/05/2021 - 5:26pm in

The news is making much of the government’s decision to send gunboats to Jersey today to protect the island, which is a British Crown Dependency, from an apparently planned one day French fishing vessel blockade to be staged in protest at post-Brexit fishing licences granted by the island’s government.

I want to stress that this is not happening by chance. One of the ships in question is HMS Severn:

Its Wikipedia page makes clear that this ship was decommissioned in 2017. But then it was recommissioned and renovated so that it might take part in post-Brexit fishing disputes.

And now, mysteriously one comes along for it to partake in. Call me cynical if you wish, but stage management dos not come much better than this. Johnson thought he needed a Falklands, could never mount such a thing now, and so manages a debacle in the Channel instead, all at the cost of keeping a ship that mounts a few machine guns when in action. I have not the slightest doubt that this whole incident has been provoked.

But let me also look at another dimension to this. That concerns  the status of Jersey. I have over the last two decades spilt more ink on this than  most people, and come to the inevitable and I am sure correct conclusion that no one can be really sure what the precise constitutional history of that island is, because no one can be sure that the supposed treaty signed by King John that gave it its supposed status ever existed. There is certainly no copy available now. And so it lives with an ambiguity that has suited many in its history very well.

Very well that is until the French decide to threaten, when on this occasion the stop have been pulled out, or at least HMS Severn has cast off from Portsmouth. But, is Jersey British territory?

It says not. It claims independence when it suits it. It claims to have its own government capable of concluding international treaties, something denied to Scotland and Wales. And it claims to be fiscally independent. Indeed, it often threatens to break the link when tax haven issues come between London and it. So what is the sending of the gunboat about? And who would have Jersey in the event of the UK breaking up?

Lets deal with the second question first. If the argument is that Jersey is  Crown Dependency - and to date it has been - then it goes with whoever has the Crown. That’s an interesting question though when the Crown is joint. We have a merged monarchy reflecting the Crowns of Scotland and England. So whose is Jersey? The question  is open.

Until, that is, the question of gunboats arises. And then we see the current UK government’s attitudes towards these decisions. The fishing dispute with France is genuine. The rules put in place are provocative. There is room for manoeuvre. It has not been offered. Gunboats are being sent instead. And, as is apparent, that was always the plan.

My suggestion is a simple one. The status of Jersey is uncertain. But, despite that an imperialist government in pursuit of power sees threats as a solution and has resorted to them in pursuit of a claim on an issue in which it has no need to intervene because this dispute is not within its remit. Instead it is intervening just because it has the desire to do so. It does, quite literally, want to use gunboat diplomacy. We should not ignore that.

Nor should Scotland or Wales. A government willing to intervene with a show of force  in the affairs of another government with sovereign rights over an issue in dispute is capable of repeating that behaviour. And that worries me.

A Basic Income trial could be coming soon to Wales

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 8:17pm in

Over two thirds of Wales is in favour of a basic income trial in the country. The poll, carried out by Survation and commissioned by Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, included over a thousand respondents. Ahead of the country’s general election in early May, Future Generations is pressuring the Welsh government towards implementing […]

The heavy price of Johnson’s English nationalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 6:32pm in

The world has, at last, noticed that not all is well in Northern Ireland. Loyalist rioting has gone on for six nights now. There is no sign, as yet, of it ending.

I will never condone violence. But when a community tolerates it - and it must be since it seems that several hundred people are engaged in this activity - then there is an indication of real political concern within it, and that requires attention.

Various justifications for this violence have been promoted. I am not able to determine whether they are reliable or not, and so will not comment. What I do know is that Boris Johnson wilfully changed the status of Northern Ireland and then wilfully lied about doing so when undertaking Brexit.

As years have passed it has become increasingly obvious how skilful the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland was. By letting both communities feel that they secured the identity that they wished for the Agreement delivered an unexpected peace.

Unionists felt a part of the UK. Nationalists saw the border with Ireland disappear. The result was a compromise within the EU that proved to be remarkably durable.

Brexit took that away. The EU departed the scene. A border had to be created. It is in the Irish Sea, and not within Ireland. The result is Unionist anger. That was always predictable.

That Johnson lied about, and the DUP supported his plans for far too long made things worse. Being betrayed by those you think should be your own side is never a good feeling.

And betrayal is an appropriate word here. That is what Johnson did. He actually betrayed all in Northern Ireland by lying about what was being done. It’s just some feel it more intensely.

What can be done? Honesty would help. But honesty about a deal that does, and even has to by its very nature, fail Northern Ireland can only go so far. The brutal reality is that the basis for the peace has been fractured.

