Self-important, bombastic, and a bit thick, he inherited his local prominence.
But even while insisting very forcefully indeed on that, he attempts to disguise his native middle-classness by exaggerating his accent to the point of affectation.
And by droning on about football in England or Scotland, or about rugby in Wales. (It is sometimes Rugby League in certain parts of England that think that they are in the North.)
He also cannot stand any woman with a mind of her own, which is every woman that I have ever met, for a start.
Owen Smith brought together the Welsh rugby bore and the violent misogynist by calling for Theresa May to be "smashed back on her heels".
Rather amusingly, he would seem to be a bit behind the times, in that it would appear that the game of working-class Wales was increasingly football, anyway.
No one who supports Smith has any right to criticise anyone else, either for misogyny, or for hostility to the working classes and to non-metropolitan areas, both of which, in point of fact, adore Jeremy Corbyn.
Just as no one who idolises Tony Blair, or who supports the Clintons, has any right to accuse anyone else of links to, or of sympathy for, any of the world's dictatorships.
Up (or down) to, and including, the very worst of the lot, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not even North Korea executes people for sorcery.
So, Corbyn has appeared on Press TV, presumably for some small fee or other, quite a while ago? Well, check out the sources of Blair's and the Clintons' ongoing floods of millions, and millions, and millions.
With those kinds of income streams, how can Blair even be permitted to retain membership of the Labour Party?
What, exactly, does one have to do in order to be deemed to have brought that party into disrepute? Does it accept money from him, knowing he has obtained it?
And does Labour Party membership still extend to Baroness Altmann? If so, then why, and even how? If not, then when, exactly, did that membership cease, and on the initiative of which side?
The challenge manufactured by the Parliamentary Labour Party to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership seems destined to prove an exercise in futility and impotence.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates, in both its motivation and impracticality, the gulf that has been allowed – and in some cases encouraged – to develop between Labour MPs and the party in the country.
But when it reaches its inevitable conclusion, what then?
When the warring parties return to their encampments to lick their respective wounds, does the Labour party limp on, broken-backed and riven by division and ill-feeling, until a general election puts the whole enterprise out of its misery?
And what, in the meantime, about all those who have looked to the Labour Party to protect their interests and to bring about change in a system that has so thoroughly betrayed them?
One thing is certain. There is no future in returning to the status quo ante.
One or other, or preferably both, of the combatants has to undergo an “agonising re-appraisal” in the interests of learning lessons and learning to work together.
On the face of it, that duty does not lie immediately on the victor. Corbyn and his supporters may feel that, having seen off a challenge that was born of a misplaced incredulity that the PLP could be defied by the party’s membership, any rapprochement is the responsibility of those who so thoroughly misread the situation.
But that would be a mistake.
Those who claim and are entrusted with the leadership of the party must shoulder the responsibilities of leadership, among the principal of which is the mounting of a unified and effective effort to win the next election.
The newly confirmed leader, however, is entitled to expect a significant shift in the attitude of his parliamentary colleagues.
The dead end that has been reached is the outcome of a policy of confrontation can no longer be sustained.
The Corbyn leadership is there for the foreseeable future.
The task now, surely, is no longer to undermine it – hitherto the preferred strategy of many – but to strengthen it and to use those strengths to win an election.
The first duty of those who mounted the challenge is to understand what has happened.
Jeremy Corbyn became, and will have been endorsed as, leader because he dared to break free from a stultifying orthodoxy which had imprisoned Labour, without their even knowing it, in an intellectual framework that precluded any real departure from neoliberal politics and neoclassical economics.
His central assertion, which can be regarded as not only important in its own right but as a surrogate for a much wider rejection of orthodoxy, is that we do not need to accept austerity as a suppose answer to our economic problems.
There is no reason why those who criticise him so bitterly should not have shown similar courage.
It is their timidity, and – in many cases – their keenness to assure voters that they would be just as tough as the Tories, that has left them so far out of touch with Labour voters and with a leader they do not support.
Talk of splits, breakaways and court cases (whose limitations and impropriety in such matters has already been demonstrated) is simply to compound the deeply damaging mistakes they have already made.
There is some evidence that the penny is beginning to drop.
Even the chosen candidate of the parliamentary rebels has shown that he understands the appeal and the relevance of what Corbyn has been saying.
Owen Smith has embraced alternatives to austerity and policies for growth, full employment and a more competitive productive sector – and while there might be some raised eyebrows at the genuineness of this somewhat belated conversion, the road to Damascus is the right road to take.
If Smith can take that stance, why can’t his supporters?
If Corbyn’s critics can be brought to understand his appeal to party members but nevertheless lament what they see as his personal deficiencies, then the remedy is surely to help him make good those deficiencies by offering him the support that he needs.
The right response from the PLP to the likely result of the leadership election, in other words, is not one of sullen resentment and the withholding of support, but of using the party’s total and combined talents to offer a real alternative to a perpetual Tory government.
A Corbyn leadership supported by the strongest possible Shadow Cabinet would be a very different proposition from one undermined by those ready to brief continuously against him.
His supposed unelectability looms large in the minds of his critics rather than in any hard evidence; the recent emergence of a substantial Tory poll lead is no more than the classic response to the emergence of a new Prime Minister, helped along by constant reports of Labour dissension.
A parliamentary party ready to unite behind its leader (and what other constructive response is there?) would in turn invite and deserve a considered response from Corbyn.
He has had time to understand the difference between the freedom enjoyed by the long-time defender of often minority causes and the responsibility accepted by the builder of a team ready to form a government.
He will now have the chance to show that he is ready to complete that transition.
Tom Watson is on the case of the dodgy as hell Liam Fox, of whom James Ball writes:
When Conservative MP and former defence secretary Liam Fox launched a new charity initiative in June 2012 to provide free holiday accommodation to military families, it seemed to get off to a flying start.