I have no obvious solution to offer. There is none available. That’s because Johnson did not care. Nor did the rest of the UK care. Northern Ireland was simply not an issue for them. Only a tiny proportion from Great Britain has ever been there. The rest think it another country. And the Unionists don’t want to accept that. They wish to be a part of a country that is now very obviously indifferent to them.

Do I care about this? Yes, of course I do. I am aware that the same issue exists in Wales and Scotland. I am also aware that the sense of betrayal by what is, in effect, England, will also be found amongst some there. So of course I am aware of this issue and care about it. Passions run high in such situations. Outcomes are unpredictable. I definitely care about that.

But what I also know is that none of this can be managed without skilful diplomatic input from London. And that is a lot, and maybe too much, to expect.

Brexit was the creation of those now in power in London. They advanced it for their own cynical gain. Their transformation of the Conservative Party into an English nationalist party was not by chance. The consequences have and will flow from that.

Have they the ability to both simultaneously promote the nationalist, micro-imperialist cause that they promote and deal with tensions that arise from it, so far only really apparent in Northern Ireland? I doubt it.

The reason is obvious, it comes from the paradox that their nationalism is simultaneously imperialist. English nationalism’s identity requires that it has the right to rule others, even if only now in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So they cannot even be honest enough to say to the loyalists in Northern Ireland that the country of which they wish to be a part no longer wants them, even if the vast majority in that country probably think that. As a result Johnson fuels the hope of those rioting, whilst ensuring that in reality there is none, as evidenced by his actions on Brexit.

I did not expect this to happen so quickly. I thought there would be a longer period of grace on this issue. It appears not. Johnson lit the blue touch paper. He has no fire extinguisher. He does not have the skills to diffuse what he so deliberately created. He may not even have the desire.

The best we can hope for is that the troubles might be contained. But what I am quite sure about is that the stresses will not be contained. The route on which English nationalism set us is a stressful one, for the UK and the nations that will now seemingly inevitably emerge from it. Anyone interested in the route to constitutional change has to recognise that, and be honest about it. Johnson proves the risk of dishonesty. It is very high, and we might all suffer as a result of it.

How Vindictive! Riley’s Lawyer Wrongly Accuses Mike of Having Hidden Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/02/2021 - 4:56am in

Mike put up a post earlier this week revealing that latest depth Rachel Riley and her lawyers have sunk in their determination to prosecute him for telling the world the truth about her and her mate Tracy Anne Oberman hounding and attacking a schoolgirl. They accused the girl, who suffers from anxiety, of anti-Semitism because she had the temerity to be a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. When the girl refused to meet them, the pair’s supporters piled in to insult and intimidate the girl in what looked to many people to be orchestrated by the two. Mike correctly reported this on his blog, and so has been sued for libel by Riley, despite the fact that the Queen of Countdown was unable to dispute the facts or actually tell Mike what was libellous about the article when he asked her. It appears she lets her lawyers do all her thinking in these matters.

The judge has, unfortunately, ruled in Riley’s favour in what I believe is a profoundly mistaken decision. Mike’s appealing, obviously. This has been a massively unfair battle from the start, as Riley is, by anyone’s reckoning, a rich woman. Ordinary folks like the rest of us certainly don’t have the moolah to retain the services of expensive lawyers like her. Mike, on the other hand, has nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. And this, it seems, is a source of irritation to Riley’s lawyer, the noxious Mark Lewis. Because last week or thereabouts he put in a claim to the court that Mike had a hidden income. He was, he alleged, getting personally rich from the money Mike’s great supporters have donated to his Crowdjustice campaign.

Er, nope. As Lewis should know, Mike doesn’t personally handle any of the money that gets donated to his Crowdjustice account. He can’t under the rules of that organisation. It all goes to pay his lawyers. And any money that Mike might get from personal donations for his legal defence also goes there. He certainly isn’t living off his peeps’ donations. Mike has therefore instructed his lawyers to write a swift rebuttal to this false claim.

It really does make you wonder about the mentality and motives of Riley and her consigliore. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me it looks like sheer malice and vindictiveness, as well as greedy. It seems to me that Riley and her lawyers have made this claim from a desire to harass Mike anyway they can. It might also be an attempt to stop people giving to Mike by giving people the idea that Mike is somehow living the high life off their hard earned cash they’ve donated. It may also be due to Team Riley finding themselves unable to cope with the fact that, as Mike doesn’t have anything, they won’t be able to get richer through the damages they hope the judge awards them. Riley said in a previous Twitter spat with someone that she looked forward to suing them and all the money she’d obtain in damages, which she’d give to Jewish charities. This may not have been the wisest comment to post, as suing people for your own personal profit is supposedly against the rules, as Mike reminded his readers in a piece he posted about it.

Their accusation also makes you wonder about their own motives. Are they accusing Mike of what could be seen as the misappropriation of funds because that’s what they’d do in his circumstances? Surely not! But you end up wondering anyway.

Riley has come across to me throughout this whole, sordid affair as deeply unpleasant, personally spiteful and vindictive. And I believe that this apparent vindictiveness comes from a frustration that Mike and his great supporters have defied her for so long. Riley a metropolitan ‘sleb, you see, with friends in the meedja smart set, supporters in the press and fans throughout Britain. While Mike, she appears to have assumed, was merely a hick from mid-Wales. What could he possibly know or do? Big mistake. Mike always was an extremely good, conscientious journalist before he took to blogging and caring for Mrs Mike full-time. He had a very thorough understanding of the libel law, which is why he is astonished and dismayed by the judge’s decision.

Whatever their motives for making this false and malign allegation, Mike has shown he is well able to refute it. The only thing it has succeeded in doing is making Riley and Lewis look bad.

Wales’s “One Planet” Policy Is Transforming Rural Life

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 7:00pm in

It’s a cold winter morning in deepest rural Wales and Cassandra Lishman steels herself to face dawn’s frosty bite. She wakes up her 15-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter and leaves the insulated warmth of their cobwood roundhouse. She feeds the dogs, lets the chickens out of the coop and ambles up the hill to smash the ice in the sheep’s drinking trough. Her daughter feeds the horses, and her son lights a fire to kickstart the house’s solar thermal heating. 

In the afternoon, she harvests leeks for dinner and cuts up a batch of pumpkins to put in the freezer — to make space she takes out some redcurrants and starts the week-long process of making jelly. In the summer, there’ll be hours more work to fit in: gardening, running willow-crafts workshops, building cobwood outhouses. “Then there’s the maintenance of all the fencing, which is constant,” she sighs. “This life isn’t for the faint-hearted.”

walesCassandra and her husband Nigel. (Credit: Cassandra Lishman)

In Wales, the average citizen uses almost three times their share of the world’s resources. But Cassandra and her family are part of a groundbreaking scheme launched by the Welsh government in 2011 that aims to address that imbalance. The One Planet Development Policy (OPD) and its predecessor, Pembrokeshire’s Policy 52, allow people to bypass tight planning laws and move to protected areas to live ecologically sustainable lifestyles. 

So far, 46 individual smallholdings have signed on to the programs, which require residents to sustain themselves using the resources available on land they inhabit. The policy aims to combat an array of problems: rising temperatures, soil degradation, rural depopulation, a rampant housing crisis and wasteful global supply chains. But at its most basic level, the OPD is an experiment to prove that, by limiting consumption and allocating resources wisely, ecologically responsible development is possible, even in pristine environments. 

“A bold and creative policy”

“It was a bold and creative policy when it was introduced,” recalls Dr. Neil Harris, senior lecturer in statutory planning at Cardiff University. “You can’t build new homes in the open countryside — it’s a big no-no in the planning world. So it went against the grain. In Britain, there’s been a strongly protectionist approach to the countryside since World War II. It’s considered a place for recreation and food production, but not a place to live. It’s an attempt to protect nature from sprawl. Other European countries have similar containment policies.”

Participants on a ‘One Planet Experience’ course building a livestock barn. (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

The OPD policy in Wales is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. It comes with stringent restrictions requiring applicants to prove they can live within a set of defined environmental limits. To qualify for the scheme, there are four requirements. First, each household must use only their global fair share of resources, which has been calculated by the Welsh government as equivalent to six acres of land. Second, applicants must show that within five years this land can fulfill 65 percent of their basic needs, including food, water, energy and waste. Third, they must come up with a zero-carbon house design using locally sourced and sustainable materials. Finally, they must set up a land-based enterprise to pay the sort of bills — internet, clothes, council tax — that can’t be met with a subsistence lifestyle.

Cassandra’s smallholding, Plas Helyg, where she lives with her husband and two children, is nestled in bucolic Pembrokeshire in southwest Wales. It’s part of the Lammas eco-village, a 70-acre site that had previously been earning £3,000 (USD $4,100) a year from sheep grazing but now serves as home to nine OPD households. The Lammas received planning permission in 2009 under the county’s Policy 52 for low-impact living, which was subsequently scaled up into the national OPD policy.

walesA resident delivers milk to her Lammas neighbors by dogcart. (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

Plas Helyg gets all its electricity from its own solar array and the village’s shared hydropower. The lion’s share of the household’s heating comes from burning its own wood; the hot water comes from solar. Around 30 percent of the family’s food comes from their land — they grow vegetables and fruit, and keep chickens for eggs and sheep for meat and wool. All their water comes from a local spring.