Within a month, Fox was announcing that “300 weeks or six years” of free accommodation had been secured already, and since then he and the charity, Give Us Time, have enjoyed the backing of aristocracy figures and glowing coverage in newspapers and society magazines.
Fox has just returned to the Cabinet as the new international trade secretary, but he is now facing questions over the running of his charity and whether it has lived up to its ambitious goals.
BuzzFeed News can reveal that Give Us Time has helped fewer than 130 families in total in its first three years – less than half as many week-long trips as Fox said were donated in the charity’s first month alone – giving away less than £110,000 of holiday stays in that time despite being awarded a £500,000 grant from the Treasury.
The charity’s accounts show that it received the grant in November 2014, at a time when it had just £4,405 in assets and had given away fewer than 40 free holidays.
The Treasury award – which came from its “Libor fund” raised from fines on banks – dwarfs the amounts the charity has raised from other sources, including in-kind donations of free accommodation from holiday companies and timeshare owners.
The charity still had £498,000 in its bank account in September 2015, according to its most recent filings.
The BuzzFeed News investigation has also established that the charity and one of its donors together funded a week-long trip to Bulgaria, including flights and accommodation, for two of Fox’s office staff – even though its policy was to not pay for the flights of the military families it was helping.
Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour party, told BuzzFeed News Fox had to “urgently” address questions raised by the investigation.
“Liam Fox has questions to answer about the activities of Give us Time, he said.
“He must urgently explain why the charity he established apparently paid for two of his researchers to go on a week-long holiday.
“Dr. Fox must also explain why it arranged fewer than 140 holidays in the three years after it was set up in 2012 following his resignation from the Cabinet.
“The charity appears to have done very little until it received a £500,000 grant from a fund set up by the Government to distribute fines paid by banks involved in the Libor scandal.
“The charities that support military families carry out valuable work but they must be open and transparent about how they spend public money.
“Liam Fox should now publish a detailed account of the amount Give us Time has spent on holidays, along with a breakdown of other costs, including salaries paid to senior employees.”
In a statement, Give Us Time said it was “solely dedicated” to helping service families by “providing them with holidays after long periods of separation, injury and other needs arising from their military service”.
The charity added that “we learn and share best practice within the wider military charity sector”, and “were extremely lucky to receive Libor funding to further the aims of the charity”.
Launching Give Us Time
Fox launched Give Us Time, eight months after he resigned in disgrace from his role as defence secretary over his close ties to lobbyist Adam Werrity.
Unveiling the initiative in The Sun, Fox said:
“As a doctor working with the Armed Forces I learned the importance of seeing our personnel not as isolated individuals but as members of a wider family and community dynamic.”
The initiative was to match timeshare sellers and people with holiday homes to the families of troops who had served overseas, to give them free holiday accommodation for up to a week.
But it wasn’t until November 2013, 17 months after launch, that the charity gave away its first five holidays.
Fox announced in a blog post that the “pilot” had been a “great success” with two military families each getting a week in Scotland, one a week in Devon, another in Cornwall, and the final family going to Tenerife.
While the number of families who have benefited from Give Us Time appears to be far lower than Fox suggested it would be when it launched, the charity has been more prolific in organising glittering social events that have attracted positive coverage for the MP.
Initially a partnership with another charity called Afghan Heroes, it held its first major party in March 2013 at the five-star Corinthia Hotel in central London, attended by cabinet ministers, high society figures, and senior military chiefs.
Among the guests were David Cameron, George Osborne and William Hague – then prime minister, chancellor, and foreign secretary, respectively – as well as Lieutenant General Sir William Rollo and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, in full dress uniform.
In an article accompanying an extensive photoshoot, Tatler remarked:
“And so to the Corinthia Hotel, where the Cabinet was carousing with a conscience to raise money and awareness for the Afghan Heroes’ new Give Us Time initiative founded by Dr Liam Fox”.
Six months later, around the time the first five families were going on the pilot holidays, Give Us Time was celebrating again with a reception at a hotel in Mayfair.
“A wonderful evening of champagne and celebration was had by all last night to thank the supporters of Give Us Time,” Fox wrote on his blog the next day.
“The event was kindly hosted by the Intercontinental Hotel Westminster, who provided an incredible array of food alongside champagne generously donated by Laurent Perrier.”
Within a few months, Give Us Time managed to run a group trip to Bulgaria for a number of military families. A post on the charity’s website notes Fox attended with the group.
“The holiday was also attended by Give Us Time founder Dr. Liam Fox who continued his very active support of the charity,” it said.
“He was no doubt glad to get away from the campaign trail for a few days.”
Details from the company’s accounts for the year, though, show not many trips were taken.
By September 2014 – more than two years after Give Us Time was launched, and after 15 months as an independent charity – its own accounts stated just 32 families had been given trips.
However, there was good news in other areas: the charity managed to secure Lady Kitty Spencer, the niece of Princess Diana and cousin to Princes William and Harry, as a trustee, and the press had been overwhelmingly positive.
“The charity enjoyed several prominent press articles in national newspapers including The Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail,” its accounts noted.
“Featured in the spring edition of Army and You, The Mail on Sunday, You magazine devoted several pages to Lady Kitty Spencer and her work with the charity, this feature went out two weeks before the fundraising event and created much interest.”
The charity’s donated free holiday accommodation had a value of around £35,000, it noted, but the “value donated towards the October 2014 fundraising event including donation of venue and auction prizes is estimated to be around £100,000” – almost three times as much.
The charity had also secured offices in Hanover Square, just off London’s Bond Street.
The accounts show that by the end of its financial year, though, it had just £4,405 in net assets.