The household’s land-based enterprise involves growing willow, and the family harvests around 2,500 trees each year in order to make baskets and sculptures or sell cuttings and bundles. On the day we spoke, a customer was picking up an order of willow from Cassandra, so she bundled the branches her son had cut the previous day into ten kilogram parcels and dragged them down the drive for collection. She also had an Etsy order for a willow heart, so she soaked some twigs in gelid water and fashioned the malleable wood into shape before heading off to the nearest post office. For extra money, she holds willow-craft workshops for the local adult learning association. 

walesA house at the Lammas eco-village. “There can be tension between affordable living and sustainability, but in the OPD we have an exemplar of low-impact, low-cost development,” says one government minister. (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

From a regulatory perspective, someone applying for OPD planning permission needs to first prove their smallholding will come within the OPD limits within five years. From that point, the household must prove it is maintaining those standards by completing annual monitoring reports for the local council.

“In the annual report, we record how much food we’ve produced, how much willow we’ve sold, how many workshops I’ve done, etc.,” Cassandra explains. “We estimate how much firewood, water and electricity we’ve used for the year. We record all the animals’ costs as well, and our transport costs and biodiversity actions. And at the end of that we provide two figures, using general market prices, for how much we’ve produced and how much we’ve consumed.” According to Cassandra, for a family of four, those “basic needs” amount to around £10,000 (USD $13,700) a year; meaning an OPD household would need to produce equivalent to £6,500 (USD $8,900) either “of or from the land.”

Low-impact, low-cost development

Although its numbers remain small, the OPD policy is widely lauded as a success. It’s allowed a number of committed individuals to pivot to a more planet-friendly existence in a relatively affordable manner — Plas Helyg cost £30,000 (USD $41,100) all in. “There can be tension between affordable living and sustainability, but in the OPD we have an exemplar of low-impact, low-cost development. That’s exactly the kind of thing we want to support,” says Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government.

walesThe interior of one of the village homes. (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

But the policy hasn’t been without its critics. In November, councilors in Carmarthenshire called for the OPD to be reviewed and potentially put on hold, citing resentment among locals who were finding it difficult to obtain planning permission to build homes on their land for their families. “Some of the early planning approvals for OPD smallholdings were at appeal, which suggests a degree of local political resistance to the policy,” says Harris. 

“But generally these tensions have been solvable,” says James. And as the policy has gone on, there’s been an increasing acceptance of it. The OPD community has done a lot of outreach — led by its volunteer advocacy group, the One Planet Council — to demonstrate their low impact, and to show that their new produce and services could provide a boost to local economies. “That’s won most people over,” says Harris.

walesAn education event at the Lammas Community Hub. (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

Cassandra remembers the initial distrust of the Preseli Hills residents when the Lammas first arrived. “It’s a very Welsh-speaking area and there was a feeling we would dilute the local culture and language… But that completely disappeared in a year or two. It really helped that our children went to the local school and learned Welsh.”

“There’s no going back”

Looking forward, the policy is “absolutely here to stay,” says James, and the current government is looking to apply some of the things it’s learned from the program to its wider housing plans. OPD has been part of the inspiration for the Innovative Housing Program, where the government provides grants and loans to de-risk novel sustainable-building methodologies so that people can invest and scale them up. The government then uses the most successful methods in its standard social-housing construction and retrofitting. 

walesConstructing Cassandra and Nigel Lishman’s stable. (Credit: Cassandra Lishman)

The government also recently changed Welsh development policy to stipulate that all new developments on public land must consist of 50 percent social housing and 50 percent from a mixture of tenures, including cooperative housing, community land trusts (CLTs) and shared equity schemes. “There’s nothing to stop us doing a One Planet development as part of a CLT or a cooperative model,” says James. (CLTs are community-run, nonprofit landholding organizations that help low-income buyers obtain homes.) “Those kinds of affordable housing finance models would make the OPD lifestyle available to a wider segment of the population. There’s a CLT in Solva, Pembrokshire that’s doing just that.” 

Equally, the policy sets a perfect template for other small countries that have general constraints on development in their countryside, posits Harris. In England, the counties of Dartmoor and Cornwall are using the OPD framework to put in place similar initiatives, and countries such as Ireland and New Zealand are exploring the policy’s potential.  

walesBuilding a timber-frame roundhouse. Wales‘s Minister for Housing and Local Government says the OPD Policy is “here to stay.” (Credit: Tao Wimbush)

For Cassandra, the OPD life has been a tough but fulfilling experience. She remembers the hardship of moving, with a 14-year-old disabled son and two small children, to an empty field with nothing to their name — no electricity, no shelter but an old truck and a small yurt, and having to collect water with a wheelbarrow from a local tap. But would she do any of it differently? Not a chance.

“Once you’ve lived like this, there’s no going back. I love living close to the elements, I love living with the sun and the water as my electricity, I love growing my own food and trees, and being in touch with the earth. It’s such a nourishing and joyful existence.”

The post Wales’s “One Planet” Policy Is Transforming Rural Life appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Is the UK over?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 9:10pm in

This is the front page of The Sunday Times this morning:

And yet the Unionists want to deny all this, and the free choice that it demands. Such behaviour always ends in tears, or worse.

I sincerely hope that it does not here.

But Belfield, Churchill was a White Supremacist!

A few days ago right-wing internet radio host and Youtuber Alex Belfield put up a video expressing his outrage yet again at those evil lefties and their attacks on great British heroes. The lefties in question were the awesome Ash Sarkar, Michael Walker and co. of Novara Media, and the great British hero was Winston Churchill. Sarkar and Walker had dared to call Winnie a White supremacist and chuckle about it! How terrible! And so Belfield put up his video attacking them for daring to scoff at the great man.

The problem was, he did nothing to refute their accusation. He played a clip of Sarkar and Walker calling Churchill a White supremacist and laughing, but didn’t actually provide any facts to prove Churchill wasn’t a racist. All he did was attack Sarkar and her comrades for saying he was. And I don’t think he could have argued that Churchill wasn’t a White supremacist. In the clip he used, Sarkar states that Churchill was a White supremacist by his own admission. And I find that entirely credible. Churchill is now a great, molten god thanks his inspiring leadership during the Second World War. So much so, that he is supposed to stand for everything good and right and be absolutely above criticism. Or at least, he is to members of the Tory faithful. But such attitudes obscure just how controversial Churchill was in his own day, and the real racism in British society. Churchill is still hated by proud, working class Welshmen and women today for sending the troops in to shoot striking miners in one of the pit villages. He was responsible for the debacle of Gallipolli during the Second World War, a bloodbath that in my opinion has tainted the relationship between us and the Ozzies. It shows Johnson’s complete lack of any real historical sympathy for the victims of his blundering that in his biography of the great man, he gives it a ten for being both a colossal mistake and for showing ‘the Churchill factor’, whatever that is. Churchill was so bloodthirsty and keen to use the army to suppress the general strike, that Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin was determined to keep him away from it as far as possible. Irish nationalists also hate him for sending the Black and Tans in to crush the Irish revolution. Churchill spent many years in the political wilderness. What saved him was his tour of Africa in the 1920s. At the same time, his opposition to Nazi Germany wasn’t based on any hatred of their racism and suppression of democracy. The historian Martin Pugh in his history of British Fascism between the two World Wars states as an authoritarian himself, Churchill liked the Spanish dictator General Franco. He considered Mussolini to be a ‘perfect swine’, possibly because the Duce declared that his Blackshirts were the equivalent of the British Black and Tans. But nevertheless, Churchill still went on a visit of Fascist Italy. Churchill’s real reason for opposing Nazism was because he was afraid that Germany would be a threat to British interests in the North Sea.

I got the impression that Churchill was without question an imperialist, which means that he believed unquestionably that White Brits were superior and had every right to their empire and dominion over the darker races. Imperialism was so much a part of official British culture, that I think it’s forgotten just how powerful a force it was and how deeply embedded it was. Empire Day was a national holiday, the British empire was lauded in books like Our Empire Story, and one of the strips in the Dandy or the Beano was ‘The Colony Nigs’. Some British scientists also shared the biological racism that served to legitimate discrimination against non-Whites. As late as 1961 wannabe dictator Oswald Mosley cited articles and papers by British scientists claiming that Blacks were less intelligent than Whites in his book Mosley – Right or Wrong.