A gift from the government
The accounts, though, did contain some very good news for the charity.
Despite the small number of families it had supported, its limited assets, and difficulties caused by the collapse of its previous partner, the accounts said Give Us Time had secured a significant grant.
“A £500,000 donation from the Libor Fund has also been secured from the Treasury,” the accounts stated, simply.
The Libor Fund was set up by George Osborne as a way to distribute fines levied on banks found guilty of rigging a key lending rate, known as Libor.
The fund was dedicated to military charities.
The fund, which is still open, currently warns anyone applying for funds that the process is very competitive.
“Funding is limited, so we will only be able to fund the very best projects,” it states.
“We rejected many applications last year that would have been better served looking elsewhere for funding.”
According to a report published in 2014, Give Us Time is one of 39 charities offering holidays or recreational activities to service personnel and their families.
Give Us Time is not listed on the Libor Fund’s list of successful projects, or in any of the government press releases – usually announced by Osborne himself – on its tranches of funding.
However, the charity’s 2015 accounts show it did receive the £500,000 from the fund.
BuzzFeed News asked the Treasury a series of questions about the approval process for Give Us Time’s grant, including why it had not been publicly announced alongside other funded projects.
A spokesman declined to comment on whether Fox, Osborne or any other Treasury minister had any role in the decision to award the grant, nor did he address the other specific questions.
Instead the response was limited to a general statement.
“Give Us Time was allocated a £500,000 grant funded by Libor fines by the Treasury in November 2014,” the spokesman said.
“Like other charities that have benefited from Libor fines, it supports those that have exhibited the very best of British values.”
One of the issues the Treasury may have considered when deciding whether to issue its grant was the collapse of Afghan Heroes, a charity of which Fox was patron, which initially ran Give Us Time.
The charity became subject to an official Charity Commission investigation in November 2013, over issues including “the significant risk to, and potential loss of, the charity’s funds or other property”, “unmanaged conflicts of interest”, “whether, and to what extent, there was mismanagement or misconduct on the part of the trustees”.
Fox resigned as patron of Afghan Heroes in December 2013, citing a “breakdown of trust” between him and the trustees, who he said had not disclosed to him they were under investigation.
This wasn’t the only charity connected to Fox to face Charity Commission investigation.
Another charity founded by Fox, Atlantic Bridge, was wound up by its trustees in 2011, following a highly critical Charity Commission report which said it had failed to advance its charitable objectives and appeared at times to be “promoting a political policy which is closely associated with the Conservative Party”.
Give Us Time in 2015
Give Us Time’s 2015 accounts did show an increase in the number of families helped by the charity – to 92 over 12 months, suggesting by the charity’s own figures a total of 129 families were helped in just over three years.
The charity had a further 850 families registered to search for holidays on its site.
The good PR continued, however, the accounts noted. As well as “prominent” newspaper coverage, the charity said:
“Forces TV produced a 25-minute programme about the charity; this has been used to promote the charity to military personnel and is shown repeatedly …
“A three-month trial PR Campaign has been agreed with Jam PR to target travel and trade press in the next financial year.”
Excluding the £500,000 government grant, the charity attracted just £1,102 in cash donations, boosted by £72,765 through its fundraisers, and £67,730 worth of free holiday accommodation.
The charity’s accounts show most of its £500,000 grant remained untouched almost a year after it was granted, as the charity spent just £88,000 of cash through the year – £32,487 on its charity manager, £13,893 on rent, and £36,649 on travel and accommodation expenses for the charity’s beneficiaries
Give Us Time’s black-tie parties continued over the period.
The charity’s website noted it held another reception at the Corinthia Hotel in October 2014, this time attended by Lady Kitty Spencer, Liam Fox, George Osborne and Michael Fallon.
The charity even hosted a thank you event for donors at the House of Lords “to celebrate their commitment to the charity”, last December.
“The evening was hosted jointly by Baroness Benjamin and Dr Liam Fox MP, who founded the charity in 2012,” one write-up noted.
“Dr Fox took the opportunity to thank donors personally”.
Another trip to Bulgaria
In February, Give Us Time organised another group trip to Bulgaria for services families, and once again Liam Fox attended for a few days – receiving free accommodation from Balkan Jewel Hotel Resort, the charity’s donor.
However, two members of Liam Fox’s staff also came on the trip, parliamentary declarations show, staying for the full week.
Like Fox they received free accommodation, but Give Us Time paid for the flights of both staff members – effectively giving both a free holiday.
Give Us Time tells service personnel that they “only offer to subsidise travel payments in exceptional financial circumstances”.
Its website tells army families:
“Holiday homes have been donated and are free to use, however all other holiday expenses, including travel and transport, taxes and insurance, food and activities, are yours to cover.”
Fox’s declaration on the register of members’ interests states: “My staff were present as representatives of Give us Time.”
BuzzFeed News contacted Give Us Time, and Liam Fox’s office, with a series of queries regarding the charity’s activities, limited number of families helped, its PR, and for what reason it had agreed to fund flights for Fox’s researchers.
The charity did not address the specific queries, but sent the following statement:
“Give Us Time is an Armed Forces charity solely dedicated to helping Service families by providing them with holidays after long periods of separation, injury and other needs arising from their military service.
“Dr Fox founded the charity in 2012 but has had no involvement in its operations or accounting processes.
“Give Us Time was incorporated as a charity in 2013 and is registered with the Charity Commission and Companies House.
“All its annual reports and accounts are available to the public via the appropriate websites.
“As members of the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) we learn and share best practice within the wider military charity sector.
“We were extremely lucky to receive Libor funding to further the aims of the charity which recognises the need to provide a holistic approach to welfare by providing support to the military family unit.