If Churchill had only believed that non-Whites were inferior, but otherwise treated them with the benign paternalism that Britain was supposed to show towards its subject races, then his White supremacist views wouldn’t have been too bad. It would have been patronising, but no harm would have been done. But his racism was partly responsible for creating the Bengal famine, which carried off 3-6 million Indians. Churchill had ordered their grain to be sequestered as a reserve food supply for the troops in Europe. This left the Bengalis unable to feed themselves. Many of Churchill’s senior military staff pleaded him to release the food, but he refused, stating that the Indians were a filthy race and that it was all their fault for ‘pullulating’ – in other words, breeding and having too many children. It’s an atrocity that could be compared to the horrific murder of the Jews by the Nazis, and some of Churchill’s generals certainly did so. It’s a monstrous stain on Churchill’s character, but very few Brits are probably aware of it.

Does that mean that it’s acceptable to deface Churchill’s statue, as one irate young man did during the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted earlier this year? The lad scrawled ‘was a racist’ on it, an act which raised right-wing hackles. It was ostensibly to protect his and statues like it that prompted mobs of White Brits to stage their own counterdemonstrations. No, I don’t believe it is, even though it’s true. It is thanks to Churchill’s leadership that western Europe at least remained free from Nazi domination or that of Stalinist Communism. Spike Milligan in one volume of his war memoirs states that if Britain hadn’t entered the War, the Iron Curtain would have stopped at his home town of Bexhill. Churchill, monster though he was in so very many ways, deserves respect and credit for that.

But that doesn’t mean that he should be above criticism either. There’s another video put up by Belfield in which he complaints about a planned re-vamp of Have I Got News For You. Apparently the Beeb is going to replace long time contestants Ian Hislop and Paul Merton as part of their diversity campaign. This involves sacking middle-aged White men in favour of more women and BAME presenters and performers. In his video, Belfield complains about how this change will deprive British television of the pair’s comedic talents. Which is true, but I wonder how he feels about Hislop’s magazine’s attitude to his great hero. Private Eye when it started up was deeply critical of Churchill, running cartoons and articles lampooning him as ‘the greatest dying Englishman’ and criticising him for betraying just about every cause he ever embraced. The Eye and its founders were never radical lefties. They were all public schoolboys, but nevertheless the magazine was regarded with intense suspicion and distaste by many. When it first began many newsagents refused to stock it. One of my co-workers at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in the ’90s and first years of this century shared that dislike. Seeing me reading it over lunch one day, he asked me if I really read it. I dare say that it was the magazine’s willingness to poke fun and attack respected figures like Churchill that provoked some of that intense dislike. But nevertheless, Britain remains a free country – just! – because we are able to criticise our leaders and point out that they aren’t flawless idols we have to revere and obey, like some monstrous dictator. And that includes the right to criticise and spoof Winston Churchill.

Belfield constantly sneers at the younger generation as ‘leftie snowflakes’, but he’s the one with the delicate sensibilities here. I’m not denying Churchill deserves respect for his stern resistance to Nazism, but he was a racist whose supremacist views caused death and suffering to millions of Indians. Getting annoyed with Sarkar and the rest for calling him a racist and White supremacist won’t change that.

Belfield had therefore do what he’s always telling left-wing millennials to do, and show a bit of backbone and get over it.

Britain Takes a Step Towards Real Fascism with Patel’s Concentration Camp for Migrants

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 10:10pm in

Nearly a week ago, on 27th December 2020, Mike put up a piece reporting that smirking, treacherous and bullying Home Secretary Priti Patel was planning to open what has been described as a ‘concentration camp’ for migrants by New Year’s Day at Barton Stacey, Hampshire. The camp will have no drainage, sewage or mains water. Even the local Tory MP, Caroline Nokes, was appalled at these conditions. He quotes her as saying

“It will be like a prison camp and conditions will be appalling. There are no plans to provide healthcare services on site, which will add to the strain on local GPs. I am shocked anyone could think this is a good idea.”

See: Patel plans concentration camp for 300 refugees with no mains water | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Mike followed this up with a description of the terrible conditions at the Pennally migrant camp in Wales. The food there is an inadequate and poorly cooked, the only showers that worked are shared and toilet facilities are also inadequate. Social distancing is difficult. Face masks are only available on request, the wearing of which is only enforced in the dining area. Hand sanitisers and soap dispensers are either empty or not working.

See: If you think conditions in Priti Patel’s planned concentration camp are bad, you should see them in the ones she already has | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

It’s good that Mike has put this up, because there have been a series of videos by right-wingers on YouTube about the camp and about migrants generally. The channel ‘We Got A Problem’ views Black and Asian migrants as a real threat to the British public. It concentrates on crimes committed by migrants and asylum seekers, as well as Pakistani grooming gangs with a specific focus on the dangers of rape, child abuse and violence from what the gravel voiced man behind the vlog describes as ‘imported Labour voters’. He also abuses them as ‘scumbuckets’ and other terms too vile to be used in a family blog. He, Belfield and Farage have seized on the fact that many of these migrants have now had to be accommodated in four star hotels to present the image that violent, sexually dangerous migrants are living in luxury at the expense of the British taxpayer. When one of the inmates of these hotels went berserk a while ago and attacked five people, it was presented as a result of this person’s greed – he was upset at the food and lack of internet connections – rather than any wider problems with conditions at the hotel.

I don’t doubt that if Patel does start building concentration camps for migrants, it will be popular with a certain section of the British public. People like ‘We Got A Problem’, Farage and Belfield. Belfield put up a video a few days ago praising the government for passing legislation preventing illegal immigrants, or as Belfield calls them, ‘dinghy day-trippers’, from receiving benefits for five years.

This should set off warning bells for everyone else. Not only is it unjust as it is, but whatever the government do to migrants, they ultimately do to the British public. Food banks were first set up to support asylum seekers after Tony Blair passed legislation preventing them from claiming state benefits. Then the Tories pushed their wretched and abhorrent welfare reforms, which have stopped a large section of the poor and needy from receiving state support, so that now very many people are forced to rely on them. Real poverty and starvation is growing, but Tory MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg think it’s wonderful food banks are there for them. I’m impressed with the generosity of the British public, the people who volunteer at these banks too. But the point is, there should be no need for them. The disabled and unemployed should be given support by the state at a level when they can afford to buy food, pay the rent and clothe themselves and their children. And it should begin immediately. They shouldn’t have to wait over a month. But Belfield thinks the British public are a bunch of scroungers anyway. He’s put up a number of videos baldly stating it. The Tories would like to dismantle the welfare state. It’s what Thatcher and her coterie discussed in the 1980s, though they were prevented from actually going through with it. But I’ve no doubt that if the Tories get away with banning migrants from receiving benefits for five years, they’ll try to extend the time ordinary Brits will be unable to claim benefits.

And if they can build concentration camps for migrants too, how long will it be before they build the same for ordinary Brits as well. They’ll be used first to house criminals as a quick solution to the problem of prison overcrowding. And then we might see the unemployed being sent there, both as a form of support and to teach them the value of hard work. Like the Nazis did with the ‘asocial’. And then perhaps it would be expanded to include people, whose political views are a threat to the establishment. Like all these ‘cultural Marxists’ the Tories and their supporters claim are running the country.

Patel’s concentration camps are a dangerous symptom of a real Fascist tendency in the Tory party. A tendency that will start with migrants but could end up with the British version of Dachau.

Will Johnson Quit or Be Forced Out, Once He Has Wrecked the Country For Brexit?

Also in Lobster 80 for Winter 2020 is a very interesting piece by Simon Matthews, whose observations about Johnson’s real motives for running for PM and supporting Brexit I discussed in my previous blog post. Matthews has a piece, ‘Time for the Pavilion (or: there are 365 Conservative MPs)’ pondering whether Johnson will either retire as PM or be forced out by angry members of his own party, once he has successfully ruined the country with a hard Brexit.

And Matthews makes some very interesting observations. Johnson’s majority looks impressive, but is actually very fragile. 50 Tory MPs, for example, voted against the imposition of the second national lockdown at the beginning of November. And many of the 80 new MPs forming the Tories’ parliamentary majority actually have very small majorities in their own constituencies. He writes

Secondly, and less remarked upon, Johnson’s majority of 80 is actually quite fragile. No fewer than 78 Conservative MPs have a majority of 5,000 or less, and of these 34 have a majority of 2,000 or less. Indeed,
all the fabled ‘red wall’ seats that Johnson gained are in this category. Any MP in this situation would be aware that it really wouldn’t take much of an electoral swing to oust them.

Also, although the background of the typical Tory MP is privately educated, with a background in the financial sector, think tanks and policy groups, and is strongly anti-EU, there are still 102 Tory MPs who support the European Union.

Finally, and a puzzling anomaly, there are still 102 Conservative MP’s who were pro-EU in 2016. Admittedly, some of these may have been so at that time because it was party policy (i.e. now party policy has changed,
their views will have changed, too); and there will be others who were ‘pro-EU’ on the basis of Cameron’s re-negotiation of 2015-2016. But, nevertheless, amongst those 102 there must be some (40? 50?) who would much rather the UK stayed as close to the EU as possible, including membership of the Single Market, Customs Union and the EEA rather than exit everything, in its entirety.