“The publication of data is a matter for the Treasury.”
The economy isn’t working for millions of our people.
Real wages have fallen, insecurity and low-paid jobs are spreading, investment
is stagnating, corporate scandals are multiplying and Britain is heading for
Economic failure is a central
reason why people are no longer prepared to accept politics as usual.
of the reasons I was elected Labour leader in a landslide 10 months ago – and
why there can be no going back to a broken economic model or the politics of
she has to pay lip service to change in the workplace and the boardroom.
In the past couple of weeks, a
string of high street corporate names –Sports
Direct, BHS, Lloyds,Byron
burger chain– has
driven home the reality faced by a huge number of workers today: a race to the
bottom in insecurity, low pay, stress and exploitation.
We have record employment, but also record levels of
poverty among those in work. More than 6 million workers earn less than the
Work for millions has become insecure and stressful. We have to
Sports Direct’s huge Shirebrook warehouse is on the site of a
colliery that employed large numbers of well-paid, unionised, skilled workers.
Today, thousands are employed as agency workers and on zero-hours contracts.
Migrant workers are often targets
for that exploitation – underpaid and brutally discarded, as we saw in the past
week at Byron.
alternative. Unionised workers on £125 per day saw workers brought in from
Italy and Bulgaria on just £48.
Last week, impending industrial action won
backdated pay parity for their co-workers.
By working together through their
union, the workforce stopped established workers being undercut and migrant
workers being exploited.
Unite has called on the
government to stamp out zero-hours contracts, as has been done in other
countries, a call backed byLabourunder
But we cannot replace zero-hours
contracts with one-hour contracts.
People need to know what their hours and
earnings are from one week to the next and they need security in their
earnings; rent and other bills still need to be paid whether you have worked 30
hours or three.
Workers need not only minimum guaranteed hours, but also
reasonable compensation for being available.
These exploitative practices are
spreading through our economy and Labour under my leadership will back action
to end them.
Sectors such as social care,
whose workforce is overwhelmingly female, have long been scarred by insecure
work, low pay and minimum wage loopholes to avoid paying people what they are
To turn that round means reversing the wave of
government-sponsored privatisation and outsourcing that has fuelled it, backed
by a real living wage across public services.
Unions such as the GMB are resisting the race to the
bottom in the labour market by representing Uber drivers, for example, in their
fight to win holiday and sick pay rights.
But the best way to guarantee fair
pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively.
why it should be mandatory for all employers with over 250 staff to bargain
collectively with recognised trade unions.
Last year, I joined low-paid
McDonald’s staff demanding £10 an hour organised by the bakers’ union, and this
summer I’ve been invited to join their US counterparts campaigning for $15 an
These sorts of wages are not unaffordable to many of these large
They choose to pay less because of a business model that sees the
workforce as a cost to be driven down in the pursuit of ever higher profit,
often linked to bloated bonuses and share options for a gilded few at the top –
and subsidised with billions in publicly funded tax credits.
Last week, Lloyds bank, an institution that would
probably not exist but for government support, announced a 101% increase in its
But nowhere has the need for
reform of corporate Britain been more cruelly exposed than at BHS. This was the
goose that laid golden eggs forSir Philip Green.
Knighted under Tony Blair, Green
was appointed by David Cameron as his “tsar” for government efficiency.
efficiently avoided his taxes, asset-stripped the company and left the
government to pick up the pieces for 11,000 discarded workers and 20,000
The former BHS owner will never know the insecurity faced
by his ex-employees or millions of other workers legally exploited by bad
That is why Labour has set upWorkplace
2020, a national conversation with the self-employed, business and
the public, supported by the trade unions, to develop a new settlement for
business and the workforce.
We are committed to strengthening employment and
union rights and reforming company law so companies cannot be used as private
Changing the rules on “financial
assistance” in company law, for example, would prevent companies being made to
take on their new owner’s debts, BHS-style.
And Labour would reform the
takeover code to ensure any corporate buyer has the means to acquire a company
without saddling it with debt.
Corporate Britain has to change
if it is to work for the majority.
That will also benefit the many companies
that do innovate and invest in their staff and pay their taxes – and should not
be undercut by the unethical practices of a few.
But it isn’t only stronger
employment rights and corporate reform that will deliver decent jobs and
rebuild the communities left behind by economic failure and corporate
That’s why Labour will put public
investment in infrastructure and the industries of the future centre stage,
driven by a national investment bank in every region of the country.
through raising investment to a new level that we can transform our economy,
provide the high-skill jobs and end the race to the bottom.
And it’s by focusing relentlessly
on the needs of millions of people across the country – and how to meet them –
that Labour will come together for the new politics that our time demands.
At one point a few days ago I feared to turn on the radio or TV because of the ceaseless accounts of blood, death and screams, one outrage after another, which would pour out of screen or loudspeaker if I did so.
And I thought that one of the most important questions we face is this: How can we prevent or at least reduce the horrifying number of rampage murders across the world?
Let me suggest that we might best do so by thinking, and studying.
A strange new sort of violence is abroad in the world. From Japan to Florida to Texas to France to Germany, Norway and Finland, we learn almost weekly of wild massacres, in which the weapon is sometimes a gun, sometimes a knife, or even a lorry.
In one case the pilot of an airliner deliberately flew his craft into a hillside and slaughtered everyone on board.
But the victims are always wholly innocent – and could have been us.
I absolutely do not claim to know the answer to this.
But I have, with the limited resources at my disposal, been following up as many of these cases as I can, way beyond the original headlines.
Those easiest to follow are the major tragedies, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Nice, Orlando, Munich and Paris killings, the Anders Breivik affair and the awful care-home massacre in Japan last week.
These are covered in depth. Facts emerge that do not emerge in more routine crimes, even if they are present.
Let me tell you what I have found.
Timothy McVeigh, the 1995 Oklahoma bomber, used cannabis and methamphetamine. Anders Breivik took the steroid Stanozolol and the quasi-amphetamine ephedrine.
Omar Mateen, culprit of the more recent Orlando massacre, also took steroids, as did Raoul Moat, who a few years ago terrorised the North East of England.
So did the remorseless David Bieber, who killed a policeman and nearly murdered two others on a rampage in Leeds in 2003.
Eric Harris, one of the culprits of the Columbine school shooting, took the SSRI antidepressant Luvox. His accomplice Dylan Klebold’s medical records remain sealed, as do those of several other school killers.
But we know for sure that Patrick Purdy, culprit of the 1989 Cleveland school shooting, and Jeff Weise, culprit of the 2005 Red Lake Senior High School shootings, had been taking ‘antidepressants’.
So had Michael McDermott, culprit of the 2000 Wakefield massacre in Massachusetts. So had Kip Kinkel, responsible for a 1998 murder spree in Oregon.
So had John Hinckley, who tried to murder US President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and is now being prepared for release.
So had Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings pilot who murdered all his passengers last year. The San Bernardino killers had been taking the benzodiazepine Xanax and the amphetamine Adderall.
The killers of Lee Rigby were (like McVeigh) cannabis users. So was the killer of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo in 2014 in Ottawa (and the separate killer of another Canadian soldier elsewhere in the same year).
So was Jared Loughner, culprit of a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. So was the Leytonstone Tube station knife attacker last year.
So is Satoshi Uematsu, filmed grinning at Japanese TV cameras after being accused of a horrible knife rampage in a home for the disabled in Sagamihara.
I know that many wish to accept the simple explanation that recent violence is solely explained by Islamic fanaticism.
No doubt it’s involved. Please understand that I am not trying to excuse or exonerate terrorism when I say what follows.
But when I checked the culprits of the Charlie Hebdo murders, all had drugs records or connections. The same was true of the Bataclan gang, of the Tunis beach killer and of the Thalys train terrorist.
It is also true of the two young men who murdered a defenceless and aged priest near Rouen last week.
One of them had also been hospitalised as a teenager for mental disorders and so almost certainly prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs.
The Nice killer had been smoking marijuana and taking mind-altering prescription drugs, almost certainly ‘antidepressants’.
As an experienced Paris journalist said to me on Friday: ‘After covering all of the recent terrorist attacks here, I’d conclude that the hit-and-die killers involved all spent the vast majority of their miserable lives smoking cannabis while playing hugely violent video games.’
Now look at the German events, eclipsed by Rouen.
The Ansbach suicide bomber had a string of drug offences. So did the machete killer who murdered a woman on a train in Stuttgart.
The Munich shopping mall killer had spent months in a mental hospital being treated (almost certainly with drugs) for depression and anxiety.
Here is my point. We know far more about these highly publicised cases than we do about most crimes.
Given that mind-altering drugs, legal or illegal, are present in so many of them, shouldn’t we be enquiring into the possibility that the link might be significant in a much wider number of violent killings?
And, if it turns out that it is, we might be able to save many lives in future.
Isn’t that worth a little thought and effort?
And, echoing Giles Fraser on this week’s Moral Maze:
If a trendy charity announced that it was holding seminars for burglars, to show them how to avoid being hurt in the course of breaking into our homes, you wouldn’t expect the police to approve.
They may not care all that much about crime these days, but they’d have to put a stop to it.
Yet when a trendy charity offered to test illegal drugs for ‘quality’ at a music festival in Cambridgeshire, the local police gave their blessing.
The ‘tests’ duly went ahead, and hundreds of squalid, selfish people went unpunished for blatant breaches of criminal law.
All that users of illegal drugs need to know about quality is that they are dangerous. That’s why it is illegal to possess them.
For drug-taking, like burglary, is not a victimless crime.
The victims are the families of the users, who must often spend many years picking up the pieces of broken lives, and us, the taxpayers, who must look after them, too.
Whatever we pay the police for (and this is increasingly unclear to me) we do not pay them to undermine the law in this way.
The Cambridgeshire force should be reminded that their salaries and offices are funded by taxes that would not be paid if the law was not widely obeyed and enforced.
If they undermine the law, they undermine themselves.
The attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn seems destined to fail.
Indeed, it looks as if he will entrench his position as Labour leader and score an even more decisive victory in the forthcoming leadership election than he did last year when he won by a landslide with 59 per cent of the votes.
This will pose a dichotomy for his enemies in the parliamentary party.
They will have no mandate to challenge the result. Equally, after such disloyalty, surely they won’t be able to pledge support for Corbyn?
But if Labour MPs refuse to serve him, they will plunge the party into the gravest crisis in its history, dwarfing even the historic split of 1931 when Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour broke in two over austerity cuts.
In all likelihood, the Labour Party as we know it will not survive if that happens.
For his part, I believe Corbyn should rise to the challenge by being more radical and incisive in his attacks on the Tory government.
I mentioned this to him when I met him this week — urging him to be more clinical in his critique of its foreign policies.
He agreed that the dismissal of Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary (who embarrassingly opposed him over intervention in the Syrian civil war) would allow him more freedom to speak up for Palestinian rights.
Corbyn told me that he plans to ask searching questions about the Government’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
He will also support families of British military victims of the Iraq war if they mount a private prosecution against Tony Blair and others.
This is a refreshing approach, because for far too long there has been an unspoken consensus over foreign policy between the two main parties (i.e. pro-EU, pro-meddling in the Middle East), which, I believe, has been profoundly damaging to Britain.
By the way, ignore Oborne's crowd-pleasing nonsense about the historic significance of Nigel Farage, of all people.