BoJob’s position is very precarious. If things get very desperate, and the Tory party does decide it wants to form a ‘government of national unity’ in a coalition with Labour and the Lib Dems, it would only take 45 Tory MPs to oust him.

The article then goes to discuss the problems Johnson faces from Brexit, and particularly the challenge it poses to the integrity of the UK, and opposition from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the EU and the Americans, and members of both chambers of parliament. He’s also got severe problems with the Covid crisis, and the havoc this and the consequent lockdown has played with the economy. The sacking of Dominic Cummings could be seen as a warning shot to Johnson from Brady and the party’s donors out in the tax havens, who feel they are being ignored by the PM. But he notes that the donors and corporate backers really don’t seem to have an idea of the massive damage that Brexit will inflict on the UK economy. It will destroy 60-65 per cent of UK manufacturing, and although stockpiling of food and other goods has been going on since 2017, these supplies can only last for so long. So that Britain will return to the food queues of the ’60s and ’70s at the borders.

He makes the point here that the majority of British ports are foreign owned. In footnote 7 he writes

The owners of the UK’s main trading ports are Associated British Ports (owned in Canada, Singapore and Kuwait), Forth Ports (Canada), Hutchison Port Holdings (Singapore), Peel Group (the Isle of Man and Saudi Arabia), PD Ports (Canada) and Peninsular and Oriental Group (complex, but seemingly Dubai, China and Hong Kong). The latter group include P&O Dover Holdings Ltd, which operates most of the ferry services out of Dover, and is owned by the Peoples Republic of China. (The other ferry services at Dover, DFDS, are owned in Denmark). The intention post-Brexit of declaring many UK ports ‘free ports’, when so many can be connected back to tax havens anyway, is striking, and one wonders to what extent the owners of these ports have lobbied for that outcome.

Matthews concludes that Boris is on such shaky grounds that he may well decide to jump before he’s pushed.

The truth is that Johnson can now be ambushed by so many different groupings for so many different reasons, that the chances of him remaining PM after he has delivered the hard Brexit his backers require
must be doubtful. And why would he anyway? He looks bored most of the time and wants money. Leaving Downing Street – and the cleaning up – to others, gives him time to spend with his many different families, time to write his memoirs for a hefty advance, the chance of a US TV show and time to kick on, as all ex-UK PMs do, with earning serious money on the US after-dinner speaking circuit. The possibility that some formula will be devised to facilitate his exit, possibly a supposed medical retirement, looks likely.

After all, he’s been sacked from every job he’s ever had. Why would he wait until he is sacked from this one?

See: Time For the Pavilion (Winter 2020) (lobster-magazine.co.uk)

I found this interesting in that it showed that there is grounds for optimism amongst the gloom. The Tories have a huge majority, but it’s fragile. Very fragile. If Starmer actually got his act together and started behaving like a leader of real opposition party, he could start cutting it down significantly. But he doesn’t, perhaps because, as a Blairite, the only policy he has is stealing the Tories’ and winning the support of their voters, and backers in big business and the Tory media. Hence his silence and his determination to persecute the socialists in the Labour party.

It also shows just how much damage the ‘No Deal’ Brexit Johnson seems determined to deliver will do to Britain. It’s going to wipe out nearly 2/3 of our manufacturing industry. This won’t matter for the Tories or Blairite Labour. Blair took the view that British manufacturing was in decline, and that it could be successfully replaced by the financial sector. This hasn’t happened. Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism argues very clearly that the British and other economies still depend very much on the manufacturing sector. The fact that it appears comparatively small to other sectors of the economy merely means that it hasn’t grown as much as they have. It does not mean that it is irrelevant.

And it also shows once again how this chaos and poverty is being driven by a desire to protect the Tories’ backers in the financial sector, and the foreign companies owning our utilities, as well as the British rich squirreling their money away in tax havens. Shaw pointed this all out in once of his books written nearly a century ago, condemning the way the idle rich preferred to spend their money on their vapid pleasures on the continent, while the city preferred to invest in the colonies exploiting Black Africans instead of on domestic industry. He stated that while the Tories always postured as the party of British patriotism, the opposite was the truth: it was the Labour party that was genuinely patriotic, supporting British industry and the people that actually worked in it.

Shaw was right then, and he’s right now, no matter how the Tories seek to appeal to popular nationalistic sentiment through images of the Second World War and jingoistic xenophobia about asylum seekers. The Tories haven’t backed British industry since Thatcher and Major sold it all off. The only way to build Britain back up is to get rid of her legacy.

Which means getting rid of Johnson, the Tories and Starmer.

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