But consider that that of Roy Jenkins was thought to be his economic and not his social policy record until decades after the Swinging Sixties, when newspapers such as that for which Oborne now writes decided to pretend that both they and their party had opposed the Permissive Society.
In fact, at least where abortion and divorce were concerned, hardly any MPs of any party had turned up to vote on the Bills in question. They had certainly not been officially opposed by the Official Opposition, and they were barely covered in anything other than the weekly Catholic newspapers that were and are distributed, almost exclusively on church premises, to hardly anyone. Catholics, however continued to vote Labour overwhelmingly, as they still do. And why not? What cause has the other lot ever given them to defect?
By no one much else were these changes even considered news at the time, and scarcely anyone in Parliament thought them worth turning up to vote on, whether for or against. They formed no part of Jenkins's own reputation until long after the events. In fact, he very nearly won a largely Catholic seat in 1981, he did win one in 1982, he retained it in 1983, and he nearly retained it again in 1987.
A thousand people, including Jeremy Corbyn and much of the best front bench in at least a generation, turned out yesterday to see off the legendary Davey Hopper. Dave Temple, himself a figure of some significance, writes:
Dave Hopper was born on April 8 1943, the first son of Timothy and Barbara, in a small colliery house directly opposite the gates of Wearmouth Colliery, Sunderland, where his father worked.
His primary education was basic and, at a time when fewer than 10 per cent of Sunderland’s children were awarded a place at a grammar school, Dave spent a year in the local secondary modern before passing the entrance exam for Villiers Street Secondary Technical School.
He was an able pupil, a keen footballer and was already honing that legendary acerbic wit that delighted his classmates and annoyed the teaching staff in equal measure.
Sunderland’s many shipyards and engineering factories were enjoying a post-war boom and there were ample jobs for Dave to choose from.
However, he decided, at the age of 15, to follow his father down the pit.
As a teenager, he enthusiastically embraced the age of rock ’n’ roll — Edwardian “drapes,” beetle crushers and all.
One night, on the dance floor of the Seaburn Hall, he met Brenda Lough, fell in love and after a short courtship they married on December 1 1962 — he was 19, Brenda 18.
At the pit, Dave’s first job was stone picking on the surface screens amid the din and dust, a job he detested.
When 16 and allowed down the pit, he first worked at the shaft bottom loading tubs into the cage.
From there, he progressed in-bye and finally, at the age of 19 and fully face-trained, he began hand-filling on a three-foot-high coalface — the most physically demanding job at the pit.
In Durham, the men picked the face teams and the whole team shared piece-rate earnings equally.
Comradeship and co-operation were essential and Dave forged bonds that lasted his lifetime.
Gary, his first child, was born in March 1963 and 18 months later Brenda gave birth to their second child, Deborah, in September 1964 and their third child, Beverley, in March 1966.
With a growing family to feed, Dave moved on to drilling in the development drifts and later operating a Dosco road-header in the new 15 70 horizon that was heading for the high coal reserves under the North Sea.
In 1967, the introduction of the National Power Loading Agreement replaced piecework and halved Dave’s take-home pay.
By the time Jason, the fourth child, was born in April 1970, large-scale dissatisfaction was spreading throughout the British coalfields.
Miners who had been so compliant since Vesting Day 1947 (when coalmining was nationalised) were at breaking point and, in January 1972, they struck for seven weeks for higher pay and won substantial increases.
Dave now began to take a keen interest in the union, encouraged by his father, Timothy, who was a union safety inspector and a member of the lodge committee.
He read avidly about the history of the labour and socialist movement and became convinced that capitalism was the enemy of working people the world over, never wavering from this view.
His growing militancy brought him into conflict with the moderate area leaders and after the Incentive Scheme was introduced in 1977, by stealth, after twice being rejected by national ballot, Dave and a group of young miners decided to form a discussion forum — called the Durham Left — dedicated to creating a more combative area leadership.
By 1981, they had succeeded in changing the rules governing the election of the union’s area executive committee making it more democratic, enabling Dave to be elected in 1982.
Most importantly, in 1983, the Durham Left was instrumental in getting the first Durham rank-and-file miner elected to the national executive committee, giving the left a vital majority of one.
This was to prove decisive in the coming struggles.
In that year, the influence of the left was further strengthened when Dave was elected secretary of Wearmouth’s 3,000-strong lodge.
In 1984, the Wearmouth Lodge was among the first to strike against pit closures.
Throughout the strike, Dave remained dedicated to achieving a successful conclusion while Brenda, an active trades unionist herself, worked tirelessly raising money and feeding miners and their families.
When the strike ended, Dave was elected general secretary of the NUM (Durham Area) and with Dave Guy, the newly elected president, formed a strong area leadership in the most difficult of circumstances.
They opposed all the subsequent pit closures, the new draconian discipline procedures and the attempts to lengthen shift times underground.
Above all, they stood by all those miners who had been sacked during the strike, getting many reinstated and supporting the others financially.
When the last pit in Durham closed in 1993, all appeared lost.
The union’s resources had been consumed in the strike, there were no miners to pay subscriptions and it would have been easy to have walked away.
However, that was not how the two area leaders saw it.
The building assets of the Durham Area were put up as collateral and the union fought a court battle for compensation for members suffering from the industrial disease vibration white finger.
When they won, £1.7 billion in compensation was paid to miners throughout the coalfields of Britain.
A similar success with bronchitis and emphysema was to follow.
In 1997, disaster struck Dave’s family when Brenda, after a four-year battle with cancer, died on November 23 at the age of 53.
The family was heartbroken and Dave struggled to face life without his wife to whom he had been devoted for 31 years.
Dave was passionately against the British intervention in Afghanistan and, when Tony Blair took the country to war in Iraq, he was incensed and left the Labour Party in which he had been an active member and office holder for over 30 years.
He was totally opposed to the policies of New Labour and saw its refusal to reverse Thatcher’s anti-union legislation as a betrayal of the very people the party was formed to protect.
He referred often in his Gala messages to the disgrace that, after 13 years of Labour government, the gulf between rich and poor had actually widened.
Under Dave’s leadership, Durham miners played an important role in providing aid for Cuba, donating money to buy ambulances for its health service and computer equipment for schools.
It was during a visit to Cuba that Dave met and fell in love with Maria Zarzabal whom he married in the Cuban embassy in 2006 and became a stepfather to her two children, Samuel and Esther.
This gave Dave a new lease of life that they enjoyed for 11 happy years together.
Dave was a passionate internationalist and anti-fascist who hated racism of all kinds.
He supported all working people fighting oppression and was widely admired for his straight talking.
Above all, he believed that the capitalist system, based on the exploitation of working people for the enrichment of the few, is not and can never be the highest level of civilisation that humankind can achieve.
Whatever the difficulties and problems, he was adamant that we have to strive to replace it with a socialist system under which the weak are protected and everyone can enjoy the full fruits of their labour.
The Durham Miners’ Gala, which under his leadership has grown and developed into Europe’s largest celebration of community and trade union values, is his legacy and he leaves it to us all to cherish and guard with all the passion he demonstrated throughout his life.
Dave leaves behind his beloved wife Maria, four children and two stepchildren, 11 grand children and six great-grand children.
In the last hour or so, Jeremy Corbyn has posted the following on Facebook, and he has tweeted the screenshot of that post:
I recently had the honour of meeting the Durham Teaching Assistants at the Durham Miners’ Gala [ahem, a meeting arranged by your humble blogger], who are resisting the imposition of term time pay, and campaigning to be employed during every week of the year.
The government must fund Teaching Assistants every week of the year; recognising the crucial work these dedicated public servants do in our society - not pushing them into poverty.
Most school workers employed on so-called term-time contracts are women, paid for just ten months of the year.
My friend Davy Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, who passed away only last week, said:
“Education is one of the most important public services we have and frankly it is unbelievable that a Labour Authority is behaving in this way.
“They should immediately start renegotiating with the Teaching Assistants and sort out this mess. My solidarity is with the Teaching Assistants.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris said:
“I whole-heartedly oppose the decision to substantially cut the income of low paid Teaching Assistants and I'm appalled that the council would threaten to dismiss and re-engage.
“The Government must now step up to the plate and commit to funding the wages of teaching assistants all year.”
I give this commitment.
I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with their campaign - backed by UNISON which was agreed at their conference this year - to end the imposition of term time pay and for school workers across the UK to be employed during every week of the year. And earlier this evening, Councillor Owen Temple of Consett North, a Liberal Democrat, wrote:
As the holiday season
starts, councillors get an email out of the blue telling us that there is a
Special Council Meeting on September 14th, the only subject matter being
I don’t know when we’ll hear any more, but I know which
side I’m on.
With others, I did good things as a Parish Councillor and as a school governor. Small ones, in the great scheme of things. But good ones. If, however, I have played even the smallest part in securing justice for the Teaching Assistants, then that will be by far my proudest political achievement, and quite possibly the proudest achievement of my life.
We urgently need a Labour party that is prepared to undo the
damage done to our NHS by successive governments.
Cuts, privatisation and
opening the NHS up to the market, against public and professional opinion, has
made the NHS less safe, less efficient, and at risk of becoming less caring.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 speeded up a process of destruction that
had already started.
The junior doctors’ dispute, still unresolved, reflects
the impossibility of providing the same level of routine services over seven
days, when the resources scarcely exist to provide this over five.
So we, as NHS doctors from all branches of the
profession, whether we are in the Labour party or not, urgently need an
opposition that is united, with clear policies to increase funding to the NHS,
repeal the Health and Social Care Act, reverse the privatisations, and get rid
of markets in healthcare.
Jeremy Corbynand his shadow secretary of state
Diane Abbott have declared an intention to do all of this, and have displayed
exactly the type of decisive leadership the NHS is calling for.
We believe the
re-election of Corbyn as leader of the Labour party is essential for the very
survival of the NHS.
Dr Kambiz Boomla General practitioner, London
Dr Jacky Davis Radiologist, London
Dr Louise Irvine General practitioner, London
Dr David Wrigley Chair of Doctors in Unite, Carnforth, Lancashire
Dr Ron Singer Retired GP, London
Dr Youssef El-Gingihy London
Dr Anna Livingstone GP, London
Dr Yannis Gourtsoyannis Specialist registrar, infectious diseases; junior doctors committee, BMA, London
Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty Oncology, London
Dr Pete Campbell Acute medicine, Newcastle
Dr Megan Parsons Junior doctor, Manchester
Dr Jackie Applebee GP, London
Dr Pam Wortley Retired GP, Sunderland
Dr Haroon Rashid GP, Ilford
Dr Saul Marmot GP, Bromley by Bow health centre, London
Dr Sasha Abraham GP, London
Dr Gerard Reissman General practitioner, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dr Sheila Cheeroth GP, Limehouse practice, London
Dr Robert MacGibbon Retired GP, Westleton, Suffolk
Dr Maureen O’Leary Retired consultant psychiatrist, Sheffield
Dr Jack Czauderna Retired GP, Sheffield
Dr Mona Kamal Ahmed Forensic psychiatrist, London
Dr Muna Rashid GP, London
Dr Alex Hardip Sohal GP, London
Dr David Kirby Retired GP, London
Dr Robert Hirst Emergency medicine, London
Dr Iain Maclennan Consultant in public health and retired GP, Sandown, Isle of Wight
Dr Hennah Bashir Emergency medicine, London
Dr Kelly Cruickshank Psychiatry, Salford
Dr Max Thoburn Junior doctor, Manchester
Dr Kathryn Greaves Anaesthetics, London
Dr Shamira Bhika GP, London
Dr Mary Edmondson Retired GP, London
Dr Rishi Dir Orthopaedics, London
Dr Helen Murrell GP, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dr John Puntis Consultant paediatrician, Leeds
Dr Thabo Miller Paediatrics, Somerset
Dr Ben Hart GP, London
Dr Paul Hobday GP, Horsmonden, Kent
Dr Hilary Kinsler Consultant, old age psychiatry, King George hospital, Ilford
Dr Michael Fitchett GP, London
Dr Soraya Boomla GP, London
Dr Kevin O’Kane Consultant, acute medicine
Emma Runswick Medical student, Salford
A second referendum on EU membership would undoubtedly result in a vote to Remain, probably by the same margin as the vote to Leave last month.
It might be argued that that would make no practical difference, since Article 50 has not been invoked, nor is there any intention to invoke it. It becomes less likely with every passing day.
In itself, that is perfectly true, and indeed blatantly obvious.
But if only Conservative and UKIP-minded areas had voted Leave, then Remain would have won comfortably.
The referendum was swung by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru voters. Who, of course, remain so, and will remain so. This issue was not a party one, or there would not have been a referendum on it.
The Conservative Party, of course, was also in favour of a Remain vote.
To such an extent that David Cameron resigned when there was a Leave vote. And to such an extent that he has been succeeded by another Remainer without a contest.
Jeremy Corbyn's victory last year, the swinging of the EU referendum result, and Corbyn's even bigger victory this year, have been and will be the cries of the areas, the communities, the families and the individuals that have been abandoned, ignored, denigrated and oppressed since 1979.
At least unless the political and cultural, and not least the media, structures through which they could now be heard were already firmly in place, then a second referendum, with its inevitable result, would be a catastrophic setback to the advancement of those areas, communities, families and individuals.
It would silence them, right at the moment that they had found their voice.
But already to have those structures firmly in place would be a very big ask between now and the early part of next year.
The event most likely to force a second referendum, in the early part of next year, would be the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Any possibility of a bilateral trade agreement would then be ruled out entirely, at least for four years.
In that situation, the Remain vote in 2017 would be higher than the Leave vote in 2016.
For anyone who does not already know, what promises to be Davey Hopper’s enormous funeral will take place on Friday 29th July at the Miners’ Hall, Red Hill, Flass Street, Durham, DH1 4BE, starting at 9:45am.
It will be a humanist service conducted by Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former General Secretary of Unison.
Please arrive early, and note that unfortunately there will be not be any parking available at the Miners’ Hall or in the immediate vicinity.
See here for parking in Durham City. Or here for the Park and Ride.
The Miners' Hall is 10 minutes’ walk, if that, from Durham railway station, and it is less than five minutes’ walk from Durham bus station.
The evening before, on Thursday 28th July, there will be a celebration of Davey’s life at Sacriston Workingmen’s Club, Edward Street, DH7 6NW, from 7pm to 11pm, which will include live music and a buffet.
If you want to hide all manner of corruption and vileness in the plainest of sight, then position yourself on the right wing of a left-wing party.
The Right's media juggernaut is aimed squarely at the Left, while the Left's inexhaustible energy and commitment, no matter how lacking in resources, are aimed squarely at the Right.
In between the two, you can get away with anything.
Look, if you can bear to do so, at the Clintons. Or look, if you can bear to do so, at Owen Smith.
Smith faked his CV. He buys up fake accounts to cheerlead for him Twitter. He professes himself "normal" because he has a wife and children, unlike Angela Eagle (although she, in her way, is another one).
The MPs who have nominated him would not have done so if those were his views. Nor would he be receiving the media support that he is. Nor would he enjoy the backing of the most right-wing seven per cent of Labour councillors.
At least where the ones from the North East are concerned, it is laughable to suggest that these councillors are engaged in any "fight against austerity" in the first place.
Just as it is to make that suggestion of Owen Smith, who fights for nothing except the privatisation of the NHS in the interests of his past, future, and possibly present employers.
It is not difficult, nor even necessary, to imagine what these 500 councillors would have said to any suggestion by Jeremy Corbyn that there be, "a radical vision for a £200 billion investment programme, renationalising our railways, and putting the decision to make war firmly in the hands of elected MPs, not the Government of the day."
"Tackling inequalities in wealth"? "Increase taxes on the wealthy"? Whom do they think that they are kidding?
Speaking of kids, at least one of the five Durham County Councillors listed here is not expected to contest his seat next year, and would certainly be defeated if he did.
But it is on his little CV now, along with his having taken his university girlfriend to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.
(Not that there is anything wrong with Buckingham Palace Garden Parties. But one really ought to have worked for them, as cannot have been done in a mere 20 or so years on this earth.)
And along with his having run away and hidden from his own council's notoriously aggressive Teaching Assistants. He had previously called the Police in order to prevent them from attending his surgeries.
To think that only four years ago, he was driving into school in his MG. A veritable little Michael Foster or Reg Race.
Other old Durham hands can draw their own conclusions from the fact that he needed to have his A-levels re-marked in order to get into Durham.
Other old hands from St Bede's can draw their own conclusions from the fact that he managed to have his A-levels re-marked in order to get into Durham.
If he is still a member of any political party in 10 years' time, long after any breakaway funded by Foster and Race, Pfizer and Amgen had gone the way of all flesh, then I shall humbly eat the top hat that he wore to Her Majesty's afternoon knees-up.